I can hardly believe that it has been two months to the day that I boarded a plane to come back to South Africa!!! It is just crazy how fast time has flown and I decided it was time to give you a quick update of what’s been happening! It has been very busy since I’ve been back, seeing my kids at Bizweni, seeing my kids at His Ark, and reconnecting with my friends and “adoptive family” this side of the world. It has been so good seeing all of them and hearing about their lives over the last year, but there have definitely been some bittersweet moments. Transitioning back here proved to be more difficult than I expected, but I’m thankful that it is getting better by the day!
Many things have changed at school, as some students have moved on to other schools, and a week after my arrival one of the students in my class died in the hospital, which has hit all of the students and staff very hard. We are thankful for the love, encouragement, and prayers through that journey. We’ve also had times of fun, learning new things, beginning some basic reading with a few of the higher level children, and recycling to help our environment, and turning trash into a bird feeder treasure! They’ve finally started the building of the addition to our Centre- a Skills Development Centre, for the older children!!! We’re so excited that God has provided this addition to our services, so that we can more appropriately help our students and the new ones that will come!
It may not look like much to you on this board, but for this girl it means lots of improvement. Because of her Cerebral Palsy, fine motor skills, like writing are very difficult for I. She was able to copy down a triangle accurately for the first time, and as you can tell by her grin she was very proud of herself, and so were her teachers!!!
At the end of our week studying birds, the kids used their imaginations to build a bird in a nest, using pineapples, pretzels, grapes, & frosting. They really enjoyed the activity!
The kids LOVE our baking days, but sadly we don’t have access to the kitchen we were using before I left, so we’ve had to be creative in finding recipes that don’t require any heating. As you can see in the picture, I’ve typed up the recipes in simple steps, with pictures to help all of the students to be able to follow along, with the hope that one day some of them will be able to follow the simple directions on their own. They loved helping and loved making “Peanut Butter Snack balls”, a childhood favorite of mine, that my mom used to make for us after school. I think we may have to try this recipe again- it was a hit!
- Pray with me as I’ve been asked to consider a different role within the Centre next year. Pray that I will have clarity about what role I must take in the new year.
- Please pray for continued transitions at the school and for staff unity amongst the changes coming in the new year.
- Pray for generous sponsors for a new bus for the Centre, as transportation is one of the main hindrances of our children getting to school.
With Antje being back in Germany when I first arrived, I was quite busy for the first few weeks, but I was so happy to see how Jolin had taken charge, now that he is full-time with His Ark. It has been so great getting to reconnect with so many of the kids and families in SLP and to see how they’ve grown! Some of the aspects of the weekly programs have changed because we are no longer working with the young adults from the Eagles Rising program, so that means less leaders, but it has opened up for an even greater opportunity. We have about 8 teenagers/ young adults, who have grown up in our programs who are now ready for some responsibility, and so we rely on them on Fridays to help in all aspects of the program, whether teaching the Bible lesson through acting, dishing food, or helping to keep the kids quiet during the lesson. It has been such a blessing to see how empowering these kids has had an impact on them, but also the younger children of Kids Club. It is part of our dream to raise up young leaders in this community who will stand for Christ and it is so great to see it come to fruition. What a blessing they are to us!
Quiet worship song: one of my favorite parts of Kids club. We use this to help calm them down but more importantly it is so beautiful to hear them sing earnestly and loudly….”…this one thing remains, your love never fails, it never gives up, never runs out on me…”
As you can see, we still don’t have that building yet, but we’re still there for the kids, rain, shine, or wind!!!! Thankful for these little tents that keep some of the rain off.
Our girls, boys, & sports clubs have been in full force while I’ve been away, but I’ve been happy to get back into working with our young girls. At girls club, we started a series reading through the Jesus Storybook Bible, looking to see how Jesus is found in all of the Bible and what that means to us in our daily life.
Right after Antje arrived back in SA, we took 23 of our older girls on a 3 day camp. It was such a great time for the girls to get away from their home lives for a few days and for us to get to know them better. Our topic was sexual purity, which is a tricky topic for our community, with the statistics speaking for themselves between rape and teenage pregnancy, but we focused on what God calls us to and who we are in Him, so we must try our best to respect the temple God’s given us.
All of our girls decided that they wanted to sign a covenant to remain pure until they’re married and as a reminder we gave them each a little ring. We’re hoping that as witnesses we can help them walk through this journey, despite some of their very difficult circumstances.
As for the rest of the photos, you can see that the girls had fun in their games, swimming, and some serious challenges. Most of the “games” were actually team and character building activities. It was so great to see them work together, sometimes getting frustrated, but to see them find ways to solve problems together was amazing. We also had a fashion show encouraging the raw beauty we’ve been given and to help teach them modesty.
As you may have noticed in some of the photos, we’ve been blessed that God has opened the doors for more volunteers to come work with us. Right now, we have two volunteers from Germany, Adina & Marcel, and they are here until July. There were also a few here when I first arrived who were here for just a few weeks. We’re so thankful for extra hands!!!!
- As we predicted with our topic from camp, some of our girls have told us or have shown signs of sexual abuse. Pray that we can find the right ways to help them and that God would put His hands of healing and protection over them.
- Continue to pray with us for the future of His Ark, particularly finding land and a building, and continued volunteer support.
- Pray for the safety of all of our kids, young leaders, and our staff in SLP. Pray God’s protection over us as we work and walk with our community.
- Pray for the upcoming Christmas party, as we are looking for sponsors, and that all of the details will come together smoothly, so that we can bless our kids in big ways and they will have a deep understanding of the real meaning of why we have this party for them.
Brag moment….remember Pauline the girl we helped get her birth certificate? Can I just say, how proud I am of this girl?!?!?!?! This is my beautiful girl on her Matric (like a prom) night. She wanted to have natural hair, because that’s the way God made her, and would only let me put a little makeup on her, because she didn’t want to look “fake and like a clown”. As we shopped for her dress, she was concerned about being modest. I’m so blessed to know Pauline, but more importantly I’m so thankful that God is using her in mighty ways to set an INCREDIBLE example for our girls, that there is another way to live. She came on camp with us, and was such a crucial player in everything.
Please pray as she finishes her last term of school, that she will be able to do her very best and that we will be able to help her get into a good university and find sponsors to help her on this next stage of her beautiful journey.
As for me, I’ve been able to settle into my new house. I’ve moved in with one of my friends, Leilanie. It is so amazing to see where and how God has taken me places!
Please continue to pray as I continue to settle and finish unpacking.
Please also pray for my car, as it broke down on the way back from camp last week. I’m praying it will be low cost and soon fixed as not having a car is becoming a problem, now that school is back in session.
Until next time….