On Thursday we celebrated two years of living in South Africa. When we landed in Johannesburg on June 13, 2011, we were full of plans. During our first few months of living here, we spent a lot of time searching for the best place to live so that we’d be close to a good school for our kids, the petrol station and the ministries we planned to work with in Hammanskraal. A lot of our first year was spent working on projects with Mama Cathrine at Tshwaraganang. We were also kept busy home schooling Tyson and Jori (or perhaps I was busy feeling overwhelmed with the idea of home schooling and not a whole lot of actual schooling took place, but that is neither here nor there). My parents and Darin’s mom and brother visited us this first year, making us feel both closer and farther away from the people we love.
Sometime near the end of our first year, we started to think that perhaps the petrol station would be a long time in coming, if it ever came at all. Around this time Darin was introduced to a new business venture; distributing Sawyer water filters. As we started our second year, we also became more involved with Take Action, a group of like minded people who desire to help orphaned and vulnerable children by helping the care takers and organizations that are on the ground in the areas where these children live. We met them while working with Tshwaraganang, but over time we stepped way back from this particular organization and got more involved with the other people and agencies Take Action was partnering with. As we got more involved with Take Action and Darin became busier with work commitments, we decided to enroll Tyson and Jori in school. In June 2012, they began attending Jabulane Christian Academy. Tyson was placed in Grade 2 (6 months behind his US grade level) and Jori was placed in Grade 1 (6 months ahead of her US grade level).
Late in the spring of our second year (fall for most of you!) we began talking with Mark and Chris Harding about joining them at Tshepo ya Bana as house parents. When Mark passed away unexpectedly, our timeline for moving in was bumped up and we moved from Plot 91 Klipdrift to Plot 94 on November 3, 2012. Our next few months were a time of learning and growing as we figured out how to juggle the needs of our family, Darin’s work, the children of TYB, volunteer schedules and staff needs. In late summer/early fall (winter and spring for most of you!) Darin began working on the distribution of solar energy devices as well as the Sawyer filters. These ventures kept him busier than ever, though we still weren’t seeing any income from all his efforts. My parents visited us again for 6 weeks in March and April and we were also happy to meet up with the Weeda’s and DeShaw’s, two families from Darin’s Innotec days.
Now, we have been here two years and 1 day. Tyson and Jori will be wrapping up their second term of the school year, Grade 3 for Tyson and Grade 2 for Jori. They will both be celebrating birthdays over the next few days (My babies are going to be 9 and 7. Hold me.) In July they will have been attending school for a year. Darin has just wrapped up his involvement with his previous partner and has entered into a new partnership, still in the area of water filtration and solar energy for rural development throughout Africa.
As we reflect on our first two years of living in South Africa, we see a lot of good and a lot of not so good moments. It is easy to focus on the times where things didn’t happen as we expected and fear that things will never come right, but when we put our focus back where it should be, we are able to see how our Sovereign God has been ever faithful. He has never left us alone and has provided for us over and over again. When we were at rock bottom (and we have been there several times) God was always there, showing us His great love for us through many of you. Thank you for heeding His call and reaching out to us when He placed us on your hearts. Your gifts, words of encouragement, and prayers have kept us going when we could not do it on our own.
I’m going to close with a short prayer that my dad recently sent to us from a daily devotional he receives. It is short, but powerful and so full of truth! May it bless you as much as it has blessed us.
All-powerful, all-knowing God, at times it is easy for us to forget all that you have done for us, and all that you continue to do. In the busyness and stress of everyday living, help us find your strength in us. Amen.
May we never forget.