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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Niehoff Return

Another huge hurdle has come and gone for Restoring Hope International.  On Tuesday, March 23, Brian & Lois, along with their two children - Liam & Lindie - flew from Des Moines to Atlanta.  The next day they left Atlanta and arrived in Johannesburg sometime on the evening of March 25th.
(farewell dinner at Hy-Vee)

By their reports all travel went well.  The kids slept for most of the 16 hour flight.  Of course, the drawback to that is that the kids aren't tired after they arrive, while parents are usually ready to crash.  (Saying goodbye to the grandkids)  They were able to spend Thursday night with Mark & Chris Harding, good South African friends who care for 16 children in their own home (read about their ministry here).

Apparently the night was a bit of an adventure, since Mark & Chris were being overrun with ants.  Such is life in South Africa sometimes.  They are now living with Lawrence & Trish Dargie, (Lois with her sister Rebekah) another couple who have become dear friends.  Lawrence & Trish live in Welkom, so Brian & Lois are able to make that their home base for a couple weeks.  They have located a house to lease for a short time until we can complete construction on their own house.

For those of you who know Brian & Lois personally, you'll not be surprised to learn that they have jumped right into the work.  Brian has already had some success with government officials, getting paperwork through on the purchase of the Restoring Hope Village property.  Here is what Lois wrote to us:  "Another great achievement today, Brian was able to get the clearance certificate for the land today. He will be paying for the land tomorrow and then the transfer will go to Bloomfontein. The assistant at the attorney's office said the transfers have been getting completed in 2 weeks recently, no more then a month. So that is fabulous news! "  


They currently have limited access to internet, so they may be a bit delayed in corresponding with people.  (group prayer before departure) It is always exciting to get an email from them and hear about the latest developments...and they've only been there less than a week.  It is such a blessing to Amber & me to work with people who are such go-getters.  We can't begin to express our appreciation to God for His amazing provision to this point.  Imagine, just 6 months ago we were returning to the US to begin fundraising, and now they are ready to complete the purchase and start building.  We serve an awesome God.

Of course, Amber & I can't wait to get there and start helping.  We anticipate leaving around the end of April.  Currently we have about $111,000 in our Capital Campaign.  (Liam gets his own backpack this time...with candy included)  As long as we have $120,000 by the end of April we are cleared to return.  We are trusting that God will provide this last amount and we'll be able to get back.

Once we arrive at the $120,000 we have our goal within sight.  Our initial construction goal was $150k, so while there is still some work to do, we are excited to get the ministry going and begin reaching more children for Christ.

Please continue to pray for us, for Brian & Lois, and for the ministries of RHI in the US and South Africa.

(taking advantage of every last minute with the grandkids)

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Life & Times of Louis & Amber - In case you were wondering...

If you've ever wished for that delightful hot-dog taste in the convenience of a bite-sized sphere, I am happy to let you know that in South Africa your dream can be a reality.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Life & Times of Louis & Amber - Meredith Quote of the Day

Today at Grandma Maggie's house, Meredith was hanging out with Uncle Peter (11 years old).  On the farm we burn any burnable trash.  Peter had just taken a broken toy apart and said "I'm going to go out and burn this in the yard."

Meredith's response:  "Peter, you are teaching this little girl here to do bad things."

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Life & Times of Louis & Amber - Meredith "Quote of the Day"


Meredith was listening to Patch the Pirate this evening.  Specifically she was listening to Camp Kookawaka Woods which talks about the return of Christ at the Rapture, when all those who have trusted Him alone for forgiveness of sins will be taken to Heaven.  For anyone who is not familiar with Patch the Pirate stories, I highly recommend them for teaching Biblical truths to young children.

So the last song is called "Listen for the Trumpet", a reference to I Thessalonians 4, which describes Christ's return as being accompanied by the Trumpet of God.  Amber & I believe that Meredith truly understands what salvation means.  I ask Meredith if she understands that Jesus is coming back to get those of us who believe in Him, hoping to prompt a good conversation about God.

When I say "Meredith, did you know that Jesus really is coming back to take us to Heaven?" she responds "Yeah, it's a good thing I'm packing my things."  And when I looked, there she was loading all her most important toys into a backpack.  So while she obviously understands many Biblical truths, it is also clear that some are still a bit over her head.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Life & Times of Louis & Amber - Tidbits

Today we took Meredith & Drake sledding for the first time.  We figured that the snow will be melted soon (if we're lucky) so we'd better take advantage because it could be several years before our kids see snow again.  We also made our first family snowman, something that Meredith has been gravely concerned about all winter.  After all the festivities we went to Burger King for a treat and some time on the play equipment.

Amber & I are sitting at the table and Meredith runs up to us in a panic.  She breathlessly informs us that there is a monster hiding in the play equipment.  I respond, somewhat vainly "do you need a handsome prince to come take care of things."  Meredith looks right at me and says "no, I need you to come take care of it."  Ouch.
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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Life & Times of Louis & Amber - JT at School

The following are two emails that I received from JT.  He is the young man that was working toward a scholarship for Chemical Engineering.  Over the last couple months it has seemed that the scholarship was provided, then not, and back and forth - a bit confusing actually.  Just recently we have heard from him in the following emails.  I'll summarize them to say that another couple in Welkom that had heard of his situation took him to another university, helped him bypass all the registration, and got him lined up for a partial scholarship and loans to cover the rest.  Subsequent to that JT got an interview and was able to get a full scholarship for the entire cost.  Very exciting to us and even moreso to him.  The photos below were sent by the couple that took him up to school.  Praise God for those willing to help!


Uncle Louis this is what happened. I got a barsary in the department of education because I was there in the top learners in Free State so on my application form they wanted the student number and the student number I had was for Central University of Technology so i just it was down because University of Cape Town did not yet reply to me. But God is amazing! guess what happend to me. Do you remember the lady i told you about who was feeding us in school? She took me to University of the North in Potchefstroom to study chemical engineering and we were taken to another Prof and i was like a prince because many people were standing in the line to register but i didn't i just pass many of them, like a king, yes i was special because my father in heaven was in control of every thing. That day the university offered me another bursary to study and a loan and promised me to pay for all my studies this year and for my resident and food also so now i am here in Potchefstroom studying chemical engineering. talk to u later bye


HI UNCLE LOUI GUESS WHAT HAPPENED? YOU KNOW GOD IS GREAT. I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO SAY BECAUSE HE IS MORE THAN THE WORD GREAT. THIS IS WHAT HAPPENED. I RECIEVED A CALL FROM THE FINANCIAL OFFICE IN THE UNIVERSITY TO COME TO AND INTERVIEW ON MONDAY AND I REMEMBER EVERY THING YOU HAVE TOLD ME WHEN WE WERE AT PRETORIA, AND I DON'T KNOW, I DIDN'T PREPARE FOR THE INTERVIEW AND ON MONDAY AFTER THEY PRESENTED TO US ABOUT THE BURSARY I STARTED TO PREPARE MY SELF AND I DIDN'T KNOW WHAT TO SAY AND I WROTE A SMALL PARAGRAPH ABOUT MY SELF WHEN THE INTERVIEW STARTED.  GUESS WHAT? THE LADY ASKED ME ONLY ONE QUESTION, THAT ONE I WROTE ABOUT MYSELF.  SHE JUST SAID TO ME TELL ME ABOUT YOURSELF LIKE SHE SHOULDN'T ASK AND I STARTED TO FLOW AND AFTER THAT QUESTION SHE SAID "THERE IS NO NEED TO CONTINUE BECAUSE I AM GOING TO GIVE YOU A BURSARY". THAT GOOD NEWS I REMEMBER YOU SAID GOD IS DOING GOOD THINGS FOR US. I AGREE AND THAT IS SIMPLY SAYING TO YOU THAT EVERY THING THAT YOU GUYS ARE GONNA GET IS IN THE PRESENCE OF THE LORD. GOD BLESS YOU. HOPE TO HERE FROM YOU AGAIN. BYE

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Life & Times of Louis & Amber - "What does this guy do?"

You would think that after 2 years of working specifically with children and young people in South Africa that we would have learned a thing or two.  Like not opening it up for questions or inviting feedback.

Yesterday we were in Guthrie Center, IA speaking to a group of about 25 kids in the Swordbearers program.  We have learned with children that it is good to start with some type of activity that gets their attention, because if you don't get it right away you'll never have it.  Typically we start off our slideshow with a dozen or so pictures of African Animals.  You know, the quintessential African Animals that we discussed at length last June when I so soundly defeated my brother Sam in our animal-spotting safari.

As we show the pictures we ask the children to participate by raising their hands, at which time I will call on them and they get to say what the animal is.  On the really easy ones we don't ask for the animal's name, rather we ask "What does this animal do?" or "What sound does this animal make?"  So yesterday we arrived at the last animal pictured.  It is the photo you see here of the African Gorilla.  On this, instead of asking for the animal's name I asked what the animal does, anticipating a child screaming and beating their chest Tarzan-style.

Since it was the last question I made sure to call on a little boy that hadn't yet answered (the one in the orange shirt with his hand in the air) and therefore hadn't received the tootsie roll reward.  This guy was probably 8 years old.  When I said "What does this animal do?" his hand shot straight up.  I pointed to him and he responds "Well, if that's a chimpanzee then he throws poop."

Now how is a missionary supposed to respond to that?

Monday, March 1, 2010

Fundraising Update

Yesterday we were in Evansdale, IA presenting our ministry to a church there.  We spoke during the Sunday School time, allowing us the opportunity to hear an outstanding sermon.  It was on the book of 1 Samuel, specifically on the instance when Samuel went to Bethlehem to anoint David as the next king of Israel.

One interesting point that was made related to one of the names of God.  Anyone who has studied Old Testament history knows that there are many names used for God, and each reveals something important to us about His character, His nature, and His relationship to us.  The specific name discussed during the sermon yesterday was El Shaddai.  Typically, in the English language, that name is translated as "GOD ALMIGHTY".  While this is an accurate translation, the original language would have carried an even greater force.  We think of Almighty in terms of power, but another translation will help us understand the full force of God's name.  That translation comes out "GOD IS ENOUGH" or "GOD IS SUFFICIENT".

When God appeared to Moses in the burning bush, he referred to Himself as "I AM".  In other words, God was communicating to Moses that He is the Self Existent One.  God doesn't need anything, depend on anyone, or require anything else for His existence.  He is the One who possesses all and upon whom all else depends.  Interestingly enough, Jesus Christ used that same name for Himself in John 8, making a public and accurate claim to His own deity.

So the question to us is, do we really believe that God is enough?  Is He sufficient for us or are we constantly looking to something else?  Are we content with what He gives or are we striving for more?  Do we truly believe that He will supply all our need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus?

From the beginning of our fundraising efforts we have known that the task before us was daunting.  Our prayer has been that God will provide, and provide in such a way that no one can dispute that it is His provision, not a result of any wonderful plans or abilities that we possess.  I want to testify to His provision and His sufficiency.  We officially kicked off fundraising 4 months ago today.  As of today God has brought in $103,747!

God is enough.