I vowed a couple of years ago with my wife Beth that we should start spending our summers in America, because during June, July, and August it is winter here in South Africa. Our winters here are mild by Iowa winter standards, but it is still cold and the sun sets at 5:30 PM. Somehow it seems that our work here is never finished and we continue to feel God’s calling to spend most of our time here. As I ponder what I should be doing to finish our work here, it always comes back to helping more of the African people become followers of Christ. We are making good progress in that area with our churches, the Del Cramer Child Development Center, and our sports programs. We must continue, however, to expand our spiritual development areas. I am excited that our new sports league and sports complex at Del Cramer will have a major impact in this area.

Another important area that we are making good progress in is skills development – preparing African children to be able to care for themselves.  Our computer lab, our literacy program, and all of the teaching that we do at Del Cramer is making an impact. Next week we will train 10 to 12 people how to operate a bakery and re-open our bakery. I am also hoping that we can start a bicycle delivery service delivering bread, eggs, and vegetables in the Del Cramer neighborhood. A few months ago we opened a second Lethabo Sewing Center at Del Cramer. Each sewing center is now training three additional people how to sew.

Mountain View Farm has been the hub of a major skills development program called Teach a Child to Fish which has trained 50 trainers to teach agriculture in 10 rural schools. Recently we have had five agricultural college students spending two weeks living and working at Mountain View Farm with Johanney. Hopefully, this program will lead to many home gardens.

With the next Rotary global matching grant we are preparing, we hope to create additional sewing skills training centers where reusable menstrual hygiene kits for impoverished young ladies will be sewn and valuable skills learned. This week we plan to sign an agreement with Mokopane Hospital that will help us to train additional healthcare workers here in Africa, as well as Iowa medical and nursing students who come here for clinical rotations.

Blessman International currently employs approximately 40 individuals which is helpful, but the greater impact will be in preparing young people to create their own jobs or to prepare them for gainful employment. 

Beth and I are both looking forward to spending the month of August connecting with family and friends.  It will also be a big blessing if we can get out on our beautiful Iowa bike trails and get in some sailing on Stockton Lake in Missouri.