One year plan? I can do that! Five year plan? Umm…I think I’d better sit down :-)

Missionaries are dreamers, boundary-pushers, risk-takers, big-picture people. Perhaps that’s true when it comes to our faith and aspirations (which cause us to accomplish great and seemingly impossible tasks!), but when we are asked to attach strategic plans, timelines and budgets to those dreams, a certain feeling starts to come over us and our plans become smaller and safer. Every year, each team with CCC creates a one-year strategic plan, with a budget and calendar. This year, the board of directors requested that each team submit a one year operational plan and a FIVE year strategic plan, each with their own budget!

Most teams gathered together physically at our national strategic planning event while others (like Nicholas’ team – the Digital Strategy Team) did theirs prior to the event. This was one of the highlights of my year work-wise because for 3 days and two nights, Nicholas was able to spend daddy-time with the boys on the site while I spent some quality work time with the national Student-led Movement team (my team!). I was in my element!

Our first order of business was to actually find out how everyone is doing. This was a very special time because we don’t often get the opportunity to connect as a national team face to face. It warmed my heart to hear how our missionaries and students in Cape Town are doing and to even see two of our missionary friends as newly weds (They’re the couple on the far left of the picture below).

The Student-led Movement of South Africa

I was given the task of leading the team through our SWOT time (a tool to help assess our current reality by considering our Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats). Taking some inspiration from the Digital Strategy team, I led our team through a time of dreaming about the future. Even though crazy, adventurous dreams lie in the heart of many a missionary, I feel we don’t take adequate time to discuss those dreams, stretch them, and even put them to paper. This was the time to do it, and we did! My question to the team was: “If funding and manpower were never an issue, what dreams would you dream for our ministry?” There were a few moments of silence, but then the ideas slowly trickled out. At the end, it felt like something had lifted off our chests and we were ready to build these plans. By the end of those three days, we had put together both a one year and a 5 year strategic plan! A few days later, I worked together with our national SLM team leaders to create a budget to see how these dreams will become a reality. I must tell you, it was exhausting but worth it.

 

Here are a few things I had learned from this time together:

a) Sometimes it helps to assess the current reality of your staff before you assess the current reality of your organisation

b) Budgets, timelines and calendars are not weights to your dreams, they’re wings. When the right wind comes it will lift them and carry them!

c) Vincent and Kiran love chasing chickens 🙂 It also was sweet to see them busy with a few toys while Nic and I sat in on a few sessions in the main hall.

Nicholas was also able to contribute to the national planning event by giving a presentation on the national plans of the Digital Strategy team. He did an excellent job and I’m encouraged by his team and the way they work.

Nicholas sharing the national strategic plan for Digital Strategy

Please pray for Nicholas and I as we take turns to give each other opportunities for ministry. We are figuring out how to care for Vincent at home with occupational and speech therapy in order to prepare him for school next year.

 

The boys kept themselves busy while we worked. Kiran had a furry 4-legged visitor to keep him company!

Thank you for your love and prayers!

 

Pravani

 

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Vinnie is growing! And so are we!

 

“If you’re going to be a leader, you need to be a life-long learner”. This concept was taught to me during a program called the Emerging Leaders Initiative. I was young, about to enter a leadership position at CCC and I was engaged to Nicholas – taking on as many courses and reading material as I could get my hands on. Fast forward ten years and oh boy, I have finally begun to understand that learning isn’t always about academics or accolades!

Kiran loves muddy puddles

One of the most fun, interesting (and hardest) opportunities for learning has been my kids. With Kiran I’m learning how to raise a two year-old again, this means potty-training, emotional outbursts (including regular uses of the word “no!” in his vocab) and needing to enforce discipline even in the face of intense cuteness. Oh my word, the cuteness! It’s paralysing! He is a teddy bear, a man of adventure and has the cutest dance moves ever!

Vincent is a marvel and testimony to us of God’s creativity, patience, fun and love. As you may have heard, he is currently receiving speech therapy as well as occupational therapy. For those of you who don’t know, here is a synopsis of his journey until now:

We began noticing Vincent’s speech challenges earlier this year when his brother began talking more and more. To me, it was a personality thing – Vincent was a quiet boy who enjoys playing by himself. We also noticed that when Vincent played with his cousins, he couldn’t communicate with them well. This all gave us a point of reference regarding how he should be communicating. Most of his sentences were 1-2 words long, he would babble a lot, not respond to our questions and would have sudden tantrum outbursts without being able to tell us what the cause of his frustrations were. He was also often distracted and restless, it was difficult getting him to complete almost any task.

Vincent’s time in hospital wasn’t easy but we are thankful for unblocked ears!

My family encouraged us to take him for a speech therapy assessment and we soon got an appointment with the Speech and Language Pathology department at the University of Pretoria.  The assessment revealed that Vincent had a significant wax blockage in both ears, and that he would need both speech and occupational therapy. After a visit to the ear, nose and throat specialist it became clear that Vincent would need to be put under a general anaesthetic to remove the wax thoroughly. After doing this and going for a hearing test, we found the procedure to be a success. We also made an appointment with an occupational therapist. This assessment proved to be one of the most helpful of them all. Serna Smit, an occupational therapist in Moreleta Park, explained to us that Vincent has a high sensory threshold. This means that he needs a high amount of sensory input before he can focus on anything. The communication between his senses, his brain, and his muscles and joints (the term for this is proprioception – fancy right?) need to be exercised and developed so that he can understand what to do, prioritize what to do and do it through to completion. This also will affect his speech, helping him to finish his sentences and verbalise his thoughts constructively.

 

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I can gladly say that after 5 weeks of speech therapy and 3 weeks of occupational therapy, we are already seeing a difference in our boy. The differences are small but we as parents feel so empowered by the tools given to us and seeing the fruit of those efforts is encouraging.  Here are some steps given to us by the speech and occupational therapy:

Speech Therapy: The acronym OWL is key. O is for observe – taking the time to watch Vincent for opportunities of communication (like him looking up at the fridge at the jar of sweets). W is for wait – show him with your body posture that you’re waiting in anticipation for him to ask you what he wants. L is for Listen – actively listen to him, letting him know that his attempts to communicate are validated by us being excited that he wants to talk to us, a part of listening is to also give him a word or two as a nudge forward, for example “Vincent, say ‘Sweets please Mamma’” and when he says it I respond with praise and excitement.

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Occupational therapy: To have constructive play time that has a beginning an end. Like picking up only the red blocks with tongs and dropping them into a basket until there aren’t any left. When he gets bored or distracted I gently redirect him to focus on finishing the task rather than moving onto another toy. Activities such as “ring-around-a-rosie” (falling onto the ground and getting up again), playing on grass, feeling the sand, riding his bike barefoot – all those activities are actually helping him do things like building puzzles, completing chores and even using more 3-word sentences rather than 2 words!

Dear ministry partners, please continue to pray for our beautiful boy, that he will flourish and that we as his first teachers won’t grow weary of learning and practising with diligence.  Pray for our selection of the right school for him next year and that God will continue to provide for the cost of Vincent’s therapies.

With love,

 

Pravani

 

 

October Ministry Highlights

This month of October has passed by so quickly and for good reason, we have been busy. Here are a few ministry highlights:

On Sunday 21 October we hosted a Digital Outreach at N.G. Moreleta church in conjunction with their outreach day. We only had a handful of people, but we made the most of it. My co-worker, Fanie, gave training on an app called Voke to start a conversation with people you know, may it be cellphone contacts or Facebook friends, by sharing a video and asking a few key questions. After they sent out a few messages, I then helped them take the conversation further. I introduced them to our online training and encouraged them to sign up to get trained at their own pace.

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Another highlight was our Strategic Planning we did from 23-25 October. Over the past few years we couldn’t plan further than a year, because we didn’t know how our ministry would look after that year. This year we were able to make a 5-year plan due to our ministry platform that is in place. Of course, we also needed a 1-year plan with more specific action points. There were passionate conversations, practical input and clear goals that we want to reach. Doing all this next to Bronkhorstspruit Dam created an awesome atmosphere to become quiet and break away from our normal day to day rush.

The last highlight I want to mention is our ministry platform – courses.knowinggod.co.za. Over the last 3 weeks we have started to see people signing up for our courses. I have a few from South Africa, one from Zimbabwe and one from Kenya. The part I am enjoying the most is reading other people’s perspectives and seeing God’s wisdom coming through. Being an e-coach is a high learning curve. The hard part is not to think you know better, but always be willing to ask a question to help you understand them better.

Thank you for your prayers. I have recently started using Whatsapp broadcast to give quick ministry updates and ask for prayer. Your responses have been so encouraging, thank you. If you have not received any Whatsapp message from me, please send me a message via Whatsapp or email, and I will add you on.

Blessings,

Nicholas

KnowingGod Launch

Since my trip to Poland last year we have been preparing our online ministry platform for the launch phase. Last Friday evening, this finally became a reality. We hosted an official event to introduce our platform to churches, mission organisations and possible investors.

The Digital Strategies team with Arjo

This launch was a night of celebration – seeing the full picture of what God has done. Since I joined the Digital Strategy team 4 years ago, my question was – “how do we do evangelism and discipleship online?” We tested a variety of tools, but none of them provided everything we needed in one place.

My team leader, Johan Myburgh, introduced us to Jesus.net. Their dream is as follows:

Imagine a world with every single person having free access to the gospel, knowing God, growing in Jesus and sharing faith easily.

This is what we want. On my trip to Poland I saw the results of their work. After getting back to South Africa, I signed up for their training and worked through it over an 8-month period and got this training in place for our platform. My colleague Fanie van Graan handled the setup and structure of the platform.

At the event itself, our international Jesus.net coach from Holland, Arjo de Vroome, shared about the 15-year history and the current impact of Jesus.net worldwide while Johan shared our national vision – the current and potential impact of Jesus.net in South Africa.

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Arjo also challenged the attendees to join in the success of this vision by investing their time, talents and finances. If you want to know more about the challenge or the platform, please email me and we can talk about it.

My next steps are as follows:

  • Engage with people signing up for our courses.
  • Train and equip people who want to become e-coaches.
  • Create material to cast vision about this ministry.

If you want to visit our sites, they are

https://knowinggod.co.za/ – there are daily devotionals posted and articles to read through

https://courses.knowinggod.co.za – you will need to create an account and sign up for courses to work through the material.

We are very excited and are looking forward to share with you the effectiveness of this online tool.

Please pray that we can train up enough e-coaches and that we will engage people on an emotional and intellectual level.

Thank you,

Nicholas

 

Going Potty

It’s been a busy but blessed season at the Kelderman household. Our little big boy Kiran who turned two in May is now potty training and he is very proud of himself,  especially when he’s allowed to flush! If you had told me 5 years ago that I would be excited about bowel movements I would’ve laughed at you, but these are now part of the fun conversations I get to have with my family.

Our first-born, Vincent, who turned 4 in April is full of fun, joy and curiosity. As some of you may know, we have had challenges with his delay in speech. This past week I was finally able to take him for a speech therapy assessment at the University of Pretoria (pic right). It was fascinating to learn so many things aboDSC_0001ut my boy. I got to understand that his love for sensory stimulation, music and numbers are great tools we can use to build his language development. The feedback I got from the assessment helped me understand that we need to work on a few things: his hearing, his language development and the way he deals with the sensory overload that his body and mind experiences. We are currently tackling the hearing issue by gradually removing a wax build-up using eardrops and will soon send him for regular speech and occupational therapy. We are grateful to God and look forward to watching Him use our precious, friendly Vincent for His glory.

 

In the meantime, I’ve been trying a few exercises at home just to help him slow down, davprocess information and articulate what he understands. It’s been rocky here and there (especially because Kiran wants to do his Godzilla impersonation on every project we attempt!) but we are having fun and making progress. In the picture on the left, Vincent is selecting pegs of the same color, naming them and pegging them onto a cardboard. This activity helps with focus and fine motor skills.

 

Vincent, Kiran and I attend a mommy group once a week. Here the mommies get to give each other support, encouragement, advice and prayer and the kids get to play outside and make friends. Kiran’s closest friend is a beautiful blonde with a fbtshy sweet smile, her name is Sarah and they’re two weeks apart. Sarah’s mom, Beth, is a close friend of mine and she leads our mommy group time. I’ve found this group to be a lifeline, steam-valve release, “I’m not crazy”, we’re-all-in-this-together circle of friends here in Pretoria. Honestly, I don’t believe anyone should do parenting on their own, especially us as moms who often take on more than we can handle.

Amid all the laughter, tears, chaos and mess, I’m immensely grateful for  this season when I can have my boys all to myself and have a front-row seat on their growth journey, even spiritually. Vincent and Kiran have both started saying grace at the table lately and it’s been precious to watch them pray with their tiny hands clasped together. I am learning from them – to trust, to laugh and to release all that I feel to our Father.

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E-coach training – It is done

Good day Ministry Partners,

Since my trip to Poland I have been engaged in the training they present to become an E-coach. With a feeling of accomplishment, I can share that this week I have completed their training. As I go through the process of becoming an e-coach I’m processing what I could use when training South African E-coaches. I have chosen my lessons and now we are working at exporting those to our platform and contextualising it to South African English.

The Campus Crusade for Christ Digital Strategies team (myself included) are working hard to get our platform ready for our launch in mid-September. The basics are already in place, we just need to add a few more modules for variety. A big part of the launch is also a fundraiser. If you are interested in attending this event, please send me an email/Whatsapp.

My next steps are to work through modules with the team at Jesus.net in Holland. They created the platform and have been running this ministry for 10 years. They have more modules and practical experience and I look forward to bounce ideas off them to improve the tools that we are using.

Please pray that all our logistics will fall in place for the launch & fundraiser and that the right people will be attending this event.

Thank you for your time and prayers.

Nicholas

Cross Cultural Sharpening

Every year our organisation comes together to get trained and equipped to be better at the work we are called to. This year is no different. We came together last week for a 5-day course called “The Lenses Institute – See. Understand. Act.” The purpose of the course was to improve our cross-cultural interaction and the key scripture verses used were John 17:20-23. Most of our focus was in-house, but the application of what we learned can be used everywhere. I will share a few of my “ah-ha” moments or highlights with you in this update.

One of the biggest foundational topics was how Scripture has been misused to create a perspective that some people are worth more than others. From that point we often see 2 main groups that are formed – the one with authority and power (group A) and the other group that gets oppressed (group B). Both groups will read the same scripture but because of the lenses that they look through they get a different message out of it. There are however places where both perspectives share commonalities. The question in my heart is, “Am I going to insist that my perspective is the only right one and judge others who don’t share that or will I take the initiative to have the conversation and learn from other’s perspectives and even discover our commonalities?

The second nugget of value from this week was hearing the testimonies of my colleagues. From the older missionaries that worked for CCC during apartheid to the new missionaries struggling to work past white privilege. I know I used some disliked words or phrases, but we are all struggling with it on one level or the other. Because of our history and upbringing, we each have preconceived ideas. After hearing stories of each one’s personal struggles – from growing up to joining missions to being a missionary on staff with CCC, I realized that we are so focused on our own challenges in the mission field, that we sometimes miss what is happening to our brothers and sisters in Christ working right alongside us. We need to support each other and pray for one another, but if I don’t know your story and if I don’t have relationship with you, how will I know? One of the other points that came out of group discussions was that people aren’t always looking for an apology for what happened in the past, but an acknowledgement that their stories have been heard now – “Can I tell you my story and will you hear me without judgement?”

The third nugget that opened my eyes was creating my life map. A life map is a physical depiction of my life journey from the perspective of my cultural experience. The picture I’ve included shows a few helpful questions to guide a person through the creation of his/her life map. The process opened my eyes to see how God prepared me to be in a cross-cultural marriage (if you didn’t know, Pravani and I are in a cross-cultural marriage). If you want to know more about my story, I would love to share it with you face to face.

Mid-way through our course our facilitators asked what challenges we see in CCC and told us to write it down on post-it notes. They then identified 2 main challenges, broke us up into groups of eight got us to work on creative solutions. The 2 challenges we worked on were “How do we help our non-white staff raise financial support?” and “How do we create unity in an independent work culture?”  All the groups came up with their best solutions and shared it in the bigger group. My hope is that we will practically see it through and improve on our mistakes.

At the end of the week, we each created our personally summary of the week using the following points: 1. Sharing who we were before the training 2. What we learnt 3. What will we be implementing. Here is what I wrote:

I am in a cross-cultural marriage with low to very little conflict based on culture. What I have learnt over the past week is that I am ignorant of the history of my and other cultures in South Africa. The level of relationships I have in CCC are mostly superficial and I need build deeper to understand the perspectives of my colleagues, but I am grateful for the relationships that I do have. Moving forward I what to take these simple steps:

  • Engage more with colleagues- to hear their story and to seek to understand more than being understood
  • Study the Bible with a person from a different outlook on life.
  • To be a brother in Christ that can help opposing parties to see each other’s perspective and learn from it.

My last thought is to say thank you to the USA staff that came here to help us as an organisation and individuals to grow. The amount of work and prayer they put in was humbling. They adjusted the program daily to address felt needs and to be faithful to what God laid on their hearts. Thank you for showing us how to See, Understand and Act.

If you reached this point, thank you. I know that this is a long update, I have so much more on my heart but I work better through conversation. So please send me a message with questions and let’s build on getting to know each other better. I would even encourage you to use the Life Map tool amongst your small groups at church or work colleagues. If you do so, please send me some feedback on how it went!

Have a blessed day,

Nicholas