I am currently enjoying the beautiful spring weather in Iowa as we put the final touches on our annual gala which will be a hybrid live and virtual event. Those of you who have not yet viewed it please go to YouTube: Blessman International 9th Annual Gala and watch it.
It is such a joy this year to again be able to have an in-person live event. We all took a hit financially this year with the pandemic, and our ministry missed hosting all the mission teams who had to postpone. The government’s forgivable loans that we were able to secure have helped us to survive just like they have many other small businesses.
The pandemic has had devastating economic effects in South Africa, and we are finding many more children that are struggling to get enough to eat. We have tremendously expanded our feeding program to now assist more than 60,000 children over the first three months of 2021. This has been possible because of our great partnership with Meals from the Heartland and Convoy of Hope. We have also been able to collect higher quality data about the children we are assisting by setting up weekly zoom meetings with our seven feeding hubs located all around southern Africa.
Our Sports 4 Christ program was blessed this last month by Musco Sports Lighting agreeing to providing professional lighting for our new sports complex. Through their company Iowa Sports Turf they will also be assisting us in caring for our soccer and netball courts. The soccer and netball games will begin in mid-May about the same time that we are able to complete the new seating for both fields. We plan in our June newsletter to provide photos of the progress of this great project.
Our Celebrate Recovery program remains strong and the group is starting to study the Landing resource kit for high school youth. About 60 youth attend these sessions each week and it is a blessing to see lives being changed as the youth learn the process of helping each other grow. We continue to receive weekly zoom trainings from the professional staff at Saddleback Church to assist us in doing this program with excellence.
Our mission teams are resuming the last week of May with Joshua Christian Academy bringing 12 students and chaperones to South Africa to assist us with a construction project, remodeling a home for one of the families of Lighthouse Church. They will also be teaching our children at Del Cramer how to use a new School-in-a-Box education program using tablets like I-pads. This will help us get quality data back about the progress of our educational program at Del Cramer. In addition, they will assist us with a distribution of washable menstrual health products. Our US team did a similar distribution to the young ladies at JCA a couple of months ago. This was the first and only distribution of these kits that we have done in the USA. I am anxious to hear the feedback from these young ladies as to how they like the kits after using them for two or three months.
We also have several teams coming between August and November of this year. It feels wonderful to get this portion of our ministry up and running well again.
I so appreciate everyone’s prayers and support as we all continue to walk down the path of serving children in Africa together.