One could venture a guess and say that Family Stafford
are extroverts…and it’s no surprise that we LOVE people!
Heck, we love people so much there are now 7 of us
piled into a car, running around the house, or cramming
into a table at the local Food Barn…but we love it!
And today I want to introduce you to someone we know outside
LivingHope who is probably one of the most important people we know.
Vicky… Sindiswa Skolpati
Trust me when I tell you that her Xhosa name isn’t as hard to say
as it is to spell 🙂
Vicky visits us twice a week from her home in Khayelitsha to bless us
by cleaning our house and chatting with us openly and honestly about
some TOUGH topics!!
She’s from the Eastern Cape, has 4 grown children, annoys her neighbors
with all her ‘Jesus talk’, speaks English and Xhosa, loves people, loves kids,
and is a joy to have around on Tuesdays and Fridays.
First, the kids look forward to her smiling face and often spend their time
helping her clean toilets, hang up laundry, or just talk her ear off
about their little lives while she mops and dusts.
She patiently chats, tests, and OFTEN laughs…it’s so cool to hear.
Another enjoyable day with Vicky!
She frequently tells me how great Aubree and I are doing with the kids…
which is such a blessing because here’s a lady who raised 4 kids ON
HER OWN in a time and place that’s not suited to great child rearing.
Are her kids perfect?…no…ours?…NO 🙂
But by the grace of God we are here sharing and helping each other 🙂
When I get home she’s usually ready for tea and lunch and
I’m getting my afternoon coffee ready for a night of work…
which gives us some time to chat and ask each other tough questions
that we frankly don’t know answers to.
We talk about Black vs White culture here…when the ‘racism’ will end
on both sides…angels… problems with kids and drugs… and so many more.
What’s CLEAR is that discussions can be had when both people
LISTEN to each other, are honest about what they do NOT know, and
where the other person is coming from.
It’s just amazing to chat with her, get her insights, and see her faith
in God flourish when she faces challenges.
It’s not a fake faith either…or fake challenges.
Faith that’s actually BEHIND the “Christian Platitudes” that are often
thrown out by those who’ve never been tested. She actually has to USE
the ‘Sunday School’ sayings that we all kinda take for granted. She gets
to apply them DAILY which has built in her a faith that amazes me daily.
She has highs and lows just like us all, but she continues to be
strengthened not by her successes here on earth, by her job, or by her
kids…but BY THE LORD!!
She’s amazing. That’s really the only way to put it.
That’s all…just the amazing Vicky!
Please pray for her that she continues to be a JOY where ever she goes,
that God continues to help her get through daily challenges, and that her
family sees God THROUGH her.
The students have progressed so far in their studies and
knowledge of chickens, farming, and business…
It’s VERY IMPRESSIVE!!
And the way in which most of the students truly WANT to
learn is awesome!
We recently took at trip to a egg production factory about
2 hrs outside Cape Town. The students saw the massive scale
of a factory and the daily operations and asked a lot of thoughtful
Group Photo Golden Yoke
They asked more questions then the UNIVERSITY classes that came through!
Our escort was beyond impressed…as was I!
We also picked up our MEAT CHICKENS!!
550 meals 😉
Awww…aren’t they cute?
Few days old…at 70 days they’ll be dinner!
Of course from here, it’s growing season to have chickens ready
for slaughter by Christmas which should be a GREAT time for the
Onto some more serious news…
These students are amazing.
The place in which most of them live is in turmoil. The community
feels forgotten by the police, and ‘run’ by the gangsters and drug dealers.
Yet the students are coming to LivingHope to spend time taking care of
their chickens, tomato plants, and LEARNING!
But most of all…Jesus is happening!
To see the changes and knowledge the students have gained just over
the past 2 months is amazing! They’re soaking up what we’re teaching
them, they’re reading their Bibles at home, and they’re filled with the Spirit
of God to be led to give their lives to Jesus and even lead devotions!
But the community around them withers….
I was able to take these pics myself. Yes mom, I was safe 🙂
It’s boiled over more times in the past few weeks then it has in YEARS!
It’s far too complex of a situation to put into a blog post, but if you have the
ability or desire to learn more please feel free to SKYPE with me: brad.stafford928
Vehicle in background is the ‘hippo’ anti-riot vehicle.
Needless to say, the students are scared, tired, and ready for a change.
The government doesn’t appear to be doing much proactive work to help
solve the drug and gang problem, and the police simply aren’t able to make
a dent…especially considering the corruption and that the police LIVE in
Masi…where their families can be threatened or hurt because they do their job 🙁
WHAT CAN BE DONE?!?!
It’s a situation big and bad enough that NO ONE (not even a great American ;))
can fix the problem.
It needs a JESUS sized solution.
We’re called to pray for the weak, the poor and the widows and there are plenty
of them inside Masi desperate for the help and relief that only Jesus can provide!!
LivingHope has deep ties with Masi and we are in a unique situation where we’re
trusted by both ‘sides’. Our Founder John Thomas and his wife Avril have a love
for the community as big as I’ve ever seen…and who TRULY trust that Jesus is the answer.
And Jesus is using them to build bridges, pray with individuals, and help make a difference.
Please pray for the following:
For the students to continue to be changed
For peace inside Masi.
For God to use our students, staff, and the
surrounding community to lift up Masi and
break the cycle of gangs, drugs, and despair.
Thank you for your continued emails, facebook messages, prayer, etc etc…means a lot
having that connection with home 🙂
P.S. Just got a few pics of the ‘Hippo’
These things are apartide era and bring mixed emotions.
Sorry for the delayed post regarding our move to Cape Town,
but as you can imagine…we’ve been a LITTLE busy 🙂
So to give a quick recap:
Flights went MUCH better then last time (ie: no air sickness)
Moving the luggage was made easy with help ALL along the
way which was truly a blessing…daddy can’t move all 15 by himself 😉
After an…interesting…3 week search we’ve found a place that will fit
our needs and is well under budget! (we’re waiting on internet before
we can move in…how else are we going to pay for it if I can’t work :))
I officially started work at LivingHope just a week after being here
and am doing by best at connecting with the students, learning Xhosa,
and I’m getting ready to begin our Phase 2 chicken business teachings!
It’s been a pretty smooth transition for Aubree and the kids as well.
They’re ALL a lot tougher then I am and have adapted to the new
surrounds, new food, new schedule, etc etc. The kids are loving all the
playgrounds, making new friends, and asking 42 million questions
during each car trip 😉
Aubree continues to be the Proverbs 31 women who I continue to be
amazed, supported, and encouraged by DAILY!!! Pregnant, in a new
country, and homeschooling kids she continues to be a rock and a
source of comfort and support…please continue to pray for her all
along her journey!
More pictures and updates coming as often as I can find the time…
But for now here are a few recent pics:
We went to another local mission organization and we put in
a small garden plot for them to grow food to feed the residents:
Many hands make light work 🙂
Tunnels where tomatos are grown. Currently prepping the bags:
Chickens students will be taking over to start their own business:
Happy chickens make happy eggs 🙂
Zebra processing lesson…
It’s just like a big deer…or a horse. Yes more like a horse 🙂
Making burger to sell (over 195 zebra burgers processed in about 2hrs)
More to come, but for now we need prayers for students entering
Phase 2 to be able to stay focused, learn as much as they can, turn
a profit in their chicken and tomato businesses, and that we as
staff can lead them towards a closer and stronger relationship with
Christ while teaching!
Thanks to everyone for their prayers…we need them!
P.S. Here’s a GREAT song that’s been encouraging me recently: