What a Year!

I can remember many years ago wishing for a really quiet year and to be honest I'm still kind of waiting on that wish.

Despite that, 2012 goes down as one of the best years ever for me!

2011 was a true "annus horribilis" that started badly with just about everything that could go wrong going wrong.

Happy Christmas!




Happy Birthday Eli!

Happy 7th birthday to our amazing boy!

Eli is such a joy and a total blessing to our family and we love him dearly.

Having had his party a couple of weeks ago, Eli's had a quiet day at home playing with his new toys and completing his 500 piece jigsaw. He's also very proud today of his brand new unicycle which has seen a bit of action today.

Now we're looking forward to our birthday tea at Eli's choice of restaurant tonight. So that'll be a massive bowl of spaghetti bolognese then!

We're Doomed

In the words of Private Frazer from Dad's Army, "We're all doomed!".

Or maybe not.

Thankfully Dad's Army was a comedy and Private Frazer's catchphrase never amounted to anything. I guess it's the same with all these predictions by the likes of Camping and misinterpretations of the Mayan calendar, they provide for some great comedy.

Sadly after the Mayan farce we have to wait until 2018 for the next comedian's prediction to be proven wrong. Someone called F. Kenton Beshore reckons the world will end between 2018 & 2028.

Christmas Hampers

We love this time of year because we get to distribute hampers etc on behalf of the church and others.

This year we'll be distributing these sixteen hampers amongst our church families so we're just tidying them up and putting on a Christmas card from church so there's no doubt as to where they are from.

God is good!



Christmas Tree

Finally after a week or two of nagging we let the boys put up the Christmas tree and they did a great job with only minimal moving of decorations required.

They had so much fun doing it and on being unable to decide who should top the tree off with the angel they chose to do it together.

Nice one boys!

Super Sunday!

There are many examples of women in leadership in the bible and just as in life, some of them were great and some not so, but that's one of the strengths of the bible, it reflects so much of the reality of life.

So while some churches turn their noses up at women in leadership or get distracted by voting on the issue we choose to get on with it and allow the women amongst us to blossom and flourish as God intended.

7th Birthday Party

On Tuesday we celebrated Eli's 7th birthday with his party. His actual birthday isn't until the 21st but with the summer holidays beginning a lot of his friends will be away so a party would be a bit thin on the ground if we waited 'til then.

Much fun was had by his friends and Eli loved having his class mates over to play for the afternoon.

Mummy was also very clever with the party food, ordering 10 burger meals from a local takeaway which saved a lot of hassle.

The week the Bell's Palsy struck was a very unpleasant week as I thought I might be having a mild stroke. Thankfully that turned out not to be the case but rather it was the palsy.

Having done as much research as I could really be bothered to I was amazed that none of the articles talked about the pain and discomfort involved, most just seemed to take a fairly lighthearted "get over it" attitude.

I was left exhausted and in a lot of discomfort in the first week and the pain hasn't fully gone yet.

The Cape Doctor or Southeaster as it's also known is our summer wind which can blow quite strongly. However the last 24 - 48 hours have been the strongest Southeaster we can remember.

Take a look at this pic of our trampoline which was picked up by a single gust and thrown about six metres through the air onto our gazebo frame and garden table. The gazebo frame had already been damaged by the wind so just in case there was any doubt about it the good doctor totalled it with the trampoline.

School Awards

Today we had the privilege of attending the boys' school awards ceremony, held at the Somerset West library.

It was a great time and we were very proud of our boys!

Eli's class teacher commended Eli for "Never backing down or saying no to a challenge". She has certainly got the measure of our boy!

Joel got an extra certificate for his "Diligence and hard work in guitar". In fact Joel's guitar teacher has been so impressed with his progress this year that he has been invited to play to the old folks on Friday when the school choir go to entertain them.

Oh Dear!

Our afternoon of donation sorting turned into an afternoon of mixed blessings.

We ended up with three boxes and a bin bag full of crap which will be going to the landfill. Happily though we've ended up with a couple of boxes and a few bags of decent toys and clothing which will be a real blessing when we take them into Macassar and Chris Nissen in the next few days.

We love this time of year!

Why? Because the number of donations we get locally increase exponentially and we're able to bless folk in Macassar, Chris Nissen, Broadlands and sometimes beyond that.

We've spent quite a bit of time sorting through donations over the last couple of weeks and it looks like we'll have a bit more sorting to do yet.

Bell's Palsy

I thought I might be having a mild stroke this morning but on googling "am i having a stroke?" and reading around the symptoms it became clear that I wasn't so off I went with my plans for the morning. As time went by I realised that something was definitely wrong as my mouth felt like I was recovering from an injection at the dentist and my right eye was blinking slowly as it felt like it was compensating for my left eye being lazy. Throw in a bit of a numb tongue and it all adds up to a rather unpleasant feeling.

This week one of our members exhorted us in Home Group to not despise the little things in life and to sow graciously and with a grateful heart no matter how small we think our seed is because God blesses and rewards our small acts of faith.

21÷7=?

Further to my rant below about the census taken last year here in South Africa I came across this today.

Initially I thought it had to be the work of some mischief maker getting busy with Photoshop but on visiting the official website I downloaded the original and it is indeed free of any Photoshop jiggery pokery.

Look more closely at sum number 3 and see if you can work out the right answer.

This is great news!

The Cape Leopard Trust have been doing some sterling work in the Boland area logging details of known leopards, as well as using camera traps and physical traps to monitor the health and distribution of these splendid creatures in the Cape.

What a privilege too to know that some of the routes we mountainbike on we also share with some leopards.









On the news today there's an article about the results of last year's census here in South Africa. Here's the BBC's take on it: South Africa's census: Racial divide continuing.

Given how the media likes to sensationalise stuff and focus on the negatives the article leads with the grim statistic that the black majority are paid six times less than their white counterparts.

What a great weekend!

On Friday we joined with Every Nation here in Somerset West for their conference. They were hosting a guy called Marc Dupont who despite looking like a skinny Robin Williams was very good. We were particularly taken with his exposition of the name El Shaddai meaning God who is able to do that which you can't do for yourself. That is definitely our experience!

Superkids!

Our boys' school is having its bi-annual production at the Playhouse Theatre in Somerset West this week and for the first time Joel has one of the speaking roles as the Policeman. Part of his role is to lead the other policemen including Eli.

I managed to sneak a photograph (yes I turned the flash off) which isn't very good but it does at least show Joel with his truncheon and Eli (3rd from left) disappearing under his bobbies helmet.

It was a great evening and we're very proud of our boys!

Baptisms

We just had to share this post from Tree Of Life's web page:

"This Sunday we had the privilege of joining with our family at Church of Love & Grace in Mitchell's Plain to baptise three of our members together with eight of theirs.

We had an amazing time in God's presence with one of our member's granddaughter being saved. Hallelujah!

In the midst of our gathering we also honoured Martin & Mercia who celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary. Martin was then involved in baptising his youngest daughter who had given her life to Jesus just last Sunday.

We thank God for an awesome time in his presence and look forward to doing this again very soon!"

It really was great to watch people stepping out in obedience to Jesus and to honour family in the same gathering.

TV Or Light?

So we were on our way out last night and decided to pop into Macassar to see a couple from church to deliver something they had been waiting for for a few weeks. When we arrived in the monsoon like rain the house appeared to be in total darkness so Dean went to the door to knock and could see the light of the TV flickering through the window. It's always a joy to spend time with our family members and this visit was particularly special because of the delivery.

The house was in total darkness apart from the telly and the couple wouldn't put a light on because the stark choice was TV for the evening or a light on for a few minutes. After we'd been chatting for a minute we were aware of the floor moving, it was alive with children under duvets and blankets trying to keep warm whilst watching the telly and half the kids belonged to the neighbours.

Heritage Day

Today is Heritage Day, also known as National Braai (BBQ) Day with seemingly millions of South Africans across the country braaiing. Many of our friends in Macassar and Chris Nissen were getting in on the action.

To celebrate we spent the day with some Zimbabwean and Ugandan friends with Eli being the lone South African amongst us!

We had a great afternoon chatting and chilling and occasionally chasing one of the eight boys we had between us. They certainly mad it a very lively afternoon!

Kalk Bay

To celebrate our twenty first wedding anniversary we had a very pleasant couple of nights away in the stunning seaside town of Kalk Bay on the Cape Peninsula, somewhere we've been wanting to explore for sometime.

To finally get the chance to mooch around the place sans enfants was a real blessing and we'll definitely be back sometime soon.

21

Twentyone years ago our dear friend Richard pulled out all the stops on the organ and gave it some welly as he struck up Tocatta in C by Zipoli as the love of my life began walking down the aisle.

I have been incredibly blessed by the fact that shortly after 1.30pm Paula said "I do" and I'll be forever grateful to her and to God for the amazing time we've had together ever since.

To marry someone special is great. To marry your soul-mate is fantastic. To spend a lifetime with the love of your life is simply awesome!

Here Comes The Bride..

Last Saturday we celebrated the wedding of Philip and Maria with our friends from Simon's Town.

Once again it was a bit of 'weddings R us' as Paula was chauffeur for the bride and Dean was the official photographer.

We had a lovely day and a lot of fun and were totally spoilt by our dear friends from Simon's Bay Christian Church who laid on an amazing day.

One of the great things about leading a church is getting to decide what is and isn't important in the life of the church.

One thing I've always believed strongly in but rarely seen modeled is leaders praying together. I've seen leaders all consumed with the business of leading but rarely seen leaders praying for the sake of praying.

I realise business is important but prayer is way more important than the mundane!

This morning I had the privilege of going into school with Eli's unicycle so that he could demonstrate how to ride it to his classmates for show & tell.

I get a real thrill out of seeing Eli riding his uni' but to see him ride it with a crowd really made my heart glow. It was great to hear Eli's classmates heaping praise and compliments on him, I think my favourite was hearing one of the lads telling the teacher "He makes it look so easy!".

The situation at the Lonmin Marikana platinum mine in South Africa has just hit the international news wires because of the slaughter of at least 30 people by the police.

Sadly it takes such an act for the story to become newsworthy.



Late this afternoon we were playing about in the garage and used Paula's camera to record some unicycling. We put it on 'Miniature Effect' mode and this was the result. all that was needed was some classic music!

So here you have it, in the spirit of Benny Hill, less the sauce!

Conspicuous In Our Absence

If we were writing this post a year ago, our conspicuous absence from the blog would have been because we felt unable to speak of the things that were going on.

Thankfully we've moved on from then and the simple reason for our conspicuous absence has been the sheer amount of stuff going on and not being able to keep up with it all.

Our last proper post was about our outreach back in June and here we are in August about to do another outreach this coming Saturday.

Eisteddfod

Some great news for Joel..

He's just participated in the local Eisteddfod again and improved on last year's showing by getting Cum Laude for his prepared reading.

Joel chose to read two pages from The boy In The Dress by David Walliams and really went to town on his characterisation. Even the judges commented on this and the humour he managed to convey.

We are so proud of him!




Eli Unicycling

Despite our absence from the blog we're well and really enjoying life but we're also really busy which probably explains the absence.

So here's a bit of fun to keep you going until we manage to post something over the weekend.

Enjoy Eli's latest exploits below...

A Tree Has Been Planted



If you managed to catch up with Paula at one of her recent Facing The Mountain Roadshows in Weald or Cheadle you will have seen our latest DVD offering.

If you didn't manage to catch up with Paula, shame on you you can watch the film right here from the comfort of your own computer screen.

We hope you find it helpful as you uphold our ministry here in Macassar in prayer.

So get some popcorn, put your feet up and enjoy the next 16½ minutes.



We had such an amazing time at our celebration meeting two weeks ago!

It was a real family time as Tree Of Life were joined by Love & Grace from Mitchell's Plain and Simon's Bay Christian Church from Simon's Town.

Graham's team from Mitchell's Plain lead the worship, Shaddie brought a great word and Tree Of Life organised the celebration and lead it. It's such a blessing to be involved in churches working together for the extension of the Kingdom!

Firstly, thank you to all of you that were praying for the weather on our outreach a couple of weeks ago, the weather turned out great despite the forecast and we are truly thankful to God for this!

It has indeed been a couple of weeks since the outreach and the reason it has taken so long to blog about it is that many of us are still blown away by the whole thing!

Miles For Smiles Assembly

I've lifted this straight out of the school's weekly newsletter:

"MILES FOR SMILES
THANK YOU! THANK YOU!
THANK YOU!
Through the combined efforts of the International School of Helderberg and Macquarie Securities South Africa, we raised a phenomenal R71878.70 [almost £5700] for Operation Smile South Africa!
Over the last 5 years we have raised almost R200 000-00 for Operation Smile.

Wonderwall



We're very proud of Joel as he played with his fellow guitarists at the school's Music Cafe this morning.

They played Wonderwall by Oasis and did really well.

Local Rag

An update for those of you who sponsored our boys in their Miles For Smiles ride a few weeks ago.

Our local rag the District Mail ran this article today with a lovely photo of Eli in it.

Prayer Request

We're planning to do quite a big outreach next Friday and Saturday as we have another celebration meeting in Macassar on Sunday morning with our friends from Mitchell's Plain and Simon's Town.

We have a few events planned, one of which will be to pamper ladies in the community by doing their nails, hair and make-up whilst serving them with coffee and a muffin.

As you can see from the forecast it's predicted to rain quite heavily over the weekend and we really need good weather for the Friday and Saturday so would ask you to pray for good weather, especially that the rain would stay away until after lunchtime on the Saturday.

Hair Pulling!

I'm no techno geek when it comes to computers but equally I'm not afraid of stripping one down and having a tinker. After all, if I do mess it up I'll only be saving the computer the time and trouble of messing itself up.

Anyway, I've successfully wasted an entire morning tinkering with one of our computers trying to get it working again. My first diagnosis lead me to believe that the graphics card wasn't working properly. This seemed logical as the LED on the screen keeps flashing amber to green. However upon stripping it down, cleaning it and testing the fan on it, all seems to be OK.

Miles For Smiles

Eli and Joel had such a blast this morning at what has become their school's annual charity event.  They were so proud to ride for Operation Smile in their Miles for Smiles cycle ride.  They were particularly thrilled because the school is hoping to crack their target of raising R50,000 for much needed cleft palate operations for children this year and between them they have raised just under R2,000.  Thank you so much to all you who so generously sponsored the boys, it really made a difference.

Vicky

I was really saddened to hear of the death of Vicky last night.  I knew he had been sick for a while now but it's such a shame to see yet another young man die of HIV related illnesses when he could and should have been on ARV's over two years ago.

A Rant

In 2001 during some of Zimbabwe’s darkest days we drove from Harare to Cape Town, it was mainly for holiday purposes and a bloomin' good one it was too, but we also had to leave Zim' for a while due to the mess there. It’s a long story!

While we were in South Africa we had a great time and met some fab people, some of whom we went on to work with when we moved to SA three years later. I remember at the time having a number of conversations with folk about the Zim' situation and was asked the same question a few times.

“Do you think SA could go the same way as Zim'?”

My answer remains the same 11 years later but so too does the caveat I put on my answer.

Mr Bounce

I could leave this as a wordless post with just the photos and most of you would guess who I would be talking about.

My boy doesn't stay still for long, though the telly is teaching him to pay attention for increasing amounts of time. Not sure if that's a good thing or not?! Anyway, beyond the world of the electronic babysitter, Eli is one incredibly active young man and constantly looking for mischief things to do. One of the things I love about him is how he'll take something he learnt and apply it to an area or something for which it wasn't really intended.

Moonsquirters

Percy Thrower I am not so where Eli gets his desire for a bit of gardening is a mystery but one that shall be capitalised upon.

A while back he asked if he could grow some tomatoes and somehow he managed to sweet-talk mummy into taking him shopping for seeds etc.

That was a couple of months ago and today Eli has eleven very healthy looking tomato plants which he actually grew from seed.

So this afternoon he was ├╝ber excited to see that one of his plants has two small green tomatoes on it. Bless him, he had no idea what they were because they were so small and green, apparently "they don't look like the ones in the packets".

Mother's Day

Yesterday was a particularly special day as Tree of Life honoured all the mums amongst our family on Mother's Day.  We had a brilliant time together in church during which each mum was given a little, beautifully created posy of flowers with an attached t-light. We then got the men praying for their women, which was very special.

Garden Centre

After a good morning in Macassar I decided to call in on Michael in Chris Nissen on my way home to see how his gate is holding up and just to enjoy being with my mate.

One of the things that never fails to amaze me about our friends there is just how generous they are and this morning I left Michael's feeling like I'd been to a garden centre.

My garden is going to be looking great by next summer!

60 Years!

Sunday was an important day for Tree Of Life as we celebrated the 60th wedding anniversary of Oom Paul and Aunty Molly.

They are an amazing couple and I have had the privilege of sitting with Oom Paul a few times listening to his life stories. Forget about Kindle or any other form of interactive e-book, spending time with someone like Oom Paul is spending time with a truly interactive living, talking history book!

Blogging From A To Z Challenge, April 2012The Blogging From A To Z Challenge was a lot of fun!

I've enjoyed the discipline of blogging every day and giving the blog some long overdue attention. I think the best bit though has to have been meeting loads of other bloggers from around the world, sharing posts and comments and reading blogs that I might otherwise not have got to see.

The moon is currently 28000km's closer to earth than normal leading to this amazing phenomenon know as the Perigee full moon which means it appears up to 14% bigger and 30% brighter than when it is furthest from the planet.

It's quite a spectacular phenomenon and I was quite pleased with these photos of the moon this evening.

Read more about it here on the BBC News.

*Facepalm*

We just received this from our 'friendly' neighbourhood watch. sometimes I'm just so embarrassed to live where we do amongst the people we do. It's the last line that makes me hang my head in shame. Get a life folks!

"This week was a quieter week in our area although we did discover vagrants bedding down with their household goods on the field opposite Cherrywood Gardens in Bizweni Road.

May The Fourth


Sorry, couldn't resist!


Gateway To..

I don't get to spend as much time as I used to getting involved in practical projects and just generally helping to bodge fix things together again. So I was chuffed when Michael rang for a bit of urgent help yesterday.

A few moons ago Michael and I put a gate on the front of his property but at the time he was short of hinges (some might say he was unhinged asking me to help!) so he bodged fixed the gate to the post using the upright as the hinge.

Meanwhile, back in April...

In the midst of playing about with the A To Z Blogging Challenge we've neglected the regular side of the blog, but it's May now so here we go with normal service being resumed.

With the five day weekend over I have to admit to enjoying the blissful peace and quiet in the office, no kids running around, making a ton of noise and being exuberant. Thankfully it's only short lived as they'll be back after lunch but the brief respite is very very welcome!

Weekend

Today is the last day of a marathon five day weekend which has been a lot of fun.

Friday was Freedom Day, a very important day in South Africa's history and today is Workers' Day so most folk also took Monday off to make the most of it all and we've certainly made the most of it though if truth be told it will be nice to get back to some semblance of normality (whatever that is).