Month in Review: February - Back at School!
Okay, here we go! Let’s take a look back at the crazy busy month of February, 2021.
This month, we finally were able to open the school again! Yay! And our other ministries are back and running at (almost) full steam. I have been busier than ever and I am excited to see what God does with it all! So let’s break it down into the same categories I used last month and give you an update on each area of my insane life. 😉
COVID-19 [or other local news]: We’re still wrestling with COVID here in South Africa. However, the government just received the Johnson & Johnson vaccines (after an unsuccessful round of vaccines that had to be rejected) and some people have already gotten the shots (after the president and other big wigs, of course). It’s not yet here in Jeffreys Bay. But when it is, I’ll let you know. I’m not sure what the rules will be about who can get the vaccine, since I am an international “visitor.” But I’m hoping I can get it once it’s here in the area, as I’m sure it will be mandatory for international travelling. I'm sure there will be a cost for it, since I'm not a resident. But I will need it. So I'll have to figure it out when the time comes.
Community Outreach: This month I was so blessed to be able to help a local friend, Carla, to distribute food parcels to single moms in our communities. Carla runs a ministry called Ladies Lighthouse where she helps provide all sorts of things for single moms. But once a month she gathers food donations from all over town and combines them into food parcels for dozens of moms. My friend Jess and I drove around delivering a few of these boxes and meeting some of the precious families Carla serves. I am looking forward to helping with this again next month! I really enjoyed it!
King’s College Primary School: School is back in session! The staff started on the 1st and the kids started on the 15th. The teachers used the first week back with the kids to do some much needed benchmark tests to evaluate where our kids really were with reading, writing, maths, etc. So they’ve only been on their “normal” schedule for a week now. But, I am soooooo happy to see them back! It was strange not seeing my older kids, now that they’ve moved on to high school (Grade 8). But I’m excited to get to know the three new classes of Grade 4 that will be joining me for computers. And I am very excited to be teaching LO (Life Orientation or Life Skills) to the new Grade 7 kids. I'm also going to be helping with reading for our VT class (vocational training), as one of these kids really struggles with language issues and needs some one-on-one help. I'm happy to try some of the skills I used with the reading program I helped with back in Plett! I'm hoping they will be as easy to use with him as they were with those kiddos.
Also, our former principal retired last year. So our vice principal has become our new principal. And I am loving the transition!!! The staff have all seemed to relax under this new leadership and are actually volunteering to help each other when problems arise and are working with the leadership team rather than just doing as they’re told. The atmosphere at the school has been very tense for some time. And I’ve been reluctant to share with you all just how stressful it’s been to serve there. But, it’s like one change led to a hundred other changes and now we can all breathe! It’s amazing and I pray it stays that way all year long!
We also received 8 new smartboards from some amazing donors in The Netherlands. Apparently, in The Netherlands, the schools get new equipment every 5 years or so. And the old ones get donated out. We were blessed to be chosen for those donations and were even blessed to have someone pay to ship them over ahead of time so they could be set up for the first day of school. They arrived last month but it took us some time to organize how to get them installed here in South Africa. We now have them all set up in their classrooms and I’m working to get them on our wifi, in the correct language, with the correct power cords for this country, with a new account, with the digital keyboard, and train the teachers. So far, I’ve gotten three of them completely set up. I’m hoping this coming week to get the last 5 done and ready to go. But there are three that we’re waiting for an electrician to sort out a power source for us and we’re praying for an upgrade in wifi as well. Hopefully, by next month, I can tell you that they’re all up and running. The three that are up have been used by the teachers for a couple of days now and the kids and staff are all loving it! It’s opening so many doors for our kids to be able to visually see what they’ve been learning out of textbooks for so long! And I am LOVING being able to show them Bible stories videos (from Lifeway, of course) and how to use the computer straight from the SmartBoard! It’s amazing!
Victory4All: I have been blessed to spend some time at Rainbow School (special needs school), Rainbow Skills Centre (for our older special needs kids), Shalom Centre (for our “Angels” or special needs kids who need more help), Soeteswan (the bakery where we make stroopwafels and sell in shops for funds for the ministry), Noah’s Ark Playschool (the preschool), and the foster homes. So, basically, almost all of Victory4All got a visit from Kris this month. LOL! Mostly I was there to take some updated pictures for the directors to use on the social media pages and newsletters, etc. I’m trying to do that about once a month for them (and you’ll see some of them on my social media as well). I’ve also worked with the staff and got a few of them trained on Google Photos so that we can share photos from all of the ministries when they have special events and programs going on. Technology is not a strong spot of the team here in South Africa (just because they haven't been exposed to it like I have). So It’s always a bit of a learning curve for me on how to help them and for them on how to understand me. But I think we’re doing okay. Mostly, I’m just loving getting to know the staff more and seeing what God is doing in all parts of V4A.
I also met with the coordinator of the Skill Centre this month. We discussed the plans to start a small computer class with the older special needs kids to see if any of them would want to learn basic typing. We’re waiting on a shipping container full of donations from The Netherlands to arrive (should be here this week). When it comes, it will have enough computers for us to finish the computer lab at King’s College and for us to set up a smaller version of the lab at the Skills Centre. Once it’s set up, I’ll start working with about 8 kids at a time there, once a week, and see how it goes.
Ultimately, I’d like to find a staff member or volunteer (local) to take over this program, like I have with Roxzanne Mlangeni at King’s College. My goal is not to run these programs myself, because I am an international. But rather, my goal is to train up leaders locally and let them continue as best meets the needs of their own people. That sounds fancy, I know. But that’s the easiest way to describe why I do things the way I do them. So, I am happy to get the computer training started at the Skills Centre. But I’m going to be on the hunt the whole time for my own replacement.
Personal Life: I don’t have much of an update on this area of life. Things have been quite stressful trying to find a balance between all my tasks, including my online work with Lifeway. But I think I’m getting there. My family could use some prayers, however. We’ve had quite a bit of sickness going on back home and I would greatly appreciate prayers for my parents, brothers, sister-in-law, nieces, and nephews. Nothing specifically to share at this time, I just really miss them and want them to be covered with blessings!!!
I am in a bit of a legal battle with my building management team at my apartment. Well, not so much me, personally. But rather all of the owners of the flats versus the board of trustees. When I moved in, several of the units had put up flower boxes on their balconies to give a bit of privacy from the cars on the street below. So, I did the same. A friend actually donated wood for me so that I could afford these very cool, homemade flowerboxes that attached to the railing of the balcony (so they wouldn’t damage the property). My other new neighbors did the same. Then all of the owners received a threatening letter that it was now against the rules to block the railings at all and we needed to remove them or be fined and eventually brought to court. I removed mine and decided to argue the case through the management team (well, my awesome friend Jessica decided to fight for me since everything is technically still in her name and she’s much better at this stuff than I am). The other home owners have chosen to fight legally, however, because apparently, it’s illegal for them to enforce rules that the owners haven’t agreed to. And we were never told the rules had changed. All that to say, home has become a bit more stressful than I’d like. But it sounds like it may be coming to an end soon and I may be able to put my “boards” back up (she says hopefully).
Also, my car is dead. Okay, not completely dead. But I had to take her (I call her Miracle) to the “car doctor” a few weeks ago for a gasket issue. Something about the gasket was about to blow or something. I’m not a car person. I don’t know. But the mechanic I work with here in town is amazing and always honest with me. He couldn’t fix the part himself but he could take the part to a team in Port Elizabeth and they could fix it. We did all of that and I went into debt paying to have my car back. The day I got her back, however, I took her for a short drive around town to make sure she was okay…. and I blew out a tire. More money gone. But once that was fixed, everything seemed fine… for about a day or two. And then Miracle started “coughing” again. Twice I had to get someone to come and rescue me at the school because she just wouldn’t start. So I finally got her back to the “doctor” this week and got the news that it’s the gasket again. My mechanic is forcing the PE guys to fix what they broke. So hopefully it won’t cost me too much more money. In the meantime, I’m very grateful to live over a shop where I can pop down and get cat food when Merida needs it, or bread when I’m out of everything else. Anyways.... that's life.
But, all of that leads me to my last category… my least favorite - financials.
Financials: So, I’m going to be very honest with you guys. I am struggling! A lot! I am barely making ends meet and I don’t know how to fix it. I do have my online job, yes. But, just like the rest of us, they’ve had to tighten their belts. They’re a ministry too and they have to be careful with how they spend their money. So, my hours are very limited with them this year. I also use my online job to train a friend of mine locally as my "sub-contractor" so that she can provide for herself and her kids as a single mom. So the hours are cut between us and we're both dependent on them. Between all of that that and not being able to come home in December for fundraising and much needed supplies (I'm quickly running out of clothes that fit and don't have holes in them!), I’m really not doing well financially. I’m just not.
Covid has really taken a toll on me and the people I serve. And I just don’t have the means to keep going like this. I don’t mean to sound pitiful or anything, but I really just don’t know what to do anymore. I know God and I have been in leaner times than this. But in those times, I didn’t have people counting on me to help them like I do now. And I didn’t have as many responsibilities to cover as I do now. I trust God to provide, don’t get me wrong!! I’m just in a position right now where I need others to pray with me and help fill in the gaps where my faith just isn’t strong enough to see what God sees. So, if you can, please pray with me about the financial stuff. I HATE money! But I need it, unfortunately, to do what I am called to do here in Jbay. And I don’t have any control over how it comes. That’s hard.
So, that’s what February looked like for me. A whole lot of ups and a lot of very hard lows. I will be honest with you now and say that the lows are currently kicking my butt! However, I know my God. And I know His pattern, if I can put it that way. I know He sees me. I know He hears my cries at night for peace and justice and healing and love to win. I know my God. And He knows me. We will find a way, together, to do what He’s put on my heart to do… love these people until they see Him for themselves!
If you have any questions about anything in this post, or anything in my life, I’m really very open to answering questions. I’ve learned to be more and more open about things in my life on this crazy journey called missions. So, I don’t often take offense to questions. I just may not have an answer. But don’t let that stop you from asking! Please know that you can always email me with anything, questions or prayers or just to chat, at: Kristin.firstname.lastname@example.org You are also welcome to comment on this blog if you don’t mind others seeing your messages.
I love you guys! I hope you believe that! Thanks for “listening!” God bless!
If you'd like to support me financially, or know of someone who would like to help, please visit the Support link at the top of the page. You can give into my missions account and receive tax deduction, or you can give into my PayPal account for me to receive it immediately. I really would love to have more monthly sponsors through my missions account, even as little as $10 a month helps! The monthly donations help provide me with some stability in a very unstable lifestyle. Just to put that out there.