Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Looking Up, Not Down

Today we spent time with the HIV/AIDS Task Force on the CentraL Nazarene District. To date it is the only Nazarene Task Force available but we are working on starting them on the other Nazarene Districts in Swaziland.

I mentioned how beautiful this one particular tree is that seems to be blooming everywhere. It has purple flowers on the tree. Mary Magagula said, "yes they are beautiful but are also very dirty. The flowers fall off and make a real mess on the ground." My comment was that is just like 'Heaven' beautiful but 'hell' is a mess and dirty. We are to keep looking up and keep focused on Jesus and not be looking down in life. Will said that sounded like a sermon illustration. I am not a Preacher but how often do we focus on the things of the world that are dirty and sin center instead of keeping our eyes on Christ the Light of our life.

The Tree is called Jacaranda and will drop all its flowers and then be green with leaves. New life in Christ. We can have it if we just reach out to Him.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Quiz about Swaziland

Here are some questions to help you better understand where we live.

1. Which side of the road for we drive on?
2. When a cool front comes in, which way is the wind blowing?
3. During our Winter the sun goes lower across the sky in which direction?
4. When the temperature is 35 degrees, is it hot or cold?
5. When the wind is from this direction it is always hot.
6. If we weigh 70, how big are we?
7. Our table cloth is 150 by 240. Can you visualize how big it is?
8. Our gas costs E 9.25 per liter. That is about $1.20. Is that more or less
expensive that gas in the US?
9. When we are walking in a crowded mall why do we most often pass on the left
instead of on the right?
10. Why when we shake hands is it proper to hold our right wrist or arm with our
left hand as we shake?
11. What Season of the year is it here?
12. What is a normal school year for the children?

Well how do you think you did? Stay tuned later this week for the answers.

Have a Blessed day in the Lord from the Stemen's in Swaziland to you our friends and family wherever you are today.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Children at Work

Here in Africa, everyone gets involved with the work. We have been in touch with our friend Emily from Bethany, Oklahoma. She is 10 years old and very much wanting to come here to help with a project. We pray that someday she will be able to come and share God's light with the children. This picture is of some children that were helping shovel stone to make cement for a driveway. Cement here is made by hand with a lot of shoveling, mixing and putting in a wheel barrel and taken to the place it is needed and then poured and spread by hand and shovel. Sounds like a lot of fun, doesn't it. More like HARD work. NO CEMENT TRUCKS for this kind of a project. The children are very excited to help the people from America that come to help their country. Emily is praying for us and we believe someday God will make it possible for her to come here to share. Keep praying Emily. Your prayers make a difference.

The children are always so happy even though they have so little. There is almost always a big smile on their face and they love to be hugged. Oh, I love to hug them as I always have a hug to pass on. Our prayer is that they always feel the love of Jesus in our hugs. ****To our SS Class at BFC --- our hugs are being shared with the people here but we will still have some for you when we return.

**** Family & friends consider yourself hugged from Swaziland today.

Thanks to all of you who comment on our blogs. We love getting the comments.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Music Everywhere

It is good to praise the Lord and make music O Most High, to proclaim your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night, to the music of the ten-stringed lyre and the melody of the harp. For you make me glad for your deeds O Lord; I sing for joy at the works of your hands. Psalm 92: 1-4

We woke early this morning and listened to the songs of the birds. Their songs are much different that what we hear in the USA. That is at least in the places we have lived. The ground doves have an entirely different call and there are many different birds here. Very colorful birds but hard to pick up the color on a photo. Then we listened to the chattering of the children as they walk to school. The primary school is just down the hill from our flat. Oh the joyful songs of the children as then talked to one another.

Later we went to the Hospital to meet with Matron Anna, Director of the Nazarene Clinics. As we walked down the hallway were heard different music of people talking in English or in their native tongue. What beautiful music if you just listen.

Sometimes we get so busy with our routines that we do not stop to listen to the music that is all around us. May you hear the music that God is sending your way today.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Indian Ocean

God's creations are beyond our descriptions. There are just not the right words to describe the things we have seen. The Indian Ocean off of Maputo, Mozambique was breath taking. Thank you Lord for the things you created for us to enjoy. I wonder if the people there enjoy the waters as much as we do or do they just take it for granted and not really see the beauty. May we always see God's handiwork as we look around.

Psalm 9:1-2
I will praise you, O Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonders.
I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing praises to your name, O Most High.

PS: We were really there but I cannot get the picture to upload. Sorry. You probably wouldn't fully enjoy the beauty of just water anyway.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Oh! What a Beautiful Morning

This morning as we awoke and looked outside the song in the musical "Oklahoma" came to mind. 'Oh, what a beautiful morning, Oh, what a beautiful day!' Then the words to the chorus 'Let's just Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord, let's just lift our hands toward heaven and Praise the Lord,' finished my thoughts. After a day ofmuch needed rain we saw the mountains the clearest since we have been here. What a site of God's handiwork that He created for us to enjoy.

We live in such a small world and yet some times we have to go about 1/3 of the way across the world to hear from relatives. Yesterday we got an e-mail from Karis' cousin Vernon Seitz in Indiana and of course he had to brag again about his almost 20year old grandson. Well Cousin, it will have to stay a tie on this cause our grandson, Seth is pretty special to us. Then we also hear from a great nephew of Will's. Trevor Stemen made contact with us and he lives Jackson,TN. It is really a small world but oh so many people that need to know the Lord and live in His Blessings both great & small.

If you are reading this we would like to hear from you. We are a long way from home that is wherever our family & friends are and we would love to keep in touch with you.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Home Again In Manzini

We have had a whirl wind week of new experiences in the field of building. On Saturday the 13th of September we helped tear off a metal roof and put a new one on the Pastor's home at Sitsatsaweni. Then on Sunday Will preached at the Steiki Church of the Nazarene. Our travels took us to Maputo, Mozambique to help a Work & Witness team from Mt Hood, Oregon, a man from Holland that is 78 years old and is an electrician and a young lady from near Mount Vernon, Ohio. This was quite a team as God brought us together.

Will put in a gate and got the area ready for a drive. Their drive is just wide enough for the wheels of the car as it is nothing but very fine sand everywhere. As you can see by the picture that some of the work for Will was a setting down job. Then he helped Hank the electrician with some of the wiring, did some painting, and other odd jobs as were needed. Today we traveled back home and were very glad to see our home away from home. Living out of suitcases gets old after a while.

Karis spent a lot of time helping with the clean up of the meals, did some laundry, went to the market with the Ladies to get food for the hard working men, played with the children, did some painting and helped get curtains ready to put up.

God has blessed us with some new friends that we have come to love from the team. Pray for Hank, Jack, Jacob, Johnny, Larry, Barbara, Carol, Hannah & Heather.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Rain, Rain, Much Needed Rain

A Church on the South District. As you can see it is in much need of being torn down and rebuilt. The people are in the process of building as they have the money to build. We met a young couple from the Church that is helping to fund as well as do a lot of the work. Pray for this community of believers.

PRAISE GOD FROM WHOM ALL BLESSINGS FLOW, PRAISE HIM ALL CREATURES HERE BELOW! That is what we and the Swazi people are doing. We have had over 24 hours of a nice gentle rain or mist. That is so good as it is so dry that the slow rain will allow the water it soak in and not run off the hillside and mountains before it does any good. We could handle a few days of this but will take any that God gives us.

Tomorrow we plan to put on a roof but will delay that a week or two if need be. Water is more important than a roof as the roof has been this way for years and has been un liveable for some time. God is control.

Have a great week-end! It may be awhile before we are back in touch but don't give up on us. We will blog again when we have online available.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

On The Road Again

This is a view from our flat. We are upstairs and can see the mountains at times. Since it is so dry we have had many fires so everything is hazy a lot of the time. Our Flat has 2 bedrooms, large living room, dining area/kitchen & bathroom. Plenty for us. Especially when it comes to cleaning it.

Friday we will be traveling back to Stegi and staying at Mabuda Farms. It is a beautiful area that gets the dew/fog from the Indian Ocean off of Mozambique so things are much greener in that area. Saturday we will be putting a roof on Rev. Pato's home that is next to the Church in Sitsatsaweni. He can not live there because of the shape of the roof. The Nurses house is almost completed. Still some plumbing to be done but it is coming. They don't work as fast here as we would like, but this is their country not ours. Their ways and time frame not ours.

Sunday Will is preaching at Stegi Church of the Nazarene. They are having a District Senior Citizens Day. We fit right in with them except for the color of our skin.

Then in the afternoon we will travel to Maputo, Mozambique to help Johnny & Carol Fillmore with a small W & W team that is finishing up a guest house on the Nazarene Seminary Mission. The Fillmores are W & W Coordinators there. They have been around for 10 years and are planning to go home in October for good. Well that is until God shows them His next project.

Pray for us as we travel & work with this team. Johnny & Carol were such a great help to our team in July as they gave 4 days of work to us.

Monday, September 8, 2008

What or Who We Miss

This is a Kudu seen at Kruger Park. We saw many of them.

People often ask us what we miss the most about the USA. Our family, Cheryl, Donnie, Seth & Emma Carley, Aaron, Ruth, Miriam, Josiah, & Gideon Stemen, Cindy, Kenny, Kenna, Jaci & Bretyn Wise, and Annette, Nathan, Lucas & Braden Mund. After our family it is hard to say. Shirley Aldrich & I were talking about that issue today. As long as we can receive e-mails from our children we can get through the homesick times. I, Karis, had one this week-end. Did get to talk to 2 of our children though.

It doesn't hurt to miss the political conventions. The South African News paper, which is readily available here, keeps us up to date. It does give a different view of our politics.

We miss our friends, Wednesday night Church suppers with Charlie's cooking, our Sunday School class, Mother's Day Out, Children of the Word and all the School activities. We miss our Sunday morning Worship, but they have great Worship Services in Swaziland.

Recently I, Will, watched some Rugby, Cricket and Soccer. It is not the same as football, basketball and baseball. We don't have a TV and we really don't miss it. We do more reading, which is better for us. I would like weekly reports on OU, BHS, SNU and the OSU(Ohio State). Do the Cubs still have a chance. You can e-mail us at stemen@swazi.net with any stats.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Fellowship with Believers

As I write this you are just thinking about getting ready for corporate worship in your local Church. We have been to Church and enjoyed the fellowship of believers here in Swaziland. We visited the Sharps Memorial Church this morning. Oh what beautiful music as the choir sang "How Can It Be" I couldn't help but think of Gilbert Duke from Toledo Trinity and how he often got Blessed with the words of this great hymn. Gilbert if you read this you would be blessed again. The service was in siSwati but Will and I each had someone to interpret for us. The Spirit of the Lord was there even if we would not have had someone telling us what was being said. God is so good and His Spirit is wherever His believers gather. Rev. Cariot Shongwe spoke as this was a special service to honor the D.S. He is the D.S. for the Central District. We have been working closely with him and report to him so this was very special to see the church honor him and his dear wife, Evelyn. The Church was packed and we saw several people that we know. We sang the hymns in English as they sang in their language. What a joyful noise unto the Lord.

We stop to give thanks to the wonderful God that we serve and how He is everywhere and working here in Africa as well in Oklahoma, Ohio, Texas or wherever you are. Have a great day in the Lord and remember Jesus loves you and we love you.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Forty Forty

Today is a special celebration in Swaziland. The country is celebration the 40th birthday of the King and 40 years of independance. A time when the country declared Swaziland to be a country to claim the Word of God. Most people say they are Christian but it is in name only. They lives are not producing fruit. They do not have a personal relationship with Christ.

Pray with us that today as they celebrate that they will realize who the real King is. That the people would come to know a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and take Him as their real King.

Thank you for your prayers and encouragement. We enjoy reading your comments. Prayers are lifted up for each of our dear family and friends.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Day at home for Karis

Notice the bird on the back of the giraffe. We think they keep the bugs off as most of them had a bird sitting on their back. Many of the giraffes were very close to the road and of course eating out of the top of the trees. This is the dry season so there is not much green leaves left for them.

Today I am staying home to do laundry by hand may I add, clean house UGH and catch up on some of the paper work for Will. He is spending part of the day at his office at the RFM Hospital and the rest with a man that builds solar pumps. As we have said water is a very critical issure here. One of the places we have stayed that is near the Sitsatsaweni Project has a note near the toilits. If it's yellow, let it mellow, brown flush it down. So much different that in the states where we hardly even think of the water. Just go to the sink and turn it on. There is always water so we just take it for granted that it will be there the next time also.

Well this is not getting my house cleaned. Where are you Annette? I need to have the vacuum run.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Back to work

Kruger Park was quite an experience. This monkey wanted to get in the car with us. We could hardly get the window up fast enough.

Yesterday we were with the leaders of the South District of Swaziland. We visited 3 of their building sites. This is the newest district in Swaziland. Our hearts were touched by their enthusiasm to win people to Christ.

We have been reminded many times during our 6 weeks here of the struggle between culture and committed Christian values. When there is conflict, following Christ must win. This is a problem in all cultures, but it is most difficult in the Swazi Culture.

FYI The average working wage here ranges from $7 a day for domestic workers to $20 a day for skilled laborers. There is a big class distinction between these people and the rich. Even teachers and nurses do not make much more than the laborers. Many Pastors make less than $100 a month.

Generally the Swazis are a very happy people. Money, stuff, and prestige does not buy happiness. We are so blessed. Pray for us as we encourage all we can.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Kruger National Park

WOW!!! What a trip we have had. We keep pinching ourselves to see if we are really where we think we are. We just spent 4 day in the park with our friends Bob & Shirley Aldrich from Nashville, TN. We saw many animals and up close for most of them. The Elephants were are favorite to watch. We will post pictures of many of them so that our Grandchildren can see what we are seeing also. Hey special grandchildren we miss you but we pray for you daily and more.

I, Karis, did most of the driving through the park as Will & Bob both were not feeling the greatest with Upper Respiritory Infections. Shirley & I managed to stall well. Praise God.

It is fun driving on the opposite side of the road as we do in the USA and dvining from the passenger side of the car. But I like it and think maybe we should make that change in the USA. Watch out for my driving when we get back to Oklahoma.