Flying Tonight

A quick post before we leave for Heathrow tonight. We fly out at 9pm tonight and arrive in Cape Town at around 9.50 local time, it's quite a long flight.

Please pray for safety as we travel and for swift exit through the airport once we arrive. We've checked-in on-line so don't have to worry about that side of things. Also, although we're only travelling with 4 big bags and 3 pieces of hand luggage the main luggage still weighs around 120kgs. Thankfully we've got two people meeting us at the other end.

We've had a lot of fun in Blighty and really enjoyed catching up with some great friends and family. We've also experienced some real lows as we've discussed the future but thankfully we serve a GREAT God who has given us some amazing encouragements in the last few days and we're really positive about the future and where God is leading us. Please join us in praying about the future of our ministry.

Can't Wait To Go Home

You know it's time to go home when your kids start telling you just how much they're missing their special toys. This is Joel's pirate ship which was a Christmas present 2 years ago from Grandad. Joel lives on board in his fantasy world and he's spent many a happy hour sailing the seven seas and fighting off other pirates whilst also trying to out run the Acheron as Cpt. Jack Aubrey.

In the last few days Joel has made it quite clear that he's ready to go home. He really wants to see his friends and is missing his teacher. This is a bit heart wrenching as parents because we know and understand why we need to spend seven weeks away from home, but Joel & Eli get no choice in the matter and just have to trail along with us. Sadly for Eli he's too young to express his feelings in any way other than physically. Consequently some of the behaviours we've experienced over the last few days have been quite testing.

Please pray for us as a family as we spend these last few days getting ready to return to South Africa, especially as the future remains a little uncertain (more on that when we get back to SA).

We've got one more night here in Spain before returning to Blighty, we land around 11pm tomorrow. On Saturday we return to Wimbledon until Tuesday when we go back to Grandad's. On Wednesday evening we fly back home to South Africa.

We're longing to get home and get stuck into the future. Please stand with us in prayer.

Hiding

It might seem like we've disappeared as we haven't posted anything for a while but in actual fact we're hiding out in a corner of south-east Spain close to the town of Cartagena, a beautiful old port town dating back to 1BC. We're on holiday as a family with Grandad and Lesley and having a really nice time. the boys are really happy to have a swimming pool all to themselves and are really enjoying having Grandad & Lesley to spend time with them. We're also grateful to Grandad & Lesley for giving us a bit of space to get out on our own.

We'll post some more when we get back to Blighty on Saturday.

Eli savours his donut, Joel wolfed his!


¡Sulud! Getting into local culture is something we were encouraged to do at bible college so it must be right. The street cafĂ© culture is brilliant and something we could live with.

Today we were at Christ Church Parkwood in Maidstone. Dean preached and we followed this with our Powerpoint presentation, lunch and our photo presentation.

The morning was quite chaotic, one of the qualities we really love about Parkwood. The church is as unpretentious as is possible to be and yet the Spirit of God is so clearly present! We love it!!

Sadly the boys were a bit of a nightmare but there was no-one to take them of our hands. Also, Joel was led astray by a young lad who apparently wandered in off the street. He said he was 8 and his mum didn't mind him being there, however it was clear that he has no boundaries in his life. What an amazing mission field the church lives in.

Tomorrow we're off to Spain for 10 days. We've invited Grandad to join us so we hope we have some help and also a bit of space from the boys in that time.

Please pray that we'll manage some time to ourselves as we really need to be seeking God for our next step.

Birthday

We had a nice family meal out at The Bottle House Inn in Penshurst last night to celebrate Paula's birthday.

Lisa had gone to town with some decorations (sadly not visible in the photos) and left a cake there too which was brought out after the meal.

The birthday celebrations just keep on coming and will continue once we get home to South Africa and we can celebrate with friends.

Left to right: Ian, Jo, Susannah & Paula


Stephen, Lesley, Dad (Grandad) & Ian


Jo, Susannah, Paula, Dean & Lisa

Fun At Penshurst Place

We spent a lovely morning at Penshurst Place yesterday with Richard and Sal, Joel's Godparents. We managed to dodge the showers and the boys had a great time playing in the amazing wooden playground. As always, Eli was very pleased with his exploits and, not to be outdone, Joel soon followed along and enjoyed a few of his own 'achievements'. It was lovely that Richard was able to take precious time away from the farm to join us. Eli and Richard seem to have a special bond - we think he will probably be Richard's size and build one day!

It is always good to have a natter with Sal too and we enjoyed tea and ice cream half way through the morning. We'll see them again tomorrow when we go to the farm for tea. Special times and sadly all too rare!




Eli experimented with a number of different ways to get down the slide


Joel was brave enough to try the slide too


Sal nattering with Joel


Mr Daredevil!


Gorgeous isn't he!


The serious business of having fun

Christmas Day

Thursday night was Christmas Day!

On our way back to the UK, Joel had asked if we were going to have Christmas dinner at Lisa's and he was particularly keen to have the prawn starter he clearly remembers from last Christmas. So the ball was set in motion and Christmas dinner was mostly prepared and sorted by Lisa with a bit of help from Paula & Grandad. I made some mulled wine.

Christmas dinner was enjoyed by all and was followed with a silly present game which always goes down well.

Above: Joel & Eli terrorising Susannah & Jack (her boyfriend)

Jack & Joel


Raising a glass to Christmas


Joel was not going to be left out..


..he really enjoyed the whole thing


Lovely Lisa who made it all happen

Happy Birthday!

Paula celebrated a significant birthday yesterday. I've already been told-off for saying how old she is so let's leave it at 21 with 19 years experience.

We had a lovely continental style breakfast at a new French eatery in Wimbledon Village. We all had fantastic food.

In the evening I managed to escape with Paula and we went on a bit of a reminisce around London, starting with a glass of champagne on the Southbank. This was followed by an exquisite curry in Soho and frozen Margaritas in Leicester Square. All in all a great evening!

Eli getting to grips with his breakfast


Joel really enjoyed his food

On Sunday morning we were at St. Andrew's in Oxshott speaking at their 'First Sunday of the Month' service at the local primary school.

This was a bit of a different service, not just because it was very 'un-Anglican' but also because rather than give a presentation on our work the church wanted Dean to give his testimony which he's not done for a long time.

The service was great and as ever the church was very friendly and welcoming. The boys also recognised this as church which is a first since we've been back in the UK. They're used to a bit more chaos than most Anglican churches offer.

We also got to show our HOPE video and Paula spoke about the Home Based Care Team which was great.

After church we had dinner with some key folk in the church which was excellent. After lunch we managed some time in the garden and the boys really enjoyed playing in the swimming pool.

Bodiam Castle

On Friday morning we had a family trip out to Bodiam Castle in East Sussex. As you can see from the photos this is a truly picture postcard castle, exactly as you'd imagine it should look.

The boys were really excited about the castle and enjoyed romping around the grounds and climbing on the various bits inside. Joel was a little too scared to go looking for Princess Fiona in the highest room of the tallest tower in case he saw the dragon but despite this he still enjoyed the castle.

Grandad came too which was great and the boys always enjoy time with him as they don't get to see him as often as we'd like.

Family time like this is such a blessing in the midst of our hectic schedule.


Joel at Bodiam


Never mind the castle, this tractor looks like fun!


Imagining what it would be like to fire arrows across the moat


We really enjoyed climbing over the castle


No Eating In The Grounds - By Order


Dad & Joel


The perfect medieval castle


Back at Grandad's and looking pleased with himself

Mission Education Visiting

On Thursday evening we gave a presentation of our work with Chris Nissen Park to St. George's in Weald (the village Paula grew up in). The was based around a Cheese & Wine supper during which we interrupted the proceedings with twice with different presentations.

We began with our powerpoint presentation of the work we've been doing for the last four years and immediately followed it with a 5 minute DVD of the HOPE Home Based Care project. This all seemed to be very well received.

After a short break for more cheese & wine we the gave a 25 minute photo presentation of our lives at work and play in Somerset West. We then concluded with another 5 minute video which can be seen on this blog.

We thoroughly enjoyed the evening and were particularly pleased with the turnout from St. Peter's in Ightham. Thankyou for making the effort, we really appreciate it!

The photos aren't very good but hopefully give you a glimpse of our mission education visits.


Warning To Zimbo's

It's now clear that the African Union (AU) has desperately failed the people of Zimbawe and as such Zimbabwean's are now on their own. No-one is going to come to the rescue! The international community can't intervene without consent from other African nations and the African nations have sent a clear message to the world that they don't really mind having the Desperate Despot in their 'exclusive' little club.

As ever it would appear that Thabo Mpathetic led the charge to keep the Desperate Despot in the club.

Read more on the BBC: AU treads softly on Zimbabwe

Better Late Than Never

The BBC news website has the following story on its front-page: Mandela taken off US terror list.

At least US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice had the nouse to acknowledge the restrictions as a "rather embarrassing matter that I still have to waive in my own counterpart, the foreign minister of South Africa, not to mention the great leader Nelson Mandela."

It only took them 14 years to finally recognise a democratically elected govt.

Today was a bit of a mixed day for the boys. It all began with a trip back to Interhealth for the second lot of rabies and typhoid injections. The really bad news is we've still got to go back once more! They were both very brave as the 'horrible' nurses jabbed them in both arms.

Shortly afterwards we had a trat lunch in Mc D's followed by ice cream on the Southbank by HMS Belfast.

Joel especially enjoyed seeing such a big warship and was really thrilled when a police speed boat went crashing past - all very exciting! Afterwards we had a stroll through the Hays Galleria where the boys enjoyed seeing the 'sculpture' fountain.

Hays Galleria has changed a lot since the time we spent there courting over 20 years ago! Back then there were hardly any people around so it all felt quite exclusive. Now the place is awash with tourists.

Enjoying lunch at Mc D's


Joel & HMS Belfast


Joel in the Hays Galleria, Eli refused to join in the photo


Ice cream is a definite favourite!

Desperate Despot Rattled

I've been at a loss as to what to post about Zim since the farcical one man show that was called an election. Of course the Desperate Despot won with a landslide because he was unchallegnged. Still, that doesn't stop him from crowing from the rooftops.

Thankfully the Kenyan prime minister has spoken out very clearly against the Desperate Despot and has called for action to be taken. Sadly this will amount to nothing because as the UN security council agreed to condemn the 'election' they stopped short of taking any action because Thabo Mbeki (now to be known as Thabo Mpathetic) argued against this. Well done Thabo! Once again the SA president shows the world that he's inepet, mainly because he's unable to get out of bed with the Desperate Despot. Jacob Zuma is beginning to look like a very appealing alternative!

Anyway, I came across this news clip from the UK news service ITN. Desperate Despot is clearly rattled in this clip and I have to congratulate the reporter for this valiant attempt to interview him.

Enjoy!