Dear Praying Friends,
Greetings from cold and rainy Knysna! It’s winter here; and while we don’t experience frigid temperatures along with snow and ice, there’s a pervasive chill in the air on days like today, given that we are so close to the ocean. We haven’t yet gotten used to the seasons being opposite of what they are back in the States, so it feels like Christmas should be coming soon with how we’ve felt recently . . . but alas, it’s the end of June! We did not send an update at the end of May because it was just too busy. So, we decided to wait until now and cover both May and June in one update.
First, thanks to all who were praying for us as Amy and Ashley sojourned in the States for six weeks. Ashley had a wonderful time participating in the play put on by Calvary’s drama class, going on her senior trip, and being able to walk for graduation. Amy enjoyed reconnecting with many of you! Thanks for keeping George’s surprise trip a secret. Not many knew he was given the opportunity to travel back for Ashley’s graduation; but some of you did, and you all kept it quiet! Well done!! And finally, thanks to all who hosted us while we were in the states: Assaid’s, Harris’, Cogswell’s, Nichols’/Coon’s, Woelkers’, and Melachrinos’, – you opened your homes to us and allowed us to stay multiple nights. We hope we didn’t wear out our welcome! And to all the others who hosted us for meals and took care of us in other ways – thank you for your love and friendship!
Second, we’re happy to report that George David and Alyssa passed all their semester exams and performed well! George David was forced to learn an accounting system that is completely opposite of what he learned in high school. So, while he was grasping the concepts in class, the exams were fraught with high pressure and almost no room for error. We praise the Lord for His grace in helping George David get through this first semester. Alyssa has adapted beautifully to her school. She is very competitive and always sets her sights high, particularly in classes where she is challenged – like Afrikaans. Being a foreigner, she is not expected to pass Afrikaans for two more years since it is not her native language. However, not only has she passed it, she received the equivalent of an A- or B+ for this past term!
Third, we are rejoicing that the Biblical Leadership Institute is continuing to gain momentum and influence in Knysna and Sedgefield. We just ended our first course in Knysna on June 16, anticipating starting the next course on July 21. In Sedgefield, we will be ending our first course on June 30, with plans to start the next course on July 28. Attendance has been encouraging, and we have 16 students (8 in Knysna; 8 in Sedgefield) who are emerging as true candidates to complete an official program. This is far more than we expected this soon into our journey. Praise God for His blessings! Just last week, George made a brief trip to Joburg to visit with two institutions who are advising us on our curriculum and program development. The meetings were fruitful, and George has come home with a clearer vision on what must be done in the months ahead to move forward. The administrative work is heavy, so please pray George will stay focused on BLI as his main priority.
Fourth, we are excited to report that the Sivuyele School for the Deaf has finally had its fence built around their playground! We have waited a long time for this project to be completed, and it has finally come to pass! Thank you to those who gave and prayed for this project. We are still awaiting municipal approval to construct a temporary classroom alongside their existing building. This most likely will involve a long wait as well, but initial indications are very positive that it will happen sometime in 2018. Please pray that God would move in the hearts of the local government officials to let this project move ahead in a timely manner.
Fifth, several members of the Garden Route ministry team put together a Young Adult Retreat that was held at Beyond the Moon Guest Farm in Hoekwil (a town not too far from Knysna) from June 22-24. The theme of the retreat was “God’s Desires . . . Our Delight”, taken from Psalm 37:4. George was the main speaker and had a great time communicating God’s Word to about 16 young adults. A few of the attendees are in need of salvation, so please pray that what they heard will be clear and will stay with them until they come into a reconciled relationship with Jesus. In addition, other attendees indicated that they needed to make changes in their lives in order to truly delight in God’s desires for them. Please pray that these will follow through on their commitments and grow in God’s grace.
Sixth, please pray for two new discipleship opportunities for George. There are two men, both young in the faith, who desire to meet regularly and learn more about the basics of the Christian life and biblical truth. George has been seeking opportunities to do more shepherding (alongside “professoring”), and God has provided these new relationships. Please pray that these men persevere in their commitment to knowing and loving God.
Apologies for the length of this update! We promise to get back to one per month going forward. Thank you for your continued prayers and support – we appreciate it more than we can possibly express!
In Christ Alone,
George, Amy, George David, Ashley, and Alyssa