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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Lots of Girls!

It's either the bane of my existence or the greatest blessing of my life.  I'm leaning toward the former.  But God keeps bringing us more girls.

From Left:  Modiehi, Motshidisi, Dieketseng, Ntswaki, Christina, Paulina, Lerato, Monica
On a separate and unrelated note, 3 of those girls are teenagers.

The other day I had all the children in my house helping me sweep up some of the construction mess.  One of the kids asked me if our family was going to move into that house when it is finished.  Jokingly, I said "No, Motshidisi and Dieketseng will live here after they are done with school."  Then I asked Motshidisi and Dieketseng if they would like that.  After some thought Motshidisi responded "Then where would you live?"

"We would live in town" I said.

Showing a surprisingly uncharacteristic burst of self-awareness, Motshidisi countered with the following "If you didn't live here who would we complain to?"

And that's the reason nobody likes teenagers:-)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Fun At The Village

Kamohelo enjoying one of the bikes given by Hope Community Church in New Jersey

Lerato also enjoying a bike while Monica waits her turn

A John Deere is always good for a ride

Dieketseng spent about an hour giving the kids rides around the property

Brian bought this bike before Liam can walk.  Now that he's three its time for him to start preparing for The X Games.  Brian outfitted the bike with training wheels and rigged up a governor for the throttle.  Liam is giving a ride to Drake here.

Two of the bikes came with pegs.  That means the O'Tool kids can bum a ride.  See what I've taught them?

Siya was pretty excited about his bike.  Even when he wasn't riding it he was dragging it behind him.

Sunday, January 8, 2012


Our Tuesday night Bible study with the children is moving right along.  We started with Creation in Genesis and we've made it all the way to Abraham.  In fact, we spent the last two weeks learning about Abram and Sarai.

Our memory verse is Genesis 15:6 "Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness."

We learned that verse two weeks ago and this past Tuesday night we spent some time discussing what it means.  Primarily, we discussed the issue of sin, the penalty for sin, and the fact that God can take away that sin and give us Jesus' righteousness if we believe like Abraham believed.

The next day, Kamohelo and Monica came to me with some good news.  But instead of me telling you what that news is, I'll let you see for yourself.

Monica - Age 8

Kamohelo - Age 7

Monday, January 2, 2012

From The Niehoff Blog...

Lois Niehoff posted the following story on their blog.  You can find their blog HERE.  I thought it would be fitting to repost, since this is a situation that deeply affects us all.  Lois is the one who does almost all the work with local social workers, and as such is often placed in very frustrating situations.  How she continues to exhibit the special patience God grants her I'll never know.  See below:


We really enjoy being missionaries in South Africa and truly love our job but somedays we do ask ourselves ‘WHY’. Our job description covers a vast variety of duties and that includes working closely with each child’s social worker.
I understand that being a social work isn’t easy-they have a lot of cases to manage, their job is difficult and not fun because they are always seeing devastation and it must get depressing at times. But yesterday was just about all we could handle.
Since August we’ve been caring for a 2 year old boy because his father was in jail for rape and his mother had died. His father is now out of jail on bail. Yesterday his father came to The Village demanding to have his child back and was very forceful. Brian could not control his father and we ended up pushing our panic emergency button for the security system we have at the property. Our loud siren went off and that was enough to scare him. He quickly put his child down and walked away. I notified his social worker that his father came here demanding his child and saying he had a letter stating he could have him back but the father said “he forgot to bring the letter”. The social worker said the father doesn’t listen to her and he is very hostile. We were told to go to court and get a restraining order against this father.

Not even 3 hours after that I received a call from the same social saying the father could have the child back. This is the same person who told me to get a restraining order against this father and even described him as very hostile. Obviously I didn’t understand and questioned her decision skeptically. She explained that the father did bring her a letter showing that the rape charge against him had been dropped so she decided he could have his child back. I said, so just because the charges are dropped that makes him a fit father? The social worker went onto say lets look at it this way, when his father was arrested he took his son to jail with him so he wouldn’t be left alone at home. So I guess that makes him a fit father.
I brought up a few other questionable things to her and she finally said. I am not going to ask the father, I don’t want to know what he does and I just want to close the case. Bottom line, she just wanted to get rid of a case and didn’t really care what was best for the boy. Thirty minutes later we had to let the father have him back. The child left crying and our hearts were breaking.
We thank God for the time we had to show this little guy love and we pray for his future. Only time will tell but maybe he will back. Until then we pray for his safety and salvation of his father.
Please know we have a lot of great, fantastic days here but somedays end up being rather rough.

Here is something Lois didn't mention.  After we had Siya for a couple months his grandmother passed away.  The father was allowed by the social worker to take Siya for the funeral and returned him a few days later.  When Siya came back he had several bruises on his face.  When questioned about it the father gave several different and conflicting stories about how it happened.  Based on his other erratic behavior we have strong reason to believe otherwise.  Brian and Lois tried to file a report and spent almost a whole day doing so.  Unfortunately they were given the classic run-around, with each department pushing them to someone else.  After visits to the social workers, the police, and wherever else they were sent it was finally determined by someone that we couldn't file any report at all.  So the whole thing had to be dropped.  When Lois mentioned this incident of likely abuse to the social worker she responded that 'you never filed a report so...'

As of now, there is nothing we can do except pray that God will care for this precious little guy.  Hopefully we're wrong and the father will turn out to be wonderfully caring and nurturing.  We have experienced similar situations in the past with the children often returning after a brief time and a bit worse for wear.  Please lift little Siya up before our Lord.

The Life & Times - The Village Garden

Brian started the garden a few months back, as our resident green thumb.  We tried to add our own little section, somewhat unsuccessfully thanks to a few key squirts of herbicide.  The last two months Bob Niehoff, Brian's dad, has taken over the garden and really whipped it into shape.  And he's been whipping The Village children into shape too, teaching them how to plant, cultivate, thin, replant, weed, water, fertilize and now finally harvest.  The Village children have become adept at identifying which are good plants and which are weeds.

Let's see how many plants your children can identify from the photos below:

The Life & Times - Sunday Dinner