Ah, Father. What a wonderful sigh I breathe before you. Yebo Jesu. This is, again, one of the best days I’ve had so far. It’s a day I won’t forget!
It started with a soaking morning of basketball—my “drip-drips” as my old teammates had called them, are now back to full force. Oh how I love basketball! It was so much fun. I still need to reign in my competitive frustrations. But I love the people so much! I came back at 11 and showered. I didn’t think Tenele would really be here at 11, so I started to heat a pan for eggs and got out my Bible and the journal Ayanda wrote me messages in to write back to her. Not minutes later, there was noise outside and boys were calling. I smiled, greeted them from the kitchen window and asked, “what do you need?” when I saw a girl out of the corner of my eye. And there was Tenele! This was the FIRST time she came to me alone, and that is a huge step for her to walk past town to me alone. I gave her the bible Mom sent and took a picture of her beautiful smile and her hug of joy when she opened it.
Shortly after, Ayanda showed up! So the three of us sat for hours watching the Milwane video I made and going through old pictures of Gugu’s school and our team two years ago on my laptop. I made them fried eggs, fried ham, and toast, which they both gobbled up.
Then, Thulile (as teacher’s we are not supposed to have favorites, or at least admit that we have favorites, but one of mine is Thulile) came by with her friend just to say hello. It was so sweet. And she told me that she wasn’t going to be in my class anymore because she transferred schools, but said she would still come visit me.
Then three more visitors dropped by. Earlier that morning, I received a phone call from someone who claimed to be Nomphilo, but I was so confused because it didn’t sound like Nomphilo and the English was too good to be Nomphilo. She had asked me to meet her in Ka-Khoza but I said I couldn’t. She called me again from town but I was already with Tenele so I couldn’t leave. Then one of the other volunteers told me that people were at the door for me, so I went down and there was Nomphilo, Khanyisile and a third friend I hadn’t met before.
The third friend was the one called me and spoke with good English. Her name is Bongiwe, and she took the two girls to come into town with her so that she could help them get in school. She had encouraged both Nomphilo and Khanyi that it was so important to get back into school, and that it was “school not men” that would get them a good future. So, I secretly met with the girls as to not make Tenele jealous or upset that I was helping the girls. I told Nomphilo to come back on Friday and come with me to Enjabulweni to meet the head teacher because I was going there to meet him to enroll Tenele as well. They eagerly agreed, said they’d be back Friday, and left.
Later on, there was more noise at the gated door, so I went out to look and there was Siphilile and Sibonangaye! They came in and said they had a present for me. I had given Siphilile a phone for Christmas because I didn’t take her to Milwane with the other kids because I couldn’t get a hold of her. It was a gift for her, but also a helpful way for me to get a hold of her. I was thrilled about the present, thinking it was a thank you card or something they had taken from home. She handed me a black plastic bag and in it was the most beautiful jean skirt!! The tag was still on and they had just bought it that day. HOW PRECIOUS! And even better…it fits! How did she know my size? How THOUGHTFUL! Gifts like those are ones I won’t forget because it comes at a cost and is truly thoughtful. I love thoughtful.
AND THEN…Johannes and Pununu came, too! So, we all watched the movie Themba, which was about an African boy who played soccer. Then they made foam crosses from Brooke’s Christmas package she sent me! We also played some Uno. I baked a bunch of fries and when I brought them out no one ate any at first…I pulled Tenele aside to talk to her, and when I came back out the entire plate of fries was GONE. lol.
In the room with Tenele, I read a note that I wrote her. I wrote her to tell her that one day people will see her and say, ”Wow! That’s Tenele-Bell. She changed the world.” I wrote to tell her that one day she will change, one day she will choose to follow God with all her heart. One day she will leave her life of sin and be a light for others. One day, she will stop smoking, drinking, and sleeping with her boyfriend. I felt awkward actually saying all of this to her as I read it but she smiled with a bit of embarrassment but also understanding. I told her she will work hard and be a leader and minister to young girls, convincing them not to sell their bodies. I told her she would change her life first and then change her students’ lives. I told her that my love for her comes form God and that’s why it’s never ending…and it’s a love that should change her life, and a love to be shared. I told her that the reason I know these things will happen one day is because I am praying for them. I told her that I pray she will fall in love with Jesus and be satisfied with Him. She really seemed to be soaking it in the whole time and understood it! Oh glory! Oh Jesus! Oh Holy Spirit! You are good! She tucked it into her inner shirt and I told her she probably shouldn’t let her boyfriend see it. It was precious. Lord, use those words to penetrate deep! She wrote answers to my questions about her boyfriend…(I had found out through Ayanda and Johannes’ letters to me that they are much more willing to say personal things about themselves on paper than they are to my face, so I had written Tenele a letter of questions about her boyfriend. She answered the few questions, giving me his full name, sayng she was not planning on living with him for awhile, and said he was nice but that I couldn’t meet him. But I am just happy she is being truthful. [Actually, I am THRILLED that we are at this stage of truthfulness and hopefully we can still keep building on it.])
Oh, and it was so cute because Ayanda was crushing on Johannes and Tenele on Pununu and they were teasing each other about it. And when I walked them partyway home, I turned around about a hundred yards later and they were still right where I left them: the girls were yelling and laughing and running away from the boys. Teenage flirting…it was cute to see them like that.
Tenele is thrilled about school and is coming to meet the head teacher on Friday!
OH, it was such a splendid day! Thank you, Lord. You are amazing. Thank you for your goodness, faithfulness and answers to prayer. I love you!”