Sunday, August 29, 2010

Ah Kids

I noticed its been a while since I'v posted pictures of Liam and Lindie. Well, Liam often makes it into the construction pictures. Lindie doesn't get in the pictures because she gets left in the car while I deliver lunch and take video of the progress...poor little girl.

Lindie is growing leaps and bounds, she is just so cute. For a while she has been pulling herself up and walking around the furniture. She loves letting go to balance for a few seconds and then falling down on her bum. She thinks this is great fun. She especially loves doing it in her bed because she likes the bounce. She is learning to sign 'Thank You', 'Please' & 'More'. If she forgets how to do it Liam is quick to take her hands and show her how.

Liam and Lindie really enjoy playing together, so far not many fights. Liam is very good at sharing his toys and making sure she has plenty of things to play with. For Christmas, Liam got a play tent with an attached tunnel...Lindie loves playing in the tunnel and Liam chases her through it. {you can watch them play in the video}

Liam is growing up and is a little boy these days. We have been 'seriously' potty training for more then a month now, as in no diaper during the day, even for naps. Somedays are great, one 1 or 2 accidents, other days are bad with many accidents. Friday was a super duper day with no accidents! We might be making progress!

Liam has learned how to take off his shirt, so he is often shirtless. He can count 1-5 and is trying to get his fingers to show the right numbers. He has a wide vocabulary and is now putting many words together like "How are you" and "Happy Birthday Pops".

Liam and Lindie share a bedroom, during nap time they are so funny. They talk to each other for about 10-15 minutes and then finally fall asleep. Somedays it gets a little loud but most of the time they stay under control.

People warned us that having kids 15 months apart was going to be a lot of work. I have to say, we so enjoy having our kids spaced closely. They were both really good babies and are both good little kids who enjoy each others friendship. I am praying they remain good friends and loving siblings!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Being Flexible-that's what life is all about!

Ah, life has been Good, Hectic, Encouraging, Always Changing & Never Dull.

From August 4-17, we hosted a group of guys from ISU and thoroughly enjoyed getting back into the groove of having teams. All of the guys stayed with the O'Tools but we were involved daily with the team.

Brian organized all the daily projects and kept everyone busy at the property. I was mainly involved with helping Amber cook at their house. Everyday around 11Am, the kids and I would go to their house to make lunch for the group and then take it to the property. We made a lot of sandwiches! In the afternoons, I'd go back and help with supper preparations. Sometimes we would join the group for supper and other times just headed home. We never knew when the guys were going to stop working for the day-so supper needed to be ready anytime between 6-7:30pm. {This is one area where flexibility was important}

{24 tune-apple sandwiches}

{Lunch at the property}

Sometime the kids and I would visit the property 2 or 3 times a day to keep up with the progress being made. I need lots of pictures and video! On really busy work days {pouring cement} we provide mid morning and mid afternoon snacks and drinks. Liam loves visiting daddy and the guys at the property. It is a true highlight of his day. I often don't know what Brian will think of next for Liam to enjoy. Check out the latest video of Liam! Who would have thought? But it worked out just fine! Liam loves watching this video clip. Meredith also enjoyed her turn. By far, this isn't the craziest thing he has done-I do believe riding in the cement mixer still tops it all! {to view Liam riding in the cement mixer check this post out}

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Starting the 1st Children's House at The Village!

{The Guys from ISU}

After working two 12 hour days of shoveling cement, sand and stone into cement mixers, the guys from ISU jumped right in, on Wednesday, to start the foundation of the first children's house. These guys worked so hard and fast, that they dug the majority of the foundation in a day. Their goal was to dig and prepare the foundation by Friday, so the foundation could be poured on Monday. Ambitious goal and they achieved it.

{The guys digging the foundation for the children's house}

Thursday they finished digging the foundation, compacting the top stone, laying the plastic down and installing the steel for the foundation. Friday half of the guys made bricks with Louie and the other half formed up the foundation. By the afternoon everything was ready to go for Monday. {Exciting}

{Brian talking with a building inspector during the pour, all is A-O-K}

Around 6:30AM the guys started in shoveling and mixing cement again. This Monday, the weather was awesome-sunny, warm, and no wind. When I visited around 9AM, with a delivery of muffins, they were already 1/4 of the way done. The guys were working super fast. {of course they had a lot of experience from the week before}. When we delivered lunch around noon, the guys were more then 3/4 of the way done.

{lots of sand, stone and cement to shovel}

{the guys using the humongous screed}

They finished pouring of the foundation by 2pm and had everything cleaned up by 3:30pm. {Super exciting!} We now have 2 foundations completed and will soon be laying bricks and making houses!

{Brian power troweling the foundation}

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Hard Working Team!

This past Monday, a group of 12 guys {Brian, Louie, Lenard, DJ, Brilliant, Ben & 6 guys from ISU team} tackled a huge job in weather that wasn't ideal. It hasn't rained here in about 2 months so the dust is thick when the wind blows. Monday morning we woke up to drastic change in temperature and strong winds making the property very difficult to tolerate. This didn't deter the guys from working very hard. At 6:15AM they all gathered to start pouring the foundation of our house!

On Friday they did everything they could to get all the preparations in place to make Monday go smoothly. The guys mixed all the cement by hand so we stored 3 cement mixers and a bobcat at our house over the weekend. Around 7:30 the cement started to be mixed and shortly after being poured into our foundation. After one load of cement 1 cement mixer broke down, that is another reason why they rented 3 mixers, so they could keep going even if 1 broke. Thankfully they were able to get it fixed quickly.

{they would mix the cement and than pour it into the
bob cat bucket and Brian would dump the cement where it was needed}

Amber and I tried to keep the guys well fed and hydrated throughout the day. We made many deliveries to the property of mid-morning snacks, lunch, afternoon snack and even planned on serving supper at the property if needed. The guys never stopped to eat, they took turns running over to get a sandwich, grab a muffin, drink and then right back to work.

The day was long and hard but all the guys worked together like a real team. Everyone knew what needed to be done, did their job, helped each other and stuck it out till the end.

{finished product}

The very next day the guys were already talking about getting the next foundation, the first children's house foundation, ready to pour before they leave. Wow, what a great group of guys.
Thanks for all your hard work, great attitudes and for being so fun!

{Good Friends}

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Lord's Hand Is In It All

Since May Brian has been working with a local architect and engineer to get all the paperwork and drawings submitted for 3 building permits-1 staff house and 2 children's houses. Everything seems to take so long to accomplish-there seems to always be one more thing that needs changed or waiting on one more quote for windows ect. Finally about 2 weeks ago everything was completed and the application was submitted for our building permits.

Brian has been working the city building inspector since the start, but all things take time. The head guy in charge of approving or denying building plans is way behind, all building plans are supposed to be approved/rejected within 30 days. We were told that some people have been waiting for more then 6 months. Ugg.

After waiting about one week, Brian then started visiting the guy in charge, just asking if our plans could be rushed through and trying to answer any questions he might have. Brian explained we had a group of Americans coming to help us build these houses and we really needed these permits. Brian has become very gifted in explaining what we are doing and then asking people to help, in this case rush our plans through. The guy said he would see what he could do and told Brian to come back Thursday at 2pm. So in due course, Brian went that morning to make sure he remembered about the 2'O clock meeting and to provide more materials for him.

The afternoon meeting went very well. The house foundations were designed by a local engineer so there was no problems there, but he did try to find problems with our block making methods. After a phone call to the company in Cape Town, an email and a 30 minute meeting, Brian left with all 3 permits for the houses! Praise God!

What you need to understand that this is completely of the Lord-nothing that we have done but only the Lord's desire to see things continue on. There are 180 plans submitted before ours, some were submitted 6 months ago and those people are still waiting. As Brian left the office, the staff members asked Brian how he managed to get his permits so quickly. All the amazement and glory has been given to God.

Please rejoice with us and give God the praise!

{Finally preparations on the foundation were completed on Friday}

Friday the city inspector and foundation engineer both signed off for their inspection and the guys finished the last of the prep work for pouring the foundations. Tomorrow morning, Monday August 9, the guys will start around 6AM {Sun up} in mixing and pouring the first foundation at Restoring Hope Village. We have a team of 6 ISU guys here to help, in all there will be 12 guys working all day until this is completed. Please pray for safety, wonderful weather and wisdom in all that must be completed.

{On Monday this pile of rock and stacks of cement will become our foundation}

Keeping up with Life

Its been a while since I'v talked about just our everyday life. Everyday is random, eventful, and usually ends up being completely different then what I originally had planned. I will start with this past Friday. Breakfast was over and Liam and I were picking up the mess leftover from Lindie's party. We were enjoying our time, partially cleaning and partially playing at the same time. All of sudden I noticed there was a bird flying around in our kitchen and then into our dining room and play area. The bird was flying crazy, running into the walls and frantically trying to get out but wasn't successful. The bird came in through our kitchen door and wasn't finding the way out. While dodging the bird, I open all our windows and the other door trying to make an easy way out for this bird. The bird must have been so anxious that while it was flying around it was also pooping all over-the windows, walls, table, on the kid's toys, floor, curtains. Yuck, is there anything worse then bird poop inside the house?

Of course, I stopped and took a few pics and even a video of this poor bird making a mess all over my house.

Thankfully the bird finally found a way out via an open window and then I had to clean up the mess. -Yuck

Friday, August 6, 2010

She Turned 1 - Happy Birthday Lindie

Lindie Rebekah Niehoff
6 pounds 15 ounces
August 5th

Yesterday, August 5, Our little girl turned 1 year old. Her first year has gone by so quickly. I can remember a year ago so vividly and I can tell you exactly what I did on the day she was born. We were hosting a team from Utah at the time. In the morning we went on a tour of some potential property for The Village, then off to Hani Park to arrange Bible club, met up with Brian around 12:00 for our doctor's appointment. We waited an hour and he told us that I was in labor. Ha, who would have guessed. I was already to 3cm and my doctor wanted me to go right away and check into the hospital. Of course we needed to go get my bag, it was packed, told the team our news, stayed a talked a bit and then stopped at KFC for some lunch. I wasn't in a rush to get to hospital. Check in around 2:30pm and waited. Brian left for a bit and came back just in time. I started having hard contractions around 5:15pm and she was born at 5:45pm. What a bundle of joy God has blessed us with.

Yesterday our day started off with a chocolate chip pancake breakfast, in honor of Lindie. She ate an entire pancake by herself. Liam was off to preschool, so Lindie and I played, opened a present and I started decorating her cake. Because this is only my second cake to decorate I needed plenty of time.

We had Nana and Pop (Trish and Lawrence) and Nan and Oupa (Val and Danie) for Lindie's celebration. We had supper, cake and ice cream and opening of presents. She was showered with baby dolls of all types, little pink shoes, nice toys, few books, and a pretty Micky Mouse dress.

We miss not being able to celebrate these special days with our family but we thank the Lord for giving us special friends to help fill the void. We had a wonderfully fun day!
Love you Lindie

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Coats to Hospice Patients

Through a generous donation from a friend and supporter in the States we were able to purchase a variety of coats and blankets to give to those who needed them the most. On Monday, July 26th, we went throughout Thabong and Hani Park with 4 caregivers from Hospice and visited patients who were in great need of some extra warmth.

The O'Tools took 2 caregivers and covered the west side of Thabong and we took 2 caregivers covering the east side of Thabong. Hospice cares for many people, young and old. The majority of the patients are sick with HIV/AIDS but they also care for those with cancer and other terminal illnesses. We visited some of the oldest grannies we've ever met and also many, many young patients-some in their teens and twenties.

We gave coats and blankets to patients and family members. This old granny was so thankful for her new blanket. We also gave her a coat for her granddaughter who is 14 yrs old. This granny is the main caregiver for her granddaughter.

We also visited a few patient who are completely bed bound, no ability to get out of bed and home all alone. One very old man was all alone, laying in bed with no clothes, just a blanket and unable to talk because of his condition. A family member left him a orange next to his pillow for his food for the day. This sickly man isn't even strong enough to sit up, let alone peel an orange. The caregivers shared many similar stories with us. The sadness they see on a daily basis is overwhelming. These caregivers are real saints, they are trained in their job but do not receive any pay. They receive a stipend to cover their transport to work everyday but nothing above that. Each caregiver visits 2 or 3 patients a day and after spending a few hours with them I now understand why they are only able to seem a few people a day. They walk to each house and some houses are far apart. Many of the patients they provide total care for; a bed bath, washing of the linens by hand, making of the bed, straightening of the house, check on their food supply, ask about their medications and giving them some personal attention and company.

(hospice caregivers)

I am so thankful that we have been able to build a relationship with the hospice association. We hope that we will have many more opportunities to bless them and continue our work along side their people.