An Update and a Big Thanks

Even when life is tough, I know God is good. But sometimes it’s really nice to give the update that both are good, at the same time. 🙂 I shared with you recently about how settling into this new place has been tough, and how it had been a greater challenge than I expected.

And many of you have asked how I’m doing and been so encouraging, sent emails with words of encouragement, and you’ve prayed for us and for me, which is a wonderful blessing. I just want to give you an update and say thank you for your prayers. The Lord is answering them.

We have settled in at the church we visited when we first arrived. Although I feel certain it was the Lord’s leading for us to take the time to seek His direction about where He would have us, I am really happy that we’ve settled in at the Every Nation Church in Somerset West. We’re beginning to make some lovely friends there, and it is just such water to our souls to be in fellowship again after feeling like nomadic travellers for so long. (Friends, thank the Lord for your friends and your communities and fellowship! Even if it’s sometimes tough to be in community, it is ALWAYS better than NOT being in community, I am convinced.)

We enjoyed attending a Life Group last night, which was actually a big end-of-year Christmas party, and had lots of laughs playing the Bad Santa Christmas game where you draw numbers and get to steal gifts or choose new ones. And Mark stole my homemade brownies, ate one, and gave them back to the person he stole them from after the game. He’s such a hero hubby!

We are also still getting to know our neighbours, which is lovely. We’re making salsa to bring them today as Christmas gifts since we leave for Bloemfontein on Wednesday. And we are networking with other Christians in the community in really exciting ways…meeting with folks from different churches interested in partnering with Samaritan’s Feet, and speaking with people who know people who know about working as a trust…making shoes…and lots of other things that could make our work here just blossom into a powerful ministry for the Kingdom and the glory of God.

We have even been welcomed by believers we’ve met at the gym, and the warm welcome into the community is such sweet water to our souls. So this is a big thank you, from the bottom of my heart (whatever that expression really means…why the bottom) and perhaps from the bottom of Mark’s heart too, and the Bear’s happy bottom… for your prayers and your encouragement. The Lord answers prayers. He is wonderfully good. And I am thankful for your friendship and support, as sometimes a comment on a blog has been enough to get me through a tough moment, here in sunny South Africa, my home 7,500+ miles away from home.

So here’s the big thanks…


(Sorry I can’t figure out how to make it any bigger) And I will give the Bear the big kiss I can’t give each of you…

Big Kiss

Does this Church make my butt look big?

After arriving in the country, Mark and I began the difficult task of trying to find a church to call home. It’s really really strange to suddenly feel like you’re “church-hopping” when two months ago we staff members at a church back in Scotland. During our explorations so far, we had a good experience at one church but weren’t sure if it was the right one. (We were bummed they didn’t have a creche/nursery).

I cried as we left another church because I was overwhelmingly bummed that NO ONE talked to us or welcomed us the whole time. And then we visited a third church this Sunday, and the theology and message being preached was so stinking dodgy Mark wanted to stand up in the middle of the service and say, “You’re wrong! That’s not what the Scripture says!”

Oh, Church!That is a long long story that probably deserves its own blog post, but for now, the short of it is, it was not a church that was faithfully preaching the Word of God. I don’t really know what exactly they’re preaching. Something from the Book of Second Opinions I guess. It is funny that one of my recent posts discussed how God’s Word can be misconstrued to say what people want it to say if they come to it with an agenda, and and not with the desire to understand the Truth. Anyway, we left the whole ordeal with a rather yucky taste in our mouths, so to speak. And then we had some realisations.

One simple commandment that is easy to forget is “Seek first the kingdom of God.” As Mark and I left the service and began to talk about the experience we’d just had, we realised we should’ve first asked the Lord… “Where do you want us?” And then listened for His leading. How simple is that? Seek His kingdom first. Seek His will first. Seek His way first.

Instead, we just started floating around visiting churches on the recommendations of others and on personal whims. We were just looking at things based on our own opinions. This church doesn’t have a nursery. Nobody spoke to me at this one and it made me cry. (Mind you guys — moving to a new country might give you a few tough moments here and there!) This one is preaching heresy. Ugh…great.


We probably could’ve saved ourselves a lot of hassle and heartache if instead we’d first said, “Jesus, please direct our steps. By Your Holy Spirit, please lead us to the church where You would have us added.”

While I don’t think the Lord will be leading us to settle in at the church that is preaching heresy, I do think He has a way better idea than we do of the right way, and the best way, which is His will. If we’re not listening to Him, then we’re just choosing based on our own measuring sticks. We might as well be asking, Do I feel comfortable in the seats at this church? Does their carpet match most of my church clothes?

It is GOOD to be reminded that His ways are higher than our ways… So now instead of using our own measuring devices to figure out what we think is best, we have asked God to forgive us for not seeking Him first, and we are going to actively seek Him, and ask Him where He would have us put down our roots. I’ll let you know how it goes. 🙂

The Lord Has Made a Place For Us

So… we are finally in our new place. And I’ve been a little reticent to tell you all the details about it because I feel like it’s so nice missionaries shouldn’t be living here! It is so amazing how the Lord just provides in His supernatural ways – sometimes you don’t even realise He’s moving, until you stop, look around and think WHOA. That was God.

This is the view from the 3rd balcony off our bedroom! We can see a tiny bit of ocean!

This is the view from the 3rd balcony off our bedroom! We can see a tiny bit of ocean!

We started out looking for a place to live in Cape Town and decided it was rather expensive, and we could pay less and get more if we lived outside the ‘big city.’ We ended up looking in the area of Gordon’s Bay, and Mark decided it would be a good idea to even further reduce our rent budget, which made me a little nervous.

We were hoping to keep our budget really tight on rent, so that we could pay off our car quickly, but when we spoke with letting agencies (rental agencies) and said, “We’re hoping for a fully furnished place for such and such” they often responded with, “Okay, that’s gonna be a bit tough.”  Finally one agency had a place for us to visit. It was a two bedroom apartment, but we were hoping for a three so Mark’s parents and other guests could come and stay regularly and we wouldn’t have to cart Asher around all the time. But this place had a sun room they’d closed in which was a perfect size to be a nursery, and I could peek through the window in the kitchen to check on him without bothering him.

It was still a little above budget, so we asked if they’d make an offer to the landlord for about 600 Rand (about $80 or £50) less than what he was asking, if we were to sign a twelve month contract. They asked, he accepted, and we moved in! So we’re paying about $350 less on rent per month than we were in Edinburgh – which is good because we have Health Care to pay for here, and the Bear is starting to eat a lot with that one tooth! AND they let us pay a lower deposit than the original figure. FAVOUR! (We’ve spoken to some friends in Cape Town who are paying a similar amount for a one bedroom!)

The best part...the view from our balcony!

The best part...the view from our balcony!

So that’s all the backstory for the place we are now living in, which has blessed our socks off. Our living room and kitchen look out onto a little harbour directly below us, and then the Hottentots Holland mountains are in the distance. We have three balconies with beautiful views (and we can see tiny bits of ocean here and there). We’re a stone’s throw (literally!) from the beach, and there’s a grocery store across the street. We’re in one of the most secure complexes in Gordon’s Bay, which was a big part of our housing choice, where lots of people own properties that they lock up and leave 11 months out of the year. (It’s very safe, Mom and Dad!) There’s a big circuit we can run around the harbour in the morning, which makes a fantastic jogging trail…I mean seriously, do you want me to go on? So our little 2ish bedroom flat has blessed us beyond belief.  The only thing that would improve it would be a dishwasher! 🙂

We’ve settled down in Gordon’s Bay for the time being, and it’s good to be home! (More photos below!)

This is our living room/kitchen/dining area. (Asher's nursery is through the doors at the back)

This is our living room/kitchen/dining area. (Asher's nursery is through the doors at the back)

Our flat is the one on the middle floor with a window open.

Our flat is on the left -- on the middle floor with a window open.

And that's our boat! Not!

And that's our boat! Not!

In Bloemfontein, and on the way Home

We are now in Bloemfontein visiting Mark’s Mom and Dad. It’s really good to be here. We hope to take the next few days to rest after going and going and going, and pray and prepare to jump in with both feet and get started. And great news, we will be able to move in to our new place on October 1st!  We are very thankful and excited to finally unpack our suitcases after over two months of nomadic living! I think this lifestyle is a constant reminder that we really are temporarily on this earth, and the long stay — the settling in where you don’t pack again — will happen in eternity.

I don’t know if it’s just because of all the changes that have happened seemingly suddenly (if it’s okay to put those two words together…it seems strange) but I am just overwhelmed with joy when Asher gets to be around his grandparents. I am the same way when we’re in Washington with my Mom and Dad…I mean you would think I was pregnant again it makes me so emotional! I’m almost teary just passing Asher to his Grandpa Collie so he can hold him for a while, and I’m running to fetch the camera. (By the way, I’m not pregnant again — just emotional!) I can look at pictures of my Mom or Dad holding him, and get emotional. A big part of our decision to move here was for Asher to get to know his grandparents here before we eventually settle down in the States (Lord willing and the creek don’t rise). So I suppose it’s just really great to be here, enjoying one of the reasons we’re here, seeing it happen before our eyes.

There is something significant in Scripture about generations — God being a generational God — the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I hope the Lord can become the God of the generations in the Collie family as well.

So we’ve finally arrived back in Mark’s hometown, Bloemfontein. And we are on the way to the place we’ll be settling in for a while. Even though this is at least 6,000 miles away from my hometown, it’s very good to be here, and it feels like home.


Storytime: Arriving in Cape Town

{The Bear, unsure of whether he wants to leave the comforts of North Carolina behind…}

Flying from Johannesburg to Cape Town was a peaceful two hours. Looking out the plane window, you first see the clay-red rooftops of the houses in Joburg fading into the distance, along with the tall shiny buildings of the city centre, the phone lines, and the blue of the backyard swimming pools. And then sometimes, for as far as your eye can see, it’s just this clay-red-brown earthy colour in every direction. It is beautiful. Lots of people say it’s Mama Africa’s red dust. Once it gets under your skin, into your blood, you always want to return. At some stages the clouds might space out below you like the circles on a Twister game. Perfect little round pillows stretching into the distance in white cotton rows. And you see mountains, one after another, some rough and rocky, some green and lush and verdant, and you wonder if anyone knows the names of all of them.

Then the wilderness turns into busyness again, as you arrive in Cape Town. The cape flats that sit behind the mountains of Cape Town stretch out for what seems like ages. The mountains are so beautiful you want the plane to slow down so you can stare at them a little longer. And then as you fly in, you often get to see Cape Town’s famous Table Mountain and the range that runs, and spills into the beautiful blue-green water. The beauty here is unmistakably wild — it’s hard to explain what I mean. If you visit the Lake District in England, it is also beautiful, but it seems tame. There are cute bunnies and ducks and swans and signs to beware of squirrels crossing the road. Here the mountains just seem so vast and expansive and rugged and rough — so beautiful you want to get closer, so rough you’re not sure you’ll do well on the climb. And the road signs don’t warn you about squirrels.

Our arrival at the airport was relatively uneventful. We picked up the rental car and the nice gentleman who helped us pack up the car taught me a few things to say in Xhosa (thank you and God Bless You). I absolutely struggled to convince my tongue to make some of the sounds he made, and I still don’t have it! I took his picture and thanked him for being my first friend in Cape Town. Then we were off to find the accommodation we’ve booked for the next three weeks. You might feel like this place is just like North Carolina, or anywhere you might call home in the states. Then you pass Khayelitsha, a huge and sprawling township of tiny shacks squished beside each other, with their four walls made of tin roofing, almost built on top of each other. You think about what it must be like to live there. You’re traveling at sixty miles per hour and the shacks seem to be never ending. As they’re sprawling along beside the highway, it feels like they’re running along with you, and then off into the distance. I remembered that the gentleman who helped pack our car lives there. And we wondered how we might go about arranging an opportunity to give people there shoes.

This is Africa. The beauty is great. The need is great. Our God is great. We hope He’ll let us be a part of what He’s doing here.

We’re currently staying in rented holiday accommodation while we look for a place to live. I think we have found our place to live now! I’ll share pictures as soon as I can and it’s for sure! Getting set up in a new country is challenging, but God is making smooth paths for us. Not having a credit history around here makes making anything happen a bit tough, but it’s coming together!  Thank you for your prayers, for your encouragement, and many of you, your financial support. Without it, we couldn’t be here!

{This lovely gent is writing down a few words for me in Xhosa!}