In addition to visitors, January saw a lot of staff transition at Restoring Hope Village. Without getting into the unnecessary details, I'll share some of the challenges we faced.
When we asked about the unexpected absence and the lack of communication she didn't have much to say other than that she thought we would understand. During her absence we were put in a pretty difficult position, both to fill in for her as well as to explain to the children why their housemother would be away and leave us with no idea as to what was happening or why. We don't know that it caused them great concern, but if I was to put myself in their position it certainly wouldn't have communicated love and security to me.
Because this issue was in violation of her contract we had to put Lizzar on suspension. During this time we held a hearing to determine the facts of what took place and why. At this hearing no new information was revealed. A couple days after this hearing took place Lizzar resigned.
Meanwhile, we had another staff issue to deal with. Ironically enough, this was the same day Lizzar decided to return to The Village after her extended absence. On January 9th one of the older girls brought us a very serious matter. Mama Melita, in the presence of most of the children, had made a very reckless statement. In some jurisdictions her comment was serious enough to be considered a criminal offense. The statement itself had no basis in truth, but was heard and testified to by 6 of the children. Following South African employment law we held a hearing to determine the truth of the event in question. Initially Melita denied making the statement, but eventually said that she may have said it in jest and the children misinterpreted. Regardless, it was essential that we terminate her relationship with Restoring Hope Village.
This being the same day Lizzar began her suspension we were faced with a shortage of caregivers. Amber and I took the two boys, Kamohelo and Tumi, into our home. Selina, formerly our relief housemother, stepped in to care for all the girls. There seemed to be a change in spirit around The Village after that. And it was a change for the better. Selina has exhibited a very sweet and cooperative heart and genuinely seems to care for the wellbeing of the children.
Meanwhile we began a search for new caregivers. We initially interviewed a couple named Vincent and Ntabiseng. While being extremely impressed by them, it was clear that they were overqualified (if that can be true for the Lord's work). I say overqualified in that we wouldn't be able to provide the salary that they would need and that their skills are such that they wouldn't be content longterm to serve simply as houseparents. However, Vincent recommended a seminary classmate, Revival, and his wife Phelisa.
We promptly interviewed Revival and Phelisa and were impressed greatly with their hearts for the Lord. Revival graduated from Christ Seminary in Polokwane, which is affiliated with John Macarthur's Master's Seminary. Phelisa has some minor medical training, which would allow her to be like a nurse's aide or something along those lines. She is fluent in Afrikaans, and since the children must take that in school and none of us speak it, that is a great asset.
Between Revival & Phelisa and Selina it seems we finally have found individuals who see this as more than a job. Even in previous ministry we only found one housemother who approached her work this way, and God led her into another aspect of ministry altogether. Please, please pray for these caregivers, as their job is a difficult one. And they have to work with the four of us as well, so they need some extra prayer!
Even though the issues with our previous housemothers caused lots of extra work and hassle on our parts, we can see the hand of our Father even in this. Pastor Joshua Bolaji, our leader at Welkom Baptist Church, preached a few weeks back about the crippled woman who touch Jesus' garment. He made the point that Jesus not only knew who had touched Him but had actually planned it. Although that interruption must have cause Jairus great concern (because Jesus was on His way to heal Jairus' daughter), that very interruption was planned for God's glory. It provided a teaching moment for the disciples, allowed Jesus to display His Holy Spirit power in raising Jairus' daughter from the dead, and showed Jesus intimate personal love for individuals.
I hate interruptions. But my God not only allows them but plans them for His honor and glory. We have yet to see the full implications of this series of interruptions, but we are excited to see how Jesus uses this to draw our beautiful children to Himself. Praise God for His omniscient provision!
P.S. Another point Pastor Joshua made from that sermon: Many people press around Jesus...few touch Him. Are you one of those making a show of following Jesus, but have no real, intimate, personal relationship with Him?