Going Back to Lily

Wow! We’ve been in the States away from Lily of the Valley in South Africa for five months already. As we celebrate Christmas and anticipate the beginning of 2015, we look forward to our return to Lily.
Below we are attempting to answer some of the more “frequently asked questions” (FAQ) that may be in your minds regarding our return to South Africa.

1) Where are Ellie and Eden?  How/what are they doing now?  Will they be going back with you?

They are doing well, settling into life in the States since their high school graduation, and will not be going back to SA with us.  (although we wouldn’t be surprised if they wanted to visit Lily again sometime). They each have jobs and are looking into what their education plans will be. Ellie is staying with an aunt, and Eden with our oldest daughter, Kaleena; so it’s good that they will be with family once Mike and Lori return to SA.





 2) Will you do the same things at Lily as you did before? What will your roles/responsibilities be when you return?

Mike will be returning to the role of “Village Manager”.  (When we use the term “village” we are referring to the property at Lily that has the childrens’ homes).  He will be involved in direct oversight of the care of the children (think dad to 100+ kids), as well as leadership and development of staff and volunteers.

Lori plans to be involved with the preschool age children, helping to track and facilitate their early childhood development.





3) When do you go back?

We have been given the “green light” from SIM to make our travel plans!
Although we would have liked to return before Christmas, we are now making plans to return in January.  We had some medical appointments to accomplish and follow up with.  We are currently in the process of applying for our travel visas and hope to hear that we have been approved. If there are no complications or delays in regards to these things, we will be leaving on flights scheduled for January 10th. We pray the holiday closures at government offices will not interfere with our timing, however we can change our tickets if we have to.

4) Do you still have financial support left to raise before you go back?

Praise God that we are currently 93% funded!  We appreciate each and every person who has been partnering with us in this Kingdom work. Already 66 families, and five churches, have stepped out in faith as senders. That’s a lot of people, and it’s beautiful to see that God has united so many around a work that is close to His heart; caring for the orphan. Each financial sender is giving as the Lord has led them to give; doing the part God has given them. Each is contributing to what God is doing at Lily of the Valley. We’re excited to be part of what God is doing; and to be doing it in partnership with God’s people. You can be part of it too. The outstanding portion of our needed monthly support is only $500!  Five more who are willing to make a faith promise of $100/month will meet that need.  No amount is too small.  Please pray about your part in ministry with us at Lily of the Valley Children’s Village. Perhaps God is leading you to partner with us in missions through a monthly gift. For online giving, use the giving button below. When you do, you will have the option to set up a recurring monthly gift. This is the easiest and most cost effective way to support an SIM missionary.

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We’re going back to Lily, want to come?



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When We’re Not at Lily – Part 3


Mission Training International

Our time at Mission Training International has come to a close.  We spent four weeks at their training campus in beautiful Palmer Lake, Colorado.  Being surrounded by mountains and the beauty of God’s creation was a perfect setting to be encouraged to “develop the practical skills and attitudes that will successfully take you through the challenging and rewarding process of being interwoven with another culture” through their COMPASS program. *


Garden of the Gods


Our first two weeks focused on “tools and techniques necessary to learn a new language more quickly”, and provided “… both a background understanding of how to best learn a new language- including 30 proven techniques – and a solid foundation in phonetics (hearing and producing different sounds)”*

* https://www.mti.org/programs/COMPASS

Language Learning Session

Language Learning Session

Tok Pisin (pidgin English) session.

Tok Pisin (pidgin English) session.

Our class times were filled with group sessions of practicing “mimicking” a new language as we heard it, as well as participating in the actual projects and activities we can take with us to use in language learning through our everyday interactions once back in South Africa.  We got to literally stretch our mouths and tongues to learn how to make the phonetic sounds that English speakers may not be use to making, as well as to learn of the sounds we English speakers make but don’t even realize we do. Oh… and we did much of this practice with a hand held mirror before our faces to be sure we were getting tongue/mouth placement just right!



We also split up into smaller language groups that met with language helpers to give us a variety of real time practice in the language learning tools that we were learning about.  Lori’s group was with a Russian speaker, and Mike was learning Hindi.  These small group times gave us practical experience with the games, activities, and projects that we can use when we return to South Africa to learn Zulu on our own initiative.  In fact, one of the most important encouragements we received through this language learning portion of our training was that we need to take ownership of our language learning.

Russian group

Russian Group

To read more about Lori’s take on the language learning premises, click here:

Pray for us, that we will be diligent in this and utilize the tools we’ve been given.

“Father, find me faithful to steward this new information well”.

  The second half of our time at MTI was spent on cross cultural training.  Some of the modules we experienced touched on the topics of managing stress, embracing rest and keeping the Sabbath, conflict resolution styles, the various stages of transition of exiting home culture and entering new culture, values awareness, hellos & goodbyes, and grief and loss.

Transitioning through "chaos"

Transitioning through “chaos”

We learned much about ourselves, our classmates, and our spouses during these activities and interactions, but most importantly, we learned much about our Father God, and His heart of compassion for those He calls His own.  Jesus experienced all this and so much more as He left His home, His culture and family (the Father) to meet us where we are; and that represented huge costs and sacrifice for Him in terms of His comfort and His glory.  Therefore, the sacrifices we make to meet people in their cultures are relatively small – but also imitate Jesus’ sacrifice for all peoples.

We not only participated in “class time” but also small “growth groups” where we interacted on a more personal level with others in our community at MTI, as well as meeting weekly with a coach who counseled and listened to us a couple as we processed all we were learning.  And there was ample time in our schedules to meet informally during “down time” in the evenings and weekends to get to know each other better.  The beautiful outdoors beckoned us for times of rest, relaxation, personal reflection, and recreation.  And there were many little kids attending along with their families to give us smiles and laughter through the days.

Lori sharing smiles with a little friend

Garden of the Gods

Garden of the Gods


Summit of Pikes Peak

Summit of Pikes Peak

It was an especially uplifting time to meet together each morning for praise and worship through song.  We will miss the 39 adults and 21 kids that we met and interacted with over those four weeks.  We trust God to protect and use them well in all they do as they step out in obedience to His call to show His grace to the 17 countries we will be going to.



Take away Quotes from our time at COMPASS:

“That you are talking is more important than what you are talking about” – David McClure (in context of language learning).

“Live the life of language before learning the law of language”.  – Dwight Gradin

“We need to stop and rest so our souls can catch up to our bodies” (Cherokees on Trail of Tears).

“Die to even the beauty of your own culture”



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When We’re Not at Lily – Part 2

Our time back to the U.S. this summer has brought us good times with friends and family, and times to reconnect with ministry partners.  Which means… lots of travel: We flew from Durban, South Africa – to connect to Johannesburg.  While there, we happen to meet up with a friend. Elizabeth was also flying out at the same time and we saw her across from our check in counter!, and had a few minutes to say a quick hello/good bye.  This dear woman was there to meet us when we arrived in South Africa back in Oct. 2013, so it was fitting to see her as we headed off the end of July.

With Elizabeth and Ammi

With Elizabeth and Ammi in Oct 2013

Then began the longest leg of our journey (or so we thought) – by air non stop from Johannesburg to New York City.  We arrived in NY on a Tuesday morning, and then we made our way to fly again to Charlotte, NC to SIM USA for our brief time of interviews and visits with the staff there. We are grateful for the way that SIM USA home staff connected with us upon our arrival back to the States, and also for the care we observed them display as they handled the situation that was unfolding at the time  for the missionary from Liberia who was needing treatment for ebola.  We praise God for a sending organization that offers so much support and care for it’s members, and that is so committed to the gospel even during difficult situations when the cost can be high.SIM   When we left Charlotte, we intended to fly but the “stand by ” flights had no space available, so… road trip!!!  We rented a car and drove to Maine: IMG_1511 IMG_1514 IMG_1516 IMG_1517 IMG_1518


“Welcome to Maine”

Upon our arrival back to Hollis, Maine, we were welcomed by dear friends: arriving arriving 2 arriving 3     arriving 4

arriving 5

Thank you to our dear friend Lisa, who took these photos and got her hug after they were taken.

The next day was also a party to welcome us back and celebrate Ellie’s and Eden’s high school graduation: IMG_1526   IMG_0151 IMG_0152   IMG_1525   IMG_1524     IMG_1530   IMG_1528   E nd E Grad Mom and Dad Grads kiss IMG_1529 party 3 party We are so grateful for the support and warm welcome we have received from our home church, Hollis Center Baptist Church.  Thank you for blessing us!   We’ve been enjoying being in Maine and all that it has to offer:


Lori’s Birthday celebration


A trip to Delorme and seeing “Eartha”


Summer time in Maine



“Sherpa 1″ and “Sherpa 2″ – Hiking again

We have enjoyed visits with family: Lori’s parents and sister’s family, and speaking at churches here in Maine.  And seeing our older kids, Kaleb and Kaleena.  Our next time of travel took us to Houston to help Eden get settled in with Kaleena: IMG_1642


A girl has to have wheels.

A girl has to have wheels.

mani pedi

Lori’s birthday treat from Kaleena with her girls



Saying goodbye to Eden and Kaleena -


The new room mates

After returning to Maine from Houston, Ellie got herself settled in at her new home with Lori’s sister in Maine:


Wheels for Ellie

Ellie room

A cozy, welcoming room



Ellie with pumpkins

Fall fun with family

Our first trip as “empty nesters” took Mike and Lori off to visit family in New York, and visit a special place, Letchworth State Park:

Visiting Mike's family

Visiting Mike’s family




The bridge where Mike proposed to Lori in 1980







With summer coming to an end, our next adventure is for Mike and Lori to begin four weeks of cross cultural training at MTI in Colorado….. find out more in “part three” in our next blog entry…..

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When We’re Not at Lily – Part 1

Even when we are away from Lily, we are often thinking of the kids and the needs there.  There is much to do.  There are times we are away for spiritual renewal and connecting with other SIM missionaries. Such was the  annual SIM South Africa Spiritual Life Conference in July of this year, in Port Shepstone, South Africa:

Introducing at SLC 2014

Introducing Ourselves


New SIM South Africa

The New Members of SIM South Africa

mike lori region team

Strategy Session Planning our Region’s Presentation

Game show Lori

Lori hosting “TV game show” region presentation

SLC portrait 4

With the Riddells, Lily’s assistant managers.


Ellie in one of the group sessions


Lori obstacle

Outdoor Egg Obstacle Course


Eden and her group working diligently on their project

SLC 2014 Grp

The SIM South Africa team


There are times when we have been away for personal “R and R” (rest and relaxation) such as this time in July visiting the Drakensberg mountains in South Africa:



Our Lily co-workers and friends, Josh & Nix, who showed us around their beautiful country.

Our Lily co-workers and friends, Josh & Nix, who showed us around their beautiful country.








Ellie meets a friend

Ellie meets a friend

Mike, Lori, Ellie and Eden at waterfall

Mike, Lori, Ellie and Eden at waterfall




Currently, we are spending time in the U.S., and we have been doing quite a bit of travelling. Our next post will continue with “part 2″ of where we’ve been when we’re away from Lily…..

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“Hello, When Are You Leaving?”

  “My! People come and go so quickly here!” -Dorothy, The Wizard of Oz


The 8 year old took my hand as we walked together across the playground of Phase 2; the boys’ side of Lily of the Valley Children’s Village. He didn’t know my name yet, but had already decided to be my buddy. During this, our first encounter, he wanted the answer to one question, “How long will you stay?” He knows we’ll be leaving, because everyone leaves. There’s a lot of coming and going at Lily of the Valley. The children have grown accustomed to it, and many take what they can get where the attention of adults is concerned. He’ll eagerly make friends, but he’s already anticipating our leaving.

Enjoying lunch on Sports Day

Enjoying lunch on Sports Day

As I reflect on the past six months, I think about how far AJ* and I have come. He drops by my office after school, sometimes with exciting news about his day at school, sometimes just to hang out. But then, AJ stops at every office with an open door; I’m part of his regular routine; part of his constant search for love and belonging.

At the opposite end of the spectrum is Emily*. Where AJ is everybody’s instant friend, Emily has never met a person that she’s not prepared to challenge. She customarily greets a newcomer by running past them, shouting a curse in isiZulu. She’s defiant, always ready to argue or fight, and doesn’t need anybody over the age of 12. But when she gets a time out, and she’s sitting with me in my office, I see a different side to Emily. She talks and talks; mostly about fighting, sure; but in spite of all her nine-year-old bravado, her fear and her desire to be loved quickly become obvious. She’s reaching out too; even while she pushes away. Emily has some strong and good qualities; she is smart and confident, is a natural leader, and has a strong sense of justice. When I tell her about her good qualities, the inner struggle is visible on her face. She’s eating up the compliments, but frightened to accept them at the same time.

Since before coming to South Africa last October, our desire has been to minister at Lily for the rest of our lives. That desire is driven by our belief that what the children here need most is permanence and commitment. The past seven months have shown us that we only had a hint of how profound that need really is. It eclipses everything else. Seven months in, we’re just beginning to get to know and understand these children, seven months on; the trust is just starting to grow. I suspect that many don’t really believe we’ll be coming back. And why should they? So many volunteers have come, loved them and left, and were never seen again. But I’m eager to get back; because I love this place and its children, because I see Jesus here, and his purpose for my life is here. I’m also eager to return because I want these children to see my commitment to them; I want the abandoned children at Lily of the Valley to know that they are not abandoned by God; or by me His servant.

When we return back ‘home’ to the US at the end of July, it will be to do several things. Ellie and Eden are both finishing high school in the next couple weeks and we will be bringing them back to start the next phase of their lives. Lori and I will be attending cross-culture training in Colorado for four weeks in the fall (9/22-10/18). And we will be seeking the remainder of our support so that Lori and I can return to South Africa as long-term missionaries. We now know better than ever how important that long-term commitment is.

Some of Lily's littlest ones at preschool

Some of Lily’s littlest ones at preschool

We are so thankful for all of you who have made our first term at Lily of the Valley possible. We are thankful to so many of you who have already made a commitment to partner with us on a long term basis so that we can make a permanent commitment to serve Christ by serving the children here. Please pray for us as we prepare to return to the US for a season. Pray that God will lead us to the remaining supporters that we need to return officially as long-term missionaries. And please put us in touch with anyone you know who might be interested in partnering in this work. We will be visiting with families and churches from mid August until September 21; and then again from October 19 until we have the necessary support and can return to Lily.

On Wednesdays, Mike hosts assembly with all the children in the village. Assembly is a time for lessons, announcements, and a devotional message from our pastor. This past week at assembly, we introduced our new Operations Manager to the children. Thula told a little bit about himself and then invited the children to ask a few questions. The very first question – “How long will you stay?”


* names have been changed

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Baby “M” Update

Many of you are aware of the little one that we have been caring for over the past months.

Getting acquainted

Getting acquainted


A baby in the house at Christmas!

A baby in the house at Christmas!





Baby “M” came to Lily the week before Christmas, and she was placed in our home under our direct care.

She was 5 months old, and she was a “little munchkin”.  Because she has some medical concerns, we were trying our best to keep her as healthy as possible.








In July of last year when we were in the process of making plans to go from  long term to going short term for nine months, this little sweetie was born, prematurely. With God there are no “coincidences”.  Fast forward a few months, and after being in South Africa for seven weeks, Baby “M” came to be in our care.  Prayer and care…. has helped her to thrive and grow.   She is so beautiful and we are so thankful for the opportunity God gave us to take care of her.


















A second opportunity that has been available while she was in our care, is for Lori to get to know Baby M’s granny who comes to visit her often.  It has been a heart touching experience to hear her granny express that she feels Lori is “keeping the baby as your own”.  This granny obviously cares for Baby M, and seeing that she feels satisfied with the way her granddaughter is being cared for, touches Lori deeply.


Visiting Granny

 As our first term here at Lily is approaching it’s end , we are placing our trust in God’s timing and care for Baby “M”.  So that she can make an adjustment to her new home and caregiver, she is now placed in one of the other houses here at Lily.  We have been making May a transition month for her, with much of her time spent with her caregiver, Ma Rose; and then when Rose is off duty, Baby M gets to stay with us.


Silly face

Silly face

It is a hard thing to let go of her.  We are faced with questioning where we place our trust.  Ultimately we know we need to pray and trust God who loves Baby M more than we ever could.  Please pray with us that she will continue to grow and thrive, and stay healthy.  She is scheduled to have a medical procedure when she is one year old provided her weight growth is sufficient.  It’s hard to know we won’t be here when that happens.  So when you think of this little munchkin, bring her before the throne of our Savior asking him to bring her safely through this procedure, strong and healthy.  And most of all, please remember to ask him to help her heart find it’s way to her need of Jesus.  When we return to South Africa from our time in the States, you can be sure we’ll be checking in on her.

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Building Up and Moving In

Thanks to a generous donor, Lily has a several building projects in progress on  the property.

The current church/youth center is being expanded to a more spacious and functional building for the needs here at Lily.  Below are some pictures of the construction…. still a work in progress:


Back of church being extended


Front side of church being added onto



Side view of church…back built two stories up now…front extension done.


View from other side. New church will have kitchen as well as other added rooms which makes the building more functional.


Also, there is a new “Reception” building being constructed.  This building will house reception offices, and guard house.  It is built to align with new security measures which are being put in place here.

Photo below:





Another building is a new staff house.  That is to be the house Mike and Lori will be living in upon our return to Lily long term.  But!…. all four of us get to move in soon – before we leave South Africa!  So ….

We’re moving!


View of our new place from the road into the “valley”

A few pics of the construction phases:

An older "garage/storage" building is being added onto.  On the left you see the original building.  Walls being added to the extension.

An older “garage/storage” building is being added onto. On the left you see the original building. Walls being added to the extension.


Addition going up

Addition going up



Far side of house.  New walls going up on extension.

Far side of house. New walls going up on extension.


Back side and far side with addition up

Back side and far side with addition up



Far side after walls and windows in.

Far side after walls and windows in.


Back side with new water tank.

Back side with new water tank.



Addition on, doors & windows in.  Left window is kitchen.  Doors on right enter into living room/dining room.

Addition on, doors & windows in. Left window is kitchen. Doors on right enter into living room/dining room.



 The original timeline had us moving into this new place upon our return to Lily after our time back in the U.S. this summer.  But a new staff family has been added to Lily, and they are going to move into our current house now.


 This way, they can get settled into their  house without having to wait until we leave Lily end of July.

It will be an adjustment for us four… moving into a two bedroom (Ellie and Eden sharing  a room) from our current four bedroom (no more spare room).  We will be settling into a new place for the duration of the next two months, during which we will also be wrapping up the girls’ senior home school year, and then packing up for time in States this summer. 





Dining/Living Room

Dining/Living Room



Bedroom 1

Bedroom 1



Bedroom 2 (didn't want to ask the worker to leave)

Bedroom 2 (didn’t want to ask the worker to leave)



1/2 Bath




 Stay tuned to our blog for “after” pics once we get settled in.

Panoramic view from top of drive into "valley" (Bush Willow)

Panoramic view from top of drive into “valley” (Bush Willow)


 This part of the property is actually in the bordering game preserve.  So we expect to have some nice views!



We value your prayers along with us over these next few weeks for these buildings to be completed in timely ways, and that they will be used to bring glory to the Kingdom.  Pray that as we adjust to this move we will reflect Christ’s love to each other and those around us here at Lily.





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January 2014 Newsletter Link

We will be updating with some new blog entries soon….

We neglected to link to our January newsletter here on our blog.


So here’s the link in case you missed it.





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World AIDS Day 2013

Lily Observes ‘World AIDS Day’

On 1 December 2013, staff and children at Lily of the Valley marked World AIDS Day together. As December 1 fell on Sunday this year, the day began with our church service in which Brendan Stapleton, CEO; delivered the message.


Brendan explained that regardless of our HIV status, we will all die; HIV is just one cause of death. But that in Jesus Christ, God has defeated death.


Therefore, our status as children of God; heirs of life through Christ; is of far greater importance than our HIV status.


At the conclusion of his talk, Brendan took a pair of scissors and transformed the red ribbon he was wearing into a cross, representing how God changes our identity in Jesus Christ.

Ribbon to Cross



Each child had been given a red ribbon and each of their ribbons was then cut with scissors to transform theirs into a cross as well.




In the afternoon, our children celebrated their health and strength with a series of games. Six teams of younger children were lead by pairs of teens through six different race stations where two teams faced off against one another.



Eliana and Eden and the group of teen team leaders

The games involved running various obstacle courses that required climbing, crawling, spinning, tossing, balancing, and a lot of cooperation.





Eliana served with teen team leaders


great face

Eden participating as teen team leader with her team.











Team huddle before relay

Prizes of sweets were awarded after each contest…




….and at the end of the games, each team received a word to add to the banner that summed up the day’s message; “I Am God’s Child In Jesus”


Slogan collage




Jesus gives us the message of life and hope.  What are you holding onto as your identity? Give it to Jesus and let Him transform your identity in His own.




What is World AIDS Day? World AIDS Day is held on 1 December each year and is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died. World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day and the first one was held in 1988.                   

Source: http://www.worldaidsday.org/about-world-aids-day.php

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Dear Friends,

Hello from South Africa! Sawubona is “hello” in isiZulu. Literally translated it means, “I see you”.

Here’s a quick note about our arrival in South Africa and how we’re getting settled in at Lily of the Valley.

With Elizabeth and Ammi

With Elizabeth and Ammi

We arrived in Johannesburg on Tuesday morning, October 29. Both of our flights went smoothly, and yes, all of our luggage arrived with us. We were met by Ammi and Elizabeth Saayman. Elizabeth is the short term coordinator for the SIM South Africa office. Elizabeth arranged for lodging during our 4 days in Johannesburg, and they hosted us for several meals, plus shared their insights about life in South Africa. On the afternoon of our arrival Ammi took Mike to shop for a suitable vehicle for our work at Lily of the Valley. With his help and knowledge, we found and purchased a 2009 Nissan Livina on Wednesday afternoon. It was ready for us to drive off the lot on Friday, and on Saturday morning we set out on the six hour drive south to our new home; Lily of the Valley Children’s Village.

Squeezed in for the six hour ride

Squeezed in for the six hour ride

The Livina is a small car, but it has a big ‘boot’ and ours has roof rails to which we fitted cross bars to accommodate extra luggage. Amazingly, we managed to get our 8 large pieces of luggage; which were all at the maximum size and weight for airline checked baggage; plus 4 smaller bags, 2 backpacks, 2 purses, and more, into or on top of our little Livina. Eliana and Eden showed their true colors by making the six hour drive without complaint; even though they shared the back seat with two backpacks, a small suitcase and a large duffel bag.

On arrival we were met and warmly welcomed by new friends as well as friends from our visit here in 2011. Even though we’d already been in Africa for four days, we finally felt like our traveling was over and we had reached our destination.

Our first week here at Lily of the Valley was a busy one. We made several shopping trips to get things we needed to set up our household, and to get at least one of our phones working here. We’ve participated in the weekday prayer meetings with the staff each morning, and met with the people that we will be working most closely with. We are still figuring out what our roles and duties will be here at Lily, and trying to find the best ways for us to contribute during our first nine months here.

We are very pleased by the obvious desire of the folks here to serve the Lord and the children in our care faithfully; and to do all of it in a manner that is based on the principles of God’s Word. The challenges here are great, and the needs are many, so complete dependence on our Lord is essential.

Many thanks to all of you who helped bring us to South Africa through your prayers and financial support. We look forward to sharing with you what God is doing here at Lily over the coming months.

You can get more frequent updates on our Facebook ministry page: facebook.com/RosenbauersInSouthAfrica We try to post something every couple of days, and we’ve recently added photos from our trip. Please join so you’ll get notifications when we post!


Mike, Lori, Eliana and Eden

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