Why We Call Our Blog the Miracle of More

The miracle is a beautiful image of Ephesians 3:20--more than I can ask or imagine. Every day is a miracle. Every moment is a miracle. Specifically for our family, the miracle of more is our family growing in ways I would never have imagined when we first committed to adoption 8 years ago. But, the greatest miracle is the change in ME!

If you have questions about adoption, our work in South Africa, or spina bifida, please email me at rbmattox@bellsouth.net

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Home Sweet Home

We're home, we're home, but my heart aches for Africa. I imagine that those of you who've been on mission trips understand that feeling well. It was so good to see my family, give and receive hugs and kisses, sleep in my own bed, and shower in my own shower. But, today with so much to do around here, my mind continually thinks of Africa.

So, today, I thought I'd share all of the joy we had serving our Jesus our last day in Shayandima.

We first visited with the grandmother of Faith, Solomon, and Shandanki. She lives in a small home, with a garden carefully tended, and an outdoor kitchen. She is 84 years old, and responsible for caring for her 8 grandchildren since their parent's passed away. We took her food, which she was ever so grateful for. When asked how the little children were enjoying their new school, (they'd only been there for a week), she said they loved it so much they wanted to know if there was school on Saturday.
My heart ached when she asked us to pray that she would have many more days to take care of her grandchildren. We did pray right there, and I ask you to pray for her as well.

We visited Shandakani at school again. She had only been in the school for one week, but already there is so much change in her. She was timid when we met her the week before, but when she saw that I wanted to take her picture again, she leaned in and smiled. You should have seen the expression on her face when I showed her the photos of her grandmother and her home we had taken earlier that day. She readily gave me a hug, and proudly showed me she could count to 30 in English. Oh, how I would love to hug her again.

We visited Auntie Hannah's school. Auntie Hannah is 80 years old. She asked Brad and Hazel to help her start a school in her community to help the children there. She recieves only a pension for the elderly, receives no money from the school, but she is there EVERYDAY faithfully serving.

We went back to Auntie Lydia's where we gave each of the children a new towel, washcloth, and a bar of soap. (I am so reminded of all of the things in my home that I take for granted.)

I got to see Adi again! That was the best surprise. When we drove up to Auntie Lydia's, many of the young people were home from school, but I didn't see Adi. I asked her if he was still at creche, an she sent the girls to go get him without my asking.
When he saw me, and I opened my arms, he came running to them. We played, and laughed. He laughed more and talked more. I so wish I could have spent more time with him, but I am encouraged that he will start school in Shayandima next January, at the start of their school year. AND, he will live there Monday-Friday. AND, if we can continue the fund raising, we can build a new home for him, Zwavhudi, Faith, Solomon, and Shandakani.

Feeding the Widows--These photos are from our day on Friday--oops

The most exciting activity, though, was the ground-breaking. Brad and Hazel said we would take a step of faith, and go ahead and break the ground for the orphan's home. We must now get busy raising the funds here in the US!

Thank you for your prayers. Please continue to pray for the children of South Africa. Please pray for God's provisions for the orphans' home. Please pray for Brad and Hazel, and Build the Nations.

Join me in Anticipating the Inconceivable!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The LORD's Day

It has been another beautiful day here in South Africa. If you want to take a look at a map, the nearest town to us is Thohoyando.

We visited a church in the mountains today. It has made me so grateful for what we have. If only I could post more pictures from here, but alas, the internet is very slow.

At the church, there were only steel frames, a tin roof, and the beginning of tin walls. The people walked from all around the village to the church. They do not have water at their home or their church. They must go down the mountain to the river to get water and take it back home.

We were surprised when, just after we arrived, we were asked to teach a Sunday School lesson to the children. Jeanne and I got busy making a plan, gathered the children, put them in 12 chairs to sail on the Sea of Galilee and see Peter walk on water. While I as telling the children to row the boat, Brother Brad let me know that they had never seen a boat.

The service was beautiful, and we were welcomed as honored guests. Brenda spoke to the people through an interpreter.

After services, we were blessed to vie out parcels to the children, with clothing and a few pieces of candy. Josie-Tatum, who is often so bashful, took the packages and went along the line of children asking their ages, so she could give them the right size clothes. She was eagerly working for Jesus.

While we were giving out packages, the adults were busy working. I soon realized they were moving bricks. These people are making their own bricks, so they can brick their church. I was humbled to think of my church family and the building where we worship. I was compelled to go move bricks with them, and continued to move bricks until it was time to leave.

We visited a river high in the mountains, just for fun! We climbed the rocks and went up to the waterfall, picnicked along the river. I'll post those photos when I get home.

We had a sweet evening service tonight here on base, and I was once again given the privilege of playing the piano for worship services.

I can hardly believe that we have only one more day here. There is so much more I would like to see and do, but I do sooooooooooo miss my family, my dear husband who allowed JT and me to come, my children who have helped take care of Ellie. I am ready to see all of them.

Tomorrow, we visit another school, we take some towels and things to the children at Aunty Lydias, and we give out food parcels to widows.

I probably won't be posting again until we get back home. We must leave so early on Tuesday morning, that, tomorrow evening we will be packing everything up and getting to be early. Please pray for our strength. we leave here ar 6:30 a.m, drive 6 hours, get on the plane in J'Burg and arrive just after 7 a.m. in the states. That's 25 hours + 6 for the time difference, 31 hours, plus a 4 hour layover, then the flight to JAX, then the 1 1/2 hour drive home. Yikes!

To my family, remember that our flight schedules are on the printer. I believe our flight arrives in JAX around noon on Wednesday. We will land in Atlanta around 7 in the morning, so I will call you when we land, and let you know if all of our flights are still on schedule.

And, hey, I want a big glass of Blackshear,GA tea!

Hey, Amy, thank you for getting ready to join us in building the home for the orphans here in South Africa. And, you bet, you may join us when we return to see it and to see the changes in the children we are sponsoring.

I love you all so dearly. I've been praying for our churches at home to have wonderul, Spirit-filled worship services, and knowing that you are praying for us!

Friday, July 24, 2009

More Wondrous Than I Could Have Imagined

Today, I finally was able to call my family. It was sooooooooooo good to hear their voices. The phone lines here have been down all week. I didn't tell Stan about the car that I was in today breaking down while we were out of the city in an area where children had gathered around our vehicle. Amazingly, if I had been at home, I would have panicked, but here, it was just, Okay let's pray. And, of course, we're all back here at the base, or I wouldn't be posting.

We started our day with extra sleep that I knew Josie-Tatum needed. Then, she and I spent time just visiting the classrooms and the friends that she has made here. We were able to spend extra time with the three children from one family, all being sponsored by our mission team for school, Faith, Solomon,and Shandukani. It was such a blessing to know how much their lives will change because of the love of God's family around the world. Every one of you who have given to us, look at those photos and the one of Adi at the top of yesterday's post and KNOW that God has used your faithfulness to make a difference in the life of a child.

In the afternoon, we went to a feeding program, where the mission here takes food to orphans and "vulnerable" children, as they are called here in South Africa. It was humbling to remember how blessed we are in the US, to see these children so thankful for one chicken leg and pap (something like grits.) They were excited to see all of the Makoor (white people). When we took their photos, they all wanted to see themselves, and would laugh when they saw their photos on our digital cameras.

Tonight was such a blessing, too. We had an old-fashioned sing-along. Brad asked me to play the piano. There was no light there, so he brought out a head-lamp thingy, which attached to my head with a light on the forehead. Can you see me wearing one of those at Youmans' Chapel? It felt like a scene straight out of Little Women, with all of the British accents, and the formal old hymns many of them were requesting. Even the older men were marching around the room while we sang, "Onward Christian Soldiers." I sat on a piano bench covered in leopard print with furniture, much of it handmade, all in the African theme. I can hardly believe sometimes that I am in Africa.

Thank you all for your prayers, but I have a bit prayer request now. REALLY!

Please visit Build the Nations at their website www.buildthenations.org . I am absolutley moved when I am here. The Palmers, Brad and Hazel, are the most sold-out-for-Jesus people I've ever met and sat with. Their testimony is unbelievable, except I know Jesus!!! One day our children will be reading about them in history books, I believe. They are so determined to bring the love of Jesus to Africa, to make a difference for the people here.

And, begin to pray today and everyday for the home we hope to build here. The needs are so great that Brad sometimes can't sleep at night, and he has to stay focused on what he can do, not what he can't do. But, we can help!!! We can find the funds to build a home here, for the orphans who cannot go to school, who don't know Jesus to find the love of Jesus. Everyone here is so loving, it's almost like home. (I sure do miss my husband, children, parents, and sister, though.) If you're walking, someone says, "Can I help you?" Don't let them know you need laundry done, or someone will be asking to do it for you. It's just amazing to see the servant's hearts here.

There is much more I will be telling you when I arrive home. I will try to post more, perhaps on Sunday.

But, Josie-Tatum wants to put a picture on her blog. So visit there, too!

Love, prayers, and thanks to all of our prayer warriors!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Our Wonder-Working God

We have had a most amazing day! We visited Kruger National Park, where we saw elephants, zebras, and I have so many stories, one story including an elephant and Brother Brad's Land Rover, but....you have to wait on those stories, because I have more amazing stories.

Yesterday was the most amazing, see-the-LORD working right in front of your eyes day that I have ever experienced. The emotions can only compare to the day my Daddy was saved, and the day each of my children became part of our families.

The day started, like any normal day. I got up, had breakfast, and prepared for work. Oh, yeah, but work was in South Africa. And, we were going to paint at the home of Aunty Lydia, where over 20 orphans live.

When we arrived, the most precious little boy was on the porch, being dressed by Auntie Lydia. I reached to touch him and he reached for me to pick him up. He was so loving, so adorable. Josie-Tatum, Brenda Sutton, and I spent the day taking turns playing with Adi and painting.

I said to Brenda, "Wouldn't it be wonderful if Adi could be the second child Josie-Tatum and I sponsor for school?" Later in the day, Hazel Palmer drove up to get us, and I asked her about sponsoring Adi for school in the next school year. She began to talk to Aunty Lydia, and, before I knew what was happening, preparations were being made for Adi to go to school, AND to live on the base!!!!!!

Then, Hazel went to talk with one of the new girls who had only been at Aunty Lydia's for a few weeks. She is a refugee from Zimbabwe. As I sat on the bed, I heard Hazel ask Margaret, "Would you like to come work with us at the school and live there while finishing your education." As the details were being completed, I could hardly believe I was in the room. Margaret got into the car with us and Hazel said, "Margaert, your life is about to change."

Back at the school, as we've talked with Hazel and Brad, we've learned that they've been wondering if they should start boarding some orphans here on base. Our groups desire to help orphans, and the funds we have already raised have sent affirmation. Plans are now made for the orphans that we are sponsoring to live here Mon-Friday.

The plans get bigger, though. The children coming here will live in small campers, with oneof the school workers. We are now all praying about the opening of a new building here at the Shayandima School, Shandukani's House. Shandukani is one of the orphans we are sponsoring, and her name means Things Will Change.

Our team is fired up, excited, motivated, and ready to get all of you involved in building Shandukani's House. (Somebody ask my daddy if he wants to come spend a month in South Africa helping with the building project.)

This is Solomon. He is brother to Faith and Shandukani.
They are being sponsored by First Baptist Church.

This is Shandukani. With the money Josie-Tatum and I raised, she was the first orphan identified for us to sponsor.

To my family,
I will try to call on Friday. Our afternoon is busy, so I don't know what time. If it is around supper time here, it will be around 1:00 your time. I don't know if the calling card will work, but we'll give it a try.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Marvelous Day 2--and a photo!

Finally a photo! THis is Josie-Tatum. We spent part of the morning listening to first graders read. Josie-Tatum was quite the attraction herself.

We have had such a good day!
I don't know when/if I can post pictures, but I can update today. Thank you, Jesus!

Josie-Tatum and I spent the day in the School of Tomorrow here in Shayandima, if you can find that on the map. It is a Christian school offering hope to children here in the poorest province in the country of South Africa.

We've met three of the children that are being sponsored by the mission team, all three orphans, Faith, Solomon, and Shandikana. None of them speak English yet, but all seem so happy to be here. They have beautiful smiles.

We met Zwavhudi who lives at Auntie Lydia's. Part of the team went to Auntie Lydia's today to start the remodeling. They are painting and working on the bathroom. Josie-Tatum and I will go there to work tomorrow.

We're learning that most of the children who go to school here come from such poverty that they don't have toilets at home. They have a "long drop." (Just what it sounds like) When the come to the school, some of them are actually afraid of the toilet.

We have seen the results of the miraculous provisions God has sent here to Build the Nations. I stand amazed at all that God has done. I can't wait to share more.

Josie-Tatum gave a Bible to the nanny who will be taking care of Solomon, Faith, and Shandikani. When she gave the Bible to Auntie Andrea, she took Josie-Tatum's hand and said, "I was just telling Mrs. Palmer that I wanted a Bible story book for the kids. Come, let's go show her." It was a blessing to Josie-Tatum to learn that God had used her desire to bring Bibles to answer the desire of a worker's heart.

On Thursday, we're going on a safari. I sure hope that we can soon send pictures.

Please continue to pray that God will show us great and mighty things.

Monday, July 20, 2009

South Africa

What a fast-pace never-stop few days we've had. From home on Saturday at 11:45, landing in Johannesburg on Sunday at 5:45, then leaving J today qat 9:00 a.m, arriving here in Shayandima at 6:00 tonight....We've had dinner, our mission team meeting, and now off to shower and get ready for bed.

Brad and Hazel Palmer are so hospitable and working hard to make us feel at home, half-way across the world from home. I'm looking forward to one more good night of sleep before the real work begins tomorrow.

We're going to be working the school, painting at Aunty Lydia's orphans' home, taking the children who live with Aunty Lydia shopping for clothes will all of the money that was donated, and helping feed over 100 orphans on Friday.

The internet connection in the computer room is not currently working, some trouble with the phone lines, so, for now, I'm not sure when we'll be able to post again. I have lots of pictures to share, just don't know if I will be able to do so from here.

Caleb, Brandon, Whitney, and Ellie, please kiss each other and tell one another it's from Mama. All of you kiss your daddy for me, and go kiss Grandma and Grandpa.

Josie-Tatum says, "Hello. We're having loads of fun, but keep praying. It's much colder than we thought, but we're told a cold front has come through." Hazel says it's unusually cold.

We've seen our first ostrich in the wild, banana farms, macadamia nut farms, and been totally confused by the traffic all on the wrong side of the road. I look forward to the sunshine in the morning. I admit I feel a little homesick every time it gets dark.

Thank you for all of your prayers. Please keep them coming.!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Last Post State-Side

So, my mind is racing, running away, thinking of everything at once, unable to focus on any one thing. Who knows what this post will read like when I re-read it in 2 weeks. I was all packed on Tuesday, but today, I worried over bills that needed to be paid, having things in order for Stan, talking with Whitney about Ellie, where are the passports, in the safe, oh, Stan has the key, he's at work, Whitney needs to upload her photos so I can take her memory card b/c her card will hold twice as many pictures as mine, okay, okay, I'll stop.

But, I did make myself STOP and go swimming with my kids...all five of them. I love, love, love my parents' pool. I was in 9th grade when they put it in. You can just guess how long ago that was! I can relax at that pool like I can no where else, just swim, swim, swim.

Do you think I could have captured a better image of Ellie being thrown in the air by Caleb?

We were joined in the pool by two friends from church, Kelsea and Jacque. They've promised to pray faithfully while we're gone. Their dad will too!

And, Brandon did some serious cleaning for me today. REALLY!

And, Aunt Bobbie came by tonight. I needed a fanny pack, couldn't find mine, and ever-faithful Aunt Bobbie brought 3, so I could choose the one I wanted. She and Uncle Shannon gave some sweet sugar before they went back home.

So, I know you'll be praying. I trust you will all be praying. And, like Paul, I thank my God upon every remembrance of you. I can't wait to see what God is going to do!!!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Getting Ready!!!

Josie-Tatum and I are now sporting new shorter hair cuts, in preparation for going to South Africa. It is surreal, to think we're actually leaving in 2 days.

And, to update the total, I am totally amazed. We have received donations totalling $8,130. We needed $6,000 to make the trip, and God sent over $2,000 more than we asked. He has done more than we imagined. He has remained true to the promise of Ephesians 3:20. Our expenses are paid. We will be sponsoring two orphans for school, and we will have nearly $1,000 to spend on the orphans for clothes and shoes. It looks like our first stop in South Africa will be a mall in Johannesburg. Aw, Shucks! I get to shop until I drop. I can't wait.

We have finished our packing. We met Tuesday with the mission team, weighed every person's luggage, added donations when weight allowed. We'll have 11 bags containing nothing but donations of supplies for the children. And, each one of us have additional supplies in our luggage, as well.

Please be in prayer for us. We leave home on Saturday, July 18th, and return on Wednesday, July 29th. We will have computer access, so I plan to post as I have time. Please consider dropping by Josie-Tatum's blog and leaving her an encouraging comment or prayer.

I've spent my time today, just having fun! Well, this morning, I supervised the slaves, um boys and Stan, as they helped me re-arrange furniture in my classroom, preparing for school. But, after lunch, we just hung out in the pool, nearly 3 hours of swimming with friends. I just love the cool water on a hot summer day. (My mom and dad are working at a church camp in NE TN, but I love this picture of them with the girls.)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Summer At Its Best

I love summer! I am enjoying my time home with my family, trying to make the most of every minute before Josie-Tatum and I leave for South Africa. I've been walking every morning, listening to the birds, trying to stay in shape before our mission trip. Then, I sit on the porch with my Bible.

I spend the afternoon with my girls, in the pool, almost daily. I must get a video of Ellie swimming. She scares the beejeebies out of me. She even said today, "It looks like I'm drowning, but I'm not."

Last Friday, the Mattox Family celebrated Cow Appreciation Day for the second year in a row. All it takes is a little time and the entire family enjoys a free meal at Chick-Fil-A. Some might call it crazy. I call it making memories.

Cow Appreciation Day

On Saturday, we spent the day at Lake Lindsey Grace. Stan's cousin's son (Did you follow that family tree?) is leaving for the Air Force next week. There was a family cookout with lots of teenagers. Two friends brought their boats and one brought a jetski. The girls had a blast.

Once when tubing around the lake with Ellie, she flew up out of the tube. She was rescued by her mother, who had a firm grip on the straps on the back of her life jacket. You know Ellie if you can hear her yell, "Do it again?" And, you really know her if you can hear her, while looking back at me ask, "You doin' okay back there?"
Fun At the Lake

Any takers on a caption for the photo of the three boys on the tube?

Friday, July 10, 2009

Remembering A Hero

I must interrupt my family blog posting to share this video. With one son going to the military, perphaps this soldier's homegoing procession touched my heart more than it would others. I don't think so, though. To imagine his willingly to lay down his life for others, to protect the weak and the innocent, to leave his family behing, it reminds me of another One. The ONE who loves you and me so much he left his heavenly home to walk on this fallen earth. He gave His life for you and me.

Killed in action the week before, the body of Sergeant First Class John C. Beale was returned to Falcon Field in Peachtree City , Georgia , just south of Atlanta , on June 11, 2009 . The Henry County Police Department escorted the procession to the funeral home in McDonough , Georgia . A simple notice in local papers indicated the road route to be taken and the approximate time.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

More From Our Reunion

When Sarah had to leave us on July 4th, we remained in Cleveland, Ohio for another day with the McIntosh family. Following Lydia's big brother Shayne's soccer game, we went to the totally coolest children's park I've ever seen. Here are photos from our time there, but to appreciate the magnitude of this park, you must visit the website at Preston's Hope.

And, just wait until you read what I have to tell you tomorrow!!

Monday, July 6, 2009

A Sweet Reunion---and---A Suite Surprise

Our road trip took us to Tennesse, to Brandon's first home; to Michigan, to meet Brandon's day; but, then our trip took us to Ohio, to meet friends from our travel group when we adopted Josie-Tatum.

There were 17 families in our travel group. Our family and two others travelled with teenagers, and we have remained in touch most with these two families. It just happened to work out that we were going North, while the McIntosh family was headed west, and the Morton family was on vacation. Yeah!!! We were all able to meet again, for the first time in two years.

We went to an older brother's soccer game, ate good food, had good conversation---Oh, to girls had fun too. ;) I think they had the most fun with their own play in the hotel....being doctors, mothers, and movie stars. The hotel had a turtle pond where the kids could feed the turtles.

All too soon, it was time to say good-bye to Sarah.

More Details on the Trip Later...But First the Suite Surprise....

At every hotel, we requested a king suite with sofa bed. The 2 little girls would sleep with me, while the 2 teenage boys would sleep on the sofa bed. At the hotel in MI, however, we were in for a surprise. The suite had no wall between the bedroom and the bathroom. There were only 2 curtains, one on each side of the tub, between the bed and the toilet. The manager told me it was meant to be romantic. I told the manager there was nothing romantic about using the toilet with only 2 curtains separating you from your teenage son in bed.
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