Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! to all our readers, supporters, friends and family.

We're two hours ahead of Blighty so will be fast asleep by the time Big Ben chimes, so don't call us ;-)

Hopefully 2009 will be a great year in which you all draw closer to our awesome Lord. We certainly pray that for ourselves.
I've not been posting Palace Results this season for a few reasons, but mainly because I've been too busy. So, to make amends here's Neil Warnock's review of Palace in 2008.

Best Match - The 5-0 defeat of Burnley at Selhurst Park. That was special because we had to get the win to get in the play-offs and it turned into a special afternoon and night time. We worked so hard to get there from the start we had.

Worst Match - The 2-1 defeat to Bristol City in the first leg of play-offs at Selhurst. I thought we should have won the game if we played like we could. The heat and the kick off time were against us and to equalise but lose concentration and concede straight after made it very difficult for us in the second leg.

Landscape Gardening

The boys are enjoying having some time to play with their toys and Eli particularly is in paradise with his gardening set. He got a wheelbarrow, gloves and a gardening toolkit with a trowel and mini fork and he has now set about a touch of landscaping as he redesigns bits of the garden.

Joel is still 'in heaven' aboard his Black Pearl pirate ship. It really is quite an amazing thing and we have to stop ourselves from having a bit of a play too! Paula took him to the mall today to buy his first proper school shoes -black lace up jobs! 

Christmas Day Fun

We had a great day yesterday and the boys had lots of fun opening their presents. It started with a stocking at the end of their beds followed by their main presents after church. We went to Christ Church in Somerset West for their Christmas service and we really enjoyed it. It was quite nice to have a bit of tradition on the day.

Despite the seemingly huge number of presents we managed to slow things down a bit and told the boys a bit more about Jesus and what Christmas is really about. Joel seems to get it although he was really desperate to get on with opening presents.

Happy Christmas!

Wishing you all a very happy Christmas and a very blessed New Year!

Christmas Eve

Like any other children our boys are REALLY excited about Christmas and can't wait for tomorrow to come. Joel has put a glass of milk and a cookie out for Santa (Dad suggested he might prefer a beer but Mummy reckons he'll be too busy for that) and they've both gone to bed clutching their stockings. Sweet!

1000 Posts

Whilst preparing another post for the blog I happened to notice that we've hit the unexpected milestone of 1000 posts (this post is the 1001st). Wow!

We can't find Brussels sprouts anywhere this Christmas so will do the unthinkable and have a Christmas dinner sans sprouts.

In the absence of enjoying real sprouts we'll have to settle for this amusing story in the news: Farting gorillas force Brussels sprouts off zoo's Christmas menu.

Water Babies

Eli recently went on a 2 week crash course in swimming and as in all things he took to it with natural aplomb and excelled. Enid the swimming teacher said she'd only previously seen one other 2 year old with such a natural aptitude for swimming.

Birthday Boy

Eli celebrated his third birthday today and managed it in style! we've had a lot of fun and lots of people have made a real fuss of him which is great. Having a birthday so close to Christmas isn't great for a number of reasons but despite that he's had a lot of fun today. Eli was delighted with his presents but the skateboard from Jo seems to be the biggest hit. Joel is really smitten by the pirate set from Grandad and needs to be reminded that it's Eli's!

Longest Day

There's a lot of stuff on the news websites we like to look at about the winter solstice and it being the shortest day today.

We'd just like to say that we're enjoying our summer solstice and as such our longest day. The weather is gorgeous, the sun is shining and the day is long.

Oh happy days!

Oh yes, it's also Eli's 3rd birthday!

Caption Competition

It's Friday afternoon and you really should be finishing off that crucial bit of work to meet the deadline, but somehow you strayed onto the web and ended up here.

So, whilst you're here why not get involved? Enter our Caption Competition and see if you can make us laugh.

Give it your best shot, see what you can come up with and leave your entry in the comments bit below.

No prizes, just a bit of fun.

Inappropriate comments will be deleted.
Over on his blog, Terry Virgo posed the following question about this picture:

"If you were around in 1919 (just before prohibition started) and came upon the following poster………

I mean seriously, would you quit drinking?"

I think I would probably start drinking!

Friends On The Beach

Yesterday we went to the beach where the boys had a fantastic time jumping in the waves and giggling themselves silly as they got knocked down by them.

Our main reason for going to the beach was to spend some time with our old friends Pete & Ash. It was such a privilege to spend the day with with them whilst they are down from Jo'burg on holiday. We know Pete & Ash from our time in Zim when Pete led River Of Life Church in Mount Pleasant. These days they live in Jo'burg where Pete leads GodFirst Church where amazing things are happening - check out their website.

Time is precious for Pete & Ash and obviously they want to make sure they have as much time together as a family so we felt very privileged to be able to spend so much time with them on the beach.

Weekend

We can't quite believe that another week has slipped past, it really is quite scary thinking about where the time goes.

This week was quite monumental for Eli as he's doing a two week crash course in swimming and on Friday it all came together and he swam an entire length of the teacher's pool. He's taken to it like the proverbial duck and even the other parents are amazed that a lad so young can be so physical.

Saw this police car in the Strand this morning and was amused by the inscription 'visible policing' on the side.

I guess that probably differentiates it from the usual invisible policing service most South African's complain about.

Maybe the 'visible' service is a premium service?

Christmas Tree

Joel helped to put the Christmas tree up this morning and did a really good job. It was amazing to see the difference over the last few years. After the first time (2 years ago) we spent most of the evening sorting the tree out. Then last year we need to move a few baubles just to balance things out, but this year Joel had a really good eye for where each decoration should go and he really enjoyed having that time alone with Dad to do it.

To see how he's changed over the three years, click the following links: Christmas Tree Last year & Afternoons And Coffee Spoons The year before (2006).

Weekend

Another fun family weekend slips past as the days warm up and the year counts itself down. That can only mean two things; Eli's birthday and Christmas are just around the corner. Somehow we can't believe that Eli is only turning 3. He's physically bigger than most of his peers but developmentally he's way ahead of most of them too. We often have to remind ourselves that he is actually only 2 (just) and shouldn't expect too much of him. However, Eli is more than capable of doing much of what Joel can and in some areas he shows Joel how to do stuff.

Number 21069

Runner 21069 was out and about on the streets and Lourensford wine estate in Somerset West doing her first ever 10 km road race! Yes, it's official, Paula went and chose the hottest day of summer so far (maxed at 38°C) to face her biggest challenge in the Run For Life Road Race/Half Marathon! Having trained for nothing in particular for the past 6 months or so, she was never going to be convinced that she could enter this sort of thing alone, so her dear husband decided to enter her instead.

Eli's Birthday Party

Today Eli had his 3rd birthday party and had a lot of fun with his friends running riot around the garden. Having got over the fact that he couldn't have an exclusive invite just for Iza, he seemed happy to have the rest of his friends there to share the cake, the party food and the fun.

As part of World AIDS Day the BBC News is running a photo journal entitled: Lesotho Aids diary - Joseph's day.

This gives a great insight into life in some of the more rural places in southern Africa. It also highlights how the likes of Joseph are the real unsung heroes of the battle against HIV.

This article is also part of Lesotho AIDS Diary in which you can learn more about Joseph and some of the other unsung heroes in the battle.

The images are from MSF.

World AIDS Day

Did you know that today, 1 December, is World Aids Day? Sadly this day often gets lost in the busy’ness of the season or, more tragically, because people don’t see the point of it.

As you know, either from our blogging or from hearing us speak in England this summer, the effects of HIV/AIDS are a crucial element of our life and ministry here in South Africa.

Emyezweni Christmas Party

It hardly seems possible that a year has slipped past since I last entertained the kids at the Emyezweni Christmas party in Lwandle, but that year has shot past and here we are posting about it again.

I really enjoy being asked to entertain the kids and count it a real privilege to invest a tiny amount in the lives of these kids.

As ever they were a fantastically appreciative audience and certainly know how to make one feel good! The simplest tricks continue to be the most appreciated. The fire juggling is a huge hit, but the unicycling and diabolo are also popular. Climb the string is the simplest of diabolo tricks but probably the most appreciated. Throwing the diabolo is also great, the higher the better! Each year I try to do something different, so last year I used my fire clubs for the first time and this year I used my juggling rings which went down very well. Next year could be a bit tricky.

The Biggest Loser

On Wednesday, Zelda launched our 'Biggest Loser' competition to help some of the overweight folk in church to lose some weight and reclaim their health. Sadly, obesity is almost as prevalent in SA as it is in the West. There is a R1000 prize up for grabs and the members who signed up for it are very excited.

Family Time

As every parent knows, trying to make time for your kids in the midst of the busyness of everyday stuff is not always easy and is an area of life all too easily overlooked.

We're far from perfect in this, but we do try to make sure we spend at least part of the day with them and now that summer is here it is so much easier as we can spend the early evening out in the garden.

Joel The Dolphin

Joel has been having swimming lessons for a while now but recently he seemed to click and it all came together for him. Suddenly he's very confident, prepared to try new things (such as going upside down) and loves spending as much time as possible under the water. We're thrilled that he's overcome his fear of the water especially as summer is here and many of our friends have pools.

Weekend

This weekend was a bit different to the norm (whatever that is). Dean left at 4ish on friday afternoon to get to Swellendam for the Double Century 205k race on Saturday morning. Click here to see how he did. Meanwhile Paula was entertaining the boys at home. They had a great time visiting a friend and chasing the ducks before chilling out at home with a borrowed DVD - The Emporer's New Groove. Joel took his responsibilities as 'man of the house' very seriously!!

Preaching Class

We're really enjoying being part of a church that values its members and cares for them as family. Wow, how we've missed that for a few years! One of our greatest joys at present is being drawn into the life of the church and particularly into the leadership side of things. I'm particularly encouraged that after a barren and almost desolate few years at last I'm beginning to stretch my wings and fly again.

One of the ways this is happening is through the core group of guys that Daniel has gathered together in Grace Community Church. This is a small group of guys who he feels have the potential to be effective leaders within the church. I feel very privileged to be a part of this group and I'm loving the fact that my lead elder is taking time to get alongside me and draw me in.

Weekend

This weekend was slightly different as we welcomed Pete, Steph and Caleb into our home. Pete is one of the elders at Queens Road Church in Wimbledon. It's always a pleasure to host friends and they were a pleasure to have around.

We spent a bit of time at Delheim as well as plenty of time at home, chillin' and chatting. On Saturday evening we abused their presence by ducking out to a friends 40th birthday party, the theme was 1968 and most people made a great effort to get into costume.

Pirates vs Ugly Sisters

Somehow, the monsters got hold of a marker pen (thankfully not a permanent one) and then disappeared into Joel's bedroom for ten minutes whilst they 'made themselves up' to look like pirates.

Thankfully after a long soak in the bath and much scrubbing most of the marker had come off.

Eli really does look to be cut-out for panto, ugly sister anyone?

Baptisms

We like to do things a bit differently at Grace Community Church and it's always great to mix regular Sunday fellowship with fun, laughter and lots of food. So this morning we had our service in Daniel's garden and baptised four folk in the swimming pool. It was a real privilege for me to be doing the baptisms with Mervin. We started with a time of worship before the dunkings and after the formalities the adults decamped to the rest of the garden for food whilst the kids colonised the pool.

Weekend

We're all well and enjoying a bit of warmer weather. Apparently it's going to be over 30°C tomorrow and we can't wait! winter was too long and the rain is still lingering, we had 20mm of the awful stuff on Thursday.

The good news is that we managed a night away sans enfants on Friday which was bliss. Some really good friends looked after the boys and very bravely took them camping (which involves a long story which culminates in the tent falling down at 4am!). Anyway, we had no such dramas, just a very relaxing evening and a lovely slow drive home stopping at all the farm stalls enroute. It really is a rare privilege to be able to peruse these places at leisure without being hassled for sweets or a toy.

Who Did You Vote For?

Over on the BBC News website there is an article about the US election entitled: Who voted for Obama. It makes for some very interesting reading and tells you quite a lot about modern America. One of the things that struck me from it is the fact that older whites are generally pretty scared of anything resembling change, especially if that change is represented by anyone other than an old white man.

A Brave New World

This morning I've got to express my sense of pride in the American people. By electing Obama to the presidency, they have given the Republicans a 'bloody nose' and said 'enough is enough' to Bush and his cronies. This election result also says a huge 'no' to war. Forget the history of the first black president, this result is about change and the fact that the ordinary American wants to see things change big time.

Michael

I couldn't resist taking this picture of Michael & Hayden in Chris Nissen Park yesterday. Michael was showing me how his 'extension' is coming along and Hayden really wanted to be held by Michael.

We sang Michael's praises whilst we were on mission education in June/July. He really is such a quality guy who has grown in his faith an amazing amount. I love the way so many folk in the community seek him out for advice, help and even just a chat.

Caption Competition

The weekend is just around the corner, it's Friday afternoon and you should be working but the internet has a far greater appeal. Anyway, you've ended up here, so let's have some fun.

Leave a caption for this photo in the comments bit and we'll post the best one. No swearing and nothing filthy, thank you!

Tiny Bubble Registration

We heard some really good news from Sandra at Tiny Bubble créche today. After several months of much frustration, form filling and scraping before officialdom, the créche is now officially registered.

This is great as it means Sandra and her staff can now seek some financial assistance from the education and social welfare departments. They will also be able to seek help with wages as presently they work voluntarily.

This is SO worth watching on the BBC: South African MP's chair mishap.

Hope it brightens up your Friday and makes you laugh as much as it did me.

PS. Also available on YouTube.

CNP Update

We're in the final stages of working out exactly what we're going to be doing in Macassar with Grace Community Church as well as thinking about ways in which we can best serve the church. We're really enjoying church life again and it's great to be involved in something fresh and vibrant.

"THERE'S PROBABLY NO GOD"

I had to laugh when I saw this article on the BBC website: 'No God' slogans for city's buses. My amusement stems from three aspects of this 'advertising campaign'. Firstly, I love the use of the word 'probably'. One always needs to hedge one's bets just in case. I guess it's similar to the lager that claims to be "..probably the best..", they just can't say for certain that they are the best. There's always that niggling doubt. So the rest of the poster on the bus says "Now stop worrying and enjoy your life." But if there's an element of doubt, as raised by the use of the word probably, then how can one simply toddle off and not worry?

Farewell

Last night we officially left HCC. To a certain extent it was a mere formality and a box ticking exercise. It certainly wasn't an event we were keen to attend. Not because we'd done anything wrong but simply because we've moved on and are already seeing God at work in our lives and in Macassar and we're really excited about the future! To return to HCC and dredge up the past simply wasn't an exciting prospect.

Poverty - A Personal Rant

Poverty - Part of Blog Action Day

Whilst the Bono's of the world rant and rave about poverty -a subject they know little if anything about- the poor just keep on getting poorer. It's very easy when one lives in comfort to feel moved and send a fiver to whichever charity happens to spring to mind, but to actually get up and do something practical about addressing poverty, its underlying causes and its symptoms takes real commitment and dedication. You don't see many Bono type figures living and working amongst the poor! It's all too easy to sit in an ivory tower and pontificate.

Speeding Fine

Whoops!

I received a fixed penalty notice this morning for speeding. At first I was cross about having been caught, but then I looked a little closer at the notice and realised that the registration is for a car I've never owned. I also saw that the fine could be viewed online, so I went online for a look and nearly fell of my chair laughing. Clearly that's not me! and my wife is a whole bunch better looking than that!!

Holiday

We've been back almost a week and finally get around to posting some photos of our holiday. We had a great time staying on a really quiet farm called Ravenna Mountain Retreat which is about 30k's from Montagu on South Africa's famous Route 62. Apart from it being a bit too cold to use the pool right outside our cottage the place was perfect. The boys really enjoyed the jungle gym whilst mum & dad enjoyed the peace. On previous visits to this part of the Klein Karoo we've stuck around the Montagu area but this time spent more time in and around Barrydale.

We're back from a wonderful 10 day break in the Klein Karoo on the local 'Route 62'.

I saw this set of signs at a supermarket whilst we were away and was amused at the thought that one is banned from taking one's porn collection into the shop.

I'll post something a little more edifying later.

National Braai Day

Yesterday was Heritage Day (alternatively known as National Braai Day) so was a public holiday. We joined our new church family in Macassar for a braai and an afternoon of fun. The gathering was fairly impromptu and very informal and must be one of the most relaxed church events we've ever been to.

It was such a pleasure to be with our new friends and to be so warmly welcomed. Our kids loved every minute of it and they get on really well with the other children. Joel enjoyed watching High School Musical on the big screen whilst Eli held his own on the cargo net hanging in the garden.

This Week

We've had a busy few days with trips into Chris Nissen, going to Joel's school and meeting with the lead elder of Grace church in Macassar.

Paula met up with Jenny today from the UK and spent the morning with her in Chris Nissen. Jenny has extensive medical experience from years as a nurse so she was a real blessing. It was great to have someone who could relate to the likes of Aunty Henna who regularly complains of her arthritis. Jenny could fully empathise and relate to Henna's daily struggle.

Spike

I got to take Joel to Shonny (our hairdresser) yesterday as Mummy was out. Whilst on our way Joel said he wanted a spikey haircut so I agreed as long as he told Shonny what he wanted.

Joel was a bit coy at first but warmed up and told Shonny exactly what he wanted. The result is a cool looking boy. Thankfully Mummy also thought he looked great, so we got away with it! Eli came along too and said he also wanted a spikey hairdo. Sadly for him that's never likely to happen.

This morning we had a lot of fun spiking up Joel's hair with some gel (neither of us have used the stuff in years) and he was delighted to be going to school with his new hairdo.

Wedding Anniversary

At seventeen years of marriage there is no traditional nomenclature for the anniversary, you have to wait for the 'china' of twenty years before you get into that again.

We've had a great day albeit a very different one to how we've celebrated previous anniversaries - no sloping off for a quiet weekend sans enfants!

We went to church as usual (for a Sunday) and then onto Cape Town with the boys where we visited the aquarium and then had fish & chips for lunch at Ocean Basket - the boys choice. Joel loved playing with the bones from Mummy's sardines and then scoffed a lot of Daddy's prawns. Joel even enjoys shelling them himself. Eli amazed us with his choice of dips for his chips, he chose raw garlic!!

Previous anniversaries can be seen here: 16th, 14th & 13th we seem to have neglected our 15th.

Family Stuff

As you're reading this I'll be out with a few friends enjoying an 80k road ride and hopefully Paula will just be having breakfast after a decent lay-in.

We're so proud of our boys at present as they're coping incredibly well in trying circumstances. Despite the difficulties they're both thriving in school & play-group which is great relief for us and they're really enjoying church which is a first in a long time for Joel. Sadly, they've both had quite nasty ear infections and it's looking like Joel may well have to have his grommets re-done. We'd appreciate your prayers for him as he can hardly hear a thing.

Thankfully the rain has abated for a few days although it is due back on Sunday/Monday for a few more days. We had hoped to miss the worst of the winter by being in the UK for June & July but this August has been so bad that we missed very little.