In fact, our first term is almost over. I can’t believe it! This school year has been different than others. The biggest difference is having a tiny sidekick. For a couple hours each day, Avery joins me at school. She gets absolutely giddy when I strap her into the baby carrier and we head toward school. She brings much joy to all the students and teachers.
Before school starts she plays a few games of peek-a-boo, is jostled and bounced, and of course her outfit is thoroughly inspected by all of her friends.
Another positive change is the addition of a competent, cheerful, and loving teaching assistant. Her name is Goodness. She has been such a blessing to me! She encourages and works with struggling students throughout the day. She marks almost ALL my papers. She stays after school to clean up, close up, or meet with students when I have to run home. She has made my transition to a working mommy SO much easier, and I am so thankful for Goodness!
Although she’s not formally trained as a primary school teacher, I’m praying that Goodness will feel confidant enough to take my place next year. She has all the qualities of a good teacher, and I’m working with her on adopting additional techniques and teaching strategies. Please pray with me!
I have 14 students this year, and a wide range of talents and abilities. Thank you for praying for their growth: academically, spiritually, and socially.
I leave Swaziland today, Sunday, 27 September, for a week in
Zambia. I will be facilitating two, two-day modules to 40 pastors in a Training of Trainers context. These church leaders will come from several parts of the country, and a spectrum of differing denominational groupings.
I will be teaching “Quality Servant Leadership,” a course that focuses on the revolutionary leadership style of Jesus and other early
Christian leaders. It’s not a popular concept among leaders, but desperately needed to get us away from the self-centered, power-based models common in political, business, and church structures. Then we’ll cover “Money Matters: God’s Answers to Poverty,” a course that continues to have significant impact across the region.
Pray for safety in travel, a huge dose of strength and energy, as well as effectiveness that serves God’s glory and purposes.
Please pray for Mary Jean, she continues to carry a “way too heavy” load of responsibilities as classroom teacher (Grade 1 & 2), director of New Life Children’s Homes, and financial administration for New Life Homes.
Last week we were preparing for a trip to South Africa to purchase some farm equipment. I (Tommy) went into town to get some cash for the purchase. I withdrew approximately $1,500 US dollars from the bank. In South African rand, this amount of money stacks up to be a few inches thick, making it quite difficult to get around unnoticed. I locked the bills in the glove compartment of our truck as I ran inside a restaurant to get lunch. By the time I returned, all of the money was gone. As you can imagine, this was quite a shocking, disheartening, and disorienting experience. I went back to the bank with the police to look at the security video and saw that I had been followed by a group of men from the minute I walked into the bank. Though the money is gone, we have so much to be thankful for in terms of what did not happen. No physical confrontation, no damage to the truck (they likely used a “blocking device” to keep the truck from locking), and no one following me home. Please pray for justice moving forward as we continue to work with the police to resolve the case. Pray for us—that we will not become cynical towards the people here, and that our hearts would remain soft towards those we live with, minister to, and work with.
This event has caused a serious setback in our efforts to increase the efficiency and productivity of the farm, which is essential to support the orphans at New Life Homes. Would you consider giving a special gift to help recover this significant loss? Visit africanleadershippartners.org/support to make a special contribution. Please direct your contributions to “Tommy and Mandi Bottoms Support.”
Your support has already made a huge difference here. Whether it’s purchasing farm equipment, donating books or teaching resources, sponsoring a child’s medical care, or launching a youth ministry–know that your gifts go far and we give thanks for you every day!
May the Lord continue to bless you and your family.
Tommy and Mandi
Thanks for praying!!
We are thanking God for his care surrounding us!
Our daughter, Lora, and her husband, Vuyani, were blessed with the safe arrival of their second child, another son. Cohen was born at 1:15am this past Sunday night.
Almost a week earlier than expected, labor pains started at about 11:30pm. By midnight things were clearly speeding up, so they did too. They arrived at the hospital with too little time to make it to the labor and delivery section. So he arrived in about 15 minutes at the ER, with no doctor there. Thankfully, everybody is recovering well, and came home yesterday, Thursday.
Three weeks ago, I was sandwiched on the freeway in Johannesburg, South Africa. At a point where lanes were suddenly reduced for construction a number of us were braking aggressively. About the time I had concluded that I was going to avoid knocking the vehicle in front of me I got slammed from behind. The force pushed me the rest of the way into the vehicle in front of me. No one hurt. All insured. After some minor surgery to my vehicle, I was able to drive on home to Swaziland when the police were finished. The guy behind me required towing.
Working through communication challenges and across national boundaries is proving to be “interesting” so no repairs have been started yet. We get stopped at every police checkpoint, required to explain what happened and why we don’t have a “Police Clearance,” a form that is non-negotiable here but unused in South Africa.
Then last week we got a punctured tire on the right vehicle (the same one) at the right time (5:30AM). More about that another time.
Just to say, we sense the shadow of the Almighty over and around us!
Thanks for praying,
Peter & Mary Jean Kopp
We’ve received some shocking and tragic news from our colleagues at New Life Childrens Homes. Please pray for them.
Winni is one of our house-mothers, a smart and wonderful person who gives more than her share to the efforts of the total operation of homes, farm, and school. She came with four children. Two sons are in their twenties, and two younger girls who live with her “added” family at New Life Homes.
Her second son, named Nkululeko (“freedom”) and about 20 years old, completed high school last year and has been living and working on the farm for most of these past two years. Last year he was selected by the students and staff of his school to hold the position of “Head Boy”, leading a group of prefects (both girls and boys) who are recognized as student leaders and assist in the operation of the school. He was most worthy; an honest, sensitive, and hard-working young man.
Apparently there was a problem related to a girlfriend that was unacceptable to some of her relatives, two of whom came to the residence in the community where Nkululeko was staying overnight. They attacked him, beat him badly, and he died alone sometime during the night.
For any mother to lose her son is a terrible blow. To lose a good son to such brutal and senseless violence is worse. To any mother in Africa where there are no social security structures, losing a son is also a huge economic blow, akin to losing all one’s retirement resources.
- For Winni, her son Bongani (an outstanding young man in his last year at university), and her daughters, Rita and Lynette.
- For the other 40 children, three other house-mothers, and all the farm staff. They also still remember the attack by four armed thugs some three years ago.
- For justice & mercy to be served. We understand two young men have been arrested, confessing to their actions.
- For Tommy & Mandi Bottoms, who shoulder the major leadership at New Life Homes in our absence. Tommy has spent a great deal of time mentoring Nkululeko, AND he had also been tutoring one of the alleged culprits in mathematics in preparation for his end-of-high school exams.
- For Tiersa Chaffin, who only arrived at NLH two weeks ago, to train our preschool teachers.
- For Rob & Jennifer Taylor, who work at the farm and schools, live a distance from the farm, but engage with children and staff each day through their ministry roles.
- For Mary Jean and me, who are trying to provide support, counsel, and some measure of leadership from afar, while continuing the ongoing travelling ministry to our support network which we are currently undertaking in the USA.
By God’s providence, two pastors, and their wives, from a supporting church of ours in California were visiting that weekend. While not the confluence of affairs we would choose, God’s wisdom had them on site.
Thanks for praying,