Wilderness

We’ve just had three nights in Wilderness on the Garden Route with Grandad & Lesley. Much of the time was spent on the stunning beach although we also made it to the Outeniqua Choo Tjoe museum in George. This is a great day out and Joel really enjoyed it again. Unfortunately the morning was ruined a bit by the steam train letting off his whistle. Joel and Daddy were stood right next to it and weren’t expecting it to be quite so loud! That whistle was VERY loud!!!!!

Boxing Day

Boxing day was a nice lazy day which began with a walk in the Nature Reserve where we fed the ducks and even managed to coax Spikey (the porcupine) out of his 'house' for some bread. After this we went to Paddy & Barbara’s for a lunchtime braai and a swim in their pool. They have become really good friends and their kids, Caleb & Michelle, are really good with Joel & Eli even though they’re quite a bit older. Paddy & Barbara also had some other friends there, Johann & Lara and they were good company too. Once the kids were in the pool the adults all relaxed a bit and enjoyed the sun and friendship.

Christmas Day

We stuck to what has become our family tradition by having the turkey in the evening and once again the weather was glorious so we sat outside, jealous aren’t you! The day was mainly about the boys, sadly our church doesn’t tend to have a meeting on Christmas Day, so Joel & Eli opened their small stockings first and then over the course of the morning and afternoon opened their presents. Once again Joel was keen to play with each new toy before opening the next present, but he did get the hang of it and started to demand another present. Still, he’s nowhere near as materialistic as he would be if he were in the UK and we’re grateful for that!

Sport Quotes 2006

Quotes of the Year (stolen from BBC Sport)

If sport is not your thing, just move along and don't moan!

"She shouldn't be here. I know that sounds sexist but I am sexist. This is not park football, so what are women doing here? If you start bringing in women you have big problems. It is tokenism for the politically correct idiots."
Luton manager Mike Newell blames assistant referee Amy Rayner for the 3-2 defeat by QPR.

Happy Christmas

Emmanuel, God with us!

What better reason could there be to celebrate?

HAPPY CHRISTMAS

Lots of love

Dean, Paula, Joel &Eli

XXXX

CNP & Picnic

Having Grandad and Lesley to stay is a lot of fun but especially so for Joel. He seems to be loving every minute spent with Grandad and it's a real pleasure and privilege to watch the relationship blossom!

We've been really busy since they arrived and yesterday afternoon we went into Chris Nissen to meet some of our friends. This is always an emotional time, but yesterday was especially so as Vissy was really poorly, but seeing Eli brightened her up incredibly.

Grandad

Joel has been really excited for a while now as he knew Grandad was coming to see him. Grandad finally arrived on Eli's Birthday, so his first duty was to accompany Birthday Boy with the family for a fish & chip supper at a local chippy. Today was mainly about Joel as we left Eli at home with a friend and went with Grandad and Lesley to Cape Town. We went up Table Mountain then onto Boulders Beach to see the penguins before driving home exhausted and sunburnt. Joel and Grandad had a lot of fun!

Eli's First Birthday

WOW! A whole year went by very quickly, before we knew what had happened Eli turned 1! Eli has hit most of the developmental milestones early, he crawled (of a fashion)at 4½ months, sat up unaided at 5 months, was walking at 11 months and basically never looked back.

He's been and continues to be a very special blessing to us as a family and we thank God for bringing him into our lives. Joel & Eli really do adore each other which is brilliant.




Christmas Hampers



One of the things that we've been really busy with recently was the organisation and distribution of food hampers to our church folk in Chris Nissen. The planning for the hampers was immense as we received physical donations of food and cash donations.

Family Fun

In the midst of a very hectic time we've managed to take a bit of time out just to chill as a family and spend some quality time together. Thankfully, the paddling pool makes a great focal point for fun and being silly together and the boys love being in there - making containment of Eli very easy!

Joel is very very excited as he now only has ONE sleep until Grandad arrives!

Eli & Mummy

Mission Incredible

On Sunday evening we had our invitational service at church entitled 'Mission Incredible'. As explained during the evening, we couldn't call it Mission Impossible because with God, all things are possible! However, the Nativity is incredible and actually deeply shocking (we'll not expound on that right now). The evening was great and as ever at such events we were left marvelling at the sheer array of talent we have in the congregation. Wesley gave a short, simple but punchy gospel presentation so hopefully some of the many visitors will respond to the gospel at some point.

Paddling Pool

With the eventual arrival of Summer (although it's still not very hot yet) we dug out the paddling pool only to discover it was wrecked so Paula got a nice new one for a silly price. Joel remembers well the joys of the paddling pool - pagging pool as he calls it - and once in it is very hard to get him out again! Eli took some convincing that it was a good thing but he warmed up to the idea and by the end seemed to be enjoying himself.

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Or in this case, birthday cake and Christmas trees. Saturday was a busy old day, Paula had a practice session for our evening 'event' at church on Sunday, whilst Dean was running around getting stuff ready for our Mulled Wine evening - a tradition we started at Bible College and have maintained faithfully ever since!

Nobody has ever left disappointed! During the day, Eli had a good go at demolishing a huge slab of his birthday cake and made a wonderful mess in the process. Whilst Joel helped Daddy to decorate the Christmas tree.

Eli's First Birthday Party

With Eli's birthday being so close to Christmas we had to have his party a week early to ensure that some of his friends would be able to come. Eli seemed completely oblivious to the event but was delighted to have unfettered access to a huge bowl of 'Flings' which he and Jared (his main partner in crime) set about demolishing.

Table Mountain

We are privileged to live somewhere as beautiful as we do and regularly thank God for such a blessing! This is the view of Table Mountain seen from a friends home on the Schapenberg in somerset West.

Visit Finnie's In Focus for a high resolution version




We've circled our house in the bottom right.

Nose Picking Shepherd

Joel had a ball at the Twinkle Tots Nativity yesterday. He did himself proud and we were very proud parents! As you'll see from the photos below, Joel was very happy and enjoyed the whole experience, unlike last year when he refused to participate and cried throughout. Nata had obviously given a lot of thought as to who would take which roles and Joel was one of two shepherds. The other shepherd was a smaller boy named Liam and Joel took him under his wing and helped him along.

Today is Joel's last morning at Twinkle Tots, where did his 2 years there go? He has really enjoyed his time there and we've seen him develop and flourish in so many ways. We'll always be grateful to Nata, Ouma & Yolande for taking such good care of our boy! We're also looking forward to Eli starting there in June next year. Tomorrow Joel will be a shepherd in the Twinkle Tots nativity and then it really is 'farewell' as he starts at the International School in January. Wow, he's getting all grown up!

Funny Old Weekend

Nothing spectacular happened at the weekend, but we did have a few minor but amusing incidents ranging from finding a rat in the toilet bowl (dead thankfully, presumed drowned) to a pigeon flying into a window and leaving an almost perfect imprint of itself. Poor Joel was in trouble at the time and hiding in his bedroom when we heard a loud thud, so Dad went into his bedroom to tell him off. Unfortunately, Joel was reading his biggest book which is the one he usually lobs when angry, so he got a sound telling off. Later in the afternoon we went upstairs and saw the impression of the pigeon in the window, whoops! that would explain the loud thump. Joel then must have wondered what was happening as Dad apologised to him and Mummy gave him some sweets. Great recipe for a confused child.

Bible Study Social

My bible study group went for a social this morning and we were blessed with a gift which enable us to go to a steakhouse where we all had a burger, chips and coke. As a group we had not had a trip out since John (an FYP volunteer) left a year ago so fun was had by most. Unfortunately, someone said something malicious to Peter so he was in a really bad mood all morning. Also, the weather was really naff so we couldn't go for the planned stroll along the beach. However, we did have a lot of fun and agreed to make a plan for 2007 to ensure we have more trips out. Amen to that!

Monkeys & Mountains

Having just had our worst ever weekend in terms of behaviour and boundary pushing, things seem to have settled down again and life is a lot of fun once again. Joel lost the battles and after refusing to eat (and generally behave) he's rediscovered his appetite! Thankfully, Joel & Eli generally play very well, especially when they're in Joel's bedroom. Both boys adore books and Eli quite often slopes off there to rummage through Joel's collection.

Home Based Care

Our planned Home Based Care program seems to be gathering pace without our actually doing very much about it. On Friday we had a call regarding old bedding from a local hotel which is replacing theirs. So Dean went into Cape Town and was able to load the bakkie with a huge quantity of sheets, towels, flannels etc. which is an amazing blessing. We just need to find somewhere to store it all!

This will all be so useful once the program is up and running as clean bedding is often the biggest request we get from the folk in CNP. Praise God!

Strawberry Picking

On Friday Paula went with Joel on the Twinkle Tots annual strawberry picking trip, much fun was had by all as well as many strawberries! Thankfully they didn't weigh the kids or parents on arrival or departure.

World Aids Day

We know we're a few days late, but thought we'd post something anyway.

Part of the difficulty in posting on this is that here in South Africa things are far from straightforward. Firstly, we have a government which is in denial with the nations approach to HIV/AIDS treatment, & awareness raising being overseen by a health minister who is at best laughable and at worst downright objectionable! She is know as Dr. Beetroot or as the Minister of Garlic as she favours just about any treatment except ARV's. Recently, she was interviewed at the launch of a new 'traditional' medicine in a rural area, but the medicine hadn't even been licensed by the relevant authorities. This is all very frustrating and leaves one feeling very marginalised when trying to get ARV's and counseling for those who need it.

Cell Social

On Thursday Paula took her cell group to a local farm shop for coffee and cake. Paula hadn't told the group that she had planned the trip so it was a welcome surprise for them all. The morning was extra special as Yvonne was there with Asher, Yvonne and her husband Vernon have recently moved to Durban to plant a church. A great time was had by all.

Washing Machine

Paula caught Eli attempting to climb into the washing machine this morning but rather than panic she grabbed her camera and took these cute photos of our amazing boy.

A Proud Moment!

There comes a time in a Father's life when his pride in his kids knows no bounds. Today was close to one of those moments when Joel donned his first Palace shirt. This brought a tear to my eye.

We got a few looks in church as Dad was also in his Palace shirt (a birthday present from Jo) so we were resplendent in our 'red & blue'.

That's my boy!

Weekend

It's been a funny old weekend, Paula was out on Saturday morning with Eli at a birthday party and then again in the afternoon for a practice session with the choir she's in for Christmas (all a bit Anglican!), so I got to spend most of the day just with Joel which was great, although much of my time was spent mopping up poo as Joel isn't too well. I'm not sure where today went, church was great, Sean preached a class sermon about God. How we need more of this type of preaching! But this afternoon seems to have disappeared, although part of it was stolen by the telly as Joel and I watched 'Over The Hedge'. Joel wasn't too sure why Daddy was crying and laughing at the same time, but let's just say that this is a good film which is wasted on kids.

We have some good photos to show for a non-event weekend...

Running & Running!

Wow what a day! Poor Joel is suffering really badly with diarrhoea. We think it might have to do with some dodgy swimming pool water he drank, but it could be any number of reasons. Suffice it to say, we have got through several pairs of pants and almost a bottle of bleach today! The day started with a crash when we caught him literally falling off of the kitchen work top as he was caught in his efforts to self-medicate by climbing up to the medicine cabinet. One hour later, the kitchen was clean but still a bit sticky underfoot - boys!!

Emyezweni Christmas Party

We were invited to attend the Emyezweni Christmas Party today, mainly so that Dean could entertain the kids again, but also because we try and support the work as much as possible, although in truth we don't do anywhere near as much as we'd like to for them.

As usual the Christmas party was a lot of fun, Debs, Rach' and the staff really do put a huge amount of work into it and the whole event is brilliant.

The photos tell their own story, so we hope you enjoy them..

Mountain Biking

I generally manage to go twice a week and sometimes manage three rides. On a Tuesday and Thursday I go with some friends up Sir Lowry's Pass, following the railway servitude road. The ride is great and there is a fantastic stretch of downhill on which we once clocked 75kph!

Joel & Eli

Joel has wanted a helmet for his bike for a long time, so yesterday we got him one which he now refuses to take off! In the evening he wandered into the bathroom still wearing it and said in a hippy type voice: "Wow, it's all green" Oh dear!

Kids And Crane

As I was driving into Chris Nissen the kids were enthralled by the crane, but as soon as they saw my camera they began posing for me. Once again you can see how beautiful the backdrop to the community is.
For our entire time here we've been striving to network with other agencies and organisations (role players) to ensure a cohesive strategy in Chris Nissen. Part of our desire is too also wipe out any duplication of service into the community so as to strengthen the planned outreaches of the various groups involved. Frustratingly our efforts at building a network have been fairly fruitless and there are a couple of fairly obvious reasons for this. Firstly, besides ourselves as Helderberg Christian Church, there is no other agency or organisation which is in the community on a regular and committed basis.

Home Based Care Training

Saturday morning was the start of the realisation of a dream Paula has been carrying for Chris Nissen Park over the past 2 years. In the last 6 months the ladies in her cell group have received 2 sessions of HIV/AIDS awareness training and this was capped on Saturday by a whole morning of Home Based Care training. Over her months of visiting people in CNP it has become all too evident that many of the ladies are in fact doing the job of a home based carer with very little (or no) training, few resources and less than ideal environments.

Eli At 11 Months

Eli is 11 months old today. Wow, where did the time go?

We can't really express what a sheer bundle of joy he is and what a blessing he is to our family. Joel simply adores Eli and that is clearly reciprocal! We look forward to Eli being able to walk and keep up with Joel, as it looks like they'll have a lot of fun together (as long as Eli leaves Joel's train set alone).

Garden

Here's an update on how the garden is looking now that Spring is over and summer is allegedly with us (we say allegedly as it's been raining for 2 days, but it is very warm). The grenadilla bush has simply continued churning out its fruit so no complaints there. It's a pleasure to watch different plants come into bloom at different times. The Aloe Vera has finished flowering and now looks quite plain, whilst other bushes and trees are looking fantastic.

Hope you enjoy our garden as much as we do...

Eli

Dean's replacement lens arrived today (he smashed his old one at the Choices do - whoops!) so he had to fiddle with it and take a few piccys before the light went completely and Eli was very obliging. Joel on the other hand scarpered as soon as he saw the camera.

Chris Nissen

I had an excellent afternoon in Chris Nissen catching up with friends and visiting a few others that I hadn't seen for a while. I always enjoy spending time in Dina's house and today was no exception as Basil & Mary were there with a neighbours daughter whom they look after during the day. Lytton (Dina's grandson) was there with a friend as was Dina and we all had a good laugh and chat. I then went and spent a bit of time with Vissy, I'm always stunned at how well she looks! God has been so faithful in answering our prayers for her. We were convinced about a year ago that she had only days to live, and here we are a year later and she looks really good. Praise God!

Lazy Sunday Afternoon

Going to the Nature Reserve for tea on a Sunday afternoon seems to be becoming a bit of a tradition. Thankfully it stays open until 7pm during summer so we'll be able to enjoy many more lazy afternoons and evenings there. As you can see from the photos below, the boys really enjoy going. Joel loves seeing Spikey (the porcupine) and Eli seems to know that there will be plenty of food available!

TT Bike Races

Joel had a ball at the Twinkle Tots Bike Races this morning. He almost won his heat, but apart from that he loved being with his friends and just generally charging around the car park at his nursery. Needless to say the boys were very lively! Eli enjoyed himself too as he attempted to eat all the gravel on the car park, he failed but not for lack of trying!

It was a really good fundraiser for the nursery and everyone seemed to enjoy cheering for their kids and chatting with other parents.

Hope you enjoy the photos and the video below.

Bike Race - Preparations

Joel's nursery are holding a 'Bike Rally' tomorrow and there are prizes for the best decorated bike, so Joel & Daddy set about creating a masterpiece. Joel loved using 'real' paint and could barely contain himself. The biggest struggle for Daddy supervising was trying to persuade Joel to wait a while to allow one colour to dry before using a different one. Anyhow, he got the hang of it and did a sterling job.

Eli Standing



Here's a video of Eli standing. He's getting really confident now and has taken one step on a few occasions so he's sure to be walking soon. Scary thought!

Eli

We took this photo of Eli this morning as he was showing off with his standing. He's been standing freely for a while now, but yesterday he took his first step and took another this morning. Having has a child who didn't move for 18 months it's quite scarey having a monster who's been moving since he was 4½ months old! Eli is a week short of being 11 months.

Chris Nissen

I had an interesting morning in CNP today. His first task was to deliver a load of toys and two cupboards to the newly established créche in the community. This créche is a bit of a mixed blessing for us, it's great that at last there is something for the kids and their parents, it means that I can no longer use the containers for my bible study on Thursday mornings.

Joel seemed to spend the whole of Sunday getting into mischief one way or another. Here's a sample of some of his antics plus a couple of cute shots of Eli to counter balance it all. Check out Joel's novel use of peas over on Finnie's In Focus

P. W. Botha

I wasn't planning to comment on the death of P.W. Botha, most realise that he was an anachronism from another time. An ugly reminder of the dark days of the apartheid regime of the 1980's. However, two things have come out of his death that warrant comment. The first thing is 'historical revisionism' and the second is 'forgiveness'. Clearly the second is by far the most important so I'll concentrate more on that one once I've dealt with the first.

Update On Our Week

The week in summary... It started last Saturday when Dean & Joel went to our 'Launchpad' camp near Grabouw. Dean was the official photographer and Joel was the able assistant! Look out on our PhotoBlog early next week for more photos of that. On Thursday, Dean was again the 'official' photographer, this time for Choices, our pregnancy crisis counseling centre. Dean has done a few bits for them and really enjoys serving this BRILLIANT ministry.

Health & Study

The good news is that Dean doesn't have TB! Praise God!! The bad news is that he's going to have to see the Dr. and try to sort out his cough and wheeziness as it's been going on for quite a while now. Dean is really frustrated as he can't shake off the cough but really doesn't want to take any more antibiotics. Probably the biggest frustration is not being able to go cycling, he's missed two rides this week and one last week, so he's trying to sort out a ride for tomorrow.

In case you're not aware, Firefox version 2 has just been released and can be downloaded from their website. I fully recommend it!

Ditch Internet Explorer today!

Sunday Afternoon

The weekend was quite manic with a lot of runnig around, with not much family time to be had, so yesterday afternoon we had another picnic tea in the Nature Reserve. The boys love being there and it really is a lovely place. The only shame is that it still closes at 5.30. Thankfully in Nov' they extend it to 7.30 which will be much better. As we were leaving we were treated to a rare sighting of a Bontebok calf, we were all pleased with that! Normally the mothers keep them hidden for quite a while but this one was only a few days old and proudly parading around with the herd.

Sickness & Stuff

Please pray for Dean as he's struggling with his third bronchial infection in a short space of time. Dina and others in Chris Nissen have nagged him to have a TB test so he'll go and get that done on Monday. Dean's sure he hasn't got TB especially having read up on the symptoms. However, it is possible that he keeps getting ill from his incredibly regular contact with TB sufferers in CNP. After his last illness Dean had barely recovered when he took a few TB patients to the clinic in his car. Such close proximity when your immunity is low is not great! Please pray for a sustained period of good health for him.

Rainbow

late this week a 'black' southeaster was blowing which brought a bit of rain too, but the best bit was the rainbows we kept seeing. This one was just peeping over the Schapenberg and is seen from our bathroom window.

Bakkie In Action

In our recent post: 'Nothing Of Note' we mentioned the fact that we had changed Dean's car for a 'bakkie' (pickup in English) to assist us in our work in Chris Nissen. Here at last are some photos of the bakkie doing exactly what we wanted it for.

Concepts Of Eternity

Not very sound theologically, but quite entertaining.