Recently the boys school held a Library Challenge in which the pupils and parents were encouraged to red 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.

Here's the relevant extract from the school newsletter:

RESULTS OF THE 2009 LIBRARY CHALLENGE

Thank you to all the pupils and parents who participated in the 2009 LIBRARY CHALLENGE. I believe it is a wonderful attribute to pass on to our children, especially in these days of busyness and high stress levels. A love of reading and enjoyment of good literature is often an anecdote to our way of life.

The winners are:

Senior Primary – Konrad Kuehl

Junior Primary – Joel Finnie

Parent – Paula Finnie

Just some of Joel’s comments which are what this challenge is all about really; ‘ this book is great because it shows me that mums and dads love all their children the same; my favourite book! I learn all about what pirates wear, do and say; this book has all my favourite things in it. I can read it by myself.’

Thanks Joel. I look forward to even more comments next year.


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.

Paula taking food to Nils


Chatting with Lizbeth, one of our amazing HOPE carers

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!

We would be really cross if we were told halfway through the year that he was being disruptive because he's bored.

Please pray for wisdom, grace for all of us and especially for Joel that his needs would be paramount in all of this.

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.

We've really enjoyed this house and the boys really love it and the garden is perfect for them with loads of space to run around and ride their bikes. We really don't want to move so please pray with us that God would clearly lead us in the midst of this.

The Times here in SA has run a great article about GodFirst church in Jo'burg which is led by our good mate Pete Smyth. Read it here: Praise the Lord and pass the beer. Be prepared to be challenged.

I love the fact that the local advertising standards authority made them remove a billboard from outside their building as it offended religious people. Fantastic! Religious people are there to be shocked, just read the gospels for goodness sake! Jesus spent a huge amount of his time winding up the religious folk of his day.

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).



Showing Mummy some of his spelling work

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!

We first went for a lovely walk around the pond and really enjoyed the views and the tranquility. Lunch was then a fantastic Cape bobotie followed by milkshakes and very strong coffee all round. It was so nice to be able to treat these fantastic ladies again, as treats like this are few and far between. We had a great time and enjoyed being out together away from the stresses and strains of Chris Nissen and having a good old natter whilst eating superb food! It was also lovely to be able to take Elise, my new friend from Macassar who has been visiting with us for several months now. She is a really quality woman and very loved and accepted by the others. God is at work amongst us and we thank Him for blessing us today through my friend at the Reserve.

Henna, Elise and Lizbeth


Henna & Elise

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!


Armed with a full watering can...


...ready to water his newly planted seeds


Showing Daddy how to paint

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.

We stopped off at Thelema on our way as we've been wanting to try their ' 09 Sauvignon Blanc for a while and it really didn't disappoint! This was followed by lunch in Stellenbosch and a slow drive home.

Tonight we're off to Taste here in Somerset West to celebrate with a bit more style. Mmmm, can't wait!

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!

The following week in our cell group God allowed me the privilege of praying for healing again and once again I experienced the searing heat from my hands, which the lady I was praying for also felt. We are both believing for more miracles! The next day myself, and two others from Grace church who have been meeting together to pray, received our first invitation to visit the sick in the community. When we entered the first house it was obvious that this was the house of people living on drugs. There was a real heaviness and darkness in the air. We went through to pray with a young woman suffering from a lung infection and once again experienced God moving in a very powerful way. When we left the house there was a tangible sense of light and peace and we are praying for that family to experience salvation. We then moved on to another home to visit a lady who was convinced that her house was possessed. She was experiencing tremendous physical symptoms as a result and she was obviously paralysed by fear. To cut a long story short, we offered to pray with her and within 20 minutes the woman was delivered from her fear (and we believe the symptoms), we led her to Christ and she was baptised in the Holy Spirit. I wish you could have seen the physical transformation that such inner transformation leads to. She was literally glowing and the three of us were also beaming from ear to ear!!! We stayed for a cup of tea and have promised to follow up on her and take her through what it means to be a Christian, as well as inviting her to church of course. God is amazing!

The very next day was my usual visiting day with HOPE in Chris Nissen and I was really looking forward to it by this stage!! I now take Elise, one of my new friends from Macassar, with me each week as she is longing to be trained up as a carer. She is such an encouragement to the ladies too. We prayed for all of the patients with new boldness and were particularly thrilled to pray with one lady who has been very sick in the last stages of AIDS. She is currently remarkably healthy, which is what the ARV's can do for you, and we were able to have a very good chat with her about faith and hope and knowing where your hope lies. She is a Christian and is really believing God to totally heal her. That morning we were so privileged to ask all of our patients if they really knew the Lord and, as a result, to help to lead three of them to Christ!!

We know that these types of weeks don't happen very often but we are also learning that there is absolutely nothing wrong with asking God to use us and equip us and anoint us to do His work here on earth. It also involves us having courage and stepping out into the unknown at times. It is a really humbling thing to be involved and used by our Father in this way and we are so thrilled to see words that God has given us (some are years old!) coming to fulfillment in front of our eyes. We just pray, "More please 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 quequeing 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.

We remain British subjects but we now have more options as to what we do in the future. We also feels this gives us a certain amount more control over our future and the decisions which face us ahead.

Our biggest fear in all this was that potentially Joel would only get residency until his 18th birthday and we'd been warned that he may well not get full permanency. Praise God that he also has full permanency status.

We're really rejoicing about this and are stunned as ever by God's goodness and faithfulness!

Home Affairs & Visas

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.

This morning we had the privilege of having john & Sue Hosier joining us at Grace Community Church. John preached from Ephesians chapter 1 and Dean was particularly impressed by the way John was able to preach a very solid sermon without the aid of notes. How he longs to have that kind of skill. Afterwards we were joined for lunch at our house by John & Sue as well as Daniel & Zelda and Melvyn & Yolande. We had a lovely lunch and a good laugh together.

The boys playing on the new stage in the reserve


One of the many proteas bringing the Nature Reserve to life


Birthday boy & Zelda

John in full flow. Despite the empty chairs we actually had a good turnout this morning

More pictures on Facebook

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.