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Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Life & Times - Drake in Church

Drake was struggling at our Easter Sunday church services.  He finally just gave in.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Life & Times - Sage Advice

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday this week Amber and I get to go away - away from our home, away from our children, away from work, emails, computer, everything.  It's our first chance to get away as a couple since Valentine's Day 2010 (I know, I know...boohoohoo).  But we are really looking forward to it.

A family friend, Paddy, is watching Meredith and Drake while we're gone.  Paddy has two puppies, loves to sew and do crafts, and always gives the kids sweets - in other words, a perfect grandmotherly figure.  Meredith and Drake have been looking forward to staying with her for almost two weeks now, maybe more than Amber and I are anticipating our mini vacation.

I think Meredith may have a family counseling occupation in her future.  Why, just today she informed us "sometimes children just really need time away from their parents."  So apparently burnout can go both ways:-)

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Life & Times - Training Day

Today, after Bible Study and training meetings with our two housemothers, we did some additional training.  Last week Brian worked some of his special magic and was able to get fire extinguishers and fire hoses donated.  So today he set up a little emergency drill.  You'll see it in the video.  The angle I chose put me directly in the line of fire, a thought that didn't occur to me until the second before Mama Lizar pulled the trigger.  I bravely hung in there and took one for the team.  You'll thank me later.

One thing that we've found is unique with this new ministry is that our housemothers are much more willing to ask questions and give input.  Since today we talked through our emergency procedures, they had lots of "what-if" questions.  Such as "what if there is a fire in the hallway that blocks both exterior doors?" to which the answer would be "go out the window."  Or "if a child is choking but still coughing, do you slap them on the back?"

After they successfully extinguished their respective fires they had more questions for Brian.  This line of questioning gives us our quote of the day.  Here is the transcript:
Mama Melita: What if I am holding the fire extinguisher and one of the children is on fire?
Brian:  You use it to put the fire out.
Mama Melita:  But won't that hurt the child?
Brian:  (dramatic and thoughtful pause) ...not as much as the fire on their body.

Brian shows our housemothers how to pull the pin on a fire extinguisher

Mama Melita practices aiming

It's go time!

Don't stand too close.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Life & Times of Louis & Amber - The Apocalyptic Cricket

Since Brian & Lois moved to their house at The Village in January, we have all had the chance to become up close and personal with some of the creatures of South Africa - the Niehoffs more so than the rest of us.  You've seen the pictures of our tortoise, and also of our Mole Snake and the alleged Puff Adder.  You may remember our unknown creature guests.  

Now, meet the newest member of our family.  I'm certain that this is something from the Book of Revelation.  Almost everyone here who saw it didn't even know what it was, thinking it was maybe a mutant grasshopper/cricket/spider/thingy.  Eventually someone told us it is known as a Corn Cricket.  It is about the size of a small tarantula, which is huge for a cricket.  The spikes and armor make it look like a creature from your childhood nightmares.  We're told it's main defense mechanism is excreting a foul odor which is nearly impossible to remove.  I've been telling Amber for nearly 9 years now that I have the same defense mechanism, but she won't buy that it is for defense.  Oh, well. 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Challenge: Satanism

This culture is very spiritual.  We see that frequently as people are very god-fearing.  But that's with a small "g".  It stems more from superstition than a genuine respect for God.  Even many people who are or profess to be believers still struggle with belief in superstitious things.

One example of that is the Tokoloshe.  This is a leprechaun-like creature that generally causes all sorts of evil and mischief.  Descriptions range from harmless hairy little men to zombies or corpse-like beings.  They allegedly engage in activities ranging from hiding things from their owners to rape and biting off toes while a person is sleeping.  Often Tokoloshe is attributed to a curse someone will put on you.  They will send their Tokoloshe to cause problems for someone they wish to harm.  One young man we work with told us his mother claimed to have had a Tokoloshe beating her during the night, even waking up in the morning with bruises to prove it.  Once she started attending a certain church, who required her to pay a certain amount of money to remove the Tokoloshe, the beatings stopped.  Now she refuses to leave that church for fear the Tokoloshe will return.  You do the math on that one...

While the Tokoloshe seems like a figment of the imagination there is no doubt that demonic activity is strong here.  The school that we use for church facilities is very well known within the community as a hotbed for spirit-related activity.  We've heard this from several individuals, most recently from a waiter at a local restaurant.  He heard our accent, learned we were from the US and wanted to talk.  We shared our work with him and invited him to church.  When he found out we were meeting at Nanabolela he said "You need to really help with the fight against Satan in our community" - going on to explain the hold that satanism has within many of the local schools.  Of course, we know that we're already in the fight against the powers of wickedness.  "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." Eph 6:12

Just yesterday we heard of a horrifying event in our town.  This event didn't happen in the township but right here in the "safety" of town.  Details continue to come forward, but here is a newspaper report of the story:

Couple held for gruesome murder

Welkom - A young couple was arrested for the gruesome murder of a 23-year-old Welkom man, whose body was found with limbs missing, Free State police said on Wednesday.Police spokesperson Captain Stephen Thakeng said a 24-year-old man and a 20-year-old woman were arrested late on Tuesday and all missing body parts were found.
Thakeng said the police task team, with other experts, made a breakthrough in the investigation.
Michael van Eck, 23, was found murdered and in a shallow grave at the Welkom cemetery on Sunday morning.
"The body didn't have a head, a right arm, or left foot and both legs were amputated at the knees," Thakeng said at the time.
Police contacted Van Eck's parents after finding his car at a Welkom taxi rank on Sunday morning.
They said he had gone on a date on Saturday night and should have been at work on Sunday morning, however, his employer later told the police that he did not arrive for work.
The employer said Van Eck was to have met his date - a girl he met on the social networking site Facebook - at the Welkom cemetery.
There, police found Van Eck's shirt. Police sniffer dogs found the shallow grave.
On Tuesday, information was followed up which led the investigation team to a residential area in Welkom where the man and woman were found.
Possibility of Satanism probed
Thakeng said police searched the property and the missing body parts of Van Eck were found in a fridge, a cupboard, and buried in the garden.
Police said cats apparently also belonging to the young couple were found buried in the garden.
The two were arrested for murder and would appear in the Welkom Magistrate's Court soon.
Thakeng said the possibility that the man and woman were involved in Satanism would be investigated.
Police also arrested a man who was found with Van Eck's vehicle.
The 23-year-old man was arrested for questioning until he was charged for theft of a motor vehicle.
That case has been postponed for a bail application to April 12.
He was apparently not linked with the murder, said police.

Imagine an event like this happing in a town like Ankeny.  It makes you realize once again that humans are a depraved race.  Why would God ever love us, let alone send His Son to die for people who commit such atrocities.  Some reading this might say that Jesus didn't die for those kinds of people.  But Scripture is clear that He did.  And Scripture is also clear that in God's eyes, even the most righteous among us are no better than the two perpetrators of this crime.  Yet God made Him who knew no sin to be made sin on my behalf, so that I might be made the righteousness of God in Him.  

Never forget the price that was paid for you, and the spiritual battle for the souls of men, women and children around the world.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The House Has Opened...

On March 31st our first children's house opened.  Lerato and Monica have been living with us since December 20th.  They were very excited to see the progress and couldn't wait to get into their new house.  The night before Monica had some second thoughts, but then the big day arrived and all hesitation was gone.  The girls seem to love it and we should be getting more children very soon!
Praise the Lord with us for His faithful provision!

The First Children's House is Finished (....mostly)

Mama Lizar with Lerato & Monica

The Living Room

The Kitchen

Dining Table

The Bathroom

The Housemother's Bedroom

The Girl's Bedroom

Mama Lizar and the girls reading the Bible
The first night Monica was scared to sleep in her new bed, because it is the first time in her life she had ever had her own bed.  Mama Lizar said she sat down with the two girls and read the Bible, which seemed to help calm Monica.  Then she sat with her on the bed until Monica fell asleep.  The next night she slept with Lerato.