Berakah's land was purchased nearly two decades ago, but confusion amidst changing municipal regulations and shifts in leadership in the 90s caused the transfer to never complete. The last three years have been marked with hard work from Chandra, a few volunteers, a board member, two staff members, and even a lawyer who volunteered his time as Berakah had to dig through years of old records and battle through mountains of red tape.
The Big Day
We'd waited all year last year. Fought through some more red tape. Chandra provided paperwork. She rearranged the paperwork and gave it again. And, again. And then again. She sat in long queues in dingy old government buildings. She made phone calls. She sent emails. Staff members traveled to municipal offices, having to set inaccurate billing right. A local lawyer prepared and submitted documentation for free.
Then finally in December, just before we left for Christmas in Texas, an email arrived that said everything was in order and we should have a Deed of Transfer within a couple of weeks.
We arrived back in Pretoria on 10 January and started watching our email boxes. A week went by. Another week went by. Then at the end of the third week, an email arrived instructing Chandra to appear at offices in city centre (downtown Pretoria) to sign and receive the Deed of Transfer on Tuesday 31 January.
Tuesday morning finally came, and Chandra drove from our home in Pretoria East about 45 km to Mamelodi East to meet Sophie, the founder and school principal of Berakah. Together, they traveled about 30 km to the city center office.
And sat in one more queue.
Two hours into their wait, I was messaging Chandra, asking Chandra for updates:
She didn't respond at first, then she answered with a flurry of pictures.
We are beyond excited about today's breakthrough! Celebrate with us! God is so good!
Sawubona. A greeting we learned within days of arriving in South Africa five years ago. But we never knew the Zulu word meant something more than, "hello".
It means, I see you.
A few months ago, Chandra was in the dark maze of government offices in downtown Pretoria, helping a newly widowed teacher with paperwork. While there, they saw a European lady sitting alone. Her South African husband of many years had recently died, and here she was alone in strange dark offices having to submit paperwork.
Except she wasn't alone, because Chandra saw her. She and the teacher, grieving her own loss, were able to embrace this lady and pray with her. It was God saying, "I see you."
The thrill of our lives is being His eyes and His hands in this beautiful nation. We are so grateful. We pray God's richest blessings for you as you are His eyes and hands everywhere you go in 2017!
Having arrived back in Pretoria just over a week ago, we've braved the jet lag, settled in, and are getting into a good rhythm of work and ministry again. It was so good to see friends and family for Christmas. We hope your Christmas season was blessed, and we trust for your 2017 to be full of the blessings and purposes of God.
Last month as New Year's Eve approached, I noticed how many people were excited for 2016 to end. Conversation and social media were littered with epithets of relief about the coming end of the year.
So glad this one's over and done with!
Well, that sucked. Here's to 2017.
The more of these I saw and heard, the more I began to remember: I hear the same things every year.
So I made a decision: when 2017 ends, I will have lived in such a way that I say, What a ride! Can't wait to see what God has in store for 2018!