Wednesday, December 29, 2010

our hearts

as we have settled mostly into our home,
and joe has had the tunnels erected a couple weeks and is awaiting Jan 3
when he begins the moving of the water tanks and then planting, 
and as i await the kiddos starting school so i can dig into ministry opportunities...

our hearts have been touched
by the lives around us.

that our God sent his Son 
to a manger
and a cross 
just like us.

as i look out my window 
and i see men digging in my trash

i think... 

there is no favoritism in God's eyes.
God loves us both the same.

but Satan seeks to kill and destroy us both. 
these men digging in my garbage are gripped by poverty,oppression, and injustice.

are gripped by materialism, self indulgence, and guilt.
both are life drainers
and both separate us from all God has for us.

God is working on our hearts and minds
in this place.
we are excited at all the opportunities ahead 
to share His love with those around us.
can't wait to share more details as they unfold.

in the meantime
please pray 
for us as we seek to follow the Lord
for us to see the opportunities to serve right before us each day
for the people of the township Masi (approx 2 miles from us)
who were involved in the recent fires there (over 700 people lost homes and belongings).

make me know the way i should go, for to you i lift up my soul. psalm 143:8

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

life size

i get a message from my mom about
a Christmas present.
she had received from her thoughtful neighbor
Mrs Brenda.
i must call my mom (on skype, of course) to SEE
what it is.

i call her 
and she pops this thing out!

an almost life size portrait of my kiddos!
no sir-eee! it wasn't supposed to be this BIG.
it was a printing mistake.

but, nevertheless,
now our Mimi 
can see these sweet faces 
like they were right there with her
life size and all!

both Mrs Brenda
and my mom 
were astounded when they opened this package.
as anyone 
would be 
i am sure!
but for a Mimi 
whose grandbabies 
are halfway around the world
it is perfect.
(even if we do get a laugh out of it).

oh and joe and i told her when we come back to America
we'd love it to forever be on our wall...we will see if she will let it go:)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

how does he do it?

we now know
how does Santa do it? 
the answer:   time zones

we were excited to wake up
Christmas morn
and see that Santa found us
way down here in South Africa.
and what made it even finer was knowing
he hit us before
he hit our family and friends back in the States.
the kiddos thought this was very cool:)

bristol loved her first Christmas!

And to back up a bit
the pics below are of...
An amazing family that invited us into their home and their Christmas Eve dinner celebration. A huge table was set up and beautifully decorated.
Plenty of yummy food was eaten!
Oh my, it felt so good and so much like being with family.
It was just what we needed this holiday.
We were blown away at their generosity and love.
Such a blessing!

Christmas Crackers- a South African tradition where you pull apart
these wrapped lil gifts and with  loud pop you find small treats in them! fun!
above are the kiddos working hard to pop theirs
and below, sis and i trying to get ours!

And the day after Christmas...
We celebrated
by having our new friends 
(some missionaries, some south african, all friends)
over to our new place.
All of these folks are away from their families this holiday too!

This is a pic of the girls 
(minus Bristol who was napping).
These folks are such blessings in our lives.
We never imagined finding such a sweet group of folks!
God is good!

And so,
though we missed dearly our family (and friends) back home
as we celebrated our first Christmas away-
we have been blessed here 
far away from them.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Today We Celebrate Because We Know!

This morning after the kids opened their gifts from Santa, I turned on CNN Africa to hear of the following breaking news stories.

As I listened to these breaking news headlines, I recalled a line from my favorite Christmas carol which says, "in despair I bowed my head, there is no peace on earth I said. For hate is strong and marks the song of Peace on Earth Goodwill to Men."

I went over to our IPOD, scrolled down, found the song, and listened to my favorite verse of the song which says, "Then rang the bells more loud and deep, God is not dead nor does He sleep. Peace on Earth! Peace on Earth! The wrong shall fail the right prevail. Peace on Earth Goodwill to Men!"

So today we celebrate! We celebrate knowing Jesus Christ came to earth as a baby and conquered sin, death, and the grave on the cross! We celebrate knowing we now belong to His body the church! We celebrate because Salvation is here!

Merry Christmas from South Africa.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

a trend of 2's

view of the sunset over the atlantic ocean tonite

it has been 2 months today 
(22 october- 22 december)
since we left family and friends behind in 
and headed to South Africa
(somedays it seems like forever and others like it just happened)
what a journey it has been 

and for a bit of random info...
we are enjoying our 
2nd summer 
this year
(which is an added bonus),
and with that we have experienced our  
2nd summer solstice
otherwise known as the longest day of the year
(changing hemispheres can do this for you),
and also the kiddos have experienced their 
2nd summer school break
(they have summer breaked for 6 months of this year almost...crazy!)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

a letter from Joey

Merry Christmas from South Africa!  The family and I have now settled into our final resting spot in Kommetjie, South Africa.  It is a beautiful place that is situated literally at the tip of Africa.  We are about 10 minutes from Cape Point which is the farthest south you can go on the Southern Peninsula.  

God definitely hand picked this home for us.  It fits our family so well and the kiddos absolutely love it.  We have been here 6 days now and it is amazing how much relief we feel to finally be semi-settled.  

This area of the world literally shuts down this time of year.  Instead of the hustle and bustle we knew back home, we have been witness to a mass exodus here on the Peninsula.  The people who live in the township we work near pack up and go back to their homeland in the Eastern Cape.  The thousands of people we would see walking the streets everyday have now become only a few hundred here and there.  The other locals go to their favorite holiday spots for relaxation and family time.  The children here are on their summer break so most of the people use this time to take the equivalent of our summer vacations.  It really is kind of weird!  It feels more like the 4th of July than it does Christmas. There are also many who flood this area to spend their holiday time. 

We finished the construction of the greenhouses last week.  This project was a real learning experience for me.  I worked physically harder than I think I ever have.  God provided 4 amazing Zimbabweans to help me with this process.  I learned so much about life and work from these guys.  We talked about  our differences/similarities, our families, and our desires.  I was truly blessed to share this time with them and love on them as we worked together.  Ministry truly is simply loving those around you.  God is daily revealing the simplicity of His plan to me!  I was able to talk with them about Christ and even gave each of them a new bible as we finished the tunnels.  It was like I had given them a $1000 dollars.  One of them told me, "This is the only thing I have found that brings me comfort in this life."  I was convicted in that moment that I take so lightly my access to Holy Scripture.

On January 3rd, we will start installing the irrigation system and pools.  I am excited to start this last phase before we begin planting the crops.  We have a soft plant date of January 15th.  I can't wait to see how God uses these tunnels for His kingdom work.

Please pray for us and our families back home during this time.  It is difficult for all of us being apart on this first Christmas.  Also, pray that for continued protection and health for our family.  God is doing an amazing work in our lives and we are so thankful for all of your prayers and support.  May God bless you all this Christmas!  

We love you all! 

J. Lankford

Monday, December 20, 2010

the puppy pact

a promise from daddy.

back when we first started discussing our move to africa
daddy and briley made a pact.

a puppy pact.

when we get in our new place,
and get settled,
she could have her little pup.

we are mostly.

we couldn't resist another moment longer.

drumroll, please!
welcome to our new home...

briley came downstairs this morning
already talking of this name
and that was before we even mentioned today might be
THE DAY. the puppy day.
i had hoped we could do a Christmas morn surprise
this precious pup is now a part of the fam. 
                                                                       and oh so loved.

wondering if everyone will feel that way after all the pees and poops and walks? hehe!
wondering if i'm ready for a "5th child"?
doesn't the puppy responsibility
ultimately fall to the mom when the newness wears off?

joey says,
no responsibility, then the pup is fish bait:)
you should hear the raucous this generates.

excitement abounds around here!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

the Christmas spirit

 the Christmas spirit.
as of lately i have been contemplating
the Christmas spirit.

and i have been wondering
what one thing
is the cause of my not feeling so "christmas-y" this year.

is it the warm weather and sunny skies?

is it the great distance from family?

or the transition after transition we have been involved in?

or the just getting settled in the new place?

is it the lack of Christmas decorations adoring every corner?

is it the nonexistance of crazy, pushy shoppers fighting for just the right gift?

or the absence of large, loud choirs proclaiming the Christ child's birth we remember from so many years past?

as i talked with a new friend at the Christmas carols tonite,
we decided it was an accumulation of them all.

and tonite, oh tonite
the choir, the instruments, the candles, the being surrounded by new friends (most of whom are not near their families for Christmas like us).
and yes, even the juggling of the kids for hours on a picnic blanket.
finally. finally.
i feel it.
eyes closing, heart warming. fullness.
the newborn babe that came to live with us and save us.
the story we know so well.
the donkey and census.
and no room.
and manger.
and swaddling clothes.
yes, i am feeling it. i am getting in the spirit.
the true reason for the season.
no matter where in the world you are.
it doesn't have to be wasn't that nite in Bethlehem anyway.
it doesn't have to be presents and people everywhere.
but songs. songs that sing the true meaning of Christmas.
they strike a chord. literally.

Christmas is Jesus. His birth. His birthday.
Celebrating Him wherever you are.

Friday, December 17, 2010

briley beth

9 years ago today my doctor said "it's a girl"
and i became a mommy
to a treasure,
a gift from the Lord,
a child that lights deep into my soul.

i am blessed because of briley beth!

and today, being her day,
we celebrated.
doing what she requested.
opening presents 1st thing.

hangin out as a family.
skype-ing far away family.

eating at her favorite waffle place.

going to the beach.

playing at our new place.
walking to dinner.
going on a mommy/daughter after dinner date
for, none other than...
a weakness we both share with giggles!

(sorry for the grainy, second rate pic)

briley. you are gift to all you meet. and i love being your mommy.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

the move

top 3 news this week
tunnels completed Monday (woohoo!!),
move Wednesday,
and Briley's birthday Friday.

and so
december 15th
it happened!
the #7 move
(yep, u got it right....
7 different places we have laid our
weary heads, after 7 different moves)
we have landed in...
our new HOME.
can i say it any louder...??
it feels so good!
and so
we are continuing the settling process
all while the day we celebrate the birth of
our Saviour
quickly approaches
and while those in this small piece of the world
stop work and go home to family (for several weeks)
or come on "holiday" to experience the beauty of 2 oceans
and sunsets into the sea with toes in the sand and wind (insane-ness) in the hair

and we pause and take in deep
the LOVE God has for us .
so much that He sent His Son to save us,
so much that He provides for us daily
so much that He blesses us and forgives us and holds us.

and so,
over the next few weeks
we will have time
as a family
to hang out,
enjoy the new home,
settle in,
build friendships,
seek God's instruction on the next steps He desires,
and celebrate
all with Daddy around
(since things shut down around here).
quite different from the U.S.

it will be time for change once again
as Daddy goes back to serving full time,
as the 2 big kids start school
(after 3 month break... otherwise known as their 2nd summer break of the year),
then the bear starts school,
mommy can get settled in my place of serving
and oh how i look forward to where God is leading.
and on to a new normal. a routine one. (i think that sounds quite nice- especially since i thrive on routine and well...transition and flexibility have been my middle names!)

by the way...
did u catch what tomorrow is?
our sweet Briley Beth will enter her last single digit year
as i prayed over her tonite and the previous nites
my heart is heavy thinking
in the amount of time she has been here (9yrs)
in 9 more she will be 18
and heading to college
and not living under our roofs (probably)
and well...oh my, can't even handle that!
must stop thinking that!
and enjoy every minute with this precious daughter of ours
who daily
(more than that)
makes my heart swell
with love, joy, laughs,
experiences through a child's eyes,
this daughter who is a gift from above.
my heart is rejoicing.
rejoicing in memories and moments with her.
can't wait to celebrate nine tomorrow!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Light Has Dawned

"The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of darkness, a light has dawned."(Isaiah 9:2) One of Webster's definitions of darkness is, "a lack of spiritual or intellectual enlightenment; ignorance." Webster also defines enlightenment as " the action of attaining or having attained spiritual knowledge or insight."

As I have walked this journey, I have noted that the people of Africa and I are plagued by the same absence of spiritual knowledge and insight. Satan has just been supper creative at using different weapons to bring us to the same place of DARKNESS. On the poorest here in Africa, Satan pulls from his arsenal: poverty, oppression, rape (both women and children), and AIDS. On me, Satan uses guilt, pride, materialism, and distraction.

Regardless of how Satan manages to bring us to where we are, we are in desperate need of the Light of Christ. That is the beauty and blessing of Christmas. God given light to us all! Salvation is here!

"For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us, and the government will be on His shoulders. He will be named Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. The dominion will be vast, and its prosperity will never end. He will reign on the throne of David and over His kingdom, to establish and sustain it with justice and righteousness from now on and forever." Isaiah 9:6-7

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

so far...

so far this week.
we have
website, tunnels, packages, and...

our story was put on several of our home church's websites this week and the editorial folks did a fabulous job working with the info we gave them. click the link on the sidebar or at the beginning of this paragraph and read it if you get a chance! it is right there on the front page with our pic.

today was a hot one around here and perfect weather for stretching plastic over greenhouses which is just what Joey and his guys did all day.  
next step, is the doors on the sides and grading out the floors. the goal is to have this project completed by Friday! we pray that the Lord provides bountiful crops from theses tunnels for years to come and long after us. may it be blessed! we received not 1, not 2 but 3 packages. which just so happened to be perfect as the 3 oldest each felt as if they needed one and well, we must be fair:) 1 was from Braxton's SS teacher back in TN (we love u Mrs Seay), another from some folks in my SS Class filled with treasures for the kids, Christmas CD's, and cards! (and let me tell u how much the Christmas music was needed). and the 3rd was for Briley's birthday coming up next week. whew! i must say packages from home feel so delightful!

1 week from today we move FINALLY into our new home 
and we were blessed today to find out we can stay here in this place until then. God is so good! 
we thought we were going to have to do a temporary move from Sun to Wed, but nope we can stay here until the big day! So that means we will only have made 6 moves since we left our home in TN until we settle in our home in South Africa. wow...that sounds crazy and has been a real adventure...
but we are ready to have our own place to finally unpack:)

hum...have i left anything out? 
i'm sure... but really do you want to know it all?!

Sunday, December 5, 2010


here's what has happened in our neck of the woods (or the beach) this past week...
some with pics
some without

braxton lost his 2nd tooth and was visited by
not the tooth fairy BUT the tooth mouse.
i am not sure who, here in SA,  told him there was a mouse not fairy in charge of teeth.
but no matter
because i am pretty sure he has started a new trend in our family.
as he went to bed the other nite
he placed his tooth
in a small block of cheese,
inside his shoe
and right under his bed.
where the next early morn he found crumbs and some rand (our money here).
quite cute folks. quite cute.

bristol has become terribly fro- licious.

in other news...after a trip to the mall in hopes of sitting in the lap of jolly ole saint nick
mom opted for a random pic in the mall to document the day
as the man in the red suit was no where to be found.
i know he is here somewhere...just haven't found him yet.
pretty weird. decorations up, Christmas music in the background,
where is Santa?
(anyone around here know where we can score a pic with him??)

p.s. the buggy is ours and it is full of the bedding for our yet to be purchased beds
and the mall was fab and within an hour's drive

now for ministry work...
joey and his guys have finished the framework of the tunnels.
this week they are scheduled to stretch the plastic over the tops.
but also on the schedule
is crazy wind.
which has already arrivedin full force (pun intended) today.
and so
once again
i can say the word of the day is "flexibility"
hopefully they will get a calm, sunny day very soon to finish this task
in preparation for the upcoming hoilday break.
(update pics coming soon!)

on a praise note...we are in the month that we will make our final move...
the one into our permanent place here!

and Briley's best news of the week...
Bernard, our elf on the shelf,
has found his way to South Africa
and into our home
he was a bit late
but hey, it is a long trek from the North Pole to almost the south.

and very importantly,
(joey wouldn't let me leave out)
the crayfish
which we were blessed to dine on this very nite.
our soon- to- be new neighbor who just so happens to be a fisherman extraordinare
provided yumminess that to me was like eating lobster
and it was delectable!

after cooking but before cracking in to eat

after cracking open but before devouring

other task to complete this week (besides the tunnels)
order necessary furniture for our new place (mattresses, kit table)
start Christmas shopping (can't believe i haven't started this yet)
paint bristol's crib (which here is called a cot)
finish up car details so we can then mend minor probs on it
(1 being that the alarm blares (and that is a kind word) every time you open a door and 2 being the seat won't scoot up for me to reach the pedals, and  3 ...and a few,honestly we are just happy it gets us where we want to go and we aren't paying rent on one anymore!)

looking forward to an remarkable week of looking for God all around...

Desperation brings Compassion

"As they were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed Him. There were two blind men sitting by the road. When they heard that Jesus was passing by, they cried out, "Lord, have mercy on us Son of David!" The crowd told them to keep quite, but they cried out all the more, "Lord, have mercy on us Son of David!"

Jesus stopped, called them, and said, "What do you want Me to do for you?"

"Lord, they said to Him, "open our eyes!" Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes. Immediately they could see...." Matthew 20:29-33

The thing that struck me in this story is the desperation of the blind and the way it moved our Lord. Even though they were told to shut up, they knew that the only chance for sight restoration was coming towards them. And when Jesus asked them what they wanted, they told Him without hesitation, "open our eyes!"

I pray that I will recognize my own desperate need for sight restoration and without hesitation ask our Lord for it. I pray that the genuine realization of my blindness will insight a desperate plea to God for help. May He sense my desperation and in compassion restore my sight!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

much pleasure thou can'st give me...

and so today,
the first day of december,
we searched high and low,
for the perfect tree.

the tree that reminds us of all things Christmas
memories from the past,
most importantly
the birth of our Saviour.
who came to us as a baby in a manger
one Christmas day long ago.

as so,
the children gleefully
decorated our very different- from- the- normal tree.
a smallish, live evergreen
strung carefully with lights,
and draped with perfectly- placed- by- small- hands silver balls,
dainty seashells (bri),
and a few edible treats (brax).

much simpler than the normal 10 ft tall
and cut from the tree lot with hot cocoa in hand tree from Tennessee
crazy amount of lights,
breakable ornaments galore,
needles all over the floor
and water sloshed from watering,

our tree is JUST PERFECT for us here, this year, in this place.

though Christmas hardly seems 24 sleeps away with the warm weather, sunny skies, and ocean view
we are ready to talk each day of Baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and the Wise Men
and worship God for sending His son for us.
for Christ is the reason of the season.
no matter where you are.

O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Thy leaves are so unchanging;
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Thy leaves are so unchanging;
Not only green when summer's here,
But also when 'tis cold and drear.
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Thy leaves are so unchanging!

O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Much pleasure thou can'st give me;
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Much pleasure thou can'st give me;
How often has the Christmas tree
Afforded me the greatest glee!
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Much pleasure thou can'st give me.

O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Thy candles shine so brightly!
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Thy candles shine so brightly!
From base to summit, gay and bright,
There's only splendor for the sight.
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Thy candles shine so brightly!

O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
How richly God has decked thee!
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
How richly God has decked thee!
Thou bidst us true and faithful be,
And trust in God unchangingly.
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
How richly God has decked thee! !"