As we draw to a close, with the staff and children’s Christmas party at the centre just round the corner and the Shoeboxes finally all wrapped and packed waiting for their new owners, we can once again give thanks, first of all, to God for His goodness to us and secondly, to all the wonderful and faithful supporters who have made this year a very special one. Not once this year have we had to dip into our emergency fund. Every month our needs have been met.
VULNERABLE FAMILY FEEDING PROGRAM
It has also been such a privilege that every month we have been able to keep food on the table of about 24 families, child headed and vulnerable, who would otherwise have really battled. Although we are the feet that carry the food parcels you, our supporters, are the heart behind this project. Clint Ross of Ixopo Superspar and his staff, especially Chris, has continued to assist us in every way possible to keep this operation running smoothly including a generous discount (we must be their most unprofitable customer). We could not do this without them. At the same time we honour every R10 (and most times greatly in excess of that) we receive that is earmarked for the hungry, and without that we could not do it either. Then we get these calls from Container Ministry “summoning” us to Umhlanga on a regular basis and off we go in happy obedience to return with a bakkie load of soup mixes, or porridge, or blankets, or packets of seed which all help to fill the food parcels and stretch our resources. It is one huge big team work operation. Thank you.
Last year we came to a decision that because of manpower and funds, we would be cutting back drastically on the quantities of shoebox gifts we could do in 2013. Pat Abraham, of course, would have none of that and managed once again to sweet talk all sorts of people and companies to dig deep into their pockets. And so, thanks to her and all those generous Jobergers who supported special dinner parties to raise funds and companies like Russel and Associates, Ireland Davenport, Dimension Data, Exquisite Tastes, Tiber and the Rainbow Nursery School, we were able to take on another 400 orphans at the last minute, and do gifts and arrange a party, which will be happening on the 13th. Rosemary Bullock and the congregation of Church of Ascension in Hilton also, without being asked, donated more than 100 lovely boxes for us, as they have done for many years now. Without our Shoebox ladies we would not have managed either and big thank you to Gail, Lynda, Tessa, Margie, Marion, Audrey and Dawn. Without Trustworthy, Priscilla and Patrick we would be lost because they are our ears and eyes in the community.
Sipho and Mlu have kept up with their daily visits into the community assisting, counselling, and distributing resources wherever they come across needs. This is also our mission field where we share our love for the Lord and His wonderful gift of salvation with whoever is interested. We are aware of the diversity of faiths out there and we respect that but we continue to be amazed at how many people are touched and encouraged by a simple prayer. Often we come across old people who are lonely and sad and just to sit with them awhile, offering a listening ear and maybe some embrocation for aching knees, is a great privilege. The sad thing this year, though is that we have heard of so many suicides. Most of them are young men, some we know personally, who have lost all hope and who chose this way out. It has made us feel really desperate.
I wonder how many organisations can boast a Chairman who is regularly in prison! Andy and Xolani have had an amazing year of breakthroughs. Xolani has been invited to visit new prisons and he is very busy. His brother very generously gave him a new vehicle which has assisted him greatly in this work. His old bakkie has come home to roost in Bulwer and I don’t know whether to be grateful or pray harder for another one. Xolani should definitely get brownie points for putting up with this ugly little machine for so long. Andy has formulated a course which he presents regularly in various prisons in and around Pietermaritzburg and the response to this has been very encouraging. He regularly sends me copies of notes that come back from the inmates who speak of the difference these teachings have made. They now talk about forgiveness , taking responsibility for their own actions and decisions and the importance of family.
Back at the centre it has been wonderful to have the increased numbers. We now have 27 altogether. Many of the new children and young adults are able to participate in activities and so the interaction has been more dynamic and lively. We have fallen in love with each one of our “newbes”. Ma Dlamini, with Mary’s wonderfully creative guidance, has risen to the occasion and is a lovely teacher. She is assisted by Dolly who comes in three mornings a week. Of course we have our challenges such as the kitchen needing a desperate paint and tiling overhaul but we will let 2014 take care of this. And then the perpetual vehicle issues. If we did not have a very long suffering, kind and generous Mark Terry living on our doorstep, always available to deal with our vehicle woes, I would have regular temper tantrums. Thank you Mark.
This must be one of my all time favourite pictures and no surprize that our model is Thabani again. On one of the first really hot days this summer water play was the order of the day. Thabani is unable to express his joy in the usual way but he nevertheless manages to let everybody know what a delightful experience this is, to be able to dip your feet into water and enjoy the outdoors with all your senses. We were left in no doubt that he was having a wonderful time. On another day the school theme was birds and all things flying and these visiting budgies stole the show and particularly fascinated Mfundo. Being spring and early summer of course the garden was a good place for another theme, planting and reaping and here below we have Samkelo doing his thing in preparation for that. It continues to amaze us how much the children respond to creative and informative hands–on themes and it is as much fun for the staff as it is for them.
As we will be celebrating our annual Christmas party just before we all take a well deserved rest we think of our friends out there and we wish you all a lovely and blessed Christmas…May the Lord, whose birth we honour and remember at this time, be with each one of you.
See/write you next year.
Lots of love