Thursday, June 16, 2016

Exciting News!!

To maintain a purpose in spite of difficulty, obstacles or discouragement.  To continue to fight for something with a heart of passion without giving up when the journey or results aren’t as you expected.

TO PERSEVERE…

There are many things that could lead us off course from the things God has put on our hearts to do, but we are pushing through and trusting that He’s got our backs no matter how many odds seem stacked up against us or how many hurdles or mountains we must go over.  We are choosing to persevere.  Faith and trust don’t grow when things are easy or done in your own strength.  Faith and trust grow when you’re placed in positions that require 100% dependence on the Lord to get you through them.

We could have easily given up on remaining in South Africa when the committed monthly support was only 15-20% of what we needed, OR when Jade decided to live in the States this past year, OR when the porcupines continued to destroy our crops, OR when we received news that people are looking at the farm we’re living on with interest to buy it.  However, the Lord continues to make it clear that we’re supposed to return.  We have no idea how He’ll provide for us, but this much we know, He will provide!

This past Sunday Josh spoke at a church in Rexburg, Idaho (the town I was born in), and he shared about leaving a legacy of love for others to pass on.  We’ve been telling our children that we want to be a family that loves well, but this has to be shown with actions and not merely words.  That is why we are in South Africa – to release the power and love of Jesus to those it’s rarely or never been shared with before in their lifetime.  We want those we come in contact with to experience and KNOW the Father’s love – a love that reveals the truth of who He is and who they are in Him – a love that truly sets them free!!  People ask us often what our vision is, and although their intentions are innocent, I sometimes cringe at that question.  To me it’s simple – OUR VISION IS TO LOVE AND DISPLAY JESUS WHEREVER WE GO!!  As Jesus told the disciples on multiple occasions: go and make disciples, baptize them, heal the sick, feed the poor, love your enemies, set the captives free, teach them My ways, and above all else LOVE!!

It saddens me how easy the word “love” is tossed around in this world today.  Many have no idea what pure, authentic, selfless, unconditional love really looks like.  Many don’t know the Father’s love.  That’s our mission – to bring the fatherless to THE Father through extending His power and love to one person at a time.

Exciting News:

We’re excited to announce that two more people will be joining us in South Africa to help spread this love and truth to those around them.  We’d like to welcome back our very own daughter, Jade, whom has made the decision to move back with us on July 19th!!  Words cannot adequately express how excited we are about this!  This is an answer to many prayers being lifted up, and we are beyond grateful for each one of you that did so.  We KNOW God has great things planned for her life in South Africa and are excited to see her blossom in new ways.

A few years ago when I led a ministry school, the Lord rekindled the desire in one of the student’s hearts to serve in the mission field – something He originally planted in her heart 40 years ago.  She thought maybe this journey was going to start in Pemba, Mozambique, but the Lord had something different in mind.  During our visit in the States last summer Josh and I had peace about offering an invitation for her to come and serve with us in South Africa.  Later on she shared with us that the Lord had spoken to her very clearly a few years back that she would be serving with us in ministry.  She didn’t know where, when or in what capacity though.  She even shared it with her pastors but kept it quiet from us so that the Holy Spirit could move.  It’s amazing to me that not only did the Lord speak to us about something we had no idea He had already spoken to her about, but the location and capacity in which she’ll be serving is in overseas missions – a rekindling of dreams coming true!!  So, please join us in welcoming Elizabeth Fritz to South Africa!!  She applied for her 3-year South African visa yesterday and will also be flying back with us on July 19th.  She has committed to serving for at least one year in South Africa but indefinitely as the Lord leads.  She has a heart for children and art, and we are expectant that God is going to use her, stretch her and grow her in mighty ways!  I will share more about her at a later time.

While Josh shared at Rexburg Christian Center last Sunday, an older couple happened to hear of our need for a tractor.  It turns out that they want to donate one to us that they are not using, and someone else had possible connections for having it shipped over.  How cool is that?!  We’re excited to see how this all plays out.

We met a beautiful couple after being here for 2 weeks, and their heart is to serve us in some capacity.  One way the guy has offered to serve and bless us is by building us a Web site, something which he has a gift for.  A few months ago Josh mentioned to me that he really thought we should have a Web site (other than for blogs) so that we can post videos, pictures, etc…something more professional and functional.  To me, it wasn’t a high priority because I knew it would cost $ and there were other things of more importance that we needed.  So, this offer to us is a blessing and answer to the desires of Josh’s heart.  We will provide you with the link in the near future.

A link we can provide you with is one to the new donations page.  As you have read in previous posts, we have transitioned over to a new spiritual covering here in the States and are partnering with The Promise/Awaken Church in Nampa, Idaho.  We will be briefly sharing at church this Sunday, June 19th, for anyone that would like to attend.  They currently meet in the Nampa Civic Center while their new church building is under construction, and service starts @ 10am.  We are excited for this new connection and what the Lord wants to accomplish through it!

Donations & Current Needs:

If the Lord leads you to support us financially, secure and tax-deductible donations can be made through the following link: https://awakennampa.cloverdonations.com/give/

The kids’ passports arrived last week, so the next steps are as follows:
  1. Obtain medical certificate and chest x-rays (or TB test) for Jade. ($30)
  2. Purchase plane ticket from Seattle to Johannesburg for Jade. ($900)
  3.  Purchase plane tickets for Josh and I to LA to apply for visas. Delta Sky miles are helping to reduce the cost. ($150)
  4. Hotel and food cost while in LA. ($200-250)
  5. Visa applications. ($220)
We have additional needs for homeschool curriculum, local traveling and needed resources, but our most immediate needs right now that are time sensitive total $1,550.  Josh and I are planning to fly out to LA to apply for visas on June 27th and return the next day.  It takes 5-10 business days to process our applications, so we cannot afford to go much later than this date, especially if they require additional information from us.

We are super, duper thankful for those that have already planted financial seeds and continue to cover our family in prayer.  Currently we are staying with some friends for 3 weeks and have been truly humbled, honored and blessed during our time here.  We also had the opportunity to visit my mom and siblings a week ago in Eastern Idaho, and that was great fun.  Please understand that we can’t meet with everyone individually, but if you’d like to see us before we return to South Africa, then you will have an opportunity on July 16th.

Save the Date:

On Saturday, July 16th @ 2-4pm we will be sharing at Awakenings Coffee House about our journey in South Africa and what’s on the horizon for the future.  This will be the last opportunity for Josh and I to gather with friends before we return to South Africa on July 19th.  Also, we’d love your support in blessing this coffee house, as they are a fairly new business and their vision is great!  Their overall mission is to donate all proceeds, after costs, to ministries assisting women and children in crisis.  They also have a heart for children in Africa, specifically Ethiopia.  If you come you’ll get to enjoy amazing drinks, help a great cause and get smothered with joy from Josh!!

Awakenings Coffee House: 10650 W. Overland Rd, Boise ID 83709

SO…SAVE THE DATE!  WE HOPE TO SEE YOU THERE!!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

America...Here We Come!

It’s the final countdown!  Our kids have been talking nonstop about our upcoming return to America.  We are all very excited to see family and friends and look forward to whatever the Lord has planned for this trip.  The obvious is that we need to renew our children’s passports and get 3-year visas for South Africa, but I believe the Lord has even greater things planned for this visit and the intentional timing of it happening.

What are we looking forward to the most, you might wonder?  Chips and salsa!!  Haha, okay, just kidding….kind of! ;-)

We depart for America in t-minus 2 days.  We are scheduled to depart out of George on Tuesday, May 17th @ 1:30pm and will arrive in Johannesburg, SA @ 3:15pm.  We have a 4-hour layover before we board the plane and fly into Dubai.  We will end up landing on American soil on Wednesday, May 18th @ 12:55pm in Seattle, WA.  Plane tickets into Boise skyrocketed so we will be traveling on road instead.  Once again (just like last year), Matt Gager has willingly offered to drive all the way from Boise to Seattle to pick us up and then drive us all the way back to Boise.  Dankie Matt!!  That’s a lot of driving for him in one day.  Please cover his and our travels in prayer!

We are scheduled to depart back to South Africa on Tuesday, July 19th.  We have many things going on during our 2-month stay.  Before we even had the funds to purchase our tickets, the Lord spoke to me a while ago that we need to be very intentional on this trip.  The timing of our return is very key to His plans for our family.  He has been orchestrating very significant connections with other people so that we are properly aligned for this next season of our lives.  With that said, Josh and I have been led to make some changes.

1     Through much discussion, praying and counsel, we are in agreement that our hearts are headed in a different direction when it comes to the ongoing vision of Four18.  Therefore, shortly after our arrival in America, we will no longer be a part of Four18.  It was originally Matt Gager’s idea so he is going to run with it from here.  You can still follow along on our journey by visiting www.masonfamilymissions.blogspot.com, but we will have a new location for submitting donations.

2.    For a year now we have been praying that the Lord would align us with people from the States that would hold us accountable, be intentional in their relationship with us, challenge us, counsel us and simply do life together.  Through much praying and a confirmation from the Lord through a dream and vision I had, the Lord led us to an amazing couple whom, without hesitation, have taken us under their wings.  We are excited to partner with Adam & Brooke Cooke, whom pastor Awaken Church in Nampa, ID and are thrilled about this intentional connection that the Lord has orchestrated.  Bigger things are to come from it!  I remember the first time we met Adam.  We were attending a friend’s baptism at his church and our timid son, Christian, pointed to Adam from a distance and said, “I want to meet that guy!”  That was 2 years ago and, as the saying goes, the rest is history…. In the near future, the option to make a donation online will be made available through the Awaken Church Web site and distributed to us.  We will keep you posted once this is live.

Our police clearances for South Africa arrived just in the nick of time.  Josh and I will be picking them up in George on Tuesday right before our departure.  God is never late! Upon arriving in Idaho, we will promptly apply for the renewal of the children’s passports.  Please pray for a smooth and accelerated process.  This can take up to 4-6 weeks, and then Josh and I must still go to Los Angeles after that to apply for our 3-year visas.  That can take 5-10 days.  Nothin’ like cuttin’ it close!!  We also have no idea where the funds are going to come from to get everything taken care of that is needed while in the States, but we know that the Lord is IN THIS and He will provide a way!

We are needing roughly $3,000 to get passports, visas, travel to LA, buy homeschool curriculum and purchase our remaining airline tickets back to South Africa in July.  If you feel led to sow seed, you can continue to make donations online at www.Four18.org until further notice.

We have been blessed with a vehicle during our stay and already have homes lined up to crash in.  We are truly grateful for each and every one of you that have extended a loving and helping hand to our family during this time.  You know the saying, “There is nothing impossible with God on your side…?”  Well, He uses PEOPLE to fulfill His plans and we are so thankful for the people in our lives here in South Africa, America and across the world that we have been fortunate to cross paths with!

We will be sharing an update on Thursday, May 26th @ 7pm with the i-61 Connect group.  It is located at The Outpost at Vineyard Boise.  Anyone is welcome to come.  We’d love to see some more familiar faces there, hint, hint, wink, wink!  We will inform you of any other speaking engagements via Facebook.

A surprise blessing to our family this week came from one of our farmer neighbors.  We’ve been needing a fence built to keep the porcupines out of our garden, but we haven’t had the funds to move forward with this project.  Towards the beginning of April we received $1,000 from someone whom wanted to sow into what we were doing here.  This money was originally intended to help build the fence, but when the donor discovered our need to fly back to America, they said to use the funds however needed.  We wanted to honor the donor’s heart and weren’t going to use it for anything else but a fence unless they agreed to otherwise.  WELL, we used the funds towards our plane tickets, and then this week we found out that our neighbor is going to PAY for a fence to be built around our large garden and have his workers build it while we’re gone in the States in exchange for him being able to have his cows graze in our fields.  How awesome is that?!?!  You just never know how the Lord is going to provide for your needs, but He always knows what they are and He ALWAYS comes through – just not always in the way we expect!

We enjoyed our last Saturday in Sonskyn yesterday and had a wonderful time.  Our pastor friend, Duncan, is busy working on the construction of the new church.  Simple yet sufficient to gather in.  I love it!  His hope is that it will be completed and usable by June.  We are going to miss our friends and family community here in South Africa and are already looking forward to our return in July.


For those that crochet, I will be gathering homemade hats and scarves for the winter to take back to the children in Sonskyn.  If you would like to get involved with this project, please send me an email or private message through Facebook.
Here is a video clip for your enjoyment…  See you soon America!
video

Friday, April 29, 2016

Plane Tickets to Seattle Purchased!!

As the days and weeks continued to go by, we wondered just how the Lord was going to provide the funds for us to purchase our plane tickets to America.  We’re talking thousands of $ that we don’t have.  For those of you that have been following along, you may recall that we only had enough funds to remain on the farm in South Africa through this month – April.  That’s no joke.  Our family also knew that in order to continue doing the Lord’s work here in South Africa, we would be required to renew our visas and the kids’ passports this year.  Unfortunately, visas must be applied for from your country of origin – hence the need to head back to America.

My trust in the Lord is very strong and I rarely waiver in that, but I’ll be honest, as the summer season in America continued to approach things weren’t looking very promising for us to return to America during the time we had hoped for…

BUT GOD!

About 2 weeks ago Josh felt a tug in his heart to get real specific with his petitions to the Lord.  He began believing for and praying that the funds needed to purchase our plane tickets would arrive in 2 weeks.  That set the deadline for God for Wednesday, April 27th, haha!  Okay, okay, I know we don’t give God deadlines.  He operates in His own perfect timing…but I think you get my point.

Psalm 37:4-5 & 7 “Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.  Commit everything you do to the Lord.  Trust Him and He will help you…  Be still in the presence of the Lord and wait patiently for Him to act.”

Is it always easy to wait??  No!  But is it worth it??  Yes!

Josh and I both agreed that we weren’t going to try and take matters into our own hands.  Sometimes we, as humans, can try to force certain things to happen when we want them to, but when that happens it just leads to unnecessary frustrations, heartache and pain down the road.  Taking matters into our own hands is not “helping God out.”  Don’t rush into making the wrong decision.  You will only regret it in the long run.  A little advice - lack of peace is a good sign that you may be a little off track with a particular direction you are headed or a decision you’ve made.  God will help you to get back on track as you submit all of your plans to Him.  Don’t ever make a major decision without including Him in it.

On the evening of Tuesday, April 26th I received a message from someone stating that our donation Web site www.Four18.org was not working.  I tested it out myself and found this to be true.  It had been a month since anyone had used the site to make a one-time donation, so I have no idea how long it had been broken for.  I contacted someone to have this looked into, and by the next morning (APRIL 27TH) it was up and running again and a $350 donation came in!  Then the funds continued to pour in.  As I was in conversation with Josh’s mom about this gift, she informed me that another $200 was being deposited that day and that another friend of theirs wanted to bless us with a financial gift as well. 

At this point I’m already excited about what the Lord was doing in people’s hearts, but then He just continued to WOW me!  Later that evening, around 7pm, I had informed Josh’s mom that we’d been watching the price of tickets very closely and in the last 2 weeks they continued to DROP!!  Josh had received a message from Amazon stating they were forecasted to increase by 45% in the next week but they did the exact opposite!!  Don’t believe every report you hear, haha!  At this point, each plane ticket had decreased by roughly $200, saving us over $1,000.  The prices were the lowest we’d ever seen or heard of for this particular flight.  I told her we just needed approximately $350 more to purchase our biggest plane ticket from Johannesburg to Seattle.  Minutes later she messages me again stating that she BOLDLY called a family member and asked them to deposit the remaining amount needed to purchase these particular tickets.  This family member doesn’t really understand why we sold everything and left good jobs to move to South Africa, but they wanted us to get our tickets and agreed to make the deposit of $350 that day.  Then, as I was responding to her message I received an email notification from PayPal stating that another $500 was JUST donated online!!  At this point, I was in tears!!  The money was literally coming in ALL AT ONCE at the end of the day APRIL 27TH, the day we had prayed for!! 

God waited until the last minute, but He is NEVER late!!
He is faithful and honored our heart’s desire.

What excites me the most is that our kids are experiencing God’s faithfulness and answer to prayers, and they get to see Him move and make impossible situations possible!!  My heart and prayer is that as they watch us step out in faith and follow God’s leading in our lives that they will have that same hunger as they grow up, no matter the obstacle in front of them!

But the surprises didn’t stop there!!

When Josh was getting ready to book tickets, the kids’ tickets ended up being a combined total of $240 LESS than ours…another sweet surprise from the Lord!!

To make the announcement official, WE PURCHASED OUR TICKETS!!!!


We are scheduled to fly out of Johannesburg, South Africa on Tuesday, May 17th (my dad’s bday) and arrive in Seattle, Washington on May 18th.  We are waiting on funds for our tickets into Boise, so we do not have our exact arrival time for that yet.  Our departure date back home to South Africa is July 19th. We are still short funds to make everything come together, but we know that the Lord is going to provide a way.

If you feel led to contribute, you can do so securely at www.Four18.org.  All donations are tax-deductible.  A huge THANK YOU to those that have generously poured into our family financially to make this all possible!  Also, for those that have been faithfully praying, we THANK YOU for your hearts of gold.

1 John 2:15-17 says, “Do not love the world or anything in the world.  If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them.  For everything in the world comes not from the Father but from the world.  The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.”

We will never be deeply fulfilled or “happy” with the things this world has to offer.  If we place our joy and hope in God first, He will meet all of our needs.  He will even grant our wants, as our hearts’ desires begin to match up with His will.  If we truly place priority on the Lord, chances are our heart’s greatest desire will not be in “stuff” like having the coolest iPhone or nicest car on the block, but eternal treasures in Christ.  This world can never satisfy our deepest longings, but if we choose to delight in God’s way, He will always provide above and beyond our expectations.

Why settle for anything less than that?!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

A Few Steps Closer

For a few months now we have known that several things would need to line up in order for us to return to America to renew our visas.  Finances is the obvious factor, but we’ll fill you in a little more on things that have been happening here and how the Lord has answered our prayers in getting us a few steps closer to take off…..

Help on the Farm – Since moving to the farm last September, Josh has been fervently praying for God to send more people to help with the workload so that we could be present more frequently in Sonskyn Valley.  Josh has worked very hard in fulfilling his responsibilities of maintaining the farm, homeschooling the children, raising a family and loving on me (his wife).  I am proud of him and how well he has balanced his time with the Lord, work, ministry, family and having fun!

Several months ago I, too, had prayed that God would send people to help.  Naturally my thoughts wandered to what people He would send from America, but then it was impressed upon my heart that He would be sending locals from South Africa to help.  I tucked that thought away but had never forgotten about it.  About 1 month ago someone in Sonskyn Valley introduced Josh to a potential worker that would be able to help on the farm.  Josh was excited but told the guy, “You’ll have to meet my wife and pass the test with her.  She has to trust you.”

The time of meeting this guy came and went.  Something did not sit right with me about him, so after talking about it with Josh, we both agreed to not pursue him any further.  Before we gave him our decision, the Lord had already planned something better!!  In the meantime, our pastor friend, Duncan, was having some work done on his home.  Then the lightbulb went off!!  He said he didn’t know why he hadn’t thought of it before, but one of the workers there would be the perfect fit to work on our farm.  In fact, this worker is like a son to him and Amanda, his wife.  They’ve known him for 13+ years.  Josh happened to be at Duncan’s house that day so Duncan introduced Josh to him.  Josh came home that day very excited and told me all about his conversation with Duncan and this man.  He told me Duncan was going to bring the man to the farm soon so I could meet him.

Introducing Spokes – I met Spokes for the first time on March 17th.  He spent most of his time with Josh touring the farm, but in the time that I spent with him I had 100% peace.  He passed the test!!  Many months ago our neighbors’ farm workers had told Josh that he should find a guy to work on the farm that is from the Eastern Cape because they are reliable and hardworking, unlike the guys from the Western Cape whom are lazy.  Well, it turns out that Spokes is from the Eastern Cape.  Only God!  We spent a few days talking about it, and then Josh called Spokes to offer him “the job” and a place to live on the farm rent free.  We do pay him a small wage in exchange for the work he does.  Spokes was very excited and wanted to begin work right away, but we held off on him moving to the farm until March 31st.  He brought his 9-year old daughter, Liyema, with him that first day.  Gracie loved having another girl around.  His first night here we shared a meal together and then he asked if we would pray with him….absolutely!  We are so blessed and honored to have Spokes be a part of our lives!

One thing to note is that Spokes was considering moving back to his hometown, Queenstown, because work was difficult to find here.  However, he didn’t want to move away from his daughter whom currently lives with her mom in Mossel Bay.  When we offered him the job, he knew it was a godsend.  Now he has income and can be close to his daughter.  Restoring brokenness – just like the Lord spoke to us!

A Little About Spokes – He is a very kind, respectful, grateful, hardworking and humble man!  From the beginning, we told Spokes that he is part of our family.  Josh said to him that their relationship together is far more important than the work he does for us on the farm.  That surprised Spokes but put a smile on his face.  A few days after living here Spokes told Josh:

“My heart is happy.  I don’t know how to put it into words in English.  I know God put me here.”

Spokes is Xhosa (pronounced Kosa) and speaks 4 languages.  Afrikaans is challenging to learn, but xhosa, oh my goodness – Lord help us!  It’s a beautiful language with these “clicking” sounds, but I haven’t quite gotten the hang of it yet.  Someday…..

We’ve already introduced him to “tacos”, which he thought were delicious!  We’re going to teach him how to make the refried beans, and he’s going to teach us how to make his yummy, steamed bread.  We spent a family day at the beach and invited Spokes and Liyema to join us.  It was a wonderful day.  Spokes said he hadn’t spent time like that with people in over 10 years.  Makes my heart sad for him and happy at the same time.

Spokes and Josh have worked hard to prepare the larger garden for planting.  Someone also lent us their chainsaw so they’ve been working on gathering trees and cutting them down for firewood.  There is no heating system inside homes in South Africa and it does get as cold as 30 degrees here during the winter, but we do have a little “fireplace” in our home that we’re going to try using to burn the wood in.  It’s not enclosed so we still need to work on that, and it won’t warm up the entire house, so we’re still going to have to bundle up on clothing while inside.  The colder winter weather runs from June to early September.
Our open fireplace.




God’s Timing is Perfect – The Lord knew we’d been praying for someone to help maintain the farm, and He has answered our prayers with the perfect fit!  Not only that, but His timing is perfect and I’m thankful we did not settle for less than God’s best.  One of the things that needed to be in place before leaving for America was having someone to take care of the farm and dogs while we’re away.  Who better than Spokes!

We received another $1,500 and have been told to use it however needed – to build a fence around our garden, buy plane tickets, etc.  God is good!  So, you see, God has been at work with all the little details, and we know He is in the process of working out the finances as well!

One. Step. At. A. Time.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

What's Happening

Some of you have been asking for updates on where we are at financially and how close we are to purchasing tickets for our return to America to renew visas this summer.  We will provide an update in this post but would also like to take a moment to share a few things that are beginning to emerge that we’re excited about.

The common struggles with many children born into poverty is that they are malnourished and often times drop out of school before graduating.  During our “extended time of rest” here on the farm, Josh and I have had a lot of opportunities to dream, brainstorm and seek the Lord’s heart for the children of Sonskyn and how we can become more involved in loving on and serving them.  We have been able to hone in on the vision He has given us in creating a place where “love looks like something.”  This vision is two-fold in the sense that God has placed us on this farm so that it can be a blessing to others but that He also wants to create an atmosphere of love in Sonskyn Valley.

Josh and the newest member of our family, Spokes, have been working hard this week to prepare the garden for more planting.  Spokes is an answer to prayer, and I will share more about him at a later time.  In addition to blessing those in the township with healthy, organic fruit and veggies from the garden, we’re pursuing the startup of an after-school program for the children.


After School Program in Sonskyn: Once a meeting place is determined and the planning phase is complete, we will be involved with feeding, tutoring, counseling and mentoring children on the weekdays after school.  For many children, the food they receive will be THE ONLY nutritious meal they have the pleasure and privilege of enjoying for the day.  In addition to asking for food donations and support from local markets, we will use the produce from our garden to make these meals.  This feeding and mentoring program will be geared more towards primary school-aged children (grades 1-7).  We will also implement Bible studies and relationship building activities throughout the month.

Facility – right now it looks like we may have two options: utilizing a church building in Sonskyn that is currently under construction OR negotiating with the owner of a tavern that was recently shut down.

Garden – we are still in need of funds to build a fence around the garden space in order to keep the porcupines from destroying certain crops.  We continue to plant seeds that they do not seem too interested in, but for now, potatoes are NOT an option to plant even though they are one of the most needed crops to make soups and stews for the children.

Bibles – we would like to have several children’s Bibles available for them to read during our studies.

Children’s Sunday School: In order to raise up an army of young warriors for the Kingdom, they need to be poured into with truth, love and power.  We are in conversation with our pastor friends, Duncan and Amanda, to see how we might be able to help with leading and teaching the children on Sundays.  Right now there is not much in place.  Our heart is to raise up a young generation that passionately loves and pursues the Lord with all their hearts in worship and with their daily lives.  Children that will walk in fearless love, knowing that they will always have a Father that loves them and is there for them, even if their earthly father has abandoned or left them.  We want to see the young generation in Sonskyn transformed, in turn, bringing transformation into their homes and families and community.

The Lord has given me visions of my involvement with the children in Sonskyn, and I personally am excited to see how things will unfold as our family becomes more involved.

Creche (Daycare/Preschool): A dream of ours and the pastors is to have a crèche available on the weekdays to those that cannot afford childcare.  This crèche would be Christian-based and instill godly values.  Right now it would have to be ran out of the church, unless we receive donations to build another structure on the church campus.  Many young children (ages 0-5) in Sonskyn do not receive proper love, attention, discipline and education, so offering this opportunity for that and more would be a dream come true and a huge blessing for these children.  They would also be fed a nutritious meal and snacks every day.  We want to provide a place within Sonskyn where “love looks like something”; a place of peace, joy and security, even if just for ½ the day!  We realize that it doesn’t remove these children permanently from their situations, but I am often reminded of how these children didn’t choose their circumstances and if we can give them a glimpse of hope, love, value and a bright future then it’s worth the investment!  We can’t rescue them all, but we can love them one child at a time!

As you can see, the Lord is leading us to take the next steps towards our vision that He gave us, and we’re excited to further grow in our love for these children.  Lack of a vehicle and finances has prevented us from moving forward up to this point, but on the bright side, it’s pushed us towards really seeking His heart and allowing Him to strengthen our foundation.  The Lord has been aligning us with key people that will run alongside us, encourage us, correct us, hold us accountable and simply do life with us as we continue this venture we’re on in South Africa.  We are truly grateful that He is aware and cares about every detail, every need and every desire of our heart that we have.

VEHICLE UPDATE: We have received $1,100 towards the purchase of a vehicle.  We’ve been told by knowledgeable people that a decent bakkie (truck) will cost a minimum of $4,000.  During the winter/rainy season, it is important that we have a bakkie in order to drive on the country roads….and to get off our own property for that matter, haha!

TICKETS TO AMERICA & VISA RENEWAL: We have received $1,400 out of $9,370 needed.  In faith, lots of prayers and steps of obedience, we are trusting the Lord for the remaining amount so we can leave on May 17th.

MONTHLY SUPPORT: We now receive $530 in committed monthly support, praise God for increase!  Our minimal monthly cost to remain on the farm is $1,300.  We currently have $800 in our general funds to pay for May’s expenses.  We are so grateful for those that believe in us and are able and willing to financially support what the Lord has called us to do here.

Proverbs 16:3 – “Commit your work to the LORD, and then your plans will succeed.”  I was reading my study notes for this verse and it stated that we must maintain a delicate balance in trusting God as if everything depended on Him, while working as if everything depended on us.  The point is that some commit a task fully to the Lord but put forth no effort for themselves, and then they wonder why they did not succeed.  So……

Josh and I will continue to seek, ponder, prepare, plan, rest and wait on the Lord, trusting that He’s got this as we continue to do our part!

If you feel led to support the feeding program, children’s ministry, crèche, purchase of a vehicle, plane tickets to America to renew our visas or even provide monthly financial support, we would be truly grateful and excited in your involvement with what the Lord is doing here.  We know that without the help of others, it will not be possible.  A tax-deductible and secure donation can be made online at www.Four18.org by designating funds for Josh & Mindy Mason – Mossel Bay, South Africa.  You can also setup donations to be sent automatically every month.  Thank you for your prayerful consideration.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Against All Odds - We Need Your Help

For the past 1 ½ years our family has been living in South Africa by faith.  We never asked people to support us financially, nor do we have a church that supports us financially.  Just us, the proceeds we made from selling what we owned and our trust in the Lord.  He has grown us substantially in our faith and trust in Him.  I’ve grown in surrendering my plans to the order of His steps, resting in His presence and being content in all situations.  With that said, the Lord has also spoken to me about fighting for things of importance with passion, conviction and commitment and ridding me of any attitude that might think, “Well, if it happens it happens.  If not, then I guess it wasn’t meant to be.”  I would say that during the past 3 years the Lord has been helping me to grow out of my passivity and truly fight for and have a voice in the things that matter to me.

As I’ve been in conversation with the Lord about our needs, the question that kept coming to me was, “Why don’t you want to let others know about your needs?”  My response, “Well, Lord, if others know about our needs then that’s like saying I don’t have enough faith for you to provide and that’s just not the case.”

That is when the Lord spoke to me and said, “Yes, it requires great faith to remain silent and expect a miracle, but it is no less faith to let your needs be known and still trust in Me to move on people’s hearts.  Either way, it requires trust in Me and I will receive the glory.”

You see, faith is faith and obedience is obedience.  It doesn’t matter what it looks like.  It matters how you react in the process.  He simply wants us to listen to His voice and follow His lead.  He told me that asking for help doesn’t mean we’ve failed or have less faith and trust in Him.  It means we’re allowing others to share in the glory of what He’s about to do through them and us!!

When Josh and I were talking about our needs this past month, I told him how I’d been pondering what it is the Lord wants to grow me in during this time.  Right away I knew the answer.  Trusting the Lord for a miracle doesn’t stretch me, but being vulnerable with my needs and asking people for help does.  I’ve always been this way.  I used to not even like to ask the Lord for specific things because it made me feel selfish.  I’m hardworking and have an independent spirit.  If I can do something, generally I will do it without asking for help.  If someone asks me what I need or want, typically the answer is, “Nothing.  I’m good.”  The Lord has spoken to us many times that in order for us to move forward with the things on our hearts for this farm and the community of Sonskyn, we’re going to need help from others.  Oh, the plague – asking for help from others.  I don’t like to do that, but there’s a reason for the Lord wanting to grow me in this area.  After many tug-of-wars with the Lord, He won!

I received a prophetic word from someone back in November about stretching.  “I got a picture of taffy.  The more taffy is warmed up, the longer it can stretch without ripping.  God said that He will stretch you and to hold on to Him so you won’t break.”

So, here is my (our) first attempt in asking for specific help…

WE NEED YOUR FINANCIAL HELP!!

The odds have been against us financially, yet it has been a miracle that we’ve remained in SA for this long.  Following is a quick snapshot of our current financial needs.

Monthly Expenses on Farm: $1,300 (minimum)
*We currently receive $430 in committed monthly support and have enough funds to sustain us through April.

Plane Tickets to America (roundtrip): $6,500
In order for our family to remain in SA, we must renew 3-year visas in America this year.  We are planning a trip for mid-May funds permitting.

Visas = $220

Passports = $400
*Kids’ passports need renewed before December.

LA Plane Tickets = $600
*Josh and I must travel to LA to turn in visa applications.

Advanced Payments: $1,650
*This will cover rent, power & maintenance on the farm while gone in America.

TOTAL NEEDED: $9,370 + monthly support

The Lord has been leading Josh and I to take some steps that seem backwards to us because we currently don’t have the resources to back these plans up, but yesterday I read a great article that really spoke to my heart about the odds being against us.

When the odds are against you, God also may require you to act in what appears an unreasonable manner.  While God may seem to require what appears illogical on the surface, He will never instruct us to disobey His word.  We may not understand His actions, but He has His own divine reasons.  When the odds are against us, God will lead us to do that which brings Him the most gloryWhen the odds are against us, God will strip us of all dependence on anything or anyone else other than Himself.  When the odds are against us, God is always at work in another area.  Finally, when the odds are against us, God will give us specific instructions for victory.

God sent Gideon with an army of 300 men to fight against an army of about 135,000 soldiers.  God’s strategy of attacking this vast encampment seemed ludicrous to some.  In the natural it didn’t make sense.  We, too, are making decisions that don’t make sense, and even at times, seem foolish or against all common sense.  But God!  All we can do is follow His lead, be open and vulnerable and then trust Him with the outcome.

“Even when the odds are stacked against you, put your trust in the Lord’s goodness and favor and see Him exceed all your expectations!” – A Woman of Faith

We’re excited about some opportunities that are developing on the farm and within Sonskyn and what role we’ll be playing in those, so please be on the lookout for our next blog post “What’s Happening.”

If the Lord tugs on your heart to help contribute in any way, we would be very appreciative.  A tax-deductible and secure donation can be made online at www.Four18.org by designating funds for Josh & Mindy Mason – Mossel Bay, South Africa.  You can also setup donations to be sent automatically every month.  Thank you for your prayerful consideration.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Restoring Brokenness

I just completed my 2nd read of a book called, "A Cry From the Streets."  It's about a missionary couple who began loving on street kids in Brazil many years ago.  The stories of the abuse, rejection and abandonment these children went through while living on the streets is incomprehensible and disheartening.  If you want your heart to be shaken and brought to life for the broken in this world, I would recommend reading this book.  If it
doesn't change your heart and cause an awakening in you to do something
about the broken and lost in this world, then maybe you need to check your pulse 
to see if you're still alive!  Although we currently are not working with "street children" to the degree that this couple is, it is the cry of mine and Josh's hearts to reach the lost, broken and rejected with the power and love of Jesus so that hearts will be transformed - not because of us but
because God becomes real to them!

The journey this couple has gone through really resonates deep in my heart.


"Every day we became more convinced we had made the right decision, because God 
was giving us, in spite of our many uncertainties, a deep peace." - A
Cry From the Streets.

There are many uncertainties that our family is going through right now.  We've been without a vehicle for 1 ½ months now. Our visas for South Africa and the kids'
passports expire at the end of this year.  IN FAITH we are feeling led to plan a trip back to America to renew our visas and passport
around mid-May - that's 2 months away!  We have NO IDEA how these needs are
going to be met, but the one thing we do know is that we serve a God who is faithful and trustworthy!  Our inability is His ability.  We have a roof over our heads, food on the table, great health and a wonderful family.  We are blessed!


"It seemed that God was teaching us to trust Him for larger $ amounts.  Hadn't He provided for us over and over again?  It seemed to be getting easier: the more we
needed, the more we dared to trust Him for.  In the future He would lead us to trust Him for things we couldn't even dream of."
- A Cry From the Streets


"Do what is possible, what lies within your limits; then God will do what's outside your
limits - the impossible." - A Cry From the Streets

The voice of the enemy whispers, "Just give up now.  There's no way you can stay in Africa.  No one cares about what you're doing.  You're not making a difference. It's 
selfish of you to believe for or ask God for this much money."  I'm thankful that the truth reigns in my heart and I can simply
silence these whispers by positioning my heart towards the Lord and asking Him what He's saying because His voice is the one I want to hear above all others. Even
though our hearts long to go love on people in Sonskyn Valley more often, that is why we are here, we have been physically hindered because of the absence of a vehicle. However, we know that God continues to move in that place, and he has been getting our family's hearts in the
position needed to continue this journey of faith and love we are on.


"You will be tested (in commitment and heart, how much do you trust God's
word to you when times don't go as expected?)." - A Cry From the Streets

Without a doubt, we know that our level of commitment and trust is being tested.  Our
heart wants to pour into Sonskyn Valley, but more importantly, we want our hearts pouring into God above all else.  If He were to close the doors on being in South Africa, would we still passionately love and serve
Him if it looks different?  Yes!  If He were to send us back to America sooner than we
expected for reasons we don't understand, would we still trust that He knows what He's doing?  Yes!  Trust should be relational not situational.  We make our plans, but He guides our steps.  We won't leave South Africa without a fight though, and we do believe that God still has a plan in us being here that isn't fulfilled yet!  I recently read part of a quote that said:


"Personally, I would rather stumble chasing a dream, than sit fearfully in
the seat of complacency."

We could give up now because things in the natural aren't going as expected, but we are
learning to live this quote out in our lives and trust that things are happening even though we cannot see with our eyes:


"See in peace, think in faith...learn to be vulnerable to God." - Graham
Cooke

On November 1st of last year, I had a vision of Josh and I speaking with a group of kids.
We were asking them questions to find how many lived with none, one or two parents
(mother/father) in the home.  I saw the group getting smaller and smaller.  The Lord told me not to be discouraged or
alarmed - that He wants to hone in on those He specifically wants us to reach right now. I saw Josh ministering to a boy.  He was very skinny, malnourished, and seemed kind of like a loner/outsider.  I saw myself doing the same thing with a girl - just getting to know her.  The Lord had spoken
to me about not being so quick to bring children or people to the farm for
"entertainment or social purposes" and that we needed to keep our eyes, hearts and
and availability open to the ones He had chosen for us to love on at this time - that
there was specific purpose to this.  He also gave me a picture of us continuing to reach children in Sonskyn, but then entire
families became involved.  The Lord spoke to me that as we bring children to the farm
families will also come.  Families will be restored!  The Lord reminded me of a prophetic word we had been given in Pemba, Mozambique.


"You have a heart for the broken and God is going to use your blended-family situation 
to reach many children who have brokenness in their family, relationships, etc."
(July 3, 2012)

God showed me that the children in Sonskyn will be used as an open door into
restoring families.  The Lord has given me this verse for Sonskyn found in Malach 4:6, "His preaching (referring to Elijah) will turn the hearts of parents to their children, and the hearts of children to their parents."

The Lord then gave me 2 words as direction for our family this season: RESTORING BROKENNESS

Many children from the brown community in South Africa are absent of fathers, and in
some instances, parents altogether.  Drugs and alcohol run ramped in the townships,
even amongst the children.  Kids drop out of school early and never finish.  Many children are headed towards the same cycle of poverty that their parents are raising them up in.  They deserve hope!  They need
physical and spiritual fathers/mothers to love them, accept them, teach them, disciple them, be intentional and engaged with them...the list goes on.  To give you an example, we know of a father who is willing to give up his child like it's no big deal.  This is not acceptable.

How do you reach a fatherless community and restore brokenness?  One person
at a time!

On December 14, 2015, I wrote the following journal entry:


During worship my heart was torn between living here on the farm and being in Sonskyn.  My desire is to be in Sonskyn to live.  God, do you want us on this farm?  If so, why?  We
don't need "stuff" to bless people or shine
your light.  I'm willing to give it all up - sell it all again or give it away.  What is YOUR
purpose for this farm other than to feed people with??  How can we change the 
community of Sonskyn if we're not in it much?  What immediately came to my mind 
was, "Start with ONE."
Sooooo, we start with ONE!  We didn't come here with a specific agenda because it would keep us from being fully used by the Lord.  We came here to love - that is our agenda - no matter what love looks like. We'd like to have a home for abandoned children, and in time we believe we will, but until then we trust the Lord to guide our steps and use us however He wishes.  In the last month or so He's highlighted Psalm 127, "Unless the Lord builds a house, the
work of the builder is useless."  We are not here to build a ministry.  We want God to be the architect of what we do.  We are here to further the gospel by being the hands and feet of Jesus!


"Count the cost; give up your freedom to do whatever you want and decide instead to
live your life in obedience to God and allow God to use you." - A Cry From the Streets 

The Lord has connected us with a pastor in Sonskyn that has the same heart and vision
as we do - to bring transformation to Sonskyn.  To see captives set free.  To see people healed.  To see relationships restored.  To see people turn to THE Father. We will share at a later time what the Lord has planned with this connection, but we are very excited to partner with the local spiritual leaders here to bring the Kingdom of God to Sonskyn and nearby townships.

I will leave you with this post I recently saw on Facebook from a pastor and
friend of ours:


Luke 18:8 "I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly.  However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?"  How many of you know it doesn't take faith to believe that things are getting
worse?  What does require faith?  Hope.  Restoration of families.  Sons and daughters
turning their hearts back to Fathers.  Freedom of captives.  Healing.  We have an
assignment!" - #creatingculture #meant4more -  Adam Cooke

What kind of culture are you creating?!  You have an assignment.  What are you doing to fulfill it?!