November, 2019

Dear Praying Friends,

Happy belated Thanksgiving! We do apologize for the lateness of this month’s update. It’s been a very busy couple of weeks with everything winding down for the year and with us hosting several people for an “American Thanksgiving” experience at our home on Saturday. Several of our guests had never had a true Thanksgiving feast, and one family in particular had never even tasted turkey! It was great fun to share in a bit of cultural exchange with these dear friends.

We are slowly learning the rhythm of the South African year, recognizing more and more how people approach the December and January holidays. In short, when school is out, the normal routine ends. In principle, this is similar to how it is in the West, but here the breaks are shorter and more intense. What this means is that while the “summer break” from school only last six weeks (early December through mid-January), life drastically changes for these six weeks. It’s an amazing combination of summer with the Christmas and New Year celebrations. Many businesses shut down entirely for a significant portion of this time; families travel to be with distant relatives; and people are generally out of their basic routine.

What this means for us is that many of our normal week-to-week activities wind down. With the exception of Sunday services, most everything else stops and gets replaced with other opportunities for ministry, fellowship, and discipleship. In what follows, we’d like to share about several things that have come to a close for the year (or are about to do so) and mention our gratitude for the chance to minister in these areas in 2019 and, Lord willing, ahead into 2020.

  1. The Biblical Leadership Institute is off for the remainder of the year and will resume in mid-January. The Sedgefield students gave up a total of 20 Saturday mornings throughout the year to work through five different courses. The courses in Knysna were held over about 20 Saturday evenings and resulted in much learning. We are thankful for the chance to facilitate quality theological education along the Garden Route, and we look forward to 2020 when we add a location in George.
  2. The Sivuyele School for the Deaf will have its last day on December 4. The teachers are ready for a break, no doubt, and the fellas (all 11 students are boys . . . I (George) call them “the fellas”) are ready for some downtime. We are so thankful to have the chance to know this very special group of people. We are thankful for your contributions and sponsorships of the students. We are also grateful for the chance to share the Gospel each Friday morning with them.
  3. LAUNCH Workplace Readiness, where Amy helps in offering computer skills training, has now completed courses for 2019. Last week Monday they had their final graduation ceremony of the year, and as usual, it was a great time of celebration with several ladies who worked very hard to complete the course! We are grateful for the chance to teach new skills and share the message of Christ with these students who we would probably never meet otherwise.
  4. Our Ironman Theology Group is holding its last meeting for the year December 3, and we are so grateful to have had the opportunity to minister to this group of men on the themes of “poverty” and “the Kingdom.” It’s been a wonderful time of Bible study with a healthy mix of serious discussion, occasional arguing, and helpful doses of frivolity! We look forward to resuming our studies in January.
  5. School is finished this year for both Alyssa (Grade 10, now going into Grade 11) and George David (finished 2nd year at Nelson Mandela University). We praise God for their good work, which has been proven by healthy grades! While school here has been very different for both of them, they’ve each persevered and taken the challenge to heart with good success. While Ashley isn’t finishing a school year, she is coming to the end of her first semester in residence at LBC. We are thankful she is doing well, and we are looking forward to her being home for three weeks beginning December 18. We are extremely thankful to the person who felt led to buy a plane ticket for her to come home during her break.
  6. Many other activities such as girls’ and boys’ Bible study, some of our regular, mid-week church activities, and other team meetings are (or will be very soon) drawing to a close. We are grateful for each and every chance we have to minister God’s Word to others. We find great joy in serving Jesus here in Knysna. We often feel overwhelmed with gratitude at what God not only has done but what He continues to allow us to do! What a privilege to serve!!

As we conclude, we’d like to thank you, as personally as possible through a letter like this, for your faithfulness to God on behalf of our ministry in South Africa. We don’t take it for granted. We know we are only here because of what God does and continues to do through you. Thank you, so much, for all you are and do!

In His Love,
The Coon Family