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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. 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?


Visiting Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens

We loved visiting Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens in Cape Town back in September. The children played for a long time in this little stream which conveniently had a seat near it where we could watch them.

Mercy loved the "teddy bear" peak.

September is a great time to delight in the spring flowers.

View down to Cape Town.

Bill really doesn't need a pram anymore but its useful for carrying bags on the handles!

Since then we've been on several more outings, tamed some of the chaos of moving house, completed many weeks of our curriculum, navigated our new suburb, found places to love in our new garden, shared the news that we are expecting our fourth baby in April, and seen Dave complete his first semester of lecturing. I can hardly believe it is November already. These are productive, busy, exhausting days.


iSonto #70

This is our last Sunday living here in the town of Stellenbosch in furnished accommodation. We found it too expensive to buy here so we are moving to a home in a nearby town a bit less than 18 km from Dave's work at the University of Stellenbosch. Our moving day is this Tuesday! It is going to be great to have our own yard and space again with our furniture and possessions. The town we are moving to is also lovely. It is called Somerset West and is close to both the beaches and the mountains. 

Here are some pictures we have taken on a few recent weekend outings. 

Here we are in Franschhoek, a sweet town about 37 km from Stellenbosch. We had a delightful afternoon here looking at the river, having a picnic, walking around the museums, and learning more about the Huguenot Christians who fled persecution and founded the town.

We loved the Huguenot memorial which expresses the trinity in the three arches and the sun and cross emblem of the Huguenots on the top.

Another week we went to the beautiful Paarl Mountain Reserve. We happened upon this by accident and it quickly became a favourite. One little boy loved paddling in the stream . . .

It is free and has spectacular views.

The children were very excited to learn that this mountain once had a lava flow coming from it. Dave told them it was now an extinct volcano. Nate responded to this with disbelief because he wanted there to be a chance it was dormant and would erupt! Mercy also responded with disbelief but for the opposite reason. She thought it was dormant and was terrified that it would erupt! Mercy wanted to go home after hearing that it used to be a volcano.

Another fun outing (on a colder and windier day) was to the Giraffe House. We saw lots of fun animals. My favourites were the cats. Mercy loved the flamingos.

This is the serval cat in the background, a truly spectacular animal with both spots and stripes. There were also caracals.

Mercy loved feeding the goats and spent a lot of time doing that.

This trip was for our "family celebration" where we celebrate our wedding anniversary with the children. Here we are opening small gifts on that morning. We celebrated with them on the 15th of August.

Dave and I also went out alone on the 18th, our anniversary, for a lovely dinner.

Moving overseas with a family is in some ways easier than alone because you have some of your best friends moving with you!


iSonto #69

In life we meet times where things remain the same for weeks on end, and other times where life is in tumult of newness. Four weeks into our adventure of living in South Africa, we are definitely in a tumult stage! The children are loving the dog, Amber, where we are staying in central Stellenbosch. We are upstairs in a furnished flat and need to open two gates to get to the yard pictured above. Amber is the sweetest and most child-friendly dog you can imagine.

We're also very grateful for the parks within walking distance of our "home".

We have had some incredibly summery weather as well as some cold days.

All three children like to climb trees at the river park . . .

Ride choo choo . . .

Watch the river . . .

For the first three weeks I was solely walking with them during the day, going for two trips a day to local parks. We were grateful that when Dave was home on evenings and weekends we could travel in the hire car his work provided. Now we have bought the great car pictured above. It was great that it cost less than we had planned to spend, because the house we've bought is going to cost more than we were planning to spend :)! Our new car has room for grandparents or other children, with seven seats. It is a nine year old Volvo. I am taking the children to homeschool activities in it now term has started, and we are currently within walking distance of Dave's work. When we buy our house and move further away, Dave will car pool some days so I can use it.

Dr David Drew is pictured here outside his giant office. Its a good thing he has some space to be quiet there, because it sure is busy when he gets home! Work is also very busy though as he tries to get used to lecturing students as well as continuing research.

Education continues apace and we had a week of child-led volcano obession. It culminated in buying a volcano making kit at the homeschool entrepeneur day. The river park was the location of the explosion, made up of food colouring, bicarb soda and spirit vinegar.

We've seen so many blessings in these first weeks, but also a lot of strain as we've had to get over jet lag, parent disorientated children, navigate new places & shops & laws, deal with homesickness, and make huge decisions, all at the same time. Dave was working on scientific projects up until the week we left, and started his new work only a few days after we arrived.

We've found plugging into church life immediately invaluable. Besides being a child of God, nothing beats being part or the family of God and having that familiar shared focus with Christians all over the world. Going to church even when we felt dreadful has had big benefits for us. Its also been great to meet up with relatives here, and have dinner with work collegues.

As always, being thankful helps so here's a little thank you list from our day today:

  • Still awake when Mercy had a night terror so didn't get wrenched out of bed
  • Mercy loving to throw a ball to Max, Dave's uncle's dog.
  • A big green space with children's climbing frame within walking distance of the house we are buying
  • Tumble drier keeps our few clothes rotating nicely! 
  • Meeting a lady at church who had great faith in the face her child being born ill and passing away at the age of one
  • Mercy throwing a ball with some people we met at church
  • William laughing at the dogs
  • Nate getting dressed without being asked
  • William saying "thank you Jesus" when he picked up a piece of apple
Thanks for all those who are keeping in touch with us and my goal is to reply to every one of you! It may just take some time as we still have lots of papers to sort out and more. God bless. 


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