Church Visits

Sunday was a busy day with two mission education visits. The first was to St. Christopher's in Pott Shrigley and we had a great time catching up with friends and making some new ones. We were really encouraged by the response of so many in the church. It's good to know that our partnership is valued, so a BIG thankyou to all in Pott Shrigley! We talked about our work during the service and afterwards had lunch with many of the church folk, after which we showed our photo presentation which seemed to go down well. We also had a really good afternoon & evening with Steve & Anne on Saturday. Steve cooked a lovely meal and we were joined by another couple from the church which made for a fun evening.

In the evening Dean preached at St. Mary's in Cheadle after which we gave our powerpoint presentation about the work we've been doing for the last few years. The preach went well despite Dean breaking into a coughing fit half way through. We really enjoyed our time at St. Mary's and are really grateful to Rob, Graham and the team for giving us space to relax and enjoy family time during our week in Cheadle.

Joel & Eli with Tom & Matthew by the dais in St Christopher's, Pott Shrigley

Catching Up With Friends

We had a great time catching up with a few friends over the last few days.

We had a lovely riotous tea with some old friends, Jane and Derek and their 2 children on Wednesday. The children really enjoyed playing cricket in the garden after tea and it meant that we did get a few minutes to catch up with 10 years' worth of news!

On Thursday evening. We hosted a small gathering and were amazed that friends were prepared to travel quite some distance to come and see us for such a short time. We would have liked to have more individual time with each of our friends but sadly that's not possible. However, our 'Chill & Chat' evening was a suitable compromise and we're really grateful to those of you who rocked up.

Yesterday we spent the afternoon with John & Helen and had a really good time catching up with them. John was great with the boys and it was with real sadness we had to leave, although John was probably ready for an early night himself!

Today we're off to Pott Shrigley where we're speaking in the morning. We'll catch up with some friends this afternoon and the boys have been invited to a birthday party so it should all be a lot of fun.

Fun In The Park

We're managing to have some great family time here in Cheadle which is a real blessing. We're so grateful to the Berry's for letting us house-sit as it means we can just relax and be ourselves without having to worry about being on our best behaviour.

We've also had some useful time with the key players of St. Mary's in Cheadle and look forward to our partnership with them going from strength to strength.

We've also had some really good times catching up with friends, some of whom we haven't seen for a few years. We always enjoy catching up with friends.

It's funny how old haunts suddenly take on a new meaning. Bramhall park used to be a great old stomping ground of ours without the kids. We had no idea how good the playground is..... now we do!!! Joel has got really confident at climbing, pretending he is spiderman and Eli continues to be kamikaze man, almost jumping off this high slide today in his enthusiasm. It was funny though to see how Joel's endurance on a roundabout (the kind of thing we pay good money for each week in occupational therapy!) even beat Eli! We couldn't look - it made us feel sick!

Enjoying one of many 'see-saw' type toys

Joel has an incredible capacity to stay on the roundabout for a long time!

Eli doing things in his own style

The slide was a hit

A quick trip to Oz?

Madiba Speaks Out

Nelson Mandela finally spoke out against the Desperate Despot last-night, describing the situation as a "Tragic failure of leadership in our neighbouring Zimbabwe". A brief sentence of a few simple words which could have a massive impact upon Zimbabwe. The Desperate Despot will of course ignore Madiba, but it is very likely that many other African leaders will not ignore him but will be stung into action by the great man.

If Madiba can't motivate other African leaders to take a stand against the Desperate Despot then no-one can!

"only God can remove me"

"Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves." Romans 13:1-2

These verses in Romans have always presented Zimbabwean Christians with a problem. On the one hand they want to remain faithful to God's word but on the other hand they live with the daily reality of the Desperate Despot and his mindlessly violent rule. Squaring the reality of the Desperate Despot's rule with the word of God is not an easy thing to do and many Christians who understand scripture far better than I do have wrestled with this problem.

However, I believe that within the context of Zim, Christian's now have a wonderful get out clause... The Desperate Despot recently declared at one of his political rallies that "only God can remove me". This gives Christians the perfect opportunity to cry out to the living God and ask Him to do just that; to remove the Desperate Despot.

Let's unite and call upon our amazing God and ask that He shows the world unequivocally that He is the living God and He can indeed remove a lunatic like Mugabe. Jesus said quite clearly in Matthew 18:19 "Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven." I think we can get a few of us to prayerfully agree to this.

I've been wondering what to write about Zim for a while now as each time I read my favoured Zim blogs or hear from friends I simply want to cry. Zim is in a total mess all because the Desperate Despot won't let go!

Tonight we received the following email from our best friends in Zim. All I would say about this email is that in all the years that we've known these friends they've never once expressed any notion of leaving the country they love so dearly nor have they ever expressed any fear, until today. Read it and draw your own conclusions.

Please may you pray for us for God's protection, things are really bad and we are scared.

Please especially pray for the kids and L , the girls in the family for God's protection over them, as the militia are doing unthinkable things here. Please pray that if something happens here I will be able to protect them and if worse comes to worst a safe escape for us.

The nights are especially bad for me please pray that there is protection around our house and peace in our hearts to be able to sleep.

Please also pray for the safety of my parents too.

Thanks for your prays


Plane Spotting In Cheadle

We've had a fairly hectic time in our first full week back in Blighty. After all going down with various illnesses, we then had to hotfoot it to central London for our 5 yearly tropical medicals. This took 3 hours for the whole family - deep joy! - and at one point involved trying to get a urine sample from Eli and having 2 nurses injecting the boys with 2 different vaccines at the same time in each arm. This was not nice, and unfortunately, has to happen twice more before our return!

We have had 2 interesting church visits. Unfortunately, Paula and Joel had to miss the first as Joel was so unwell, but Dean enjoyed it and felt that he was able to share well about our work in CNP. Yesterday's visit was St. Nicholas' in Burton On The Wirral. We had a really good visit and were encouraged by the level of interest shown in our work and the request for more information. The morning started disastrously as we were following directions from the AA Routefinder and they were complete rubbish! Eventually we ended up in Wales (at that point the service had been going for 5 minutes!), it was at this point that we both began laughing hysterically. Thankfully we found the church about 10 minutes later so were able to sneak in. Once settled, the boys had a fight which wasn't a great introduction. All in all this was a good visit and we really enjoyed meeting some new friends from one of our link churches.

We are enjoying housesitting in Cheadle this week. Joel is especially enjoying it as we are under the flight path for Manchester airport, so every 2 mins he is greeted by a jet. The novelty is not wearing off!! This morning Paula decided to start schooling Joel in earnest.... we decided on Mrs Muddle as her 'teacher name' and this seemed to go down well. She now has a new appreciation for his class teacher!!

This week is going to involve some serious family time, as we don't seem to have had much of this lately. We are also seeing several sets of old friends and are hosting an open house on Thursday evening. If you are in or near the Cheadle area, please do get in touch about this. The weekend is going to be very busy with 2 church visits on Sunday including preaching and presentations.

Joel on the top of a double decker bus

Eli gets some woodwork lessons from John..

..and thoroughly enjoys himself!

Joel in paradise, watching Charlie & Lola whilst playing with his castle at Grandad's

Enjoying breakfast at John & Tricia's (where we're house-sitting)

The Local Church Responds

This video was put together by Every Nation church in Somerset West to show the church's response to the recent xenophobic / racist violence in South Africa. It's not often as a church we get to respond to an international news event so it was fantastic to see the Bride of Christ rise to the occassion and meet the needs of thousands of displaced people. New Gen' church themselves accommodated about 700 people in their new & as yet unused church building.

To read more about the violence click the links below:
Township Riots
Friends & Foes
Calm After The Storm - For Now

Tiny Bubbles Come To Play

The morning that we flew to the UK turned out to be a really special one as the children from Chris Nissen's Tiny Bubbles creche were invited by Joel's school to come and play for the very first time. It was a freezing day, but so much fun was had as around 60 children from many and varied cultures spent the morning together playing, learning and having a fantastic snack lunch. From the point of view of the children at the International School it was great to finally meet the children they so faithfully make sandwiches for every Thursday. As for the Tiny Bubbles kids - well just look at the pictures!! We hope that this 'exchange' will be the first of many.

Mission Ed' Has Started

We arrived safely back in Blighty last week after a long flight of 12 hours. The plane was a smaller Airbus so it took longer and had no personal TV screens so Joel didn't enjoy the flight. Also, Joel was suffering with a virus so by the time we arrived at Grandad's he was burning up and the last 24 hours have been quite stressful. Thankfully he seems to be picking up now, but please pray for him. Subsequently Paula took him to the Dr's on Sunday morning and he was diagnosed with a middle ear infection.

Anyway we're in Blighty for a seven week 'tour' of a number of our supporting churches as well as catching up with many friends and family. If we don't make it to you please don't be offended as it really is nothing personal. This time we're acting on advice we were given almost 10 years ago and that is to stay put and ask friends to come to us. So if we didn't extend an invite to you, drop us a line to our normal email address or leave a comment and we'll get in touch.

We're now settled into Susan's in Wimbledon Village. We kicked off the tour on yesterday morning at Hertford Baptist Church where Dean preached at both morning services followed by a PowerPoint resentation over lunch. Sadly Dean had to go without Paula & Joel as Joel needed to see a Dr. Despite this it was a really good day and we were made to feel very welcome. It's always such a pleasure catching up with old friends. Many thanks to all at HBC for making Dean & Eli so welcome and special thanks to Jemma for looking after Eli! Sadly we weren't able to stay overnight so we missed out on seeing some special friends. Eli was an absolute treasure and I couldn't fault him at all. He was great with Jemma and was happy to go into the creche twice. Poor thing was so tired at lunchtime (when he'd normally have a sleep) that he fell asleep on me whilst I was trying to eat lunch. Eli was also brilliant whilst Dad was trying to navigate around Shepherds Bush. We were very lost on the way home but Eli was very forgiving.

Next stop Cheadle where we'll be house sitting. We're really loking forward to this as we'll have time to chill and just enjoy being together as a family.

"I can see clearly now.."

It was Johnny Nash who sang the words "I can see clearly now, the rains have gone" in his song I Can See Clearly Now. Thankfully the storm clouds that were gathering over the local townships seem to have been blown away. There was no resurgence of the racist violence which engulfed so many and left thousands displaced.

We really thank God for answering those prayers!

Many immigrants remain too scared to return to their communities, thousands have fled the country and many thousands more are still in temporary refugee camps living in appalling conditions.

Our dear friend Alfred and his family are all safe. The kids are back at their regular schools and Alfred & Pauline are back at work.

Please pray that those who are still displaced would be able to return to their homes in South Africa.