April 30, 2021

It’s been a busy couple of months, which is very refreshing compared to the quiet of last year’ lock-down.  We still wear masks to enter stores, have a midnight curfew, limit indoor gatherings to 250 people, but life as we know it is pretty much back to normal!  All this in spite of the fact that only 0.5% of the population has been vaccinated.  The rate of COVID transmission is very low here, which is a phenomena people have various opinions about.

Last week was my 50th birthday!  I am so happy that we could celebrate in person, without the haunting presence of COVID.  After missing the chance to have big celebrations for both my 30th and 40th birthdays, (we were on a mission trip in Central America on my 30th, and adapting to Phoebe’s autism diagnosis in Quincy on my 40th), I was determined to make my 50th memorable.  And it was certainly memorable!  For starters, my hiking friends took me out for lunch, and our YWAM friends (pictured above) gathered for a cook-out.  Through the celebrations and various other invitations, I realized how many good friends I have developed here.  The 50th year is the year of jubilee, as noted in Leviticus 25:10-11.  It’s a year of blessing!  And after the trials of the pandemic, I stand with open hands to receive that blessing!

And speaking of blessings, we have plane tickets to Boston in July.  It will be a shorter trip than last time, since London only opens up for international connections in July.  I am really looking forward to being back on Boston soil and seeing family and friends again, however briefly.  Please pray Phoebe’s mask exemption paperwork is processed without any hassles.

In terms of ministry, smaller prisons have been slowly opening up again.  Alberto has been able to work in two Cape Town prisons lately, as you will see below.

Alberto is pictured above facilitating a Restorative Justice program in the Malmesbury Correctional Facility.  Seated at his table is a man from Zambia, a Xhosa man, and two Coloured men.  The latter two distinctions are racial/cultural groups in South Africa.  All in all, 32 guys participated this week, and there have been many breakthroughs already.  Saturday is the day of reunion, when family members are invited to visit their loved one in the prison and are allowed to ask questions of them, which often marks the beginning phase of attempted reconciliation.

Rev. Jonathan Clayton is the founder and director of Hope Prison Ministry.  He is pictured above with Alberto distributing certificates to young men who completed the Restorative Justice program at Goodwood Correctional Center.

Alberto asked the participants to invite God into their lives to be part of their recovery journey.  Walking with God is a daily process, not just a one-time decision of accepting Jesus.

Margaret has had in-person instruction most of the year.  She is pictured above with her homeroom at school.  She’s on the left hugging Savana.  11th grade is starting to wind down, with AP exams starting next week and final exams after that.  The school year ends early June.

Margaret has an abundant social life, with friends attending various high schools throughout the city.  She is more independent than our other kids were at this age, so it feels like we are dealing with teenage boundary issues for the first time.  I am grateful Margaret is finally happy here though, and has so many friends.  We’re still praying for a Christian friend, and praying for Margaret to be a Christian witness to her friends.

Phoebe’s home therapy is going amazingly well.  She loves the therapists and they are making great strides.  Last week we re-started toilet-training, and so far so good!  I am relieved to have a team of motivated and caring people working with us.  We are now up to 20-hours a week of ABA therapy.

Pictured above, Phoebe is trying out surfing again, which is really more like assisted-boogie boarding.

Last update I mentioned my concern over Phoebe’s diabetes and health in general.  I have been able to have Zoom appointments with specialists at Boston Children’s Hospital, which is one benefit of the pandemic!  I do have a great endocrinologist here in Cape Town, but I always like hearing from our Boston Children’s Hospital team.  It seems that Phoebe’s fluctuating glucose levels could be tied to her entering puberty, which is a whole other bag of challenges.  She turns 14 next month!

I have also registered myself for a First Aid and CPR class, which I hope and pray I will never have to put into practice.

Ana is now assistant manager of the cafe at YWAM Brisbane.  Her leadership classes end in June, when she will embark on a two-month outreach in Australia.  In August she will graduate with a Christian missions certificate (through Australia) and a Biblical Studies associates (through YWAM’s University of the Nations).  At that time, she can either stay in Australia to continue working (volunteering) with YWAM, come back to South Africa, or pursue any other number of options.  Please pray for guidance.

Isaac also enjoys hiking with his friends!  He is having a very busy semester and is still applying for internships around the country.  Please pray that the right doors open, and that we can see him in July!

Our friends continue to operate a soup kitchen out of their home, and are not seeing any decrease in demand.  Many schools are still not completely back in session physically.  Since school lunches provide sustenance for the students, many kids get their lunch at Deborah and Deon’s.  Some of you have donated towards this cause.

Table Mountain caught on fire recently.  Sadly, much of the University of Cape Town’s library went down in flames.  Students were evacuated, but no one lost their lives.  It took about four days to put the fire out, during which time soot and smoke covered the area.

Baboons are a bit of a challenge here, as urbanization pushes them out of their habitats and forces them to find new homes.  A lone baboon recently wandered in and out of people’s homes in our neighborhood looking for food, including ours!  He came and went pretty quickly, wrecking havoc in the process.

We are pictured above celebrating Easter!  It’s a rare picture that shows Phoebe’s smile.  Good photography, Alberto!