Merry Christmas! Happy summer vacation! Summer is here in the southern hemisphere, and while many people are flocking to the beach, we are trying to recreate some familiar Christmas traditions. We have found a real Christmas tree and we are busy making Christmas cookies. We are also counting down the days to Isaac’s arrival on Dec 23. Having all our children with us will be a huge blessing!
With the approach of the end of the year, we have time to reflect and verbalize our gratitude to God. We own the most amazing house with a beautiful garden that God uses to restore my soul! Owning a house has enabled our roots to grow quickly, and gives us a sense of belonging and stability.
Ministry has been good this year, with the soccer team growing by leaps and bounds. The team is pictured above with Alberto at the end-of-year braai. Prison ministry has also been fruitful, with Restorative Justice conferences and counselling opportunities that have shown many that they are loved by a faithful father.
Alberto started a visitation ministry this year, whereby he visits family member of prisoners, and sees firsthand the effects of crime on the extended family. Many times there is misunderstanding and anger, not to mention the loss of an income. His goal is to listen to their struggles and offer a word of hope in Jesus.
On the family-front, we have had some challenges. Violence has been on the increase in the city, and daily power outages have been difficult to work-around. Power outages have been a particular challenge to Margaret, who depends on the internet for homework. (No power=no internet and often no cell service.) This, combined with challenging academics and the fact that she doesn’t have good friends at school, has made for a tough semester. It was suggested to us that we test Margaret for ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) as a possible explanation for her seeming inability to concentrate. Sure enough, we received the official diagnosis yesterday. Looking back at her academic history, it all makes sense now! Grateful for more insight, we’ll see how things change in the new year. Please keep us in your prayers.
Phoebe, on the other hand, has just been accepted at a new school, which sounds absolutely amazing! They have an autism behaviouralist on staff, and an occupational therapist, physical therapist and speech therapist. Her new teacher just came to our house for coffee, and seems lovely. The school will focus on life skills like gardening, meal prep, and art. Her last school was alright, and at the time, her only option. But after some helpful input from an observer, it was suggested that we look elsewhere. I had heard of a new private special needs school opening in January 2020 through the broker for our house! (We’ve stayed in touch because we both have special needs children.) We applied for Phoebe and have just received her acceptance! Although this new school is considerably more expensive, it seems like a very worth-while expense. I am very excited about this opportunity.
My mom recently shared this passage from Isaiah 35 with me, as it reminded her that one day Phoebe will shout for joy! What a day that will be! (Phoebe does have some words, but not a full vocabulary, and it is often hard to know her intent.) Anyway, the passage shows the Glory of the Lord and the Splendor of God. It is a reminder to us, the redeemed, of things to come, and the motivation for us to carry on. I cut the passage after the water reference, since drought is particularly fresh in our minds!
Joy of the Redeemed
The desert and the parched land will be glad;
the wilderness will rejoice and blossom.
Like the crocus, 2 it will burst into bloom;
it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy.
The glory of Lebanon will be given to it,
the splendor of Carmel and Sharon;
they will see the glory of the Lord,
the splendor of our God.
3 Strengthen the feeble hands,
steady the knees that give way;
4 say to those with fearful hearts,
“Be strong, do not fear;
your God will come,
he will come with vengeance;
with divine retribution
he will come to save you.”
5 Then will the eyes of the blind be opened
and the ears of the deaf unstopped.
6 Then will the lame leap like a deer,
and the mute tongue shout for joy.
Water will gush forth in the wilderness
and streams in the desert…
Alberto sharing at the end-of-year Hope Prison Ministry gathering. Next to him is Willem, his ministry partner of a few years. Anne May is also in the line-up!
In a recent home visit, Alberto met Elna, whose son was recently released from prison, and causing her much stress. Although they couldn’t track down the son, Alberto was able to encourage the mom, who has three younger children at home plus seven foster kids. She lives in a particularly challenging community with few opportunities, where many children get caught up in drug use at a very young age. Alberto was able to listen to her challenges and pray with her. He gave her some food for the children and a blood-pressure machine to help monitor her high blood pressure. It seems like a drop in the bucket of need, but God is faithful and Alberto will maintain contact with her.
Phoebe has completed another year of therapeutic horse-back riding, thanks to donations through SARDA (South African Riding for the Disabled Association). Although its not quite clear whether Phoebe enjoys being on the horse or not, she certainly has good posture to show for it.
Phoebe has been enjoying swimming lessons again. She is slowly but surely learning to swim, which is an important skill to have for someone with zero fear of water.
The talented ladies from the WBS (Women’s Benevolent Society) made this quilt for Phoebe! What an act of love from those faithful ladies who always keep in touch with us and pray for us. Thank you ladies!
We are loving having Ana home! She is cheerful and encouraging! She has reconnected with old friends, including one of her best friends from Hawaii who lives here in Cape Town! She has also been accepted to YWAM Brisbane leadership school and coffee internship program. This 18-month course will teach her how to run a coffee shop as a business and ministry. She is currently awaiting her Australian visa. Click on this link to read her letter.
I continue to enjoy my weekly hikes around Cape Town with other moms from Margaret’s school. It’s a time to decompress and enjoy the beauty that surrounds us. I have made some friends, and learned some of the challenges of the rotating culture at the school.
P.O. Box 663
Thank you to those of you who send us mail! Some of you have our old address on file. Please note our new address!
Merry Christmas! God bless you and your families during this season!