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.

This afternoon (Tues) Dean met a man called Vicky who says he wants to join our men's bible study group, so the growth of our group continues. Vicky was very open about his HIV status and is being very diligent in getting the right tests done and obtaining the right treatments. This is quite unusual in CNP and so it's refreshing to meet someone such as Vicky. The only problem with his diligence in seeking treatment is that Vicky is registered with two clinics and is receiving the same medicines twice! Dean was able to address this and hopefully Vicky will now concentrate on attending Ikhwezi clinic which is the closest one to CNP and is also where the ARV clinic is situated.

Michael was in court this morning regarding his housing issue (his father is seeking legal advice to have Michael & Joyce removed), the case has been postponed until the 9th of Feb, but Michael has already been informed (by whom we're not sure) that the deadline for moving out of the house is the end of Feb next year. Please pray for a miracle for Michael & Joyce, we'd dearly love to see them remain in CNP, pray too for Douglas (Michael's father) that he'd come to know God.

Our Table Mountain trip is on for this Sunday (4th), we're taking Paula's cell group and Dean's bible study group, most of who have never been up the mountain. We had planned to do this 3 weeks ago but the weather wasn't great so we postponed, after all, this will be a once in a lifetime trip for many of them so we want to make sure the trip is worth it. Please pray for fine weather and a cloud free Table Mountain on Sunday afternoon. We're leaving immediately after church in the morning and should be at Table Mountain between 12.30 and 1pm. Both of our groups are really excited about the trip.
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".

According to the BBC he will warn against the "denial lobby" in relation to climate change and calling on scientists to take a more active role in speaking out against so-called "intelligent design" and other threats to modern scientific values.

So what are those 'modern scientific values'?
Firstly, let me address the Christian position, ours is an easy one to attack, after all our agenda is clearly laid out in scripture for all to read (and interpret) at will. our mission is to "make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit." and we're guilty as charged because we adhere to this message, believing it to be true in the same way that we believe that there is only one God and no-one goes to him except through Jesus Christ, who is "the way, the truth and the life."

Back to the scientific values... these are somewhat harder to pin down for a number of reasons. Many scientists work in secret, trying to protect work and future patents and thereby future income. Many are financially sponsored by large corporations, often leading to conflicts of interest and as such research may have a bent in a particular direction to favour the sponsors. Some scientists work on the fringes of the law, pushing the boundaries of genetics, often sailing a fine line between legal and illegal, invariably keeping research top secret until there is a 'significant' breakthrough which can be trumpeted loudly enough to cover the fact that boundaries have been crossed. There are other motivations behind scientific research, many of which are honest, decent and noble, but it is disingenuous of scientists to declare that outside of science there is no truth.

As Christians we are often criticised by others as being too subjective, however, those that level such accusations and criticisms at us are often those that have lost sight of objectivity themselves and are pursuing agendas dictated and controlled by others, such as their corporate sponsors.

The notion that 'Scientific materialism' (read fundamentalism) is 'truth' and everything else is tenuous is simply a fallacy. Evolution is nothing more than a theory, there is no hard proof to make it the exclusive model of how our world came about. Rather it is a faith position! The belief that out of a massive uncontrolled explosion the world evolved, complete with ecosystems etc. is a position of faith which can only be viewed within the context of other faith positions. There is an excellent article on this at the Christian Courier. The theory of evolution is as subjective as the theory of intelligent design and the theory of creation (these are not necessarily the same thing).

I personally find it hard to believe that a fish one day decided to get up out of the sea and walk on land, I also wonder where the fossils are to back up such a notion? I'm not a scientist (that is probably quite obvious) but I am a Christian who believes that the world was created (nature left to its own devices works too perfectly to be a random by product of an uncontrolled explosion), but I also have a lot of time for the emerging science of 'Intelligent design' (only I believe that the Lord God is the intelligent designer). Coming from an evangelical/charismatic background my/our agenda is simply to see God's name glorified through the extension of his kingdom by seeing souls saved through the sacrifice of Jesus on a cross. If that makes me/us fundamentalists then once again, we're guilty as charged.
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).

Joel took a real shine to Andy and really didn't want to say goodbye on Saturday afternoon and he had to be distracted with the promise of Nemo in the end to cheer him up. On Sunday we took Joel to the Nature Reserve (our second home) and Joel kept asking where Andy was?

Saturday night we entered uncharted territory with Joel by taking him to the annual Noddy Party organised by the Round Table in Somerset West. The party started at 7 and went on to about 9.30 and Joel coped admirably with the late night (although we won't be making a habit of it!), the only downside was that he didn't have a lie-in in the morning so it was business as usual for us all at 7am. Joel was awe struck at times by what he saw, and was delighted to see Shrek and Barney on stage. Joel managed to get a hug from Shrek so he was thrilled (we however hadn't recognised Shrek immediately!). We went with a group of friends so the kids could have fun together and Joel & Matthew played so well together and were equally excited about the characters they saw on stage.

Emyezweni Nativity


Andy as Father Christmas (cause...)


..& effect


Noddy on stage with Big Ears & PC Plod


Two enthralled little boys!

Photos from Andy's visit

Click on an image to see it full size.

Joel & Dad jumping off a rock at Boulders Beach

©Andy Clasper

Wine Tasting at Delheim


Michael & Dean in Chris Nissen Park

©Andy clasper

Kids in CNP

©Andy Clasper

Girl in CNP

©Andy Clasper

Paula & Dean in Franshoek at sunset

©Andy Clasper

Emyezweni Christmas Party


Joel playing at emyezweni


Girl in Emyezweni


Family photo

©Andy Clasper

Palace Result

Palace were well and truly stuffed on saturday by Luton. I can't make any claim that we were robbed or unlucky, we were simply appalling! On the strength of this display, any ambitions we have of promotion are totally laughable!

Click below for:
Match Report

Managers Comments

Next fixture: Sat 3rd Dec, home to Milwall

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.
One other benefit of using the containers means that we don't need to meet in Michael's house. This is a sensitive issue as the house belongs to his father (Douglas) who is taking Michael & Joyce to court to have them evicted. This is a real tragedy but unfortunately is looking like a realistic prospect. We really need to pray that Michael & Joyce can remain in CNP even if they have to move out of the house. The court date is set for the end of the month. Sadly this has all come about as a direct result of Michael & Joyce seeking to care for and protect Douglas from his drinking habit. Sadly each time Douglas receives his monthly pension the money is gone within an hour and he is blind drunk, invariably this leads to him being picked up and returned home by the police. Quite where all the money goes is anyone's guess, but Douglas does suddenly become very popular on pension day. During the rest of the month Douglas has no food and no money for electricity, so he's dependent upon Michael & Joyce who want to care for him. Please pray for Douglas, pray for grace in his life and that he's stop drinking. Pray also that this housing debacle would be resolved amicably without intervention from the court.

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.

Andy with the penguins


Joel on a rock


Joel & Andy playing on the beach


Joel & a penguin


Penguins

Palace Result

Palace beat Coventry 2-0 on Tuesday night completing a hat trick of wins over them so far this season (2 league wins and 1 cup win). Things are beginning to look quite healthy for Palace and with 2 games still in hand, we've reason to be optimistic!

Click below for:
Match Report

Next fixture: Sat 26th away to Luton

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.

Friends


Having a laugh


Sophie being dunked


John loves having his face painted
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
Group Photo

Dean with Michael & Cyril

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.

This morning in church we said goodbye to John & Sophie as they'll be returning to the UK shortly (after some well deserved travels around Southern Africa), they've had a huge impact on our kids work, especially with 'Launchpad' (ages 8-12) and they've managed to follow up with some of the kids on Monday afternoons in Chris Nissen, which has been great. Dean will really miss this input into CNP. In honour of the impact John & Sophie have had with the kids, we actually had some child friendly worship which was great, this was then followed by a party outside for the kids which generally involved lots of face painting, getting wet and having a lot of fun. We'll post some photos here on Monday and some more on our 'Photoblog' during the week.

This afternoon we went to the Nature Reserve to see Spikey, Joel was delighted that Spikey came out of his Den, even if it was to eat the bread we'd brought (which was really meant for the ducks!). Joel seems to have progressed beyond his fear of Spikey and as you can see from the photos below he's really into him now.

Spikey enjoying the bread meant for the ducks


Joel & Dad watching Spikey

Palace Result

Palace beat the Seaweed (Brighton) 3-2 at the Withdean 'stadium' this afternoon taking them back to 9th in the table with 2 games still in hand.

Once again Palace were far superior to the opposition and made really hard work of grinding out a victory.

Click below for:
Match Report

Next Fixture: Tuesday 22 Nov, at home to Coventry.

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.

Joel has been unwell for the last 2 days and has quite a high fever at the moment (many kids seem to be suffering with the same thing) so we're in a period of broken nights which is a real shock to the system and we really don't cope well. Joel usually sleeps a solid 11 - 12 hours at night.

Vissy made a remarkable recovery after looking so close to death last week, but sadly she appears to have gone downhill again in the latter part of this week. Please continue to pray for healing for her. We'd love to see God's name glorified in CNP through such a miracle!

Dean attended the CNP cell on Wednesday night and really enjoyed his time there, this is always such a good group. Sadly, Dina caught her husband in a very compromising sexual position that evening, she had gone over to one of the Rasta's houses to ask them to turn the music down so we could have cell and whilst there she saw the incident. Needless to say Dina is distraught and doesn't what to do. Please pray for grace, wisdom and strength so that she is able to behave in a Godly manner. This is an awful position to be in and will require a huge amount of grace on Dina's part to get through it.

At long last summer does appear to have arrived (we've said this before and then the rains kept returning) with the temperature climbing into the high 20's, hopefully the Southeasterly wind will continue blowing as that is what provides the warmth.

We're expecting Andy Clasper a friend from our old cell in Wimbledon to arrive in the next few days, he's been in SA for a week or so already and it will be great to catch up.

Hope you enjoy the 'Good News' photo below:

Been looking for one of these for a while!
©Not known

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.

Please be patient with us on this as the new blog is a work in progress so things will change and be 'played around with'. We'd like to make the new blog as user friendly as possible so feel free to comment, critique etc. and play a part in shaping the blog.

Our new PhotoBlog

Grasshopper & Bits

On Saturday we went to the acquarium 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 acquarium 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.
Amazing Grasshopper
©Glenn McCrea

Palace Result

Actually there is no Palace result this weekend due to Internationals being played, and what a weekend for England!
* England beat Argentina 3-2 with Owen getting 2 late headers (now I know there is something funny going on when Owen starts winning headers!)
* England beat the Aussies 26-16 in Rugby Union
* Great Britain trounced New Zealand 38-12
Not a bad weekend.

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! Then today we met up with some friends for lunch and they had also invited another couple from the UK. Now for the Godincidence... they have been here the same time as us and are on the same visas and they are just about to complete the adoption of a beautiful little girl. So this definitely confirms we can adopt. Amazingly this couple have also used the same private social worker (and sing her praises) so now we are really really excited about meeting up!
Please pray that we can meet the social worker early next week and that all goes well. We'll let you know what happens.

November Prayer Update

Our latest monthly update is available on the Crosslinks website and can be downloaded here.

Thanks for taking time to read about our work and pray for us, we really appreciate you!

Pakistan Earthquake Update

Our friend Matt who is serving with PAI in Pakistan sent this through today. Please continue to pray for him and his work but also for those affected by the devastation of the quake as they try to rebuild their lives.

STOP PRESS!

The curfew is over in Gilgit, but tomorrow I am moving 12 hours south to Mansehra, the heart of the earthquake zone – to coordinate our volunteers and new office there – possibly for 2-3 months. We have an excellent shelter design, many 100s of which we are trying to get out to the uppermost villages before the snows come. My 4 wheel drive is ready, just in time, though for the shelter distribution we hope to make use of the helicopters. Please pray for wisdom and protection as we search out the most needy. I met a young lad in Mansehra last week, who had come down from the village. He told me, with tears in his eyes, that over 200 of his relatives had been killed and that many were still under the rubble. Here, where cousin marriage is so common, his story will not be unique.

It's great that a Christian organisation like PAI have been given such freedom of movement around Pakistan by a Muslim govt, please pray the they will be effective in building and extending God's kingdom is such a desperate situation. Praise God too that people like Matt want so desperately to serve God in such difficult circumstances.

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!.

We first experienced this 'Fundi' (Swahili for expert or repairer) mentality in Tanzania, which is where the word comes from, in Tz we had to have shoes repaired a number of times and each time the repair by a fundi on the side of the road was better than the original workmanship (which was probably Chinese and done in a sweat shop). This mentality was also found in abundance in Zimbabwe and we had thought that with SA being far more developed and 'Western' in it's approach that this would be a dying art, but no! The 'Fundi' mentality is alive and well! Brilliant!

On Sunday we joined John (see "A Good Laugh") and Sophie for John's Birthday picnic in the Nature Reserve. We all had a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon and Joel really enjoyed the extra attention from so many other adults.

John enjoying his Birthday
Face hidden to protect the camera

Joel & Sean playing

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. Joel really enjoyed seeing Matthew and together they ran around and generally made merry. Good to know that we can 'blend' in to this culture as well - happily eating our boerwoers in Cape bread for lunch!! (oh the sacrifices we make!).

Joel and the 'camels'

With Dad on a tractor

Solo on a tractor

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 embarrasment to sing 'The Lion sleeps tonight'. Hope you enjoy the photos.

Stand by me...shame his mates didn't

awim away, awim away

Palace Fixture

Last night's match at Southampton was postponed due to a water logged pitch, as yet no new date has been set, so Palace now have two games awaiting rescheduling.

Following our brilliant win in the League Cup over Liverpool the European Champions (they were in excellent form against Anderlecht!) Palace are away to Middlesborough in the next round which will be played in the week commencing November 28.


Next fixture: Saturday 5th home to Sheffield Utd.

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!!

ACVV then explained to us that if we were still interested, we should contact their HQ in Cape Town to register ourselves as potential adoptive parents. We agreed to this. However, they 'phoned us today to ask us to contact the Social Worker at the local children's home here in Somerset West who is apparently happy to help us out. We spoke to her and have arranged to see her next Wednesday to talk things through. She is again confirming that we can adopt and is happy to talk through immediate options. So, having taken our huge step of faith, we are yet to see what it will lead to, but we are confident that God is in it, despite our initial disappointments. This doesn't make it any easier though and we really do value your prayers for us as a family.