The View From Here - Pt 1

Inspired by a feature in another Blog: Following An Unknown Path listed on I've decided to do a short series entitled; 'The View From Here' in which we'll post photos of the various views we enjoy throughout the day in the passage of our lives at work and play.

I'm starting with a few photos taken this morning whilst at 'play' in Jonkershoek where I was mountain biking at sunrise, yes I'm mad - before you ask! I had dropped some friends at the airport and went on from there. Above is a panoramic taken from the top of the first big hill I ride up, it's a 20 minute slog so the view compensates nicely for the effort.

This is part of the view looking up the first big hill. The track goes above the tree line and can be seen to the left of the tree in the middle.

I often stop in the forest just to enjoy the sound of silence. This the view of single track winding through the trees. On one of my first rides I hit a tree and fell down the hill!

One of the more exciting bits of single track making for a great view.

Does the Pope Drive?

After getting all of Pope Benedict's luggage loaded into the limo, (and he doesn't travel light), the driver notices that the Pope is still standing on the kerb. "Excuse me, Your Holiness," says the driver, "Would you please take your seat so we can leave?"

"Well, to tell you the truth," says the Pope, "they never let me drive at the Vatican, and I'd really like to drive today." "I'm sorry but I cannot let you do that. I'd lose my job! And what if something should happen?" protests the driver, wishing he'd never gone to work that morning.

"There might be something extra in it for you," says the Pope. Reluctantly, the driver gets in the back as the Pope climbs in behind the wheel. The driver quickly regrets his decision when, after exiting the airport, the Pontiff floors it, accelerating the limo to 105 mph. "Please slow down, Your Holiness!!!" pleads the worried driver, but the Pope keeps the pedal to the metal until they hear sirens. "Oh, dear God, I'm gonna lose my licence," moans the driver. The Pope pulls over and rolls down the window as the cop approaches but the Cop takes one look at him, goes back to his motorcycle, and gets on the radio. "I need to talk to the Chief," he says to the dispatcher.

The Chief gets on the radio and the cop tells him that he's stopped a limo going a hundred and five.

"So bust him," says the Chief.

"I don't think we want to do that, he's really important," said the cop. The Chief exclaimed, "All the more reason!"

"No, I mean really important," said the cop.

The Chief then asked, "Who ya got there, the Mayor?"

Cop: "Bigger."

Chief: "Governor?"

Cop: "Bigger."

"Well," said the Chief, "Who is it?"

Cop: "I think it's God!"

Chief: "What makes you think it's God?"

Cop: "He's got the Pope as a chauffeur!!"

Stolen from Sean's Blog

Church Ansaphone Messages

Sean, one of our elders at church recorded a series of spoof ansaphone messages which I managed to get hold of and convert into a movie file and upload onto YouTube. Such are the joys of the digital age, if you don't want to be found out, hit the delete button. Hope you enjoy the messages..

Excuse the highly dodgy accents!

Jesus' Tomb

one can't help but feel that the silly season is upon us again, or is it a 'slow news day' so the wires have to be filled with something.

The BBC news website is carrying the story: Jesus tomb found, says film-maker. the last part of that headline really does set the context for the rest of the article. Read on through it and you see that the archaeologists do not claim it to be the tomb of Christ rather; "
[they] said that the burial cave was probably that of a Jewish family with similar names to that of Jesus."

It is also claimed by the film-maker that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were a couple (yes that old nonsense again!). However the evidence simply does not support this. With all the brouhouha about the Davinci Code we saw clearly that it is not possible for Jesus & Mary to have been a couple and there is NO evidence anywhere in the scriptures to support that notion. Dan Brown based his claim on Luke 8:1-3, read it and you'll see just how tenuous a claim Brown's was.

With a claim like this about Jesus it's always good to stick to the facts. Firstly, Jesus rose from the tomb. This is a clearly documented fact agreed upon by theists and atheists alike. The evidence isn't just limited to the four gospels but other contemporary writers/historians recorded the fact. Also, Jesus was seen by thousands after his resurrection from the tomb. It would have taken a publicity stunt greater than a David Blaine circus act to have pulled the wool over so many eyes. It simply wasn't possible to dupe so many people.

Secondly, Jesus and Mary were not married and did not have a son. There is no evidence on this planet to suggest otherwise. There is plenty of speculation and supposition, but the fact that Jesus' closest friends never mentioned anything about them being married and the fact that no other eye witness to his life ever made such a claim tells us more than any speculation ever could.

Thirdly, the film-maker clearly has an agenda, to sell a film! Just as Brown had a book to sell, money has to be made and what better way to do it than by resurrecting some half baked conspiracy theory that has more holes than the titanic?

Ben Witherington once again deals with this far better than I could ever hope to and I fully recommend his Blog.

The big news is that I'm now down to 92Kgs, that's a loss of 5Kgs so far. The target remains 85Kgs so we're headed in the right direction.

The regular riding is definitely helping as is the change in diet. amazingly I'm actually enjoying the changes and don't miss snacking on an entire packet of biscuits opting instead for a banana. The riding continues to get easier and consequently more enjoyable. One of my secret joys is the comments from other riders, especially the fit ones. Last week I was riding with a friend and as we were half way up a 20 minute hill I was chatting away (a new development for me, I used to be dying at that point) when I heard my friend puffing & panting. On asking if he was OK? he asked me to slow down so he could keep up. Not words I would ever have expected to hear especially from a guy almost 10 years younger on a fully carbon bike!

Pride comes before a fall, so I'll not boast any more, however I will try and take some photos this week of my rides as not only do I have the joy of getting fit, I get to enjoy some truly stunning scenery which beats staring at the wall in the gym!


Saturday didn't start too well as Joel was running from the kitchen to the lounge and slipped on the tiles smacking his mouth against the step - Ouch! There was much blood and screaming so Dean took him to casualty (a private and expensive affair) where he was brilliant for the doctor! It looks like he will lose both front teeth but thankfully all will heal quite quickly and no stitches were needed.

In the afternoon we all went to Morgen's birthday party. Morgen is one of Joel's friends from School, but Paula and Morgen's mum have known each other for a couple of years. Much fun was had by everyone, especially a few of the parents who took over the inflatable slide. Needless to say much juvenile fun was had!

Sunday morning in church was brilliant! Things are definitely happening in church and it's exciting to be a part of. Watch this space for further developments! On Sunday afternoon Joel was desperate to do a puppet show for us and took great lengths to ensure he introduced it properly (see the video below). We did eventually get a brief show but the real performance was in the build up. A career in Hollywood could be in the offing as he's grasped the concept of hype. Eli had been out of sorts all weekend so our GP saw him for the 3rd weekend in a row and prescribed more antibiotics for yet another ear infection.

The car also decided to mess us about on Sunday afternoon with the power steering packing up. The tow truck took the car away this morning and we wait with baited breath to see what the damage will be.

Hopefully we'll have a nice quiet weekend next week as Paula will be in Durban.

Palace Result

Palace ran out very comfortable winners beating Luton Town 2-1 at Selhurst Park. Clinton Morrison's double ensured Palace finally got one over our bogey team. Clinton netted his first on the stroke of half-time with a neat turn and finish. Palace started the second half on top, but where pegged back against the run of play when Mark Hudson scored an own goal as he deflected Lewis Emanuel's free-kick past the Palace keeper Kiraly. But the turning point of the game was when Richard Langley saw red minutes later, leaving his side to fight for a point with 10 men. The Hatters' resistance did not last long as Morrison scored his second with a superbly taken volley. The Eagles played some fine stuff after that, with Dave Martin showing some promise on the Palace left. They were unable to add to their total as the game fizzled out with Palace in control. Text nicked from EagleEye Live, edited by Moi!

Click below for:
Match Report
Manager's Comments

Next fixture: Sat 3rd March away to Burnley

Oscars And Bits

Well no we haven't won an Oscar (although some of Eli's tantrums could well be nominated!), actually our Blog is now listed at Oscar which is a UK based online mission resource, so well worth taking a look at.

Got to rush as I'm off early for a ride before the manic day ahead; leadership training session followed by birthday party and stuff.

Please pray for my (Dean's) 3rd upper left molar, I've finally had it sorted after 2 previous dentist couldn't find the problem. Turns out it's cracked in several places, so the dentist has drilled and filled in the hope that if the pain is gone he'll then cap it, but at the moment it still hurts. If the pain continues I'll have to have root canal which might not work, so a straightforward extraction may be the best and cheapest option. I'd quite like to hang on to my own teeth for as long as possible, so please pray for healing for it.

Star Of The Week

Joel continually makes us proud, but this week is a bit special as he was awarded the 'star Of The Week' award for the nursery class. What makes this all the more special is that he got it for listening! We had to check that this was right but it is.

Joel got to wear the 'Star of the Week' badge and was given a little certificate too. Needless to say he's very proud of them both.

What a star!

Palace Result

Palace ran out 1-0 winners against a relegation threatened Southend United last night with Paul Ifill's second half strike being enough to take all three points. After a poor first half, Palace came to life after the break following the introduction of Dougie Freedman. The Scotsman's blocked shot led to Ifill's goal, as he made no mistake from 10 yards. Southend had a good spell after the opener, but after Palace survived they took control and Peter Taylor even gave youngsters Lewis Grabban and Dave Martin a run out. Text nicked from EagleEye Live

Click below for:

Match Report
Manager's Comments

Next fixture: Sat 24 Feb home to Luton Town

Butterfly World

Paula accompanied Joel and his class on their first school trip today to Butterfly World in Paarl. He had an absolute ball - firstly riding in the car with one of his new friends, Pabatso, who is a Sotho speaker solely and yet manages to get by in an English speaking nursery - aren't kids amazing!! He was then treated to up close and personal experiences (a) with the butterflies themselves in a wonderfully humid and hot enclosed area, and then with a couple of snakes and (thankfully!) some enclosed tarantulas and other such "lovelies". After lunch (10.30 am in South Africa), they then went to play with some little farm animals and generally larked around for a while before coming home. It was fun to see Joel and his friends having such a good time and it was also good for Paula to meet some of the mums and dads and to chat with Joel's teacher a bit more.

Joel was fearless and led the way with the snakes

This boy has no fear!

Joel pointing out the wildlife (that's Mrs Walsh Joel's teacher)

Such a beautiful place!

Joel, Ross & Liam

Joel the spider

Palace Result

Having been unbeaten in the league since before Christmas, Palace tripped up twice in two games losing last week to a struggling Leeds and this week to a high flying Birmingham. It may have only been 1-0 but Birmingham were ultimately comfortable winners. Palace had their moments, but simply weren't good enough. Brum's defence was well marshalled and Bruce's men were happy to sit back and hit Palace on the break, which they frequently did. Only wayward finishing and good goal-keeping kept Palace in with a chance of grabbing a point. Paul Ifill looked lively throughout, but his runs aside Palace lacked ideas in front of goal. If there was a vague play-off dream, it is well and truly over now. Toothless Palace remain well off the promotion pace down in a lowly 12th spot, 14 points off the play-offs following a second successive defeat. That'll be mid-table mediocrity then!

Click below for:

Match Report
Manager's Comments: "It was a very disappointing performance today to be honest" What more can the man say?

Next fixture: Tue 20 February away to Southend

Valentines Day

Joel's school emailed this photo to us. For Valentines Day the kids were allowed to ditch the uniform and wear red & white (so some went in blue & white!). Joel doesn't look too chuffed by the whole thing. The kids are from both his nursery class and the reception class.

Sadly the reception class teacher wore a Man Ure shirt but luckily she's not in the photo, phew!

Picture Resizer

Here's a really useful utility from Microsoft. In fact, this is so useful that you can almost forgive Microsoft all their previous sins.

If you regularly post photos on a Blog or website this utility is for you!

You need to be using Windows XP (anything less won't work), once installed you simply highlight the picture/s you want to resize then right click on the selection and click on 'Resize picture'. A dialogue box appears giving you options from which you choose what best meets your needs. It really is that simple!

Click on Picture Resizer to download this amazing utility.

I've been making a serious effort to shake off a few kilos and get fit in the process, but I also want to have fun whilst doing this. That means the gym is a non starter! So I've been mountain biking on and off for a couple of years now and really enjoyed it, but late last year the group I was riding with let me down. I chased them for a while but had to concede defeat as they were all too busy with their own businesses to commit to regular riding. So this year I decided I would ride three times a week regardless, so for much of the time I've been riding on my own up in the mountains at Sir Lowry's Pass. However on Wednesdays, I've been riding regularly in Jonkershoek in Stellenbosch with a friend which has been fantastic.

I now ride on Mon, Wed & Fri for at least 90 minutes, but on the last few rides I've stepped this up to two hours which is very satisfying. Another friend recently showed me an extension to the Sir Lowry's ride which involves a further steep hill climb but the views are well worth the effort, not to mention the downhill blast!

This week has been particularly satisfying as there are three hills which I've battled with and always had to stop on to get my breath back. Two of these are in Jonkershoek, one is a 20 min slog uphill the other is a short sharp 5 min hill which makes your legs burn. The third hill is at Sir Lowry's which is another 5 min short sharp hill. On Monday and Wednesday I conquered all of these hills without stopping and actually did the 20 min slog in Jonkershoek twice!

Also, whilst I've not yet weighed myself since getting serious, I have definitely lost some weight (had many comments from people) and may well have to go and buy a whole new set of trousers soon. My weight has been between 97 - 100Kg's for several years now and I'm aiming to get down to 85Kg's which will obviously take a lot of work. We've made some major changes to our diet, only having alcohol once a week and then in reduced quantities! I've not had a beer for almost a month - oh the sacrifice! We're eating lots of salads with the right kinds of carbs and I'm snacking on fruit and nuts rather than biscuits, sweets & crisps. After just a couple of months we're both feeling good.

The other bit of excitement for me is that Paula allowed me to upgrade my bike and this has
made a HUGE difference to my riding. I was on a Giant Boulder, but now ride a Scott Reflex 10. The geometry of the two bikes is totally different with the Scott being set up for more hard core riding. Consequently the front wheel remains planted to the ground when hill climbing and on descents I have so much more control. I'm no longer second guessing where the front wheel might go! This has a big impact on speed and technical ability which is great and adds a lot more fun to the rides. (left is the Scott, right is the Giant)

There's also another side to all of this as I have my eye on entering some MTB races this year with a plan to do the Cape Argus in 2008. Whilst I know I won't win any races I want to have some clear goals to aim at which should also help with the motivation whilst also testing myself against other riders. I was very encouraged on Monday when I rode with two other guys as one of them is a super fit dude but I beat him on all the hills, that was a first! Watch this space for further news...

Chris Nissen Update

We've not posted on the Blog for a few days as we never seem to find the time or when we do we're just too tired to say anything worth writing.

Family life continues to be great, both boys are blossoming at their respective nurseries. Joel astounds us by the day with what he's learning. He comes out with some real pearls of wisdom and often has us cracked up. Eli loves going to his nursery/crèche run by Leanne, a friend from church. He's supposed to be moving at Easter to the same nursery Joel went to but given how happy he is we're reconsidering the move.

Life in Chris Nissen remains as complex as ever! Sadly our church members are falling out with each other again which means that we're constantly walking on eggshells as we attempt to broker peace and work with all of our members. We constantly hammer the point that if the Christians in CAP can't get on together then we will never win the community for Christ! The message seems to be falling on deaf ears at present. Sadly, it's not just our church members who are at each others throats but Christians from all the churches represented in CNP are at loggerheads with each other. Ho hum! This is a huge prayer need. Pray for unity amongst the brethren in CNP and especially amongst our church members.

My bible study group is going really well. This term we're following the material being used by the rest of the church small groups and on weeks when we meet but they don't we're continuing with our studies on Daniel. I now have four church members in the group, two of whom come from Lwandle, this is great for shaking things up a bit and lends a cool multi cultural edge to the group. Recently some of the guys have really grown in their faith which is really exciting. The most exciting recent development though occurred last week as we were looking at the Grace of God. Last time we looked at this (nearly two years ago) the group didn't grasp it at all. On Wednesday Michael had clearly grasped the concept and it is making a real difference in his life. Praise god for this!

Despite the problems between some of our church members we're seeing others really maturing their faith. Dina is definitely amongst those who are growing spiritually and we're really excited by what we see God doing in the lives of some of our friends in the community. We just wish that all the Christians were maturing in their faith and growing in God!

Our Home based Care project is really taking off which is amazing as we've not officially launched it nor do we have any funds from church yet. Paula is meeting with Wesley this afternoon to discuss the proposal regarding this. Again this is a real prayer need as we really need the church to get on board with this, especially as the project is already being run under the name of the church. Pray that the elders would grasp what we're trying to do and that they would get behind the project with moral and financial support.

Palace Result

Palace lost 2-1 to bottom-placed Leeds, bringing their eight-match unbeaten run to a dismal end. Palace had most of the early play, with openings falling to Morrison, Scowcroft and Kennedy. However, it was Leeds that took the lead 27 minutes after winning a corner. Blake's weak kick somehow eluded the Palace defence inside the six-yard box, where Lawrence failed to clear. The ball reached Heath at the far post and he stooped to nod the ball home. The goal shook Palace and Leeds pressed for a second. On 41 minutes Kiraly made a stunning reflex save to block a deflection following another Leeds corner.

Palace offered little after the interval despite Taylor's efforts to inject some urgency by bringing on Freedman and Kuqi on 60 minutes. Leeds went two up on 73 minutes. An attempted pass by Cresswell was deflected off Borrowdale to Blake, who cut past Hudson and slotted the ball past Kiraly. Palace showed some urgency at last. Cort got a goal back on 83 minutes when he rose to meet a Kennedy free kick and headed past their keeper. Sadly it was all too little too late, Palace could not create another opening and the defeat surely ends their playoff hopes.

Click below for:
Match Report
Manager's Comments

Next fixture: Sat 17th Feb home to Birmingham

Home Affairs - Residency

We started the process of applying for permanent residence this morning and so embarked upon a long and slow journey with Home affairs which could take up to 3 years to complete! Hopefully things will go a bit quicker than that as we're applying on kinship grounds and as such the paperwork we have to provide is very minimal. However, we feel that this process will require a lot of patience and even more prayer to ensure that all goes well. Please pray that things would go smoothly. We can't actually submit our application until we've received Eli's full birth certificate - whoever decided that birth certificates should be made available in 'short' and 'full' formats should be shot! - which we applied for this morning as well as applying for a full passport for him. We should receive the birth certificate and passport in 6 - 8 weeks so after that we'll submit the residency application. Please pray!

Lazy Weekend

It's the weekend so that must mean it's time for the paddling pool - again! As is very evident, the boys adore the pool and have so much fun in there. Eli soon had enough and decided that he wanted to climb so had a go on the climbing frame. He struggled with the rope side but shinned straight up the ladder side much to our horror! Eli was immensely pleased with himself so there'll be no end of him climbing now.

Three of the best piccys can be seen at Finnie's in Focus

Eli's a little apprehensive to start

Joel with the hose

Taking careful aim

This boy is mad!

Splashing is the order of the day

Eli ventured onto the climbing frame...

...and scared us witless!

Joel at 90°

The Helderberg just peeps over the back fence

Cape Town Aquarium

After a long but fun week at school Joel asked if we could go to the aquarium on Saturday, so we did. Joel adores the place and Eli is developing a passion for it too which is brilliant. As ever we had a great morning, taking in all the tanks especially the sharks, crabs & lobsters followed by the touch tank and the children's activity centre where they both enjoyed the puppet show and Joel made an octopus! We've been members of the aquarium for almost 3 years and it really is well worth it!

After the aquarium we had a mooch around the waterfront before taking a drive over Chapman's Peak, having a spot of lunch in Noordhoek and a quick nosey around the Eatwell Gallery. All in all a great day with two brilliantly behaved boys!!

Watching seals in Cape Town harbour

Enjoying Nemo

Eli is getting into the aquarium too

Trying to work out the size of the lobsters Mummy & Daddy ate a few weeks ago

The touch tank is a favourite, any excuse for getting wet!

Watching the seals in the activity centre

Eli trying to chill on a bean bag

Joel proud of his octopus!

Eli looking so grown up

Palace Result

Palace extend their unbeaten league run to eight games after a comfortable 2-0 win over Ipswich. The Eagles were always in charge and were never really tested by Jim Magilton's side. Taylor was cheered at the end, backing up his point about Eagles fans being fickle, after he was booed off against Preston last week. Leon Cort gave Palace a first half lead, heading in Mark Kennedy's cross. Paul Ifill scored the decisive second when he slotted past Price on his first start at Selhurst Park. Palace had to play the last 16 mins with only 10 men but still managed to control the game. This result lifts Palace to the dizzy heights of 12th and now we're only 10 points and 5 places from those play-off places. Text nicked from: EagleEye Live edited by Moi.

Click below for:
Match Report
Manager's Comments

Next fixture: Sat 10th away to Leeds.

Bible Study

We had an excellent bible study on Thursday. We were looking at Daniel 6 (we're slowly working our way through the whole book) and had an excellent discussion at the end about our faith and whether our neighbours, colleagues etc are aware that we serve the living God 'continually' as Daniel did. Darius recognised Daniel's faith so why shouldn't others recognise our faith? We all felt positively challenged which is great and hopefully we'll see some fruit in our lives as we witness to those around us.

Another exciting development in the group is that Alfred is now my co-leader, so he'll start to take on some responsibility which is fantastic. Also, Michael is the 'care leader' for the group so he will take responsibility for the pastoral issues and make sure each member is OK and liaise with myself about hospital admissions etc. I'm really excited about this growth and change in the group as it suggests that we're doing something right for God's kingdom. This should also mean that I'm kept better informed about needs within the community and should help us to reach out and meet needs where we can as well as informing our prayer life.

The group was a little depleted as James was off with some seasonal work picking fruit on a farm. Vicky was on his way to hospital in Cape Town where he'll be spending the next 8 weeks. This is excellent for him and he's really excited. Hopefully he'll come back much stronger and healthier. Please pray for him that this time in hospital would be a real blessing to him. Trevor is really struggling at present, he's had a couple of spells in hospital and on Wed' was taken again as he was coughing up blood. Trever is clear of TB so this is quite worrying for him. Please pray for healing, we don't know what is wrong (definitely not HIV+), but God knows.

Scottie didn't join us this week which was a shame. Please continue to pray for him as he struggles to beat his alcohol addiction and get his life sorted out. Pray that God would break into his life and he would turn to God.