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Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Life & Times of Louis & Amber - Quiz

One of these two will have a successful career in the plumbing industry.  Guess which one.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Life & Times of Louis & Amber - Eggs

One day at the property I found these two tiny white spheres tucked away in the latch of one of our containers.  I made an educated guess that these might be eggs of some some variety, since they hadn't been there the day before and couldn't have arrived there at random.  I, of course, decided to take these home.

My sweet wife Amber indulged my curiosity, allowing me to keep them in a glass jar in our office.  She faithfully checked on them every day for the first few weeks.  Then it declined to about once a week, and from there down to just occasionally.  We had about forgotten about them since they hadn't hatched.  If we had remembered we probably would have thrown them out.  Then tonight Amber just happened to see that the egg shells were broken open on the bottom of the jar...and the jar was empty otherwise.

So we now have a reptile of some sort roaming our house.  Or perhaps we'll discover some very tiny birds one of these days.  Oops.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Life & Times of Louis & Amber - Church Happenings

Church Happenings

I’d like to update you all on what has been happening at our church the last few weeks.

-The school is going through some facilities upgrades.  One of those includes a new fence.  This meant that during the school holiday they used one room to store the materials as they worked.  Of course, they chose the cleanest, most organized room – the one we were using (why do you think it was clean and organized).  We arrived one Sunday morning to find a new gate over the door to our room, a gate that was welded shut.  This forced us to find a new room.

-The school has no electric service in any of the classrooms due to vandalism.  As a result of our forced move we found the new classroom we selected also housed the electric panel box.  While everything had been stripped out of it, the stub wires coming in were still hot.  Brian rigged something up to allow us to clamp onto those wires each week.  So we’ve been able to use our projector for music and sermons, and plug in a keyboard and speakers.

-Thanks to the Moses family (Amber’s aunt and uncle), we now have a real speaker for the church.  We had been using our computer speakers.  This new speaker is big enough to be heard all over the school property, as well as across the road if necessary, but still small enough to be easily transported.  It is nice because we use it before church to play music, thereby letting everyone know that there is something going on that they need to come check out.

-The principal at the school is new, as of mid-term last year.  Nanabolela Secondary School has a terrible reputation, ranking as one of the worst two schools in the whole area.  We’ve been told there is much demonic, gang, and drug related activity.  This principal is working to change and improve the school and seems to be making some progress.  The problem with that is now there is a reason to keep the gate closed and locked.  The key is held by a man named Slender who allegedly is the security at the school.  We have to go to his house each Sunday morning before church to get the key.  So far we’ve been able to find him every week.  We’ll see what happens when we can’t find him.

-In early January Brian’s uncle and aunt were visiting from the US.  His uncle was able to preach for us and the sermon was fantastic.  When we arrived at the school that morning it was locked for the first time.  We contacted Slender who told us that lock was only temporary because the workers were still installing the fence.  Therefore, he didn’t have a key to the temporary lock.  Brian was able to “pick” the lock (with permission), using a pliers and blunt force trauma.  We had finished church, everyone left, and we locked it right back up.

-We have had a variety of visitors come and go.  The boys from our Bible Study are now back at school, diminishing our numbers a bit.  Okuhle has been bringing a couple friends every week for several weeks now.  DJ had some family members visiting over the school holidays and they are also gone now, but our average is still 25-30.

-Knowing that some day I’ll be sick, or run out of time to prepare, or for some other reason be kept from preaching I’ve decided to introduce video sermons.  With the projector we’re able to put it up on a screen that we bring along.  I’m going to try to use one of these videos or podcasts about once per month.  This past week we showed a sermon on Luke 13:22-30 “The Narrow Door”. 

-Several young boys have been coming since the first Sunday.  You may remember that they came to the school the first week just to loiter and cause mischief of some sort.  We told them they needed to come to church or hang out somewhere else.  Predictably they left.  Surprisingly they returned 15 minutes later with several friends.  These boys have been back every week except two, and they informed us in advance that they would be gone those weeks.  Both those things are very unusual in this culture.  This week, after the Narrow Door sermon, the 5 boys approached me and said they wanted to accept Jesus.  I took them around the building to speak in private and asked several questions to make sure they understood.  4 of the 5 answered questions and it seemed they did understand.  I led them in prayer, then we had a further discussion about living a Christian life.  Time will tell which of them were making genuine decisions, but we are thrilled with their response.  As a funny side note, one of the boys came in a few minutes late and picked up the podcast right as the preacher asked “Who are you going to trust?”  Usually when I preach the sermons are a bit interactive, so he must have thought the same here.  When he heard the question he blurted out “JESUS!” loud enough for everyone to hear.  At least we know the message is getting through!!!

Praise God with us for the fruit He is producing in lives.  We haven’t yet made a concerted effort to promote the church within the surrounding community.  We have some teams coming soon and we hope to do some outreach, as well as do some ministry within the school in partnership with the principal.  Pray that these will result in many people coming to Christ.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Life & Times of Louis & Amber - A Day in the Life...

Today started bright and early.  We got the girls off to school by 7:30, then picked up Alex - our new helper and one of the boys from Bible Study.  We got to the property and laid out some tools for our daily projects.  I started finishing up the brandering for the ceiling, Alex started working on a trench for the phone lines, and Brian began digging a junction pit for the phone lines.

At 9:30 three helpers showed up from the Methodist church.  These three have committed to a year long missions trip.  All three are from Welkom and they have decided to use the bulk of their missions trip here in Welkom.  They learned of our project through a friend of a friend and wanted to help.  So these three are coming every day this week, while 17 more of their friends are joining us on Saturday.  We spent most of the day working together filling cracks between the bricks of the children's house.  It was a great time of fellowship with these three believers.

At 2:00 it was time for me to pick up the girls from school.  It took me 20 minutes longer than normal because, for the first time in 2.5 years of living in Welkom, there was a traffic jam.  Not sure what caused it, but it took me 11 minutes just to get out of the school parking lot.

Then it was back to The Village for some more work.  Brian had to leave early for an errand in Johannesburg, so I finished up with our three volunteers.  Just as they were leaving two random guys showed up to inspect our work.  They are local contractors and saw our special bricks on the house.  I spent 20 minutes explaining to them what we are doing, how we are doing it, and why.  They are potentially interested in buying bricks themselves, which is a funny thing because Brian and I have recently been discussing potential ways to make and market them.  Could God be at work in this?  Only time will tell.

After these guys left I was joined by our friends Lawrence and Trish who were at The Village watching the Niehoff children.  You can't visit with "Pops" and "Banana Trish" without a theological discussion cropping up, so we spent 30 minutes discussing the will of God and how to know it.  Then it was time to pack up, lock up, and leave.

Only while we were packing, locking, and leaving I received a call from Okuhle.  You'll remember Okuhle recently moved from our former ministry to live with her "father" in Hani Park.  She was calling to say a young man had approached her sexually and when she refused he began threatening her.  This has happened two other times with other guys, but both times her father was home and able to take care of things.  This time he was at work in the mines and not able to be there.  After consulting with Amber, Alex and I went out to check on things and talk to this guy.  He was still a bit upset when we arrived, but after 20 minutes I think we were able to make peace.  Again, only time will tell.

After that I dropped Alex off at his house in Thabong, then made it home in time to catch the end of supper with my family.  And now, I'm posting a quick update, then heading to bed.  Night.