President’s Blog – February 21st
As our lives here in Africa continue to unfold here we are often reminded we are not in Iowa any more. Today I noticed that a hive of African bees have taken up residence on our barbeque on our deck. They can be a bit dangerous but will deal with them after dark this evening before our next team arrives.
Yesterday, I had hired a neighbor to come with his bull dozer to help us begin clearing the land for our new team dormitory. The neighbor lives about 20 kilometers away and rather that hire a low boy truck to haul the dozer he was driving in down the road. Typical of life here in Africa, the dozer broke down on the way. Also typical of life here in Africa I had to pay for the fuel for him to drive the dozer here. If he is able to get it repaired today we will still have him do the work, otherwise I will be making a new plan. My neighbor and good friend John McBride is here from America with our team tomorrow. He is a heavy equipment operator and quite skilled at all things mechanical and construction related. It is important to me to get this project started early in his time with us to take maximum advantage of his skill while he is here with us.
We have made good progress on our two new buildings on our Thompson Campus this week. We should finish thatching the roof of our first building which will be our new sewing center tomorrow. The second building which will be our Farming God’s way consultant’s new home will be ready for thatching on Monday. It sometimes seems like things move slow here in Africa but over time we are getting lots done. An example of slow and inefficient was yesterday the power company came and shut the power off at our Del Cramer Children’s Campus because we had not paid the electric bill. We had not paid it because we had never received a bill. It took Beth and two hours sitting at the Eskom office to get the power turned back on. We also did our best to get the 500 rand fee for cutting and turning the power back on excused. At this point we have not heard if we won that battle or not. We did get the bill paid and hopefully will have power again today.
Yesterday I got a call from the HOD, Head of Department of the Social Development Department for Limpopo wanted to meet with me and see our Dell Cramer Children’s Campus. The chief had introduced him to me last year before we started construction of the center. I had requested his assistance in helping us get the center registered with the government so that we could access government money to help sustain the center. I told him then that I did not want to build a “white elephant” that would sit there and not help the children. He promised me then that it would not be a “white elephant” and that he would help us keep it running if we built it. It is wonderful that he is keeping his word and now wants to help us push the registration through his department. We submitted our application for registration on time in December of this last year and his department came by for a site visit on Wednesday this week. So far everything seems to be progressing well towards official registration. I am expecting an answer from them in March. He also recommended to me that we hire our own social worker to serve our center rather than depend upon his department to supply us a social worker. That way we will have a social worker at our site on a dependable regular basis. If they came out of his department they would be spread too thin to be dependable to serve all of the needs of our children. It should work well for us to have our own and he or she could serve a dual role of project coordinator and social worker. When we designed the campus we build an office for a social worker. We are keeping the number of children that we are feeding at this center small at 25 until we start receiving government funds. Once government funds are available we will hire the social worker and expand the kids we serve up to about 200. I plan to expand slowly starting with just 50 so that we keep the quality of service high.
The HOD who visited our site yesterday was quite impressed with the quality of our construction and programming that we are doing for the children. He seemed even more impressed with our farming programs. He wants us to come and help teach other projects how we are having success with our chicken, maize and vegetable production. I am a bit excited that he mentioned that he would like to sign a MOU with us for cooperative purchasing of farm produce for feeding centers in his area of Limpopo. He also is working with some other projects that are doing sewing so we may be able to work together in that area also.
The feeding program has been growing I contacted Meals from the Heartland and Convoy of Hope and fortunately they have a container ready to be shipped to us now. It will arrive here in a couple of months. I was able to arrange free warehouse storage in Johannesburg for this next container. This will bring our storage sites to 4 here in South Africa. We used our new 4 ton truck to deliver food for the first time yesterday. Maxwell used it to deliver 120 boxes or about 25,000 meals to 100 pastors at a conference 150 Km from our Shikwaru base.
Our network of 1000 churches to help us deliver the 10,000 meals is coming together rapidly. We now need to firm that network up with official applications from the churches and pastors. Next month Michael Vos, Ned Looney and David Russell are coming to put on teaching conferences for many of the pastors in our network.
We have had lots of positive comments from the KCCI TV broadcast last week. Hopefully that will help us recruit many more people to come to SA to work with us. Also hoping many people will be encouraged to financially support our feeding program to help us feed our 10,000 orphans and vulnerable children.
Our Lighthouse Church is growing each week. Last Sunday we have 150 children in children’s church at 40 adults. We purchased an additional 100 chairs today and another 100 plates to serve them food each Sunday. We also ordered a new 500 seat tent to have space for everyone that we expect to be coming to church soon.