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.
We went into Chris Nissen as a family this afternoon and enjoyed a lovely afternoon of visiting and praying for folk.  It was great for Paula to see Patrick again for the first time since his discharge from hospital.  He looked a transformed man, free from pain, getting to grips with his walking frame and enjoying being back amongst family and friends.  He was just brimming with thanks to Dean for regularly making sure that family and friends visited him in hospital over the past 4 weeks.  He really couldn't believe that Dean managed to do this and is so thankful to God.  He is also adamant that the only reason he is home and doing so well is because of God's faithfulness in answering so many of your prayers.  He has taken great encouragement from the Bible in recent weeks, particularly since we managed to get him an English Bible that someone had donated to church.  We also visited Sandra, the main community leader.  She has been causing a certain amount of friction and difficulty in recent weeks and so it was good for Paula and Joel to meet her for the first time.  She was obviously chuffed about this and we hope that Paula will be able to keep this up in the coming weeks.  It was also good to visit and pray for Aunty Jane whose husband died last week.  She must travel a very long way over Friday night to his family home for the burial, so please pray for her safety, particularly that the bus will be driven well and that she will be a wonderful witness to the family through this sad time.   Visiting and building relationships in this way really warms our hearts and it is lovely to see how God is using Dean in particular even after such a short time.  Please pray for continuing favour with the people and that his Afrikaans comes on in leaps and bounds. 
Lots of love
Paula, Dean and Joel


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.
We found a snake living in the back door over the weekend, needless to say Paula was quite shocked!  The snake was residing between the door and stormboard at the bottom of the door.  It turned out to be a very large grass snake so it was quite harmless.  However, he won't be bothering us again!
We're all well and enjoying the warmer weather, it looks like spring is now here for sure.
Lots of love
D, P & J

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.
Harvey is the 5th man to die in CNP this month and sadly it's looking likely that he won't be the last.  The community has really suffered in the last few weeks and really needs some good news to help ease the sense of despair that appears to be settling in the community.
There are 3 white folk living in CNP and last Thursday one of the, Derek, came to Dean's rescue when the car broke down.  The carburettor broke off the manifold!  As dean and Derek got chatting Derek told Dean his story.  He was released on parole from prison 6 months ago having been caught stealing cars.  Derek was one of the leading lights in Cape Town's largest car theft ring.  Derek was supposed to present himself to his parole officer once a month but unfortunately he failed to do so for the last 3 months and on Friday he was rearrested and returned to prison.  We're waiting to hear which prison he is in and once we know we'll go and visit him. 
Dean had his second Afrikaans lesson today and he is enjoying it.  Please pray that he will pick the language up quickly.  He also had a late meeting in CNP this evening and met with the other community leaders whom he hadn't had opportunity to meet.  This meeting went well and Dean is hopeful of maintaining good relationships with the leaders.  Please pray for them as they seek to serve their community.  Their names are: Donald, Magdalene, Katrin & Sandra.
Tomorrow Joel has his TB jab, we've been warned that this will be quite unpleasant for him, so please pray that he copes well with it.
Thanks for your prayers and support.
D, P & J

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.
On Friday we had a lovely family day in Cape Town and took Joel to the aquarium (we're members now so can go any time for free).  He appeared to enjoy this even more than the first time we took him and his attention was held for well over an hour.  His favourite appears to be the Kelp Tank which he can stand against and watch fish as big as himself glide lazily past him.  The only negative of the whole weekend was when we discovered that our DVD player had cooked itself.  We had planned to watch a film but had to change that.  Such is life at times.
On Saturday Paula enjoyed a couple of hours on her own in the gym and steam room whilst Dean took Joel to Monkey Town.  Joel really enjoyed seeing the monkeys and a highlight for him was when a Spider Tailed Monkey sneezed right in front of him.  Joel giggled and then copied the monkey!  He also enjoyed the chimpanzees who were being very silly, he also laughed at the monkeys feeding (Joel's eating habits were not dissimilar!).
On Sunday we knew that Steve Oliver would be speaking so we made an effort to get to church a little bit earlier so we could speak to him.  Steve had a specific word for us back in May 2002 concerning our childlessness, so he prayed with us at that time, as you know we got pregnant shortly afterwards.  We had emailed him to let him know that God had answered his (and our) prayer but we never heard back from him.  We met again before the service and he was so excited as he'd used our testimony the previous evening at an Evangelists conference and was going to do the same in the morning.  Needless to say that having the actual couple he was referring to in the congregation was really encouraging for him especially as he thought we were in the UK.  The morning service was quite incredible with six people becoming Christians and many people being prayed for for healing.  Steve asked if we would come and share our testimony again in the evening at Jubilee church in Cape Town which we were able to do.  Again God was on the move and we heard that a total of 86 people had been saved across the related churches in the Western Cape in the morning.  During the evening service a further six people got saved bringing the total to 92 new Christians in one day!  Praise God!!!!!
This week will be a shorter week again as Friday is Heritage Day so we look forward to another long weekend.
Just as we finished writing this we heard that 'Tannie' Jane's husband died on Sunday night.  Dean will have further news tonight so we'll let you know more tomorrow.
Lots of love
Dean, Paula & Joel

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.  Then on grant day (today) the owner drives them to the Town Hall to cash their grants whereupon he takes the money from them as soon as they are paid.  When they 'sign' for goods at the Shebeen they pay on average 50% more for their goods than if they paid cash.  Many of the Christians in CNP are trapped in this cycle as are many other people within the community and it only serves to reinforce their poverty.  Michael's concern is that if the Christians haven't got their own houses in order they are not well placed to go out and preach the gospel to others. 
Please pray for the Christians in CNP who are locked into this cycle of poverty, that they might be effective witnesses to God's grace.
Pray also for the Shebeens, the community would like to see them closed down (the Shebeens all trade illegally) and this would be good to pray for.
Dean had his first Afrikaans lesson and was encouraged that it shouldn't be as difficult as Swahili or Shona.  Afrikaans only has three tenses (past present an future and no noun classes!) and you pronounce every letter.  He has basic greetings now which is a real help.  Please pray for his language learning, Dean is not a linguist and has struggled with this in the past.
Feel free to drop us an email, we'd like to hear from you some time.
D, P & J

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.
This week sees us celebrating our 13th wedding anniversary on Tuesday, we've booked a table in a local restaurant and have a babysitter organised, the joy of this babysitter is that she drives so Dean doesn't have to run her home (this is a real pain after cell on a Wed!).  We're looking forward to an evening out away from Joel, these evenings seem to have been in short supply since being here.
Dean is beginning to strategise in relation to CNP and is looking at how he can start to meet some specific needs but also how he can draw others into helping the community.  This is not a simple process and is hampered by the divisions between the community leaders.  please pray for unity within the community and amongst the leaders.  Many plans and initiatives have already failed because of the divisions between the leaders in Chris Nissen Park.
Paula continues to ensure Joel is well cared for and developing well.  She has quite a good group of friends around her but doesn't yet feel really close to anyone, this is a source of frustration for her.  There are one or two ladies whom Paula feels she could be really good friends and is praying that this will work out.  Please pray for Paula as she copes with life as full time mum, she regularly meets people who devalue that role as well as meeting people who really value it, but it is always the negative comments that stick.  As a family we feel that Paula has been given an awesome role and it is a privilege to be able to invest so heavily in Joel's development in a way which would not be possible for us in the UK as we'd both have to work.  We do thank God for Joel and our role as his parents, but pray also for Paula to be strong in her role and to be a witness to the benefits of her role, especially to those who do not value motherhood.
LATEST:  Dean has just returned this evening from CNP.  He was informed that the old man -Peps- whom  Dean took to hospital on Thursday died last night.  The official cause of death was TB but sadly it was an AIDS related illness.  Please pray for the community as there is a lot of anger towards the ambulance service and the police over this.
Lots of love
Dean, Paula & Joel

Hospital Visits

Life seems to be an endless and somewhat hectic round of trips to the hospital at present.  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!
This morning Dean went to CNP and found a few people really stressed about one of the elderly residents.  Apparently he is very sick but the ambulance refused to attend, the crews are afraid to go into CNP!  The police were on site and the residents were very angry with them as they refused to carry the man to hospital in their car, so they drove off shortly after clearly afraid of what might happen.  Thankfully Dean was able to cycle back to the church office and get the combi, so within an hour of arriving at CNP he was back at the hospital, this time in casualty.  As we write this we have no news on the state of this man but it would be amazing if he is alive.
In the midst of this we really thank God for the opportunity to share God's compassion through the physical act of reaching out and caring for members of the CNP community.
Please continue to pray for Patrick, particularly as he seeks to regain his mobility.  Pray also for the man Dean took to hospital this morning.
Thank you
Dean, Paula & Joel

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.  Dean is planning to do the same again tonight (Mon) and tomorrow to enable more folk within the community to see Patrick.  We heard over the weekend that the amputation has gone well so we'll give you more news in the next few days.
Last night we had a real treat... we were able to get a babysitter so we could both go to the evening service at church.  We knew that Bones (Mbonisi) would be preaching.  We last saw Bones and his now wife Tash a few months prior to our departure from Zim, they had no idea that we were in SA and so it was great to see each other.  We've planned to meet for lunch on Wed to catch up and swap stories.  Also, we'll get to introduce Joel to them as they haven't met yet.  We spoke at Bones' church in Bulawayo the weekend we discovered we were pregnant, so we feel a real bond with the guys in Bulawayo.
Sandra didn't come to church on Sunday, but Dean will be making some time for her over the coming week.  Please pray for Sandra to be saved.  The fight between her and Dina is so petty but they just can't see it!  Sandra and Dina actually want the same things for the community but have differing views as to how they should go about meeting those goals.  Dean feels that they could be really good friends but they need their heads 'knocking together' -proverbially of course!  A definite prayer need!!
Dean took a group of people to see Patrick in hospital tonight and will be doing so again tomorrow.  Patrick is very tearful and appears to be struggling with the loss of his left leg.  Please pray for him, he's a lovely man and a deeply committed Christian, pray for comfort and a tangible sense of God's presence whilst he's recovering in hospital.
Thank you so much
D, P & J


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!).
We have felt that we were directly and specifically targeted by the thieves and are certain that it is connected to the building which is being done behind us.  Please pray against any further attacks of this nature.
Well, we've had a good week.  Dean feels like he is making some progress and one of the key community leaders (Sandra) is coming to church on Sunday.  This is quite a breakthrough given that she hates Dina and normally won't go anywhere where she is likely to meet Dina.  We're praising God for this shift in her thinking.  Please also pray for Dina that she'll understand her role as a Christian is to try and get alongside people like Sandra to share the gospel with her.
Paula had a good time with a nursing Sister who runs a baby clinic in a local pharmacy.  After much negative comment recently about Joel not walking the Sister was particularly helpful and reassuring, just what Paula needed to hear!  For those interested, Joel is a little over the 90th centile height wise, a little like his dad then.  Paula also has a meeting next week to look at the possibility of starting a 'Day Cell' for mums with pre-school children.  The plan would be to host it at the church building so as to enable some women from Chris Nissen & Lwandle to attend.  This is an exciting initiative and could be a really good method of outreach right across the cultures.  Please pray about this.
We're off out tonight to watch Palace on Sky (more bad news later then?!) with some friends and to enjoy a meal with them.
Please keep praying for us and our ministry here, we can't do this without you!
Lots of love
Dean, Paula & Joel

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.
Please continue to pray for justice to be done, there is a murderer walking free who needs to be in custody.  Pray too for Minton and his family as they recover from their ordeal and come to terms with the death of a family member.
Thank you for your prayers
Dean & Paula