New York – the giant and 9/11 (Dawie) – 26 August 2009

I have seen most of the places in America we have included in our world tour before. New York I have never been to. I therefore had some strange kind of expectancy to visit this "giant" in magnitude and significance, especially in the financial world.

The planning was tough, because we could not find a home exchange and the city is expensive compared to other American cities (By the way; our experience is that Europe is more expensive than America).

The Lord blessed our visit in an unique way. A few weeks before our arrival in NY, a woman who read our blog mailed us and offered their home (though palace would describe it better) to us...for free. They were going to Namibia during the same period and, allthough all their accomodation was completely arranged allready, just wanted to bless us.

Their neighbors took us for dinner, their friends brought us American pie and offer us the most precious visits and friendship. From our "palace" we had the most beautiful view of New York. There was a pool table, swimming pool and a separate room & working space for each one! And those are just the highlights... We spent a week in their house and two days in New York city itself, walking for tens of kilometers and visiting numerous places of interest. A truly memorable week. My family will elaborate more on the detail.

Let me share a different thought and an expression or two with you. But, before I start, let me just add a quick disclaimer. I respect America as a nation tremendously and would choose to immigrate there if I was to leave Namibia. My comments are thus born from a deep respect and love.

Ten million people in one city are a lot. Everything is massive and excessive: buildings, accommodation, public transport, number of cars and feet on the streets, shops, number of police vehicles, etc. It is amazing how they manage to create some kind of "slower pace" in the chaos created by the numbers, by having numerous parks and relaxing chairs and tables beside the streets.

We walked the Mecca of the financial world...Wall street and Broadway. We walked past the American Stock Exchange, New York Stock Exchange and massive financial institutions' buildings (all of whom received billions of US$ as "bail out" money very recently). We also visited the site where they are constructing the new building where the twin towers stood. We spent a long time in the Trinity Church – less than 100 meters from all of this!

I reflected deeply on 9/11, when terrorists brought the capitalistic world's icons down. Churches, I have been told, were full for a few weeks after that day. Just to decline in numbers soon afterwards.

Last year, Wall street recorded it's worse "bear trend" ever and millions of Americans lost their houses, jobs and the majority of their pension.

Although annalists speculate on a possible recovery and even a "little bull run", others pointed out that the average American owes more than N$ 60 000 on their credit cards. The possible "write offs" imbedded in the latter, may force the American government to extent it's U$700 billion "bail out" package to the private sector. Not good news, baring in mind that their newly elected President, who just rent an island for his family's vacation at a rate of only N$ 350 000 per week, is in the process of extending/improving the health care options for 50 million Americans (while very little is being done about the two thirds af Americans who are obese) and extending the war in Afghanistan. These initiatives will most probably not be funded from "their trading account!" Will America borrow from the Chinese again?

If an individual spent more than he earns, he will have to sell assets to fund the deficit or borrow more from someone else to finance it. The same principle applies to businesses and governments. Is it possible that the leaders of the free economic system twisted it so far that their rights and comfort, through their own money, became their own god? Meaning that they are turning away from the Father, Son and Holy Spirit to worship something else...Interesting that Jesus said in Matthew 6:24 (NIV)
24 "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.

As I read through the Old Testament again, I was struck by how an "abundantly loving-kind Heavenly Father" tried to do everything possible that His people will not turned away from Him. But, it seems to me, this is exactly what happened all over the years, again and again...for 6000 years. Is it possibly true that this very special American nation who wrote in their constitution and even today on their money that "in God we trust," is turning away from their God?

Often on long roadtrips, Tinus plays us a "podcast" or message from one of his favorite preachers. In one of these, Louie Giglio said that we are all worshippers. We will worship what we value the most. Period. What we value the most will consume us and what will consume us, will conform us. What we will be conformed to, will determine our destiny. Is it possible that this nation, once fully devoted to God, started to value "money" more than God? Is it possible that it conformed them to materialistic self-centric human beings with legio of rights and to the love of money, which will determine there destiny? Hard words...but what about Europe, did that not happen with them first? It is easy to criticize other countries...where are we, as Namibians, in this process?

Are we still worshipping God and Him alone?

The warning lights are red in Europe, orange in America and between green and orange in Africa...

Scripture is clear on this:

Psalm 115:1-8 (NIV)
1 Not to us, O Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness. 2 Why do the nations say, "Where is their God?" 3 Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him. 4 But their idols are silver and gold, made by the hands of men. 5 They have mouths, but cannot speak, eyes, but they cannot see; 6 they have ears, but cannot hear, noses, but they cannot smell; 7 they have hands, but cannot feel, feet, but they cannot walk; nor can they utter a sound with their throats. 8 Those who make them will be like them, and so will all who trust in them.

One of the signs you will see the most in New York City is: "I love New York", on t-shirts, glasses, keyrings, etc. A truly remarkable city with the most wonderful people, but I felt a sense of hopelessness due to who they worship. The Sunday before we left we visited the Brooklyn Tabernacle Church of Jim Cymbala (he is the author of two wonderful books I have read "Fresh Wind Fresh Fire" and "Fresh Faith"). Again, it was here, in church, that I received hope! Every time during our American leg of our trip; after reading newspapers, watching news channels, talking to people, my hope was fading. But every time it was in the local church that my hope was restored. That happened in LA (Fred Price and Rick Warren's churches), Whitefish (Paul and Angelita's church), Atlanta (Bruce Wilkinson, Phil Tuttle, Louie Giglio), Chicago (Bill Hybel's church) and now in New York (Jim Cymbala's church)!

That reminded me of Scripture; 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV)
14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

There is hope because God is faithful, abundantly loving-kind and full of forgiveness... and his local church is still there...but then the church in America's voice should be heard! Can you hear that prophetic voice?...(Remember, the church is not only those few prophets I mentioned ...the church are all those who is carrying Christ Name!) Does that prophetic voice change the direction of businesses, the Government, the Nation? If the silence continues (voice or efforts not being effective)... America will become who they worship!

Maybe this is why the follow up book of Jim Cymbala of New York (Brooklyn), is called "Fresh Power". Churches (individuals, businesses and the Government) will need the Holy Spirit's presense and power to turn this around...

What about you and me? Are we still salt and light? Are we worthy of Christ Name? Are we faithful to our calling?

Ephesians 4:1 (NIV)
1 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.

Dawie Fourie - 9/11 from New York

Chicago –our number one? (Dawie) 23 Aug 2009

Chicago has been our number one choice in several categories. It was the first city we identified to include in our world tour. The family voted the skyline as the most beautiful one in the world. Tinus and Charlie completed their first half marathon there. The best local church we have visited is there. The best car we had on the tour, we drove there. It's the location in which we made the most new friends. It's the most innovated city we have visited. It's Tinus' first choice for after graduate studies. It's the city in which we have exercised the most. And the list continues...

The innovative and architectural buildings and structures, 1000+ km running/bicycle tracks, numerous parks, cleanliness, various famous educational institutions, museums, art festivals, etc. contributed to my gaining respect for the city. The pace against which the city and it's people develop are remarkable. Chicago for example, produced the most Noble price winners ever. (I am sure some other family members will elaborate more on Chicago and the friends we made here)

Chicago was indeed very special.

But so were all the other places and all the other wonderful people and churches we have visited.

We had the most remarkable eight months as a family, but believe me, it is here in Chicago that I felt our relationships matured and grew in depths, more than ever before. I once again realized that I am very proud of my wife and three godly sons.

The visits to the Willow Creek Community Church and the Global Leadership Summit ("GLS") surely contributed to make Chicago even more special.

The church is relevant, innovative and lead by people with the spiritual gift of leadership. The focus on God's Word and Jesus is real, which ensure that they are practical and sensitive to the needs of their people and of the world. The GLS was once again a world class event; excellently organized and executed. It was full of practical information for leaders in today's changing world. It is "a must" for every leader who desires to glorify God through his or her church/organization.

My meetings with Bill Hybels and Gary Schammlein were fruitful and inspiring. There are so many win-win opportunities in Africa if the Willow Creek Association and the African Leadership Institute can work closer together in the future. Something , I think, which will develop.

Something I once again realized on this trip is that if one desires to make a difference you need to do the following:

  • Be willing to learn from everybody and be sensitive for opportunities to gain knowledge, experience and wisdom.
  • Never think that you are better than other people
  • Work hard, with excellence, and in unity with teams
  • Actively and innovatively seek new solutions for challenges and be willing to take risk for a Kingdom reward
  • Your own abilities will take you only so far...we all need the power of God's hand on our lives.

It is not fair to all the other very special places, people and churches to give Chicago the official "no 1 -Fouries-around-the-world-prize"...Lets just conclude with the statement that it was an truly amazing and blessed visit!

Psalm 127 (NIV)
1 Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain. 2 In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat— for he grants sleep to those he loves. 3 Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from him. 4 Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth. 5 Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate.

Detailed Appreciation – 23 August 2009 (Chrisna)

When my father died 3 years ago, I woke up one night and thought of him, thought that I've learned so much from him, that I appreciated him for so many things. Then I realized that to say that means very little. I must give detail to what he has taught me, I must be specific in what I appreciate. I took pen and paper and started writing – pages full of detailed appreciation. That meant a lot to me and continued to create precious memories I have of my dad.

Last night I woke up and thought how much I appreciate the 4 men with whom I am travelling around the world. Once again I realized that I must be specific in my appreciation. So now I take my laptop and type my detailed appreciation I have for them, that is for my special husband and 3 sons. I will read it to them once I'm done. You are welcome to read it too and then go write your own detailed appreciation thoughts for your loved ones.

I deeply appreciate the fact that we have been travelling the world for 7,5 months and that they still love me AND like me! It's really special that they appreciate me and tell me that. (Although I do what ever I do for the Lord, It's good to hear from time to time that others see what you do.) It was quite special when Charlie jokingly told his dad yesterday that if he ever even thought of leaving me, he(Charlie) will call him the biggest fool on earth. I took that as a compliment!

I love the hugs that all 4 of them give me periodically all through out the day. It's so special how they all give compliments and say nice things to each other and to me.

Sometimes we decide to play a board game or watch a movie and find ourselves 2 hours later still just talking, enjoying each others company and opinions and stories. And this during this tour where we spend all our awake hours in any case in each others company- we still love to be with each other. We laugh a lot – at each other and with each other- this create good companionship and safety. We pray together – often. And I see that the saying :"A family who prays together, stays together" is true.

Sometimes we decide to play a board game or watch a movie and then we actually do it and have great fun. We play a game of cricket, always passionately, always playing to win. We walk for miles and build precious memories. Although fatigue sets in after 10 km of walking, no one complains but they rather cheer each other (and especially me) up with a joke or even a song(although no one in our family can realy sing!) I appreciate that we do things together, sometimes simple things, sometimes spectacular things and they appreciate and enjoy them all. I love it that we really have fun together.

There are many specific things in their characters that reveals itself while on this tour, things that I would not have known if we did not do this. That is part of why I appreciate them so much (and appreciate the world tour so much!) Let me be specific – it is the idea behind this writing of mine.

We are like rolling stones this year. We never settle or have time or opportunity for each to create a personal space for himself. Sometimes we live in a big house , sometimes in a very small apartment and often in only one room. No matter where our house is or what the size is, they are always excited about every new place. They have found ways to see the best in every place and communicate it with each other – that way we influence each other to focus on the good and not the bad. There were times that each had his own room(although that did not happen often), but there were more times that each did not even have his own bed, often we had 2 beds for the 5 of us. It never created problems. No one ever moaned about where and how to sleep and was always just very glad to have a bed. How often when we pray, I hear one of them thanking God for a roof over our heads and a bed to sleep in. The wonder is that if they have their own room or a comfortable bed, they always speak their appreciation. What I realized is that this tour had taught them to never take any thing for granted and to really be thankful in all things.

As with the rooms and beds, we also have new workspaces every 2 or 3 weeks. Sometimes every one has their own place to work, but most of the time, we have to share a desk or even all 5 share the same dining room table and have to clear it when we eat. I have not heard them moaning about this. I see them take their books or computer and start to work, until the bell rings for break-time. Then we thoroughly enjoy our break – together. As I write this, I realize what a privilege we have to live life together in such a degree of "togetherness", but I also appreciate that all of us still enjoy and treasure it so much. I especially appreciate my 2 teenage sons for genuinely loving and enjoying our time together.

Another thing that I sincerely appreciate is that they do not complain that they do not have other friends here and now. They know that they have friends back home(and they do e-mail and facebook with them), and they know that there will be time for even more friendships to form later, but for now they are 100% content to have only each other as friend and companion. To see them loving each other, laughing, talking, sharing with each other, being best of friends, brings a very warm feeling to my mother heart. To realize how much the 4 of them respect each other, is surely special, very special. Here I must also mention Dawie J specifically. This 9 year old boy is travelling the world with 4 adults and doing a great job! Although we play with him and do things that he likes, we more often do adult things, and he never complains, he just go along with a chunk of clay in his hand, creating sculptures all the way.

They all work very hard. Dawie ( the older one), sets the tempo and the rest follow his lead. We all work in the mornings, but quite often in the afternoons as well. It is only Dawie J that strictly works mornings only. If any one complains, it will be because they do not have enough time to work. I'm the only one asking for more time on the road and exploring all the new places. Yes, I realize now that I am the only one complaining , and that because they work too hard! But let me give this appreciation as well: when I do suggest an outing and it falls inside our budget and time schedule, they go all out in enjoying it.

We are in a different city every 2 or 3 weeks. That means that Dawie must drive on strange and new roads every 2 or 3 weeks and also with a different car. Together with that, I must add, is the fact that he always have 4 back seat drivers(one is sitting in the front), who all give advice and directions and shout warnings. He does not complain, he just concentrate and drive. I think that he has learnt to only listen to Angie, our GPS and respond on our voices only if there is a certain urgency in our tone. We have always reached our destination on time and safely. A safe and confident driver, a good navigation team and lots and lots of Grace have helped us so far. Yesterday we were many kilometers from our house in Marseille, not knowing where we were or where our house were, not having a map or a GPS, but with those 3 components we managed to return home, without ever worrying or stressing, only laughing and encouraging each other. So with this I guess, I say that I appreciate my husbands driving skills and willingness to drive and the family working together as a team.

Another thing that I truly appreciate, is that they eat and like my food. I heard Charlie answering a question some one asked about how we eat and whether they like the new and strange places and food, in this way: "My parents buy whatever is on special in a shop. Sometimes it is strange food, but we like it. Most of the time we eat carrots and potatoes, because they are the cheapest everywhere. But you know what, my mother always manage to make something new out of them, and we like that." We almost never eat out, even if we are on the road all day. It is simply too expensive and our budget won't last. I make picnic food at home and we carry that with us, we find a spot underneath a tree, and we have a feast. What I appreciate is that they never complain, they never ask to go to a restaurant and they always say how much they enjoy the picnic. Here are still more appreciation on the eating and on how they have adapted: At home there is always food and snacks in the cupboard AND Grandma is there who is always more than willing to feed them. It is different on tour. Our food is planned and measured out, even the snacks – if there is any. The meals are so that everyone can only eat the amount that was planned per person. If they want to eat in times between meals, they must ask if there is something available and quite often the answer will be:"There is some water". They do not complain, but love it when there is a snack available. We do have a system in place the past 5 months:- when we go buy food, each one of the boys may pick one treat(with an amount attached to it) to spoil them with . They have become so wise with this, that they team up, and each will buy a packet of snacks which they can all share and with planning it will last long enough until the next grocery shopping expedition. In summary, I appreciate their sincere enjoyment of each meal, their appreciation of any type of snack(even if it is some baking experiment of mine), their creativity in planning, the fact that they never moan or take food without asking and how they took ownership of the food budget and feel the victory with me when we end up within our budget each month.

Yes, the whole budget thing is also something that they have adapted too so well. They understand it so good and together we all strive to live within our budget. I have never heard any one complaining if we could not do something or buy something because it was too expensive or will put pressure on the budget. I appreciate it how every one, Dawie J included, are such good stewards of what we have. I appreciate Dawie, the father, who keeps book of every expense in detail, and discusses our finances with the whole family on a monthly base. The boys have spoken their appreciation about this and admitted how much they have learnt from this.

I appreciate the fact that the boys respect and honor and obey Dawie and me. It is wonderful that they listen, ask good questions and allow us to teach them about life and all it's choices. I also appreciate it that they teach us to "practice what we preach", that they challenge us and even say when they do not agree with us. Although it is tough to hear, I appreciate it when they tell me when I am wrong and that they always forgive in abundance. I love it when they admit and agree that I am right.

I appreciate all of them taking on extra responsibilities on this tour. There is no help around the house(oh, how I appreciate Isabella and Katrina back home!), but all 4 men pull their weight. I appreciate that the men takes care of the evening meal and Old Dawie often also help with the main meal at lunch time. They are all responsible to help with the cleaning of the house when it is time to leave. Boy oh boy, do we operate as a well oiled team then. Our aim is always to leave the house cleaner than what we have received it and we go all out to accomplish that. I also appreciate them for the other type of responsibilities they took on. Tinus, always ready to serve in whatever way we need him, mostly on the technical side. Charlie takes extra evening meal shifts and plays with Dawie J quite often. Dawie J does whatever chore we give him to do. Dawie, the father,lead by example in sharing responsibilities. He spend individual alone time with each of the boys to speak into their lives like only a dad can, he helps in the kitchen, he always had to find the "right" church to visit(and he did an excellent job), he keeps me very happy. Yes, I do appreciate them for helping where ever there is a need, and always with a good attitude , never complaining.

There is definitely more things that I do appreciate, but for now, this is a mouthful. Needless to say, is that I appreciate God for giving me these men whom I can appreciate so much. I say thank you to my men and I give Glory to God. Dawie, Tinus, Charlie and Dawie J: Your lives surely glorify God! May He continue to bless you in abundance. Thank you for spilling those blessings all over me.