Dear Praying Friends,
Philippians 1:3-5 is quoted often in missionary updates, and for good reason, because they express a typical missionary’s sentiment: “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.” If you’re supporting us through prayer, finances, or both, you are in partnership with us. You may not be here in South Africa, and we may not be doing ministry together in physical proximity. Yet, you’re unquestionably part of our team!
Thanks for your patience and persistence in prayer and communication over the last two months. With our recent move and all the packing/unpacking and settling in, it feels very busy and disjointed. Time seems to be moving faster than ever! I (George) have been unable to keep up with responding to several of you individually, and I apologize for that. I will try in earnest to catch up with many of you next week as our family will be away from Knysna on a brief getaway. My hope is to use some of the downtime for catching up on correspondences.
For this update, we’d like to give you some specifics of what we do in a typical week. So often, daily activities of missionaries are somewhat mysterious to those back in the homeland. But in many ways, our lives are as normal as any. We’re not on the edge of civilization, living in grass huts, eating sheep’s eyes, and washing our clothes over rocks in a river. Our town is very modern by any standard, especially African standards; so life looks a lot like it did back in the States. Most people have a form of religion in their lives, and many would identify as some sort of “Christian.” The Gospel is well known here and has made an impact. And yet, while many profess to be Christian, few are actually following Jesus as true believers. This is the situation in which we find ourselves.
So, what is happening day-to-day to allow us to disciple people to Christ and disciple people in Christ? I’m glad you asked!
Monday: George and Amy participate in a Knysna Hope meeting where the entire Knysna team gathers and updates one another on what is happening in our various ministries. This takes most of the morning every other Monday. George then has a Bible study during lunchtime with a teacher at the Mission School where Ashley volunteers. George David and Alyssa are busy in school most of the day, with Alyssa participating in choir after school. Monday afternoons for Amy are typically spent grocery shopping and preparing for the week ahead. George works in the office a bit until Ashley and Alyssa are ready to go home. Monday evening is devoted to Afrikaans class where we are slowly making progress. Sadly, our Afrikaans tutor is moving away at the end of October upon her retirement. Please pray we find a replacement to carry on our Afrikaans learning.
Tuesday: George has the Ironman theology study group in the morning, usually followed by meetings with BLI students who need to make up class time or who need follow up instruction. George then has a Rotary meeting in the afternoon prior to picking up Alyssa from school. Amy is generally at home most of the day running the household and keeping everyone else sorted. All three children are busy with school on Tuesday. Ashley is doing courses through Lancaster Bible College online, so she’s home. Alyssa is in grade 9 at Knysna High School (the school year runs January through December so it’s coming to an end soon); and George David commutes every weekday to George (1 hour each way) to attend Nelson Mandela University. Please prayfor George David’s safety in his ongoing travels. Two Tuesday evenings per month, George has been traveling to George (confusing, we know!) to disciple young adults in place of one of our fellow missionaries – Rod Poplin – who is currently home on furlough until mid-January. George greatly enjoys this group and has had a great time filling in while Rod is away!
Wednesday: Again, the three children are busy all day at school. Amy is typically at home most of the day but often comes to town around midday to participate with George in occasional meetings with the Deaf School volunteers or other Knysna Hope related activities. George has a standing breakfast meeting with Dave Rudolph and Herb Hunter most Wednesdays; and after some needed office time to work on BLI admin, he gives a devotional for one of the computer training classes and then meets at lunchtime for Bible study with the same teacher he meets with on Mondays. He then has a bit more office time in the afternoon waiting for Alyssa to finish school and her Interact meetings/activities held after school. Wednesday evenings are typically quiet at home, which is great! Please pray that we will make the most of these times as a family.
Thursday: A very busy day for Amy, as she participates in the computer training classes offered by Kristen Golson, one of our missionary teammates. Amy assists Kristen in teaching basic – and we mean BASIC – computer skills to several Africans here in town hoping to improve their employability. It’s a great ministry outlet for Amy! Thursdays are typically George’s best office day in preparation for BLI teaching. He gives a devotional for the computer training classes mid-morning, but the rest of the day is spent in more focused study and class preparation. The three children – you guessed it – are busy with school work all day. Thursday evenings we have our Bible study in Belvidere, led by another one of our teammates, Herb Hunter. This is one of the most significant times of our week, as we are looking to see this Bible study grow and eventually add Sunday meetings. Please pray as Herb seeks to lead us through the “church-in-formation” process.
Friday: George and (sometimes) Amy head to the Sivuyele School for the Deaf in Hornlee where George gives a Bible lesson through an interpreter. This is one of the most enjoyable, refreshing times of our week. This small but lively group of 9 boys love the instruction and interaction, and George is doing his best to learn some basic sign language. They are hearing the Gospel and learning about God’s love for them and the salvation they can have through Jesus. Following the time at the Deaf school, George meets three deaf men at a business in the industrial park where they refurbish automobile seat covers and build kayaks. Yes, you read that right . . . it’s a rather diverse place! George is able to give a basic Bible lesson to these men as the owner of the company interprets for him. What’s unique about this opportunity is that there is a “double” language barrier. Not only are these men deaf, their spoken language is Afrikaans – not English. So even when George writes on the chalkboard or tries to explain higher-level concepts and words, it can be a slow, tedious process. Please pray that God will bless this new opportunity. The three children are, again, busy with school. Alyssa participates in a girl’s Bible study after school, and generally all three children find chances for youth ministry and/or social activity on Friday afternoons and evenings. Amy and George also often make social-oriented plans on Friday evenings.
Saturday: This often has the potential to be more of a “downtime” day. But usually there is plenty to do, with regular youth activities or team get-togethers. As well, the children always seem to cook up some sort of social gathering; so what often promises to be a rest day often turns into an activity day! Saturdays are George’s big teaching day, with an 8AM to Noon session in Sedgefield (every second Saturday), and a 6PM to 8PM session in Knysna (every Saturday). This is George’s favorite day as it is the culmination of his equipping ministry through BLI. Please pray that the BLI students will persevere through the program and stay with their commitments.
Sunday: We participate in church ministry for the morning, mostly at Lagoonside Baptist Church, but often with opportunities for ministry elsewhere along the Garden Route. Sundays are gentle and relaxing for the most part, as we get to fellowship with our teammates and spend time at the beach, weather permitting. In the not-too-distant future, we will seek to add an occasional Sunday meeting to the Thursday evening Bible study time with our newly-forming group. Please pray that this process will bear much spiritual fruit.
Of course, many other things happen, and we try to balance everything as God would have us. All in all, while it feels busy at times, it’s actually a very workable schedule. We must be disciplined and focus on the tasks before us each day, but we have flexibility to take care of everyday life’s demands. We are blessed with a superior team who keeps us accountable and encouraged in our efforts.
Thank you for partnering with us. We need your support, both in prayer and financially, in order to do all God has called us to do. If you have been praying, please don’t stop! If you have been giving, please don’t stop! We are just beginning – there is much to do in the days, weeks, months, and years ahead. By God’s grace and according to His will, we seek to fulfill our mission in this wonderful place!
With Much Love,
The Coon Family