Friday, March 28, 2008

Messy Ministry

We’ve had a small team here this week from the USA working with us in various ministry endeavors. Yesterday, we ventured out on a little work project. We spent time in a preschool in one of the big squatter camps. The team had some Easter activities planned for the kids, Skyler led the kids in fun songs and for the main event we painted the classrooms.

I hadn’t really planned on my kiddos getting involved with the painting aspect so they were not appropriately dressed in “ruinable clothing.” Well there was no deterring them….bright yellow, messy paint, “Come on mom, this is ministry right?” They got me and ministry got messy….

Tori loved it and the team was so good to just paint over her contribution when she was finished.

Skyler chose the careful route as she was too cool to wear a garbage bag smock.

Blake…found messy ministry to be his favorite (shocker).

As previously mentioned Rich and I recently celebrated our 14th wedding anniversary so for my gift he got me some “Spa time” (not to mention he was still making up for leaving me for a month..hee). This is why I typically NEVER get manicures or even paint my nails for that matter…….

Nice hue of yellow don't ya think? Yeah, I’ve learned that a mother of 3 kids and manicures don’t go hand-in-hand…ha!

All in all it was a fabulous day for everyone involved and messy ministry takes the cake hands down to a messy french manicure!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Who's Footing the Bill

I realize I am a bit behind in posts as I am only now posting about Easter. Hey, at least you were spared from my 14 wedding anniversary post as it took place 2 weeks ago. In case my non-post is cause for worry, know that things are good and we plan on going another 14 years at which time we will re-evaluate things….only kidding- we are in it for the long haul!

Back to Easter….Like most things Easter is celebrated differently here. You won’t find eggs being boiled, colored or hunted…or even white for that matter. You won’t find bunnies and baskets…okay you probably could but not as a major Easter theme. No pastel colored candy, plastic eggs or kid’s adorned in new Easter attire. No Springtime (which is most of what the prior all relates to) and NO work on Good Friday or Easter Monday. Fortunately, you will find Christ Risen!

All those things are not typically found in South African households however ALL were found in the Franzen household….with the exception of white eggs.

I’m not ready to let go of familiar Easter traditions especially when someone else is footin' the bill! Every Easter thing was because of someone's graciousness and love.....

Easter Attire

all the way down to the shoes....

Brought to us by Grandma J

Easter baskets, their contents (both grannies), candy, plastic eggs and dye

Brought to us by Grandma B

A glorious promise of a Resurrected & Eternal Life

Brought to us by Jesus

How grateful we are to and for those footing the Easter bill!

Monday, March 24, 2008

My Big Brother

When I think about big brothers there is so much that could pen the pages from my own experience. I could tell you about the times my big brothers (I have 2) locked me in a dark closet when my parents went out. Or about being told that a wind-up putt putt car would make for a wonderful head massage only to wind up with a 5 inch hair cut.

Or on the flip side I could share of when my sweet big brother, Andy (almost 4 yrs older than me) pretended to be my fairy God mother (or perhaps father would be a more appropriate fit) and spoiled me for days with an assortment of surprises. Or how he showed up at the hair salon, where I was getting my “do” done, with roses on my wedding day….something to this day I don’t think he realizes touched me deeply.

The former experiences built my resilience but the latter are the beginning of fond memories of what my big brother has become. Andy, or AJ as we call him, in my book (or post) would be defined as generous, smart (I could have said “anal” but I am being nice in this post..hee), and thoughtful with a great sense of humor we seem to share….and are probably the only 2 to appreciate.

He loves and serves the Lord, his wife and 4 beautiful children and years ago he developed a heart for missions. I recently blogged about my African journey and how it’s revelation happened overtime. What I did not mention was another revelation we never imagined. While my brother represents the Lord in Corporate America as a CPA and partner in a growing firm he also plays a large part in the Great Commission as a Supporter.

Little did we ever imagine our paths in missions would not only cross but unite. Five years ago my brother joined (and helped begin) the Impact Africa team as Treasurer of our board as well as Chief Accountant and Overseer of our USA office….he got the lion’s share of math genes. He and his family are an integral part of the ministry happening here in Africa. It is an honor to labor together with my big brother, the one that teased me so many years ago, in this adventure.

So why this post about my big brother, Andy? Well for starters it is his birthday (and I am a good sister), not to mention the Baumruks are prone to tears and we have an unspoken tradition/competition of reducing each other to tears (in a good way) on special occasions. I also realized fond thoughts and “I love you’s” far too often go unspoken. Mostly, I just wanted to brag about my wonderful big brother who is greatly admired and respected by his little sister!

Happy Birthday Dee-Dee!

Monday, March 17, 2008

My Star-Center

Skyler is playing netball at school and they had their first match last week. It was not only their first game of the season it was Sky’s first team game in anything ever.

So Blake, Marci and I were off to cheer her on. Other than knowing it is a simple form of basketball and that they wear cute little skirts my netball knowledge is quite limited. Interestingly enough the sport originated by a Canadian immigrant to the USA but was first played in the UK. It later extended to many of the British Commonwealth countries of which SA is one.

Our ignorance of the rules did not hinder us in anyway from cheering, critiquing and coaching from the sidelines. Being familiar with basketball of course we yelled (quite loudly I might add) its terminology…things like “rebound girls”, “get open”- which turned to “spread out”, and “good hustle” (which we found out later was not even understood by my American daughter). I even threw in some football terminology---“great interception” which was uttered a lot as my Center (her position) star, Skyler, made quite a few! I also learnt (which is the British spelling by the way and frankly I don’t like it however it is fitting for the post) that “an interception” is correct netball verbiage.

I was quite impressed with my daughter’s skill in this new game. She really did very well and hustled til she was red-faced and exhausted. She is one of the only players that can roam the entire court and that she did!

It was a fun, new, SA learning exp. for me and Marci and we definitely proved to be the stereotypical, Loud Americans!

Why did I not post an in-the-action pic of Skyler in her cute little uniform? I pulled a Michelle and left my camera at home.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Friend of God

Did you have an imaginary friend when you were younger? I think I did but I can’t remember her name. I’m guessing it was Sally or Sue, assuming it was even a girl.

The other day Tori was outside swinging the swings….not on the swings but swinging the empty swings. I could see her chatting away.

Later I asked, "Were you swinging someone on the swings", thinking perhaps she has an imaginary friend.

Her reply, "Yep, I was swinging God."
Me: "You were playing with God?"
T: "Yes, He is my friend!"

Okay how cute is that? My daughter’s imaginary friend is God.

By the way, I completely understand that God is NOT imaginary and He really is there, around, etc....just go with the flow of a 3 year old and the proverbial imaginary friend thing.

Monday, March 10, 2008

No Substitute

Rich is back………

Okay so maybe not but it gave me a laugh when Marci (coworker) handed it to me after her trip to America.

The back cover states, “I’m Rich, dark and handsome." So far an ample description of my man!

It continues…..”I’ll even understand if you bite my head off after a bad day.” I changed that to…”after being gone for a month”.

Not even chocolate is a substitute for my main man (I’ve def. eaten enough the past 3 weeks to know) but it is nice to have something to bite the head off of (instead of the children) especially entering this last week of his absence!

Friday, March 07, 2008

The Countdown

One Week and my hubby will be back in Africa and most importantly back in my arms (and I am not letting go).

How did we fare this week? Well aside from another bout of tonsillitis this time with my youngest, our internet being in and out (with emphasis on the latter) for a week making any grasp with the outside world (including communication with my husband) and of course blogging very difficult, and gas prices rising to $4.15 per gallon we are doing well!

The "doing well" side of things: I’ve had some sweet encouragements, lots of play dates (sorry Heidi but that is what we call them here too) and even some adult conversations this week. To top it off, I have a “Girls night out” tonight with a dear friend whose hubby is also out of town.

All in all God has been very good to us and I am grateful…. and it does help knowing we only have 1 more week to go! YAHOO!!!

Monday, March 03, 2008

Happy Africa Anniversary

Since today & tomorrow mark 4 years starting a missionary career and relocating to South Africa, I thought I would share a glimpse of how it all began….

In July 2003, I was asked if I would travel to Thailand for a week and check on a short-term mission team ministering there. Having never been to Asia I quickly accepted. On my way to Thailand there was brief fuel stop in Tokyo, Japan. Due to the brevity of this stop, we were not allowed to deplane. While sitting on the runway, I heard a voice inside my head say, Thirteen years ago, Japan was your destination and Africa was the furthest place from your mind, now here you finally sit and it is Africa that has captured your heart.

You see it was thirteen years prior while attending college that I went on my first short-term mission trip. While in preparation for this trip, I actually prayed, “Lord, I will go anywhere but Africa”. I then signed up to go to Japan. Well, as I have shared in my profile this was the one of my, “Never say nevers”. Yes, you guessed it, my Japan trip was cancelled and I found myself on my way to South Africa.

I never planned on being a so called “missionary”. In fact, it was the last thing in the world I intended to do. When I signed up for the trip I did feel in my heart it was something the Lord asking me to do but I also saw it as a fun excursion (that was before they stuck me on the Africa team) and something on my “Christian to-do list” that I would be able to simply check off. I even recall boarding the airplane to return to America at the culmination of that first trip and wiping the sweat off my brow as if to say, “Phew, I am not called to be a missionary.”

I realized years later that it was on that first trip the “missionary seeds” were planted and for more than a decade they would be watered and cultivated. Fourteen years would pass, a long journey ensue and the dread of Africa would become a dream. During that time, I graduated college, married my missionary partner, who also at the time had no intention of living overseas, had my first 2 children, traveled all over the world on short-term mission trips, worked for a missions organization that taught me a love for God and His people and watched my heart break for the brown-skinned people living an ocean away.

Four years ago we arrived on African soil with 2 children, 3 suitcases, 6 trunks, 4 carry-ons and a mind full of wonder. Today, I sit in celebration of all the Lord has done in the short-time of being here, gratitude for the journey and all that I learned along the way and hope for many more years of living and ministering to those I dreamed of almost 2 decades ago!

It is a happy Africa Anniversary!