We have always been very clear that we would not home school whilst serving overseas. It's a common choice for many that do serve overseas but we've seen too many stressed and frazzled mothers (let's be honest it's always mum who does it!) to believe it's a good thing.

Sadly however, like much of the rest of the world this is no longer a choice but something that has been foisted upon us.

And so today is *officially* the start of Term 2 for both boys.  To say that there's a degree of reluctance on their parts would be an understatement, though to be fair they have knuckled down in these first few minutes, hopefully that will continue.

Hopefully mum won't end up too stressed and frazzled (let's be honest it will be mum doing it not dad) and we all emerge with our sanity intact.

It's all too easy to be a bit negative about the current situation, and to be honest that is quite often my default position, but there is also much to be thankful for.

This Sunday was a great example of something to be thankful for!

Sundays are for church, or at least they always used to be before the lockdown, but this left The Gathering with a bit of a headache.

Most of our pastor friends and churches we know were quite excited about their online churches which would be happening in place of their regular gatherings, and I have to admit to feeling pleased for them and a touch jealous.

For The Gathering doing online church via live streams just isn't a viable option as most of our members don't enjoy the privileges of a fixed broadband internet connection, rather, they buy data in 20mb or 50mb bundles which are never going to allow for following a live stream.

After much thinking and praying about it I had the idea of taking church on to WhatsApp. Many locals get WhatsApp bundles on their phones and generally the data usage on the platform is way less than many other social media platforms.

I said in Thursday's post that I would talk about exercise, so here it is a day later than planned...

As I said on Thursday, the frustrating part of the Police Minister's statement is not so much the ban on booze sales but the ban on being able to go out for any form of exercise. I had planned to go out for a 5k run every other day, but will now have to settle for running around the house. Thankfully we're blessed with a big garden and setting out a running track around the house will be an easy pleasure.

We had planned on doing a certain amount of fitness stuff at home anyway, with Joel & me planning on boxing in the garage, so we also stocked up of a few other bits to turn our garage in to a makeshift gym which will allow all four of us to workout.
You know you're living in unusual times when  you walk in to your local cornershop wearing a mask and rather than being chased out as a potential robber you're welcomed in for being a responsible citizen.

Given how tight the restrictions are for our lockdown we've had to be a bit creative in how we do things, so one of them is making sure that when it comes to "essential supplies" we have just enough for the day and when we need more one of us walks around to the local Spar. That way one of us gets a bit of exercise and we all get to enjoy a treat or two aswell. Yesterday was my turn and having walked to the shop was refused entry because I wasn't wearing a face mask. So I had to walk home, get a Buff and walk back to get the essential items. Ordinarily I might have complained, but it was nice to do the walk twice, especially as there was no traffic out, it made for a peaceful walk.

Well that was a bizarre and frustrating 48 hours in which our beloved govt raised the ire of a large part of the population. Initially the Health Minister announced that walking dogs and going for a jog would be allowed during the lockdown. This made a lot of people happy and garnered much support for the lockdown. Then the Police Minister strongly contradicted him by making it very clear that neither activity would be allowed.  Then he tossed in the grenade and blew all the goodwill out of the water by announcing that all alcohol sales would be banned during the lockdown, and helpfully made the announcement after the bottle stores had closed for the evening. The panic buying of booze the next day (the day before lockdown began) was farcical!  Thankfully early last year we massively reduced our alcohol consumption and so with the few bottles of wine we were able to buy we'll be fine for a few weeks. The frustrating part is not being allowed to go out for a run or any other form of exercise, but more on that tomorrow.

South Africa goes in to full lockdown at midnight tonight and it would be easy to rant and rave about the govt's ineptitude in their handling of the lockdown before it's even started, but it would be far more fitting on our last day of freedom to focus on The Gathering's last Soup Kitchen for at least three weeks.

In 5 years of running the Soup Kitchen, we've only missed 5 kitchens, and now we're going to miss at least three in a row. This breaks my heart because a lot of needy and vulnerable people in the community rely on our service knowing that at least once a week they get a decent nutritious meal with some left over for the next day or two.

We were given four days notice of the impending lockdown and that seems to have been the cue for action for the Zombie Domesday Preppers and their attendant madness. Despite pleas not to panic buy the shelves are stripped bare with very little available in any of the food shops.

This morning Paula tried to buy stuff for our weekly Soup Kitchen and almost instantly regretted going anywhere near the shops. Thankfully we managed to scrape some bits together between us and so our last Soup Kitchen for a while will proceed. Thank you Lord!

It all leaves one feeling that April Fool's Day should be cancelled because no prank could possibly match up to the stupidity of what's going on out there right now.

Anyway, this all got me thinking about the other side of the nonsense... what about those folk that can't afford to stockpile, the folk who can't afford to stop working, but will be forced to. We know lots of these people and some have grasped the gravity of the situation, but some of the poorer more vulnerable folk we know are quite oblivious to what it may mean for them.  The truly heartbreaking part in this for them is that they will have to deal with it and get through it somehow on their own because most of their regular channels of support (churches, soup kitchens, shelters etc) are being forced to close.

Lockdown Looms

This blog is long neglected now and I've been wondering about what to do with it. Should I shut it down? Should I just leave it as a souvenir of the last few years or should I delete it and move on to other things? Then with the lockdown being announced I thought I'd revive it for now and use it to keep a lockdown diary, so here goes...

We knew that at some point South Africa would go into lockdown, we just didn't think it would be quite this soon, especially given that at the time of writing we've only had 402 confirmed cases with no deaths. So, from midnight on Thursday it gets very real.

However, whether through good luck or good judgement, South Africa seems to have a lid on things in a way few other countries have/did.  As such it probably makes sense to bring in the lockdown earlier than most other countries did with a view to really "flattening the curve".