Category Archives: Life in South Africa

Happy Birthday, Judah!

Five things you should know about this amazing five-year-old:

1. He wants to replace the letters in his name with T-O-N-Y S-T-A-R-K (or Ironman, whichever is available)…and because Judah (in the Bible) was a mean brother to Jospeh

2. He asks the name of every car guard and beggar because he understands that people matter to God, and learning their names is a way to show it.

3. Loves to sing Matt Redman’s “10,000 Reasons”

4. Sunday is his favorite day of the week! It means church! And church means a lekker play date with his cousins! “Super Heroes Unite!” (And occasionally a villain)

5. Takes excellent care of “Gen’sen Grace”. They are thoughtful playmates and love to sit and watch movies together–and if the movie gets too intense– he’ll even offer to hold her hand.


6. He can totally SMASH a donut and he LOVES art!


Judges 6:14 (part 2)

“Go with the strength you have…I am sending you”.

I’ve always appreciated the analogy of life coming (and going) in seasons. It makes things like this a little less painful…

Our family is preparing for our “season” in South Africa to end. We are planning on returning to the U.S. the first of June 2015. While we are, of course, excited to be returning we share the sentiment that it is hard to leave what has been home to our family for three years. 

We are excited about our “next step” and continue to be amazed by the faithfulness of God. 

Jett’s arrival (birth story)

At my 38 week checkup I came home in tears because the doctor told me I had made no progress and Jett was still several days away (bittersweet because I was so ready but glad because Anita–my go to babysitter– was in Cape Town for her honeymoon).

Then, around 2:30am on September 1 (4 days later), I got up to go the bathroom and got back into bed and immediately felt a strong contraction. I stayed awake waiting to see if another would follow…ten minutes later another contraction that nearly pushed me out of bed. Still, I waited… Around 3:00am I was so uncomfortable I went downstairs thinking I’d be able to fall back asleep while watching TV (because, remember, Jett is “several days away from coming”!). I could not get comfortable I was in so much pain–which made it very difficult to time contractions because I couldn’t tell if I was just in constant pain or actually having labor contractions.

Around 4:00am I went back upstairs. Half way up the stairs I hear Kasey wake up and ask if I’m okay. I tell him I think I might be in labor. He JUMPS out of bed and meets me at the top of the stairs. “Are you sure? What do we do!?” (Third baby and he’s asking what to do…) I told him I was going to take a bath to see if the contractions subside. Meanwhile, he is so certain it’s “go time”, that he is carrying all our stuff to the car. I was able to relax enough in the tub to realize this was probably real and somehow my contractions were already three minutes apart. So Kasey grabs both kids out of bed and we rushed to the hospital… (Judah was so excited!! He wanted to stop for a cookie on the way to celebrate Jett’s birth-day!)

I get checked in while Kasey waits in the waiting room with the kids. The hospital and staff are very slow but nice. They let you stay in your own clothes and pretty much leave you alone until you’re ready for delivery– no gowns, no being hooked up to a monitor (after the initial assessment, they unhook everything unless there is reason to suspect distress), you can have snacks, no movement restrictions (in fact, I walked out to the waiting room several times to see Judah and Genesis–each time Judah told me to go back until the doctor took Jett out). It was nice to be left alone and be able to walk/stand/squat/whatever.

Kasey called Kelvin, a good friend of ours, to meet us at the hospital to watch the kids. Around 7:00 Kasey was finally able to join me in the labor ward. The hospital underwent shift change and I was moved into the delivery ward by the midwife (interestingly, they only did one exam and otherwise watched me and my body for symptoms of labor progression– anyone who’s been through labor can appreciate that!) my doctor rounded about 8:00 and offered to break my water but cautioned it would become much more intense. I was exhausted and so uncomfortable, I said I would wait a bit longer and asked for an epidural. The midwife prepped my IV and placed the order. About 30 minutes later (8:30) she comes back with laughing gas and informs me they cannot find an anesthetist. (I’m sorry, can you repeat that!?) She tries a few more times to get one but is unsuccessful. Around 9:00 she comes in to check me- my doctor’s suggestion– and I’m fully dilated and ready to go. All natural it is!

She breaks my water around 9:15. Shortly after I hear someone running down the hall in high heels. I remember thinking that it must be really important if she’s running in heels. Little did I know that it was my doctor running to my room!!! Apparently her secretary misunderstood the midwife’s message “to come catch a baby” and waited several minutes to tell her. But she made it in time to suit up– and three pushes later Jett David was here at 9:29 am. He was a healthy 3.6kg and 50cm long.

Kasey took the iPad out to the waiting room to show Judah and Genesis their new brother. They were so excited they wouldn’t let him brig the iPad back! They patiently waited 4 hours in the waiting room for this moment!








Starting 2014

It has been a quiet start to the new year (except for the round of fog horns ringing at midnight). We went to bed at the usual time–which anyone with young children can appreciate. NYD we spent with some new and dear friends from the U.S. that purchased a B&B close by (here). Brent and Jennifer Dorr are wonderful hosts and are operating a beautiful B&B. We swam in their pool (January 1– only in SA!) and was treated to taco salad (seasoning was brought over by Jen’s mom). Judah cried all the way home “Why did we have to leave their pool?”…

Aunt Nene took both kiddos to McD’s for a special lunch date and ice cream. The kiddos impressed all the employees with their good manners and sense of humor. (proud mamma!)

Kasey and I enjoyed a nice date on Friday and discovered some new beaches in Sardinia Bay. We will definitely be going back to the beach and to try a restaurant called “Sacramento”.

Some days it’s easy to forget we are so far removed from home… And then a giant gecko comes stalking you in your room! Okay, maybe not “giant”, but I think I should be allowed some grace based on its proximity to the place I sleep. Kasey, as usual, came to my rescue and caught (then released) the poor lizard. However, it decided to make a reappearance the next night in our living room and the outcome wasn’t nearly as favorable…for the lizard (RIP). I really do feel a little guilty…

After that we had a few quiet days at the house followed by a wonderful Sunday and met three new families!







Starting Point

The Old Testament prophet, Nehemiah, once said “I cannot come down because the work is too great.” He was rebuilding the wall that was in ruins and didn’t want to stop doing [God’s] work.

I feel this way about South Africa. It’s no secret that Africa confronts dire poverty and a growing AIDS epidemic, but it’s entirely different to be here–in the midst–it’s overwhelming. (When was the last time you prayed HARD that a 7-yr. old’s HIV test would come back negative?) It feels much bigger than anything one person could even make a dent in. But once you see what we’ve seen there is no turning away. We’re now responsible for the things we’ve witnessed. In all honesty, I am willing but have no idea where to begin.

Recently I listened to Craig Groeschel speak about “Ridiculous Provision” from the life of Elisha. AMAZING! ( watch it here)

When the widow seeks help from Elisha, he asks her two things: what do you want me to do? What do you have?”. At first, the widow replies that she has nothing to offer–except a jar of olive oil (symbolic today of Holy Spirit). Elisha told her to collect every empty jar she could and continue to pour out the oil. She did and filled several jars–until there were no more empty jars. When she ran out of empty jars the oil stopped flowing. Groeschel makes the point that God starts with what we have (empty jars) and then fills it.

So– when I look around me and see hunger, disease, hate, indifference, innocence lost– I feel that the question is posed to me: “What do you have? What do you want Me to do?”

I don’t know the answer…yet. But I think it’s the right question to be asking.

For now, I’ll work from these truths:

1. The work is too great and I cannot come down from here
2. I have some “oil” that I can start pouring out
3. God needs empty jars before they can be filled

Genesis’ Birthday

Genesis turned One this month! Where did the year go?! We had about 30+ people over for a “very hungry caterpillar” birthday. Kasey took some great pics of the party that I’ll post later, but I wanted to show you the birthday girl first.








Home, Sweet Home

So many have asked about where we live. I figured a picture is worth a thousand words. So, here you go…

Living room (seen as soon as you enter the front door):

Dining room (one big room shared with the living room):


Kitchen (kitchen sink is behind the partial wall with washing machine and leads to my “backyard”):


Patio and “garden” (right behind the living room):



Our Room:


Genesis’ room:



Judah’s room:



And, if you can picture our home laid out like a tic-tac-toe diagram, we have a small courtyard right in the middle.

Outside view (ocean behind me, our complex is the green and brick on the far left):



I wanted to get some outdoor pics, but it was a “monkeys wedding” kind of day. Naturally, I didn’t stray too far from home.

We live in a very safe, quiet part of town called South End. It is situated between the poor areas downtown and the uber rich in Summerstrand. We feel incredibly blessed to find such a quaint, affordable, dry (mold is a huge problem in other places), and safe place.

Throughout this whole process I’m learning that home is truly where your heart is and life is what you make it.

A Monkey’s Wedding

So…being from the Midwest it’s a very strange kind of day. It’s raining and sunshine all at the same time! Come to find out that’s very common here and is referred to as a “Monkey’s Wedding.” In all my research, about 10 minutes worth, no one knows how the expression came to be, buy every South African knows what it means. It has Zulu origins and quite literally translates as the “wedding of a monkey.” The cool thing about Monkey’s Wedding-type days is that there is almost a brilliant rainbow throughout the day.

Random post, I know, but I told you it was a weird kind of day…