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The Longest Week (and a half)

We have been Stateside for a couple of weeks now, but I've realized that I still haven't updated you about our whirlwind of work before we left South Africa!

(I promise to do my best not to make it the longest story as well...
but it really was a LOT)

For months, as we got closer and closer to our departure date, our plan had been to push hard to finish the building, pass all of the building inspections, invite the Health Department to come for the final inspection required for licensing the building to be used as a children's home, submit our application and business plan to the Department of Social Development, and then finish the furnishing and little touches in December, after we return from the States.  This is the plan that I mentioned to the Health Department supervisor 2 months ago when she came to give us feedback in the building process.
Abby was focussing a lot of energy into getting the application and 50-page business plan completed and ready to submit.
Jeff was focussing a lot of energy into getting the basics completed and in compliance with all the different building inspectors.
A week and a half before our departure date, on a Monday, Jeff walked the building inspector (final approval and capstone to all the other inspections), and he was happy with what he saw.  He promised to print our official Certificate of Occupation that day so that Jeff could pick it up during the week.
Abby called the supervisor at the Health Department to let her know that we had passed all the inspections and were ready for her to send a health inspector.  The health inspection is the final step for the house before our business plan can be registered with the Department of Social Development.  It results in a  license, certifying the house to be used as a children's shelter.  Abby reminded the supervisor that we would be out of the country for 3 months and would finish all the furnishing when we returned but the structure is all in place and ready.
And THAT was when it really got interesting.  The supervisor replied that, actually, the house would need to be fully furnished and "ready for children" before it could be inspected and licensed. 


A flurry of furnishing was not the way we planned to spend our last week in the country!

So, we took a deep breath, started making a list of what still needed to be purchased or found, and told the Health Department supervisor to send an inspector on Friday (5 days before departure Wednesday), and we would be ready for inspection even if we had to stay up all night to make it happen!

(The printed certificate from the Health Department would need to be the final page in the bundle of paperwork that Abby would need to submit to the Department of Social Development, which only accepts applications for new ventures in August every year. Our departure date was August 30... missing the deadline would mean waiting until next year to submit.)
It was "all hands on deck" with our entire team, and even the kids, jumping in to get things looking like we could be ready for children at any moment!  Rather than the full narrative, let me give you a quick look at some of the crazy...
  • Thankfully, Jeff had already ordered the baby beds which were scheduled to be delivered on Thursday.  
  • We still needed to find a couch and rocking chair... no time like the present for a maiden voyage into FaceBook Marketplace.
  • We had already purchased appliances. (yay!)
  • The building inspector went on holiday, and the people in his office could not find the Certificate of Occupation that he printed.
  • We got a notification that the baby beds and preschool chairs would not be arriving until Monday (after the scheduled inspection).
  • Abby starts making calls to borrow baby beds and chairs to "stage" the house for the inspection.
  • We still don't have the baby feeding/activity table that Abby wants to have built... nor a plan for what kind of seats to use!
  • Jeff gets the building inspector on the phone and stays in the office watching as people are looking for, and finally find, the Certificate of Occupation!
  • We find a couch and rocking chair (different locations) and go collect them from Johannesburg.
  • A good friend builds the baby table and we begin doing the rounds of visiting every Toys R Us within driving distance to collect the clip on chairs that are on sale.  (Including calling friends in Botswana to get a few extras for us since all the SA stores were sold out)
  • All of the lovely, donated, office furniture was still in pieces in our garage.
  • Toddler-sized mattresses got carried in from the garage and placed in the team-made bunkbeds with colorful handmade sheets!
  • Kids on property helped with name tags for closets and staging toys.
  • Abby called Friday morning to confirm an inspector for the latest possible time in the afternoon... and was told there was a strike, so the inspection would need to be Monday!  (Gulp!  But it's ok, there is still time to submit paperwork before we leave on Wednesday.)
  • Suddenly, all the beds and chairs arrived!  So we started moving them in and setting them up!
Monday morning, the Health Department supervisor came herself to inspect the building.  She was delighted and promised to print our certificate Tuesday morning since she would be out of town in meetings the rest of the day.  (The photo shows our grounds team celebrating a job very well done, and very hard-earned.)
Well, in true African fashion, the Health Department's system was offline on Tuesday (and Wednesday) so, our certificate was NOT printed and our paperwork was not submitted before we left.  Abby did contact the supervisor for the Department of Social Development (whom she had been talking to throughout the process), and the supervisor agreed to extend the deadline so that we could submit this year.  Our wonderful friends, and fellow missionaries, in South Africa agreed to wait for the phone call, collect the licence, and submit the business plan for us as soon as everything was printed.  (which turned out to be a week after we arrived in the States)

So, now everything is in the physical hands of the Department of Social Development.  However, we all know that everything is really in the Hands that have been holding, leading, fighting for, and protecting it from the time it was the seed of a dream to now. God's got this, and we are excited to see what He does next.

THANK YOU to all of you who have been faithfully praying for this project throughout the process!  We appreciate and love you!  We hope to see you sometime during our travels!
Thanks for keeping us in mind as you pray each day.  As you pray, Holy Spirit intervenes and things shift in the supernatural!  Please agree with us on these points.
  • Hope Church:
    • The children of one of our families were sleeping in the Grandmother's shack when it caught fire.  They woke up and were able to get out, but another child was stuck inside and died.  Please pray for the children and their grandmother as they all deal with loss, grief, fear, and guilt.
    • Another child of the church died in the hospital this week.  Please pray for the family, church leadership, and community as everyone processes this sad loss.
    • God is moving in the people of Hope Church.  Please pray that God will continue to show Himself in big and small ways as we learn to trust Him more with every testimony and every Word.
  • Hope Children's Home
    • Please pray for favor with both approval and funding!
    • Pray that approval will be granted by the end of November.  We would love to be able to hire staff in Dec/Jan and start receiving children in Feb.
    • Please pray for wisdom and discernment in the hiring process- that God would bring forth trustworthy people to raise these precious babies.
    • Please pray for the children that will come in and go out from the home.
    • Please pray for Godly forever families to receive the little ones from our temporary home and to continue to disciple them when they leave our hands.
  • Hunt Family
    • Please pray for physical health as we travel to different areas of the country!
    • We are scheduled to speak in Port Charlotte, FL next Sunday.  They were in the heart of the storm yesterday.  Please pray for the church and community as they shine Jesus' light in the midst of fear and need!
    • Please pray for clarity and passion as we continue to hold out the dream that God has placed in us and share it with people near and far.
Please know that we are also praying for you.  We are especially praying peace, protection, and opportunities to share Jesus for our friends and family throughout Florida this week!
We love you!  Thank you for allowing us to be part of your answer to the Great Commission!
It is an honor to serve God together with you.

In HIs Grip,
Jeff, Abby, Beth, and Jordan
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