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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Life & Times of Louis & Amber - Ntswaki

Ntswaki (meaning “only girl among boys” in Sesotho) came to The Pines in February 2007. Prior to that she had been living with her family in Thabong. As her name would imply, she has several brothers but no sisters. Of all our children, Ntswaki has experienced some of the most difficult tragedies in her young life.

When Ntswaki was quite young, one of her older brothers committed suicide in the house where the family was living. Of course, since she is living at The Pines she is an orphan. Her mother died one night in her sleep, and Ntswaki was actually sleeping in the same bed with her mother at the time, so she is the one who discovered it.

After her mother died, one of her older brothers quit school to care for her. He was about 15 at the time. Ntswaki was attending Morningstar, a sister organization with whom we work closely. Morningstar is a Christian Daycare operated to care for the poorest children affected by the HIV virus. Through Morningstar we learned of the situation, and the government placed Ntswaki with us on a temporary basis while they determined the best course of action.

While her brother was willing to care for her, it wasn’t in the best interest of either child for him to miss out on an education completely. Ntswaki then has been granted Foster Care status at The Pines, meaning she is likely here until she is able to be on her own. In the meantime, her brother Bongani was blessed with a teacher that took a special interest in him and worked diligently to bring him back to the correct grade level. Teachers like this are extremely rare here in South Africa, and her work with him has been a tremendous blessing. Currently he is making plans to pursue additional education beyond high school. He has also made an attempt to stay in contact with Ntswaki, even though the logistics are not convenient.

Since coming to The Pines, Ntswaki has blossomed. She is a very intelligent young lady, and has consistently made honor roll in school. To observe her, you would think she is very quiet and reserved, but she has that well-hidden streak of mischief. If anyone gives her a hard time, she is more than capable of dishing it right back to them, and her quick wit makes her a difficult target for teasing.

One day, I was with her at the hospital for a checkup. She needed a tissue badly, but when I told her to use one, she responded that she liked her nose just how it is. I told her that if she didn’t use a tissue I would start calling her “Boogers”. She responded without a moment’s hesitation that she would just call me “India” since I had a pimple right in the middle of my forehead that looked just like the dot young Indian ladies traditionally wear. So now she responds to Boogers, but all the kids call me "India". I guess you could say that backfired on me a bit.

Ntswaki is very self motivated and rarely requires help with her homework. Often she has completed all her work during school hours but will still come home and do additional work, just to get ahead. She has proven to be one of the more responsible children here.

Like all the children at The Pines, Ntswaki is learning about God and what Jesus did for her. She understands that she is a sinner and that sin must be paid for, but she has professed that Jesus is her Savior and that she is trusting him to take her to Heaven. We pray that as she continues to grow, the Holy Spirit would do a mighty work in and through her life.


  1. Ntswaki,
    You have over come some very difficult times in your life and have come along way in the short time you have been at the Pines. Don’t ever get tired of going to school and study hard just like you are doing now. It is amazing to see the work that God has done in your life. Always keep your relationship with God even in times of dispair. I miss all of you very much and can’t wait to come back some day. It has been cold here in Iowa and it snowed most of the day yesterday. We got to see Uncle Brian and Lois at church tonight and had dinner with them and all the other POG Teams that came to work and play at the Pines. We had a great time. Please say hi to everyone and tell them that I love them all and miss all of them very much!


  2. Dear Ntswaki,

    Your story is one that touches my heart. I am glad that I can write this note to you on the computer so you don't have to wait weeks and weeks to know that I think about you every day. I often find myself thinking about what we would be doing if I was at The Pines. I remember that the first time I met you we celebrated your birthday the day Brian and Lois brought our team back to The Pines from the airport. That was in March of 2007. You have grown up so much since that time and I know how you love to do your school work and learn more and more. Remember that song.....Read your Bible and pray every day, and you'll grow, grow, grow.... you are growing in the Lord as you continue to grow up in size.
    God Bless, Grandmother "M"