Friday, December 26, 2014


Hi everyone! Sorry, I've been gone a while, but I have all kinds of blog posts swirling around in my brain (the title of the next one is DIY with Duct Tape Deb - stay tuned!) so prepare to be inundated! Well, sort of. Inundated with only two or three blog posts...

Many of you have asked how it's going - the preparations to go back to South Africa. It's taking longer than I'd hoped, but I would still like to return early 2015.

 I'm going to start gathering the documents for my visa next week - maybe the third time around, I will have my act together! The first time I was completely inexperienced, I'd lost my Social Security card, and I was concerned about getting my passport back in time to travel to Bulgaria. The second time, I was applying for a visa extension while in SA. I'd neglected to keep all of my important documents (apparently I'd tossed my brain out the window as well!), and the police struggled to take fingerprints to American standards for the FBI! This time, I am ready!

I have also been working on raising support. I may have experience getting a visa, and I had to raise support this past year for my internship, so it's not a foreign concept. However, last time I went anticipating a trip of 4 1/2 months. I did end up staying ten months instead, but I managed to save, and also had the help of some generous church family. This time, I will need to raise more per month, and I will have some added expenses. For those of you who are interested, here are the details.

 I will need to buy a (used) car. These are, unfortunately, more expensive in South Africa than in America. Transportation was included in the internship, but as a caregiver, for the most part I will be expected to provide my own transportation. Although there are public transit systems available, they will not be feasible for me to use all of the time. (I still hope to learn to ride the bus! Especially the double decker one - looks like fun, and my friend from church told me IT WAS THE BEST DAY OF HER LIFE!!! when she got to ride on the top, once. So obviously I need to do it.) Taxis are widely used, but are not regarded as particularly safe, especially for a young, naive, female, white American such as myself. (A family from our church was kidnapped and held hostage for a day and a half while riding a taxi. Although these situations are rare, and I have been on a taxi before - with an African friend - I'd rather not depend on them!)

 With said car comes other expenses - gas (I think the price is about $6/gallon in US terms - I didn't calculate it myself, but a friend did), car insurance, and a repair budget. I'd like to get as cheap of a car as possible - we always drive clunkers in my family! - but I've been informed I will be expected to get something marginally reliable! Still, I am sure my car will be on the lower end of the used car spectrum, which will mean I will need money to set aside in case something breaks down. Thankfully, as far as gas prices go, we live in a city, so most of the places I need to go aren't too far away. Hopefully this translates into an affordable gas ("petrol") budget!

The cost of my plane ticket will be more, as I will need to buy a one-way ticket and have enough on reserve for a one-way ticket home....whenever that trip will be. ;)  Last time I paid about $1200 for a round-trip ticket, which is awfully cheap! Of course, I had to pay quite a bit to change it, so I guess it all evened out! A one-way ticket, right now, is between $800-$900.

So, here is an idea of the support I need, and how it breaks down. I am trying to raise approximately $18,000.

Start-up costs

- Car: $5000 budget (excess to save towards repairs)
- Tickets: $2000 (two one way tickets)
- Visa: about $220 (includes visa photo, medical and radiological exams, background check, processing fee, etc,)
- Cost to ship extra luggage over: undetermined. I left some stuff behind, but I really don't think I can fit everything in two suitcases this time! I'd like to take one or two extra pieces of luggage, at this point. (That costs more than I'd like, just one way. I had a two-piece luggage allowance going over last time, and, unexpectedly, a one-piece luggage allowance coming back. I think it cost about $110 to ship the extra suitcase.)

Monthly costs - I am shooting for $900 in support per month. I don't need to have all this up front - some of it can be pledged. This covers costs such as:

- Rent: $240 per month. (1Hope is a very small missions organization, and the cost of rent helps support the baby home and pay for the (very expensive) electricity bill.)
- Internet: we help pay a portion toward the internet bill.
- Food, toiletries, other needs. This fluctuates from month to month. I never seem to hit my low goal, but an average of $200 seems to be achievable. This also enables me to cook for others sometimes.
- Car insurance.
- Gas/petrol
-...and other expenses as they come up. Last year I had some unexpected ones, such as extending my visa (which cost several hundred dollars). And while I don't go on extravagant spending sprees =D sometimes your last pair of jeans rips and your tennis shoes wear out...(and you long for thrift stores...I found a nice little one...but I get more kitchen stuff than clothes there).

I realize these aren't exact numbers - they are more of a projected budget of expenses. I will be hoping to save extra in case my stay extends! It's been quite the adventure this year, learning to budget, but I have enjoyed it! I now have a pretty good idea of how much food I DON'T need to buy...ask my housemates. ;)

So far, I have about $2500 towards my goal. If any of you feel led to support me, that would be amazing! There are details under the "About Me" page at the top of the blog - including a link to give a tax-deductible gift. Also, just a reminder, I am taking custom crochet orders - check out my page at Happy Heads Helping Hearts, including the ever-popular Frozen character hats, like the Elsa hat, below:

If you would like to read my newsletter, you can view it by clicking on this link:

(There are also cute baby pictures, so there is some motivation to read it! =) )

Thanks to you all who have helped in many ways. You are Jesus's hands and feet helping to care for these little ones. I truly appreciate the various things others have done to support me, not just directly in financial ways:

- So many of you who are praying!
- People who have given me yarn.
- My little sis and mom, who helped me make 29 dozen cookies for a craft show.
- My mom, who is letting me sell the house out from under her....just's kind of an online garage sale/curriculum sale. You can view that here, by the way.
- Another friend who is selling curriculum and crafts to help support me. 
- Several friends who have held fundraisers - Pampered Chef, Mary Kay. The Mary Kay fundraiser is still on, until the 31st. If you're interested, you can browse on the Mary Kay website, then contact Jen Digman on Facebook (her profile name is Jennifer Jordan Digman), email her at, or contact her at (330) 883-8551. I am getting 50% of what is sold.

Again, thank you so much to everyone just for caring! I love talking about my time in Africa, so don't be afraid to ask me questions! (Although no, Africa is not just one country, and I was nowhere near Ebola. =) ) Please keep me in your prayers. There is a list of specific prayer requests, for the baby home as well, in the newsletter above.

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