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.

We really praise God for Michael's witness in the community, especially when so many Christians in there seem determined to fight with others and gossip continually!

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, thankyou!

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. They will also be able to legitimately accept donations from international and local donors. Already a Dutch organisation is wanting to provide them with food on a regular basis which is great. Hopefully more will follow.

Michael and I put the sign up on the container today and we're really chuffed with how it looks.
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.

We're also managing to continue to have some involvement with Chris Nissen Park and our friends there. The HOPE Home Based Care Team are doing well and we continue to be really proud of the work they do. Paula visits with the team on Friday mornings and is always encouraged by the ladies and their faithfulness. I'm normally in CNP twice a week and continue to enjoy meeting up with some of the men. Michael remains a very good friend and we often have a good laugh together over a cup of tea. Today I was able to help him transport some roofing sheets and we had a great time chatting and laughing in the bakkie. Sadly, Michael had seriously underestimated how much the sheets would cost so he only got 8 for his hard saved cash.

We're continuing to support the Tiny Bubbles crèche and recently were able to bless them with a lot of food for the kids and staff. The link between the crèche and Joel's school is going well and they're now thinking about a Christmas party for the crèche.

On a sad note, our feeding programme in CNP is coming to an end. The final deliveries will be in December after which time we have no further funding. We're keen to keep this going as the food goes to the patients of HOPE and it's one of the key ways that we can make sure the most vulnerable are cared for. The feeding project requires £1200 per year, so if you're interested in getting involved let us know.

"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?

The second aspect that amuses me here is the use of uppercase. This delightfully skips the issue of whether or not the campaign should ascribe an uppercase or lowercase 'g' to the word GOD. It also nicely sidesteps the issue of which deity we're talking about here, maybe that's the point. I wonder whether the muslim radicals will get upset and make the usual threats etc.

The third aspect that amuses me is the need of atheists to spread their own belief system (isn't religion merely a belief system?!?). I'm always impressed by the faith of atheists who can declare so positively that there is no god. Bless 'em!

One commentor on a connected blog wrote: "..but I still object to being persuaded not to worry. I will worry as much as I like, cheers." Personally, I'm with him.

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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. The event itself was very weird, we'd been invited to attend as it would be a chance for the church to thank us for our four years of service, but after being called to the front and told they wanted to honour us, Dean was handed the microphone and asked to thank HCC. Neither of us can remember what I said (I didn't swear at least) but one of our friends said I was very gracious - phew! Besides one of the elders dropping a clanger about his forthcoming colonoscopy, the highlight for us was the fact that our best friends in the church sat with us in support of us and Daniel & Zelda (from Grace Communtiy Church, Macassar) also came. We felt very honoured by them.

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 comitment 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.

Each time I go into Chris Nissen Park I meet people who have nothing except a few basic items. Peter, one of my friends there has no regular income as he can no longer work due to poor health. Unfortunately for him he was born over 60 years ago on a farm. Back then the births of people like him were rarely recorded and so today he's struggling to obtain an identity document. Without an ID he can't access basic services and is excluded from applying for the welfare grant which is R750 a month (£50). He tries no to ask me for food when I visit, but invariably I give him something as I know no-one else will. This is real in your face poverty in a country with no real safety net and yet there are peoploe even worse off than him. Peter feels he'as lucky as he does at least have a permanent roof over his head. By WHO standards that probably puts hime in the top 20% of wealthy people on the planet.

As Christians working out in the field we generally receive two criticisms from the less informed. Firstly we're often accused of doing little more than prosletyising. Basically, the accusation and criticism is that we're only doing what we do to draw people into our church. Patently a nonsense argument put up by those who choose not to see the reality of life on the frontlines of poverty. The second criticism is that we're merely 'scratching the surface' and being no more effective than a drop in the ocean. Funny thing is, oceans are made up of drops. Think of it this way, when one has an itch, what do you do? Scratch. Simple isn't it. Addressing the issues around poverty and working alongside the poor is just the same and a good scratch can be very rewarding!

Folk like Peter really don't care whether you come with a religion or something else, all he wants to know is that you're genuine and prepared to walk with him in his daily struggle. I try my best to be there and support him and others who we know and have grown to love. The trick is to be real to them and yourself. It's not easy and the answers aren't readily to hand but it's a walk well worth taking!

I'll let W.F. Deedes have the last word:

"..perhaps my unease with Geldof, Tinkerbell and Jimmny Cricket and all the other public figures who step out of private jets to read their anti-poverty statements is based on the creeping suspicion that they don't have the faintest idea what they're talking about.

Yes, they've been to Africa, and they've seen poverty, stepped in it, and scraped it off their Nikes. But have they understood it? How can they, when the European Union defines poverty as living on 60% of the average income of one's country? What kind of coked-up hyper-bourgeois Eurotrash thinks that earning [Rand]16 000 a month -60% of the average income of Liechtenstein- has anything in common with being poverty-stricken? Do Swiss who earn R10 200 a month loll hopelessly in tent camps, rationing their Riesling and Camembert, as they ponder the hell of living below Switzerland's EU-defined poverty line? These people really need to get out more."[1]

[1] Eaton, T. 2005. Mail & Guardian 17.06.05 p19

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. One of the highlights was Warmwaterberg Spa with its three hot pools. The boys loved spending half a day soaking in the hot water. we managed two mornings there and are really grateful to a couple we met half way through the holiday who told us about the spa. Most locals recommend a trip to the hot springs in Montagu but these have been colonised by a larney hotel which isn't great for youngsters. Warmwaterberg is much better and well worth the 30k's drive out of Barrydale.

Spot the Eli


Joel was very proud of his achievements on the jungle gym


Blue cranes, South Africa's national bird. These were seen on the farm each morning.


Our pool with stunning views


Nothing holds Eli back on a jungle gym


Peach and apricot trees just coming into blossom


Much fun was had at the garden sprinkler


Yummy fish & chips for lunch


Daddy enjoying a beer & burger for lunch


The boys at Warmwaterberg Spa


Breakfast to celebrate Daddy's birthday


Joel had a ketchup sandwich after polishing off his full English!


Inevitable photo that had to be done. Read more here


Joel finishing off another plate of prawns


Fun in another garden


"Stick 'em up!"

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.