Thank You!

Thank you to all of you who contributed financially, in kind and prayerfully to The Gathering's Soup Kitchen Christmas Lunch, we really couldn't have done this without you.

It was an amazing day and we feel tremendously privileged to have been a part of it and we hope & pray you're blessed too.

Thank you Lord!

Wow, what a day that was!

For me it was the most exciting day of the year and a tremendous privilege to be a part of.

It was amazing to see how the seed of a crazy idea planted just over a year ago came to bear such incredible fruit.

Merry Christmas

Wishing you all a very happy Christmas and a blessed New Year.

We hope you're as excited about what God is going to do in 2019 as we are.

Have a fantastic year!
When I was in the UK earlier this year I was really excited to talk about two future plans we had for The Gathering's weekly Soup Kitchen.

The first one was our Christmas Lunch for 120 of our regulars and the second was taking our soup up from 70lts to 100lts, but we were really going to need some miraculous blessings for these to happen.

Load Shedding

I can't quite believe that I've never blogged about this farce issue before, especially as it's such a regular occurrence due to Eskom's incompetence mismanagement corruption breakdown in supply infrastructure and its inability to manage its affairs.

Load shedding is where our loathed state monopoly beloved electricity supplier cuts power off to certain areas at certain times for about 2½ hours in a desperate bid controlled manner to reduce electricity consumption and therefore bring stability to the power network.

This is a week overdue but it was great to celebrate another fantastic year of The Gathering's Homework Club last Friday 23rd as we held our now annual Awards Ceremony.

It's always a joy to celebrate the kids achievements and to show their families just how well they're doing, and some of our kids are doing incredibly well.

It was a privilege too to have Mark & Jo join us, they set up and run Green Shoots and we really value their support!

Giving

***Rant Alert***

As we head in to the Christmas season and get excited about giving and receiving gifts, consider this...

Give only that which you would like to receive.

This has shaped our giving for many years now and is why when we give, we give of our best.

City Elders

A few months ago I was invited to join a regular Wednesday morning prayer group for City Elders and intercessors. So having jiggeled my day around I've been going quite regularly for the last few months and have grown to really enjoy the group and the nature of prophetic prayer and the unity amongst the many ministries in the Helderberg.

Decisions, Decisions...

Decisions, decisions, decisions....

As the year winds down towards the summer holidays it would be nice to have a bit of breathing space, but as ever that's rarely our experience and once again we find ourselves having to make some pretty major decisions ready for the new year.

Homework Club

We've not posted much about The Gathering's Homework Club for a while, despite posting loads of stuff about the Soup Kitchen, so here's an update on things....

As the school year winds towards the end we've had a few kids drop out of the Homework Club.  Some have moved away from Firgrove and some just think they're too cool for school.

I was so blessed yesterday by my Grade 4 kids at Firgrove Primary School.

I have been reading with them once a week all year and have absolutely loved the experience. I have learned so much, and they tell me that they have also - so that can only be good!! I was asked to come in today to receive a token of their appreciation.

On arrival a small group of the 170+ children came to give me a certificate, a card and a lovely plant to say thank you. One of the learners addressed me beautifully in English and expressed how they all feel about my help.

I am humbled and can't wait to start back again in 2019.

 It's so good to build relationships in our Firgrove community!

This brought a smile to my face this morning....

...two easy riders on their bespoke choppers.

This is a local guy in Firgrove who decided to turn his welding skills to bike making and produced these two prototypes.

Daisy

I'm not quite sure how this happened, but recently Paula was seduced by the idea of getting a second dog. Having been resistant to the idea for so long, I was amazed because this is something I've been trying to do for ages and have previously attempted to sneak a puppy into the garden. Sadly I was busted and the puppy was banished, albeit to a very good home.

Anyway, just before we left for holiday Paula showed us all a picture of Daisy and it snowballed from there. So having been approved by Animal Welfare and having passed their home inspection, they neutered her over the weekend and said we could collect her this morning. So we did.

Holiday

For the first time in 14 years we actually managed to string a two week family holiday together. Actually it was 13 days but we'll let that slide.

It was great to be back in Montagu (though we missed Greyton) and trying some new accommodation. Paula found this little gem online and we had a very peaceful two weeks with great views and were only a five minute walk from the town centre.



I've been meaning to post this for a while so here it is.
One of the costs of an overseas life in mission is missing the conveniences of home, such as free schooling and health care, two things that take up a lion's share of our budget.

This week we're missing the dear old NHS and the fact that if we were in Blighty Eli's current infliction would have been treated for free, but as it is we're in a land with no real welfare net and so our pockets are feeling the squeeze.

Almost Over?

September 1st is known as Spring Day down here and I always think that this is one of the Cape's cruelest jokes, though to be fair  it was a warm sunny day. However on Sunday it gave way to more rain which is due to return with a vengeance this evening.

So after an average August and a wet start to September, with the promise of a lot more rain over the next few days, our dams now sit at a respectable average of 65.9% full.

We still have to be conservative with our water usage and the restrictions still seem to be a long way from being lifted, but we are at least heading in the right direction for the first time in three years.
As I ran into the house last week after my ladies group to grab a quick sandwich and coffee before beginning the "afternoon busy-ness" of my day I clearly heard the Father say to me, "how many of your ladies can do this right now?". This stuck with me all week and right through the weekend.

New Chairs

As we step out in faith and see The Gathering's Soup Kitchen and Homework Club growing, so we're also seeing growth on Sunday mornings which is a huge blessing!

As The Gathering grows and is blessed, so we need to step out in more faith trusting that we will see the Kingdom extended in Firgrove, South Africa and beyond.

So recently we stepped out in faith and bought 50 new chairs of which we received the first 25 this morning.

The dream is still to take The Gathering's Soup Kitchen up to 100lts each week but we've decided to ease into that with a 20lt step up to 70 litres.

It turns out that there were a few more issues involved than just doubling the quantity of ingredients and so it made sense to address a few issues and take a smaller step forwards....for now.

One of the main issues we've had has been washing the 50lt pot in the sink, basically it's too big to fit under the cupboard, so rather than just raise the cupboard, we decided to move it to the other side and then install some shelves where the cupboard used to be. This will allow us more space above the sink which we'll need with the new 70lt pot, though we still need a plan to figure out how it will fit in the sink (see below) 😂



The story of growth for The Gathering's Soup Kitchen continues this week and we're really excited about it.

Stay tuned for more news later in the week.
I'm thrilled to see that The Gathering's Homework Club has 15 winners in the first competition of Term 3.

Our kids are progressing nicely and are becoming quite a dominant force in the termly competitions held online by Green Shoots.

This is a real encouragement and I can't wait to hear how each of our kids has done at the end of the school year.

Ten Books

I was recently challenged on Facebook to participate in the Ten Books challenge, but partly because I'm rebellious and partly because I'm trying (and failing) to spend less time on FB, I'm posting my ten books here.

Also, the FB challenge says not to give any reason or any other information about each book, so again I'm going to be rebellious.

I have to say that having over 700 books in the house has made this very tricky and I have chosen not to include any Christian books, maybe sometime I'll do a Ten Christian Books post.

So, having whittled it down to ten books that have had a massive impact on me, it seems only fair to start with the book I've known and loved the longest of these ten.

Charlotte's Web was first read to me as a 6 year old and I fell in love with it immediately. I've read it more times than I can recount and loved reading it to both of my sons. I really love this book!

In a nation in which 40% of men physically assault their partners each day (that speaks nothing of the emotional and sexual torment many women are put through on a daily basis!), it’s essential that we not only celebrate our women but shout from the rooftops just how much we value them.

So today The Gathering with help from Father’s House in Simon’s Town celebrated Women’s Day.

We hosted a free event in which we invited local women to come and be pampered and treated like the million dollars they truly are in God’s eyes.  Or as Paula put it on Facebook: Helping women understand that they are "the apple of his eye" (Zechariah 2:8).

I last blogged in this series about five years ago, but just had to revisit it in the light of yesterday's fantastic celebration of Linda's graduation.

Each of my previous posts were anonymised, but today I'm naming, proclaiming and celebrating Linda for her faith, her perseverance and her never giving up, even when it would have been easier and more comfortable to do so.

As a severe weather warning goes out around the western Cape this afternoon, I thought it would be good to revisit the issue of the Cape's three year drought and what it actually means for those of us living here.

Our drought seemed to be a popular source of conversation in Blighty as I was asked countless times about it, especially as it had hit international headlines a few months ago as Day Zero was scheduled to happen within days of that news breaking.

It's great to be back and getting in the swing of the life of The Gathering again.

This morning has been largely about getting a few of my UK purchases up and running which will hopefully make church and especially our Homework Club run a little better.

Adopted Son

It seems like a long time ago that Paula dropped me off at Cape Town airport to fly to England, but just three weeks later I really can't wait to go home!

I've had a fantastic time, reconnected with many good friends, and spent time with school mates I hadn't seen in 35 years. I had the privilege of spending time with some truly inspiring fellow pastors & ministers and can't believe that a few of them even let me preach in their churches (I'm sure one day I'll be found out 😂 ).

But the greatest joy has been spending time with family, and this last week has been special as I've never spent so long with Paula's sister & brother-in-law on my own before. All I can say is that my love and respect for Lisa & Stephen grows exponentially each time I see them and realise just how much they quietly get on with as they serve and support others around them. I really love you both! XX

My last post was about coming to Blighty and the sense of expectation that is attached to a Roadshow tour around England. Apart from one last engagement this Sunday in Oxshott (which I'm really looking forward to) my trip is all but over and my thoughts have naturally turned towards home and seeing my peeps again.

It has been a great time, but it has been quite tiring, and the first two weeks were a bit of a whirlwind as I caught a train from London to Stockport, spent a few days there then got a train to Sheffield where I spent a couple of days before getting a train to London where I spent a few days in Wimbledon -which included a train ride out to Witham in Essex- before getting a train to Abingdon, and then finally a train to Weald to spend the last week or so with Paula's family. I have to say, it's nice to be able to hang a few shirts up rather than grabbing bits out of the suitcase!

Dean will be undertaking a Roadshow Tour on his own this year, from 16 May until 5 June.

Quite simply we cannot afford to all come and the boys can't miss school like they once could. 😭

So, if you are in or around the Manchester, Sheffield, London or Sevenoaks areas, please come and say hello at one of my Roadshows or Church Visits, the dates are in the image to the right.

For the Sheffield and Wimbledon Roadshows, please save the date and I'll confirm the venues ASAP.
For the last few weeks I've been using less milk in The Gathering's soup , preferring to use Amasi, a local milk product that is totally gross unless you grew up with it.

I first encountered Amasi in '97 in Tanzania, where one morning I joined the workers for their morning break at the project where we were serving, and they thought it highly amusing to watch me being grossed out by it and almost vomiting.

I had one of the saddest and most frustrating conversations of my life at The Gathering’s Soup Kitchen last night.

Frustrating because it was of a theme that keeps rearing its ugly head, and sad because we the church are responsible.

Glorious Rain

Suddenly the clouds rolled in, the sky went dark and an almighty thunderstorm unleashed itself right above us.  Thank you Lord!

After a few minutes of messing about in the rain enjoying its cooling touch (it was 35°C just after lunchtime), we grabbed every available bucket and got busy harvesting as much rain as we could. In the end I reckon we got about 200Lts, which isn't a lot but it will keep the loos flushing for a while longer.  😃

It was fun to watch Eli revel in the rain and even funnier to see him get pelted by the brief hail storm.
At The Gathering we're acutely aware of the water crisis afflicting Cape Town and have been trying our best to save water wherever possible, but there's always something extra one can do.

So today I finally got around to changing the plumbing in The Gathering's toilet so that we can harvest the grey water from the sink and use it to flush the toilet.

In doing this The Gathering is no longer wasting valuable drinking water to flush the loo and that is a win win situation.

Every little bit helps as we try our best to avoid Day Zero, the day that the City of Cape Town turns off its taps and loses its status as a world class city.
We've had the honour of hosting a few visitors at The Gathering's Homework Club over the last few days and it's always a joy to talk about it and to share our story and how we got to where we are now.

It's been quite a journey from not having a clue what the Homework Club would look like to now being a growing and confident outfit, and we're always happy to share the journey with others.

Finally, 2018 gets going.

The New Year is a strange thing out here in that it falls in the middle of the summer holidays, with industry shutting down for a few weeks, so most people don't go back to work until the second week of January. Schools only went back last week and so The Gathering's Homework Club only just started this week and won't do a full week until next week.

Wednesday and Thursday were brilliant as The gathering's Homework Club kicked off again and welcomed 11 new kids and 21 returnees. The Homework Club is full now and we have quite a waiting list which is great.

Having learnt a few lessons last year, we started the year with a few ground rules and boundaries which seemed to go well, I guess time will tell.  The big difference though is that we now have eight kids per session so Precious (our facilitator) can't sit down, so she was constantly walking around the table and that kept things a lot more orderly.

Twenty Years

It's twenty years ago this month that we made our first move in to overseas mission as we went to Tanzania for an initial two year stint.  Just under a year later we resigned out in the field, were treated appallingly by the organisation we were serving with and ended up staying with some Catholic Fathers at a nearby Seminary.  The last group of people I expected to be genuinely Christian turned out to have a greater concept and handle on Christian basics than the organisation we had served with.  Still, that's a long time ago and much water has passed under the bridge since then.

Homework Club

After a day of Homework Club admin, it's great to have 32 letters about to be delivered to various families in Firgrove telling them that their kid has secured a place for 2018.

It's been a great journey since we set out in January last year with 12 kids and not really knowing what the Homework Club would look like.  Here we are a whole twelve months later and we're setting off with 32 kids and looking to expand it to 48 sooner rather than later.

Please stand with us in prayer as we believe that The Gathering will grow through this outreach into the community.






Day Zero

Day Zero is looming and is set for the end of March.

No we're not talking about the rise of a new Pol Pot or Jacob Zuma suddenly pulling a rabbit out of his hat and saving his political career. No, we're talking about the day that the taps run dry here in Cape Town.