I couldn’t say it any better than Adele. Hello from the other side. Thank you for your faithful prayers. We have many reasons to praise the Lord, so lets get started!
The Bell Bunch arrived in Cape Town on 11 February even better than we prayed. While we did leave Columbus on 9 Feb with difficult goodbyes, and Henry missing a boarding pass, which caused us to be the last to board before gates closed; we were showered with grace upon grace as we traveled. Here are a few highlights of the journey over…
Chapter 1 : Grace Upon Grace in the Going
We praise God for a quick and unremarkable flight from Columbus to Washington, DC. Lola made friends with our Lufthansa crew who allowed us to store our 10 pieces of carry-ons or backpacks for the 6-hour layover in their lounge. They also volunteered to move our seats around, that we might have two entire rows for the kids to lay down on the way to Munich. We kept the kids up and moving in a great kids play area in the airport before our 10p departure. As soon as we boarded, very helpful crewmates were serving the kids juice and helping with our bags and children. The kids slept through most of this 8-hour flight.
In Munich, we spent about 7 hours in the airport, mostly in a kids play center. We took brief naps and had help from strangers to move all that luggage as we wrangled kids through lines and through the gates. Again, the kids slept much of this overnighter from Munich to Cape Town. But it was nearly 12 hours. Nate sat between Lennon and Lola, while Lauren and Henry shared a seat, due to our voluntarily moving so a father could sit next to his young son. Anyhow, as hectic and miserable as it was at certain points on this flight, we made it and rejoiced as we met with teammates after landing. We tracked all our baggage and walked through Customs with all our 10 carry-ons, 11 suitcases, and 3 carseats and a stroller without being stopped. God is good.
Chapter 2 : Grace Upon Grace in Getting Settled
The team met us and helped us sort out SIM cards for our phones and a van rental before we left the airport. Feel free to contact us (Reach Nate at +27 079 831 5679 and Lauren at +27 071 490 2144). We are on WhatsApp, Telegram, FB and Instagram. We were ready to crash in our AirBnb after lunch after the 8a landing. Praise God, we (and kids included) experienced no effects of jet lag as they hopped into their usual nap schedules in the afternoon and even went down for full night sleeps right on schedule. Amazing!
Remarkably, we were able to open a bank account here within a few weeks. Even with all of our temporary details, the bank was able to open our account and even got us an upgrade. Incredible!
As it is difficult to get a lot of work done in a day in a new country and culture with 3 children three and under, we have had some moments of frustration. We extended our van rental by 2 weeks in order to find vehicles for us. God provided us a low-mileage and hard-to-find mini van (named Miss Foxy) which comfortably fits our family and spare room for luggage or other people. While we never dreamed of owning a mini-van, it’s absolutely perfect for us here. He also provided us a small low-mileage manual transmission hatchback (named Marco). These vehicles are such an answer to prayer and a huge blessing and relief as we think about the long t0-do list that is settling in. And praise Him for how quickly we jumped right back into driving the manual after 5 years in automatics.
We also extended our stay a few weeks at our AirBNB due to our difficulty finding a long-term rental. We restricted our home search to two different areas as Mountain View Church is praying over a church plant in these areas this year. One door closed late in the application process due to our lack of financial history here in South Africa. However, while He closed a door there, God opened a door for a home in the other community. As our move-in was delayed due to public holidays and other issues, a family from Mountain View opened their home to us and we stayed over a week until our new home was ready. This new community is still being developed and happens to have land designated for a religious entity next to land designated for a coffee shop… Interesting.
Chapter 3 : Grace Upon Grace in Growing
Speaking of God’s body, one of our greatest adjustments has been leaving our local church and settling into another. We’ve spent our entire lives at Memorial Baptist Church. I would say we knew our role and what part of the body we served. Growing up there, with many of our brothers and sisters, we knew much of where people had come from and where they are going. We were connected with the life of that body. Continuing with Paul’s illustration from his first letter to the Corinthian church, this transition has felt surgical. We have been dismembered from one local body, and surgically reattached to another. An operation like this takes time before it feels natural. Its uncomfortable. Its less than fully functional. It feels a bit awkward. It hurts sometimes. Pray for us as we desire to immerse and serve and be used by God through this new local body, Mountain View Church.
We have already been blessed to serve in areas of discipleship, leadership,
praise and worship, bible study, participating in life groups, and preaching this past Sunday. We have been able to join the vision and strategy of reaching neighbors with Mountain View as we work through a time of orientation to the country, God’s work here, and opportunities to get involved in it. During this time, we are overjoyed to serve with Mountain View and its national leadership we have missed greatly. We have so loved catching up with friends we haven’t seen in 5 years. Still praising God!
Please pray as we settle into our home, meet and love our neighbors and Lord willing, see God use us to bless and share His gospel of reconciliation and hope here.
Please pray as we grow into our new body, Mountain View, and serve them well.
Please pray for our discipleship and evangelistic relationships. May the Spirit guide and use us.
Please pray for wisdom and obedience. We have a time of orientation and survey of opportunities here in South Africa. May we discern God’s leading, plan our course, and have Him guide our steps forward.
And please pray for South Africa. A simple Google search will reveal the recent rise in tensions and rioting leading up to our elections. Roads have been closed, ministries cancelled and safety precautions taken. May the brilliance of the Light of the World and His gospel of hope, peace and love – shine through us in these days, exposing the darkness, and drawing many to repentance and reconciliation through Jesus Christ.
Whoever speaks, let it be with God’s words. Whoever serves, do so with the strength that God supplies, so that in everything God will be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 4.11)