Movie Night Begins

With a projector given to us from Mark Presley and the Communications Ministry at FBC McKinney, Philip has started the Fort White movie night.  This week they voted for a scary movie so it was a selected few but they had a great time and want to do every week.  Next week, we will do a family-friendly movie first and then they can watch their scary stuff.

It was fun to see the movie projected on the big wall of the hall with the sound coming through big speakers.  We plan to show the World Cup in this same fashion.  There will be tons of people here to watch!

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March update

We have been busy here at Fort White.  March has gone by quickly, but April means that we are in the states for our annual missions month at First Baptist Church in McKinney, Texas.  We are looking forward to our visit there (and to the Mexican food that we will eat :0).

Our chickens are here!  Our chickens are here!  After a long wait, we finally have our 100 chickens at Fort White.  Due to an illness in the chicken farmer’s family, we needed to wait until now for him to deliver the chickens to Fort White.  We already have 100 eggs in just a few days to sell to the people in the near by villages.  We thank you for your donations to our adopt a chicken program.  This will benefit the people who live too far to run into the town to buy eggs.  I know they would thank you too.

Our agriculture projects are moving along.  We will harvest a few thousand beet root this coming week to take to market.  Philip and Festas will need extra hands to harvest and replant the 20,000 seedlings that we were given.  We hope to hire some of the people from the nearby village to help us and to give them a small income.  Water is still an issue, but we have hopes that a group from East London will help us put in a boar hole to access underground water.

Our computer classes are still going strong.  The students have shown great improvement from the first day they arrived.  Next week will be their exams and then we will take a break while we are in the US.  The students have already asked about the next classes that will be offered.  While we are away, Siyanda will open the lab for students to practice what they have learned.

We have also begun a character training class at one of the local primary schools.  The learned about diligence and we had them act out a story about an ant and a grasshopper.  The ant diligently stored his food in summer and at harvest so he would have food for winter.  The grasshopper just sat around and ate, but when winter came, he had no food.  When we return, we will start a new character trait.  The kids seemed to enjoy the class.

We hope to see everyone we can when we are in Texas and Oklahoma.  Just pray that our 40 hour trip will go smoothly from East London to Dallas.  Love to you all.

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February 2010

I know it’s a short month, but where did February go?  As we look back over this fast and furious month, we have seen some new things happening at Fort White.  First of all, we have started a computer class for adults.  We have 60 students in 6 different classes and a waiting list of over 20 more people.  Their ages range from early 20s to late 40s.  This is the first time that some of the students have ever sat at a computer.  We are learning the basics and how to use a mouse.  We have started them on a typing program so they can learn how to type correctly.  Hopefully with these skills they will have a better chance at getting a job.  As you know, computer skills are a must when applying for a job.

We also began a class for young girls called Dv8 (deviate).  We had a good first week teaching the girls that Jesus is the only way to get to the Father.  Unfortunately, due to a language barrier, I think they didn’t understand that this class would be every Monday.  So, they have not come back on Mondays.  We will have to figure out a way to have a local Xhosa speaker there with us so that they can translate for us. Becky has been asked to go to the Debe Nek school to lead a class on character traits starting next week.  In that, she will add scripture for them to memorize on what the bible says for each character trait.

We also have the problem with transportation.  If the kids from the villages want to come do something at Fort White, they have to walk here.  It is a mile or more for them to walk.  If it is really hot or raining, then the kids will not walk here.  All the adults walk here for their computer classes.  We are praying about how we can purchase a bus for Fort White so that we can provide transportation to and from the classes at Fort White.

Philip is still very involved with the agriculture at Fort White.  We feel that if Fort White will be successful, it needs to have a way to make money.  Agriculture is a big industry here and the ground is fertile.  Philip and Festas have been planting different crops to see what is profitable here in this area.  It looks like beets, cabbage, onions, spinach and potatoes are cash crops here and have the potential to make money for the ministries that we want to have happen at Fort White.

There are many projects that need funding at Fort White.  Some of these projects being renovations of the cabins and buildings so that teams or individuals can come stay at Fort White and school buildings and classrooms need to be renovated and furnished so that classes can be held for both children and adults.  There is a long list of projects that could be done, but funding holds up a lot of these projects.  As of now, we have been working purely on donations and we want to thank many of you who have felt led to donate to these projects.  We wouldn’t be able to have anything going with your support.

We want to also thank you for your prayers.  We feel a peace about being here and know that God has big plans for this area.  We are still listening to what God wants us to do at Fort White.  There are many ideas but we know that ultimately we will succeed when we do what God wants done here.

Please continue to pray for wisdom and discernment in the activities that should happen at Fort White.  Also, pray for our children who are feeling a little lonely without other kids to play with.  Thomas is better about playing with whoever comes to Fort White, no matter what age they are.  We have a group of boys from Ngcamngeni who play rugby in our large field and Thomas plays with them, even though they are 18 years old and up.  The girls are a different story.  They miss their friends a great deal and don’t have as many opportunities to play with other kids.  We are hoping to find some activities in King Williams Town in which they can participate to help them find some other kids their age.  The kids are also busy with their home schooling.  Emily and Allison are finding it more difficult than Thomas but you start learning more in 4th and 6th grades.

We will be coming back to Texas on April 9 and leaving on May 3.  We hope to get to see everyone, but our time will be short.  We will be traveling to Oklahoma to see family and friends there, but once again it will be a short visit.  We will be looking for a place to stay and a car to use when we are back for the month.

Thanks again for everything you do to support us.  We are overwhelmed by the love and support that has been given to us.

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2010 – What will you bring?

Happy New Year!  We have just now had a chance to wish everyone a happy new year.  We celebrated a quiet Christmas at home.  Celebrating holidays in a different country can be hard on everyone.  Our pastor and his wife, Reuben and Patricia, must have understood this because they invited us to come over to their house for dinner and then they offered their high speed internet so we could call our families using Skype and their web cam.  It was so good to not only hear but also see our families.

Right after Christmas, David and Liz Even came to Fort White with their kids.  They helped us get ready for the team from McKinney that arrived on January 3.  It was so great to have the Evens and 24 people from McKinney here at Fort White.  They worked so hard while they were here.  They did a Holiday Bible Club (VBS) for the kids in the nearby villages.  We started with 35+ kids on the first day and had over 150 by the end of the week.  The gospel was shared with the children and the parents that were hanging around.  The team also worked at a rural school near by painting the inside and outside walls, painting chalkboards and building a playground.  They also worked at a local Meals on Wheels preparing the food and serving it to some of the poorest in our area.

Philip was very excited when he went to the school this week and the kids were singing “Rejoice, rejoice and again I sing rejoice”, one of the songs that the McKinney team taught them at the VBS.  It is so cool to watch the effects of a 10 day mission trip.  Remnants of each team stay even when they return home.  We thank every single one of the team members for spending their time and money to come to South Africa.

We are now working on how we can start an after school program for the children in the area.  We did discover that most of the children would need to be picked up near their village but we do not have the vehicle to do that.  We will have to pray about that and see how God will work out this challenge.  We did have one boy come by this week to see if we would tutor him.  He, along with 54% of the other senior students failed their exit exam.  He will be able to retake his test sometime this semester but he needs help understanding the curriculum.  You can pray for Philip as he is tutoring this boy.  Philip doesn’t feel like an adequate teacher, but he knows the upper level math and science better than I do.  I think he will do just fine.

Thank you for your continued support and your prayers.  We are waiting on the edge of our seats to see how God is going to use Fort White.  We think that He is going to do big things here and we are so humbled that we get a front row seat.

We pray that your new year will be blessed and that you know the great love that Jesus has for you.

Check out our picture site at using the password HereAmI (make sure you use the caps.)

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No time to…

We have been in South Africa for 2 1/2 weeks but it has been no stop running.  As soon as we arrived we began to prepare for the team from the Journey Church in New York City as well as Doug and Melissa Willmarth from McKinney.  Philip had his hands full buying mattresses, putting down flooring in the duplexes and getting the dormitory cleaned out.

The kids and I started getting in a routine for school.  We are still trying to get everything working so that we have school in the morning and they can play or work in the afternoon.

Our big garden looks great thanks to Festas.  We have added a smaller garden in our backyard and have planted onions, celery, tomatoes, herbs, cucumber and watermelons.  We’ll see if we are as successful as Festas.

We have a new addition to our family, Sunny the ridgeless Ridgeback.  She was free because she doesn’t have the ridge on her back and no one else wanted her.  She has been pretty good but she is still a puppy and is supposed to be pretty big when she grows.

We have spent some time at the DebeNek Primary School as the team here last week painted the outside of the school, cleaned out overgrown flowerbeds and spent a morning playing with the kindergarten class.  We hope to continue helping them with projects as we can.  The team from FBC McKinney who are coming in January will help put up a playground in their yard.  We are hoping that we can make some relationships so that they will come to Fort White for classes that we will offer.  One program that we want to start in the new year is Dv8 (Deviate).  It is a program that our church is doing and is very successful.  The focus for Dv8 is to teach the kids that Jesus is the only way to Heaven.  The kids here also need to be taught this.  We’ll see what happens in January.

I have added pictures to our Shutterfly account and we’d love for you to see them.  Go to and the password is HereAmI.

More to come when I have more time to…

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The time has almost come

We are already looking at our departure date that is just a little over a week away.  Three months have seems to fly by as we had the chance to see family, visit with friends and create new connections with people who feel led to support what we feel God has called us to do.

Our flight is on November 9th from DFW to Washington.  We then board the long trip to Johannesburg and will stay the night there.  We will hopefully get to see the Evens for a short visit before we board the flight to East London on November 11th.

Ten days after we arrive in East London we will have the Journey team from New York and a couple from our home church come stay at Fort White to do projects and help us set up connections with some of the schools in our area.  We then will be looking forward to the 25 people coming from FBC McKinney in January to lead a holiday club (VBS) and help with building projects.

God has blessed us so great with friends and family like you.  We can’t say thank you enough to the Haskins who have so graciously hosted us for the last 3 months at their guest house.  We love you guys and will miss you.  Harold Eldridge, we were so blessed to get to use your suburban while we were here.  It really helped us on our longs drives to see family.  There are so many I want to say thank you to and I hope to be able to do that in person before we leave.

Please feel very welcome to come visit us anytime you can.  We have the space and I’m sure we could find some thing for you to do.

We love you all and feel very blessed to have you in our lives.


Check out our pictures from this summer at  The password is HereAmI (you must use the caps on H, A and I).

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God’s amazing way

“Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done” Are we really ok with that? When it comes right down to it, are we ok with making plans, telling people what we are going to do, raising support for a certain project and then having your plans change due to what God wants us to do? Sometimes it is really hard to watch the changes occur and sometimes it’s thrilling. In our case at Fort White, it has been exciting to watch as what was planned by man has had a makeover by God.

When we first were approached to come to Fort White in South Africa, it was because they wanted to start a school at the campus. Being a teacher, they pursued us with the plan that I would be teaching and running the school. My first thought was that I really didn’t know how to run a school, but I’m sure I could work it out since God was on my side – in my weakness, He will be made strong. My second thought was, “Am I really ready to go back into the classroom full time?” Since my 11-year-old was born, I haven’t had the desire to be in the classroom full time. I have enjoyed teaching at Vacation Bible School or in a Sunday school setting, but a full time teacher is a different thing. “If that is what You are calling me to do Lord, then I guess I’m ready to go back into the classroom full time.”

So, our energy this summer (winter here) was spent making the schoolhouse ready for a school to start in January 2010. Dr. Alf Kettles had been working diligently on getting the paperwork filled out to have a proper school at Fort White. Unfortunately, right before he left to go work in Ireland for a few months the paper work was sent back to him with a new packet that was supposed to be filled out in the first place. Quite frustrated, Alf started again but had to leave it to the rest of the board to finish.

During our time here, Mark Presley and Dustin Taylor came to document the work that was being done at Fort White. One day, they went with Philip and Festas to a school near by. The principal told them that the government allows 4 teachers for their school of 90 students. The problem is that the school has grade 1 through grade 12. This means that one teacher has three or four grades to teach at one time. Another issue that we would have to consider would be if we started at school at Fort White, we would take some of the students away from that school. That might be helpful to four or five children that would come to our school, but that would mean we make their student numbers lower, in turn having the government fund less teachers. That would be awful.

So as we listened to the community and felt a pull from God, we were not at peace about starting a school at Fort White. During the same time, Dr. Kettles was struggling in Ireland. He was not at peace about the paper work and the process that seemed to not be working for us to start a school. He called Philip one day with a heavy heart and Philip could tell that he was having a hard time working through this problem. Philip finally said, “Alf, we don’t feel like we should start a school at Fort White. We feel like we should compliment the schools that are already in the area.” Dr. Kettles almost jumped through the phone. He was so excited because he was thinking the same thing but was concerned that we had our hearts set on starting a proper school.

It turned out that everyone on the board, as well as our family, had been feeling the same about starting the school. It seems that the schools around us don’t have extra mural sports, libraries, music programs, chapel times, computer classes or life skills training. These are all the things that we could offer at Fort White. How exciting to watch the plans unfold for what God has planned for the Place of Hope, Indawo Yethemba.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Jeremiah 29:11

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