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Monday, November 29, 2010

The Life & Times of Louis & Amber - Meredith's Crafts

Meredith has started home school with Amber, learning how to read, color, cut, paste, ect...  The other night she started her own craft.  She made the Nativity scene for Christmas.  As she was working on it tonight she was singing her own little song.  It was something like this: "Jesus is the Son of God.  Herod wanted to kill Jesus so he could be king forever, but the wise men didn't tell Herod where He was..."  She decided to make this craft to help tell other kids about Jesus.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Life & Times of Louis & Amber - Thanksgiving

This past week our family celebrated Thanksgiving.  It is very strange to celebrate a holiday when no one else is.  For everyone else it was a typical workday - except for Dwayne and Bridge.  They joined us for a Thanksgiving dinner, and then afterwards for some giving of thanks for God's work this past year.  We read the history of Thanksgiving.  They had really been looking forward to this after hearing about it from the ISU team.  In fact, Bridge only ate two plates and told us it was because he was so excited that his stomach wouldn't handle any more.  But then about 2 hours later he went ahead and had another helping or two.

Since turkey is hard to come by, we used a couple chickens instead.
Carving the "turkeys"
Poultry, Stuffing, Monkey Bread, Corn, Noodle Gravy, Mashed Potatoes, Pumpkin, Jello Salad, and Apple Pie!
Our Family
Bridge's favorite was the pumpkin with pecans and brown sugar topping.
Dwayne's favorite was everything.

Reading the Thanksgiving story.

Our Thanksgiving List:
1.  That Meredith asked God to forgive her sins two weeks ago!
2.  That Drake lived through the choking scare last November and we have been blessed with another year of life for our precious little guy.
3.  That God has blessed RHI to go from almost $0 one year ago to being ready to take our first children very, very soon!
4.  That God has continued to bless as we see fruit in the lives of those with whom we minister, and especially the growth in Dwayne and Bridge.
5.  For our family and friends in the US who continue to love, support, and stay in contact with us even as we are separated by an equator, a prime meridian, and an ocean.  (especially Tony & Theresa)

And most of all, that God sent His Son to die for my sins in order to draw me to God...and that God allows me to serve Him even as weak and sinful as I am.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Tales from a Township - Life for a Kid

 The following stories were related to us through Morning Star, a Christian daycare here in town that cares for HIV+ children.  It's stories like these that help you understand the culture we're working in and why a ministry like this is needed so desperately.  By no means are these stories unique or altogether unusual.  

Please use discretion for age appropriateness.  

10-year-old Mpho has become the pawn in a family feud to gain custody of her. Aging grandma, no longer able to look after her properly, is loath to release her in to the more capable hands of her very nice son and his wife. And why? Because she doesn’t want to loose the government foster grant she gets for Mpho each month. Grandma’s gone as far as to have a legal protection order drawn up, preventing her son from ever setting foot onto her property in Thabong again All so very destructive and tragic!

Clenton's grandma, previously a more suitable guardian than his biological mother (who frequents shabeens – liquor houses – at night and drags her 2 small children with her) now appears to be ‘on the run’ from the law for possible corruption charges. She is continually ‘on the move’. As a result our 6-year-old Clenton has been neglected and even left to fend for himself one night. When our minibus dropped him off at home one afternoon there was nobody there to greet him. The next-door neighbour grudgingly agreed to ‘keep an eye’ on him until a family member got home – but nobody ever came. So she let the child sleep alone at home the entire night! When collected by Morning Star the following morning he was filthy and ravenous!

It’s been ascertained that 5-year-old Disebo has suffered sexual abuse at the hands of her biological father. Seemingly innocent visits to ‘dad’ became nightmares, with the child able to relate exactly what he did to her before rewarding her with a chocolate! So there’ll be no more visits to dad in the future. If he wants to see his little Disebo it’ll be on home ground or not at all!

Our 2-year-old Aphelele, living with an irresponsible young mum (prone to drunkenness and sleeping around) was left sleeping in their shack whilst mum went up to the shops (so she says). She returned home in the nick of time and found the owner of the property where she resides/rents, in the process of raping the toddler. Aphelele’s nappy (diaper) and waterproof pants were lying to one side and the mite’s ‘privates’ were exposed, in readiness. Mum and child have fled the area. The perpetrator is presently in prison – but who knows how long he’ll be kept there and when a bribe will be proposed for his release?

Stories like this turn your stomach, but it is reality for so much of the world.  I challenge you to read the book of Amos and ask yourself "am I all that different from Israel?"  God's condemnation of Israel through this prophet is twofold: First, empty religion, where they appear to be worshipers of God but there is no sincerity of heart in the worship.  Second, lack of concern for the poor.  If you understand the book of James, these two tend to go hand in hand.  We are by nature selfish.  While we may jump through all the hoops to appear godly and religious, our concern is for self - for our own welfare, for our own definition of success.
As an American, living in the most prosperous nation ever on the face of the earth, is your religion real?  Do you have a true relationship with God through the sacrifice of His Son?  And are you truly concerned for the disadvantaged, the orphans and widows of Scripture?  Or will you read these stories, shake your head and move on?

Here are some photos of the latest progress.  Since this photo we've gotten the interior completely framed.  I started putting up wall board while Brian worked on the electric and plumbing.  It works like this:  I do the grunt/ignorant jobs.  Brian does the skilled labor.  So far it's worked out pretty well, since I'm ignorant and Brian is skilled.  Dwayne and Bridge help with various tasks and are picking up some skills themselves.  It's going to be tough to lose them to school in a month.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Life & Times of Louis & Amber - A peek into an O'Tool conversation

Our last post is photos from our recent family vacation.  As noted, the complete album is on my Facebook page.  One of the photos in particular received much attention.  I've taken the liberty to post the ongoing conversation for your reading enjoyment.
Note:  All comments below are from one family member or another.  This is how conversations go in the O'Tool house.

    • Louis O'Tool Yes, the guy at the seal show made fun of my shirt in front of the whole crowd.
      November 7 at 9:11pm · 
    • Louis O'Tool He wouldn't let me be one of his pirates because pirates don't wear pink.
      November 7 at 9:24pm · 
    • Theresa O'Tool ‎...or man purses! :)
      November 7 at 10:20pm · 
    • Louis O'Tool Nice. That is a camera bag, and it wasn't my choice to carry it. Blame your sister-in-law.
      November 8 at 3:05pm · 
    • Amber Litke O'Tool As if I didn't have everything else :)
      November 8 at 3:19pm · 
    • Sam O'Tool Including the kitchen sink I'm sure. ;)
      November 8 at 4:35pm · 
    • Louis O'Tool You know Maggie...I mean Amber!
      November 8 at 7:13pm · 
    • Amber Litke O'Tool Hey, Hey, give me a little break! I usually have anything we could possibly need. Actually, Louie could attest to the fact that I did a very good job packing for this trip.
      Tuesday at 8:06am ·  ·  1 person
    • Ellie Stangl don't know if you mind me jumpin in to this O'Tool conversation, but...Amber, you are my hero! Louie, just be quiet!
      Tuesday at 9:52pm · 
    • Amber Litke O'Tool Thanks, Ellie, for the back-up. I think I was losing the battle :)
      Tuesday at 10:08pm · 
    • Louis O'Tool Now is the right time to compliment Zach on his funny at the Stangl family concert / slideshow. When he showed a picture of us unloading the container he said "While we were there Amber's suitcase arrived." One of the funniest things I've ever heard.
      Tuesday at 10:11pm · 
    • Sam O'Tool You know what they say about humor. Its only funny cause its true.
      Tuesday at 11:57pm · 
    • Ellie Stangl I think you still are, Amber. Thankfully, we know the real truth. That thing was packed with rootbeer.
      Wednesday at 4:08am · 
    • Rosina O'Tool So, I was wondering, how many strollers did you guys bring on the trip? My guess is two: an umbrella stroller and the double seater.
      Yesterday at 4:29am · 
    • Amber Litke O'Tool Nope. Just the double :) See I am getting better!!!!!!
      Yesterday at 6:09am · 
    • Rosina O'Tool Well, I know a family that has you beat in strollers! They have seven!!!! and not one of them is an umbrella stroller.
      Yesterday at 3:07pm · 
    • Amber Litke O'Tool Wow!!!! See Louie.
      Yesterday at 5:18pm · 
    • Louis O'Tool Amber collects strollers like Frank & Maggie collect children...the last 3 are just for parts, in case they're ever needed.
      18 hours ago · 
    • Rosina O'Tool I thought Tim was the parts child!
      15 hours ago · 
    • Rosina O'Tool btw, where is Drake's pink shirt? I've noticed that everyone else was wearing pink that day....
      15 hours ago · 
    • Ellie Stangl wow! I guess that is one way to look at it...go Tim, way to be there for the rest of your family!
      13 hours ago · 
    • Sam O'Tool Thankfully Drake does not take after his dad in more ways than one! :)
      about an hour ago · 
    • Louis O'Tool 
      Sam brings up a good point. Lost in all the confusion here is Drake. "What is he doing in this picture?", you may ask yourself. He is digging in Mom's bag attempting to score some candy. This kid has a serious sweet tooth. He wouldn't go near the ocean until I went out into the waves with a handful of gum drops. Then he came right out. Good thing Amber was holding on to him or he would have been swept away.
      So either he is reaching for treats or washing his hands in the kitchen sink. I'm pretty sure that's in there.
      a few seconds ago ·