The Long Awaited Update

I have sat down to write this update several times, but up until now, there was still nothing to tell you except that we are still waiting. When COVID-19 hit South Africa in March, everything was shut down. South Africa slowly reopened over the last six months. First, we could come out for a few hours a day to exercise. Then, right as winter hit, the clothing stores opened. Clothing flew off the shelves as soon as it got there as we experienced one of the coldest winters in five years. School opened, then closed, then opened, then closed, then took a little break, and finally opened with strict protocols. Once barbers could open their doors again, there was a three hour wait for their services especially since only one client could come in at a time. I danced a little when we were legally allowed to visit each other again. I could have danced down the aisles when our church reopened too. On September 16th, we finally went down to Lockdown level 1. Immigration and international travel opened again.

Last Monday we went to an immigration consultant, we were told that we have two options. We can return to the USA and apply for Ryan’s critical skill visa there however South Africa is still restricting travel to high risk countries and as always, the USA is number one. We would have to get permission to travel to and from the States from a high up government official. We would also have to each have a negative COVID test within 72 hours of travel. The other option is to get a waiver and apply for the visas in South Africa. To do this, Ryan must have a job offer or contract and getting the waiver takes six weeks. Then we can apply for visas and permanent residence.

We are opting for the second choice because if we leave South Africa, we may not be able to return. Our current visas are valid until next year December, so we have time.

We have been asked time and time again, why are you staying in South Africa? Wouldn’t it be easier to move back to the USA? Yes, it would but both of us have a strong feeling that God is not done with us here in South Africa. We miss you all dearly especially our family, but we need to be here. Our ministry here has changed but it is not done.

In our last letter, we told you that Elyse and some other women in our church were helping the needy in our community. What started as helping one or two other families has become a full-blown ministry over the last six months. We are helping ten families now. The number waxes and wanes as people get back on their feet or lose contact with us. We help with food parcels and cooked meals the most. We also help with clothing and transportation. We have taken people to the hospital for treatment and even paid for some doctor appointments. We raised money for rent for an elderly gentleman who was in a bad and dangerous position. We raised enough to pay rent for a year. We have helped a little with gas money for a lady who needed to get back and forth to court. We are trying to find housing for a homeless man right now. We are also helping a family protect a woman and kids from an abusive father. We connect with other Nonprofit Organizations and support each other. We have become a community with these families, some more than others. Some of the ladies have started cooking with us. Some are giving of what they have and collecting donations for others. The helped are becoming the helpers. We are joining with a friend’s NPO so we can be legitimate. I can’t believe I am saying this, but I am going to be fundraising again. Many of you have reached out to me in the last six months and given before I even asked. Thank you. Your donations and prayers kept us going. Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing the stories of the people we are helping as they allow. Walking with these people has broken me. The people we are helping have broken and painful paths that have led them to us. But our God is one who heals and restores.

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