World’s Largest Potted Plant!

A baobab tree! So funny!

A baobab tree! So funny!

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If You Give a Pastor a Pickup

CookieAs our rainy season approaches, I remembered a little yarn I wrote several years ago during our rainy season about my husband and how we couldn’t seem to think of the perfect car for transporting people to church on the muddy, rainy roads. I based it off of Laura Numeroff’s books, in the style of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.



If you give a pastor a pickup,

He’ll want to pick up people for church in it.

You’ll let him pick up lots of people for church.

You'll let him pick up lots of people for church.

You’ll let him pick up lots of people for church.

It’ll probably be raining on Sunday,

So he’ll be afraid the people will get all wet and muddy.

He’ll probably want to put the canopy on the truck bed to keep them dry.

He’ll ask you for some help Sunday morning to put the canopy on.

When he puts on the canopy, he’ll probably get very muddy and wet.

He'll probably get very muddy and wet.

He’ll probably get very muddy and wet.

He’ll ask you for a rag and a change of clothes.

You’ll get him some clothes, but this will make him late to pick the people up for church.

Then with the canopy on the pickup, he won’t be able to pick up as many people for church.

So he’ll want to get a Combi*.

Pulling out our teammate, on our way to church. Stuck in the river--even with a 4x4.

Pulling out our teammate, on our way to church. Stuck in the river–even with a 4×4.

It’ll probably be raining on Sunday…

So the Combi* will get stuck in the mud.

Being stuck will remind him of 4WD.

He’ll probably ask you for a 4WD.

And chances are,

If he asks you for 4WD,

He’ll want a pickup to go with it.

*Combi–name for a 12- to 15-passenger van over here, used as taxis.

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Cast Off and Anchors Aweigh, My Boys!

I got my cast off this week! (Still limping and afraid to walk, though.) :/

I got my cast off this week! (Still limping and afraid to walk, though.) :/

We’re feeling a sense of relief and excitement this week as we see the end of our school year approaching. It’s so fun to be able to “check off the box” for a subject that final time for the year. Of course, part of our excitement is due to our upcoming vacation. A friend gave us a place to stay in Durban for about 10 days right next to the Indian Ocean! Yes, we are suffering missionaries.

I still expected about three, maybe four weeks to finish our school year after our vacation; but let me share (cuz I’m so pumped) what we’ve finished this week. First, Colin finished his ABeka phonics and handwriting lessons for the year.

All that kindergarten work tuckered me out.

All that kindergarten work tuckered me out.

I decided to continue practicing with Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons rather than jump into ABeka’s 1st grade phonics. We quit 100 EZ when he started ABeka kindergarten, so we just picked up where we’d left off in 4-year old preschool. It was getting very difficult for him when we stopped in preschool (about lesson 40), but now it’s much easier, of course. He flew through six lessons this week. We also will continue some handwriting with his kindergarten writing tablet from ABeka, which I usually cut out during the year, because ABeka is heavy on handwriting (all opinions my own!)

Caleb still has about three weeks left of phonics lessons; but when he saw Colin finish his workbook, he got in the mood and finished his 2nd grade workbook. We will still finish most of his lessons, however. He wanted to work ahead in handwriting as well, but I decided that would defeat the purpose of daily practice.

Two finished lapbooks for Apologia Swimming Creatures.

Two finished lapbooks for Apologia Swimming Creatures.

Making jellyfish for our ocean box.

Making jellyfish for our ocean box.

Instead, we doubled and tripled our work in science and finished our book! I remember thinking at the beginning of the year that we wouldn’t be able to finish it, because Caleb’s attention span wouldn’t handle such long and technical readings. But he has matured, and while it is still too technical for lower elementary at times, we managed to complete all thirteen chapters. This chapter was a catch-all: water worms, sponges, and microscopic water animals. Science is my least favorite subject (and probably Caleb’s favorite), so I am glad to be done for the year.

Our finished ocean box: isn't it bee-yoo-ti-ful!

Our finished ocean box: isn’t it bee-yoo-ti-ful!

Since we borrowed this textbook from a friend, we are returning it with some handmade thank you cards and cookies. We spent a lot of time drawing different sea creatures for our cards–sharks, frogs, hermit crabs, and an angler fish. I’m happy with how they turned out; it was worth the time.

Colin's card is left (plankton and frog); mine on top--oops, the froglet is 1/2 the size of the shark! and science text and Caleb's card.

Colin’s card is left (plankton and frog); mine on top–oops, the froglet is 1/2 the size of the shark! and science text and Caleb’s card.

In history this week we met Shakespeare–who needs his first name? The bard has been a household name since the Elizabethan Age and has greatly impacted the English language. Caleb read a children’s version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which had lovely pictures and was slightly challenging for his reading level. (I’d love to have more Shakespeare works by Coville, but they’re kinda pricey; this one is rather cheap, though.) But I read another children’s version aloud from Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare, so it helped him to understand the story first. We tried to read aloud Macbeth, but starting out with Shakespeare’s tragedies isn’t endearing to sensitive children. After introducing Shakespeare with Midsummer, I then read Hamlet from Beautiful Stories, and the boys were okay with everyone dying at the end of that one. For fun, the boys disguised themselves with branches and tried to sneak up on the house, like the finale of Macbeth. Caleb also began memorizing a short speech from Macbeth.

October 31 is Reformation Day, though most people will remember Halloween. Our church will recognize it with a normal service, including some special music and a little history lesson. Our people know nothing of how the Reformation impacted church history, so (even if we are Baptist) it will be good for them to hear another emphasis on the Five Solas in a time when those are under attack here in Africa by the prosperity gospel.

Then we’re off and away to the sea! I hope to take the boys to an aquarium in Durban to catch a glimpse of some of the creatures we studied this year. I also hope to comb the beach for some shells. Caleb has memorized a poem called “The Legend of the Sand Dollar,” (this was included in Apologia’s textbook) so I would love it if we could find a sand dollar! Please pray for the safety of our house if you think of it!

Caleb's card, inside. There's a hermit crab on the bottom right.

Caleb’s card, inside. There’s a hermit crab on the bottom right.


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Contradictory South Africa


This is a perfect example of the inconsistencies we’ve found in South Africa. Right under their logo, Liquor City puts a prayer: “God bless South Africa.” While Europe beats the world for alcohol consumption, South Africa is a close follower and ranks as the highest-drinking country in Africa.

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The Pastor’s Paycheck ~ A Prayer Request

My husband has been preaching through 1 Corinthians this year, and yesterday he arrived at the first half of chapter nine in which the apostle Paul challenges the Corinthians over their lack of financial support for him. We deem this lesson crucial to our baby believers as well; yet we are reticent to preach on the topic unless it comes up naturally through the course of expositional preaching, as it did yesterday.

This passage of Scripture is crucial to a baby church plant because, as I explained to my son last night, “If we want to move on to plant other churches, we must make sure this church is strong first and able to stand on its own. And if we want this church to stand on its own, it must be able to pay its own pastor.”

We are reticent to preach on this topic for two major reasons:

  • the prosperity gospel and
  • the people’s poverty

The prosperity gospel has burned over much of southern Africa. False pastors, syncretistic churches, and money-making miracle crusades are everywhere in Africa–copying to the extreme the abuses they see on TBN. Every one of those pastors preaches weekly about the tithe or makes big ordeals out of the collection of the offerings and rewards big givers through promises or status symbols. The church is big business over here. In fact, so many of the other churches are like that that we and our church members  simply describe them as “money churches.” Thus an obvious, major difference between our church and the prosperity churches is that we DON’T talk a lot about money.

So we feel we must avoid those topics so as to not be joined in a group we consider heretical and detrimental to the Gospel; and when we do address the giving of church members, we sometimes feel that we have to add a lot of disclaimers to enumerate the differences between what we’re preaching and what they say.

Poverty is obviously another big problem. How can they be expected to support their pastors when they have barely enough to live on? Would we want to live on that much?

The issue of poverty is complicated by the centuries of vast amounts of aid Africa has received through the years. The Africans get so MUCH welfare and yet seem to feel that it’s not enough. So it might not occur to them to live sacrificially and plan a budget in order to pay their pastor. After all, so many needs are met from outside them. Why would this need be met from within them?

So one of the questions Seth asked the church yesterday in his sermon was, “If a church can’t support its pastor, is it sinning?” What do you think? Tough question. The answer could certainly be yes; but it could possibly be no as well, if the church were too poor to support its pastor yet tried wholeheartedly to support him more than they supported self-comforts.

There are so many other questions that can be included in this issue. For example, should our poor, small church try to support us with whatever finances they can? At first I said no, because we are church planting missionaries, which is not the same thing as a pastor. But my husband reminded me that the apostle Paul was also a missionary when he assumed the Corinthians should support him.

Please pray for your church planting missionaries around the world, because they cannot leave their churches and begin new works until the churches are selfish, meaning that they have the “Three Selfs”:

  • Self-supporting
  • Self-governing
  • Self-propagating

and supporting their pastor includes two of those points. We need a change in their cultures and worldviews to allow for sacrificial giving to their pastor (and to missions). At times this seems like an impossible task indeed, but God can do what seems impossible!


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When Cures Hurt

African version of snow: hail! What a storm we had yesterday.

African version of snow: hail! What a storm we had yesterday.

Ah, a “normal” week. I went to church on the weekend, homeschooled my children five days, and prepared to teach a women’s Bible study tomorrow on meekness. Anytime I prepare for the ladies’ Bible study, my time for writing at Ita Vita suffers. But my lesson prep is done, so I type this weekly update to the background of my neighbor blaring an interesting electrified African CD of “Gimme Dat Ol’ Time Religion,” interspersed with occasional “Beep-boops” and syncopated “doots.” Unfortunately, our neighbor is not interested in old-time religion.

Colin finished reading his last official kindergarten reading book this week! We celebrated with brownies. I made sure to have a share of the chocolate too. (Since I endured the teaching, right?) We came up with a new idea for motivation when his mind is wandering rather than focusing on his handwriting papers, which are his enemy. I don’t want to always be nagging. So I laid a row of jelly beans in front of his paper, and anytime he didn’t focus on his work, I snagged one and put it away. I can’t say this idea is working very well yet! But I hope with time it will at least show him how often his mind wanders and help him with the character trait of attentiveness.


The boys finished a chapter on cnidarians (jellyfish, anemones, and corals, etc.) in science this week. We did a demonstration (can’t fairly call it an experiment, but calling it a demonstration is a stretch too, as I’ll explain…) on how currents in the sea can be caused by cooler water below and hot water on the top; thus the cnidarians and zooplankton float through the water on these currents. The demonstration didn’t really work, but I’ll blame it on not having the correct ingredients? We needed a fruit popsicle preferably made from real fruit like Edy’s frozen fruit bar, and ours was very far from being anything real. It was all we could find. But my cynical side did snicker inwardly at yet another failed science “experiment.” Caleb was supposed to write what he learned from it. “Caleb, what did you learn?” Nothing. “Okay, repeat after me… [this is what you were supposed to learn...]“

In history we learned about Good Queen Bess. I really didn’t know or remember anything about the Elizabethan Age. Very interesting! Caleb is reading a biography called Who Was Queen Elizabeth? It is interesting and at a perfect reading level! I had heard of this series of biographies before called Who Was __?, but hadn’t read any yet. I would love to have more from this series. This seems an excellent series for biographies for lower elementary (even upper could read it for a quick biography). There are pictures, nice size of font, not too difficult vocabulary yet challenging for a 2nd grader, call-out boxes on related topics (some examples from this one: the Plague, the Tower of London, Sir Francis Drake, Martin Luther, etc.), interesting details, and not too long.

In order from top: egg yolk/vinegar/flower petal cure, crushed ruby and emerald cure (crushed candies), live spider covered in honey cure, lettuce tea to induce sleep, and "cow manure" poultice.

In order from top: egg yolk/vinegar/flower petal cure, crushed ruby and emerald cure (crushed candies), live spider covered in honey cure, lettuce tea to induce sleep, and “cow manure” poultice.

Flower petal treatment for their "sores."

Flower petal treatment for their “sores.”

For a fun history project we performed some Renaissance cures (loosely related to all the strange treatments doctors gave Edward VI) for sore limbs, inflammation, to induce sleep, to give energy, and treat sores. I felt SO bad though, because the “cow manure poultice” (the chocolate no-bake cookies) was still too hot, and I barely burned Caleb’s wrist! So much for a cure! Or fun! Anyway, he felt a little better when he got to eat the poultice. Poor kid.

No thank you to the lettuce tea!

No thank you to the lettuce tea!

Self-education: I read some more of Don Quixote this week. It’s gotten a bit more interesting, if unbelievable. Seth and I ditched reading Bulfinch’s Mythology together at his request and began Cry, the Beloved Country (a novel placed in South Africa.) Seth finished reviewing When Helping Hurts and disagreed with enough of it to title his review When Hurting Helps. I decided to play along and title this article in the same vein.

What are you reading lately?

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Shelob’s Sister?


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