|South African Churches of Christ Mission|
Email Updates, Archive — 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006
2014 Email Updates
December was a full month. We had a Christmas dinner with the Magog Senior Citizens’ Club at a hotel in the village of Umzumbe. The meal was delicious. After the meal we went to the games room where we had organized a game for everyone to play. They really enjoyed it. Then a week later we gathered at Umzumbe Bible Institute to have our gift exchange and final meeting of the year. We had drawn names and bought presents for one another. It was a joyous occasion.
The day care center closed on the 5th of December with a graduation party for the six children
who will be going to school next year. They looked so cute in their caps and
In addition to all the other activities, Michael also held another session of South African
Bible Institute extension classes in December at the Umzumbe Bible Institute.
He is very impressed with the men who are attending and their
enthusiasm for their studies. They come from various churches in KwaZulu Natal.
There will be meeting again in the New Year.
We also attended the Christmas dinner of the Women’s Institute, an organization I attend on a monthly basis. It is an organization affiliated to Country Women of the World. I think the American organizations are called Homemakers Clubs.
The big event of December was the annual National Youth Seminar. Last year the Seminar was cancelled as there had been inadequate planning and preparation. Michael offered to help the committee organize the program for this year, but the committee was not cooperative. In the end Michael and two older young people who have been involved in the Seminar for many years organized everything. The Seminar was held at Oribi Bible Camp near Port Shepstone. Since we had no idea how many would attend the NYS, preparing food for the first day was a special challenge. In the end there were 34 people at the Seminar. A minivan came from the Northern Cape and a few came from the Northwest Province and Eastern Cape. Michael and four ministers, Brother Stemela, Brother Mteza, Brother Nhlenyama and Brother Mfeka, were present for the entire seminar. Brother Mteza was a student at the NYS when it first started. Brother Mbali and Brother Gqobo came to preach or present lessons. The students were enthusiastic and participated well in all of the activities. On Thursday afternoon we took everyone to the beach, which was a real treat especially for those from the Northern Cape. Some of them had never been to the ocean. They thoroughly enjoyed the time at the beach and the cook-out that accompanied it.
We felt very ill-prepared for Christmas, but we managed to get the presents bought and wrapped in the two days before Christmas. On Christmas Day we all went to church and then we went to Dina and Sean’s new home for our Christmas celebration. We had a delicious turkey dinner with all the trimmings – including pumpkin pie.
We hope you all had a very Merry Christmas and we wish you all the best for 2015.
Michael and Caryl
The annual Church of Christ Mission Conference was a very busy time for Michael and me. Michael was involved in Executive Committee meetings as well as teaching a class and handling some responsibilities as Treasurer. He also attended the business meeting where he was re-elected as Treasurer for another three years. I spent a lot of time transporting the people who were buying food for the crowd. There were about 400 people at the Conference. /p>
The Conference did not go without hiccups, but all in all I think everyone felt it was a successful Conference. I have heard that the lessons were very good. They were taught by two missionaries (Michael and Steve Caulley) and two ministers (D.B. Stemela and Steven Lesala). There was a farewell service for Brother Shadrach Mazibuko, a minister from the Western Cape who has retired. One highlight for me was that a choir sang. The choir members are now adults with children and grandchildren, but they were youth when Brother Mazibuko ministered in their church in the Eastern Cape.
After we got home from Conference, we had to organize the food and accommodation receipts and get the money sorted out. That is now behind us and we are trying to get caught up on correspondence and other office work.
The Magog Senior Citizens’ Club had their September/October birthday party at the end of October. There were seven birthdays to celebrate that day, including Michael’s. Each person who was celebrating a birthday got a chance to speak and then there was cake and treats before the big meal. It was a really joyous celebration.
Recently we were approached about an opportunity for our day care teacher to attend a Brain Boosters training program. The lady who runs the program was able to get sponsors to finance the training. Brain Boosters provides educational materials to help prepare children for school. The teacher will attend three training sessions and will receive educational materials to use with the children. After the first session we noticed the children’s ability to count and identify colors was already improving. On a sad note, someone broke into the day care center just after she got her materials and stole some of the items. We have asked if we can replace the missing items without buying the whole set, but have not received an answer yet.
When the day care center was burgled, the offices at Umzumbe Bible Institute were also ransacked. There isn’t anything of monetary value left in the offices, but books and papers were removed from cupboards and shelves and thrown onto the floor.
It is spring so we have been getting some rain and the grass is growing quite
Michael taught the children to make towers with the building blocks. This boy can consistently build a tower that is as tall as he is.
Caryl and Michael
Although we worked on a financial report before the executive meeting in August, we were not able to complete the work. We traveled to see the interim treasurer and got a few more supporting documents for expenses and more information from him. However, there is still some information missing. We have spent a lot of the past two weeks going over and over the materials we have and we have finally drawn up a financial report to present to the church members at the annual conference in October. Unfortunately, because of missing documentation we will not be able to have the finances audited this year. This is a great disappointment to Michael.
Michael met with the parents of the children of Sinothando Creche, our day care center, recently and they have made some improvements. The parents have contributed money and some of the mothers come each day and cook breakfast for the children. He also was able to get a new committee appointed so now he can apply for a “non-profit” status with the government. This should result in some government financial help for the day care center. The teacher and the helper have both gone for “child minder” training and they are applying what they have learned.
We recently had a holiday – Heritage Day. It was on a Wednesday which is the day that Magog Senior Citizens’ Club meets. After discussion, they decided not to have a holiday, but rather to come dressed in cultural clothing. They ladies really outdid themselves in their beautiful Zulu dresses. During the morning they shared cultural practices and did a lot of singing and dancing. I watched one lady who is almost 90 and I wondered if we might not have to pick her up off the floor. She didn’t last very long, but she certainly enjoyed her dancing. One of our members passed away this week. She has been ill since we returned from the US in January. She was a lovely, cheerful lady and we miss her.
This weekend we will be traveling to the far north of our province to attend the funeral of Brother Nyawo, a minister who retired recently. It is about 6 hours from home and they have announced that the funeral will begin at 7 on Saturday morning. We will drive there on Friday and return after the funeral on Saturday. Dina and Sean have moved into their house. Sean’s sister and brother-in-law came for two weeks to help them move and get settled. Sean and Dina are still waiting to get some things sorted out and Dina is getting ready for exams for a university course she is taking so she hasn’t had time to finish unpacking all the boxes, but they are all very happy in their new home. The annual conference is 5 to 10 October. Please pray for us and for all who attend. Pray for the speakers and leaders of the various sessions and for the business meetings.
Caryl and Michael
The youth camp was held at Oribi Bible Camp just outside Port Shepstone. Michael taught and he felt the camp went very well. About 100 young people attended and Michael was impressed with the spirit at the camp.
In the middle of July four men from our province came to Umzumbe Bible Institute for their first South African Bible Institute extension class. Michael and Mabandla Mfeka, a graduate of South African Bible Institute, did introductions to two of the courses the men are taking. They are planning to meet once a month for discussions and exams. The men stayed at Umzumbe Bible Institute and women from the church prepared meals for them.
We have spent a lot of time this month collecting materials for the treasurer’s report. We have organized them and put the report together. The Executive Committee and other leaders in the national church will be meeting this week and he will give a preliminary report. After the meeting he will have to go and see the interim treasurer and get more information so he can prepare the final report for the Annual Conference in October.
We are pleased to report that in June there was a baptismal service at Umzumbe and four young people were baptized in the river not far from our home. One of the girls has attended church for many years and we know her well. Another girl is her cousin, who recently started coming to church. One of the young boys is the son of a church leader and the other boy is from our area and started attending church this year. Michael and I presented all four of them with Bibles and this week a lady from the Seniors’ Club, who is the grandmother of one of the girls, came and thanked us for giving her the Bible.
This weekend Dina and Sean are moving into their newly-purchased home. They will be moving a few miles farther from us, but still very close. They are excited and nervous about their new venture.
Please pray especially for the Executive Committee and the church leaders as they meet this weekend. Pray for us as we finish preparing the financial report for the annual conference.
Michael and Caryl
All the travels of June went well. We attended the Women’s Convention in the Eastern Cape and we were able to visit a lot of people there. Brother Cekiso, who took over as treasurer, didn’t do a very complete job of record-keeping so we have quite a lot of work to do to try to piece together the financial report. Michael said he is pretty sure we won’t be able to get an audit this year as too many receipts are missing. Brother Cekiso said he will look for them, but we don’t have much confidence that he will be able to find them after this long.
The financial situation is not good for the African churches as the money which was deposited for the venue for conference was not returned. After having a lawyer check on it, it seems the people used the money and then removed any assets which might be able to be attached.
It was quite cold at night in Kimberley, but during the day it was warm and comfortable in the sun. We enjoyed visiting with Roy and Jenny and Steve Caulley while we were there. The South African Bible Institute Board of Governors met to discuss the future of the school and they have decided to make a real effort to find teachers, students and finances. It is what Steve Caulley, Michael and others have been trying to get them to do for years, but now they have recognized the need themselves.
This weekend we will be attending the KwaZulu Natal Women’s Convention in the Durban area. I have been asked to teach a class for the women so I have been busy with that. Michael will meet with the men (they bring the women so they decided it was a good time for them to have some discussions as well.) Pray for me as I teach and for us as we travel.
The KwaZulu Natal Youth Camp will be held at Oribi Bible Camp,
just outside Port Shepstone, from Tuesday (8th July) through Sunday
(13th July). Michael will be teaching and helping out there.
We have done a bit of baby-sitting for our grandchildren during June. Diane had to do a training session and Matthew’s nanny was on leave so he came to stay one day. Seanna was also here that day as she had severe eczema and was very uncomfortable. Schools closed for the term at the end of June so we brought Chayah and Seanna home with us for a night and a day so Dawn could get a bit of a break. That night our family all came to our house and we celebrated my birthday and Seanna’s birthday, which is July 8th. Dina made the cakes. Seanna wanted a doll cake and I said that was fine, but Dina decided I needed a “more adult” cake so she made a bouquet with cupcake “flowers”. Very clever! We thoroughly enjoy having the grandchildren and they certainly keep us entertained! Things have moved ahead for Dina and Sean to purchase their house. It looks like they will be moving at the end of August.
Michael and Caryl
South Africa had national elections in early May. The elections were declared free and fair with the African National Congress remaining in power. They lost a few percentage points and opposition parties gained some. Michael served as an independent election observer and visited 4 or 5 polling stations. Then he had to submit a report.
One of the older members of the Umzumbe Church passed away after a long illness. Her funeral was on the 10th of May. She was a very special lady and I will miss her very much. She always greeted me with a handshake and a hug!
Earlier in the month one of the elders from Eshowe phoned Michael to say that they would like us to come back to see them. We hadn’t been there since April last year so we went to Eshowe on the 25th of May and visited Mvuzane, a rural church where he is the leader. We were disappointed that one of the men, who was a very faithful member, was not there and the elder told us that he has gone to another church. However, three people from that church have now come to Mvuzane. The day we were there one of the ladies was baptized.
The next few weeks will be busy. We leave tomorrow morning to go to Cradock in the Eastern Cape. Michael will meet with Brother Cekiso, the man who handled the treasurer’s responsibilities while we were away, to get the materials from him. It is the Eastern Cape Women’s Convention so we will get to see a lot of the people while we are there. The weekend of the 14th - 15th of June we will be in Kimberley. The South African Bible Institute Board of Governors will meet on the 14th. We will stay with our friends, Roy and Jenny, again.
Pray for our travels and for the meetings that will be held over the next few weeks.
The family all seem to be doing well. Dina and Sean are hoping to buy a house. They have found the one they want, but have not been able to get all the papers in order yet. (The house is owned by a man and his 5 or 6 children who live all over the world – so they have not all been able to get the papers signed.) We have enjoyed spending time with the grandchildren. We have celebrated some birthdays, transported them from school and to dancing lessons and have been involved in a Girl Guides fund raiser – 5 kilometer walk on the beach. We are so blessed to have them all nearby!!
Caryl and Michael
I have recovered amazingly well from the shingles and don't seem to have any lingering pain. About the time I was feeling better from the shingles, I got two spider bites on my left calf and foot. I went to a doctor and got antibiotics and cream. The doctor told me to go home and elevate my foot. When I was up too much my foot got very swollen. I still have sores, but they are healing.
Michael's trip to Ministers' Week went well. Two unusual situations about this year's meeting were: 1. The host minister, Louw Koopman, passed away in December, but the church leaders in the Northern Cape decided to go ahead with the plans and 2. Richard Gallant, the chairman of the Ministers' Association which plans and runs the program, arrived in Douglas and was immediately admitted to hospital with high blood pressure and blood sugar out of control. He was in hospital for a few days, but the program went ahead smoothly in spite of the unexpected circumstances. Michael was only scheduled to lead the Lord's Supper on Sunday, but in addition to that he preached one evening and taught a class for Steve Caulley, who was not able to come to the meeting because he was ill.
In the past couple of weeks, Michael has cut the grass at Umzumbe Bible Institute again. It is summer and it grows fast! He has attended the Magog Senior Club and kept an eye on the day care center. He has also worked on some computers. We thought our old desktop had died, but he and JP were able to put in a new power supply and get it working again - for which I am very thankful as it is the computer I use for a lot of my work! (Now I have backed up all my files!) He also helped the high school teacher get his computer running again.
This week we got a topper for the pickup. It is so nice to have everything safely locked inside while we travel. Unfortunately, it is a little bit tall for our garage. We have to drive in slowly and make sure there is someone on hand to push the door up over the back luggage rack. This morning we discovered that when there is a heavy load in the back, it sinks far enough to get out more easily!
We are in Kimberley for our two-week teaching stint. I thought that I was not going to be teaching anymore, but since Louw Koopmwn's death, Steve Caulley has really struggled to get teachers for the classes so he begged me to teach again this year. Michael will teach the first year students How to Study. He has never taught the class before so he had to do a lot if preparation and still has work to do while we are there. I will teach the advanced students Establishing a Sunday School. Fortunately, I have taught the class several times though I am making some changes this year with some new material I got from Scripture Union.
My younger sister, Juanita, and her husband, Joe, who hosted us when we first arrived in the US last year and at the end of our furlough, got bad news this past week. They were in Arizona and California on vacation when Joe was having trouble breathing. He was admitted to hospital and they have diagnosed lung and stomach cancer. Pray for them. They were very anxious to get home, but when we left for Kimberley he was not well enough to travel.
Pray for us as we teach, for our house as we are away, and for Joe and Juanita during this difficult time.
Caryl and Michael
What a stressful couple of weeks!
We had decided that getting a mission vehicle - a pickup - was getting urgent. We have been using our personal car, a VW Jetta for everything. The dirt roads to Umzumbe Bible Institute are very hard on the car and, because it is small, we aren't able to carry the necessary tools and the mower to UBI. Michael made one long trip with the Jetta to a funeral and on the way home he ran over a dead dog which he thought was flat. Unfortunately, it was high enough to dislodge the pan under the car which then caused the air conditioner to make a lot of noise. He managed to fix it himself after a couple of days.
At the beginning of this week we started the process of getting our new pickup. It took a while to get all the papers in order and we finally took possession of our 2012 Toyota Hilux on Thursday afternoon. It does not have a canopy topper so it is still a bit difficult to transport valuable items. Hopefully, we will be able to get a canopy in the near future. That will depend on available funds. Again, if you can help with the purchase of the pickup, we would appreciate it.
Yesterday we went to Magog Senior Citizens' Club. One of the items that was discussed was the tall grass on the UBI property. We knew it needed to be cut, but didn't have the pickup to transport the tractor mower earlier in the week. They announced that officials are to come next week to visit the Club so they really wanted the lawn mowed. Michael had the brush cutter so he used it (until he ran out of fuel) to cut the grass by the day care center. Then we came home and he loaded the tractor mower and went back and cut the rest of the grass. He got home about 8 p.m. and then he still had some things to take care of before the trip to Ministers' Week. That made for a late night, so I am concerned about the long day ahead of him.
He left early this morning in the pickup for a long trip - nearly 700 miles - to Ministers' Week. He has two passengers so the young man will have to ride in the back. We are praying that the rain holds off while they are traveling! Because of my shingles, I decided not to go. I am better, but I am still in a lot of pain and I don't think I could sit through meetings all day for a week. Pray for the meetings. Their theme this year is integrity - something which is desperately needed in South Africa.
I will be at home part of the time, but I will stay with my daughters some nights. There is a lot of crime in our area and I don't feel confident to be here alone. Fortunately, we do have a good crime watch system in our area with many of the residents of the area on a cell phone application called Whatsapp. It gives us immediate contact with each other. It also means that people watch out for each other.
Pray for Michael and the other ministers and their wives as they meet this week and for me as I stay here and try to accomplish some things that have been neglected while I have not been feeling very well.
Caryl and Michael
We have had a hectic couple of months.
Praise the Lord, we were able to sell the Buick Lucerne before we left the US! That meant that we did not have to leave that responsibility for someone else.
Our trip back to South Africa went well. We had to pay extra for luggage since we were only allowed one bag each, but we wanted to bring some gifts back for the family and we had some books and items for our work. Everything arrived in good condition. We had a bit of panic when one suitcase did not arrive on the plane from Amsterdam to Cape Town, but it was delivered to our house the next evening.
We left Minnesota in the midst of some very cold weather and arrived in South African summer so we have really felt the heat. We finally gave in and bought a portable air conditioner for the office so we often retreat there for some relief!
We have been busy reestablishing our routine here. Michael has resumed his devotions at the high school. The day care center is open and running with 13 children attending. The senior club is meeting twice a week, but the heat has had an impact on the attendance. While we were away two members of the senior club passed away and several have had health issues.
We have not replaced our mission vehicle yet, but we have started looking for a suitable vehicle. We rented a pickup for two days so Michael could transport the riding mower to Umzumbe Bible Institute so he could mow the lawn there. Unfortunately, with the heat and rain it is in need of being done again. He also replaced a window and did some repairs to the day care toilet and sink. A road grader had cut the water pipe to the property in November and it had not been repaired so I spent a lot of time on the telephone getting them to come and take care of that.
Things at our house were in pretty good condition, but we have found that our personal lawn mower and the mission lawn mower were damaged and are in need of repair before they can be used. The brush cutter was also misused. It is running, but some parts will have to be replaced.
Michael made a long trip to George in the Western Cape at the beginning of February for a meeting of the executive committee of the Church of Christ Mission. He decided he didn’t want to drive, as it would take him two days, so he went by bus – an 18 hour journey each way. Fortunately, he had a safe trip there and back.
I stayed home two nights and with Dina and her family one night while he was gone. We have done some babysitting since we got back. We had Chayah for two days before school started so Dawn could get her classroom ready, Seanna for two days when she was sick, and Matthew for two days when Diane had to be in Cape Town for work. We also go once a week and pick up Chayah from school and Seanna and Erin from day care and then we take Erin and Chayah to dancing lessons. We also see Rebecca and Gabriella then. It is great to be able to see the grandchildren often.
The annual Ministers’ Week is coming up at the beginning of March. Please pray for our trip and for the speakers. Michael will be leading the communion service on Sunday and possibly teach a lesson if the assigned teacher is unable to be there. I will be teaching a class for the women.
2013 Email Updates
We wish you a wonderful Christmas celebration. And we wish you a wonderful 2014!
We have celebrated Christmas with my sisters and their families and will celebrate with the Stanley brothers and their families this week. We are definitely enjoying the "white Christmas" we wanted to have. We didn't think it needed to be quite so cold, but we are managing.
In between the celebrations, we are packing and trying to wrap everything up before we leave on Monday, December 30. All of the shopping is done - until the suitcases are packed and we can see if there is room for some "goodies"! The trip is long. We leave Minneapolis on Monday afternoon, fly to Amsterdam overnight, fly to Cape Town that day, stay overnight in Cape Town and arrive in Durban about 8:30 on Wednesday morning. After a 2 hour drive we will be at home where we will see our children and grandchildren. It will be nearly 48 hours from start to finish of the journey.
We are getting very excited about getting home. Unfortunately, Sean contacted us last week to tell us that there was an attempted break-in at our house. Our house-sitter has gone to visit his family for the holidays so the house was not occupied. Fortunately, the burglar alarm went off and the burglars ran away before they got into the house.
Seanna and Erin both got chicken pox at the beginning of December - during the last week of school. Seanna was covered from top to toe. Then Chayah got chicken pox last week. Rebecca and Gabriella went to visit their other grandpa and grandma and aunt and uncle for 10 days and then came back with them when they came for Christmas with Dina and Sean.
We have had a good furlough. We had safe travels and really enjoyed visiting with churches and individuals. We got to almost all of our supporting churches. Apologies to those we didn't see - you will be at the top of our list next time.
Please pray for us as we pack and as we travel to South Africa. Also pray that we will be able to sell the car. Pray for us as we resume our work and as we make arrangements for others to take over some of our responsibilities.
Michael and Caryl
We were very sad to hear that Louw Koopman had a fatal heart attack on Sunday December 1, 2013.
Louw Koopman was a student at Umzumbe Bible Institute in the 1980s. He was a good student and when he finished his studies at UBI, he was sponsored by the UBI faculty to further his studies at the Evangelical Bible Seminary of Southern Africa in Pietermaritzburg where he got a degree in missions. He then returned to UBI to teach. He continued to teach until UBI closed at the end of 1994.
When Wilson Mahlinza retired as minister of the congregation in Douglas (Northern Cape) he told the congregation that they must hire Louw Koopman as minister. Louw accepted that position and, with his wife Christine, ministered at Douglas until his death.
When discussions began in regard to a school for teaching
ministers and church leaders in Kimberley, Louw was on the committee
that established the new school. He has taught at the South African
Bible Institute since it began in 1997. Louw was a good teacher and
was often asked to teach at national gatherings like Ministers' Week
and the Annual Conference. He was also active in recruiting men to
study at SABI.
He will be greatly missed.
Another month has gone by. We have continued to do a lot of traveling. We have had good weather and safe travels. The car has done well except when we picked up a 4-inch nail in one tire. Our host that weekend has lots of experience repairing tires and had it fixed quickly.
We were very sad to hear that Louw Koopman, one of our faithful ministers and teacher at the South African Bible Institute, had a fatal heart attack on the 1st of December. He was a student and then a teacher at Umzumbe Bible Institute so we have known him for a long time. He was a really good teacher and has recruited many students for SABI. He leaves behind a wife, 2 daughters, a son and a foster daughter. Please pray for the family and for SABI as they deal with this great loss.
We are winding down with just two more churches to visit. Then we will be doing some final shopping and packing. Oh, how we wish we were allowed more than one suitcase each! It looks like we will just pay the extra to take another one or two so we can take some books and some gifts back to our children and grandchildren and some of our friends in South Africa.
The family is looking forward to our return. Dina and Sean have decided that, since Rebecca and Gabriella have finished the school year, they will send them to visit his sister and her husband for a couple of weeks. They will come back just before Christmas when Sean's family comes to Port Shepstone. Erin will continue to go to day care. Dawn is nearly finished with teaching for the year and is looking forward to being home with her girls. Unfortunately, JP is doing house-husband duty this week as the girls have been diagnosed with chicken pox so they can't go to day care! Diane, John and Matthew are all fine, though it is a busy time for John at work.
We enjoyed Thanksgiving celebrations with our families. We had dinner with 22 people at my sister's house and then went to Michael's brother's house for pie and games with 18 relatives. We felt like we ate our way through the day, but we also had time to reflect on the meaning of the day and the blessings we have received from God!
Pray for us as we travel here in the US and then as we fly back to South Africa. Also pray for the Koopman family in their loss and for SABI as they sort out how to handle classes for 2014.
We wish you all a very Merry Christmas!
Michael and Caryl
We have been busy and October slipped by without my getting an
email out to you.
We have been in the States for nearly 3 weeks. We stayed with my sister and her husband in Lakeville for two weeks so we could get a car, get a mobile phone and spend some time with our families. Now we are settled with Richard Eckman, a long-time friend, in Kimball, MN.
We have bought a 2006 Buick Lucerne. After a couple of initial hiccups, all seems to be fine and we are enjoying it. It is in good condition. Our plan is to sell it at the end of December, so if anyone is interested, please let us know! It has 112000 miles on it and will have several more on by the time we leave!
We got a mobile phone and that has not been completely trouble-free. We are learning a lot about phone systems here and how they differ from South Africa. You can contact us on 612-401-0575.
Family time was great. We had a Labor Day Picnic with all of the
Stanleys, including Michael's sister, Debbie, who came from South
Africa for a few weeks and his sister-in-law, Anne, who came from
Indiana. All of the Stateside children and grandchildren were also
there so it was a really good time of getting re-acquainted and
meeting the 2 new great nephews. The siblings (8 of us) attended a
dinner theater production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor
Dreamcoat one night and that was very special. All of the siblings
and some of the children and grandchildren traveled out to Maine
Prairie, just north of Kimball, to visit the Stanley/Eaton graves
one Saturday and to inter the ashes of Mom and Dad.
We have written some letters, taken care of some business regarding Social Security and our investments and have been getting things ready for our travels. It seems there is always something to do.We began our visits to churches this past weekend and we would ask you to pray for us as we travel and speak. For most Sundays in the next 3 1/2 months we will be in different churches in Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Wisconsin and South Dakota.
We have had some contact with our children in South Africa. All seems to be going well there. We are all just missing each other a lot. We are so glad to have email, Facebook and Skype!
Please pray for the Church of Christ Mission annual conference which began on Sunday 22 September and will end on Friday 27 September in the Johannesburg area in South Africa. We have heard there was a problem with the venue when they arrived, but, hopefully, that has been sorted out. Michael handed over his treasurer's responsibilities to the head of the finance committee. We are confident he will do well, but it is a big job so pray for him.
Pray also for the day care center, the senior club, the church
and our house while we are away.
Caryl and Michael
Life has been really hectic the past few weeks. We are getting ready to return to the US for our furlough. We depart from South Africa on Friday this week - 30 August.
We managed to get Michael's Church of Christ Mission financial report done - after a few late nights and lots of cooperation!
This past Thursday we traveled to Johannesburg for a meeting with the Executive Committee of the Mission and leaders of other organizations in the Mission. We met in the home of one of the church members and were very well taken care of! There were hours of meetings and discussion over the next two days.
Michael and one of the other signatories on the Mission accounts went to the bank on Friday morning to take care if some business that the bank required. When they got there they found that all three signatories had to be there at the same time. The other man was at his home, but Michael managed to get him a bus ticket and he traveled through the night to get to Johannesburg. We picked him up from the bus depot on Saturday morning, picked up the other signatory, and went to the bank where they were able to take care of the required business, open an investment account and arrange for Michael to get statements via email.
On Saturday afternoon Michael handed over his treasurer's responsibilities to his deputy to handle for the next four months. The deputy took care of finances for this meeting and will also take care of Conference. We are very confident that he will do a good job.
Last week we sold the Isuzu pickup. It is a 1999 model and had 215000 miles on it. We are thankful that the money is in our account and the title has been transferred to the buyer! When we come back to South Africa we will have to decide what to do about another vehicle.
We have found a house-sitter. It is a man from the Umzumbe church and he has done house-sitting for others so has a good idea of what it entails.
This week we will meet with the Umzumbe church to discuss the future of the Umzumbe Bible Institute property, take care of some business, spend some time with our children and get our suitcases packed. I think when we get on the plane we will both fall asleep!
Pray for us as we make the final preparation and travel. Also pray for our furlough! Looking forward to seeing as many of you as possible over the next 4 months.
Caryl and Michael
Life has been hectic the past month!
Michael taught his class at the South African Bible Institute in Kimberley in June and really enjoyed it. He had only two students, but they were very interested and participated well. The weather was really cold in Kimberley. It got down to near freezing every night and got up to about 55 during the day. Fortunately, in the sun it felt a bit warmer. We stayed with Roy and Jenny, our friends who got married 2 ˝ years ago. There were electric under-blankets on our bed and one room had a heater so we survived.
While we were in Kimberley Roy and Jenny told us that Roy had lost a lot of weight and he was having intestinal problems. He went to the doctor while we were there and after we got home we heard the results of tests that confirmed he has colon cancer. He has had surgery and will begin chemotherapy soon. Pray for Roy and Jenny!
Shortly after we got home Michael went to the KwaZulu Natal youth camp. Fortunately, this year it was close by at Oribi Bible Camp, where Diane and Mac lived for many years. He came home one night, but stayed at the camp for most of the week. In the beginning the camp was hampered by some problems with planning. The result was that many of the campers were a bit younger, but there was a lot of healthy enthusiasm.
I did not go to camp this year as I spent time with Rebecca, Gabriella and Erin. Dina had to go to Pietermaritzburg for training and the girls were on school holiday. We stayed one night here alone, one night here with Michael and the rest of the time I stayed at their house.
The day care center and seniors club are up and running again after the school holidays. During August we will be making arrangement for others to take over our responsibilities in preparation for our trip to the US.
The next few weeks will be busy with getting Michael’s financial report ready for the annual conference. He will finalize it, present it to the executive committee on the 23rd of August and then leave it with the finance committee to present at conference.
We will also be preparing to leave our house here. We have not found anyone to stay in the house and with crime as rife as it is, we plan to remove the most valuable items from the house before we go. The next door neighbor (and her rotweiller) will keep an eye on the house and the girls will check on things for us.
We are looking forward to visiting in the US from September through December. We do hope to see many of you.
If you can help us with the cost of our trip
(airline tickets, car, etc.), it would be much appreciated. Please
send your gift to our forwarding agent marked “Travel”. The address
is S A Churches of Christ Mission, P. O. Box 18531, Minneapolis, MN
Where did May go? I completely missed sending out an email to you. Sorry!
The weather has been very unpredictable. The Cancer Relay for Life had to be postponed again. It was disappointing, but understandable as the weather was cold and rainy again. I think they finally decided to cancel it and start planning for the 2014 Relay which will be held in February. It could rain, but it will be much warmer and will be light later as that is in our summer.
We have not been involved in any special events over the past few weeks, though we did go to Eshowe one week. Michael preached there and also at Umzumbe several times.
We continue to oversee the day care and participate in the seniors’ club. One day Doreen, one of the ladies at the seniors’ club, caught her finger in a car door and it was bleeding so Michael bandaged it for her. Behind them is Rosie, who was very ill shortly after this picture was taken. Michael transported her home from hospital one day and back to the doctor a few days later. Rosie attended the birthday party in May as it was her birthday, but she is not back to full health yet.
The big disappointment this month was that we have experienced more vandalism at Umzumbe Bible Institute. They have now damaged the doors so badly that we can’t lock two of the three outside doors in the office/library block. They stole all of the curtains about a month ago. This week they stole most of the window latches. They are brass and we assume they have sold them to support their drug habits. I have now removed a lot of the books - not because we think they will be stolen, but because they might just be destroyed.
Michael has spent a lot of time reading and preparing for his
class at South African Bible Institute. We will be leaving on
Saturday morning to drive to Kimberley where he will be teaching for
two weeks. I opted not to teach this year and a visitor from the US
will be teaching the other students.
On the home front, we have decided to do some fixing up on our house. It is now about 28 years old and the outside really needed to be painted. We hired painters and they are in the middle of the job. It is really looking a lot better. Some of the family came last weekend and helped with some mowing, trimming hedges, cleaning eaves and general cleanup. We are so blessed to have willing family close by! We will need to do some painting inside, but we haven’t scheduled that yet.
We are getting excited about our trip to the US in August. It will be good to see family, friends and supporters again. We have booked our flights, but if you can help with that, it would be greatly appreciated. Just send your gift to our forwarding agent and mark it “Travel”.
Please pray for our trip to Kimberley this weekend and Michael’s teaching and meetings over the next two weeks.
Michael and Caryl
The KwaZulu Natal
Easter services were held in Hammarsdale this year. A huge crowd
attended. We estimate there were about 500 people there. The big
tent that was prepared for the meetings was too small and three
small tents were set up beside the big tent to accommodate the
crowd. The preaching, singing and prayer times were wonderful.
Everyone enjoyed the fellowship and time together.
February was a busy month. We went to Umzumbe church only once. We are excited to announce that the church there is growing. A lady from the community who was involved with our day care center started coming to church. Her husband attended the church as a child. He has come back now and was baptized a week ago. Yesterday two young ladies were baptized. The ladies are meeting once a month and the Sunday School has started again.
We made the trip to Kimberley from the 8th to the 10th of February. It was very rushed, but Michael did attend the South African Bible Institute Board of Governors meeting on Saturday morning and we went to the graduation ceremony on Saturday afternoon. We had to return home on Sunday as we had taken Mrs. Sithebe to the Women’s Workshop and she needed to be home for a meeting on Monday.
The following weekend we went to Eshowe (150 miles away) for our monthly visit. We went to the church nearest town and some of the members of the other congregations joined us there. We had a good service. It was good to see them again as we had not been there for a couple of months because of other commitments.
The next weekend we were in Jozini, which is in the far north of our province (about 275 miles from here). The minister in the areas is retiring so the church is choosing new leaders and they asked Michael and Brother Sithebe to come and meet with them. We had a good visit and they were able to discuss the issues. We also had a worship service on Saturday evening and again on Sunday morning.
On the 2nd of March we flew to Cape Town. The annual Ministers’ Week was in Hermanus, about 65 miles out of Cape Town. It would have taken us two days to drive there and two days to drive home so we decided to fly. That is the first time we have done that! We were able to take a shuttle which picked us up on the main road near our home and took us to the airport (2 hours). Then we flew to Cape Town (2 hours) and drove to Hermanus (just over an hour). We arrived much more refreshed than we would have if we had driven from home! We returned home on Friday the 8th March.
Attendance at Ministers’ Week was down this year, but part of that was because it was not during a school holiday so ministers’ wives who are teachers could not be away. Also Hermanus is quite a long way for many of the ministers to travel. However, we had good worship services each morning and evening. There were some classes taught by Michael, Steve Caulley and Larry Niemeyer. There were also a lot of meetings. In between there was time for some really good fellowship! The women have started doing a project each year in hopes that they can learn something to help them supplement their income. This year they asked me to teach them to do cross stitch. (They have seen me working on several projects over the years.) I helped them make book marks and everyone made an effort. Some of the ladies did well and really enjoyed it.
Caryl and Michael
January has been a time of reestablishing some programs after the holidays.
Michael had decided that he really couldn’t work with the day care teacher we had last year so he met with the committee and, after some discussion, one of the ladies on the committee agreed that she would teach this year. She has had some training and has implemented a lot of good practices. In January she only had three children. Some of the parents decided not to send their children until February because they didn’t want to pay the full fee in January which is only a partial month. Now there are 14 children on the register.
The Magog Senior Citizens’ Club has also resumed after the holidays. They had a couple of social meetings at the beginning of the year. Now they are getting back into some more practical activities. They have prepared the garden areas and are ready to start planting and they have started some new sewing projects. It is really meeting the needs of the elderly in the community. They really enjoy being together and visiting with one another.
We have met with one of the church leaders to discuss some possibilities for use of the Umzumbe Bible Institute campus. In December Michael met with Chief Madlala and confirmed that the land claim on behalf of the Madlala clan is still in place. That makes sorting out property ownership more difficult. We are hoping that a program can be established to help youth from the area to get training in skills that can help them obtain jobs and that will also help to make the property more self-sustaining. Pray for wisdom.
Michael was supposed to meet with the executive committee of the national church last weekend. Diane had asked us to go with her to a staff conference in Johannesburg – me to take care of Matthew and help with a workshop and Michael to speak for a worship session. We had decided that we could drive up with her and then on Friday Michael would go to his meeting by bus when we drove home. Unfortunately, he missed his bus! He arrived in plenty of time, but couldn’t find a place to sit in the waiting area. He sat where he could see the gate, but he didn’t see any activity there. Just after the time for his bus, he went to ask and was told the bus had left from the other gate – which he couldn’t see from where he had been sitting! (They don’t make any announcements at the bus station.) He tried to get another bus, but they were full. We were sending messages on our cell phones so I asked if he had considered flying. He went to the airport and tried to get a flight to a city near where his meeting was to be held. All of the flights were full, so he decided he would have to miss the meeting and fly home. Then he found out that all of the flights to Durban were also full as there was a big soccer tournament in Durban, so he ended up staying over night with a friend of Diane’s and flying home on Saturday. When he arrived home he was very glad to have two really stressful days behind him.
I am struggling with an injured arm. I fell off a ladder several months ago and didn’t really think I had hurt myself. However, a couple of months later my wrist started to hurt a lot so I finally went to the doctor in November and had X-rays. He said I had cracked the end of the radius, but it had healed. However, my wrist didn’t quit hurting so I went back to the doctor again in January and he ordered more X-rays and found that I had also cracked the end of the ulna, but that it had also healed. The pain was caused by inflammation in the joint so he put me on anti-inflammatory tablets for three months and said I should wear a wrist brace for six weeks. (Fortunately, I have a son-in-law who deals with these things so he was able to get it for me.) The wrist brace gets in the way of many routine activities, but it seems to be helping.
Tomorrow we are going to drive to Kimberley – 600 miles from here. Michael will attend a South African Bible Institute Board of Governors meeting on Saturday morning and then we will attend graduation on Saturday afternoon. We will take Mrs. Sithebe, a minister’s wife, with us so she can attend a women’s conference in Bloemfontein (which is on our way) from Friday evening until Sunday morning. Also Sipho Nhlenyama, a former South African Bible Institute student will go with us to Kimberley. We will come home again on Sunday.
Pray for safety as we travel.
Caryl and Michael
2012 Email Updates
M E R R Y C H R I S T M A S from South Africa!
We wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happy and healthy 2013.
Sinothando Creche, our day care center, closed on the 30th of November with a big celebration. The children performed, we had a guest speaker, the children got gifts and there was a lot to eat. (Michael took two of the moms to town and they purchased all the food for the party with money donated by the parents.) It was definitely a good end to the year.
The Magog Senior Club also had a Christmas party. We drew names for a gift exchange and there was a nice meal as well. Unfortunately, Michael and I had to miss the party as he was away and I was babysitting. They gave us our gifts when we went to the last meeting of the year.
Michael went to East London for the annual National Youth Seminar. He had hoped to take some from KwaZulu Natal with him, but in the end he traveled alone. He did say that he felt it was a good seminar and he enjoyed his small group. He and Steve Caulley went to visit John and Heather Kernan one day. They are retired missionaries who are now in their 80s and 90s and have just celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary.
I have been busy with grandchildren for the past few weeks.
I stayed home from the National Youth Seminar this year as Dina and Sean were still working, but Rebecca and Gabriella were out of school. Erin could still go to day care, but we didn’t want the older girls to be on their own for such a long time. They stayed here from Sunday night until Friday night. While they were here we baked Christmas cookies, watched some DVDs, and they and an African lady helped get my floors polished and the furniture cleaned.
I also had Chayah here for three days that week because she was sick and Dawn was still at school. She had sores in and around her mouth. She wasn’t miserable most of the time, but we couldn’t get her to eat anything. She hardly ate anything or slept much for about 5 days! She stayed over one night. Unfortunately, she passed the sores on to her mom and little sister. Hopefully, all will be well by Christmas.
We had Matthew here over one weekend because Diane and John got an opportunity to go to an exclusive game reserve. He has never stayed overnight with anyone and Diane has never been away from him for more than a few hours, so we weren’t sure how it would go, but we didn’t have any problems. It was probably harder on Diane than it was on Matthew!!
Dina is on leave now for Christmas, but the day care closed before she started her leave, so I had Erin one day early this week. Rebecca went to the beach that day with a friend. Gabriella wasn’t feeling well so she couldn’t go to the beach so she was also here.
I think all of the babysitting took its toll on me and I developed a sore throat. I had agreed to baby-sit Matthew one day this week because his nanny is on leave for Christmas and Diane is still working. However, that day I was feeling miserable so Michael also went along and we shared the responsibility of taking care of him.
The nativity set is on display, the tree is up, the cookies are baked, and the presents are under the tree. We will all go to church on Christmas morning and then all of the family will be together here for dinner. We are so blessed to have our children and grandchildren close to us.
We pray that you will enjoy your celebrations. Remember - Without Christ, Christmas is an empty shell – beautiful but without content.
Caryl and Michael
It is already November and I apologize for not getting a message off to you in October.
Conference was hectic. Michael spent much of his time overseeing finances. Because of problems he faced last year, he decided that he would oversee all of the food purchases. The result is that he has much more accurate records, but it did take a lot of time. In fact, he was not able to attend most of the 90th Anniversary celebration program as he was in town buying food.
The 90th Anniversary memorabilia was very popular. Michael was hesitant to spend the money getting the items for fear they would not sell, but the carry bags sold out the first day so they re-ordered and sold all of them as well! They also had t-shirts, mugs and pens. At the end of Conference there were only a few pens left. More bags have been ordered and will be available at regional meetings for the rest of the year. (Michael’s birthday was during Conference and I was able to get a mug and bag for him as a birthday gift.)
The other problem we had (and have not completely resolved yet) is the accommodation. The venue included the kitchen, dining room, classrooms for meetings, hall and dormitories at a very reasonable rate. The Executive Committee decided to set the amount that people had to pay for accommodation quite low because of that. Then just before Conference we learned that the dormitories did not have sufficient mattresses and they were not available for rent in Queenstown. Therefore they had to be hired from three different places in a town nearly 100 miles away and transported to Queenstown. The transport was exorbitant! Just the hire of mattresses and transport has come to more than the rental of the venue. The Executive Committee is trying to resolve that issue.
On a more positive note: we were very impressed with Steve Caulley’s daily classes on the healthy church and with the final morning prayer session led by a minister from the Northern Cape. It was very thought-provoking and meaningful.
When Conference ended we went to pick up Rebecca and Gabriella from Sean’s sister. We really enjoyed seeing their sheep farm and wished we could spend a few more days there. We definitely want to return. While we were at Conference Rebecca and Gabriella helped Sean’s sister move their parents to a cottage on their farm so we got to seem them as well.
Since we returned from Conference we have been up-dating the financial records and trying to make sense of everything. It is a big job, but we are definitely making progress.
We have spent some time with our children and grandchildren and done some work around the house, which had been severely neglected while we were getting ready for Conference. Early this week we had a couple of big trees cut down. One had been struck by lightning a couple of years ago. The lightning traveled down the tree and damaged the fence at the front of the house. Now that the tree is gone we will have the fence repaired.
I had hoped that we wouldn’t have to travel for a while, but next weekend we have to go to Kimberley. The Executive Committee of the Church of Christ Mission is meeting with the Board of Governors of South African Bible Institute to discuss the future of South African Bible Institute. The Church of Christ Mission wants to take over the South African Bible Institute. I am not sure they really understand what that means, but hopefully this meeting will clarify some issues. Pray for us as we travel and for wisdom in decisions made at the meeting.
Pray for our family. We all seem to have picked up some illnesses lately. Dawn, JP and Chayah apparently got food poisoning from some chicken pies they ate. Dina, Sean, Diane, John and I have all had a tummy bug. Gabriella and Seanna have had colds and flu. Maybe it is the weather! It is spring, but has been so cold it feels more like winter and we have had a lot of rain!
Caryl and Michael
We have had a hectic few weeks. The major job was getting Michael’s Church of Christ Mission treasurer’s report done. He didn’t get it done in time for the committee meeting in August, but he and I worked together and got it done for a meeting with the finance committee on the 15th of September. There were some problems because a lot of the money that was collected at the Conference in October last year was spent in cash. Unfortunately, we were not watching closely and some of the money was mismanaged. We have learned our lesson and will be more careful this year.
In addition to Michael’s report I had agreed to help the treasurer of the Women’s Association to do her report. We went to her home, but Michael was not well that day (and for a day or so before we went) so he wasn’t able to help us. I also had to do some of the driving and I don’t really enjoy that.
The meeting with the finance committee went well. We drove to Queenstown to meet them and we stayed with a lady from the church (where we will also be staying during Conference). She agreed to host the meeting with the finance committee at her home and she prepared a nice meal for us as well.
Again this year we have collected all of the reports from the various groups in the Church of Christ Mission and compiled the report book. We delivered everything to the printer yesterday at about noon. Some of the reports are sent ready to print, but we had to retype some of them. It is a relief to have them at the printers. We will pick up the booklets the middle of next week.
Unfortunately, when we returned home from Queenstown we were both sick with a “tummy bug”. Neither of us felt like eating much for most of this week. To top it all off our water was off when we got home. Apparently a pipe burst and the water went off on Saturday night. We finally got water again on Tuesday evening. The water company sent out a tanker and we were able to fill some buckets and bottles with water so we managed, but it was a relief when it came back on. Then this morning it went off again - another burst pipe - and came on again late this afternoon. When we went to town we saw the burst pipe on a road near our house. Half of the road is gone!
Please pray for the annual conference which will be in Queenstown from 30 September until 5 October. The finance committee will be collecting the funds and I will be helping them. Michael will be overseeing the purchase of food and banking of funds. It is a huge job! Also pray for the preaching and teaching that will be taking place. This year is a special year as we will be celebrating our 90th annual conference.
Please pray for all who will be traveling to the conference. We will go to Queenstown on Friday, 28 September as Michael wants to be there on Saturday to do some preparation for the conference. We will be taking Rebecca and Gabriella with us. Sean’s sister lives near Queenstown and, since it is school holidays, the girls are going to spend the week with her.
Caryl and Michael
We took five young people from the Umzumbe church to the youth camp at the end of June. The camp was held at a school next to the church at Gingindlovu. Classes were held there, the food was prepared and served there and the campers slept there. Michael and I were invited to stay with a family who lived nearby. That made it much more comfortable for us.
We both taught classes at camp and Michael did some electrical repairs at the church building while we were there. He had installed the electricity in the building in 1998. Recently someone broke in and stole the wiring! He hasn’t finished everything so he plans to go back later in the year to finish the work. The church will pay for the materials, but they don’t have the money now.
During the annual women’s conference, the men also met and Michael and Steve Caulley, from South African Bible Institute, started teaching a course on Acts. Some of the men have agreed to do some independent studies so they can get credit for the course from South African Bible Institute. On Saturday evening they showed part of a DVD on Acts (the Visual Bible). We were able to borrow a projector and show it on a wall so everyone could see.
Michael has been keeping busy with his responsibilities at the day care center. He has had to have some committee meetings to try to sort out some problems. Then he had a meeting with the parents and then a meeting with the parents and teachers. He has sent the forms in to register the center with the government. We were told that if we handed the forms in locally it could take 6 months, but if we sent them directly to the national office, it could reduce the time to 3 months. He sent them to the national office, so please pray that the process will go quickly. /p>
I am very involved with the senior club. We meet twice a week. Each time we have tea and a meal. In addition, they have planted vegetable gardens – cabbage, onions, tomatoes and spinach. The vegetables are doing very well and we look forward to enjoying the crops! Some of the members participated in an athletic competition. They did very well and came home with medals and the chance to participate in further competitions. They came back and taught what they had learned to the rest of the club so everyone got involved in the exercises! A local manufacturer donated scraps of material and now the ladies are busy making decorated table cloths and cushion covers.
EaEarlier this week Michael was approached by a church member who is a high school teacher to be the main speaker at a special evening (similar to prom) for his grade 12 students. The event was held at Moses Mabida Stadium in Durban, which was built for the 2010 Soccer World Cup. Michael spoke very well and we enjoyed being at a very special occasion.
This weekend the youth of our province are meeting for a revival meeting. Michael will take six of the youth from Umzumbe to Hammarsdale.
The annual church conference is coming up in October. The financial year ended at the end of August so Michael is busy getting his financial report ready. He should have it ready by the end of next week when he needs to present it at a committee meeting.
The family is well. Dina is happy with her new job, though she says it is quite different from actual nursing. She really enjoys the evenings and weekends at home with her family! We enjoy every opportunity to baby-sit or spend time with the grandchildren. Seanna turned one in July and she is managing to get around by scooting; she doesn’t crawl and hasn’t started walking yet, but she can still get wherever she wants to go!
Caryl and Michael
Diane asked us to go with her to a campsite just outside Johannesburg earlier this month. She was doing some training of young Christian workers and she needed someone to care for Matthew. I had gone with her in April and thoroughly enjoyed it. I knew Michael would enjoy the campsite which is on a farm so we convinced him to take a couple of days off and join us. The weather was very cold – got below freezing every night – but the days were warm and sunny. We went for long walks with Matthew; he loves to be outside and he doesn’t care what the weather is like. The other advantage of having Michael along was that he helped with driving. It is about a 9 hour trip – with breaks for food and letting Matthew get out of his car seat and stretch.
We went to Eshowe last weekend and visited one of the rural congregations. We had not been able to let them know we were coming as we did not have telephone numbers for the leaders. However, we had a good service with a small group of people there.
This week our schedule changed quickly and radically when Seanna got sick and was not able to go to day care. Dawn phoned early on Monday morning and I went to get her for the day. She went to the doctor in the afternoon and he diagnosed bronchitis and upper respiratory infection. She couldn’t go back to day care so we babysat again the next two days. She was not miserable and slept a lot so we managed fine. Tuesday Michael went to speak at the high school and to sort out some things with the day care center at Umzumbe Bible Institute. Wednesday we took her along to Magog Senior Citizens’ Club. I am on the committee and have missed three meeting recently so I needed to go.
Friday we will drive to Kimberley. The South African Bible Institute Board of Governors meeting is on Saturday afternoon. It is a long trip for one meeting, but he has missed a few meetings and there may be some major decisions made at this meeting so he needs to be there. We will stay with Roy and Jenny again and we are looking forward to seeing them. We will drive home on Sunday so we can have Monday to repack and get ready to go to youth camp from the 26th June until the 1st July.
July 7 is the annual KwaZulu Natal Women’s meeting. The men have decided that since they transport the women to the meeting, they might as well have organized meetings as well. This year Steve Caulley, from South African Bible Institute, and Michael will teach some classes for the men. We are hoping it will be the beginning of a distance learning center of South African Bible Institute.
I have been asked to be a signatory on the Church of Christ Women ’s Association accounts. All of the signatories have to be together at the bank to make any changes so July 13 to15 we all have to go to King Williams Town to take care of that. We have decided that it is probably cheaper for Michael to drive the two of us who have to go from KwaZulu Natal than it is for us to go by bus.
Hopefully, after all of that traveling we will be able to stay at home for a while.
The family is doing well. The only major news is that Dina is changing jobs. She was approached by South Coast Hospice to be a trainer. They offered her a better package and much better working environment than the hospital where she is now. She will finish at the hospital at the end of June and then take two weeks of leave (while the girls are on term break from school) before starting at Hospice the middle of July. She is nervous, but excited.
Please pray for our travels, for the decisions regarding South African Bible Institute and for the youth camp next week.
Caryl and Michael
Another busy month has passed.
The Easter services went very well. We traveled part way on Thursday evening and then stayed overnight at a small hotel, which one of the church leaders arranged for us.
The services were held at a primary school. The sessions were in a big tent and most of the people slept in classrooms. Michael and I were invited to stay with a family who lived nearby. They have often hosted us so we always look forward to seeing how the children have grown. The ladies from the local church provided our meals at the school.
Friday was spent in a time of worship and study of the last words of Jesus on the cross interspersed with singing and prayers. Saturday morning Michael led devotions. Then one of the ministers led a class before we divided up for more lessons for men, women and youth. In the afternoon there was a business meeting and then a revival service. On Sunday we had a short service with communion and lunch before we all headed home.
At the beginning of the year there was a meeting at Umzumbe Bible Institute to establish a senior club. I was asked to serve on the committee with 5 Zulu people from the community. The purpose of the club is to meet the social needs of the elderly, and also to provide them with information about health, diet, exercise, etc. The committee held several meetings over the past month because on May 10th we had the official launch and Open Day. Michael and I and other committee members spent many hours cleaning the buildings and preparing the grounds for the occasion. One of the issues we tried to deal with was getting rid of a swarm of bees. Michael planned to spray the bees every evening until he had eliminated them, but after several days some of the other committee members decided it wasn’t moving fast enough, so they tried to smoke them out. The bees left but as soon as the smoke was gone they promptly moved back into the hive! Then they sprayed them, put poison in the hive and finally poured boiling water in the hive. I think all it really accomplished was poisoning the honey in the honeycomb. We are still looking for a final solution. The Open Day was a great success and we are looking forward to having regular meetings with the people of the community.
Our little day care is in full operation this year and the teachers are continuing to get training. We have about 20 children attending and they seem to be doing very well. We still have not been able to get properly registered so we can access government funds so we are operating on the fees the parents pay for their children to attend and a few donations.
Diane has recently gone back to work. (She took a month of leave after her maternity leave.) She works from home and is finding it hard to get work done while caring for Matthew. I went to her house a few times over the past couple of weeks to look after Matthew while she was working. He loves to be outside so I took him for walks on the farm or sat on a blanket outside and played with him. It has been fun. From next week she will have a full-time nanny for him. She is a lady who works on the farm and has helped Diane in the house since they moved there. She and Matthew get along well.
Next weekend (19 and 20 May) we will again participate in the Relay for Life, a fund raiser for cancer. Our team is called Joy of Life and is made up of our family and some friends. We are hoping for nice weather. (Last year it rained for part of the night, but we walked in the rain.)
Caryl and Michael
We are back from teaching our two-week intensive classes at South African Bible Institute in Kimberley . I had four first year students and Michael had six advanced students. It was a very tiring two weeks. We stayed with our friends Roy and Jenny, who were married in December. Roy is still working, but Jenny is retired and she prepared lovely meals for us. We felt very blessed and we certainly enjoyed our stay with them. Unfortunately, we had to spend a lot of time preparing for our classes and marking papers!
On our way home from Kimberley we stopped in Bloemfontein where I attended the Church of Christ Women ’s Annual Workshop. We had speakers who informed us about drug and alcohol abuse. The speakers were a social worker, a psychologist, a lawyer and a nurse. It was very interesting and informative. We also enjoyed worship and fellowship time. Michael went along (as we were on the way home) and they asked him to lead the communion service on Sunday morning before we all headed home.
Unfortunately, while we were away burglars broke into our house again. They broke a big window in a bedroom, but nothing seems to be missing so, apparently, they didn’t come into the house. The burglar alarm must have scared them off. Sean came out to check the house and Dawn and JP were here when the men came to replace the window.
I spent only two days at home before I was off on another trip. Diane needed to go to a campsite near Johannesburg to do some training for a group of young people. She asked me to go along to take care of Matthew while she was in her sessions. We traveled up early on Wednesday morning. She did training on Wednesday afternoon, all day Thursday and early Friday morning. We came home on Friday evening. They asked me to lead evening devotions for the group on Thursday evening, so when Matthew was asleep, I prepared for that. We went for walks and enjoyed some bonding time together.
On Saturday we went to the funeral of the father of a member of the Umzumbe church. It was in a tent in a rural area. It was raining and quite cold. The funeral lasted for several hours, so we were glad to get home and get into some dry, warmer clothes.
Tomorrow we will leave for the Easter meetings at Ingwavuma, near the Swaziland border in the far north of KwaZulu Natal. We will drive part way tomorrow and stay overnight on the way. The services will start about 9 a.m. on Friday and finish with an early morning service on Sunday. Church members from all over KwaZulu Natal will be there.
A blessed Easter to all of you.
Another month is gone. Time flies!
We went to Eshowe again earlier in the month. This time we went to the church at Mvuzane, a rural area. There had been quite a lot of rain and we knew the road would be muddy, so we weren’t sure if we would be able to go there. However, the road was not bad and it didn’t rain on Sunday. The group was very small, but the welcome was very warm. They also encouraged us to come more often if possible.
The Umzumbe church organized a special service and program to honor Mrs. Qwemesha, the widow of Nic Qwemesha, who served the Umzumbe church as minister for many years. So often people are praised at funerals, but the church wanted her to know now how much they have appreciated her. Michael was asked to preach for that service and the response from the family spokesperson (and others) was very positive. The day care center is doing well. The teachers have benefited from their training sessions and have put it into practice. We still have not been able to register the day care center with the government, but we continue to work on that.
We are busy getting ready to leave for Kimberley for our two-week intensive classes. Both of us will be teaching classes we haven’t taught before, so we have been working on our lessons. I will be teaching an English class to first year students and Michael will teach the letters of James and John to the advanced students. Pray for safety for us as we travel there on Friday and for our classes over the next two weeks. There is a women’s conference on the weekend after we finish teaching. It is in Bloemfontein - which is on the road home - but I haven’t decided if I will be going to the conference or not.
We have had some really hot weather and that certainly drains one’s energy! We do the necessary things - including mowing lawns - but it has been miserable. The past couple of days have been cooler and we have really appreciated that. We have had a lot of rain which is related to Cyclone Irina. Fortunately, we have not had the winds and floods that occurred further north of us.
Diane and John had a dedication service for Matthew in February. The service was very special as it really was a dedication of Diane and John to raise Matthew in the Lord. They asked Michael and John’s dad to pray at the service and had all the grandparents and great grand parents stand with them. Diane will be starting back to work soon. John is very busy at his job.
Rebecca and Gabriella are very happy at their new school. Their response to, “Do you like school?” is “No, I love school!” Erin turned two this week. She had a family birthday party on Saturday and had a great time. Dina and Sean keep very busy at work and we sometimes go and get the girls from school for them. Chayah keeps us all entertained with her antics and constant chatter. I think we all hear ourselves as she copies what she hears. Seanna is now 8 months old and a very contented little girl. Dawn is looking forward to the term break. It has been a rough term at school. JP really enjoys his job and is doing very well. (He helps us with our computers as well!)
Caryl and Michael
It’s been a busy month. Schools reopened in mid-January. Michael has gone back to doing his weekly devotions at the high school and we have been pleased to see that things seem to be going well there. The students are getting to school on time and seem to be listening attentively.
We were able to get the day care center at Umzumbe Bible Institute started again. I wish I could say that it was smooth sailing, but it hasn’t been. Our helper from last year left at the end of November when she found another job. Several of our children went to primary school and we have a few new children, but so far there are only 14. The first few days there were fewer than 10 so Michael said the teacher had to take them on her own without a helper. When he paid them on the 25th January neither the teacher nor her helper was happy. We have had a couple of emergency meetings with our committee and are still in the process of trying to resolve the problems. We also have not been able to resolve the problems with the previous committee in spite of the fact that the Department of Social Development has been trying to help us. Pray that we will be able to resolve the issues and just get on with providing a needed service to our community!
We went back to Eshowe earlier this month and were able to go to one of the outlying churches that we haven’t been able to visit since June last year. We were supposed to go there in November, but there was heavy rain and the road was impassable. We were encouraged by the warm welcome we got. They have asked us to try to come more often this year and to provide some teaching for them.
Michael had an executive committee meeting last weekend. Fortunately, they met at a nearby church so he was able to come home at night. Six of the seven committee members were at this meeting, so that was encouraging.
Next weekend he will be attending a meeting of church members and ministers from our province. They will be planning for the Easter weekend meetings and also discussing other church issues. That meeting will be held at a church about 3 hours away so he will be gone for the weekend.
Rebecca and Gabriella are settling into their new school. Both of them are very happy and excited about this new experience. Dawn is getting acquainted with her new class, but she is finding it quite a challenge. Diane is still on maternity leave and really enjoying her time at home with Matthew. Everyone else is dThe weather has been extremely hot and humid. We have looked longingly at air conditioners, but so far we are just looking. We enjoy our drives in the VW Jetta, which has an air conditioner.
Caryl and Michael
Lucille Stanley dies January 2nd
Yesterday (2 January) we got the call we have been expecting. Mom Stanley passed away early in the morning. She had eaten her breakfast and passed away as they were taking her back to her room. She was 90 years and 4 months old. The past few years she has become more and more frail.
We have spent much time since we learned of her death remembering a very special lady who had a huge impact on Michael and his brothers and sister, their spouses and the grandchildren. Since the news was made public we have been inundated with messages from people whose lives have been impacted by both Mom and Dad.
The memorial service for Lucille Stanley, Friday 6 January at 10 a.m. Thank you to all who have sent condolences and messages of encouragement. They are a blessing to us at Lynn and Lucille Stanley were married in September, 1942. They moved to Kimberley South Africa in late 1953, where Lynn established the Bible Training School for ministers. In 1958 the school was moved to Umzumbe and operated there until 1994. Lynn retired from mission work in 1989. He and Lucille later moved to an apartment in Port Shepstone and then to Mbango Valley Retirement Village.
They had six children. David was born in 1944, but lived for only a few weeks. Darrel was born in 1945 and was killed in a car accident in 1973. Lynn Stanley passed away in 1999. They are survived by sons Michael (and Caryl) of Umzumbe, South Africa, Duane (and Kathy) of Minneapolis, and Larry (and Marguerite) of Apple Valley, daughter Debbie (and Lynton) of Paddock, South Africa, 12 grandchildren, and 8 great grandchildren.
Caryl and Michael
2011 Email Updates
I think November slipped past and I didn’t get an email off to you.
It is the end of the school year and the summer holidays begin in about a week. When students are writing exams, attendance at schools (especially rural schools) drops, but Michael continued to do devotions for the high school until the end of November - even though the attendance was pretty small most of the time. The last day we were there we took a cake to the teachers to thank them for what they do for the youth of the community. We also took a cake to the primary school teachers.
We are busy getting ready for the closing of the day care center for this year. There will be a party on Monday morning. We have been able to get gifts for the children which have been donated by a Christian organization and by the police services. The parents brought some extra money to pay for a meal which ladies from the community will prepare for the party. This weekend we were busy typing up the program and getting certificates ready. Our teachers were not trained to teach some of the things they should have so the children may have some catching up to do when they go to pre-school next year. Some of the parents did not send their children regularly, but they thought if they sent them for the last two months (or at least paid fees) they would get a certificate of achievement. The local primary school principal suggested that we just give attendance certificates this year. Hopefully, we will make some changes next year so the program is more in line with what other day care centers provide.
Next weekend we will travel to Kimberley for a very special wedding. When we go to Kimberley to teach, we always stay with Roy , a friend of Michael’s from primary school days. He had never married, but has now found the right lady. He and Jenny asked Michael to perform the ceremony.
From Kimberley we will travel to Uitenhage for the National Youth Seminar. Michael and I have been asked to teach classes and lead small groups. Michael is also on the schedule to preach. Because we are going early and not directly, we will not be transporting youth from KwaZulu-Natal this year. They will have to travel by public transport.
The family is all well. Dawn and the Thorncroft girls are looking forward to the school holidays. Dawn has had a busy time. She was on maternity leave for one term and the substitute didn’t get as much work done as she should have so Dawn was scrambling to finish some things up at the end.
Dina is working days now, which she prefers. However, it does make things awkward when the girls are not in school and she is not at home for them. When we get back from National Youth Seminar we will be able to have them stay with us. It is always a good time for us to bake the Christmas cookies!
JP has settled well into his new job. He enjoys the work and has had some really good comments on his work from others at VW/Audi.
Diane is enjoying her maternity leave and being able to spend time at home with Matthew. He is growing and doing well.
We wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful, happy, healthy 2012.
Caryl and Michael
The Annual Conference is over. The last week before we went was hectic. We got the booklet materials to the printer on Tuesday afternoon and they printed, collated and bound the booklets on Wednesday so we could pick them up just before closing. We traveled on Thursday and the trip went well. We went a bit early in case Michael needed to take care of any issues as Treasurer with the host churches, but they were well organized so there wasn’t much to do.
The Conference was a success with about 375 people attending. A highlight for many of us was a class each day taught by Steve Caulley, who is a teacher and administrator at South African Bible Institute. He taught on church planting and church growth.
Michael had to make several trips to purchase food. He also had to oversee the collection of money which the churches bring to pay for their accommodation and food as well as for national projects. He has a very capable finance committee who also did a lot of that work. Money is used to help churches build their church buildings.
The business meeting was long and involved. However, Michael gave his report on Thursday after lunch and the response was very good. There were some questions, but there were no problems. Everyone seemed very pleased with what he has accomplished over the past two years.
Elections were held later on Thursday afternoon. The Executive Committee looks very similar to last year with the President, Deputy President, Treasurer, and Director of Buildings being re-elected. The Secretary and Deputy Secretary were also elected, but switched positions. A new position was established this year, Director of Evangelism. When it came time to elect the treasurer, one of the ladies stood up and wanted to support Michael for the position. However, they said they would continue as for other positions with three nominations. After Michael was nominated, the delegates and observers burst into applause. Another man was nominated, but declined. In the end nominations were closed and he was declared the winner unopposed.
On the trip home we were once again reminded of God’s care for us. After meeting three ambulances, we came upon the scene of a very serious accident involving a semi and several cars. It took us about an hour to get past the accident scene. We couldn’t tell for sure how many cars were involved as there were car parts scattered over a large area.
We may be contacting you again soon. Diane and John’s baby is due in about a week. They are also looking at a house to buy. It is not the best time to move, but they have found a house they really like and the sellers are very keen to sell to them.
JP started a new job at the beginning of October. He got a call from the local VW/Audi dealer to be there IT specialist. He is still finding his feet, but seems very happy. Dawn has less than 2 weeks of maternity leave left and then will be going back to school. I will take care of Seanna for the first week until they get her into day care from the first of November.
Sean and Dina took advantage of the school break and went to visit his parents and sister. They live on a farm so they really enjoyed themselves. They got to see cattle and sheep and also visited some sites in the area.
Michael and Caryl
We are moving from winter to summer and the weather bounces back and forth between the two every day. One is never sure what clothes will be best for the day! It also means that there is a lot of flu and colds going around.
Vehicle problems have plagued us for the past two months. After the fan belt and fuel pump wire problems, we also experienced a ball joint pulling out – fortunately it was in our driveway and not out on the road. Then the brake line came out of its bracket and rubbed against the chassis until it had a hole in it. Michael has been busy making the repairs himself – with help from me and sometimes a son-in-law or grandchild! We are gearing up for the annual conference of the Church of Christ in South Africa . It will be held from the 2nd to 7th of October at a campsite just beyond Kimberley . As treasurer, Michael has to have his financial report and a written report explaining what he has done during the year. He has also been asked to prepare the booklets of reports again this year. That means getting the program and eight reports so he can get them photocopied and assembled into booklets. I think our work is cut out for us for the next week.
Pray for the conference and for all who will be traveling to attend. Pray that the messages and lessons will be a blessing.
This week Michael has been doing some repairs at Umzumbe Bible Institute. On Sunday night at about 10:45 we got a report that the alarm had gone off in the kitchen. We have had some false alarms so he decided not to drive out so late at night. He phoned a young man who helps us at Umzumbe Bible Institute and asked him to check on the buildings on Monday morning. He reported that one window in the kitchen had been broken. When Michael went out later in the day, he found that the burglar(s) had been into both the kitchen and office complex so there were two windows broken. It doesn’t seem that anything was stolen, but the damage requires a lot of work to repair. In addition wind and weather has damaged the roof on the kitchen and since summer is our rainy season, he decided he needed to get it repaired. Two high school boys and I have been helping him with that.
Although we continue going to do devotions at the high school, not much else is going on with our school ministry. The students are writing exams so they are busy studying. They are not coming for the extra lessons this month.
The preschool is going well. We have certainly seen - and heard - results of the classes the teachers are attending.
Diane has only a few weeks to go until their baby arrives. That is very exciting! She has been suffering with a cold and has been quite uncomfortable this month.
Last weekend Dawn and JP had a rough time because three people they know well passed away: his grandmother (who had been ill), a teacher from Dawn’s school (who had cancer) and a friend of JP’s (who was on holiday and died from something he drank.)
Dina still has a few more weeks of night duty. Sean and the girls are coping, but all are looking forward to the end of that.
Mom Stanley “celebrated” her 90th birthday in August. Actually, when someone commented that day that it was her birthday, she told them that they were wrong and that her birthday was the week before. We think she just didn’t want anyone to know it was her birthday! She was very alert that day and even joked with us. Unfortunately, she seems to be less responsive recently.
We would ask you to pray especially for the conference. Also pray that our vehicle will not give us any more expensive repairs!
Caryl and Michael
Another month has passed.
My apologies for not reporting back to you on Michael’s headache and doctor’s appointment. He had the MRI and the neurologist concluded that the headaches may be caused by pressure in his neck. He changed the cholesterol medication Michael was on and gave him a course of anti-inflammatory. The headaches are gone now so we are pleased about that. Thank you for the prayers on his behalf.
We made the trip to Mtubatuba for the women’s conference. The men decided that since many of them also would be there (to transport the women), they would also meet. They discussed some church issues which included the future of the Umzumbe Bible Institute campus. As we look forward to retirement in a few years, they need to have a plan in place for care and use of the property. Michael came away feeling that real progress had been made.
The trips over the last few weeks have not been without incident. On his way to camp, the pickup fan belt broke - on Sunday evening. There was no place to get a replacement at that time so friends in Empangeni arranged for him and his 10 passengers to stay overnight at the Baptist church. Two weeks later, on the way to Mtubatuba the pickup lost power and a friend towed us back to Empangeni. He then loaned us a car to continue on our journey. About two weeks later, on the way to Umzumbe Bible Institute, the pickup lost power again. Michael has now concluded that it is worn wires to the fuel pump. At least now he knows what to do when it happens!
We have finally been able to organize training for our preschool teacher. The teacher, her helper and another mother have started a course that is run by a group of Christian ladies. They go every second Thursday for the morning. So far they have had only one lesson, but already we can see a change. The children are learning more rhymes and coloring pictures. All three of them are very excited about the course.
We have been going to the high school again since school reopened. We have been encouraged by four girls who have come to ask for help with lessons. Michael helps with science and I help with math and English. We have loaned some books to them to help them improve their English.
The family is all doing well. Dina is on night duty which she doesn’t really like, but has to do. Sean is great at taking care of the girls when she is gone or needs to sleep. Rebecca and Gabriella both participated in a cross county race at their school recently. Rebecca came third and Gabriella came first in their age groups. Erin is now almost 1 ˝ and full of energy. She is a real cutie!
Diane and John have moved into a cottage on his parents’ farm while they look for a house to buy. We are all looking forward to the arrival of their baby in October.
Dawn is on maternity leave and enjoying being home with Seanna. Chayah goes to day care for half days while Dawn is home.
Our weather has been really cold and rainy. We don’t usually get rain in the winter and it makes it feel even colder when it is so damp. There has been a lot of snow on the mountains. In fact, the main road between Johannesburg and Durban was closed for a few days because of the snow in the mountainous areas! Michael and I were given a weekend at a mountain resort the week before the snow came. It got down to 21 F while we were there and there was snow on the mountains near the resort. It was cold, but I think that if we had been there the next week, we would have been snowed in!
Caryl and Michael
The big news is that Dawn managed to finish the school term on June 24 and she gave birth to Seanna (pronounced See-Anna) Kaylin at 4:40 a.m. today, July 8. She weighed 4.05 kilograms (nearly 9 pounds) and is 54 centimetres (just over 21 inches) long. Dina is on leave for three weeks from her duties in the maternity ward, but came in to serve as midwife for Dawn. Grandpa Michael took care of Chayah and I was able to be at the hospital to welcome the fifth granddaughter to our family!
Michael spent a week at camp at Ingwavuma, which is near the Swaziland border. He was very encouraged by the attitude of the campers this year and came home feeling like it had been a good week. (I stayed home waiting for Seanna to arrive.) He will write a report of his camp experience for the next South Africa Torch.
This weekend we will be going to a women’s meeting at Mtubatuba – about 4 hours away from home. While the women meet to pray, sing and study God’s word, the men will also meet to discuss some church issues. Pray for the speakers and leaders of these meetings.
School is in recess for the winter break now. They will reopen on July 18. Pray for our continued witness to the high school students and teachers. Also pray that we will be able to organize our grade 7 Life Skills Camp. We were forced to postpone the camp because volunteers were not available in June.
The Day Care center at Umzumbe Bible Institute has been running quite well for the first half of the year. Pray for the teacher and her helper. We are still trying to organize training for them.
Diane and John are in the process of moving. The apartment they live in is in a house and the owners sold the house. They had hoped to buy a house, but don’t want to make a quick decision so they are going to stay at a small house on John’s parents’ farm until they find what they want to buy.
Dina and Sean have both taken some vacation days and have done some really fun things with the girls while they are on school break.
Michael and Caryl
I can’t believe it is June already. We have been staying quite close to home. The cost of fuel keeps going up and the Rands we get for our dollars keeps going down!!
We did go to Eshowe in May. We visited one of the churches that is quite far out of town. The group was small, but the service was good. We have attended the Umzumbe church quite a lot over the past few weeks. At times we become quite discouraged because the church seems to be stagnant. For the past couple of years we have been praying for the young ladies in the congregation. Many of them have made some bad choices in their lives and we have been praying that God would help them get back on track. On Sunday morning one of these young ladies came forward at the end of the service. The leader asked Michael to speak to her. She told him that she wanted to recommit her life to the Lord. After Michael and she had spoken, the leader asked another lady and me to come and pray for her. The tears of joy ran down my cheeks as I prayed for her to remain faithful to God. I have found some devotional materials to give to her and we will do follow-up with her. Praise the Lord!
The family is doing quite well. Both Erin and Chayah have been sick recently – just colds and flu. They both go to the same day care center and I think they picked it up there. Since their parents had to go to work, Grandpa and Grandma baby-sat. We managed fine, but have decided we want to have them sometime when they aren’t sick!
Dawn is getting very anxious for her new arrival. The doctor has moved her due date from mid-July to near the end of June. Schools close for the term break on June 24 and she is hoping to finish the term.
Diane is still doing a lot of traveling. She hasn’t decided what she is going to do next year yet. She can’t keep the job she has after the baby comes. Diane and John are looking for a new place to live. Their landlords have sold the house where their apartment is and they have to move by the end of July.
Michael saw the heart specialist today for a six-month check-up and the news was not so good. Recently our GP took him off his cholesterol medication because he was having headaches – and that is a known side-effect. The headaches have continued and the specialist was not happy to hear that he isn’t on the medication. He wants Michael to see neurologist in Durban as soon as possible to try to determine the cause of the headaches. We would ask you to pray for the specialists and for Michael during this time.
Winter has arrived and we are in the midst of some pretty cold weather with rain. There is snow in the mountains and the weather forecast indicates more of the same for the next few days. We just add layers and appreciate the car that has a really good heater! Hopefully, we can also have a fire in the fireplace soon.
Our sons-in-law came last Saturday and cut down a big tree in our yard. It was a nice, productive avocado tree a few years ago, but it had quit producing and was dying. We now have a big pile of fire wood – some of which needs to be made into smaller pieces to fit the fireplace – and a very open area in the yard!
Caryl and Michael
April was busy and I didn’t get a note off to you. There were a lot of holidays during the month. Schools were closed for a term break from the 1st until the 11th.Then it was Easter weekend. Freedom Day was the 27th and Workers’ Day is the 1st of May so they closed schools on the 21st and will only open again on May2nd.
Ministers’ Week went well. Steve Caulley, missionary from Kimberley , and Larry and Judy Niemeyer, missionaries from Kenya , came on Friday before Ministers’ Week started on Sunday and stayed a few nights with us. Larry and Judy spoke to the ministers and their wives on Sunday afternoon. We enjoyed getting to know them. When they left here they went to Kimberley to teach at South African Bible Institute for a few weeks before they go on a short furlough.
We stayed at home during Ministers’ Week which meant we had to drive about 30 miles each morning and evening. Michael taught a series of lessons each morning on the faithfulness of God. We usually returned home in the afternoon or early in the evening. The spirit at the Ministers’ Week was very good and we enjoyed the fellowship.
Easter meetings for KwaZulu Natal were held at Umzumbe from Friday morning until Sunday afternoon. The church arranged to use the hall and classrooms at Magog Primary School , which is near the church. They set up a large tent in the school yard for the main sessions and used classrooms for divided classes and meetings. People also slept in the classrooms. On Friday there were services all day. Michael did the devotions on Saturday morning and stressed the importance of keeping our eyes on the Lamb of God. Then there were divided classes for men, women and youth. The church ladies did a great job of cooking and providing for the crowd of nearly 500 people.
We learned during the week after Easter that the bus transporting the people home from one of the congregations was involved in an accident. I think seven of the nearly sixty people on the bus were admitted to hospital with broken bones and other injuries. I understand they are all home now. We are just grateful to God that no one was killed.
Winter seems to have arrived over the past few days. The temperatures have fallen and we have had to put a blanket on our bed and we have had to get out our jackets and sweaters for the cool evenings. It is quite pleasant!
The family is all doing well. Both of the expected babies seem to be doing fine. We celebrated 4 birthdays in April – 3 on one day!
Life should return to a more normal schedule in May.
Caryl and Michael
Our classes at the South African Bible Institute went quite well. I had 6 men in my class. We had some good discussions while they were preparing Sunday School materials to take home with them. Michael had 2 students. He had to start classes late the first day while they waited for one of his students to be released from prison. This young man has made some bad decisions in his life, but while in prison he became a Christian and has embarked on an education program for ex-prisoners. He was very enthusiastic, but has a lot to learn. The other man was an older businessman who also did not have much Bible background.
We enjoyed our stay in Kimberley . One evening we took our host and his friend out to dinner and a game of bowling. There are not many bowling alleys in South Africa , so we like to take advantage of it when we can. We had a really enjoyable evening. We also provided some food for the students at South African Bible Institute and the cook made the meals which we enjoyed with them.
The Day Care center continues to operate. There are now 20 children registered. We have hired a helper for the teacher. For the last week of March we hired a baby-sitter for a 7-month-old who had no other place to go while his mother returned to school. This is a temporary measure unless we can enroll more babies so we can afford to hire someone to care for them as well. Pray for wisdom for us as we make decisions about this.
This coming week (Sunday through Friday) will be the annual Ministers’ Week. It will be at Gcilima, which is only about 25 miles from here. We plan to stay at home and go to the meetings each day. Michael will be teaching a class each morning for everyone and I will teach a ladies’ class one day. Pray for us as we travel each day and as we are involved in teaching. Pray also for the others who will be traveling from all over the country and for those involved in preaching, teaching and leading.
Our exciting family news is that Diane and John are expecting in October. Diane will have to make some changes in her job situation because her present position requires a lot of travel. Dawn twisted her ankle a few weeks ago and ended up with pulled ligaments and had to use crutches for a while. She now walks with a “boot” specially made for such injuries. She missed a couple of days of school, but now is back and some of her fellow-teachers help with taking her children to the playground, etc.
Our team, Joy of Life, participated in the Relay for Life from 5 p.m. until 5 a.m. last Saturday night/Sunday morning. It is the first Relay to be held in Port Shepstone and it was a great success. Our team was made up of the 8 adults in our family, three friends who are about the age of our children and our two oldest grandchildren. We had a great time and managed to have 2 or more members of our team on the track for the whole time. We ended up with rain from about 1 until 4 in the morning, but we just got out the umbrellas and continued. We are all planning to participate again next year.
The heat and humidity right now are really draining all of our energy. We are looking forward to some cooler weather as fall comes.
Caryl and Michael
Late February 2011
We will be leaving for Kimberley at the end of the week for our two-week classes at South African Bible Institute. I decided I had better get a message off before we leave as we are never sure what internet connection we will have while we are away. Michael will be teaching Acts to first year student and I will be teaching Sunday School teaching to advanced students. We will stay with a friend who lives in Kimberley . Pray for our classes and for safety as we travel.
The day care center at Umzumbe Bible Institute is in operation and the children seem to be happy. The meeting with Department of Social Welfare did not happen. Two of the committee members backed out the day of the meeting, so we are playing the “waiting game” again! Meanwhile we are collecting the fees the children pay (about $7 per month) and paying the teacher and helper. We have also bought a few toys and books for them.
We went to visit one of the churches in Eshowe this past weekend. We went to Mphaphala, which is 25 miles out of Eshowe for the church service on Sunday. We had a small, but enthusiastic group.
We got a very late start on Saturday. About 9 a.m. , as we were getting ready to leave, we got a call from S’phiwe to say there was a broken window at Umzumbe Bible Institute and that there was blood on the ground. We called the police and went out. This time the thieves stole an old computer and 5 old monitors. We aren’t sure if they even worked any more. It took a while to sort out a statement for the police and then we had to wait for the forensics man to come to take fingerprints and blood samples. That took another couple of hours. We finally left for Eshowe at 3 p.m. (after we had lunch.)
Mom Stanley has recovered from the bronchial pneumonia and is back to normal. She is very quiet, but not in pain. We visit her and Michael tries to get her to respond to questions and to remember things, but she doesn’t talk much.
The family is all doing well. Everyone is keeping busy and active. We are all excited about being involved in the first Relay for Life to be held in Port Shepstone. Our team is called Joy of Life and is made up of the adults in our family plus two couples who are friends. The Relay will be on the 26th and 27th of March.
Caryl and Michael
It is hard to believe that January is already gone!!
We have had a lot of rain over the past two months. It made getting the lawns mowed impossible. Finally the rain stopped and the sun came out - which made the grass grow extremely quickly. Michael and S’phiwe, the high school boy we hire to help with maintenance at Umzumbe Bible Institute, have been kept busy trying to get the grass under control again.
We went to Eshowe in January. We worshipped at the church in the area near town because the roads were too muddy to travel to the distant churches. At a meeting after the service, the men agreed that Michael should be allowed to have Power of Attorney for the elder whose health is not very good. We stayed an extra night in Eshowe so Michael and Brother Zulu could go to the bank to make the arrangements. The bank said that Michael could not have Power of Attorney, but could be added as a signatory if the other signatory agreed. Michael phoned him and he agreed to come to the bank. He was in town buying supplies and Michael offered to transport him and his goods home after they finished at the bank. Now if anything happens to Brother Zulu, Michael and the other elder will be able to conduct business for the churches there.
Schools have reopened for the 2011 school year. We have gone back to the high school so Michael can lead them in devotions and prayers on Tuesdays before school starts. He also visited the Magog Primary School. We plan to hold the grade 7 youth camp again this year, but the group will be much smaller. There are only 38 students in grade 7 this year. For the past few years we have had from 60 to 70 students. The principal also asked for computer instruction and help with other subjects for her students.
The day care center is open and there are 16 children registered. The teacher is not trained, but she is very willing to learn so we are trying to help and advise her. Another young lady has joined the staff as an aid. Fortunately, her English is better than the teacher’s English so she serves as an interpreter for us. We are hoping to have a meeting with the Department of Social Welfare and parents and interested community members this coming week. If we can get things in order, there should be some financial aid from the government for the day care center.
We decided to have a security company install a security system at Umzumbe Bible Institute. Since it was installed we have not had any burglaries in that building. We did get a call in the middle of the night one night to say the alarm had gone off. Fortunately, when we arrived the next morning there had not been a burglary. Apparently, a gecko (lizard) or large insect had triggered the alarm. S’phiwe reports to us each night after he has made sure the lights are on and the doors and windows are secure.
Please pray for Mom Stanley. We got a call from the nursing home this morning to say that she was not well. They requested antibiotics for her. We saw her briefly this afternoon and her breathing is very labored.
Caryl and Michael
December was busy and it seems that I missed sending out a message to all of you. We pray that you had a safe and happy Christmas celebration and we wish you all a happy and healthy 2011...!!
We made the long trip to Wellington for the National Youth Seminar. We took two young people from KwaZuluNatal with us so we had to go to Durban to pick them up on our way. We traveled to Sada the first day and stayed with the Cekiso family. (Brother Cekiso is the chairman of the Finance committee with whom Michael works.) The next day we traveled on to Wellington. It was a long journey!
The National Youth Seminar was smaller than it has been in previous years, probably because Wellington is quite a long distance for many of the people to travel. The lessons were excellent and the preaching, which was done by missionaries, ministers and youth, was really good. Some of the ministers’ wives came to do the cooking and they provided tasty meals for us. One day we traveled by bus to the beach for an outing. We were impressed with the youth this year. There were no behavior problems and they all participated well. The return trip was another two days on the road with another stop for the night with the Cekiso family. The only problem we faced was that one window of our canopy broke while we were driving. We don’t know if someone threw a stone at it or if it just popped.
When the National Youth Seminar was over we went into Cape Town to attend the graduation ceremony of Monica Mvuna, who graduated as a doctor. Her mother and sister flew to Cape Town to attend the ceremony as well. Sadly, her brother, Mthokizisi, whom we have known since 1999, was killed in a car accident about a week before graduation. We are still waiting to hear what will happen with the day care center. We finally had a meeting and one of the local young ladies volunteered to be the teacher. We will have to try to get some training for her, but she seems to be quite willing to help. One of the committee members was tasked with collecting names of potential students, but we haven’t heard how that is going. Continue to pray for the day care center.
After doing some window repairs and getting really excited about having S’fiso back to serve as our security at Umzumbe Bible Institute, we were devastated when he found a good full-time job. He left after only one week! Michael has given a cell phone to a local high school boy who lives near the property and he reports to Michael every day. He makes sure lights are on and checks for any damage to the property. We had one break-in, but have had very little damage since S’fiso left.
John started a new job at the beginning of December. He is settling in and enjoying it. Dawn gave us all a bit of a scare on Sunday. She suffered from severe heart palpitations and ended up in hospital for a couple of days for observation. (She comes by it quite naturally as my aunt, my sister and I also suffer from a similar condition.) All of the rest of the family are doing well.
Over the past few months the exchange rate has continued to go against us. From May until December the exchange rate has caused us to lose about 15%. The extra travels in the last half of the year have taken a lot of our mission funds. We will have to curtail some of the travel this year.
Caryl and Michael
2010 Email Updates
The continual vandalism and theft at Umzumbe Bible Institute has been draining and depressing. At last we have found a suitable person to live on the property. S’fiso Shabalala who worked for us as a security guard for 10 years has a job, but they have cut back his hours so he needs some extra employment. He is in the process of moving back to Umzumbe Bible Institute. He will help with maintenance and mowing lawns, and we will pay him for his work. It has been a lot of work getting a place ready for him to live. So many windows were broken, door locks were broken and all the beds and cupboards stolen. He moved into a very small room with just a couple of tables and a cupboard. Michael bought a two-burner electric plate and cooking pot yesterday. Today Michael is helping him bring a few of his things there so he will be a bit more comfortable. As soon as the rondowel (an old dormitory) is secure he will move there. I will make some curtains and we will get him a bed.
We are looking into reopening the day care center, but it is a slow process. We met with the Department of Social Welfare ladies and the present committee, but I can’t say we accomplished much. The Department says we have to hold a community meeting so they can choose a new committee and recommended that it be this coming Thursday. The out-going chairperson is to call the meeting. If she has done so, we were not invited. We will contact the Department on Monday to check on that. The community will choose the committee so we have no guarantee that we will be chosen to be on the committee. The church lady we are meeting with has assured us that she will do all she can to get us chosen. Otherwise, hopefully, she will be chosen and she will ask us to help her. Pray for the meeting and for wisdom in the elections.
The family has been through some tough times. The car dealership that John worked for was closed earlier this month. It was because of irreconcilable differences between the two directors. John was told that they would open a new dealership in the area soon, but he couldn’t get an answer out of them as to when that would be. He decided he needed to get a job, so he applied at other car dealerships in the area and we are waiting to hear when he can begin a new job. The company for whom he had worked offered him jobs in other areas, but he wasn’t keen to move away from Port Shepstone. Rebecca seems to be doing well, but Gabriella had mumps (so we are waiting to see who else will get them), Chayah had tonsillitis, and Erin has been teething so she has been a bit miserable. Having sick children has been tough on the moms and dads. Dawn is looking forward to the end of the school year in about 2 weeks. Then she gets to stay home with Chayah for a while. She had a very difficult class this year. The grade one teachers sent several of the children for evaluation and a lot of the children in Dawn’s class are classified as needing remedial or special education. No wonder they weren’t coping very well in a class of 32! Hopefully, next year will be better.
The National Youth Seminar will take place from 10 to 15 December so Michael and I will be traveling to the Wellington in the Western Cape . We will both be teaching and leading small groups. Wellington is a long way from here so we will take two days for the trip. We are also planning to go on to Cape Town on that trip. We helped Monica Mvuna, a young lady from the Umzumbe area, get a scholarship to study medicine at University of Cape Town and she will graduate as a doctor in December. Please pray for the day care center and the decisions that need to be made there, for S’fiso and the security of Umzumbe Bible Institute, and for the National Youth Seminar.
Caryl and Michael
Our trip to conference and back went well. We divided the trips into two legs so we didn’t have such long days on the road. We arrived there on Friday, but the conference didn’t officially begin until Sunday. We did see quite a few people on Saturday and Michael had to attend one meeting. We stayed at a self-catering cottage and really wished we could have spent more time there. We usually had to be on our way out to the conference by 7 in the morning and only got home after 9 at night.
I helped the financial committee with collecting the money while Michael was busy with other activities – like getting food and other supplies for the conference. I was very impressed with the financial committee. They worked well together and did a great job!
On Sunday Michael was told that he had been chosen as the main speaker for the reception on Monday night. He prepared his speech between meetings and trips to town! He did well.
Steve Caulley from the South African Bible Institute was the Bible study leader each morning. Unfortunately, Michael and I missed his lessons because of other responsibilities, but we heard really good comments from those who were able to attend. After the conference ended on Friday morning, we stayed on in Beaufort West so that Michael could finalize all financial arrangements. That evening we were able to just relax a bit before we headed home on Saturday. We made another trip to Eshowe this month. We planned to go to Mvuzane, a rural church, but rain changed our plans. When Michael met with the elders on Saturday they advised us not to go there. Even if the rain stopped, many people wouldn’t be there because of the muddy roads. We attended the church near town and the service was well-attended. We were encouraged.
Our big frustration this month is with Umzumbe Bible Institute. When we went there this past Tuesday we discovered that the vandals have been busy again. This time they broke windows in the kitchen and all three rooms in the office block. They destroyed the key pads on both alarm systems and then just threw things around in the rooms. We called the police as one window had been removed without breaking it. We hoped for fingerprints, but the policeman said that there were no usable ones. We have reported to our insurance agent and are hoping the damage to the windows and alarms will be covered under “malicious damage”. An assessor has been there to evaluate the damage and we are waiting for his report. It seems that the only solution will be for us to hire a someone to live on the property. Pray that we find the right person.
The day care center at Umzumbe Bible Institute closed for the July school holidays and the teacher resigned. They have not found a new teacher so the center is closed for now. During the past few years there has been serious financial mismanagement and the present committee is not functioning. Michael and I are talking to one of the ladies who was involved when the center started in 1997 and Pretty, a lady from the church. We went to the Department of Social Development and the social worker will meet with the present committee this week and insist that a new committee be chosen. Michael and I have volunteered to be on the committee. Our goal is to get the day care center up and running again and to teach Pretty how to handle the finances. Pray for wisdom as we get involved there.
The family is doing well. Everyone seems to be back to normal health. We attended Rebecca’s school prize-giving this week and she got a certificate for her high marks. Gabriella will be in a school play next week so we are going to go and see her. Erin is crawling now and she can get around really fast! Chayah is talking a lot so she keeps us all entertained. What a joy our grandchildren are!!
Caryl and Michael
It has been a hectic month. The trip to Beaufort West went well. There was a lot of progress on getting things in order for the annual conference. It is just a very long journey We went to Eshowe one weekend this month. We were encouraged as we visited one of the congregations. There were a lot of youth in the church and the church seems to be growing. Pray that they will get good Biblical teaching.
Schools have reopened after the public workers' strike. Education has really suffered this year. It will have a lasting effect on the pupils. Many schools have put some plans in place to make up for lost time. Some will have lessons during the term break, others have extended school hours, and some are offering extra lessons on Saturdays or before school in the mornings.
The national annual church conference starts on Sunday. As treasurer, Michael has been busy getting all of his reports and records in order. In addition, he was asked to collect, photocopy and compile all of the reports into booklets for the conference business meeting. We have spent a lot of time at the copy shop and then collating the books. So far 18 of the 25 pages are collated. We hope to finish up today and then we will get the suitcases packed and ready for the journey. The conference will be held in Beaufort West, which is over 800 miles from here. (That is the same place we went for the meeting last month. ) We will travel down in two days. Pray for us as we drive on Thursday and Friday. The conference starts on Sunday with a worship service. Michael will be leading the communion service that morning. From Sunday through Friday morning there will be worship services, Bible studies, lessons, and some business meetings. I will be teaching a lesson for the women on Thursday. Pray for me and for all the other leaders, preachers, and teachers. Pray that there will be a good spirit and that people will be touched and encouraged by the sessions.
The family has been struggling health wise this month. All of the grandchildren have suffered from flu and had to stay home. When Chayah was sick the doctor booked her and JP off. (JP had to stay home to care for Chayah because she couldn't go to day care and Dawn had just gotten back to school after the strike.) Erin has been diagnosed with atopic eczema. They had just started introducing solid food and gave her apple sauce. She is apparently allergic to apples. As her daddy is allergic to fruit and tomatoes, we assume she inherited it from him. She had a terrible rash on her head and face. Fortunately, it has cleared up and Dina and Sean are being very careful what foods she eats and how she reacts to them. There is also a lot of tension in work environments in South Africa. All of our daughters and sons-in-law are employed (for which we are grateful), but some of them are facing difficulties at their work places.
Caryl and Michael
It looks like I missed the whole month of July and didn’t get a message sent off to you. My apologies. I am not sure where the time went! We were involved in a Scripture Union Soccer Clinic near Port Shepstone for a week at the end of June and beginning of July. Michael learned some soccer skills from the coach and then tried to help his small group of boys learn them. I served the juice and cookies and then made and served sandwiches. It was an exhausting week, but we both enjoyed it. When we went back to Eshowe in July we were very sad to learn that the husband of the family at the B&B where we usually stay had passed away shortly after we were there in June. Their B&B was full so we stayed at another place but went to visit our friend, Bev, before we left town on Sunday.
Michael went to Jozini, in the northern part KwaZuluNatal, last weekend with Patrick Sithebe, one of the other ministers from this area. They traveled to a very rural area where they held services on Saturday and Sunday. It was an encouraging trip as the group is growing and the meetings were attended by a lot of young people.
Michael has been very busy getting all of his financial books in order. This weekend we will be traveling to Beaufort West (nearly 800 miles from here) for a meeting of the executive committee, finance committee and other national leaders. It will take us two days to travel there. There will be meetings on Friday night and Saturday and then after the church service on Sunday we will start home. We will finish the journey on Monday. Pray for safe travel and good meetings.
Last week we were told that someone knew who has been stealing from Umzumbe Bible Institute. Nearly every time we go there, we find that someone has broken a door lock and gone through the things in the rooms. On Tuesday Michael discovered that a lot of the metal items that had been stolen were piled beside the road waiting for the scrap metal dealer to come and collect them. He called the police and when they came the crowd put all of the blame on two girls, who are 11 and 14 years old. They will not be prosecuted because of their age - and the real culprits will get away unpunished!
Diane and John’s wedding on July 17 was beautiful. The weather was really nice and everything went really well. They had a two-week honeymoon and are back at work again. Dawn is having a rough time. Right after school started after the winter break (extended for the Soccer World Cup) a major strike started. Although she would like to be teaching, the schools have had to close because the strikers are threatening and intimidating anyone who tries to go to school. JP is having a hard time at work so he is also very discouraged. Chayah, at 20 months, is chatting non-stop and keeping us all entertained. We don’t understand much of her baby talk, but it is still fun to watch her. Dina went back to work the first of July and both she and Erin have made the necessary adjustments so things are going pretty well for them. Sean’s job is going well and the girls are doing fine. They are at a private school so their school has not had to close. However, strikers have been to the school. Police stopped them from entering the school grounds.
Continue to pray for our safe travel and pray that we will know how to deal with the theft issues at Umzumbe Bible Institute.
Caryl and Michael
We just returned from our trip to the Eastern Cape . The trip to Sada is about 400 miles each way. We traveled down on Friday and Michael spent all of Saturday in meetings. He finally got to meet the chairman of the Church of Christ Mission finance committee. We were very impressed with him. He has handled financial records well and we also met his family who were very nice. The President, Secretary, and Deputy Secretary of the Church of Christ Mission were also there and they really were able to handle a lot of business. We stayed two nights with a member of the church and they treated us very well.
On Sunday we attended a church service in a small church near Queenstown. The minister is a graduate of South African Bible Institute. After lunch we started home and stayed the night in Mthatha so we didn’t have to drive home in the dark. South Africa roads are extremely dangerous and that area is particularly bad at night.
The KwaZuluNatal youth camp started yesterday. Michael has gone up to Hammarsdale today to participate in the teaching there. I am catching up at home. He will come home tonight and then we will both go up tomorrow. We will stay through Friday morning and then go on to Eshowe for our monthly visit there. Michael will meet with the elders on Friday afternoon and Saturday and we will attend church there on Sunday.
The other news from South Africa is the FIFA World Cup which is taking place now. Soccer is the subject of the day! All of the games are televised and aired on radio. Even those of us who know nothing about soccer are getting caught up in the excitement. Praise the Lord that so far there have been no major problems. Pray for continued peace and security during the next 3 ˝ weeks.
The family is doing well. The schools have closed early for the mid-year holidays because of the World Cup. That means that Dawn, Rebecca and Gabriella are enjoying some time off. Diane and John are busy getting the last things organized for their wedding on the 17th of July. They have found an apartment and Diane is in the process of moving there.
Praise the Lord for a successful trip to the Eastern Cape and for progress made on the finances! Pray for the youth camps which are taking place in KwaZuluNatal and other parts of South Africa this week.
Caryl and Michael
Our Life Skills camp for Magog grade 7 students went well. Michael and I were mostly observers, but we did stay at the campsite for the whole time. Some issues that the students are dealing with came up and we will have to do some follow-up with the school. These young people are dealing with a lot of problems which are the result of lack of discipline at home and at school. Pray for us and for Pearl who is involved with the girls in grade 5,6 and 7 at Magog school.
Michael has had his follow-up appointments with the cardiologist and cardiac surgeon. Both have said he is recovering well. He is now allowed to drive - so we are both happy about that. He still tires quite easily and manages best if he gets a nap in each day. He doesn't lift anything heavy yet, but has been able to return to a lot of his normal activities. Thank you to all who prayed and encouraged us during this time. We are still waiting for our insurance company to decide what they will pay for. In the meantime we have used credit cards and asked our creditors to be patient.
We went to Eshowe this past weekend. Michael met with two of the elders on Saturday and it went quite well. One of them had been quite difficult the last time we were there, but was very friendly and cooperative this time. We went to Mpapala (about 25 miles from Eshowe) on Sunday and had a good service with a small group there.
We stayed at our usual B&B on Saturday night. We were not able to see the husband of the family as he is on chemotherapy and radiation treatment for cancer. He was not awake when we arrived, when we had breakfast or when we left. Please pray for Rob and Bev, who have become good friends over the past few years.
During the next few weeks we will be making a trip to the East London area for a meeting with the Church of Christ Mission finance committee. Pray for safety as we travel and wisdom in dealing with all the financial issues Michael needs to handle as Treasurer.
All of the family is doing well. Dina is still on maternity leave and enjoying her time with Erin. She is busy transporting the girls to school sports, dancing lessons, Girl Guides, youth group, etc. Sean's job is going well. He moved into a new office and it is much more accessible so business has improved.
Diane and John are busy preparing for their July wedding so the invitations have gone out, the dress is bought, and they are organizing the reception. Dina and Dawn will be bridesmaids and they are sewing their dresses. Dina will also be making dresses for her girls. I am also sewing my dress as I searched everywhere I could think of and couldn't find a suitable dress.
Dawn is enjoying her job this year. She said the atmosphere is really good. JP is really enjoying the computer course he is taking and is hoping it might open up some new job opportunities for him. Chayah is growing and developing into a very active toddler.
Caryl and Michael
It has been quite a month. I’m sure you know about Michael’s triple bypass surgery. He is recovering well. He still can’t drive the car or lift anything. It has added to my load a bit, but we are both glad that he had the surgery when he did and that his heart was not damaged before the blockages were found.
We had gone to Eshowe the weekend before Michael’s surgery. We will only be going back again when he is able to drive. We went to Umzumbe last Sunday for church. They had invited another man to preach, but Michael led the communion service.
Tomorrow we will go to Umzumbe again. After the service we will go to Magog Primary School to see that our grade 7 students get on the bus to take them to Skogheim Christian Conference Center for their Life Skills camp. This year a lot of the planning and preparation had to be done by Pearl , who works for Scripture Union and runs the girls’ club at Magog. She assures us that all is in order, but did ask that we attend the camp. So we will be staying at Skogheim from Sunday night until Wednesday morning.
We were not able to run our work program for the students to earn their way to camp this year. In consultation with the principal and teachers, we have agreed to allow the students who can’t afford the camp to go anyway and then work later in the year. It seems that all 61 students will be able to attend the camp this year.
Pray for the camp – for the students and for Pearl and her responsibilities as leader. Pray that lives will be touched for the Lord during this time.
On the home front, we have had a really frustrating week. We have been without water during the day every day this week. Sometimes the water comes on at night, but goes off again in the morning. One night we got up at 1:30 in the morning so Michael could fill all of our storage tanks and bottles and I did a load of laundry. Tuesday was a holiday so we planned to have the family here for a cook-out. Instead we went to Dina and Sean’s house. Today we planned to celebrate the three birthdays that were on Monday (Dawn, Gabriella and John) at our house. We had water this morning so Dina and her girls came about 10. By 10:30 we had no water, so the party was moved to Diane’s house. We have water tonight, but we don’t know how long it will last. They say it is a problem with the reservoir, but we are wondering how long it will take them to sort out the problem!
We want to thank all of you who responded to our emails during Michael’s surgery and hospitalization. You were such a blessing to both of us. Thank you for the words of encouragement and for your prayers.
Caryl and Michael
Late March 2010 - "Weddings, Visits to Eshowe"
There is great excitement in our family this week. Diane and John Evans got engaged and will be getting married in July! John is a lovely Christian man and we are all so excited for Diane.
Today we celebrated the wedding of our nephew, Devon Neethling, and Candice Geyser. It was a beautiful day and a lovely service.
Pray for us as we will be going to Eshowe next weekend (27th and 28th) to visit the elders and churches there. It will be good to see the people again.
We were very sad to learn that the husband in the family that owns the Bed and Breakfast where we usually stay in Eshowe has been diagnosed with cancer. Pray for Rob and Bev, who have become good friends of ours.
Michael and Caryl
Early March 2010 - "New Granddaughter, Erin"
Dina and Sean have another daughter. Erin arrived March 5, at 11:20 p.m. She weighed 8 pounds 7 1/2 ounces. Mother and baby are both fine. Rebecca and Gabriella are with us and we are all anxious to go and meet her.
Michael got back from Ministers' Week at noon yesterday. The lessons and worship services went well. He was encouraged. He was definitely left with the impression that the Church of Christ Mission is going through a transition. Continue to pray for the Mission.
Thank you for all the prayers.
February 2010 - "We're back home, safe and sound."
The last month has been pretty hectic. We decided to take a crate so we collected some books and equipment to take back to South Africa . We were staying at my sister and brother-in-law’s home, which has a heated garage, so we built a crate there and got it packed. We closed it up on Thursday evening, February 11.We had contacted a shipping agent who said we should deliver it to a business place, where it could be collected by a trucker to begin its journey to South Africa . They were not open on Friday afternoon so we delivered the crate on Monday morning, February 15. That was cutting things a bit fine, but we have since learned that it is safely on its way.
We delivered the car to the buyer on Monday at noon . Fortunately, the new owners let us use it until we left. In fact, they delivered us to the airport in it at noon on Monday!
The journey home was long, but uneventful. We flew from Minneapolis to Atlanta at 2:00 p.m. on Monday afternoon. At Atlanta we went from the arrival gate to the departure gate and boarded the plane. The next leg was a 14 1/2-hour flight to Johannesburg . The flight was good and we managed to get some rest. In Johannesburg we went from the arrival gate to the departure gate and boarded the airplane for Durban . Fortunately, that was only a 1-hour flight. There was a thunder and lightning storm in Durban and, apparently several planes were delayed or cancelled. Our pilot announced on the way that he would check and see if we could land! Fortunately, the storm cleared and we made it safely to Durban . Sean Thorncroft, our son-in-law, met us and took us home where we were met by the rest of the family. It was late, but they let us wake the grandchildren up so we could see them. What a joy to see everyone again. For those of you who are wondering, Dina’s baby did not arrive before us. We are all ready and waiting now – Dina more so than anyone else.
The heat and humidity are a bit overwhelming, but we have had some rain and clouds today so it hasn’t been too bad. We went to bed quite late last night, but I couldn’t sleep so I got up and read until about 5. Then I slept until 11! Michael slept when he first went to bed and was up about 8. We know it will be a few days before we are back on schedule.
The suitcases are unpacked and we are enjoying our home again. We have heard from some of our friends and fellow-workers. Now we are busy sorting out the mail and trying to get our feet back on the ground.
We had a great furlough and were glad to see so many of you. Pray for us as we begin our work here again.
Caryl and Michael
January 2010 - Wrapping up US visitation and reporting to churches
Time is flying by and we will be retuning to South Africa soon. Our departure date is 15 February. Between now and then we will still visit two churches in South Dakota and I will speak for a ladies’ group in Minnesota .
We have had a good furlough. We have traveled safely and enjoyed our visits with churches in Ohio , Indiana , Illinois, Oklahoma , Nebraska , Iowa , Wisconsin , South Dakota and Minnesota . We have renewed old friendships and made new ones.
About two weeks ago we decided to send a crate back to South Africa . We didn’t originally plan to do that, so we have not been collecting items along the way as we usually do. In the end we decided that we needed to get some heavy parts to repair some equipment in South Africa and we needed to replace some old items. Since we are sending a crate, we decided to also get some books for the ministers and some communion trays and cups, which are not readily available in South Africa . We have put a bit of pressure on the Christian book store to get the items in time for us to get them and get the crate packed and shipped before we leave. Any contributions toward paying for the books, equipment or shipping would be appreciated. Check should be made out to South Africa Church of Christ Mission and sent to P. O. Box 18531 Minneapolis , MN 55418-0531 .
We are looking forward to getting back to South Africa . It will be good to be in our own home and to see our family again. Sean, our son-in-law, went to Umzumbe Bible Institute recently and there has been more vandalism and destruction on the campus. We are planning to do some repairs and then re-establish our out-reach program to the youth in the community. Pray that we will get good cooperation from the church and schools in the area.
Pray for us as we finish up our speaking schedule and as we pack and get ready to leave. Pray especially for good weather over the next 2 weeks so we can make the necessary trips to the churches. Pray for safety as we travel back home on February 15 and 16.
Caryl and Michael
2009 Email Updates
We have visited some churches over the past few weeks. It has been really nice to see so many friends and supporters. Now we are into the Christmas season and most churches are having special programs. We have been able to attend some of them and have really enjoyed that. We are also spending quite a bit of time with Diane while she is in the USA for a few weeks.
Dawn and JP celebrated Chayah's first birthday this week. We were really sorry not to be able to be in South Africa for that. The school year ended early in December so she is now at home being a full-time mommy, which she really enjoys.
Dawn has not been able to share a lot about the problems at her school as it is under investigation. She applied for teaching jobs for next year at two schools and was very disappointed when she did not get either one. Today we learned that a teacher resigned from one of those schools and she has been offered the position. She is really excited about that. Thank you to all who prayed for her and for those who wrote and encouraged her. It means a lot to us.
Dina and Sean are both working and the girls are out of school for this year. They seem to have worked out a solution for caring for the girls, but I wish we could be there to help take care of them. Dina will be taking some time off from her nursing position next year as she is expecting a baby in February. We are hoping that we will arrive back in time to be there for the new arrival.
We will be speaking at churches in Wisconsin, South Dakota, and Minnesota during January and February. Our plan is to leave for South Africa in mid-February. Pray for us as we travel and for the work in South Africa. We know that there will be a lot of work to do in regard to the position of treasurer. Also we will be involved with the churches in KwaZulu Natal and with the work in the schools.
We wish you all a blessed Christmas. May all of our celebrations truly honor Christ.
Michael and Caryl
Late November, 2009
Unfortunately, I do not have much information to share with you. The meeting that was scheduled for Thursday did not take place. It has been re-scheduled for the end of this week. We do not know much of the situation, except that it involves abuse of children by a member of the staff at her school. Please continue to pray that she will maintain her Christian witness through all of this. Diane has arrived in Minnesota so we are enjoying being able to spend time with her.
Caryl and Michael
Early November, 2009
Please pray for our daughter, Dawn. She is facing a very difficult situation at the school where she teaches. She will be involved in a meeting tomorrow. Pray that she will be silent when she needs to be silent and that God will give her the words she needs to say when she needs to speak.
Michael and Caryl
It is Friday evening and we have just returned from the Conference business meeting. Actually, there have been business meetings everyday. However, today they dealt with the most serious issues. First they gave the financial report. It is the first real meaningful financial report in about 7 years. Several people worked day and night during the past few days to get it done and there are still problems, but it is a real step of progress.
The elections for the Executive Committee of the Church of Christ Mission were held late this afternoon. Michael was nominated for President (chairman), but the incumbent president (Elijah Gontsana) won by a large majority. The deputy president is a man who served as chairman of many of the meetings this week and seems to be very capable. The incumbent secretary was re-elected - also by a majority. The deputy secretary is a man who takes copious notes so will probably also be able to do his job well. Michael and two other men - one the incumbent treasurer and another who has been involved in the finances of the Church - were nominated for treasurer. Michael won a majority of those votes and the previous treasurer hardly got any votes! The Director of Building and Evangelism is a young minister in whom we have a lot of confidence. The Executive Committee consists of these men and representatives of the six areas of South Africa. It looks like these will be men who will work well together. One of the comments Michael said he heard often as the church people congratulated the new Committee, was "We trust you." Praise the Lord for that. Thank you for all the prayers you have prayed over the past few days. We really believe that God's hand was in the elections. Pray now that these will do the jobs they have been chosen to do. Pray especially for Michael. There is a lot of work to do and some of it will be very difficult.
Michael will be teaching his lesson tomorrow (Saturday) morning. After the church service on Sunday we will drive back to Kimberley to visit a friend before returning home on Monday. Pray for us and all the other people who will be traveling back to our homes over the next few days.
We were not able to send this out on Friday night as planned. In fact, we are now home after a long day on the road. Saturday did not go as planned. They reorganized the schedule so the Farewell Service for Alice Fishback could be on Saturday morning because some of the people left for their homes on Saturday afternoon. Then the Executive Committee had meetings for most of Saturday afternoon. In the end Michael taught his class in the evening. There were about 80 people there and several commented on the good lesson. One man said that Michael should teach his class on the first day of Conference when more people are there.
Pray for us. We have a busy week ahead as we take care of business and prepare for our return to the United States next Monday. Hopefully, we will also be able to spend some time with the family here before we leave.
Michael and CarylPicture in prep: The new Executive Committee of the Church of Christ Mission: Johann Blaauw, Isaac Mguzulwa, Elijah Gontsana (President), Stephen Lesala (Secretary), Michael Stanley (Treasurer), Sabelo Lewis, D.B. Stemela, Patrick Sithebe, James Adams, Patrick Qankase, and Simphiwe Mteza. Absent from photo: Shadrack Mazibuko.
We would like to ask you to pray for us specially this month. After much prayer and thought we decided to return to South Africa for the annual church conference, a gathering of church members from all over the country. Pray that some major decisions will be made and some of the on-going problems can be resolved at this year's conference.
There are some people who want Michael to be elected as treasurer at this year's elections. Financial issues constitute a major part of the problem. Pray for God's Will to be done in regard to this matter. Pray for us - for wisdom and guidance as we meet with the church members and church leaders. We really do not know what to expect.
This week we will be preparing to leave for South Africa. We will fly out early on Thursday morning and arrive in Johannesburg South Africa on Friday evening - after 19 hours on planes and 8 hours waiting to change planes in Atlanta. We will stay overnight in Johannesburg and fly to Durban on Saturday. Dawn, JP and Chayah will meet us at the airport. Unfortunately, Dina and her family will leave early on Saturday morning to visit Sean's parents for a week and Diane will be busy with something for work.
After a week at home we will travel across South Africa to attend the annual church conference. After the conference we will return home to spend a few days with our children and grandchildren before returning to the United States to continue our furlough.
Michael and Caryl
It has been a really busy month. We arrived in the United States on the 14th July. We went to stay with my younger sister and brother-in-law in the Minneapolis St. Paul area. I ended up going for some emergency medical care the night after we arrived. I had done something to my back and was in a lot of pain. Fortunately, it didn't last long after I got some medication. Then I got a bad sore throat. I was beginning to wonder if I was ever going to feel normal again! Now I am fine and Michael made the transition from South Africa to the United States without any problems.
For the first week we didn't have a car, so we either walked or took my sister and brother-in-law to work so we could use their car. Fortunately, by the second week, we were able to buy a 2000 Buick Le Sabre. We have been very happy with our purchase.
During the first few weeks we were involved in a lot of family activities. My extended family had a reunion so we were able to see some cousins we haven't seen for many years. Michael's sister also came from South Africa in July so all four of the siblings were able to be on one side of the ocean, which doesn't happen very often. We were all able to be at Michael's nephew's wedding. The four siblings and three spouses went on a short vacation to Chicago and we really enjoyed our sight-seeing which included a dinner cruise. Michael and I rushed home from Chicago to participate in the Stillwater Minnesota Relay for Life. My older sister organized two teams so we really enjoyed that and were able to raise money for cancer research.
From there we went to my sister's house to wash clothes and pack so we could begin a month-long trip to Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Illinois, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. We will be returning to Minnesota at the beginning of September. We traveled to a Stanley family reunion in Pennsylvania, where the Minnesota ancestors came from in the mid-1800's.
We have spoken at one church and visited one church in Minnesota, visited a family from one of our supporting churches in Wisconsin, spoken at one church and visited another church in Ohio, and spoken at two churches in Illinois and one church in Oklahoma. We are on our way to Nebraska to visit two of our supporting churches. As we travel from place to place we are visiting friends and family.
In addition to our church visits over the next few weeks, we will also be making preparations to return to South Africa. Originally we had planned to return to South Africa in September, but realized that we would not be able to visit many of our supporting churches by then, so we decided to stay until February. However, the annual church conference in South Africa is at the end of September and beginning of October and Michael feels that he needs to be there for the conference. We are praying that some major decisions will be made. So we will be returning to South Africa for a few weeks in September and October. We also found out that if we are out of South Africa for 183 days during the tax year, we are not subject to South Africa income tax - which is quite a lot of money.
We have been keeping contact with the family in South Africa by email and text messages. Technology is certainly great for us!!
We are looking forward to seeing many of you over the next few months. Please pray for safety for us as we travel. Also pray for our trip to South Africa and especially for the annual church conference and for the decisions that will be made there.
Michael and Caryl
As I mentioned in the last email, it was the anniversary of Mac's death on June 9. Diane invited the family and a few friends to a special service at Oribi Bible Camp. Her minister led a short time of memories and prayer time and then Diane scattered Mac's ashes from the top of the water tank stand - a favorite place of Mac's. The three nieces released gold helium-filled balloons at the same time. After a time of meditation, we all went to Debbie (Michael's sister) and Lynton Neethling's for soup and fellowship. It was a special time and another milestone for Diane.
The 7th of June marked our 40th wedding anniversary, but we were all busy so the day went almost unnoticed. Michael and I went to a church service where the people from one of the older congregations in this area are starting a new church. They meet in a hut now, but have land and are hoping to build soon. After church we went to Diane's and all of our children were there so we enjoyed a short visit with them.
Michael traveled to Kimberley in mid-June to attend the South African Bible Institute Board of Governors meeting and the annual general meeting. (I was not able to go as I had agreed to do a doughnut demonstration at a women's meeting.)
At the end of June we made our monthly trip to Eshowe. Originally Michael planned to attend a men's meeting on Saturday, but it was postponed. We went up on Friday night and he attended a funeral on Saturday. The place where we usually stay was already full, so we stayed in a new place this time. It is outside of town and is very quiet. (They don't even have a tv!) I was there by myself on Saturday, but I kept busy. Michael had cut wood to make a new sign for the church, so I sanded and painted the undercoat on it. Now the church will have to take it to a sign-writer to complete it.
A lot of our time is being taken up with getting ready to return to the United States in a few days. Our grandchildren are on vacation and our daughter, Dina, is on night duty so we have the children for a few days. We are still trying to work out if their presence is a help or a hindrance to our travel preparations. We have found a single man who is a Christian to stay in the house. We will store our vehicles and leave the Umzumbe Bible Institute property in the care of the Umzumbe Church. Fortunately, right now it is winter and our dry season so the grass and weeds won't be growing very fast. We moved a few things out of the buildings yesterday because we are worried about burglaries.
Just before we leave South Africa, we will go away for a couple of days with all of our children and grandchildren. We are not going far, but we will all be able to stay together so we are really looking forward to that. Our plan is to play games, visit and just relax together. We just need to be sure the overseas suitcases are packed first! Pray that we will have a good (and productive) week.
Looking forward to seeing many of you over the next few months.
Caryl and Michael
Where did May go? I missed sending out a message for the whole month. For most of April we spent a lot of time at Umzumbe Bible Institute. We had decided to have the Magog grade 7 Life Skills camp at the beginning of May, so we allowed those who wanted to work their way to camp to come after school to pull weeds, cut grass and work on the road. There was great excitement when they had finished and the bus came to take them to Oribi Bible Camp for four days.
Scripture Union helped us organize and run the camp. It was a great camp. Michael was very busy as he presented some of the sessions and also worked with one small group of boys. Mr. Nala, a teacher, helped with Michael's group. Last year he wasn't even sure he wanted to accompany the students; this year he participated in everything and commented to Michael about how much he appreciated the camp! Michael also led the hike one day. They have the students take a sack lunch and walk out into the nature reserve. I was the chief cook which involved being in the kitchen for about 15 hours each day to prepare meals for about 65 people. I had 2 or 3 helpers, but still had to take the major responsibility. We both came home quite exhausted.
Recently two of the Scripture Union girls started running a girls' friendship group at Magog for grade 6 and 7 girls. They meet each Tuesday after school for games, refreshments and a Bible story. We are hoping to be able to find a young man who would be willing to do a boys' friendship group. The boys are feeling quite left out.
Michael has attended a couple of committee meetings with a group of people from the churches in KwaZuluNatal over the past two months. They are discussing the future of the churches in our province and trying to solve some of the problems in the churches. He has also been dealing with some disagreements between the elders in the Eshowe churches, where we visit once each month. He has made some extra trips there and stayed longer on the weekends. Pray for continued wisdom for him as he deals with these men.
In mid-May we decided to make a trip to George. Michael offered help sort out some of the financial problems in the national church. We decided to travel by Greyhound bus. It took us 18 hours each way to make the trip.(If we had driven, we would have spent two days and one night on the road each way.) While we were in George, we stayed with fellow-missionaries, Pete, Fran and Denzil Laughren. We had a very good visit with them. Michael went to see the treasurer one day, but he refused the help. That was very frustrating for Michael.
Dina, who is a registered nurse in the private hospital maternity ward, has had to go onto night duty for a few months. As a wife and mother it is a difficult transition, but she didn't have a choice. The rest of her family is doing fine.
Diane is not looking forward to next week as it will be the anniversary of Mac's death. Please pray for her. She has been very busy at work and is feeling quite exhausted. She has organized two programs with her new job as national training coordinator of Scripture Union and she really enjoyed that. Pray that Scripture Union will be able to find a regional director to replace her as she is now doing both jobs.
On April 19, Dawn and JP had a special service to dedicate themselves to raise Chayah in a way that honors God. Their cell group stood with them during the ceremony. The minister spoke and then Michael prayed for Chayah, Dawn and JP. JP's family came from Empangeni and the family gathered at our home after church for a meal and photo session. It was great fun!
We are beginning to get things ready to be away from our home for two months. We will be flying to the United States on July 13. We are scheduled to return to South Africa in September, but that could be extended.
Sorry about the delay in getting word off to you. Will try to do better in the future.
Caryl and Michael
It seems that I completely missed out an up-date from us in March. My apologies.
We visited the children who were injured in the accident several times. The girl had a broken arm, but no other injuries. She was released from the hospital in less than a week - in time to attend the funeral of the girl who was killed. The boy was in Port Shepstone Hospital for about 4 weeks and then he was moved to Durban for reconstructive surgery.
We attended the annual Ministers' Week in Barberton at the beginning of March. Michael preached one day and I led a Bible study for the ladies on two days. The theme for the week was "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." Messages and lessons included responsibilities of husbands, wives and parents. We were very impressed with the preparation and presentation done by the ministers. We also enjoyed the fellowship. Unfortunately, there are still problems in the executive committee. Continue to pray for a revival in the lives of those leaders.
From March 23 until April 3 Michael and I taught at the South African Bible Institute in Kimberley. Michael had one student in the first year class (Christian Decision Making) and I had three students in the second/third year class (Establishing a Sunday School). We provided lunch for the students nearly every day while we were there. They welcomed the food, but that is not the whole story. When we arrived the kitchen was filthy and it was overrun with ants. We bribed them into cleaning up with the threat that there would be no food if the kitchen was dirty.
While we were in Kimberley we stayed with Michael's friend, Roy, and visited with Steve and Brenda Caulley, fellow missionaries. The weather was quite nice while we were there. Kimberley can be extremely hot in summer and extremely cold in winter (especially since there is no central heating in the houses.) This was a good time of year to be there.
Now we are getting ready for the special services that will be held this weekend in Gingindlovu - nearly 100 miles from here. We will go up on Friday morning. During the day the men from the various churches will preach on the Seven Last Words of Christ from the Cross. Michael has been asked to teach a combined class for men and women and I am to bring a lesson for the women. That will be on Saturday. There will be a service on Sunday and then we will return home.
The family is all well. Rebecca and Gabriella have finished the first term of school at their new school and they are very happy there. They are having a short break now and Dina and Sean are both working, so the girls have come to stay for a couple of days. Dawn is getting ready for school as she will be returning to her teaching job in mid-April. Chayah will have to go to a day-care center. Chayah is growing and beginning to charm us all with her smile! Diane is almost finished with the sewing for the wedding on Sunday. I went to her house a couple of times and helped cut and pin bridesmaids' dresses. The bridesmaids' dresses are all done except one hem. The bride's dress still needs a hem and some beading, but will definitely be done. It has been pretty stressful, but she is doing an absolutely beautiful job!
We enjoy getting responses from you. It's always good to hear what you are doing. Pray for the meetings this weekend and we will be thinking of all of you as you celebrate the death, burial and resurrection of Christ.
Caryl and Michael
It has been a hectic couple of weeks since we sent out the last message. We went to Umzumbe church the first week of February, expecting to have the usual few people. We thought we could go and then rush home for a family gathering to celebrate Rebecca's birthday and Dawn and JP's anniversary. That day we had the biggest group at church that we have had in a very long time. The message Michael preached had an impact on some of the people who then wanted to give testimonies. It was a long service, so by the time we got home, lunch was ready and the family was waiting for us. We are so blessed that people were touched and I really did try to remember that it was what we had been praying for!
In the afternoon we enjoyed the time we were able to spend with the family. We got out an old jigsaw puzzle and several of us worked on it. We also ate, watched t.v., ate, visited and ate. (Michael and I finished the puzzle later in the week and found that 2 pieces were missing!)
The next weekend, we traveled to Bloemfontein so I could attend a women's workshop, where I was asked to represent the Umzumbe Church. The wife of the minister in the Durban area went with me. It was a very good workshop with sessions on our responsibilities as Christians in a world where gender-based violence is so wide-spread. We had good fellowship and worship times.
While I was at the conference, Michael traveled on to Kimberley to attend the South African Bible Institute Board of Governors' meeting. It was a long trip, but we both felt it was worth-while.
This past Friday both Michael and I were involved in shopping for special events. Michael and one of the young ladies from Umzumbe bought food for a meeting on Saturday. The ministers of KwaZuluNatal met with Elijah Gontsana, the chairman of the mission, to plan for the annual conference. It is a national meeting that is to be held in KwaZuluNatal later in the year.
I bought food for another Scripture Union camp, which was held at Oribi Bible Camp. I went up on Friday and cooked supper and then stayed over to cook breakfast for about 25 people. The leaders said they could handle the rest of the meals on Saturday and they had another cook for Sunday.
After I left the camp, I went to Diane's house to help her sew. She is making a bride's dress and three bridesmaids' dresses for a wedding in April. One of the dresses needed to be done before Sunday because the girl was here for the weekend. I helped cut and pin. I left before dark to return home and learned on Sunday that she finished the dress about 3 a.m. Hopefully, she won't have such time constraints on the rest of the sewing!
Sunday morning Elijah Gontsana, Michael and I left for church at Umzumbe. Less than a mile from the church we were met by a group of people who were carrying some children. We learned that the children had been riding a bike and were hit by a car. I started making phone calls to get police and ambulances while Michael assessed the children. Unfortunately, the youngest girl (age 10) had already passed away. The other girl (age 13) was sitting up and talking to those around her. The boy (age 11) was in very serious condition. His scalp had been torn loose over about half of his head, he had severe head injuries and he had a broken leg. Michael stayed with him until the ambulance took the two children to hospital. Fortunately, the boy remained conscious and was able to talk to Michael and answer questions. Michael suggested I take some pictures, so I was official telephone operator and photographer.
We took Elijah on to church and he preached and ate lunch there. Michael and I went into town and went to the hospital as quickly as we could, but we were too late to have them admitted to the private hospital, where someone had to be present to guarantee payment. However, we were assured by the ambulance personnel that they were better off at the provincial hospital as they are more experienced with trauma cases. As soon as we felt that they were in good hands, we left and spent the rest of the day with our children and grandchildren. I think we needed that after the traumatic experience we had been through.
Yesterday we went in to the hospital to check on the children. The girl is in a ward. Her arm is in a cast as she broke her wrist. She is complaining of pain in her leg, but it doesn't seem to be broken. The boy was in ICU, though they were getting ready to move him to a ward. Michael went in again today and found out that they have not completed setting his leg yet. Both the femur and tibia are broken - compound fractures - and he will have to have plastic surgery on his head. Michael understood that they were to operate on his leg later today and then move him to a hospital in Durban for the plastic surgery.
All three of the children attended Magog Primary School, where we visit on a regular basis. The boy obviously knew and trusted Michael. We spoke to the teachers today. The older girl is in grade 7 and the other two were in the same class in grade 4.
The funeral for the little girl will be Saturday. Unfortunately, we will not be able to attend as we will be leaving on Friday for the annual Ministers' Week in Barberton.
Pray for us as we travel to Barberton. It is a long journey and we probably won't be able to leave until about noon, so will only arrive in the middle of the night. Pray for the conference. I will be leading a ladies' Bible Study on Tuesday and Michael will be preaching on Thursday morning. Pray for the others who will also be involved in the teaching and leading.
Michael and Caryl
It is long past time for me to get a message off to all of you. My apologies for missing January completely!
We were helping Diane move into her new house on the 29th of December, when we received a call asking us to meet the next day with Simphiwe's father and the social worker. When we got there her father, grandfather, step-mother, step-grandmother, and another lady were there with the social worker. We found out the other lady was Simphiwe's mother's sister. After a long discussion between Simphiwe, her father, her aunt and the social worker, we were told that they had agreed for Simphiwe to go to live with her aunt on the north side of Durban. The shock was that we were to take her home to pack and she was leaving immediately. She requested to see two people before she left - a counselor and a friend who had taken her on a couple of outings. We have visited her once since she left and we have talked to her on the phone. She is very happy and settled in school there.
Recently we were called in the middle of the night by another girl from the Umzumbe community. She felt threatened so Michael went out and stayed with her.
She spent the next few nights in one of the rooms at Umzumbe Bible Institute, but Michael called Child Welfare and she has now been taken to a place of safety. She is an orphan who was supposedly being cared for by an aunt and uncle. They were, apparently, not doing a very effective job and had recently thrown her out of the house. Unfortunately, there are a number of girls in similar situations in that area.
Diane had a rough three weeks around Christmas with a lot of "firsts" without Mac -Christmas, New Year celebration, their anniversary and her birthday. The move from the house she and Mac built came in the midst of that and that was also very difficult for her. She is now settled into her new home and busy with her job again.
We visited the Eshowe congregations again in January. Michael met with the men and they had a good discussion. There are still problems, but there seems to be more co-operation.
Michael preaches at the Umzumbe Church most of the other weeks. It is a small congregation and we have become very frustrated with the lack of Christian commitment and integrity. Pray for wisdom for us.
We have resumed our visits to the high school where Michael leads in devotions for the students each Tuesday morning. He tries to choose some item of current news and bring a Christian challenge related to it.
Last week I cooked for a Scripture Union conference. There were 70 to 80 people there from Monday breakfast until Friday brunch. I had two helpers for 8 hours during the day and then some volunteers came in to help in the evening. After cooking 13 meals and being in the kitchen for about 15 hours each day, I was exhausted, but I did enjoy it. I spent much of Saturday in bed - I needed the rest, but I also had a 24-hour flu bug!
We have had a lot of rain and some very hot weather so the grass is growing very fast. Michael uses his lawn tractor and a bush cutter to cut the grass at Umzumbe Bible Institute. School boys often come to rake the cuttings and help to clean up afterwards.
The family is all well. Mom is much the same. Visiting is getting harder as she isn't very talkative. Dina likes her job at the private hospital. Rebecca and Gabriella have settled in well at their new school and it is so good to hear them say they like school. Rebecca turned 11 yesterday. Diane is in Cape Town for a week for a senior staff conference. JP has just returned to work after a long leave (The office closed for the December holidays and he had requested his annual three-week leave for January since the baby was due in early January. Then Chayah arrived early so he was able to be home until she was nearly 6 weeks old.) Dawn is on her three-month maternity leave, so is enjoying being at home with Chayah. Dawn and JP celebrated their 4th wedding anniversary today.
Caryl and Michael
2008 Email Updates
Time has flown by and we are well into December and I don't think I sent out a message in November.
Simphiwe is still with us. She came at the end of October and we thought she would be here until school closed on December 5. By then we had realized that she was not going to go back to her father or her step-grandmother and there didn't seem to be anywhere else for her to go. We had a lot of trouble trying to get the Department of Social Welfare to get back to us to make other arrangements for her.
We had arranged to go to the National Youth Seminar in Bloemfontein from December 9 to 14, so we contacted her father and asked if she could go with us. We felt that it would be beneficial to her and would give Social Welfare more time to find a place of safety or foster home for her. Now nearly two weeks later, we have made very little progress in finding a permanent solution for her.
The trip to Bloemfontein was Simphiwe's first long trip and she seemed to enjoy it. We took two other young people from KwaZulu Natal - a minister's daughter and a student who is attending South African Bible Institute. The National Youth Seminar was very good and we were encouraged by the lessons and the fellowship. We returned home last Sunday night, December 14.
This week has been an amazing week. The plan was for Dawn and JP to move from Oribi Bible Camp to their new home in Port Shepstone on Tuesday as it was a public holiday and their friends would be available to help with the move. Early in the morning Dawn phoned to say she thought she might be in labor. We assumed that she was just stressed about the move, as she was only due in early January. However, about an hour later, Diane phoned to say that JP was taking her to the hospital. Dina started work in the maternity ward of the hospital on December 1, so they had phoned her and she suggested that they come in and she would monitor Dawn and see what was happening.
We got ready and stopped by the hospital on our way to help with the move. Dina told me that Dawn was definitely in labor and that she didn't expect it to be long. I decided to stay there and Michael went to help with the move. One hour and twelve minutes after Dawn checked into the hospital, Chayah (pronounced Shay-a) Mackaylee Ferreira arrived - with Aunty Dina assisting the doctor. She weighed 3.49 kilograms (about 7 pounds 10 ounces) and was 52 centimeters (about 20 1/2 inches) long. She has a lot of reddish blond hair and is, of course, absolutely adorable. Dawn and Chayah came home on Wednesday at about noon - to a new house with furniture in place and clothes in the closets! The friends just went ahead and moved them and got things in place as best they could.
On Wednesday I went to Diane's house. She is in the process of packing up all of her belongings as she is also moving. She will move into a house at St. Michaels-on-Sea, which is about 15 miles from us, on December 29. She decided she wanted to be out of the house before Christmas, because the house has too many memories. She wants to get everything packed and then she will come to us for a few days. I spent Wednesday afternoon until this evening (Friday) with her. She and I packed a lot of boxes and now she is finishing up the final sorting and packing. She has friends who will stay with her so she won't be alone at night.
Tomorrow we will take Simphiwe to stay over with Sean, Dina and the girls. Michael and I will go to Eshowe for our monthly visit. This time the churches will be together for their Christmas celebration.
Next week we will be getting ready for Christmas. Dina has to work on Christmas Day so we will gather the rest of the family for a more informal time. Our family Christmas celebration will be on Friday at our house. We are looking forward to hosting it this year.
We wish you all a very Merry Christmas. May you enjoy the celebration and remember the Reason for the Season! Happy 2009!
Caryl and Michael
I just looked back to see when I last sent an up-date and it looks like it has been over a month. Where does time go?
We attended the annual conference of the churches in South Africa in September. It was a long journey. We drove there on Tuesday and drove home on Saturday and Sunday. Michael taught a class and we attended the worship sessions.
Monday through Friday of the next week, Michael and I were involved in a Scripture Union Life Skills course for about 250 grade 9 pupils at Port Shepstone High School. We served as facilitators for small groups for about two and a half hours each day. One day I also presented when Diane had to be away and one day we filled in for facilitators who couldn't be there for their session. By the end of the week we were exhausted, but it was a good week. In many schools Life Skills based on Christian values have been stopped, but the principal came in one day to say thank you to the facilitators and to assure us that he really appreciates what we are doing, adding that he hopes the program can continue long into the future.
We have made two trips to Eshowe since we last wrote. The first one was for the teaching weekend. Two of the three churches met and it went well. Cold weather and rain caused a bit of problem for us as the road was treacherous on Saturday night when we went out. It dried a bit on Sunday so was better. The second time we went we met with the church that refused to come to the teaching. There are still some serious rifts between the leaders and each one blames the other two for all the problems!! Michael keeps trying to get them to meet together so they can resolve the problems and will continue to do so. Pray for wisdom and patience for him.
Our lives have been turned upside down this week. When we went to the high school for the regular Tuesday morning devotions Simphiwe, one of the grade 9 girls that we have know since grade 7, told us that she had moved in with one of the teachers. Her mother died several years ago and her father remarried. He lives about four hours away from here, but they sent her to live with her step-grandmother. It has not been a happy situation. Recently a neighbor girl has been bullying her at school. We also know the "bully", who is an orphan and has some serious issues in her life.
Thursday morning when we woke up we heard someone calling from the gate. It was Simphiwe. At first she wouldn't even talk to us, but eventually we learned that she had run away from the teacher's house the previous day. She had walked about 25 miles that day and found our house late at night. We were not at home so a neighbor took her in for the night and then she came to our house in the morning. When she arrived, we contacted the school and they were glad to learn that she was safe.
We spent the rest of the day trying to find out what to do. Late in the afternoon we learned that we had to get permission from the police to keep her at our house, so they came to see us and agreed that she could stay here. This morning the police came to take her to school and then to Child Welfare. Her father and step-mother drove down today and met us at the police station late this afternoon to discuss the future. The result is that for the next 5 or 6 weeks we will be fostering her. That way she will be able to finish the school year here. She says that she will never go back to her father, but we will meet with him and the social worker to make a decision about that after she finishes exams. Pray for us. It has been a long time since we had a teen-ager in our home - and we have never had such a troubled teen-ager. We need to be wise in how we handle her from the beginning.
Caryl and Michael
We have had a frustrating couple of weeks. Two weeks ago today we had no running water at our house. When we called to find out what the problem was, we were told that because of a power outage they were having trouble with some pumps that supply water to the reservoir. We assumed that they would quickly take care of the problem and we would have water soon. Well, that was not to be. When we called a couple of days later they said they had a major problem with pumps and they had no idea when it would be repaired. They sent a water tanker around the neighborhood and we could fill any containers we had. Later they put up a large tank about two blocks from our house and we could go there and get water. One day we realized the tank was gone and assumed the water corporation had removed it for some reason. A couple of days later we saw them erecting another tank - and learned that the first tank had been stolen! (Only in Africa!!) Over the past two weeks we have had water three times - all from about midnight until early in the morning. Finally, late yesterday afternoon the water came back on and so far we still have water. I still hold my breath when I turn on the faucet until I see water actually come out.
We learned how dependent we are on running water. I don't think any of us realize how much water we use until we don't have it. Washing dishes in a small basin and trying to clean vegetables with as little water as possible was a real challenge. Life just takes longer when one has to carry all the water in and to heat water for washing dishes and bathing. We took laundry to Dina one day, and managed to get several loads done at home early one morning when we happened to have running water.
I spent a few days at Oribi Bible Camp recently. Mpume, Busi and I cooked for 70 people at a camp sponsored by Scripture Union. It is tiring and I put in long days when I do this, but I really enjoy it. Unfortunately, I had to leave early on the last day as I had a sore on my leg and had been advised to see a doctor urgently. I went to see a clinic nurse twice thinking it was a spider bite, but it was getting worse instead of better. We still don't know what caused it, but probably it was an insect bite that got infected. After well over $100 worth of medicine, I am on the mend.
Tomorrow (Saturday, September 20) we will be going to Eshowe for our monthly trip. We expected all three congregations to meet together. They asked for special lessons for the men (taught by Michael) and for the women (taught by me.) Today we learned that one group does not want to participate as they were not included in the planning of the meetings. Tonight we are getting rain which we desperately need. However, the roads to the place where we are going are not good at any time and worse when it rains. Pray for safety for us as we travel and pray for Michael and me as we teach. Pray that those who come will be blessed by the teaching and fellowship.
Please pray for the annual Church of Christ Mission conference which will be held in Graaff Reinet from September 29 until October 5. There will be meetings, preaching, teaching and fellowship. Pray for those involved in leading the conference. There are some tough issues that need to be dealt with, especially financial matters. The situation is complicated by the fact that there seem to be some who do not want to deal with these issues. We will only be there from Wednesday because Michael has another meeting on Monday and it will take us all day Tuesday to drive there.
Caryl and Michael
Schools have reopened for the third term so we go out on Tuesdays so Michael can lead the morning devotions at the high school. Over the past couple of weeks we have discovered that two girls (sisters) that we have met at the schools are facing a very bad home situation. Their parents have both passed away and they were living with an aunt and uncle. They left the house because they say their aunt and uncle collect a government grant to care for them, but don't use it to help them. They don't even provide necessary clothes. Michael has spoken to the primary school principal and she said that these girls are only two of many in the community facing the same problems. We are not sure how to deal with the problem, but are happy that the girls feel comfortable coming to share their problems with us. Pray that we will be wise in dealing with this situation.
Steve and Brenda Caulley came here on Thursday night before the missionary retreat. Michael and Steve went to teach at one of the churches about three hours south of Port Shepstone. They left on Friday morning and returned on Sunday encouraged by the great interest shown in the classes they taught. There was also evidence of a spiritual revival among church elders. Brenda stayed with me while they were away.
This past week was our annual missionary retreat. Early this year a missionary contacted us and asked about the retreat and asked if we knew we were supposed to organize it. We weren't at the last retreat, so we didn't know! However, we managed to organize a speaker and we enjoyed the week. We stayed at a retreat center near Port Shepstone from Monday evening until Friday morning. There were only 11 of us this year, but we had a Bible Study, preaching, singing, and fellowship. One afternoon we took everyone on an outing to Oribi Gorge Nature Reserve, Oribi Bible Camp and the Oribi Gorge Hotel for tea.
Continue to pray for our family. Diane went away for a few days. She decided that she should go while she was still on compassionate leave in July. She went to Johannesburg to visit Mac's cousin and a couple who had been involved with Mac in music. Then she went to Cape Town to visit her cousin and some friends there. She is making some adjustments in her life, but she says she still cries a lot. She started back at work on Monday.
JP was ill for a couple of weeks. He apparently got a virus and it affected his liver and spleen. He is on the mend now. Dawn is doing well. She really enjoys her teaching this year.
Dina and Sean are very concerned about the girls' education. They have seen some problems and are hoping to move the girls to a better school as soon as possible. There are three options, an expensive private school, a public school that has written their names on a waiting list, and a Christian school that might be able to accept the children next year, but where transport to and from school are a challenge to be overcome. We are praying for wisdom to find the best solution.
Caryl and Michael
We really enjoyed the visit of the American team. They were only here for parts of two days, so it wasn't really long enough to do all we wanted to do. They had a picnic on the beach on Saturday after they arrived and then Michael and Sean took them to see the Oribi Gorge nature reserve. On Sunday we visited an African church service and enjoyed a meal provided by the church ladies.
Our plans for the rest of the month of June didn't quite work out as we had planned. We were on the way to Eshowe when we got called back to the hospital on June 7 as Mac's condition had deteriorated. After he passed away on June 9 we spent a lot of time with Diane, helping her to arrange the memorial service and taking care of business. Dawn and JP have moved from their apartment to Diane's house. They will stay with her until she decides what to do.
Mac's passing changed some of our plans and we did not go to Kimberley for the South African Bible Institute Board of Governors meeting and the Annual General Meeting. In the end the AGM was held and three new board members were elected. One is a former student and teacher, one is a former student, and one is a previous board member. The new board met that same day to discuss some of the urgent issues.
At the end of June we went to Eshowe. Michael met with the three elders on Saturday afternoon and had a very profitable meeting. On Sunday Michael preached for the congregation at Mvuzane and we had a good service.
This past week was KwaZuluNatal youth camp. It was held at a primary school near Port Shepstone. We went to do teaching on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. Michael also went on Thursday and then today he met with the KwaZuluNatal ministers. Since it is close to home, we have been able to come home and sleep here instead of on the floor of the school building!
Next week Michael will travel back to Eshowe for another meeting with the elders there. I will be cooking for a Scripture Union camp for high school students at the Oribi Bible Camp.
The schools are on winter break for two weeks. Then we will resume our work with the schools in the Umzumbe area.
Continue to pray for Diane. She has had to make a lot of adjustments. Pray for our travels and activities.
Thank you to all who sent messages of condolence. We really appreciate them. As the cards and messages arrive, we realize how many people have been impacted by what we have gone through. We are blessed to have Christian family around the world who have upheld us in prayer during this time. Thank you.
Caryl and Michael
At 3 p.m. today (June 9) our precious son-in-law, Mac, went to be with the Lord. He was in hospital for 5 weeks, home for 2 weeks and then back in hospital for 2 1/2 weeks. His breathing got progressively more difficult and today was very hard. He ate his oatmeal this morning - and complained to Diane that she hadn't put enough sugar on it. (He loved his sugar!) As the day went on he became more and more uncomfortable and we just couldn't do anything to make it better. Now he is with the Lord he loved and served.
Pray for Diane, for Mac's mom and dad, for his brother who is traveling from England tomorrow and for our family. Praise the Lord for his life and his faithful witness even while in hospital. After he was gone all of the nursing staff, cleaning staff and hospital workers came to offer their love and sympathy to Diane. He had an amazing impact on their lives!
Michael and Caryl
It has been a hectic month. Mac was in hospital for 5 weeks. He was able to come home for 2 weeks, but has had to go back to hospital. He is not doing very well right now. His lungs have become hard as a result of the cancer and he has a lot of trouble breathing. He is on oxygen all the time and has regular doses of morphine. He is in a private room at the hospital and they have allowed Diane to stay with him. At night she pushes two armchairs together and sleeps there. We know that only a miracle from God will restore his health. Pray for Diane and Mac. It has been a rough year. He was diagnosed with cancer on June 11 last year.
We have spent much of the past month preparing for our annual grade 7 Life Skills camp. We charge the students a nominal fee, but for those who cannot afford that we provide work days for them to earn their way to camp. We had 61 of the 64 grade 7 students from Magog Primary School attend the camp this year. 30 of them worked for their camp fee. We have them wash windows, pull weeds, cut grass and do some repairs on the gravel road. They actually seemed to enjoy the work!
The camp began right after school on Friday and the children left at 6:30 on Monday morning in time to be back at school again. It was a great success. Michael helped with presenting the materials, led the hike in the gorge, and preached for the Sunday service. I, with the help of three ladies, did the cooking. We made 8 meals for 85 people. It kept us busy most of each day.
The month ahead will be full of travel. We will be hosting a team from the US this weekend. They are working at an orphanage in Pietermaritzburg, but will come here to visit and attend an African service. The next weekend we will make our monthly trip to Eshowe. The next weekend we will go to Kimberley for the South African Bible Institute Board of Governors meeting and the Annual General Meeting. Then we will be able to stay home for one or two weekends before the annual youth camp in July.
Pray for us as we travel and especially for the family as we deal with Mac's health issues.
Caryl and Michael
I think I am way behind in writing to you. We have not had an
internet connection at home for the past month, so I have not
kept up very well!
We have safely returned from more traveling. We attended the
annual Ministers’ Week at Postmasburg in the Northern Cape. We
took the chairman of the Church of Christ Mission and his wife
with us. They came to our house on Friday evening and we
traveled to Kimberley on Saturday. We stayed the night there and
then traveled on to Postmasburg on Sunday morning. We arrived
just in time for the morning service. I think there were a few
sighs of relief when we arrived, as Michael was the preacher
It has been a while since I have written an email, so this will try to catch you up on our activities so far this year.
We have traveled quite a lot already this year and there are more trips coming up. So far we have had safe, though not uneventful, trips.
On the 6th of January we went to Umzumbe for church. It was a rainy, miserable day and no one came to church. We had communion and came home.
On the 13th of January we took three of the ladies from Umzumbe to Estcourt for a funeral. The wife of the former minister there had passed away. When we first came to South Africa we often went to Estcourt and Mrs. Sithebe was very kind to us. She had a very difficult life and yet was always smiling and joyful. We will certainly miss her.
On the 19th and 20th of January we went to the Eastern Cape for a church service. We picked up the minister and his wife and traveled about 2 hours on a gravel road to a very deep rural area. There was no electricity, but we had a great worship service there. On the trip home we suffered a vehicle breakdown which forced us to stay overnight with the minister and his wife. Diane and Mac rescued us the next day. We will write a report on that in the next South Africa Torch.
On the 27th of January we were in Eshowe for our monthly visit. Although the attendance was small we had a good worship service. The elder invited us and two other couples from the church to lunch and we were able to have a good discussion about issues in the three churches in that area.
Last weekend Michael traveled to Umtata . Two of the elders there are doing studies through South African Bible Institute and needed to write exams. South African Bible Institute asked Michael to administer the exams. He left Umtata quite late on Sunday and only arrived home after 1 in the morning!
Tomorrow (Thursday) we will leave for Kimberley . The South African Bible Institute Board Of Governors meeting is Friday afternoon and Michael is a member of the Board. On Saturday we will also attend the graduation of the students from 2006 and 2007.
Mac and Diane continue with a real “roller-coaster” life. At the beginning of January the doctors told Mac that there was nothing more they could do for him. Then later in the month he had scans and he was told that the cancer was gone in the left lung - though there is scar tissue - and that there was some scar tissue, but less cancer in the right lung. Also the tumor in the right lung was shrinking. The end of last week he ended up in hospital with gastroenteritis. Fortunately he was only in hospital overnight. However, this week he is very short of breath and the doctors did scans again. They think he has a lung infection or pneumonia. Continue to pray for Diane and Mac.
Michael and I saw the doctor recently and we are both on some new medications. The doctor says it is just because we are “aging”. Actually, we are both feeling quite well. We are just suffering from the heat right now as we are in the middle of summer.
We have been busy with routine maintenance at Umzumbe Bible Institute. We have mowed lawns and done a few more repairs. Last week in the midst of the mowing, Michael was asked to take a lady to the hospital because she was ready to deliver her baby. She had called the ambulance, but it hadn’t come and she was getting desperate. Michael will give a more detailed report in the next South Africa Torch, but I will just tell you that the baby arrived about 5 miles from the hospital!!
Michael and Caryl
2007 Email Updates
December 2007, Christmas Newsletter
First of all we want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy 2008! We wonder where the year went. Last year we were snowed in on New Year’s Day! We definitely won’t have that this year - though we have had a lot of rain recently.
The National Youth Seminar went very well. The attendance was lower than we had hoped, but those who attended were blessed. It was held at Margate, which is only 20 miles from home, so we returned each evening and were able to sleep at home. Michael and I shared the responsibility for our small group with Simpiwe Mteza, a young minister, who was interested in getting some training and experience so he can be small group leader in the future. He did a great job. Another man sat in on our group as well. The youth we had in our group participated very well, so we really enjoyed our time with them.
The last day of November the Smith family from East London came to stay with us. Phil participated in the National Youth Seminar and he stayed with the youth in Margate. Roxana and the boys stayed at our house, did school work (she home-schools), did some sight-seeing and took care of their two dogs. They stayed on for a couple of days after the seminar. We really enjoyed our time with them, but felt the time was too short, especially as the seminar took so much of our time. They have now returned to the United States to minister in Kansas.
We spent a couple of days in the past week helping our son-in-law, Mac. He is the manager of Oribi Bible Camp. They are fixing up a couple of the houses on the camp site for use by families. We painted, repaired and helped out wherever we could.
We are looking forward to a busy few days. We will be going to Eshowe this weekend. Michael’s brother and his wife (Larry and Marguerite) from Minnesota are here for a few weeks. They are staying with his sister, who lives about 30 miles from us. On Monday night (Christmas Eve) we will be having a Christmas celebration with all of them (18 people, I think). On Christmas Day we will be at Diane and Mac’s house with our children and some of their in-laws. I think there will be 23 of us.
Again we wish you all a very happy Christmas celebration. May we all keep Christ at the center of our celebrations.
Michael and Caryl
We attended the annual conference of the Church of Christ Mission in September. As we had expected, things were pretty tense at the beginning of the week. Some of the classes were cancelled for the executive committee to hold meetings. When it came time for the reports, we just heard one excuse after another as to why there was no financial report. It has been about 5 years since there have been proper reports.
On Friday the elections were held to choose the new executive committee. Some of the men asked Michael to serve as election officer as they felt he would be accepted as unbiased. He began by giving a devotional and encouraging the people to choose officers who would fulfill their responsibilities as servants. The election went very well and the result was that only one of the previous committee members was returned to his position. The spirit among the people seemed to improve as soon as the elections were over. Please pray for the new committee. They will be meeting soon to try to resolve some of the issues which have been causing problems.
Michael and I participated with Scripture Union in a Life Skills course at Port Shepstone High School in October. There were about 250 students and 25 volunteers to work in small groups. It is such a blessing that the school is open to this Bible-based program.
The end of the school year is approaching and the students are writing exams. Michael has continued to give a devotional talk each Tuesday at the rural high school, but the attendance has decreased from around 200 to about 50. The teachers are very discouraged because the school year was disrupted by a strike, absenteeism is extremely high, and there is a serious lack of discipline. We try to encourage the teachers when we are at the school.
Please continue to pray for our son-in-law, Mac. The last time he had chemotherapy the doctor was thrilled to see that the cancer had stopped growing. However, within a few days Mac was in terrible pain and has now been admitted to hospital for pain control medication. He has been in hospital for about a week and will be receiving chemotherapy again tomorrow (Wednesday). It has been very difficult for Diane. She spends as much time with him as she can, but she is also trying to do some work at her office.
Michael and Caryl
Michael spent two weeks in Kimberley teaching one student at the South African Bible Institute. He was disappointed in the student, but felt that he made some progress in helping the school get better-organized with finances. A friend from Kimberley has agreed to help with the book-keeping.
The weather was very cold while Michael was in Kimberley. He said he often saw ice by the road as he drove to South African Bible Institute early in the morning. He stayed with a friend, whom he has known since primary school days in the 50s.
I chose to stay at home (where it was much warmer.) I worked on sorting out some old mission papers, filing, and putting some historical information on the computer. When Michael got back we took care of some of the office work that had been piling up. We made significant progress in reducing the backlog.
Please continue to pray for Mac and Diane and all of Mac’s family. Mac continues to get chemotherapy. It really makes him exhausted. He sleeps a lot and doesn’t have the strength that he once had. To add to the drama for the family, Mac’s dad was retrenched because he wasn’t coping at his job. His brother, Oliver, came out from England to visit Mac and ended up helping their parents take care of business related to the retrenchment. Then Mac’s dad ended up in hospital for two days as he was not doing well. Oliver’s wife is expecting a baby next month and she experienced some problems while he was here. The family really feels overwhelmed by all of this. We continue to pray for them. They are Christians, but this is a very tough time for them.
Yesterday we celebrated Mom Stanley’s 86th birthday. We took a cake to her before we went to church and then all of the family visited throughout the day. She got several bouquets of flowers and lots of cards. She keeps telling us that she thinks Jesus will come for her soon.
Pray for the national church in South Africa. It is in a state of crisis. Too many people are more interested in power, prestige and position than in God’s Kingdom! We continue to pray that God will work in the hearts of men and women.
Michael and Caryl
The annual youth camp was held at a school in northern KwaZulu Natal. Attendance was especially good with over 125 attending. The classrooms were used for classes, meals and sleeping. There was a large hall for the worship services. Michael and I were hosted by a teacher who is a member of the church. We were well cared for. There will be more information and pictures of the camp in the next South Africa Torch.
Mac, our son-in-law, has been receiving chemotherapy and radiation treatment for lung cancer, but the cancer is continuing to grow and spread. His doctor has done some more tests and is changing the treatment. Please continue to pray for Mac, Diane and the rest of the family. His parents and grandmother live nearby, and his only brother and his family live in England.
Michael will be teaching a two-week intensive class at South African Bible Institute in Kimberley from 30 July to 10 August. Pray for him as he teaches and for his students.
Michael and Caryl
13 June 2007
Please pray for our son-in-law, Mac, and for our daughter,
Diane. Mac has been seeing a doctor for several months because of
problems with his lungs. He was treated for pleurisy, then
pneumonia and finally allergies (to dogs, dust, grass and mold).
However, no treatment seemed to help, so on Thursday (June 7)
his doctor sent him to Kingsway Hospital in Amanzimtoti to see a
pulmonary specialist and to have tests done. They did a
bronchioscopy, drained fluid from his lungs and removed a
swollen lymph gland amongst other things. The lymph gland
confirmed what the doctor suspected and on Monday we were told
that it is lung cancer. This week he has been going through more
tests to determine whether the cancer is present in any other
part of his body. The CT scans which were done today (June 13)
are clear., but he is still in hospital as he will be having
Late April 2007
We are back in South Africa and are getting settled in. It is
great to be home again!
Early April 2007
Our time in the States is getting very short. We leave on the
11th of April, so have less than two weeks left. It is a busy
time as we pack and prepare to leave.
It has been a busy month with a lot of traveling. Not only have we visited churches in South Dakota and Minnesota, but we also took a few days to enjoy a vacation. Although it is a strange time to do sight-seeing in the northern part of the United States, we spent three days in Western South Dakota. Michael had never see Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse, the Black Hills, the Badlands, Wall Drug, etc. I had been there so many years ago that I had only vague memories of my visit. Since we were already in South Dakota, we decided to head on west and we really had a wonderful time. There was some snow, but it was warm enough that we didn’t even need hats, though we did wear our gloves while we walked the presidential trail at Mount Rushmore. It was a most enjoyable interlude.
This year we were able to attend the Dakota Christian Conference and what a blessing it was. The messages by Ben Cachiaras were challenging and the fellowship was great.
So far the weather in our travels has not been bad. We have
had some snow, but have been able to get to all of the churches
as scheduled. The end of January has brought us more typical
Minnesota weather – cold, snowy, and windy.
Pray for us as we travel to visit churches in Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Indiana and Ohio over the next 2 months. Also pray for us as we make decisions about what to take back to South Africa with us.
Caryl and Michael
2006 Email Updates
We have been busy traveling over the past two months and I
seem to have gotten behind in my emails.
October 2006 Supplement
Shortly after we sent out our monthly email to you, we received word from our son-in-law, Sean, that there had been a burglary at Umzumbe Bible Institute. A lady who lives near UBI phoned to tell him that there had been a break-in. All of the doors in the office/library complex had been broken, the alarm system had been removed from the wall, and all of the rooms had been ransacked. On a more positive note, it seems that nothing may have been taken. We were surprised to hear that he computers and lawn mower were still there. We are waiting to hear from Sean if he can tell if anything is missing. Of course, we will not know until we return and see for ourselves as Sean is not that familiar with the things that should be there. We do not have burglary insurance so we will just have to pay for the repairs that have to be done. Pray for Sean as he has to deal with this in our absence.
We are well into our speaking schedule and it has been
encouraging to meet with people in our supporting churches. Over
the next few months we will do more traveling and will visit as
many of the churches as possible.
Greetings from Southern Minnesota. We are happily settled in our home and enjoying country life. We have made applesauce from the apples that grow in our yard. We can hear the sheep bleating in the pasture across the driveway. We saw three deer out the kitchen window tonight.
We have begun our travels and have booked almost all of the weekends until early December. We will be contacting other churches to arrange dates in the new year soon. Our initial speaking engagements have been in Wisconsin, but the next four weeks take us to churches in Minnesota. Then in mid-October we head out to Eastern Ohio for our first long trip.
It has been great to see friends and family again. We have enjoyed our visits and times of sharing. The people at the Horicon Church of Christ have been very generous and are taking good care to us.
We hear regularly from our children in South Africa, but have not heard from any of the African brethren and co-workers there. We do know that the annual conference will be held at the end of the month and we would ask you to keep the speakers and leaders in your prayers.
Dina began work as a nurse at the hospice in Port Shepstone and Sean is looking into opening up an orthotics/ prosthetics clinic in Port Shepstone. They seem to have settled into our house now and it sounds like things are going well for them.
Pray for us as we travel and speak. If you have specific times
when you would like to have us come to visit, please contact us
by email or phone.
We are getting settled in the parsonage at the Horicon Church of Christ, which is in a rural area just south of Truman Minnesota. The house has a bedroom, bathroom, office, living room and kitchen on the main floor. The upstairs has three bedrooms, which we just use for storage. The church people have loaned us furniture and essentials. They have been most welcoming and we have enjoyed our time here.
We spent the first month based in Minneapolis and involved with family activities. We were able to participate in a wedding, a holiday, a cancer fund-raiser and a family reunion.
We begin our visits to churches this weekend. We will be in Wisconsin and Minnesota in August, September and October. In November we will be in Illinois and Indiana (for the National Missionary Convention.) In December we will go to Oklahoma. We are in the process of arranging the schedule for the rest of the time. Pray for us as we travel and speak.
We have discovered that the trunk of our car is a little small for our suitcases and display, but we are happy with our car. We got cell phones while we were still in Minneapolis - and now discover that we have no cell contact at our house. We have to drive about 10 miles to get a signal.
However, it seems it will be better in most of the areas where we will be traveling. Michael’s number is 612-770-7921. When we are at home you can reach us at the Horicon Church of Christ. The number is 507-436-5232 and it rings in our house.
We are in regular contact with the family in South Africa. Sean is handling our financial affairs there and we are all on a steep learning curve!! We thought we had everything in order, but we are all thankful for email so we can quickly deal with issues that come up.
Pray for the churches in South Africa. The annual conference will be coming up at the end of September. We have heard that the venue has been changed since we left South Africa. We are not sure why that was done. Pray especially that there will be a revival among church leaders.
Michael and Caryl
We arrived back in the United States on July 14. It is great to be here and we have been busy since we arrived.
It definitely was not our smoothest trip! We had trouble checking in in Durban because we wanted to check our luggage through to Minneapolis. The agent was having a lot of trouble so we finally asked her to just send our luggage through to Johannesburg and we would collect it and check in again. By then we were late so had to run to our flight. When we were seated and the doors of the plane were closed, Michael realized that he had left his DayRunner (a book which includes calendar, addresses, phone numbers, etc.) in the security tray. We couldn’t go back, but the flight attendant was able to confirm that it was there. When we got to Johannesburg we tried to have it brought up before we left at near midnight. Unfortunately, all the planes had already left Durban for the night.
The flight from Johannesburg to Amsterdam was not full, so we were able to stretch out a bit and we both slept. I suppose there were movies, but neither of us were interested. We were exhausted and really enjoyed just getting some rest.
We had a full plane from Amsterdam to Minneapolis. When we were somewhere over the ocean they asked if there was a doctor on board. Later they announced that we were making an unscheduled stop because of a medical emergency. They said we would land at Goose Bay. Before we landed they told us to prepare for an emergency landing, but we didn’t land. Michael had noticed that he couldn’t see the wing because of fog or cloud. We were on the way down when, suddenly, we were climbing again. Apparently, the runway for instrument landing was closed for repairs and the visual landing runway was not visible. So we flew on to Gander and landed there. The emergency medical case was taken off the plane and we refueled before going on to Minneapolis.
Fortunately, our family hadn’t given up on us, in spite of being about 2 hours late. We enjoyed a meal at a restaurant with 11 other family members before heading to Duane and Kathy’s for the night.
Since we have been back, we have done a little fun shopping (like treats we haven’t been able to get for a few years) and some major shopping. We have purchased a car. It is a 2005 Chrysler Sebring. We trust that it will serve us well for the next few months. The Mission was given a brand new laptop computer with printer. It has worked hard for us over the past few days as we have taken care of some important mission work.
Last weekend we attended the wedding of a nephew. We helped with the Groom’s Dinner on Friday night and Michael was invited to participate in the service on Saturday by reading scripture. It was so nice to be able to participate in this special family event.
Tomorrow we leave for a week of holiday. We will return in time to participate in the Stillwater, MN, Relay for Life and the Stanley family reunion at Kimball, MN. Then we will begin visiting churches. We have a few weekends scheduled, but we look forward to hearing from you about when we can come and visit you. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone us on 612-770-7921 to arrange a date.
Pray for our family and the churches we have left behind in South Africa. Also pray for safety for us as we travel here in the United States.
Caryl and Michael
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