We have had quite a monumental weekend which began with us setting off on Thursday morning for an 8 hour drive up to Colesberg where we were staying overnight before driving the final couple of hours up to Bloemfontein for the NFI Southern African annual leaders conference. We thank God that we enjoyed great safety on the road in both directions, despite seeing some absolutely classic driving! However, it was extremely uncomfortable on Thursday in particular driving that far in the heat of the day (40's) with no air con! At the last minute some good friends of ours offered to look after Joel with their 2 boys for the whole weekend to allow us to go without any hindrance and to receive as much as we could. We did deliberate for most of the evening, but felt that this would be the best thing for many reasons - not least because there was no child care for under 4's. We are so glad we made that decision as he has had a ball and we have also benefitted enormously. God has been so good! The weekend was very special for us - particularly seeing again some very dear friends from Zimbabwe whom we hadn't seen since we had to leave in 2003. We rejoiced to hear from them about what has been going on since our departure. It is so encouraging to hear how the church is growing and how different branches of the social outreaches have taken off. God is on the move in Zimbabwe!! This naturally also made the weekend quite emotional for us and we have come home exhausted. Dean was especially thrilled to hear about Chavanduka whom he trained in our last year in Zim. Chav is now fully organising and running the Reach The Nation conferences and has just finished their 11th. Praise God that Chav is still running a strong race for Christ.
We have enjoyed wonderful African praise and worship again in so many languages and high quality teaching from Terry Virgo and others. It is so good to be fed by such quality people who are walking so closely with God. There were also several prophetic words for us as a family of churches, particularly in relation to the death of Simon Pettit in January, and we have come home refreshed, invigorated and encouraged to forge ahead in our ministries for the sake of Jesus Christ.
We then set off at 2 am this morning for a 10 hour drive home. It was exhausting, but well worth it to be able to spend a fantastic afternoon with Joel again. It was his birthday on Saturday, so we have celebrated this afternoon instead and he has so enjoyed all his presents and lots of fun in a local pizza place! I'm not so sure the waitress agreed though when we got up from the table - you should have seen the state of the table, Joel and the floor!!