It has been a frenetic start to the New Year, and Candace and I have had many adventures during our time in Cape Town - but I won't be focusing on those right now.
As mentioned in the previous newsletter (sent out on December 24th), we have the opportunity of joining the Mercy Vision team in the Eastern Cape. Well, a month has passed since then and I can happily say that we have now visited the site in the Eastern Cape where we would be based. Candace and I joined the National Director of Mercy Ships SA and travelled up to Zithulele Mission Hospital last weekend. Zithulele is in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa, about fifteen hours drive from Cape Town. It was an amazing journey up through the Garden Route of South Africa, as the scenery changed from coastal forests to mountain passes, from arid landscapes to lush farms. We even saw elephants on our drive up!
The Zithulele Hospital is located in a very rural setting on the Eastern Cape's Wild Coast. It is about two hours to the nearest large settlement, and reminds me deeply of Appelsbosch - near Durban, South Africa - and the time I spent there with Mercy Ships in 2010. People share the roads with the cars, as do cattle, dogs, sheep, goats, and there are other hazards too, including large potholes! There is poverty here and thus much need, and it is an exciting prospect to think that this could be our home too. And just to remind you, I would help with logistics, administration, and driving the team to rural sites for screening. Candace would be able to help out the Mercy Vision team as a nurse, and she would also be available to help out in the hospital as and when they needed her. Photos will be going up shortly (in the next day or two) of our trip on Murray's blog at http://mercyshipadventure.blogspot.com
While it would be a challenge to serve in this environment, both Candace and I have had experience on the ship with limited opportunities and freedom, and we both know the sacrifices that such a choice would make. After visiting the site and returning to Cape Town, Candace and I struggled to discern whether we were at peace with our decision to come to the Eastern Cape - and whether indeed that was God's will for our life together. We spent time praying but couldn't see any real answers.
We then had an awesome talk with my Pastor who saw that we both wanted to continue serving the Lord. He gave us a good reminder. God doesn't always give us clear guidance. He teaches us, moulds us, gives us wisdom, and sometimes asks us to make decisions for ourselves using the wisdom He has given us. God trusts us. God's will for our lives is not necessarily one specific path, but He can lead and guide us in what we choose to do. Upon hearing this, Candace and I both felt a tangible peace and thus we can tell you that we are stepping out and trusting God, and moving to the Eastern Cape. We're not sure on the exact dates of our move, but we will likely be heading there in the next week or two.
As we are continuing to serve as missionaries with Mercy Ships (albeit land-based), please let us know if you would continue supporting us further as we serve God here. We will be receiving a stipend from Mercy Ships South Africa, but will have other expenses to meet.
For more on Mercy Ships South Africa and the Mercy Vision programme, click here: http://www.mercyships.org.za/static/whycataracts.php
One prayer request we have, other than our service with Mercy Vision, is for our unabridged marriage certificate to return from Home Affairs. We got it back a few weeks ago but Home Affairs listed Candace as South African - despite all the paperwork indicating that she is from the USA! As you can imagine, we were quite frustrated! The document has been sent back to Pretoria to be fixed, but we do not know how long it will take. Please pray that we would be patient, and that the corrected certificate is received sooner rather than later. We need this in order to start US spousal visa paperwork.
Many thanks and God bless you all!
Love Murray and Candace
Murray and Candace Crawford
Murray joined the Africa Mercy 3 years ago - first for one year and then for a longer term. This has enabled him to fulfill two of his desires - to make Jesus known to those in need and to be at sea on board ship. He loves servicing Christ. On 4 March 2012 he married Candace Miller whom he met on board and they will continue to serve the Lord together.