Sala Kahle South Africa!

Today we say goodbye to our South African home.  We’ve spent the last few days saying goodbye to so many dear friends and there have been so many tears among us.  Okay… among Levi, Bethany and I anyway!

We wanted to leave South Africa with a list of some of our favourite things.  Interspersed among the list are pictures from a lovely farewell braai (Canadians read: BBQ) we had with our friends and coworkers from Emmanuel’s Wish Foundation last evening.  There was minute to win it games, traditional Zulu dancing, and a traditional Zulu feast as well as touching speeches and the gift of Zulu outfits for the whole Taylor clan.  Enjoy!

The Mountains – Duncan

A flashlight… like a headband (headlamp) – Judah

Friends – Bethany

The sunsets – Trish

Sugar cane fields – Levi

Aunty Zandile and Baby Dumisani – Bethany

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Eating all my meals with my family – Duncan

Car ride conversations – Trish

Grapetizer – Judah

Evenings always in – Trish

Scotch saying ‘100% percent’ – Everyone

Regular trips to the hardware store to repair stuff (*sarcasm) – Duncan

Long visits with family members who came to stay – Levi

Climbing the mulberry tree – Levi

Soccer games – Levi

Riding my motorbike – Judah

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Jungle gyms at restaurants – Bethany

Haibo! – Everyone

Helping Sanele fix things – Levi

A flexible work day – Duncan

Practising talking with clicks – Levi

Mido – Judah

Praying with patients – Trish

Speaking French with my Burundian friends – Duncan

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Ngcebo! Zwi! Phiwa! Johnny! Kwakanye! Alwande! – Levi

Sharing a room with my brothers – Bethany

Zulu songs acapella – Trish

A bathroom close to my bed – Levi

Red dirt everywhere – Trish

Walking to Zwi and Phiwa’s house enjoying nature on the way – Levi

R3.50 donuts (about 35 cents) – Levi

Praying with coworkers freely – Duncan

The way a stranger’s smile lights up when you speak their language – Trish

Having to do so much work to start a braai (*sarcasm) – Duncan

Riding my bike up and down hills – Levi

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Aunty Scotch’s hugs – Trish

Uncle Roberts stories after dinner – everyone

Getting packages at the post office – Bethany

The view from the hill – Levi

25°C winter days – Trish

Worshipping in other languages in a multicultural church – Duncan

As we leave and look back on the last eighteen months, and even the preparation beforehand we are overwhelmed with God’s great faithfulness.

From grace to umusa,




One of the very real issues with cross-cultural work is the idea of culture shock – a period of adjustment and struggle when surrounded by an entirely new culture.  The overwhelming feeling was one of exhaustion because everything was always new and different all the time.  However, gradually we adjusted to our life here and it became normal and routine.

Any literature you read will also caution that the same is true when you return home, there is a very real and difficult reverse culture shock and most people’s experience (including Duncan’s after Zambia) is that it is even worse than the initial culture shock, largely because it surprises you.  You expect to return home to a familiar life but find that it is no longer familiar because things have changed in your absence and even those that remain the same seem different because you yourself have changed.

To prepare for returning home, we searched for some books that would give some insight into this reverse culture shock and help us prepare.  In particular we were interested in any information that would also give guidance on how to prepare young ones for re-entry.  In particular we have found Re-entry: Making the Transition From Missions to Life at Home to provide some excellent information, reflective questions and practical questions to prepare us for our return.

To that end, we decided to take a mini-retreat as a family over the last couple of days to do some intentional reflecting both on our time here and our return to life in Canada.  We found a very reasonably priced cottage in the Drakensberg mountains and holed away with some planned activities and unplanned fun.  This ended up being particularly refreshing after hosting 6 young adults for three weeks as they ran a VBS here in town as well as a fellow missionary family from Johannesburg for a week.  At one point there were 18 people at the dinner table for several nights!


The first afternoon, we presented the kids with mini photo albums of pictures representing their life here in South Africa – friends, church, trips and ministry.  The kids were thrilled to receive them and they then helped us create captions to go in them.  We hope that these will serve as a visual cue for explaining their experience to friends and family as well as a permanent keepsake of their time here.

The following day the kids created scrapbook collages of their favourite things from South Africa using grocery flyers, candy wrappers and tourism magazines.  We have them laminated to last and again, hopefully, they will be a reminder of their time here in the years to come.


One of our family traditions is to keep an Ebenezer, a vase filled with rocks where we have written evidences of God’s faithfulness or specific answers to prayer in our lives.  It was so special to be able to take rocks from Richmond, the beaches in Cape Town and even the farm Duncan’s father grew up on and write down and reflect on the many ways God has shown himself faithful while we’ve been here.


Finally, just this morning we talked about what it will be like travelling home including what/who we’re going to miss and what we’re looking forward to about our return.  We talked about what will be the same as when we left Canada and what will be different.  And we ended talking about how we were different and so things will look different even if they haven’t changed because we have.



We also managed to fit in a hike, though we turned back early because the weather was not good and lots of kayaking on the ‘mud puddle’ pond on the property.  Obviously, there will still be struggles as we adjust together to a new time zone, climate, and environment again but having some time as a family was helpful and we will try to keep some of our familiar routines the same too to give the kids a sense of familiarity.

Please pray for us as we finish out our last five days in South Africa, particularly because those five days are packed with goodbyes and likely much joy but also many tears.  It is amazing how dear this country and our friends here have become in a relatively short amount of time.  As Levi puts it, “They’re not just friends, they’re TRUE friends Mom!”

From grace to umusa,



“Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”

Do you remember that song? If you’re like me it brings back memories from somewhere in your childhood being taught it or hearing it sung. If you’re even more like me, you didn’t much like that song. It’s too hokey, too… simple? I think for a long time I assumed it was another one of those cute songs that religious people get their kids to sing because it’s an easy way to try and brainwash them into obeying and not causing problems.


Along with being the Operations Manager for Emmanuel’s Wish Foundation in South Africa, I have a few other roles, just like everyone else: father, husband, friend, and occasional worship leader at the local church that has adopted us during our time away from Canada. While trying to pick out some songs that would support the message one week, Trust and Obey made its way to my mind. I dismissed it, but it came back and I eventually gave in to at least looking up the rest of the words.

“When we walk with the Lord, in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.”

Yeah, I remembered that part. God is with us as we walk with Him. That’s good, but that word “glory” still reverberates funny with me. I kept reading.

“But we never can prove the delights of His love
Until all on the altar we lay;
For the favour He shows, for the joy He bestows
Are for them who will trust and obey.

I didn’t remember this verse and I had to stop a minute to think about it. In fact, there was something in it that really struck a chord (pun intended). We cannot prove the delights of His love until we lay it all on the altar. Put another way, we won’t really know how great it is to be upheld by God’s love until we let go of what we want and surrender our will to Him and really let Him be Lord and direct us. I’ve had a similar thought before. Could it be that part of the reason we so often wonder where God is and why He doesn’t seem to do much in our lives is because we are trying to control everything? Rather than simply obeying we come up with excuses and reasons why it’s not wise, or not the right time.

How often do we miss out on the “delights of His love” because we are unwilling to just trust and obey what He’s telling us?


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When Trish and I felt God was telling us to take a leave from my work, raise support, and move to South Africa for 18 months we were nervous. Sure, the idea of a change and adventure was exciting, but there are a lot of practical challenges in moving a family of five to another continent for over a year. Asking other people for money is humbling. The South African visa process can be extremely frustrating. And most people wanted to know if it was safe. So did we.

Trust and obey. I wasn’t humming that chorus at the time but we were trying to live it out. So once we felt confident it wasn’t just our own crazy idea we decided to trust all the parts we couldn’t control to the One who can and started doing our part in going.

Now we are almost ready to come home. Was it all favour and joy? No. Certainly not. Some of our most stressful and challenging times have happened while we were here. But there was favour. And there was joy. And we saw God working in us and others in ways we haven’t seen as clearly before. Are we glad we came? Yes, very.

“Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at His feet,
Or we’ll walk by His side in the way;
What He says we will do, where He sends we will go;
Never fear, only trust and obey.”

Another great verse, especially the second half. That’s a motto I want to live by, even though I’ve messed up on it plenty of times. There were times God told me to go and I made excuses and stayed. There were also times when I believe God wanted me to stay but I made excuses and went. In coming to South Africa we listened and obeyed. I want to keep doing that, even though I know I’ll still mess it up. Even during our time here there are “smaller” things that God has said that I haven’t done. Obeying once doesn’t make you perfect – it usually just helps show you how much less than perfect you really are!

So I’ve been won over to this old song. And I’m teaching it to my kids. Not because I want them to obey my every command (though I would, believe me I would!) but because it’s got the kind of depth that’s helped it to last from 1887. A depth I didn’t appreciate until just recently. I read that the inspiration for the song came from the testimony of a man who said “I am not quite sure, but I’m going to trust, and I’m going to obey.” I love the humility in that. No of us knows perfectly, and we never will. But there are simply truths God has spelt out for us in His word and times when He speaks to us. Our job is to trust Him and obey.


What about you? What’s God telling you to do? Does he want you to go? To stay? To give? To speak? Are you making excuses? If you belong to Him then I guarantee that He’s telling you something. There’s always an adventure of faith He wants you to go on. It could be in your neighbourhood. It could be in your own family. It could even be in South America!

If you thought I was going to say South Africa, you’re right. I was. It could be there too.

So listen to what God is telling you. Often we already know and just don’t really want to admit it or think about it too hard. Then decide to trust and choose to obey. It’s worth it. And it’s the only way to really be happy.

From grace to umusa,


A facelift

Remember a year ago when we asked for your support in trying to give the Comfort Home a facelift?


Well it happened.  We had over $2000 come in to help not only with repainting but also with new curtains and new art work for the walls.

I started to post pictures several times but each time I would think about it, I would remember that another piece of the project was soon to be done and so I’d wait.  Well, the wait is over because the paint is on, the curtains are up, the artwork is up, the beautiful vinyl lettering from Merci Bow-Coup is up and it all looks great.

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Thank you to everyone who gave towards this project.  The difference was immediately noticeable.  Staff can function better with a proper desk and storage space.  Their work is now professional because their environment says it is!  Patients are surrounded by encouraging verses and beautiful artwork.

We’re thrilled with the results!

From grace to umusa,


South African Expressions

A first post from Duncan…He wrote this awhile back but never posted it and I was reminded of it as I read Counter Culture by David Platt when he wrote, “The difference between them (racist pastors in 1960s Alabama) and me is more one of degree than kind.”

Having been in South Africa for a while now, we have started a small collection of terms that South Africans use which we were not at first accustomed to. For example, consider this hypothetical conversation:

  • Howzit?
    • Hectic!
  • Is it?
    • Hundred percent!
  • Eish!
    • Cheers!
  • Pleasure

Roughly translated to North-American, this would be:

  • How’s it going?
    • Terrible!
  • Really?
    • Totally!
  • Sorry to hear that…
    • So long
  • Been good to see you

These and other idioms are interesting and fun to use, but there’s an expression that always sets me on edge. I’ve heard it numerous times from people of various backgrounds. As they talk about their country I often hear South Africans say “I’m not racist, but…”

This is usually followed by a sweeping generalization of a group of people defined by either the colour of their skin or a place of origin – a generalization of how a group of people act, feel, or think about things.


Is that not racism?

Does not the generalizing of people who are different from us in some way, particularly when it comes to their skin colour, constitute racism? Can someone make racist statements and not be racist? It is possible to repeat a statement one has heard somewhere and not actually believe it, but the comments I have heard have come with an emotional quality, revealing that the speaker believes it to be at least mostly true.

Now it is worth pointing out that this country, more than some, has only recently come out of a nightmarish level of institutionalized racism. This has deeply affected its citizens and left many emotional wounds that are difficult to heal. I’ve seen this hurt in their eyes and in their comments.

But does this make it alright to generalize?


Can change and healing come about when entire groups of people are still painted with the same broad brush?

Some say that aparthied is still alive in South Africa. That groups, races, and peoples, are still separated and treated differently. As a Canadian outsider I would agree that there is still a lot of separation. There are still barriers to people getting equal education, equal healthcare, equal jobs, equal living conditions.

If only they lived in Canada, how much better it would be for them! We would never judge them by their skin, by their language, by their country of origin. Or would we? Or do we?

I’m not racist, but…

Perhaps I am. Not perhaps, actually. I am. I too am racist. I treat groups of people who are different from me differently. I generalize. And it’s wrong. Deeply and completely wrong.

Why do I do this? I could blame a lot of things. I could blame my peers in the schoolyard for telling me that everyone from Newfoundland is stupid and everyone from Ethiopia is starving. I could blame my country for telling me that everyone on a Canadian reserve should be there. I could blame the media for telling me that all inner-city African-Americans are violent gang members.

But I can’t blame them. I am racist because I suffer from a sickness – sin. It’s sin that entices me to think of myself as better than others; to think that I’m superior and always right. It’s an insidious infection that turns us all against each other so that we might destroy each other in the process.

Thank God there is a cure to this infection! Thank God that he can change my heart and my thinking. I thank God because I can’t change myself. No amount of will power is going to purge this deep illness from my consciousness. As Paul said,

I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me.  Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?  Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.  Romans 7:22-25a

I pray God will continue to point out the sin in my heart so that I can ask Him to free me of it. I pray that He will continue to point out the sin in South Africa so that they would ask Him to free them of it. I pray that He will continue to point out the sin in Canada so that they would ask Him to free them of it.



Is it?


It is a shame, but there is hope. And it’s in Christ.

Whose got the time?

There is an African proverb that goes like this

The white man has a watch but he doesn’t have the time.

It is a proverb that has proven true as we’ve witnessed the difference between the rush of the average North American and the laid-back ‘African time’ of our Zulu friends.

I thought I would share a fun case in point.

Several weekends ago we were invited to a Thanksgiving celebration for one of our friend and coworker’s mother-in-law.  When I asked Thandeka what that meant, she explained it was to celebrate her 70th birthday. (Sidenote: We will be referring to birthdays as Thanksgiving celebrations from now on.  How sweet is that?) 

We were thrilled to be invited and excited to go.  We were invited for 11am on a Saturday.

Now we have learned some things over our year here.  One of them is that nothing ever starts when they say it will.  The creche graduation in December started an hour and a half after it was scheduled to.  This is just the way things go.

We aren’t newbies anymore so we planned to show up around noon.  As we were gathering things together at 11:45, Duncan received a phone call from our friend Robert.  He was speaking at the Thanksgiving celebration and was wondering if we could help him type up a program for the order of ceremonies.  We agreed he could come over and I would type it and then run over to our local copy centre to have it printed for him.

Robert showed up 5 minutes later and handed me a hand written piece of paper.  The first item on the program was Introduction and Welcome (in isiZulu) and it was scheduled for 10am.  The last item on the program was Lunch and was scheduled for 11:45 (remember its now 11:50).  All the times on the program were already in the past!

Because we had harassed him about it, Robert called ten minutes after he left and said, “Just leave off the times”.  However, in typical South African style, just as I finished typing the program, the clock struck noon and the power went out (power outages are regular but we’re never quite sure when they will happen).  So no programs were actually printed for the ceremony.

We ended up arriving at a beautiful and elaborate party by 1pm, just as the Welcome finished.  At 2:30pm our friends in the kitchen had pity on our poor ill-prepared Canadian children and fed them lunch while the ceremony finished up and the rest of us ate lunch at 3:30pm.



The most beautiful thing about this is that no one there was in the least bit stressed.  This is what community and togetherness is about.  It was the event of the day and there were no guests trying to fit in errands after the lunch or time to work on their latest deck project.  We were all glad to be together.  And be well fed – for the host had slaughtered a cow for the occasion.  I can vouch for that because I saw the remains in their rondavel (small round traditional house) and regret that I didn’t find Duncan with our camera and snatch a picture!


The birthday lady!

We are thankful for friends.  Thankful to be included in the community.  And thankful for a wonderful 70 year old woman who chose Christ many years ago and has suffered much because of it. And for her lovely family who took such effort to honour her while she was still around to be blessed by it.

From grace to umusa,


A Zulu Alphabet

Last week Duncan and I swapped roles (sort of).  Duncan stayed home and homeschooled the kids while I spent the week in the office with Nonzuzo, our friend and coworker who manages the creche.  This was a time we had been talking about for months but finally got around to booking some time off to try and create some standard curriculum plans for the creche.

One of the ‘issues’ I was eager to tackle was the fact that the children are taught their alphabet at the creche using an English alphabet even though none of them speak English.  While part of our emphasis is to teach them some beginner English, I didn’t see how learning the alphabet in an unfamiliar language was helpful at all.  “A is for apple” has no meaning when you don’t even know what an apple is and even less if ‘a’ makes a different sound in your heart language.

Nonzuzo and I debated back and forth for a couple of days creating an isiZulu (as in the Zulu language, not culture) alphabet.   She proposed that it was very difficult because isiZulu is not like English.  I proposed that it must be possible.

The challenge in isiZulu is that nouns always have a prefix attached to them, in the singular usually an ‘i’.  For example, taking a word that is very similar in English and isiZulu, tomato in isiZulu is ‘tamatisi’ but it requires a prefix making it itamatisi.

Therefore, Nonzuzo challenged we could not create an isiZulu alphabet because all our words would start with ‘i’!  I tried to counter that we could just emphasize the ‘t’ in itamatisi and do something similar for the other letter sounds but she was not convinced.

After more debating at our Tuesday leaders meeting, everyone agreed that the only way to solve the problem was to do an isiZulu alphabet with verbs instead of nouns, because they do not require a prefix.  What followed was a hilarious debate to come up with 26 verbs to make up the alphabet cards for the wall.

Robert would suggest a verb and it would be shot down by the three ladies.  Sometimes the isiZulu speakers would all agree and Duncan would veto it because we had volun-told him to be the illustrator of the pictures and for some reason he though ‘doing’ would be a hard verb to draw.

I am happy to report however that we finally have a complete isiZulu alphabet to accurately teach the children the letter’s sounds and hopefully we can get our illustrator working hard.  As Nonzuzo said, “Our job is done, it is only for Duncan to do his work now”.  I like the sound of that!

From grace to umusa,