A very Happy Christmas to you all!

Lots of love

Dean, Paula, Joel & Eli
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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