Lock down experiences

This blog is long overdue. I wanted to post this blog 2/3 weeks ago, but for some reason I failed to start writing. Now it is time to update you guys about my work here in Mamelodi. At the moment that I write this blog we are 58 days in lock down, but our programs are already closed for 65 days. It still feels strange that there are no kids running around this place, but we haven’t been sitting still. Read the rest of the blog to find out what I’ve been up to.

This last couple of months I had a lot of ups and downs. Sometimes I feel very happy and sometimes I feel very lonely and sad. Somewhere during this lock down I was even thinking about going back to the Netherlands to wait until the lock down is over. During that time I had a phrase that kept coming back to me “For such a time as this”. It is written in Esther 4:14 where Mordecai asks/says this to Esther. He challenged Esther to risk her life and her legacy with no guarantee for the outcome and Esther accepted it! it was like God was telling me that He called me for such a time as this so I couldn’t run from it. As if He was asking me are you ready for this challenge? I decided to listen to God and accept the challenge of staying and I really believe God has been with me during this time.

Even though our programs are closed, we haven’t been sitting still. The first couple of weeks we spend 2 days cleaning a week. We disinfected all the classrooms, the toilets, the kitchen and basically the whole centre. This was hard work, but it kept us busy.

During the first month we also had a lot of quality time with God. We had prayer days, prayer mornings and a lot of time to spent alone with God. This was very refreshing and I enjoyed it, but being alone is not really my thing… I was glad that the time alone was over and we focused more on doing prayer days together. This made it a lot more fun for me.

When we figured out that the lock down was going to take a long time, we started looking for ideas of how we could still reach out to the people we serve. Our first priority was to get a permit to take food to the kids. We were very grateful that God answered our prayers. On the day we needed the permit we got it in! When we went to the kids the following week, one of their parents came running towards the car. He was so grateful that we were able to come. He shared to us “I remember that you said you might not be able to come anymore, so I was trying to make a plan of how to put food on the table for me and my children”. Lethabo* is a single father of three children who spends every day trying to find ways to provide food for his family. We are really grateful that we got a lot of donations from local shops, but also from individuals so that we could buy extra food for the families and were even able to hand out food parcels to more families than we normally do.

During the lock down we also wanted to support our children with their school work. A lot of them don’t have the luxury of having a dedicated room for home schooling or even having a family member at home that can help them with their homework. Another problem that a lot of these kids are facing is that they are already behind and now they will fall even further behind. That’s why we tried to help them a little. We made a workbook for every kid on their level. This workbook focuses on English, math and life skills. But we also put in Bible stories for every day that can encourage the kids during the lock down. A lot of kids fill these booklets in and we are happy to see them doing some school work.

We also started to pen pal with our kids. I had the privilege to write to my own class, which I really enjoy. The kids asked questions about the virus which I’ve tried to answer, but we also talk about music, games or just about how we’re doing. This is always a time in the week that I’m looking forward to, receiving the new letters.

Next to the work things we also do nice things with the team. Because we can’t really do something fun outside of the walls of Meetse, we decided to celebrate the moments we have inside. One of the things I do is learning to cook local meals. I learned how to cook milliepap, which is something they eat here a lot. It is harder than it sounds and a lot more work than it sounds, but I had a lot of fun making it.

We also celebrated the fact that the lock down restrictions went down with a braai with the whole team. I’m very blessed with a team like this around me. They are really kind for me and they feel like family.

Nothing is "normal" anymore. Even doing groceries is a challenge, because we can't sit next to eachother we are forces to sit behind each other.

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