Georgia - 18 July 2009 (Dawie J)

We were in Atlanta for 2 weeks and are now in the mountains north of Atlanta for 10 days.

In LA we watched a school baseball game, in Atlanta we watched The Braves at Turnerfield.
It was very nice and there were fireworks at the end.

We went to the Coca-Cola museum, learned of their history and drank so much different products of Coke, that I did not even want to see a Coke bottle.

We also went to Stone Mountain and knowing my family, we obviously walked all the way to the top. I got very tired, even more than the 20km in Montana.

It must be because it was so HOT! We saw a spectacular laser and firework show. I enjoyed it together with about 20 000 other people.

My grandmother came to visit. We had a great time with her. Obviously she spoiled us a lot. She even paid for us 3 boys to watch Transformers II in the IMAX theatre.

Charlie and me went to the Georgia Aquarium and saw lots of types of fish.
There were even 20-foot-long whale-sharks and a manta-ray. It surely was a wonderful experience.

Then we drove to our cabin.

We floated 6 miles down a river in tubes that was very nice.
Georgia was just great!

Totally Random, humbling and funny (15 July 2009) Charlie

Wow! We are still having a great time in the North Georgian mountains. Atlanta has also been amazing. With a lot of fun filled experiences and heaps of joy. You will be seeing an Atlanta Issue by Charlie soon, but today I felt like telling you a story. You might have heard something about it in the precious blogs but this version is from the mouth of the humiliated party.

Life is an amazing, tough, learning experience. We learn from others, from our own mistakes and from things that randomly happen to us for a reason. That last sentence might have sounded weird but please stick with me here.

I want to take you way back to Phuket in Thailand.

And no, this is not going to be another story about my dad's Finger again. I have another story entirely. It was something that happened to me because of my own ignorance in part but also because of God's humor and love!

It all started in Germany... We were at a value store one day and we saw interesting specials that attracted our eyes. We were interested not only by some nice products but also by the price tag, only 1€. I think it was the first time we ever saw something in Europe for only 1€. We just had to buy something. My mother was thinking in the line of socks, again... But I had a different idea. I knew I would be going home in a months time so I made the proposition of buying a moisturizing lotion for my face. So that it can be smooth, you know... There are a few reasons why it has to be smooth but I like to go with this one: "My mother likes a boy with a nice and smooth face"! So after my heavy convincing ,my mother agreed, except for one important detail. I wanted the rose scented lotion but my mother thought it to be Unmanly. So I ran back into the store and without even thinking I grabbed the aloe scented one, more manly I presumed. The interesting thing about these bottles of lotion were that everything on it was in German. It didn't bother me though because I was confident in my mother's grade 8 German classes and she inspected the rose scented one and confirmed that it was body lotion. The only problem though is that I took another bottle...

We left that shop with a sense of accomplishment having bought something in Europe for 1€. We flew to Singapore and immediately to Phuket. Totally overwhelmed by the heat and beauty we drank everything in. Meanwhile I very diligently used my German lotion. In my mind my skin got smoother each day. The days went on, a few interesting things happened, my dad lost the top of his left index finger but you know that story allready. The one day I came home from the beach with a mild sun burn. Not really out of the ordinary, considering we were in Phuket, practically on the equator. One of us had to get sun burn one or other time. I wasn't afraid of a little sunburn, especially 'cause I have a nice German lotion to put on.

The days went on and to my surprise my face got redder instead of going back to normal, so I applied more of my lotion... As the days kept flowing by, this little sunburn worked itself into my neck. It began to get more uncomfortable each day. Not only did the ocean salt burn the tears out of me, but it also burned like a raging fire every time there was a bit of perspiration and in Phuket that is 24/7.

It got even worse with each passing day. Thus I added more lotion. Soon we left Phuket and flew to Singapore. Still, I had a burning sensation 24/7 and my face began to fall off, literally! It got so bad it is improper to write about it in a family blog.

Needless to say, my mother thought there was something fishy about the whole thing. So she suggested that I stop using my German lotion, I might be allergic to it or something like that. Sure enough, in only a few days the whole thing was gone. After all this my new layer of skin was white like a dove. I didn't care though because all the burning and face falling was finally over!

So I went home with a great relief, I didn't look like a monster. In Singapore I began to fear that I might scare my friends out of their faith when they see me! The Lord healed me in the last couple of days and I was very, very thankful.

Meanwhile my mother who was still in Singapore wanted smoother legs. She then decided not to let my German lotion go to waste. Needless to say her skin got rougher and tougher, looking worse each day, It was then that my mother put her foot down and decided to check the bottle once more. With some common sense and Grade 8 German she came to a shocking realization...

The great German lotion was actually great shower gel! Ha ha... You might be laughing hysterically at this moment but for me the news was an arrow in my bruised Ego. I then felt like if I was going to take the jump from my ego to my IQ at that moment I would fall to my death. Again, stop laughing...

The amazing thing about it is that I was hurting myself without knowing it. I actually thought I was doing myself a world of good but I didn't see the whole picture. It just proclaimed the fact that God always knows better and what is good for us. We might think that something will be good for us, but lets give that decision to God. You just might have read the label incorrectly!

I also learned the hard way that God keeps a close eye on the proud.

Psa 138:6 Though you are above us all, you care for humble people, and you keep a close watch on everyone who is proud.

Atlanta (28 June - 12 July 2009) Chrisna

Atlanta has been a blessing! It has been a blessing in so many different ways, from the first moment, even before we arrived there until now, after we have left.

Our 4 weeks home exchange in Chicago, our destination after Atlanta, was canceled and we had to find other accommodation. Our host in Atlanta, Peter, was so kind as to allow us an extra week in his mountain cabin north of Atlanta, which helped us a lot, since we now only need 3 weeks of accommodation in Chicago.The special house and car in Atlanta was a blessing. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay there. Our meeting with Bruce Wilkinson and Charlie's baptism on Tuesday 30 June: - what can I say but:"What a blessed day!" (I did write one whole blog on that day.) I might add that the reason we included Atlanta in our tour program, was to see Bruce. We definitely heard God right on that one...

And yes, as you can expect, we found a mountain to climb! We visited Stone Mountain and climbed all the way to the top and down. We also celebrated Independence Day on 4th July with the Americans there at Stone Mountain with a firework and laser show that kept us staring upwards for more than an hour. It was spectacular and exciting.

Many Americans may live by the belief that they are bigger and better, but you have to give them credit for their patriotism!

Atlanta was also the place where my mother came to visit us for the 2nd time during our tour. Oh, what a joy to have her with us. We are having a feast: not only because she takes us out for lunch and buys ice cream, not only because of all the chocolates she brought along, but also for the lots of laugh and love and fellowship we share. A true blessing!

We also spent a few hours at the house of Phil Tuttle and his precious family. We had a wonderful lunch and shared many stories. Phil is the president of Walk Thru the Bible, so he is actually my boss! We were fortunate enough to hear him teach and learn from him during his sermon at The Bridge Church on Sunday. It was all about being real - about taking off your mask! This is one thing we have experienced firsthand on this trip : there is no place to hide, no time to put on a mask. Being honest and humble, saying you're sorry if you were wrong and forgiving immediately are vitally important factors if you wnat to live in harmony and grow even closer together. This surely is an all important life lesson. Yet another blessing of our time with them was the bags full of real American cookies that we received - melt in the mouth delicious; extremely difficult to stop after one cookie!

Being in a family where "leadership", "life purpose" and "put dreams into action" are part of who we are and how we live, where the father left his big money profession to train leaders in Africa without earning a cent , you can imagine and understand what a special few hours we had at the Martin Luther King Jr. Museum. Boy oh boy, it was inspiring, painful and victorious all at the same time. What an example he was and still is, one worthy to study and follow, one who's life gives Glory to God and who's plans and strategies came straight from the Lord. This again was confirmation that the only solid foundation the African Leadership Institute can be built upon, is the truth of God's Word and the example of Jesus Christ.

I hear the question that Martin Luther King asked: "What are you doing for others?" and towards that challenge we must work as a team. "The self cannot be self without other selves." It is a question and truth that I will have to repeat to myself often and find the honest answer for.

Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream, and I realized there in that memorial centre, that I too have the same dream. "I have a dream that one day my 4 (3 in my dream) children will not be judged by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character".

Yes, we may dream, but we must also do. I must be the transformation that I hope for, it must always begin with "me".

To be able to learn, to be able to grow, to be challenged and to be humbled - all are blessings out of God's Heart. What I do with them however, is my choice and my responsibility.

Mat 7:12 (KJV)Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.

Mat 7:12 (Msg) "Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them. Add up God's Law and Prophets and this is what you get.