Life On The Beach

Joel and Sam playing on the beach at Strand. We had a lovely morning with Pete & Ash and the kids, rounded off with a McDonalds lunch. It was such a pleasure to spend time with the Smyth family again as we rarely get to see each other these days. Pete & Ash were incredibly supportive friends during our time in Zim, especially as we struggled with the issue of moving on from the Just Children Foundation. Pete now leads the 'God First' church in Jo'burg.

Family Shakes Blog

At long last my best mate Roger and his family have gone online and set up a Blog called "Getting The Shakes" which will chart their move from the UK to New Zealand in 2006. Do take a look and enjoy the photos and news as and when they post.

Some of you may remember that Roger was Best Man at our wedding back in 1991.
On Thursday Dean joined some of the key CNP residents for a Thank you / Christmas lunch hosted by Chris Nissen himself. The lunch was great and the guys from CNP relly enjoyed the venue as the restaurant juts out into the sea with stunning views of False Bay, Table Mountain & the Cape Peninsula. Sadly, Chris Himself never pitched which was a real shame, but a good time was had by all regardless. Usefully, Dean got to meet some of the key players in the local police force including the station commander of Somerset West police station and the provincial director of Helderberg area police. Contacts which will definitely come in handy!

Post Christmas News

We have been enjoying a very quiet family time since Christmas Day. We are loving getting to know Eli and he is settling quickly and well into a routine. As a result, we aren't too shattered and are able to enjoy some good family time. Joel has been enjoying playing with our next door neighbours' children who are 2 and 5 and has been taken out by a good friend of ours here one morning, whilst Paula looked after Eli and Dean did some studying! We rejoiced on Thursday to learn that Eli's birth mother officially signed her consent to release him to us for adoption.

Helderberg Nature Reserve

Dean & Joel went to the Nature Reserve again yesterday, mainly to give Paula & Eli a bit of a break but also to give Joel some special time with Dad. We had some real fun as you can see from the 'Dilemma' video posted below. We're not sure where Joel gets his flirting skills from but they're definitely not from his Dad (probably gets it from his mother!).

Whilst we were feeding the ducks the Cape Weaver Birds were getting quite bold so we put some crumbs on a post a watched them swoop in and take them.

Dilemma

Below is a short video taken in the Nature Reserve of Joel and a girl he got talking to, as you can see she suddenly presents him with a real dilemma... does he run after the pretty girl or does he stay and watch the tortoise? Decisions, decisions...

NB. The clip below is about 5mb and without a broadband connection may take a while to download.

Christmas

We've had a great Christmas so far! On Christmas Eve we had dinner with some friends and two of their family members which was great as we all have children of a similar age and they really enjoyed charging around together.

Joel has been totally unfazed by the whole event and just like last year he wanted to play for about 20 minutes with each toy before opening the next present. One of the real joys of our lifestyle and work is that we're sheltered from the greedy commercialisation of Christmas and as such can focus more on the true meaning of the day.

Birth Announcement!

We are proud to announce the birth of Eli Thomas Finnie, born on 21st December at 12.45pm weighing in at 3.88Kgs. After a long day Paula and Eli arrived back in Cape Town just before 8pm and were met at the airport by Dad & Joel, Joel was immediately a very proud big brother!
In the midst of all that is happening we're trying to make sure that we give Joel a lot of time and attention, and on Saturday afternoon we met up with some friends in the local Nature Reserve for a couple of hours. Joel had a great time running around with Sean including a brief visit to see Spikey the porcupine (for more photos look at our Photoblog).

Future Worship Leader?

Below is a brief video of Joel spontaneously imitating our worship leader, he's obviously watched how we begin our time of worship on Sundays and does quite a good rendition!

The quality of the video is low but if you listen carefully you can hear him saying things like: "Yes Lord" & "Thank you very much". Also, watch for the hand and then listen carefully as he ends his prayer and launches into playing his guitar.

We hope you enjoy the video below as much as we do!

Here are a few photos from our 'flying' trip to Bloemfontein. We had a good trip despite the disappointment of not returning home with the baby. The good news is that we will definitely get the baby as soon as s/he is born and we'll keep you informed of happenings.

More photos can be seen on our Photoblog

Here we had just arrived in Bloemfontein. The weather was really hot with cloudless skies, beautiful!

That Rollercoaster

Never mind the 'Big One ' in Blackpool, we've got our own personal rollercoaster and it's way more exciting/frightening than the static sort you find at funfairs!

Well, we're home...... without the baby!!! It has been a very emotional time in Bloemfontein. The birth mother has been induced 4 times - poor woman, but nothing happened. Her due date isn't till Sunday, so we're not quite sure why they advised us to come this week, but there we go, there must have been a reason.

Adoption Roller Coaster

One has to wonder when (if ever) the rollercoaster will stop. We're now in the last few hours before we get up at some unseemly hour to drive to Cape Town airport and fly to Bloemfontein on the 'redeye' at 6am. Suddenly it all feels a bit crazy and almost reckless, even though we are convinced that this is part of God giving us our hearts desire.

Baby Finnie!

Well the last 48 hours or so has been spent on that rollercoaster again! - somehow this is no longer surprising in the Finnie household!! We had our first meeting on Thursday with the social worker to discuss the possibility of adoption. She had informed us previously on the 'phone of a possible adoptive placement in Bloemfontein and we had therefore put together and submitted an all singing all dancing family profile for the birth mother and social workers to use.

Emyezweni Christmas Party

We recently posted a couple of photos from the Emyezweni Christmas party which was a great event. If you would like to see more of Dean's photos and read a bit more detail about the event take a look at 'Debs News'.

Debs (together with Rachel) runs Emyezweni pre school in Lwandle (a township just outside Somerset West) with support from Ukuthasa a UK charity and Helderberg Christian Church. The pre school offers a valuable service to many parents who would otherwise have to stop working to care for their kids.

Table Mountain Trip

As promised, here's a photo from our trip. You can see more on our Photoblog; Finnie's In Focus.

This photo shows Paula with Cyril, Danny, Michael, Alfred & Peter standing over Cape Town.



Gutted!

We had our trip to Table Mountain yesterday after church for our respective groups. The weather was great, no cloud in sight and a very excited bunch of adults keen to experience the mountain (most for the first time in their lives!). We got to Table Mountain just before 1pm only to find that the cable car had been closed 10 minutes before we arrived due to gale force winds at the top of the mountain. We waited for almost an hour and had our picnic lunch, but there was no sign of the wind abating. Sadly we had to leave without actually getting up the mountain.

CNP Men's Bible Study

We had an excellent morning looking at Job. We concentrated on the character of the man, looking at the first 2 chapters, a little at his interactions with his friends and then a bit more in depth at God's response in chapters 38 - 41 and finally God's amazing blessing on a man of great faith. Our study was followed by an excellent time of prayer which is so encouraging as I was struggling to get 2 men to commit to regular participation at the beginning of the year. Praise God! We now have between 8 & 9 men each week and look to be growing.

Chris Nissen Update

On Monday Dean spent the whole afternoon with Dina, when he first arrived she was furious due to a few events over the weekend involving a church members daughter, after half an hour Dina had calmed down and we had a really constructive discussion followed by a great time of prayer. Bethany our FYP joined in for part of this which was great. Paula then had an excellent time on Tuesday night with Dina following up on some of the issues Dean had discussed with Dina. We feel this is such an amazing part of our ministry, to be involved as a family in CNP and we really thanks God for this.

The BBC News web site is carrying a story entitled: "Science faces 'dangerous times'" and is about Lord May's last speech as president of the Royal Society. In his speech tonight (Wed) he is said to be speaking on the rise of 'fundamentalism and is to warn that core scientific values are "under serious threat from resurgent fundamentalism, West and East".

We've had an excellent time with Andy Clasper from Queens Road Church in Wimbledon, it was a pleasure to spend time together and to be able to show Andy a little bit of what we're up to. Andy has also had a brilliant 3 week holiday in SA and has been able to experience things normally not on offer to tourists including playing Santa for 70+ children in Emyezweni, our pre-school in Lwandle township (enjoy the photo below).

Photos From Andy's Visit

Joel & Dad jumping off a rock at Boulders Beach

Click on an image to see it full size.


Thursday

On Thursday Dean's Bible Study met in the containers in CNP again, after a few months of not being allowed access. Praise God! It looks like we'll be able to meet in there each Thursday which will be so much better as it is so big. Also, this means as a group we can grow, which is one of our key aims for next year. Please continue to pray that we would be allowed to use the container without all the nonsense of CNP internal politics getting in the way.

Boulders Beach

Andy is with us from the UK and we're enjoying his company, Joel seems to have clicked with him and particularly enjoying running around on the baech with him. Yesterday morning we went to Boulders Beach to see the penguins and then in the afternoon we went to Chris Nissen. This morning Andy will be joining dean for the CNP Men's Bible Study.

Hope you enjoy these photos from yesterday. There will be more on our Photoblog this afternoon.

Launchpad Party

As promised here are some photos from the Launchpad party held in honour of John & Sophie. To see more of Dean's better photos look at our Photoblog.




I forgot to take my camera to our Bible Study social last Thursday, however we did manage to find a disposable camera and get the photos put on CD so here are two of the better ones for you.

From left to right: Cyril, Alfred, John, Michael (in Palace shirt) Dean, Trevor, Basil, Danny & James

Miraculous Recovery

Thank you for your prayers for Joel, he woke up this morning as if nothing had been wrong over the last three days, Praise God! Today has been an almost normal day for him other than being quite tired. His cough has almost totally abated and his temperature is completely normal. We really value your prayers and we're really grateful to God for answering them so swiftly for Joel.

Joel

Joel is really struggling with his fever and has now developed a nasty chesty cough. As we write he's struggling to sleep as he can't stop coughing, also it's really hot tonight. please pray for healing and peace for the boy, he's really tired and desperately wants to be asleep. Pray for healing for him.

Thanks!

Where Did The Week Go?

A quick update... last night (Thurs) we went out with a group to say goodbye to John & Sophie. After 11 months serving here at Helderberg Christian Church, on the Frontier Year Project they're off home to the UK. We're all sad that they're leaving but know that God will use them mightily for His kingdom. In the morning John & I took our CNP men's Bible study group out for coffee & cake to say farewell to John, we had a great time and the men expressed real warmth towards John who will be sorely missed by the group. These 'jollies' were topped off with a staff breakfast this morning which was very pleasant.

Bird Flu On The Ark

I wonder what would have happened if it had been true.


Finnie's In Focus

We've just started a new 'PhotoBlog' called "Finnie's In Focus" Do take a look and let us know what you think. The aim of this new blog is to give you both a wider view of what we're up to and a more focused view of our lives here.

We will continue to post some photos here, but obviously we'll post the bulk of them on the new photoblog. We'll try to post as regularly as possible and will include alternative views of the stuff you see on this blog.

Grasshopper & Bits

On Saturday we went to the aquarium and met up with Richard & Felicity with Matthew. Joel and he had great fun charging around and shouting "Wow! Look at that!" when they saw the sharks. Joel has been to the aquarium more times than we can remember and yet he never seems to tire of it, which is great as it makes for a good morning when we go. Afterwards Dean went with Joel on a 30 minute boat tour of Cape Town harbour and they both really enjoyed it. Joel was a natural on the boat and so we're (or at least Dean is) now planning to take him on one of the glass bottomed boats in Hout Bay. Sadly we didn't have a camera with us so you'll have to believe us when we say the views of Table Mountain from the harbour were stunning.

On Sunday afternoon Dean took Joel to the Nature Reserve and saw Spikey the porcupine as well as several tortoises and lots of red grasshoppers, see photo below. We've tried to find out what it's common name is but without success, so if you know please let us know.

Adoption

Wow the rollercoaster doesn't seem to want to stop just yet!

On Wednesday we met with a social worker at a local children's home and were informed that 'yes' we can adopt. This was the 3rd piece of advice from as many professionals! Thankfully the social worker had done some checking out of issues and legalities and has put us in touch with a private social worker who we'll contact on Monday to arrange a meeting. So we're really excited again!

Our washing machine broke recently, the door latch snapped, but given that the machine is 10 years old one can't really complain too much. In the UK this would have meant buying a new machine for sure, but Africa is the continent of the 'Fundi'. Dean popped out to a local appliance shop and bought a replacement door latch for the princely sum of R20 (less than £2), and fitted it to the old machine in under 5 minutes & Bob's your uncle, the machine is fixed!.

Bien Donné Expo 2005

This morning we went to the Bien Donné Expo which was basically an agricultural show with loads of tractors and stuff. Needless to say Joel was in 7th heaven seeing somany tractors, 'Scoops', quad bikes and other machinery. The whole event was very much a 'redneck' affair geared up for the Afrikaans farming community. Anyway, we all had fun and the stall holders were incredibly tolerant of the kids climbing all over the machinery, thankfully Afrikaaners do tend to be quite family oriented. Part of the reason for going was that Matthew's dad works for Toyota SA and they had a stand selling their forklift trucks.

A Good Laugh

Last night we went with a crowd of friends to a local pizza place which has a live band on Thursday evenings, the night was quite raucous and we all had a really good laugh (invariably at someone else's expense). During the evening we managed to get John (one of our FYP volunteers) on stage to sing 'Stand by me', poor lad only got up to go to toilet! Just as he thought he's finished, Sophie (John's wife) was also dragged up on stage, much to her embarrassment to sing 'The Lion sleeps tonight'. Hope you enjoy the photos.

Adoption update

Unfortunately, the birth mother of the little baby we were hoping to adopt refused to sign the adoption papers on Tuesday when ACVV accompanied her and her grandmother to court. As a result, we have told ACVV that we are withdrawing as potential adoptive parents from this situation. Naturally we were very disappointed and can't understand what happened between Friday, when she was happy to go and sign on her own and Tuesday. However, we had been praying for clear leading and you can't really get clearer than that!!

Adoption

We've deliberately taken some time before posting any news about the adoption as things have been a bit rocky and uncertain. However, that doesn't mean that everything is straightforward right now, because things are still tentative. We do need your prayers so want to let you know what's happening.

Another Week In CNP

Oupa BoydWe've had a really good weekend topped off this afternoon by spending a few hours at the seaside followed by fish & chips on the beach watching the sunset over Table Mountain. Joel had a ball and was getting really brave, wading through the breaking waves.

Here goes with an update on CNP..

On This Day In History..

Actually, in this week in history... and what a historical week it is.

Firstly Rosa Parks died, if you don't know who she was, where have you been? Rosa historically refused to give up her seat on a bus in America, allegedly the conversation was as follows:
"Are you going to stand up?" the bus driver, James Blake, asked.
"No," she answered.
"Well, by God," the driver replied, "I'm going to have you arrested."
"You may do that," Mrs Parks responded.

The rest as you might say, is history!

Rosa Parks 04.02.12 - 25.10.05
Monday started with Dean taking Michael to the courthouse to get some legal advice as he's been served with a summons to appear on the 16th November in relation to his tenure in CNP. Basically, the house belongs to his father (Douglas) who wants Michael & Joyce out. Unfortunately for Michael, his father has enlisted both legal aid and the ANC so he has a very strong team, plus the fact that legally he is the householder. However, Dean believes that Michael has a strong moral argument for remaining in the house as his father is a danger to himself when left to his own devices.

Rollercoaster

We seem to have been on a constant rollercoaster since Wed last week when the ACVV called us. We've spent some time out praying together this afternoon (friends looked after Joel, or rather, he showed them around the Nature Reserve!) which has been immensely helpful. We've also talked a lot about the implications of fostering a child (initially) and the impact this will have on our family life, whether we resolved anything is another matter, but at least we talked and prayed!

Dean had Joel on his own again this morning whilst Paula had a bit of 'me' time although as ever work encroached, with Paula putting in a brief appearance at the church building for a Peer Education event. nevertheless, we all benefited from our various activities. Dean & Joel were building Duplo towers which were taller than Dean, whilst Joel simply enjoyed knocking them down!

Adoption & Fostering

On Wednesday we were approached by the ACVV (local Afrikaans Christian Social Service) to enquire whether or not we're still interested in adoption. This is something we feel passionately about and long to do. We had made a few enquiries about this since we've been here but each time the door seems to have closed firmly on us. So to be approached by a local agency is quite exciting (and a little bit scarey!). Basically they have asked us to consider a long term fostering arrangement with a possibility of adoption (but no guarantee) of a 3 month old boy. Obviously this would have huge impact on us as a family but also on our ministry here (in more ways than would be immediately obvious but we can't unpack that just now).

Weekend

Full MoonWe've had a really good weekend, on Saturday we went to Hermanus in the morning but sadly there were only a couple of whales and they were way off in the distance. That will probably be our last attempt this year to whale watch. We still had good fun with Joel who enjoyed clambering over the rocks and attempting to chase the dassies. In the evening we we went out to a Thai restaurant with our new friends Richard & Felicity, we such a good evening.

Missionary Friends

Some friends of ours in Thailand sent us a description of their weekend which included a visit to a Bhuddist temple. They described the situation well and included a couple of good photos.

This weekend we took the opportunity to take a long drive on Saturday. We drove to the north of the city and through the surrounding mountains a bit. It was lovely to be up high out of the pollution of the city and see what there is up there. Later in the afternoon when it was cooler we drove up Doi Suthep. The base of this mountain is right at the edge of the city, and up towards the top is a huge Buddhist temple.

MA

I've just been to Pretoria for three days as part of my Masters Degree with UNISA (University of South Africa). For those of you who don't know I'm doing a Masters in 'Social Behaviour in HIV/AIDS' with the school of sociology. The whole year with UNISA has been a bit disastrous with very poor communication being at the heart of the problem.

Monica

This morning we had a visit from Monica Brooks from Cheadle. Monica is currently on holiday in the Cape and took time out to join us for the morning, so we went to Chris Nissen to meet a few folk. As ever we were really well received and those who met Monica really enjoyed their time with her.

Hopefully Monica had a good time too. After lunch we took Monica back to her hotel in Cape Town and Paula went off on her own for a while whilst Dean & Joel went to the aquarium.

Weekend & Bits

Dean attended a Cape Elders meeting on Thursday to listen to Michael Eaton speak. Wow! what a privilege to hear someone of Michael’s calibre speaking, particularly in a leadership context. Michael has been at HCC all week conducting a series of evening meetings and this has been excellent, he must be one of the best biblical expositors alive today!

Notorious Typos

Sean posted these on his Blog Primal Subversion, we hope you enjoy them.

Notorious Typos

Here are a few publishing blunders from various editions of scripture...

* Blessed are the place-makers, Matthew 5:9. (instead of "peacemakers")

* Thou shalt commit adultery, Exodus 20:14. (omitted "not")

Frustrations

Paula drove down to Chris Nissen tonight to lead the memorial service for Anna (after last week's postponement) only to find that Aunty Blaby wasn't there and Dina had forgotten that she was coming! This is extremely common, but really frustrating. Not only is it physically annoying ie: in terms of wasted time, energy and petrol, it doesn't do the community any good either. We are assuming that there has been a circumstance beyond our control, but more likely, Aunty Blaby is grieving very deeply and just can't handle any more attention. Please pray that either one of us will be able to see her soon and help her with the process. Paula would also dearly love to share the message she has for people at this memorial, so please pray for an opportunity in the not too distant future, next week would be ideal for this.

Missionary Blogs

Our Blog was recently picked up by someone who runs a site called Missionary-Blogs.com. This is a great site for finding out what others are doing around the world. We've had a brief look through and there appear to be some great Christian Blogs out there.

On their Blog Watch page there are a few snippets of some recently posted Blogs. Please take a look and see how God's name is being glorified around the world.

Katrina

The media appear to have lost interest in Hurricane Katrina and her aftermath and with Rita not providing the expected (and even desired?) news stories the people impacted by these disasters are left to get on with life.

We said a while ago that we would try and find some info from local churches about what is going on and how we can best pray for those affected by the hurricanes. We eventually looked at the Willow Creek website (looking for something totally unconnected) and found the following information:

Birthday Braai

As we said in the post below, it was Dean's Birthday on Sunday and in the afternoon we had a braai with some friends. We hope you enjoy the photos of the kids playing together.


Caleb, Michelle, Joel & Matthew enjoying the food.


Life And Death

Saturday morning was another emotionally charged occasion for Paula as she went to support Anna's family at her funeral in CNP. It was a beautiful, fitting and simple service. Her little house was crammed full with friends and family leaving just enough room for the coffin. We sang our hearts out and the preacher spoke brilliantly about making sure your name is in the Book of Life (or at least that's what Paula gleaned from her limited Afrikaans!). Funnily enough, that is exactly what she has prepared to speak about on Tuesday at Anna's memorial service!

Almost 100%

We're both getting stronger and putting the worst of the illnesses behind us. Dean definitely suffered a bit worst than Paula, but Paula was still very unwell. We are so grateful to Felicity for taking Joel off our hands on Wednesday, there's no way we could have got through the day without her support. Dean said his tummy felt like the roundworm he had in Tanzania whilst the diarrhea was like his Shigela dysentery he had in Zimbabwe, sounds nice doesn't it!

Spiloxene Capensis

Recently we posted a photo of a stunning flower but didn't know the name of it. Well we now know that its proper name is 'Spiloxene Capensis' also known as the 'Painted Peacock Flower', it is classified as a weed (remarkable!) but we think it has to be one of the most beautiful weeds on the planet.

Illness

We have both been really sick for the past 48 hours with some sort of a virus. Unfortunately, it led to Dean vomiting up blood all of last night and we are both wiped out from this and lack of sleep. We have a very wonderful friend however, who, on hearing this, came and washed our dishes, picked up Joel and took him home to her place to play with her 2 year old son for the day. This was absolutely fantastic, allowing us to sleep for the day and try to recuperate. In 14 years of marriage, we have never been so sick at the same time. There was no way we would have been able to look after Joel today, so thank God for friends! We are both feeling a little better tonight- weak but not as sick.

Gert

I eventually found out yesterday (Monday), after much phoning around, what had happened to Gert. It turns out that he was discharged on Friday shortly after arriving at hospital. He had 2 X-rays taken and was given a letter of referral to Ikhwezi clinic (where he'd been on Friday morning!) and then left to get himself home. So that's why the hospital couldn't trace him on Friday evening. Yesterday afternoon in CNP we managed to piece the whole story together. Gert had no means of getting home after being discharged and certainly couldn't walk, so he spent 2 nights sleeping in the hospital car park and spent the daytimes in the waiting room. Luckily, a lady from CNP attended the hospital on Sunday evening and whilst there bumped into Gert and brought him home.

This is an outrageous story but sadly a true one! Sadly it's not an uncommon story for folk in Chris Nissen. In fact, the ambulance had been called into CNP on Thursday for Gert but never arrived.

Weekend

Friday was a busy day for Dean starting with his first clinic visit at 7.15, followed by a second clinic 15 minutes later. It’s quite disconcerting having a car load of sick people when 2 are coughing and wheezing with TB, not a totally pleasant experience! Gert was taken to the hospital by ambulance from the clinic which is what was needed all along. The ambulance was called for him on Thursday, but as so often happens, they refused to attend – can you believe it! More on Gert in a minute.

Bible Study

Dean had an excellent small group this morning with 8 men attending which was a first. They all said they enjoyed the study (we were looking at Samuel) and said they would come again next week, so that's really exciting. To think that just a few months ago I was struggling to get 2 regulars to commit! The three new guys this week were Danny (Anna 'Bop's' partner) Trevor & Willem (see photo below). The group want to continue our season of Character Studies so we will carry on with that and include some New Testament characters in the coming term.

Anna 'Bop'

During her visiting in CNP on Friday, Paula went to visit Anna 'Bop', a dear friend suffering from AIDS, who very recently became a Christian and who had been attending Paula's cell group on her stronger days. Anna was really weak, but was battling courageously. They prayed together and Paula gave her some baby porridge in the hope that she might be able to keep it down, as she wasn't able to eat anything. Sadly Anna died on Monday morning. Obviously, this has been a bitter blow for Anna's family and all her friends. Death is never easy, even when you watch someone you love slowly deteriorate. Tonight Paula went in to visit Anna's family.

SCAS Team

Dean was in CNP early this morning (Monday) to take Vissy to the Dr's but unfortunately she didn't want to go (that is so annoying when you get out of bed an hour early!) but whilst he was talking to her, he heard that the lady across the street had just died. Anna Bop had been seriously ill for a while and Paula had visited a number of times. On Friday afternoon Dean took her some food and spoke to her partner about getting to the clinic. Apparently they had been and Anna was waiting for test results before being referred to the hospital, sadly she never made it.