Friday, December 19, 2008

Child Haven...12 kids, never a dull moment!

There's always something exciting going on at Child Haven, whether it's an outing or just around the house!

We ventured out to the Jo'burg Botanical Gardens for Christmas Carols. After a picnic, Mama Amy treated everyone to an ice cream cone, YUM-YUM! And a sweet volunteer got us all Santa hats to add to the festivities.
(p.s. I must remind everyone that it's summer here.)

Christmas carols by candlelight! Everyone had their very own candle...Praise God we only had 1 minor incident with fire!

With 12 kids there's always someone to play with! What's better than playing outside...

They love to do various gymnastic tricks around the yard!

Mpho and Asenda having fun jumping on the trampoline!

Andelie, Nosiphewe, Steph, Chantel, Loraine, Mpho, and Bafana. All just hanging out in the yard...have to take a little break after all the running around.

Last week we had some important guests over for a braii (what South African's call grilling out).

Christy and Mpho relaxing while waiting for the yummy food!

Bafana and Thabiso are great helpers with the braii!

The festivities are over outside, now get excited we're watching High School Musical, again....

Baby Haven

Here's a glimpse of Baby Haven. It's a warm welcoming home with beautifully painted walls for the babies to enjoy!

Samuel is such a sweet happy boy! Samuel was born to a 14 year old girl who was raped by her step-father. We hope she will release him for adoption soon so he can be adopted and go live in a stable happy family. He's almost 7 months old and full of life. He can't sit up by himself quite yet, but we think he may start crawling any day! Currently he just rolls where ever he wants to go.

Sweet Baby Esther
Esther will be 4 months old on Christmas Day! She's our 'Little Princess'. Loves to eat and lots of attention, I mean who doesn't right! Esther was born to a 12 year old mother who had been raped by her 15 year old brother. Since she is a product of insect she has had genetic tests, which show she is a healthy miracle with no genetic deformities. Ester is fully adoptable and just needs a loving family!

Gets the best baby award! He is the happiest and most content baby you will ever meet. Oms, as we often call him, unfortunately is HIV positive, but you would never know. He's so healthy and strong, not typical for a positive baby. So we praise God for his health, and pray for a miracle in this sweet boy's life.

Gabriel is now 18 months old. Gabs came to Baby Haven because he was severely abused by his parents. His parents believed he was possessed and took him to a witch doctor to have the "snakes" removed. There his left eye was removed and he was held over fire. At such a young age he has a glass eye and his legs are covered with terrible burn scars. It is hard to process how much this little boy has suffered. Now he's a happy little boy who always has his thumb in his mouth. It's amazing how much he has improved in the 7 or 8 months he been at Baby Haven.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Still looking for the perfect gift?

Or looking for a tax deduction...

This holiday season consider giving to someone you don't know
LinkThere are 40 beautiful babies at Cradle of Love that need your donation. Check out the various ways you could bless them.

Their are 12 kids at Child Haven and 4 Babies at Baby Haven that have been abandoned by their parents. Help make their season brighter!

Support Luo and the amazing work they are doing with Ithemba by providing funds to continue to give children somewhere safe to be this holiday season.

Consider the 1.1 billion people who do not have access to clean drinking water. Charity:Water

We have been so blessed by all of these organizations and believe wholeheartedly in the work that they are doing. Thank you for supporting them as well as us.

Merry Christmas
Christy & Stephanie

Thursday, December 4, 2008


A beautiful tiny country filled with mountains landlocked within South Africa…that’s Lesotho

Heading to Maseru, Lesotho we had no idea what we were getting into. Over the past 5 months we have been working with orphaned/disadvantaged children and babies. Here we worked at St. Angela Cheshire Home for children with disabilities. Most of the children suffered from sever physical disabilities. At first I was worried about what each child could or couldn’t do, but quickly saw they are each extremely self-sufficient. They could get in and out of their wheel chairs, change outfits, bathe, and even wash their own clothes. I was so amazed! It was beautiful to see how much they help each other and laugh and play. It wasn’t long before I didn’t even notice their disabilities, only seeing an amazing young boy or girl.

Here are a couple pictures of the beautiful landscape we viewed while pony trekking (aka horse back riding) in the mountains.

We are now in Johannesburg, South Africa serving at Baby Haven and Child Haven. We have been so blessed to be able to work with amazing organizations, who provide very safe and nice places for us to live.

There are only 4 babies here at Baby Haven, so each of their stories are to come soon!

Thank you all so much for all of your support and prayers, they are felt daily. Without you we would not have this opportunity to serve these beautiful children of God.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

New Humanity

Jeffrey's bay is this really cute excuse me cool surf town on the southern coast of South Africa. Unfortunately Kelly Slater was not in town so I did not receive any private surfing lessons. I did however get to meet heaps of really great kids who are growing up in a world that I am most unfamiliar with. Growing up in Fairfax County, VA I was exposed and introduced to many different people of many different races and nationalities. I didn't realize how diverse the area was until I moved to the south. While the majority of my friends are white I would say that I pride myself on being inclusive. Jeffrey's bay is known for a lot of things, but being inclusive is not one of them. Upon arriving we quickly learned that that the area was made up of predominantly three groups. The white South Africans, the coloreds, and the blacks. If that sentence disturbs you when you read it then you can began to understand how we all felt upon hearing it for the first time. This is not only the way that they refer to each other, but this is also how they refer to themselves. The organization that we worked with ITHEMBA (means Hope in Cosa, a click language) is in the township where the blacks live. So the majority of the children that attend are black, but there are a few colored children that come. There is a church that meets at Ithemba. Only blacks attend because the coloreds and blacks were literally killing each other in church. You may be wondering how their is so much hostility between them. To be considered colored you are a mixed race, but the majority of them do not see it that way. Technically when SA was being colonized by the Dutch some of those colonizing fell in love/got married/had babies with the black south Africans thus creating mixed babies. But those who are colored today the majority of them married other coloreds not a black or white person. They consider colored a totally separate race. To say that I was frustrated by their racism, exclusivity and inability to look past their skin color would be an understatement.

One day we had the opportunity to walk through the township and see the homes that the children who spend the day learning and playing at Ithemba live. PLEASE check out this link to watch a video of the township.. It's powerful! The poverty is staggering, but just up the road in the affluent mostly white community so is the wealth. Living in Atlanta this shouldn't have surprised me, but it did.

I was outraged. Both the colored and the black townships have living conditions that you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy. Few of the houses have running water and until recently only one communal bathroom for the entire township. When we walked through the township passing out sandwiches I was upset that there wasn’t more people from the affluent communities getting involved. Honestly I felt like screaming out why are we the only white people here? I was saddened that the colored community and the black community couldn’t share in whatever resources the other had. I was heartbroken that just blocks away people were eating huge amounts of dinner while the people here, their neighbors, were starving. Why weren’t more people crying out that this isn’t okay? Why weren’t more churches coming along side and working with Deo Doxa(Ithemba is largely supported by Deo Doxa a church outside the township were they are responding to the need and becoming increasingly active in the community) and these people for a better future for them and their children?

The same time I had all these questions I remembered an awesome passage from the book Sex.God by Rob Bell

“The first Christians had a phrase for what happens when people properly protect and acknowledge the image of God in those around them. In the letter to the Ephesians, we read about a group of people who were previously divided because of race, background, wealth, socio-economic status, world view and religion. One group is made up of Jews, the other Greeks, and in this new church, they find themselves united because they’ve all become followers of the resurrected Jesus Christ. All the old categories simply don’t work anymore. This new commonality, this new bond, is simply bigger than all the things that previously kept them apart. The first Christians called this the “new Humanity” In the beginning God created us “in His image” So first, God gave us an image to bear. Then God gave us a gender. Then God gave us something to do, to take care of the world and move it forward, taking part in the ongoing creation of the world. Later people began moving to different places. It takes years and years of human history to get to the place where these people are from here and those people are from there. Different locations, skin colors, languages and cultures come much later in the human story. What we often do is reverse the creative process that God initiated. We start with different cultural backgrounds and skin colors and nationalities and it’s only when we look past these things that we are able to get to what we have in common- that we are fellow image-bearers with the shared task of caring for God’s creation. We get it all backwards. We see all the differences first and only later, maybe, do we begin to see the similarities. The new humanity is about seeing people as God sees them.

Rob goes on to say that there are moments when all the ways that we divide ourselves and rank each other and convince ourselves of how different, better and unalike we are disappear and we are faced with the fact that first and foremost we are humans in this together, and not that much different from each other.

How you treat the creation reflects how you feel about the creator. When a human being is mistreated, objectified, or neglected, when they are treated as less then human, these are actions against God. Because how you treat the creation reflects how you feel about the creator. To be a Christian is to work for the new humanity. Jesus commanded his followers to feed and cloth and visits and takes care of those who need it. They are fellow image bearers, they are just like us, and when we love them we are loving God.

A church exists to be a display of the new humanity. A community of people who honor and respect the poor and rich and educated and uneducated and Jews and gentiles and black and white and young and powerful and helpless and fully human created in the image of God.

My prayer is that we work toward the new humanity. My hope for these children is that they will be the generation that breaks the bonds of segregation, the bonds of hate, and the bonds that are keeping them from loving each other as equals. That they would grow up and get their churches involved in the injustice. That people of all colors would worship together in the townships. That their love and respect would be colorblind. Bono once said “Kingdom come when all the colors bleed into one.” I would like to invite heaven to earth, but I know that I myself struggle with prejudices and bigotry. Like I said before I used to pride myself on being inclusive of people from all races & nationalities, but I recently became aware that “if I am profoundly proud of being an open-minded, tolerant, soul you will be extremely indignant towards people you think are bigots and that isn’t any different from being a bigot.” (Tim Keller, The Reason For God) WOW What a neat and difficult lesson to learn. I’m praying that we all learn to live out the new humanity and that if we are members of a church we will encourage every one there to do the same.

"Everybody thinks of changing humanity but nobody thinks of changing himself." - Leo Tolstoy

Obviously I need to go ahead and recommend Sex.God by Rob Bell. I read the whole book in two days. I also want to recommend Same Kind of Different As Me!