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Friday, September 30, 2011

Short Term Care

For the night RHV has grown by 4 children. Their situation is uncertain, so the plan is only overnight and we only have place for the boys long-term and the social worker doesn't want to split them up. Thankfully we were able to help them for the night, so they don't have to sleep at the police station. It appears the older 2 (the girl holding the baby and the girl in the black shirt) are siblings and their sister was suppose to be caring for them and her 2 children (the younger 2). So essentially we have 2 aunts with their nephews. The entire family situation and relationships are a bit blurred. We don't have the details of why exactly they need a place in the short term.  

“Though my mother and father forsake me the Lord will rescue me.” Ps 27:10

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The LIfe and Times - Homework :-(

For a long time our focus has been "build, build, build".  Now that we have children, that has changed quite a bit.  In addition to construction, our duties now include all the things that we need to do to adequately care for these children and allow them the opportunity to thrive.  The dual focus is now "build, nurture, build, nuture".

One major addition to my duties is schoolwork and homework.  Everyday we have children who come home with assignments to complete.  Motshidisi and Dieketseng are our two oldest children.  While the others come home needing to work on their ABC's or 2+2, these two are a bit more complicated.  Dieketseng just started algebra this past term.

Since Amber is homeschooling Meredith, most of the homework duty falls on me.  My main exposure to algebra was "helping" my cousins Laura and Molly with their homework back in the day.  That was almost 15 years ago.  So while it's not complicated, there are some challenges trying to refresh myself, especially since the curriculum they use has a little bit different vocabulary than I learned.

So I'd say you all can make this an issue of prayer for us.  And maybe pray for Abigail Hall too!  She is our newest missionary appointee with Restoring Hope Village, and hopefully will be joining us within the next 12 months.  We think that she'll be able to help out quite a bit with homework.  I hope she's all brushed up on her algebra!

Abby Hall, the newest member of the RHI Staff!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Life & Times - We've had better days

Drake has been sick since last Sunday.  He has consistently been running a fever between 102 and 104.  To make matters worse, Amber came down with a migraine on Monday afternoon.  So on Tuesday we all took a trip to Bloemfontein to visit the nearest chiropractor.

There still wasn't any improvement in Drake, so on Friday afternoon Amber took him in to the doctor.  On the way to the doctor's office another lady ran a stop sign, pulled out in front of Amber, and was promptly t-boned.  Fortunately it was the intersection where Amber had to turn so she had already slowed down.  There were no injuries, except to the two automobiles.  We are thanking the Lord for making sure it wasn't any worse than this.

The Other Car
And I'm very proud of Amber's reaction.  She first checked for personal injuries, moved out of traffic, then phoned the police.  She then phoned me and since we only have one car I took the quad to check on things.  Of course, our dogs took the opportunity to attempt a jailbreak and so I had to chase them down and herd them back inside the fence before I could go.  Just as I arrived a volunteer paramedic stopped by to check on things, but everyone was fine.

Our Car
We spent the rest of the evening gathering everyone's information, filing a police report, contacting appropriate parties, etc...  The other driver claims to be insured but I guess we'll see what happens.  She had only taken out the policy this past Monday.

The Intersection:  Amber was traveling from left to right in the far lane (since it's opposite here).  The other driver went through this sign, across the first lane and median, then into Amber's lane.
All things considered, it could have been much worse.  It is just another reminder that our God is in control and while we never know what might happen, He does.  Not only does He know everything that will happen in the future, but He's already been there.  Spend some time trying to figure that out.  But what a blessing to know we don't serve a God constricted by time and space.

Oh, and we did eventually get Drake to see a medical professional.  Nothing specific was diagnosed, but we did get some medication that seems to be helping.  After a rough night last night he appears to be back to his normal cheerful self.

P.S.S:  Congratulations to my brother Sam and new sister-in-law Michelle, who tie the knot later today!

Monday, September 12, 2011

"It went something like that, anyway"

Last night we celebrated Drake's 3rd birthday.  For his party we invited the Niehoffs over, plus a few other friends.  While the adults were visiting the children were playing in their "hideout".  The Hideout is an open space under the stairs.

Suddenly, Meredith bursts into tears and comes running to me.  Since Meredith is like my sister Rosina, only on steroids, crying isn't that uncommon.  I said "What's wrong?"  Meredith replies "Drake hit me!"

As an experienced parent, I knew I needed to ascertain the facts of the alleged crime before doling out the sentence.  I know violence is never the answer, but sometimes, especially if you are the younger child - and more especially if your older sibling is Meredith - violence is the only way to get your point across.  The circumstances dictate how severe any correction must be.

I asked Drake "Did you hit Meredith?"
"Yes" Drake said.
"Because asdhiovi wehive innkeeper, and lwheoih ahaviiksl hies." replied Drake.
I turned to Meredith for the translation.
Meredith responded "We are playing Mary and Joseph. (with Meredith being Mary, Liam Niehoff being Joseph, and her Baby Josh doll tucked under her shirt as Jesus)  Drake is the innkeeper.  I asked him if he had any rooms in his inn and Wham!, he said 'NO!' and then hit me."

I suppose it could have happened that way and the Bible just didn't record the "Wham!" part, but I doubt it.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Sobering News

The following article contains some material that could be disturbing, especially to children.  Please use discretion.

Welkom has a weekly newspaper, The Vista.  In a town the size of Ankeny but roughly the population of Des Moines (400k), The Vista is our most reliable source of news.  The Des Moines area has 4 TV news stations, WHO Radio and several smaller stations, a daily newspaper and various weekly regionals.  Anyone who has lived in DSM knows that when some scandalous crime occurs it dominates the airwaves and print for weeks.

Now, compare that to Welkom.  There is no local radio or TV, and The Vista is really the only true local publication.  And here is a sample of a couple stories that appeared in this week's edition.

Body of Baby Found
by Marti Will
She forced the birth of her twin babies at seven months and then she threw their little bodies down a pit toilet (outhouse).  It is suspected that at least one of the twins, a boy, was born alive.
The police have now arrested a Thabong woman and her boyfriend for the gruesome murders.
It is alleged that the woman gave birth to the twins after she had taken two tablets given to her by a Nigerian doctor in Welkom.  She had first approached the staff at Bongani Hospital to abort the babies, but they turned her away because of the advanced stage of her pregnancy.  It is alleged that the first baby was born and the body dumped into a pit toilet.  Later that evening the second baby, a boy, was born while the woman was taking a bath.  It is suspected that he drowned.  His tiny body too was thrown into the pit toilet.  His birth was witnessed by a friend of the mother.
The crime was committed on 16 August in Thandanani village in Thabong.  The police were informed of the murders on Sunday, 4 September.
The suspect's live-in boyfriend allegedly helped his girlfriend by throwing the second baby into the pit toilet.  The police started looking for the bodies on Sunday.  The body of one baby was recovered on Monday morning.  The body of the other baby was not found.
The gender of the baby could not be determined because the body had already started to decompose.  The Welkom Fire Department helped with the recovery of the body.  A case docket of murder was opened at the Thabong SAPS for further investigation and both the suspects were arrested.

Teacher Murders Wife After Fight
A 39-year-old primary school teacher from Riebeeckstad (a suburb of Welkom) appeared in court after the police had charged him with the murder of his 36-year-old wife.
Mrs Mamokete Ramaisa was found dead in a pool of blood in her bathroom by the police on Wednesday evening.
The couple's 14-year-old son had telephoned the police and reported that his parents were fighting.
The 39-year-old man is a primary school teacher in Kutlwanong (a nearby township).  When police arrived at the scene, they found the man at the gate holding a knife full of blood.  He handed himself over to the police.
The paramedics declared the woman dead at the scene and the man was arrested for murder.  The murder weapon was confiscated by the police.
The acting station comander of Welkom, Col. Ansie Foley expressed her condolences to the bereaved family.  "We are saddened by this criminal act, especially now that we celebrated Women's Month and it is indeed a sad ending for all women who knew the deceased," said Foley.

Understand that neither of these stories made the front page headlines.  The first article appeared on page 2, and the second was tucked away on page 9.  Each week there are reports of various murders, rapes, robberies and attempted crimes.  

Here on this blog I've written several times about the Zama Zama's.  These are the illegal miners that operate in South Africa's Goldfields region.  They have become so bold that they no longer operate strictly underground.  Every Sunday on our way to church we pass G Hostel where we can see dozens of these zama zama's processing their diggings.  Just within the past two weeks there was allegedly an episode that occured wherein one gang of the miners attacked another to steal their ore, reportedly killed up to 15 rival miners and threw their bodies down an old shaft.  They have been unable to recover the bodies due to the depth of the shaft, which is up to 2 miles deep, straight down.

One day a couple months back a young woman came to our gate at The Village asking for help.  She is 21 years old, an orphan herself, living at Number 7.  Number 7 is a squatter camp of about 50 shacks about a quarter mile away from us.  We've worked with people from this settlement on several occasions in the past.  Team members will remember various outreaches we've done with those who live there.  

This young woman came asking for us to give her money for her baby.  The baby was two months old and was born as a result of this woman sleeping with at least one of the zama zama's.  Of course, he up and leaves her to care for the baby alone.  It was obvious she had been partaking of some kind of alcohol.  I asked what she would do with money if I gave it to her.  She said she would buy food for the baby.  I asked what she would do when that food ran out.  
"I will come ask you for more" was her reply.  
I asked "Will you just give me the baby?"  (This was a hypothetical question, since I couldn't just take a baby like that).  
She replied "No!  I love my baby."  
"Do you love your baby enough to do what is best for your baby, not what you think is best for you?" I asked.
"Then you need to come with me to a social worker so they can take the baby and give it a home where it will be taken care of."  I said.
At that, she just stood for a long time.  Then she looks at me and says "Are you going to give me money?"
I had to be brutally honest.  I told her I could see she was selfish and would only use it to buy beer.  She didn't even argue with that.  When I explained that I couldn't just give her money whenever she came to ask she turned and left.  While that might be the end of our interaction, the baby still has to live a life like this...a life that it never chose.  

You may be asking yourself "Why doesn't The Village do something more for the child?"  I can tell you that's the hardest part of this ministry - seeing so many children in so many similar situations, and knowing that you are unable to help them all.  It is at times like this that you have to trust the sovereignty of God, knowing that He will bring you the children He has chosen for you to serve.  We've reported cases to social workers.  Some come through, some don't.  Our hearts want to meet every need that we see, but we trust that God gives us those we can handle.

Saturday, September 3, 2011


The following is plagiarized from Taylor Hircock's blog.  Taylor spent close to 2 months here in Welkom this past summer.  You can find his updates here.

Dumisang is about 9 months- More commonly known as “Tumi”, “Sumi Tumi”, or “Chunker”. He is a little (or should I say big) roly poly plumpster, which has led to him taking the brunt of many a fat joke. Don’t feel too bad for him though, for one thing he is only a baby so he doesn’t understand anyway, and he also gets his fair share of attention. When he came to the Village at the end of May he began staying at Brian and Lois’s house so I saw plenty of him (and believe me there is plenty of him to see) and for some reason I was just drawn to him. I began taking care of, playing with, and feeding him whenever I could so we established somewhat of a connection. This did not make him any less hesitant to spit up on me as often as possible though. He was brought to the Village because his mother is on her way through the court system and most likely to jail. We don’t believe she was a great caretaker anyhow (despite his “well fed” appearance) and he has spent most of his young life laying in his crib on a steady diet of sugar water. As such he is a bit behind in development although I claim personal credit for teaching him how to sit up, click with his tongue, and shake his head violently back and forth. He is coming along well but it would be nice if we could get him to crawl rather than just lay on his stomach like the beached whale that he is (there is no end to the joke material that he provides).