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Mercy House - "We're all going on a summer holiday!"

Diana sends us a joyful antidote to the bleak and wet winter in Sussex. They’re enjoying a hot summer in Johannesburg.

”The Summer holiday, which marks the end of the academic year in S.A, is always a great time, lasting from lst December till mid-January. Christmas was a highlight of our holiday. We were able to have the celebration for the first time in our beautiful new garden and recreation centre, and a welcome visit from our great supporter from the Witterings, Stefan.

The Rosebank Union Church provided Christmas gifts for everyone, personally wrapped with names on! Father John (left in photo and his Provincial Father Jo (beside Sister Fidelis) joined Mary and Joseph sitting in the stable! Father John was enamoured with the lovely blue tie he got matching his shirt perfectly!

Three kings and some shepherds arrived to honour the infant King. The one Shepherd was carrying Lady, our Mercy House dog, as representing the animal kingdom. Then Father Christmas arrived to distribute the gifts. Nyota (meaning Star), together with the other little girls, was delighted with her Barbie doll.

We had lots of fun during this time. One highlight was one of our usual "Picnics at the Park". What made this a very special picnic, was our first ever Mercy House Marathon. It was a long run around half of a very big park. Around 12 people entered and the youngest of all the entrants won: our beloved young orphan from Burundi ( now 15, having had him since he was 6!)

The children also needed an event, so the picture shows them lined up for their own race. That, too, was fun. Shadadi streamed along victoriously to the winning post.

The third great feature of our Summer holiday was the visit of Stefan Bartkowiac, our BA pilot friend from the Witterings . He is truly an amazing "action man". He had no sooner come in the front gate when he said to our boys: Well, where are all the bikes that need to be fixed.?

Bicycles are an essential commodity at Mercy House, as public transport is horrendously expensive and our refugees are very house-bound without wheels. So we make a point of getting as many bicycles as we can. However, they are always second-hand and, as they are used so much and for long distances, they do often get out of condition. Stefan fixed the bikes for two of our boys - and he even bought two more! That was not all: Stefan fixed anything and everything he could lay hands on, added valuable tools to our tool kit, even fixed something in Diana's car, etc etc etc. Truly, it is indeed a very great blessing that our Father in heaven did us the kindness of allowing us to get to know Stefan. And to Stefan: thank you so much, may you and your family be richly blessed for your kindness to us.

Stefan also did us the kindness of taking back to St Richards, some African crafts, which Judy McGregor and Penny Finn plan to sell at their mid-year luncheon,. The school children at St Phillips School also do this service to raise money for Mercy House. We visited a craft stall where the African men, mostly desperate Zimbabweans, make the most amazing ornaments out of discarded coke and Fanta cold drink cans which they cut into workable strips.

Here I am buying some of the giraffes which were sent over. Judy and Penny plan to have a big craft sale at their mid-year function, also with beaded nets. If anyone knows of a visitor to Johannesburg returning to St Richards, could you perhaps ask them if they might consider taking a small parcel of crafts over?

The last anecdote concerning our holidays, is that Grace has learnt to walk. She spends a great deal of her time exploring everywhere, but here in the photo, she is relaxing with our dog, Lady, on the couch.

With best wishes for this New Year from us all at Mercy House