I have just checked our last blog entry and have realised that we haven’t given any update on the situation with Eli, and because of such a busy end to the year we haven’t been in touch since the end of October! So this is a good opportunity to make a new year’s resolution to get back to our intended weekly blog entries. We first want to wish everyone a very happy New Year, and to take the opportunity again to thank you all for your faithful prayers both for us as a family and for those in MEFI.
Thank you especially for your prayers for Eli and her children Samuel and Edith. God has truly done amazing miracles in their lives and is continuing to transform this little family. The last time I wrote Eli was on the brink of being kicked out on to the street with her kids because she couldn’t pay her rent and was in a huge amount of debt. Please see previous blog for more details. We felt that God was prompting us to intervene in the situation and move Eli and her kids up to the northern end of the city to be closer to us and to a community of Christians who could help to support them. So after living in our home for just over a week we were able to move them in to a couple of rooms that a Christian lady rents out just near the Seminary building and near the church we are attending. This was the first amazing answer to prayer - that we were able to find somewhere affordable in such a short amount of time - and the land-lady is a Christian!
God then answered prayers by providing the money to be able to consolidate all Eli’s debts through generous supporters like yourselves. He provided for her to be able to pay the second month’s rent (MEFI paid for the first month and deposit), to set up home, buy food, and to save up some money. Then the next answer to prayer was that Samuel was given a place in the local government school, despite it being officially full with no vacancies! This really helped Samuel to settle quickly, especially as he already had made friends with one of the boys who goes to the same school - called Charly. Charly’s mum is Lorena (pictured on the right of Eli in the photo above) who used to be Steve’s PA and has become a good friend of ours.
God also brought about an emotional reconciliation between Eli and Samuel. Samuel hadn’t been speaking to Eli for a number of weeks as he was angry with her for taking him out of school, and he was also struggling with how to cope with Eli’s emotional state. Alex and I were able to sit down with Samuel and Eli and talk openly with Samuel and at the end Samuel went up to Eli and the two embraced and asked for forgiveness. We were pretty much all in tears! The next answer to prayer was that God provided a Christian counsellor to help both Eli and Samuel with the huge issues that they are dealing with from their past (rape, abuse, neglect, rejection etc). When we explained the situation Eli and her family are in, the counsellor then offered to give the sessions for free!
We came up against a really difficult obstacle with Samuel’s previous school however. The previous school was a boarding school and supposedly a charitable foundation as well. Samuel had been there for several years and had only been coming home at week-ends to be with Eli and Edith. They were giving Eli a scholarship for her to be able to pay for Samuel’s schooling, and this had enabled her to work through the week and also ensured that Samuel had been getting 3 decent meals a day - whereas at home she would have struggled to be able to do that. The school however are very protective of their pupils and very closed and insular. They allow the parents very little input and take many decisions out of their hands. Eli hadn’t been happy with how controlling they had been for a while, but had not had any other option of where to send Samuel. The school had also sent Samuel to a psychologist who had fed lies to him about how Eli didn’t love him and had abandoned him in the school. When Eli found out about this and tried to stop taking Samuel, they had told her that if she stopped the sessions he would be kicked out of school. However, when Eli tried to transfer Samuel to the new school, the previous school refused to hand over the papers that Eli needed for the new school, and refused to ‘discharge’ him, which meant that they continued to try and charge Eli for his fees, despite him not being there. This was partly because they were prejudiced towards Eli because of her background.
Steve and I felt really angry about the injustice of the situation, and we tried to talk to the Director, but she was determined not to allow Samuel to leave, and gave a very condemning prediction of his future to Eli if he was to leave. We asked many to pray for a breakthrough when Eli went again all the way down to the south (it took her almost 5 hours to get there and almost 5 back!) The Director again put up lots of barriers in order to try and prevent Samuel from being discharged, even when Eli said she would have to get a lawyer involved as they were holding back papers that officially belonged to her. However, Eli decided to take Edith off to get something to eat, and on her return she saw a police car sitting outside the school. She was met by one of the teachers who looked all flustered and asked if Eli had called the police. Eli assured them that she hadn’t, but the Director had been so alarmed by seeing the police car that she had very quickly found all the paperwork (that they had denied having), and had given it to Eli and even apologised that they hadn’t got together all his other books that he had left there. Eli wasn’t about to wait around though, and left with what she had come for, thanking God for the ‘angel’ that He had sent in the form of a police man!
The next answer to prayer was that our friend Lorena had felt God leading her to support Eli and her family. She has formed a really good relationship with her and lives just round the corner, so she has been able to help Eli in a very practical sense, as well as in a spiritual and emotional sense. The land-lady had offered Eli the patch of pavement outside her house free of rent to set up a food-stall. There is a large coach station just next to the house which takes students back and forth to a college nearby. These bus drivers are often looking for breakfast and coffee as they work from very early in the morning. So Eli shared with Lorena the idea she had of setting up a food-stall, and Lorena said she felt God was prompting her to help to set it up. So they set about buying all the necessary food and equipment and have their official opening day on Monday - tomorrow! They will start early, and the good thing is they can take it in turns to collect their sons from school, and Edith can play in the apartment above and be close to where Eli is working..
Please please pray for Eli and Lorena. They are excited about this new opportunity God has given them, but nervous as well as it is very unpredictable how much they might earn and how much custom they may get. Eli needs the business to get off to a good start as she needs to be able to pay her rent and continue paying off the debt she has. Please also pray that Eli can get Edith (5 years) in to the same school as Samuel. This will benefit both Edith and Eli, but the school are saying there is no space in the Kindergarten at the moment.
Praise God for all He has done and is doing in the lives of Eli and her kids, we are excited to see how much more He is going to do. Please pray for me, Helen, as I begin to meet up with Eli to do some discipleship with her.