Reflecting back on February 2013, we thank the Lord that we had the privilege to see our canal flowing again. For those of you who do not understand the importance of this event, we will try and give a brief background.
Orange RiverOnseepkans is an arid and very hot area, with summer temperatures reaching 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees F) andwintertemperatures in the early 30’s (86 degrees F). The economical lifeline of Onseepkans is an approximately 16 km long ground canal, channelling water from the Orange River (the largest river in South Africa, pictured right) to a number of irrigation plots, ideally situated for flood irrigation. A large section of the community will benefit directly or indirectly if these irrigation plots are properly farmed, since Onseepkans has no other real economical income except for agricultural activities. Many of these irrigation plots are in the hands of the small farmers, the previous disadvantaged people in South Africa. There are 27 small farmer groups in total, with each group comprising of six members. A very large section of the community, over half, currently depend on the government for social grants. When the canal ran dry, agricultural activities in Onseepkans literally came to a standstill. Without water, no one could farm.
During the month of February, after struggling for more than a year to get help from government level, we rejoiced in watching how the excavators cleaned the canal. We are thankful for those involved, Department of Agriculture and BVI Engineers, who helped us to reach this milestone. With the water, it seemed like life flowing back to Onseepkans again. Now farmers can start to work their irrigation fields again and be able to irrigate their crops from the canal. Our mission also benefits from the canal functioning again. Pumping water for household purposes became a nightmare when the canal was dry. We had to to pump water through a 1.5 km long pipeline from the river to the house, just to have basic household water. Now we pump water less that 500m away from the house, and we can start our vegetable garden again also.
The challenge that now lies ahead is to see how we can get help for the small farmers to clean their properties from “Prosopis” thorn bushes. Department of Environmental Affairs have committed themselves to help the small farmers in this regard, and we hope to see teams start clearing in April this year. Unfortunately Department of Environmental Affairs only clean the bush to ground level, meaning that stumps are still left in the ground. This will have to be removed either by hand or by machines and is still a hurdle to be overcome at this stage.
On a more personal level, those of you who are familiar with our family and our doings, will remember that when we were still with Moreson Mission at Malmesbury, we were involved in pottery making. When we moved to Onseepkans we brought all our pottery equipment with, but were without a kiln (pottery oven) to fire our pottery. Eventually we bought an eight cubic feet gas kiln and rejoiced when we had our first firing a couple of days ago. We hope to have photos of our new pottery items on the website soon. Please pray and trust with us that this project will also become a tool in God’s hand to reach the community. The children (and many adults) are idle during the day and then get involved in all kinds of mischief and wrong things. We hope to train some of the children and maybe also adults in the skills of pottery, and hope that the creative influence of this art form will inspire them to more constructive habits.
Some other news:
Our milking goat herd increased with 5 new arrivals that we bought from a nearby farmer. Currently we milk 11 goats. This generates enough milk for our mission and our workers. As our herd increase with the next lambing season and our existing young ewes come up for production, we hope to also start venturing into new possibilities, for example yogurt and cheese making.
Recently the community, primarily Roman Catholics, had a late Sunday afternoon church march with crosses through the main street, as part of their church activities celebrating the coming of Easter. They asked us if we could film the event and we took pictures and a video that we are currently busy editing for them.
The local school also had a march against drugs and abuse, and we had the opportunity to show a dvd on prostitution and drugs and also say a few words to the children. Afterwards, during the march, we also assisted them in taking photos of the event. We thank God for these opportunities, since it bring us in a more closer relationship with the community.
We will again have Bible club for the children of Onseepkans in the coming Easter school holidays. Please pray that God will work in the hearts of these children, transforming and bringing a permanent change in their lives.
Thank you for your continuous prayer and support. May our Lord richly bless and Keep you.