THANKSGIVING 2009

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

THANKSGIVING 2009


T - Time with family!
H - Heaven is my eternal HOME!
A - Anticipating TWO new grandbabies in May 2010!
N - New Mercies every morning!
K - Knowledge that God is in control!
S - Sons...my boys, being their mama!
G - Gary, my precious, faithful, godly husband!
I -  In-laws...namely - daughters-in-law, blessings from God!
V - Volumes of books to read, I love books!
I -  Investing in the lives of the young women in my church!
N - Nothing can pluck me from His Hand!
G - Gran Jan's grands...one named Zeke and two on the way!

Double Delight - Two Babies on the Way in May!

Monday, November 16, 2009

DOUBLE DAUGHTER-IN-LAW DELIGHT!

I am BEYOND excited to share the news that we are going to welcome TWO MORE grandbabies to our family in May 2010!   Both of my sons and their sweet wives are expecting babies just FIVE DAYS APART!


My oldest son Jeremy and his wife Carrie (they are the couple on the left) are the parents of Zeke, my 15 month old grandson and "Gran Jan's Joy."  (This blog began as a way for me to process and record the joy of waiting for his arrival, which was a miracle of divine design.)

So their little boy, Ezekiel (everyone calls him "Zeke") is going to be a big brother sometime around May 16, and then he will welcome his cousin to the family around May 21!
 

My youngest son Jonathan and his wife Erin are on the right in the photo above.  They are expecting their first baby! Erin made these matching shirts as a way to "tell" the Double Delight news to my parents (the great-grandparents) who live next door to me.  Here they are walking over to my parents to share the news.  I was following behind with my camera to record the event!


Here they are going back over to my house after they told my Mom and Dad...it was almost more than I could take in one evening.  I can't believe I am going to be Gran Jan times three, and I am counting my blessings.  The other day I heard a woman call her grandchildren "Grandblessings," and I loved that. They truly are grand blessings, and I can't wait to meet the May Babies!

Today is my birthday...and I can't think of a more fitting day to celebrate LIFE and God's goodness to our family. 

i am thanking God for the promise fulfilled in my life from His Word, found in Psalm 128, verse 6:

Psalm 128:6 
May you live to see your children's children.

Thank you Lord,
Gran Jan

South Africa - 16 (Journal Day 11 - FINAL ENTRY)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Dear Blog Friends:  I so hope you have enjoyed this journal, because it was certainly a joy for me to keep.  We are home now, and may I use a well-worn saying? There is no place like home. As often as we have all heard that said, I know in my heart that it is the absolute truth, for I have experienced it first-hand.

We went through customs easily in South Africa and our flight was good. If you don't really bemoan the fact that there were many (many) children on our flight home who were ALL awake and ready to play at 3:00 in the morning and they were all sitting very close to me and my husband. 

May I just say that it is unnatural to fly for 17 hours straight? I was just about  "squirrley" the last 2 hours.  I mean it.  I had to get up and walk and move around and sit and then get up again.  I had to really pray and breathe deeply.  I was ready to get OFF that plane and RUN!

We did not sleep as well on the flight home as we did going over, so I know the jet lag cometh, but I will be in my own bed, can I give some praise to the Lord?

We were met at the airport in ATL by some precious folks from our church, Mr. Jim and Mrs. Maggie Dollar, and also Mr. Pat Bembry. They drove the church minibus up to bring us back home. Mr. Pat was part of the mission team to Kariba, Zimbabwe last month, so he knew the joy in our hearts to be home.

Coming home at 6:55 in the morning is the way to do this!  It was great. The airport was not really crowded and we came through customs expeditiously! Everything had to be searched and examined, but I was so proud to be home I didn’t care if they wanted to look through my purse, my luggage, my wallet, my pockets, or my carry on bag! Help yourself! I had nothing to hide except a bad case of "17-hour-hair."

We stopped at a McDonalds on the way home and had a McBiscuit and some McCoffee and it was McDivine!  I was McDelirious and so McHappy!  I am not McKidding!

When I got home, I made myself "stay up."  I unpacked, I washed clothes, I went through the mail, I watered my plants, I checked my email and all my text messages.  Then I walked around and just relished the joy of being back home.  Yes, my experience was amazing. I do pray the things I saw and learned won't soon leave my heart, but the joy of being home is so good. 

Makes me ponder the joy of being really home - to my heavenly home.  To that place where there will never be any shanty towns, or crime, or HIV Aids, or little children with no shoes or coats.  No pain, no sorrow, no cancer, no heartache, no divorce, no gossip, no evil...

And one more glorious thought...no 17 hour flights, for the Word of God says we will be there in the twinkling of an eye.  Glory!

South Africa - 15 (Journal Day 10)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009               

Today is our last day in South Africa. We fly home tonight.  My emotions are swinging like a proverbial pendulum.  Ready to go, want to stay, ready to go, want to stay.  But go I must, and hopefully I will return another day to this beautiful land.  We had a nice breakfast this morning at the Golden Crest. There were other guests at the lodge. This picture shows where we stayed.  This lodge was the one surrounded by a concrete fence and a razor-wire electric fence - and that is after you get through the locked iron doors that front the street.  The crime in Johannesburg is rampant.
We ate with a pastor and his wife from Australia, and they were accompanied by a lady named Merle from New Zealand. She was on her first mission trip and was 73 years old! She had been making dolls for a long time and brought lots of dolls with her to give to the children in the shanty towns. I enjoyed her company very much.

Our breakfast was served to us by Dahlee, pronounced Dolly. She had a hard time understanding me because I talked way too fast for her. But her smile was sweet! 

After breakfast we were picked up at the Golden Crest by Rodney Grobler, the Multi Ministries associate. He helped Gary load the ministry vehicle with our luggage so that we could travel to the airport directly after our official debriefing meeting with Dr. Harold Peasley.

We had a great meeting with the Multi Ministries staff. I cannot say enough good things about this ministry. Dr. Peasley wanted to know about the highs and lows of our trip and what their ministry office could have done to assist us in any way. They are a first-class organization wholly dedicated to international missions. There was nothing that we would have changed. They gave us many opportunities to minister and gave us downtime to reflect and see their beautiful country as well. Over the years they have learned that there is a delicate balance required on a short-term mission trip. There must be some diversion and rest provided among the ministry times. If not, people are easily overwhelmed. Most days we went from daylight to dark. For me, this trip was more challenging emotionally, but it was not strenuous or physically challenging. I adjusted very well to the time difference!  Our accommodations were adequate and we were well cared for everywhere we went. There were several times we knew we were not in a safe environment, but we knew to trust in the Name of the Lord our God!

We are taking home some invaluable lessons, the most important one I can think of right now is the knowledge of how very blessed we are – both as a family and as a nation. With all the issues and problems our country faces, it is still the greatest place in the world!

After we said our goodbyes to Brother Rodney at the airport, we went through customs again. Everything went smoothly!  And as much as I really dislike flying (and I do), this was a welcome sight to behold!


South Africa - 14 (Journal Day 9)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Today is our last day in Cape Town. I will say that Cape Town has been my favorite place to visit and I love the culture and the Coloured people. They are so precious. We fly back to Johannesburg this afternoon to minister at another Dutch Reform Church there. Then we have to be at the airport late Tuesday afternoon for our 17 hour flight home with arrival in Atlanta on Wednesday, August 26th at 7:15 a.m. In some ways I feel as if we have been here a month, and in other ways it doesn’t even seem like 9 days…

This picture is of Claudia and Errol Wesson, native Cape Townians and the most delightful people I met my entire trip. That is Brother John Kubia in the middle with them.
John has been in South Africa for over a month, and will be headed back home with us. He was here with the group from our church that ministered in Zimbabwe last month, and then he stayed over for our trip to South Africa.

This morning we went to Simonstown, a very old and wonderful community on the Cape. I bought some gifts for my family from the outside vendors. As we were walking, Rev. Wesson told me that these were whale bones in the front garden of this home.  From their home in Fish Hoek, he and Mrs. Claudia can hear the whales in the bay!

Then we went to see the penguins! Yes, there are penguins in South Africa. They are very loud – they honk like donkeys. I had no idea. Look how cute they are. What a sight. I wish my son Jonathan could have been here to see the penguins. I think he would have enjoyed them most of all!
 
 
We went back to the Wellwood Lodge to get our things ready to go back to airport in Lanseria. The Wellwood was a nice place to stay, but I never got over the face that we were behind 4 locked doors. First, there was a locked gate at the fence surrounding the lodge, then an iron door in front of the lodge door, then the door to the lodge, then our actual room door. That was really unsettling to me. I did not dwell on it - I am very claustrophobic. There were also bars on the all the windows. We were reminded often to make sure everything was locked.  The owners assured us there was not a lot of violent crime, but a lot of thievery and petty crime.  Here is a picture of our home away from home the past 4 days. That white square panel on the wall to the right of the curtain is the HEAT. There is no central heat air. None.


The flight to Lanseria was uneventful; however, there is an excitement bubbling in my soul that I am going home!  I’m so ready to see my little grandson Zeke, our sons and their wives, my family, and my church family. I have seen so much and learned so much, but I’m telling you, I miss my family...and 9,000 miles across an ocean is a long way when you are a small-town home girl like me.

When we got back to Johannesburg and arrived at the Golden Crest Lodge, fatigue began to creep in. (Here there were only 2 locked doors, but the entire area was surrounded by a high concrete fence and electric razor wire.)  My husband insisted I stay at the Lodge while he went to the church with Brother John Kubia. He asked me to repack and organize our luggage, so that is exactly what I did tonight. I got a lot accomplished that will help us for tomorrow, so I’m glad that my sweet husband insisted that I stay “home.”  He said that the church tonight was not as receptive as the churches in Cape Town had been, but I believe it is the formality of the Dutch Reform Church. That is exactly what we experienced in the Northwest Territory as well. The people on the Cape were the friendliest of all!

South Africa - 13 (Journal Day 8)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Today’s weather was so picturesque that the Wessons could not get over it! They kept going on and on about the unusually beautiful weather. I told them that I had been praying God’s Word with Psalm 90:17 “May the favor of our Lord God rest upon us, and establish the work of our hands, yes establish the work of our hands.” What an awesome verse – asking for God’s favor in what we do...as unto Him!

Today is Sunday and I missed my church family back home! I love them so much. They are good people. My husband has served on staff here for over 21 years, and we will forever be grateful for the privilege to have raised our boys there. Priceless gift.

Gary and I are went our separate ways to minister today, and I’ll be honest about the fact that I was a wee bit anxious about that. I mean I have no phone or way to contact him if I needed him. But I know that the work of our hands was established by the Lord for this entire mission! I was going to be with the Wessons in Somerset West on the Western Cape, and Gary was going to minister in the Coloured community with Johnny Cyster.

The Wessons picked me up very early for our ministry to a church in a very nice community called Somerset West. The route was along the Indian Ocean…let me type that again…we drove along the Indian Ocean…the Indian Ocean. I have never seen such beautiful scenery in my life. It was so wonderful.
I have also never seen so many white calla lilies in my life, thousands of them, just naturalized growing along the roadside. White calla lilies. I kept leaning up to the Wessons in the front seat and saying, “do you have any idea how much a bouquet of these white calla lilies would cost back in the US of A, do you, do you, do you?” I was beside myself in that back seat – about to burst from the pure joy of it all!

We also drove past another sight that was the antithesis of the white lilies…the largest shanty town ever. I honestly believe there were as many shanty homes as there were calla lilies. As far as my eyes could see was row upon row upon row of these metal, wood, make-shift shanty houses. Women were outside washing clothes in pots, and children were playing and running around.
Then we entered a community that seemed very modern and upscale compared to any I've seen since my arrival. After a few miles we arrived at Somerset West Baptist Church. I felt more “at home” here than anywhere during my entire stay in South Africa. If I closed my eyes I almost thought I was back in Georgia! Except for the lovely accents…the music was similar, the ladies were planning a Fall Retreat (just like we were back home), and even the announcements were familiar. Then a thought struck me about God’s Forever Family. All around the globe today, the true Church of the living God has worshiped Him. One day we will all be gathered around His throne – every tribe, every tongue and nation. It was a great thought to ponder.

The Wessons enjoyed catching up with old friends and I enjoyed observing that “people are the same” everywhere. We had a great worship service. I especially enjoyed their music and praise team.
I sang and the people were so gracious to me. Rev. Errol Wesson preached. After church we went to have lunch with the Associate Pastor and his wife and their two boys. Greg and Kelly Blair. Kelly’s parents Dave and Kathy were also there for lunch and they are longtime friends of the Wessons. I in no way felt like an outsider. They had a “braai” which is the Africaans word for cookout or barbeque. It was very delicious. Grilled chicken, sirloin strips, and sausages. We also had a fruit salad, a potato salad, and the most delicious pudding ever. These South Africans love pudding desserts and I love that they love them, because I love them too!

My favorite part of this day was my fellowship with the Blair boys – Shane who is 6 years old, and Ryan, 3 years old.  Shane had a tire swing and he was showing me all about how it worked! Delightful. Boys are boys and I raised two, so I was quite at home, although I was 9,000 miles away from home. Shane got all his military toys out to show me, and he was quite impressed with my knowledge of tanks and gunners. (My youngest son Jonathan was enamored with GI Joe and all things military when he was little, so I had an advantage.) I enjoyed some great conversation with the boys' mother, and encouraged her in the joys of boys! They are a delightful family, and I will never forget spending that time with them.

We went back to the Wellwood Lodge and literally only had 15 minutes to freshen up before leaving for our next church service in Cape Town. I was so happy to see Gary and hear about his morning. (Although Gary would not tell me, Bro. Johnny Cyster told me that they loved Gary to pieces and were up on their feet shouting in praise before he even finished ministering through song.) I was so proud of my sweet man. He has a big heart to go with that big voice of his. I know the Lord used him to encourage these precious people.

Tonight we were able to go to church together and I’m telling you – I have never-ever-never-ever experienced such unconditional love as I did tonight. This was also in a Coloured community and we worshipped with the people of the Blomvlei Baptist Church. When we entered the church they were singing and I mean they were singing! The atmosphere was electric! There was a group of people in a long line going around and around the pews singing “Sing for Joy, Oh Africa.”
Gary leaned down and whispered to me, “And we are going to sing here? I say we just join in with them, they are having church!”

We made our way to the front of the church and sat down. The pews were all wooden and very old with high backs. We sang some more with the congregation and then Bro. Wesson preached and Gary sang and I sang. We were so at home and so welcomed by the Blomvlei Church. Pastor Salwyn and his beautiful wife Sheena were so gracious to us. (That is Sheena on the far left below, she was on the Praise Team.)

What happened next may be the highlight of our entire trip to South Africa. At the end of the service Pastor Salwyn said he felt led of the Holy Spirit to take an offering for “the Americans, Gary and Jan.” They wanted us to go visit Table Mountain and have a coke on them, and be blessed. We were already so blessed we were beside ourselves, but nothing would do but for him to take that offering.

So he asked us to stand at the back of the church and every single person walked by and hugged us or shook hands with us as they were singing “We love you with the love of the Lord.” Now mind you, this was not a rich church, but a poor church. They gave out of their need. We were so humbled by this and tried to give the offering back to the Pastor. What they gave us equaled about $100 in American money. On our way to the car, Gary and I were able to whisper together and decided to give the money to Pastor Errol and his wife Claudia, who had been such good hosts to us while we were in Cape Town. We knew they needed some repair work done on their car. When we were in the car we told them that we were overwhelmed by the offering and the love, but that we just didn’t feel right about the Blomvlei Church doing that for us.

I’ll never forget what Pastor Errol told us. He said, “sometimes you just have to learn how to receive because others need to give.” Well…we said back to him, you are exactly right! So we gave him the offering that we had been given. (It was in Rand, South African money – so that was even better.) He protested and so then WE said, “sometimes you just have to learn how to receive because others need to give.”  What a great night – thank you Jesus for my new friends the Wessons and all our friends in Cape Town.

We are less than 48 hours from leaving to go home, and we are ready. But our hearts have been touched, stretched, blessed, convicted, and warmed. I will never forget this trip and the people we have seen.  "Sing for Joy, O Africa, the Lord your God is risen upon you."  Indeed.

UPDATE: PW from the PW! I won the Scavenger Hunt!

Friday, November 6, 2009

UPDATE...NEWS FLASH...HALLELUJAH AND AMEN! 
I WON! ME! I AM SO EXCITED.
I never win anything...
I am now going to be the proud owner of
PW from the PW
Pioneer Woman Cookbook from the Preacher's Wife!



Welcome Visiting Minister's Wives! 
Isn't Lisa (The Preacher's Wife) so clever
and witty, and beautiful?
What fun! Love to you all!

And to everyone else visiting...this post is me participating in a virtual "scavenger hunt" for Minister's Wives that my sweet friend Lisa is coordinating.  She's very creative that way...

The Treasures

1. First Name.  Jan

2. State and Country of Residence.  Georgia/United States of America

3. Husband’s Ministry Title.  Executive Pastor/Minister of Music

4. Length of time in Current Ministry Location. {IMPORTANT: There are several of you who may not be in a current ‘official’ pastorate/ministry, etc. That makes you no less a minister’s wife! You play along, girlfriends, and let us pray for you!}    21 and 1/2 years - GLORY TO HIS NAME!

5. Children? If yes, give gender and ages.  Two sons: 28, 25 years old

6. Number of unique homes in which you’ve lived during your marriage.
Only one was VERY unique - it was literally almost on the train tracks and when the train would come through, the pictures on the wall would rattle and shift...the house was over 100 years old - delightful, but very unique...


7. Cook Sunday lunch or eat out?  50/50  I LOVE TO COOK!  I have both my sons and my sweet daughters-in-law over on the "Second Sunday" of each month and it is so good. My oldest son is also a Pastor and they live in the next town over.  My youngest son and his wife are members of our church, in fact, he married a "home girl."  God is good.  And then we NAP!

8. Typically on time for Sunday School or not?   Actually EARLY, but that was not always the case. Now I ride with the Reverend!  Since we are "empty nesters" we ride together...but I still put my mascara on in the car...

9. Favorite TV Show.  I hardly ever watch TV - truly. I'd much rather read or be outside. I love to garden. But last season I watched 24 and LOVED it. 

10. Something you watch/like/do that you would never tell the church people. (Except now you just did…lol)  Very few of them know about my blog...

11. Most annoying church-related pet peeve.  Someone talking about my man or being critical.  Hurts.my.heart.

12. One thing you need to throw away but can’t bring yourself to do it.
A skirt that is so old even if I could get back into it I doubt it could hold up in the washing machine, it is very old, but back in the day, it was mighty fine...

13. The one food you can not live without.  Chips/Salsa - I love salty snacks. I am not a sweets eater.
Addendum: I do not dis-like sweets - they just don't appeal to me.  I don't crave chocolate like some of my friends.  But I love vinegar/salt potato chips, chili cheese fritos, cool ranch doritos, all nuts, peanut butter, and I love french fries! I like SALT - hey - what can I say, my last name is "Morton!"  :)  However, I do LOVE ice cream, especially strawberry!

14. Parsonage or have your own home? Own home. Very thankful.

15. Freak when the doorbell rings or always ready for a visitor? I don't freak, but in my early days I did.  I've learned that if they are coming to see ME and not my house, they are a true friend. I actually enjoy having people over.

South Africa - 12 (Journal Day 7)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Our wonderful new friends, Rev. Errol Wesson and his precious wife Claudia of Multi Ministries are delightful! They live in Cape Town, actually in “Fish Hoek.” They say that God has given us great favor with the weather.
It is still Winter in South Africa, but Spring is giving a gorgeous preview! The rain is gone and the warm temperatures and flowers are glorious! I have never in all my life seen such beauty – the ocean and the mountains are unbelievable. Ever since I found out I was coming to South Africa I have dreamed of seeing Cape Point! But before I saw Cape Point this afternoon, there were some amazing ministry opportunities that I want to share.

This beautiful Saturday morning Gary and I were set to minister at Gleemoor Baptist Church. This church was hosting a meeting for all the churches in the area. They were meeting to plan for 2010 and outreach surrounding the World Cup Soccer games in South Africa. Rev. Wesson and Bro. Johnny Cyster came to pick us up and drive us to the church. The drive was so nice and I was so excited to finally be in Cape Town. When we pulled up to the church and parked, three precious little girls were playing outside. The Gleemoor church is part of the Cape Town Coloured community. I told them that I was so thankful to be at their church, and the little one on the far right said, “And I am thankful for the Lord Jesus Christ!” So delightful.  I will never forget these little girls.
Once inside we saw how packed the church was, so we made our way to the front. Rev. Errol Wesson introduced us to the people. Gary sang “Statement of Faith,” and I sang “Jesus the One and Only.” The people were so responsive and they especially loved my sweet husband. (Actually everywhere we’ve been, he has been the favorite!) I believe it is his commanding voice and the compassion with which he speaks. He shared with everyone that it is most important that they KNOW what they believe because our beliefs dictate our behavior! He exhorted the people to hold fast to the authority and the Word of God. Another thing he did that I especially loved is he would say, “we are not here to sing TO you, but WITH you.” They LOVED my man and I was so blessed because of the joy he was bringing!

Something MOST unbelievable happened this morning after the service. There was a couple there serving as missionaries through the IMB (International Mission Board). They were introduced (Jeff and Lynne) and then afterward she came up to me and told me she was born in Macon, Georgia. WOW! Someone from America! We had an immediate bond and I was so glad to talk to someone from home. Then she proceeded to tell me that her grandmother was the organist at 1st Baptist of Warner Robins and that she attended Second Baptist Church when she was a child! OUR HOME CHURCH!!! The world suddenly became very small as I thought about the investment my church had made in the life of a little girl half a century ago, and now she was serving as a foreign missionary halfway around the world and we got to meet both her and her husband!

Baptists are Baptists no matter the Continent, so there had to be a fellowship – and in South Africa it was a “tea.” Check out the beautiful aprons these ladies were wearing. I thanked them for their hospitality and they loved having their picture taken.
After the tea, we headed back to the Wellwood Lodge where we are staying. On the way, we stopped at a drugstore to pick up a few items we needed. I wanted to buy some Advil. Something very unusual occurred. You cannot just walk in and buy Advil or Tylenol – you have to talk to a pharmacist! He wanted to know what was going on and why I needed an anti inflammatory! A little scary to me – but I got the medicine and am very grateful.

After we got back to the Lodge we changed clothes and got ready for our trip to see Cape Point. My excitement was just about “over the top!” I was finally going to see the sight I had viewed on my computer desktop for many months. Here are some pictures of the day:


The difference in these two oceans was amazing!
 The beautiful blue Indian Ocean:  
The darker gray Atlantic Ocean:
 
After we saw Cape Point from every single angle – including the wonderful MERGE of the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean, we headed back down and then shock of all shocks, we heard someone calling our names…”Gary, Jan, Gary Jan!” That was so crazy – we didn’t know a SOUL in South Africa. Guess who it was? Ty and his wife – the couple that we flew to South Africa with on the same flight over from Atlanta, a week ago, and we were 1,000 miles from where we landed in Johannesburg! Another awesome occurrence – to see someone you “know!”

As we were driving down the mountain and out of Cape Point Park, we saw a pair of ostriches and their chicks on the side of the road. A few of the chicks and one of the “big birds” ran away, but this one was intent on staying for the picture.
Tonight we wrapped up a most wonderful day by having dinner in the Wesson’s home. They have a view of the ocean bay that you can only dream of. The Wesson’s are responsible for starting many churches in Cape Town and the surrounding communities. They are associated with Multi Ministries and are the sweetest people ever.

I will never forget the joy of this day.  Visiting the church, ministering to the people, meeting the missionary 10,000 miles from my home church who attended there as a little girl, seeing the GLORIOUS beauty of Cape Point, then sharing a meal with our new partners in ministry, the Wessons.  It has been a great day.  I am so thankful, emotional, blessed.

WELCOME GUESTS

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