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!!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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 which we are both thankful.
We 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!
CLICK ON THE LINK BELOW FOR DECEMBER NEWSLETTER
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.