Yule Tide Fun

We've been having a lot of fun enjoying a cold English Christmas with family and friends. Despite the weather we've managed to get the boys out of the house (and away from the TV) for a few trips to the local swings. Their mood brightens no end after a bit of fresh air. One of the things we forget about life in Blighty is just how sedentary it can be!

It's Very Very Cold!

We've arrived safely after a brilliant flight with SAA. We had 10 seats between the four of us so we were all able to stretch out and get some sleep. Joel enjoyed the TV on demand and Eli simply slept for the whole flight.

The weather is some 30degrees celsius less here than it was at home so we're really feeling the cold! The boys are really excited to be here and are getting on great with their cousins which is a real blessing. Lisa did a small Birthday Tea for Eli in the afternoon of our arrival which was really sweet.

If we don't post again before Christmas we hope you have a great time and remember the reason for the season: Jesus!

Christmas Hampers

In the midst of the chaos yesterday Dean took a couple of hours out to go and deliver the food hampers which church members had contributed to. The hampers for Lwandle, Sir Lowry's and Broadlands had been done on Tuesday, so Dean only had to deliver the Chris Nissen hampers. As ever we got a mixed reaction ranging from "Where's mine" to "Thank you!" but mostly the folks receiving the hampers were very grateful and very blessed.

Early 2nd Birthday

We celebrated Eli's birthday today, a few days early so as not to let it get lost in the hustle & bustle of then next few days. We fly to Blighty tomorrow evening and have still to think about packing. We've been really busy since returning from holiday, particularly with the Christmas Hampers.

Eli had a lot of fun and was very proud of being the Birthday Boy. We were quite amazed at how much he understood of what was going on. At lunchtime we went to Vergelegen for a family picnic in the camphor forest. We had a lovely lunch and a lot of fun doing the treasure hunt.

Trading Summer For Winter

We'll be arriving in the UK for a short Christmas break with family on the 21st (Eli's 2nd Birthday) and have to confess that giving up two weeks of Summer here for two weeks of winter in Blighty doesn't seem like an amusing prospect at the moment. thankfully family ties will make it more than worthwhile!

This photo came from Sheffield Hallam Uni' alumni and depicts a winter's scene in Ewden Valley just North of Sheffield. It looks very cold!

Holiday In Boggam's Baai

What a brilliant time we had in Boggam's Baai! The village is amazing as there are no commercial properties in the village which means no shops, coffee shops, ice cream vans etc, so the beach really was the focal point of the holiday. We did manage to find some shops in the nearby town of Mossel Bay so all was not lost. However, it was bliss not to have the usual assortment of seaside rubbish to deal with. The beach was stunning and empty! On one day there were about 100 people on the beach but given that it is a few kilometres long things were far from crowded (as you can see below).

We're Back

We're back from our holiday in Boggams Baai, a lovely small seaside village without a single shop or business. Very peaceful!

We'll post something meaningful later but thought you might enjoy this sign which we saw at the Outeniqua Transport /Railway Museum George.

Christmas Tree

We're off on holiday in Boggams Baai for 10 days from tomorrow and won't be posting in that time so we leave you with this to be going on with...

This evening we put our Christmas tree up, mainly in anticipation of our forthcoming Mulled Wine & Mince Pie 'do' on the 18th (anyone who's been to one in the past knows this is not to be missed).

Tonight we had a lot of fun at our end of year leaders dinner at church. The occasion is to say 'Thank You' to those who lead cell groups throughout the year. Someone thought it would be good to get the leaders to dress up in something weird/unusual. Some really got into the spirit of the event.


Suits You Sir!

The BBC carried this brilliant story today about a 77 year old pensioner in Devon who has a bit of a wind problem.

Maurice Fox was quoted as saying: "I am a loud farter, but there is no smell"
Inevitably, there was no-one from the club available for comment.

Check out the full story: Flatulence ban for club pensioner

This article really made my day.






PS. Whilst there have a look at The poetry of bodily functions

Dozeyhead & The Weekend

Oh dear, someone didn't wake up too well and got himself into a bit of a pickle with his sleeping bag. Actually, Eli never wakes up very well as he'd rather be left to sleep, which is why the bunk beds were a bit of a disaster. Joel is the total opposite and always wakes quite early. We're not sure where he got that gene from!

Please pray for healing for Eli, he's got a terrible ear infection, the ear is oozing blood and gunk and he won't let anyone near it. Paula took him to the GP who prescribed anti-biotics so hopefully he'll be fine again soon.

This morning in church we had some baptisms, but this time things were a little bit different as thirteen children (yes 13) were baptised. The testimony each of them gave as to why they wanted to be baptised were amazing and put many adults testimonies to shame. Not one of the youngsters gave a woolly answer, rather they were all very clear about following Jesus Christ and living for him. Awesome!!

This afternoon we went to the Tiny Bubbles Créche graduation in Chris Nissen Park. Despite the classic CNP start -very chaotic- the event was great and very well put together. Sandra directed the proceedings and there was a lot of involvement from the rest of the community. Not only did a lot of folk come to watch, but many of the older children in CNP had put dance routines together to entertain the audience.

One of our successes this year has been to link the Tiny bubbles Créche in Chris Nissen with the Nursery and Reception classes at Joel's school. A few of the parents have taken the créche to heart and really got involved. Sue, one of the mums wanted to do a Christmas party for the children in the créche and rallied the parents to give a quality present. Other parents contributed the food and one parent got a local sweet shop to donate 26 boxes of sweets. Father Christmas came too!

Place Of Safety

Praise God for His faithfulness!

Today was a big day for Michael & Joyce as they were back in court with the ACVV social worker as the Place of Safety Order expired today. The ACVV were keen to formalise Michael & Joyce’s application to become registered foster carers and this happened this morning.

Hayden’s mother and ouma were at the hearing and gave the social worker a hard time, but ultimately there was no way the child would be returned to their care until radical changes were made by them. Michael & Joyce were brilliant and behaved very graciously towards the birth family and were very professional.

Thanksgiving & Dedication

Michael & Joyce brought Hayden to church to give thanks to God for him and to dedicate him to the Lord.

We're so proud of what Michael & Joyce are doing! Hayden is clearly thriving in their care and he's a very happy little boy.

Emyezweni Christmas Party

On Friday I had the privilege of entertaining the children at Emyezweni Pre-School in Lwandle. This seems to have become a bit of a tradition but it's a lot of fun and the children really appreciate it. This year I had my fire clubs fixed so I was able to juggle with fire too. As you could imagine it was a real hit and the children requested that I juggle fire again at the end.

The Christmas party was fantastic once again! Debs & Rach put a lot of time and effort into making sure that all goes well and this year was no exception. Sadly, fewer folk came from church than in previous years, but it was still a good party.

Christ, A Radical Too Far?

Heavenly Sanctuary is a Christian ministry that puts on Conferences around America on the Character of God. This year they hired an artist named Lars Justinen from the Justinen Creative Group to paint this picture to use on posters advertising their conference. Under this picture they had captions like "Follow the Leader," "God IS Great," and most accurately, "Jesus - Still Too Radical?"

DISGRACEFUL!

Can there be any other way to describe a totally inept display by a rubbish team? England fully deserved to lose and lived up to that expectation. Having been gifted an easy final game following Israel's win over Russia, beating Croatia at Wembley really shouldn't have been a tall order, especially when a single point would have sufficed.

Blooming Weather!

Late November is a bit of a strange time of year here. People are either frantically trying to get things sorted ready for the Christmas/Summer shutdown or they're cruising along just running down the clock until the Christmas shutdown. Either way it's not really a good time to be starting new things, which is just as well because we're not planning to.

However, we are once again in the process of organising Christmas Hampers for the needier folk amongst us. Last year we distributed 35 hampers but this year we're planning to distribute 62. We're away for most of December so won't actually do the hard physical work this year but we will oversee the planning of the operation. Last year the hampers cost R150 each, this year they will be R248 for exactly the same items. Apparently food inflation only runs at 10% so either our maths is dodgy or 'official figures' aren't quite as precise as they could be.

Playball

Joel had his last Playball session of the year today and is very proud to be showing off his envelope containing his report card and fab certificate! Playball has been brilliant for him for the past 2 years. It focuses on gross and fine motor skills with balls in a very fun and exciting way. Joel has certainly struggled with some activities, but he absolutely loves it and adores his 2 coaches, Matt and Toni. Playball has really helped him to persevere with things that he finds difficult because it is all done in such a fun way. We hope that he can carry on with Matt in a new group from his school next year.

Dragonfly

This stunning Dragonfly was on our doorstep this morning. It was obviously on its last legs as each time it tried to fly it landed on its back and struggled onto its feet.

Joel was delighted to see such a stunning visitor.



Gone Fishing

Fishing has never held a great appeal for Dean having only fished on a few occasions and thankfully never caught anything, so he's never had to handle anything slimy. However when Rod rang to ask if Dean & Joel wanted to go fishing this afternoon they leapt at the chance. So off to Grabouw they went with enough kit for a small army for a couple of fun hours fishing and chatting with Rod and Nathan.

There are worse ways to while away a few hours!

SS. Jolly Roger

Daddy's bakkie has been renamed the SS. Jolly Roger and apparently can be seen sailing the seven seas in search of treasure. A lot of fun was had this afternoon, especially when we went for a walk in the local park and spent a good hour on the 'pirate treasure island' throwing stones into the river. Unfortunately the camera battery died after the first photo.

Cpt. Trumpet Trousers ordering his deckhand around

Christmas Pageant

On Thursday evening we enjoyed Joel's Christmas Pageant at school (it was held early as the Reception teacher leaves today). Nursery, Reception together with years 1 & 2 participated to make a great evening.

Joel had a special bit to do as the snowman with a carrot nose who has his carrot stolen by a naughty hungry bunny. Until his bit he was very nervous but afterwards he was very relaxed and participated brilliantly. Mrs Walsh, Joel's teacher, was delighted with him.

Joel made us very proud!

Our Back Garden

On Saturday we spent the afternoon in the Nature Reserve and as ever had a great time. The tortoises are all out of hibernation so the boys were delighted to see them again. Eli is developing the same curiosity about them as Joel used to have. The ducks and 'Spikey' the porcupine remain their firm favourites in the reserve. The Reserve is definitely an extension of our garden.


Lollipop time in the Nature Reserve

Life Goes On

It's a while since we last posted here, but that's not to say life's been dull. Far from it! We've had Richard, Sal, Josh & Isaac for a couple of weeks, but they've now returned to Blighty. It was great to have them out here and brilliant for the boys to re-establish their adoration of Sal! Our boys got on great with josh & Isaac which was a real blessing and means that they'll have some friends when we're visiting family at home over Christmas.

Hot Or Not?

Whilst checking out the football scores yesterday I came across the unusual job variations advertised on the Croydon Guardian.

Hot or not?

You decide!

We've not updated this Blog for a while but will do soon. In the meantime check out the new photos on Finnie's In Focus.

Rub A Dub Dub..

..Three men in a tub or at least a hammock.

The weather is really picking up and today it's 29°C and a little overcast so we're having lots of fun in the garden.

Unintended insult of the weekend goes to Liz, our baby-sitter on Friday night. As she was putting on a DVD she noticed the David Gilmour in concert DVD and said "You'd get on well with my Dad." Thanks for that!
Further to Reason's We Love Africa - Pt3 I found this sign just around the corner from where we live.

I wonder what the punishment is if it's not really a "fine"?

For more of this kind of nonsense have a look at: The "Blog" of "Unnecessary" Quotation Marks.

GoLD Peer Education

On Friday evening we had the privilege of attending the Ukuthasa Peer education Mentor Gala Evening held at our church premises. Charmaine who heads up the project really pulled all the stops out and put on a fantastic evening for us all!

Home Based Care

Paula joined the home based care team as usual yesterday for a morning of visiting our 10 'patients'. This is always a special time and yet can be full of frustration. One man has recently had a second stroke and has been discharged from hospital after just 5 days. He is now bedridden and incontinent and his sister-in-law has had to give up work (the only family income) to care for him. There will be no visits from a health-care professional - he has simply been left to get on with it. The care team visit him 3 or 4 times a week to ease the burden, but it is clear that this is not enough. This is going to be a typical situation for the team. On the other side, 3 other men we visit are doing very well, taking their medication and getting stronger. We had excellent times of prayer and reading the Bible with them. However, as the men gain strength, they realise how bored they are without work. This is another big social problem we are up against. It is hard to encourage people when their self-esteem is at an all time low. 

Church Leaders

Having been at Helderberg Christian Church for just over three years we felt it was time to introduce our beloved leaders to you, so here they are in all their glory...

left to Right: Paul, Theo, Wesley, Sean, Francois & Charl




Sincere apologies to the Village People!

That's My Boy!

Quite often at the moment I seem to end up taking Eli to his nursery which means we have about 40 minutes together in the house, just the two of us. These times are becoming savoured moments in which we have a lot of fun with no disturbance from Joel or Mummy. This morning I had to leave Eli to eat his breakfast while I grabbed a quick shower and when I came back he'd finished his cereal and was swigging the last of the milk form the bowl. When he put the bowl down his face was splattered with milk and he looked so gorgeous!

My boys make me very proud!!
Below are three local signs that have been amusing me for some time so I thought I would share them with you.



Nothing quite like making tourists feel welcome by allowing them to park conveniently

To all the south African rugby fans out there.. you won! Not only did you win the World Cup but you deserved to win it. You played a great tournament and were generally entertaining to watch.

You won, live with it!

Friends & Weekend

On Thursday we picked Richard, Sal, Josh' & Isaac from the airport for their eagerly anticipated three week holiday here in sunny SA. Their staying in a cottage in Gordon's Bay just a couple of minutes walk from the beach, ice cream parlour and chippy so they're well set for a good time. It's really great to see them again and joel is especially delighted to see Sal whom he adores!

Today we drove along the coast road in the hope of seeing some whales but no joy there. We then went on to Betty's Bay to see the penguins followed by lunch at Pringle Bay and another slow drive along the stunning coast road home. That was a lovely relaxing morning with good friends.

Some idiot/s started a fire on the Helderberg late in the afternoon and firefighters have been battling all night to put it out. From our house it looks like their just about getting the upperhand, but their not being helped by a very strong Southeast wind. I'm not into corporal punishment, but when these arsonists are caught each resident of Somerset West shopuld be able to beat the c**p out of them for 5 minutes, that would deter them.

It's not often these days that Christian's get good publicity, admittedly we tend to solicit bad press (such as the whole fiasco surrounding the ordination of homosexual clergy) by failing to handle situations well. Anyway this post isn't a rant & rave about that but rather to draw your attention to some very positive press regarding Tearfund and the work they're doing in Zimbabwe.

Today the BBC are running an 'In Pictures' feature entitled Hardship in Zimbabwe which focuses on Tearfund and the role of the local churches in Zimbabwe as the famine deepens.

So pop over the the BBC News website and have a look.

ENGLAND!

3-nil in the Euro 2008 qualifier and we stuffed the French 14-9 in Paris, oh what a sweet weekend!

My favourite quote of the whole weekend comes from Matt Dawson 72 minutes into the RWC semi-final:

"If the game carries on this way, England will steal it, I'm telling you, they will steal it. Stay patient England, stay patient."


Following last weeks fire in Nomzamo, our local rag the District Mail ran the above article on the ladies who have been working tirelessly for the community, co-ordinating donations and sorting them out ready for distribution. Sindi (back row 2nd from right) is a former church member of ours and we still work very closely with her, she's worth her weight in gold!

Last Snow Of Winter?

After a good week of warm and mostly sunny weather on Sunday a cold front rolled in with a vengeance and sprinkled the Hottentots Holland mountains with a generous coating of snow. We usually have one last cold snap in Spring before the weather really turns for the better, so hopefully this was it. However, it is unusual to see this much snow on the Hotties.

On Saturday I rode the Lourensford Classic MTB race, a tough 60k's around the stunning Lourensford wine estate at the foot of the Hottentots Holland mountains. The weather was almost perfect apart from a brief spell of rain, with the sun remaining firmly behind the clouds.

I was with my usual crowd and we had sort of agreed that we'd take it easy but in reality we were racing. Somehow I ended up at the front of our start group with my friends stuck in the middle, but I met another friend at the front so we rode together for the first 20k's, after which I left him and carried on alone.

A large fire swept through an area in Nomzamo completely destroying nearly 500 shacks, home to approximately 2,000 people.

The fire started at around 4 a.m. and was difficult to control due to the strong winds. Firemen from Strand worked for many hours to dampen down the smoke and flames.

The shacks were packed tightly together causing the fire to spread rapidly. Many homes use parrafin stoves which added fuel to the fire.

Fire In Nomzamo

After church on Sunday morning we received news that there had been a big fire in Nomzamo which had swept through the informal settlement part of the community destroying almost 600 shacks leaving upto 3000 people homeless. We immediately spoke to our church leaders and the cell group leaders with a view to obtaining as many donations as possible of blankets, clothing food and money. In the short term these things will really help.

Family Life

After seeing the penguins Joel asked if we could have pizza for tea so we decided to bring Dean's Birthday tea forward from Tuesday to Saturday evening. We had a lovely time together and Joel was really excited when he saw one of his friends at the restaurant. Another reason Joel enjoys this particular restaurant is one of the waiters plays with him and Joel calls him the "Silly Man". On Saturday we asked Silly Man his real name which turned out to be Silla, Joel thought that was very funny.

Penguins At Betty's Bay

As spring settles in and the weather improves we're able to get out and about a bit more which is great. So this morning we went to Betty's Bay to see the penguins. This is one of only three land based penguin colonies in Southern Africa and it's a beautiful place.

10000 Visitors

On 24th October 2005 we added a 'hit counter' to the blog to see how many people actually visit. We never really had high hopes but have been amazed to see that in slightly under two years we've had ten thousand hits on the blog which is quite amazing. Of those visits to our blog, 62% are 'unique hits' which means that the visitor has not been to the site before, whilst the other 38% are returning or regular visitors.

Ahmadinejad vs Borat

Who said that..?

"In Iran we don't have homosexuals like in your country "


Would the real Borat please stand-up?
On Friday I went with a crowd of friends to Groot Brak where we stayed over night before heading to Uniondale at 4.30am to get there in time to register for the Karoo To Coast 100K MTB Challenge. We had a lot of fun before and after the race but had agreed that during the race it was each man for himself. So at 7.30 the race kicked off and we had a fantastic ride through to Knysna, over the Prince Alfred Pass and through some truly stunning scenery.

The race itself was tough and at the 50K point I wanted to puke, but held on. I caught Pete at that point which helped motivate me through a rough patch before hitting the 65K mark at which point I got my second wind and really stepped it up.

Together We Can Do More

Paula had the extreme privilege of flying to Joburg to attend the NFI southern Africa forum on the churches' response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic in our nations. She was one of 30 people in attendance. Many run reasonably well established, thriving projects, either as part of their church response to the pandemic or as projects attached to a body of local churches, and others were there (like Paula) representing small new beginnings of HIV/AIDS work.

Jose Mourinho maybe in talks with Palace Chairman Simon Jordan after leaving Chelsea by mutual consent.

Jose told the sun earlier in the year, 'London is perfect. My family is happy living here.

'So although you can never predict what will happen in football, I would like to be in London by 2012.

'If it is not working at Chelsea, then Crystal Palace or somebody else.

'London is a special city because it has won the right and the privilege to host the Olympic Games.