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. One day we'll tell the story of what went on but suffice to say that when brothers in Christ lie to and about each other Jesus name is anything but glorified!

What I will say of 2011 is that I remember praying on the beach in the middle the year crying and asking God where on earth do I go from here, my name is mud, my reputaion is in tatters and I'll probably never serve the local church in the Western Cape again, despite having done nothing wrong. Do I run away and return to Blighty or hang on and wait on God? Thankfully I held onto God and the great thing about one's name being trampled into the ground is that you can then only stand on the name of God!

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 bolognaise then!

See more photos here.



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.

Amazingly many of the predictions of the imminent apocalypse are by Christians with some big names in the faith having jumped on the band wagon such as John Wesley, Jonathon Edwards & Martin Luther to name a few. It amazes me that anyone who has read the words of Jesus on this matter can still put their head on the block by making such absurd predictions.

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.

At Tree Of Life this Sunday Paula shared a word and spoke about Progress, looking at how we need and want to progress in our personal lives and church lives. A great word topped off with the attention grabbing point made using a Powerpoint slide of Phineas & Ferb, Joel was well impressed!

It thrills me that we have a number of good people able to teach and preach in church and the fact that one of the best of them is my amazing wife makes me very proud!

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.

Daddy's cake was a big hit and the pure chocolate icing went down a storm!

So with 10 kids pumped full of sugar and hyped by a few games we sent them all home.

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.

During that first week Gerrit & Sharon popped over and Sharon said I should prepare a word for Sunday and not give into the palsy. I was feeling too sorry for myself so asked Chris to stand in for me.

On Sunday, Chris then asked me to read a scripture but I refused, then after a moment or two decided to read it. Paula felt very strongly at that point that God was telling me to declare the name of Jesus if I wanted to be healed.

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.

Poor Rosie is petrified and desperately looking for shelter from the wind. In fact it's got so bad for her we've had to let her sleep inside. It's supposed to die down tomorrow so hopefully it will and we can get on with clearing up the garden and get back to normal .

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.

Regardless of what awards or prizes they did or didn't receive we're tremendously proud of our boys! They've both overcome some major challenges this year and have done themselves and us proud.

Joel and Eli are our pride and joy!

Click "Continue.." to see more photos

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.

To see some of the crap that was donated was truly depressing and we find it incredible that anyone could 'donate' such horrible stuff to others. Add into that the fact that this is Christians, who have been abundantly blessed by God, passing on complete and utter garbage is simply mind blowing. We can't help but feel some churches need to do some very basic teaching on giving. Jesus' words in Luke 6:38 spring to mind "Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."

See below for more photos. We've split them into two groups; stuff we like and stuff we don't. Guess which is which.


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.

We have a simple rule for those that want to donate, we ask the question "Is this something you would like to receive?" If the answer is yes bring it on. If the answer is no stick it in the bin! Just because this stuff is going to the less well off doesn't mean it shouldn't be of a high quality.  Thankfully this stuff mostly comes from other local churches so we know it's going to be good.

In the last donation someone put in two sets of LED Christmas lights and after checking they work we were thrilled to be able to pass them on. Now they really will make a difference to someone's Christmas!

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.

After lunch Paula dropped me off at the local chemist to see the resident nurse who checked my blood pressure, pulse and cholesterol and found all were raised. She recommended I see our GP so after a quick phone call it was off to see our amazing Dr.

Dr Joanna quickly diagnosed Bell's Palsy. Thankfully I seem to have quite a mild dose of it, I can still raise my eyebrow and close my eye.

Please pray for healing and that it won't deteriorate.

This is not fun but at least I'm in good company with the likes of George Clooney who also had this once. Hey, maybe my looks will improve afterwards too?! I'm off to bed now as I'm exhausted and the beauty sleep won't hurt.





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.

The group of ladies who meet together on a Thursday morning to chat, pray and read the Bible have been earnestly saving up R20 each in the last few weeks to put towards going out for breakfast at the Spur – a little pre-Christmas social and treat. The day dawned today and we arrived feeling very excited at the prospect of our usual fun and fellowship but this time over coffee and breakfast! As each lady slipped their R20 to me as the breakfast began you could tell that this was sacrificially done and I admit to feeling a bit emotional about it. Ten minutes later I noticed that the man sat in the booth in front of us kept turning round and staring at me; for a minute I wondered if I was supposed to know him and I racked my brains wondering and getting nowhere. A few moments later he stood up, came to our table and apologised for disturbing us before saying that he felt God telling him that he must pay for our breakfasts, was that alright! Well, we immediately said yes and he went to sit down again. Little could he know just how much he had blessed us!!!

Just before he left a little while later he came back again and thanked US for the blessing. As we left later on the waitress came to ask me what had happened there and did we know the man and I had an opportunity to witness to her and explain to her about God's goodness and blessing.

Wow, thank you Lord, we are blessed beyond measure! 

Now the 'fighting' begins about who is going to testify to that incident on Sunday!!


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.

In typical fashion Jacob Zuma has done little to acknowledge the problem or to address it, preferring instead to retreat into political rhetoric about how the ANC have done more than any previous government to deal with the issues. Thing is, they've been the only government since the end of apartheid.

Normally I avoid politics here in SA, mainly because I can't vote and partly because we used to be with a mission organisation that prohibited its members from getting involved. The second reason is no longer valid but I'm still unable to vote despite being a permanent resident with a constitutional right to remain in the country.

So here and now I will state categorically that the government is entirely responsible for this grim statistic! Since the inception of Black Economic empowerment (BEE) they have been very focused on making sure that the means of production are in the hands of the black majority as much as possible. In reality this means that the well connected have profited nicely whilst the majority remain in poverty. Anyone who disagrees needs to get off their backside and go into a township or two!

Even worse than this though is the fact that the government continues to ignore the one true avenue of BEE, namely to level the academic playing field. If the government raised the standard of education in the poorer communities to the same level as that in the wealthier communities things would begin to change massively. For that to happen though teachers need to be paid a living wage. Currently a university educated teacher earns less than a miner! Schools should be resourced and teachers should be trained to use the resources to benefit the pupils to their maximum effect. Tragically here in SA much of the best work being done in schools is facilitated by NGO's and charities thereby relieving government of its obligations.

I truly believe that until this happens the disparity between the white minority and black majority will continue. Sure some will get fat and rich off the spoils of BEE, especially the well connected but as most Americans can testify, positive discrimination does not work.

Martin Luther King had a dream in which he believed that one day his children would be judged on the content of their character rather than the colour of their skin. I'm convinced that he would have seen education as being pivotal in his dream. Sadly in many aspects of society, both here and around the world this dream is far from being realised.
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!

I was a bit reluctant to go on Friday simply because I had been struggling all week to put my sermon together for Sunday. I was planning to continue on "Come with us and we will treat you well", looking at the whole thing of loving our neighbours but I just couldn't get anywhere. So after eventually waiting on God I felt it was right to revisit the story of Joseph, one of my fav' stories in the bible. I was looking at it from the perspective of 'when bad things happen to good people'. Joseph certainly had his fair share of bad things happen and yet despite how bleak things got God still had a plan for his life and his hand was still on Joseph. What was amazing was that the theme of the morning was about how folk are struggling with bad things at present, so this was definitely a word in season. God is good!

Sunday was then topped off with another visit to Every Nation's conference. We were blessed to join them for their final session and again Marc was brilliant. We felt he picked up on the theme from my sermon in the morning and carried it to another level. God is amazing!

We got home very late and the boys stumbled into bed at a very uncharacteristic 10pm but we felt very refreshed!
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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 (http://www.treeoflifechurch.co.za) about our baptisms in Mitchell's Plain yesterday....

"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.

Click here to see the full photo album.

You can follow Tree Of Life Church on their blog or on their Facebook page, even if you're not signed up to Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tree-Of-Life-Church/309590142425854


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.

Sadly this has been a tough week for the family as he had collapsed earlier in the week and after a visit to his Dr had been told to stay off work. Here no work means no pay! So yesterday, ignoring the Dr's advice he walked to a place he had been told had some work but unfortunately he got there a few minutes too late and all the jobs had gone. He then had to walk home in the pouring rain.

This is the reality of life for some of our church members. Life is tough and getting tougher by the day. There we were on our way out to enjoy ourselves for the evening. So what would you have done?

Dean had a chat with him outside and gave him some money to buy some food and electricity. Thankfully this couple are really sorted and we know they will spend the few bucks wisely.

Please pray for our members who are struggling for work and money. Feeding a family is not easy at the best of times but when you're this poor but still better off than most of your neighbours life gets very tough and messy.

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 occassionally chasing one of the eight boys we had between us. They certainly mad it a very lively afternoon!

See more photos here.

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!

I've always loved the fact that our wedding service involved two vicars, two charismatic church leaders and a host of friends doing various things. I've also never forgotten Jack Dearden's message about change. Jack told me to not fear change and Paula not to stand in the way of change. I don't think anyone who knows us would doubt that we embraced these words.

We'll be celebrating with a couple of nights away sans enfants and embracing change as we stay somewhere we've never been before. Fantastic!

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.

The wedding took place in the chapel of the Naval Museum in Simon's Town and afterwards we  decamped to the gardens of Admiralty House for the photos. What a privilege to be able to use such extraordinary venues!


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!

As Tree Of Life Church began I got the leaders together once a month to pray, so for an hour the six of us would just pray. No business, just a quick cup of tea and time on our knees.

Over the last month or two this has increased to twice a month and now we all want to be doing it every week. personally I'm thrilled by this because I want the church to be known as a praying church but the only way the church will get good and faithful at praying is if it's modeled by the leadership. If the church knows the leaders are praying, they are far more likely to join in.

The added bonus of this is that as a team of leaders we're also becoming very good friends and a team you know you can depend upon.

What a pleasure to be leading a team with guys who 
are excited again about church and their faith! 

Look out Macassar!



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!".

I can't lie, it was also great to see Eli being lauded as being "Very cool!". Even the high school pupils that saw him were very impressed and a few of the teaching staff came out to marvel at him.

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.

Locally we've been following the story for some time on hte local news. It's a desperate situation and at times very ugly. The trade unions don't come out of this story at all well but after yesterday's events the police are mired in an awful stench.

It seems the miners brought knives to a gunfight.

Watching the scenes on TV one would have thought it was a newsreel from the dark days of apartheid but sadly this is the free, democratic rainbow nation doing this to itself.

The BBC News website has an 'In Pictures' feature on the incident and looking at the police they certainly arrived prepared for what they did.

Today there are families missing husbands, fathers and breadwinners, spare a thought and a prayer for them, they didn't deserve this.

A truly dark day in SA's history!

Late this afternoon 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.

In between these two events we've experienced some truly amazing stuff at church as well as being involved in the lives of some of our members in ways that we can only count as a privilege.

Rather than try to recount much of what has gone on lately we'll just leave you with a snippet from this Sunday.... We continue to enjoy Tree Of Life and are so grateful to God for his amazing grace and blessings. We are slowly beginning to grow in numbers which is exciting but even more exciting is seeing guys growing in their faith and moving out into new things. This Sunday one of our quietest guys shared testimony about what God is doing in his life and we were all left amazed and thrilled by God's goodness! We had our first salvation which was thrilling and Dean was especially pleased having given a clear gospel presentation during his sermon. It's great to know God can use any one of us.

Life outside of church continues to be a bit hectic with full on social lives for the boys and us doing much running around to facilitate it all. We're all well and enjoying life and the challenges we face and simply have to thank God for his goodness.!

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, especially Tree Of Life Church 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...




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!

Time seemed to slip by, in fact it was three hours but hardly seemed like 3 minutes. Towards the end many folk were prayed for for healing, one was saved and others were deeply impacted by God's love.

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!

As a church our motto is "Come with us and we will treat you well" from Numbers 10:29. In our experience over the years churches are often great at hurting people and poor on loving and caring for folk and we as a church are making a commitment to treat people well. We are totally committed to letting people belong to us, then to believe and leaving the behaving part to the Holy Spirit. After all, correcting sinful behaviour is NOT the role of the pastor's wife!

So on Saturday two weeks ago we sent some of our folk out onto the streets of Macassar inviting people to our Celebration meeting the next day and also targeting ladies out shopping, giving them a ticket for a free pampering.

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.

We are so very thankful to each and every one who has been involved in raising this money."

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.

The best bit though has to be the typo in the headline! The school doesn't actually trade in children.

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.

Next I checked the hard drive was still OK by hooking it up to my laptop and guess what the lights all come on and everything on the HDD is perfectly accessible.

So now I'm stumped!

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.

Amazingly though torrential rain had been predicted the sky cleared and we even had sun for, guess what, two hours while the event took place.  Thank you Lord!

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.

I have some very fond memories of Vicky, he was a great member of my Chris Nissen bible study group and for a while a few years ago I would take a few of the guys through to Cape Town to see him in the TB hospital.After his stay there Vicky was very strong for a while and returned to work. Things were looking up but then a year or so ago he fell sick and wouldn't seek help.

I understand all the reasons as to why folk here don't seek medical help early if at all but it's all such a senseless waste!

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.

The trampoline is just one such example. Eli has been doing gymnastics at school (sadly it's on hold now until we can find a decent gym teacher) and he's been applying the moves he's been taught to the trampoline and as some of you may have seen on Facebook, the swimming pool, or rather any swimming pool he chances upon in the absence of one in our garden.

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 über 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".

We're not too sure what sparked his interest in growing tomatoes, I suspect that Charlie and Lola might have had a part to play in all of this, but it can only be good, especially if he actually starts eating the things.

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.

Before going to spend the afternoon out with friends chilling and having a braai we had to make some special stop offs on the way giving flowers to the wonderful HOPE team ladies as well as one of our patients who has recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer.  Many of you may remember Betty whom we have spoken about in the past, she used to be full time carer to Ernest who was blind and not even a family member.  Sadly Ernest died over a year ago and now Betty has terminal cancer combined with TB. She is a lovely lady and would very much value your prayers.  Almost without fail the flowers were greeted with tears and comments such as, no-one has ever given me flowers or, I'm going to freeze them so I can bring them out again next year on Mother's Day!!!  Such a small gesture brought so much love and warmth to some very special women. 

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!

Whilst there I also saw Aunty Poppy who showed me around her recently planted veggie garden. I have to say it was looking really good. Apparently Aunty Poppy and a few others have been equipped by an NGO to grow the veggies for four families each. What a great project!

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!

It was such a privilege to pray for this amazing couple and to honour them publicly. After our meeting we had a big family braai to continue the celebrations.

We might be a young church and small in number but we have couples amongst us who have been married up to 5 years, 10 years, 20 years, 30 years, 40 years, 50 years and 60 years. In today's throwaway culture that's quite amazing.
The 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. It was also interesting joining up with almost 1500 other bloggers all with wildly differing views on life, love and the universe but with a common goal of completing the challenge.  At times it made for interesting reading and commenting, taking me to blogs I now follow and to a number that I would normally avoid like the plague, but it's good to be challenged and stretched. You can also see what other bloggers thought here.

I feel like I owe an apology to the schedule facility in Blogger as I used and abused it a huge amount. In fact by the time of my O post I had written and scheduled all but three posts. However, had I attempted to post fresh each day I would have sunk without trace and failed to finish the challenge.

I also ought to apologise to you my readers too, thanks for being patient and for not giving up on the blog, I/we really appreciate it! Somewhere along the line one of our Facebook followers abandoned ship but a few more got on board so that's all good.

At the bottom of this post are a few thoughts for the A To Z Challenge team.

Finally, in case you've not seen the blog at all in April here's a quick review of all 26 posts from A to Z, click on any image to go straight to that post. Enjoy!

Blogging From A To Z Challenge, April 2012 Blogging From A To Z Challenge, April 2012

Blogging From A To Z Challenge, April 2012 Blogging From A To Z Challenge, April 2012
E to Z below...
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. Last Friday I drove past and saw someone bathing in the river and on further investigation, he advised that he was living in the drain pipe / under the bushes further down the field. Residents from Oakbridge that boarder the field, should you see or hear anything untoward on the opposite side of your fence, please do not hesitate to contact our Police or your Security Company for them to come and investigate. If we allow any vagrants to infiltrate our area, it will be extremely difficult to get rid of them again."

I knew there was a reason why I don't like my neighbours much. Personally, if I see someone bathing in the stream and living in the storm drain I'd be more inclined to take him some food than get the police to chase him away.

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. Not a great plan if we're honest and here we are a few years later with the gate having fallen apart. The gate frame used to be for the Tiny bubbles Creche sign but we took it off and riveted it directly onto the container classroom wall and Michael recycled the frame into a gate.

This morning I was able to go and get a few brackets and pop rivets ready to bodge fix the gate again. Ideally the gate frame should have been welded but we don't live in an ideal world, so we managed to rivet the brackets at the points where the upright had separated from the rest of the frame. We then riveted some old hinges I had lying around to the frame and then nailed them to the post. Voila! Gate bodged fixed!

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!

So here's a bit of an update on what has been going on in April besides abusing the alphabet.

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).

SA has twelve public holidays throughout the year and even one of the local businesses has been making fun of this lately suggesting that World Cup Remembrance Day will soon be added to the list.

We've had some great days out including a trip to the aquarium and a trip to the cinema, but mostly we've been enjoying some long overdue family time at home and the weather hasn't spoilt things too much.

Getting back into the rhythm of school and work won't be easy!

Z is for Ω

At least it is in the Greek alphabet.

"I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End." Revelation 22:13. The Alpha and Omega, the beginning and end, outside of God there is nothing.

I try to live my life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, though I know I often fail. This may be unappealing and a bit of a turn off if you don't profess a faith but I can't help that. I hear all the arguments for and against God and increasingly hear the vocal anti-Christian lobby of Dawkins et al and find myself even more convinced of my faith.

The most preposterous claim by the likes of Dawkins is that Christians are not capable of free thought or of questioning what they are told. I would argue it's the other way around. Dawkins and his acolytes are the ones blinded by ignorant and irrational arguments. The bible is full of people questioning God and their faith and in the apostle Paul we have a fantastic role model for free thinking and questioning the status quo.

As Paul said in Romans, I am not ashamed of the gospel.. and as such I don't really care what you think of me or my faith. I'm not worried if you attack my faith or if my faith offends you, it's just that I believe in the living God and am happy to let you know this. Yes you could beat me in an argument using science and goodness knows what else but I've seen and experienced too much as a Christian to turn my back on Jesus. Also, I am deeply skeptical of the world and what it has to offer, whilst the world may deride my faith, it has little if anything of any value to offer in its place. I've seen and experienced some of what the world has to offer and it's not nice, it's not pretty and it does more harm than good. What I can tell you is that the faith journey I've been on over the last 27 years has radically transformed me from an 18 year old messed up waster and I simply have to give thanks to the living God, the Alpha and Omega.

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Here endeth the series Blogging From A To Z Challenge, April 2012. Normal service will be resumed shortly.

Y is for Yowza!

OK, so it's a bit tenuous but I'm still expressing my surprise at having completed the A To Z Blogging Challenge. Yes yes there's still Monday's post but that's already written and scheduled to post.

I've had a lot of fun doing it, I've met some great new cyber friends and visited some really good (and the odd strange) blogs. I'll definitely be doing it again.

One of the highlights for me has been the encouraging comments and hearing that one or two folk have been eagerly looking forward to see what the next letter would be about. I hope you've enjoyed it too.

I've also enjoyed the discipline of committing to the blog and being intentional in my approach to it. I'm not sure the 'Schedule' facility will forgive me for abusing it as much as I did but without it I would have fallen at an early hurdle. As you can see from my master list I made some changes as I was going and 'I' was definitely for Indecision! I chose not to blog about my boys for E and J as I felt it was a bit unfair on them. Other than that I just blogged about the things that are important to me. Next year I'll try to come up with a more interesting theme.

What to blog about next?

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This post is part of a series in the Blogging From A To Z Challenge, April 2012.

X has to be for X-rays

Not that I'm passionate about these things but we've had our fair share of them done in our eight years in South Africa.

It all begins with chest x-rays for immigration to prove that one is clear of TB, which is a bit of a joke as the Western Cape has one of the world's highest prevalence rates of TB and some medics reckon that everyone living in the Cape carries TB.

Life with two boys in the house also somewhat predictably leads to hospital trips and the inevitable x-ray. Having said that, the biggest injury in our house to date was me smashing my wrist!

One very cool aspect of getting x-rays done here is that it's all digital so you get a CD with the x-rays on to take home. Actually you're supposed to give it to the Dr but they always have the x-ray already uploaded onto their computer so aren't interested in the CD. It's great to get home and play with the disc pretending to be very knowledgeable!

Hopefully we'll not be rushing off for anymore x-rays anytime soon!

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This post is part of a series in the Blogging From A To Z Challenge, April 2012.

W is for Walking The Dog.

One of my boys favourite activities has to be walking Rosie. We're pretty slack at it and don't walk her anywhere as much as we should but when we do it's a lot of fun.

Rosie adores being out and about, exploring the park, chasing the Ibis and Egrets and occasionally gets to play in the stream if it's been wet enough.

Most of the time Rosie has to put up with chasing around the garden after the boys on their bikes so a walk makes for a refreshing change for her.

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This post is part of a series in the Blogging From A To Z Challenge, April 2012.