August 18, 2020

When times are tough, I like to go to the beach and watch the waves crash onto the shore and remember that God is still moving and active in the world.  I like to stare at the horizon where the water meets the sky and remember that God is endless. He has the final word, the ultimate victory, all glory.

It’s been a rough couple of months here in South Africa with COVID.  South Africa remains in the top five countries in terms of number of cases, although our population can’t compare to the U.S., Brazil, India or Russia.  COVID is pretty much rampant here, with many of our friends claiming to already have had the virus.  I actually think that we have had it too.  Phoebe’s fever, my recent month-long stomach ache, and Alberto’s headaches could all point to the virus, even though none of us had sore throats.  I have since read that you can have COVID without having a sore throat.  We will have to see if the antibody test ever makes its way to South Africa.

Meanwhile, the country is in economic turmoil, with 35% unemployment rate and a resulting hunger crisis.  We are still in lockdown, which means the prisons are still closed to visitors.  Instead of going to the prisons, Alberto has been staying in touch with ex-prisoners and prisoners’ families through text, encouraging them to keep their eyes on Jesus our only Hope.  We have also been involved in food distribution, through the generous donations of some of you.  At first, the food recipients were needy families of prisoners, but we were able to branch out to support people we know in the townships who started soup kitchens in their homes in order to feed the hungry in their neighborhoods.  These people did not have any financial backing for their work, but they felt God was compelling them to do something about the hunger.  Right now we are supporting three such people, all of whom live in very challenging environments.  We also continue to support the soccer players and their families with food donations as well.

In the midst of the challenges, there are always beautiful movements of God in people’s lives.  I want to introduce you to Emily, the daughter of friends here in Cape Town.  She recently did her DTS with YWAM, and now wants to continue with her SBS, School of Biblical Studies, just like Ana did.  I feel partially responsible for Emily’s discipleship, as I encouraged her to do her DTS, and now I want to help her so she can do her SBS.  Please read her attached letter and let me know if you would like to assist her with tuition: Emily’s fundraising letter for SBS.

Picture

This is Emily, whom I have known for five years.  It is an honor to watch young people grown in their love and commitment to God as they are discipled in His ways.  It is especially important that we encourage young local South Africans to see their potential as the next generation of local missionaries.  They are specifically gifted in their cultural and linguistic understandings to do great things for the Kingdom of God.  Please read Emily’s fundraising letter linked above and consider supporting her.

Picture

This is a mighty woman who has a full house of foster children.  Everyone in her home had COVID and survived.  After we gave her money for her food, she responded with a picture of herself and words of thanks, which I want to pass on to you (in short-hand text): “?Blessed be the Blessers. Thank u again. Blessed be u nd ur family whom reach out to those in need.”

Picture

Phoebe’s school is still closed, and may never reopen.  Virtual classes have ceased.  None of her other previous therapies are back in session either.  I wonder if she misses them.  She doesn’t seem to mind being home more, but of course I always feel like I should be doing more with her.  I finally hired Patience to come and play with her a couple of afternoons a week.  Patience is studying to become a speech therapist and has had some Waldorf training.

Phoebe has also started surfing lessons with a friend of ours, since she loves the ocean and loves movement.  Right now it is more of a boogie board experience, but I am happy that she enjoys the water.  And yes, the water here is very cold.

Picture

Margaret is pictured above on the first day of 11th grade.

After a month of winter vacation, Margaret’s school opened their doors last week for physical learning for 70% of the students.  30% study virtually, as many families are stuck outside of South Africa since our borders are still closed.  Margaret was really excited to go back and see people in the flesh despite the masks, plexiglass screens, and social distancing.  Public schools are still not in session, so she is relieved that private schools could open at their own discretion.

Margaret’s best friend Savannah is going to attend Margaret’s school!  This is the best possible news for Margaret.  Margaret and Savannah spent most of the winter break at our house together.  For 11th grade, Margaret is taking some exciting classes: AP European History, AP Spanish, pre-AP art, Algebra 2, Marimba and SAT-prep.

Ana is doing great.  She just finished staffing a Bible course at YWAM Brisbane.  She continues to work at the cafe, and take business and leadership classes.  She was recently interviewed about growing up as a missionary kid for a YWAM podcast, which you can listen to here: podcast.

As you may remember, Isaac needed a plan C for the summer, since Messiah employment and Camp Brookwoods counselling fell through.  He ended up getting a position as a camp counsellor at a Christian camp in Vermont!  He had an amazing summer in the woods where they cooked all their meals over the open fire.  He was not able to make it back to Boston to visit friends and grandparents due to COVID concerns.  He is heading back to Pennsylvania right now, in order to start Messiah next week for his junior year.  When he gets back to Messiah, he will see our family friend Rony who is starting his doctoral studies at Messiah University!  (Yes, Messiah just became a University.)

My mom recently celebrated her 80th birthday.  I was very sad to miss it, although we did celebrate as a family virtually.  I’m sure you can all relate to this!

Despite the cold wet winter, we do have some beautiful days, which means I am still able to schedule hikes with my friends.  It is a highlight for me to get into the mountains and observe God’s creation and talk to friends.

Prayer Requests

*For our borders to open soon.
*For patience as we wait for the Pandemic to end, and that we learn the lessons God has for us.
*For God’s mercy as many people struggle to put food on the table.
*For prisoners to know that God is with them.
*For continued innovative ways YWAM is using technology to reach more young people for Jesus.
*For Margaret’s first term of school, that she would not be anxious.
*For creativity for me as I create an unconventional schedule for Phoebe based on her interests and strengths.
*For Isaac’s semester at Messiah to remain live, in person.
*For Ana’s joy to shine brightly.
*For Emily’s fundraising goals for YWAM.

Here are some more words of thanks from a lady we supported who cares for the elderly in her home (they all think Alberto is a pastor):  “Pastor thank you so much for yr good care especial the poor people and God will blessed you more and more and yr family (Mathew 5: 7- 9) Jeremiah (1: 4-10) and the Holy Spirit tells you today about God’s people they are hungry and thirsty and I’m blessed so we can go cook next week and celebrate 2 birthdays.”