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Drews' News Edition #9

Hello friends and family,

We celebrated our ninth wedding anniversary this year with a trip to Cape Point, from which one can see the meeting of the Indian and Atlantic oceans, and another one up Table Mountain.

After more than a year in Cape Town it was a privilege to get to these beautiful places. The past year has been busier than ever as we adjust to life as a family after an international move. There are the small things . . . paying electricity before it runs out, securing the letter box, finding out where to buy coriander seedlings. Then there are the big things . . . passports, making friends, the birth of our fourth child, visits to home affairs for birth certificates and citizenship, getting better security for our house, buying necessary furniture, finding a church.

 There are the delightful aspects of our move . . . making new friends, being invited over to people's homes, having extra household help, finding out about encouraging things other Christians are doing to serve others, diverse people, and seeing the children enjoy their grandparents. We have discovered new favourite places like Helderberg mountain reserve near our home, Boulders Beach where we swam with the penguins, and Blue Jay Farm where we buy fruit from the growers at low prices.

Then there are the hard parts . . . extra paper work fitting in somehow around Dave's full time work and Sherrin home schooling, new shops, making currency mistakes, missing Tassie family, our practice of having the children in church with us being more controversial here, and being burgled (albeit in a completely non-traumatic way).

We are thankful that Dave's work has been a good fit for him so far, although very demanding. It is diverse and stimulating. The whole family had a chance to experience one aspect of Dave's work when he took us with him on a work trip 8 hours drive east in the Tsitsikamma forest. The students were doing practical work there. They were great with our children, playing hide and seek and chatting.

We also enjoyed the beauty of that part of the world, including taking Nate to see his favourite animal the tiger at a wildlife sanctuary. Our lives have felt more divergent here. Sherrin finds it a challenge to develop relationships with people outside of our social strata and race group. In contrast, Dave is in the midst of the Stellenbosch university campus engaging with students from every cultural, economic and racial background. So it is good to find ways, like our Tsitsikamma trip, to combine our lives. A big part of our year has been trying to make church decisions, in part due to looking for diversity. We are currently going to the Stellenbosch Baptist Church where Dave went as a student. We love the diverse congregation and worship. Lets be honest that the couch at the back is also a draw card. It's perfect for sitting with a toddler and a baby!

Our new wonderful blessing, Liberty Anne Drew, was born on April 20th. We took an opportunity to have a “baby-moon” a few weeks before her birth, and enjoyed a weekend away in a little piece of paradise (a small self-contained cottage) on a vineyard in the spectacular Franschhoek valley.

Libby was born (rapidly) at home; thankfully Dave had the sense to ring our midwife, Natasha, while Sherrin was still wondering if she was in established labour. It is a good thing that Natasha lives only a few minutes drive up the road, as Libby was born in the birth pool only minutes after her arrival! This is just one example of the way God has provided for us, with the best home birth midwife in our area living so close to us. The pregnancy was challenging, especially due to the combination of physical weakness and a new country, but as soon as Libby was born she brought an incredible peace with her.

 Libby is friendly, radiates joy, and sleeps well. It is precious to watch the older children interact with her. Mercy is happy to have a sister and loves to kiss the soft part of Libby's head.

Sherrin's recovery has been a challenge, but in this case it seems like the greater the cost the greater the reward! It is lovely for Dave's Mum and Dad to be able to experience a newborn baby with us as all their other 7 grandchildren were born overseas.

Our older three children are also thriving. Nate and Mercy have made great progress in reading, writing, maths, and understanding of relationship with Jesus this year. We have also done more painting, music and computing. Our larger living area with room for “stations” makes this easier.

They love swimming and ball lessons. Mercy has also taken ballet, which has also been delightful for music appreciation. William has a great life observing and joining in with the play of his older siblings. Our curriculum based on Mummy reading aloud continues to bring sanity to days when children, health and emotions get challenging to manage.

This move has exposed our weakness and need more than ever, and we feel like we have “grown up” without Sherrin's family, friendship networks, and the Aussie government to rely upon. So to God is all the glory for any achievements!

Thanks for reading!

Love Dave, Sherrin, Nate, Mercy, Bill and Libby.

Where can I go from your Spirit?

    Where can I flee from your presence?

If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,’
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.
Psalm 139: 7 - 11


Home Education South Africa Style

We are grateful to have more space to spread out our home learning area here in South Africa. Much of my week between Christmas and New Year was spent organising education materials while Dave helped occupy the children.

We now have a large open plan living area where we can have more distinct areas for our learning materials, play and our sitting area. There is lots of wall space for displays. Below is my desk with an education materials shelf next to it, then some lovely new daily and monthly calendars, and a little blackboard. We also have our music spot with the piano and our music players. Mercy has begun to take an interest in learning the piano and I am attempting to include lessons.

These pictures were taken after our domestic worker comes on Tuesdays, things are not normally quite so neat. God has been good to us in blessing us with a good helper. It has also been a huge step forward to finally purchase my lockable toy and puzzle cupboard! You can see it here next to the play mat. This really helps to keep the craziness under control. Despite years of attempting to teach them, our children are not the best at packing up happily. So controlling how much mess they are able to make is important. This cupboard was purchased second hand and has four levels and even smells nice inside . . . all in all it is a great blessing and help (yes, almost as good as having another adult in the house, as I once read).

Near the door to the garage there is a sweet little nook that we are shaping into an art and craft and science area. We are keeping some materials out all the time and Nate spends a lot of time there. I put up some drying lines on the wall for paintings. I found a bucket caddy for pencils, sticky tape, watercolour paints, and glue that can be used on a daily basis. This has the added bonus of temporarily housing the random pieces of paper with possibly precious creations that are always around this table. God is good to give us the space to have a little table like this that can stay a mess. Later on I hope to get a small lockable cupboard to house craft materials and paint that become unmanageable if the children are allowed to access them at any time.

We are keeping some nature finds on the top shelf. I read the idea of a nature discovery table but realised this would not work in our house if kept out at all times . . . think pieces of coral in beds. So I decided to display the items out of reach and bring them down for specific nature discovery times. The other day Nate painted a watercolour of some of his finds.

Opposite the wall with the piano, bookshelf, etc. is this green wall. We hope to put up a big display board there when we find the right one to finally use some of our posters and create craft displays. Meanwhile the easel is getting more use as there is space to keep it out.

In the garden we had the delightful surprise of being given a chicken house. Eventually we hope to turn this corner into a chicken run. We are not quite ready to resume having hens yet though.

Finally we went to a birthday party with new friends on Sunday. We joked that the children were having "sensory play" in the mud at the Helderberg Nature Reserve. 

 Who needs sensory tables when you can have the joy of painting red clay on banks and trees in nature's playground?

All this can look quite idyllic online but it looks a lot crazier in real life. I have found it harder than my classroom teaching experiences and been much more tested and broken than I was through them. There are the lovely moments reading stories and making discoveries and seeing progress. There is a lot of joy in persevering through tears to teach a child a skill and then seeing him/her do it naturally after all that effort. Then there are the days where children's emotions or unwillingness, teaching multiple levels, and other demands on our time make it seem impossible to hold it all together as the teacher/parent. Home education is a more relaxed lifestyle for the children but not necessarily the adults. My goal is to face the impossibility of reaching all our ideals without  blaming myself or anyone else. My prayer is that we will instead depend on God to show us the way through our weakness to his strength and grace.


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