Thursday, December 24, 2009

On Encountering Deadly African Animals...

I've had people ask me if I see lions and tigers and elephants in Africa (definitely not tigers, as they don't live in Africa, I often have to explain).  The answer is that I do see animals, but it's probably not any more exciting than the animals that you see.  Then again...maybe my evening last night accounts for an exciting African animal encounter.  

After a busy evening out at the mall and movies with our friends, Matt and I made our way over to the place where we were house sitting.  The mall had been packed that evening, and we walked around quite a bit, so we were both ready to settle into bed.  I stayed awake a little longer than Matt, thoroughly engrossed in my book.  Finally, as sleep overtook my eyes, I settled in and turned off the light, snuggling in close to Matt.  

As soon as the room turned dark, I heard a small crunching noise.  I froze...was someone in the back yard?  The dogs didn't seem to rustle, but I was sure that I had heard something.  Then, I heard it again, its duration lengthening this time.  Surely this was something that my valiant husband, not me, should deal with.  I shook him lightly, but he continued sleeping.  Finally, overtaken by fear, as I realized the sound was much closer than I initially thought, I poked him repeatedly in the collar bone as hard as I could.  

"Matt...are you awake?"

"Yeah...that hurt," he mumbled.

"Do you hear that?"



There was the crunching noise again.  It sounded almost as if a small creature was gnawing on a piece of wood.  

"Rachel, it's just a mouse and it's probably in the roof somewhere," he said as he turned over to go back to bed.  I was not about to settle for that explanation.  

"No, Matt.  It's not in the roof.  It's in this room!"  Matt turned on the light and got up for what I thought was a diligent search of the room.  Instead he stumbled to the bathroom in a semi-conscious state to use the toilet, leaving me alone with the mysterious crunching sound. Images of a rogue rat climbing up the covers and biting me filled my mind.  What if it was infected with the Black Plague or rabies or something?!  I didn't move.  I heard the sound again and said in desperation, "Matt, the sound is in this room, and I think it's behind the chest of drawers beside my bed."  

The chest of drawers is probably less than two feet from where my precious head sleeps.  I was not about to doze off into slumber, knowing that there was some sort of animal inches from my bed.  It was like those childhood fears of monsters under your bed, but real this time.  Matt returned from the bathroom and decided to move the chest of drawers out.  On his second attempt to move it forward, the culprit showed his face.  Faster than my drowsy mind could comprehend, I saw the little brown body of a mouse zoom out from behind the drawers and under our bed. I shrieked and jumped from the floor to the bed, distancing myself as much as I could from the foreigner. 

The good news was that I wasn't crazy, but now this mouse was seeking refuge under the bed.  This was  not a good enough solution.  Matt started pressing the mattress down with his elbow to try and oust the mouse.  Suddenly, it zoomed out from under the bed and scurried under the crack between the bedroom door and the floor.  We were safe, for now.  

Matt began to crawl back into bed.  

"Are you serious Matt?!  If the little guy can get under the crack between the door and the floor, he can surely get back into the room."  I looked for anything small that I could stuff between the crack.  Finally, I found a pile of magazines and began stuffing them in the crack.  

"You're crazy.  It's not going to hurt you."

"Well, I don't want to find out if the thing is a nice mouse or a mean mouse.  I just want him to leave me be."

A couple of seconds of silence follow...

"Oh, I forgot to tell you, Rachel, they (the owners of the house) told me that they thought there was still a mouse in their house."  We knew that they'd previously had a mouse, but we thought he had left the premises for good.

"And how did you manage to remember to tell me only now?"

"I don't know, I guess it just slipped my mind."  He sort of smiled and then rolled over and turned out the lights.  

So, my husband did defend me from the African beast, albeit quite reluctantly, and it seems that no matter what country you call home, mice can still be pesky little creatures.  

Friday, December 18, 2009

Cooking with Rachel

As the minutes tick by, we draw closer to the InsideOut Christmas, and Matt has been working nonstop this morning on his message for tonight.  

Being the domestic queen that I am, I decided it would be profitable to whip up some sort of baked creation for him this morning.  I seem to go through various stages in the kitchen.  

There was a time where I measured everything, down to the pinch of salt.  That didn't last long.  Too many dirty dishes afterwards.  

In rebellion to my previous cooking habits, I then went in the kitchen with a boldness that thought I didn't need to measure anything.  This worked about fifty percent of the time.  The other fifty percent of the time it was just never ending unmet expectations.  

My most recent kick was cooking without refined sugar.  I'd substitute honey or molasses for the sugar, but it seemed that my final product just wasn't that satisfying.  "There's no refined sugar in these muffins, honey.  Can you believe it?" I'd ask Matt.  "Oh, yes, I can believe it" he'd reply. He'd stomach them down, but there were often leftovers, something that doesn't happen unless the food is REALLY bad.  

But, there's one thing that hasn't changed in all of my cooking phases.  Every time I cook, I always make some sort of haphazard mistake.  Fast forward to today.  I decided on coffee cake; easy enough, right?  Yes, it would have been if I'd read what size pan that I was supposed to use. Midway through pouring my mass of batter into a very large rectangular pan, I glance at the recipe only to see it calls for a much, much smaller square pan.  Great.  

So, I scoop everything out of the bigger pan only to find that I don't have a square pan.  In fact, I just have this oval corning ware dish (which now I'm thinking is much too small because it was only supposed to take 25 minutes to cook, and it's getting close to 40.) 

So...will my blueberry apple (it became blueberry apple because I ran out of blueberries) coffee cake be edible?  Only time will tell...

(Pause as I go check for the 4th time)

Well, I have a feeling the consistency will be anything but uniform, as the edges of the oval seem quite crisp and the middle is as soggy as a wet sponge at this point.  

:Sigh: Rachael Ray makes it look so easy!

InsideOut Upside Down Christmas

Well, well,'s been a while since my last post, but I've been on quite a few adventures this past month, which I'll get to next time.  

For now though, I am super busy planning for our InsideOut  UpsideDown Christmas.  This is our Christmas event that we're creating for our teens and their families and friends.  It's happening tomorrow (Saturday) at 7pm.  We're having a variety of vendors coming in who will be selling food as early as 6:30pm.  

I don't want to give too much away, but it will be similar to our other events, with games, prizes, and a few words from my lovely husband :)

At InsideOut, we've been talking about kingdoms, focusing on the fact that everyone lives their lives for a kingdom.  Matt left us all in suspense and tension at the last InsideOut, as he informed us that oftentimes, our kingdom and God's kingdom will collide.  At IO Christmas, Matt plans on resolving a bit of that tension.  

Although I'd love to write more, I need to put some last minute touches on our games for tomorrow night.  

Expect more updates soon with...

      -stories from my trip to America

      -an update on InsideOut

      -adventures in Cape Town

      -and pictures of our home!!!!! (we bought a digital camera in America!)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Blessing of Obedience

I wanted to share with you all a very interesting experience I had this afternoon.  I had noticed a friend of mine was working on a paper, and she had asked me if I could answer a questionnaire. I saw it was a mass email, so I decided to wait and respond until after InsideOut.  

Much to my surprise today, I saw that the questionnaire was concerning our views on abstinence before marriage.  In the world we live in today, I realize that I am one of very few who believes in waiting until marriage.  Out of the few that believe in it, I was one of the even fewer who (by the grace of God), was able to wait.  

It was such an enlightening experience to be able to explain on my questionnaire the benefits of waiting until being in a committed marriage relationship to explore those levels of intimacy.  Working through her questionnaire, I really was able to see and explore some of the many benefits Matt and I have experienced due to waiting until marriage.  Even today, almost six months later, I'm so thankful we made that decision...and I'm even more thankful for the accountability of a few friends who stuck with us through our dating and engagement seasons.  Furthermore, I'm just thankful to God for giving us the grace and means (even if that meant living across continents) to live out what we believed was the right thing in our hearts.  

I can't even begin to explain to people the firm foundation that abstinence prior to marriage sets for couples.  Maybe this is something that people are familiar with, but for me, it didn't truly make sense until I was on the other side of the fence.  I wish that I could have understood prior to marriage the positives...I'm sure I would have been even more careful in guarding my purity...but I must say, God's Word is spot on in why it begs for people not to engage in what it labels as sexual immorality.  I can truly say with confidence that God wants this act to stay in marriage because it is such a blessing on us if we wait.  

I have a hunch that my experience with abstinence and purity will be similar with other commands that God gives.  They may not make so much sense now, but once I get to the other side of the fence, I will experience blessing beyond measure.  

It's moments like these that define my paradigm and relationship with God.  It makes sense that God credits our faith to us as righteousness...because, faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."  If you love someone, you trust them, even when what they ask of you doesn't quite make sense.  What better way to manifest our love towards someone than trusting them over all others?  

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

To keep it organized (which I fail to do when I blog), I am going to number the big points of interest over the last month.  Then you can pick and choose what is important for you!

1) InsideOut:  It went really well!  We had it on the 16 of October and launched our small groups that week.  I am working with my friend Tamara with the grade 10-12 girls.  It was really awesome to get to know them a little better, and I look forward to working more with those girls in the coming years.  The crazy thing was that we had 23 grade 10-12 boys!  Typically, youth events have more females than males, but that hasn't been the case with us.  It's really awesome to see a significant portion of those young men excited about deepening their relationship with Jesus.  I can't even begin to imagine the positive influence these men will have on their future families if they continue on this road.  It's such a blessing to be the means that God is using to guide these teenagers.  

We also did a hip hop dance at InsideOut that my friend Brendon and I choreographed.  There were five of us.  We began working on this dance in August, so it was nice to see the fruit of our labor.  Lots of positive feedback came from that.  

The last thing was our fashion show that we did.  It was absolutely hilarious!  We had all the teens bring in their old clothing and we dressed our small group leaders up and paraded them through the building.  We're donating their clothes to an organization called The Warehouse.  It was a great way to help those who have little but also have fun in the process.  

We have our next InsideOut the 13 of November!

2) Books:  Matt and I have found something more engrossing than the internet or the television...Ted Dekker's Circle Trilogy.  They're just impossible to put down.  I just finished the third book in the trilogy only to find out that there is actually a fourth book (a prequel).  The books, although their fiction, really focus on the idea that just because one cannot see something does not mean that it is not there or that that unseen thing cannot have effects.  I love the line at the end when the protagonist says, "The battle over flesh and blood cannot compare to the battle for the heart."  For me, it helped me especially in considering the afterlife, since the concept of death scares me so much!  Anyway, they're not the most profound books in the world, but certainly entertaining!

3) Musings:  I've been thinking about pride a lot lately...where and how it manifests in my life, how to subdue it, how it affects my relationships with others.  Frankly, it's just mind-blowing how sneaky pride can be.  Pride can look like fear or insecurity, or it can look like something really good, too!  I was reading about Saul and his decision to disobey God and not kill all the animals in Amelek in 1 Sam. 15.  God had told him to "Go and strike Amalek and devote to destruction all they have.  Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey."  But Saul decides to leave the best animals alive and sacrifice them to God.  Samuel comes in and sees what is happening and is just like "Saul, what are you doing?!  This is not what God told you to do."  After a little banter, Samuel says the line we've all heard, "Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord?  Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of the rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry."  I'd never really taken that in context before to try and understand it, but what I really gleaned from my reading is that on the outside, Saul's decision didn't look like a bad one.  In fact, it looked like a logical, wise decision.  It looked like he had the best intentions in mind (the people will be happy with my decision, God gets sacrifices, everybody wins).  But in fact, it was the opposite of what God had asked him to do.  And that all goes back to pride, because pride is thinking that we know better than what God says for us to do.  I couldn't help but think of all the times that I knew what I was supposed to do (be patient, rejoice, don't grumble, consider others better than myself, pray), and yet I try to reason with God and say, "But God, your commands are really illogical; I think my plan of how to deal with this situation is better.  In fact, it's probably wiser."  When I really got to the root of it, I realized that all of that inside of me was just pride.  So, I've been thinking a lot about this lately and praying that God reveals to me areas of pride in my life.  It's just not healthy to have that pride, and it really seems to hinder what God wants to do with us.  

Anyway, that's about it on this side of the ocean.  InsideOut, Ted Dekker, and pride.  And that, ladies and gentlemen, has filled my life for the past few weeks!  Hope everyone has a splendid day.  And all of my friends in America, go look at the trees as they change colors for me and enjoy them!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Update from Whale Hunting

After looking on the horizon for a few minutes, we saw an amazing show from a whale.  He was far away, but he was jumping out of the water and making huge splashes!  It was AMAZING!  We went to this awesome Deli called the Olympia Cafe and went window shopping.  I saw these really cute dresses for like R500, and I kept reminding Matt that I would like a new dress for Karis' wedding.  Haha, we'll see...I'm not sure how keen I am about spending R500.  The dresses had this sweet, vintage look; maybe I can make one for a whole lot less ;)

Anyway, today has been a day of cleaning.  Sometimes I feel like I'm Susy Homemaker meets Nancy Drew.  Like, I really have a desire to have a nice, cute, home, but I totally was cut out for something more mind-boggling, like solving mysteries.  But actually, I really like my style of my house.  It's very frills...just the basics.  It's easier to clean that way.  The less things you have, the less you have to dust.  Plus, I imagine there was a day where Nancy decided it was time to hang up the magnifying glass and go ahead and tie the knot with Ned.  It's just, as I so poignantly read in Ecclesiastes, that there's a time for everything...and it's my time to CLEAN and not solve mysteries.  

So...I'll keep you posted.  We're going on a retreat tomorrow, so I'll let everyone know how that goes!  

Have a delightful day!

Monday, September 21, 2009

I thought I'd share with you all a quite humorous story that happened yesterday.  

Sunday morning is the day that we have to wake up at 5:15am to set up for church.  Since our entire church is portable (meaning we don't own the venue; we rent it), we have to set it up every Sunday.  It's not like America where there's acres of unused land where you can just purchase, chop down some trees, and up goes a church building.  When one outgrows their previous venue, there's really few options available as far as expansion goes.  So...we rent, meaning we take about 2 hours to set up everything, run sound check, do a run through of the service, have breakfast, and then do the service.  Then, after service is done, we take it all down again and pack it away until the next week.  

That being said, it is quite important that we start on time, specifically in Matt's case, reason being that Matt has the only key to the store room where all of our decor and equipment is.  Well, as usual, Saturday night, we set our alarm, go to bed at the late hour of 9:45, and snooze away.  The next thing I remember was Matt's cellphone alarm going off, only it wasn't the alarm, it was someone calling him.  As I opened my eyes, I saw that the sun was up.  You know that horrible feeling you have when you put 2 and 2 together and realize, "Wait a second!  The sun isn't supposed to be up when I wake up!"  It's like the pleasantries of waking up to the sun only to realize two seconds later that you were supposed to be up a LONG time ago.  That all went through my head in about a half of a second, followed by Matt saying, "Rachel!  It's 6:15, we overslept!"  The guys from church were calling us wondering where we were, waiting for the key to the store room!  Oops!  Needless to say, we got ready at hyper speed, probably quicker than ever before on a Sunday morning.  

All was fine, but it was just one of those mornings where you have no idea how you overslept, but you did.  

Anyway, Matt and I are going to go on an adventure today to search for whales!  We saw some yesterday but they were very far away; hopefully today we get a better view.  

Also this week we're going on a retreat to learn about how to be better Small Group Leaders!  We're very excited about that!  And then next week, we start training our InsideOut Small Group Leaders!  Lots of exciting plans on the books for Matt and myself.  We will continue to update!

More pots later...I have some good ideas for posts brooding in my brain, and I'm sure I'll have some exciting stories after today's adventures!  

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Rainy day in Cape Town

Well, today is yet another rainy day in Cape Town.  Winter is like that house guest that overstays its welcome, and just when you think it's about to get up and leave, it's actually only going to get another cup of coffee and sit back down for a while.  :Sigh:  

I've been blog hunting lately, looking for exciting blogs that exist out there.  The concept of blogs is so fascinating, I think.  There's so many sorts out there with so many different purposes, and for some reason, I find it just as fascinating to spend my time getting in the mind of these people that I hardly even know!  Lately, I've been looking at these new mother blogs (NO, I'm not pregnant, just to clear the air) just to kind of get a fresh perspective of what it is like for different people to take on the decision of starting a family.  It's quite interesting because my perspective has broadened concerning parenthood.  I found a quite interesting blog that chronicled the story of a woman named Angie (she's married to a guy in the band Selah), and her battle as a mother to decide whether to take her child to full term or not.  The child had an oversized heart among other problems, meaning that it would die at birth.  Anyway, she's a very colorful blogger.  I found her story quite interesting and thought maybe some of you all would, too.  Here's the link:

There's a link near the top that you can click on to start at the beginning of her story.  The first entry is just mind-blowing.  

Anyway, I've found that it is so important to use time in a way that would honor God.  When school, jobs, and other responsibilities aren't breathing down your neck and pushing me to go further, work harder, and give more, what am I doing with my time?  How can I use my gifts when I don't feel like anybody out there is really cheering for me, helping me, etc.?  Well, I've always liked music a lot, so I've been working really hard in that area.  Matt has helped me in the area of piano, first and foremost, and I'm playing a lot at church.  I'm not very good yet at this non-classical thing that I'm doing, but I'm certainly getting better.  Southpoint is a really awesome venue for that, because I'm better than just a novice, but I'm not a keyboard extraordinaire.  I have a place that stretches me, but I actually can make some valuable contribution.  

Secondly, I've been spending most of my free time taking up a new musical instrument.  It would kind of be stupid if one was married to an amazing guitarist with amazing, expensive guitars and didn't take their husband up on free lessons.  So, Matt has been teaching me guitar for the last week.  I'm having so much fun.  So far, I've learned 2 bar cords and I can play 3 songs well and I'm onto my fourth (It's kind of hard though because there are 2 bar cords in it, which are hard for my little fingers).  

Anyway, besides music, I've been reading quite a bit, and I'm trying to expand  my conversational Afrikaans phrases.  So, this is my attempt to use my time in a way that expands my knowledge and honors the Lord.  It certainly makes for quite an adventure!

I am so blessed to be living such an adventure of my life.  It is safe to say, even on the dreariest of Cape Town days, that life with Matt is more than I ever could have dreamed...

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Thursday Night Cleaning Fest

A normal week for me does not consist of the time to actually clean, so when I do get the time to clean, I pretty much try to get as much as possible done.  

Tonight was one of those nights.  Matt had band practice, I wasn't playing, and I had no plans; therefore, the default plans of the evening were cleaning.  

You'd think that in an apartment consisting of two bedrooms, a bathroom, a kitchen, and a lounge, it would be hard for things to get dirty.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  It's almost like the dirt has nowhere to spread out, so I feel like things get even dirtier!

Now, granted, I don't mind a dirty house...never have never will, but our "situation" makes things a little more acute.  We have white tile floors all throughout our kitchen, hallways, and bathroom.  White tile floors pretty much are magnets for everything gross, nasty, sticky, and everything else.  It doesn't matter how careful you are, it doesn't matter if you haven't been in the house for a week straight...the floors inevitably get disgustingly dirty.  

So, the first thing I did tonight (after I made a batch of banana muffins to surprise Matt) was mop.  But I have this thing about our mop.  I really thing mops are the most disgusting cleaning appliance ever.  Who honestly thought, "Hey, I have an idea!  Let's get a stick and attach big pieces of cloth to the end of it.  Then we'll put it in gross water and use it over and over again to clean our dirty floors! What a sanitary idea"  Now, fellow Americans under the age of 30 who read my blog, I know what you're saying, "What's a mop?  Don't you have a Swiffer Wet Jet?"  The answer in short is, No.  There are kitchen appliances that are rip offs of the Swiffer Wet Jet, but they do not come close.  So, a good, old-fashioned mop it is.  It sits in my bathtub after it's been used, and then when guests come over, it gets moved to the shower.  What else can you do with a mop?  

Anyway, I was not about to go get the disgusting mop, wipe it all over my floors again, just spreading disease every which way, further perpetuating the disgusting damp, filthy, disease-ridden situation.  So, I decided to try something different.  

I don't know if it was any more sanitary, but it certainly was more entertaining.  Basically, the process worked like this.  

1)Throw water all over my floor.

2)Run around my house, sliding around bare foot to spread the water out.  

3)Use my little rubber broom thing to squeegie the water off the floor.

4)Get the disgusting water/hair/crumb pile up with a dishtowel and flush it down the toilet. 

And to dry the floor?

1)Put on a pair of socks

2)Scootch around the floor until it's dry.  

It's quite an invigorating experience.  You almost chuckle to yourself, thinking, "hehe, I probably shouldn't be doing this, but I can, because I pay to live here and no one can tell me what to do!  I'm such a rebel."  This is the extent of my rebelliousness.

And just wait until children.  It will be the most sought after chore in the Hastings Household after I show them how Extreme Mopping is done.  

Anyway, hope everyone is enjoying their week.  If you're bored, try this alternative cleaning method to brighten your day!

Monday, August 17, 2009

InsideOut number 2 and a nice weekend

We had our second InsideOut this past weekend, bringing in 22 new kids and bringing the total kids who attended on Friday up to 55!  Matt is on his way to getting his head shaved.  Everyone who volunteered was very excited about the positive reaction that we've received from IO.  It's a great environment for teens grade 7-12, and not to mention, it's an awesome place to volunteer.  I think our volunteers have had a great time thus far!  (Correct me if I'm wrong :)

One difficult thing that I've found about Cape Town is that Google doesn't bring up as many options of fun things to do as when you're in America.  So, for example, if I type in "cool coffee shops in the Western Cape", I get few cool websites.  So, we kind of have to go by word of mouth to find cool places to go.  Well, today it was 330 pm, and we hadn't left the house yet on our day off.  We saw online that there seemed to be a few cool places on Kloof St.  so we decided to give it a go.  We found this awesome health shop called the Wellness Centre (or something like that), and they have this really cool organic coffee shop in there.  They have this great deal of a slice of cake and a cappuccino or tea for only R20 (which is like $1.50).  So, I got carrot cake and a cappuccino, and Matt got cheesecake and a cappuccino.  It was spectacular and we talked in the little shop for like an hour and a half.  A wonderful way to spend the day.  

We're finally at a point in life where we can begin to explore Cape Town, which has been nice.  When I first got here, I was so busy trying to just emotionally survive and get comfortable in my own skin, I didn't even really want to explore.  Now, I'm just starting to get the itch to see what is all around here in the Western Cape.  

In other news, I got lost in the Waterfront mall and didn't have my phone with me so I couldn't call Matt. Luckily, I saw Johan and Miranda from church and they let me use their phone so I could call Matt and find him.  I got really scared and confused and ended up on the completely wrong side of the mall from where I was supposed to be.  Oops!

Well, if any Capetonians have any cool suggestions of other coffee shops/bookstores/cool places to go and browse around where we won't spend a lot of money, please comment on my blog and let me know!  Otherwise, I'm sure my future posts will be about my exploration adventures!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Things are going well on this side of the ocean!  I'm missing the hot weather, but in time, it will come.  

Things have been typically non-eventful lately, as life always is after you have some super-charged experience, like InsideOut launch and a team from North Point here.  But, it's been nice to take some time and relax.  Unfortunately, I've come down with a bit of a head cold today, so I've been bed-ridden for most of the afternoon and evening.  Matt's done an excellent job taking care of me, making me lunch and serving me dinner as well.  It's novel to him to take care of a sick he's soaking it all up (much to my benefit!).  

After the North Point team left, Matt and I took some time to enjoy the scenery in Cape Town.  First, we went hiking in the woods together, and this past Monday, we trekked up Lion's Head.  The day was beautiful, and it was 70 degrees outside, a nice change from the cold, wintery weather.  

Last night, Matt and I went to an italian restaurant called Magica Roma and our meal was spectacular!  We used a gift certificate that Matt received for his birthday, which was very nice.  We also used some birthday money from my parents to go to this really cool pizza place.  Thanks to the generosity of others, we've had a few really nice dinners in the past 2 weeks.  

We're gearing up for our next IO (InsideOut) on the 14th of August, which is pretty exciting!  We have some great ideas that are already being implemented, and let's just say it's going to be quite a fun night.  Make sure to get the word out about the next IO to everyone you know!  You don't want to miss it...and frankly, I'm ready for Matt's head to be shaved :)  I think he'll look really cute.   

I've gotten quite a bit of reading done in the past week.  I finished up Wright last week (finally...but it was so worth it) and I read a book about a woman who escaped from the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saint group that was previously led by Warren Jeffs.  The book is titled "Escape" and it's by Carolyn Jessop if anyone is interested in reading it.  It is quite a fascinating story.  For any Jon Krakauer fans (Into Thin Air...a great story, too!), it should be known that he writes the review on the back cover of the book.  It reads very much like one of his account of truth that reads like fiction.  Quite entertaining, if I do say so myself.  

I found myself at the end of the book feeling skeptical and cynical of the concept of organized religion.  The propaganda that the FLDS used to entrap these women is absolutely scandalous.  It's hard to see any shred of the love, grace, and forgiveness that overflows in every message of Jesus in the fanatical extremism portrayed in this book.  It has led me back to praying that God lead us to teaching and practicing truth in our lives.  

Now, I'm onto a George MacDonald book.  It was one Matt bought me for our one year anniversary when we were dating.  Finally, I'm getting around to reading it.  :)  

Well...this is the mundane of life.  Sorry I can't wow any readers with an exciting story, as I'm sure many of you cannot either : ) But Oswald Chambers puts it better than I ever could...

"We do not need the grace of God to withstand crises—human nature and pride are sufficient for us to face the stress and strain magnificently. But it does require the supernatural grace of God to live twenty-four hours of every day as a saint, going through drudgery, and living an ordinary, unnoticed, and ignored existence as a disciple of Jesus. It is ingrained in us that we have to do exceptional things for God—but we do not. We have to be exceptional in the ordinary things of life, and holy on the ordinary streets, among ordinary people—and this is not learned in five minutes."

Saturday, July 25, 2009


If anyone is looking for an interesting blog to read that deals with some interesting, and quite deep, theological concepts...check out my Dad's blog!


Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Here's another youtube video that we did for the IO launch that I forgot to post!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

InsideOut Launch Update

It's been amazing past two weeks.  I don't think I've had a crazier week than last week, so pardon my lack of updates.  

After weeks of renovation, we now have an A-Mazing venue for our youth!  We had our first InsideOut last Friday and it went spectacularly!  The music was awesome, the comedic hosts were great, and if I do say so myself, Matt did an amazing job speaking!

My goal for InsideOut was twofold
1)To empower our volunteers to take ownership of IO and find their niche and run with it.  
2)To take as much of the logistical planning off Matt so that he would be able to have the freedom to create an engaging and relevant plan of what to say to his audience.  

Personally, I'd give myself a solid B (I'm sure some would grade me better, and others worse) for my efforts, but I'm looking forward to improving my abilities in this role for the next IO.  My dream is to see Matt be able to focus full heartedly on what he is to say.  

Most of you would agree that what changes you the most are the words you hear in church. God has used words throughout history to convey his love and his truth.  If we put such a strong emphasis on the words we hear, then the person communicating those words should take the calling seriously. 

I've grown up with that mentality...I can remember watching my dad spending hours poring over what he would say in Sunday School on Saturday afternoons.  After a long week at work, he would inevitably sit on the front porch, drinking his coffee, working on his lesson for hours.  Then on Sunday morning, you'd hear him downstairs at 6am putting the final touches on what he was to teach.  Things haven't changed that much as I watch my own husband waking up at 530 the day before camp to put his final touches on what he is to say.  

These two men rightly so put an emphasis on what they are to say.  They take their roles seriously as communicators.  My goal is to facilitate that process for Matt, so I spent most of the week figuring out more ways to do that, delegating work to others, planning the schedule so it ran most efficiently for him.  

Then there's our lovely volunteers (myself included, haha)!  It is such a pleasure to work with every one of them because they are so willing to help in any way.  But, my goal as a volunteer, yet working so closely with Matt, is to facilitate an experience for them where they are learning more about their own gifts and talents all while helping the bigger purpose of seeing the lives of teens changed.  I hope that they left InsideOut feeling like they contributed to a cause that was bigger than themselves, I hope they learned a little bit about themselves, and I hope they were stretched beyond their comfort zone.  

I'm going to try to post some pictures from our won't believe it...and for any teens that weren't there...I can confidently say you missed out big need to be there on the 14 of August!

Readers may find it interesting to check out the North Point Mission Team's blog where some of their youth wrote about what they experienced while in Cape Town.  There's also pictures!

Enjoy!  and more to come later!!!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

North Point Trip!

We are 72 hours from our North Point team arriving here in Cape Town.  North Point Community Church, based in Atlanta, GA, is our partner church, and they are sending out a team of youth to help us launch our youth program, InsideOut.  Matt has been working incredibly hard to make things come together, as have a large band of volunteers.  We have completely gutted the old sanctuary, and it's finally looking like an amazing venue for our youth.  It's been a great bonding experience for everyone, and our friend Morgan has done a great job heading up the project, singlehandedly delegating to us all what needs to happen in order to get this place ready for the launch of InsideOut.  

My personal mission has been painting the bathroom doors.  Phase one is to get the doors looking cool, and phase two is redecorating the inside.  I will try to post pictures as soon as I take a few on my phone.  

On a personal note: I was talking to Matt last night about this, and I hope it is an encouragement to any wife out there who feels that tension of wanting to follow the passions God has put inside of her and supporting her husband's passions and dreams as well.  It is truly an honor to be called the wife of Matthew Hastings.  To serve my husband truly is the greatest blessing that I have.  I'm not a good painter, and here I am, painting this bathroom door black with this life-size giant pink female symbol on the front of it, and I'm at such peace with the whole situation.  And I realized that I'd rather be sitting on the cold, bathroom floor any day than pursuing my dreams.  It's not that my dreams are bad or wrong to pursue, but no greater joy comes than from laying those dreams I have down at the feet of my husband and serving the purpose that God has given him.  

We go to our InsideOut camp next Tuesday morning!  We started with two kids signed up, and in the past three weeks, our numbers have shot up to 25 kids!  With our North Point team of 10 teens, we're going to have an awesome start of 35 teens!  I don't want to give everything away prior to camp in case any teens read my blog, but let's just say there will be amazing games, food, and awesome music!  Not to mention, my hubby is hard at work on 4 sessions of speaking that are going to be A-Mazing!!!!  Three will be for the camp, and the fourth will be used for the launch on Friday.  

So, we're all hard at work over here, and we're incredibly excited about what God's going to do here in Cape Town!  It certainly is an amazing time to be a part of God's life changing kingdom.  We will keep you updated as the North Point team comes!  

Friday, June 26, 2009

Pardon my lack of diligence towards my blog!  
All is well, but I didn't even realize how long it had been since my last update!  

It's been quite a busy few weeks, as Matt and I have been spending most of our free time working on the launch of our new youth environment, InsideOut.  We're very excited about this endeavor, but it takes quite a bit of time.  We're so lucky to have a brigade of volunteers who have helped us make this all possible.  Without them, we would probably be stuck back where we were when we started all of this.  

We have had lots of meetings this week with different groups of volunteers in an attempt to create a great culture in our ministry.  We had a meeting with what we have dubbed our "creative team".  Their job is to take whatever Matt wants to say and figure out cool, relevant, and memorable ways to convey those ideas.  Currently, we're doing a theme called "youtube live."  To get ready for our camp in 2 1/2 weeks, we're posting a series of youtube diaries.  They are quite funny.  Feel free to view our first one :

The house is kind it will be...for a while.  I'm not expecting many changes to the decor for the next 5-6 months.  We're going for the simple look.  Matt and I would rather spend our extra money on fun dates.  We finally told ourselves a couple of weeks ago that we would go on our first official date since we've been married.  It was dinner and a movie...Primi for dinner and Star Trek for our movie.  And I must say, the doctor in Star Trek looks EXACTLY like my uncle Johnny in America.  Their resemblance was so striking that it was almost distracting for me in the movie!

And the last news is that Matt and I have officially bought our PLANE TICKETS to come visit America in December!  WOO HOO!!!  It certainly will be wonderful to visit everyone and celebrate Thanksgiving!  

Well, I've got to go!  It's Friday and there's still LOTS to do to be ready for Sunday morning!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Well, I guess it's' time to update again! 

Updates in the home...

On Monday, Matt and I finally put up curtains!  It's just nice to have curtains in two of our four rooms now.  Unfortunately, they were not the color or quality I wanted, but as I was fuming in Mr. Price Home, Matt and I decided it would be better to just be angry rather than be angry about it and guilty all at the same time if we paid more.  And for the record, I am beginning to get used to them, so my hatred towards them has mellowed to a mild discontentment.  I imagine I'll love them next week.  

Matt and I went on a ridiculous cooking spree this past weekend.  We cooked chicken, pepper, and pineapple curry (Anna, I don't know if pineapple is on your hate list for fruit, but I would highly recommend implementing it into your was yummy!), and we cooked this amazing chili.  Oh, but my fellow Americans, we did not use cow meat...we used ostrich meat.  You don't see that very often at the grocery store!  Then, Matt and I made homemade salsa AND homemade guacamole which was actually VERY VERY close, if not better than my favorite guacamole from Chipotle (Matt even told me it was the best guac he has ever eaten!).  

Matt and I also enjoyed a relaxing movie night where we watched Stranger Than Fiction (and if you haven't seen it, I would recommend it).  Matt and I both agreed that the movie is a good reminder to enjoy the simple pleasures of life.  

One of my favorite things that has been happening in the Hastings Home lately has been the wonderful conversations Matt and I have been having in the evening.  There is a brute yet relieving level of honesty that presents itself once married.  For many, I imagine this sort of honesty presents itself negatively, as couples yell, scream, and say things that hurt the other deep to the core.  Yet when used positively, it creates an atmosphere of honesty unlike any other.  It is an environment where you truly can say what is on your mind in a loving way that that is not driven by unbridled emotion, but rather by love and security in the permanence of that relationship.  It allows for the couple to get down to core issues and issues of the heart, something not always so easy when there is that fear that the relationship could dissolve at any moment.  These conversations have been an avenue for us to better love, serve, and encourage one another.  

Updates in visa world...

Well, Home Affairs FINALLY emailed me back, after a week, only to find out that I will not be able to apply for residency because you have to be married to a South African for a minimum of five years.  Well, we don't exactly make the cut, so it's back to applying for a relative's visa.  The good news is that the information that we have already accumulated for this is more than enough for what we need for the relative's permit.  So, we're well on our way to acquiring that.  

Book updates...

Matt is finishing up The Unlikely Disciple, which has been a pleasant read for the both of us.  I just finished up Created to be His Help Meet, which was a refreshing yet challenging book that offered a fresh and extremely conservative view on how to be a good wife, which healthily balances out some of the other books and ideologies to which I have been exposed.  Now, I am reading Simply Christian by N.T. Wright.  Although most conservative theologians initially denounced many of Wright's ideologies, I've found that many are now realizing that they "threw the baby out with the bath water" in their harsh assessment of Wright's work.  If read with a critical eye, always going back to Scripture, I think many would find Wright's apologetic for not only a God, but for Jesus being that manifestation of God, as a very convincing and provocative argument.  But then again, maybe that's just me.  I'm finding the book quite refreshing, though.  Think of it as a contemporary spin on Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis.  In many ways, the book has centered my focus again and reminded me of why I do believe in what I'm doing and how I'm living.  I often find myself all to quickly plunging down the spiral of cynicism, wondering if what I believe, how I live, and in what I hope truly are valid.  For me, it's academics like Wright who God so poignantly uses to speak to my heart that refocus and revive my heart and spirit.  

I am now also in a book club!  We had our first session last night, and I'm thrilled for future sessions and to have the opportunity to read more books as time passes!  

Updates in ministry...

Matt and I are thrilled about a team of youth coming to Cape Town in July to help us re-launch our youth program here at Stellenberg!  We met the leaders of the team when we were in America, and we even had the opportunity to briefly become acquainted with the youth that are coming in July.  It is an awesome group from what I've seen.  We are in the process of planning out just what their week here in Cape Town will look like.  It has been a fun process that Matt and I have had the blessing of experiencing together!  

KidStuf is this Sunday and I have had the wonderful opportunity to work with Rachel and the dancers.  It was so much fun, and I can't wait to see how they do with their new dance this Sunday! 

Well, that's all for now!  Hope everyone in America is enjoying the warm weather!!!!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Things I like about South Africa

Rachel here.  There have been quite a few... "difficult" adjustments that I have had to make with my move, but today, I'd like to take a bit of time to tell you about some of the wonderful luxuries of South Africa (all the more reason to visit, right?) 

1)The movie theatre experience.  For one,  movies cost about thirty rand, which equates to about $3.50 in American dollars.  It's a much more realistic pastime here than the 15-20 dollars you inevitably spend for a ticket, popcorn, and drink.  The icing on the cake, though, is this beautiful little concept they have here called reserved seating.  Essentially, you go up to the little computer kiosk and reserve not only your ticket in advance, but the actual seat in which you will sit!  It's like going to watch a play and having assigned seats!  Then, you can just waltz on into your movie five minutes before it starts because you've already reserved your seat!  

2)The public restrooms.  I'm not saying that all public restrooms in America are bad, but I've realized just how much I hate them since I've been here.  Every time we're out somewhere, I always sort of mentally brace myself for the filth and mire I'm about to encounter, only to find that they're clean...very clean!  I can feel myself tensing up at each bathroom trip, only to find that I had no need to do so!  I started wondering why I was prematurely reacting this way, and I've come to realize that it's because I've made a habit of doing that in America...and rightly so...because oftentimes, public restrooms in America are just disgusting.  When I was at the mall the other day, there was actually a lady cleaning the bathroom while I was in there.  Not like with a gross mop and murky water.  She was cleaning the sink and wiping up the excess water...doing all the little things that make the bathroom experience GREAT!  Now, as far as the actual toilet goes, I'm a bigger fan of American toilets than the ones here, but the public restroom experience here has been much more enjoyable than most in America.  

3)Last, but certainly not least, is Butler's Pizza.  It's essentially the price you would pay for Pizza Hut or Dominoes.  It's fast food pizza...but it tastes like heaven in your mouth.  I'm a huge fan of the Thai chicken pizza.  I can eat an entire medium pizza by myself.  The medium isn't the biggest medium I've ever seen, but it's still a pretty hefty dinner, if you ask me.  They have amazing topping choices at Butlers, one being something called a "peppadew", or at Butler's, endearingly titled, the "Butlerito."  As far as I know, peppadews do not exist in America yet, because they only native to South Africa.  Basically, they are these little chili peppers that are sweet.  They are D-elicious!  So, the Butler's Experience (as I'd like to call it) is the following: You call and order from a delightful array of choices on their menu, they deliver it to you, the delivery boy has on a bow tie and a cummerbund (it is Butler's after all), you pay the pizza boy your 100 rand for your two medium pizzas (about 10 dollars, tip included), and then you open the box and stuff down delicious goodness into your face as fast as humanly possible.  Fast food pizza in South Africa beats America's fast food pizza any day, hands down.  

I promise to all those who visit, I will facilitate all three of these experiences for you so you can enjoy some of the many luxuries of South Africa!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Reception number 4

Well, there's officially no more celebration of our marriage!  We had our last celebration at Stellenberg (our church) on Sunday afternoon!  It was a little different than the previous ones, but rest assured, the same spirit was shared in that one as in all of the other ones.  It was interesting to read our vows yet again.  It's funny because during this reading, I found that there were quite a few spots where I'd seen I'd already fallen short.  But on the bright side, I am already blessed to have wonderful memories attached on both sides of how we have kept our vows.  

It's amazing to think that this Friday we will have been married for a month!  It has been quite a month, with lots of traveling, etc.  and it's nice to finally be getting settled down.  

I just wrote my best friend in America,  Erica, about a verse that we both have taken solace in, and I wanted to share it with the rest of you.  "But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.  I cried aloud to the Lord, and he answered me from his holy hill.  I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me."  ~Psalm 3:3-5

According to the information above the Psalm, David wrote this when he fled from Absalom, his son.  I can't imagine being in the position David was in.  Lot's of uncertainty and very few people on which he could rely.  His own son was trying to pull off a military coup! situation can hardly be compared, but sometimes it is difficult because I feel like my situation has lots of uncertainty with it.  That Psalm really encouraged me because it reminded me that each day, God gives us the strength to make it through the situation which he has ordained for us.  With that mindset, I have been able to make more of each day, enjoying smaller activities such as cleaning, reading, and setting up our house. 

Being in unfamiliar territory for the long haul can bring out the worst in a person.  I found that I have quite an impatient streak when I took my last trip to Boardmans.  For those of you who don't know, Boardmans is an upscale kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, decor store.  It's similar to like Pier 1 or something like that.  Well, I had a lot of trouble keeping my cool when I got what I felt to be below adequate customer service.  I had to leave the store and let Matt finish the transaction by himself!  I didn't know I could get so frustrated at something so simple!  

Last night, Matt and I were in the middle of a rather serious prayer when we heard water spilling onto our kitchen floor.  We rushed in only to find that our draining pipe on our washing machine did not drain, and it was draining onto the floor.  Now, we have the pipe sitting in our sink, when we wash clothes.  The washing machine has been quite an issue....two days ago, we broke a part on it and had to wash a load of clothes by hand in the bath tub.  I never knew wringing out wet clothes could be so tiresome!  

Well...that's about it for now.  Matt has been super busy trying to catch up on his work after being sick this past weekend...I'm sure we'll get a blog post out of him some time soon :)


Thursday, May 14, 2009

I can only imagine Pam last night...

You know, you cannot just start a season of a TV show and not finish it out.  Matt and I were overjoyed to find that we are able to watch the performances of American Idol online.  Many of the television show websites do not work in SA that work in America.  So...although we were going to wait and watch it at his aunt's house, I was just too impatient so we watched it on his computer.  Of course, Adam was PHENOMENAL!!!  And then there was Danny, who wasn't bad.  But Kris Allen!?!?  WHAT?!?!?!?!  

I can only imagine my mother, a die-hard Allen fan, jumping for joy last night, as he made it to the final two.  NO ONE saw that one coming.  But I must admit, he did quite an interesting rendition of Heartless.  I couldn't help but reminisce of times where my old roommate, Anna, and I used to have dance parties in our lounge, that song being one of our favorites on our play list.  

A few more updates.  Two days ago, I decided it was time for me to jump out of my comfort zone and go driving!  Obviously, this is quite an interesting experience due to the fact that they drive on the opposite side of the road here.  I drove from the church to Matt's parents' house, then from their house to our apartment.  It is not uncommon to see the windshield wipers going when I'm driving, even if it is a bright, sunny day, due to the fact that the turn signal and the wiper knobs are switched.  For those of you who know about my desire to have incredibly ripped biceps, driving is a wonderful way to get my arms in shape, as Matt's car lacks power steering.  It is quite a sight to see me trying to turn the wheel!

Learning to be a wife can be hard, especially when you are both the nurse and the culprit for sickness.  I may or may not have made Matt sick.  So, as I nurse his tummy ache back to health, I can't help but wonder...'I'm the only one who is cooking for him, so the choices for culprits are few...and it's probably me.'  So, my guess is that it was the soup that I made, and while we have leftovers, I'm not going to give it a second chance to find out if that was it.

Well, that's about it for now!  Will write more later!  


Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Welcome everyone to our blog!

We hope that this can be a way that our friends all around the world can keep up with the happenings in our lives!  

This is Rachel writing right now, but we'll both be posting here.  I'm sure that the majority of the posts will be from me, though, because just as I have more words than Matt when I speak, I also have more words when I write :) 

Anyway, we are officially here, in Cape Town and we're in the process of making our apartment (or "flat" as they call it in SA), a little more enjoyable.  Currently, it's pretty much just the bare minimum...but with each passing day, we are getting more and more things squared away.  

I had my first trip to the grocery store!  It was very good, except I had to get over the fact that Mexican food is sparse and the little bit they do have is rather expensive.  I looked and looked for a can of black beans, but they were nowhere to be found :(  But I still managed to get quite a good array of food.  And I can't completely be negative about the grocery store experience...there were quite a few positives.  For example...when's the last time you've bought an avocado for 30 cents?  Or a pineapple for a dollar?  Yeah...never in America!  But yes, it's all rather cheap here!  Another random have to pay for your plastic bags at the grocery store, so it's a good idea to bring your own!  I thought that was kinda cool.

Anyway...that's about all the happenings on this side of the pond.  I promise to blog the excitement as it comes...and I promise to make it an engaging read for you, as well.  I just wanted to start the blog and I was too excited to worry about how enjoyable this post was to's really just word vomit, so don't read it as anything more than that.  But anyway...more to come!  I miss everyone much and I think of you all often!