Saturday, December 31, 2011

About our Sanyati Trip

Read about our trip to the Baptist Hospital at Sanyati, Zimbabwe.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Mmabatho Moments ---- Jody Edition

I’m really excited to tell you all about what has been happening the last six weeks or so. I’ve started going out to a new village called Lokaleng. God provided a new ministry partner for me as well. Her name is Motlasing, and she is a university student here in town.

After all the things that have happened this year to keep me from driving (wallet stolen and neck surgery), I finally was able to go out to this new village that has been on my mind for quite some time. The first week, I had been praying that God would lead us to just the right people, and that He would provide a person of peace for us in this place, a person who would allow us to meet in her home. Within an hour of walking around that village for the first time, we talked to several people, and some accepted Christ. The last woman we shared with is named Boitumelo. She said she was Catholic and that she prayed “The Lord is my Shepherd” every night. Then she asked, “Is that the prayer you’re talking about?” I told her that while that was good to pray, the prayer we were talking about was one to ask Jesus to come into your life to be your Savior. She prayed to receive Christ right then. We were going to leave and she said, “Why can’t you come here every week to have church? We can sing and…” Well, God had provided our person of peace! When I gave testimony of what God had done that Sunday, a thought came to me. We shouldn’t be surprised when God answers our prayers, but we should be amazed, because He is an amazing God!

Since that first week, we have gone back on Thursday mornings, and we are amazed every time. I think I have about 15 names on a list I’ve been keeping so that I can learn their names. This last week, after we were finished sharing the Bible story, there was a young girl who had been coming from the first, but we had never shared salvation with her. She said she wanted to pray, but was still unsure. Boitumelo started talking to her instead of us! This is so exciting for me. We had such a hard time in the other village getting the women to share with one another. It took a long time. For the ladies in this new place to talk to one another and tell each other the Bible stories and help them understand how to accept Jesus just makes me want to shout! Can you tell I’m excited?!

There is another thing I want to share with you also. Lorato, my ministry partner before, has started going out in the new town she lives in, and has started her own group there. This is such a blessing to me. I didn’t know she was even doing this until she visited recently and told me about it. The ministry there is also going so well. I believe there are some people from this group who have started attending the church where Lorato’s husband is pastor.

OK. One more thing. Dennis has been going out to a village named Rooigrond for quite some time to work with a young pastor out there. The same week I started at Lokaleng, I also started meeting with the pastor’s wife from this church. She has been trying to have a ladies’ group at the church for awhile, but was having some problems getting things going. Last Saturday, she met with them, and told them her story of what God had done in her life. The doors were opened, and the ladies began to share about problems they were having. They came to the conclusion that they had left the narrow way, and needed to go back to the place where they first came to Jesus. The meeting usually lasts one hour. This meeting lasted two and a half hours! The pastor’s wife said they went out of the church singing all the way. What a blessing to hear that God is at work in so many ways, and we get to watch!

Our boys have started their new school year a few weeks ago. Andy is 16, and in the 11th grade. Josiah will be 14 soon, and is in the 8th grade. Caleb is 11, and in the 5th grade. Homeschooling them has had its challenges, but they all seem to be settling in with their new schedules. Bethany is still in Grade 1 at the International School in our town. She loves it. She just celebrated her 7th birthday with 13 of her friends. Melody is almost 5! I can’t believe I’m writing that number. She is still our little song from the Lord, and if you’re on Facebook, you know that she keeps us laughing a lot!

FROM DENNIS – Let me add just a couple of things. We were able to baptize 17 from the village of Rooigrond where I have been working with Pastor Michael. I have been teaching on doctrine and one of those topics was baptism. Many realized that they had never been scripturally baptized. Of the 17, 2 were older ladies 60+, one in her 40’s and the rest were teens to young adults. God is good. Thanks for remembering us and thanks for your prayers – we have felt them.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

July Happenings

Caleb's 11th birthday
It is cold in South Africa. It is winter!!! I know many of you in the States would like to have some of our weather. I am sure that when you think of South Africa you don’t think of the cold winters. It is hard to believe that 2011 in over half way over. Numerous events and activities have happened in the first 6 months. January started out with Jody returning to the States with her mom for Jody’s grandma’s funeral. After returning home, I soon realized that my main ministry partner was busy with other things and all the plans we had were not materializing. Jody lost her ministry partner in September of last year and God was telling her to “Be still.” So, she was busy doing that.

Andy's 16th

Through the first couple of months, my main focus has been with Pastor Michael in a village, Rooigrond, 15 kilometers out of town. I have been out there most Wednesday evenings dealing with church doctrines and practices. I have been teaching and preaching on the last Sunday of every month on various subjects. Michael is a young pastor that got married late last year. He worked with a missionary that had to leave because of health issues. He was basically left with the church and building. It has been rewarding and refreshing to work with him and see him grow. The people of the church are very hungry for the Word. I have better crowds on Wednesday nights with people sitting in a cold, tin building than I did on Wednesday nights in the States.

A couple of weeks ago we were able to bless the church by providing clothing gathered from the church we attend when I am not preaching. For some, this was their Christmas – in June. The temperature was right, but not the month.

A week before our annual missionary meeting in April, Jody woke up with a stiff neck. Thinking that she just slept wrong, we thought it would work itself out and be gone in a day or two. Well, 3 months later she is still recovering. She ended up having disk replacement surgery (C-5/6 and C6/7). It was comforting to have the doctor that actually developed the disc’s and surgery perform the procedure.

The kids are doing really well. Andy is a couple of weeks from finishing the 10th grade, Josiah the 7th grade and Caleb has started 5th grade work early. Bethany is enjoying her schooling at the International School of South Africa. She is learning to play netball and is taking a cooking class on Wednesday afternoon. Netball is like basketball, but it isn’t. For a better understanding of how the game is played, “Google it.” Melody keeps us laughing with her antics and comments. If you are my friend on Facebook then you regularly “see” what she is doing. Jody says she looks like her and acts like me. I am not quite sure what she means by that!!! :)
It has been a year since the passing of Jody’s dad. It has taken a greater toll on us than we thought it would. We knew it would be difficult, but really didn’t how. My greatest difficulty is knowing that our kids will grow up without him. I miss our conversations about ministry activities, questions and answers, and the latest sports happenings. Jody was able to fly back to the States to be with her family during this time. She and her mom will be returning together with her mom staying 3 weeks – in the middle of winter. She will be cold!

Thanks for your continued thoughts and prayers. We are not able to continue what we do without your prayers. Pray for Jody as she returns to driving and seeing what God wants her to do. Pray for Dennis as he works out in Rooigrond and looks to start some new outreach groups in Extension 39. Thank the Lord for His continued protection, provision, and watch care over us.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Showing the JESUS Film

One of the special joys of ministry is having the ability to show the JESUS Film.  Through monthly donations, our South Africa Tswana Team was able to purchase all the equipment to show the film anywhere.  We have a generator so electricity is no problem.  We showed the film again in a village close to town that has a small work in progress over the last year.

 As soon as we pulled into the area, we were swarmed with kid. 
They love getting their pictures taken and, of course, they immediately want to see the picture.

Setting up everything takes about 20 minutes.  The screen is about 8 feet.  We have a 250 watt sound system.  The film is translated into 8 different languages for our area.

"For God so loved the world...." We were done setting up and just waiting for it to get dark.

The gospel is simply "Jesus"

 Of course, before we get started we are able to talk with those that come early.

This was the second night that we showed the film.  The first night, the three boys in the back were the only ones that sat with me in the back of the vehicle.  It was a gradual process of them feeling that they could get closer to me.  They were waiting for me by the time we had everything set up.

The kids had a front row seat.  Surprisingly, most of them sat through the whole video.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Tswana Wedding

A couple of weeks ago, Jody and I attended the wedding of Jody's ministry partner during our time in South Africa.  She would go with Jody everywhere and translate for her.  She is very well-known in this town and the Northwest Province.
I had the privelage to walk Lorato down
the aisle. She was widowed over 11 years ago.

At the church, during this 2 hour ceremony,
the bride and groom through the numerous
"items on the program."  This was part of the vows.

Getting ready to be prayed for.

All the Pastors praying for this wonderful couple.

This is the wedding cake --
made by none other than Jody!!!

Moruti Hans, Lorato, Jody
Moruti means pastor

This is the tent for the reception -
over 200 people sitting and eating.

Here is the kitchen for cooking
all the people.  A cow was given for
the reception meal..

With the reception lasting over 6 hours,
 half way through, we ate and they went
and changed.  Jody stayed for the
whole reception. I left when they
left to change.

Jody had an opportunity to share with
everyone the ministry opportunities
they had together.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

September Update

Greetings in the precious name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ – the giver of all good gifts. I thought that three months was enough time between updates – it’s been a whirl wind. So, here we go.

For the last 5 years, South Africa has been preparing for the Soccer World Cup. Millions of dollars was invested in infrastructure and stadiums throughout the country. The people were incredibly excited about hosting this month long soccer tournament. We were able to capitalize on the event by co-hosting a volunteer team from the States. During the day we held soccer clinics. The balls that we used were called Evangi-balls which had red, yellow, green, black, and of course, white. Each day the plan of salvation was given from the balls. At the end of the week, the balls were given away as prizes. On various nights we either showed a World Cup game or the JESUS film. Several people prayed to receive Christ. Josiah and I were able to attend a World Cup game in Rustenburg. We saw Slovenia and New Zealand play to a 1-1 tie. It was very cold. Here some links to other pubished articles  - here, here, here, here,

During the World Cup time, however, our attention was drawn back to the States as Jody’s dad was continuing to fight an infection. This interfered with his ability to get back on his chemo schedule. He would get better and then regress. Several times with looked at airline tickets to return home, but it did not seem anything was imminent. The situation changed drastically when in the early morning he fell on his way to the bathroom. Again the doctors were positive and there would not be any lasting damage from the fall. But as the days of June came to a close, we felt, along with Oakland Heights Baptist Church that it was time for Jody to return to the States. She arrived on July 1st, and was able to have one last conversation with her dad that day. OHBC provided the opportunity for me and the kids to return to the States. Many of you followed our saga through my Facebook status. We were able to find some tickets leaving on the following Tuesday and arrive on Wednesday afternoon. Long story short, we were unable to make that flight. Dad died early Wednesday morning, and we left Johannesburg that evening not arriving in Longview until 2:30 am, Friday morning. His service was 12 hours later, Friday afternoon, at 3:00 pm and burial was Saturday in Muskogee. It was a couple of days that I care not to live through again. However, I do have to say that I felt God’s grace like never before. In the 66 hours of travel with the kids, I didn’t have one complaint against them – not one single problem or incident. They were fantastic and I have nothing but highest praise for them – definitely and only the grace of God.

We returned to Mmabatho on August 6th just kind of shell-shocked. The month of July flew by with so many activities of trying to help Jody’s mom with life in general. We had a huge garage sale and were able to sell both of their vehicles – another touch of God’s grace. Having only been back from our Stateside for about three months, coming back again to Mmabatho was like starting over. I was encouraged, however, as I returned to my Bible studies to find my people still willing and wanting to attend. Before the World Cup started, I told them that we wouldn’t meet for a couple of weeks, as I was busy with the volunteer team. I gave them a notebook and a pen and asked them to start copying the Gospel of Mark. They did it, but did not understand that I wanted them to continue, even though they finished chapter 1. The first time we met again in August, I asked them to share what God had taught them individually. They shared for about 35 minutes. At the close, I told them that they don’t need me anymore –they have God’s Word and it is enough. God wants to speak to them individually and they don’t need a teacher! They got it – they understood.

Jody’s ministry partner, Lorato, is getting married. That is good news for her – being a widow for the last 11 years. Her burden of caring for herself and children will be lightened immensely. The bad news is that she will be moving away and so leaves Jody without a ministry partner until God makes a move. Since our return in March, God has been telling Jody to “Be still and know that I am God.” So, until God makes a move and let’s her know what to do, she is just gonna rest in the comfort of The Word.

We have started the new school year with Andy being a sophomore, Josiah beginning 7th grade, Caleb doing 4th grade work, and Bethany starting 1st grade in January 2011 at ISSA. We received our crate on the Wednesday after returning home. So, it was like Christmas in August as we enjoyed all the stuff that we crammed into a 147 sq. ft. crate. The girls got their swing set/playground – I couldn’t set it up fast enough. A special thanks to First Bossier for providing that for the girls – they love it!!!

A special thanks to all of you for remembering to pray for us. God is so good – even through difficult circumstances – when nothing makes sense and 2+2 doesn’t equal 4 anymore. God grace has sustained us and He has blessed so much. Your prayers have enabled us to return when deep down it was not our desire. You strengthened us when we didn’t have the strength to carry on. Oakland Heights Baptist Church did nothing but act like Jesus!!!! (make sure you understand that last statement) They were Jesus in the flesh – they were His hands and His feet. They loved on us and continue to take care of us!

Throughout this update, you see what you can pray about – as God leads, you pray and we will be thankful. Be Blessed.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Capitalizing on the World Cup

Check out what we've been up to during the World Cup.
Click HERE if you can't see the YouTube Video.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Just Some Pictures

These are just some pictures in no particular order or particular theme.

This was Melody's first meal at the big table.  The day before she told us
 that she was ready  to sit at the big table and not sit in her baby seat. 
You can see her high-chair in the back ground.

As part of a celebration for Andy's 15th birthday, Jody made a cake for him to
take to Friday Night Youth  at the church.  He said he wanted a cake with the
South African flag on it.  It was in no ways related to his birthday. However,
in celebration of the 2010 World Cup and in support of the South African
soccer team, on Fridays, people have been wearing  SA  soccer
jersey's and colors.  We have been supporting them.

Sleep-over at the Jones in Gaborone, Botswana.  
The boys started out in line on their pillows toward the top of the picture.

Certainly thinking some deep thoughts!!

Mother's Day 2010

It is hard to believe that Andy turned 15 on the 11th of May. 
He said he wanted a chocolate cake with green icing !?!?! 

This is just Melody being herself.  She is wearing a "dress-up" dress. 
She will start in her clothes for the day and then it is no telling what
 she  will end up inby the end of the day.  When it was warmer, she
would end the day in her swimming suit, regardless of getting in the water!

The boys playing basketball.  We were able to bring back a portable
basketball set in our crate in 2007.  The last several weeks they
have been playing with some neighborhood boys.

Melody wearing Caleb's Chargers hat.
She loves the camera!

Andy and Josiah were in a skit at church.  Andy played Jesus
in the skit. We are praying that this becomes a reality in his life!!

Josiah was also a "character of disrepute" in the skit. 
He loved being able to wear a hat and sunglassess in church!

Dennis preaching at the Easter Conference in Mafikeng the
Saturday night of Easter weekend.

Saying our 'good-byes' to the cousins in Oklahoma
before we came back to South Africa.

On the way to our annual meeting in Tshipese this year,
we spent the night in Warm Baths

Back in States, we found a playground for the girls to
play on one afternoon in South Texas.

Bethany receiving a Scripture and her "5-year" pin from
her "Aunt" Lisa. She has 5 years on the field.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

April Update

Hello Everyone – I figured it was about time to let everyone know the latest news – so here it goes.

First of all, we just have to rejoice in the watch-care that the Lord has provided for us. It has simply been incredible. Everyone remains healthy without any major incidents. All of our travels have been without any dire situations. We are incredibly thankful for all the safely travelled miles in the States (7000+) and now over 3000 kilometers while back in South Africa. We just have to praise the Lord. God has been incredibly gracious to us in those aspects.

We continue to receive good news from Jody’s dad’s situation. There should be a meeting in mid-May that should reveal how the last months of treatment have gone and what kind of treatment regimen should begin. We pray that whatever happens, he will be able to get the needed treatment in Longview and not have to travel to Little Rock every week and-a-half or so. Don’t stop praying for supernatural healing, though!

One week after arriving back in South Africa and traveling to our house on March 18th , we packed our bags for a week-long meeting in Tshipese, South Africa. While it was nice to see all of our friends, it wasn’t necessarily that nice to pack up again and travel some 850 kilometers in two days. But God is good and our travels were without incident. The weather was beautiful, and it was good to be back in that area of the country. It was our first meeting there since 2006.

After arriving back home, we pulled out the measuring stick and measured everyone. All the kids had grown at least one inch while in the States. We figured so since clothes that we bought at the beginning of our time in the States were not fitting as well when we returned. Andy is in the middle of his 9th grade year. I told him when we were getting on the plane for our return flight that this was the last time he would be returning to South Africa with us. We were both stunned at the comment. When we go back to the States, in 1177 days, part of our plans will be to put him in college somewhere. Wow!!!! Josiah will finish 6th grade by the end of July. He is doing his typically excellent work. Caleb wanted to be homeschooled, so when we returned, he did not go back to the International School of South Africa. They won’t be without a Janz for long, however, as Bethany will start 1st grade in January 2011. She and Melody continue to be best of friends. They play so well together. As Jody and I are busy teaching the boys in the morning, they are relegated to keeping themselves busy. They do a pretty good job playing together, playing a game or watching some TV – usually Dora, Wonder Pets or the BBC children’s channel called Cbeebees.(CBB’s).

You may or may not know that we, the IMB, have been going through a massive reorganization these last 8-10 months. With the reorganization have come a lot of changes. With those changes have come a lot of new forms and procedures. Getting back on the field when we did, we got back in the middle of when all these forms, goals, budgets, and meetings were due. So needless to say, I have been on the computer for what seems like forever. Fortunately, I have seen the light at the end of the tunnel, and now we can get back to the main things. Jody has returned to Moshawane a couple of times and is reconnecting with her ladies. It is her goal to finish work in that area by the end of the year and see what else God has for her – wherever that will be.

I was asked to preach at the Easter Conference here in Mafikeng the Saturday night before Easter Sunday. I had a great time re-establishing some relationships with pastors that I had not seen in some time. Easter is bigger than Christmas here in South Africa. Each year they have a 3-day conference on Easter weekend – it’s their biggest gathering of the year. I have been out to Extension 39 a couple of times to kind of see what happened, if anything , while we were away. I tried to make contact with Pastor Michael this morning by driving to his church. At 10:30 this morning, there was no one there, so I was unable to see him.

We have a volunteer team coming in June to do some work during the FIFA Soccer World Cup. South Africa is the host country and people are abuzz and have been for the last couple of years. It is like a month-long Super Bowl-type atmosphere. It is going to be crazy. Team USA plays England two hours away from us, in Rustenburg. Unfortunately, we don’t have tickets.

We would ask you to continue to pray for Jody’s dad as that is on our hearts every day. Pray for both of our ministries that God would simply lay before us where He wants us to be. Pray that we would see what He is doing and hear what He is saying. Pray for spiritual understanding and discernment in our lives. Thank Him for our health and well-being. Pray that our hearts would remain tender toward the Tswana people and that we understand their ways of life and how to bridge the Gospel to them.

We are thankful for your prayers, emails, and mailings.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Happy New Year! I thought it was about time to post to the blog. When I started this blog, I never intended to go so long without a post. However, there is no New Year’s resolution to make more entries to the blog.

We were able to fly home to Texas the week before Thanksgiving. That was nice. I was able to catch 2 Cowboy’s victories in 5 days! One of the downers of this Stateside happening has been the ongoing cancer treatment saga with Jody’s dad. Between the treatment for multiple-myeloma and colo-rectal cancer, our schedule has been turned upside down. The good part is that there is treatment and it is ongoing. We have made several trips back and forth to Little Rock. We’ve put over 3000 miles on our vehicle since 21 December.

We have had the opportunity to share about the Lord’s workings in South Africa in many churches. Our first opportunity was at FBC-Tecumseh. It was good to reconnect with the many people who pray for us. They are one of the churches that we had contact with before we went to the field. We stayed in their newly remodeled mission house – what a blessing that was. We then traveled to FBC-Stonewall for their evening service. Though nothing “official” was planned, I was able to share for about 15 minutes in their evening service. It is always good to go back to Stonewall. I was also able to share at a church in Kilgore, TX. Of course, we had the morning service at Oakland Heights Baptist Church on Lottie Moon Sunday. The love we feel there is over whelming. Being able to stay in their mission house is an incredible blessing. We also had a wonderful opportunity to go to a Global Impact Conference at Travis Avenue Baptist Church in Ft. Worth. What a wonderful weekend to share our story with so many listening and interesting people. An honoring engagement we had was speaking at the Diamond Set meeting at First Bossier. Many of these people were involved in my life while I was in the Youth Group at First Bossier. A reoccurring comment that I received was “Wow, you did grow up!” I really have no idea what they could be talking about?!?!?!

Lottie Moon Christmas Offering Each year, the International Mission Board encourages people to contribute to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering which supports Southern Baptist missionaries around the world. For us, the Lottie Moon funds provide our salary, health insurance, a place to live, a vehicle and petrol and many and various ministries. If it were not for the Lottie Moon offering, we would be responsible for personally raising thousands of dollars each year to be able to serve overseas.

Last year, the IMB set a goal to raise $171 million dollars to support more than 5,600 personnel serving internationally. Last year giving fell short by more than $30 million dollars and was $9 million less than the previous year. The shortfall in giving prompted IMB leadership to make some difficult cuts in budgets across the board including:

*Long term apprentice personnel – 300
*Journeymen – 100
*2+2 personnel – approximately 50; sent in partnership with SBC seminaries
*New partially self-funded Masters – 30
* suspending appointment of more than 200 new missionaries
* reducing the number of new positions worldwide from more than 1,200 jobs to 300
* budget cuts of up to 60% for strategy leaders on the field
* medical care no longer being covered 100 percent
* canceling of stateside debriefing conferences and also some regional meetings and prayer retreats on the field which are so meaningful for our missionaries.
* indefinite suspension of some critical short term missionary programs.

Despite not reaching the 2009 goal, the IMB still received the third largest Lottie Moon Offering in history. This year, the IMB has set a goal of $175 million in hopes to return to a stronger budget and ability to send more missionaries into the world. We humbly ask each of you to prayerfully consider giving sacrificially to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering this year.

Right now the plan is for us to remain in the States until mid-March. I am looking forward to returning to South Africa and getting back to work. Thanks for your prayer - they are so meaningful to us.