Dear Praying Friends,
What a whirlwind the last two months of 2020 have been! Our apologies for the delay in sending this long-overdue update. It all started in early November with Covid-19 making its way through our family. By God’s grace, our symptoms were relatively mild, and we didn’t need any special medical attention beyond the regular check-ins from our doctor. Thankfully, our doctor is a member of our church and filled with gentleness and compassion. She took great care of us! We were also spoiled for care and concern from those around us in our church and on our ministry team. What a wonderful reminder of the benefits of team ministry – we truly wouldn’t have it any other way!
By the time we all observed our quarantines, and by the time the symptoms went away from all four of us, we were in the third week of November. We were able to be part of the memorial service for young William Ellman, the 10 year-old boy we mentioned in our last letter who lost his life in a car accident on October 30. We grieved mightily with the Ellman’s and their extended family. Our hearts were, and very much remain, broken for our dear friends. But we also saw wonderful manifestations of God’s grace and comfort to those in mourning. Please continue to pray for the Ellman’s, that the love of Christ would overwhelm them in this most difficult time.
Once we were back on our feet from Covid, we rushed to finish some of our ministry obligations before the Christmas season break, which informally begins here around Reconciliation Day (December 16). We are grateful that Amy was able to get her computer training classes finished just in time though the graduation has been postponed for later in January. George was able to get halfway through a theology class that should have finished by the end of November. Unfortunately, that class had to be re-postponed to late January due to further Covid constraints. Please pray that we can resume our regular activities soon in the New Year. We have reverted back to more strict Covid regulations in South Africa because of a national surge in cases and deaths. So, we patiently wait (as has most everyone!) for doors to be open again.
While many of our ministry activities have been slowed or stopped, developments in our children’s lives have been happening rapidly. Ashley was engaged to her fiance, Louis, in October. We were grateful that Louis could make a visit to Ashley and some of our extended family in the States. That was a harrowing project in itself, but he eventually got the right paperwork, permissions, etc. and made it through. And while there he popped the question! They are now here in South Africa with us for a brief time. Ashley will return to the States to continue at Lancaster Bible College in mid-January. Please pray for them as they prepare for life together once Ashley finishes her program at LBC. A June 2022 wedding is in the works!
Alyssa received a very high honor in early December as her school year came to a close. She was voted “head girl” for Knysna High School, 2021. For those that may not be familiar with the term or the description, it is a position with responsibilities including representing the school at events, delivering regular speeches to the student body, representing student needs and concerns to the school administration, and more. Alyssa was not expecting this position, but she’s thrilled to be able to use this opportunity to be a witness for Christ and to bring glory to God. Please pray for Alyssa to thrive in this leadership role, and that true Gospel opportunities would result.
We were also able to have another visitor during the Christmas week – George David’s girlfriend, Sarah. It was a bit of a struggle for her to get here with the required Covid test for travel, as well as she being in the midst of a painful recovery from a broken leg in September. But by God’s grace, she made it here, and while here, George David proposed – and Sarah said yes! We are excited to see her added to our family. After a brief stay with us, both she and George David returned to the States. George David will finish his final exams online and Lord willing, complete his bachelor’s degree in early February. Afterward, he will look for a job and begin settling in Richmond, VA, where Sarah and her family live. Their wedding is being planned for September 25 of this year! Please pray for them as they anticipate beginning their lives together.
And last but not least, we have been blessed to have George’s dad visit for a few weeks. Even though our normal activities have not been happening during this time, it’s been great to have him get a general picture of what’s happening here with us. We have been able to take him to some great places and see some great sights. He’s also been able to meet many of our teammates and preach for us in two services. Time has flown by, and he plans to return to the States on January 7. Please pray his Covid test for travel will be negative, and that he will be able to get back safely.
Clearly, we have much to be thankful for as we’ve said goodbye to 2020. In spite of the frustration of lockdowns, disappointments of canceled plans, and heart-breaking events of tragic loss, God has also brought much growth and joy our way. Ours is not to question why or to attempt to figure out God’s ways. Ours is to humbly submit to His will, faithfully fulfill His calling in our lives, and align our hearts to Him for His glory alone! Thank you for your prayers, financial support, and loving friendship in what has been a most challenging season!
By His Grace,
The Coon Family