Christmas 2013: “Tops and Bottoms” Collection Drive

A customs officer began to question me upon arrival… then ALL OF A SUDDEN… I was ‘let’ go… there was an ‘interruption’ that he had to attend to(?!) Praise God for His angels!  Thank you for praying us through!

All our supplies and goodies made it to Pastor Alcy’s home.

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It wasn’t an easy task, but our helpers were VERY energetic. Lorraine and Hlayi did a lot of prep work before I even arrived:)

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After we got all the gifts separated by size and by gender, we took a ‘buggy’ to the party!  Now for those of us who are not South African… a ‘buggy’ is a pickup truck… and we all got to ride in the back with all the gifts!  I remember when I was a kid, I used to ride in the bed of my dad’s truck.  IT was quite fun!

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Pastor Alcy’s daughter, Tamela, and I held on to each other as we rode along in the back of the ‘buggy’….

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Let me give you some background on “Flat Stanley”.

The Flat Stanley Project was started in 1995 by a third grade schoolteacher in Canada.  The project is meant to encourage literacy by reading the Flat Stanley books and encourage writing.  As he is made of paper, and can be easily packed or mailed, this teaching project is meant to facilitate letter-writing by schoolchildren to each other as they record and photograph where Flat Stanley has accompanied them.

My niece is a teacher.  Her Flat Stanley joined in with our Christmas adventure so he could tell the kids in her class all about South Africa… The orphans LOVED Flat Stanley and he made them laugh… heehee…

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The kids gathered in the tent filled with holiday anticipation…

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Flames Youth entertained them with a music program and then the Christmas Story was shared….even speaking to them in Tswana…

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They even put on a real African performance of Dance. These skilled dancers have a sense of movement and rhythm I can only dream about. If this performance didn’t bring you to smiles, nothing else in the world would… my friends.

 

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Sorry that this picture is blurry, but I wanted to ‘catch’ the wide smiles… the one on the right, her smile lit my heart! They were dancing and I didn’t want them to stop to pose for the photo:)  All the kids sang and danced, and sang and smiled… it was really great to see such joy and participation!

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They are SO easily entertained… What a great audience.  They had a full day break from the realities of village life and entered a glorious, joyful, alternate reality. It brought tears to my eyes… I know their daily struggles and their rumbling bellies, and their need  for food, love and nurture.

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Their little precious faces warm my heart!  Even the littlest participated.

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When one little one gets tired, another little one takes proper ‘motherly’ care. This was not initiated by anyone… it’s just how one little one helps another.

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Their faces were filled with anticipation as the presents were handed out….. Just like any group of kids gathered around a Christmas Tree.  Today, they all received a few new outfits and handmade T-shirts, stuffed toys and handwritten cards..

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As they dug into their bags—you could see their faces light up with joy!!

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Such handsome smiles!

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The reusable bags YOU provided were a God-send!  Nothing got lost, nothing was taken from them and they carried their treasures home free of worry!

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One of the first things they took out of their bags was their cards—handwritten written from YOU and provided by Linda!  They loved loved loved the balloons and cards!!!!!!! We had balloon tag and competitions with them! 🙂 Thank you, Linda for all your work.

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Your card in hand, his face just ‘glows’ with Christmas cheer!

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These bags of ‘treasure’ were guarded as if they were gold.

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The boys LOVE their camera time!

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And here is one of our fashion models in this year’s haute couture….Hello Kitty dress…..

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AHHHH… look at those gorgeous faces… got to love their smiles…

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Two best friend who take their friendship seriously…. Well, not all that seriously… boys will be boys!

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Everyone wants their picture taken…

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Omma Maria, is our prayer warrior for the children… I can’t say enough good things about Omma’ Maria… we love her!

Here she is with Lorraine and one of our kids.

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Here is Flat Stanley, helping ‘guard the goods!’  Oh, the stories he will be telling back in the States.

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Papp and stew! Boy, they put away their plateful and went back for seconds!

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I have to tell you, this guy maybe little but—he could eat BIG! This is his second plate!!! He ate it all. The kids even took leftovers on the bus ride home!

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Even, Bruce grabbed himself a plate! He ate it all too… lol!

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Flames Youth are true servants of God.  After providing all the entertainment, the gathered and cleaned up all the dishes… bless them, such valiant warriors!

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The only sad part of these get togethers… is saying goodbye!

BUT, it was so cool as the day was over, some of the kids said… “See you tonight… and tomorrow!”  This warmed my heart! I would spend the weekend with ‘our’ kids… first at the party… then at the crusades!!!

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Energetic waves and silly goodbye’s…….

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After the party, the Flames Youth rested……. a bit giddy… perhaps from exhaustion… JOB WELL DONE GUYS!

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Can I be sentimental, here?  You see this little fellow? Maybe he is 4 or 5 years old.  He came to the party in the afternoon and got his “Away in a Manger” T-shirt.  THEN, he came to the crusade that night.  He got on the bus all by himself and came on his own—still wearing his new T-shirt, painted by one of our supporters…..

THEN… he came on Saturday night too!  He fell asleep in my lap as the night drew late…..He never changed his little T-shirt… each time he appeared, his new little T-shirt was just a bit dirtier….

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SURPRISE! Sunday… he came again. This time his shirt was not even white anymore. But, he found me!  He was with me the entire day on Sunday… during church, during our youth activity, during lunch. Each hour I felt my heart melting a bit more until it was a mere puddle when I had to say goodbye to our “Away in a Manger” boy.

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Here are our kids, on Sunday. We gave the entire Sunday School of Flames Christian Church children’s bibles…. My little “Away in a Manger” BFF… stood by me the entire day….

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This was simply the hardest part of the day…

What a contrast to where we live. Who would send a 4 year old little boy by himself to a place unknown? Who would really let him go? I am not a mother, but my instincts are crushed with the weight of the dangers this little one and all the others face, daily.  Glory to Jesus… at least THIS weekend he was safe in the arms of Jesus and His saints.  Let’s pray that God raises him up… to become a mighty lion for God!

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I had to say…’goodbye’… there will be no tomorrow with our kids for a few months. I prayed for special protection over his little life whatever, it consists of.. He looked through me with his eyes. I wanted to so badly to take him home with me.

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Older kids…. younger kids…. went on the bus back to Majakaneng Village

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Many took bottles of leftover drink and platters of food back with them to their village shacks. It broke my heart that such little children have to worry about what they will have to eat later and provide for themselves.

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Doing up the Sunday dishes after a long weekend … but sooo rewarding.

I can’t say enough to thank you all, our faithful Zoe For Kids supporters, for all you have done for the kids of Majakaneng Village this past year and especially, this past weekend!

Thanks for the books for the Flames Christian Sunday School kids, as well!

Thank you for a beautiful year of 2013… YOU made it all possible… improved nourishment,  warmth of new blankets on cold winter nights, much needed summer clothing… all possible because of YOUR sacrifice, your faithfulness, your love, and your generosity! Thank you, thank you from our kids and from everyone at Zoe For Kids.  I love you all.