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2021 Email Updates
We spent much of the past few months sorting through our accumulation, finding a house to buy,
and selling our house of the past 36 years. It has been hard to get rid of some of those
things and has brought back lots of memories. We will miss our house in Umzumbe!
On the 3rd and 4th of September we made the move to our new home. We owe a big thank you
to our daughters and sons-in-law who all worked together to help us move and start to get
settled. John had a big truck from the farm and made one trip on Friday afternoon and another
on Saturday morning to transport the bigger items of furniture. The other family members brought
pick-ups and cars and transported smaller and more delicate items. We slept in our new house for
the first time on Friday, September 3rd!
It was a busy day! The movers started at about 7 am on Saturday. The last items were delivered
shortly before lunch. Then in the afternoon the ladies and girls of the family left the men to
move the big furniture into place while we did a 5 kilometer walk sponsored by a major food retailer
to benefit disadvantaged girls in South Africa. It was a lovely afternoon and we walked on a road
near the Indian Ocean.
Everything except the furniture and essential items was put into the double garage at our new home.
This week we have been busy sorting and bringing in what we need. There is still a lot to do and we
keep saying, “I can’t find …. It must be in a box in the garage.” Slowly, but surely, we are getting
the things we want and need.
On Sunday Michael and I went to the church service at Umzumbe. Patrick and Corina Sithebe
were there for the service. They met when they were both students at Umzumbe Bible Institute
and they were married there. Now they are nearing retirement and planning to be more involved
in ministry. Patrick has a heart for the Umzumbe community and has offered to come to serve as
minister to the Umzumbe congregation. They will come one Sunday a month for the next few months
on a trial basis. Patrick has offered to hold some classes for the church members when he can come
for an entire weekend. Pray that it will be a good fit.
Healthwise, we are both doing well. Michael has been able to go off another of his medications. He is
sleeping well and able to function well during the day. We are so thankful for that. We are both
very happy in our new home.
Continue to pray about the Umzumbe Bible Institute property. That has still not been resolved.
There is a meeting of the executive of the Church of Christ Mission here in South Africa later this
month. Pray that they will make the decision to accept ownership of the property.
Caryl and Michael
Our lives are a bit hectic at the moment. On Sunday night, the 27th of June,
President Ramaphosa announced two-week Level 4 Lockdown as COVID-19 had peaked again.
He prohibited any social, political or religious gatherings so we cannot have family
gatherings or go to church services. He also closed restaurants to limit the
interaction between people and stopped the sale of alcohol to curb the number of
accident and abuse victims from needing hospital care. Because the restaurants
were closed, we had to cancel our plans to go out for dinner on Monday to celebrate
my birthday and our family had to cancel my birthday party. On the 11th of July
President Ramaphosa extended the Lockdown for two more weeks.
On the 24th of June a real estate agent brought a young man to see our house.
He breezed through the house and then spent quite a while looking at the rest
of the property. The next day our agent phoned to say he had made an offer on the house.
It was a little less than we had hoped for, but more than the agents had expected us
to get. So the papers are signed and the process has begun to sell our home of the past
36+ years. We will certainly miss it, but are looking forward to moving to our new house
in the next few weeks.
We have been back to see the new house a few times to measure rooms and become more
familiar with the layout. In the meantime we continue with sorting through the accumulation!
We have started packing the items we aren’t using at present and are still getting rid of
some of the things we don’t need anymore. It will be good to get settled in our new home.
Michael is doing really well. He is sleeping well at night and is able to function well
during the day. He is still on some medications, but we were able to discontinue some of them.
He was to see a specialist in Durban on the 7th of July, but we cancelled the appointment
as they wanted to do it by Zoom and we decided that we would prefer to wait until he can go in person.
You have probably heard that South Africa’s former President Zuma was jailed for refusing
to appear in court. His followers gathered at his home (which was against COVID restrictions)
and vowed to defend him to the death if the police tried to arrest him. In spite of that,
he turned himself in just before the deadline for his arrest. His supporters did not accept
that he should be in jail and have gone on the rampage. They blocked roads, burned and looted
delivery trucks and caused chaos especially in Gauteng (Johannesburg area) and KwaZuluNatal
(where we live). They went on to loot stores and burn down malls and large grocery and furniture
stores. It has turned the country into a war zone. We do not feel safe going away from home
and are praying that this will soon be brought to an end.
Please join us in prayer. We are praising the LORD for the sale of our house,
the progress on our new house and that we are still safe.
We are praying for an end to the violence.
Caryl and Michael
I know it has been awhile since we have corresponded with you. We are keeping busy,
but things have not been easy during the COVID pandemic - as I am sure everyone has experienced.
We are pleased that the Umzumbe Church of Christ has been able to resume services.
Many members of the congregation have returned and we have some new people attending.
We continue to worship there, but Michael is stepping back from some of his leadership roles.
The local church has not been able to get their Non-Profit Organization status which would allow us
to donate the Umzumbe Bible Institute property (including the building used as the church) to them.
The National Church of Christ Mission does have Non-Profit Organization status so we have decided
to donate the property to them. That will allow the church, Magog Seniors’ Citizens’ Club and day care
to continue as the local church will be in control of the property.
The Magog Senior Citizens’ Club is meeting once a week now instead of twice a week as we were before
COVID struck. We still enjoy the tea time, short devotions and lunch. The attendance is smaller as
some of those elderly people are still not comfortable being out in public places.
The day care center has been open part of the time this year, but among the COVID restrictions, several
holidays and school breaks there were only 1 or 2 children attending. For the time being the day care is
closed, but we hope we will be able to reopen it in July which in South Africa is the middle of the school year.
We have been working on the “accumulation” at Umzumbe Bible Institute. We even recruited our family to
spend one Saturday helping us sort out a lot of materials there. From storage we donated what could be rescued
and then got rid of a pickup load of materials that had been damaged by rain-water and vermin.
Michael and I are continuing with the sorting and down-sizing in our home. It is difficult. We have been
married 52 years, been in ministry for 50 years and been living in this house for 36 years. It is amazing the
amount of “stuff” one can accumulate!! We are really whittling things down at our house. We have donated many
of Michael’s books to the ministers and sorted through a lot of papers and records – much of which could be
thrown away. Although there is still a lot to do we have made great progress!
Michael has had some recent health issues. He was admitted to hospital for a battery of tests which did not
show any physiological issues. It has affected his memory and as a result he finds preaching and teaching
very difficult. We had been talking about moving and this helped us decide that we needed to make the move soon.
All of the girls and their families live within 5 miles of each other and we have found a house in a secured
community between their houses. We have been able to buy the house and are just waiting for all the paperwork
to be completed before we can move. We have put our house on the market and we hope that it will sell quickly.
We are trying to tie up some loose ends of ministry and handing over responsibility to others as we move into
full retirement at the end of the year. As always we seek your prayers. Please pray that the transition in ministry
will go smoothly. Pray for Michael’s health to improve. Pray for our move and that we will be able to sell our house quickly.
Caryl and Michael
The new year has begun and we look forward to what God has in store for us. Michael and I and our family are doing fine.
At the end of December President Ramaphosa announced that we would remain on level 3 of the Lockdown,
but with some tighter restrictions because COVID cases had been increasing. He closed all of the beaches,
rivers and parks, limited funerals to only 50 people, required masks to be worn at all times in public and
introduced a curfew from 9 pm until 6 am. He also closed the liquor stores which resulted in almost no vehicle
accidents or violent assaults. It also freed up hospital space for COVID cases.
Then on February 1st he again addressed the nation. The number of confirmed cases of COVID has dropped
so he announced that some of the restrictions would be lifted. The curfew would now be from 11 pm until
4 am, churches can meet with up to 50 people, beaches and parks can reopen, and liquor stores can be open
from 10 until 6 Monday through Thursday. The vaccine was delivered to South Africa this week so frontline
workers will begin receiving their shots. We are praying that things will continue to improve.
Dina and Sean contacted COVID and were isolated at home for about 2 weeks just after Christmas. They
experienced extreme fatigue and difficulty breathing, but are now feeling much better. Two of the ladies
from the Umzumbe Church also contracted COVID. One is back to her normal activities and the other one is
improving, but still not able to go back to work. A minister from the Eastern Cape and two elders from
KwaZulu Natal have passed away. We also know many local people who have had COVID – some recovered at home,
some recovered at hospital and some have passed away.
Our goal for this year is to keep contact with the ministers and their wives by phone and messages.
We are in the process of up-dating our records with their telephone numbers so we can contact them.
We are still not comfortable with doing much traveling.
Since the announcement that churches can have services again, we will be going back to worship at the
Umzumbe church. Over that past few weeks some of the members have been doing some necessary up-keep there
– cleaning and painting.
The Magog Senior Citizens’ Club met a few times at the end of last year and we were able to have our
Christmas celebration. We are not sure when we will be able to meet again. Over the past two months two of
our members have died – one of COVID and one of age-related illness.
The Sinothando Creche, our day care center, has not been able to be restarted. We are not sure what will
happen this year. The schools were supposed to open on January 27th, but that was postponed to February 15th.
Some private schools have opened and teachers at the public schools are back getting ready for the students.
Michael and I continue to work on the down-sizing. We have sorted through some of the accumulation. We have some
papers and books packed into boxes to take to the ministers when we are able to do so. We are also trying to
find homes for other things we no longer need. I am in the midst of going through a box of photographs and
separating personal from mission photos. It is a tedious job!
We would appreciate your prayers for the ministers and their wives (and the congregations) who were struggling
with not being able to have worship services. It is not so easy for them because many do not have the ability
to worship on-line. Also singing and personal contact is very important to them.
Caryl and Michael
2020 Email Updates
In mid-August we were moved to Level 2 of the Lockdown. It allowed more stores to open, more people to go back
to work and more children to go back to school. Church services and meetings could be held with less than 50 people
in attendance as long as the necessary protocols were observed.
The church at Umzumbe did not resume church services until the 20th September.
This gave the members time to clean the church building and get the necessary hand-sanitizer
and thermometer. We also replaced two broken windows and a door lock on the church building.
The first Sunday we announced we would begin our service at 10. At the beginning there were
eight people, but by the end we had about 20. The next two weeks there were 10 and then 4.
Last week there were 6. We were unable to attend this past Sunday because Michael wasn’t feeling
well. (He’d had an injection which got infected.) One of the leaders had gone away and some of
the members had a funeral. We will continue to meet and try to get the members back to corporate worship!
We tried to re-open the day care center, but so far there has not been any response from the parents.
Michael will organize a parents’ meeting and try to determine what the problem is. During the
Lockdown the bathroom door was stolen. We have purchased a new door and are in the process of painting
it so the bathroom can be used again.
Our family has all managed to stay well and busy during the COVID-19 pandemic. Michael had a
birthday in early October and we were able to have all of the family here for supper.
What a joy to have 17 people in our house at once again. Rebecca went on maternity leave
at the beginning of September and gave birth to a gorgeous little girl, Lexi, on the 6th of October.
So we are now Great Grandparents! Grandma Dina (who is a midwife) is enjoying spending time with
Rebecca, Ruahn, and Lexi and helping out in many ways!
Erin has been at school since mid-June. She is in a private school so they were allowed to make
their own decision about opening. Chayah, Seanna and Matthew went back the 31st of August.
Chayah and Matthew go to the same school and they attend school every other day. Seanna goes
every other week. The poor parents and teachers are adjusting to the schedule and hoping they
get the children to school on the right days!!
Michael and I are well. We are slowly getting some of the sorting and down-sizing done, but it is
somewhat stressful! Because we are going through a lot of historical material, we sometimes get
stuck reading and going through things and forgetting that we are trying to get rid of them!
We rejoice with every change that brings us closer to what we perceive as normal.
We are still in pretty strict Lockdown so our activities have really been curtailed.
We were on Level 5 for 5 weeks and then moved to Level 4 where we are able to leave the
property between 6 and 9 in the morning for exercise. We have not been able to go to church
or seniors’ club and the day care center is closed. We are still not able to go out to visit
family or friends. We have been able to have our groceries delivered most of the time. We have
been out a couple of times to get medication so we also go to the grocery store while we are out.
One time while we were out we went to the grocery store and stocked up on some extras.
Michael and I decided to use Lockdown time to do some downsizing and take care of some paperwork
that had been neglected. We have made good progress, but there is still lots to do.
We also decided it was a good time to get some exercise. We walk laps around the outside of our house.
Since the move to Level 4 we do laps 3 or 4 days a week. The other 3 days we walk with our neighbor
and her 2 dogs. She has Bella a mastiff-type female and Rocco, a chocolate lab. Sue walks Bella, but
Rocco is big and strong so Michael walks him. Fortunately, there is a farm nearby and the owner told Sue
she was welcome to walk the dogs there. As soon as we are passed all of the houses, we let the dogs loose
and they run and get a lot of exercise.
We keep in touch with people from the Umzumbe Church through WhatsApp. They all seem to be coping.
Many of them get government child care grants or old age grants. I asked one of the ladies and
she said they all seem to be doing fine. We look forward to being able to hold church services again.
The area around the church has not had municipal water since January so they are dependent on a water
truck that comes about once a week. The government promised all areas would have water during this time
because of the instructions to wash hands often, but it seems that many areas have been neglected.
We keep in contact with our children and grandchildren through video calls and messages. Dina, Sean
and Rebecca (who all work in the medical field) have been working through the Lockdown. Ruahn is unemployed.
He had applied for some positions just before Lockdown, but he has not able to get a job yet. Exciting news
from Rebecca and Ruahn is that they will make us great grandparents in October! Gabriella and Erin spend their
days at home. Erin does school work. She attended a Christian school using home-school-type education so she
does school work every day. John has been able to re-hire some staff so they are continuing with the farming.
Diane helps Matthew with schoolwork and takes the boys for walks. She also does a lot of baking which she sells
and she is starting to do sewing again. Dawn and JP are at home with Chayah and Seanna. Chayah gets school work
from her school so the girls are doing some school work. Dawn also does baking and other activities with them.
JP has a 3-D printer and he has been making masks. He donated some to Hospice for their staff. Their family is
also gardening and doing some cleaning and sorting. The latest news is that teachers will be returning to school
on Monday, May 25. Students in grades 7 and 12 will start school on June 1. The other grades will be added
gradually over the next 2 months.
All in all we are doing fine. We are taking precautions and hoping that we will be able to get back to a
more normal way of life in the not-too-distant future. We miss our family and friends.
From 19 February until 15 March we had no water at our house. It started out as a workers’ strike,
but ended up with vandalism and labor problems. Fortunately, we have a rain water tank so we had water
for washing and flushing the toilet. We had to buy drinking water. It certainly takes a lot longer to
take care of daily tasks without water. It is so nice to be able to turn on the tap and get water now.
Unfortunately, the water in the area by the Umzumbe Church, where the day care and seniors’ club are,
have been without water since January and it has not been restored yet.
The annual Ministers’ Week was held in Warrenton, about 50 miles beyond Kimberley. We decided to go
this year as we been sorting through a lot of materials in our house and we had some books and historical
information we wanted to give to the ministers. I also had a large box full of old photographs. I gave
them to one of the leaders and he allowed people to go through them and take the ones of them or people
they know. There was a lot of excitement as they found photographs of themselves taken many years ago! Michael
and I were both asked to teach classes at Ministers’ Week so that added to our responsibility.
We extended the trip to Warrenton by leaving a few days early so we could make the long drive in two days.
In Kimberley we stayed with friends and were able to spend a few extra days with them. That was a very
relaxing and enjoyable time.
With the rest of the world, we are now dealing with the Corona Virus. It took quite some time for the first
case to be confirmed in our area. The first man to be confirmed had been to Germany on business. He had
been screened at the airport on his return. A few days later, the President of South Africa asked anyone
who had been overseas to be tested and, although he had no symptoms, he was found to be positive! He and his
family were quarantined and then tested again and they are all clear. Another man had only travelled in South
Africa, but had been to all three major airports. Since then I have heard there are two more cases. At this
stage South Africa has over 900 confirmed cases, and today they announced two deaths.
The government took the drastic decision to put a Lockdown on the whole nation beginning at midnight on 26 March.
The rules are very strict. We are not allowed to leave our houses for 21 days (until midnight on the 16th of
April) except to get food and medicine. We are not allowed to go for walks in the neighborhood or interact with
anyone outside of our own home. The penalties for being out without a valid reason are either a month in jail or
a fine of R15 000 (about $3000). Only those who are involved in essential services will go to work. Sean, who does
orthotics, is on call and Dina, who is a nurse, is working full time. John, Diane and the rest of the families on
the farm will be doing a lot of the farm work as they had to let many of their workers go home. We will not be able
to visit our children or go to church until the Lockdown is over. We don’t know if it will be extended beyond the 21 days.
Easter is a very special time of year in South Africa when the churches usually have large gatherings. These will not
be allowed this year and there are people who just can’t’ understand that and want to have the gatherings anyway.
Pray for the whole world as none of us really knows what is ahead. Pray for South Africa. We are very concerned
about the effect this could have if anyone in the informal settlements and rural areas contracts the virus. Pray for
us as we spend a lot of time in a very confined space.
Just before the Lockdown we went with our neighbor to take her two big dogs for a walk. We had hoped to do that
during the Lockdown for exercise, but we have learned that it is not allowed.
Caryl & Michael
We have been having the usual January heat so doing any physical work is very difficult.
We have also had the normal rains. The grass is growing fast and the flowers are blooming!
We have been going to the Umzumbe church most Sundays. Michael peaches quite often and also
conducts the communion service. The attendance varies from less than 10 to more than 25.
We had several children attending last year, but they have not been so regular this year.
One of the ministers is arranging for a Sunday School teachers’ training session so we
hope to get someone interested in more regular classes for the children.
The day care reopened in mid-January. As usual the attendance is small at the beginning of the year.
It is only half a month and the parents choose to keep the little ones at home so they don’t have to
pay the fee - even though we only charge half for the half month. Next week the enrollment should increase.
The seniors returned to their usual meetings twice a week. They certainly enjoy the time together.
Attendance is also down there, but I think that is mostly because of the heat.
Schools reopened in mid-January so Dawn is getting acquainted with her new first-graders.
Chayah is in 6th grade. Seanna and Matthew are in 3rd grade. They are all in different schools.
They all seem happy with their teachers. Grandpa Michael still does Grandpa Day with Matthew on
Tuesdays. MatthewX’s favorite activity is playing with
Grandpa’s electric train. I have Gogo
(Zulu for Grandma) Day with the three girls. I am reading the Little House on the Prairie books
to them. Grandpa and JP often listen in! We also play outside or do craft projects.
With the recent heat and rains, the flowers in our retaining wall are blooming beautifully.
2019 Email Updates
First of all we want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Blessed 2020.
We pray that you will enjoy the celebrations as we all remember the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ!
When schools closed, we had a graduation for the nine day care children who will go to big school next year.
We also celebrated Christmas with the Magog Senior Citizens’ Club. We had a delicious meal catered by
local ladies who gave our members (who usually cook for our regular meetings) a well-deserved break!
We drew names and exchanged gifts and had a most enjoyable day! Now the Seniors and the day care center
are in recess until mid-January.
Our family will be celebrating Christmas on Christmas Eve with all 16 of us plus a couple of extras.
Then on Christmas Day we will attend church and then gather with all of our family who are not
involved with other family gatherings plus some extras who don’t have family nearby!
We were very pleased that two of the young people from Umzumbe Church of Christ were able to attend
the first National Youth Convention right after the schools closed for the December holidays.
The plan is for this Convention to be held each year in December in various places throughout
the country to provide teaching and fellowship for young adults of high school and post-high school age.
Our weather has been very unusual this year. It is the rainy season here, but we had even more than usual
rain plus wind. This resulted in severely damaged roads, branches blowing down and a damaged roof at
Umzumbe Bible Institute. In addition we have had some unseasonably cool weather so we have to keep
sweaters or jackets close at hand. Over the past few days it has warmed up quite a lot, but the wind has
We will be thinking of you and praying for you as you celebrate Christmas and we would ask you to pray for us as well.
Caryl and Michael
Amidst the travels and working through the piles of accumulation I have not sent out an email since July! My apologies!
We had an extensive report on our trip to the US in the third quarter South African Torch so, hopefully, you have seen that.
We were glad to be able to spend time with family. We spent a lot of time with Duane and Kathy as we stayed with them.
They continue to make adjustments to Amber’s absence.
We attended the annual Church of Christ Mission conference in September. It is always good to meet with brothers and sisters
from all over the county. We were also able to distribute books we had in storage to some of the younger men who are studying
for the ministry.
Michael saw our G. P. in early October and was admitted to hospital for some tests. While he was there doctor also removed
7 lesions from his head, wrist and chest. Fortunately, they were all benign. Now I am the “nurse” who has to dress the wounds!
We will both be glad when they are healed.
We celebrated Michael’s birthday in early October with a cookout at our house with family. Later in the month we celebrated
Matthew’s 8th birthday with family and his friends. Grandpa made homemade ice cream for that crowd. Everyone enjoys that!
We have done some more sorting of accumulation. We had a shipping container for storage that was at the house where Diane and
Michael lived until 2008. We were worried that we might have to have the container removed from there and it would have cost
quite a lot to do that. However, the couple who are moving into the house said they wanted it so we gave it to them. We have
emptied it and we are destroying a lot of old papers that had been there for many years.
Dina and Sean went away for a few days at the end of October so we stayed at their house to get Erin to school. They arrived
back on Monday and on the previous day our water was shut off. Apparently, the sea water went into the river where the water
company gets water. The water was off for more than a week! Fortunately we have a rain water tank so we could wash dishes,
wash ourselves and flush the toilet. However, I did a laundry at the homes of our daughters.
Michael is shown here with some of the containers we used to carry water from our rain water tank.
We have continued to worship with the Umzumbe church. Average attendance has been between 10 and 20. This week we had 29.
Some who had been away were there and we know some of the regulars were not there. The children continue to come ins spite of very
little being done to encourage them.
Caryl and Michael
The provincial women’s and men’s meeting was held the first weekend of July.
This year it was at a church quite near our home so we didn’t have to make a long
trip. Although the services were almost entirely in Zulu we were impressed that most
of the speakers seemed well-prepared with messages and lessons. It is always good to
see people who come from other congregations. The fellowship is encouraging for all of us.
Brother Dinga, one of Michael’s South African Bible Institute extension class students,
preached at the meeting. He ministers at Ingwavuma in the far north of the province.
We are making progress on the efforts to hand over the mission property to the local church.
We offered it to them and they accepted. We just have to work out exactly how it will be done.
We can donate the property, but we understand that the government will impose a donation
tax so we are trying to find out how much it is and who is responsible for that.
We have been spending most of our days this month sorting through papers, teaching materials,
books and photographs that we have collected over the past 48 years! We are donating some of
it and destroying a lot of it! It is not an easy task!
We have approached a real estate agent in regard to selling our house, but have been advised
to do a bit of “de-cluttering” before we put the house on the market. We have been in the house
for 35 years so there is a lot of accumulation to go through! We would need to sell our house
before we could move, but we have looked at some houses in gated complexes that we would
consider as a possible new home for us. Pray for the right buyer for our house and for us to
find a home we can buy.
We have decided to make a short personal trip to the US from mid-August to mid-September.
Michael’s niece, Amber, Duane and Kathy’s daughter, passed away in early July from complications
from muscular dystrophy and an operation. Michael’s sister, Debbie, who lives in South Africa,
decided to go to the US in mid-August. It is not often that all four siblings are on one side
of the ocean so we decided that we will also go for a visit at the same time.
Pray for us as we make some huge transitions in our lives here and as we travel to the US next month.
Caryl and Michael
My apologies! I completely missed sending an email in May.
Rebecca, our granddaughter, and Ruahn Beattie were married on the 4th of May.
We had severe rain storms in April. Their wedding was supposed to be at River
Valley Farm in a tent by the river. The storms destroyed the road to the river
so less than 2 weeks before the wedding they were informed that they had to find
another venue for the wedding! After looking at a few different places they were
able to hold the wedding in the tent at a campground. In the end the wedding was
beautiful and everything went well on the day.
While we were in the US last year Michael’s brother, Duane,
said that he and Kathy were planning to go to Normandy about the time of the
75th anniversary of D-Day. He said they also wanted to go to Northern Ireland to
see a place where some ancestors came from. For many years we have wanted to go to
Northern Ireland so we decided to meet them there and then go to Normandy with them.
When their brother, Larry, heard about the trip, he and his wife also decided to go.
Then they contacted their sister, Debbie, and invited her to join the group. Later their
cousin, Craig, and his wife also decided to join the group. So nine of us met in St. Mere
Eglise and spent four days seeing the monuments, museums, beaches and other attractions of
Normandy. It was especially noteworthy as Craig’s dad, Uncle Dean Stanley, was a pilot during
the Normandy invasion. It was a very special time of honoring him and the hundreds of other
soldiers who fought for freedom 75 years ago.
The Magog Senior Citizens’ Club continues to meet twice each week. Recently they were
practicing so they could compete against other clubs in the region in physical games.
Despite their age, many of them are very agile and active. Those who excelled will go
on to compete against other clubs on a provincial level.
The day care center is doing well. We have 20 children registered, but they don’t all come
every day. We have recently hired a cook who prepares meals for the children.
Michael has recently been experiencing some short-term memory problems. We decided it
would be advisable to have him see the doctor and determine the seriousness of the situation.
So last week we met with our GP and he decided to have Michael admitted to hospital for a battery
of tests. He was only in hospital overnight and the tests revealed that there is no reason to be
concerned. We praise the Lord for that! The doctor said it could be stress-related so we are trying
to scale down even more on his work.
The youth camp for our province takes place this week. Michael was asked to teach, but that
required a long trip which is what we are trying to avoid so we decided that he should not go. Pray
that the camp will provide meaningful fellowship and valuable teaching.
On June 7th we celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary. Our children organized an afternoon tea for us at a hotel.
Our family and some close
friends joined us for eats,
cake and a lovely social afternoon. The next weekend we went to a nearby game farm and stayed in a beautiful chalet.
We were able to see zebra, eland, wildebeest, impala, warthog and giraffe. A highlight was seeing
a very young baby giraffe! We also enjoyed a delicious Sunday dinner of warthog-on-the-spit with
all the trimmings!
Pray for us as we are in the process of making some decisions about the future. We are doing
some down-sizing in preparation for putting our house on the market. We want to move into a more secure
place. We are also making plans to hand over the Umzumbe Bible Institute property where the church, day
care center and seniors’ club now meet.
Last month we wrote about our plans to go to Ministers’ Week. We have an article on
that meeting in the latest South African Torch.
Easter is a very special time in South Africa. Most churches have big gatherings.
The Churches of Christ in KwaZulu Natal (our province) will be gathering at Gingindlovu
which is about a 3-hour drive from home. We will leave early on Friday morning to arrive
for the all-day service. It is scheduled to start at 9:00 am and finish about 3:00 pm with
messages on the Seven Last Words of Jesus from the cross. After supper there will be a
worship service. On Saturday there will be lessons and a worship service. The minister who
was asked to bring a lesson for the entire group has asked Michael to take his place.
He has had some health issues and doesn’t feel he can do it. So Michael is preparing a lesson
this week. After Michael’s lesson the people will be divided into groups and there will be
lessons for men, women and youth. In the afternoon there will be meetings and then there will
be an all-night service. Sunday we will have a church service and then a big meal before everyone
April is a big birthday month for our family. Sean, baby Michael, Dawn, John, and Gabriella
all have birthdays this month. It looks like this year we will have three parties, but all are
pretty low-key as everyone is so busy. Rebecca’s wedding is the 4th of May so she and Dina and
Sean are busy getting that all organized. Diane and Dina are making bridesmaids and flower girl
dresses. Gabriella is busy finishing her high school studies and needs to be done by the end of April.
Michael and I have both been to the doctor this month. Michael went for check-up and he has
no problems. He will see the cardiologist the first week of May to have his annual checkup. I had
been having a lot of pain from what is, apparently, a spur in my heel. I think from walking awkwardly
because of that pain, I developed severe back pain. Fortunately, the doctor was able to prescribe a
medication which has really helped so I am feeling a lot better.
Pray for the Easter meetings and for the preparations for the wedding.
Michael and Caryl
We have been keeping busy. The weather has been hot and humid so it isn’t easy to do much
that involves physical exertion! We have a small air-conditioner in the office so it is our
favorite place right now!
The day care center is operating with four teachers this year. We have to have so many
because two of the teachers are doing a training course and have to be away part of the
time. When they are away the other teachers (who have not been for training) have to be
there to care for the children. It is not ideal, but we don’t have any other solution at
present. We need the teachers who have training! Pray for guidance for us!
The Seniors’ Club is going well. The people certainly enjoy getting together and sharing
time with one another. Because it has been so hot, they have not been doing much that
requires physical activity.
The last week of February Steve Caulley, a colleague from Kimberley came to Port Shepstone
by bus. He had surgery on his shoulder recently so he isn’t driving. Steve and Brenda will
be returning to the United States permanently later this year. A church about 75 miles from
us invited him to come for a special farewell service. He arrived here on Friday morning and
he and Michael traveled to the church on Saturday. They stayed over one night. The rain came
down in torrents that night. The noise on the tin roof of the building made it almost impossible
to hear what was going on! However the church gave him a nice farewell and presented him with
gifts. He returned to Kimberley on the bus on Monday.
We are busy getting ready for the annual Ministers’ Week. This is a time when ministers and
their wives from all over South Africa meet for teaching, worship and fellowship. This year
it will be in Wellington – near Cape Town. We decided the only way we could make the trip of
over 1000 miles was to fly so we will leave early on Sunday morning from Durban. The 2-hour
flight will get us to Cape Town in plenty of time for the first service in the evening. Michael
will be leading the communion service that night. I have been asked to prepare lesson(s) for the
ladies so I have been working on that. They haven’t said how many lessons or when they will be.
We will be staying with friends who live on a farm just a few minutes’ drive from the conference center.
The family is doing fine. The children are growing. The 7 and 8 year-olds (three of them) are
all losing teeth at a rapid pace! Michael, at 10 months, is crawling and getting around very quickly!
The school children (and the teacher) are looking forward to a 2-week school break between terms.
Rebecca started a new job recently and is preparing for her May 4th wedding. Diane is making
bridesmaids dresses for the wedding too.
Steve Caulley spoke to the congregation when they invited him for a farewell. He and his wife,
Brenda, will be returning to the United States permanently later this year.
We had a hectic January. On December 31 we went to town to do some final preparations for a movie night
for the Umumbe church. While we were driving our 2003 VW Jetta, it started making a lot of noise and
wasn’t starting properly. We decided to head straight to the VW garage to have it checked. About a mile
from there, the engine died and would not restart so we had to be towed to VW. After several days they told
us the engine was finished and presented us with a quote for parts and labor that was about double the
value of the car. They said they would try to find a used engine, but they are rare. We decided to offer
it for sale – as is – and had a few queries and finally a concrete offer. We decided to accept the offer
and say “good-bye” to a car we had enjoyed for many years. The buyer collected it from VW on the 30th of
January and on the 7th of February we met him and he was driving it. He had managed to find an engine and
he and a friend installed it!
Meantime we were car-shopping. All of our children drive Toyotas and encouraged us to follow suit.
We approached the local dealer (where John used to work) and it didn’t take us long to find a new (to us)
car. They had a 2018 Toyota Corolla Quest that was demo model which would meet our needs. We were able to
take possession of it on February 7.
We did go to the Umzumbe church on New Years’ Eve and showed a movie to a very small crowd. We had a movie
that was aimed at adults and the people who came were mostly children. We had made popcorn so the children
loved that. We will choose a children’s movie next time!! The evening ended with a time of prayer and we
were home shortly after midnight.
Schools reopened on January 9. Since Dawn is a teacher she had to be at school a couple of days early
so we had her girls (Chayah and Seanna) for two days. Dina’s daughter, Erin, also hadn’t started school
so we decided to have her join us so we had a lot of fun with the three of them. They stayed overnight
We have been attending the Umzumbe church since we got back. We were very disappointed the first couple
of times as so few people were there, but it seems it was just because it was December and many people
were away with family. The past few weeks the attendance has been between 20 and 30. Interestingly, many
of those who come are children from the community whose parents do not come. One of the ladies teaches a
short Sunday School lesson for them. Pray with us that the children continue to come and that they make
commitments to the Lord!
I am sure most of you know that my step-Mom, who was my Mom for over 50 years, passed away on February 1st.
We knew the time was very near and had debated whether I should return to the US for the funeral. In the end,
in consultation with my sister and step-sister, I decided not to go. As you know the weather in Minnesota
has been brutal and even some of the near-by family were not able to be at the funeral so I am sure my
decision was right. One of my step-nephews was able to have the entire service videoed and I received it
the day after the funeral. I am so thankful for the times I had been able to visit Mom over the past two
years when we were in the US. She was a joyful, lovely lady!
The day care center has reopened and we are struggling with teachers this year. Our main teacher from
last year has enrolled in a training program for teachers so isn’t able to be there every day. The other
teachers have no formal training. Also the parents are sending younger children who need more full-time
care so we may have to hire more care-givers for them. Michael and Malu, who assists us with the day care
center, will meet with the parents and make some decisions.
Caryl and Michael
2018 Email Updates
A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS to you from hot, humid South Africa.
We arrived safely back in South Africa on December 12 after our flights from Minneapolis
to Boston, then from Boston to Amsterdam, and (a very bumpy flight) from Amsterdam to
Cape Town. Our flight landed in Cape Town too late to catch a flight to Durban so we
stayed overnight and left early the next morning. Our daughter, Dina, met us there with
a pickup to transport us and all of our luggage home.
Shortly after we got to our house, most of the rest of the family arrived and we enjoyed
visiting and eating together. What a joy to see our girls, their husbands and six of the
seven grandchildren. (John and Rebecca had to work so they couldn’t be here.) The little
ones all grew a lot while we were away – especially Michael, who was seven weeks old when
we left and almost eight months old when we got back.
It did take a few days to get our body clocks back on the right time zone. I (Caryl)
especially had a hard time with that this time. I don’t know if it was just tension or
if I am just getting old! Fortunately, I am now almost back to normal sleeping and waking
hours. We have been busy trying to get the house back in order and taking care of some
urgent paper work.
On Sunday, the 16th we went to a church about forty-five minutes from here for special
services. Two of the ministers from KwaZulu Natal were ordained. Two of the ministers
from the Northern Cape came to participate in the service. We enjoyed seeing a lot of our
Christian friends at that service. We were especially pleased to see Anna Songo, widow to
minister Barnabas Songo. She is 80 years old and still in good health.
Monday was a public holiday here and Sunday had been Chayah’s 10th birthday so the family
gathered at their house to celebrate. We had a pizza party - the choice of the birthday girl.
Grandpa made home-made ice cream to go with the cupcakes her mom made. It was a fun and
The Christmas celebrations have begun. We went to a carols’ evening and nativity play
last night. Chayah was Angel Gabriel, Erin was also an angel, Seanna was a shepherd and
Matthew was the star of Bethlehem, complete with flashing lights. We will attend church at
Umzumbe tomorrow and then join a small group to sing carols at a hospice in Port Shepstone
on Monday. Our family Christmas will be on Christmas Day at Diane and John’s house.
Caryl and Michael
As we count down the hours to our departure, we look back over the past 15 months. I (Caryl) returned to the US in August, 2017,
nearly two months before Michael returned in October. When he arrived we “hit the ground running” and visited seven supporting
churches in Minnesota and Wisconsin. We returned to South Africa at the end of December 2017, attended a niece’s wedding,
enjoyed a photo safari with Michael’s siblings and a family friend, welcomed grandchild number seven, and got back to work.
In July 2018 we returned to the US and over the past 5 months we have visited our supporting churches and individuals in Nebraska,
South Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. We also attended the International Conference on Missions
in Cincinnati and visited the Ark Encounter.
We made our home base in Kimball Minnesota with our friend, Richard Eckman, in 2017 and with Larry and Marguerite Stanley in
Apple Valley Minnesota this year. We are so thankful for them and for family and friends who hosted us on our travels and
on breaks between trips.
In 2017 we got a Honda Accord to drive during our times here. We were able to sell it just a few days ago. Praise the Lord!
We will miss it, but we are so glad to have that taken care of before our departure.
Now we are packing the suitcases and getting ready to leave Minnesota with its cold and snow for the heat and humidity of South Africa.
Thank the Lord for safety and provision over the past 15 months. Pray for us as we travel and resume our ministry in South Africa.
Caryl & Michael
Well, it has certainly been a busy time over the past few months.
I just realized that we have not sent you any news since July!
We have spent quite a lot of time with family. We were fortunate to be able to visit
my 90-year-old step-mother twice. She is amazingly well for her age. She still has a
sense of humor and entertains us when we visit. (She doesn’t like beards and mustaches
and both Michael and my sister’s husband have them, so she gives them a hard time!)
We have visited several historic areas with Michael’s brother, Duane. They are both
very interested in history and aviation. We attended my family reunion with aunts,
uncle, cousins and their families. It was great to see some we haven’t seen in many years.
We began visiting churches at the end of July. We started with a trip to Nebraska.
We visited an individual supporter and good friend in the Omaha area. She treated us
to a day at the Henry Doorly Zoo. Then we traveled on to visit two supporting churches
on the next two Sundays. It was great to see our supporters in Nebraska again and to
renew acquaintances and make new friends. In the week between we spent time with our hosts
and visited some historic sites in their area. We also spent two days at the Harold Warp
Pioneer Village in Minden Nebraska.
When we got back to Minnesota our granddaughter, Gabriella, arrived from South Africa
for a ten-week visit. We got to participate in many of the activities that were arranged for her –
including a Minnesota Twins game, a camping trip, the Minnesota State Fair, some museums and historic
sites, a trip to see the source of the Mississippi River, a dinner cruise on the St. Croix River,
a trip to Colonial Williamsburg, Yorktown and Jamestown, and many visits with family and
friends! Are you tired yet? We are!!
In addition to that we have also visited a supporting church in Iowa and a supporting
church in South Dakota as well as two more individual supporters and some friends. Gabriella
went with us to South Dakota so after the church visit we traveled on west to visit the Badlands,
Black Hills, Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse and Wall Drug. The weather was perfect and one of the
highlights was seeing a herd of bison!
We have a few more family events before Gabriella leaves later in October. Then Michael’s sister,
Debbie, will arrive for a few weeks to visit her brothers here. They are all looking forward
to having the four siblings together again. There are several family activities planned for that time.
We will also continue our visits to churches. We will visit one more church in South Dakota and make
a trip to Indiana and Ohio in November to visit four more supporting churches and some individuals.
Between last year and this year, we hope we will have been able to visit all of our supporters! We
will also attend the International Conference on Missions in Cincinnati in November.
Pray for us as we travel. Also pray for the churches and our work in South Africa. We are in contact
with a lady from the church and with some of the ministers and their wives who keep us informed about
the situation there. We also have regular contact with our children, thanks to email and internet!
We have arrived safely in the US!
Although there was still talk of the strike on Sunday evening, it sounded like it would only be
from 7 until 8 on Monday morning. So we made the decision to leave early on Monday morning,
giving ourselves sufficient time to make detours if necessary. Dina had stayed overnight with us
to accompany us to the airport and take our car home. We left home at 7:30 and did not see any
evidence of the strike – except a police presence along the road at one spot. We arrived at the
airport by 9 and our flight was only at 2:40 p.m. We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast and walked
around the airport and relaxed until time to check in and board the plane. Thank you for all the
We had safe flights all the way. There was quite a lot of turbulence on all of the flights -
which was apparently due to various weather conditions. We had lay-overs of about 7 hours in
Cape Town and 2 hours in Amsterdam before arriving in Minneapolis on Tuesday afternoon. My sister,
Sharon, and her husband, Dave, met us at the airport and transported us to Michael’s brother and
sister-in-law’s house. We will be staying in Apple Valley with Larry and Marguerite for the next
We are adjusting to the 7 hour time difference and enjoying the summer weather. We thoroughly
enjoyed the 4th of July celebrations and even managed to stay awake for the fireworks!
We will be contacting churches in the next few days to organize visits so we can share
with you about our ministry in South Africa.
Again thank you to all who joined us in prayer for this trip. We certainly appreciate the
words of encouragement we received from so many of you.
Michael and Caryl
Since we wrote our last email Dina and Sean’s eldest daughter, Rebecca, got engaged. She met Ruahn Beattie through National Sea Rescue Institute. He has been involved in some family activities for quite some time so we all know him quite well. They are planning a wedding next year – probably in May.
We have been informed that the signatories on the Church of Christ Mission bank account have finally been changed. Now we have to get the check book sent to the treasurer and Michael’s responsibilities will be completely over.
We are busy getting ready for a furlough. We have purchased tickets to fly from here to Cape Town and then on to Amsterdam and Minneapolis on July 2 and 3. We are arranging for people to take on our responsibilities for the day care center and preparing to leave our home here for a few months.
This week we learned that there will be a nationwide shutdown of all roads by a
labor union on July 2. They have called for trucks and private vehicles to block
all of the roads so no traffic can get through. There was specific mention of
blocking roads to airports. They are protesting the price of fuel and the recent
increase in the Value Added Tax. At present the price of diesel for us is
equivalent to over $4 per gallon. They are calling for it to be about $1.50 per
gallon. The VAT is 15% and they want it reduced to 10%. If the strike goes ahead
we will not be able to get to the airport and we assume that all flights could
also be cancelled. Please pray with us that some agreement can be reached so we
can make our trip as planned.
March was a hectic month.
We had the annual Ministers’ Week at the beginning of the month.
It was held in East London which is about a 10 hour drive from here
so we decided to travel by bus. The journey was fine except they didn’t
have any meal stops so we quickly bought snacks whenever we could.
When we got to East London we waited for one of the ministers to come
and take us to the campsite. Unfortunately the organizers had
under-estimated the number of people who would be there so they were
short on housing. We stayed one night and then moved to a B&B
where two of the other ministers were staying. That gave us more privacy
and we could travel back and forth with them. It was a really good week
of worship, fellowship and teaching. The plan was to do a handover of
the mission finances at that meeting, but the new treasurer and the
signatories were not present so that was not done.
March was busy with funerals as well. Doreen Madlala, a member of the
Umzumbe church and a foundation member of Magog Senior Citizens’ Club,
passed away at the age of 88. The huge funeral was held in a tent at
Umzumbe Bible Institute. The next week we attended the funeral of
Mrs. Jethro Zobolo. Her husband, who was a minister, passed away in
January. Her funeral was held on the Saturday of Easter weekend.
During that week another member of the Magog Senior Citizens’ Club
passed away. I think she might have been the youngest member of the
club. She was an amputee and had attended a meeting quite recently and
we did not know she was ill. We did not attend her funeral because of
other commitments we had.
The Easter weekend services were held at a school near Gcilima Church.
There was a big crowd. The large tent was too small to hold the entire
congregation, but when the rain started to fall people moved closer
together and most of the people were able to get under shelter. People
commented that the rain was a sign of God’s blessing on the meeting so
no one complained.
The first week of April we traveled to Kimberley with our pickup loaded
with old financial records and stationery for the new treasurer. There
were still some things that we could not complete because the new executive
committee did not have all of the papers they needed to change the
signatories on the bank account. However we were able to hand over all the
records and stationery to the new treasurer. Michael still has the check book
and will have to issue checks until they get the necessary papers and change
the signatories at the bank.
Our exciting news is that Baby Evans has arrived. Michael and I are staying
at John and Diane’s for a few days to help with transporting Matthew to school
and preparing meals for John and Matthew. We are proud to announce that Michael
Roger Evans (named after his grandpas) arrived on 19 April at 8:09 a.m. and
weighed 3.53 kilograms (7 pounds 12 ounces.) Matthew is so proud and everyone
is doing fine.
Caryl & Michael
For those who might be wondering - we did make it safely back to South Africa.
We left Minneapolis (where the temperatures were well below zero) on December
29 and arrived in Cape Town (where it was very warm) on December 30. We stayed
2 nights with friends in Cape Town. Then we flew to Durban where Dina met us
and brought us home.
The photo is of the nine of us with our guide at Tembe Elephant Park.
We have settled into our home again and it is good to be back. Our housing area
had been without water for most of the last four months of 2017. The water woes
continued into 2018 so we had to get water from a communal water tank. Finally
residents had enough and contacted the press and took to the streets in protest.
They also threatened court action and we finally got some results. We have had
water most of the time since mid-January.
We were blessed to have visitors in January. Michael's sister, Debbie, and her
husband, Lynton, live in South Africa, so when their brothers, Duane and Larry,
and Larry's wife, Marguerite came to visit all the siblings were able to be together
on one side of the ocean. Friends, James and Marla Nicholson, also came and everyone
was able to attend the wedding of Debbie and Lynton's youngest daughter, Jaclyn to
Hugh van Niekerk.
Then the nine of us enjoyed a 5-day vacation at Tembe Elephant Park in northern
KwaZulu Natal. It was a never-to-be-forgotten experience that included accommodation
in tents, food several times a day, and 2 daily guided game drives -with Nkosi,
who was a wonderful guide!
Unfortunately all good things must end and our visitors have returned to the US.
It was a wonderful time and we made many memories!
Now life is getting back to normal. We have attended the Umzumbe church and
Michael has preached a few times. The day care center has reopened with new
teachers and lots of new children. We have been back to the senior club and
they welcomed us very warmly.
2017 Email Updates
The past month has been hectic. We have visited 6 supporting churches and have
2 more speaking engagements arranged for December. We have been blessed to renew
acquaintances and meet some new people. The weather has been good to us. We had a
little snow, but it didn't last, and it hasn't been very cold.
We have been able to spend some time with family. We traveled to Branson with Michael's
two brothers and their wives for a few days of vacation. We had a wonderful time and
enjoyed the programs and meals we had together. What a wonderful place to visit. They
had started the Christmas programs and it really put us in the mood for the holidays!
After Branson we went to The International Conference on Missions in Peoria. We had a
meeting with our advisory board while we were in Peoria since it was a convenient place
for our four board members to meet. They gave us some great advice and we were encouraged
to refocus our ministry on more local ministries in South Africa and avoid the long trips.
The ICOM was a blessing as we were able to see a lot of people we knew. We met former
South African missionaries, former Bible College classmates, church people and other
friends. The worship sessions were a blessing and we enjoyed some good workshops.
I picked up a "bug" somewhere in Branson or Peoria so have been coughing a lot the
past week. I am feeling much better now and it seems Michael escaped the "bug" for
whichWe will celebrate Christmas with the Stanleys on December 26. Then we will get our
suitcases packed and leave the US on December 29. Our plan is to be back in South
Africa for Michael's sister's daughter's wedding in January. Michael's two US brothers
will also be at the wedding so all the siblings will be together - which doesn't
happen often! Then we are looking forward to the birth of our grandchild number 7 to
John and Diane in April. Later in the year we will come back to the US to visit more
of our supporters.
Pray for safe travels for all of us who will be traveling over the next couple of
months and for the safe arrival of the baby!
Picture of Michael and Caryl with their furlough display.
Michael arrived in the US on 12 October. It is so good to be back together after 7 weeks apart.
I spent most of the time with my sister and brother-in-law, Sharon and Dave. Sharon has some health issues and I was able to accompany her to a few doctors' appointments. It gave us a lot of time together - something we haven't had in a long time.
Michael had a pretty rough 7 weeks. For quite a lot of the time he had no water at our house. There is a bit of debate about whether it is broken pipes from old age or sabotage! Whatever the cause, there are many areas that have been without water. Then for a few hours there was no electricity. Because of that, he spent quite a lot of time with our girls - which was a blessing! At least he had water and people around him.
Also he was bitten by a dog shortly after I left. Because he didn't know anything about the dog, he went through the rabies treatment. He did see the dog later and it looked ill, but the owners assured him it was sick from eating rat poison!
He had to make a trip of several hours to meet with the finance committee before they drew up the financial report. He asked Rebecca, our 19-year-old granddaughter, to travel with him for companionship. She was able to visit an aunt and uncle while he was in his meetings.
Just before he left for the Conference he was notified that Heather Kernan, a former fellow-missionary, had passed away. On Sunday when he arrived for the Conference church service, he was told that John had passed away. He thought that the person was confused, but then learned that indeed both Heather (age 88) and John (age 96) had passed away - her on Wednesday and him on Saturday. John had phoned about 6 months ago and asked Michael to speak at his funeral. He consulted with other church leaders and booked a flight to East London to be at the funeral
on Tuesday. He had to fly from Kimberley to Johannesburg, stay overnight and then fly to East London. He missed the check-in in Johannesburg by 3 minutes and had to buy a ticket on another airline to get to East London. He arrived at the church for the 12 noon funeral at 12:05! He spoke at the funeral and then he spent the afternoon with John's daughter and family. They enjoyed reminiscing!
He returned to the Conference on Wednesday and presented his last treasurer's report on Thursday! It was well-received and accepted. Later that day elections were held and new officers were elected. We are both relieved that he is no longer treasurer!
The Conference ended on Friday morning, but he decided to drive home on Saturday. Since he had some time, he decided to go and take some pictures of an old church site in Kimberley. While he was taking the picture, some young men came up and spoke to him. As he turned away from the "leader" he felt something hit his chest and turned to see the man running away with his mobile phone! He gave chase, but couldn't catch up. He returned to the pickup to find that, while he was gone, someone stole his camera case out of the pickup! He had the camera with him, but lost the battery charger, connecting cables and case!
We have now settled in with our friend, Richard Eckman, in Kimball, Minnesota. We will be visiting several of our supporters over the next two months. Our plans have changed a few times, but our plan is to return to South Africa at the end of December for some family events. Then we will return in mid-May to visit the rest of our supporters.
Pray for safety as we travel and for God's protection over our family and house while we are away.
I made the trip from South Africa to the US on August 24 and 25.
The stop in Cape Town was 9 hours - a very long time to be in an airport!
The real stressful time came when I went through passport control.
He looked in my practically-new passport for my permanent residence
visa and it wasn't there! He informed me that he was not going to let me
leave the country. To make a long story short, he allowed me to have
Michael send me a screen shot of the visa and then he stamped my passport
and let me leave. Michael will bring the original visa with him so I will
be able to get back into the country. He will also have to bring his visa with him.
I arrived at 3 pm in Minneapolis and my sister and brother-in-law, Sharon and Dave,
took me to see my sister, Juanita. She opened her eyes and gave me a huge smile when
I arrived. I spent the next 3 hours with her, but she was in a lot of pain and didn't
really talk to me. I went home with Sharon and Dave and early in the morning Sharon
came to tell me that Juanita passed away at 6:30 that morning. A memorial service will
be held October 16 when her granddaughter, Michael and other distant relatives and
friends can be here.
I have been staying with Michael's brother and sister-in-law, Larry and Marguerite,
or with Sharon and Dave since then. Sharon and I have helped my niece and nephew sort some
of the things in Juanita's apartment. Larry helped me get a car for Michael and me to drive
for furlough. It is a 2010 Honda Accord. Dave is an expert in cars and he has checked the
car thoroughly and he says it is in really good condition. I have done some mission work -
contacted some churches to arrange speaking dates and prepared the next South African Torch f
Michael has worked on the financial report and will meet with the finance committee
in King Williams Town this weekend to finalize his treasurer's report. It is about 400 miles
from home so our granddaughter, Rebecca, is going along to keep him company on the road. She
will stay with her dad's sister who lives near there.
When Michael gets back he will collect all of the reports for the annual conference
and have them printed in a booklet for the delegates. Then he will start packing for his trip
to the US and travel to the conference which will be held in Kimberley from October 1st to 6th.
Pray for him as he travels and attends the conference.
After the conference Michael will finish packing his suitcase and finalize things at
the house for our absence. Our Community Watch will check on the house and we will have a garden
service take care of the yard. Michael will fly to the US on October 11 and 12. Pray for God's
protection over our house and for safety for Michael as he travels.
Just a short note to up-date you on the latest plans. Our plan was
to attend the annual church conference at the beginning
of October and then travel to the U.S. to visit churches and report
on our work and our plans for the future.
A lot of our plans changed
when we received news that my younger sister has been diagnosed with
stage 4 cancer. I was advised to go and spend some time with her before
Michael and I start visiting churches in late October.
I will be flying to the U.S. on August 24. I will be staying with
family in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. Please pray for me as I make
this trip on my own.
Michael and I are busy working on his annual treasurer’s report.
He will be meeting with the finance committee to finalize the report
at the beginning of September. Please pray for him as he prepares the
house for our absence, attends the conference and travels to the U.S.
in mid-October. He will also hand over our responsibilities for our
schools’ ministry and the day care center to members of the local church.
Needless to say we are both a bit stressed with the financial report,
the preparations for our travels and the thought of being apart for seven
weeks at such a critical time.
We look forward to seeing many of you over the next few months.
June started with us going back to Hammarsdale where Michael served as
minister for about three years in the early 2000’s. One of the youth had
studied for a teaching degree through UNISA (University of South Africa,
a correspondence university) and we were invited to her celebration party.
She has been working as a teacher’s aide and has been offered a position at
the school. We are proud of her achievements!
We celebrated our 48th wedding anniversary on 7 June by going out for dinner.
Michael had a Church of Christ Mission executive meeting in Kimberley in
mid-June. We drove to Bloemfontein and stayed overnight. He had to get up at
1 in the morning to meet another committee member who arrived then by bus.
In Kimberley we again stayed with our friends, Roy and Jenny Murray. Michael
had meetings all day on Friday and Saturday. Saturday morning I went to the
B & B where the other men were staying and made breakfast for them. I spent
the rest of my time there visiting with Jenny while we knitted.
On Sunday afternoon we went to see Steve and Brenda Caulley, fellow-missionaries
who live in Kimberley. We had coffee and a nice visit. Steve is involved in writing
and teaching Bible classes.
The last weekend in June Michael went to Lusikisiki in the northern part of the
Eastern Cape for evangelistic outreach meetings. I stayed with Diane and John.
On Saturday I got sick and no anti-nausea medication seemed to help – not even
an injection. By Sunday I was feeling better except for a nagging pain in my
abdomen. I went to church and then the family (except Michael) celebrated my
up-coming birthday with a lovely pork roast dinner.
Michael came home on Sunday night and Monday we decided I should see my GP as
the nagging pain had not gone away. After a brief examination she sent me to the
hospital to consult a surgeon. He sent me for x-rays and a scan and then put me
on intravenous antibiotics to fight the infection in my appendix. Tuesday morning
he announced that it wasn’t doing the job and he was going to do surgery. He removed
my appendix on Tuesday afternoon and released me from hospital on Wednesday afternoon.
Michael and I stayed with Diane and John for two nights and then with Dina and Sean
for four nights before returning home.
While I was recuperating Michael attended the funeral of the step-grandmother of the
girl we fostered for a few months in 2008. Then he took youth from Umzumbe to youth
camp and stayed to teach for two days. Later in the week he went back to camp to bring
the youth home again.
The highlight of our month was a visit from Bill and Verna Weber, friends and former
missionaries in South Africa. They were with us for only 3 days, but we got a lot of
talking done in that time! On their recommendation we have reconsidered our retirement
plans. We are now planning to scale down the work we do and continue for another few years.
We will discuss all of this with our advisory board when we are in the US later this year.
The annual conference will be the 1st to 6th of October. Shortly after that we will
leave for the US for a few months to visit our supporting churches and individuals.
We will stay with our friend in central Minnesota again - as we did in 2013. That will
put us near our siblings and in the middle of our supporters.
Pray for us as we make decisions about our house and vehicles. It is always a concern
to leave the house unoccupied and store the vehicles. We will probably put the house
on the market for a few months to see if it sells. If we could get enough from the
house we would relocate to a retirement village. Our car is 14 years old and has 249000
kilometers (155000 miles) on it. It is still reliable, but this might be a good time to
get a newer vehicle. The pickup is only 5 years old and it is in good condition so it
should last as long as we need that type of vehicle. We have had several people approach
us asking to buy both of the vehicles. Pray for us as we make these decisions!
We attended the Easter meetings in Mtubatuba about 200 miles from home. We stayed with
a church family and attended the meetings at a nearby school on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
There was a crowd of about 500 people from all over the province. The people slept and ate
at the school. The services were held in a large tent which was set up on the school grounds.
Our day care center continues to grow. We started the year with 12 children. Now we have
32 children registered. The newest teacher is attending a pre-school teachers' training course.
April was a big birthday month for our family. Sean turned 50 on the 14th. Then on the
26th Dawn turned 40, John turned 34 and Gabriella turned 16. Gabriella organized a Western
theme party to celebrate all of the birthdays. It was really fun!
Michael spoke twice at the Easter gathering. His interpreter was Mabandla Israel
Mfeka, one of the younger ministers.
We keep busy with the usual activities - church, school
ministry, day care, seniors' club, special meetings, etc.
The day care center started with 12 children and, since one of the teachers from
last year had left the area, we found another teacher to help. Then more
children started to come. When the number increased considerably, we needed
another teacher. Then the teacher from last year came back so Michael re-hired
Michael was told that people would take their children to another day care if
the fees were increased. However in a meeting with the parents, they made the
decision to make the increase. Amazingly the result was that no one left and
even more children came. There have even been some more new ones in the past
week and our enrollment is now at 29! They are using the old room for the babies
in diapers and the new rooms for the older children.
The Marriage Seminar that we mentioned last time had to be postponed because
there was a funeral at the church where it was to be held. We have not heard
when it will be rescheduled.
Since we had planned to go visit friends (Roy and Jenny) in Kimberley after the
Marriage Seminar, we decided to go to Kimberley earlier. We spent two days
driving there and we stopped on our way to see the campsite where the next
Annual Conference is to be held. While we were on the way on Friday afternoon we
got a call telling us that Jenny had fallen and broken her wrist. She was in
hospital awaiting an operation! So we went to stay with Roy and visited Jenny in
hospital. Jenny came home about noon on Sunday. Early Sunday morning Roy went to
another hospital and had a hernia operation on Monday. In the end we spent a lot
of time driving for Jenny and helping her around the house. We stayed until
Wednesday and although it wasn't exactly the vacation we had planned, we were
glad to be there when Roy and Jenny needed us. We always enjoy our visits with
The annual Ministers' Week was held from 5 to 10 March in a rural area about 100
miles from here. We stayed with a family from the church who live a short
distance from the church. We had a comfortable room, but the toilet was a drop
toilet about 100 feet from the house! The rain made the trip to the toilet in
the middle of the night a bit uncomfortable! The meetings were held at the
church and meals were served in a tent in the church yard. We were blessed by
the worship, prayer times, messages and lessons. The ministers' wives thoroughly
enjoyed our study and the knitting and crochet handwork. Thank you Litchfield,
Minnesota, for your sponsorship!!!
After Ministers' Week we helped some of the ministers and their wives get to
their bus transport and then we traveled to the Drakensberg Mountains for a
short holiday with Diane, John and Matthew. We were able to enjoy the beautiful
scenery and relax. Michael, Diane and Matthew did archery, Michael did a zip
line, Diane and I went for spa massages, and we ate and talked! John's
activities were limited as he had smashed his thumb the week
before which stopped him from playing golf and participating in the archery.
Pray for the up-coming Easter meetings which will be held at Mtubatuba which is
200 miles from home. The meetings will be Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Also pray
for decisions we need to make over the next few weeks in regard to our
(The photo is of some of the children at the day care center.)
Michael and Caryl
January has been busy with all the activities starting up again. School
started for the new year so all of our grandchildren have gone to school.
Rebecca is finishing up the exams she couldn’t do last year when the school was
unable to get the books she needed for the ACE program. Gabriella is in grade 10
and is a prefect and Erin is in grade 1. They are at Ethan School. Chayah is in
grade 3 and Seanna is in grade 0 at the school where Dawn teaches. Matthew is
also in grade 0 at another public school. Everyone seems quite settled in their
The day care center reopened and we had 15 children in January. The teachers say
that more will come in February. The teacher from last year returned, but her
helper got another job so we had to quickly find a new helper. She seems to be
very capable. We are in the process of preparing a better classroom for them in
the office block as the building they are in is in disrepair. The parents who
attended the first parents’ meeting are very excited about the move and agreed
to an increase in the fees. Unfortunately, some of the moms who couldn’t attend
the meeting were not happy about the increase in fees. We are working to find
someone who can oversee the crčche when we return to the US later this year.
The Magog Senior Citizens’ Club is back in session. They are planning to be a
bit more active with gardening, exercising and handwork this year. We have been
challenged to make knitted or crocheted blankets this year so I have started
knitting my blocks. We have been asked to help with a marriage seminar in the
Eastern Cape next month so we are preparing for that. Pray for us. We will take
a few days after the seminar to visit friends and have a little bit of a
Recently a teacher who attends the church at Umzumbe took the children who were
at the service and taught them a Sunday school lesson. The children were so
excited. They love her and she is a very capable teacher. She has asked me to
help her with materials for the class. Pray that more children will come to join
Michael will be turning 70 later this year. He will not be eligible to be
elected to serve as Church of Christ Mission treasurer as he has served his
allotted terms. We have decided that it is time to look at retirement. It is a
scary thought! We have a house and the accumulation of nearly 48 years of
marriage and 45 years in South Africa. It seems a daunting task ahead of us!
Pray with us as we contemplate this major change in our lives. We will send more
details when we know more. Please pray for us as we are planning to return to
the US for a furlough toward the end of the year.
2016 Email Updates
Obviously November was hectic. I just found the email I had written and never sent
to up-date you on our October activities!! Please drop down to the October section
and read about our trip to Cape Town for Conference.
At the beginning of November we made another trip to Kimberley. Michael had a meeting
with the National Executive Committee of the Church of Christ Mission. Unfortunately
the friends we usually stay with were away on vacation so we thought we might have to
stay in a B&B. However, fellow missionaries, Steve and Brenda Caulley, offered us a
place at their home. The other NEC members were staying in the B&B across the road
from their house so it was very convenient. Michael had made arrangements for ladies
from the local church to prepare meals for them and they held their meetings in the
church building. While we were there both Steve and Brenda were sick and Michael was in meetings.
I spent a lot of time alone during the days and I was able to do a lot of cross stitch and really relax.
The Umzumbe Church of Christ decided to hold an evangelistic meeting one Saturday evening
in November. They hoped it would draw people from the community, but that did not happen.
However, several members of the congregation took the opportunity to share messages and
we had a good time of worship and prayer. They plan to repeat this in the new year.
The Magog Senior Citizens’ Club held their annual Christmas dinner at the Pumula Hotel in
Umzumbe. They really enjoyed the buffet dinner and lovely atmosphere. The first week in
December we had our final meeting for the year and celebrated the November and December
birthdays and Christmas. We had drawn names for a gift exchange. There was much dancing
and singing as the gifts were distributed!
Michael went to Pretoria for the National Youth Seminar from December 9 to 14.
Since he was going alone, we decided he should go by plane. He was able to fly from Margate,
which is just 20 miles from our home, to Johannesburg, where a lady from the church met him.
There was no seminar last year so we were very happy that the young people from the Gauteng
province organized it this year. Although the group was small the seminar was a success.
While Michael was in Pretoria I stayed with John. Diane and Matthew. Part of the time Diane
was in Cape Town for her final trip as part of Scripture Union. She is involved in writing
another Holiday Bible Club (Vacation Bible School) program. The group met to finalize the
program for next year. While she was there the staff also said, “Farewell!” to her as she has
resigned as of the end of December.
We had a very busy week toward the end of November with family activities. Erin “graduated”
from Grade R (kindergarten) and we were able to be at her graduation. She will be going to
Ethan School next year, which is where Rebecca and Gabriella have been at school for the past
few years. The next night we attended the prize-giving for Ethan School. Rebecca got an award
for perfect attendance for her entire school career! Gabriella was chosen to be one of the
prefects for next year. Prefects are student leaders who are given responsibility for
maintaining order and providing assistance in school activities. The next day we attended the
end of year concert at Matthew’s school. The preschoolers all participated in the program.
Matthew and Seanna will both be going to grade R next year, but they will be in different schools.
We wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy 2017!! We are looking forward
to worshipping with the Umzumbe Church and then celebrating with the family at John and Diane’s
house on Christmas Day!
Photo - A group of young people formed an impromptu choir at the National Youth Seminar
which was held in Pretoria from 9 to 14 December. (It is hard to get a clear picture when
they are singing and dancing.)
October news from Stanleys
All of October is gone and it is past time for us to send you an up-date.
Our flight to Cape Town went well. We traveled with two ladies from the Umzumbe church. One had never flown and she was very nervous, but loved it!
We stayed at the conference venue in a small cottage with one other couple.
While Michael arrange for our rooms, I waited with the luggage. We had been warned that there were baboons in the area and while I was waiting a lady took out a packet of cookies and a baboon came and took it from her and ate the whole packet! We learned to watch for them after that!
Sunday was a full day with church, lunch, a lesson, meetings and an evening service. It was great to see people who came from all over the country.
Unfortunately, on Monday morning I had another muscle spasm in my back. It pinched a nerve to my leg and I could hardly walk. One of the men from KwaZulu Natal offered his vehicle and a driver so Michael could take me to the doctor. I ended up in bed for most of the week with a muscle relaxant and strong pain killers. I usually help with the collection of money, but the Finance Committee did it this year.
We stayed on after the conference so Michael could finish up the finances with the lady who was in charge of buying the groceries. We stayed at a mountain lodge for two nights and with a church family one night before flying home. On Sunday we attended church with a new congregation in the area. They meet in a day care center and are led by an elder.
Pray with us as we seek a solution for the Umzumbe Bible Institute property. It is being used for the church, the day care center and the senior club. However, we are finding the responsibility for upkeep quite difficult so we are hoping to find others to take over from us.
We have enjoyed some activities with the grandchildren this month. Erin and Seanna were in an end-of-year program for their day-care center. We also spent a few days with John and Matthew because Diane had to go to Cape Town again for work. We took him to school and helped prepare meals for them.
Diane has decided to resign from Scripture Union after 21 years. She is finding the travel too difficult so she will finish at the end of the year. They have decided that she will stay at home and help John with their vegetable business.
Seanna fell off the jungle gym at day care this week and broke her wrist. She apparently isn't getting enough calcium since she is allergic to dairy products. She is sporting a plaster cast which she will have until just before Christmas.
Rebecca, Erin, Chayah and Seanna will be in the end-of-year dance show this week. The school year will end on 7 December. Rebecca will finish school this year and is checking out on some possibilities for next year. I think everyone is looking forward to the break.
Well September did not turn out to be more relaxing! Michael was asked to collect
the reports from the various groups in the Church of Christ Mission to be made into a
booklet for distribution at the annual conference. He has spent many hours tracking
down the reports and getting them ready for the printer. Since we are traveling by air
it is not possible for us to transport them from here so a lady in Cape Town is making
arrangements to have them printed there. Michael sent some of the reports to her early
this week by courier and he sent the rest to her by email.
Photo above is Elijah Gontsana, President of the church of Christ Mission signing his report in the booklet at last year's conference.
I guess the stress was too much for me and I ended up at the doctor with a knotted muscle
in my back. After a few days of muscle relaxants and some bed rest I am feeling better.
Pray for us as we go to the conference. I am afraid there will be more stress!
One of the children from the day care center had sores and they weren't healing.
Her mother had taken her and her older sister to a clinic, but the medicine the nurse
gave them wasn't helping. About two weeks ago Michael decided to take them to our family
doctor. The mother doesn't have money to take them to a private doctor. Now they have had
treatment and the older girl is better, but the little one still has sores. So far we have
spent over $100 on medical treatment for the girls, but it looks like they will need more
treatment. There is at least one other child at the day care center with sores so we may
have to have him treated as well. If you would like to help with these medical costs, we would
appreciate the help.
The local Cancer Relay for Life was held recently. Diane and I have captained a team every
year since our local CANSA office started having the Relay for Life in 2011, but this year
everyone was so busy that we weren't able to have a team. I was disappointed, but Michael
and I went and supported the Port Shepstone Junior Primary School teachers' team which Dawn
captained. We enjoyed it and stayed until the end to help her and the others pack up their
Michael and I went and stayed with John and Matthew for most of a week while Diane was in
Cape Town for work. We transported Matthew to and from school and played with him when he
got home. We also helped cook meals for them. It was quite relaxing and we enjoyed our time with them.
We would appreciate your prayers for the annual conference in Cape Town from 1 to 7 October.
It will be a busy time and there could be some major changes in the church. Pray that God's Will
will be done and that He will speak clearly through the speakers and preachers!
We are pleased to let you know that we managed to get the Church of Christ
Mission financial report done before the Cape Town meeting!
Michael made the trip to Cape Town on his own. I took him to the main road near
our house to meet the minibus which took him to Durban and he flew to Cape Town
on Thursday last week. We found out on Monday before he left that the financial
committee would be there to go over the report. The only problem they
encountered was that we forgot to pack the receipt books! Otherwise they
approved the report.
The meeting in Cape Town was at times extremely heated. Unfortunately, very few
issues were actually resolved, but many issues were brought out in the open and
that is a step forward.
I stayed with our daughter, Diane, and her family while Michael was away. I had
Seanna, our five-year-old granddaughter with me on Thursday because she was sick
and couldn't go to pre-school. Friday I went to Matthew's sport day at his
pre-school and came home to pick up a few things I forgot to pack. Saturday we
all traveled to the Wild Coast Sun for a dance show by several of the local
dance studios. Rebecca, Erin, Chayah and Seanna all danced so it was a fun day.
I arrived home on Sunday to meet Michael when the minibus brought him back from
September should be a bit of more quiet for us so we are looking forward to a
bit of rest before we head back to Cape Town for the annual conference at the
beginning of October.
My eyes are back to normal and the tingling in my arm is almost gone so I am
feeling much better. The weather is warming up so it looks like summer is on the
Continue to pray for the Church of Christ Mission Executive Committee and the
up-coming annual conference in October.
Michael and Caryl
My sincere apologies. It looks like June and most of July slipped by and I
have not sent out an email. It has been busy!
Photo – Syvion Nxumalo, one of Michael’s SABI students, teaching at the 2016 youth camp.
Michael had his angiogram in early June. The good news is that all the grafts done six years ago are
open and functioning well. So he is in good health!
I have had a couple of health issues. I thought I was losing the vision in my left eye so
saw an optometrist who referred me to an eye specialist. The diagnosis was a virus which
was in both eyes. Fortunately the eye drops and ointment have done their job and I am back
to normal vision. Then I started feeling tingling in my arm. On the advice of the medical
members of the family I went to a chiropractor and he diagnosed a pinched nerve in my neck.
I have had four treatments and it has helped me a lot. This getting old is not fun!!
In mid-June we went to Kimberley because Michael had to attend a Church of Christ Mission
National Executive Committee meeting. His meeting lasted from mid-morning until nearly
midnight and it was quite stressful. We stayed with our friends, Roy and Jenny Murray. We
decided to stay a few extra days to visit and relax. It really was a good break!
The youth camp for our province was held at Oribi Bible Camp, just 30 miles from home,
at the end of June. Michael helped transport food and then taught for two days. He wasn't
able to be there for the whole time as we had to go to a provincial meeting. The exciting
news from camp is that two of the young people from Umzumbe Church made first-time commitments
to the Lord and one of the young ladies recommitted her life to the Lord. We are praising God
for His blessing.
At the provincial meeting Michael gave a report on the situation in the Church of Christ Mission.
I was told after lunch on Saturday that they expected me to speak. Apparently I was on the schedule,
but no one had told me. I sat in the pickup and prepared a short lesson which I finally taught about 7 at night.
We have spent the past couple of weeks working on finances. July is the end of the Church of
Christ Mission financial year so Michael is trying to get all the accounts paid. I am helping him
get all the records organized so we can get the financial report ready for a meeting at the end of August.
In addition to that, we have to file income tax papers in the US for our mission funds and that is due
by 15 August so we have been doing those finances as well! Our big dining room table is full of paperwork!!
Michael and Caryl
In April Michael (as treasurer) was authorized by the national Church of Christ Mission
to purchase a sound system for use by the Director of Evangelism. John helped Michael set
it up and try it out before he delivered it to Aliwal North on Friday 22 April. It was about
a 9 hour drive from home and he made the trip on his own. He attended the evangelistic
meeting there and then returned home on Monday.
While Michael was away I stayed with John and Diane. No one wants me to stay alone in our house.
When I returned home on Monday morning I found that we had had a break-in. Michael had received
a phone call in the middle of the night to say our alarm had been activated, but the security
company and local neighborhood watch had checked and thought all was in order. When I opened the
garage, I discovered that was not true. The burglars had removed roof tiles and pulled the brush
cutter out. Fortunately, that set off the alarm and they didn't take anything else!
The first weekend of May we traveled to Mtubatuba to attend the wedding of Sipho Nhlenyama,
a young man from KwaZulu Natal, who had attended South African Bible Institute when we were teaching there.
The next weekend we traveled to Johannesburg to meet with the youth committee from that area.
They are planning to host the National Youth Seminar in December and they wanted to show us
the campsite they plan to use. It seems to be a good place. Now we need to help them organize
teaching materials and teachers.
Michael had his annual checkup with his heart specialist this past week. He went through the stress
test and then got the bad news. The doctor was a bit concerned about some of the results. He said
that since his heart by-pass surgery was over 6 years ago and they can do a lot more now than they
could then, he wants Michael to have another angiogram. When Michael said he had some meetings coming
up in mid-June and at the end of June, the doctor said he must come in the next couple of weeks. He is
tentatively scheduled to go to the hospital on 8 June. Pray that all will go well.
At this time we are facing some serious issues in the national Church of Christ Mission.
Please pray for Michael and the other members of the National Executive Committee.
They will be meeting in mid-June.
Caryl and Michael
The annual Ministers' Week was held in Eshowe this year. We stayed with a couple from the church who live in Eshowe. They have dogs that did not allow us to get out of the car unless someone from the family was there to protect us! The rest of the people stayed at the school where the meetings were held and the meals were served. The theme this year was "relationships" and the ministers had well-prepared lessons and sermons on the theme. We had more time than usual for fellowship as well which was a blessing.
Just before Easter Bill Weber, a former missionary to Johannesburg who now lives in Cincinnati, and his grandson, Ethan Brooks, came to South Africa.
They went to Johannesburg first and then came to see us for a few days. That was a real blessing.
Easter services were held from Friday through Sunday at a church about 25 miles from our home.
Attendance was around 400. Bill and Ethan were with us at the time so we stayed at home and
traveled each day to the services.
(Picture at right.)
The beginning of April we attended the All Africa Missionary Retreat in Cape Town.
(Picture at left is Michael
at Cape Point.)
We traveled to Durban by mini-coach and flew to Cape Town. We stayed in a beautiful hotel which was also the conference center. The worship and teaching were led by a team from Little Rock, Arkansas. That was such a blessing! In the afternoons we went on tours of the area. It was great fun and very interesting! Bill and Ethan were also at the Retreat so we got to spend some more time with them there. Michael and I stayed one extra day after the Retreat and toured Robben Island, which is where Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners were imprisoned for many years.
We have resumed our ministry to the local schools. Michael does devotions at the high school and I go to the primary school once a week. Pray for us to touch the lives of these young people!
Family news includes injuries to the two youngest grandchildren. Matthew fell out of a tree and cut his chin open. The doctor taped it shut, but he has quite a scar! Seanna fell down a step in a restaurant and hit her head and "shoulder" on the table next to them. The cut on her head wasn't too bad, but after a few days X-rays showed that her right collar bone was broken so she is in a sling for a few weeks. She is right-handed so she is learning to use her left hand for everything now.
Michael and Caryl
January was a bit hectic. Michael's cataract surgeries went very well and he
is enjoying not needing glasses all of the time. He just has to try to keep
track of where he last left his reading glasses as he really needs them for the
computer and any papers he needs to read!
The urologist recommended surgery immediately for the prostate issues. He was
scheduled to go into the private hospital in Margate early on Wednesday (27
January) so we stayed with Diane and John who live a couple of miles from the
hospital. We were there bright and early only to be told to sit in the waiting
room until a bed was available. After nearly 3 hours the urologist came and told
us we should go home and then go to the private hospital in Port Shepstone on
Friday (29 January) as it didn't look like there would be a bed that day!
On Friday things went very smoothly and Michael was soon settled in his bed and
waiting for surgery. The doctor said there were some complications so instead of
an overnight stay, he had to stay until Sunday. After we got home in the late
afternoon, Michael was not comfortable so he phoned the urologist and we went
back to see him. It took a couple of weeks before he was feeling good again, but
now he is nearly back to normal.
Because of the death of the mother of one of our ministers in KwaZulu Natal,
Michael had to postpone his South African Bible Institute extension class. Most
of the students went to the funeral. Michael has known this lady since shortly
after we came to South Africa, but he was not able to make the long trip to a
rural area so soon after his surgery. The class is rescheduled for the 26 and 27
Michael did make the trip to Cape Town for the Church of Christ Mission National
Executive Committee meeting. He took a mini bus from here to Durban (a 2-hour
trip) and flew to Cape Town (a 2-hour trip). They were able to deal with some
issues and discuss a lot of business. The annual conference in October will be
in Cape Town so church leaders from the area gave a presentation on their
preparations for the event.
John has resigned from Toyota after 5 years with them. He, Diane and Matthew are
taking a couple of weeks of vacation before he begins his new job on the family
farm. Late last year he and Diane started a business called Jolly Fresh. They
market quality vegetables which customers can order on-line. They package the
vegetables and then deliver them to various business places in the area.
Please pray for JP's mother. She had surgery this week for a cancerous brain
tumor. The surgeon says he was able to remove most of the tumor, but I am sure
she has a long road ahead.
Caryl and Michael
I just wanted to let you know about our recent activities. Michael and I both
had eye exams late last year and the optometrist suggested Michael have his
cataracts checked. We saw the ophthalmologist who said it was time to do the
procedure, but said there was no hurry so we decided to wait until January.
So on January 12 he had the surgery on his right eye and today (January 19)
he had the surgery on his left eye. It is a routine procedure and he was in
hospital for about 3 hours each time. He now has great distance vision in both
eyes, but he is struggling to read. We will have to see what we can do about
reading glasses soon.
At the same time Michael has suffered from prostate-related problems.
Health issues are beginning to feel a bit overwhelming. He will be seeing
the urologist on Thursday to determine the best course of action.
Michael has a busy month ahead in February. He will be teaching his South
African Bible Institute extension class the first weekend in February.
Then he is scheduled to travel to Cape Town the second weekend for a mission
executive meeting. It is a very long trip and we are making plans for him to
fly there if his health allows him to go to the meeting.
Fortunately, I am doing very well as I am now chief driver and care-giver.
We appreciate all the prayers and concern. We have been blessed by you who
Caryl and Michael
2015 Email Updates
First of all, we want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas. May you enjoy
the time with friends and family as you celebrate the birth of our Lord! Also we
wish you a Happy and Healthy 2016!!
We are looking forward to going to Umzumbe for church in the morning and then
we will have two days of family celebrations. We will be with Dawn, JP, Chayah,
Seanna, Dina, Sean, Rebecca, Gabriella and Erin tomorrow at Dawn and JP’s. John,
Diane and Matthew will be with his family. Sean and JP’s families live farther
away so they will not be with their families this year. Then on Saturday we will
all be together at Diane and John’s house. Tomorrow’s menu is cold meats and
salads (which is perfect for this weather), but Saturday will be ham and all the
All of the end-of-year activities went well and we have enjoyed a bit of a
break. We have done some work around the house and some repairs at Umzumbe Bible
Institute. We have also done quite a bit of grandchildren-sitting. Dina and Sean
were able to go on a weekend cruise so their girls stayed with us. Diane had a
major project due so we had Matthew a few days while she worked on that. We had
Dawn’s girls when Dawn had to go back to school for a few days after the
children were out for the year. What a blessing for us to have our grandchildren
For the first time in years I finished all of my Christmas shopping and
didn’t have to go shopping on Christmas eve!! Of course, one incentive was an
air-conditioned car and air-conditioned shops which were much more comfortable
than our hot house!! December has been HOT and humid! Temperatures have been in
the 80s with humidity also in the 80s. We have a small air-conditioner in the
office and it is relief to sit there and cool off for a while!
Again we wish you a very Merry Christmas and a blessed 2016!
Michael and Caryl
Everything is winding down for the end of the year. Michael has not been able
to do devotions at the high school for a few weeks because it is exam time.
Students only come to school when they write exams so attendance is sporadic.
Michael was invited to the local primary school early in November to join their
Environmental Awareness Program. This will be an on-going commitment. The
teachers asked us to participate in the Christian aspects of their school so I
have started presenting Bible stories to the grade 7 students each Tuesday
We asked to limit it to grade 7s as they have a better understanding of
English. Last week was the last one for the year so we showed them a short
Christian video for children. It included the Christmas story and they really
enjoyed it. We had to use the grade 6 classroom because the grade 7 classroom
doesn't have electricity so the grade 6 children also got to watch the video.
Before the video ended several other teachers allowed their children to join us.
We also showed the video to our Magog Senior Citizens' Club. One of the ladies
gave a running commentary in Zulu for those who don't understand English. They
loved it and have asked us to bring a video once a month next year. Fortunately
we have found several of these videos and they are very inexpensive.
Four of our granddaughters are taking dance classes and this week they
participated in their end of the year recital with the theme of Peter Pan.
Rebecca had one of the lead roles and even had a solo dance. It was such fun
watching the girls! We were not able to celebrate Thanksgiving on Thanksgiving
Day as everyone had to work and evenings don't work well when it is a school
night. The dance shows were Friday night and Saturday afternoon and night so we
had our turkey, cranberries and pumpkin pie on Sunday. We were able to have the
whole family together.
Now we are getting into the Christmas celebrations - Magog Senior Citizens'
Christmas dinner at a hotel and then later gift exchange, dance studio
prize-giving, school prize-giving, day care graduation, Women's Institute
Christmas dinner, and shopping for Christmas.
Caryl and Michael
We traveled to Umtata for the annual conference on Friday 2 October. We were
able to get our pickup back, repaired and looking like new, that morning so we
could drive it. We were able to travel during the day so we arrived in the
afternoon. We settled into our room and got ready for the conference to begin.
Others also arrived on Friday and more arrived on Saturday and Sunday. In the
end we had about 400 people there. Michael organized a card so the food could be
purchased without cash. He still had to do some running around for food, but not
nearly as much as in previous years. At the end of conference he had to sort out
some issues with food before we could come home, but all in all it went quite
well. The conference theme was "The church and its purpose." There were some
really good lessons and messages presented by various ministers. The worship
times were encouraging. As usual there were some adjustments to the schedule.
The night Michael preached supper was very late and most of the people went to
bed after supper instead of attending the service.
On Wednesday morning when we got up we were told that Mrs. Maart Joseph, a
minister's wife, had passed away in the night. She suffered from asthma and that
was apparently the cause of her death. Her funeral will be this Saturday (17
October) in Graaff Reinet. We have known Maart and Winnie since they were
Umzumbe Bible Institute students in the 1970s. We will leave tomorrow morning
and take two days to drive to Graaff Reinet to attend the funeral and then we
will take two days to drive back home. Pray for safety as we travel and for the
Joseph family at this time. The members of the finance committee and I collected
the money that people brought to conference. Some of the money was deposited in
the bank, some was used to pay accounts at conference and we brought some home
with us. This week Michael and I have been sorting out the money and depositing
more of it into the bank. We are looking forward to next week when we will
return home and settle for a while as we do not have any more travel plans in
the near future.
Caryl and Michael
Late September 2015
As we will be leaving for the Conference in Umtata at the end of next week, I
wanted to get a message off to you before we leave. Our meeting with Thulani,
the young man who has helped us with finances, was short but profitable. He
arrived on Saturday morning and left again on Saturday evening. Michael and I
spent a few more hours during the next week finalizing the report to be
presented at the Conference. We sent it to Thulani and he agreed that it is
ready to be printed.
Another member of the Executive Committee was supposed to collect, print and
assemble the reports into a booklet, but the job has been handed over to
Michael. He has most of the reports now, but needs to retype some as they were
sent by fax and came through with black streaks! Michael will take the reports
to a printing company on Monday and collect them toward the end of the week. We
plan to travel to Umtata on Friday (2 October).
Our pickup is still at the repair shop and will not be ready in time for our
trip to Umtata. Our insurance provides for a rental vehicle for 31 days and that
time will expire while we are away so we will have to extend the rental.
Pray for us this coming week as we prepare for the trip, as we travel and then
for all who are involved in the Conference. We have had reports that Umtata is
rife with robberies and hijackings. Pray for safety for all of us who will be
there for the Conference.
Caryl and Michael
The meeting of the Executive Committee and church leaders was held on the 4th
and 5th of September at Umtata - about 200 miles from home.
We worked on the
financial report, but did not get it all done. Michael even worked for a while
on Thursday morning before we left. We stopped in Port Shepstone to get some of
his materials photocopied on our way. That meant that we were traveling after
dark which we do not like to do.
At 6:30 at night about 40 miles from Umtata we had an accident. We hit a horse
that was standing in the road. Fortunately, we were not injured at all! Michael
pulled to the side of the road to assess the damage. He couldn't get his door
open so he climbed across the seat and found that the hood, right fender,
headlight and rear view mirror were damaged. Some plastic was against the wheel,
but the tire was fine. We contacted our children by phone and John said he would
organize a tow truck for us. The tow truck owner contacted us and advised us to
go to the little town we could see from where we were. We tried to contact
police and about an hour after the accident we drove slowly into the town and
parked at a gas station. Three of the ministers who were already in Umtata came
to us and helped Michael report the accident at the police station. Then the tow
truck came, loaded up our pickup and drove us to the school for our meeting.
On Friday they brought our vehicle back to Margate, about 20 miles from our
home, for repairs. I contacted our insurance company and they organized a
vehicle for us to use. It was delivered to us on Friday afternoon.
Unfortunately, it was a pickup with no topper so we had to drive home with our
luggage in an open vehicle. Theft from open vehicles is quite common.
Michael spent Friday and Saturday morning in meetings. The meetings were quite
stressful. There are a lot of problems and there is a power struggle going on.
Pray for the church in South Africa. We really need a spiritual revival!
On Friday I met with two ladies who are accountants and they went over our
financial records. They found everything to be in order and I felt they were
By Saturday afternoon everyone had gone home, but Michael and I stayed one more
night. We were able to go for a walk and relax. On Sunday we loaded up our
luggage, attended church with the local minister and then drove home.
On Monday we went to see the vehicle in daylight. It can be repaired and the
repair shop has assured us it will be like new. We just don't know how long it
will take to get the work done. On Tuesday we were able to exchange the open
pickup for one with a topper.
We will spend the next three weeks finalizing the financial report and getting
ready for the annual conference which will be in Umtata from October 4-9. A
young man who has helped with the finances for the past few years will be coming
to help us prepare the final report.
Pray for us as we prepare for Conference and also for the Christians who will be
traveling from all over the country to attend.
Caryl & Michael
We are back home after a wonderful holiday in the USA! We stayed with my sister, Juanita, in Lakeville, MN.
Since all of our siblings live in or near the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, it was convenient to get together.
What a joy that was!
We were able to enjoy family gatherings, family reunions (one in Tennessee which involved a long car ride
and a bit of sight-seeing on the way), a Twins game, a recording of Prairie Home Companion, a live theater
performance, a trip to Washington, DC (mark one off the "bucket list"!), my step-mom's 95th birthday party,
and lots of shopping and eating and laughter! We thank the Lord for the opportunities we had and for safety
in all of our travels. We are also most grateful to God for protecting our house while we were away.
We have enjoyed seeing our daughters and their husbands and the grandchildren since we got back.
Everyone is busy, but we have been able to get together a couple of times. Dawn and JP moved into their new
house just before we got back. They are loving it.
Two ministers have passed away in the past two weeks. One of the men was a fairly new minister. He had been
ill earlier this year, but had recovered. Unfortunately, he had cancer and passed away a few days ago.
The other man was 97 years old and was no longer able to be active in ministry. It reminds us how important
it is to educate some younger men for ministry. Pray for laborers for the harvest!
Pray for us. A meeting of the executive committee and other church leaders of the Church of Christ Mission
was scheduled for this coming weekend, but because of the funeral of the older minister, it has been
postponed to the first weekend in September. Michael needs to present his financial report at the meeting
so we have been trying to get work done for that. Unfortunately Michael is not feeling very well. He got a
boil on the back of his neck and it developed into a carbuncle. He is on antibiotics and pain medication.
I have become a nurse and it is really not my calling!
Caryl and Michael
I am not sure what has happened to me this year, but it seems that I have not been keeping up with emails to up-date you. My apologies!
I am not sure where to start.
We had a busy time in April with Ministers' Week right after Easter. It meant being away from home for 11 days. There was a large attendance at the Easter meetings in the far north of KwaZulu Natal.
A bus traveled from the southern part of the province with a lot of church members. There was good worship and fellowship. Ministers' Week was held in White River where Brother Mkhundlu preaches. We were impressed with the growth of the church there and with the good cooperation we saw amongst the people as they cared for us that week. We enjoyed getting together with the ministers and their wives that we have known for a long time and getting to know some of the younger ministers and their wives. It was a good week!
We spent most of May getting ready for our trip to the US. We have to submit personal tax forms in South Africa and personal and mission tax forms in the United States. Because we live overseas our US tax forms are due later, but we needed to get them done before we left. Michael had to organize some things related to his treasurer's responsibilities and we had to organize our own finances for while we are away. It kept us busy right to the end!
We are in the US now for a personal vacation! When we are on furlough we are usually busy on weekends when our brothers and sisters and their families can get together so we miss a lot of those activities. We decided to come on a personal trip so we could spend time with our siblings, see my step-mom who will be 95 in August and do some fun things.
We left South Africa on June 10 and will return on August 6. Diane took us to the airport in Durban and we flew to Cape Town. Dina was there for a work course so she met us at the airport and spent a few hours with us during our layover. Then we flew to Amsterdam and on to Minneapolis. We were met by Michael's brother, Duane, and his wife, Kathy, my sister, Sharon and her husband, Dave, and my sister, Juanita. We are staying with Juanita while we are here. We met with Michael's brother, Larry, the next day and he loaned us a car to use for a week while he is away on business.
So far we have attended a funeral of an old friend of my family - my dad's lifelong friend. We have also attended a Minnesota Twins baseball game, eaten out a few times, taken care of some business and done a bit of shopping. We are amazed at the variety and abundance of the stores! We really don't know how to choose from so much!
We will be attending a Stanley family reunion in Tennessee next week, a Westfield family reunion in Southwest Minnesota in mid-July and trying to see some friends and family wherever possible.
Pray for us as we travel. Also pray for those we have left behind in South Africa - our children and grandchildren, our church family, our Seniors' Club, the day care center and our home.
I have not been able to access my email groups this week so I am sending this email to nearly everyone on my address list. Please let me know if you want to continue receiving this monthly email from us.
Caryl and Michael
I am not sure where the first two months of this year have gone. I thought I
had sent an email at the end of January, but I have not been able to locate a
copy of it so I assume I did not send it.
The day care center reopened in mid-January. We have 12 children registered.
Our teacher has been able to complete her training with Brain Boosters. She
loved it and we have certainly seen her using what she has learned. The children
will benefit greatly from the training!
The Seniors’ Club also resumed in January. We celebrated the January and
February birthdays at the end of February with the usual party and big meal.
Some vegetables have been planted and there are plans to resume the sewing. The
Club is certainly meeting the social needs of the elderly in the community as
they really enjoy getting together.
Michael had to make a trip to the Eastern Cape in January. The Executive
Committee had planned a meeting and then Conrad Sauls, one of the ministers from
that area, was killed in a car accident so they attended the funeral and held
their meeting the same weekend. Michael had a very tiring trip as he had to do
all the driving. On his way from the funeral to the meeting, he missed a turn
and ended up driving a long way out of his way. The fact that it was late at
night made the trip even more harrowing!
The Executive Committee of the Church of Christ Mission at their meeting
in Jan to discuss plans for 2015. The meeting was held after they attended
the funeral of Conrad Sauls, a minister, who had been killed in a car accident.
I was asked to be one of the three speakers at the national Women’s Workshop
in early February so Michael and I went to Bloemfontein. The attendance this
year was about three times what it has been in the past. I was told it was
because they had invited a radio personality to be the speaker on Friday night.
Hopefully, the ladies who came to see her also learned from the lessons on
The hall was not big enough for the crowd that attended the Women’s Workshop
in Bloem-fontein so the ladies set up the chairs under the trees. As the day wore
on chairs had to be moved to stay in the shade.
When the meeting ended on Sunday morning we drove to Kimberley so we could
see our friends, Roy and Jenny Murray, and co-workers, Steve and Brenda Caulley.
Steve and Brenda both had major surgeries recently and will have extensive
recovery periods. Brenda had surgery on her shoulder in November and Steve had
surgery on his foot in January.
Michael has held one session of South African Bible Institute extension
classes this year. Unfortunately Mabandla, the other teacher, wasn’t able to be
there so Michael had to teach both classes. One of the students also was unable
to attend. Their next session will be next weekend. Pray for Michael and
Mabandla as they teach and for the five men who are registered for the class.
Please pray that the men will all be able to attend this time. We have been told
that there are others who are interested in joining the class in the future.
The family is doing well. Chayah started grade one this year. We have done
some babysitting for the little ones. We had Seanna for a few days when she
wasn’t able to go to day care because she was ill. We had Matthew when Diane had
to go to Johannesburg for work. Those three year olds keep us on our toes!
Caryl and Michael