Merry Christmas!

Hello once again to all of you faithful and loving people who have taken an interest in the work God is having me do in South Africa.  I want to take a moment to genuinely thank you for keeping me in your prayers during this holiday season.  It means the world to me knowing that I'm not alone here; that I have the support of people back home who care a great deal about sharing the love of Christ even with people they've never met 16,000km away.

Normal services have continued (and picked up a bit due to the nativity season), Christmas events are in full swing, and work and life continue to be full for me.  I am very grateful to be here serving and am genuinely excited for how God is using me and what is to come.

Raphaela D'Amico and Father Athanasius at an early morning liturgy at Saint Nicholas


Saint Sava's Children's Home -

As I've mentioned before, I am highly involved with the renovation and founding of a children's home just outside of Attridgeville.  Currently there is a lot going on at the site.  The building and construction that I mentioned previously is underway; with the roof of 1/3 of the old home redone and the outside door replaced.  Since builders go on Summer holiday here around mid-December, we have put off ordering more building materials until mid January, but we plan to begin working on security fencing at that time.

Also, since the school term just finished, I recently had the opportunity to sit down with two high school aged brothers staying in the home and discuss their grades, future plans, concerns and such, in a bit of a mentorship capacity.  These two boys are orphans here (on expired asylum papers… soon to be remedied) staying at the home.  We went over their grades (one passed his grade and the other will have to repeat it), talked about possible tutoring for next term, transport to school and representation at parent night kind of functions.  After I had a chance to discuss things with them, I came home and began the process of sorting all their legal paperwork and seeing what assistance we as the church can be in helping them feel secure and stable (as the home itself is currently in a transition time).  Please keep them and the other children staying in the home in your prayers as we assist them through this time in their life the best we can.

Tomorrow I'm heading back out to the home (and monastery nearby) for a Christmas party for all who stay there.  We will be bringing a tree, holiday treats, and gifts to be shared.

Brixton Children's Outreach -

So far we have had two very successful children's outreach events for the kids staying in the neighborhood directly around Saint Nicholas.  The second event actually fell on the same day as a larger community event in the park around the corner, but we still had an overwhelming turnout and a lot of fun together.

I've noticed that the kids know me now.  When they see me they run to give hugs and tell me about things they have been up to.  They have also been coming to services more and getting involved in other church activities such as the Christmas Pageant that was held last weekend.  Slowly but surely I'm seeing others in the congregation take interest in what is going on too; hopefully to join in serving or contributing as this program grows.

There is also a lot of working going on behind the scenes to establish the foundation for some long term ministry here, and I will be excited to share that with you as the right time presents itself.  But let me say again, thank you for all of your love and prayers as I navigate this journey.  The highs and lows have been incredible so far and my life is already forever changed.  Thank you for being a part of it.

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