Friday, July 1, 2022


by Cammy Brantzeg 

We arrived in the US this morning around 6:00 am in Newark, NJ.  It is around 8:00 pm right now and I feel like I have been hit by a truck.  I made the mistake of laying down to watch tv with Matt and Seth around 4:30 pm and of course I fell asleep.  We will see if I can still go to sleep in a few hours.  I am still tired so I hopefully won't have problems.

As I was flying home on the 16 hour flight, I reflected and journaled about our trip and I prayed for our group.  I know it is not easy to return to your life in the US after a trip to South Africa.  The experiences are hard to explain.  You are changed but your friends and family are not.  

I started making a photo book of our trip which helped me stay up this afternoon.  After going to South Africa so many times, I like to make photo books to remind me what I did on my trip.  I am a visual person so it gives me an easy way to remember what I did on each trip.

Name Tags for Our Group

I do my best to let God guide me on these trips.  This trip I tried something new after following where God nudged me.  If you know me, you know meeting with a group of kids is not my gift.  I have never taught Sunday school or done anything similar so it was a surprise when meeting with a group of 10 Mosaic Paarl Valley teenagers was the highlight of my trip.  

The group was formed because Yolande and DiPuo (Mosaic employees) talked to me when I was in South Africa in March.  They said some of the Mosaic kids had questions about God that they did not always know how to answer.  My first thought was to meet with kids when Pastor Vicki came to South Africa.  Pastor Vicki came on this trip so I planned for our group to meet for three times with the same group of kids.  

Our group met for the first time on Tuesday night.  Originally we were going to meet with the Grade 11 and 12 kids but only two showed up that night so we expanded our group to include younger teens.  We ended up with a group of 10 Mosaic students.  We were going to meet two more times with the same group and the goal for me was to start building relationships with them.

At our first meeting we started having a conversation with them.  I talked to the group about meeting with Yolande and DiPuo in March and explained how this group was formed.  I gave them some ideas of what we could talk about and asked them what they wanted to talk about.  I was surprised that many of them did not know that Tony and I owned a house in South Africa and they wanted to hear our story.  

Later on we answered some of their questions about the US and shared our favorite candies from the US with them.  (At one of our mission trip meetings I ask what everyone's favorite candy is and then I bring them along on the trip.)  Amy's circus peanuts were a big hit along with Vicki's gummy worms.  I felt like my caramels and Michele's peanut M&Ms were just ok with them.  

We ended our first night with one of the girls asking us "How do you hear God's voice?" which we said we would talk about at our next meeting on Thursday night.  Amy also suggested that we all think of 2 truths and 1 lie for our next meeting as a way for us to get to know each other better.

Our next meeting on Thursday was cold and rainy.  The kids did not have much school work going on since Friday was their last day of school before a three week school holiday.  I wasn't sure how many of the kids in our group would show up.  I was pleasantly surprised when 9 out of the 10 kids showed up and they were just as engaged as the first night.  

We started our second meeting with everyone telling 2 truths and 1 lie to get to know each other better.  Our group of four had to guess which statement was the lie for the kids.  The kids guessed which was our lie from our three statements.  It was a lot of fun as we laughed and shared with each other.  We then transitioned to talking about how we hear God's voice.  As a part of this conversation, Amy and Michele were very honest with the kids and shared about the concerns they had coming on this trip.  It was a very powerful moment for the kids to see that we were not always comfortable and confident.

On our third and final meeting, we met at our house.  It was on a Friday afternoon.  They were now on school holiday.  I wondered once again how many would show up.  We had 8 out of 10.  One girl was going on a church retreat that weekend and was unable to come.  Everyone else from Thursday showed up and was engaged in what we did.  

We brought them to our house to talk to them about the labyrinth and share that experience with them.  We divided them into two groups of four.  Vicki and I took a group to the front of the house to walk the labyrinth and talk to them individually to get a list of prayer requests that we could pray for them after we returned to the US.  

Michele and Amy kept the other group in the back of the house to play a game and talk with them.  We all had a great time with the kids!  They were engaged while walking the labyrinth which Vicki already wrote a blog about.  Michele and Amy had a great time playing a jelly bean game where you spin and you eat a color of jelly bean that will either taste good or taste bad.  It is called bean boozled in the US.  

I have so many amazing memories from our trip but our time together with this group was the highlight of this trip for me.  This was a leap of faith.  I didn't know what I was doing when I gathered this group together.  I just had to trust God that it would all work out and He did.  

I truly felt that the kids that formed this group where Chosen by God.  I felt like the group that God gathered for me to bring to South Africa was also Chosen.  All of us were brought together to spend this time together and it was beyond special.  

It was an amazing trip with so many beautiful moments.  God was present and the beauty of His plan continues to humble me.  Please keep us in your prayers as we return to our daily lives in the US.

Thursday, June 30, 2022

It Takes a Village

by Amy Straub

In the airport now about to board our plane for the journey home. What a time it has been. I have had once in a lifetime kinds of experiences. I can now say that have been feet apart from a lion on a beautiful plain and heard its roar in the dark of night. I have shopped at beautiful markets filled with handmade items to bring home to my loved ones. I have visited the most amazing African wine farm at sunset. I have gathered seashells from the Indian Ocean. So for all of this I am grateful. These are the moments when I got to experience South Africa as a tourist that I will surely not forget. 

I recognize fully, however that those are the moments that are a product of my privilege. And I have also now seen poverty the likes of which I have never observed. Housing communities and situations that will be engrained in my mind for the rest of my days. I have met and played with child after child who has lost his/her parents. This stuff was hard. Really, really hard in a way that I do not have words for. At first it felt like ok, so there is the fun stuff, then there is hard stuff. I’ve got this. A little blend and back and forth and that will get me through emotionally. 

BUT, come to find out, the true once in a lifetime experiences, the true joys, were the ones embedded in all that I originally perceived as so sad. It was inside the bungalows, tattered and torn, but filled with the love of caregivers, so scarce in resources, yet committed to raising children that are not even necessarily their own. It was in the dancing and singing of the children of mosaic praising God for their life and what they DO have. It was watching the teachers and leaders hugging and kissing children of their program as though they are their own. The “boots on the ground” people that were all around me. Everywhere I turned! People committed to the children of this world so far beyond what I have ever observed. I have seen the literal interpretation of “it takes a village”. This is not just a saying. It is real. And it works. This partnership of loving families in a community with the support of organizations like Mosaic and Ma’s of Wellington made it clear for me to see. 

I am coming home different. Yes, I have new ideas for preschool and The Well thanks to the good people of South Africa. I have new vision. My heart feels too big for my chest right now- with joy AND hurt. My brain feels muddled and exhaustion is at its peak. I am not the same person because of what I have seen and I am good with that. 

Filling My Bucket

by Michele Zincone

The second part of our trip has been in lovely Port Elizabeth, near the Indian Ocean - just breathtaking. Upon arrival, we learned of a severe water shortage that they are experiencing. So much so that we had buckets in our shower to conserve water. It got me thinking…

This trip has been so incredible and I know we will all treasure this time and we are are forever impacted by this amazing place.

This visit to P.E. was so moving. Once again, we were received with open arms and generous hearts. You can feel the love all around - amongst the children and teachers, at the beautiful Mosaic program, in the township homes, at Amani Guest House with Carl, on Safari with Zane and the list continues…

Witnessing Mama Estelle with the children and community is inspiring; she is an angel here on earth. And Carl, Big Fish, with his generous heart, so giving of his time…he serves with such strength and passion.

A trip like this is filled with emotions, actually so many that you may have a day where your bucket of energy is running low. But Port Elizabeth more than filled my bucket. Estelle, Carl, Judy, Nozi, Bruce, the beautiful children and families - they filled my bucket and for this I am forever grateful and will never forget.

And to my travels mates…Cammy, Vicki and Amy - thank you! You fill my bucket and bless me with your kind, giving hearts and friendship.

Brantzeg family, you fill my bucket in ways I couldn’t have even imagined. What you have built and the lives you touch is a gift beyond words.

I leave South Africa with a full bucket and I give thanks to God for this time and the chance to meet so many amazing new friends.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Labyrinths and more...

Labyrinths and more…

Those who know me have a sense of my love of Labyrinths.  On that walking prayer path, I find peace, clarity and blessing beyond measure.  But the greatest gift of the Labyrinth for me is to share this spiritual practice with others.  So imagine my joy as I walked the stunning new Labyrinth that has recently been built at Tony and Cammy Brantzeg’s South Africa home.  But greater still was my joy when I had the opportunity to introduce the teens from the MOSAIC after-school program to the practice when they came to spend time with us at the Brantzeg’s last week.

That afternoon, we divided our group into two small groups:  Amy and Michele in the back yard with one group, enjoying a crazy fun game called BeanBoozled; Cammy and me in the front yard at the Labyrinth with the others.  After a bit of time, we switched out our groups.  

As Cammy and I spoke to these young people about our own experiences with this unique prayer practice, they listened intently and respectfully.  That in and of itself was a beautiful thing.  Add to that, the day was stunning, birds were all around us (including the peacocks across the street!), and the sky was the brightest blue I’ve ever seen.  So there’s the setting.  

And then, and then, the kids walked and prayed on the Labyrinth.  I will hold that picture in my heart forever.  I knew at then and there that these amazing young people were/are seeking God.  When the walk(s) ended, we took time for reflection and some shared what they experienced.  One girl said, “I just want to do it again and again!”  A guy said, “I felt peace.”  And another said, “I felt God.”  

After that, we allowed time for the teens to share privately with us their prayer requests.  Those requests were honest, heartfelt and sometimes pain-filled.  We SA travelers surely feel so privileged to continue to lift up those needs to God on behalf of our young friends.  

Our time together ended with the blessing of anointing and then we had to say our final good-byes.  It was a precious and bittersweet time.  May God bless and keep these young people we came to love.

We are not able to share pictures of the Mosaic kids on social media due to Mosaic's social media policy to protect the children in their programs.  Cammy took a picture of the kid's name tags in the center of the labyrinth as a way to share a little piece of our connection with them.  

Saturday, June 25, 2022


by Vicki Pry 


This is my 10th trip to SA and, for more reasons than I can capture here, I feel this sense of coming Home. And why is that??? And, what IS Home, really??? Home is for me, a place where you feel loved and special and valued and welcomed. Home is where you are greeted with joy and appreciation- no expectations. Home is the place where your shoulders relax and your brain stops racing and you find yourself smiling and laughing with reckless abandon. Home is where the love of Jesus is palpable and often brings unexpected tears of joy…simply because the Spirit is moving in such beautiful ways. Home is a place you long for. Home is where the people you love are found. Home is also the place where you comfort one another when you’re hurting or feeling discouraged. Home is, for me in this moment in time…S.A.

I’m experiencing this trip differently than previous ones for several reasons: we are a small team, which is amazing on so many levels. Add to that the fact that my daughter, Amy, is here with me. Also, I find myself seeing things fresh and anew through Amy’s and Michele’s eyes, both of whom are here for the first time. With all of that, my love for this place and these people has increased exponentially. Our experiences~from preschoolers to teens to moms and grandmas, to MOSAIC staff and volunteers, to the precious folks of Avodah (differently abled teens and adults), well, the connections and blessings are practically indescribable. 

Surely I miss Home USA and family and Hopewell, no question. And yes, I find myself counting the number of days it will be until I see those of you there I love so dearly. But for now, I am Home, exactly where God calls me-in this country, with these people who so warmly and graciously receive us and draw us in and who bless us, teach us and love us. My heart overflows with gratitude.

Where's the ketchup?

by Michele Zincone

 As much as we are enjoying the lovely South African cuisine, our group found ourselves craving some American favorites, so we stopped for grilled cheese and french fries at Wimpy's - yum!  But as we began to dig in, we looked for ketchup for our fries only to find tomato sauce!  What?! This can't be right. Maybe the ketchup is called tomato sauce?   So we tried it;  definitely not ketchup.  It was tomato sauce.  That's not what I wanted, I whined.  Can I even eat these fries without ketchup??  Ugh!  Pretty pathetic, right?  Of course I can, so I added some extra salt and enjoyed.

Often we find ourselves gravitating towards what is comfortable or what we know and we have expectations that follow.  We can't even imagine doing things differently.  But sometimes we need to change our course or make different decisions than usual and with that can come some pretty amazing discoveries.  I didn't know if I could travel so far without my family or if I could be away from work for this time - I enjoy my routine!  But had I not taken this journey to South Africa, I wouldn't have had the privilege of meeting all of the wonderful people that I have: Meyer, Louise, Salome, Stephanie, Cornel, Lizette, Surette, the children...and the list goes on!  The faith that I witness from these amazing humans is inspiring and I am blessed that God led me to them.

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Trust and Faith

by Amy Straub 

I will be very honest. I was not feeling this trip. It was a lot to wrap my head around. I have summer camp to plan for The Well. I have my own kids who need me. I don’t have a passport. I have never been anywhere. God has called me to work in Downingtown, not Africa. I had decided this years ago and I was content. 

BUT, I had an invitation from
my mom and Cammy to join on this trip because there would be opportunities to connect with preschool and after-school programs through Mosaic and Ma’s of Wellington. My 2 jobs. My 2 passions. Ok I was listening. But probably couldn’t go. The timing was the small window between the close of preschool and the start of The Well summer camp. Well that’s great, but probably a window too tight, and so on. However, despite my efforts to try to dig for reasons that this would not work, it was materializing all too easily. My husband and my daughters were telling me to go. My first ever passport came in plenty of time despite delays I had heard about, and I was about to experience something big, something very different like it or not!

It became clear in a few moments time from our first stop in to the preschool that this was going to be something life-changing. I was grabbed by an woman that I’ve never met who hugged me harder than I have ever been hugged and told me she loved me. A white girl from the USA. Why?! I had done nothing yet to prove that I was worth this kind of celebration. But in 4 days time I have come to understand this concept of universal love like I have never seen. I am loved in her eyes because I exist. Simple as that. 

I have already had experiences that I will never forget. Two tiny, little children crawling into my lap during their circle time just to be held and loved. Just to give love back to me as a perfect stranger. Clearly I have a heart for small people as a preschool teacher. But actually something has been pulling me very hard to the Mosaic afterschool program teenagers that we have been spending time with.  I work with teens at The Well. I have teenagers. And to be honest, a teenage break sounded kind of nice and yet I find myself thinking about these 10 kids nonstop. We have played silly games together and laughed a lot. But in one of our discussion times sweet Esona asked, “How do you know if the voice in your head is God taking to you? Or just your own thoughts?” It sparked amazing conversation among all of us and I felt really pulled to her as an adult struggling with the same question. I shared with her the idea that I did not want to go on this trip. I was scared. And that God did not speak to me in some loud, powerful voice. But he gently nudged me by lining things up so that it worked. Allowing me no out no matter how hard I tried to find it. He didn’t work through my ears but rather my heart, my gut, my supportive family. I heard myself talking about trust and faith in a way that I had not before this trip. Or maybe ever. 

I will see Esona tomorrow for the last time before we head into the second half of this journey. And I will soak up her face and her smile and store them in my brain. For good. Did I really need to travel 8,000 miles to have a conversation with a 15 year-old about listening and trust and faith to understand my own purpose for this journey? Apparently so…..


by Cammy Brantzeg  We arrived in the US this morning around 6:00 am in Newark, NJ.  It is around 8:00 pm right now and I feel like I have be...