April Update and Announcement!

Greetings from the Erdman Family! I have decided to accept that this is a space that will only be updated occasionally. Now that we have the newsletter to report about our work, this blog feels a bit obsolete. However, I do want to keep you all up-to-date on our family. I do a great deal of writing every week for our social media and newsletters (If you are not receiving those, please email me). If you add the work I do for teaching, it feels like I spend a billion hours staring at a screen. Unfortunately that means that the personal updates get pushed way down to the bottom of my to-do list. However, this week Camille and I are back to doing online school, waiting out the mandatory 10 day quarantine after a couple of teachers tested positive for covid. Teaching school online means I have a few extra hours of freetime, so I thought I would update you on our family. 

Camille and Tabitha are thriving. There is no amount of words to express my thankfulness about this. both of them are transforming daily into lovely, spirited, smart, strong, adventurous, funny, interesting young women. I would take age 11 over age 1 any day! Just wait until you re-meet them this summer (note about this: Camille and Tabitha have both expressed anxiety about going back to the States and not remembering anyone.  Please be gentle with them. The WORST question you can ask is, “do you remember me?” Please just assume they don’t and re-introduce yourself. Thanks!)

They are both flourishing in school, both academically and socially. Camille is still a voracious reader. She loves to write poetry and has a gift for working with young kids. Tabitha is into all things active. She probably does 1,000 cartwheels per day. She is excellent at math and art. They have both been able to plug into an awesome friend group, which has been a gigantic blessing. I am not looking forward to trying to find them clothes when we come to the States! We were still shopping in the kid’s section of Target last time, so I might need some help from you mamas of teenage girls. 

Matt has been working so hard over the past few months to expand the programs of Family First in response to the huge need in the community for our particular type of ministry. For a long time we have struggled to find our individual roles after my transition into teaching part-time (I would call it ¾ time! Teaching is such hard work). I finally think that we have gotten our footing in this area. The shift came when we promoted our social worker into a full-time position and hired a director of adult outreach. These two ladies share our vision and work tirelessly to make Family First amazing. We have also hired two new teachers, one of whom is an additional translator for our Congolese families. 

With Matt’s vision and leadership, Family First is thriving. He has been in the trenches every day making sure that we are staying true to our mission of equipping vulnerable families to break the cycle of poverty and dependency. After months of preparation, Family First enrolled 11 new families into our expanded year-long program. The parents will be working through our adult outreach while their kids receive free schooling to prepare them for a bright future. Our vision is to have 4 groups of 10-12 families work through the program every year. That is at least 40 families per year! I am supposed to be telling you about Matt, but it is hard not to talk about Family First. I am just so proud and excited about our direction and Matt’s role in this! 

Even with all the excitement about Family First, the stress that has come alongside the work has taken a toll on both Matt and I. We are thrilled at where we are and where we are going, but honestly, we are also weary. Could you pray that God would sustain us? We are so ready for a break back in the States. 

Speaking of… now is a good time to announce that we are coming to the States! We are planning to be in Texas for the first month or so and South Dakota for the last month or so. We are still finalizing the dates. We would love to see you. I will be writing soon about our goals for speaking engagements, but for now please keep these dates in mind. We NEED to be encouraged by you. It has almost been three years since we have been surrounded by loved ones and we are feeling that in our very souls. Please make plans to see us, because we want to see you! 

As for me, I am so ready for the summer break from teaching. I have enjoyed it more than I thought I would. I LOVE working with middle schoolers and sharing my passion for science, but this year needs to take a hike. Seriously, online, in-person, online, in-person… The kids are done, the teachers are done, the parents are done. It is time to hit the reset button!  Have I mentioned that we are weary!? We are so very hopeful about our life in Kampala. We just need a vacation and some time with friends and family to fill us up!

As the social worker and head of adult outreach have settled into their positions, my role at Family First has changed. I am able to spend one full day per week at the center. My main focus is staff support and social media/communication. I am passionate about our work, I love bringing you updates, sharing what we are doing, and making sure that we continue raising the funds we need to continue. However, I have grieved the change. I feel confident that God has put me in this teaching position to make us sustainable in Kampala.

The girls’ daily joy of going to school makes it worth the effort. My teaching makes it possible for them to go to Acacia, which makes it possible for us to stay in Kampala. Staying in Kampala makes it possible for Family First to grow and thrive. So I teach and I update and I am thankful. This year has been full of surprises, some good and some hard, but I think our overall feeling is one of hope and optimism as we move forward. Thank you for your continued support and encouragement. We are blessed by you and cannot wait to see you soon! 

Prayer Requests:

  1. That our family is gets through the next few months strong and healthy. We are weary and ready for a trip to the States.
  2. That the programs at Family First would be successful and that the participants would ‘buy in’ to what we are doing, especially with the counseling and character development aspects.
  3. That the Family First team would grow in understanding of the mission and continue to gel as a team.
  4. That God will open doors in the States for speaking engagements, and gaining partners and supporters for Family First.
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Maxine Huddleston
04/23/2021 at 9:20 am

I’m so grateful that your work is thriving and that both you and Matt are finding it rewarding. I’m especially happy to hear of the girls accomplishments snd that they have good friends and are happy there. May God bless you until we meet this summer.

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