Dear Friends and Family,
Greetings from the Smiths in South Africa. We pray that you are doing well.
We’re well and being blessed always by what God is doing here.
Our biggest news is that our family has now grown to include our three other precious daughters, Sli, Fifi and Bongeka.
The house has now filled up very nicely!! Some of you will remember Slindile (19 years old) as she made the journey with us to the USA a couple of years ago. She is in her final year of High School and is working very hard to complete her schooling. She is still debating what she wants to do next year, but has interests in Early Childhood Development. We would love to see her spend a year at a Bible College before making any big decisions.
Fifi is 15 years old and in Grade 9. She enjoys Zulu Dancing and Singing, although she is too shy to show us how much!
Bongeka is 11 years old and in Grade 5. She enjoys singing too, and has become less shy of belting out her gospel tunes, as she walks through the house (her and Zoe make a great duo) She is quite athletic and enjoys many indoor games as well.
Zoe is now 9 years old, and doing well with her homeschooling. Her interests are writing and Drama. She is growing into quite a responsible young lady, and sometimes forgets that she is still only 9 years old and not all conversations require her input.
Wyatt is also 9 years old, and enjoys learning at home. He is quite the Mathematician, and would make a good engineer. He really enjoys playing soccer. He loves his sisters very much, but does feel that a brother would even things out a little bit!! (No plans to fill that request!)
We have enjoyed our family growth. The 3 older girls joined us at the end of January. There are definitely many things to learn as a bigger family, but many joys have come along with it. We are very grateful to the Lord for blessing us all with each other.
January is the beginning of the school year and this year we were able to help 35 local school children with uniforms. Buying school uniforms is one of the regular outreaches that we are able to be involved in. It is a blessing to see these kids all proudly dressed for school. They are not allowed to attend school if they do not have a uniform, so there can be many kids in the rural areas who end up just hanging around in the day without the opportunity of education.
Community Health (February 2010)
In the last month I’ve had two kids at different times come to my home asking for help. They didn’t have a healthy home life where they were living so they relocated to a relative or person they know in our rural community. Neither of them know their own age and both are HIV Positive. They honestly have no idea of how they contracted the virus, other than their mothers died of AIDS and they nursed their open wounds. The first was a girl who our doctor says is 14ish and is mostly deaf. Her name is Nomthandazo and we need to take her in for extensive hearing examinations and buy two hearing aids. Her teachers at school say she is a bright girl but will not pass unless she can hear.
The second is a boy who our doctor says is 16ish. His CD4 count is 22 which means he’ll die soon unless immediate action is taken. We took this action and purchased his ARV’s, began the counseling process and will hopefully enroll him into the government program once he has stabilized. His name is Bongani, please remember him in your prayers.
Community Health Update (May 3, 2010)
Bongani has been a picture perfect success! He is off our ARV’s and has transitioned into the government hospital program.
Nomthandazo on the other hand was just the opposite. She had the desire to live but those who were supposed to be her caregivers unfortunately grew tired of caring. Nomthandazo died. Here is a photo of us trying to feed her hours before she passed away. I was invited to speak at her funeral, and many people did not like being reprimanded by Mr. Smith. Fortunately many solid relationships have been made over the years and when it’s required I can freely speak the truth, even when it hurts.
The Rondavel is finally liveable!!! Building the house for the Otto family has been quite a process. We got a huge boost in moral and good old hands on assistance, when Steve Landis and his daughter, Melissa joined us for 5 weeks in March and April. Steve is a very good friend of Kelly’s and they work together extremely well. It seemed that in no time the rondavel was ready for Marnus, Henriette and their two small daughters to move in. Their move in date was 1 April 2010.
It was a very special time of encouragement for our whole family as Steve and Melissa ministered to us in so many ways. Our kids await the return of Melissa. She has committed to be a “Sports coordinator” for the kids in this area for at least 6 months. She will spend much of her time organizing soccer matches for the young kids here, who have no such opportunity. Wyatt is very excited about it too, it will allow him access to sports that are not usually available to him.
We are so blessed for the coworkers that God has provided for this vast ministry opportunity here. Please keep the Otto family and Melissa in your prayers. Melissa plans to be back here by September 2010.
Thank you very much for your prayers and support!!
We are so blessed to have you all on our team. It certainly takes all of us working together to accomplish what God has planned for this area. There are many ups and downs; joys and tears, but we know that God is in control.
We know that we don’t thank you enough for taking this journey with us. Please know that we appreciate you very much, we feel your prayers and couldn’t be here without your support.
We’ve updated the blog! www.newsfrom7rivers.blogspot.com
God Bless you
Much Love from the whole Smith Family