Paula went back in to Chris Nissen on Friday for the first time since Christmas week and all our activity collecting Eli and getting ourselves used to being new parents!! 'Her ladies' were so pleased to see her again, but can't really understand why she won't take Eli in to see them there yet. We are doing this purely for health reasons in that Eli's BCG jab takes 3 months to kick in and the TB rate in CNP is so high that we can't take the risk. Maybe, making this stand ourselves as a family will shake people up to take their medication and see what a serious problem TB is in the community.
Paula had a great time catching up with her friends and finding out how Christmas and new year had been. On the whole, it was much as expected with people scraping by and having a quiet time, but generally enjoying being with their families. Sadly, Ouma Lockie's daughter Ricci, lost her 2 month old baby to cot death last week. This was a real tragedy and the whole community came together to make sure that the baby was honoured with an excellent funeral. Paula had the privilege to chat with Ricci on Friday and to pray with her. She will continue to visit her in the coming weeks.
She is also going to start her Tuesday evening visiting this week coming. This has been a very exciting and fruitful time in the past year, but as always, is fraught with in-fighting between church members about who is going to host the meetings etc. etc. Paula just wants to meet, talk and pray with women, she doesn't care about the gossip, but it can be very crippling at times. Please pray that things will get off to a good start this week and that we would see many women come to know Jesus this year as a result of these informal meetings.
It is frustrating to see that almost all of the women Paula knows well are in exactly the same physical position as they were when she first started visiting 1 year ago. Several are still holding out hope that Social Workers will visit and hear their cases for claiming allowances which are rightfully theirs. Of course, these people never turn up, or if they do, they never deliver on their promises. It was good to sit and talk these things through with Dina and see what we might be able to do this year to help. Paula's cell group is going to focus on building leaders and preparing the women to face the challenges that they live with daily. We have been wonderfully blessed by a church in the UK who have commited finance to buy food parcels each month for at least 3 families who are either extremely poor or living with HIV/AIDS. This is wonderful news and Paula, Dina and Aunty Poppy are now busy analyzing who is most needy and sorting out the practicalities of buying and delivering the food. The money will also answer another huge prayer in CNP - it is going to pay for a mini bus to take adults to and from church each Sunday - hallelujah!!! We also happened togo out for brunch last weekend to a new cafe opened by a friend Paula made early on. During the course of conversation, this owner offered to host a little afternoon party for up to 10 children from CNP free of charge on the last Saturday of the month - wow! So, whilst it feels very frustrating on the one hand, God is very obviously at work on the other.
Please do pray for Dina. Paula was particularly frustrated to come across the ongoing attitude from people that Dina will 'do' everything and sort out all of their poblems. They literally expect her to give up her job and set up a creche, for example, just because that is what she used to do in the squatter camp. Noone seems to understand that Dina must also provide for her family. Residents of CNP are not in the luxurious position of being able to volunteer as we do in the UK.
She would also value your prayers for her cell group which re-starts this Thursday morning after a 7 week break. She is desperate for more help with the children. This cell is supposed to be a blessing to mums/grans/carers of pre-school children, but her helpers are disappearing by the day - all for very valid reasons. This is a real problem. Paula is also quite concerned about how she is going to be able to lead well when she has Eli in tow to feed and jiggle about!!