Update from South Africa: MAY 2021

Hello friends and family!

It's been awhile since we've done an "official update." As we hope you know, our Instagram and Facebook feeds are our most updated venues and we try to tell our stories there. But here's a brief update in photo-form to give you an idea of all that's been going on here in South Africa and in ministry!

To find out more of the history of GROW Ministry, checkout the website here: https://www.melaniemokgatla.com/grow

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HELLO FROM THE MOKGATLAS!
Our little tribe of 3 has endured a lot during the pandemic. We've had multiple lock-downs, our own battles with sickness (not Covid, but measles, Rotavirus, and the works), changes in jobs and access to work. But God has been good and teaching us to persevere! 
WE'RE LEADING ONLINE
Melanie's biggest course (The Justice Journey) was taught through Zoom this past year. 75 people graduated from the course - from 13 churches in South Africa. Like all of us, adjusting our work to this new platform has been difficult, but we're doing it and plowing ahead!
For more info about The Justice Journey, click here!
WHO DOESN'T HAVE A ZOOM SCREEN SHOT ON THEIR CAMERA ROLL?​

This is just one of our mentoring sessions - moved online like everything else. Phone data can be an issue for some of our beneficiaries, but we make sure to supplement their resources for such important check-ins like this! 

Our ladies group is currently doing a "podcast club" (like a book club reading but with 8 podcasts that Meagan chose for us to listen to. We'll meet next month to discuss our learnings! 

Thanks to our generous donors, Meagan is employed by GROW part-time and able to serve our beneficiaries with home-visits, leadership development and mentoring 

MODELING GENEROSITY DURING HARD LOCK-DOWN
Andrew's group of mentoring guys were given an opportunity to not only shop for essentials for their own family, but shop the exact same items for a family they knew needed assistance. From GROW's generous donors, we used ministry money to give the guys a budget and they shopped for what they knew each family needed. What a powerful way to teach generosity, compassion, budgeting, and service!
CELEBRATION OUTING
Celebrations are a huge part of our ministry strategy. Timely outings and events to look forward to can motivate participation and follow-through in the goal-process. 
Andrew's group of mentoring guys were also able to celebrate their end-of-the-year mentoring term with a Red Bus City Tour! These guys don't often get to be a tourist in their own city, so we hope this was a memory they won't soon forget. 
CAPRICORN TEEN MOMS
Melanie got to partner with a church in Capricorn to support some Teen Moms. We arranged for a facilitator to lead session for the moms each week and learn about mental health, baby's physical developmental needs and the importance of being part of a local church that can support these girls at such a crucial time. Many of these girls have dropped out of school, don't have supportive families and are living in poverty. Won't you pray with us for these young families and these precious little ones?
GROW HIKES
One of the pillars of our ministry is growing in HEALTH. One of our mentors, Melikhaya, led some of our mentors and their families on a hike last year. We've got another few hikes scheduled and want to continue to offer opportunities for our mentors to be growing physically strong. 
POWERFUL EXHIBITION
Andrew's art has been exhibited in some amazing shows recently. The largest art museum in South Africa, Zeitz Mocaa, featured Andrew's art for their exhibition called Home is Where the Art Is. This is a portrait of the famous Siya Kolisi, South African Rugby Captain. This specific artwork opened doors to the rugby community that is very influential in Cape Town.
We acknowledge that this gift of art brings conversation and open doors for relationships and creative communication. 
ART FOR A CAUSE
Andrew's art was also used to raise money for a Rugby field in a local township. Masiphumelele (which if you've been to visit us in South Africa, you've probably visited Masi) has a rugby club that needed some new outdoor lighting. Rassie Erasmus, the World Cup winning South African Rugby Coach, joined the auction night and Andrew's work was sold for a high price - all proceeds given to the rugby club. 
This is yet another way Andrew is giving to South African youth through his art. 
WORKSHOPS 
Melanie has had her plate full with adult art workshops lately. She has offered Saturday session for ladies who want to do a little creative work. These workshops have led to great spiritual conversations and women feeling confident about their ability to create!
Andrew has used our studio space to host young men who need a time of inspiration and the opportunity to experience a skill they've never been exposed to. This group shown here is from Ubuntu Football Academy. 
Checkout Ubuntu's Instagram post about this visit here.
RISE AGAINST HUNGER
We partnered with 11 churches in Cape Town via Common Good to lead a food relief event. Many of you might know similar organizations that do bulk food packing. It's an assembly line style day and families come to serve - this time packing 50,000 meals in total over 2 days. 
It was quite a feat but exhilirating knowing during Covid-time, families would have nutrition on their table!
TAYE GOES TO SCHOOL 
Our little guy started school this year! He was practically a lock-down baby (not even one when our hard lock-down began), so it was a hard adjustment being away from mama and mama being away from Taye. BUT, he's thriving and loving the interaction. He's a lot like his mom - needs some fun to look forward to and people to chat to! 
TAYE TURNS 2
We officially have a two-year-old! Taye's obsession with dinosaurs was celebrated and donned our birthday theme. He loved blowing out the candles, batting the balloons and eating cupcakes!
We're so thankful for our family and how God has gotten us through this last year and a bit together!
THANK YOU
Thank you to all who continue to serve this mission alongside us. We are so grateful for you. This is the 4th year we've done this mission as a couple and we keep learning and growing - making shifts and turns as God leads. 
May God bless you for your faithfulness to His work and our family.

Corona virus update

South Africa is still on a modified lock-down. Masks are required in every public space, limits to gathering, parents can't go into the schools, many churches still not open. The vaccine roll-out is very slow here. We don't expect to be eligible for the Covid vaccine until next year (2022). The unemployment rate is up to 29%, food security in low-income communities is difficult, and public health care is struggling to serve the needy. We pray that God will provide for South Africa in these areas and help us through the Covid pandemic. 

What's on the horizon?

Here are things you can pray into:

- GROW Guys is conducting a "Savvy Money Workshop" for our grade 12 mentee. Andrew is leading this 6-week (once a week) workshop. He desires to instill financial stewardship into his guys before they graduate high school.

- Mentoring Leadership Development is still happening online. Looking to add some workshops and Book Clubs to serve our leaders.

- House hunting - We are searching for property to buy - for our personal home but also to house the GROW Girls as we educate and mentor those that need a place to be nurtured. This is a BIG process and decision. We pray for favor with the banks so we can get a loan but also for the right property to advance the ministry opportunity we know God has put on our heart. 

- Addition of mentors & schools using our GROW Mentoring book. We're hoping to get some more schools involved in the mentoring process. Pray for open doors and mature mentors to walk alongside these students!

- Protection from the enemy's attacks. Please pray for God to give us favor and protect our hearts in all our relationships. May God bring wisdom and peace as we look to expand, serve new individuals and take on bigger responsibilities in this mission.

Again, THANK YOU for reading our update and walking this journey with us. 

- Andrew, Melanie & Taye Mokgatla