Michael's Father

I spoke to Michael this morning to find out what's happening with Douglas, as when we visited him in hospital on Friday evening he was unaware of why he was in hospital and what was going to be happening. I managed to explain to Douglas (with Michael's help) that he was due to have both his legs removed due to gangrene. As you could imagine Douglas was very upset, whilst Michael was just cross that the hospital staff hadn't informed Douglas about the impending surgery.

Helderberg Nature Reserve

On Sunday afternoon we went to the Helderberg Nature Reserve for a very pleasant stroll around the grounds. Joel was delighted as ever to see Spikey and to feed the ducks. This is definitely one of our favourite family activities!

Watching 'Spikey', both Joel & Eli seem to enjoy watching Spikey, Joel enjoys feeding him bread (although we were told-off last time!)

Whale Watching

We took a gamble on Saturday and decided to go to Hermanus to see if we could see any whales as the 'official' season is just about on us. Thankfully the weather was great and we did see a couple of whales although they weren't very close to the shore. Joel was excited but we could tell he was a little disappointed that we couldn't get a really clear view of the whales.

Just before lunch it clouded over and the swell was increasing so we decided to go home via the coast road (the same road where Jaguar filmed their ad for the new XK!) and as we were about 15Kms from Gordon's Bay we saw a whale really close to the beach. Hope you enjoy the photos below.


Back in February we wrote a post entitled: 'The Law is an Ass' in which we told you about the court case involving Michael, Joyce and his father Douglas. You may recall that the court agreed with Douglas' counsel and ordered that Michael & Joyce be evicted from Douglas' home. However, Michael & Joyce had no legal representation and were steam rollered throughout the whole process. Dean's point at the time was that: "Douglas would now be a very vulnerable man within the community due to his drinking" because Michael & Joyce had provided Douglas with a high degree of care which enabled him to live freely and healthily.

Bell Valley Graduation

After 2 years of working with Chris Nissen, we're fed up of regularly hearing about so and so who does such and such in CNP, we probably hear such rubbish at least once a week and it's never true. However, recently an organisation called Bell Valley Initiative went into CNP with a view to undertaking a needs assessment prior to actually working with the community. We're pleased to say that they have stuck with it and have now completed their needs assessment and will shortly begin working in CNP in earnest. This makes a welcome break from hearing about things that aren't actually happening.

Blogging Works!

This posting is aimed at those back home who still don't really get what Blogs and Blogging (yes that really is a verb) are all about.

My post below talks a bit about the interaction between bloggers on the web, and this post will hopefully demonstrate a little more as to how it can work.

As you can see from the 'Counter Stats' page, someone has visited our Blog via a search on Technorati (I'm not going to explain that). They were searching for 'Newsnight' and our Blog came up because of the post immediately prior to this one.

What Is Blogging About?

There are a number of reasons for Blogging, some perfectly reasonable and some just downright voyeuristic, but equally these reasons can be applied to why people read Blogs.

We Blog as a cheap, simple and hopefully effective way of keeping in touch with friends and family back in Blighty. However, we know that our Blog is regularly read by others in far more exotic locations, which is quite exciting – for us at least!

Dean's Perspective

My first week back in Chris Nissen was mainly taken up with visiting friends and reassuring folk that we had returned – it’s nice to know that we were missed. By and large, things seem to have ticked over quite well in our absence with the members of our groups having held onto some of the key teachings we imparted just prior to our leave. In particular, gossip amongst the brethren appears to have reduced which is an amazing answer to prayer! We now need to build on this and help people to move forwards, building on the works God is doing in their lives. As such, our groups will press on with basic biblical teachings and discipleship which is really key to seeing personal spiritual growth.

Paula's Thoughts

I (Paula) have arrived back in Somerset West with a bang. My first week was hectic, not least getting everyone used to the old routines again! It is very hard to get out of bed at 7 am when it is freezing and dark.... convincing Joel that it is time to get ready for nursery when it is like this is even harder!! Nonetheless, it has been good to catch up with old friends and to meet 6 newborn babies from the last 6 weeks! (still 4 more to come!! Eli is going to have a huge peer group and hopefully plenty of future wives to choose from!!). One of these is the new daughter of 2 teenagers in Chris Nissen. I went to see her on Friday with her mum and both are doing really well. It is so hard to believe that 7 months have gone by since Eli was that little! Also encouraging in Chris Nissen are 2 new groups set up by social welfare for pensioners and the ongoing creche which keeps going despite very limited resources, praise God!

Ice!

This weekend is predicted to be the coldest of the year with snow falls on most mountains in the Western & Eastern Cape. Certainly it is very cold at the moment and after 5 weeks of decent weather in Blighty we're not really prepared for this.

This is a picture of some ice we found in the garden this morning, just to prove it really is cold!

Thomas & Gordon

Life has certainly been busy since being back, not least because there's a lot going on in Chris Nissen, mostly encouraging but not all of it. We'll post more over the weekend, but for now thought you might like to see some photos of the boys.

Joel has become a bit obsessed about trains since his day out with Grandad on the Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway so he's been watching Thomas the Tank Engine as much as we'll let him. This has also been his inspiration as he plays with his extended railway set (we bought quite a bit of the wooden railway in the UK as you can't get it locally).

Baby Of The Year Finalist!

Paula entered Eli into the Johnson & Johnson Baby of the Year Competition a couple of months ago, primarily to take up the offer of cheap baby portraits of Eli. When we arrived home we had a message on the answerphone to say that Eli was a finalist in the competition. The entrants had been whittled down from thousands to 30 in his age category.

Break... What Break?

We certainly hit the ground running when we got home. Joel is back in the swing of nursery and friends which is great, he certainly seems to have got his rhythm back. Eli is about to start at a weekly baby group with Paula, whilst Paula has had to debrief our last FYP volunteer as well as juggle life.

Dean spent Monday afternoon in Chris Nissen visiting his friends and saying 'Hello' & catching up with many people. It was great to be there again and we definitely feel affirmed that this is where God wants us to be which is great as there is no better place to be!

People

We had a god time back in Blighty although it is good to be back home here in Somerset West. We didn't get to spend as much time with friends as we would have liked (hopefully we've not offended too many of you) but we were able to spend some quality time with a few friends who are special to the kids and we hope you enjoy the photos below.

Praise God!

The most excellent news on our arrival home was that Eli's name change is now 100% legal as we have his new birth certificate and ID number stating that Eli Thomas Finnie is here!

We are so grateful to God for this massive answer to prayer as it means we can now crack on and get other bits of paperwork sorted such as passports, residency etc.

Arrived Home!

After an 11½ hour flight we're home and in one piece with no missing or damaged luggage!

We arrived at Heathrow quite early and had to wait to check in which went smoothly once it happened. We managed to find the only bit of terminal 4 from which you can watch the planes coming and going and Joel really enjoyed that. We had some dinner before boarding and that's when our evening started to go downhill. The manager of the restaurant told us that we'd have to take our trolley out of the restaurant (though it was causing less obstruction than the pushchair) and we had a bit of an argument over this. We couldn't believe how pedantic he was being, plus we didn't want to lose the trolley, so eventually we agreed that he could take the trolley on the condition that he finds us one after our meal. To cut it short, he stored the trolley in the entrance to the restaurant which caused mayhem and resulted in them losing several customers! Pathetic really.

Final Countdown

We're in the last 24 hours of our time here in the UK as we fly out of Heathrow around 7pm on Saturday. Things are getting a bit tense in our house as we struggle with the packing and making sure that we're within our weight allowance, thankful we have just over 100Kgs allowance to return with which is a blessing.

Joel has definitely picked up on all the activity and has milked the situation to his advantage but you can't blame him. He is really excited that after 1 more sleep he'll be home and after 2 sleeps he'll see Nata and all his friends at Twinkle Tots.

Photo Update

Here's a quick update on what we've been up to in the last few days. On Monday we had a great Christmas dinner with all the trimmings (no photos to post!), we all had fun and were very stuffed afterwards.

On Tuesday Dad, Grandad and Joel went on the Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway, a real boys day out. We had a lot of fun and hopefully will repeat the event next time we're home, so that Eli can join us.

Hectic!

Life has been very hectic since leaving the Lakes. We had an excellent Sunday with Holy Trinity at Gee Cross, and it was a pleasure staying overnight with Norma! After giving our Powerpoint presentation in the morning service we had a shared lunch in the church hall which was a great opportunity to meet people and to renew old acquaintances. Straight after lunch we shot off to Sheffield to stay with Roger, George, Yas' & Theo which was brilliant. Sadly it was a real flying visit as we had to get home on the Monday afternoon as we had a commitment on the Tue morning.

Our Week In The Lakes

We've had a fantastic week in the Lakes, staying at Santon Bridge near Wast Water. This was a short break sandwiched in between our visits to St.Mary's Cheadle and Holy Trinity Gee Cross. We really enjoyed having some time and space just to ourselves. Joel & Eli seemed to appreciate having a bit more attention than usual. The two walks we managed were three miles and four miles respectively and Joel did amazingly well, particularly on the four miler as he walked about 90% of the way. We made it fun by jumping in puddles, throwing sticks and stones into rivers and counting cowpats and sheep poos along the way.

Right Text

Below is the text which should have accompanied the post below:

We arrived in Cheadle on Saturday afternoon and just had time to settle the boys down before we were off to the Upper Room in Cheadle to speak at an evening meeting which was part of the Stockport ‘Big Deal’. The evening was excellent and despite a slight technical glitch with the laptop and data projector the presentation went well. We had a lot of positive feedback and were encouraged by the response. It was also great to see some old friends such as John & Helen.