It's New Years Eve as we write and once again we find ourselves on our own. This seems to have been the story of Christmas for us this year. Our original plans were scuppered by our friends 'outlaws' who forced them off to Durban. Failing any further invites we decided to do our own Christmas and bought the turkey etc. only to receive a half hearted 'sympathy invite' very late on. Christmas day was great, Joel was able to open his presents at his speed and play with each one before moving onto the next so he wasn't swamped. We had a lovely Turkey dinner in the evening under the stars in the garden.

Happy Christmas!

We want to wish all of you a very Happy Christmas!

Don't forget the one who's birthday it is..... Jesus Christ

Lots of love

Dean, Paula & Joel

XXX

We had our Mulled Wine & Mince Pie evening last night. For those who have ever been to one of these (at Bible College, Zimbabwe, Wimbledon) you'll know how legendary they've become! If you've not been to one, you have no idea what you're missing!

Christmas Buildup

Many businesses seem to have shut down already in time for Christmas or as it seems to be more popularly known here; the 'Holiday Season'. We've always been disappointed with Christmas in Blighty as it seems to start in Aug' and drag on for months, but at least it is called 'Christmas'. Here it appears that Christmas carries very little significance with most shops & businesses advertising for the holiday season, choosing to ignore the reason for the season. Our church held it's first ever Carols by Candlelight service last night which went well, however it was a hot night and a couple of hundred candles didn't help much!!

Reconciliation Day

Today is Reconciliation Day so we've been enjoying the day off. We went to the aquarium in Cape Town this morning and then spent time playing in the river with Joel. He had a great day, at the aquarium he was by far the most excited child and we had a job to contain him at times. Still, it was all good fun!

Last Week

Once again we go into another week having failed dismally to keep our Blog upto date!

We had a good week. We met up with Maurice & Wendy (friends from Zim) and spent time catching up which was great. Then later in the week Pete & Ash came for tea with their 3 boys. Their youngest was born after we left Zim so we hadn't met him and Ash hadn't met Joel so it was a great afternoon catching up. Pete is now leading God First Christian Church in Jo'burg, well worth a visit if you're in that neck of the woods!

Freedom

We've just enjoyed 2 nights away without Joel and it was brilliant! We missed him dearly but it was so nice to be able to do normal things without him. We ate lunch when we wanted, Paula could have a cappuccino without having to share the froth, we went to the cinema but best of all we got to lay in in the morning!!!! Joel was a star by all accounts and was a credit to us.

World AIDS Day

We'd like to encourage you to take a few minutes to reflect upon the pandemic of HIV/AIDS upon the world and your own community.

Pray for those in your community who are HIV+, you might not know them by name (or even realise that some of your neighbours are HIV+) but they need your support.

CNP Thanksgiving

True to 'traditional' African time, the CNP Thanksgiving started about an hour late, but was good fun nonetheless. We finally got to meet Chris Nissen himself (a surprisingly humble man) as well as some of the other key players in establishing the houses for the community. Dean felt very honoured by the public comments that were made about him, we both felt that this was real recognition of the impact that God is having in the community through the church.

Overview Of The Week.

Patrick was discharged from hospital on Wednesday which appears to have been somewhat premature as he has no mobility at all and can't control any of his bodily functions. Needless to say he's feeling pretty humiliated by his condition and doesn't want to see people. I've seen him a few times and prayed with him but apart from that he wants to be left alone. Please pray for Patrick and his wife Katrina, they haven't had things easy lately. On Wednesday next week I'll be taking Patrick to see a physiotherapist to get some exercises. Patrick's daughters will come too so that they can see how the exercises need to be done.

England 32 South Africa 16

We managed to watch the rugby with some good friends and needless to say they were gutted by the result. The South African team have been very arrogant calling their UK tour 'The Grand Slam Tour' which of course it isn't. Still, it made trouncing them all the sweeter.

Where Did That Week Go?

The flies are still with us and are becoming a major problem. We now have so many different traps etc around the garden and in the house that it's a wonder they can get in. However, for those that do make it in they run the gauntlet of Dean's 'Fly Gun'. This gives Dean endless hours of amusement shooting flies (with what is essentially a spring loaded fly swat) and Joel now laughs when he kills one. We'll not describe Dean's particularly nasty treatment of the ones he catches alive!

Swings

Today was great in CNP as the team from Penge came in and repaired/replaced the swings for the children. The previous swings were old tyres that had been cut to shape and then turned inside out and hung on chains. Needless to say they weren't good quality and had been broken for quite some time. The kids were delighted as the 6 swings now have solid wooden seats and sturdy chains holding them. They were also hung at slightly different heights to accommodate all size of children (and adults!).

CNP Update

I've just heard this morning that Brian has died in CNP. He was a lovely man suffering with TB. Please pray for his family, his death will hit them hard, emotionally and financially.

The church currently have a team out from Penge in London and they're looking at what the church is involved in. As part of this some of them will be spending a bit of time in CNP with one of their main jobs being to fix the swings for the children. Hopefully this will be a real blessing to the community.

Back On Line

I'm on a bit of a 'high' as I write as I've just watched Palace hold Arsenal to a 1-1 draw, they were lucky not to get beaten! Having watched the Birmingham game last Saturday in which we won 1-0 things are quite sweet at the moment.

We had a great time away with our friends Mark & Leanne and their two children, Kelly and Matthew. We'd not seen each other for almost 2 years so they'd not met Joel and we'd not met Matthew.

Friends From Zim

This will probably be our last update for just over a week as our dear friends Mark & Leanne have come down from Zimbabwe. We're all bunked down at ours prior to going to Cape Town on Friday for the following week. We're really excited as Mark & Leanne have never met Joel and we've never met their youngest, Matthew. Also, we're God-parents to Kelly (in the pic) and it is frustrating not being able to be an active part of her life due to the distance, but at least RSA is closer to Zim than the UK. We're planning all kinds of trips and stuff but more importantly just want to spend time chilling out and chatting together about life etc!

This Week Shot Past

This week seems to have shot past leaving us no time to update the Blog.

The highlights have been Roger & Shirley's visit on Tuesday including a trip into CNP. Roger was soon playing cricket with some of the lads (he was out for a duck!). We visited Patrick & Katrin, Aunty Poppy, Mama Jane and Dina each of whom said they really appreciated meeting Roger & Shirley. In the evening they took us out to a seafront restaurant in Gordon's Bay which was great. We really enjoyed meeting up with them and it's always good to see people out of context.

Oh Dear!

I was in CNP this morning and bumped into Sandra, she was in a foul mood and was extremely derogatory about Dina. Sandra alleged a number of things about Dina most of which I know to be untrue. What really saddened me was the fact that she turned against myself saying that I had put Dina up to getting the police to visit herself warning her about intimidating Dina. I had no idea that this had happened, although I did happen to know that Sandra had verbally abused Dina in my presence and later threw stones at Dina as she was walking to work. The long and the short of this is that Sandra is clearly not wanting to make any effort to befriend Dina despite indications that things were about to improve.

Sunday

This morning in church we had the privilege of hearing Paul Reid from Northern Ireland speak. He and his wife Pricilla are currently in SA. Paul was excellent and spoke about 'getting out of the boat' as Peter did when Jesus walked on water. This was really challenging and at the end when Paul asked to pray for those feeling challenged by his sermon, over 90% of the church stood up!

Family News

A week ago Joel was sat in his paddling pool and we were able to host Dean's birthday party outside as the weather was so hot. A week is a long time in politics -as they say, and the weather has gone totally pear shaped in the last few days. The rain is back with a vengeance (which is a good thing) and the North Westerly wind is blowing wildly. Maybe it's because an Irish couple have just arrived at Helderberg and they've brought the weather from the Emerald Isle with them?! Dean was quite chuffed as he got to fly his kite properly today (and has friction burns on his hands for his troubles!).

Rasta

Dean was in CNP this morning and heard the Rasta died at 4.30 on Wednesday afternoon. Whilst this death was far from unexpected it has still shocked the community following the 5 deaths last month. Rasta's death is the second death in October with only seven days gone. The other significant impact these deaths have on the community is financial. Most people don't pay into any kind of death policy and so the funeral expenses must be covered by the community and with so many deaths the community are feeling the strain financially. This is compounded by the fact that the community is already impoverished and most people are barely getting by, as such they really don't need this added burden.
Two trips to hospital in one day, not bad except that it was 2 different hospitals over 40kms apart. This afternoon I went with Dina to see one of the Ooma's (old ladies) in CNP, she was desperately ill and refusing to allow Dina to call an ambulance. We managed to persuade her to allow us to take he in the church kombi to the hospital. After an hours wait the sister agreed to call me prior to discharging her. As yet they've not rung so I trust she was admitted. I told the Sister that the Ooma is all alone at home and with no one to care for her they must arrange for the Home Based Care Team to contact her prior to discharge. Hopefully the system will work! Please pray for this Ooma, she really is in a desperate state.

Another Year Older!

On Friday I sat with a group of Rastafarians and chatted for an hour or so (I'm now fluent in their greetings - respect!) which was very enlightening. They feel very strongly that alcohol is a huge problem and want to see the shebeens closed but also the breweries. I found this a little amusing as the pulled out a 'sack' of hash and proceeded to roll the most enormous spliffs! They saw no irony in this rather explaining it as being what helped them meditate on the book of life! They want to talk again so I'll being doing some research on Rastafarianism before that.

Visiting And Building

Today was a beautiful Spring day - cloudless blue sky and temperature at least 28 degrees with no wind, wonderful!! We are so looking forward to more of this type of weather. Paula spent yesterday afternoon with Joel and a friend and her 2 children in the Nature Reserve. It was another day like today and they had a wonderful time enjoying the scenery and chatting while the children played. Please pray for a deepening of these friendships for Paula and Joel. In many ways God is really answering this prayer after only 2 months in the country, but Paula is keen to establish deep roots from early on so that they both have real security in the coming years.

Update

On Sunday we showed The Passion at church after the morning service. This was primarily aimed at folk from CNP, Lwandle and Nomzamo who didn't manage to see the film whilst it was in the cinemas. About one hundred folk stayed for soup followed by the film and the initial; response to has been very positive. Dean was particularly encouraged by Dina's response after the film when she asked for prayer as she was going to go back to CNP and make her peace with Sandra (a community leader), please pray for this and for Sandra to be saved. It was also exciting to see Patrick attend the film after his recent amputation. He conducted himself with such grace and dignity as he struggled from the bus to the church hall.

Death In The Community

Mama Jane's husband -Harvey- died from straightforward TB in the early hours of Monday morning. Tannie Jane has been a faithful steward of her finances and has been paying into a funeral policy so the costs of Harvey's funeral are taken care off. Given that Jane will now lose the grant her husband was receiving and she continues to care for her two children and two grandchildren she will need all the money she can find. Please pray for Tannie Jane and her family, they know Jesus and are faithful witnesses to his word. Pray for blessing in their lives.

Awesome Weekend

We've had an amazing Sunday and a very good weekend overall. Dean had Friday off as he had worked quite a few late nights and was feeling quite shattered emotionally having been a sounding board for some folk in Chris Nissen Park. Things are beginning to happen and it appears that Dean has gained the confidence of most of the key leaders within the community. We praise God for this as we asked you to pray that he would be accepted by the community as we left the UK and God is certainly answering this prayer! Please continue to pray for favour for Dean as he continues to build relationships in CNP.

Cycle Of Poverty

Dean had a very illuminating afternoon in Chris Nissen Park today. He met with a man called Michael who wanted to talk about the witness of some Christians within the community. Many residents in CNP receive monthly grants from the Govt' due to their age or disability, however most of those who receive these grants have borrowed against the next month's payment in the Shebeens. They can buy their groceries and alcohol in the shebeens but they have to 'sign' for them and leave their ID cards and grant papers with the Shebeen owner.

Spring Has Sprung

Spring is now officially 2 weeks old and over the weekend it has felt like winter is finally over. Whilst this is great in terms of wearing T shirts and shorts it also means that there is no more rain due until March next year. This is really serious in the Western Cape now and water restrictions will be in place from the 1st October. We don't know what form those restrictions will take yet but water bills will definitely increase by at least 20%.

Dean visited Patrick last night and enjoyed a brief chat, he is doing well and was sat in the chair next to his bed which is really positive. Dean will be taking Chris Nissen folk again this week to see Patrick and he is really looking forward to seeing his family again. Continue to pray for swift healing and strength of spirit as he recovers.

Hospital Visits

Dean has been ferrying family and friends of Patrick to see him which involves quite a long drive from Chris Nissen to the Govt hospital. Patrick really appreciates these visits and this afternoon Dean visited on his own taking some reading material and some salted popcorn. Patrick appears to be coping reasonably well with the amputation, he was out of bed this morning and he has already been trying his crutches. Not bad for a 72 year old!

Latest News

No bad news today, primarily because Dean got the dates wrong and hadn't realised that Palace weren't playing on Sat due to an international match. However we had a lovely evening with some new friends here and look forward to building upon that.

Late last week Dean took a group of ladies from CNP to see Patrick in the local Govt hospital. Patrick is waiting to have a leg amputated as gangrene has set in due to his diabetes. Patrick was chuffed to see so many friends and family members.

Theft

We discovered at about 10am this morning that our car had been broken into and the stereo stolen along with Paula's sunglasses.  The rear quarterlight was put through creating a huge mess inside.  We spoke with our neighbours but no one heard anything and none of the dogs barked!  This is really strange as we live right in the middle of the complex and ordinarily the neighbours dogs go crazy when anyone comes near the house.  We're not too concerned about the stereo itself as an object but it's the mess created and time involved in clearing it all up that is annoying, as well as the unbudgeted expense of new glass and trying to get a new stereo and sunglasses in time when we feel we can afford it.  (We can't claim on the insurance because the excess is higher than the replacement cost!).

Answered Prayer

Our God is a faithful God!

Minton and his wife were released from custody last night.  We're not sure yet as to whether charges have been dropped or whether there is insufficient evidence to detain them further.  Either way it is good news as the case is obviously very weak.  Minton and his family are now having two weeks away to come to terms with all that has happened but also to be away from the community in which the tragic events took place, they don't feel safe there at present.

Joel's Day Out

We took Joel to the Cape Town Aquarium on Saturday and he really enjoyed himself.  The highlights for him were being able to stand against the tanks and watch the fish, sharks and seals come right up to his face.  The seals were particularly impressive with their acrobatics and Joel just giggled the whole time.  Afterwards we had lunch at the Aquarium restaurant and there were 3 seals on the quay immediately below us, needless to say Joel was enthralled.

Arrest Update

We've heard today that Minton & Womisile have both been charged with the murder and as such remain in custody.  However, we are thankful to God that they remain in the local police cells as opposed to having been transferred to the infamous Pollsmoor prison in Cape Town.

The police now have a further 7 days in which to investigate the murder and then there will be a further court appearance at which time Minton & Womisile will either be released due to lack of evidence or a trial date will be set and they will be moved to Pollsmoor.

Please continue to pray for Minton & Womisile and for justice to be done.

Church Under Attack

We need to ask you to pray for Minton and his wife.  Minton is the church caretaker and a very quiet & gentle man.  However on Tuesday he was arrested for murder together with his wife, Womisile.  Needless to say the whole church was stunned!

Over the weekend a dispute took place in a Shebeen in Nomzano which left a young man called Malibongwe dead.  The community then sought the perpetrator and murdered him next to Malibongwe.  This is a growing problem in the townships as the communities do not trust the police.  It transpires that Malibongwe is Minton's 'son' (culturally) and somehow it has been alleged that Minton and Womisile have committed the murder.  However they say they were in bed at the time of it.

Prayer Items

To the Faithful Oaks who pray so brilliantly for us

We're having a really good week and want to share some prayer items with you, but firstly we'll give you a bit of news.  A major breakthrough tonight...Paula has gone to church on her own in the car.  She hates driving and is never too keen to drive at night so this is a bit of a first.  Dean went mountain biking again tonight and managed to stay on the bike this time.  Steve and Jonathon (fellow riders) are very fit so Dean feels a bit of a lemon trying to keep up.  However they're very patient and encouraging, Jonathon tried to persuade Dean to join a 25km race at the weekend but Dean declined! 

Fun & Laughter

We had a lovely family day today - one of those days that you wonder how it could have been so happy when nothing particularly significant was planned!  We went to church as usual in the morning and Joel had a great morning in creche.  He then slept for over 2 hours after a huge lunch - great for his parents!!  In the afternoon we went for a walk and came back past a proper skate boarding and bike ramp area.  We stopped to watch the youngsters 'doing their stuff' and Joel just thought it was hysterical, especially when they fell off.  We hadn't heard him belly laughing like that for a long time, it was a real scream.  I don't think it did much for the 12 year old's street cred though to be laughed at by a 17 month old baby!!  That night when we put Joel to bed he was still laughing away to himself for about 10 minutes.  We also had a couple of milestones today: Joel walked 5 steps behind his toddle truck unaided and he stood up for the first time in the bath.  I'm not sure who was more surprised!

August Marches On

Well August is drawing to a close and at last it feels as if the weather might be warming up a touch, certainly the last few nights have been better and the last 3 days have been glorious!  Winter here is definitely a little odd!  It appears that the North-westerly wind blows in over the mountains and brings the cold and rain for 3 or 4 days and then the wind turns to the Southeast and brings warmth and sunshine for 2 or 3 days and so it goes on.  At least we know that every few days it will be good.

River

Winter Has Arrived!

Well winter is truly here with a vengance.  The winds in the last few days have been quite frightening (as well as keeping Paula awake at night).  The rain is almost non-stop and many places are flooded.  Summer shouldn't be too far away now - we hope!

The big news is that our visas have been approved until 2007 so it's good to know we're legally here!  Dean will drive to Paarl to get the passports stamped in the next few days.

What A Week

Winter hit with a vengeance with the North West wind battering everything around.  A few times this week we thought our roof was going to take off.  The saddest part of this is that Cape Town has experienced severe flooding with the 'informal settlements' (squatter camps) suffering the brunt of it.  Many people have been washed out of their shacks.  On Sunday we were supposed to welcome some new members but a number of folk were unable to be there as their homes were destroyed by the floods.  Please pray for these families as they try and piece together the little they had to start with.

Life

We are settling in well and are very pleased with our little house.  The rain has arrived -only a month late- and is persistent so it is a bit depressing.  I think we'll be swimming out of our front door this afternoon!  Dean started work this week, so is slowly starting to develop a strategy.  It is frustrating at first, particularly as the main woman he was hoping to 'use' and work with has now got full-time work, so isn't around to help and Dean doesn't have any Afrikaans!  Lots of prayer needed.  We went to a cell group last night which was great (it felt so good to know that cells were happening all over the world on a Wednesday night!).  All very nice and friendly people, so hopefully we'll start to make friends there. 

The Holiday Is Over

Dean starts work properly tomorrow (Tuesday 3rd) at 8.30 so today was our last day of 'holiday' (although we've been racing around getting the house sorted and a few other things!).  We took Joel out for tea tonight and really enjoyed himself.  He ate some of Dad's potato wedges followed by Mum's ice cream as well as polishing off his own tea!  This afternoon Joel and Paula went for a walk with a friend who has a 3 year old and needless to say Joel wanted to be doing all that he saw his friend doing.  His not walking is definitely frustrating him now!  Please pray that he would soon start to walk, it would transform his life.

Settling In

We've been very busy over the last few days sorting out furniture for the house. In the midst of this our freight arrived Praise God!! so we're feeling very homely right now. Joel has been really excited to see so many of his toys as well as other familiar items from 'home'. He became very excited when he saw his swing in the front garden and now trying to get out without him seeing it is quite a trick! The house feels good and we're looking forward to hosting our first visitors on Friday evening (Dean's new boss). 

We've missed a huge chunk of what happened in our final few days in the UK but this should bring you up to date with what's happened since...

We're safe and well and finally settling into our home here in South Africa.  Our first week has been quite stressful, however, we have now completed our dealings with immigration and now have to wait 30 days for our visas.  It only took 4 visits (an hour each way), 1 desperate call to Crosslinks (Brilliant as always!!) and endless form filling! but we appear to have jumped through each hoop successfully.  We've also sorted our freight, the ship docked on Thursday night and today we heard that we have customs clearance so should get it all on Monday.  We've also purchased a car! A Mark 1 Golf which is only 5 years old as they still make them over here.  In the midst of doing all of this we've also moved into our house (Dean had to shift a lot of furniture to do it).  So all in all a productive week.

Commissioning Service

Sunday 11th July '04

Commissioning Service

We had our commissioning service at St. George's Weald this morning. It was great to see some good friends again whilst getting ready for our departure on Thursday. Joel coped admirably with a sea of people wanting to entertain him (or be entertained by him!) and we struggled as we said goodbye to so many friend whom we'll not see again for at least 3 years. Saying goodbye never gets any easier!

Welcome To Our Blog!

We're going to try and keep a running Blog whilst we're in South Africa, keeping you up to date with our thoughts, feelings and latest happenings, we'll also keep you posted with news about Joel.

We will also include information about the work we are doing sharing the joys, troubles and answers to prayer.

Enough waffle, you'll get the idea as we go along.