Thursday, March 21, 2013

Showered with LOVE!!

Yesterday was a bittersweet day for us, as it was the last day of us teaching our students. This trip has been life changing in more ways that I can express, and yesterday was no exception. Our first class started much earlier than we were anticipating (miscommunication somewhere) So i ran up to the pool & we decided to have free swim for the students.The past two weeks I have been working mainly with students that could already somewhat swim, teaching them to side-breathe and keep their face in the water. I just watched in amazement as these students swam with such heart! They were very excited about pencil dives as well:

After class two boys who had been swimming with me asked if we could come watch them play rugby the following week and asked if we were coming back- it just melted my heart! I asked them to say their name and what they liked about swimming. Here's their little clip:

The teachers invited us for tea during their break so we were able to walk with the students back to the school, where the following took place:

I could have taken videos for hours, these students were so excited to share that they could swim and how much they loved it!! 

Tea time with the school staff was wonderful and I wish we took pictures. Franschhoek High School has a stellar group of teachers and we were so honored to work with them for the short time that we did! The headmaster mentioned in his thank you speech that we started something there and we had to come back to continue, We are feeling the same way! I fought tears as we sat with these teachers and had coffee with them, I was beginning to feel overwhelmed. How could our short weeks here have made such an impact on them & their students? It's what we prayed for and what we wanted, and it happened; I just didn't realize how big of an impact it made. After our tea time we walked to take a group picture with all the primary students that we taught, grades 1-7. The principal thanked us again in front of the students & again stated we needed to come back :) He then handed the time over to Mrs. Hoffman, who has been our main point of contact for the school, she is the teacher who set our schedule and really put things together. Mrs. Hoffman thanked us and shared how each of the students had made a donation to get us two gym bags from the high school, and that is when i couldn't hold back the tears any longer! She asked us to speak and I cried through the first few sentences as I spoke of how much we loved each and every one of them and how they have a special place in our hearts. Kopo spoke as well, and many of the students were crying when we spoke, it was priceless! We then took our group photo, which I will post when we get it emailed to us :)

We continued teaching throughout the day, we had 4 classes after our break. Here is a video of one of our students, Rebecca. She was extremely fearful of the water when we first started and would barely put her face in. This was her first time in the deep end (almost 10ft) and she shined!

Here is a quick video of our Grade 5 beginner students. When I say beginner, I mean some of them wouldn't even suit up for the first class, and when they finally did get in the pool, it was a challenge just to keep them in the water.

I am so humbled that God has done so much through our obedience to Him, I am completely blown away! I sobbed while writing this post, I stopped halfway through I was crying so much and completely at a loss for words. I cannot thank God enough for His goodness, His provision and His love. We could not have done this without Him, there is NO WAY i could possibly have this much love in my heart without him. Thank you to Jeff and Joan Smith and King's Swim Academy for sending us. Thank you for praying for us and encouraging us- no comment or "like" went unnoticed! Thank you to our few financial supporters who gave generously to help us serve these children and this community, we cannot say thank you enough!!

This is not the last of our posts, there is still so much that happened that we have yet to write and more that we still need to process. Please continue to keep us in your prayers as we prepare to come home and reengage in the Bay Area. We are excited and look forward to continuing to work together at King's Swim Academy San Mateo! At this time we are still trusting God for a place to live, we know that He will provide as He always has. We have had a few housing possibilities, but nothing we have gotten the OK from God for. We are looking forward to our last few days here in South Africa, then we fly home through London, where we will spend 6 days with our dear friends. 

Whatever you do today, share love! Love God. Love your kids, love your wife or husband. Love your family. Love someone else's kid. Share love with people who you think don't deserve it, they probably need it most. Hug someone. Smile at someone. Be thankful for everything you have, even if times are tough. It truly is better to give than to receive.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Kopo writes a post....

Hello everyone. Here is a little insight into my life.  I'm beyond excited to be out here in South Africa serving together with my wife. Being out here has been a life changing experience for me. I wake up every day just ready to teach these kids to swim. Before we started our first lessons we prayed that this swimming pool would be a healing place for these kids. Since we started our lessons, this pool has been an healing place not just for the kids but for me and my wife too. We love what we do and we enjoy teaching swimming to these kids. We see that a lot of them want to learn how to swim but they are so afraid of the water. I had a 6 year old girl that she was so scared of the water that I had to help her get in. I carried her in and when she got in the water she threw her arm around my neck and literally almost pulled my beard off. I told her to let go of my beard and not to worry that I will hold her while she's swimming. It took this little girl 5 minutes to let go of my beard. I smiled the whole time even though I was in pain, I kept a straight face. I told her to hold on to the wall, I turned my back towards her and that's when it really hit me and I was telling myself " It's time to shave" We attend this great church here in Franschhoek that Jeff and Joan Smith told us about before we came out here and its called Shofar. We met Pastor Yannis Acavalos the first day we went there. The service was great and we feel like we've been going here for a long time. We talked to Yannis for a bit and we asked him about joining a small group while we're here. He told us that he will pray to see which small group would fit us better and that he will have someone contact us the next day. We got an email, text message and a phone call from one of the small group leaders named WP. He picked us up for small groups and we had a great time together, we met so many great people that night whom now we call friends. We got invited to go on a hike with them and we had a blast. My wife already posted about that. 

I got invited to attend a Shofar Men's Camp about 2 weekends ago. I thought it would be a great idea to go and connect with men of God. I rode up with a gentleman name Wessel and his twin sons James and John. We also had one of the guys from the church named Ricardo drive with us, here is a photo of us:

 Wessel took us along the scenic route to get to our destination. It was a beautiful ride and we all chatted on the way up there. We arrived to our destination and we started setting up our tents. I didn't have a tent or a sleeping bag but I was told not to worry, they would supply one for me. Ricardo had a big two sided tent so he stayed in one and I used the other one. I got to meet more men from the shofar church and we had a great time chatting. We had our first session that Friday night and it was amazing. There were about 600 men there that weekend. Some of the men brought their sons. I thank God that I got to be a part of this Men's Camp. God showed me a lot of things. My calling is to be on the mission field serving Him. On our last night during worship, we were asked to go outside and just look up to the sky and just worship him. I've never seen so many stars and I've never worshiped like that ever in my life and it was beautiful. The stars were beautiful.  I felt the presence of God that night and it was amazing. I had a great time fellowshipping  with so many great men of God. Here are some more shots from the weekend:

I always hear people talking about "living on faith". Well we have been living on faith for almost 2 months. All of this is voluntary so we don't get paid for it and since I had to quit my job to come here we have no income coming in. I thank God and I praise him everyday for providing for us and giving us great friends who have supported us since day one. Before we left He said not to worry that he will take care of us and He has. God is Great and he's been an amazing provider, protector and an AMAZING FATHER. We don't have a 15 year , 10 year or even a 5 year plan. We PLAN to serve God anywhere and any way we can.  

Joshua 24: 15
And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”