June and July in Review: A Newsletter of Sorts
So, I've been reminded lately of how important it is to keep others informed on what God is doing here in Jbay, South Africa. I know I don't do the whole email/newsletter thing like most missionaries. But, I'm not really like most missionaries, am I? I really just haven't had the time to sit down and put words to all that God has been up to in this little corner of the world. I'm going to try and do it now, at least for the past couple of months. Here goes....
I've been at King's College for a full year now. And I have to say, I LOVE it! The kids are amazing! The teachers and staff are truly special! And God is in every single day! I am currently at the school 2 days a week. Some weeks, on rare occasions, I am there an extra day or two. But that's very unusual. In June we ended Term 2 of the year, took a school holiday for 3 weeks, and started back in July for Term 3. During the holiday,however, one of our newer teachers decided it wasn't a good fit for her and left. So, Term 3 started with all new schedules for the Intermediate teachers, myself included. It was a little tricky figuring out where I fit in to things now with all the changes. But with the department head's help, Simone Salida, we worked out a schedule that I think works for now.
We're still very much praying for the promise of new computers to be fulfilled so that I can have a full classroom dedicated to teaching computer skills. But, until then, I'm honored to be able to help in the English, Creative Writing, and Bible subjects as well. I am still teaching computers but only in groups of 4-5 kids at a time. This, as you can imagine, drastically changes the impact I can have. However, we did have our first students ever to complete the beginners level courses of typing through the online program: typing.com. These boys have been coming to me twice a week (taking over an empty time slot from other kids who were less interested) and are always eager to learn computers! One boy was even offered a job just after finishing the typing level 1 classes. But, thankfully, we've discussed it and I've been able to encourage him to complete school and get more training first. It does show you just how needed these skills are in this area though, if a Grade 7 child is being offered work simply because he can type at a rate of 20 words per minute. Imagine what opportunities they would have if they could complete the full course, all the way through basic coding and programming skills! To God be the glory in their lives and their family's lives!
The Pen Pal program hit a bit of a snag in June when the US schools ended their school year. Our kids go to school from January to December. But we partnered with a couple of classes in America, who go from August/September to May/June. When the US schools closed, our kids had to get new Pen Pals quickly. Thankfully, I've had so much interest in this idea that it didn't take long to connect each kid with a new Pen Pal.
There has definitely been a lag in mail coming into SA of late. There is no reason/explanation for this other than the fact that this is a third-world country. Needless to say it's been a bit of a struggle for my US friends, who are used to mail system that works efficiently. But the kids here in SA have been very patient and, quite honestly, the delay has caused them to value the letters even more when they finally arrive. Most of my kids are still waiting on their first US letters to arrive. But we've mailed a total of 2 letters out of SA and most of them have arrived in the US (with the newer partners coming now). We strive to have the kids write at least one letter each school term, but I'd like to have them writing more this term to help with their English lessons. So, if you have a Pen Pal, you may be getting more "creative" letters from your kids soon. We'll see.
The absolute best part of this program for me has been to see the kids responding to the encouraging words they get from people they've never met. They just light up knowing that someone on the other side of the world knows they exist! They love to show off their letters and they talk about their Pen Pals as if they know them personally. To see God's love poured out to these hungry souls is almost more than I can take sometimes! I just adore each and every one of you who have chosen to love our kids in this way! You are making a difference in their lives, I can promise you that!
I recently asked people online to message me any of their Pen Pal questions. I will be answering these on social media soon so that everyone knows the answers. If you're in the #PenPals2019 program, please be sure you're following me either on FaceBook or Instagram so that you can see these responses as well.
KC's Annual School Concert
King's College recently completed their Annual School Concert. I think it was a big success! I was honored to be able to help again this year, a sweet memory from my first days helping at the school last year. But this year I was even more thrilled because I got to help backstage with the media set up and running. I loved being able to assist Roxzanne Mlengeni and Mr. Charlie with the media needs. The kids did fantastically, and the staff made it through in one piece, LOL! If you'd like to see pics/videos of the concert, please visit my FaceBook or Instagram pages. You can also check out the Victory4All social media pages to see more.
I have also been so thrilled to be helping more at the church with the amazing production team. I served almost every Sunday in the months of June and July. And I was privileged to be able to come and serve in the offices on Mondays as well. The best part for me being able to see all that God is doing in and through this church. He is seriously up to some big stuff here and I am beyond amazed that I get to witness it from behind the scenes.
Victory Church was recently honored to host a "denominational" conference called The Sending. People from all over the world came to Jbay just to attend the services and breakout sessions over a three-day weekend. And I can NOT express enough how amazing it was!!
I personally was beyond thrilled to be able to give up my school holiday break to help the staff prepare for this event. I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED, learning how much goes into an event like this and seeing just how detailed God is in His preparations for this amazing weekend! Even more, I was so thrilled to be personally touched by so much of what happened that weekend. Quite honestly, I don't think God stopped talking to me for the entire weekend. I may have been running on caffeine and very little else. But I would do it all over again and again to see God work so powerfully and to have Him breakthrough my own walls so gently!
I honestly can't express to you how much I loved this event!
"Street" Ministry with Murray & Mavis
I had to take a bit of a break from the street ministry these past few month to make time for other ministry needs (ie: church and school). But the break was very much needed and helped us all to reevaluate how best to reach these people that we love so much in the townships of Jeffreys Bay. When Murray, Mavis, and I got back together again recently to start our door-to-door ministry, we had a new fire and a new purpose to fulfill. We all felt led to new areas and I truly believe God is stirring up these communities to make major changes for Him, breaking off old traditions and reclaiming His children back to His heart. And I am so eager to see Him do what only He can do!
Personal Growth & Adventures
Personally, I've had a lot of growth moments these past few months. A few of you saw a video I posted on FaceBook. That was a HUGE accomplishment for me that I never saw coming! But God surely did!! Beyond that, I have been working through an amazing workbook for childhood abuse survivors, been actively involved in two different online support groups, and been blessed to be surrounded by mentors and friends who know more than anyone else ever has and still love, support, pray, and encourage me. God has been straight up kicking down wall all around my heart this year. It's amazing to watch, but terrifying at the same time. To be honest, there have been lots of days/nights of asking Him who I am without those walls or how I'm supposed to move on without them. But to have them gone still feels so much better than having them there! And He is so amazingly gentle, kind, compassionate, and loving in helping me navigate this new life.
Beyond the emotional/spiritual adventures, I've also had lots of time with friends here in SA that have filled my need for excitement that I didn't know I had. I was blessed to spend lots of time with my friend Inecke while she was back home on school break, and I've been spoiled by my friend Jess who has taken me on more than one work trip so that I can see more of SA than I could on my own.
I have been so humbled to have three different friends start fundraisers online for my behalf. You may have been invited to some of these through FaceBook. It's amazing to know that someone far away from me is still thinking of me and wants to help me to continue the work God has blessed me with here in South Africa. I have also received a couple of care packages, a blessing I never thought would be possible, as well as lots of sweet cards of encouragement in the mail. And I have to tell you that they have made me feel so connected and loved by my friends in America. Thank you if you were one of these people!
I have already begun discussions with my family about my upcoming plans to visit America again this December/January. I am hoping to have some dates to share with you soon on this. When I have dates, please let me know if you'd like me to come and speak to your church/group. I didn't get much opportunity to speak/fundraise last year due to family situations (my aunt's death). But I'd like to try and share with people this year if possible.
I have reached out to my visa agent about renewing my volunteer visa here in SA, which expires at the end of April next year. I can't actually start the paperwork on this until after I return to SA in January, because they take your passport when you apply. But I am hopeful that God will bless this process like He has the other times before. The biggest hurdle in trying to get another three year visa is the financial requirements the SA government places on us. But, they seemed to "overlook" that issue last time. So I'm praying they only see what they need to see this time around as well.
Other than this, I don't see any major changes or adventures on the horizon for the months to come, at least not right now. But if that changes, I'll be sure to let you all know.
I'm marking my calendar now to try and remind myself to post another update in a couple of months so you all can stay in the loop. Here's hoping it works! LOL
If you have any questions or if you need prayers for ANYTHING, please feel free to message me on here, on social media, on WhatsApp, or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org Whatever you need, I'm here for you. Just let me know. I love you all and I appreciate you so very much more than you realize! I know I say this, but I honestly believe that I could not do what I do without you all! I just don't have the personally to be able to do this alone. And thankfully God sent me you all, so I don't have to! In case you didn't know it.... I love you!!!!