Monday, December 19, 2011

A Not So "Silent Night"

I'm taking a little break in my Sweet Sleep, South Africa blog series to bring you these hysterical darn right scary pictures of the kids.  A few weeks ago I saw this cute Christmas card picture on pinterest with the caption "Silent Night".


I thought it was so funny, clever and definitely fitting for my wild bunch so I decided to try to emulate this photo with my kids.  Our attempt did not go so well.  I told the kids to look surprised but I got more "serial killer" from Emma.  Jackson and Leah are always hard to get to look at the camera.  And, well, despite my optimistic attitude that maybe Noah would not totally freak out when we tied him up with Christmas lights and taped his mouth shut with festive red duct tape.... he did.






So if we do get Christmas cards out in time for Christmas this year, I think I will spare you from opening up your mailbox to find these fabulous photos (insert sarcasm here) and just go with something a little more traditional......  you're welcome.


Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Sweet, Sweet Sound

Sweet Sleep, South Africa, Post #3

We had the pleasure of building bunk bed #2 for 5 little ones stair stepping in age. These 5 kids were cared for by an inspiring woman named Sharon. Inspiring because she cares for her own 3 children and 2 abandoned children as a single mom with no income in a tiny 10 X 10 home. Inspiring because never once did I hear her words tend toward fret, worry or complaint in the midst of her circumstances. Only Joy. Inspring because being in need herself and being unemployed did not stop her from volunteering her time to help others in need. She even expressed a desire to help future participants in the Open Door classes. Such a giving spirit is a rare treasure in this world.

Sharon

I spoke briefly with Sharon outside her home as the bed was being assembled by the men on our team.

You know, because it only makes perfect sense that the men build the beds while us girls do what we do best...

talk until it is time to put the sheets on. Oh, I digress.

Back to Sharon, she told me a small part of her story that reminded me of what I need to be reminded of so often; nothing in our lives is too big,

or too small

for God to provide. She told me that she knew that there was a need in her home of beds for her many children. She said that she made plans in her mind to get beds for her family but she was unsure how she would make it happen since she did not have any income. After praying about this need for some time, Sharon began attending the parenting classes with Open Door, unaware that the graduates of this program would recieve Sweet Sleep beds for the children in their home. She said that when she found out that these strangers from America were coming to build her children beds, she knew that God had

very specifically answered her prayers.

Our team returned that afternoon to re-iterate to the children that when they pull their covers up over themselves at night to think about God giving them a great big hug. We were in store for an amazing blessing as Sharon asked if we would like to hear her children sing a song that she had written. Sharon and her children opened their mouths and a beautiful sound escaped from them. Take a listen for yourself.



It warms my heart that every day about the time that I am preparing to pick up my kids from school, somewhere half way around the world are 5 precious children climbing into their warm beds in a 10 by 10 house, making a sweet, sweet sound unto the Lord with their mama.

the little ones trying out their beds

Precious

To help more children like Sharon's little ones, go to www.sweetsleep.org and find out more about how you can help.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Many People, One Vision

Sweet Sleep, South Africa, Post #2

It is no doubt that Sweet Sleep has many partners on the ground all over the world that make it possible for a team to come into a country and build beds for a large number of children in just one week. I think of organizations that Sweet Sleep has partnered with but mostly I think of people. There is Lucia in Moldova, Josephine and Sweet Jennifer in Uganda and many more who have let the vision of Sweet Sleep infiltrate their hearts and their lives.

In South Africa we met many people who were a part of the ministry there, but I want to introduce you to this amazing couple that played such an important part...

Cedric & Veronica & Me

Cedric & Veronica live in the township of Oceanview where most of Sweet Sleep's work in Cape Town was done. Cedric prefabricated the 20 beds that we assembled when we got there. He truly worked hard as if "working unto the Lord". You could tell that he had joy in his work and the ability to provide for his family.

Cedric & Jen (founder & president of Sweet Sleep) team up to do some bed assembly

Veronica was a part of the parenting class at Open Door. It is evident that her leadership and spiritual guidance was a true light to the women who were a part of these classes. It was said that the classes were every Monday for 2 hours, but they ended up staying for about 3 hours every week because the support and fellowship was such a needed presence in the lives of these women. When the women expressed their disappointment that the class was ending, Veronica took the initiative to start a bible study with these women so that they could continue to meet together and support eachother. I had the pleasure of talking with Veronica on many occasions throughout the week we were there and I was so uplifted and encouraged by her faith.

Veronica cracked me up when she hopped on this excercise machine just outside someone's house where we were working. She is too funny!

Our team had the opportunity to share dinner and conversation one evening with Cedric and his lovely wife. We listened as they told us their story, about their life, their children and their journey with the Lord. We were amazed at the faith that this couple shared, at the way God strengthened that faith through times of trouble and at the way that God has provided and cared for them. We were happy that they expressed that they wanted to be a part of Sweet Sleep's future work in South Africa.

I was also so touched by the fact that Cedric & Veronica take in a teenage boy every day during the day when he is locked out of his house by his family until his mother returns from work. His name is Cedric also. We took to calling him little Cedric and you will hear much more about him in a future post.

Please pray for Cedric & Veronica as they continue to be a light to their community. Pray for the children that will be impacted by the future work of Sweet Sleep in Oceanview and other areas of Cape Town.

Want to help Sweet Sleep provide beds for the world's orphaned, abandoned and vulnerable children? Help us meet our goal to provide 2500 beds to children in Uganda this Christmas. Just $50 provides a child with a bed, bedding, a life-saving mosquito net and a bible in the child's own language. Make a difference this Christmas! Go to www.sweetsleep.org to help today.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Sweet Rowan

Sweet Sleep, South Africa, Post #1

It has been almost one month since I returned from my mission trip with Sweet Sleep to Cape Town, South Africa to build beds for some of the most vulnerable children there. I feel like I have had some time to process what I experienced and I now feel ready to share it with you. Many of you have been a part of this through giving financially or giving your time in prayer. I can tell you that nothing compares to being on a journey like this and experiencing it with all 5 senses, however I will try my best to take you to the places we went and introduce you to some people who I was fortunate enough to cross paths with. I invite you to come to South Africa with me over the next few blog posts and let yourselves fall in love with the people and the country. It's so easy to do!


Rowan and Me

First, I would like to introduce you to our very first bed recipient in South Africa. His name is Rowan and he kind of stole my heart. This said heart almost broke in two when he asked me and my team members to take him home with us. Rowan is 7 years old. We built a bunk bed in his home for him and his little brother Roland who is 2. When we arrived at this first home we were taken back by the small size and poor condition of the home. However, later, we worked in some other homes that made this one look very nice.


Little Bro, Roland, checking out my camera

Rowan's mother, Nicolette, took part in an 8 week parenting class through an organization called Open Door, which serves Cape Town much like the State Social Services Department does here. Open Door identified those children who were most vulnerable and invited their caregivers to take part in this class. Upon graduation of this program, caregivers were given Sweet Sleep beds for the children in their home. This class is so vital for people living in this area because it provides education to combat child abuse, drug abuse and other problems that plague Cape Town. The best part is, Open Door has already begun another class to help another group of children, Sweet Sleep is committed to providing beds again to the graduates of this program.


Nicolette at her first glimpse of the finished bunk bed for her boys

We built the bed in the morning while Rowan was at school but returned later that afternoon, once he had gotten a chance to see his bed. When we arrived he was sitting in his bed playing & so happy. My friend John got the chance to talk with Rowan a little about Jesus. We learned that sharing the gospel with a 7 year old requires a lot of patience. So. easily. distracted. Check out the video of our chat and pray for Rowan, Roland and Nicolette.

You can help other children like Rowan and Roland. Find out how. Go to www.sweetsleep.org Donate online, sign up to make Sweet Sleep your VBS mission focus, hold a youth Lock-in or Lock-out to benefit Sweet Sleep or do some Christmas shopping in the online Sweet Sleep store.