05 Jan 2015

The Secret’s Finally OUT and YOU’RE Invited!

I’ve got something I can FINALLY tell you guys! It’s been SO hard keeping it a secret!


Yup, we are going to be your eyes and ears to update you all in PERSON about the community center, veggie garden, playground and laundry center we all helped build in Maubane!! Yes yes yes!

I’m taking my nine year old son, Jackson, who was born in South Africa, as well as – and this is the REALLY EXCITING PART – my dear friend Crystal Paine from Money Saving Mom is coming with us!

Crystal's family

Like me, she has three kiddos and a husband who helps make trips like this possible by holding down the home front. We’re crazy excited you guys! We’ve been dreaming and praying about this for MONTHS now!

Her blog readers joined in with us as we all raised the funds for the community center, veggie garden, and playground. And she got so excited about the project she wanted to SEE IT IN PERSON. 

So we’re going. And we’re paying our own way. And we just want to take you in our virtual suitcases and let you see for yourselves what happens when between the loads of laundry and dishes and commuting and deadlines a community takes the time to love on their sisters who are also juggling laundry and homework and kids and dishes.

It won’t be a fundraising trip, it will be a FALL IN LOVE TRIP so you can see in person all that your love and prayers and donations and enthusiasm and encouragement have built.

It won’t be a fundraising trip, it will be a COME AND CELEBRATE WHAT WE DID TOGETHER trip as we enter this New Year reminding each other again that there is absolutely no such thing as “just” a mom – because “just” a mom couldn’t possibly have raised over $50,000 together for vulnerable kids in South Africa. And YOU GUYS DID THAT!

It won’t be a fundraising trip, it will be a MEET THE MOMS AND KIDS THAT ARE JUST LIKE YOU trip as we share photos and video of the community you are now connected to – virtual next door neighbors.

Ty Clark_HON_SouthAfrica-3037





We’re calling it the Love South Africa project and everywhere we share about it you can find it under the hashtag #LoveSouthAfrica.

We will be staying with my parents – Peter and Wanda – who have been part of the South African nonprofit, Take Action, for the last few years serving orphans and vulnerable children. And Take Action is the local partner of Help One Now – who helped us launch this project on Valentine’s Day last year.

That’s Lamar from Help One Now on the left in the photo below. His team is partnering with Take Action and they visited our project last year as we began to dream about how we could continue to serve the South African community in Maubane that we’ve all fallen in love with.

Ty Clark_HON_SouthAfrica-3082

You guys, a year ago where there was nothing but dust and dirt and open field, today there is a water point, a laundry center, a playground, community vegetable garden and the beginnings of a community kitchen, classrooms and welcome center.







2014-12 Corn standing higher




And I can NOT WAIT TO bring you all with me to see it with your own eyes too.

Can you think of a better way to start the New Year? Than with the reminder that it’s never about the size of your blog, your wallet, your agenda, your job title, or your dream. It’s always only about the size of your God.

And our God loves BIG and DOES BIG.

I’m so delighted we get to be a part of His plan.

OK, now to be sure you don’t miss any of the updates, here’s where we will be posting so you can follow along in our virtual suitcases:

I’ll be posting photos of our trip on Instagram over here.

Crystal from Money Saving Mom will be posting photos of our trip on Instagram over here.

I’ll also be sharing some special behind-the-scenes updates (think travel trips, special peeks into our South African family life, behind-the-blog fun) specially for blog subscribers over here.

And then to be sure you don’t miss any of these Love South Africa updates – just enter your email in the form below and you’ll be added to our virtual suitcase travel buddies list. And we’ll be putting together a newsletter of updates, behind-the-scenes, posts, highlights and tips from these trips to this special group of folks. Snapshots and blog posts from both me and Crystal. This will be your one stop shop for #LoveSoutAfrica news.

THIS IS REALLY HAPPENING. Next week Wednesday we fly out of Washington, D.C. direct to Johannesburg, South Africa. And we CANNOT WAIT TO TAKE YOU WITH US!

OK if you are coming with us – think about the questions you wish you could ask or the photos you wish you could take. ‘Cause on Thursday I’m going to ask you to share ALL THE QUESTIONS YOU CAN THINK OF so we can take your questions with us and bring home answers.

Much love

{Photos by the extremely talented Scott Wade, Ty Clark and Pat Black.}


{ Leave a Comment }
  1. 2

    Holy WOW. A Fall In Love trip?
    I’m already there.

  2. 4

    Lisa-Jo, this is EXCITING news! Yay!! I’m celebrating with you that even more women will be falling in love with this wonderful part of the world, and that we’ll get to see more pictures and hear more stories of this place that is so near and dear to our hearts. And? I heart Crystal. :) So happy she’s going with you too!

    Break out the confetti!!

  3. 6

    for real? wowzers! and from the short time I spent in S. Africa, it was love at first site. . .can’t wait to fall farther. will stop and pray right now for you and Crystal and Jackson and for your people staying back in D.C. . blessings.

    • 7

      So grateful for that Heather. It will be a whirlwind trip for sure – but I’m so looking forward to it!

  4. 8

    I am already in love. PURE. LOVE. Sweet Jesus!! Oh, how He adores all of this so much more than we do. Can you imagine that? Love you, love your heart, your work, your words, your passion, your action, and of course your smile and your laugh!!!

    • 9

      Oh YOU! You are the most generous encourager of women, Michele-Lyn. Thank you thank you, friend.

  5. 10

    Hi, I subscribe to Crystal’s daily newsletter. I live in Johannesburg, South Africa and adopted one of these very, very special children. We have a wonderful culture of loving, giving and helping regardless of the tough crime and many challenges we face. You will love every moment of your visit, although at times, you will feel overwhelmed because there is so much that needs to be done, but God only asks that we do what can, with what we have got and the rest He will take care of. Be strong, be open to new experiences and just enjoy the wonderful warm spirit of South Africa – the secret to the our new beginning in 1994.
    Please contact me if you need anything during your visit – safe travels and many Blessings

    • 11

      Hey there Bronwyn,

      So nice to “meet” you! We’re so excited to introduce Crystal to the joy of South Africa. Both my brothers live in Jo’burg so I’m waving a virtual hello! Can’t wait to be enjoying some of your warm weather soon!

  6. 12

    So excited for the amazing trip you will be on! I have fallen head over heels with SA and this is only going to intensify that, praying for you guys!

  7. 13

    This makes me so excited (and a little jealous). My husband Matt and I first traveled to South Africa in spring of 2002 and fell in love with the culture and the people. We spent a year in South Africa (Jan 2004 to Jan 2005) living and working at Tshepo Ya Bana (I think you’ve been in contact with my friend Jonna). We’ve been back to visit on 3 occasions, including our 7 week trip in Jan 2013 to bring home our daughter Lindiwe. South Africa is in our hearts. I hope you have a wonderful trip – soak in that South African sunshine for me.

  8. 14

    Wow, hugely inspiring! Prayers for safe, fun, and productive travels!

  9. 15

    Great news! Crystal – you’re going to love our beautiful country! It’s one of the best places to live in the world! Looking forward to your posts xx

  10. 16

    Amen to that :)


  1. […] And that leads me to the secret I’ve been keep for oh-so-many weeks now. Ya’ll: In 10 days from now, I’m GOING TO SOUTH AFRICA with Lisa-Jo!!!! […]

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  3. […] And that leads me to the secret I’ve been keep for oh-so-many weeks now. Y’all: In 10 days from now, I’m GOING TO SOUTH AFRICA with Lisa-Jo!!!! […]

  4. […] So a week from today we’ll be arriving in South Africa. […]

  5. […] friend Crystal – aka Money Saving Mom – is going to South Africa next week with Lisa-Jo Baker! Check out her exciting and heart-tugging post about how this dream is coming true! And be sure to […]

  6. […] since we leave on Wednesday (bringing Crystal from Money Saving Mom with us) to brave the 18 hour flight home… I was remembering our various trips over the years and marveling at the fact that we […]

  7. […] by the time you read this we will either be headed to the airport, boarding, or in the middle of our 18 hour flight to South Africa. I’m going with Crystal Paine, her friend Joy and my nine-year-old son, Jackson, who was born […]

  8. […] grateful to be traveling with Lisa-Jo and Jackson who were both born in South Africa and who have extensive international traveling experience […]

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