Tuesday, February 17, 2015

God Gives the Increase

Michael and I have been exceedingly blessed in receiving another year's worth of funding to continue our work here in Gauteng, South Africa. If the past two months are anything to go by, it is going to be a very exciting year indeed! 
During December, most of our projects slowly come to a stop as the kids leave the province to visit relatives in other provinces/countries. Although we do set dates for when these projects will resume in the new year we can never be completely sure how many will return and/or remember to attend on that day. 
With this in mind we made sure to warn a visiting volunteer, Eloise Caudery, not to expect very many kids at the first Saturday Bible Club this year. "Perhaps about 10" we estimated. However as we turned onto the street on which the Tswelopele Good News Center is situated we saw a crowd of extremely excited children running toward the gate – and they just kept coming! On that Saturday we had 48 kids attend and the numbers haven't dropped below 35 since. Our biggest challenge however is not the large amount of kids but rather the large age difference within that group. 
We have some as young as 2 years old and then others who are turning 16 this year – and more often than not Michael & myself are the only adults there. One of the simplest but most effective changes we have made is to have the group together for the introductory songs and the lesson itself, and then to split them into two groups with an activity/craft suited to their different ages – rather than have one activity which is either impossibly hard for the younger ones or mind-numbingly boring for the older ones. 
Deandre with the craft he made to reinforce the lesson we learn from the Apostle Philip – invite others to Christ! 
Group photo after the first Bible Club of the year – we made an optical illusion craft that places "Jesus"in our hearts. 
 On this Saturday they all arrived in their swimming costumes (communication breakdown) so we turned on the hose and they had a blast! 
We have had a similar increase within our Sunday School group! The first Sunday we had 2 new kids join us, the next Sunday 8 new faces arrived, and the Sunday after that another 4 new kids attended. This left the poor teachers scrambling to find extra stationery but in somewhat of a "God-Moment" everyone had prepared enough lessons! 
The majority of these new kids are under 7 years old which means our youngest class now consists of an average of 12 little ones. The 8 that came on the second Sunday are a family that used to attend homework club 2 years ago, disappeared, and have now decided to join us again – praise God! Fortunately we have all the members in our meeting taking turns to present Sunday School lessons so this growth will not place too heavy a load on any individuals. The reason we initially started this was for especially the youth to get to know all of the members – in an effort to make attending the memorial (when they want to) less intimidating. 
The youngest class – Leona Scheepers keeping it exciting as usual! 
The middle class admiring Michael's artistic talent (or lack thereof) – 4 of these kids are new attendees. 
The youth class being led by Itayi Mutseka, choosing the African sun over a classroom that is no longer big enough! 
 A knock-on effect of the increase at Sunday School was that most of those kids also attend another of our projects – our Tuesday "Homework Club". Here too we have the challenge of there being a large age difference within the group with only Michael and myself coordinating the activities. During the holidays we came to the rather sudden realization that our older group is all preteen boys and as such we have needed to adapt the activities and games to suit their interests!  We have also started giving them the responsibility of doing their own online research for projects rather than us finding it for them – following the "teach a man to fish…"principle. 
One of the more manly activities we have attempted – building a catapult. 
Sipho, Chigozile and Cameron with their catapults. 
After building the catapults they shot tokens toward targets – after which they could modify their catapults and try and make them shoot further – the further the target the higher the points – and lots of cooperative learning happening in between! Little Lexi found the flying tokens very entertaining! 
Despite the challenges these increases sometimes create, we genuinely thank our Father for entrusting us with the responsibility of showing His love and goodness toward the many children He has brought to us, and pray, and ask for your prayers too, that we may play our part in bringing them to a fuller understanding of the glorious hope that they may have in Him. 
With love in Christ
Lilandi Furstenburg