Monday, July 20, 2009

Double Take!

Wow! Last night I was walking through the Johannesburg airport with some friends who were getting set to travel to the US and I walked right past one of the most important people in South Africa. In fact, by most soccer fans perspectives, he is probably the most important person in the country as he is the CEO of the 2010 FIFA World Cup organizing committee. The name of this incredibly gifted and influential person is Danny Jordaan. As he passed by me in the corridor, he was busy talking on his cellphone, had nobody around him, and suddenly I had this incredible urge to walk up to him, shake his hand and thank him for bringing the World Cup to South Africa. But what did I do, I walked straight by him with the excuse in my head that he is way too busy, too important and it would be incredibly impolite on my part to interrupt him. Besides, if I had suddenly approached him out of the blue there would probably be security swarming to his rescue.

You see, I have bought my 16 tickets to four games for next year, and though I don't yet know what teams I will be watching battle it out on the field, I can say without a doubt that my excitement is growing by the day, and we're still a full year away from the event. I suppose this excitement is fuelled by the fact that my son and I were able to attend the recent Confederations Cup match at Loftus stadium with the USA vs. Italy. It was a great experience for the two of us to share and believe me, our whole family will be enjoying this calibre of matches next year. But since my little encounter last night with such an important figure, I have begun to reflect on the irony of it all. You see, in reality, Danny Jordaan is just another person going through life, persuing his goals and trying to get what he can from a job he probably enjoy's but also loathes at times. The fact is, he is no different in many ways than any one of us who are out there.

I can honestly say that what gives me greater joy and purpose, is knowing that Jesus Christ is and will always be the most important person in my life. Though I don't meet Him in airports talking on a cell phone, I get to talk with Him and learn from Him anywhere and at anytime and He is always ready to listen. Pretty awesome to think that I don't have to wait till Jesus is done talking on a cell phone, or that I am going to interrupt Him from some important meeting. Instead, it is pretty cool to think that He is always ready and waiting to welcome me into His presence.

Anyways, just thought I'd share a few bits of bit of info that has caused to me to do a double take in the past 24 hours.


The Rags Bag

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Rags Travel Bags...

Pack, travel, unpack, pack, travel, unpack, pack, travel,… and it isn’t over yet. Yep we are in the midst of making our way out to Oregon to begin the weekend trips to churches to share with folks what God has been doing in our lives during the past three years.

On the 11th August we departed South Africa, spent two hot but wonderful days visiting with friends in the beautiful city of Dakar, Senegal before heading on to Cary, North Carolina. We met up with Dad & Mom Carter in the airport in Atlanta as they were headed to Cary the same day we arrived, so they could keep an eye on our kids while we attended meetings at Trans World Radio.

Thankfully our meetings went well and we are now in New Port Richey with the grandparents enjoying the warm Florida sun. It has been pretty amazing to arrive at the beginning of hurricane season and see Gustav head past and have Hanna and Ike on the way. Oh well, wind and rain isn’t so bad as long as we don’t have to experience the direct effects like those in Louisiana and Mississippi have had to go through. Praise the Lord there wasn’t more damage from Gustav.

Well, the whole point of this particular blog entry was to post our speaking schedule for the next three months, so that if you happen to be reading this, you can pray for us from time to time.

Our confirmed schedule for sharing in churches:

31 August Tarpon Springs Alliance Church, Tarpon Springs FL

14 September Visit our Home Church
21 September First Baptist Church, Hillsboro, OR
28 September Sellwood Baptist Church, Portland, OR

05 October Longview Community Church, Longview, WA
12 October Faith Baptist Church, Lincoln City, OR
19 October Grace Baptist Church, Newberg, OR
26 October Reserved for Dad & Mom Ragsdale’s 50th Wedding Anniversary

02 November Evergreen Community Church, Ferndale, WA
09 November Sonrise Church, Hillsboro, OR
16 November Cascade Locks Community Church, Cascade Locks, OR
23 November First Baptist Church, Prineville, OR
30 November Pleasant Home Community Church, Gresham, OR

07 December First Baptist Church, Hillsboro, OR

Well there you have it, our complete speaking schedule. Pray for us that the Lord will grant safety as we travel as well as wisdom, strength and boldness as we share the ways He is working through the ministry of Trans World Radio on the continent of Africa. If you happen to be near one of these churches and would like to hear what has been happening in our ministry then please send us a comment on our blog and let us know which meeting you would be interested in as we can then send an address of the church.

Till next time…

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Past Few Months...

I suppose, as blogs go, one is supposed to update them more often than every six months, so that folk can keep up with what we are keeping our lives busy with. Ironic isn’t it? We try to keep others up to date with what we are doing, only to be too busy, too tired, or perhaps just too lazy to keep the news up to date. Realistically however, there are few things more important to us than the few posts which we have made to our blogspot: God’s grace in our lives with such tangible evidence through fun times as a family, healthy children and good sports!!! (at least the latter is amongst John’s favorite).

So . . . we have been through lots of life events these past few months.
December was a joyous celebration of Christmas, the real meaning, as well as fun presents, with healthy, happy kids. Summer-time in South Africa is so refreshing with lots of sunshine and good barbeque’s, or braai’s as is the local lingo.

January was a month of ‘firsts’, Jean Marc began 2nd grade and Nicole began Kindergarten (better known as grade R or Grade 0 here). Her start to the year was a little late as we had not intended to put her into Kindergarten, but changed our minds at the last. She is at the youngest end of her class, so only time will tell if we will be convinced to keep her there, or move her back a grade.

Each child faced adjustments at school which they overcame in their own right and they have settled in well to routine. I also have settled in to the new and apparently never-ending schedule of ‘mom’s taxi’. It has been a challenge to rearrange and make my ‘home time’ more task and time efficient. We try to limit the extracurricular activities our children participate in but they are both still involved in swimming, and continue to enjoy that. Jean Marc is also currently involved in soccer.

--January and February also brought some apprehensive news for our family. Carol’s Mom found out she would need a partial mastectomy and chemotherapy. It was difficult news to hear. God has been faithful though and He is bringing her through this bodily trial. Keep praying for her, two more chemo treatments to go!--

February, John turned 41 years old!!!! I am married to a mature, older man! He also injured his right knee, in a casual soccer game in the park across the street from our house, which resulted in a need for surgery, in May.

March came and went with some blustery days and the arrival of some good friends from out of town. We are still enjoying visiting with them before they leave again in June.
We also received our Permanent Residence Permits which we have been waiting over a year to receive. Praise the Lord!

We escaped for a family holiday for about a week in April and school progress report cards came home. It is a joy to report that both kids are doing outstanding in school. John was away for ten days in April. Ever the traveler, John had a good trip up into West Africa.

May brought a week without electricity, due to the efforts of “load sharing” here. Some good friends helped us out and let Carol and the kids sleep over as John was away still. We are now equipped with a two burner gas stove for emergencies.
Some thieves attempted to break into our home, and thankfully were not successful. No one was home and all is well. But the biggest news in May has been surgery for John. He is currently on the mend and improving daily.

Through the ups and downs of life, God is gracious to us and we appreciate His evidence of care in our lives. We also praise Him for good friends and family who act in a support role to us. Your prayers for us are invaluable.

Til we have a chance to update this ‘spot’ again, take care.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

365 Days and Rejoicing!

Looking back...
It hardly seems possible that 365 days ago to the hour (1 pm, 13th Nov 2006), we were walking alongside a gurney, watching our 6 year old son being wheeled into the waiting room where he would wait for 30 minutes before being wheeled into the operating theatre for brain surgery to remove a tumor. Our thoughts were flooded with "What if...?" questions and all we could think of was the worst. Praise the Lord we can now look back and see God's hand of love, mercy and healing! Today, Jean Marc is alive and well, he's grown nearly two and a half inches taller in the past year, he runs, plays, and even gets into trouble believe it or not?! Just the other night at his school awards ceremony, we sat and watched him receive a "Merit Award for Numeracy" and also the "Best Reader Award" in his class level at Maranatha Christian School. Nicole is doing great, enjoys school and really looks up to her older brother. Fortunately they both get along really well most of the time and she loves the fact that Jean Marc reads so well because she loves listening to stories being read. Do we have reason to rejoice? Absolutely!

Looking forward...
Giving glory to God should be paramount in all we do, so I just wanted to remind those who have prayed for us, and especially for Jean Marc over the past 365 days, that God deserves all the praise and we hope that in the months to come, that the rejoicing will only continue for the things He has done and will continue to do.

Monday, October 22, 2007

In The Bag!

South Africa - 2007 Rugby World Champions!
2007 Rugby World Cup Champions! What an incredible day! Two days after the South African "Springbok" rugby team defeated England in the Rugby World Cup Final on Saturday the 20th October, the country is still soaring in the clouds. After waiting from 1995 when they last won the World Cup, South Africa finally has the trophy in the bag. Pretty awesome! It's great to be here to experience such jubilation and also to see how much the public has rallied together in a country where there seems to be no end to backbiting and negative news. Hopefully South Africa will get it right come the FIFA Soccer World Cup in 2010. If anyone wants to come camp out in our back yard in 2010, let us know now as we are already getting request from interested parties.

Something new in the bag...Saturday was also the first day that Jean Marc rode his bicycle on his own with no one helping him. It took us awhile to buy a bike, and after last years brain surgery, the doctor wasn't too eager for him to start learning right away. But, with enough time gone by and his head well protected by his bicycle helmet, we can confidently say there will be no stopping him now. His feet barely touch the ground, and the bike being heavy, tends to fall over when he stops on uneven ground. Nevertheless, he gets right back on and perseveres which is something we are truly grateful for in his life. Nicole also has a new "used" bicycle but still needs training wheels as she doesn't quite have it in the bag yet. When we head accross the street to the park, she carries the water bottles in her basket so she feels pretty important playing the roll of water carrier.
On the ministry front, last week I was involved in a CCM Conference where we had a number of people from accross South Africa who are engaged in similar ministries to ours. The conference was a great success and more new people attended this year than we have had in many years. Praise the Lord! Next year there are three Orality Conferences planned for Africa and John is helping with the planning of at least two of these. As a result John is headed to the USA on the 28th November to attend the ION (International Orality Network) Conference happening in Orlando, FL. Pray that during this time John will be able to meet with the key people who would be a part of the forthcoming Africa Orality conferences scheduled for 2008. Though this trip takes John away just as Jean Marc's holiday begins, the kids are thrilled to imagine what Christmas gifts might make their back from "America" in dad's suitcase.

In conclusion, some of y'all might wonder where we came up with a name like "Rags Bag". A long time friend by the name of Allan Ballard from the ancient past who I grew up with at boarding school in Cote d'Ivoire, gave me that as a nickname that has stuck to this day. Therefore, I need to give credit where credit is due. So there you have the rest of the story...! Well, enough rambling for one day, hopefully the next time we post a blog it will be a little sooner than it has taken us this time. Have a great day!
The Rags Bag!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Taking the Plunge!

It’s rainy, wet and overcast in the beautiful land of South Africa. Sitting here with a cup of hot Kenya AA medium roasted coffee is about as good as it gets in this part of the world. It’s a good thing I have this coffee, because for the first time, I am taking the plunge into the wacky world of the Blog, which I never thought I’d ever bring myself to do.

Random musings...

South Africa’s incredible Springbok team are through to the quarterfinals of the Rugby World Cup after having defeated the Americans 64 to 15, and now we hope they will hold on to their winning streak and go all the way.

Family news...
Jean Marc is back in school after a two week break and ever so looking forward to the end of the school year as he is excited more than ever to move on to the 2nd grade in January. Nicole is eager as well to get into school, but will have to wait a little longer as she is just a little too young.

In over our heads...
Speaking of taking the plunge, Carol and I are well, but trying our best to keep our heads above a water bill that the water company seems to be trying to hit us with that makes us look like we have an Olympic size pool in our back yard that we would have to fill every month to come to the kilolitre’s they are saying we use. Needless to say, due to the confusion between the meter readers and the municipality, we were hit with a water bill last month that was well over $1000., leaving us with that sinking feeling. Pray for us that all will be resolved.

Well, I bring this to a close in hopes that someone out there someday will actually take some time to read this thing, and maybe from time to time, even pray for the Ragsdale family as we go about our God given responsibilities here in the beautiful land of Africa.