My most powerfully moving, special moment of this entire year: Walking into the conference room at the Tswelopele Good News Centre after the crèche course graduation ceremony to a table full of presents – a (huge) surprise “baby shower” hosted by the amazing women that attended the latest crèche course. It firstly made me think of the Bible incident of the widow giving her two mites, these incredible women willing to give with love even though they have so little. The experience also spoke so powerfully of the deep & meaningful relationships one can build in such a short time (6 weeks) when doing God’s work, reaching out and working to “fill” a need.
This special experience is however only the icing on the cake of all that is happening at the Tswelopele Good News Centre this year. We have been blessed with incredible growth in all our endeavors, and thank our Father daily for His help in all our work.
We have just completed our first crèche course of the year, with 26 women attending. The group at Tswelopele is much more diverse (re race, language & income level) than we get at Aphiwe, and we have received only positive feedback from all. We have a full waiting list for the next course & the waiting list for the course after that is filling up fast – with “word-of-mouth” the only advertising necessary! A large percentage of the women attending this course travelled from at least an hour’s distance away, which in Africa means it took them at least 2 hours and several different taxis to reach us, a testament to their desperate need for affordable education.
Our oldest, but very young in spirit, teacher sharing her craft ideas with the group.
Some more unique ideas being shared – all the crafts had to be made out of “junk”
Leona explaining how to make learning maths more concrete and fun.
Learning new counting songs – 5 green frogs (eating bugs).
The course is unique in how practical it is – here we are learning the concept of “under” & spatial awareness.
Another creative use of “junk” – scraps of material can be used to teach counting!
We use the crèche course as a “foundation course” after which we present several 3-hour “workshops” focusing more specifically and going into more detail on various topics, such as teaching English phonetically, teaching preschool math’s concretely, music & movement, etc. Another set of workshops is what we call “Theme Workshops”. At these workshops we supply the teachers with a full month’s worth of lessons based on a certain theme. We provide all the lesson plans, information, worksheets, songs & crafts they will need. Many of the women that attended the crèche course have also joined us for these workshops – which now have at least 20 women attending, compared to last year’s 4 or 5. These workshops are invaluable to the teachers who do not have access to information via the internet or properly stocked libraries.
Demonstrating how to make a rocket at the Transport Theme Workshop.
The workshops are also very practical – the teachers physically complete each worksheet & make the crafts.
Another “service” we offer to these teachers is our “Braingym” program, where we do macro, micro & music based movement activities and assessments with children who are in their final preschool year, which generally means they are either 5 or 6 years old. The teachers bring their children to the Tswelopele Good News Centre and are part of the assessment process, which is quite a learning curve for many of them. This program has also just boomed – we now have different schools attending every week, again with some of them bringing their kids from at least an hours’ distance away.
Assessing the children’s balancing skills.
Some more balance related exercises.
Zante joins us for almost everything, but especially enjoys braingym & all the friends she makes there!
Throughout all of our programs we try to make it very clear that it is only by God’s grace that we are able to fill these needs, and sing spiritual hymns, use Bible stories, and open & close with prayers every time. We also offer and advertise the free Bible correspondence courses – and have had several of the crèche course attendees sign up for the “God’s Master Plan” course so far.
Our Saturday Bible Club numbers have been on the increase too – with several “new” faces joining us after attending the Braingym program! We now have a core group of about 40 kids, with the average age being about 10 years old. Even though this means there are lots of under-8’s, perhaps limiting the amount of hard-core doctrine we can teach, it does mean they enjoy doing craft activities which are great for reinforcing the lessons that we do share.
Michael presenting the Bible club lesson about Israel’s 1st king – and how we should rather accept God as our king.
Creating crowns, with colored foam and buttons as “jewels” – “we shall be kings and priests”
Group photo with everyone wearing their crown!
Over the Easter holidays we hosted a “fun day” for these and other neighborhood kids at the centre. Our theme for the day was “Prayer”, and the day entailed a short lesson on what the bible teaches us about praying, each child making their own “prayer cube”, and as always lots of outside games. We were pleasantly surprised to have 52 kids join us, and very thankful for the help of various volunteers – the Foss family from the USA, Hendri, Llewellyn & Juliana Scheepers, a teenage member of our ecclesia.
The older kids filled in the various verses re prayer onto each side of their cube.
The older group filling in their prayer cubes.
Those who couldn’t write yet colored and decorated a “thank you for” prayer cube – Thank you God for my food; my Bible; Your creation; my friends & family & for loving me.
Fun in the sun.
Snack time – got to keep those energy levels up.
Group photo, each with their prayer cube.
The incredible momentum we have experienced at the centre this year is for us a clear indication of the power of having really committed, long-term, full-time volunteers, coupled with of course the great blessing of having our all-powerful Father providing the opportunities to fulfill the needs only He can fully know about.
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. (Php 4:6-7)
With love in Christ
Michael & Lilandi Furstenburg
Couldn’t resist adding this one – much better indication of the crazy energy these kids have! Always makes for plenty of fun times!