A very Happy Christmas to you all!

Lots of love

Dean, Paula, Joel & Eli
XXXX

Eli's 6th Birthday

A very happy birthday to our special six year old bundle of endless energy and fun!

It hardly seems possible that it is six years ago today that Paula flew to Bloemfontein and held Eli for the first time as she waited to bring him home.

This little bundle of joy has transformed our family life with his boundless energy and sense of fun and also making us a truly international family.

We're so grateful to God for the miracle that is Eli and especially grateful that he blessed our lives!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY ELI!


Many of you who heard us speak on our last mission education visits or came along to one of our Facing The Mountain Roadshows will remember our two biggest prayer requests. Firstly we asked you to pray that we might be able to go church planting again, although we had no idea how this would be possible at the time. Secondly we asked that you join us in praying for our boys coming year at school but especially for Joel as we had some reservations about his year ahead.

Thankfully we serve an amazing God who answers our prayers.

God is indeed amazing and we've had some massive answers to these prayers! Firstly, we're on the cusp of planting a church back into Macassar, more on that next year, but needless to say we're really excited about it all.

Secondly, we can also report that our boys have had truly amazing years at school this year. We always knew Eli would as Teacher Chloë is brilliant and Botiswa is an absolute treasure who has known Eli for a long time now. But Joel's year has far outstripped our expectations, he's built a great relationship up with Mrs T who has worked really hard for Joel and acknowledged his areas of strength and need and really encouraged him to the point where he's grown massively in confidence through the year.

WHCYIAMWOTGOC

On the BBC News website there is an article entitled "What would Jesus do?: The rise of a slogan"

It makes for an interesting read but I find myself disliking this logo quite intensely. I've always felt that it's a bit of a silly question for two reasons. Firstly, as the article points out, we don't really get much of a clue as to how Jesus conducted himself away from the limelight and so we can't really answer the question. Secondly, we often see Jesus popping off a miracle in a variety of circumstances and whilst Jesus told us in John 14 that we would "..do even greater things.." I and the vast majority of Christians have yet to fully understand and grasp that. So looking at a WWJD? wristband when confronted with a situation is not really a great help.

I have preached on this before and feel that rather than asking the question What Would Jesus Do? for most Christians we'd be better off learning Philippians 1:27 as a memory verse and applying it to our daily situations. It goes like this:



"Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ." 


For me I really ought to get it printed in big bold letters and have it pinned onto my dashboard. Where would you pin these words to help you in your daily walk? I particularly like the fact that the sentence begins with "Whatever", it's not the 'whatever' of stroppy teenagers but rather the whatever that covers every situation and eventuality with no exceptions.

Sadly WHCYIAMWOTGOC doesn't trip off the tongue in quite the same way as WWJD? but I prefer it!





On The Stoep

As summer finally heats up we're able to spend more and more time out on the stoep in the early evening and it makes such a refreshing change from wasting time in front of the telly.

It's a real privilege on the evenings when the southeaster isn't blowing to sip a chilled glass of vino and enjoy dinner alfresco, especially when the Hotties mountains are illuminated so beautifully by the sunset.

It's a great way to relax after a busy day!

Eli's Birthday Party

Once again we celebrated Eli's birthday just before the end of the school year so that as many of his friends were able to come as possible.

Much fun was had as 13 of his friends ran riot around the garden, climbing on the tree house, playing on the jungle gym, bouncing on the trampoline and getting dirty in the sand pit.

In fact so much fun was had we only had time for one organised game. Pass the Parcel went down a storm as ever and we even got away without having the inevitably distraught kid that can't accept they didn't win. Phew!


Another Year Gone

Not too sure what happened to the school year that was 2011 but it seems to have whizzed by. There is one week left but let's be honest, very little gets done in the last week. that will make up for the busyness of this week with awards ceremonies and school concerts, but it's been really good fun.

It's been a great year for the boys, not least for Eli who can now read and write. we're very proud of him for this achievement!

We had our concerns too at the outset of the year, particularly for Joel but he's coped admirably and had a really enjoyable year. We're really grateful for this massive answer to prayer as many of you may remember that one of our biggest prayer requests on our mission ed' trip last Christmas/New Year was for Joel's school year.

Girls Will Be Girls!

I had a very eagerly anticipated "girly" coffee morning with 4 special ladies at my house today - it was time to get my wonderful HOPE home based carers out of their community for a few hours to just spend time chatting, laughing, eating and reviewing the past year! Each lady is a special nugget of gold, they will definitely be taking their places at God's top table one day!! It was so good to enjoy some lovely food and to potter around the garden chatting about patients and friends and our lives. We definitely don't get time to do this often enough and I really thank God for the constant encouragement that each one of these special friends adds to my life, despite the fact that often their own lives are beyond difficult!!

World Aids Day

The world seems to have gotten a bit complacent about AIDS and the devastating effect it has so it takes a bit of shock tactics to get the world to sit up and listen.

Hopefully Willy the Tourist might help to do this.

The video doesn't seem to appear on the blog so here's the link to it: http://youtu.be/DjSv9jLt_vY

Our life group in Macassar last night was such an encouraging and humbling time.

It was a real privilege to hear testimony after testimony of how God has moved mightily through the year to bring folk to the point of being excited about planting a new church into Macassar early next year. For some of the guys there last night this has been a torrid year, starting with the collapse of the church and the hassles resulting from it. Some have then lost jobs, had to move house a number of times, had family members die, one of our number has lost two brothers this year! Others have had to look after extended family to help out financially in tough times and one family have had a terrible time with drug dealers and all sorts of related nonsense.

Through all of this each of us was able to testify to the goodness and faithfulness of our God and how he's moved throughout the year to bring each of us into a very different place from where 2011 started. Some have new jobs, some have moved jobs closer to home, some have got new homes and others have seen their daily lives transformed through prayer and God's amazing grace.

We floated home last night!


On top of all this I feel so incredibly humbled by this amazing group of folk who are so committed to planting into Macassar and seeing God's kingdom extended and his name glorified.

To be a part of these guys lives is an awesome privilege!

Weekend Stuff

Summer seems to be toying with us at present as the weather has generally been pretty good during the week and then pretty horrid at weekends. Winter is definitely hanging on to the bitter end!

This last week and the weekends either side of it has been a good time for us as we've managed to sort out and rise above a bit of rubbish that was thrown our way and as a consequence find ourselves in a stronger position than before.

Praise God for friends who believe in the best of you!

Dean has particularly enjoyed the last two Sundays as he was invited to preach in Simon's Town last Sunday and at Love and Grace yesterday. It is a real joy to be able to share the Word with folk and an immense privilege too.

I've been really encouraged of late by John Wesley and more particularly by an excerpt from his diary. John Wesley (with his brother Charles) is one of the biggest names in 18th century British history, though his impact goes way beyond Britain's borders.

So here's the excerpt from his diary:

Sunday, A.M., May 5 Preached in St. Anne's. Was asked not to come back anymore.
Sunday, P.M., May 5 Preached in St. John's. Deacons said "Get out and stay out."
Sunday, A.M., May 12 Preached in St. Jude's. Can't go back there, either.
Sunday, A.M., May 19 Preached in St. Somebody Else's. Deacons called special meeting and said I couldn't return.
Sunday, P.M., May 19 Preached on street. Kicked off street.
Sunday, A.M., May 26 Preached in meadow. Chased out of meadow as bull was turned loose during service.
Sunday, A.M., June 2 Preached out at the edge of town. Kicked off the highway.

Over a period of five short weeks Wesley was handed a seemingly never ending stream of discouragement and an endless array of obstacles being put in his way to prevent him from continuing in his ministry.

Here's a tale of two guys I care for very much and have a huge amount of respect for and two guys who are struggling through very different but equally tough times.

As I said a few posts below Ernest has just suffered a massive stroke. Thankfully he has an amazing family around him who are taking excellent care of him. As an outsider looking in it's a real privilege to see just how well loved Ernest is. My family circle consists of Paula, my fantastic sons and my brother. Ernest had 40, yes 40 members of family by his bed the afternoon after his stroke! He's back home now and being the fighter that he is he's slowly picking up, though his speech has regressed and it's hard to understand him which obviously frustrates him. Despite this I was very moved when he asked how Paula and my boys were this morning.

Please keep Ernest in your prayers.

Hopefully many of you will have received our November update by email. If you haven't had it and would like to receive our monthly updates and quarterly prayerletters let us know and we'll add you to the list.

Now that we're (almost) no longer Crosslinks mission partners we're taking control of our monthly updates and prayerletters and we want to distribute these by email as much as possible. In fact we will no longer be sending the monthly updates by snail mail, apologies if this impacts you. If you have been receiving our news via snail mail but you have an email address please let us know as it's so much easier (and cheaper) to email them. If you're old fashioned like me and want a piece of paper in your hand then it's easy to print.

It feels good to have spent what feels like ages sifting through the mess of the various mailing lists etc we've inherited back. I think we've rationalised and organised everything appropriately but I guess time will tell. One thing we are excited about is that after a lot of work our email lists are fully up to date and as a result the potential readership of our updates has just doubled. Fantastic!

I've been watching with interest over the last week or so the debacle surrounding St. Paul's and the ridiculous way in which things are being managed.

I feel I should make some things clear at the outset. Firstly, I support the Occupy London protest and think it has a very simple and valid message that the City and govt need to listen to. Secondly, St Paul's is not a 'house of God' or a 'house of prayer'! Many may well disagree with this but as far as I am concerned it stopped being either of these things the day it introduced an admission charge. Today if you want to enter St Paul's it will cost you £14.50. I've never paid to enter a house of prayer and don't ever plan on doing so! Put quite simply, St Paul's is a museum, nothing more.

B. A. Eli

In honour of our school's International Day tomorrow Eli asked for his hair to be like B.A.'s and Daddy simply couldn't refuse the opportunity to have a go at doing it.

Eli's well chuffed with it!

Not sure what his teacher or the Principal might think of it, I guess it might have to disappear in time for Monday morning.

So often in life it is the same people who do everything and this is often met with criticism or complaint.  In the case of Chris Nissen Park we are always so thrilled to see men and women who are solid, full of Jesus Christ and committed to serving in their community taking on the roles.

It is so exciting to see again two of the HOPE Home Based Care team taking the lead in Chris Nissen in the fight against crime. All of these ladies are loved in the community and we are proud of them. In particular go Anne and go Aunty Poppy!!












Wristgate

I had my last appointment with the orthopaedic surgeon today and he was well pleased with my progress.

After just 4 months, yes 4 months! I have 99% of movement back. The scar is diminishing and the swelling is almost gone. The surgeon reckons it will be a while longer before it's all normal again but he's really happy with my progress.

I've been cycling again for the last three weeks and generally carrying on as if nothing happened and barely notice my wrist anymore.

It really is quite amazing that things are looking so good just a short 4 months after a major break and major surgery!

Definitely no more ice skating for me!

Ernest Update

Thanks for all your prayers for Ernest!

Ernest was discharged from Hotties yesterday (Monday) and went home with his family. He was much stronger than he was on Sunday afternoon, sitting up, moving his arms and able to speak a little. Please continue to pray for healing for Ernest.

Thankfully the family are truly amazing and are caring for him brilliantly. Apparently there were 40 of them at his bedside during visiting time on Sunday! They mad sure he had a physiotherapy referral before leaving as well as a home based care referral and hopefully he'll get some help from the Macassar stroke support group.

We really are grateful to God for the healing Ernest has already experienced but please keep praying for him and his wonderful family.

Ernest

My friend Ernest had a serious stroke during the night. His family are with him at the hospital and I'm just about to go and join them. Things aren't looking good for him so please pray for him.

As we said in our Macaasar Update post below "This year has been a real rollercoaster ride with some scary white knuckle moments!". Arguably the scariest of these whiteknuckle moments has been trying to sort out where we go after leaving Crosslinks at the end of the year. Many of you will be aware that we've been mission partners with Crosslinks for the last 12 years and earlier this year we mutually agreed to call it a day in our partnership. 1999 seems like a long time ago now and we've had many good times serving with Crosslinks in those years but often there comes a time when priorities and views diverge onto different paths and as such it's time to bid farewell to Crosslinks though we'll remain with them until the end of the year.

We've been looking at a number of different options ranging from calling it a day and returning to Blighty to calling it a day and living in SA to trying to be obedient to the calling on our lives and pursue the purposes of God in our lives.  

Guess which route triumphed?

Bandana Day

It's Bandana Day in South Africa as we're all encouraged to wear bandanas with the Sunflower Fund logo on to raise awareness of leukaemia and the South African Bone Marrow Registry which exists to find and match bone marrow stem cell donors for patients who need a transplant, such as those with leukaemia and other life threatening blood disorders.

This is particularly pertinent in our house as Dean's younger brother Stuart died in 1995 after a two year battle against leukaemia. Dean is very proud of the fact that Joel has taken a photo of Stuart to school today so he can tell his class all about him.

Despite the silence on the blog things have been busy and lots of things have happened which we haven't blogged about as we needed to wait for confirmation etc. Some of our biggest news will follow in another post in the next day or so but we're very excited!

This year has been a real rollercoaster ride with some scary white knuckle moments!

On returning from Blighty in January we learnt that the church we were serving with was folding and as such our deployment with Crosslinks also folded. We then set about seeking a new deployment and were very excited about where we believed God was leading us and were hopeful that Crosslinks would also be excited. Sadly this was not to be and in July we mutually agreed to part company after 12 years.

This was a major whiteknuckle moment as we had no idea where we should turn for covering and support. A wise friend encouraged us to make sure that we were hearing and listening to God's voice in the midst of our turmoil and this was sterling advice. Over the next few months we were asked many times about returning to the UK and many offered advice about applying to this or that mission agency.

However we were convinced by the Psalmist who wrote: "Be still, and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10). So often this year as we've sought to do things with a view to make things happen our efforts have fallen flat only for God to step in when we've got a grip on this scripture. Each time we've been still and waited on God things have happened! This really has been the story of 2011 for us.

Holiday Time

We've just had a fantastic break as we enjoyed our annual holiday. It seems to have become a bit of a tradition to go to Greyton but to be honest it suits us as a family as we've all had a great break.

Dean got to ride with his boys again which they all love and Paula got some well deserved peace and quiet with a good book and cup(s) of coffee.

One of the real joys of this holiday has to be the fact that we park the car on arrival and don't use it again until it's time to go home. Bliss!

Not much more to say other than can't wait to go again next year!


We are in no way associated with the link that directed you here.

Celebration

What a morning we had as we hosted a celebration in Macassar.

The celebration was exactly what it said on the tin.

It was such a privilege to be back in Macassar, even if it was for just one morning.

If I'm honest I was a little disappointed at the beginning as very few of those that had promised to come did so, especially Willem who we had prayed with just the day before. However, this was a celebration and it went ahead regardless and those that failed to make it missed out.

We've had a great morning in Macassar giving out flyers for tomorrow's Celebration in the New Civic Centre. We were few in number but big in hear and gave out a few hundred leaflets, had many good conversations and managed to pray with one or two folk. We had a good time praying with a guy called Willem who admitted he's a drinker and asked for Jesus to help him stop.

As we were chatting with Willem he said he couldn't come to church as he has no decent clothes to wear so he wouldn't be welcome. Dean told him to make sure he finds him and he'll make sure he's welcome. Sadly we run into this kind of legalism all the time. Most folk in places like Macassar, Chris Nissen and Mitchell's Plain would most definitely put their 'Sunday best' on and all too often look down on those who don't. Such legalism totally misses the point that Jesus didn't come for the 'well' but the sick and he certainly spent a lot of time with the lowlifes much to the chagrin of the pious. We just know that Willem has been chased away from church in the past because he's a drinker and a bit dirty & smelly.

We're really excited about tomorrow and we'd love to see a meeting full of Willems because we know that it's going to be a great time in God's presence and an amazing time of folk like Willem meeting Jesus!

Please join us in praying for a great time in Macassar tomorrow.



20 Years Today

It seems unbelievable (to me at least) that we've been married for 20 years today. I think Paula deserves a medal for this!

On the one hand I can't believe the time has flown so quickly, one has to wonder where it all went. On the other hand it's gone quite slowly as we've done some amazing things in that time, been to some incredible places and met some truly amazing people.

Having spent over heal of our marriage serving in mission has also been fantastic! We met through the Real Life Mission in Sevenoaks way back in 1985

Thankfully as we turn 20 today we're just starting out on another new adventure. Thank you Lord!

As Love & Grace Church builds up towards planting a church into Macassar, we invite you to a time of Praise & Worship in Macassar. This will be a massive celebration event  on Sunday 18th of September at the New Civic Centre from 10am.

Come meet with God through a Holy Spirit-filled meeting where the focus will be to draw near to Him.

Please join us if you're in the area or pray for the event and our outreach prior to it if you're not able to join us.






I've been giving a lot of thought to the recent riots and disorder that occurred in Blighty whilst I was there. The two events were unconnected by the way! I've read many theories about them, watched many news items about them and still am left dazed and confused. There really was no rhyme or reason for what transpired. The initial riot in Tottenham after the fatal shooting of the man in the taxi was kind of understandable and in itself was nothing particularly exceptional. What was unprecedented, at least in my life time, was the way so many 'riots' then randomly sprang up right across the country. None of them were related to the shooting incident but rather appeared to random acts of looting and vandalism in a copy-cat style. Whatever they were and whatever the cause, I was left feeling like a foreigner in my own land.

So as I've reflected on what happened I've come to the realisation that we'll probably never know what really sparked the disorder but what we do know is that society in all its forms has failed to address the needs of many on the fringes of it. Sadly I have to include the church in there!

However, the church now has a fantastic opportunity to stand up and make a difference in the 
communities ripped apart by the disorder and across the rest of the country and the world.

For years Christians and the church have been sidelined and marginalised to the point that we've been backed into a corner. Society has demanded nominalism of the church and by and large the church has been happy to comply. Possibly because having been backed into a corner there's nowhere left to go so it's just easier to give in and give up. Obviously there are exceptions, just look at the likes of the Eden Project run by the Message Trust, but these things are the exception not the norm.

The church finds itself in a position where there is now nothing to lose. We can't be backed any further into the corner so why not stand up and declare the truth of the gospel loud and proud so that everyone can hear it!

Politics have failed! Economics have failed! Philosophy has failed! Religion has failed! 
none of these things have anything to offer. They have all contributed to the collapse 
and moral decay which is so prevalent in society.

On My Way Home

By the time you read this I should be safely aboard my flight home, hopefully taxi-ing down the runway and just twelve hours from seeing my amazing wife. I'll have to wait 'til school turns out to hug my boys but it'll be worth the wait!

If I've not managed to speak to you during this flying visit to Blighty please don't be offended or take it personally as it's been quite a hectic time with lots of meetings etc.

The main purpose of my visit was to negotiate our exit from Crosslinks with a view to ensuring that we leave them well after an amazing 12 years serving in mission together. Hopefully you received a letter from Crosslinks this morning but if not you should receive it tomorrow. All I can say of my visit with John to Crosslinks is "job done".  I'm very grateful to God for the manner in which we've been able to leave the organisation and very grateful to to Andy Lines and Giles Rawlinson for their patience and grace as we negotiated our way through some potentially tricky stuff.

Paul exhorts us in Philippians 1:27 "whatever happens, conduct yourself in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ" and we've all held true to this scripture.

So I'm on my way home ready and excited for the challenges ahead. It's been a very rocky road with many a speed hump to get to this point but we know that we're where God wants us to be and in the midst of his purposes for our lives. We hope and pray that you'll continue with us in this journey.

Having been in Blighty for almost a week now I'm feeling like a true foreigner far from home. This land that I once loved so deeply seems hellbent on ripping itself to shreds. I'm not just referring to the senseless looting and violence but how society here has become so deeply divided between the haves and the have nots. The looting and violence is totally senseless but questions must be asked as to how and why it happened. What allows young people to ignore any sense of inhibition, leading them to commit acts of violence and theft and to then boast about it? As a parent I'm also horrified that there are families whose 9 & 10 year olds are participating in all of this.

This is a society in which bankers were allowed to get away with making millions for themselves and then when it all came crashing down looked to the taxpayer to shore things up. Once this was done the bankers got back to making money for themselves and enjoying big bonuses. Meanwhile the average guy on the street was being asked to take a wage cut or lose his job. Somehow things haven't felt very fair.

A change of government has done little to address the failings of the previous bunch but rather have had to look at ways of addressing the economic mess. Rather than taxing their friends in the banks and financial industry and asking them to pay for much of the mess they looked to the pockets of the workers.

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We love this sort of thing... you only have to flick through the local rag and see your amazing Chris Nissen women doing yet more good work! Not content with 'just' caring for patients in the community they are also busy knitting socks and other things for those who don't have a lot in these cold winter months. This picture comprises 3 of the HOPE carers; one live-in carer in the form of a patient's wife; 1 former patient and a family member of one of our church members amongst others!!

It just warms our hearts!!

Beach

One of the joys we share is being able to pray together on a Monday morning straight after having dropped the boys off at school.

It really is an immense privilege!

We were reflecting this morning on just how faithful God has been in answering our prayers, especially in the time since the church stopped in January. Many times we've found ourselves on the beach on a Monday morning with things seemingly falling down around us or we've been at a real crossroad not knowing which way to go or what was about to happen and yet His faithfulness through all of this has been incredible!

I'm going to miss this privilege of praying on the beach for the next 3 weeks but can't wait to be there with Paula again ASAP. Thankfully simply praying is in itself an equally immense privilege so even though I'll miss the beach I'll still be talking with my Father!

Weekend


With the clear blue skies and the lack of wind or rain one could be forgiven for thinking that it wasn't mid-winter here right now.

We're making the most of the glorious weather by spending lots of time out in the garden having fun with the boys.

Saturday was spent soaking up the lovely sunshine in the garden, teasing Rosie and playing on the junglegym followed by a cracking braai (BBQ) at Chris' house in Macassar. We also invited Chris and Bubbles over which was a lot of fun.


We're not entirely sure when this happened but it was a little while ago as Joel's camera has been lost for some time.

We're also not sure how he got away with taking photos in class without getting caught by the teacher but all credit to the boy for getting away with it!

Here's a few of his efforts involving some of his best friends.

See full album here.


World Cup Fridays


As we gear up for the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand all school children in South Africa are allowed to wear rugby tops to school on Fridays.

Joel and Eli were really chuffed to get their Springbok tops this morning as they had been really disappointed having been told in no uncertain terms that football shirts would not be acceptable.

When asked if he likes his jersey, Joel replied "Won't you get me an England one please?" Quality answer! If anyone wants to right the massive wrong here and send some England tops to rescue some pride please do!

Gardening Bits

Following a difficult week it's lovely to be able to lay the current mess aside and enjoy a beautiful Cape winter's Saturday.

It's also great to have Michael back again working his magic in the garden.Michael is feeling much better after his recent heart attack and everybody including Rosie the dog is delighted to see him again.

Together we've managed to move several plants into better positions as well as plant the two different lavenders and two heliotropes I bought in Greyton last weekend. All in all I'm delighted with how the garden is looking of late.


I'm really saddened to have to say that Peter died over the weekend while we were away. He'd been battling throat cancer for a long time now, but that doesn't make it any easier.

Peter was a great guy who rarely asked for anything and on the few occasions when he did you knew he was desperate. Peter was part of my men's bible study group in the community and together we spent many many hours trekking around in a vain attempt to obtain his ID book. We'd been to court, the police, Home Affairs and many oher places in our efforts but all to no avail. Sadly Peter was born in a different age on a farm. Back then births like his were of little consequence to the boers who ran the farms so they weren't registered. He never went to school, rather spending his childhood and youth labouring as a farm hand. At some point he left the farm and became part of the squatter camp that was eventually rehoused in Chris Nissen Park. All in all a sad tale and yet Peter never sought any sympathy. In my view he was a true gentleman!

Scar!

I finally got the all clear to start driving again. Hooray!

The 'cast' is off and now I have to wear a splint for driving etc. but otherwise the Doc wants me to keep exercising and moving the wrist.

So now I have an impressive souvenir that has left my boys speechless which is a very rare thing!

It's great to feel free again even if it feels a little vulnerable.

Weekend

After a bit of silence on the blog we've just popped by to say that we're off for a couple of nights. This break couldn't have come at a better time given some of the recent events.

Praise God for his faithfulness and mercy!

Locally this pic has no comedy value so this one is for our friends outside of South Africa. I guess it's a bit like Spotted Dick, we Brits see nothing funny about it but the Yanks find it highly amusing!
For those of you not in Facebook you might not know about my latest escapade.

On Wednesday I joined Eli's class as a helping/responsible parent on their ice skating trip to Grand West ice rink. We had a great time and a lot of fun was had by all. Eli took to the ice like the proverbial duck to water and was very pleased with himself. I on the other hand didn't have such a good time of it and came home with a rather splendid souvenir!

Thankfully my fall came at just the right time as most of he kids had had enough and were thinking about the promised pizza. Before the fall I had managed to help a few of the kids get going and they really were enjoying themselves.

Don't Look Back

On Sunday we heard a great word from a young guy, all of 23 years old, but he spoke with great authority and wisdom for his age. We felt God really used him to speak to us, this has been happening quite a bit lately, and we felt very blessed and motivated afterwards.

His main passage was Luke 9: 59-62 "He said to another man, "Follow me." But the man replied, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father." Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God." Still another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family." Jesus replied, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.""

Today is the International Day of the African Child and this year marks the 35th anniversary since the brutal murder of over 100 children and thousand more injured in Soweto by the apartheid regime in South Africa.

The children were protesting against being forced to learn in Afrikaans, demanding instead (and not unreasonably so) to be educated in their own languages.

The International Day of the African Child has been celebrated on June 16 every year since 1991, when it was first initiated by the Organisation of African Unity.  It also raises awareness of the continuing need for improvement of the education provided to African children.

Stand with the children of Africa and the world, speak out against injustice!

Father's Day

This morning I had the pleasure of attending the Father's Day celebrations at the boys school.

The school had gone to town in making the hall look great with muffins, coffee and chocolates galore for the dads. The children performed a great array of pieces from songs and poems to dances and jokes.

All the children did really well but I was particularly proud of my boys!

See more pics here.

I give blood for a very simple reason.

When my younger brother was dying from Leukaemia he was often asked "What can I do for you?" His response was always the same "Give blood!"

Blood was literally my brother's lifeline.

To not give is simply selfish! To not give bcause you're scared of needles or some other rubbish is simply pathetic!

Ask yourself one question. When I'm sick or hurt and need blood, who's going to give it to me?






Miles 4 Smiles Assembly

Dean had the privilege of attending the Miles 4 Smiles assembly at the boys school this morning.

We love how good the school is at getting involved in stuff but the way they get involved in this particular charity is quite amazing. Between the children in this picture they raised just over R34,000 (£3100) which will be used by Operation Smile for corrective surgery for children with cleft palates.

We're also very proud of our boys who both got certificates for their fundraising efforts.

See our previous posts on Miles 4 Smiles.

And The Winner Is...

A little while ago we posted about Book Week at the boys school.

Both boys loved dressing up and Eli  went as an Alien who Loves Underpants. He was particularly pleased with his costume, as he got to fulfill a bit of an ambition by wearing a pair of underpants on his head to school. What made it even better for him was the fact that the teachers loved it!

Well it truly paid off for Eli as he was presented with the prize for best book week costume in the junior school.

Nice one Eli!

The World's Clean Again

So said Eli yesterday when he put on his very first pair of glasses! After 20 months of visits and tests and eye exercises it was finally agreed that Eli should start wearing glasses. Though he does need them all the time we are starting off with just TV, work on the whiteboard at school etc to get him used to wearing them and in the hope of preserving their life. Odds are already on on how long Eli will make a pair of glasses last!!

We remain so thankful to God for His healing work in Eli’s eyes. We have known for a long time that he has been experiencing sight difficulties but had not realised the extent until the first round of testing when he was just 3 years old. It was explained to us that not only does he quite serious myopia but he also had a stigmatism which meant that his retinas were shaped like rugby balls. The odds were truly stacked against him. We worked really hard together doing eye exercises as the opthalmic guy felt that Eli was too young and had too much eye growth development to go to put a pair of glasses on at that stage. Over the 20 months and with more tests and exercises his visual sphere has improved from a score of 8 to a score of 16 (with 20 being excellent), so we were all delighted!! Then last Sunday at church someone had a specific word for healing. Eli went forward and we really believed God to heal his eyes before his follow-up test the next day. When we got to the test we were told that his stigmatism has “gone”!!
More after the break

Flying Thing

I was fascinated by this bug in the garden this morning and managed to get this half decent snap of it with Paula's point & shoot camera.

I think it might be a hornet but am not too sure. Whatever it is I was surprised to see it out on a cold winter's morning.

I've also posted it in full res' on our photoblog.

Aunty Poppy

Not many people in life could ever come close to being a new mum - well Aunty Poppy is one such amazing lady!  We ask you all dear friends to please call out to God for the health of our wonderful friend.  She is currently in ICU at our local hospital having suffered a heart attack.  Paula had a precious 10 mins alone with her tonight before it seemed like half of Chris Nissen Park turned up to visit (!) - so popular and loved is this woman!!  Unfortunately, the nurse wasn't having it and we were all asked to move on!!

Apologies to Ben Witherington for plagiarising his blog post title about the pending judgement day.

So Harold Camping and his sect have come up with a convoluted mathematical formula to determine exactly when the day of judgement will be.

I would just say this: Jesus told us not to expect his second coming as it would come like a thief in the night (Luke 12:39). Paul also told us in Thessalonians 5:2 that "..the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.". Peter backed this up in 2 Peter 3:10 and then the book of Revelation kills the topic off by telling us twice that Jesus will "come like a thief".

If Jesus says he'll come like a thief in the night then I'm fairly sure that he will. Add into the mix that Paul, Peter & John back him up in this would seem to make it pretty conclusive.

Quite then how Camping or anyone else can tell us exactly when Jesus will return is a bit mystifying.

In all the reporting and stuff around this nonsense I think the best thing I've come across is the group of atheists in Tacoma, Washington who are holding a celebration called "countdown to back-pedalling".

Just this once I'm with the atheists!

Book Week

Once again the boys's school demonstrated this week why we love it so much and appreciate the wholistic approach to education that they excel at! This week was the beloved annual book week! Everyday the school had come up with various activities for the children to join in and to grow in their love and appreciation of books and reading. For example, one day they were allowed to go to school in their pyjamas and had hot chocolate. For the whole week they were given a 'reading buddy' from a higher year and every time the bell sounded they had to Drop Everything And Read (DEAR), grab their buddy and go for it - how cool is that! Each day there was a quotation competition for the kids to have a go at guessing and winning a prize (Joel was thrilled to win on Thursday when he guessed the quote from Charlotte's Web!) and they also ran an all-week photo competition with various staff and pupils hiding behind their favourite titles! On Monday and Tuesday the school also invited the Travelling Bookshop to come on site and sell 100's of wonderful books (many imported) at very reasonable prices.

Exhausted!

Joel is starting to master one of the best things there is to do in the whole wide world. He's starting to read himself to sleep.

Tonight's choice, after mummy had already read the next chapter of Charlie And The Chocolate factory, was Charlie Cook's Favourite Book which is a classic Julia Donaldson tale which goes full circle to end where it began.

Hmmm, think I need to join my boys in the land of nod, accompanied of course by a good book.

Miles for Smiles

Once again the boys woke early and full of excitement as the annual Miles for Smiles event had dawned at the beautiful Lourensford Wine Estate.  This year for the first time both boys could ride their bikes unaided (no baby wheels) and had therefore been practising in earnest for the event.  They gathered some great sponsorship along with the added incentive of extra money if they reached so many laps!

Celebrations

Had such a fun type ‘holiday weekend’ this past 72 hours with lovely friend Jo (in the blue car!). We had been planning for ages to celebrate her “coming off of crutches/drugs” and so had a wonderful lazy lunch together. Was so good to have all that child-free/work-free time just to catch up properly, alongside another magnificent lunch – the diet definitely starts in June!!

Then came the highlight of the week for Eli as Jo had promised to be his bunk buddy one night. Still don’t think Eli can believe that she actually did stay over in his bunk bed – lots of laughs!

Royal Treatment

Sometimes in life special people get rewarded. I was so thrilled to see that our local community newspaper printed an article on my HOPE Home Based Care team. We were recently blessed for lunch by our friends at Taste Restaurant and the paper picked up on it. Let's hope we get some local interest, these amazing women do what they do for nothing!

Late Autumn Sun


Just loved the late autumn sunshine in the garden this afternoon. Some of the plants looked at their absolute best which is great as I've spent a lot of time sorting the garden with a lot of help from Michael.

The unusually orangey hue was caused by the sun shining through the smoke still billowing off the Helderberg.

As you can see in the photo below the main bit of the fire has moved over to the Stellenbosch side but only after having wreaked some serious destruction.

Still, it made for some nice colours in the garden and a spectacular sunset




.
The Helderberg is on fire again!

After the horrific fires of two years ago when just about everything on the Hottentots Holland mountains was burnt between Gordon's Bay and Jonkershoek we'd have hoped we might have learnt our lessons.

Apparently not!

Word locally is that the Erinvale estate had a 'controlled' fire earlier in the week and today's fire is a result of a flare up from the controlled fire. So much for controlled, if it's true.

I May Be Wrong

Forgive me if I'm wrong here but...

I kind of thought that if one genuinely seeks restoration of friendship then one needs to acknowledge that friendship has broken down. If one acknowledges that friendship has broken down one needs to acknowledge that one played a part in that breakdown. If one acknowledges that one had a part to play in that breakdown then one needs to express a degree of sorrow or remorse for their part in that.

Surely then, if one then sits there and claims "I feel I have nothing to apologise for!" then clearly one is not genuinely seeking restoration.

As I say, I may be wrong, but I'm very open to discussing it. Share your thoughts in the comments box below.

Sans Enfants

This week has started on a high and I'm particularly excited about the rest of it.

The high just gets higher as today we're off for two nights without the boys. We're sloping off to our favourite retreat in Pringle Bay whilst the boys will be in the very capable hands of Chl - sorry not allowed to say! What I can say is we'll be incommunicado and loving it!

I'm also looking forward to a meeting on Friday. Whilst it's not a meeting I particularly want it should be a time of laying to rest a lot of the nonsense of the last few months.

To top it all off I've been invited to preach again and am really looking forward to it on Sunday. That'll be twice in a month which is a bit of a novelty.

Bring it on!

Whilst getting busy with the scanner recently I came across a load of forgotten photos from our time in Tanzania. We loved our year there and were really sad that we ended up resigning from the project just a year into our two year stint. However it was at this time that we really got to know the amazing folk in this photo and had our views on Catholics radically challenged.

Let me start by telling you a bit about these guys...

Blog Stuff

In the course of a bit of blog admin (you might be surprised at what is actually involved in maintaining a blog regularly for almost 8 years!) I was pleasantly surprised and a little puzzled by some of the recent stats.

After the recent relaunch of the blog and it's integration into Facebook I knew I'd have a better idea of how many folk were reading the blog and roughly where and how the blog was being read. What I was surprised about for example was to discover that in the last 7 days the blog has had 128 hits from France, making it the number one audience location for the week. What puzzles me is why France should top the list for the week given that we know very few folk there.