Prayer Request

I just found out this morning when I was in Firgrove that Aunty Patsy had a stroke on Tuesday. She seems to be doing well and she's up and about but the right side of her face is hanging down which is upsetting her.

Please pray for a full and speedy recovery.

Weekend

This is a weekend with a twist in so far as it's four days long and we're up to a few different things.

On Saturday Dean attended Josie's funeral, it was actually a celebration of her life rather than a turgid funeral and it was truly a joy to behold! The main thing that struck Dean though was just how different a middle class Cape Coloured funeral is to a Cape Coloured township one. It's hard to explain but the differences were palpable (hope that makes sense).

Dean then went riding with his mate Rod and on his return Paula managed to escape the bedlam for a coffee on her own which was much needed time alone or at least away from the chaos!

This morning we were once again unable to get the civic centre in Macassar so decided that as a church we would visit The Bay in Muizenberg. It turned out that they were having a baptism service so it was great to be there and see so many people making such public declarations of their love for Jesus. We also had a really good turnout from Grace which was very encouraging.

The rest of the day has been spent watching football and trying to make some calm in the midst of the chaos that seems to be our home lately but we wouldn't have it any other way!

Hope you've had a good weekend.

Shaking their booty

Freedom Day

Tuesday next week is Freedom Day so just about the whole of South Africa takes the Monday off too and clears off for the weekend. In fact we had a constant stream of migrating traffic nose to tail outside our house (thanks to road works and a very unhelpful and poorly planned diversion) for 3 hours this evening which wasn't very pleasant. Enough ranting!

So, another long weekend and the weather is looking good which is a blessing as the season has definitely changed. There's now a chill on the air in the morning and evenings and the rains seem to have come early this year. The locals love the rain but being English we tend to prefer the sunny days, especially after having lived a few years in Manchester!

Hayden continues to be a real star in his seemingly endless capacity to simply fit in. He cried for a short while last night but other than that he's been amazing. It's also great to see Eli being the big brother and sharing his toys etc with him as he's used to being the little brother who gets pushed around.

Can't wait to spend more time with my amazing boys over this long weekend!

Settling In

So proud of our boys and the way they've handled Hayden coming into our family for a while. Maybe it helps that they've known him for a while but even so they are being very caring and considerate towards him.

As for Hayden, what a treasure! He's been really well trained and even though he's not quite 3 he's perfectly happy to take himself off to the toilet and he's dry through the night as long as he's lifted. He slept brilliantly last night and despite the lift for a wee at 11.30ish he slept right through until 6ish which was perfect.

Paula spoke to the Principal at the boys' school today and in prinicple they have no problem with Hayden joining the nursery class whilst he's with us which will be a huge blessing! Paula will try him there tomorrow so prayers for a quick adjustment to another new situation would be greatly appreciated.

Place Of Safety

We are now officially a place of safety and have a court order to prove it. It's probably just as well that we have proof as I'm not sure we'd believe it otherwise.

So what precipitated this turn of events?

Like most folk we were happily plodding on minding our own business and trying to make the most of the chaos that is our daily life when suddenly we heard that things had gone seriously downhill for Michael & Joyce (see: Prayer Request). So this morning I went with them to the social worker to talk about how we can support them in trying to rectify the situation whilst also ensuring Hayden's safety. Paula & I had spoken briefly about offering to be a place of safety for Hayden if push came to shove, so as the meeting progressed and push did indeed come to shove I put the proposal to the social worker and before I knew it we had an appointment in the family court and a third little boy in our family for the next 90 days. In the next week we will put a programme together with the social worker outlining what Michael & Joyce must do to demonstrate they are again able to care for Hayden. We'll also recruit a lot of support for them through our circle of friends and contacts to ensure that they are best placed to succeed. Together with their church things could well turn out alright but please join us in praying for this situation especially for Joyce as she now has to give up the booze!

This is all very exciting but also very daunting as it will have quite an impact on our daily lives and the things we're involved with. I've already had to spend an hour rummaging through the garage retrieving bits we'd allocated for giving away whilst also reassembling a bed and rearranging the boys bedroom to fit it in. Praise God for bunk beds! On the other hand, what with already having a house of two lively boys we might not even notice a third and if the chaos is too much we can turf them all out into the garden to chase around with the dog.

Spare a thought for Rose!

Josie, R.I.P.

We heard today that Josie passed away late this morning after battling an infection for a few days.

Josie was a great friend and colleague of Dean's, they always got on really well. Sadly we never managed to see her in hospital but Dean did see her a couple of times in Jamestown after she had retired and each occasion of catching up with Josie was a lot of fun.  Paula remembers her best for her incredible gift of encouragement.  She was always there for you and gave her Bible study ladies that extra little something to look forward to each week.

Josie will be well missed by a lot of people as she was very loved and highly thought of.  There's absolutely no doubt where she is now though - with her glorious Saviour, and that gives us all great comfort!

Prayer Request

Michael has just been away on the Mighty Men weekend with Alistair Buchan (Faith like poatoes) but unfortunately came home to some devastating news.

The welfare people have removed Hayden from his care due to Joyce's irresponsible behaviour. Unfortunately whilst Michael was away, Joyce left Hayden unattended whilst she was off drinking and a neighbour contacted the social worker to report the incident.

Please pray for strength for Michael in this situation as he's really upset at losing Hayden and very angry with Joyce and his neighbour. I'm meeting with him and the social worker tomorrow afternoon to try and sort something out, but obviously the welfare need assurances that Michael won't allow Joyce to be solely in charge of Hayden again which is a big commitment on his part.
I love the local church and being a part of it. Partly because it's a very unpredictable thing and as such it has to remain flexible so as to accommodate all who enter. Another part of why I love the local church so much is that no organisation, NGO or other body can respond to local needs with the speed and accuracy of it.

Let me explain some of this before I press on.
I love the local church but am not a great fan of big lumbering church like institutions which slow down the local church with the burdens of tradition, rules or regulations. When preparing for our Crosslinks interview weekend many moons ago I was pondering the question: 'Do you have a problem with the Anglican church?' which was being asked in the application form. I came to realise that at a local level I really have no problem at all with it. However, at a global level I have serious issues with such a behemoth in any guise!

I also believe the local church can respond quicker and more accurately to local needs than other bodies, NGO's etc simply because the local church is just that, it's local. I remember clearly participating in World Food Programme meetings in Harare and being attacked by most of the big NGO's because in their limited view we were simply using our feeding programme to prosletyse. Regardless of whether we were or not (we actually weren't and in fact we were feeding people regardless of political allegiance which can't be said of some of the big NGO's) we were actually feeding thousands of people, unlike most of the big NGO's who were still undertaking 'assessments' and 'procuring' supplies. It was always the same at each meeting so we gave up attending and concentrated on being the local church locally.

So, back to why I love the local church... Sunday's are the most visible part of the local church with a myriad of local church meetings happening all around the globe, but I'd wager that each of these meetings has something in common (other than Jesus). I reckon each of these meetings is open to anybody and everybody which means we can't control who is or isn't allowed in. This makes for potentially exciting church depending on who might walk in unexpectedly. This is where the flexibility of the local church comes to the fore. Clubs & societies generally have membership criteria and whilst welcoming of new members most would probably not adapt well to strangers or undesirables wandering in off the street. The local church on the other hand should be longing for this to happen.

On Sunday just gone we had the amazing experience of a prostitute coming into our midst. What an amazing privilege for the local church to be able to reach out and love someone who probably knows little if anything of true love. It was fantastic to watch various church members go out of their way to help this lady with none of them being patronising or judgmental of her. What an even greater joy it was to see her being prayed with at the end of the meeting and to see her being hugged in a way she probably hasn't been for a long time. But the real joy is knowing that today, church members are looking out for her and caring for her in the midst unpleasant circumstances.

It was also great to see one of our members back on Sunday after suffering from a very serious stroke at the age of 41! Again it was a joy to see him being prayed with and for me it was an even greater joy to visit him this morning to look at practical ways in which we as a local church can help him and his family in this difficult time.

This is truly the local church in action. Never mind the public meetings on Sundays, it's what goes on from Monday to Saturday that really defines what the local church is. Want to know how effective a local church is? Find out what it's involved with during the week. Forget the Sunday morning bit, that's really easy, scratch below the surface and invariably you'll find a wealth of stuff going on quietly and without fanfare. Whilst those who used to attack us at the World Food Programme meetings are busy swapping their business cards and filling up their swanky 4X4's the local church is getting down and dirty loving local people for the sake for the gospel.

Maybe the charge that we're only using our various programmes to prosletyse is true, but hey, at least we've got our sleeves rolled up and are getting our hands dirty.

Happy Birthday Zim!

Zimbabwe wakes up to being 30 years old this morning.

Happy Birthday Zim!

Sadly there's little to party about as the Desperate Despot continues to cling to power despite having wrecked the economy, beaten, raped, tortured, murdered, falsely imprisoned etc etc just about anyone who has ever expressed any opinion other than the zanu pf party line.

Read more on the Beeb: Zimbabwe celebrates 30 years of independence

Prayer Request

A couple of months ago Josie, a dear friend from our time at HCC, was diagnosed as having a brain tumour and was operated on very promptly. Initially things looked to have gone well but in the last few days she has had a rough time with an infection. Sadly Josie was readmitted to hospital on Wednesday in an extremely weak condition. Apparently the doctors diagnosed her as having an infected body but they were unable to find the cause of it. We then heard during our leaders retreat that Josie was struggling to recognise people and was generally in a bad way.

Please spare a minute or so to pray for Josie. We love her dearly and long to see her well again and able to enjoy her early retirement.

Leaders Away

The leadership team of Grace Community Church have just had a great night way staying at The Team House in Noordhoek Beach. It's always a pleasure to stay somewhere with such stunning views right on the beachfront but it was an even greater pleasure to share the time away with our friends from Grace.

The time away was part retreat, part business as we discussed a number of issues but the main thing was getting to know each other better and having lots of fun. All in all a very successful time!

Click here for photo album.

Star Of The Week

Eli was awarded Star Of The Week in his class again, this time for his hard work in writing and for being a thoughtful friend. Sweet!

He's definitely our Star Of The Week!

This week's letter of the week is 'B' so for show and tell he took a brick and apparently was brilliant in describing how builders use them. Then the kids took turns to feel the brick and see how much it weighed. Eli was very proud of himself.
For the last two Thursday evenings our church has joined with Victory Worship Centre in Macassar for two incredible meetings. Last week we hosted Jeff Kidwell from The Bay in Muizenberg and this week we had John Hosier from Brighton (although he's actually been with Jubilee for a year). Jeff taught clearly and succinctly about the Holy Spirit and then moved into an amazing time of application which was very exciting. This week was a bit calmer as John spoke on the Grace of God and unpacked romans 8:28-30. John has a phenomenal gift of teaching!

WOW! Both evenings were incredible.

Last week Daniel led worship in the meeting and his style was obviously a little different to what the Victory guys are used to, so last night Victory led the worship. It was very different to what we're used to but man it was great. I was reminded of the church scene in The Blues Brothers with James Brown. Whilst we didn't have the dramatics of that scene we certainly had the music and it really was fantastic and made for a very refreshing change. It's a real joy and a privilege to join with another church and experience their take on things.

Hopefully this is the start of a long and healthy relationship with Victory.

Potjie Fun

We had one of our best afternoons in a long long time as we joined Melvyn & Yolande and several other church members for a seafood potjie at their home in Macassar.

All we can really say about it is that it was a fantastic afternoon filled with lots of laughter, amazing food and great friendship. It's always good to build on existing friendships but it was also good to get to know some other folk in church that otherwise we might not get a chance to know as a family.

The highlight though had to be the seafood potjie which was sublime. Joel was salivating for it from the moment he smelt it which was about an hour before it was ready. Just to finish it off Melvyn put some crayfish tails on top of it for the last few cooking minutes. Oh my word it was gorgeous!

See here for full album.

Visiting Friends

One of the real highlights of living far from friends and family is when they come to visit!  We have recently enjoyed a bit of whirlwind visit from good friends John and Tricia who hail from one of our partner churches in the UK.  Joel was particularly excited to be seeing them as he well remembered their house in Cheadle as being the one where the airplanes fly over every 30 seconds!

One of the perks of their particular stage of life for John and Tricia is that Tricia gets to be the ship doctor on various cruise liners a couple of times a year and March 2010 just so happened to be cruising on the Balmoral out of Cape Town - how thrilled were we!  So, they arranged to arrive in CT one week early to visit us and some family in Durban before sailing out and back home to the UK.

It was a real treat and privilege for us to introduce them to our good friends in Chris Nissen Park and to newer friends in Macassar.  Although they were only here a short time, it was lovely to see how much John and Tricia gave themselves to people and loved sharing their lives with our friends.  It was particularly helpful to Paula and  the HOPE ladies to have a GP first hand as they visited patients that Friday morning - something that some of them have never had the benefit of!!  John enjoyed a good old chat with Michael and looked around his house and they were even given a tour of the sights of Macassar by one of our elders!  One of the highlights for us all was that they were able to slightly change their plans to be able to join us at a Macassar church family wedding on the Saturday.  This was such a blessing all round as they got to meet so many friends and were also able to help us out with keeping an eye on the boys whilst Dean performed his role as official photographer and Paula as chauffeur to the bride and bridesmaids!! 

Of course, we also found time to go wine tasting, to the beach to see the penguins and generally to enjoy the beauty of the Western Cape in summertime!  Topped off with a particularly stunning meal at our favourite restaurant one evening.  Dean and I also found this visit such a useful time to talk, share thoughts, feelings and ideas and to make decisions.  We often find that times with old friends are so good for this.  We are also thrilled to know that they will go back with a far greater understanding of what we do, who our friends are etc. and will be much better able to pray, which is great!

The visit was topped of with a real surprise for the boys.  We had told them that we were going to drop John and Tricia at the ship and wave them goodbye.  What they didn't know was that prior arrangements had been made to enable us to have lunch on board the Balmoral.  Joel's eyes nearly jumped out of his head when he found out!  It was a truly perfect end to a fantastic visit.  Thank you John and Tricia so much and we can't wait to see you again in January!

See more photos here