In June we had a successful mission team with Joshua Christian Academy. It felt so good to be able to host mission teams again. Most of these youth had never even been on an airplane before and their first experience of that was a 9000-mile trip to Africa. They came with good attitudes, worked their tails off, and had a great experience. With their help we were able to construct a new room on one of our church member’s home and install the seating for our new Sports 4 Christ complex. They got to enjoy the first netball and soccer games on our new sports fields. They also worked side by side with our African children at Del Cramer while doing this project and were a great help to us in expanding our child sponsorship program and educational program.
Beth and I came back to Iowa towards the end of June and everything in Africa was looking good and coming back towards normal. Then all of the sudden the next wave of Covid hit and the president shut the country down again. Schools closed, our churches closed, Celebrate Recovery closed, and our sports program was put on hold. Most of our feeding centers were able to continue feeding children, but all of the after-school programs were put on hold.
Then the other shoe dropped when the previous president Zuma, who was convicted of corruption, was put in prison. Severe riots, looting, and burning broke out in Durban and Johannesburg. Over 300 people lost their lives and many malls and businesses were destroyed. For a couple of weeks, the whole nation was on pins and needles. Blessman International lost nearly a whole shipping container of food in a warehouse fire in Durban. We have partnered with Focus on the Family in Durban for the past 9 years and this is the first major problem we have encountered in that area. In Southern Africa we have 40 paid staff and well over 100 volunteers and fortunately none of them were injured. We did however have a few individuals test positive for the Covid virus.
Just as I am writing this blog the president of South Africa came on TV to reassure all of us that the nation was calm again, the number of Covid cases is coming down, and that the government is ramping up their vaccination program. 10% of the population has been vaccinated and they are vaccinating 250,000 people each day.
We had 4 mission teams scheduled to travel to SA in September and October. Half of these have already canceled or postponed, and we are watching the news and situation in South Africa closely to determine who all may be able to join us in October.
Please pray with us that the peace continues and that the Covid pandemic continues to come under control. There are thousands of children who desperately need our assistance.
May God bless each and every one of you.