Recently the boys school held a Library Challenge in which the pupils and parents were encouraged to read as many books as possible within a specified time-frame and then write a brief review of each book. The lower school pupils just had to write about why they liked each book and what they learnt from it.

The challenge was taken very seriously in our house with Joel really enjoying reading more than normal and Mummy getting quite competitive!

It seems to have paid off as today at school it was announced that Joel had won 1st prize in the Junior Challenge and Mummy had won 1st prize in the Parent Challenge.

Apparently Joel was totally surprised by his win and had to pick his way through the assembled mass in assembly to collect his award from the principal. We're also told that he was really proud that his Mummy had won the parents prize.

Feeding Programme

One of the joys of being involved in the stuff we are is that we get to distribute food to some of the most vulnerable and neediest people in Chris Nissen Park.

Each month the food is provided by St. George's in Weald, Paula's home church and the Phillipi Trust here in Somerset West.

The distribution is specifically targeted through our home based care team; HOPE with the most vulnerable patients being at the top of the list. Amazingly, the usual gossip and jealousy which has often dogged feeding programmes in CNP and other places seems to be diminishing in CNP as the community are beginning to recognise how and why the food is distributed.

For us it's a real privilege to be able to bless some dear folk with desperately needed food which makes a massive difference to their daily lives.

Prayer Request

A brief prayer request if you've got a few minutes over lunchtime. We've got a meeting at school today at 2.30pm in which we'll be meeting with Joel's teacher, the special needs coordinator and the principal to discuss the way forward for Joel. We know the school want the best for him as do we so it would be great if we were all singing from the same hymn sheet. We really value the school's support for Joel and we appreciate the good relationship we have with the staff.

Without going into too much detail, there's a strong likelihood that Joel may repeat Year 1 and whilst we're not totally against the idea (especially as he is actually a year younger than most of his classmates) we'd need to know that the school has a plan in place to ensure that he doesn't become bored and disillusioned with school particularly as it's not his favourite activity!

Today is a day we've been dreading and hoping wouldn't come. Our landlady gave us 2 months notice so we have to be out by the end of November. The timing isn't great from our point of view given that we're just about to go away for 10 days in the school holiday and I'll be returning to Blighty for 10 days next month.

On the other hand the timing feels right as we've talked a bit over the 3½ years we've been in this house about buying it. We're in the process of getting figures but right now it would take a financial miracle to allow this.

Eli's Antics



Here's Eli's latest routine in the garden

Wonders Never Cease

WOW!

I was stunned this morning as immediately after switching on my cell phone an SMS came in from Home Affairs of all people.

When we applied for our ID books we were asked for our numbers but never really thought that we'd hear from them, based on previous experience!

However, here we are with an SMS telling me that my application is already in Pretoria and is on its way through the system as they process it.

Hopefully it will be ready by mid December as they promised.

Presentation Of Work - Pt 2

Joel was delighted this morning as he didn't have to go to school until 10am as it was presentation morning for his class. So we had the privilege of siting with Joel in his class whilst he showed us some of his work from the year so far.

We were really impressed by what he has done and amazed at how much Mrs Tinsley (Joel's teacher) has managed to cover. Joel really has come on a long way from the start of the year, especially as school is something to be endured (although we happen to know he does enjoy it).

Treats & Blessings

Regular readers of our blog may remember Paula writing about the fundraiser she attended recently for the Christmas party for children who attend the ARV clinic at our local hospital (Down To Earth With A Bump). During the event the lady who owns the restaurant in the Nature Reserve invited Paula to bring her HOPE ladies for a treat lunch one day. So, today was the elected day and following our morning visiting in Chris Nissen, Paula and a friend transported the ladies to the Reserve for a real treat!

Presentation Of Work - Pt 1

Today and tomorrow are special days for our boys as they get to show us some of their best work from their year so far at school. Today was Eli's turn and he was delighted to have Mummy & Daddy in his class. We had lots of fun with him seeing what he's been up to. We're really privileged because the boys attend a small school with small classes and as such we have a really good relationship with the teachers.

Eli is very lucky to have Aunty Lisa (Mrs Broekhuizen to Joel, you & I) and Aunty Batwisa looking after him every day and we're really blessed to have such free and easy access to Aunty Lisa every school day to be able to chat about what's going on and how Eli's doing. We were really pleased to hear that Eli is well loved by his friends and that he has "the softest heart of all the children as he's a really caring boy". He makes us so proud!

Chickenpox

Joel somewhat triumphantly emerged from the lounge this afternoon claiming he was feeling unwell and so unable to do any homework or go to school tomorrow. Sadly he got really upset when we fell about laughing at his handiwork with the felt-tip pen.

Definitely takes after his dad!

Wedding Anniversary

Today is our 18th wedding anniversary. We can't quite believe we've been married for that long but thank God for the amazing work of grace he's done in our lives which enables us to continue in our marriage. Apparently one gets less for armed robbery these days so there's something worth considering.

We spent the first bit of the morning at Home Affairs having decided to use the morning well. Having wasted 30 mins trying to get a passport photo done we were then told that because we're not South African we couldn't get our ID documents here in Somerset West but would have to go to Paarl. One hour later we arrived in Paarl and amazingly after just another 40 minutes we'd been fingerprinted and processed and on our way back home.

Web

I was with Michael this morning and as we were talking in his hokkie at the back of his house I noticed this spider's web glistening in the sun as it shone through a gap in the roof.

I love the way the sunlight just illuminates art of the web.

Michael didn't really get what I was going on about, I think he's had his suspicion that I'm a bit bonkers confirmed.

Amazing Weeks

Ever since we responded to a specific prophetic word given to the church 3 weeks ago it seems that God is really blessing us with a fresh anointing in ways that we haven't seen for years. It really is so exciting to see God at work.

Here is Paula's testimony of the last 3 weeks... Since my incredible encounter with God that Sunday morning God is giving me a new boldness and I am seeing breakthroughs. During the HIV course our trainer was unable to speak one morning (a bit of a blow for us all!). I decided to ask if I could pray for her. She readily accepted and I prayed in front of the whole class. Immediately, God restored her voice and she continued as if nothing had been wrong - wow! As a result of seeing this, one of the delegates approached me at break time and asked me to pray for a very specific medical condition she had. As I prayed with another of the ladies from church we sensed a heat building up from our hands into her body. She felt as if the area that had grown hot was 'unplugged' and we are now waiting on God for her total miraculous healing - thank you Lord!

Permanency!

This morning at the stroke of a pen or rather the stamping of a passport everything changed, nothing changed and yet everything did change. We're now permanent residents of South Africa.

This is a huge blessing and a massive answer to prayer! No more queueing every few years filing out endless forms for visas and dishing out ridiculous sums of money for the privilege. We feel this is also confirmation from God that we're in the right place.

Off to Home Affairs this morning to follow-up on our application for permanency and to renew our relational visas. Prayers for ease of dealing with bureaucracy appreciated. We also need our permanent residency to come through. We were told it would take two years when we applied two years ago!

Weekend

We've had quite a busy weekend which has been a lot of fun. On Friday Dean joined our youth group again as he's wanting to get to know the younger guys in church and maybe get involved with the youth. He's really impressed by our youth and the leaders who serve so diligently.

On Saturday we went to the Helderberg Nature Reserve (again). This particular visit marked a change in what we do there as the boys really wanted to 'walk up the mountain'. We managed a 40 minute walk with them but it was a really good walk and the boys were very tired afterwards. Hooray!

In the evening we joined Daniel for his 40th birthday party which was a great evening. We really enjoyed catching up with some good friends who we haven't seen for quite a while.

Chris Nissen

I had a great afternoon in Chris Nissen chatting with Michael whilst we laid a drainage pipe alongside his house and hokkie (see pic on Facebook). It's been a while since we've spoken about some of the issues we went into today and it's really encouraging to hear how God is working in his life and to see how he's growing in faith and maturity. How I wish others in the community would stop gossiping about Michael and others like him and start following his example instead. One can dream!

One major prayer item Michael would really value your support in is that of Joyce's retreat back into alcohol. This really distresses him and causes massive tensions in the home. Joyce had been sober for several months so it's really disappointing that she's drinking again.