Busy Times Ahead..

Having had a hectic weekend of birthday parties and 'Project Fix It' this week is about to get a lot busier and more hectic. Dean has a ton of stuff to do in preparation for part 2 of Project Fix It such as collating the outstanding jobs, sorting teams for Saturday and buying the outstanding resources needed all of which needs to be squeezed in between his language studies.

On Tuesday Dean starts an intensive Afrikaans language course at Stellenbosch university for the next three weeks. Unfortunately, this clashes directly with the school holidays so Paula will have no real support from Dean during this time. So we're not really looking forward to the immediate complications of the next few weeks but we're really excited about the longer term benefits, especially if Dean does get a good handle on the language. Also, Dean's not looking forward to the daily commute into Stellenbosch, the peak time journey is a nightmare, so please pray for safety on the roads for him.

Project Fix It - Part 1

On Saturday we had the first phase of our 'Project Fix It' in which we're blessing our church members who live in the local townships by fixing up the things that make for a more bearable winter. So far we've replaced front doors, fixed leaky roofs, built new front steps and replaced many broken windows.

Project Fix It

Starting tomorrow we're launching 'Project Fix It' in which we want to bless our church members living in the local townships by fixing up their houses to make them more tolerable for winter. Many of our members can't come to church in the mornings because they're too cold or wet. So, Dean has enlisted/conscripted a number of folk to come and undertake simple repair jobs such as replacing windows, fixing leaky roofs etc.

Shortest Day

Today is the shortest day (for those of us in the Southern hemisphere) which means that winter should be about half done, but one never knows! Today was unseasonably warm (quick run out and panic about carbon and slap some tax on something!) and a really beautiful day. One of the joys of African winters are the stunning skies. The Southern Cape is the only part of the continent where it rains in winter, but between downpours we get to enjoy the same clear and cloudless blue skies as the rest of Southern Africa. Such skies are amazing and have to be seen to be believed.

Care Packages

Jim over at Missionary-Blogs.com recently asked if we'd write about 'care packages' from home and what they mean to us. So here goes...

"What do you most miss from home?" & "What can we send you?"

These are two common questions which are actually quite hard to answer. When we were in Tanzania we welcomed just about anything, especially Pepperami sticks and Onion Bhaji Mix. However, here in South Africa we can get pretty much anything. Our local fish & chip shop is far superior to anything in the UK, as is most local produce and marmite is on the supermarket shelves. Our local pub (we don't frequent it too often) even serves Kilkenny on draught and Boddingtons is available in the local bottle store!

Mums Come Out In Force

Today saw the culmination of months of prayer, planning and hard work as Paula hosted a meeting in the tent at Chris Nissen for mums of 0-3 year olds and mums to be. The idea was to reach out to this particular section of the community and find a way of getting alongside them as friends on common ground. To do this Paula and 2 fellow mums from the church held a coffee morning with talks on the benefits of breastfeeding and good nutrition for babies followed by a short gospel message.

Time Capsule

Not long ago I stumbled upon a Blog entitled Telstar Logistics where they were following the story of a time capsule which had been buried in Tulsa in 1957 to be dug up 50 years later in 2007. The time capsule consisted of a 1957 Plymouth Belvedere and a few other items. Unfortunately at the time of burying the Plymouth it's proneness to rust was still unknown. The initial excitement at the uncovering of the time capsule was maintained right through until the final official unveiling of the car and capsule when clearly things had not gone quite as expected. Good humour seems to have prevailed throughout the event and even though things weren't quite as hoped it all looked like a pretty cool thing to have done.

Love Hate Relationship

Today summed up my love hate relationship with Chris Nissen Park. I'd been in the morning on behalf of the Red Cross and had a great time with my friends there as the purpose of the visit was to find the best way to spend R10,000. One particular church member was very happy and helpful! Then this afternoon I went in with Duncan (Morgen's father) who gave a 30 minute basic first aid training session for the ladies running the creche before helping sort their electrics out in the container where they work.

A Proper Curry At Last

We died and went to heaven on Sunday! Yes you did miss the rapture. Heaven was an assortment of real Indian curries cooked by Caroline (Morgen's mum). The food was sublime and we had a really relaxing afternoon with some other parents from Joel's school and Caroline's dad, Maurice who is visiting from the UK. Maurice is originally from India and having lived in Norwood for many years is also a Palace fan which makes him a top bloke! Dean & Maurice spent much of the afternoon playing pool but only when not eating curry. Joel had a ball with his friends Liam & Morgen, so much so that this morning he could only talk about Liam's house and going to play there again.

Bible Study

We had an excellent bible study on Thursday morning looking at the first chapter of Acts. I tried something a bit different, so prepared a brief overview of the chapter and then gave them several questions which together we looked for the answers in the chapter. Whilst it was the usual suspects that contributed; Michael & Cyril, it was a good meeting and they all seemed to be happy with it. I was really pleased and grateful to God for answering my prayer regarding a bit of refreshment for the group as I've struggled with it for a while.

Big Joel, Little Joel

A while ago we had Joel Bird stay with us for a few days as he enjoyed a long weekend break from his time with Scripture Union in Jo'burg. Joel had to return to the UK a bit earlier than expected so he spent his final night with us before leaving.

The boys were really chuffed to see Joel again and Eli took a real shine to him. I know Joel's parents will read this, so just to let you know that it was a real pleasure to have Joel stay, he's a real credit to you!

Winter

With winter being set in the time spent out in the garden is at a real premium so we have to make the most of the brief spells between deluges. Yesterday we had just under one inch of rain and that's fairly average at present. Amazingly even the locals have stopped saying "We really need the rain" or "I love the rain" which is quite something. Being British I have a built in dislike of the rain and as much as we may really need it I really don't care for it at all!


Update (Of Sorts)

How to update without getting into trouble with someone? Probably not possible so here goes..
Chris Nissen is a real challenge at present. Mainly because some of our church members are behaving appallingly and preventing other non members in the community from either coming to church or trying out one of our groups. This is very frustrating and not exactly honouring of Jesus' instruction to "Go..". Our frustration is further compounded by lack of support from those in authority who keep saying "No" to our various strategies for dealing with the issues whilst failing to offer any positive solutions themselves. This is probably why we've not Blogged for a while.

Firstly I need to make clear that the title of this post is not an issue for ourselves at present. We're committed to the local church and for the moment God has led us to serve Him at HCC. That will only change if God clearly leads us into newer pastures but until such a time we're happy to be obedient to the call He's placed on our lives. That's not to say that we don't find things (many things) frustrating at times.

Ahoy There Me Hearties!

Joel had the most wonderful, magical afternoon yesterday at his friend Ross's 4th birthday party. Of course it was a Pirate party and everyone came dressed and ready for action. As soon as we turned in to the farm entrance there were skull and crossbones announcing the venue and once there, the woods had been transformed with papier mache crocodiles in the stream with a plank to walk over; a croc' for pin the tale on the croc'; treasure hunting; signing their names in pirate blood etc, etc,. Ross's mum certainly has a very active imagination and I think she enjoyed it more than all the guests!!!

Friends To Play

Joel had his friends Liam & Morgen to play after school one day this week and much fun was had by all. As ever, Eli crashed the party and struck up a friendship with Liam who was very kind to him. The house was complete chaos for a few hours between lunch and their mums picking them up, but it was worth it.