Eight Already??

Today has definitely been a day of mixed feelings…

We got up early and did our finishing touches on the back house and then cleaned and cleaned and cleaned to get ready for the grand opening of the Muphamuzi Baby Home!

Around 9:30, people slowly started trickling in. There were somewhere around 40 friends, church members, neighbors and other visitors that showed up to take part in the opening ceremony 🙂 It was certainly encouraging to see all the hard work of the 1Hope staff (and SO many supporters) come to fruition today! We as a team were all blessed to be a part of the ceremony. Josh Mack talked about adoption and the beautiful symbolism it is for our spiritual adoption 🙂 It was so amazing to be able to be here for this momentous and Christ-exalting occasion! Being here to support these passionate servants of our God is such a privilege(: Especially being witnesses as they see their leap of faith reach the other side, and rest in the peace of His provision and marvelous grace (:

Mark left us today around 1:30 to go to Swaziland. Again, he would be greatly appreciative of all prayers for safety as he travels and works there 🙂

We cannot believe that our trip has come to an end so soon ): There’s definitely a lot of denial and planning to “lose” passports going on. (; But what a week! And what a God!! He is so faithful in provision, so generous in blessing, so sovereign over all! And there’s no better way to end our time here than to worship Him with our South African brothers and sisters 🙂last week when we went to church, almost everyone we met was an anonymous person, it’s so exciting to know that when we go tomorrow, we will worship with friends, brothers and sisters 🙂 God has been so gracious to allow us to come and be a part of so much here, to build relationships, be encouraged by believers and see Christ magnified and glorified!

Dinner at Carnivore restaurant included zebra and crocodile! (: We’ll do our best to get some pictures up soon!

Please pray for the hearts of those who said they would visit Living Hope Church this week, after our park outreach with Newton on Thursday. Also, for the Cornerstone team as they lead Sunday school tomorrow (:

Blessed beyond expectation,
Deborah and Matthew for the team (:

Day #7

Plans change, God doesn’t.

We’re excited to almost be done with all of the manual labor for the trip! We finished painting the baby home and are almost done with the caregiver’s house in the back 🙂

After breakfast, Nate started our workday by encouraging is in what God has been teaching him from Matthew 6. What a blessed way to set our minds on Christ’s words – to be anxious for nothing! On this day when we didn’t expect our plans to change, we saw that HE never does. (:

Mark got to interview the Macks today, and was greatly encouraged by the passion and conviction with which Josh spoke. We are all so excited to see the videos of all of the interviews!

Our original plan for today was to work until a little after lunch and then go to the park for a children’s outreach. Due to lots of work, we changed our plans so that a few of us could go to the outreach while the rest kept working. God had other plans though. He decided to send us some cool and refreshing rain which was quite pleasant, but caused the outreach to be cancelled. Our eyes were opened again to the incredible amount of trials these refugees have suffered through the testimony of sweet caregiver Patricia. We all were touched and inspired by her trust and love for the Lord both then and now.

We had a wonderful night of fellowship, worship, and bible study at the flat of Living Hope Church member, Safari. Worlds collide, colors fade, hearts unite in awe and adoration for our glorious Lord (:

We could certainly use some prayer as a team. God has blessed us with great health (for the most part) up until today, that is… Aliyah has a pretty bad ear infection that caused the Kosturas to be unable to participate in our bible study tonight :/ Unfortunately, Josh Bush is not feeling well either, and was also unable to join us. Prayer that they would be healed, and that everyone else would remain healthy would be greatly appreciated. In addition, please keep Mark in your prayers as he is driving to Swaziland tomorrow after the opening ceremony for the baby home. Specifically, he needs prayer for traveling mercies and a fruitful trip 🙂

We’re greatly anticipating getting the baby home completely ready for the grand opening tomorrow afternoon 🙂

All for His glory,
Deborah and Matthew for the team (:

Day 6

Sorry our posts have been coming a little late – we are truly grateful for all of your support and love by interceding for us on this trip.

The easiest way to summarize today would just be to share with you two quotes….

“You’ve stuffed the world with your glory and everything is screaming “You’re awesome!” -from Josh Mack’s morning prayer 🙂

Unreal. God makes the best stuff. -Nate’s first impressions of the game reserve 🙂

But here’s a more specific recap for you 😉
Today we got the awesome opportunity to worship the splendor of our God by enjoying His breathtaking creation! Throughout the two hour bus ride at Pillansburg game reserve, we were not only awestruck at the amazing varieties of wildlife, but also by the indescribable beauty of the scenery – Mark got so many great shots (: We’ll do our best to get pictures up as soon as we can for you all!

After returning from the reserve, we were blessed to be able to do some outreach at a park in SunnySide (which is a poorer suburb of Pretoria). We separated into small groups of three or four and just talked to those hanging around, invited them to come to Living Hope Church’s Sunday service, and to join us at the hill in the center of the park where we sang a few songs, and Newton boldly shared the gospel. Please pray with us for the hearts of those who listened, and for those who didn’t. We praise Christ for His saving power, and cannot thank Him enough for His matchless grace and love in adopting us.

We’re looking forward to another day of hard work and service tomorrow! Please continue to pray for good working weather and for health for the team 🙂

This trip could not be happening without the faithful prayers of so many wonderful brothers and sisters in Christ! Thank you so much for partnering with us and being such a blessing and encouragement to us 🙂

Humbled by His grace,
-Deborah and Matthew 🙂

| Your grace is sufficient for me. Your strength is made perfect when I am weak. And all that I cling to, I lay at your feet. Your grace is sufficient for me |

Day 5

Expectations=Exceeded

We were all looking forward to today for various reasons, but I think I can say without a doubt that God exceeded our expectations by leaps and bounds. Truly His goodness so far surpasses all that we could ask for or even imagine! Every day, as His mercies are renewed towards us, we are reminded of what a glorious God we serve 🙂

A very special privilege was given to Janice, Michelle, Stephanie, and Deborah today – we got to accompany Mark, Newton, Josh, Marda, and two of their daughters on a journey to document Newton’s testimony and the story of Muphamuzi. We were so blessed to be able to visit an orphan home called Door of Hope, and get a glimpse of what the Muphamuzi home might look like in a number of years (: After getting a tour from the woman in charge (who was SO sweet and willing to help the Macks), Mark filmed and interviewed while we got to play with some of the children! 😀 By the time we had to leave we each had a child we wanted to take home.(: It was so heartwarming to see the love of the caregivers, and how they taught the children the truth and joy of Christ. We then got to see the actual door of hope where behind, in the wall, babies can be anonymously dropped off and picked up by an orphanage caregiver, who would take them to safety. Mark also got to film part of Newton’s testimony in the city where he used to live. We also got to visit the home for HIV children where all 3 of the “chocolate” Mack kids came from. Overall, it was an incredible experience for all of us – God is truly Father to the fatherless, and forever faithful to His children through these selfless servants.

The men had another (less interesting, but still) productive day of manual labor. Today’s activities included…

-Cement Mixing & Pouring
-Painting (lots and lots and lots of it)
-Sanding, Dusting, Sealing and Sweeping

In the evening, we were blessed to have dinner with most of the 1hope team 🙂

All-in-all we once again got to see God work in, through, and in spite of us 🙂

So sorry once again for the late post!

Grace and blessings to you all,
-Deborah and Matthew for the team 🙂

Day 4!

*So sorry about the late post! There was very little energy and not enough iPod battery to post it earlier. We are all still alive and well though ;)*

Today started early for some and really early for others. Work began at about 6:15 for a few who were doing their best to work before the sun’s heat became a factor. After an hour and a half or so, we all gathered together for breakfast and were blessed to hear Randy’s testimony about how Galatians (especially chapter 5) changed his life in the most important way possible🙂 He encouraged us to find both peace and joy, as spoken of in the fruit of the spirit. Things which will only come in full force when they come from the Author of all true joy and peace, Jesus Christ, our LORD.

This was day two of scraping walls, plastering, damp shielding, painting, and doing other projects for the baby and caregiver homes (: So much thanks to all of you who have been praying for good weather here – it has been wonderful for working and only rained briefly this afternoon (:

Refugee caregiver, Jade, shared part of her testimony at lunch and will finish telling us tomorrow, but Mark got to film her full story later in the day. We can’t wait to hear the rest and see what Mark creates from his interview – it truly is an awesome gift to have such a talented film director on the team to share these South African believers’ stories and exalt God’s sovereign hand in each of their lives!

Tonight was date night for Josh and Marda Mack! which meant pizza party for the rest of us and the kids(; all the children are such blessings in their own ways, and bring such joy (:

Praise the Lord, John is feeling so much better! Thank you all for your prayers! We serve such a powerful Healer (: Please keep little Aliyah in prayer as she has an ear infection that often keeps her up at night – preventing Mike and Sonia from getting enough much needed rest. Also we have tomorrow and Friday to finish preparing both baby and caregiver homes for the open day on Saturday – please pray that we would be able to finish all the necessary projects in such a way that would keep both houses from rain damage as before.

It’s been so overwhelmingly incredible to watch the Lord cover every inch of this trip with His wondrous grace – we simply cannot praise Him enough!
He has brought so many unique individuals together in this team. As different colored tiles are hand-picked to form a mosaic, the Master Artist has unified us in Himself, differences and all (: to the praise of His sovereignty and sufficiency!

With so much gratitude,
Deborah and Matthew on behalf of the team (:

12

Jade, sharing her touching testimony

| Pouring out the riches of Your glorious grace – Your mercy and Your kindness know no end! |