Merry Christmas from the Bell Bunch!

Greetings Friends and Family,

We hope you had a wonderful holiday season and a merry Christmas celebrating the faithfulness of our Lord in the sending of our Saviour. Our first Christmas in South Africa was very different, but definitely in a good way, as we adjusted to celebrating with our “adopted” family and culture here. Unlike the States, Christmas decorations are not overdone. You could drive a few miles without realizing it was the Christmas season with the absence of lit up houses, Rudolph noses and antlers on cars and of course, no snow. It is summer here so we got to trade in our hats and gloves for our swimming suits! Aside from all the “extras” Christmas brings, it was a much slower pace here and quite a switch from what we are used to. Though we missed being with friends and family from the States over this season we didn’t have to rush all over town, stressing about times and gifts and just got to be still. Well, as still as you can be with three toddlers!! But we had a wonderful Christmas Eve candlelight service with about 300 people praising God for sending baby Jesus to be the Saviour of the world. Then we were invited to a special Christmas Eve dinner with some friends who feel like family. They had a whole evening planned with a 4-course meal and shared with us what a “typical” South African Christmas might look like for most. Christmas Day was a quiet morning with our little family and then we had some friends from Nigeria and Zimbabwe, join us for lunch. We don’t have family close and they don’t have family close so why not celebrate together! We look forward to creating new traditions here. 

Our Carols by Candlelight Christmas Eve service at Mountain View, Somerset West

Here are a some more highlights from the past few weeks before we send out an end of year blog listing God’s faithfulness over the course of 10 months. 

  • In November, we opened Summit Coffee Culture inside Mountain View Baptist Church, Somerset West. We heard it would be a slow season especially since school was ending and the holiday season beginning so we didn’t do much to advertise. It was a “soft open” so we could work out the loose ends before our grand opening events in early 2020. We will share more about the coffee shop later but we have already seen several families at our Sunday worship gathering and others participate in other ministries because of this opportunity. Praise the Lord.
  • Schooling here is done very different than what we are used to. Nothing is free and we were told “you basically have to register them when you’re pregnant so you can get them in a decent school.” So we are a little behind, haha. We did some research, school visits, asked many questions and talked to some friends who are in the education system for advise and suggestions. Our community has a school just minutes from us and we plan to start the kids there after the holiday break, Lord willing. Lennon will be 5 next year so he will start pre-kindergarten and Lola will be 4 so she will be in group 4 class. I guess this is also a prayer request because we didn’t know the urgency of getting our children registered for school. Not only do we not have the funds for school (it may be several hundred dollars a month per child), they will need to get student visas and we don’t know what kind of process that will be. So be praying for the Lord’s provision and a quick visa processing because school starts mid January. 
  • After wrapping up Survey of the New Testament in Term 3, Nate taught Survey of Christian Doctrine in the Ministry Training Centre for the fourth term. They are on holiday break now and he will begin teaching Christian Discipline for the first term of the second year of the program. Please continue to pray for this special ministry. It’s one of Nate’s favorites!
  • Over the Thanksgiving holiday we had my (Lauren) family visiting and got to treat them to a South African themed Thanksgiving meal- complete with chicken and ostrich cooked on the braai. No turkey here, but our visitors brought cranberries, canned pumpkin for pumpkin pie, and Nestle chocolate chips, YUM! Even though it was a short visit, we got to show my parents, brother, sister-in-law, niece, and grandparents some of our favorite spots and the beauty of this country. It was very special to show them our new life here and walk the steps of ministry we walk daily. Also very excited to do the same with Nate’s parents who are visiting end of January!
  • Both of the Mountain View churches in Somerset West and Hermanus have been going through the same teaching series called, Anticipation, for the month of December. Nate has been privileged to preach at each church this month and preach once more this upcoming Sunday in Somerset West. Please remember him in prayer, that he may speak clearly the word of God and His gospel of grace in Jesus Christ.
Lauren’s family atop Table Mountain

Again, we hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and wish you a happy new year. God is so good. We are so overwhelmed with the love and support from our partners and friends. Just recently we had a few friends (who we don’t talk to often) say how they pray for us often. It’s always encouraging and we sometimes stand in awe of people whom God laid on their hearts to help and pray for us. This God we serve, is the only One that can change hearts to love and commit their lives to Himself. AMEN!

Expect a reflection of God’s faithfulness and a more detailed (and lengthy) ministry update next week!

Love to you all!

Lauren, Nate, Lennon, Lola and Henry!