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 relaxing day.
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.
Best wishes for a happy and healthy 2019!!
"ON CHRIST THE SOLID ROCK I STAND"
The words of this old hymn reminds us of who we believe in. "There is one body and one Spirit - just as you were called to one hope when you were called - one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all." Ephesians 4:4-6 The scriptures remind us of who we believe in and who we are, but most importantly who we live for and serve.
Exactly half of my life has now been dedicated to Christian ministry. Has the latter half been more easy than the first? NO! There have been more challenges physically, emotionally and spiritually. Sometimes we are put in positions of leadership to defend the faith we believe in and defend the reasons we answered the call to serve our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Along the way, some have abandoned us, some have questioned our ways. I'm reminded that even the closest of Jesus's followers denied and abandoned Him. Those verses from Ephesians 4 remind us of our Christian heritage and Christian doctrine. We are placed here to share the Church of Christ doctrine only and defend our beliefs in Jesus Christ.
We were, "created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness." Ephesians 4:24 In the NIV Thompson Chain Reference Bible there is a heading beside these verses. "Lessons in Christ School". Teaching, Christ, the Truth. As many have said the best school is called "Life". I call it "Living for Jesus".
As this year is coming to a close we look back on the many challenges that faced us. Here we are close to entering a new year with our faith stronger than ever, our convictions to serve the Church of Christ stronger than ever and ready for new opportunities to boldly say "ON CHRIST THE SOLID ROCK I STAND." I believe in Jesus Christ, I proudly can say I am "Christian only and I live for and serve the Church of Christ." "I'm a Christian" no matter the circumstances, are you?
NEW OPPORTUNITIES IN 2019:
A. The Iglesia de Cristo (Church of Christ) is growing once again. They will be given the opportunity to have more space for more outreach such as graded Sunday School space for both the children, teens and adults.
B. We will take on more Mission responsabilities and outreach to the inner city as well as Mexico as more funds become available. Plans are to help young adults in need of a home while they study. Much like a Christian campus house.
C. The Food Pantry is ready to serve orphans, widows, the San Luis Potosi Bible College and who ever else is in need.
D. Not only a Food Pantry will be available, but a place for clothes and other articles for the Inner City people.
E. Inner City VBS, outreach and camps both in the north and south are already on the 2019 calendar.
F. Raise more personal support for Jose who is the minister of the Ontañon Church. One church has already adopted Jose and is supporting him with a monthly gift.
These are just a few of the ministries that Emanuel Mexico Mission will be involved in. Are the funds available for all this and more? It depends on our Faith in God and your trust in us. We are one in Jesus Christ! Thank you for praying, giving and believing in us.
HEADING BACK TO SOUTH AFRICA
As we count down the hours to our departure, we look back over the past 15 months. 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, 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.