Category Archives: Photos

My Sweet Annie


It is hard to believe my sweet Annie turned 5 today!  Wow!  It is always a little shocking when one of my children have a birthday, but something about my baby turning 5 years old is hard to believe!

I’ve though a lot, over the past few days, about the day Annie was born.  About how Aunt Carrie and Bobbie came for a visit and stayed with the other girls so I could go on a walk.  And it worked!  Later that afternoon I knew for sure I was in labor and sure enough we got to meet Annie for the first time.

We did not find out the gender of our babies before they were born, so each time it was a fun surprise to find out…and especially to find out we now had 3 girls!  How FUN!

We enjoyed all the excitement that comes after being introduced to your baby for the first time and the first time snuggles.  My parents had not arrived and were still on the way to meet her.  Luckily, they arrived around midnight and got to meet Annie for the first time.  And I’m so glad they did.

We did not know it then, but it turned out that Annie was very sick!  Sometime in the middle of that night, a nurse came into my room and told me that Annie was not allowed to leave the nursery so I would have to come down there.  A nurse on duty was watching Annie closely and noticed that something did not seem quite right.  They had called in the doctor to observe her and run some tests

Long story short, she had some kind of infection in her blood.  She was very, very sick.  After talking to the doctor sometime after she was well and had come home, he told us if it had not been for modern medicine, she probably would not have made it.  I’m so thankful for the nurse who was working that evening and noticed something was not right.  I’m also very thankful for all the doctors that worked together to treat Annie.  I’m thankful God healed Annie and has given her to us for this time!   She is a really great blessing to our family!

We had some birthday fun starting yesterday when we went to Hlane Game Reserve.  It has rained here a lot lately and the roads were pretty muddy, but we still had fun.  We got to see elephant, rhino, and hippo among other animals.  It was a beautiful day and we had fun.

Today we celebrated some more.  One tradition we have is the birthday person gets to pick where they want to go out to eat.  Annie picked a place called Spur, which is where we almost always go, because she wanted to get this special birthday meal.  It is a kids meal that comes with an ice cream treat and a toy.  And, on your birthday, they sing to you…and she really wanted that!

We just had a family party at home.  The girls were so sweet about helping to make Annie’s day special. They gave her a few presents they bought…a pack of gum and a chocolate bar.  Caroline gave her one of her dolls and some clothes to go with it because Annie really wanted a baby with curly hair.  She also made some pretty sweet cards.  Ellianna made a little coin purse because Annie did not have a place to put her money and she wanted something.  Ellianna also knitted a scarf for Annie too!  They were so generous and thoughtful!

We also had some cake, of course.  I have this crazy thing I do for my kid’s birthdays. I see some fancy cake and think, “I can make that”.  And then I try and it does not work, but I still do it!  I am probably the least crafty person ever and for some reason I still think I can do it.  This year was no different.

I saw a cake the other day and wanted to ty it.  Annie wanted a red and green cake with Christmas trees.  Yes, I know it is April.  I got this idea to try the cake I saw using the colors she wanted.  And I convinced her she would like something besides Christmas trees.  So, this year her cake was a polka dot (on the inside) cake.  It did not work like I wanted it too, but it worked okay.  It tasted good and we enjoyed it.

Annie has been such a joy to our family the past 5 years.  She is funny, sweet, thoughtful, smart, energetic, loud, beautiful, helpful, caring, a momma’s girl to her core, and much more.  She enjoys being read to and is learning to read too.  She has a contagious laugh and is a smiley giggley girl.  I love her so much!  I’ve learned a lot from her and I knowI will continue to do so.  I love having conversations with her and love the questions she asks.

When I think of Annie and all of her sweetness, I think how thankful I am for her!  I’m thankful for so many things about her, but I’m really thankful we have her.  Not all mommas get this long with their babies.  I’m thankful and I’m praying for many more wonderful years together!



Annie's Cake

Annie’s Cake

Birthday Scarf

Birthday Scarf

Brad and Annie

Brad and Annie

Polka Dot Cake

Polka Dot Cake

Annie's 5th Birthday

Annie’s 5th Birthday


Avo Tree Update


Lately I have been thinking we should have more trees on campus.  I have been saving seeds to donate to the garden volunteers so they can use them as seedlings for the garden.  Then it hit me.  I could also be saving seeds that will grow into trees and not just plants.

I realize that growing a tree from a seed can take a looooong time, but if you never start, you will never have the tree, right?  I may not be around this place if and when a tree grows enough to produce fruit, but how nice would it be to have planted something so that one day others can enjoy the harvest?

As I was thinking about this and cutting an avocado, I was thinking about how much the avo tree that has already been planted has grown.  In 2010, my girls along with Brad’s parents, planted an avo tree they started from a seed.  See post and video here.

So, here is the avo tree update picture.  It has grown a lot.

Ellianna and the Avo Tree

Ellianna and the Avo Tree


We finally saw cats…


We’ve been in a kind of denial about Kruger National Park having cats — lions, leopards, cheetah, etc. We’d been a couple of times and never seen any hint of them. Yeah, we’d seen other people’s photos, but it was just hard to believe. But, we finally had our opportunity — and it was grand! (Some pictures below!)

Our trip to Kruger was on 2-4 November . The girls did a splendid job and really enjoyed it.

We got to see two young male lions laying right next to the road not too far into the park. The first one we watched for about 10 minutes, he would pop his head up when he heard a noise but was lying on his back/side. As we decided to move on since he wasn’t too entertaining, we were passing the other car stopped with us and then could see there was another sitting under a bush beside him (but we couldn’t see that before). He was sitting up so we watched them for a while before they got up and walked away. We would have assumed they were lionesses until they got up to walk away — their mane was still very light and short. It’s hard to imagine them getting much bigger, but they are young and I guess they do!

We had great accommodations at our camp right next to the river! The vegetation prevented seeing much from the actual cottage, but we had breakfast on our patio which was situated next to the fence where we could see and hear everything. We went for an early (5a) drive on Saturday in hopes of seeing something. The first two hours we saw a couple of elephants. And that’s all.

But as we were heading back to the camp and topped a hill, something little walked out into the road a distance away. I said, “What is that?” The girls thought it was a baboon or monkey (it was that small), but it was walking like a four-legged animal. It sat down in the middle of the road and as we got closer, the mother lion walked out from the other side of the road next to it. Wow! Then two other cubs came out following the mother. They sat there in the middle of the road for a while in front of us. Another car drove up behind us. Then the mother started to walk away. That first cub we saw was very, very slow and the mom lion just left him lagging behind — eventually leaving him completely! We followed her up the road and eventually she walked off the side with the two cubs.

We drove on up the hill (less than 100 meters) and there was another lioness and her four cubs — and a tour truck and other cars around them. This one carried one in her mouth and sat around for another minute. Then we followed (second in line) this lioness and her cubs down the road until she walked off the road with the cubs following. Definitely a great lion morning! We were then surrounded by a whole bunch of baboons and made our way back to the camp and had breakfast and packed up to go out again. The lions definitely made our early morning worth it.

On Saturday, we saw lots of elephants — including following about 15 (including babies) to a waterhole where they played and cooled off for about 20 minutes. It was cool and overcast on Friday (which was nice) but began to warm up on Saturday (though it was overcast until mid-afternoon). We saw a few giraffe and we also found another lioness and cubs down by the Sabie river — we didn’t have a great view but were able to see them down there. We saw the other usual things: mongoose, hippos everywhere, rhinos (and a young rhino, but from far off) and a couple of cape buffalo (not many and on the far side of the Sabie river). We had a large monitor lizard surprise us while we ate lunch at a picnic site. We saw a mother hyena and her cubs as well.

Just before getting to our Saturday night camp, there were a couple of cars stopped. Only one seemed to know what it was looking at — through binoculars. After listening to them try to explain it to the other car I looked at one lonely tree that was over the horizon of the ground (it was about sunset time) and sure enough, a leopard stood up on the branch and then laid back down. We sat there for quite a while trying to help the girls see the leopard through the binoculars. It was pretty much impossible to see without but was certainly a leopard when we got the sights on it. Way, way, way far off (check out the picture with the arrow in the gallery), but we saw it.

When we got to the camp, they upgraded us to a family house instead of our cottage. We wished we had friends and family with us! We had a big place on the Rhino Trail next to the Dam with three patios, three bedrooms, a large living room (with a TV that had no good shows on), kitchen, garage, etc. It was a nice treat — we wished we had arrived a little earlier to enjoy it! We got up at 4a the next morning to go on a sunrise drive (since we learned that 5a is way after sunrise here!). We saw a hyena run across the road, two sleeping rhinos hidden in the bush, some lovely birds, and that’s it. Really. It was two hours of absolute nothing again — with a grumpy little one. We went back to the house, had breakfast, and stayed around there for a couple of hours. Ellianna, Caroline and I went for a walk on the trail by the dam at the camp. We saw a Rhino, squirrel, and a hippo loaded with turtles.

Then we made a much longer than expected drive out of the park — after the guy at camp wouldn’t sell us gas without cash — and he also wanted South African cash, not Swaziland! — and we didn’t think about using the ATM). It was a nervous drive toward the end.

We were backed up down the road by a very, very large elephant bull (with the longest tusks we’ve seen), saw several large journeys of giraffe, and were completely surrounded at one point by a large herd (30+) of elephant passing through. The girls were very excited to see something they had been looking for — a hippo walking because my mom said she had never seen a hippo walking. So, we did spot one walking through the bush beside road up from Crocodile River as we drove along.

Sunday was very, very hot but we finished seeing a mixture of zebra, giraffe, and wildebeest together just before the exit and about six warthoglets with a mom and dad warthog at the camp gate.

Last Wednesday, we went to Hlane Royal National Park here in Swaziland with a visiting lecturer, Floyd Vidler, and met up with our third year students were celebrating with the Allisons. We had a great time seeing more elephants and rhinos (including a baby rhino). We ended the day getting stuck in a mud hole. Oops! After being stuck for about 45 minutes, the park staff came and pulled us out, thankfully. We were a little worried about getting out in the mud after seeing some strange things in the water. 🙂

Storm Damages


I sat down to write about the big storm that we had here on campus a week or so ago and realized Brad had already done a gret job on the African Christian College website.  Please read here and there are lots of pictures too.

I quick overview is a storm cam through unexpectedly on a Tues. evening.  It caused a great amount of damage and left us without electricity or water for 4 days.

We have been very busy since then trying to get things back in order.

Our internet continues to give us fits.  It makes blogging difficult which is why I have not been updating the blog lately.  I have tried several times…but then I just walk away frustrated.  Maybe someday it will get all figured out and work the right way.

We are doing well.  I’ve got several things to write about to fill you all in on what has been going on (besides the storm, because life does go on).  Stay tuned for coming posts…internet willing!

We miss you all and are thankful for the kind words of encouragement we receive.  Thanks for keeping us in your thoughts and prayers.

Beautiful Girls


I ran across these recent photos on the camera. Aren’t they all so beautiful?!


Two weeks left – MOM Project


Two weeks from right now, we’ll have just taken off from the airport in Johannesburg, South Africa to begin our journey home. It’s hard to believe the end of our time is so near. Please be in prayer for us these last two weeks!

Today we went to the MOM Project again (Mausoweni Orphan Meals) to help with serving the meals. I took some videos of the kids singing (I’ll try to post those in the future) and took the camera for some pictures as well. So I wanted to share those with you.

Again, about 75-100 kids walked over to the school (and the home of the church) to get their rice and stew. Ellianna joined Rachael and me and she helped serve the food with a smile. The kids had a lot of fun with me and the camera…but I can only share a few pictures of our time there today. Perhaps this will help put some images to our earlier descriptions of the orphan feeding project we’ve posted in the blog.

Kruger Park Pictures


Tree planting family


I posted this earlier today…but it didn’t seem to work. So I’m trying again.

Today before lunch, the girls joined SuSu and Papa for a tree planting next to the house. Just before we arrived in Swaziland, my mom put one of her avocado seeds into water for it to take root. It did…which is quite amazing. The seed splits in half and then a tree and roots just grows straight out of it. The avocados are much larger here, so the seed is also pretty big. The girls have their own seeds they started several weeks ago. They likely won’t be ready to plant before we leave– but Auntie Jenene here will take care of them once we leave.

As part of the planting, we made this little highlight video…it’s 50 seconds long and you can see the plant growing out of the avo seed.

Malendela’s & House of Fire


Wednesday is break day during the week…no classes. Instead the students work in various jobs. Every student works on Wednesday in lieu of classes (others also work in the afternoons and on weekends to earn extra money). They all get paid more from their work on Wednesdays than they have due for school fees (housing, meals, etc.). I spent most of the day working on some stuff for class the next few days. But we took a little drive and had a great lunch and unique time.

We took a drive through Bethany (beth-AH-knee), a poor area on the side of one of the mountains. Many of the homes were made of mud and sticks and my dad told us about going to church in the middle of one of the neighborhoods where they would go down the mountain and have baptisms in the river. It was a moving story that for him helped really feel like he was “in Africa” and imagined it like John the Baptist at the river…amongst the brush, the cattle, bugs, etc.

Then we went to a place called Malandela’s for lunch. The restaurant has a beautiful view of the mountains; gorgeous gardens and good food. I ordered “Swazi Mixed Grill” off the chalk board menus. My plate came out with mashed potatoes (yum) a very nice salad, a barbequed chicken leg, a pork chop and a long link of sausage. Others had liver and onions (obviously none of us ‘younger’ Carters) and burgers and the girls shared a big kettle of chicken and dumplings. We ate on the patio with the beautiful views on a warm day. It was very nice.

The place also had a very unique entertainment venue that is a happening place on the weekends. It is called House of Fire ( and had a variety of stages and places to visit, drink, and have a good time. It was very elaborately decorated by some local artists with lots of color, tiles, statues, and all kinds of things. It felt very Austin, Texas. Really more like going to a mission in San Antonio that some hipster Austinites got ahold of and put tile murals everywhere. They host weddings, events, concerts, parties, festivals and things inside the place and on the grounds. It was a cool place—even with nothing going on.

We also did a little looking around the stores at the intricate and beautiful weavings—a lot of weaved bowls, rugs, coasters and placemats—that are so beautiful and are made by local women to have sustainable income. And we checked out the latest from Baobab Batik—another women empowerment enterprise that uses a local wax and color on cloth to make amazing designs. They’ve got some great, great pillows, cloths, and stuff! And of course, there was the toy store with lots of brightly colored wooden objects. We didn’t make any purchases today, but it’s fun to look at the things they have.

Malandela’s and House of Fire was not what we expect from “Africa” but was a nice, nearby oasis. (The bed and breakfast pool looked especially inviting—though it’s too cold here for it).

Swaziland and ACC