Our Christmas wishes to you

May you have the gladness of Christmas, which is hope;
The spirit of Christmas, which is peace;
The heart of Christmas, which is love.

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There’s more, much more, to Christmas than candlelight and cheer;
It’s the spirit of sweet friendship that brightens all the year.

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Those dirty shepherds

One of my favorite pictures as a child was of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, as He carried a little lamb in one arm and His staff in the other.

Perhaps our image of shepherds and their sheep has been formed from some of the most famous, godly shepherds in the Bible, ones like Abel, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, King David, and our Good Shepherd, Jesus.

But that picture hides a less-known fact about Christmas.

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How to survive the rest of the year

By Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Talk happiness.

The world is sad enough

Without your woes. No path is wholly rough;

Look for the places that are smooth and clear,

And speak of those, to rest the weary ear

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Just one life

Do you ever ask yourself, “What can I do that will change this world for the better? How can I make a positive impact on others? What meaning can my life have in the context of the world and mankind? For my life to actually matter, do I have to do something truly earthshaking? How much difference can one life make in a world of billions?”

Here’s an account of one man’s life which began in obscurity, was lived without power or popularity as man measures it, and was terminated ignominiously.

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Preschool teacher training

By Talitha

Here is a little update on how the preschool teacher training workshops have been going. A big thank you to those who support this project, who make it all possible. We deeply appreciate it.

I just completed training for the first group of 20 principals and practitioners. We covered each of   tBusi- Group 1-600he six development areas in detail throughout the three full day workshops. In addition I touched on needed key skills such as lesson planning, creating a stimulating crèche environment and assessment. The short 15-20 minute section on brain development seems to help to make things click and provide motivation for everyone.

We started with social and emotional development, moved on to language development and Groupwork 2-600communication and ended with physical and cognitive development. This helped attendees to walk away with a much better understanding of why children behave like they do and what the root causes of different behaviours are in development. It is easy to get irritated and annoyed with some behaviours that occur especially when caring for large groups of children. Some behaviour is linked to phases and stages in development. Gaining a greater understanding can help us to have more patience and provide the guidance for children keeping their needs in mind.

I had prepared a list of different activities, teaching aids and toys that provide stimulation and      growGroupwork 3-600th in each of the development areas. Most teaching aids were made from waste and recycle materials. This showed that implementation does not always have to be expensive.

Often we don’t realize that there are steps that we can take to change things. We hope for our circumstances to change so we can move forward instead of doing what we can.

The foundation for future learning is laid in the early years. So much lies in our hands. Understanding the power that lies in our hands is sobering and should motivate us. We are the ones to encourage brain development by providing lots of action, activities and stimulation through the senses.

Here are some comments and reactions:

I am grateful that I attended the course because it opened my eyes and taught me to be more creative and not just sit there doing nothing. I did not know the things about the brain before.  – Sellina

The things were good and understandable because you showed some videos and activities on how it is done. – Christina

The course was very good for me. I’ve learned a lot about how to react and respond to babies and how to teach and approach them. I am very grateful because I learned a lot of new things. – Emily

I saw I can improvise if I don’t have toys. I learned more about how to handle children. – Anastacia

I would like to thank you for the information. For me everything was difficult but now I have a clue and a better understanding. – Thandi

All the information that I received is relevant and will be useful to me at my centre. – S’bongile

Much to everyone’s delight we held a raffle at each of the workshops. The top winners each got a children’s table with chairs for their classroom and crèche. Even though these were second-hand items, they were in much demand. Seeing how desperately each practitioner wanted to be the one to win showed how in townships often even the most basic resources are lacking. We are praying about what we can do in the future to fill not only the needs for training but also the needs for resources. I will likely plan on holding a workshop on making simple toys and preparing teaching aids in the coming year.

If you are interested and want to donate to this projet to make a difference, we can use your help. Sponsorship covers …

  • Workshop expenses, such as cost for the printing of hand-outs and refreshments
  • Printing cost of a 250 page teacher’s guide containing weekly lesson plans with songs, action poems and rhymes and learning activities for the different development areas.

Resource material we would like to donate or subsudize cost for:

  • 21 sets of picture/word flashcards suitable for use in a classroom setting
  • a CD with 40 children’s songs for teachers to learn and use in the classroom
  • 40 Christian and character building value posters with a memory scripture and short story

Any support will go a long way.

Are you like a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

By Talitha

The difficulties that we find ourselves in in life can be compared to hot water. No one seems to escaIMG_0333-600pe. But what is your response to difficulties? Are you like a carrot which goes in hard and comes out all soft? Or, are you like the egg that goes in soft inside and comes out all hard? Or, are you like the coffee bean? Hot water does not change the coffee powder. The coffee powder changes the water! Likewise we should not let adversity affect us, make us weak or turn our hearts hard. We should make something good from the difficulties we face. We should be like the coffee bean.

This ending to our two workshop afternoons for 30 Highschool teachers of a Cosmo City school got everyone thinking and laughing all at the same time.

Working together with Natalie from Change the World Trust, we covered the topic IMG_0184-600of classroom control and discipline. We had done this workshop for Primary School teachers before and found that many of the same principles stand even when learners are older. In fact, we all need rules and standards to abide by. We all don’t take rules serious unless there are consequences attached to them.  It is easier for us all when expectations are clearly defined. Within boundaries children are then able to unfold and experience freedom and learn and grow.

SteppIMG_0310-600ing back, seeing where the problem lies and assessing the situation is so often overlooked when facing difficulties. But without this very important step it is diffult to find workable, effective solutions. Many times we find ourselves so close to the trees that we cannot see the forest anymore. We get so close to the problems that we cannot see a way out or through. This is what we tried to help educators do.

We shared techniques for keeping control in the classroom that educators, psychologists and counsellors worldwide found effective in the classroom situation. They were well received by educators. It took many months of research to glean these tried and proven solutions from various sources.

What the educators had to say:

It was a very informative workshop. Especially for me as a young teacher. Even though part of me had lost hope, I now believe that it’s not too late to change or start over and be a Great Teacher to my learners. – Phumelele

The workshop was an eye opener to me. It has equipped me with skills and different techniques of handling misbehaviour and ill-discipline in class. Thank you so much, please keep coming to do workshops for us. – Nyakuna

The workshop was interesting and revived my zeal to get ahead amid the challenges I encounter in my everyday life. – Mathabi

I think workshops like these are needed to boost teacher’s moral. It was encouraging. – Portia

This presentation was very helpful. It helped me to know how to discipline my learners and how to make rules for my learners. – Francis

I enjoyed everything and especially how to avoid attacking learners and keeping it cool. It’s not easy, but I will try because, after all, they are learners who need our guidance. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. – Mawanda

Slow to speak

The importance of developing our listening ability is directly affirmed by James, a man who knew Jesus intimately: “Let every man be quick to hear, slow to speak.” The two terse commands contained in the beginning of this verse fit nicely together. When we take time to listen responsively—and avoid the error of answering with authoritative pronouncements—the messages given back to us by our children are far less likely to be obnoxiously defensive. This, in turn, reduces the tension and may well help us avoid angry exchanges.—Dr. Bob Pedrick

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How would you feel if someone who was [in a position of authority over you] got angry and screamed at you?

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Teacher Training continued

by Talitha

We would like to share with you a little update on our workshop project.
On the 13th of June Teacher's giftswe started the Early Childhood Development workshops I have been preparing for the first group of caregivers. Building on and expanding the early learning topics I taught on last year in Orange Farm, this program consists of 3 full day workshops. It covers all the key areas of early childhood development: social and emotional development, language development and communication, and physical and cognitive development.
18 principals and practitioners were able to participate and benefit from the first training session. A second group is scheduled to begin at the end of July and work on taking a third group trough the training is underway.
I was able to adapt my presentation and training material to bring it in line with the some resources the Education Department will be publishing shortly. Though this took time and effort, I believe it was well spent and an important step. Working and pulling together and teamworking is so much more effective in the long run.
Our first workshop topic was social and emotional development. Basic knowledge on how children develop in this area and what DSCF2010-600can be expected from them is quite key to understanding young children, their behaviour and emotions. This topic served as a wonderful spring board on highlighting the importance of showing love and affection and taking time with children in one-on- one conversation. Sometimes the tendency is to overrate toys and equipment. It goes forgotten that the day to day interaction with a child is what has a big impact on child development. It is the relationships we build with a child that go a long way in nurturing the self-esteem and self-confidence that will give the child the resilience needed when facing the obstacles that come with life. The foundation for good social and emotional skills is laid in the early years and can help a child deal with the often adverse circumstances they find themselves in nowadays.
Understanding tDSCF1991-600hese key points helps practitioners meet the needs that children have and gives them the tools to offer the needed support so little ones, particularly in  townships, get a better start in life. Research has shown that it is far better to get things right from the beginning then to try to fix things or intervene in a child’s life at a later point in time.
Because children learn through imitating behaviour they see, we talked about being role-models and taking the God-given responsibilities of showing love, care and respect to children seriously. We ended with a prayer for an infilling of God’s Love which was well received.
In each of the workshops I am including a short section on brain development in early childhood. It is very envisioning to understand what potential God has put in each child. No matter of which race or on which continent a baby is born, God is no respecter of persons. He has a plan and purpose for each to fulfil. Understanding what happens in the brain when children do various activities is very motivating for teachers. When they understand that they can influence brain growth and development, they see that a lot is up to them to effect the change they desire. TheiDSCF1960-600r efforts make a difference.
I find caregivers to be very eager to learn. Many realize (or come to realize) the vital roles that they play in children’s lives and in their communities. They would love to do so much more for children, but most have no training and little to work with. There are many obstacles to overcome.
We are so grateful for the support and sponsorship which goes towards this projects. It’s empowering Family Care Ministries to make a difference in people’s lives through this teacher training project. There is so much more that can be done to help these precious people who sincerely desire a better future for the children in their communities but it is aDSCF2020-600 good start.  I have prepared along with the workshop training materials two teacher manuals. They consist of teaching plans, learning games and activities covering 40 weeks of teaching for children age 0-3 years old. Each manual also includes a section with health, safety, nutrition and care tips. The activities described don’t require expensive materials but make use of house hold items and even waste materials. We are printing free copies for each attendee (a total of 430 pages for each).
We had received some second hand items that we used for a raffle. The proud winners were so happy to receive a rocking horse and a sandpit/wading pool. Everyone else still smiled when they received a consolation price of a ruler and snack.

God’s Word works wonders

The following responses were written by inmates who participate in the course we offer at a Limpopo correctional center.

Many good things come to my life in very surprising ways. I had lots of resentment in my life whereby I always had worries about the world problems. But after I received the word of God and reading it every time, I started to have comfort and learned to forgive everyone I have resented in life. The Word of God is doing many things in my life. – Tshepo

My life has radically been transformed through the word of God. I had this struggle of mind but I have learned to fight the darkness I have by allowing the light to come in. Through meditating and putting the word in practice I changed my way of thinking and acting. – Rodney

God has taken away all doubt and worries which used to dominate my life. I no longer worry about carnal things, but focus on God. God’s word has brought me happiness and joy. Before I used to be a loner and I was always sad and depressed thinking God didn’t love. – Nkanyiso

I have found peace within myself whereas in the past I was a very bitter man, a sinner and carnal minded person but after studying the word and starting to meditate a lot of things have changed within me. Although I’m still struggling with others but with God’s Word I will conquer all. Jesus changed my life for as a sinner I was already dead but Christ saved me and took away all my sins. They became His burden therefore that alone shows how much love He has for me. Even my biological parents can’t take my sins and make them their own or die for my sins. – Tankiso

I know how to live with other people and to forgive one another. Even now, I know God is there. God loves us more than anything that is here in the world. So that is what I learned I about God. I will never turn back. I am a son of God. – Bongani

I have changed my life. I have changed my attitude. I am now willing to work on positive things only and avoid the problems in my life because God said, “everything is possible for those who believe.” Aderto

I have learned to practice and memorize God’s Word daily. I go to a quiet place and have moments with God and learned to pray and wait for an answer. – Devine

When I feel troubled, whatever bad things are trying to tempt me to do wrong, I just take it to God in prayer. A lot of things changed. Even my family tells me that I’m different than before. I can see wrong from right. There is a bright future for me and I have a good successful future plan by giving my problems to Jesus. – Reginald

Since I realized God’s Words everything changed for the better. For me accepting God’s words brings joy to my whole entire life and happiness. I know now how to communicate without anger and with Him I am happy. – Bongani

Top Five Regrets of the Dying

As every year begins, millions of people go about the task of creating lists of resolutions. As every year ends, millions of people forget the resolutions they’d listed 12 months ago. As every year progresses, thousands of people write about New Year’s resolutions, with counsel ranging from how futile resolutions are to how to make them come true. For some, resolutions are a powerful motivator; for others, just a fad or a conversation starter for the first week at work. And yet for all that’s been written and for all that’s been said and done, the New Year still holds a magical meaning, and it’s a compelling time to stop and evaluate one’s life.

By Bronnie Ware

For many years I worked in palliative care. My patients were those who had gone home to die. Some incredibly special times were shared.

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Family Care Ministries is registered as a Non-profit Organization in terms of the Non-profit Organization Act, 1998     Number: 007-316