It’s Thursday so in social media terms that means I must be about to post my obligatory weekly pic on Instagram, which then automatically re-posts said picture on Facebook and Twitter. However, this week I’m posting the inevitable photo right here on our oft neglected blog.

This is a pic of the five (yes five!) pans The Gathering owns. Currently we’re just using the big one on the right, it’s quite large and holds 50 litres which means we can serve 200 cups of soup.

Holiday

It was pure joy to once again go to Greyton for our annual holiday. This is the seventh year we've managed it, and our souls feel refreshed for having soaked up so much fresh air, good food and great family time.

Our holiday is precious time, not least because we get so little of it out here. Dean has posted on this before, but in Blighty we used to enjoy 5 weeks of annual leave, now we don't even manage a full fortnight.

Still, it's always great to grab whatever time we can to reconnect and recharge our batteries, especially as the boys go into their biggest term of the school year.  All prayers gratefully received as exams loom for them both.

For our Silver Wedding Anniversary last year I wanted to give Paula a gift that would last but also one that had a cost, not a financial cost, but a personal one. So, starting on our anniversary last year I gave Paula the gift of letters. No, I didn't give her the alphabet, though it would have been cheaper, easier and a whole lot quicker. No, what it actually meant was that I committed to writing to her every day for a year, sending her a letter or a card.  Some letters would be posted, some I would hand to her and others were left somewhere for her to find. I know I missed a few days but looking at the little mountain of letters and cards I know did my best. But more importantly, it was a huge blessing to me and a great lesson, but more on that in a bit...

I have to say it was a lot of fun. It was great to rekindle the letter writing skill (we used to write to each other constantly before we got married), especially in this age of connectivity and constant social media interactions when pens are rarely required. The whole experience was enjoyable and the highlight was intentionally setting aside a few minutes each day to write a letter or card. It meant that for a few precious minutes all I had to do was think about Paula and what I wanted to say to her.
Those were treasured moments!

Before & After

We're thrilled to finally see The Gathering's new kitchen completed and ready for service.

It's been quite a journey getting to this point but we're thankful for all the blessings that made this possible, and to our guys at The Gathering who worked so hard to prepare the space ready for the installation. I also enjoyed sorting the plumbing and electrics, it felt like old times doing that stuff again.

We still have a bit of painting to do and one more cupboard to install but beyond that the kitchen is already being put to good use as we provide refreshments to our Homework Club kids, and it'll be great to do some Soup Kitchen prep in a decent useable space.

Since The Gathering moved in to the heart of Firgrove our Soup Kitchen has steadily grown each week to the point that it's a real squeeze inside as everyone tries to find a seat.

This week the queue for soup went out the door and didn't seem to end for the first twenty minutes and by 25 past six the soup had all gone which was pretty gobsmacking.

Given how busy we've been in the last few weeks we began with 70 cups set out ready to be served and in the end we served 94 people and about the same again in seconds and thirds. When we began our Soup Kitchen just over two years ago we never dreamt that we would be serving so many folk. In our first Soup Kitchen we served 13 people, 10 adults & 3 kids!

Secret Weapon

I'm feeling quite overwhelmed at present.

Since The Gathering moved into the heart of Firgrove our Soup Kitchen has been steadily growing, especially amongst the elderly who were too afraid to cross the busy R102, and who could blame them?!  So, over the last few weeks many new faces have become familiar faces as people feel much safer coming for soup within their own community.

Just like in recent Soup Kitchens, this week's  was very calm and also ran very smoothly, in part because folk know where we are and how it operates, but it was also in part thanks to our new secret weapon... a small measuring jug that is pretty much the same size as the cups we serve the soup in. It really sped up the serving process, especially when folk were coming for seconds, thirds and fourths.

Karma Chameleon

Until two days ago I had only ever seen one chameleon in the wild, or at least in my garden, then suddenly today I came across another little guy (maybe it's the same one) and decided to get some better shots of him.

This is a Cape Dwarf Chameleon indigenous only to the Western Cape and close to Table Mountain, though they have been found as far out as Agulhas.

Personally I'm thrilled to have this lttle guy in my garden and would love to see him again sometime.

It's been a funny old week.

It has been a week of small jobs and disjointed routine, but somehow in the midst of that it has also been quite satisfying. I'll explain the disjointed bit up top...Paula is now in Spain for some valuable time with her big Sis & family, she left on Wednesday and her penance for abandoning us was 34 hours of travelling 😂. So I'm attempting to impersonate Super Dad for a couple of weeks but I'm not very good at impersonations.

Flexibility

I was really struck by what one of The Gathering's members said recently about The Gathering's door always being open, because most people in this community are used to seeing churches being locked up and empty all week after Sunday apart from a brief spell on Wednesday evenings.

However, for me, I've been passionate for a long time now about church buildings being open and used on a daily basis. I also believe that the fact that church meets there on a Sunday should merely be the cherry on the icing.  Sadly so many seem to be empty from Monday to Saturday and for me I couldn't and wouldn't want to do church like that again.

All Is Calm

I'm still reeling from The Gathering's Soup Kitchen last night, it really was a joy to be there!

I had a sense that with the hideous cold and wet weather of late it would be a good night, but I had no inkling of just how good it would be.  We fed 77 people which is the most The Gathering has fed at any one time, but what really struck me as we were serving was the sense of peace and calm over the Soup Kitchen. That's not to say that it's usually crazy, it just isn't, but last night it was such a peaceful event and it felt good to be a part of it.