There are so many things to write about, I don't know where to begin. But, since I can't really ever get caught up on all of the amazing experiences that we have had since we have been here, I will start this journey by sharing about the extended "holiday" (school break) that we just had. Our kids go to school year round and have a break at the end of each term. The winter break that we just finished is usually for three weeks but it was four and a half weeks due to the World Cup. It was so nice to have that long of a break; but it went by very quickly. We balanced ministry and taking time off as well as we could during this time. While we are in school session, Chris and I are extremely busy. Since life is so demanding during this time, we really make and effort to spend a lot of quality time with the kids while we do not have to prepare for classes and be on campus everyday. It is a welcomed change!
We have had a missionary associate here assisting us from Bedford, Indiana named Chelsea Flynn. She has just finished her undergrad degree in intercultural studies and she came to help us out and fulfill her internship requirements for graduation. She has been such an incredible blessing to our family. We wanted to give her as much exposure to ministry while she was here as we could even though we were out of our normal routine. She worked hard the first week after she arrived as we hosted a team at the school that ran a soccer clinic in the community close to the Bible school as well as painting a building and yard work on the campus. We cooked for the team of 30 something (the number fluctuated) plus our students...so, over 40 for 3 meals a day for 8 days; it was exhausting but we had a great time with the team as well as the South Africans. Then, we took time to go out to the feeding center in Phokeng that the kids and myself go out and help serve and donate fruits and vegetables regularly. Agnes is a "mama" to the approximately 60 or more children that she feeds as they pass her place on the way home from school. These children are neglected and very poor; Agnes provides the only love and stability that most of these children ever receive. Her heart is opened to them and there is nothing that she is not willing to give to them. I don't think I have ever seen Christ's love demonstrated more accurately than I have in Agnes. She is literally His hands extended. I admire her for that and she challenges me to consider the things that really matter and her example pushes me to do all that I can to further His kingdom. We went out to her place one day and fed the kids a special meal as a treat on their holiday and then did a vbs of sorts for them after they ate. One evening we went out and showed a movie (one that Athletes in Action put out that told the testimonies of several of the World Cup athletes) on a screen and served popcorn and hot chocolate. After the movie, Chris took the opportunity to pray with several for salvation. It was an amazing experience.
We also took the time to have some fun! We went to Pilanesburg which is an animal reserve/game viewing park that is less than an hour from our house on a drive and picnic one day. The kids love to go to the park and it was extra fun because Chelsea went for the first time. Also, we got involved in the World Cup madness! Chris absolutely loves soccer and so the fact that Rustenburg was one of the host cities was pretty cool for him. He managed to go to three of the games thanks to different individuals who offered us tickets at either very discounted rates or gave them to us free of charge. The excitement at the games was exhilarating and it really was a once in a lifetime dream that was realized, especially for Chris. The boys went to the New Zealand v. Slovokia game and the USA v. Ghana game while the girls went to the USA v. Algeria game. It will go down as one of my favorite life experiences so far.
Chelsea and I helped host a girls purity retreat at the Bible School for the youth of the area. It was mainly attended by the girls that I brought from Agnes' ministry. These girls had never had the opportunity to leave their village and this was such a special experience for them. Sarah Careins and Jessica White are both AGWM missionaries to the youth of South Africa and they planned and executed one top notch retreat. We spoiled the girls as much as possible while we taught them, loved on them, and prayed for them. There were intimate times of healing that took place as many or most of them expressed seemingly unreal living conditions where abuse is the norm...please pray that God continues the work that He began in them almost 3 weeks ago.
We ended our holiday by going up to the Limpopo province to a place called Giyani where Chris was invited to do some teaching and preaching at the youth winter camp that was held there. This was the first time that we have been to SA camp and it was different but awesome! Other than the bat that roomed with me and the roosters that kept us awake a good portion of the night, it was a blast! I so enjoy experiencing the passion that the SA young people have for the Lord; worshipping and dancing with them is incredible and impossible to express in words. We feel so privileged to be able to minister here in so many different ways and with so many different people. I am thankful that we had a chance to relax and rest during the winter break as well as utilize the extra time we had to do ministry. Below are some pics of some of our adventure...Enjoy!!!