Sunday, April 26, 2009

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Circle Trilogy, By Ted Dekker

Before I left for Africa, I asked for some book suggestions.  My friend Sam highly recommended a trilogy of books by Ted Dekker called
Black, Red and White.

She gave me the first two to take on my trip, and I just finished reading the third one a few days ago.  I would classify them in the "can't make yourself stop" category.  Or perhaps the "ignore everyone around you even if they are crying, starving or bleeding from the head" type.  

So if anyone is looking for a good read, I would now highly recommend these books.  The only thing I will tell you is this...they are a cross between John Grisham/suspense/intelligent drama and Lord of the Rings.  But not at the same time.  Hmmmm.....  Ted Dekker grew up as a missionary kid (or MK as they are fondly known) in Indonesia, and a some of his experiences are interwoven in these books.  (Sarah, they even mention Faith Academy in Manila in one of the books!)

And now, I have officially hooked my husband.  I am seeing a lot of this around the house tonight.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Mbonisweni is one of the villages we worked in during my trip to Africa.  There is a woman there named Victoria, or Mama V, as people there like to call her. Mama V and her whole family serve the children of their community.  Twice per week they run a feeding program that provides a hot meal for anywhere from 100 - 150 children.
Robert and Sammi helping out with the cooking

During our time there, we were struck by the fact that Mama V, her daughters, and a few volunteers prepare this meal OVER A FIRE.  Can you image having to cook a meal for your family with only a pot over a fire?  Now imagine having to cook a meal for 150 over a fire!

Because there is only one temperature - HOT - when you are cooking over a fire, you have to constantly stir so that the food won't burn.

Through the generous hearts of many back in Texas, we came to Africa with some cash that we were able to decide how to use to bless those that we met in Africa.  We decided to purchase a three-burner propane stove and propane tank for Mama V and the community that she supports there in Mbonisweni.

When we arrived at Mama V's home, Keri (remember her from my first Africa post?) went inside her house and helped to stall her until we had the stove set up and ready to surprise her.

Here is our group from New Hope with some of Mama V's kids, both biological and kids from the community.

Mama V was EXCITED about the stove!  She did something so sweet, which none of us caught on camera.  She kissed the stove several times when she first saw it.  She was overjoyed!  

To know that we were easing the burden for these wonderful people who are giving so much of themselves was such a gift for us!

And now....I have a way that you can help the people of Mbonisweni!  I just got a message from Keri that she will be going with Mama V  *THIS FRIDAY*  to a meeting with the chief of their village.  There is a Care Center/Church that was built on the property right next to Mama V's home.  This center will be used to feed and care for orphans and vulnerable children in this community.  All the facility needs is a roof, and the money has already been given to complete the project.  This is a picture of the facility as it looks now.

They need the chief of Mbonisweni to sign a letter stating that he approves of them putting a roof on this building.  He has not, in recent past, been willing to do this.  (If they were to go ahead and roof this building without his consent, he could then come and seize their property and consider it his own because they acted without permission.)

Please pray for favor for Mama V and Keri, for the Chief's heart to be softened, and for there to be no more obstacles to using this building to help orphans and children in need!  

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Horvath's First Garden

I grew up on farm, so you would think I would have attempted a garden before now.  But my thumb is not the greenest, so it took some prodding from Steve to get the ball rolling.

(Here is my Dad telling Steve how far apart to dig the trenches for planting.  At first I tried to stay far away while taking photos because I knew my Dad would think I should be working and not taking pictures :-)

(Then I got braver and took pictures up-close, and I did get a look from my Dad that said, 
"What the heck are you doing?")
Just in case anyone is wondering, I did pitch in and plant all the seeds.  I just knew that neither man that was out there was going to be stopping to take my picture so I didn't even ask!
Here my Dad is getting some phosphate ready to pour into the trenches before we plant the seeds.  It stimulates root growth.  This is why it is great to have my Dad around when it is time to plant your first garden.  Who else would know about stimulating root growth??  Not I.

If you ever wanted to know, this is what green beans look like as seeds.

We planted black-eyed peas, two kinds of green beans (flat and round), okra, sweet corn, cantaloupe and squash.

Seth and Caleb were chillin on the front porch while we planted.

Everything we planted this afternoon was seed that my Dad had left over from planting in his garden.  His garden is roughly 10 times the size of ours, and we were thankful for his leftovers. But there were a few other things we wanted to try our hand at, so I made a run tonight to pick up a few extra plants.  I am hoping to get them in the ground tomorrow.

Red Pepper
Cayenne pepper and green bell pepper
Watermelon!  It is a long shot because they don't always do well here, but we will give it the old college try.
Sweet banana pepper

Some other things we would have liked to have planted would have been potatos, carrots, and tomatoes, but we waited too late to get those things in.  I think we have PLENTY to take care of for our first year.  I will try to take pictures periodically and let you know how it is going!

And this is how I felt after we were done planting!

It felt great to plant things that we will take care of, gather ourselves and that will be healthy for our family!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Monday, April 6, 2009

Reflections From Africa

I am back.  Glad to be home.  A bit disoriented, tired from jet lag.  

It is difficult to go to a place in the world that has so little, then return to a life that has so much and reconcile the two.  I am still processing all that I saw, experienced and learned while in Africa.

We returned on Friday evening, and on Sunday my friend Mindie spoke at our church about a girl that we met while in South Africa.  I asked her permission to post what she shared, and I thought it would be a great start to some reflections on our experiences there.  (*Note* When she mentions "Kerri", she is referring to an amazing girl that we met that is working with the Peace Corp in South Africa and also works alongside those in Ten Thousand Homes.  Here is Kerri with some of the kids from Mbonisweni)

NUMZOMU    By Mindie Runnels

Her name is Numzomu. She's 19 years old, living in the impoverished community of Mbonisweni. Her life is a constant sacrifice to the people and community around her. I met her our first day in Mbonisweni. A few people from our team went with Kerri to meet her and then spend the rest of the day following Numzomu's bare feet up and down 4-6 miles of backwoods mountain, visiting sick men and women and lonley orphans who are raising themselves and their siblings. We delivered food to these families - probably the only food they would have for the week: 2 bags of beans. The first man we visited was literally on his death bed. Laying in his own wastes, unable to move or feed or care for himself. Numzomu fed him by hand.
Before we could finish, a few members of his family showed up, scolding Numzomu, asking her not to return. Numzomu told us they don't take care of him, and how it frustrated her. But then, she quickly said that their criticism no longer bothers her. That she would continue to visit and care for him as she was able. Her perseverance in the midst of persecution was so incredible. She was so selfless. So driven in her service to those around her - even at the loss of her own reputation. I wished I was more like this. More concerned with God, than myself. More inspired by the love of others than affected by the fear of man.

There were three days of our trip that I got to see and serve with Numzomu. The last day I was with her, Courtney and I asked her a little more about her life - her plans for the future. As we talked, she shared with us how she had lost most of her friends. Many of them have had teenage pregnancies and criticize Numzomu for the seperate life she has chosen. They discriminate her for her time spent serving with white people, like us. Like me. They call her names, racially isolating her, saying she is a black girl who acts white on the outside.

I was so frustrated by her story, but she told us that her friends wouldn't change the person she was inside. That she would keep being who she is and doing what she does regardless of their criticism and discrimination. She knew who she was and was unwavering in her pursuit of literally laying her life down for "the least of these". I couldn't believe her sacrifice and her selfless love. I told her how great I though she was. That she had an amazing heart! That she was an awesome girl! I was so sorry for her loss of friendship and what the people around her had said and done to her. She responded -

"It's OK! It's not so bad - I still have some friends. I still have you & Kerri!"

It broke my heart!I reached out and hugged her. I was only with Numzomu for 3 days. I was about to leave, probably never to see her again. And she considered me one of her closest friends. This wasn't a friendship. But it's the closest thing she has. Suddenly, God's work in South Africa, through TenThousandHomes, began to make sense. These people in the village are serving with or without us. BUT WITH US, they have hope. They begin to have a small taste of what I get to experience on a daily basis: COMMUNITY! Friendship! With us - they aren't alone!

Ephesian 5 says - Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and LIVE A LIFE OF LOVE just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

I've been studying that verse and asking myself what it looks like to live a life of love. I saw a picture of that with Numzomu. Now I ask myself - will I love - will I serve - will I lay down my life the way that she has? At the risk of isolation? Rejection? Persecution? Will I be different? Will my life be changed by selfless and sacrificial love? Will my community be changed? It's my prayer that we will!!