Hannah 

Today is a very important and exciting day in the Spragg house. Hannah turns nine today. (I know I’m always saying this…but seriously, where does the time go, people??) This day nine years ago, our lives changed forever. She made me a mom and our lives have been richer in every way possible. We are beyond blessed! 

Let me tell you a little bit about our sweet Hannah and how she continues to point me to Christ. Hannah is very laid back and easy going…even as a baby she was so easy. People used to tell us that we didnt really know what “real parents” go through because she was such a laid back baby. For example, she started sleeping through the night at 7 days old. I know, we had it good! (But for all you parents out there that are hating me right now…no worries she has 2 little brothers that more then made up for it 😉) She has the biggest compassionate heart of anyone I know. Anyone that knows her, knows that when she loves, she does it with her whole heart…and that includes people and animals alike. She has a very quiet and sweet spirit. She is a deep thinker and definitely keeps me on my toes with all her tough questions. She loves to laugh and make others laugh. She is a great big sister and her brothers love and adore her. She is very creative…loves to draw and is always singing and dancing through the house. Some days we all join in and let’s be honest here…some days she’s asked to take the singing outside. 😊 

So I could go on and on but Iets move on….

In her nine years of life she has been through her share of trials and heartbreaks as well. It is in these moments especially that I see God forming her into a woman of God. He is refining her and drawing her closer to Him. In one of our biggest trials as a family, Hannah lost her uncle. Hannah was 5 and she had grown especially close to him as he lived with us. God in His sovereignty and grace used this tragedy and heartbreak to draw her to Him and she decided to follow Christ with her life. 

Isaiah 55:8-9 For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts higher than your thoughts. 

Saying goodbye is never easy…well at least not to the people we love. 😉 As we were preparing to come to Swazi and all that that entailed…Saying goodbye to family and friends, and let’s not forget our dog, Nala, and leaving everything familiar to us…we were feeling many different emotions. Hannah came to me one day and said: Mommy half of my heart can’t wait to go to Swazi but the other half is broken because we have to say goodbye to everyone we love. So we had a very deep and tearful talk about the real sacrifices of following Christ. We are now 6+ months on the other side of that conversation and the sacrifices have been real and sometimes tearful but so worthwhile as I see God maturing her faith and trust in Him. She has never once said, I don’t want to go to Swaziland or can we move back to the States. Instead everyday she says, please can I go to the care points, please can I go play with my friends, mommy how can we tell this person or that person about Jesus, mommy I think we should make some cookies and bring to everyone. I see the joy in her eyes as she runs and gives our Swazi staff hugs. I see the love of God pouring through her and touching the lives of everyone around her. 

Proverbs 31:30 Charm is deicetful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. 

  

  

  

   

               

6 Months

Wow! I cannot believe we have been here for 6 full months already. Where has the time gone? We feel so blessed to be able to call Swaziland our home. My heart overflows with joy and great contentment as I know we are right where God wants us! 

1 Timothy 6:6 Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment. 

I just want to say THANK YOU…because I can never say it enough…to everyone that is partnering with us financially and prayerfully! I love to see how God uses the family of Christ! Because of your obedience to Him, we are able to serve Him here in Swaziland. We wouldn’t want to be anywhere else! 

 

   

 One of my favorite days of the week is Thursday morning, where we have our staff Bible study in our home.  One of our greatest passions is our Swazi staff. We work with AMAZING brothers and sisters in Christ! It has been so great to study the book of Ephesians together. Our prayer for our staff is that we would have unity, as the body of Christ, and be imitators of God.  (In the picture below we are missing two of our staff) 

Ephesians 4:4-6 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 

 

   

 In the 6 months that we have been here we have seen many highs and lows. We have grieved with those that grieve and rejoiced with those that rejoice. We have shed many tears of heartbreak and joy. We have experienced spiritual warfare like never before but we have also seen God answer prayer and move in ways that seem impossible to us. (I will share more in detail in our next blog) Through it all we have seen and experienced God’s faithfulness like never before. In the valleys and mountain tops, He remains faithful. In the joys and challenges, He has always shown His face. Our God is faithful! 

This has been my prayer for our family…

Romans 12:9-12 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 

 
 

   


 

  


 

        

  

     

Give Thanks in ALL Circumstances

So often in life we forget about the common, every day generosity of our heavenly Father.   I am not talking about how thankful we should be for the amazing truth and blessing of the gift of righteousness He has given us through His Son Jesus Christ, but rather the physical things that we have that we usually do not think twice about.   This is the reality that I was faced with just a couple of weeks ago.    The staff here in Nsoko had the opportunity to visit a few of our local families, and deliver some of our extra mattresses that were no longer in use at our team house.   As we pull up to these homes, more times than not we are met with the rush of happy children, some naked, some clothed, and are invited into their humble homes.   Homes that they are very proud of.   As we sit in these homes, you realize that we are sitting on a dirt floor covered with pieces of linoleum, straw mats and anything that can cover these hard surfaces to give a little more comfort and cleanliness.   You sit in these homes where many will curl up and sleep for the night on this solid surface, realizing that the rays of sunlight light that are seeping into the dimly lit structure are not from windows strategically placed to give a nice view or look to the house, but rather because the walls and roof are filled with holes throughout.   Holes that will function as open flowing faucets when the intense blowing storms hit during this rainy season that we are currently in.   As we stay and talk, the joy in their faces can be seen as they share how grateful and extremely thankful they are for this gift of a mattress, a mattress that you would not even consider putting on your bed, giving praise to God for His provision.   I share all of this not to bring guilt into your life for the stuff that you have, but rather to encourage you as He has encouraged me.  I challenge you to continually thank God for the every day gifts that He has so generously given you.   The not so simple fact that you are able to curl up into a bed that is most likely layered with comfortable sheets, blankets and pillows, under a roof that will probably not leak if a heavy storm hits, or possibly blow over if the winds get too strong, is something that you should not take credit for.  This is purely the work of God and can be taken away at any moment.  Just as Paul learned to be content and thankful in times of plenty and in times of need, so must we model this mindset.  Thank God for all of this, and pray for those who do not have these.  Pray that God will provide for their needs, and that in His provision, His love and grace can be shared, seen and accepted.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.  Do not quench the Spirit.

1 Thessalonians 5:16 – 19

Many blessings,

Stephen

Our First Holidays in Swazi

Wow! Are we really coming to the end of 2014?? This year has flown by and especially these last few months.

We had a great first Christmas here in Swaziland! One of the things I love most about Swazi culture, especially during the Christmas season, is the slower pace of life. It has been amazing for our family to just “BE”… be together, be still and quiet and see God in the little things. The things we normally miss when our schedules are full and we’re rushing here, there, and everywhere, especially during the Christmas season.

Psalm 46:10 Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted among the earth.

On Christmas Day, it was HOT. It’s so different being in shorts and t-shirts during Christmas time. We were able to get together with our fellow missionaries in Manzini and all the kids swam. I’m so thankful for our family of believers we have here in Swazi. We have been able to keep old traditions and make new ones. I am so very thankful for technology and even though we are thousands of miles away from our friends and families, we were still able to “see” them!

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Here are a few pics from our first Thanksgiving as well. We had an amazing world race team here and with our ministry staff and fellow Nsoko missionaries there were 40+ people. It was great!

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Genuine Thankfulness

Psalm 138:1&2 I give You thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart…….and give thanks to Your name for Your steadfast love and your faithfulness, for You have exalted above all things Your name and Your word.

We have SO much to be thankful for! The last couple of months and the last year have been a HUGE life change and transition period for our family. As I look back on all that has happened, I am truly humbled and in awe of His faithfulness, His grace, His provision, His protection and how He answers prayer!

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In the short time that we have been here my life is forever changed. God is teaching me what true contentment and genuine thankfulness looks like. God is beginning to show me just how much I have taken for granted. To have clean water is truly a blessing, we have food in abundance, we have a vehicle and the means to go to a hospital if need be, we have a house and electricity and indoor plumbing and running water. We don’t have to live in fear of a storm coming and blowing our roof off or flooding our homestead, and every time our electricity goes out, which can be quite often :), I am reminded not to take it for granted. We have a washer and dryer. I have done laundry by hand and it is hard work and time consuming….especially the way our boys just seem to be attracted to dirt. :) I am beyond thankful for this luxury and the time it saves me. Those are just a few of the everyday things I am so thankful for and I pray I never take for granted again.

I can’t write a post about thankfulness and not mention my amazing family. I sit back amazed at how God is changing and molding our children’s hearts for Him. I know that He is and will continue to use them to do great and mighty things in His name. I am a very blessed Make. (A little siSwati lesson there :) Make pronounced maw-gay means mom.) I am also beyond thankful for my amazing husband. I am so thankful that God has given me a partner, a best friend, to do life with. It is an amazing gift to have a father and husband who is selfless, who loves and adores his family but most of all who hungers and thirsts for righteousness, who is sensitive to the Holy Spirit and loves God with all his heart. As I look around me and see so many broken homes I have never been so thankful for my family.

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Most of all I am thankful for what we have in Christ! It is only in Him that we can have true contentment and genuine thankfulness. I have never seen the true need or hunger or thirst like I have here but I also have never seen the joy or genuine thankfulness and contentment like I have here either. He never promised His children an easy trial free life here on this earth…actually quite the opposite. (John 16:33 I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.) It is how we view this world and react to our trials that make all the difference. We are only passing through, our real home is in Heaven. Are we living each day with eternity in mind?
As believers, as brothers and sisters in Christ we are beyond blessed and have so much to be thankful for!!

2 Corinthians 4:16-18
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

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Our New Norm

Hello Everyone!

It’s hard to believe we’ve been here for a month already but in some ways it seems like this has always been our home.

When we sit back and watch our children, it is further confirmation from God that we are truly where He wants us. They haven’t missed a beat. They LOVE it here! We see it in their faces, in their smiles, in their desire to go to the care points and play with the children daily, in the way they are beginning to speak Siswati and in their prayers as they thank God that we are finally in Swaziland!

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It has definitely been a crazy month, with so much to learn ministry wise, culturally, the language and planning Christmas parties for all the Care Points. Then there is just the day to day living…we needed to figure out the grocery stores, (when you have kids that eat like ours this is a priority:) ) it only took a couple of days of the kids playing in the African soil and me washing clothes in the bathtub to let us know we couldn’t wait another day to get a washing machine. :) and then just all the things you need to make up your house so it can actually be livable.

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I’ll give you just a little rundown of our daily schedule….although it can change daily, it normally looks something like this. Get up in the morning eat breakfast together and then Stephen will head out for the morning meeting with our Swazi staff…which are amazing by the way…and we normally do school in the morning. The rest of the day can (but not always) be filled with home visits, going to the care points to do discipleship, Christmas parties, hospital runs, and just learning the culture and always trying to learn new words in siSwati. We want to get to know the people we serve with and the people God has called us to serve. We don’t ever want to be so consumed with our schedules for the day that we miss what God has for us.

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He has taught us so much this first month. He continues to refine and stretch us, taking us out of our comfort zones. As things may happen that we haven’t planned for or are a surprise to us, we are reminded that we serve an all knowing God. One who is sovereign and nothing takes Him by surprise, and in Him and only Him do we have His peace and joy in the midst of this transition stage.

Thank you so much for your prayers. It has been a great encouragement to get emails saying our family has been covered in prayers! Thank you! Thank you!

Hebrews 12:1-2
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

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We are Here!!!

Sawubona!! Hello from Swaziland!

Wow!! We are here! I can’t believe it. We are actually here…after over a year of planning and preparing and over a month of traveling and saying goodbye and training…after 2 days of intense traveling with 2 hotel stops, 2 flights …16+ hrs in the air and a 6hr bus ride…after juggling 40+ bags with our 2 families…WE ARE HERE!!!!

It seems a bit surreal…we live in Africa…in Swaziland. A small country in southern Africa where over 2 years ago God began to do big things in our hearts and our family. We are home!

We were able to travel with the Malloys, our fellow missionaries coming over from Louisiana, to serve in Nsoko, Swaziland. What a blessing it has been to live life with them during this crazy transition stage. The kids are LOVING it here! They have done amazing through all of the traveling, newness, and just plain craziness. I am so humbled and thankful as I see God’s grace in our lives. He has truly gone before us and prepared our way and our hearts. We serve an awesome God!

Here are lots of pictures from all of our crazy travels and our first couple of days here in Swaziland. Durban Wedding Photographer_0129 Durban Wedding Photographer_0130 Durban Wedding Photographer_0131 Durban Wedding Photographer_0132 Durban Wedding Photographer_0133 Durban Wedding Photographer_0134 Durban Wedding Photographer_0135 Durban Wedding Photographer_0136 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Durban Wedding Photographer_0138 Durban Wedding Photographer_0139 Durban Wedding Photographer_0140 Durban Wedding Photographer_0141 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Durban Wedding Photographer_0143 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Durban Wedding Photographer_0145 Durban Wedding Photographer_0146 Durban Wedding Photographer_0147 Durban Wedding Photographer_0148

Here We Go!!

Hey Friends!

Just wanted to give you all a little update, I’m a little behind as things have been insane this past month.

Well, I am sitting in a hotel in New York writing this as we have officially started our physical journey to Swaziland! I just need to stop there for a minute and say, Wow! I can’t believe we are really on our way…after more then a year of actual planning for this day…it is here!

There is excitement, and anticipation and heartbreak and lots of tears as we’ve said so many goodbyes…but most of all there is peace. A peace that can only come from God. A peace that brings us joy even amongst the sacrifices of following our Savior.

We fly out of JFK tomorrow morning, Wed Oct 1st, and go straight through to Johannesburg South Africa. It is a 14 hr flight and we will be getting in around 9 o’clock Thursday morning, local time, which is 6 hours ahead of what we’re used to. We will be met by some amazing missionaries and will then drive 6 hours to Swaziland, where we will collapse on a bed. :)

We have been able to travel with the other family that God has called to Swazi, The Malloys. Between the both of our families we have 31 bags plus backpacks for everyone. There are five children in all, ranging from ages 8 to 3. Let’s just say we got quite a few “looks” today. Here are some pictures of our day of travel today.

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We ask that you continue to keep us in your prayers during this transition stage.

Matthew 19:29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.

So many “lasts”!

Hello Friends!

Wow! What a crazy last couple of weeks it’s been! It has been filled with so many lasts, so many “wow” moments…as in “WOW, This is really happening”…so many emotions and sacrifices and SO many God moments! Where once again I am amazed and humbled to see His hands at work in our lives and on this journey He has called us on.

This past week was Stephen’s last week of work, it was our last week in our house and now we have started traveling to see family for the last time before we leave. The month of August has been filled with so many different emotions.

We are currently at 89% funded monthly and only need $543 more dollars committed monthly and we will be at 100% supported. Our God is faithful!!!

It is a bit surreal to know that the preparation side of this journey is coming to an end and we are about to make the biggest move of our lives to a country God sketched onto our hearts, and to a people that we love so deeply.

We had our estate sale, where God showed up in a big way! We basically sold everything we owned that day, and it was so encouraging and humbling as our life group and family of believers showed us Christ that day! We had people there helping in every way possible, we had people praying for the weather, it was meant to storm that day…but it didn’t…we had people praying we would sell everything and we had people come and buy things just to support us! Here are some pictures of that day.

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And here are some pictures of after our sale.

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So what do you do after you sell everything you own? You go to the dollar movies of course, and watch How to Train Your Dragon 2.

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I am amazed at watching God work in our children’s hearts! They have been amazing in the midst of all the craziness, of selling everything we own, everything that is familiar to them. God is truly gripping their hearts for the people of Swaziland. God is teaching them in a very real way at a very young age that following Him is not always easy and there will be sacrifices here on this earth. Well our sweet Hannah experienced this kind of sacrifice just this past week as we told her that we could not bring our dog, Nala, with us. The saying, a dog is a mans best friend, could not be more true then with Hannah and Nala! Because there are no words to truly describe her heartbreak here is a picture of them right after I told her.

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It was one of the hardest conversations to have with her, knowing it was going to break her heart, and oh there were so many tears. But through the tears and the heartbreak I saw God working in her heart and her child like faith, that doesn’t put God in a box, as she said “mommy, I’m going to pray that God brings someone we know to love Nala and take care of her. And when we come back to visit they will let us see her.” She knows that we serve a God who hears our prayers and answers them!

Isaiah 51:6 Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look at the earth beneath; for the heavens vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment, and they who dwell in it will die in like manner; but my salvation will be forever, and my righteousness will never be dismayed.

He Goes Before Us!

Hey friends! Some BIG things have happened this month that continue to show how God truly is going before us and preparing our way. I am amazed at how He continues to confirm our calling to Swaziland as He answers prayers and moves mountains that get us one step closer.

We continue to be humbled that God has chosen us to be a part of His story and the work He is doing in Swaziland. We serve a great God, who is always faithful!

Deuteronomy 32:4 The Rock, His way is perfect, for all His ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is He.

One of the biggest “mountains” in this journey has been selling our house. Well, guess what…after 20+ showings in a months time…It.Is.Sold!!!!!!!!! We close on August 18th. Once again there are no words but humbled. We get a front row seat at seeing His hand at work!

God has taught me so much through this process of selling our home. He has used this to open my eyes and convict my heart of how selfish my prayers can be. Let me give you a little example…when our house first went up for sale my prayer was that it would sale FAST, because then people would see His power, aaaand my main reason, because it would be MUCH easier on me! Oh how I fall so easily into Satan’s traps and forget THE REASON why we are here, and that is to bring honor and glory to God and make His name known among the nations. I am so thankful that God does not leave me in my sin but He continues to refine me.
My prayer began to change, more than I wanted things to be easy for me, I prayed that God would bring a believer into our house to continue to be a witness in our neighborhood. Whether God sold our house “fast or slow”, it would be in His perfect timing and ALL the details He would bring together would bring Him the most honor and glory! God didn’t just sell our house but He sold our house for $100 MORE then what we were asking for it!

Ephesians 3:20-21 Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

The other big obstacle standing in our way is being 100% funded monthly. We are at 75% as of right now. Our goal has been to be at 100% by August. We need to be able to buy our tickets no later then the middle of August. We are in the home stretch here people! We only need 12 more people to partner with us at $100 a month or equivalent to and we will be 100% funded! I cannot wait to see how God is going to do it! It was just in June that we were at 13% and now in less then two months we are at 75%. We are amazed and once again humbled to see God work in the hearts of His church and the obedience that follows in our family of believers. God has called us and He will continue to prepare our way!

Titus 2:11-13 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.