00:22: Hello and welcome to Title Testimonies. Title Testimonies is just the name I’m giving this next series because it’s testimonies about all the different titles that are in Oikos. Now basically I’m gonna be telling you stories about these various titles, different resources that God has brought in to Oikos. A lot of the time storytelling is made-up stories, they’re not true stories. But in this instance, it’s all gonna be testimonies of truth. True stories about how the different resources came to be in Oikos and why we have the specific resources which we have, and how they came about.
01:05: So the first one is going to be the story about how KONOS came to be here in Oikos. Now this KONOS story is quite a long story because it started a few decades ago, in fact almost three decades ago. So I’m gonna just give you a little bit of background to how KONOS came to be and just tell you first off that we started off with home education, just with our Bible. That’s all we had. We didn’t have any resources, home education wasn’t legal in South Africa; we hadn’t had any of our own children yet. Actually when my husband, Greg, and myself knew that God had called us to home educate, that was an absolute definite. In fact, it was probably because of the seeds planted in our own childhood. I was partially home educated and the focus that my parents had the whole way through raising their children was the character and training us in character and training their children’s characters and so on.
02:02: So this was something that was really inbred in the fact that we knew that we were gonna home educate. It was possibly partially because of our own upbringing, but more specifically because it was something we felt very convicted to do. We felt God had laid it on our hearts that the place that our children needed to be was at home and that we needed to raise them very specifically for Him. And how we were gonna go about that when keeping your children home was illegal, and how we were going to physically go and practically go about it, we didn’t know, but we just knew this was something that he had called us to do. And then our first child was born and she was born with a blood disease, which meant… Just to simplify it, I can call it “baby in the bubble syndrome,” whereby she wasn’t gonna be able to be exposed to germs because of her immunity. She was born with an immune deficiency. So it actually meant that there would be no chance of her attending any kind of playgroup, preschool, regular school of any kind. And so this was quite incredible actually because now we did not want our child to have a blood disease, obviously, but this was now meaning that we were actually going to have to home educate, whether we were chosen to or not because this was only way that she was gonna be able to receive an education.
03:26: And so now you might be wondering what has this got to do with KONOS, but just bear with me because it’s all building up to how KONOS came to land in our laps. Because now while we were exploring this concept even more seriously, a friend of mine had immigrated from South Africa to go and live in the States, and I kept in touch with her and I told her about our heart and vision to be able to home educate our children. She said, “Oh, this is not uncommon here in the States and let me send you a book to read.” So she sent me the Successful Homeschoolers Family Handbook by Raymond and Dorothy Moore. And of course I gobbled it up. I just devoured that book. It was just so fantastic for me to read something of such a supportive nature. In fact, that’s one of the titles in Oikos. So there’s a testimony on its own. It’s one of the parent help books that we have in Oikos for families to read. So I read this book and soon discovered this was not something that was uncommon or unheard of in the States; in fact they had support groups and associations and resource shops for home educators. But we didn’t have Google and we didn’t have internet, but we did have a fax machine at that time. So I started making some inquiries as to maybe how to go about this from a practical perspective because at this point all I had was our conviction, Greg’s faithfully supporting it, and the Word of God, obviously, and that’s what we were using, and our child was very, very desperately ill.
05:00: So that became our focus was actually taking care of her and her health. You’re not particularly concerned about education when you’re dealing with a crisis, a health crisis. However, the time came that down this journey along the road when Greg was called to some business meetings in the States. By this stage our second child was born and he was now nine months old and Gregg was going to be going to these business meetings in the States. Of course, I was very excited about joining him because it was an opportunity now for me to go and explore further about home education and to meet some other homeschoolers because in South Africa there was not a single home schooler that I had met or if we even mentioned it people just looked at us as if we had fallen out of the nearest tree. [chuckle] So now here was my chance to go to the States and possibly meet with some like-minded people. Well, didn’t quite work out like that initially ’cause on arrival at the States I became ill. It turned out that I had food poisoning.
06:04: And so here was Greg trying to get to his business meetings and there I was wrapped around the toilet bowl. Sorry to be so graphic but that was the fact. And we had these little children with us and how am I gonna go and meet other home educators or look at the different resources available and find out as much as I can with being so ill? So off Greg went to a pharmacy. They don’t call it that there, they called it something else. I don’t recall right now. But anyway, he went off to a pharmacy to go and speak to somebody to try and get some help, and while he was busy doing that, this lady approached him. Her name was Rebecca. She said to him, “It sounds like you are having a difficulty, now how can I help you?” And he said, “We are from South Africa and I don’t know how your system works here and it seems that she’s got food poisoning and please help, we don’t know what to do next and I’m supposed to be at a business meeting.”
07:00: So she said, “Where is your wife?” And he said, “Come, I’ll take you to her.” So next thing Greg arrives at this apartment that we are staying at with this lady, Rebecca, who she introduced herself as Becky to me. And she said to Greg, “Off you go to your business meeting. I will take care of Sonya and I’ll help look after the children.” So there we were together, myself and our children, and Greg’s gone off to his business meeting and Becky and I are in this little apartment, and she’s helping me. She had bought some stuff from the pharmacy that Greg had brought back, and so things were just settling down and improving a little bit. She asks me what are we doing in America, are we just here on holiday or was it just because Greg came for business? And I said, “Well, he’s come for business but I’ve actually come to explore… While he’s doing his business meetings, I’m gonna be exploring home education because it’s something that we feel that God has led us to. And so I’m here to find out what I can about it.” And she was so excited because she said, well, actually she’s got… I can’t remember how many children, four or five. And she said she had home educated them and that she had used a particular curriculum called KONOS. Of course, I had never heard this word KONOS, I didn’t know what she was talking about.
08:11: She said, “Would you believe it, but I’ve actually got the manual, KONOS manual, in the boot of my car, I’ll go fetch it.” So she went to the parking lot, got her KONOS manual, came back and started showing KONOS to me. Well, it wasn’t unfamiliar to me to be honest to see this KONOS manual. She basically had a big, fat manual that had all different character traits in it: Patience, obedience, attentiveness. And so it had become so familiar to me, the focus of character training because that’s how our parents had raised us as putting a huge amount of focus on the training of character. So the whole time I’m looking at this I’m thinking, “My mother could have written this. This is a lot like how she raised us.” And she was a very creative person and she brought a lot of experiences to us that helped train our characters. And so I was very really felt this KONOS manual to be something very familiar, and yet it was the first time I’d ever seen one and it was the first time I’d ever heard the word KONOS. And I asked Becky what did this KONOS mean, and she explained to me the KON and everything encompassed in that and how everything is joined together as far as learning is concerned all for the sake of training character to train and coach and mold our children in character so that they can be transformed into the image of God and so on.
09:29: So she just spent the whole day with me telling me all about KONOS and the character unit study approach and character training. And unit study approach, I mean, I’d never heard unit study approach. I didn’t know all these different categories and that they were all called different things. But what I did do is I came home from America with a KONOS manual. And I had this fax machine, remember, so I then started trying to get hold of Jessica Hulcy and Carole Thaxton, who wrote KONOS to say to them, “I’m so excited about this KONOS manual and I would love to be able to share it with other people here in South Africa.” And of course I showed my mother the KONOS manual and she said to me, “Well this is just exactly how you were raised. This would have been so useful to me had I had this manual that I could have used. I wouldn’t have had to have thought up all those ideas of my own.” So it was to me just something like as though my mother had written it, but of course she didn’t, Jessica and Carole wrote KONOS. And I started trying to get them to understand the need here in South Africa and why I really wanted this KONOS manual for other families. And what happened with that was they eventually invited me over to the States.
10:44: Well, in fact, before I went to the States, in fact… Wait, before I went there, I ordered three KONOS manuals. They sent them to me, and we had a little meeting in the local church hall and we sold those three KONOS manuals. We showed people what it was about and how… We’d been using it of course until then, and explained to them what it was all about. And that was my first experience of finding parents’ response to KONOS wasn’t what I expected; they were afraid of it. I don’t know if afraid is too strong a word, but they were overwhelmed, they were nervous, they felt it was going to be too much and that there wasn’t a lesson plan or something to show them what to do and when to do, and how to do. And so that began the journey of us realizing that this was really something God needed us to do and that is helping parents to embrace this vision of His, of training children at home and focusing on their character and how not to feel overwhelmed by something of His heart that is so important to Him, that we just felt very, very convicted even more so that this was something we needed to do; not just for our own family but for others as well.
12:00: As time went on we were then invited… Well, I was then invited to go to the KONOS convention in the States, in Texas, where I could meet the other moms that were also using KONOS in their own homes, living KONOS and actually sharing it with other families as well. And just get further training and equipping. However, this was training and equipping that was American style. And I’m a South African and we do things differently too. The culture’s different. So I had to come back from that and adapt it to South African culture, which is what we’ve continued to do with each following decade thereafter, and it’s a continual process. It doesn’t stop. We are here to continue to help families with KONOS. As you can hear, our children are adults already, if I’ve been talking about three decades, almost three decades, and we’ve been using KONOS for many, many, many years. So this is something that we’re not gonna stop doing. While we don’t plan to, we know that there’s been a few times that we could have given up, and we haven’t ’cause God has really impressed in our hearts and totally convicted us that this is something very, very important to Him, and it’s something we must continue to do. So KONOS arrived here in South Africa and into our home in that way, a very unusual way. We were definitely not looking for it.
13:18: We didn’t even know such a thing existed as a curriculum that could focus on training character. I embraced it. I dived in and I just really enjoyed using it and doing it. And was not afraid by the fact that what I’ve heard parents saying that it’s going to be messy and the house is going to be untidy after trying to live KONOS. And they’re not creative, and they don’t know how to approach doing all these projects and activities, and they don’t have time. And all of these things that I’ve heard from parents isn’t something that we dealt with ourselves because of the conviction of while you are doing these projects and activities, you are training your children’s character. And that’s what God wanted us to do. And so we were focusing on that more than wondering about what lessons are being learned from a language or maths or science or history, or any of those subject-related topics. We were focused more on what character we were seeing being formed in them, and were we seeing the fruit of patience, or obedience and so on. So we have just immersed ourselves in KONOS, lived it, never had to look beyond it, never had to go seeking a different kind of curriculum to take care of all the social study subjects. Just loved unit studies, if you wanna call them that. We would rather call them character training.
14:34: And we now see our children in their adult lives actually displaying those characteristics that we spent time training. We are very glad. Well, I am. I’m just very, very grateful that we had time to do that and we focused on that rather than focusing on other things. But that was the calling and the conviction to our lives as a family, and a calling from God to share it with other families as we have been doing all the years. And so this is how KONOS came to be here in our family and in Oikos. Well, the story can go on and on by me saying to you that I attended a few of the KONOS conventions in the States for further equipping. We then realized that importing them and having them shipped across the ocean was becoming quite a laborious task, and so we started requesting for special printing rights, and Jessica and Wade Helsey agreed to that and gave us their blessing and permission to start printing KONOS in South Africa. So we were then able to make that more readily available and make sure we had stock because we could print on demand as it were, and we continue to print to this day, KONOS manuals for the families here in South Africa. And of course, beyond the South African borders as well, other countries and missionary families and so on.
15:51: So it’s a long story. Obviously, I have a lot more to tell you about it, but that’s just the summary. Even though there’s so much more to it, I’m just trying to condense it and say to you that that is the first resource that landed here in Oikos. And that is the first resource we started sharing with people, was KONOS. And never, ever taking emphasis or the focus, the importance away from the Word of God and away from the Bible, that that’s been our most important curriculum of everything. I actually want to call it a curriculum, because to me it’s a parent guide. It’s a life manual. And so to me, that was our most important, always was our Bible. And that’s what we started with for a good number of years before KONOS even arrived. And also, please note that now all we had was our Bible and KONOS. We didn’t have a language program at this point, or a maths program. We didn’t even know where to start looking for that. We just knew that what God had given us up to that moment was what was wonderful. And we were very thankful for that. At the same time, we were dealing with chronic illness in the family, with our daughter, so it wasn’t terribly important to us whether we were focusing on whether she had got her maths lessons yet or not. What mattered to us was we were teaching her what God wanted us to teach her at that time.
17:09: And then in His time, the next resource came along. And then the next, and the next. And so, that is how Oikos resources have slowly grown. They’ve all been by God’s hand and they’ve been added one at a time in His time. And so I will be sharing the next one with you, which is Picture Smart. So thank you for joining me here at the fireplace. And I’m looking forward to sharing with you the next Title Testimony and telling you the story of Picture Smart. Thank you for watching. Bye.