We woke up today to a bright sunny morning. No need to tell you what the temperature is...but it did rain hard last night. They are enjoying a summer with plenty of rain to keep things green. It really helps with the garden as well.
(Bob went to get some breakfast, so I (Abby) am taking over...)
Wednesday the ladies decided they could help out by freezing produce from the garden. They picked about 3 wheelbarrow loads of spinach (not like our spinach--big leaves), chopped it up, blanched it, and put it into freezer bags. Next was the zucchini. They picked, shreaded and froze all of the available zucchini. You know how it grows in Iowa--well, it grows better than that here with all the rain. The kids helped out off and on throughout the process, and some of them were a big help. Others were purely entertainment! Beans were also picked, snapped, cooked, and frozen. All the girls definitely had green hands and fingers by the end of the process!
Dawn kept the ovens going for most of the afternoon, making loaves and loaves of zucchini and banana bread--to the pleasure of the everyone here at The Pines. She even made muffins too, and added nuts and/or chocolate chips to some. Holly and I discovered that maybe zucchini isn't so bad after all! Dawn is our official cook extradordinare and is assisted by Susie and others as needed.
After some gardening and baking, a break was definitely in order. Holly and I took all the kids swimming! It was crowded, but really fun! The kids already know games like, "Marco Polo" and, "What time is it Mr. Shark." It is not difficult to fall in love with each one of them.
Holly and I have been going to House of Hope everyday from 4-7 to help out with the babies. On Monday, there were 8 little ones, ages 2 -9 months. By Thursday, one had left and another had come. Today, another little girl is being adopted. It seems that there is a fairly constant flow of babies in and out of the House of Hope. They are all completely adorable! Some of them have HIV, some are healthy, and only one has full blown Aids and TB. His name is Zolani; he has a feeding tube and oxygen. He is 7 months old, but does not crawl, smile, or talk. It is heartbreaking to see such sickness and know that nothing can be done to heal him. I love to hold him and sing to him--hopefully we can make his time here comfortable. Holly, we've discovered, has some magic touch, and is able to put even the fussiest baby to sleep. It is amazing! Yesterday Rose joined them for the first time, and she definitely enjoyed herself too.
The men have continued to work on the kitchen in Brian and Lois' new flat. Several of the cabinets are put in place, and all of the doors were finished yesterday. Lots of sanding awaits them today. They have been working really hard to get the kitchen finished--Brian would like us to tile and paint it before we leave! Actually, last night at supper, he said that we have to get the whole flat finished so we can help move all of his stuff down to the new flat! I think he's dreaming.
Yesterday morning, all the children and ladies assembled upstairs for school. They spend about 20 to 30 minutes singing songs. Then, we split up the kids and adults into small groups, or some on-on-one, and tutored all of them. Most worked on math, ranging from Mpho's number recognition to Motshidisi's multiplication tables. Most of the children are at different levels academically, and being able to split them into groups was extremely effective. It looks as though we will be having school for about an hour every morning.
Kara and Katherine are twins that have been working at The Pines since June. The are huge assests to the ministry, especially since Lois' accident. Aside from Brian, they are the only ones here who are able to drive. Doctor appointments, grocery shopping, and anything else that requires transportation has fallen to them. They also care for Cebesile--this is a big job! The twins' visa was going to expire at the end of the month, and they were going home right after we did. It has been a huge prayer request as of late that their visa would be extended at least until Louis and Amber O'Tool came in March. Yesterday, the twins went to town to find out about the visa extension, and Praise the Lord, it was approved until June! God is so good!
Please be in prayer for all of the team members today. We are having a Bible club at Reahola from 3-5 pm. Dawn will lead the singing, Holly and I will do games, and Gina will do the Bible lesson. The rest of the team will help with crowd control--a necessity, as it is possible that we will have 70 kids attend!
Everyone is enjoying themselves here. We have been going through some of the attributes of God in our team devotions every morning, and it is neat how the Lord brings those to mind as we encouter different tasks and situations throughout the day. A couple of days ago, we talked about His sovereignty. To think of how God chose each of these 13 children to come to The Pines and how much their lives have changed in the last months is incredible. I am thankful for a Holy, sovereign God who is always in complete control. Even in the selection of our team members, we can see His hand. Each person has unique abilites and talents that He is using for the ministry here. What an awesome God we have the priveledge of serving!
Loving South Africa,
Abby (and Bob) for the Team