April 2020 Tony & Laurie-Ann Copple Update
We Copples continued to nurture and teach children from two townships at Master Peace Academy, from September to December. The school closed and then transformed into a resource centre for homeschool parents. We were challenged by the four special needs learners in class, but we didn’t give up on them. We also continued with two after school kids clubs in and Avian Park and Riverview townships. Tony has recently taught the Riverview kids (with translation help from our My Father’s House girls Bella and her friend Joy). ‘Uncle Tony’ continues to bring joy to the kids with worship songs and little Afrikaans choruses that Tony learned from the Homeless Church.
[Art montage of MasterPeace Academy.]
[Montage of Riverview kids club.]
We have continued our teaching and loving grade one learners through Legacy Relay at Worcester Primary School on Tuesday mornings. This ministry has been given favour by the current principal of the school. We pray that the new principal would be as kind and open to volunteer seniors coming in to classes to pass on legacy skills (including Christian faith). Most of the volunteers work with the Afrikaans children, while we and a couple others work with the English speaking children. We did a special project with the WPS learners in term 4 (late September – late November). Laurie-Ann took a 30” x 40” canvas and divided it into four. We divided the class of 42 into four groups, where they would draw with coloured pencil in their areas, to be followed with water and brushes to turn into paint. Then L-A transformed the background into an abstract base. The children then drew their own Christian symbols, and voila, after a bit of changes from L-A, we had a beautiful reminder of the 2019 grade ones! The 2020 grade ones are different in character (many don’t like maple candy or even chocolate!) but they are still sweet, love to sing with us, and many are serious in their love of art. They also love to hug Laurie-Ann.
A picture of the Legacy Relay Christian symbols painting.]
[A picture montage of the WPS kids painting in groups.]
We still supervise the Mailbox Clubs with our My Father’s House teen leaders in Avian Park township. We found a South African to supervise the teens in our place. The leaders know and respect him. These girls disciple and love the younger children on Mondays, while we spend time loving the teens on Saturdays. Tony’s birthday fell on a Saturday this year, and we planned to celebrate with the teen girls, but only one was available. In a flash, Tony was reminded of the Bible verses of those who refused the invitation to the Father’s banquet, and that the helpers were instructed to bring others who were available. So Tony brought J’s Mailbox Club into our home, which was a surprise for Laurie-Ann. We ran the afternoon like a kids club, with sandwiches and juice, and singing choruses and worship songs with shakers and L-A’s drum. Then we shared cake and ice cream, and sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to Tony, who used a load-shedding candle on the cake! He had already served the kids, since they couldn’t wait. We ended the afternoon with colouring some of Laurie-Ann’s colouring sheets. Thankfully we had some available. You never know when you will need them.
We have taken some of the teen leaders with us on visits to Hillsong Somerset West, the Strand beach and the Paarl’s Spice Route. Two of the girls have also slept over separately at our house due to family violence and drunkenness in their homes. They felt safer to be with us. Another girl, ‘J’ also stayed more often, due to addiction and violence issues in her own family. However, not all of the visits to our house were for sad reasons. Sometimes they come over (one by one) to do homework and use our wifi. We also shared a Canadian style Christmas with ‘B’s’ family of six. Thankfully, we had enough dining room chairs, and food for eight; we had to improvise with cutlery and plates. It all worked beautifully, and we blessed B’s grandma with the same necklace that we had given each of our teen leaders. This joyful lady acts as hostess of her home, while B teaches her Mailbox Club kids. The other leaders continue to lead as they can.
B had a scoliosis operation. We visited her with ‘J’ at Groot Schuur hospital in Cape Town. We brought her books to read, snacks and a chicken dinner, since the food is sparse at public hospitals. Still, the doctors did a great job with B; although she was given doctor’s orders to not walk to school until mid-March. So B asked us if Tony could drive her to school and back home Monday to Friday! This was a huge commitment, especially since Laurie-Ann was also receiving chemotherapy treatments in a Cape Town suburb. So far the ‘B express’ has worked, even with some car problems.
[Mailbox club montage.]
[Tony blowing out his birthday candle with J’s Mailbox Club.]
We have had a real lesson in trust with the car. We tried to drive to Namibia for our December holiday. We didn’t make it at first attempt; we got stranded on a mountain pass. Thankfully, the owner of a restaurant/store towed us to the top of the pass, where we got a cellphone signal strong enough to call AA for a tow. We were given kindness, rest, and dinner by the owner and his wife before the tow truck arrived. We took a rental car to Namibia. Then after Christmas, the car blew a glo-plug as we drove towards our friend’s wedding. We were meant to be her ride to the venue, but we were able to call her in enough time to arrange other transport to her wedding. We unfortunately missed the wedding, but we met three kind men who inspect trucks before they drive through the Hugenot toll towards Cape Town. They kept us safe and engaged while we called AA for a tow back to Worcester. Unfortunately we couldn’t rent a car or even have our own car fixed until January 6th as many businesses shut down the week after Christmas. This meant we were stranded in our home for eight days. Thankfully, an Iris colleague brought over a grocery care package, our pharmacist took Tony shopping, and brought us other things. Others took us to church. During our time of isolation, L-A drew more towards her first colouring book project and Tony learned Windows 10 on his computer.
Saturdays are a highlight for us with the prison ministry at Brandvlei. First we were in the medium security, where we loved on the inmates and it was like church in the prison. They were so open to receive, and we found they blessed us back. Two of them have since been released, and one of them gave us a visit at Groot Schuur hospital, after we visited B. It was wonderful to hear how his life was transformed. He was given favour with several good jobs that included dog walking and entrepreneur opportunities. Tony was moved to the youth offender wing to work with our YWAM friend Soraya. She helped us with Afrikaans, since the inmates were more comfortable in that language. Laurie-Ann had to bow out due to illness and mobility issues. Tony also has found a suitable South African to replace us at the prison. He has a calling and havs police clearance. He is an answer to our prayers!
[Christmas Dinner Montage.]
[My Fathers House Girls at Strand montage.]
Tony and many in our Worcester church connect group help in the town’s Homeless Church. They offer love, teaching, catchy Afrikaans choruses to sing, and juice with jam sandwiches. Sometimes Tony has taught, and other times he has led worship. Several times Tony has had ministry conversations with members of this church elsewhere in town. You never know who will turn up in the grocery or convenience store. Tony also visits people in the local hospice every week and has made friends with some of them. All who see him brighten up when Tony comes in the room. The Hospice supervisor gave Tony an interview for our CWCP Worcester Reports radio show. It was then that Tony learned how much he is loved. He has favour in going into every room, sometimes with a few adult helpers, and sometimes with the My Father’s House teen leaders. Two of them are particularly good at pastoral care.
[Tony leading leading worship and teaching at Homeless Church.]
We had a December road trip visit to Namibia, to see the famous red sand dunes of Sossusvlei and Deadvlei. After the Namib desert soujourn, we visited Windhoek, and Swakopmund. The last place gave us opportunities for “stopping for the one” ministry. We found some gem-sellers at a shipwreck that was aground near the beach. We stopped and bought gems, since Laurie-Ann sensed this was a special moment. We were asked for water, groceries and meat. After lunch, we returned with hot meat pies, and a care package; enough for two families to make stew and porridge. We prayed with them, and they were grateful. We also befriended our server at a Swakopmund coffee shop and we had a special moment with her. As well, L-A had a moment with a young man in Okahanja, where we change from the B2 to the B1 to get back to Windhoek. L-A wrote about the perseverance we developed during the trip due to car trouble and missing a wedding. This was while L-A’s mother was very ill in a Toronto hospital. Here is the blog link to read about stopping for the one in Namibia:
Meanwhile, L-A is blooming in art. During September – December, she taught art at MasterPeace Academy, as well as Worcester Primary with Legacy Relay Tuesdays. L-A has returned to Worcester Christian Church Kinderkerk to teach prophetic art, and she’s been asked to do the same at a kids’ camp in Avian Park township. There have been other requests for art workshops as well. What kept her going through her illness was the desire to finish her first prophetic colouring book. There are 51 images, with scriptures and stories in Afrikaans and English. We hope to publish a second colouring book in Canada with English and French. In the meantime, L-A has been sowing the colouring sheets to many different children’s ministries around the world. We trust L-A’s sowing will end up reaping blessings for the colouring book.
In the midst of all the busyness of ministry and chemo treatments, L-A’s mom became very weak. Eventually she was transferred to hospital care since L-A’s 91-year-old dad couldn’t carry on as care-giver. L-A’s mom kept asking for L-A. Finally, L-A sent her sister a loving message, and asked her to read it to their mom. The sister did so verbatim. Their mom was touched and was thankful. The next day, L-A’s mom died. The funeral was a week later, and we sent flowers and a eulogy that was written during a chemo session. While we couldn’t be at the funeral, L-A’s cousin recorded the funeral on his cellphone and sent the file to us. It was wonderful to see all the nuances, although it would have been wonderful to see the faces of family and friends. We miss the sound of her voice. Thankfully we know where L-A’s mom (Carol) is. She’s with Jesus. All the people we love and work with in Worcester shared in our grief.
[L-A’s colouring book cover.]
L-A received chemo treatments in Cape Town beginning early in September. She went through a painful but character growing season. We are thankful for hundreds of people praying and encouraging L-A through nausea, sleeplessness, pain symptoms, and a change of taste (ie: L-A now prefers tea to coffee, and now likes walnuts and dried cranberries!) L-A’s last chemo was February 10th, when she rang the bell. Later treatments followed including Herceptin injections, blood work and a PET scan which will be sent to her surgeon in Ottawa. We will see this doctor upon our return to Canada.
Sadly, it’s because of the cancer and the condition of L-A’s dad that we Copples cannot return to our mission assignment in South Africa after L-A is completely cancer-free. Ironically, L-A had prayed to the Lord for a fourth year in Worcester after we returned from our home visit. However, we are very thankful for the 2.5 years we had. We have loved in so many ways, some of them sacrificially. We pray that our legacy will grow as we sowed into hearts and ministries in Worcester and beyond. Other than Iris Western Cape outreaches, we have been involved with: My Father’s House (Avian Park), the Mailbox Club, MasterPeace Academy, Legacy Relay, Boland Hospice, Riverview kids club, ChangeMakers Worcester, Brandvlei prison/Alpha South Africa, Homeless Church and our own internet radio station CWCP, for which we share ‘The Worcester Reports”, Ways to Grow in God devotionals, and various music. You can track our progress on http://www.coppleswesterncape.ca. We are on Facebook as Copples in Western Cape (as well as Twitter and Instagram).
[L-A with some new 'hats' during the cancer treatments.]