Hello and Happy 2020! We hope that the year has gotten off to a good start for all of you. We are in the throes of summer here with plenty of hot, dry weather while you are likely dealing with snow, cold, and the unpleasantness of Winter. We hope this update gives you a unique glimpse into the activities around our work in Scripture Union, Mokone Primary and Common Ground Church. Thanks for joining us!
SCRIPTURE UNION NEWS
In January, Scripture Union held their annual Staff Conference at a Scripture Union campsite outside of Johannesburg. This event draws the SU staff together from around the country for several days of seeking for God's heart and plans in the year before us. Tim came back encouraged, trusting that God is building networks and preparing the way for gospel growth as SU staff and volunteers prepare to engage many thousands of children around the nation. Last weekend SU hosted a Children's Worker training event in Pretoria, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town that saw over 500 children's workers gather for training, praying and equipping for the challenges of leading young people to Jesus in our unique South African context. Next month we will be hosting the SU National leaders from the Southern African countries and then attending the Atlantic committee meeting in Scotland.
HAPPENINGS AT MOKONE PRIMARY
At the beginning of the year things tend to start a little more slowly at Mokone Primary. The school year started on January 15, and Friday Numeracy and Indlela Bible Club are both underway. The first Super Saturday is scheduled for this weekend.
The first Indlela Bible Club was postponed due to an event at school, which disappointed many of the children. One boy kept asking when we were starting! When we did start last week we had 49 children, double the amount of children that were coming last year. Many of them are now in Grade 7 and are also attending the Langa Common Ground Church, which is very exciting.
We have a good core team for Friday Numeracy and we're hoping to add more in the coming weeks so that we can really maximize our impact.
Over the next month we will also be helping children in Grade 7 apply for high schools. Applications are only open from February 17-March 17, and there is a tremendous amount of competition for the various high schools that are available. Every year thousands of children are left unplaced at the beginning of the year for various reasons, and this just further exacerbates the educational inequalities that are still a massive problem in South Africa.
We had a great time in the U.S. over Christmas. We spent our first week in the Blacksburg, VA area and were able to connect with many family and friends, including some of our friends from Cape Town that now live in North Carolina. We were with Tim's family in Michigan for Christmas and we were able to spend time with his parents, siblings, niece and nephews and cousins. After Christmas we headed to Virginia Beach and spent 5 days with James and Mackenzie. That was a special time with great weather and an empty beach, so it was very relaxing. We also enjoyed a couple of days with Mackenzie's parents before spending a wonderful final week in South Carolina with Leslie's parents, which rounded out our visit and also gave us an opportunity to visit her cousin Lib and her family. Thankfully, all of our Winter travels were smooth and uneventful.
Leslie spent quite a bit of time in January helping the children from Barcelona Children's Home get all the supplies and uniforms they needed for the start of the school year. That's a daunting task with one or two children in school, but with 20+ in school it's a major undertaking! We are also quite involved in helping a girl from Mokone who started high school this year at an excellent school (Claremont High School) outside of Langa. So far she is loving school, in spite of having to leave home just after 6 every morning and returning near 5 in the afternoon. This is a fantastic opportunity for her, and she is grabbing it wholeheartedly.
Pastor Julius' eye sight is continuing to improve, which is very exciting. He can read large print material now, something for which he is very thankful.
In our last newsletter we shared about the impending arrival of Samuel and Emily Copland's baby. Eleanor (Ella) Virginia Vuyokazi Copeland arrived on December 19, and the family is doing well. Samuel is shifting his work focus from The Zanokhanyo Network to the Langa Common Ground church for this season, so TZN had a farewell moment for him earlier this week. He has done an amazing job over the past nearly two years at TZN, and he will really be missed.
Late last year the national power utility, Eskom, experienced some severe challenges which resulted in massive rolling blackouts throughout the country. The rolling blackouts are referred to as "load shedding," as different areas are taken off the grid for periods of approximately 2.5 hours at various times during the day. After about 10 days of load shedding in December things seemed to stabilize, but now that businesses and schools are back in full swing the load shedding has started again. Many businesses have gotten generators or made other arrangements, but it can still be quite disruptive. It looks like this could continue for quite some time, so everyone is making adjustments.
We are so glad that we were able to connect with many of you in December/January. We are so grateful for all of the ways that you support us here in Cape Town and are looking forward to seeing all that the Lord has planned for 2020. May God be glorified as He moves and draws people to Himself.