MIR: March & April - Bad Things Happen To The Faithful Too!
(MIR = Month in Review)
For those who like to keep up with me, you’ll know I was trying to post an update once a month to the blog. Unfortunately, some months are easier than others. So, I’ve decided to wait until the end of April and just combine March and April into one update. Hopefully if you keep reading, you’ll understand why my plate was a bit too full to post at the end of March.
I’m going to give a quick update on the same topics I covered the past two months. But if you’re here because of the title and want to know what is going on, just skip down to the personal update at the end - after all the dotted lines.
Here we go!
COVID-19 [or other local news]:
There’s not really much of an update in this area since February. We still don’t have the vaccine available to us here in Jeffrey’s Bay. From what I’ve heard, the vaccines we received were not being handing out due to some possible serious side-affects. Once it’s made available here in South Africa to the public, however, I will still be on a very long waiting list to get one myself. I am an immigrant, after all. And I’m on a volunteer visa, which from my experience puts me on the bottom of the list for most government related things. However, once it’s available to me, I will be taking it. It’s one step closer to being able to travel back and forth freely again between countries.
We did have a small case of Covid at our school just before our end-of-term break. One of our teachers tested positive, along with her family members, and a few other teachers were off sick for flu-symptoms. So our very wise principal made the difficult decision to close the school a week early. Other
than that, our numbers here in Jbay have been relatively low and our government has left us on Level 1 lockdown. All-in-all, we’re doing okay.
We have had to deal with quite a few picketing issues lately, as a result of Covid to certain jobs/industries. More than once we’ve had the road leading to our school blocked by picketing adults burning tires and throwing trash in the roads. But in each case, our kids and staff have been kept safe. There has been an effect on the town, however in regards to cleanliness and feeling safe. So, please feel free to pray for this reoccurring issue and for those feeling so frustrated during these trying times.
Well, again, I don’t have much of an update in this area. If you follow me on Instagram or FaceBook, then you already know that my car was broken for two months. This severely limited my ability to help with food parcels and other community projects that I enjoy doing.
But “Miracle” (my car) is back up and running again, as of this moment. And (fingers-crossed) I’ll be able to start helping again soon. In the meantime, I have been able to gather donations from my home and from a neighbor to add to the Ladies Lighthouse ministry’s new secondhand shop. I’ll deliver those to them very soon.
King’s College Primary School:
The kids at King’s College have had an amazing Term 1! They have worked so hard to get caught up on many of their lessons and the teachers have worked even harder! The new leadership changes have proven to be such a breath of fresh air! The staff are all working together eagerly and everyone seems focused on the success of our students, rather than stress and fear and dread. It’s been such a great change for the school!
For our computer classes (Grades 4-7), I’m so very pleased to share that we had 13 students complete the Beginner Typist program and receive their certificates of completion! Most of those also earned a 100% score for accuracy! I am so very proud of them! We were scheduled to have several more complete the section, but we had to close (as mentioned above). These kiddos have moved on to the Computer Basics lessons (learning how a computer works) followed by Career Prep lessons before they continue on to the Intermediate Typist program.
Also, the kids in our VT (vocational training) class have been working with Roxzanne and I in small groups to learn English a bit better. This is the Reading Group that I mention in my social media posts. I am thrilled to use some of my skills from The Shine Literacy Program that I volunteered with in Plett several years ago! And the kids have taken to the practices very quickly! I am so proud of them!!
This term we also were able to get all of the new smartboards mounted at the school. I have
not been able to get them all set up for use just yet, but I am hoping to work on this as quickly as possible now that we have the correct electrical cords for them. For those who don’t know, we were gifted so many amazing things from donors in The Netherlands. But they all require new power cords to work here in South Africa, along with a lot of prep work from me and my coworker to get them set up in English and set up for teachers to use them. But, my goal is to get them up and running for all of the teachers first thing next term.
This term, the kids were also blessed to have some volunteers come and help teach them Rugby and Netball. We aren’t yet able to have our full sports programs again (covid restrictions). But the kids are getting to enjoy sports as a bonus PT (physical training) class to help them. Some of the kids also were blessed to be able to pick their own veggies from our community garden as part of their Home Economics lessons and then take them into the kitchen to create a recipe with them. They LOVED this project and were excited to take home a bundle of veggies for their families afterwards. We also had Parents Night for all of the grades (Foundation Phase one night and Intermediate Phase another night). It was nice to see all of the parents come and show support for the success of their learners. Lots of other fun things have happened this term in each and every classroom. All in all, Term 1 has been a huge success and I am excited to see the kids continue to grow and thrive here at King’s College!
Because of my car issues, I haven’t spent as much time at our other ministries as I would like. It’s been much easier getting a lift to King’s College, since that is a set schedule that matches the other teacher’s schedules. But getting lifts to the other ministries hasn’t been so easy. I did, however, get to visit with the principal of our playschool (ages 2-6) – Noah’s Ark – this term. With the donations from the Netherlands, I was able to set up a new laptop for her, as well as three other staff leaders. So I spent a day with her showing her how to set things up and looking at the technology needs they have at their school. She is truly an amazing lady and I was thrilled to hear her story of how she rose to this position as principal! She is also the mother of one of my Grade 7 kids that I teach computers and Life Orientation. So it was lovely to hear from her about how her daughter sees me as a teacher and what she likes and doesn’t like about school.
While I was there, I learned that the teachers are all sharing one desktop to print out worksheets for their preschoolers and their lessons. The laptop in question had recently been
involved in an attempted robbery. So they found it in pieces outside of the window where our amazing security team caught the intruders. Unfortunately, it was damaged in the process. But I have been able to reconfigure one of the older desktops from King’s College and I’ll be taking this to the teachers next week (if possible). I am looking into options to share some other technology resources with these amazing women so that they can continue to raise up young children that will make a difference one day!
The other three ministries I was able to serve these past two months were Soeteswan (our stroopwafle bakery), Growing God’s Way (our community garden), and Rainbow School (our special needs school). Mostly I was just working to get specific leaders of these organizations a proper laptop to help them do their work, or helping to moderate wifi connection issues at their locations. I was also blessed to help set up three of our new laptops to be shared with a new discipleship program with Pastor George, a friend of ours working out of our old school building to help some older students (above Grade 7) with their walk with the Lord.
As an update on my last post, the Skills Centre is currently undergoing leadership changes. So our goal of starting a computer program with our older special needs kids is on hold for the time being. As soon as I have an update on that, I’ll be sure to let you know.
Not much has actually changed in this area of life since my last update. I am still struggling. I am blessed to have the monthly donors that I have had for a long time now. And I recently was able to send them some photos as a small thank you for their sacrifices and generosity! It means so much to me to have these donors continue to give! I have also had a few one-time donations that have really helped me to get through these tough months. But if any of you have any suggestions or ideas on how to help me with fundraising, please let me know! I would greatly appreciate it!!!
Okay, so, on to the biggest area of my life that has been affected these past two months.
Several weeks ago, before my mom’s foot surgery, my dad (AKA: Bob) started having back pains. Mom’s doctor actually sent him for testing because he was worried about how much Dad would be able to help my mom during her recovery. After many doctors and many tests and many, many nights of praying, we have an answer: my dad has cancer.
Needless to say, this has taken us all by surprise! There were many signs along the way that pointed to this, but I know I personally didn’t want to believe that until we had the final test results. Before I get into this, please know that I asked my Dad’s permission before posting this. And out of respect for his wishes, I’m not going to go into a lot of detail about the medical side of things. Just know that it is a very rare form of cancer that can’t be treated by chemotherapy. He will be starting on a treatment plan soon that is pill based and we’re all praying this gives him strength to continue being his protective provider self, and grants us as much added time with him as we can get!!
Personally, I have not taken this news well, as I’m sure you can guess. And the many weeks of wondering if he’s going to be okay have taken their toll on me. But I am surrounded by supportive people who know what I’m dealing with and have done everything they can to help me through these trying weeks.
Also, I have reached out to several different travel agents and done research on my own over the past several weeks trying to find ways to get home and help my mom and dad and brothers. But with the current travel bans in place, I am simply not able to go home. As a US citizen, I am always allowed to come home. But I would forfeit my South African visa if I chose to force an entry while the travel bans are in place. I would also be under heavy restrictions upon arrival as the US is the one prohibiting entry from people traveling out of South Africa. However, as soon as I can, I will make a plan to come home and visit my family. I had originally wanted to go home before all of this happened anyways to surprise my mom for her 60th birthday (Happy Birthday Mom! I love you!!). But, of course, this became more of a need than a want after the test results were announced. And since I haven’t been able to go home due to Covid in over 14 months now, the waiting is becoming very hard to deal with! I am praying that God does what He does best and helps to make a way where I see no way. I’ll be sure to update everyone through social media if God makes a way!
I am extremely blessed to be able to video chat and whatsapp call my parents as often as I can. But to see them in person, and just verify for myself that they are okay, would mean the world to me! In the meantime, I am leaning on my South African support team of friends, mentors, and co-workers to help me stay focused on the truth of why I am here in South Africa (because God made such a clear path for me to be here right now) and just continue to wait.
None of this, by the way, is a lack of faith! None of the emotions I’m feeling or my family is feeling are anything more than human nature. And none of us have lost hope that God can do miracles and continues to be the loving Father that we have always known Him to be. We all understand that what is happening is the result of the broken world we live in. God did not create cancer – just like I do not believe God created Covid 19. But God can use both of these terrible things to bring about His glory and goodness for His people. And, as a family, we have all professed these beliefs as truths throughout this journey and will continue to believe them until the very end! As my dad said himself in his announcement text, “Nobody knows what tomorrow holds except GOD Himself. But we are optimistic that science and HIM will produce positive results. Given the current situation and the known timeframes of these protocols we believe we may have multiple years of life ahead. For now, we pray and trust the professionals.”
If you know my family personally, please feel free to love on them for me when you cross their paths! And for everyone who has been so supportive and encouraging for me along this journey of missions, please know how much I value your kind words and prayers! And we could all really use them now!
As for Mom (aka: Michelle), she’s doing really well with her recovery! She will have her walking boot removed very soon and will start to learn to walk on her newly repaired leg and prosthetic leg for a few more weeks before she’s back to normal. My oldest brother (Bobby)
and his son live with my parents and they both are helping as best that they can. My other older brother (Jon) and his family recently visited as well to help celebrate Mom’s bday and their visit was a great encouragement to the family as well! Dad’s employees have also been a huge source of support and comfort for my parents, as well as Mom’s coworkers who know, and my extended family members. So, they are surrounded by support and love and I am forever grateful for each person who does even one thing to make life easier for them right now! If you are one of these people mentioned, thank you!!
To everyone who reads this blog: thank you!! Thank you for your prayers and words of encouragement this year and beyond!! They really mean a lot to me!! I am so honored to have people around me that care enough about me to be concerned about people they may not have ever met! Thank you for being true friends through thick and thin! I could NOT continue to follow my passions for God without your support! It wouldn’t be possible, quite honestly!
Anyways, so that’s what’s been going on in the crazy world of Kris. If you have any questions about anything I post, please feel free to message me!! I promise I will do my best to answer your concerns/queries. And if you have any suggestions on fundraising or ideas on how to show love to my family during this journey, please let me know! I’m happy to hear from you!
Please let me know if you have any prayer requests of your own or anything in your life that I can speak into for you! I am here to serve you all as well. So please don’t hesitate to ask for support or prayers. Thank you for “listening” and I’ll chat with you all again soon.