We are safely in Cape Town and have spent the last few days getting acclimated to the 7 hour time zone difference. The weather has been incredible as we have stayed on the Waterfront area of Cape Town with crystal clear views of Table Mountain which lies at the Southern tip of Africa where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet. In a word...majestic. If I can use a second word...stunning.
But I’m getting ahead of myself because our journey started in Des Moines and then off to Chicago. Barb and I carried in two additional carry-on bags with 315 story-telling necklaces that our daughter Sarah hand beaded. I am attaching a photo of them here for you to see the craftsmanship of Sarah's work and the beautiful creativity of Barb's design. 100 of these necklaces are designed for Ambassadors (female care givers that have been with us in one or two of the prior years). These 100 women have been invited back to take the next step in their sharing of the 6 Secrets that we teach as well as to have Barb coach them on how to share the Gospel with other women. Barb has added a Cross to this "enhancer necklace" to give the women a second necklace that will distinguish these caregivers of orphans as leaders. The other 200 plus women will be first time guests and will be given a newly designed necklace from Barb's heart to their hearts...once again all hand beaded by Sarah. I am so proud of both of them and their commitment to the women that God has raised up to serve those without parents to love them and encourage them.
We spent our first night in Chicago with our younger daughter, Missy and her family, once again seeing four of our eight grandchildren. What a delight to be with our family prior to wheels up! We had our first experience en route to O'Hare with Uber. Our driver was an unemployed engineer who had just a week ago purchased a large SUV and joined the ranks of Uber drivers. As we got acquainted we learned that he had grown up in a tough situation but had one man who believed in him and loved him...his childhood pastor. Yet as the years have passed our new friend’s faith has become increasingly discouraging. Barb and I had the privilege of reminding him of the love that Jesus has for him...the grace that awaits him...that he can be the kind of man who encourages others that have a void in their hearts. As we pulled up to the International Terminal we asked if we could pray over him. From the back seat, Barb and I laid our hands on his shoulders and prayed over this incredible man. When we finished he commented, "I believe that God sent you to me today to remind me of the love He has for me." We rejoiced with this good man that it was a new day...fresh beginnings... and I hugged him as we stepped to the curve. And by the way, he had a St Louis Cardinals t shirt on (the arch enemy of my Cubs) which allowed us to quickly connect J
On the 13 plus hour flight to Dubai we rested, prayed, read, watched a movie, slept and tried to get ready for what was ahead of us, knowing that the journey ahead would be life-changing as we were preparing to do 11 events during our 7th tour of South Africa. After 5 or 6 hours in a Dubai airport hotel we caught our second red eye flight (8 hour plus) landing in Cape Town on Friday (having left the States on Wednesday). We were greeted by Ray Eachus, the former Chairman of the Board of Focus on the Family Africa and a dear friend. For the next few days we have walked the Waterfront, studied our notes, read the Word, enjoyed the seafood and reconnected to our "second home...South Africa".
Yesterday, Graeme Schnell, the CEO of Focus on the Family Africa, joined us in Cape Town for lunch and a time of catching up and dreaming of the impact of what God was going to do in all of our lives over the next couple of weeks.
This morning we woke at 5:30 am (which is 10:30 pm CST-the night before) to go to a 90 minute radio program with our friend Jonathan and his new co-host Sean at CCFM in Cape Town. We had a blast, took a listener's question, shared about the events (three Date Nights and one Marriage Champion training in Cape Town to start the tour) and just connect. What a blast! As we pulled up to the station on the Indian Ocean, surfers were already riding the waves with the sun barely coming up...impossible to describe the beauty...
And now we prepare... in our hearts...spirits and souls to bring our 40 year marriage and love affair to the people whom we love so much. Please go to our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/DrGaryAndBarb/ and look for the pictures of the couples as Focus posts some of our guests sitting on a park bench at the Kiss and Make UP! premiere Date Nigh event...Cape Town style. We will be doing five Date Nights (the 4th in Durban and the 5th in Johannesburg), two Marriage Champion (mentor training) two "A Woman's Legacy" story-telling necklace events, one Saturday Marriage Conference and I will be preaching in a large church in Durban on Sunday.
Please pray for teachable couples....safety for our family and the America's Family Coaches and Focus on the Family South Africa teams, the message to come from God through us, and for life giving principles to be learned by these great couples. Stay tuned to Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, as well as our blog for more up-to-date reports! Thank you for praying and helping to resource us to love those on what is known as the "Dark Continent" but after 7 years we are grateful to report has the light of Jesus shining brightly!
Guard your hearts,
Gary and Barb