Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Many Thanks 2016

Dear Friends and family,  
Lauren (7) with Maxi

The grey mountains that once held the chill and damp winter, later welcomed the spring rains and wild flowers, are now bathed in the large South African sun. The dry heat of Stellenbosch summer is settling in. The Guinea fowl have had their chicks and already left our abode for wider grasslands. The undergraduate students have finished their year, the graduate and post graduates are submitting theses and finishing reading for oral exams.  A few of the internationals we have met will go home to Zambia, Nigeria, or Korea for Christmas, while others like Gilbert from Ghana, who is about to get his Master’s in Food Science will stay through to begin his PHD. The campus can be lonely for the internationals as they feel like they are “alone” in studying at this time. With limited scholarships’, financial constraints, and often having to move to find a cheaper rent, these students carry a lot of stress and pressure to succeed. 

'Braai' for Internationals
On Sunday we hosted an international student braai (barbecue) with friends from Zambia, Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Korea and South Africa. We had Nigerian rice and potatoes, Korean bbq, noodles and rice, as well as some American homemade ice cream, grilled chicken and salads.  Many helped and were encouraged by the fellowship of the many nations. A Korean friend, who has taught Katherine to watercolour paint, came with her husband.  She recently had shingles just as her husband’s Masters’ thesis was due, and we had not seen them out being social in quite a while.

On January 1 we move from our rental home. On 19 January we move back to the University of Stellenbosch housing flat on the campus.  The girls and I spent a couple of weeks cleaning, sorting and getting rid of stuff (the up side of moving) as they have finished their academic year. I struggle to get our black containers out yet, as I don’t quite want to feel in complete moving mode.  Clara has begun to grieve the loss of her own room, Katherine has photographed most of the garden, and Lauren sketches many pictures of Maxi, the Belgian shepherd “rental dog”, and I am expecting big tears. Meanwhile Jay is thrilled to reduce rent, as well as his facilities management and pest control efforts (squirrels in the roof, flies, sand fleas, tics, frogs, and wasps to name a few).  We hoped to secure a three week house sit (as most South Africans like to have someone in their home to prevent robbery while away). We have a week of house sitting, then will go to a pastoral retreat center with a Korean family and finally to a “basic house” belonging to a friend’s relative located by a river leading to the sea of great white sharks. This year Katherine has really enjoyed the ballet programs and Clara is swimming 4 days a week, trained by the University coaching staff. Lauren has joined ballet with Katherine and swims once a week. Both Katherine and Lauren received piano lessons from University of Stellenbosch students as part of the students’ requirements for study.   Katherine wants two birthday parties this year, one with her international student family and one with her two special ballet friends.

Please keep us in your prayers as we prepare to move again, to care for and transition the girls, each other and to seek to improve the care and encouragement in Christ to our international friends at the University of Stellenbosch.  I've struggled to communicate our situation, but I'm sending this update with thanksgiving and gratitude to each of you. We thank God for your generosity in both prayer and financial support this past year. 

Hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving and We Wishing you a Merry Christmas Season. 
With love in Christ, Laura (on behalf of Jay, Clara, Katherine and Lauren)

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