October Holidays

From October 4th to the 12th the schools in South Africa were closed, and since the kids just recently had three weeks of holiday club in July, we decided to change things up. The idea that the team came up with was to divide all of the kids into 6 groups, with 2 teenage leaders each. Teams were assigned one part of a song that was then combined with the other groups to create one collaborative dance video. The intent of this project was to teach the kids and teens about teamwork, creativity, and leadership. In the beginning, the teams were not as enthusiastic about the project as we had hoped they’d be, but they still put forth a good effort and in the end we created a great music video together. We capped off the week with a big premiere party and awards show, complete with judges, prizes, and the announcement of the winning team. The grand prize was a trip to the beach! And now, without further ado, Lily of the Valley’s Holiday Music Video:



Packages from abroad

Alert. Alert. We have been spoiled! We are so thankful for all of those who have sent gifts and packages to us here at Lily. Back in June, Bridge received a birthday care package from his family filled with necessities like: M&Ms, Cheez-its, and chocolate chips! Throughout the month of July we received not 1, not 2, but NINE boxes filled with kids books and craft supplies from our friends back home. We are so incredibly thankful to all the families that made these boxes possible. The kids are already benefiting from having more reading materials at a variety of different levels. Finally, a few weeks ago we received a care package from Hilary’s Grandma filled with tons of candy, teas, and a MagicJack so we can now call home for free. We are so blessed!


Escalon Covenant Church – Holiday Club

For one of the weeks during the school holiday, we had the privilege of working with a short-term team from Escalon Covenant Church in California. They planned a wonderful Holiday Club program for the kids, full of craft projects and interactive learning. They taught the kids many valuable bible lessons using the story of David and Goliath, Noah’s Ark, and the fruits of the Spirit. In the afternoons the team would spend time in the village with the kids playing soccer, making bracelets, reading, or just getting to know each other. We really enjoyed spending time with this team and watching them love on our kids. They truly were a reflection of God’s love and we pray that our kids will remember their time with this team fondly, and hold on to the lessons that they learned throughout the week.

Escalon Covenant Church – Kitchen Repairs

One of the first things we noticed upon our arrival at Lily, was how run down some of the children’s houses are, particularly the kitchens. Fortunately, several members of the Escalon Covenant short-term team came with tools and plans to help redo some of the worst of those kitchens. Bridge had the opportunity to work with Dan and Kaj replacing kitchens in 5 of the houses with concrete countertops that will hopefully last for many years. Dan and Kaj were gracious enough to leave behind supplies for Bridge to finish the renovations in the 5 kitchens, and also to continue renovating more kitchens as time allows. There is much to do before these kitchens can be called completed, including: tile back-splashes, shelving, drawers, an under counter curtain, and a new solution for the floor. Bridge will work to finish the kitchens with the help of some of the teen boys and we will post pictures of the finished product!

Spiritual Life Conference

At the beginning of July, Bridge and I attended our first SIM Spiritual Life Conference in Port Shepstone, South Africa. This annual weeklong event is a time of rest and spiritual renewal for all the SIM missionaries serving in South Africa.

We were blessed to have the SIM International Director, Joshua Bogunjoko as our keynote speaker for the week. Joshua spoke from the book of John chapters 15-17, and talked about abiding in joy, persecution, and prayer.

We were also really thankful to have attended SLC so early on in our time in South Africa, because it gave us the opportunity to get to know so many of our fellow SIM South Africa missionaries. We now have contacts all over the country, including in our very own region. Speaking of, at the end of the week we found out that our region, KZN, will be planning SLC for next year. We’re looking forward to working closely with our regional team and director to make next year’s event a great one!

Secret Agent Holiday Club

While the kids were out of school for winter holiday break, our team at Lily was responsible for planning one week of holiday club. As a team we decided on a secret agent theme, which both the staff and the kids had fun with! Throughout the week the kids were required to scan their hand for access, scan their ID badges, and crawl through a tunnel into the “briefing room” filled with smoke, laser lights, and the mission impossible theme song. Once all the “agents” were accounted for they would receive their mission briefings. Missions included: singing and worship, creating their official ID badges, obstacle courses, spy training bootcamp, games, and most importantly learning about Jesus’ mission on Earth.

Adjusting to the Kitchen

There have been many adjustments that we’ve had to make since our move to South Africa, but one of the biggest for me, Hilary, has been grocery shopping and cooking. Back in the States Bridge and I had varying work schedules and days off, so I would usually do the grocery shopping alone and since I got off work earlier than him, I was able to have dinner on the (coffee) table by the time he got home from work. Here, buying and preparing our meals is a much bigger process.

Since I have yet to learn how to drive our manual car, Bridge and I do all of our grocery shopping together (which is not a bad thing!). In the US I did the majority of my shopping at Trader Joes and Aldi. Here, our grocery shopping usually consists of 4-5 different stores, one for meat, one for produce, one for dry goods, one for nuts and snacks, and then our weekly stop at Bread Ahead for a pastry treat. The whole ordeal takes about half a day, although we seem to be getting a little quicker with each passing week.

Cooking has also been a major adjustment. Not only are we learning how to cook with new products, but we are also adjusting to using Celsius, faulty kitchen appliances, and trying to fit cooking into our busy schedule. I no longer have the luxury of scouring Pinterest for new recipes and spending an hour or two in the kitchen preparing dinner; though sometimes it takes significantly longer to cook certain things here than at home. We’ve learned to greatly simplify our meals, but no worries, thanks to the help of our little grill and some amazing spices we picked up in Durban we are still eating well!

Surfing Lesson #1

Surfing is very popular throughout South Africa, so being only an hour from the beaches in Durban, I naturally want to give it a try. Fortunately, one of my South African coworkers at Lily has been surfing most his life and is willing to give me lessons. It was a cold and rainy day, but lesson #1 was a success. Starting on small waves, I learned how to get into a wave, stand up and balance properly. Despite the intense shivers, it was a lot of fun. I am really looking forward to lesson #2 (preferably on a warmer, sunny day).

Reading Tent

On weekends, we’ve been making an effort to have reading time with the kids, and for the past few weeks the sand pit has served as our venue for story time. While it was a great short-term solution, we knew that it was important to come up with a quiet, less distracting space so the kids could better focus on reading and listening.  Last week, we came up with the idea to build a basic A-frame reading tent that would be easy to set up, take down, and move around. We picked up the supplies on Thursday and had many eager hands to help us build it over the weekend. The kids were so excited about the reading tent that they couldn’t even wait for it to be finished before getting in. I would say that this project was a success!

Autumn Fires

We had a bit of excitement the other night when a large brush fire went right past Lily. Fortunately, the maintenance crew here at Lily burned a fire break around Lily’s perimeter just the day before to protect us from such a fire. The cattle farmers around here burn the fields each year to stimulate growth for next year. Unfortunately, the fires are not controlled or planned so they can cause serious damage if you don’t take precautions ahead of time. Below is a video of the maintenance crew burning the fire break right by our house which felt exciting enough. The second video is the large fire that really surprised us, but we were protected from by the fire break.