There seem to be a lot of important numbers floating around these days! Here are some significant numbers for the Floreen family…


There are 1,187 cases of covid-19 as of Sunday, March 29th. Only 1 death, and already 31 recovered. We are thankful that the cases here seem to mostly be mild, but we have watched the numbers climb consistently over the last week.


The government of SA has mandated a 21-day lockdown for the entire country. We can still get food and medicines, but no jogging or walking your dog or any such activities. We have heard that the military is out assisting local police in keeping people at home, but we have not been out ourselves since the lockdown began at midnight on Thursday.


While usually there are just 4 Floreens in our home, we now have 2 Smiths joining us for the lockdown! After multiple flight cancellations, my parents surrendered willingly to a little more time with the grandkids. They had planned to stay three weeks with us, but it looks like it will be at least 6 weeks now. We are enjoying this time with them, and before the stores closed we made sure Mom had a pile of yarn to knit into sweaters and Dad had enough sandpaper and sealant to refinish our sun porch table! So besides card games and board games and school and stories with the kids, we are keeping them plenty busy!

Not all of us are playing around as much as that last paragraph would imply. Matt and I are continuing to counsel via Skype and WhatsApp, and Matt will be preaching live from our living room for Antioch’s evening service tonight. He’s been especially busy with the other church staff setting up things on WhatsApp and the church website and YouTube pages to keep the believers of Antioch Bible Church connected and feasting on God’s Word. You can follow along with our services here: at the Antioch Bible Church website.


For fun and fitness, the number 34 is very significant for our family right now. We have decided that during this 21-day lockdown, we will be running a marathon. That’s 2km per day, totally 42.2 km by the end of lockdown. Since we can’t go outside our property, we can only run around our house – 34 times every day. That’s right, 34 laps around our house everyday. Dad is walking it, and the Floreens are all running it. Well, Naomi runs some and walks some with her Papa. 😊 Mom is our statistician, tallying our laps as we all go at different paces. It’s a bit of chaos, but we are all really enjoying it!

Untold Numbers

We are thankful for so many, many blessings we are enjoying these days: grandparents, consistently available food supplies, sweet times in the Word and prayer, and so many opportunities to love and care for others – albeit in new and digital ways! Thank you for your prayers for us during these strange days!

Malawi is Not That Far Away

I have to remind myself frequently that we still live in Africa. South Africa is so different from Malawi. Life is fast-paced, convenient, and full of a dizzying variety of options. Despite all that, every once in a while we are reminded of a simple and limited life in Malawi. Today I had two such reminders.

The power is going to be off this evening. This was a regular occurrence in Malawi, so we just shrug and life goes on without electricity. The power outages here are about 4.5 hours long, as opposed to anywhere from 2-25 hours long in Malawi. However, in Malawi, power outages were an expected part of life, so we had all kinds of back-up options to help us: solar power, an inverter, a generator… but here in South Africa we haven’t yet invested in a back-up option. As the frequency of power outages increases, we are talking more and more about what a good back-up would look like. We don’t mind the dark, and with outages of only 4-5 hours, the refrigerator is ok if we keep it closed the whole time. It’s the productivity that suffers. No power means limited computers, no printer, no internet, and – more concerning – no cell phone coverage or data. The cell towers don’t have adequate back-up, so when the power is off, all communications go down. In Malawi, even when the power went off, we still had phones and cellular data, so this is a new one for us. We have some ideas of how to solve for this, so stay tuned. Meanwhile, we are enjoy having more “technologically advanced” power outages. We have an app on our phones that tells us when the power will be off!

The green text tells us we don’t have load shedding (power outage) right now – which is why I can post this now – but just below that it tells me to expect the power to go off at 8pm. It’s nice to know!

The other reminder today of a simpler, more limited Africa was in the form of texting with a friend here in Joburg who has gone days without water, only to have it on a short time and then off again. We quickly learned in Malawi that as much as having the power off was inconvenient, having the water off is much, much worse. You need water to live. It’s also nice for taking showers, flushing toilets, and doing laundry. Thankfully, many families in the church have opened their homes to this friend and her family and have helped them through these days. What a blessing to share such a basic staple of life with those in need.

So with power outages and water outages, Malawi has been on my mind today. We miss it, but reminders like these today are sweet.

Please be praying for Malawi. They have had a rough few months since the last Presidential election in May 2019. And then Monday, this announcement:

I know many are relieved and hopeful at this outcome. The protests and riots are over. Please pray for Malawi in the coming days and weeks.

Butterfly Migration

We are not getting much official school accomplished today. We are a little distracted by the brown-veined white butterfly migration!

The butterflies are small, so I marked them on the pics, but it truly is a non-stop parade today! From what we have read, the butterflies start in Namibia in November and fly across South Africa through February, heading for Madagascar!

If you want to see more of this fascinating migration, there are some good videos online.

Homeschooling – Academics

For the girls and I, most days are filled with school. We have homeschooled from day 1, starting 6 years ago. Abigail is now in 4th grade…

And Naomi is loving Kindergarten.

We are following an American curriculum (primarily Sonlight, with Singapore math, and language arts from The Good and the Beautiful), and we also follow the American calendar. It’s not the curriculum that makes us odd here in South Africa: it’s the American school calendar. While we follow an August – May school year, South Africans begin their school year in January and end in November.

For now this works for us. We can work around furloughs and teams or family who come to stay with us, and we have a familiarity with this system and the school calendar. It has been a little complicated over the last couple months as the girls have been asked “What grade are you going into?” The girls graciously answer the question, and every time I am thankful that the girls are ok with being a little different as compared to everyone around them. They take the optimistic view and consider themselves to be 1/2 a year ahead of their peers! Hmmm, you can see the shepherding issue: a few conversations about humility and how different doesn’t always mean better, worse, ahead or behind. Sometimes it’s just different. With conversations like this to be had, school always goes beyond academics. That’s one of the things we love about homeschooling!

Settling Into Life – 6 Months in SA

It takes a bit of time to settle into life whenever you move to a new location. But with the start of this new year, it feels like we have settled. We have regular routines, we (usually) know what to expect, and we have a few favorites. I’m hoping to share some of those things with you in the coming weeks. Thanks for following along!

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Unexpected Pets

It was very hard to leave Simba and Samson, our two Great Danes, back in Malawi. Ever since then, we have been talking as a family about whether or not we will get another pet, and if so what kind? Bird? Fish?

And then one day I got a call from Matt while he was working at the church. The gardener at church had caught a mother and baby sparrow, and would we like to take them home and release them later? I confirmed that the baby could fly, and agreed to our first temporary pets. We only had them for about an hour, and then let them fly off. The baby was very docile, and a little confused when it ran into a glass door, so Abi held it for a little while.

Soon it was doing fine, and joined its mother in a nearby tree.

A few days later, Matt came home with another box, another temporary pet: a tiny, scared bunny, that was quickly named Charcoal and given a temporary home in a tall planter. Very temporary: in less than an hour Charcoal had escaped and hidden either under the low decking or under the wooden storage building in the yard. “Temporary” quickly became “we can’t catch her!”

And so: we now have a pet rabbit living in our back yard. We didn’t choose her, but I guess she chose us!

She eats leaves (like in this picture), but prefers red hibiscus flowers. She has been with us more than a week, and if we ever do catch her, I’m not sure if we would take her back to the church property or if we would keep her. I’m guessing she would stay! So much for temporary!

Week 1 in Our House

We are in!

There were a LOT of boxes!

And a lot of things to fix and rewire.

We took a few breaks along the way.

And we made some great progress – enough that we’ve been back to school for 3 days already!

Some parts of our house are looking better than others. These bookshelves look pretty impressive until you look closely and realize that the books are not sorted at all! That will come. Still lots of unboxing and sorting to do, but this place is starting to feel like home!

Container on the Move

Last we heard – Friday morning – our container was supposedly crossing the boarder into Zimbabwe (orange circle in the pic below). We are told to expect it at our new house sometime the middle of next week!

Container travel to Joburg

There’s still a lot of geography between our container and our home, but we are glad to hear it’s on the move!