Sunday, April 13, 2014

Mid-April Update

Family and Friends,

How are you? Life for the Hillegi is going pretty well. We have been here over  seven weeks and are adjusting nicely. We miss our family back in the USA a lot, especially when we have very slow internet connections and we want to speak with them (as a side note, please do not take for granted unlimited internet - you are very fortunate!). 

We love the house that we moved into on April 1st. It is perfect for us - a beautiful, furnished 3-BR house in a gated community that is also on a golf course. We are very, very fortunate and we do not want to take our situation for granted. 

We have been going through 1 John with the Whitlocks over the past few weeks (we just finished 2:15-17), and it has been eye-opening. Two verses in chapter two have really stuck out to me. "My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins... (vs. 1)" and "I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for his name's sake (vs. 12)." These two verses show that John (the author) is tender towards his audience by calling them little children, and he encourages them to not sin (which is impossible until his people are glorified in heaven). He then points them to Jesus who is their only advocate with the Father and the propitiation (a big word, but one of the most important words in the Bible - look it up!). Christianity is the only religion where eternal life is not dependent on a person's good works, and that is a good thing! It is not what we do for God (not that we can do anything - see Isaiah 64:6, Romans 3: 9-18, John 15:5), but what God has done for us in the person and work of Jesus Christ (Isaiah 53, Romans 3:23-25, Ephesians 2, Philippians 3 and about a hundred other passages in the Bible). Let us bow down and worship the King.

Anywho, below are a few pictures:


Yes, this is a giraffe near our friends' house (Kait was 40 feet away while taking the picture). 


Bruce loves his little brother (BTW, Wyatt is close to crawling!)


Eating some corn with my little man...


Did I mention that the views are breathtaking?


Before "caving" at Sudwalla Caves with our friends Willem and Helene (they are awesome!)


In the cave with the fam!


Drinking some cave water...it was tasty!


Another picture with our friends!


The girls getting the royal spa treatment where...


little fish clean off the dead skin from feet...it tickles a lot! We were jumpy at the beginning, but after getting used to it...it felt pretty good.


First round of golf in South Africa happened today!

Love,

Zach, Kait and the boys

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Almost One Month Down in SA

Friends and Family:

Tomorrow will mark four weeks in Nelspruit, South Africa. We have been staying with the Whitlocks for the last four weeks due to challenges in finding a place to rent. It has been nice to transition slowly, and we have experienced great fellowship with the Whitlock family. Lord-willing, we will move into our 3-BR fully-furnished house in Matumi Golf Estate on April 1 (this is a different house than the one I blogged about a few weeks ago...there was a sewage problem with that one so we canceled the contract). To catch everyone up for the last few weeks, Bruce turned two on the 23rd of March, Wyatt is very close to crawling, Bruce loves to swim in the pool, Kait is enjoying being a stay-at home mom, and I am enjoying the challenges of work. I am really thankful for my mom who has been my right-hand woman in dealing with the sale of our house in Pittsburgh (Lord-willing, it will close on April 11th - please pray!). I (Zach) have been downtrodden the past few days due to various trials. However, I received an SMS from a dear brother in the Lord today that was a great reminder to be thankful. It read "Always remember to be thankful when there is housing, water, food, money (provision) and those who love you surrounding you." This is a great word. The truth is that if we receive anything good it is because of God's grace. We don't deserve any good things, but God is very merciful and gracious to his children (Ephesians 2:1-10; Lamentations 3:21-23; Romans 8:28-39).

With this being said, I wanted to share a few pictures...ooh yeah, the weather here is superb...in the 80's...







Love,
Zach, Kait and the boys



Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A Few More Pictures and an Update on Life (March 8th - 11th Edition)

Friends and family:

We have great news. Our townhouse in Pittsburgh is under contract so Lord-willing we will be debt-free in the middle of April! Pray that everything goes smoothly. Also, we found a place in Nelspruit (4 bedroom house with a nice patio and a fenced in backyard) for a great price to rent. I (Zach) was in Jo-burg for the last two days for work and had a nice time with my boss Craig. Tonight, we had a bible study and discussed how the Pharisees forsook the commands of God for the traditions of man. Check out Matthew 15, Mark 7, Matthew 23 for how Jesus addressed them. In the upcoming weeks, we will be discussing biblical hermeneutics and will be working through 1st John. Kait and I are looking forward to going through the study so that we can properly handle the life-giving, inerrant Word of God.











 

Friday, March 7, 2014

A Few Pictures and Thoughts from Zach's Travels in South Africa


Driving to Delmas...


Almost to work (kinda)!



South Africa has different sayings on their coke cans...this one was fitting!


Driving back to Nelspruit...


This is the view from our friend's backyard...God is GOOD!

One week of work down, and I am learning a ton about business strategy, South African taxes and driving on the left side of the road. From a personal standpoint, the family is doing well. We are staying with our friends while we look for a place to live. All of us are over our jetlag. Wyatt and Bruce keep us on our toes.

God bless and have a great weekend!

In Christ,
Zach

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Almost There!

Friends and Family:

This is Zach again.

I am writing on the bed of our hotel room in Johannesburg around 9:30 PM South African Time.  Kait just fed Wyatt and is now reading a book to Bruce. To catch everyone up, the flight to Atlanta went well. Once we got to Atlanta, we were not scheduled to have a sky cot (only available on a few seats on the plane) for Wyatt to sleep in overnight, but one seat became available at the last minute. For a majority of the 15 hour plane ride, I was in row 44 with Wyatt (with the exception of feedings) and Kait was with Bruce in row 54. 

There were so many evidences of God's grace through the flight and afterwards. 1) The lady sitting next to Bruce was a grandmother of 4 and was also a Christian. She played with Bruce a lot and helped Kait with the Bruce-man. 2) We received a sky cot at the last minute (which also meant more leg room for me!). 3) The boys cried/whined minimally. 4) The people at Johannesburg airport were very nice and helped us with transporting our luggage (3 carts worth!). 5) The two gentlemen sitting next to me were very nice (one is going to be a bishop within the African Methodist Episcopal Church and the other was very knowledgeable about random conspiracy theories on why Bible and Jesus are not true/real - good talks!).

Some early beginner-Africa observations: 1) $20 USD (approx. 200 rand) is wayyy too much to tip people for helping with luggage! I learned this the hard way, but I am grateful that I could support the South Africa Airport random people looking to help (just this once though). 2) People drive on the wrong side of the road. 3) Make sure that you bring a working phone or have access to one when a cab driver drops you off at the casino so you can exchange USD for South African Rands. I felt very vulnerable when I had to wait for 40 minutes for the cab driver to pick me up!

We are leaving the hotel around 8 AM tomorrow morning for our flight at 11 AM. We look forward to seeing the Whitlock family!

9:50 PM Update: Bruce just pooped on the hotel room floor (I will spare all of you and not post a picture). It is potty-training time!

In Christ,
Zach

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Journey Set Before Us


Friends and Family,

This is Zach.

The bags are packed. The goodbyes have mostly been made. Bruce had his 2-year family birthday party tonight. The journey is upon us!

I am sad, but excited. The cost is great with leaving friends and family, and I pray that the benefit will yield much fruit and it will impact future generations of the Hillegi (plural for Hillegas!). 

We leave from Bridgeport, WV at 6:30 AM tomorrow morning with the me, Kait, the boys, my Mom, Kait's Dad, 7 checked bags (approx. 380 lbs.), 5 carry-on bags, a double jogging stroller and 2 car seats. We will hopefully be in Pittsburgh around 8:30 AM where we need to run a few errands, grab breakfast and feed Wyatt. Lord-willing, we will be at the airport around 10 AM. We leave Pittsburgh around 1 PM for Atlanta (Flight #DL 1599) and should arrive there around 3 PM. Then, we will have 3 hours to grab our bags, go through customs and get dinner before getting on a flight to Johannesburg, South Africa (Flight #DL 200) where we will be in the air for 16 hours until we arrive at 4 PM on Thursday. We will spend the night in Johannesburg before ultimately getting to Nelspruit on Friday morning (Flight #SA 8841) at noon. 

Please pray for our flights. We usually have to bribe Bruce for him to sit still in church for 15 minutes so 16 hours will test us greatly. Thankfully, Bruce is endearing and I pray that people will be understanding. Also, please pray for the transition at the different airports. We will definitely need help!

The verses below are coming to my mind. I just keep thinking about how the Lord is at hand and that all of our circumstances are in his trustworthy, sovereign and loving hands.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:4-7, ESV)


My times are in your hand; rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors! (Psalm 31:15, ESV)

In Christ,

Zach

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Baby Squash and God's Mercy

I just laid our sweet son down for an afternoon nap after a morning of eating, playing, and sleeping  (Bruce likes his sleep :)). When we play these days, baby gate is in position and dog toys are out of reach. Bruce is in to everything, crawling, pulling up on things, and everything he finds goes into his mouth. Just yesterday he pulled himself up onto the dog bowl (which is elevated about 16 inches) and tipped the whole thing over onto himself. Water poured/splashed over his face and clothes. The poor thing was sputtering and crying - shocked from the cold water burst. And this is the 3rd time this has happened! Needless to say, Emmitt eats in the basement now.
Emmitt is such a trooper. Thankfully he tolerates Bruce well :)
Socks? Check. Diaper? Check. Clothes? In the dryer from the monsoon!

We ate squash, peas, and strawberries for lunch while we listened to a Brooke Fraser station on Pandora. Strawberries are our favorite; sometimes we don't like the consistency of peas and like to gag and then laugh - because it was funny, of course, that we gagged.



It's been an especially sweet morning, not because of any special circumstances, but because the Lord has opened my eyes to the many blessings he's surrounded me with. He's reminded me that my hope is in Him, and when the things in this life fail - he remains. It hit me as I was feeding Bruce. Mid-bite (mouth full of yellow mush) he's screaming that shrill baby-scream out of sheer joy, and my heart melted.
Just look at this sweet baby face! How can your heart not melt??
Psalm 131 says this :
O Lord, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high;
 I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. 
But I have calmed and quieted my soul, 
like a weaned child with its mother;
 like a weaned child is my soul within me.
 O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forevermore. 

 Thanks be to Him who gives us an everlasting and unfailing peace to enjoy and endure the ups and downs of each day. We have this freedom not because of anything we've done or due to our outside circumstances, but because of Christ's death on the cross on our behalf. I love the psalm above. It's a good reminder for me not to "occupy myself" with things that are not for me to worry about, things "too great and too marvelous for me". Instead, it's a call to calm and quiet my soul. But how?  The last verse is my answer : hope in the Lord from this time forth and forevermore. 

This life is certainly full of troubles and sufferings. Life is hard, and the sin and brokenness all around and within us is evidence of that. "But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior" (Titus 3:5-7). 

We have a hope that will never fail! Amen and amen.