May 2020

Dear Praying Friends,

Most of you are aware that we were planning to be in the States from June 3 to July 8 for a brief furlough. While we’ve known this trip would likely be canceled, we did not have to officially cancel it until earlier this week. We are disappointed that we cannot see you face-to-face, but we are not surprised. Covid-19 is still in its early stages here in South Africa. The hard “level 5 lockdown” that lasted from March 27 – April 30 has been followed by a slightly softer “level 4 lockdown” for the month of May. This has not prevented the spread of the virus, but it has helped buy time for medical preparations to take place in preparation for the peak of the virus, predicted to be anywhere from late July to early September. Beginning June 1, we move to “level 3 lockdown” which will ease restrictions a bit further. We are grateful for this step, but even under level 3, we cannot travel internationally. In fact, international travel won’t be allowed until level 1, which most experts predict will not happen until much later this year.

All this to say, we don’t know when we’ll be able to travel to the States again. We have greatly appreciated your prayers and encouragements as we’ve faced this uncertainty. It seems that “uncertainty” is the order of the day, so while we wished things were different, we know we’re all in this together! We remain thoroughly blessed by God to be able to live and minister here. We have our needs met, and more, enabling us to help others. Thus far, our health has been stable, and we’ve been able to serve in food relief nearly every weekday throughout the entire lockdown. All in all, we have, as always, so much to be thankful for!

Our church family, Knysna West Bible Church, continues to upload services to YouTube and meet together on Zoom for Sunday “follow up time” as well as Thursday evening Bible study. The Biblical Leadership Institute is still “paused” for now, which has allowed some students to catch up on coursework. We anticipate resuming classes, likely online, within the next month. Our ministry at Sivuyele School for the Deaf is also on hold, as it seems special needs education will likely not resume until July. Much of our energy has been put toward food relief. That has gone well, and we thank God for His provision and protection as we’ve sought to serve this way. Your donations for food hampers and to help soup kitchens have been much appreciated and have had an enormous impact on our community. Your help, in conjunction with our involvement in the efforts of Knysna Rotary, has resulted in over 8,000 families assisted, not including the thousands of individuals each day getting a meal from the soup kitchens.

George David and Alyssa are continuing their schooling online in various formats. That seems to be going well, even though it hasn’t always been clear what expectations are. We’re grateful that they are both committed to doing well and persevering! Alyssa is tentatively scheduled to return to school on July 6. Ashley just completed her sophomore year at LBC, and she is staying with family in upstate NY. She’s enjoying her time there, and we hope for her to be able to visit us here in Knysna in December.

Please pray for us as we continue to minister and serve in any way God presents to us. While a good portion of our plans have been upended, it’s a true comfort to know that God’s plan remains firm. Nothing of this has taken Him by surprise, and His love and grace continue to motivate us each day. We thank you all again, from the bottom of our hearts, for your perseverance in faithfulness to God on our behalf!

In Christ’s Love,
The Coon Family