Before moving to Knysna we had made the decision that I, Amy, would not get involved in much for the first year after we arrived. I felt it was important for me to focus on our family and ensure the kids were adjusting and settling well. As you know, they settled quickly for which we are extremely thankful.
About six months after we arrived and feeling more settled I began to wonder what my place was on the team. Some were doing music education, some were doing pastoral work, some were doing theological education, some were doing volunteering in the local schools, etc.; but I didn’t know what I would do. While I love to cook and bake, I couldn’t do that all day every day (although George begs to differ!).
In May of last year, teammate Kristen Golson began the LAUNCH Workplace Readiness program through Knysna Hope. She began the Beginner Computer course with two classes of ten each and an Advanced Computer class with three students. She asked if I would be interested in assisting her in the beginner classes, and I accepted the opportunity. While helping in that course, I saw the smiles as the students learned a new skill. Some of them had never touched a computer before, and they got so excited when they learned how to do something new – like creating a table in Word – and then did it on their own. It was during that time as I watched them type with only two fingers I told Kristen we must offer a Touch Typing course.
As happens with all supported missionaries, the Golson’s found themselves needing to return to the US for several months to raise additional funds. Kristen asked if I’d be interested in teaching classes while she was gone, and while I said, “yes” I was extremely nervous. I don’t see myself as a teacher, and I struggle speaking in front of people without a script. Kristen offered me a wonderful piece of advice: “Remind yourself you know more than they do.”
In January I got myself organized and started contacting the students from last year, telling them to tell their friends I would be starting classes in February. I began getting texts and phone calls from people requesting information . . . and what I had agreed to do got very real! By the start of the classes I had three sections of the Beginner Computer course with a total of twenty students and two sections of the Touch Typing course with a total of ten students.
February 4 arrived, the first day of my first class. We had a Knysna Hope team meeting that morning, and I had arrived early to do a few things in the computer room. Following the meeting, I returned to the computer room and noticed four of the laptops missing. I quickly contacted everyone who had been at the meeting to see if they had taken them. No one knew anything . . . my heart sunk realizing they were likely gone forever. I had nine students who would be arriving in four hours for their first computer class, and I no longer had enough computers. I questioned God on why He let the theft happen to us when we only want to use them to improve people’s employability. I wanted to finish preparing for my class, but now all my time had to be spent making a new plan. Ashley brought George’s laptop from home and another teammate went home and got their secondary laptop. I still didn’t have enough, but I knew I could make it work by having a couple people share that day. The class started late but overall it went well, and the students handled the inconvenience with good attitudes. I didn’t get through as much material as I had hoped, but it worked fine given the circumstances.
Our COO filed a report at the police station, and that afternoon an officer arrived to take my statement. It’s a complete mystery what happened because all the computers were there at 8:50 and four were gone by 10:30. Somehow someone got into the building while we were there and took them. We still can’t believe the boldness the thief had to sneak in while we were there! The Lord knows the details though, and He knows the need we now have. We are trusting Him to provide.
The LAUNCH Workplace Readiness program is definitely needed in Knysna, and we foresee it growing in the future. Already we are looking to add a customer service class as well as a money management class. In addition, we are hoping to add computer classes for businesses. While we have not advertised for this, two companies have contacted us in the last month asking if we can offer our computer course to their employees. While we cannot accommodate them immediately due mostly to my schedule, we certainly hope to do it once Kristen returns.
If someone would have told me a year ago I’d be teaching computer and typing classes I would have laughed and said, “No way!” However, the Lord gave me an opportunity to serve, and I took it. Because I said, “yes,” He then opened a door to do the teaching. I wasn’t comfortable with the idea, but I knew I could do it . . . and should do it for the ministry. And now I’ve discovered something I love doing but never thought I would. All because I said, “yes.”
So how can you help?
Please pray for the students! They enter our building to learn a new skill for the workplace, but each time they come to class they also receive a Bible lesson. George does a fifteen minute devotional and teaches them about spiritual life skills, which we know as “wisdom.”
Pray for the Lord’s protection and security of our building. We live in a part of the world where theft happens every day. Pray we as a team would be vigilant and do all we can to minimize the risk. We have a plan to increase security in and around our building which will hopefully deter the thieves. It is a two-phase plan involving outdoor beams and indoor security cameras, both of which are quite expensive but now obviously necessary. We had been doing very well with a standard alarm system with several indoor beams and reinforced locked gates. But unfortunately we now must take security to the next level.
Pray for funds to secure more laptops. Insurance works very different here than in the US, and we don’t know if they will replace the laptops that were stolen. Even if they do, it could take months. We do know we could use four to six more laptops to fill the classroom.
We could also use funds to purchase better tables for our room. As it currently is, the tables are much bigger than what is needed resulting in wasted space in the room. With better sized tables we could add more students to our classes if we have the computers.
Pray for the growth of LAUNCH Workplace Readiness. It is an amazing opportunity to teach people a new skill which will improve their employability resulting in a better paying job which will improve their family’s financial situation. These courses are literally changing lives!
As always, thank you for your faithful prayers and support for us. We love hearing what is going on in your lives so feel free to send us a note anytime via text, email, or Facebook.
George & Amy, George David, Ashley, and Alyssa