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Friday, April 30, 2010

A Difficult Time - Sylvia & Tshepo

Dear Friends,

Today we received some heartwrenching news from South Africa.  Sylvia, a godly Christian woman, and her husband Tshepo, also an example of true Christian faith, are going through a severe trial in their life.  Please see below for the news that was shared with us:

We are asking for your prayers for Sylvia and Tshepo and their family. Syliva is a housemother at The Pines, her husband is Tshepo. Tshepo's daughter, Ivy, 20 yrs old was murdered last Saturday. Tomorrow is the funeral.

This morning Sylvia and Tshepo shared with us the story about Ivy being murdered. Ivy was walking to their house around 5:30am after being at a wake and a guy or maybe 2 guys jumped her. Sylvia & Tshepo weren't notified that she was missing until about 11:30am, but from then on they started looking. After looking for a few hours they found some of Ivy's clothes (undergarments) along the tree line. They looked until about 11pm that night. Sunday morning they received a call that a neighbor near the place where she went missing was calling to say his son came home with blood on his clothes. They went over there with the police and found Ivy's cell phone with this boy. This boy had called Tshepo earlier that night saying he had his daughter and was going to kill her. This boy told them where to find her body. He had raped her and then killed her with a screw driver in her head. Tshepo shared that the autopsy showed 5 different holes from the screw driver and her skull had been crushed with a hammer. There are now 2 boys in jail for her murder. One of them had been released from jail 2 weeks earlier after serving a sentence for murder. This is his third murder.

I also want to share what a testimony Tshepo and Sylvia are sharing with their family and community. The very first thing Tshepo told us was "To God be the Glory". They know Ivy was a believer so she is now in heaven. Sylvia said "they have harmed her body but can not do anything to her soul". They both continued to share that yes, they do have a pain but not so much because she is now in heaven. Tshepo said he has forgiven the man who did this to Ivy and he is praying that he will come to know Jesus so he can have a new life.

Brian & Lois are planning on going to the funeral tomorrow morning. I'm confident that the gospel will be shared clearly.
They asked Sylvia if we could share their story and ask for prayer for them. I told them our church and friends would be praying for them and their family.

We thank you for lifting this family up to the Lord in your prayers. Please pray with us that other friends and family will come to trust Christ as their Savior through the testimony that this family is sharing. 

Monday, April 26, 2010

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NY Time Article on The South African AIDS crisis

SOVANE, South Africa — South Africa, trying to overcome years of denial and delay in confronting its monumental AIDS crisis, is now in the midst of a feverish buildup of testing, treatment and prevention that United Nations officials say is the largest and fastest expansion of AIDS services ever attempted by any nation.


Ntswe Mokoena/Government Press Office, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
President Jacob Zuma's H.I.V. test on April 8 appeared in newspapers across South Africa. He disclosed that his test was negative.
The undertaking will be expensive and difficult to pull off, but in the past month alone the government has enabled 519 health facilities to dispense AIDS medicines, more than it had in all the years combined since South Africa began providing antiretroviral drugs to its people in 2004, South African health officials said.
And on Sunday, President Jacob Zuma, who recently admitted to having unprotected sex with a much younger woman, inaugurated a campaign to test 15 million of the country’s 49 million people for H.I.V. by June 2011. In a speech at a hospital east of Johannesburg, he disclosed that his own fourth test again showed he was negative and he said he made the result public “to eradicate the silence and stigma that accompanies this epidemic.”
To hoots and laughter from the audience, and with a touch of humor, Mr. Zuma said, “I’m sure South Africans know I’m open about my life generally.” A photograph of his personal doctor drawing blood from Mr. Zuma’s arm for an H.I.V. test on April 8 had appeared in newspapers across the country.
To broaden access to services, the government has trained the hundreds of nurses now prescribing AIDS drugs — formerly the province of doctors — and will train thousands more so that each of the country’s 4,333 public clinics can dispense the medicines, a step Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi called essential to combating “this monster amongst us” in a country short of physicians.
Michel SidibĂ©, executive director of Unaids, the United Nations AIDS agency, said South Africa’s undertakings offered hope to the continent. “It’s the first time one country has scaled up so quickly, to so many people,” he said.
South Africa, the region’s richest nation and a symbol of democracy, has an estimated 5.7 million H.I.V.-positive citizens, more than any other country.
“In my village, when we want to kill the snake, we don’t hit the tail, but the head,” said Mr. SidibĂ©, who is from Mali. “The head of this epidemic is South Africa.”
The South African Finance Ministry said it expected that the broadened access to drugs would put a million more people on treatment in the next few years, roughly doubling the current case load. It has budgeted an extra $1 billion for it. Dr. Motsoaledi said that Mr. Zuma reopened the budget to get more money for AIDS when it became clear that costs would be higher.
South Africa’s understaffed public health system and the ballooning cost of treating millions of people for life will pose daunting challenges to the government’s ambitious goals.
The United States has long been South Africa’s principal donor in the fight against AIDS, giving the country $620 million this year. But advocates worry that global donors will not provide enough money to sustain a rapidly growing treatment program.
For now, though, there is optimism among the scientists and advocates who had despaired as the nation dithered on AIDS under its former president, Thabo Mbeki.
“I’ve never known such a gathering of momentum around H.I.V. as in the last month or so,” said Mark Heywood, who directs the AIDS Law Project, based in Johannesburg.
Mr. Mbeki had questioned whether H.I.V. caused AIDS and suggested that anti-retroviral drugs were harmful. Harvard researchers estimated that the government could have prevented the premature deaths of 365,000 people during the last decade if it had provided the drugs to AIDS patients and medicines that help stop pregnant women from infecting their babies.
“If we had acted more than a decade ago, we might not have been in this situation where we are,” Dr. Motsoaledi said. “Obviously, we did lose time.”
Mr. Zuma, in office for almost a year, has broken sharply with the Mbeki record, broadening access to AIDS drugs for H.I.V.-positive pregnant women and babies, as well as for people with tuberculosis. The government is moving toward routinely offering H.I.V. tests to all who come into the public health system, rather than waiting for people to ask for them.
Silindelokuhle Biyela, a widowed nurse who works at a tidy red-brick clinic in this remote village in the rugged hills of KwaZulu Natal Province, is on the front lines of the new push. She has just completed the training that qualifies her to dispense AIDS medicines. No longer will her patients have to go to a hospital 30 miles away for drugs, an $8 round trip that many are too poor to make.
“The nation is dying,” Mrs. Biyela said. “The people are dying. But we are going to try to help them.”
Hundreds of private pharmacies, including the retail chains Clicks, Link and Dis-Chem, will offer free H.I.V. tests for the next year with government-provided kits. More than 2,000 retired nurses, doctors, pharmacists and other health workers have volunteered to help with the drive.


  • Times Topic: South Africa
  • Health Guide: AIDS
The health minister said the country was racing to reduce H.I.V. infections — now 1,500 a day — before treatment costs swell even further.
South Africa pays far more for some drugs compared with the prices paid by other African countries covered under steeply discounted prices negotiated by the Clinton Foundation, which is now advising Dr. Motsoaledi.
“We must be able to purchase ARVs at the lowest prices, as we are the largest consumers” of anti-retroviral drugs in the world, despite opposition from local pharmaceutical manufacturers, Dr. Motsoaledi told Parliament this month.
The government is also pushing to prevent new infections. Three years after the World Health Organization recommended circumcision as a way to reduce a man’s risk of contracting H.I.V. by more than half, the country’s hardest-hit province, KwaZulu Natal, began a drive this month to circumcise 2.5 million men. President Zuma said Sunday that the approach would be offered across the nation by next year.
“If you really want to get a handle on the epidemic and reduce the incidence of the disease, this is the most powerful thing you can do, along with reducing the number of sexual partners,” said Daniel Halperin, an epidemiologist at Harvard University.
Dr. Motsoaledi, who became health minister in May, said he planned to personally perform many such procedures to remove the foreskin. “I want to do a thousand,” he said.
Hundreds of young men, many in jeans and track suits, heeded the call of Goodwill Zwelithini, the king of the Zulus, and lined up in a clinic and hospital in Nongoma on a recent Saturday to be circumcised. Concerned about the high rates of H.I.V. infection among his people, the king has declared that the tradition of circumcision must be revived.
It died out in the 19th century during the time of King Shaka, who suspended the custom to avoid having young warriors out of commission while they healed from circumcision cuts that sometimes got infected, said Nelson Ntshangase, a lecturer at the School of IsiZulu Studies at the University of KwaZulu Natal.
Members of the king’s own extended family were among those getting circumcised this month, including Sakhile Zulu, 18, a tall, slender 10th grader who addressed more than 100 boys at his school after he had his circumcision two weeks ago. Back for a follow-up visit, he said he had seen a dozen students from his school there that day for the procedure. “The king observed many of the men are dying,” Mr. Zulu said. “He said the custom should be brought back to save the people.”

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

We Have The Land...and funny thing about that land...

Yesterday we received this email from our co-worker in South Africa, Brian Niehoff:

"Just wanted to let you all know that as of about 11:30 today we (RHI) own plot 927 in Naudeaville.     The transfer is complete.  There were no problems which is very uncommon in SA.  I met with with the building inspectors yesterday and found out all the info I need to know to get approval to build.  We also found a company that is going to supply wall sections for us at a very reasonable price.  This will allow us to build a concrete wall which we could not have afforded otherwise. 

On a side note.  I went over to OUR property today with the weed wacker to try to find corner pin markers for the lot lines.  When I arrived there was a whole bunch of police cars on one side of our property between our property and an old abandoned store.  

I was turning to go down there and the police stopped me and told me I couldn't go down there because there was an operation in progress.  I said "what do you mean an operation?"  And he said "it's a hostage situation, we are waiting for the hostage negotiator".  So, I'm thinking the welkom police are making a big deal out of nothing.  I assumed there was a guy in a house that wouldn't let his girlfriend leave or something like that.  I told him I was going to park and start cutting grass on our property.  He said "no you need to leave, there are 10 men with guns in that old store and they have taken hostages".  So, I began to think the situation might be a little more serious.
I asked him if I could work on the other end of the property which is quite a ways away.  He said that was fine.  

So, I tooled on down to the end of the property and started cutting the grass along the property line.  All of a sudden about 10 trucks packed with what appeared to be storm troopers came roaring up the road.  They stopped about 100 ft from the abandoned store and they all got out, organized and started to storm the building.  Then there was a whole bunch of shooting and yelling.  I had walked about half way across our property to watch, and when they started shooting I said to myself "I think it would be best if we (me, myself and I) go".  I started running like a school girl towards my little Volkswagon and took off.  I went straight home to get the camera and I went back.  By the time I got back the ambulances were there and they were leading handcuffed people out of the building. So I knew it was over.  
I walked to one of the storm troopers vehicles and asked what had happened.  He said it was a training exercise for the South Africa Special Forces.  The US Special forces were there training them on counter terrorism.  I think I saw Jack Bauer in the background (from the show 24 for those of you who don't know).  There were about 12 US special forces guys there.  The whole thing was part of the preparations for the World Cup.  
It started out as a very bad feeling thinking that we had just bought land next to a building that was being used to hold hostages.  But it turned out to be ok after all.  If it happens for real I'll get my pellet gun and shoot out the terrorist's eyes.


Monday, April 19, 2010

Garage Sale

This Saturday there will be a sale to benefit the construction of Restoring Hope Village.  Most of the items from this sale were to be packed in the container that was shipped, but we were overwhelmed with generosity, and many great things just couldn't be crammed in.  Please see below for the announcement and details.

Please pass the word around to your churches, families, friends and
coworkers (and even a few strangers if you'd like!):

What: HUGE Donation (Garage) Sale
Where: 601 Story Street (Hwy. 210), Slater
When: SATURDAY, APRIL 24th, 9:00am to 2:00pm...follow the Neon signs
that say "SALE"

Every offer regardless of price will be cheerfully accepted!
At this donation sale, YOU say what you want to pay and that's final!
All monies will be donated to a current children's home being built in
South Africa by the name of Restoring Hope Village.

Here is a PARTIAL list of what we have to offer:

FURNITURE: Dressers, tables, sofas, chairs, etc
BICYCLES: Many bikes, many sizes
Baby/Children items: Toys, toddler beds, cribs, exersaucers, etc
Housewares: Glass dishes, pots, pans, cutlery, sm. kitchen tools, etc
Books: Fiction, non-fiction, educational, Bible story books, etc
Shoes: Children, Men, Women, athletic (including cleats)
Shelving Units
Garage and Yard tools

All items are a result of an overwhelming response to pack a Container
to ship to South Africa. Now it's our turn to bless the community with
what could not fit to ship!

****Local delivery available****

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Life & Times of Louis & Amber - Time Flies

I apologize for the delay in between posts.  Life has been a bit crazy for us recently, as you'll likely hear in an additional post or email update.  In the last couple weeks were were finally able to take advantage of our "furlough" time to actually relax a bit - although I use the term "relax" very loosely.  We spent about 10 days in CO with Amber's family at the end of March-beginning of April.  Then we had 3 days back in IA catching up on lots of RHI work before leaving for another week of vacation with my family.  Check back for another post on those details.

DJ, one of the young men from Bible Study, emailed us pictures of his younger twin siblings.  "Pablo" & Miranda were born a couple months before Drake, and we have kept up with them while in South Africa.  After seeing this picture it really hit us again how long we've been gone.  They were just babies when we left and now they look like they're about all grown up.  Man, we can't wait to get back!!!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Help Needed Quickly

One of the problems with packing and shipping a container, is that once it is full and shipped you always think of something you forgot.  The container left Slater last Tuesday, and Brian just emailed me with an urgent request.

When we have work teams come over to assist with construction projects we need to make sure we have enough tools to keep everyone busy.  Since we will have so much new construction we will need some additional tools.  Most of them we were able to ship with the container.  Unfortunately, we forgot one important item.

I've been told that you can find them in the left-handed aisle at Home Depot or Lowe's.  Unfortunately, we are in SE Colorado right now, which doesn't seem to have the population to support the big-box stores.  If anyone has a left-handed hammer, or knows where to find a good deal on one, please let me know.  You can email me at, or call me at 712-830-1245.  We need to have a couple of these before we leave for South Africa ourselves, so the sooner we can locate one or two, the better we will feel.