First, I am so, so sorry that I haven't updated the post is many months! If you follow me on social media then you probably didn't miss anything. But finding time to update the blog (or emotional bandwidth to do so) was very difficult. I'm sorry!!!
So, let's do a little recap of all that 2021 threw my way, and how amazing our God was through it all!!!!
* KristinOnMission promo videos are launched!
I overcame some pretty big hurdles this year in my life, one of them being able to be filmed! Some amazing friends worked together in 2020 to help me make some promotional videos for myself, to help raise much needed support to keep me in South Africa. And not only did they do just that, but they also gave God an opportunity to help me push through some major fears and be used by Him in new ways! And I am in love with these videos!! If you haven't seen them, you can find them on my YouTube channel here:
* Mom's last foot surgery:
My mom, Michelle Freudenthal, had yet another surgery on her feet. This time on her "good foot" to help repair the same birth defect they tried to fix in her other foot three years prior - that led to her eventual prosthetic leg. Thankfully, the surgery was successful this time and she is doing AMAZINGLY well! (Just FYI: I have the same birth defect and may be looking into this procedure in the future. But for now, it's not affordable. So it isn't happening.)
* School year starts - finally!
In February of 2021, we were finally given the all clear to start our school year. After the many, many days lost the previous year, we were all nervous to see how things would run. But it didn't take too long to get back into the swing of things. We also were blessed to received 10 smartboard screens for our classrooms!!! I was so excited to help get these set up and running for the teachers and for our computer lab. Since then, we also received the missing shipping container of donations from The Netherlands that we had been waiting on since before covid. This contained several more smartboards and a store room full of computer supplies for our computer lab! We went from 4 computers when I first started the program (in a closet), to 12 laptops that I had to transport to each class and let the kids take turns learning on, to a full computer lab with 30 computers, screens, etc! Can we take a moment and thank God for all those blessings?!! It's going to make such a difference in the opportunities these kids will have when they are ready to find a job one day!! So amazing!
* Dad's cancer diagnosis:
During prep for Mom's surgery, her doctor had growing concerns with my dad, Bob Freudenthal, and his ongoing back pain. He's had pain for many, many years and had been seen by doctors before. But if he was going to be helpful to Mom during her recovery, he was going to need to be healthy. Mom's doctor asked him to go for another visit. That led to many, many more doctors and tests (which he endured very well). And eventually that led to a diagnosis - cancer: stage 4. It is an extremely rare form of skin cancer that has spread to his bones (which never happens). So he is on some fun experimental drugs that come from some super secret cancer pharmacy and can only be received by mail order. The medications seem to be helping him now and keeping the cancer from spreading. He also did a round of radiation to help ease the pain in his bones, as well as several other treatments. It has been quite a journey but he is still fighting and still carrying on with his work and taking care of his family - because I'm pretty sure he'd be much worse off if he wasn't working and caring for others! But we continue to pray that God heals him and gives him peace.
* Surprising my family with a visit:
When I found out about my Dad's diagnosis, we were still in lockdown here in South Africa. And we were still on the travel ban list for the US. So I had no choice but to stay here and wait to see what happened. The moment the travel bans were lifted, a few months later, I messaged two people: my aunt Pat Freudenthal and one of my closest friends, Jessica Hupp. They both told me to go for it - aka: take the risk of canceled flights, quarantines, travel restrictions, loss of money, etc, and try to come home. We made a plan to get me home without telling anyone else. (I didn't tell them I was coming not to scare them, but to keep them from worrying about me as I traveled and having them be disappointed if it didn't work.) They helped me surprise my parents (and the rest of my family) with a much needed visit. I was actually on the very first flight out of Johannesburg to the US since Covid hit! So it was definitely a new adventure for everyone on board. I had not seen my family in over 17 months at that point thanks to Covid. So, needless to say, we were all a bit emotional about the reunion! I was blessed to spend 6 weeks just soaking in my family and not worrying about fundraising (which I typically have to do when I'm home.) And I am forever grateful for those precious memories with my Mom, Dad, oldest brother, and nephew, as well as the extended family and friends who made such an effort to hunt me down while I was in town or reached out to me online/phone to let me know they cared. One of the last days I was there, Dad and I were just hanging out in his bedroom watching silly movies together while the family rushed in and out around us. And that will be my most favorite memory of all time, I'm almost positive! Such a blessed time!!
You can see the video of our surprise reunion here:
* My grandfather passed away:
My sweet grandfather, Noel Loper, went to be with God. He had struggled with MS for almost all of my life. And I was so, so blessed to have spent time with him while I was home in June/July. I have an amazing last memory with him because of that visit! He was in the hospital again, after another fall. My parents and I came to visit him and check on my grandmother, Barbara Loper. While they all chatted, he pointed to me and asked why I was not in South Africa. I teased him and asked why couldn't I be in America. He said he was glad I was there but that he knew I needed to be in SA. I am so, so grateful for this memory!! I am also so very grateful to the funeral home for allowing me to watch the service online as it happened, and to my Aunt Pat for face-timing with me for the graveside service. Watching my brother, Jon Freudenthal, present the military flag of honor to my grandmother was one of the most moving things I've ever seen! And I would have missed that without video calls!
* Victory4All/King's College Highlights:
- I was blessed to work with some struggling students in our VT program (vocational training), to work on their reading skills. These kids grew in leaps and bounds with the gift of resources from my amazing American friends and the hard work of my friend Roxzanne Mlengani, my self, and their primary teacher.
- The first students EVER finished the typing program for King's College!! These are kids who chose to give up their break times and free times to come and sit in my computer lab with me and just type until they could finish. I am SOOOO proud of their hard work and they each received a certificate that I hope will mean the world to them as they grow.
- My LO class (life orientation) grew spiritually in massive ways this year! This particular group of students was known as a "hard class" for many years. And I honestly wasn't looking forward to trying to teach them about God. But they ended up being the class that grew me the most! They asked pointed questions, wanted more and more information, and actively pushed me to explain God and His ways over and over again, in different ways and using different perspectives to try and get them to understand what I had known from experience, but they had little to no basis for. The hunger they had for more of Him was both draining and exciting! And I know that I am a better teacher because of this one class! I just pray a few of the seeds I threw out will take root one day and they'll remember something I said when they're ready to speak to God by themselves.
- MasterChef competition: My friend, Catherine Calitz teaches Home Ec at our school. She put on an amazing event this year where kids from several local schools came to our school and competed in a cooking contest mirrored after the show Master Chef. I was lucky enough to be there to take pictures for her and saw how amazingly well the kids did! It was truly impressive.
* Abba's House begins:
Shortly after my visit home, God started prompting me to take another risk. It was the same burning, never ending urge I felt when He called me to move to South Africa. And it happened so quickly!! I'll have to write a post all on its own explaining how this crazy thing came about. But for now, just know that it all came together in a matter of months and now I am eagerly awaiting opening day (once the local governmental steps are complete) to be able to help the most vulnerable of our community to find safety, love, and peace. You can learn more about this new ministry at:
Because of this decision, I moved out of my beloved flat in Jeffreys Bay and into a home on a farm in Loerie. Adjusting to farm life has not been easy, mainly because I've been living on my own for several years and this particular farm believes in "community living," even though I live in a home all by myself. Boundaries are not my strong point (as many abuse survivors can attest). But my counselor and I are working hard to set them, and my amazing friends who own the farm, Jessica and Gideon Porter, are mostly understanding and seem to be dealing with my quirks as best that they can.
The home I'm renting will be the home of the baby safe haven. So setting up my own space was essential for me. I have created a corner of the home that is just for me. And with the blessings of many generous gifts through our GoFundMe account (and some friends here in Jbay as well) I have started and almost finished making repairs to the old farm house and buying much needed supplies to be able to take care of 6 babies (to start) and staff needs. If you'd like to see progress on this, please visit the Abba's house FaceBook page at the link below:
For the GoFundMe link, please click here:
* Covid, again:
Yep.... I got Covid again. For the third time... And no, I don't have tests to prove it. I have been sent for testing each time but I was sent too early each time. So it always shows negative, even though every symptom they tell you is possible for each variant, I end up having. And even though everyone around me ends up testing positive within days of me. So for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and about two days afterwards, I was in bed. But I was able to join my family through video chat and watch them open the gifts I had sent them. Thank you family for doing that for me!! It was so special! I am fine now. All the staff at school seem to be fine now. And everyone on the farm is fine now. We all just like to share things a bit too much, I think. LOL! But we can now cross Omicron off our to-do lists.
Shew! That was a lot!! See, Kris! This is why you should update your blog more often!!!
Anyways, so that was 2021. I'll write another post soon focusing on what is coming and my hopes and dreams for 2022. If you stood by me through this insane year, I just want to say THANK YOU!!!! I know that feels a bit redundant since I say it all the time. But I REALLY mean it! The past couple of years have been less than pleasure-filled. And yet, you've kept me in your prayers, you've reached out, you've supported me and my crazy dreams, and you've never once left me to do this on my own. For that, and so much more than you'll ever understand, I have to say it one more time: THANK YOU!!
Be blessed this new year!! I love you all and I pray for you often, even if I don't know everyone's names that read this crazy website - I still pray. Talk to you soon!