Humbled and Grateful

Fundraising. Fundraising has not always been an easy word to swallow for us. However, as we have stepped into it, and shared our hearts for the people of South Africa with our loved ones, we can clearly see God working in it. We are humbled and grateful.

Since we leave shortly (in almost one month to be exact) we have been focusing on fundraising quite a bit lately. One of the highlights of it has been having so many friends and family step forward that are truly invested in bringing hope to South Africa. We cannot tell you what it does for our hearts to have those we love onboard with this work. You are each just as much a part of it as we are. The genuine questions, conversations, and time spent has been refreshing.

We have received generous donations, and are well on our way to being funded. However, we have not reached our goal yet. The beauty of this is that we are getting to see up close and personal what it means for God to be our provider. We have what we need for today (and even several months ahead), and we are trusting that beyond that He has a plan. He clearly called us to serve the people of South Africa, so we are fully believing He will see that it is funded. Meditating on certain scripture that highlights God knowing our needs, and meeting them, has brought us a lot of peace.

31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:31-33

We had the chance to have a fundraiser at Old Hickory Country Club a couple weeks ago. THANK YOU to everyone who came out!! Seeing all of your faces there was such an encouragement to us. It was a really hot and humid Saturday, but we all still managed to have some fun. Several of the kids won t-shirts for answering some South African trivia. Also, THANK YOU to all of those who couldn’t make it and sent us prayers, words of encouragement and donations. It’s truly you guys that are making this all possible. Here’s a few pictures from our fundraiser:

Dustin getting to meet Evelyn Blackburn for the very first time!

The Clark kiddos/trivia Champions

sweet Stephens who drove all of the way from Knoxville to support us!

Landon made his Nashville debut!! Thank you for driving all of that way to let us meet him, Johnsie and Bryan!

During our last month in the States we are continuing to fundraise, and are hoping to see everyone! So, let us know when you are free!! Email us: or

With all of this being said, if you feel led to support our work in South Africa there are a few ways to do it:

*All donations are tax deductible.


  1. Send a check:

*All checks can be made out to Brentwood Baptist Church.

*In the memo write: Denning Support

*Mail check to: 2113 Lake Shore Dr, Old Hickory, TN 37138


  1. Give Online: At the top of this blog click on “Partner with us.” A box will appear for donations, click on it. This will take you to the page where you can enter the donation information.


Thank you for taking the time to read this update! We hope to see you soon J


What a sweet and exciting time the last few months have been! Thank you everyone, near and far, who helped us celebrate the beginning of our marriage. Having so many of our loved ones in the same room during that day was something we will always cherish.

With so many new beginnings, transition has been a common word we find ourselves using lately. Many of the transitions are exciting things that we’ve been anticipating for what seems like forever. However, like with any change (good or bad), we have also experienced some growing pains. It can be challenging to let go of something good…even if it’s for something great. Please pray that we continue to experience God’s peace, and for continued freedom from anxiety, as we navigate these changes.


As many of you know, Dustin returned home after serving for two years in Cape Town last August. Living on the same continent was certainly a plus for us! We considered deleting facetime for good at that point. Don’t worry, we didn’t. Once he adjusted to the time change, and felt a little more oriented, he began getting more plugged in with what our church is doing in Nashville. It quickly became clear that God wanted to use us in the refugee and immigrant community of Nashville. We got connected with an organization in Woodbine called Begin Anew. Dustin has been helping Begin Anew’s ESL ministry serving immigrants from all over the world. We have also been able to do children classes and childcare for the parents needing a hand as they take ESL.


     During the past few months we have had the opportunity to learn fun and engaging ways to share God’s word. One tool we are learning is how to be good storytellers! Through a group of people we work with weekly, generous mentors, and our friends and family being willing to listen to us practice, we are slowly learning the art of crafting bible stories that are engaging and true to scripture. We are looking forward to seeing how this impacts our ministry here and overseas.

In March we had the chance to go to a Trauma Healing Institute conference in Philadelphia. We were just blown away by the great work these people are doing! The institute focuses on ministering to people around the globe by first helping them work through traumatic experiences they have had. They have come up with various different paths and curriculums to help walk with people as they work towards healing and freedom. We had the privilege of hearing a counselor who grew up in Rwanda speak about the healing that this program has offered her people after the genocide. It was also an honor to hear an American missionary who survived Ebola talk about her experience. There were several tools we gained from this conference that we know will be beneficial as we encounter children and adults dealing with traumatic situations.

For the last few years Carolyn has worked as a pediatric emergency nurse at Vanderbilt. She has loved her time there, and learned so much about herself and nursing during that time. So, it was bittersweet working her last full-time shift there a couple weeks ago. She will be continuing to work shifts here and there until we depart in the fall. As many of you know, Carolyn will soon be starting her schooling to become a Nurse Midwife. She will be going to school part-time as we serve on the field. We are excited to see how God uses all of this in the years to come.

On our four month wedding anniversary (about two weeks ago) we began our 9 week training with the International Mission Board (IMB). The training is formally called Field Personnel Orientation (FPO). The training takes place on a farm in Richmond, Virginia. The time here is used to pour into us before we depart for South Africa. We have already learned so much and have met some incredible people and it’s barely been two weeks. We spent the first week of training in New York City. The purpose of it was to learn how to learn about a new city and culture. During our time there we were asked to immerse ourselves in the culture. So, we stayed in a neighborhood in Queens called Jackson Heights. It is the most culturally diverse neighborhood in NYC, and their claim to fame is that there are about 260 different languages spoken in the area. We LOVED it. We went to several ethnic restaurants (Indian, Peruvian, and even Afghanistan). The majority of the time we knew what we were eating. We got on the wrong subways and buses often. Dustin played pick-up basketball in the park. We also made a point to go to a laundromat and chat with locals as we all did our laundry. We had the opportunity to interview a church planting couple from Knoxville who are fostering with hopes of adopting. Carolyn loved taking care of baby while mom got to eat!



A few experiences stuck out to us from NYC. As many of you know, NYC is a city that is extremely fast paced and everyone also seems to have somewhere to go…fast. So, in an environment like that it’s pretty easy for manners to fly out of the window.

One day while riding the subway, which was extremely crowded, Carolyn was standing next to an older man when someone quickly got up, opening up a free seat. The man pointed at the seat and said to Carolyn: “Sit.” She responded by saying: “No, No. You sit.” He responded, more firmly the second time: “Sit.” So, Carolyn sat in the free seat. He then said: “It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.” We both took that as a great lesson for all areas of life, especially when it comes to the mixing of several cultures. A second highlight to New York was Easter Sunday. During the week, we had the honor of seeing quite a bit of ministry being done with refugees and immigrants in the Jackson Heights area. One man that has been monumental in this is an Indian church planter. He is well respected in the community by people of all different walks of life. He recently began hosting church on Sunday mornings at a Muslim owned restaurant. We worshipped the Lord in several different languages that morning with brothers and sisters from all over the globe.

So, what next?! Once we finish training we will be applying for our South African Visas. We are hopeful that we will obtain a three year volunteer visa. Please join us in praying for this to be a quick and smooth process. Carolyn will be attending orientation for midwifery school in August, and then we plan to depart for South Africa in September. We hope to spend our summer pouring into our church community at Woodbine and seeing YOU. So, please please connect with us to set up a time to get together! Our e-mails are: and .

We cannot tell you how thankful we are for each of you. Thank you for partnering with us through prayer, fundraising, and encouraging words. This summer we will be planning an event to share more with you, and fundraise. We will be sure to keep everyone in the loop on the details. If you’d like to contribute prior to the event, you can do this by clicking on the ‘Partner With Us’ tab at the top of this page.

Thanks for reading our long update J, we hope to see you this summer!


Dustin and Carolyn


To all who has been a part of our journey,

First, I’m happy to say if you are reading this blog I can assure you that you have been a part of me and Carolyn’s life, more than any of us could possibly understand and like all things, only He truly knows. Therefore, it is important to us that you are aware of what God is currently doing in our lives. I am getting married to the love of my life! Words can’t express how blessed I am.

I titled this blog transition because we are on the brink of some big ones. To date, I have been serving in South Africa for two years. My passion for this place and these people still continues to grow. Over the last two years, the Lord has made South Africa my home. This has been even more evident as my departure date has quickly been arriving over the last few weeks. I look forward to sharing what God has done over the last two years with you all soon.

I will be returning to the States next month to get married in December. For those who know our story, you can imagine how fired up we both are to be in the same city and begin our life together. Though I am moving continents, my role will not be changing. I will be a volunteer with Brentwood Baptist Church. For those who currently support me financially, my church has graciously decided to keep me on “missionary status” during this transition. Therefore, I will continue to be supported financially by friends and family and Brentwood Baptist. (If you have questions concerning this, please email me

So what’s next? Before Carolyn and I even began praying about our relationship, Holy Spirit gave us clarity about our future. First, He made it abundantly clear that we were to spend the rest of our lives together. Second, He made it abundantly clear for us to be married and serving together in South Africa.

With this clarity, I wish I could end the blog here and everyone including me and Carolyn would have complete peace with this word from the Lord.

However, excuse my vulnerability or rather praise it while I unpack my thoughts. I am scared. I am nervous. Will people understand how I have changed while living in South Africa? Will I deal with reverse culture shock like I did when I was home last year? Will I be able to lead in our marriage to best equip ourselves for God’s will? Are we being good stewards of our finances? Will people continue to support us? Where will we live in Nashville? When will we move back to South Africa? Do I need to embrace relationships with others considering the possible turnaround time? How will Carolyn adapt to international missions? How hard will that transition be? Will the kids remember me when I return? Have I served the community the way God intended?

While there are some unknowns, doubts and questions about our near future, Carolyn shared with me a word from the Lord from church last week. This has given us a lot of peace as we reflect on our own word from the Lord. It’s from the story of Abraham, when he nearly sacrifices Isaac. Before this, Abraham was given a word from the Lord that he would be the father of many nations.

Then God said, “Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.” Genesis 17:19


Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.” Genesis 22:2

I wonder what questions and doubts Abraham had if we were able to witness him being vulnerable? One had to be, but Lord you promised I would be the father of many nations? How can this be if I sacrifice my son? I mean c’mon, what extreme range of emotions was he experiencing?

Well, Abraham didn’t ask any questions.

“Early the next morning Abraham got up and saddled his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there”…

The last part of this verse is what gave me instant peace when Carolyn shared it with me last week. As much as I have read this story I have never picked up on what Abraham says next.

…”We will worship and then We will come back to you. “Genesis 22:3-5

You see, Abraham knew he would be coming down that mountain with his son. He held onto God’s initial word and God’s initial promise. Whatever happened in between didn’t stop Abraham from walking in obedience by faith towards God’s will.

I hope this word encourages you as much as it did us to hold onto God’s promise for your life. If you haven’t received a word from the Lord in a while, ask Him for one and walk in obedience by faith.

We hope to see as many of you as possible while I am in the states. Please feel free to email me or Carolyn. It will be great hearing from you.,

Thank you for your love, support and prayers. May God’s presence bless you and those you influence.

Love y’all,

Dustin and Carolyn

Hard to Explain

I suppose I need to apologize for not updating in a while. I’ve come to realize how difficult it is to stay up to date with blogging. Hats off to all the routine bloggers out there. I told myself I would do at least once a month to give me some wiggle room. However, I think I’m a once per quarter kind of guy!

I’ve been on Africa soil for 7 months. It’s gone by extremely fast but also kind of slow. Hard to explain. God is continuing to stretch me and have experienced a lot of His presence but also have felt distant at times. Hard to explain. I have become comfortable calling this place home but still catch myself randomly stopping in my tracks saying “Oh My God, I’m in Africa”. Hard to explain. I have experienced growing relationships with many people here and have experienced some non fruitful relationships as well. Hard to explain. I have experienced foreign (to me) insights from God’s word and even new ways of talking with God. Hard to explain. As I type this blog and trying to be all creative with the “hard to explain” bit I am honestly frustrated about not being able to explain what I have experienced lately. I’m thinking about when I come home in a few weeks to visit and how difficult it’s going to be to share as well. I’m reminded of Paul in Romans 11 when he seems to be in a similar situation. He’s trying to explain some serious stuff and mysteries of God and then just busts out in praise!

Romans 11:33-36 A Hymn of Praise

33 Oh, the DEPTH of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How UNSEARCHABLE His judgments and UNTRACEABLE His ways! 34 For who has KNOWN the mind of the Lord? Or who has been His counselor? 35 Or who has ever first given to Him, and has to be repaid?[a] 36 For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.

And then I start to feel okay about not being able to explain everything. After all, my “story” is God’s story and we can’t comprehend God! The more we surrender to God the more we realize how unexplainable He is. Surrendering gets us closer and allows us to experience His wisdom, His knowledge, His love and compassion, His judgements, His ways, etc… However, we can’t explain it and there’s always more! “Oh, the Depth…” Amen Paul.

My church (Brentwood Baptist) is having a missionary conference at the end of June and all our missionaries from all over the world will be coming home for this. I am coming home May 13 and staying through the end of June. While I’m excited for the conference and about coming home and visiting family and friends, I am also kind of bummed about leaving so soon. I feel like I’m finally “catching my stride” and our team is embarking on some new ministries. Most importantly, I am growing relationships and my absence during this time has me worried. So this is a prayer request I ask of you and something I’m praying through as well.

What’s been going on in ministry?…

After school clubs- This is going strong and would say is my most important time of growing relationships with our children and teens. It’s a safe place for the kids to come and play, hang out and hear God’s word.

Holiday club- (When school is out and we hold all day club for kids and teens) The last 6 years, I have come during “Holiday Club” on a team to work alongside the Life Skill Educators. A few weeks ago, I experienced being on the other side of this while a team from Australia worked alongside us! During this holiday week, we taught the kids the life of Moses and about having courage to follow God. I was Moses for the week and visited the children in biblical costume to share how Moses had courage to follow God’s plan. Our team did an amazing job with the teens. We prepared a week of doing “The Amazing Race” based off the reality show. We partnered with other people in the community and planned activities based off the bible stories and theme of the week. It was awesome to see how fired up the teens were running through the community and was impressive how well the teens remembered the stories and bible verses. I also had the privilege of taking some of our teens to Monkey Town during holiday week. Pick and Pay (local grocery chain) sponsored this for Living Hope. It was a great day and we all had a blast!

Literacy Program- A few months ago, we started a literacy program with our kids. We have kids coming every Wednesday and Thursday to learn literacy. Education is a huge problem in our townships and we are looking forward to see how God continues to use this ministry to help the kids. We also have plans on working with mothers on how to help the kids in this regard.

Parenting- Our team has been engaged in the community working with parents. Living Hope has an 8 week parenting course with support groups. Our hope is to empower and encourage our children’s parents as they deal with challenges of raising their kids. Unfortunately, we have experienced some challenges with getting parents to come. However, we are in the process of partnering with an organization who minister to mothers in our community to come in and run this program. I am excited about this opportunity as this organization already has mothers attending.

Job Center- My team member and good friend Justin has been training at Living Hope main campus for our new job center that will be coming into existence in the next couple of weeks! This will be crucial in our community. We have done door to door visits accessing the unemployment issues in our township and the results have been overwhelming. A huge percentage say they are unemployed and also say they would be greatly interested in coming to our Job Center. This Job Center will consist of assisting people with resources, references, tools and training on how to obtain steady employment and keep a job. I am looking forward to being involved with this ministry.

New team member- One of our team members (Phathiswa) is currently on maternity leave. This has opened up an opportunity for Living Hope to bring on a local volunteer to work with us. This is a really cool story as she has grown up coming to Living Hope in our after school programs. I remember her being a teen when I came on my first short term trip 6 years ago. I remember her saying that she wanted to be a Life Skill Educator when she grew up! This is a testimony of our program and is a blessing to have Abigail work alongside us and see her pour back into the children of her community!

As you can see, God is at work in a lot of things with our team. We are excited about all these opportunities to share Christ and empower our communities. I would ask for prayer specifically for all of these ministries and for our team. A lot of work behind the scene goes into this and it can become tiring and frustrating. So prayer for energy, health, determination, positive attitudes and for our community to be open to what we have to say and give.

Lastly… Language learning update- Long story short- I have a private teacher who I meet with once a week. It’s the hardest most frustrating thing I’ve ever tried to do in my life. But, not giving up. Pray for a miracle!

I look forward to visiting with many of you when I’m home. Please feel free to reach out if you want to meet up to hear more. I would love to meet for coffee and catch up. Shoot me an email

Also, I will be announcing really soon details of an “update event” I will be having when I’m home. All is welcomed to come!

“To Him be the glory forever. Amen.”

Few pics!

Finally made it to the true southern tip of Africa. (as I live on the most southern western point!) About a 3 hour drive and is where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet.

Cape Aghulus. Finally made it to the true southern tip of Africa. (as I live on the most southern western point!) About a 3 hour drive and is where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet.

last challenge for the day. Teen teams had to "cross the red sea" to complete the day's events.

Amazing Race! last challenge for the day. Teen teams had to “cross the red sea” to complete the day’s events.

after school club car tune up

After school clubs for kids. Sometimes, my car gets a free tune up.

after school club car tune up

Future Mechanics…

monkey town

Monkey Town outing with some teens.

monkey town 1

Sive and I met a new friend

Kids made Moses' burning bush

Joshua took the prize for best burning bush

amazing time meeting and working with this team. Part of the team consisted of a family of 4 kids (hint hint to my friends/family with kids)

amazing time meeting and working with this Aussie team. Part of the team consisted of a family of 4 kids (hint hint to my friends/family with kids)

fyi: South Africa does April Fools too.

fyi: South Africa does April Fools too. Yep, that’s my car all tied up


As the Christmas holiday is upon us, I have had some free time to reflect. It definitely does not feel like Christmas. The hustle and bustle is not nearly extreme as it is back home (which is refreshing!). Decorations do not adorn every corner. Christmas music is not embedded in my head. It’s summer time here so that’s weird. I can’t watch A Christmas Story 7 times tomorrow. I do not have to worry about going on Christmas Eve to get last minute presents (Sorry family, mainly Walker and Tripp!) I missed spending Sunday before Christmas with my Sunday school class. But the main reason it doesn’t feel like Christmas is the fact that I’m not with my family. With family and friends on my mind the Holy Spirit spoke a message through His word in Matthew’s account of Jesus’ birth.

Matthew 1:1-17. Here Matthew writes the boring, perhaps insignificant (to many folks including me) record of Jesus’ genealogy. I suppose any follower of Christ should know that this is in fact significant considering it proves Jesus was a descendent of Abraham and a direct descendent of David, thus fulfilling Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah’s family line.

I decided not to skip over this section this year. After all, there may be something the Holy Spirit was trying to tell me by reading all these names most of which I’ve never heard of. Man, I started having all kinds of thoughts while reading all of these names. Just think how precise God’s plan was to send the Savior of the world to earth. Just think how long it took to do so. Just think how hidden this must have been to these families. I’m pretty sure Jeconiah the father of Shealtiel didn’t realize how important he was to God’s master plan. I started relating these names to my family and how I am where I am today because of my family line. My core values reflect my parents who learned from their parents who learned from their parents and so on. As I think about all 42 generations (I’m no bible scholar but that’s what my bible notes said!) from Abraham to Christ I have to assume a lot of them felt insignificant in God’s plan to bring salvation to His people. However, I also have to assume these generations had families, friends, and communities who were obedient to God. Yes, Joseph’s righteousness was from God but someone had to point him in that direction. It came from community and families who taught integrity and humility, families who took pride in their family name, families who did community with others, who showed compassion to others, who prayed together, who loved unconditionally, etc…

God’s plan can sometimes be hidden to us. For me, Matthew’s account of Jesus’ genealogy is a pretty good example of this. After all, He said all this took place to fulfill what the Lord said through the prophets. “The virgin will be with the child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel- which means “God with us”. No matter how insignificant we feel we can be assured God is at work and if we seek Him we can be used by Him in significant ways. It may take a while and we may not even realize it!

As I approach Christmas this year, I praise God for my family. For the first time in 32 years I will not be spending Christmas with them so I am appreciating this blessing a lot. I also pray God will use what my family, friends and community has taught me to pass along to a generation who doesn’t have much of a family structure. Regardless of their “family backing” they need to know God is their father and their father loves them. God proved this many generations ago. It’s not hidden now which is why we celebrate.

Merry Christmas!

Quick update- we wrapped up 2014 ministry with a final holiday club last week! The kids learned why God wants us to be Honest, Responsible, Available and that God can give us Peace. It was a great way to close out the year and I really do believe a lot of the youth truly understood these values. We now have a small break and will be starting back the first of the year. Please join me in praying for all of these kids and their communities especially over the holidays. Pray for safety. Thank you. Here are a few pics from the last couple of months!

Overcome Heights children playing water balloons parachute

Overcome Heights children playing water balloons parachute

Capricorn children doing circle games

Capricorn children doing circle games

Capricorn teens decorating my Christmas tree. Yes, I made the tree and I am proud of it.

Capricorn teens decorating my Christmas tree. Yes, I made the tree and I am proud of it.

my friends at Lumineer concert. I knew that one song. HoHey. Great night!

my friends at Lumineer concert. I knew that one song. HoHey. Great night!

My team did worlds aids day at this hospital. We did AIDS awareness and entertained the patients. I learned a lot.

My team did worlds aids day at this hospital. We did AIDS awareness and entertained the patients. I learned a lot.

justin's camp

My friend Justin invited me to come hang out at his church's youth camp. Of course we had a pillow fight

My friend Justin invited me to come hang out at his church’s youth camp. Of course we had a pillow fight

And got to Skype in with my old Sunday School class. We had a blast and was great catching up with them

And got to Skype in with my old Sunday School class. We had a blast and was great catching up with them

The Mystery of A Dress

Had to share this moment I had today. For my friends and family who wouldn’t understand; this sums up some minor issues I’ve been having. I’ve learned to roll with it. It’s really entertaining!

Friend- Dustin, can you do me a favor?
Dustin- sure, what’s up?
Friend- I need a lift. Can you take me to Muizenberg? I need to get a dress.
Dustin- Sure! No problem let’s go. (It’s only about a mile down the road). What do you need a dress for? (Made some jokes about going to a party or something)
Friend- Haha! (a kinda fake haha?) well, first I need to go to the lady’s house to get a dress.
Dustin- Oh, okay. Do you need to get the dress altered or something?
Friend- Yea, but I need to get a dress from the lady’s house first.

This is when I got the hint that this couldn’t be done now so we agreed to do it the next day.

Next day:

Friend- Dustin, can you take me now.
Dustin- sure, did you get the dress?
Friend- yes
Dustin- okay, let’s go
We get in my car but she didn’t have a dress.  I’m really confused at this point.
Dustin- so tell me about this dress! (I’m not understanding why she just can’t tell me what’s going on?)
Friend- It’s just a dress I need to get sorted
Dustin- Okay, well just tell me where to go. (getting the impression she doesn’t want to explain the dress)

We get to the place and I drop her off. She tells me she will just be about 10 minutes.

30 minutes later

Friend- I’m so sorry Dustin, the guy was on tea break so it took longer
Dustin- no problem, so did you get the dress sorted?
Friend- yes
Dustin- so please tell me what this dress is all about?
Friend- It’s nothing, I just needed to get a dress sorted
Dustin- so where is the dress, I’m really confused!
Friend- I’m really confused too!
Dustin- why can’t you tell me about this dress? Are you going to wear it for something?
Friend- No, not a dress! I’m getting an ADDRESS sorted
Dustin- now it all makes sense! geeez!!!!

The Mystery of A dress was solved. We were both relieved!

We laughed the whole way back.

It’s fun making memories due to my language barrier. It can be frustrating at times. While most folks from here speak English, no one speaks Tennessean. Tennessean is my native tongue.  Before I tackle Afrikaans, I need a crash course in hearing English pronunciation!



A month of firsts

Was told it could take a few months to hit culture shock. Since I’ve never experienced culture shock I can’t really say for sure if I had/have it. I’m hoping I had it so that I don’t have it a few months later! To spare the boring details it has been an adjustment doing pretty much everything. There has been a lot of firsts. First time driving on the wrong side of the road. First time shifting gears with my left hand. No, clutch pedal is still on the left, praise Jesus. Laundry drying on a line…


First time I’ve ever eaten a sheep head aka. Smileys!




AFTER. Look who’s smiling now…

smiley before

Before afternoon clubs we have morning ministries. This could be a lot of different things. Still learning exactly how this will look but we have done a lot thus far. We’ve helped the health department administer Vitamin A clinics for the kids in the township. We’ve gone door to door doing diarrhea prevention training. The process involved providing self made watering taps made from 2 Liter bottles. These are crucial considering most people do not have their own tap. Now they can wash their hands in their homes to prevent germs. We also shared some other crucial tips on preventing diarrhea. I learned this has been a huge problem in the past and has even been fatal for children.

vit a

First time I’ve ever talked to teenagers about why they should wait until they are married before they have sex. We were given the opportunity to do this in a local high school! Yes, we talked about Jesus. They laughed at my accent a lot.

morning ministry 2


First time I have ever done life with new friends on a new continent.

new friends new friend

First time ever to do a true South African braai. Coloured style! FYI. that’s not racist. The color folk’s braai is different (they say better) than the whites and blacks. It was a blast meeting new friends and fellowshipping with brothers and sisters. And the food was awesome!


First time to play golf on a different continent! My landlords Mike and Helga have been awesome. They put in a shower when I hinted taking a bath was a bit weird for me! They also love golf almost as much as I do. How good is God! Not dialed in on my meters yet!

golf golf 2

There’s been a lot more firsts I’ll share through more posts! More importantly I want to share some prayer praises and requests.

Praise that God has provided new friends to show me the ropes around here and making me feel like family. Plugging into community will be much easier with these brothers and sisters in my life.

Praise for good health. Had my first sick my first week here but all has been good since! Praise that my sleep disorder is no longer. Total miracle.

Prayer requests- Holy Spirit in all of me. More energy. More confidence in ministry. more compassion. more passion. more surrender. Sum it up with the first prayer request- Holy Spirit in all of me! Pray that God will provide more opportunities to share life with the younger generation. Ultimately, provide discipleship/mentor opportunities. Pray that Living Hope continues to be blessed financially so that they can continue changing lives.

Thank you for being interested in what God is doing here in South Africa. I’ll try to do better with my updates. In the mean time, I would love to hear from you. Please feel free to email me. I’ll sign out with some more pics.

Special Agents questioning Mary on why Jesus is not in the tomb.

club pic

I owe apologies for lying to some folks. I said I was a mile from the southern tip of Africa. This is not true. I am a mile from the southern most western point of Africa. Whatever the case, it’s still awesome.

exploring 2

Kids club!

kids club 

I won

kids club




Holiday Club begins

So one part of Living Hope’s ministry is to do “holiday club” while the kids are out of school. We start tomorrow! I would appreciate specific prayers for this week. Prayer for health, energy and safety for me and our team. Prayer for good communication. Prayer for good weather since we will be outside for the most part. Pray that tons of kids and teenagers show up. Pray that the community sees, hear and understands what we are doing and saying. Our theme this week is Agency D3. Discover, Decide and Defend. Our bible verse this week is 1 Peter 3:15 …”In your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give a reason for the hope that you have…” If you are like me then that verse may mess with you some. It messes with me because as I have prepared for this week I have come to realize that I haven’t had that question asked to me that much at all. And then the question is, why is that? This is a question I am wrestling with and it’s not because I don’t know the answer. I know the answer. For the majority of my life I have been around people who know me and know the Lord. Why would they ask me about the hope I have in Christ when they share the same hope? Jesus said to “Go”. In short, He said go to others. There are “others” in all of our lives. Others at the store, others next door, others at church, others at work, others at school… Other people other than the people you know. They are the ones who will probably ask you to give a reason for the hope you have.

I have my answers to that question. I just need someone to ask me. I’m pretty sure the question will be asked to me. I have a lot of “others” around me now.

The Lord will provide

Quick update…

Here are some words of wisdom or most would say common sense for those moving on the other side of the world. Don’t wait until 2 days before to begin packing. I was eating these words 5 days ago. Then this verse came to mind when Jesus sent out the twelve disciples. Jesus said…“Take nothing for the journey except a staff-no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. Wear sandals but not an extra tunic.”

Jesus was reminding me that I just need to continue following Him. Don’t sweat the small stuff. This gave me peace. I praise God for His word. This allowed me to be in the moment and share a special time with my family and friends. I had thought I was over the saying goodbye part. Not true! Again, another reminder of how blessed I am to have a loving family and friends who truly love me unconditionally. It was hard saying goodbye but praise God for technology as I have been able to talk to them already!

Now, back to that scripture reference. I think Jesus was just saying… Follow me and I’ll do the rest. Go and see what happens. Take a leap of faith and watch what I do. I will provide. Well, I am and His word has been true so far. Go figure! I had the easiest flight I have ever had. I arrived at my place with the coolest landlords ever. They even turned on the Ryder Cup for me! Woke up and got my cell phone switched over. To date, this is the first time in my entire life I have done something with technology and it actually worked. Since being picked up from the airport I have been embraced with some of the awesome community from Living Hope I will be doing life with. They have already made this transition seem easy (knock on wood). To top it off, I was able to rent a car today. I drove on the other side of the car and road and didn’t wreck (knocked on wood again).

This morning I went to King of Kings Baptist Church. This is Pastor John Thomas’ church who is the founder of Living Hope. Was amazing to see all of this come full circle. Please check out my first blog to understand and stand amazed yourself.

How good it is to be right where God wants you to be. I am looking forward to getting oriented this week and meet up with the people I will be serving alongside at Living Hope. I appreciate everyone’s prayers and ask to please continue praying. They are not only being heard by God but they are also being felt by me. Yes, the Holy Spirit is that powerful.

Please feel free to send me an email if you have any questions thus far or if you’re curious about anything. Or just to say what’s up. I love hearing from folks.

I should have much more to say the next few weeks once the jet lag goes away and I get settled in. And I’ll share some pics soon! Stay tuned…

God seën jou!

Training Update

For the last few weeks I have been attempting to update my blog. Honestly, I have had so much to say it has been overwhelming trying try to figure out what to say and how to say it. Today I received some letters from my Sunday School class. Madison asked me to respond on my website…madison

Yes Ma’am Madison I will respond! I miss these kids already. Hoping to Skype in with them soon.

I guess I’ll start by giving you a brief description of what a day may look like here at the farm (International Learning Center). I’ll use today as an example. Got up for some quiet time. Made it to breakfast at 7:00am. Went to large group to discuss Acts 9 (fyi probably one of my favorite passages- I’ll explain later). From 9:00 to noon we had a session on language and culture (it was awesome and learned a lot). Broke for lunch and then wrapped up session on language and culture. Then met with my small group and some others from my Sub-Saharan Affinity group to strategize on our upcoming Washington D.C. trip. Then played some bball followed by dinner followed by my first ever 18 holes of frisbee golf. Shot +7. My goal is even par before I leave training. It only took about 45 mins to play 18 holes (I hope my golf buddy’s wives don’t get any ideas from this).

That is a very brief description. I think I could write a book on everything else in between we are doing and everything I am learning. My brain is on overload and haven’t read this much in my entire life. All good stuff though! My favorite session was one on prayer last week. Made me look at prayer in a whole new way. Blew my mind! Also learning a lot about God’s word I never knew before which is really cool and interesting.

Back to Acts 9… About a month before my calling last year I volunteered at Set Free Church doing VBS. I did a monologue on first part of Acts 9…Paul’s conversion on road to Damascus. A month later with this fresh on my mind, I’m pretty sure this is why I asked God for him to be crystal clear on me moving to Africa. “As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him” Acts 9:3


Most have seen this pic I was able to take the night of my calling when I asked God for a sign. My own lightning storm. Like Paul, I saw and heard Jesus loud and clear! Hard to believe this was almost a year ago. Since that night I have battled with staying in that surrendered mindset. Though I told God… “yes, I will surrender and go” it hasn’t been easy. I think it’s all the unknowns. How long is this going to be? What exactly am I going to be doing there? Where am I going to live? What happens when I am done? What is this 2 month training deal on a farm in Virginia?

Then it hit me again this morning meditating on this passage. Jesus told Paul “…Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”  He didn’t tell Paul what he was going to be doing and how everything was going to work. He just commanded him to go! And he went. Blinded by the way. I’m finally at training and feel like it’s one step closer to me being ready. I’ll never forget a quote I heard my first mission trip to SA five years ago. “It’s like jumping stones in a river. You don’t really know your next stone until you jump and then there’s always another stone there” I loved that visual of living in the present and totally dependent on God showing me my next jump!

So for the next 6 weeks I will be soaking up all that God wants me to be learning. I’m doing this with some incredible people. Out of about 40 quads here at the farm, we by far have the best “family”. Two really cool couples, 2 baby boys and one 2-year-old girl who is hysterical and 2 other single guys. We are all going to different parts of Sub-Saharan Africa (yeah, I don’t really know what that consists of either). There is about 200 of us here. We are all learning from each other. Praying for each other. Eating with each other. Laughing with each other. Reading God’s word with each other. Worshiping with each other. We are all from different backgrounds but we all have one thing in common.

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possession and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved” Acts 2: 42-47