December 3rd, 2011
This has been another good week in Africa. I am fully rested up and feeling productive. I got the first draft of my autobiography finished. Beth is busy editing it for me and our daughter Kelsey has volunteered to do some photos or illustrations for me. It is turning out to be more like a short story than a full book. It is about 40 pages but hopefully will be a blessing to my own family and people interested in the mission work we are doing.
Our biggest struggle this week has been getting our recent food container through customs. It has been stuck there for about a week now and we are being charged dock space rental while it is stuck there. Lisa is doing most of the work on getting this through. In spite of several emails and phone calls, there is still no progress. We are suspicious that the officials are holding it, hoping for a bribe. We are trying to pray it through but no success so far.
Our farming program is still struggling also because we have not had any rain. Please pray with us that it will soon rain on our crops. The need for it is getting to the critical stage. We are irrigating our vegetables and they continue to thrive. Our chickens are also doing well. We sold another 200 of them this weekend. We have almost completed construction of two of our new chicken houses and they look much better. This farming business has a steep learning curve for this doctor but fortunately many of my Afrikaner friends have been happy to share their wisdom with me.
We have only had one chicken die out of our 800 so we are doing extremely well. Unfortunately, one of our guard dogs died this week. I am suspicious that she was poisoned. That apparently is quite common here in SA and makes guard dogs of less use that one would ordinarily think they would be.
I had a good meeting with the representative from Samaritan’s Purse, also part of Operation Christmas Child and it turns out that one of their coordinators in Johannesburg is
a good pastor friend of mine. So I am confident that our relationship with Samaritan’s Purse will be a good one. It is a bit complicated. They will be receiving a shipment of 105,000 shoe boxes and we have to manage the logistics of getting them into the hands of needy children through the church. The total of these boxes will be divided between two large provinces Gauteng and Limpopo so this first year our number of gifts may be a bit small but that is alright in that we only have a couple of months to set up all of our logistics of making this work well. The plan is to distribute all of the shoes through churches in our area also using the volunteers that come to work with us from America. I know that they will love this new program that we will be doing.
We will start our first optical outreach at Northern Academy again the last week in January. It has become one of our favorite places to work.
In addition to struggling with the food container we are still waiting to get our official notice that Blessman Ministries is an official NGO in SA. We submitted all of the correct paper work for this in July or August. I have stayed busy this week working on getting our Del Cramer Children’s Campus drop in center registered with the proper authorities. The application is due December 14th and I am getting back on the plane to the States shortly. Hopefully we will get all of this taken care of before I leave. We can only register one time a year so if we miss this it will be an entire year before we can try again. I have good staff here helping me so I trust that we will prevail.
My time here in SA this time is so brief that I am having difficulty getting together with everyone that I wanted to meet. I was able to meet with 2 of the 4 pastors who traveled to the USA last month to our BILD pastor’s conference. They are still reporting excellent feedback from their trip to America. I am still impressed that all 4 of these gentlemen arranged for their own visas and paid for their own
airline tickets. It demonstrates their desire for high quality training. I plan to continue offering pastor training conferences for them here and these 4 will start training other leaders in their churches.
We celebrated Thanksgiving here last week and this week we gathered our little community at Shikwaru to celebrate Jacques’ birthday. These people are my family away from the States and I enjoy having fellowship with them.
One evening this week I was invited to another farm family’s home for a Chinese dinner where we each cooked our own meal in little individual grills. It was an enjoyable cultural experience on a large pig farm. The amazing thing was that one of the guests is the cousin of my cardiologist’s wife in Iowa. It is truly a small world.
I am missing my wife Beth a lot this week but fortunately Randy Collier who has been a frequent traveler to SA is here with me. He is one of the most organized people on the planet and I am impressed at all of the work he is getting done this week.
We have gotten the land pretty well cleared for our new missionary home that Pierre and Rentia will live in. We have also cleared the ground for our new garage all on the Thompson Campus.
I had lunch today with Pastor Andy and Thora his wife who lead the large youth ministry at Northern Academy in Polokwane. We are making plans with them for another boys and girls conference. We did these last year and they were well received. 160 of their students are now wearing sexual purity rings that they purchase themselves vowing to keep themselves pure until marriage. Many of
those wearing the rings are boys which is an amazing accomplishment for the group of students. They still run nearly 100 % high school graduation rate. It is definitely one of the best schools in our entire province.
I am excited to return in January and get started again with all of these projects we have been working on.