Monthly Archives: June 2008

Africa’s Wild Expressions

Greetings from Doha, Qatar. We write this post as we sit in transit on our way to England, home of Wimbledon, the Queen and the best tea in the world. We can’t wait to see our friends in London!

The last 5 days have been unexpected to say the least. It all started when a friend of Rene’s came up to as after church and offered to loan us her car for two days! With Rene’s car on the fritz and in the garage this was a huge blessing and an opprotunity to check out Cape Town’s surrounding beauty. So on Monday, June 23rd we set out to explore Cape Town, take the tram up Table Mountain and explore the beautiful coast line. After taking the wrong exit and running a few red lights (by accident) we made our way up the windy road to the Table Mountain cable car. With clouds covering the summit of Cape Town’s beautiful mountain backdrop, we decide to take the ride and hope that the clouds lift. The view of the city from the base is stunning; we don’t have much of an opinion of the summit.  The clouds never lifted, so we walked around the misty, socked in trails for the next hour making the best of it.  The hot coco (the best in Africa, according to the baristas) and the thrill of the cable car ascending and descending in to thick white cloud was all worth it.  
We continued down the coastline and took in spectacular sites all ending at this fabulous and very smart restaurant.  Crayfish and prawns are a specialty in Cape Town and its no wonder why after we tasted the sweet and succulent meat.  MMmmm… forever in our memories.
Tuesday morning we get a knock on our door from Rene informing us that we need to drive to Cape Point “now” so we can return in time to roadtrip with Melisa, Bryna and Rene to Mt. Camdeboo Game Reserve about 8 hours away from Cape Town. Now there is excitement!  We hopped in the car and drove south through quiet and cute costal towns and made our way to the Olympia Cafe (a reccomendation of Rene’s). This funky little spot in Kalk Bay offered up great coffee, incredible pastries and a filling breakfast.
As we continued on to Cape Point we kept our eyes open of Boulders Beach, famous for a African Penguin colony of 3,000. Walking down the elevated boardwalk we quickly spied these cute little creatures, dressed in fine tuxedos, waddling around the sand and under bushes. There is just something about penguins that make you smile. We snapped some pictures, soaked in the late morning sun and observed the hatchlings resting quietly by their mums before moving on.
Cape Point, part of South Africa’s National Parks system, feels like another world. Arid and wind swept, this area hosts many animals including Baboon and Zebra. With the cape as our goal we parked and hiked to a lookout that did not disapoint. The Cape of Good Hope, technically the second southern most point of Africa is well known for it trecherous waters and many ship wrecks. As we peered over the towering cliffs near the end of the point we watched as huge swells rolled in from the Atlantic. It sounded like a train as the waves rolled in, beating the vulnerable shores. Beautiful.
We hurried back to meet up with the girls and hit the road.  We had BIG adventures ahead of us.  It was so wonderful to see Melisa and Bryna and gain excitement in getting to know our local friends a bit better.  After about 9 hours, we arrived at Camdeboo where we were met with exceptional service and lavish rooms – each to our own.  Camdeboo is owned by Mrs. Orchards father and his wife.  Another funny small world connection.  After a glass of wine we went to bed expectant of the adventure ahead.

After breakfast in our robes, relaxing by the pool and some of the most amazing food we’ve ever had, Wednesday brought us a safari of Big Game proportions.  Richard, one of the Managers of the property, took us out to see the animals.  Giraffe, rhino, ostrich, kudu, springbok, etc.  It was amazing. We never expected to find ourselves in the bush with this type of opportunity to see animals.
Thursday, we went out twice. The first venture was to track the cheetah who had recently had four cubs.  We were close as we continued up in the mountains, but then began going in the opposite direction…much to our surprise is was due to the fact that Johan (our host) had arranged a Bush Brunch for us.  WOW!  Sitting out in the Africa Savannah eating breakfast.  Absolutely spoiling.  Later in the afternoon, we went off-roading to find the cheetah once more and were finally able to see her, though she would not show her face for long. After watching sunset and night had fallen, we headed down a different road to see if we could find some buffalo.  To our surprise, we nearly ran in to all 5 rhinos in the middle of the road… in the dark.  They were spooked and confused as were we.  Four of them bunched together and faced us, while the other, who was separated came from behind.  It was a bit nerve racking, knowing that these animals could flip our now seemingly small LandRover at any moment, but it was a thrill none of us would trade in.
They finally moved on and we continued down the road to find a buffalo in the garden of one of the property homes.  He came down the hill to greet us full on as these are some of the most aggressive animals in the bush.  We also saw the giraffe again as well as masses of kudu, a porcupine and the cutest little rodents by the name of springhare (imagine miniature kangaroo-rabbits).  We ate springbok for dinner and then had a dance party with the house staff.  The chef did the funniest robot we have ever seen.  Jenny was on her knees in laughter.  We made some good friends.
Friday morning, Richard took us out again to see the male cheetah who had been caged up while they wait for another male to strengthen the genetic pool on the farm.  Richard asked if anyone would like to get in the cage with him, so we did.  Wasn’t a very friendly kitty, but we stood our ground and were very close to a very wild animal.  A great breakfast and we’re on the road again where were laughed a lot, took a lot of poor photos through the windows and prayed for the discipleship school Rene will be putting on.  It all ended at Silverhurst, another home of Mrs. Orchard’s Family, located in the winelands.  Again, we have been spoiled.  We relaxed, chatted and headed our way to the airport.  
With tears, we left Cape Town.  We’ll not soon forget the impression God had made on our hearts.  We have much to digest. We think of you fondly!  Thank you for your prayers as always.  God listed to the one about animal encounters.  Love to you!

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Cape Town: A Strange Dichotomy

Howz it All?! A big hello from Cape Town, South Africa where life in the Southern Hemisphere has truly changed our perspective.

We’ve experienced the joys of the wine country, tasting the fruits of the land at Klein Constania, Buitenverwatching (don’t ask us how to pronounce) and Groot Constantia.  It was a lovely experience between us, Rene and a another American from Tennessee by the name of Christian Man.  No kidding folks – that is the name on his birth cert. He is an intern at the Warehouse (http://www.warehouse.org.za/background?PHPSESSID=cc19fdb2e22d8a5ca7ec5b9878825d0d).  We’ve taken in the passion of this Nation’s competitiveness as we watched (on TV) South Africa defeat Italy in a Rugby match.  We saw our first wildlife in the form of Baboon’s scavenging food in a clear-cut as well as the strangest snails on Strand Beach that seem to emerge from the sea at the scent of dying muscle (these things are weird).  We’ve taken the cable car to the top of a a very cold, very wet Table Mountain and finished with with a drive down the coast, beautiful scenery and the most amazing seafood and mojito at Paranga (yes – better than Primo…way better).  However, the most significant thing we’ve experienced is this strange dichotomy that is South Africa.  
While you drive through the wine lands you see pristine beauty and tremendous houses, but on your way you bear witness to Townships ragged with poverty.  With little explanation, it is overwhelming.  There are so many people with so little dignity in this country and daily you can be reminded of this fact.  Giant homes one one side of the street, mountain, freeway, etc. Shacks on on the other.  In the mountains we saw beautiful homes at the base and in their backyards would be tinned, leaking homes. The history book is laid before one’s eyes; the pages in full color as you drive the streets.  The beauty of this dichotomy is that God is watching and has sent people to this place to restore the people.
We had the privilege of going to a farm by the name of Eagle’s Rising (http://www.eaglesrising.org.za/index.htm).  We were confused when we arrived, as all Rene had told us is that the people who run the farm pray quite a lot.  We met Mimi and Johann, two South African’s who wanted to give young people who would never have a chance in this country, the opportunity to live life with hope of a future.  The criteria to come to this farm: complete 12th grade, have absolutely nothing and no hope for a future.  What they are given: life skills.  For instance, learning to eat with a knife and fork, learning how to endure quiet (living with 10 people in a shack is not conducive to learning this skill). Many have gifts for creativity, sewing, maintenance, etc.  These gifts are embraced and expanded by whatever means they have available at the farm.  These young people are given life and dignity that they would otherwise not have.  One element of the farm that was personally encouraging was that they had a 24/7 Boiler Room, as in a Red Moon Rising real-deal prayer room…spray painted with phrases such as “Lion of Judah”.  Young men and women were praying and crying out to the Lord in this little room full of cushions and Jason Upton.  Intercessory prayer is part of the students role and education. We scanned through the prayer journal to find that God, as usual, is speaking so many similar things around the globe. The presence of God was so strong at this farm. We both were becoming quite emotional by what God was doing in the lives of these students; rewriting their futures.
We were honored to see a birthday party for one of the girls who was turing 18. Before anything had even happened, she sat in her chair by candlelight, quietly crying.  We had been informed that she had never had a birthday party in her life. Everyone gathered around and sang, blessing her with words of encouragement and prayers.  Several of the girls told her they loved her and proceeded to turn on an African gospel song to which birthday girl and many of the students danced without any fear or hesitation; they danced with heritage and passion.  It was so beautiful.  Knowing that these kids had been plucked from poverty and given a gift that would never stop giving: dignity through love.  They had been empowered to be who God created them to be.  Oh that all people in the townships would be given such a gift.  Our hearts have been ripped from our chests and we hardly know what to do.  
We attended church after our return from Eagle’s Rising and the emotion of what we had witnessed continued to come. We are asking God what it is that He has for us.  On one side, we want to be the people who can walk in to a place like Eagle’s Rising and write a fat check to purchase the new bus they need. On the other side, we want to give up everything we have and serve them so more students can be helped.  What part to we play in God’s economy?  Oh, how we long to know now. 
Thank you, as always, for your prayers.  Please pray for Clayton’s health as he’s battling a cold.  Pray also for Jenny that she wouldn’t catch the same thing.  Please pray for Rene and Caroline that they also would return to full health.  Its the beginning of Winter here (cold season), but we believe that God will always win in a fight with rhinovirus.  
Goodnight from Cape Town!

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Bali Birthday to Cape Town Arrival

Now we write to the sounds of pouring rain.  Seriously – it is SO loud.  Welcome to Cape Town, South Africa in the Southern Hemisphere’s version of Winter.  Not so cold, about 60F every day, but its a bit of shocker coming from 90F plus humidity.  

To wrap up Bali, June 16th was Clayton’s Birthday and we had a very unique celebration.  A very special breakfast cooked by the ‘chef’ and a bit of souvenier shopping lead to an amazing prayer time with a woman and her unborn child.   This was an incredible prayer time.  We not only received her original design, but at her request prayed for her unborn child as well.  She had been wavering on whether or not she would keep the child.  After hearing who the Lord had in mind as He was “knitting” the child in her womb, she was thrilled and has told people that she intends to keep it.  How amazing!  This woman does not even have a relationship with the Lord, but now knows the taste of His great love for her and her child.  She left with much more hope than she had arrived with and we pray that she stays strong in her decision in the face of much adversity.
We had opportunity to play with the kids again on the Monday-Sunday School where we taught about how God goes with us wherever we go. The kids will be on a 5 week break so teaching them about prayer (talking with God) as they go out was a helpful tool to give them.  After activities all the children sang Clayton Happy Birthday in the English and Indonesian version. We rushed off to finish packing so we could make dinner at Saxon’s house (remember our surfer-real estate guy?).  He developed his property in to luxury villas and his personal home was unbelievably gorgeous.  We prayed for one of the dinner guests and then had a meal straight off of the Iron Chef.  Imagine a beautiful cheese ravioli topped with parmesan ice cream and some other pretty detail.  It was gorgeous and oh so gourmet.  A perfect birthday dinner and great wrap up of our time.  
On to Cape Town, South Africa!!!!  
We said our goodbyes to the Orchards – praying on the way to the airport – and went through the multiple security stations. After a layover in Malaysia, another in Doha, Qatar and another in Johannesburg, SA we arrived in Cape Town to a beautiful sunset and moonrise.  The best part though was seeing the beautiful faces of our dear Rene and Abby. We’re staying with Rene and Caroline in the Lansdowne area of Cape Town complete with pool and creepy-crawly (that is what they call the machine that cleans the pool, it is indeed creepy and crawly).  

The last two days have been hanging out with Rene.  We’ve shown up to prayer meetings, meetings about refugees in SA, discipleship meetings.  We’ve just been hanging out, doing life with Rene.  We’ve also had opportunity to see downtown Cape Town which is absolutely beautiful, even in the rain.  We look forward to seeing more of the city with the so-called mountain in the background (now I’m just teasing Rene – there is indeed a mountain: Table Mountain, which we hope to climb).  
Today we visited one of the refugee camps by the name of Youngsfield a military base in Cape Town. People from all over Africa have taken refuge here: Somalia, Tanzania, Uganda, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, etc.  We are a blessed Nation.  SA has 30% unemployment, plus refugees fleeing war torn nations trying to find jobs.  Violence has been occurring in the North of SA amongst people with xenophobia.  Many of the people in these refugee camps are fleeing people within their own country as well.  Its a terrible issue (read the BBC), but is certainly bringing the churches and faith-based organizations together.  We hope to learn more while we’re here.
Tonight we celebrate Abby’s Birthday.  We’ve just been informed that it is not tradition for South African’s to have friends throw birthday parties for other friends, but you are solely responsible for your birthday… interesting traditions.  Until next time…

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Trip Around The Island: Trekking, Dolphin Attacks and Amazing Corals

Here we are in the garden again, enjoying a healthy and satisfying breakfast.  They have really great yogurt here and some of the best papaya we’ve had in ages.  
So here is the fill in on the last few days:
Mr. and Mrs. Orchard are simply incredible hosts. Mrs. Orchard especially has a huge desire to have us experience the island. So after a few days of ‘hard work’ she planned for the three of us to go on an island adventure. We left at 6am

on Thursday morning with Emma and Lee, another couple who have been staying at the house, as well. Our destination: Danau Batur, the largest crater lake on Bali at the foot the volcanoes, G Abang and G Batur. There is a magnificent trek here that takes you up on the ridges of the surrounding volcanoes allowing a wonderful understanding of the island’s layout.  Our guide was a local Balinese man by the name of Gadang (not sure how to spell it, but it is pronounced like good-day). Through thick forest, tall grasses, small villages and beautiful vistas we went until we arrived at the edge of lake Batur where we took a boat across to where we started. Overall, the trek was about 4 hours and well worth the time.

We parted ways from Emma and Lee as we continued North to swim with dolphins. Yes – this may sound exciting as it did to us, but things turned out a bit different than anticipated. At one of the hotels near Lovina, they have trained dolphins in pools, much like you would find in Orlando or Hawaii. The pools were a bit smaller, but the dolphins still seemed interested in visiting with us. Mrs. Orchard recommended we hang out with the female, as the males tend to be ‘attracted’ to female swimmers. All was well with the female as we were swimming with her and touching her (the skin is incredibly soft), until she decided that perhaps Clayton shouldn’t be in the pool, so she wacked her nose quite aggressively against Clayton’s leg prompting him to exit the pool. Mind you, all of this is happening while the male in the other pool was jumping like crazy. Really spectacular to watch, but was a bit chaotic. Jenny stayed in the pool, reasonably nervous, as she was floating around with a wild animal that had shown aggression toward her husband. The trainer encouraged her to keep her legs up and remain calm – perhaps this would be helpful to someone else, but it seems 

that such instruction allows for the heart to pound a bit harder… why should you need to remain calm if they are such sweet gentle animals? To make a long story short, the female began to aggressively go after Jenny’s legs as well, forcing the trainer to stand between her and the dolphin…ack! With the assistance of Mrs. Orchard’s hand and ankle, Jenny came out of the water quickly thanking God that she still had legs. Apparently dolphins also get tired and irritated after a long day of work…We helped feed a couple of males in a different pool who were in much better, more affectionate spirits… very affectionate. After swimming between us several times, rubbing himself against our bodies and even swimming over our legs, the dolphin became aroused  and we decided our swimming session was over… 
We found a sweet little hotel on the beach and had a spectacular sunset. The three of us had a lovely dinner and some fantastic prayer where God really showed up in miraculous ways. The next morning we took a small boat out to Menjangan Island for incredible snorkeling – the best we had ever experienced. The area is packed with coral and the reef drops immediately to 30m (100ft). You could just about see the bottom in some areas. It was absolutely amazing…so many colors of fish and a garden of corals….God’s paint brush is spectacular. On the way home we stopped at a local market and picked up two baby bunnies for Indigo and Savannah…they are the sweetest things and Jenny, in particular, loves them.
We’ve had some good time to ourselves the last couple days, as well as the opportunity to pray for more new friends. Our time here has been unbelievable. We hope we’ll be back sooner than later. We have the day before us – we must be off.  

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Sitting Down & Standing Up

The last two days have been just about as opposite as they could possibly be. On Monday we had the incredible pleasure of co-leading with Mrs. Orchard for the “Sunday/Monday” school that they host for about 30 young children. With a mix of kids coming from Muslim, Hindu, Christian and Non-Religious homes, we really didn’t know what to expect. However, the good Lord never fails to amaze with His creativity and love.

Earlier in the day (after a wonderful prayer time with Mr.Orchard in their “upper room”) Jenny and I sat down with Luli and her friend Tish (remember the 4 Season’s?) to seek the Lord for a minimum of 3 pieces of each child’s original design. For those who are not familiar with this we basically ask God to speak to the specific gifts and qualities he had in mind when knitting them in their mother’s womb. Needless to say it was exhausting and exhilarating at the same time!! After about a 4 hour session it was time for the kids to show up…let the games begin.

It was incredible. These little ones were so wonderful. Full of life and energy. It was such a privilege to share with them how God uniquely created them. Then…when each parent came to pick them up, Mrs. Orchard explained how God spoke and his unique intention for creating them. They were blown away! As a result many of them received prayer for their own original design; several didn’t know the Lord. We continue to pray that those who don’t have a relationship with him will see His love through this and say yes to the one who unconditionally loves!

Exhausted after about a total of 6 hours of prayer we walked down the street for dinner. We went to a great Indonesian place where we ordered local fair including curries, hot spices, mini fried fish, fish stomach, did I mention spices?…and more unexplainable items!

The next day (Tuesday) we woke to clear skies and a morning prayer session with the Orchards at their business. Just imagine it…we asked God to reveal what was coming against the business and its prosperity. Then Mr. Orchard grabbed some water and walked the property and “baptized” each corner, office, entrance and workshop…dedicating it to the Living God! An incredible thing to do in the midst of a Hindu Island.

Then it was off to the beach for sun, sand and SURFING!!! Mrs. Orchard booked a lesson with a friend of theirs who assured us that in 5 years of teaching that all but one person was able to stand and ride. So we entered the water with perfect wave conditions before us. Literally on our first attempts to ride we were standing! What a felling! What an experience! To allow the power of the wave push you towards shore. Before we knew it Marcee, our instructor, was showing us how to paddle through waves, paddle into waves and turn the board. We can’t wait to get back into the water again.

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All Roads Lead To Lembogan Island

What a marvelous day we had!  

We slept in and jumped in the car to meet a friend of the Orchards for breakfast.  Sitting there were some interesting characters, one of which had one eye and was chartering a boat with a helipad out for thirty people.  McJagger and his groupies had opted out…we could only imagine who else would be onboard.  It’s simply a different life out here.  It seems that every white person we’ve met is very well connected.  Its fascinating who this island draws in.

The friend of the Orchards, Saxon (whom we met fo
r breakfast) is an Aussie-surfer-resort developer and LOVES the Lord.  We met him for breakfast, because he kindly was loaning us his 36 foot boat for the day to venture to Lembogan Island.  We’ll be having dinner with him Tuesday night to give him a more formal thank you.
We headed to the marina with children all over our laps as several of the Orchards friends came aboard with us and brought all their little ones.  Complete with Captain and one Crew, we were off at about 30 knots to the outer island.  It only took us 45 minutes to arrive at a Crystal Bay for snorkeling.  We hopped in and the corals were absolutely amazing; waving back and forth with the fast moving current.  The unfortunate part of the fast moving current is that all these little jellies started toward us and felt like fire whips as they touched your skin.  We thought we could tolerate it, but after several stings we couldn’t fo
cus on the fish and coral, we had to return.  
We headed to Mushroom Beach on Lembogan Island where the snorkeling wasn’t the best, but the beach was like soft golden sugar and the catch of the day was fantastic eating.  It was here that we also met up with Diane, the woman we sat next to on the airplane from Hong Kong (remember she was flying over to meet her sister).  Her sister, Loraine, a good friend of the Orchards was also there to greet us.  
We played in the water for a few more hours, doing somersaults with the children and just enjoying the amazing beauty of this place. We returned back to the Orchard residence in time to shower up and head down the street for a 75 minute massage that Mrs. Orchard had arranged for us.  
We think this was one of the best Sabbaths we’ve ever had.

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Better Than The Four Seasons?

Does this get any better?  We feel like we have to wake up every morning and remind ourselves that this is for real… 

Yesterday we had opportunity to peak more in to the life of the Orchards by visiting the furniture wherehouse for Ibal Designs (www.ibaldesigns.com).  First off, its absolutely the most beautiful furniture, made from refurbished woods and original designs by Mr. Orchard.  Whether classic or modern its all very tropical.  We had a lunch in the company garden (a perk for his employees) and asked the Lord to reveal how He sees the company.  It was something we’d never done for a business before, but the Lord was so faithful to speak in great detail how the company was meant to be used.  After helping Savannah (their two year old) hand out sweeties to all the staff, we were on our way to…where else?  The Four Seasons.  Why?  To pray for the Manager’s Catholic wife who had been bombarded by the Holy Spirit just three weeks prior.  
We went to their villa that overlooked this amazingly beautiful bay and asked God to speak about how he had created her.  It was so exciting.  She is a very bright light on this island.  We know she and the Orchards will do great endeavors for the Lord here.  
Right before the sun went down she rushed us to the beachside restaurant of the Four Seasons to catch a drink and the sunset before we left.  So over refreshing verbena scented cold towels, Pina Coladas and the most elegantly displayed appetizers we prayed for her husband’s original design for her to encourage him with and watched the sun go down over Bali.  Perhaps that is more insight as to why we have to pinch ourselves on this trip quite frequently.  We were so incredibly blessed.
Today – which is your tomorrow… We love that.  Don’t worry, the world hasn’t ended yet… We simply hung out with Mr. and Mrs. Orchard: a nice walk on the beach, lunch at a small Italian restaurant (yes, in Indonesia and the best Gnocchi we’ve ever had), and teaching them how to conduct their own prayer time for others as we practiced hearing God for what He wanted to speak about their children.  
This is all so encouraging…  A friend said before we departed that we would be surprised on this trip and we think he’s right.  It’s just been so natural to hear and obey, to teach without being overbearing, to speak out loud what He’s whispered in our ears.  May God be the fullness of who we are; that we could give this family all of what He’s given us and more. That they would taste and see His great pleasure over them so they can wisely, confidently and with tremendous love impact this island even more.  
Thank you for your prayers.  We are thinking of you back home.  We must go now –  its time for Kiddo Movie Night at the Orchards, complete with American Hot-a-dogs and popcorn!  Blessings!

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