Weekend Fun

We've had a lot of fun over the weekend despite the fact that Paula was unwell on Thursday evening and Dean was unwell on Sat evening. We think the cause is a dead animal in a newly installed storm drain outside our house. The stench drifts into our house and has been giving us headaches for a while now. Unfortunately, the developer who installed it says it's the Body Corporate's responsibility, the Body Corporate says the developer is responsible so we're stuck in the middle whilst they sort it out. Dean informed the Body Corporate manager that we were going to the municipality on Monday to get it sorted to which he received a horrified response along the lines of; that'll cost us a fortune! Nice to know the welfare of tenants features so highly!

Anyway, Joel had a ball over the weekend charging around outside on his bike with Dad and the neighbour's kids.

We hope you enjoy the photos, if you do you can see more at Finnie's in Focus

Joel & Dad playing 'catch you bike'

Click on any image to enjoy full size

Having lots of fun

Joel & Timmy racing

Inspecting Joel's sore toe

Palace Result

Palace drew with Preston in the FA Cup which was a lousy result for both teams as we play each other again on tuesday in the league and will meet again in a replay of the FA Cup match within 10 days, but at least that will be at Selhurst.

I can barely be bothered to link to a match report, but should you feel inclined, click below:
Match Report

Next fixture: Tuesday 31st Jan away to Preston

Table Mountain Fire

You should have heard on the news about the fire on the slopes of Table Mountain which is causing huge destruction to the Natrue Reserve there. Sadly, the fire appears to have been started by an idiotic British tourist who flicked a cigarette end out of his car window. Thankfully a local guide saw him and made a note of his registration number and the police caught him.

The South Easter isn't helping either as it's blowing around 40kph although it has dropped this morning, so that should help the emergency crews.

Amazingly only one person died and it looks like no homes have been destroyed which is also a blessing. However, this incident will once again leave Cape Town struggling financially. This is so sickening when there is such desperate need for housing and welfare assistance for millions and money has to be wasted clearing up the mess created by one total idiot! (smoking is not big, it's not clever and throwing dogends away is not simply 'littering' but rather a wanton act of vandalism).

Below is a selection of photos taken from the BBC, News 24 and Die Burger (a local paper) which show just how bad this fire is.

Lion's Head shrouded by smoke

Helicopter dousing flames from above

The destruction will be huge, see how small the helicopter is!

Flames ravaging the slopes

View from Cape Town city centre

Helicopter on its way

Fire coming close to the houses

Flames above the houses and very close to the cable car

Seen from a distance

The flames are ferocious, fueled by drought and strong winds

Valiant effort!

The flames really are fierce

Images © BBC, News24 & Die Burger

Palace Result

Not a great one last night as Palace only managed a draw against a poor Southampton side. Needless to say Dowie was not amused. Neither am I!

Click below for:

Match Report
Manager's Comments

Next fixture: Saturday, 28 Jan away to Preston FA Cup 5th round

More Photos

Below are some photos taken this morning before Joel went to nursery. Joel seems to love Eli more with each day that passes and currently really enjoys wheeling him around in his pushchair. Between doing this and playing his guitar Joel is as happy as it's possible to be! Despite this we are experiencing some behavioural challenges as Joel copes with going to nursery 5 mornings a week and getting less attention from Mum & Dad than he's used to. We're going to try and address this so at lunchtime today Paula & Joel will go out on their own for lunch, hopefully they'll have a lot of fun.

See more @ Finnie's in Focus

Joel & Eli in Joel's bed

Elvis impersonator?

Reality of Life

These last few days in Chris Nissen have been really good in terms of time spent with people, but also in terms of putting life into perspective.

On Thursday last week we started our men's Bible study again after a long break. It was really good to catch up and hear everybody's news. Sadly, Cyril's cousin died earlier during the week, they shared their house in CNP, and now Cyril concerned about what will happen to the house as his cousin's family don't like Cyril very much. Also, Danny has been thrown out of his house, this is all very sad, but you may remember some of our posts about Anna Bop who died last year. Danny's house belonged to her, but after her death he remained in the house, but now Anna Bop's mother has sold the house. This is illegal in CNP as the properties belong to the CNP Trust, so now we're involved in sorting out this mess. Meanwhile Danny is staying with friends in the community but can't stay for long as his host are already severely stretched! Despite the bad news, I was really encouraged by the group and their attitudes and faith that as I drove home I realised that this group alone make my time in CNP more than worth it!

The men were all very supportive about my robbery (or bikejacking as it really was!) and they shared some of their stories. I quickly realised how lucky I was not to have been stabbed, probably because I'm white and clearly not South African. Apparently the thieves wait along the same track and attack folk returning to CNP from town as they know they have their grants on them or have some shopping. This is really outrageous but little is being done to put a stop to it.

Joyce (Michael's wife) has started drinking again, Michael is really struggling with this as Joyce changes in personality so much when she's drunk, often becoming verbally abusive. Michael feels so ashamed and hates the fact that this compromises his Christian witness in the community, but he just doesn't know how to handle it. We spent a long time talking this afternoon and finished of by praying which was great.

Dina has finally got her youngest daughter, Charlotte into pre-school at Dannie Ackerman school but is going to have to withdraw her as she can't afford the fees of R150 (£15) per month, this is crazy and yet it's reality for Dina and her family as they struggle to get by. Sadly, Dina is one of the better paid in CNP as she works for the ANC party, but still she's on the breadline each month!

Mama Jane is now drinking on a daily basis which is having a really negative impact on her family life, particularly her twin grandchildren. They have places at Emyezweni pre-school in Lwandle (run by our church) but Mama Jane is invariably too drunk to get the kids to school and when she does they are hugely late.

On the positive front, Donovan has had the charges against him dropped as the complainant failed to turn up in court, this is a triumph for common sense and 'natural justice', not that one can condone what Donovan did but one can certailny understand why he did what he did. I don't wish to be controversial but CNP without the Rastas controlling the crime would be over run with gangsters and drugs. Whether what the Rastas do is right legally is very debatable, but no one in the community denies that they alone serve the community in terms of keeping crime levels to a minimum. Maybe if the police could be relied upon and trusted more then there would be no need for the Rastas to dispense their own discipline. Contentious but this is reality in CNP!

We're not going to direct your prayers in this one, rather we'd ask that you pray for each of the people mentioned and draw out the points that you wish to pray for.

Many thanks!

Family Life

We've not posted much over the last week or so, partly because we've been very busy but also because we were feeling a bit demotivated after a number of events which haven't made 2006 the best start to a year we've ever had! Dean being robbed was awful, but at least he was unharmed, then the head gasket on his car blew leaving us with a hefty garage bill and then our Harddisk crashed and we lost 3 months worth of photos (yes dean does do weekly backups but still disaster struck!).

Anyway, family life is good and we're all enjoying Eli! Joel is such a proud big brother and really dotes on Eli which is great and only occasionally does he get too exuberant and rough with him, but this is never malicious. Joel and Dean have developed a new game which Joel calls "catch you bike" which involves Joel and dad racing around outside (joel on his trike Dean on his bike) generally making lots of noise. Our neighbours 2 boys regularly join in too and together we all have a lot of fun.

We get on great with our neighbours which is a real joy and we will miss them when we move house at the end of February. Yes, we're on the move again! and will be moving to a house about a mile from where we are now. We're really excited about this as the house is a bit bigger so we'll be able to do all the things we struggle to at the moment, so hopefully we will be hosting a cell group (if not leading one soon) and we'll be better able to host visitors (anyone who's stayed with us knows how small our current house is) and at last we'll have a dining room so we'll be able to instill some discipline into meal times! As we said, we'll miss our neighbours but there are certain things we won't miss such as dogs barking continually within the estate and the early hours coming & goings of the nurses opposite us. We currently live in a small complex but the new house is on its own so noisy neighbours will have much less impact on us.

Below are some recent family photographs, you can see more at Finnie's in Focus

Paula & the boys

Eli at one month

Joel & his Tigger baloon (which popped within a minute of the photo being taken)

Joel in 'full flow' as he leads worship

Helicopters & Fire

There have been lots of fires in the Western Cape this summer and things are set to get a lot worst as we've just entered another drought period, although the drought shouldn't be as bad as last year. Late last week there was a huge fire in Grabouw which is just the other side of the mountains and shortly before that there was one in Franschoek which apparently destroyed an area the size of 40,000 football pitches! Table Mountain National Park has had to deal with a few major fires too, which is disastrous for tourism.

This photo is of one of the many helicopters pressed into action to tackle the fires from above. Needless to say Joel finds all the activity very entertaining.

Palace have just drawn 1-1 with the Reading, the runaway leaders of the Championship. Most teams in this league would consider that a fine result given that Reading have only lost once so far this season, but by all accounts they were lucky to scrape a point against an in form Palace side who are now unbeaten in 7 games (having won 6 of them).

AJ slots it home for Palace

Click below for:
Match Report

Next fixture: Wednesday 25th January, away to Southampton

Another week for Paula

Paula had another good morning in CNP today. Dina went with her to introduce her to some new people and she met 6 new women, which is great! Her Tuesday evening social evenings will now start to be held in the homes of these people. They are all keen to get to know her and spend more time with each other. It was interesting that half of them were sick to a varying degree, from eye infections to asthma to bad hip, and none will go to the doctor. This is not because of cost, but because they don't trust them and are either scared or embarassed or both to go. This is not surprising as people are often needlessly and publicly humiliated by the doctor at the clinic. It is a long, hard slog to convince people that they must go. Paula now goes into CNP with an obligatory pack of Ibuprofen to dish out, but this is really not good and certainly isn't a long term solution. One of the ladies was so sick we had to lift her up to take the pills. Please pray for God to move so that this stigma is removed. They all want Paula or Dean or someone to go with them to speak to the doctor, but this just isn't possible.
Eli is now 4 weeks old and growing stronger by the day. He has a bad case of thrush, which we think he contracted at the hospital in which he was born. Unfortunately, this has given him awful, violent diarrhoea. Thankfully, after a first course of natural medicine and now a sharp course of Daktarin, this seems to be clearing up a bit. No matter what, it hasn't affected his eating or sleeping or general mood, so we are very thankful for that. He is a dear little boy and is extremely alert - people always comment on this. He already tracks people or objects and can lift and move his head around when on his stomach. Joel thinks the world of him and is always rushing to get him a toy to 'play' with or telling him to 'pipe down' if he is making a bit too much noise!

Parent Hacks

Here's another parenting Blog which is well worth taking a look at

Parent Hacks!

Lots of useful stuff contributed by the 'REAL' professionals - parents!

Paula Back On The Circuit

Paula went back in to Chris Nissen on Friday for the first time since Christmas week and all our activity collecting Eli and getting ourselves used to being new parents!! 'Her ladies' were so pleased to see her again, but can't really understand why she won't take Eli in to see them there yet. We are doing this purely for health reasons in that Eli's BCG jab takes 3 months to kick in and the TB rate in CNP is so high that we can't take the risk. Maybe, making this stand ourselves as a family will shake people up to take their medication and see what a serious problem TB is in the community.
Paula had a great time catching up with her friends and finding out how Christmas and new year had been. On the whole, it was much as expected with people scraping by and having a quiet time, but generally enjoying being with their families. Sadly, Ouma Lockie's daughter Ricci, lost her 2 month old baby to cot death last week. This was a real tragedy and the whole community came together to make sure that the baby was honoured with an excellent funeral. Paula had the privilege to chat with Ricci on Friday and to pray with her. She will continue to visit her in the coming weeks.
She is also going to start her Tuesday evening visiting this week coming. This has been a very exciting and fruitful time in the past year, but as always, is fraught with in-fighting between church members about who is going to host the meetings etc. etc. Paula just wants to meet, talk and pray with women, she doesn't care about the gossip, but it can be very crippling at times. Please pray that things will get off to a good start this week and that we would see many women come to know Jesus this year as a result of these informal meetings.
It is frustrating to see that almost all of the women Paula knows well are in exactly the same physical position as they were when she first started visiting 1 year ago. Several are still holding out hope that Social Workers will visit and hear their cases for claiming allowances which are rightfully theirs. Of course, these people never turn up, or if they do, they never deliver on their promises. It was good to sit and talk these things through with Dina and see what we might be able to do this year to help. Paula's cell group is going to focus on building leaders and preparing the women to face the challenges that they live with daily. We have been wonderfully blessed by a church in the UK who have commited finance to buy food parcels each month for at least 3 families who are either extremely poor or living with HIV/AIDS. This is wonderful news and Paula, Dina and Aunty Poppy are now busy analyzing who is most needy and sorting out the practicalities of buying and delivering the food. The money will also answer another huge prayer in CNP - it is going to pay for a mini bus to take adults to and from church each Sunday - hallelujah!!! We also happened togo out for brunch last weekend to a new cafe opened by a friend Paula made early on. During the course of conversation, this owner offered to host a little afternoon party for up to 10 children from CNP free of charge on the last Saturday of the month - wow! So, whilst it feels very frustrating on the one hand, God is very obviously at work on the other.
Please do pray for Dina. Paula was particularly frustrated to come across the ongoing attitude from people that Dina will 'do' everything and sort out all of their poblems. They literally expect her to give up her job and set up a creche, for example, just because that is what she used to do in the squatter camp. Noone seems to understand that Dina must also provide for her family. Residents of CNP are not in the luxurious position of being able to volunteer as we do in the UK.
She would also value your prayers for her cell group which re-starts this Thursday morning after a 7 week break. She is desperate for more help with the children. This cell is supposed to be a blessing to mums/grans/carers of pre-school children, but her helpers are disappearing by the day - all for very valid reasons. This is a real problem. Paula is also quite concerned about how she is going to be able to lead well when she has Eli in tow to feed and jiggle about!!

Palace Result

Palace won their 6th game in a row this afternoon beating Hull 2-1 which helps consolidate our position in the playoff places.

Things are beginning to come right for Palace & Dowie

Click below for:
Match Report
Manager's Comments

Next fixtrure: Fri, 20th January, home to Reading the current runaway league leaders, this will be a tough game as 'Sir' Stevie Coppell has done an amazing job with the Royals.

Dad Bloggers

I've just come across a Blog entitled 'Dad Bloggers' and so far I like what I've seen, not to say I agree with it all (it's not a Christian Blog for starters) but it's worth taking some time to read through what has been written.

Chris Nissen Park

Dean was in CNP again yesterday after an almost 3 week break (he did comment towards the end of the break that he needed to get back to work to get some routine into his life!) in which he has really missed his friends in the community. Apparently they missed him too, but we'll have to take their word for that!
Dean spent the first hour with Dina who had several issues she needed to deal with, so it was good to be able to spend some time with her talking through theses issues. One of the best things to hear Dina say was that she'd tired of all the fighting and gossiping in the community and that she no longer wants to fight with Sandra (Sandra is one of the community leaders and unfortunately she and Dina have clashed constantly over the last few years). Please pray for Dina as she so desperately wants to be an effective witness for the Gospel but she really struggles and finds it hard not to get involved when people request her help, often to the detriment of her own family life.
After spending time with Dina, Dean saw another church member who unfortunately just wanted to gossip about Dina and one or two other folk, primarily other church members! So 2006 pretty much carries on how 2005 left off with gossip and jealousy being the dominant issues which need to be addressed in the community. Over the Christmas break we spent some time reflecting on our first 18 months in CNP and what have we achieved? We came to the conclusion that we're still dealing with exactly the same issues now as we were then, namely gossip and jealousy particularly amongst our church members. So we will continue to plug away at these issues, hopefully with a view to supporting and equipping the Christians in the community to make a stand against these divisive issues. If the Christians won't stand up for the Gospel and stand against these issues then there really is very little hope for the community.
Each time Dean is presented with a situation like this he challenges the issues directly but so far we've seen little sign of people changing their behaviours. Therefore we're going to really focus on this in the coming year and try to impact the behaviour of Christian's so as to stop gossiping and being jealous. After all; "Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God." Mt 4:4, as such we're full and satisfied in our needs and have nothing to be jealous of!
Please pray for us and our church members in CNP, pray that together we might be united in the gospel as a force for change in the community and as a clear witness to the Gospel of Jesus! Pray too for all the Christians in CNP that there might be unity amongst them as they seek to serve God and glorify his name in Chris Nissen.
Dean has also decided that he's going to cycle to the office and to CNP a lot more this year in his efforts to get fit (the gym was a total loss for him as it's not located anywhere near where he happens to be, his excuse and sticking to it!), the good news is that he is able to cycle through a fruit farm between our house and the church building so he is only on the roads for about 1km, also, there has been a lot of building work along the railway line at the back of CNP so the crime rate on that stretch has plummeted making the ride in much safer.

Christmas Card

In case you missed our 'e'Christmas card click on the image below to view it. We hope you enjoy it even if it is belated.

FA Cup 4th Round draw

There were some cracking results in the 3rd round of the FA Cup (not least Conference side Burton Albion holding Man Ure to a goalless draw!) and there could be some great results in the 4th round. Palace are away to fellow Championship team Preston who are just one place and three points behind Palace in the league, so that should be a tough match.

The draw in full:

Preston v Crystal Palace
Stoke/Tamworth v Barnsley/Walsall
Cheltenham/Chester v Newcastle
Coventry v Nuneaton/Middlesbrough
West Brom/Reading v Torquay/Birmingham
Portsmouth v Liverpool
Leicester v Southampton
Bolton v Arsenal
Aston Villa v Port Vale
Brentford v Sunderland
Man City v Wigan/Leeds
Millwall/Everton v Chelsea
West Ham v Blackburn
Colchester v Derby
Charlton v Leyton Orient
Wolves v Burton/Man Utd

Ties to be played on January 28th and 29th.

Palace FA Cup Result

Saturday was 3rd round of the FA Cup day when the Prem and Championship teams join the fray.

Palace saw off Northampton Town quite comfortably with a 4-1 win, so now we wait for the 4th round draw.

Click below for:

Match Report

Manager's Comments

Next fixture: Sat 14th Jan away to Hull

Squash and a Squeeze

Joel & Paula enjoying a 'squash & a squeeze', Joel does appear to have become a bit more affectionate since Eli's arrived which is lovely. To see more family photos have a look at our PhotoBlog

A Day On The Beach

On Friday the wind dropped significantly and we managed to enjoy one more day at the beach before Dean goes back to work on Monday. As you can see we had great fun, especially Joel playing 'Catch you' in the sea and then burying his legs in the sand. As ever, Eli happily snoozed his way through the whole adventure despite Joel's efforts to wake him up.

Joel attempting to wake Eli up. Joel doesn't really understand why Eli is so boring at the moment, however we know that will change all too quickly.

Dad & Joel having a 'squash & a squeeze', if you're a fan of Julia Donaldson you'd understand! Joel loves her books and likes to act out his own interpretations of her stories.

Joel buried up to his knees in the sand.

Joel & Paula with our beach tent, if you look carefully you can see Joel's kite flying.

Joel with a hermit crab, sadly he likes to torture them without realising he is being mean to them.
Below is a comment which was left on our Blog by Pastor Troy of RAVEN in relation to a post entitled: Katrina - Christians Respond this was originally a BBC News article which can be seen at: BBC News | In Pictures | Bringing Slavation.

Check out Troy's Blog: RAVEN Team

I've been wanting to post about Katrina again for a while but didn't know what to write or how to go about it, so I'm really grateful to Troy for taking time out to comment on our Blog. Please respond in whatever way you can to the appeal below and even if you can't physically get to New Orleans, we can at least pray for those who are so dilligently serving God in this. Pray also for the work that is being done and that which still needs to be done. Also, praise God and give thanks for RAVEN and the many other churches in the area who have rolled up their sleeves and are getting dirty hands and feet for the Gospel!

HELP! That is the best way that I can say it right now concerning what is about to happen here in New Orleans.

Undoubtedly, the whole nation’s attention was upon New Orleans and the whole Gulf Coast in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and the devastation that followed when our levee system failed and we found New Orleans 80% under water!

Well, the attention that we were getting has decreased and the type of attention that is being paid to the city now is not the attention that will truly have the biggest long term impact.

While the Mayor, the Governor, the President, FEMA, the Army Corp of Engineers and a plethora of other private and governmental agencies argue and debate on the rebuilding of a city—the Church needs to instead be focusing on the unprecedented Harvest and Revival opportunity that this has presented the Gulf Coast and this Nation.

HELP! Is how one could simply break down the vision that Paul received when his brother needed him to come to Macedonia at a pivotal time for that region.

Acts 16:9-10 says, “And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, Come over to Macedonia and help us. Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them.”

When we began our work full time here in New Orleans in 2003, the Holy Spirit spoke to us that (He) “was sending REVIVAL upon the Gulf Coast of the USA and that we needed to network with the Body of Christ in preparation for this time” Luke 5:1-7

In a couple of months, February 24-28, 2006, RAVEN Ministries will be hosting their 10th annual Mardi Gras Outreach in New Orleans. This is a gathering of believers from all over the country who come to share the LIVING WORD with a DYING WORLD.

In the months since Katrina we have personally seen approximately 400 people come to the Lord Jesus Christ in the French Quarter and on Bourbon Street. The “harvest is ready to be harvested but the labors are too few.”

Please come and help us! You can get more information and contact us through our website at www.BigGrace.com and then click on the Mardi Gras Outreach button or you can email me, Pastor Troy D. Bohn, at ravenmail@cox.net or call me at our offices anytime at 504-304-6535

We NEED you here with us for this time. THIS is where we can break the back of the devil over this city and see revival spread throughout this nation—but we need your help to do it.

Posted by Pastor Troy D. Bohn to Adventures With God at 12/27/2005 03:01:49 AM

Let's Go Fly a Kite...

Dean has the rest of this week off so we're making sure we have lots of family time together, particularly making a point of spending time with Joel. So yesterday we went for a walk along the Lourensford River so Joel could throw some stones in (he loves doing that) and then we cut across to the sports fields so that Joel could try and fly his kite again. Thankfully the wind wasn't too strong so the kite flew really well. As you can see below, Joel really got the hang of the kite and he had a great time flying it. Aftewards we had a detour past the local BMX / Skateboard ramp as Joel really enjoys watching the guys there. Sdaly Joel appears to have inherited Dean's sense of humour and laughs himself silly when somone falls off. Being laughed at by a toddler can seriously dent the streetcred of a 15 year old!

Joel flying his kite, what a backdrop! To see more visit our PhotoBlog; Finnie's in Focus

Walking home after a fun packed afternoon (don't worry, Dean was pushing Eli who merrily snoozed through all the fun)

Crystal Palace Result

Palace made it four wins out of four games on Monday beating Leicester 2-0 in a convincing display of competent football. This win consolidates our 5th place in the league and has started to open up a small gap between ourselves and the teams outside the playoff places.

Click below for:
Match Report
Manager's Comments

Sadly no more league games for almost two weeks as we're at home to Northampton in the 4th round of the FA Cup on Saturday 7th.

New Year

Here's a quick snapshot of our New Year, we didn't stay up late as the kids were totally unaware of the fact that anything was going on and would be awake as usual in the morning. Dean cooked sirloin steaks with chips and salad, the steaks were marinated in a honey and mustard sauce which was lovely. We did allow Joel to stay up until about 9.30 to watch Stuart Little with us which he really enjoyed, otherwise it was just a normal evening.

Joel & Dad digging holes in the sand on Strand Beach. How else were we supposed to spend New year's Day?

Eli enjoying a bit of shade on the beach. Thankfully we've just invested in half tent which acts as a wind break and shade provider, so we'll probably be spending a bit more time on the beach this year.

Dean got to enjoy a real ale on New Year's Eve. If there is one thing he misses from the UK, this is it.