M is for Marshmallows

I was hoping that M might coincide with Monday, because these little marshmallow chicks seem to capture the essence of a Monday quite nicely and I would have had two Ms for the price of one, but never mind, they'll suffice on their own for today's M post.

I first saw this pic on FB where a friend had posted it, and it genuinely made me chuckle, so I hope you enjoy it too and I hope it brightens your day a little.

L is for Lie Back And Think Of England

L should actually be for MRI but tomorrow's M is already taken and this seemed to fit quite well, despite the coarse nature of the original meaning of the expression, so apologies for that.

On Monday I went for a Lumbar MRI and after all the prep for it I had a panic attack and had to be pulled out quite quickly.

I was quite cross with myself for my reaction, especially once I had calmed down about an hour later and thought rationally about it. I realised that my head would be going no further in the tube than it had been at the beginning, so there wasn't anything to get excited about, I just needed to calm down and lie back and think of England.

K is for Kilograms

Actually, that would be 6000 of them as The Gathering took delivery of six pallets of the peanut pastes we've been busy giving out lately.

Once again it was a total blessing to be able to receive such a huge food delivery and it's an even greater blessing knowing that we have already allocated all 432 boxes and they will be gone by Friday afternoon. 

J Is For Jesus

J is for Jesus

Well it be rude not to given that we've just celebrated Easter and I am a pastor.

So Easter has just been and gone and I had the joy of speaking to our church on Easter Sunday about the evidence for the resurrection and picked it up again this Sunday just gone, but looking more at the evidence that Jesus was physically/clinically dead, which really underpins the resurrection. After all, if he wasn't really dead then the resurrection didn't really happen. Only he was dead and it did happen and the evidence is overwhelming.

I is for Indecision though arguably it should be for Déjà vu.

I couldn't come up with anything for I so I'll go away and hope that J might come along to rescue me.

I is also for I'm a few days behind and trying to catch up. LOL!

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This post is part of a series in the Blogging From A To Z Challenge, April 2021.

H is for However...

After yesterday's post, today I had a rare day in that I took the entire day for myself and simply hid away. I ignored my phone, stayed off social media for most of the day and went for a long walk on the beach before finally re-emerging and joining my lovely wife for a drink in a local wine bar followed by a curry.

So occasionally I might feel like giving up, however, I carry on because such moments are rare and times like this evening are what make life worth living.

G is for Give Up

Actually that's wrong, G is for Don't Give Up.

This is not a pity post or one of those FB posts seeking attention, rather it's just an honest expression of the fact that occasionally, despite the encouragements and amazing things we experience in our ministry, there are times when I feel like giving up.

Thankfully I haven't so far, and I don't intend to because I love what I do, but also, I'm only human at the end of the day

F Is For Farts

We get some real crackpots associating themselves with the church here in South Africa and the competition to see who can push the limits the furthest appears quite intense at times.

One recent crackpot was labelled the "Prophet of Doom" because he sprayed his congregants with Doom (a local fly spray) in the belief it would heal them. He was later found guilty of assault. Enough said!

But now we have a clear winner in Pastor Christ Penelope who according to a local news article "farts on people to heal them".

E is for Encouragement

Life can be tough at times and quite often it's hard to see what impact we might be having on the world.

So today it was such an encouragement and a blessing to be approached by a well respected member of the community where our church meets and be thanked for all we do for the community. I particularly loved it when he said "I know you're not full on Sundays, but what you do during the week is really appreciated".

I've always believed that church is about what we do from Monday to Saturday so it was great to hear it's working in practice.

D Is For Dams

D is for Dams

Ever since the first drought we experienced here in the Cape back in 2004 I've kept a regular eye on the levels of Cape Town's dams. I like to note how much the levels have gone up or down and get a feel for what might be happening with the next round of water restrictions. Our latest drought began back in 2016 with a normally dry summer followed by a very dry winter, a pattern which repeated itself right up until winter 2020 when the local dams finally hit an average level of 100%.

C is for Cartoons

A friend posted this one on FB the other day and it made me chuckle and reminded me just how much I love cartoons.

I love them in all their forms, from static one off jokes like this one, to Tom & Jerry whacking each other, each cartoon has so much to offer and I just love them.

If I had to nail down my favourites then Matt from the Daily Telegraph and Larson's The Far Side win along with almost anything by Warner Bros (but especially Pepé Le Pew) and Disney's full length cartoons, especially Treasure Planet, a completely underrated gem of a classic.

B Is For Boxing

B is for Boxing

Tomorrow evening I have my second white collar boxing match in a rematch with my good friend Conrad.

Last time out we were the first fight on the bill, I don't think anyone took the two old guys too seriously, however we were declared the 'fight of the night' and so this time we're the last fight before the headline fight which is a charity match.

Just over two years ago when I decided to take up boxing I would never have thought I would actually step in a ring, but I have to say that it is a lot of fun and the sparring before hand leading up to it is brilliant.

I also can't think of a better way to get fit.

My first post of the 2021 A to Z Challenge is a bit of a cheaty one. I didn't want to do A is for AtoZ, so rather I've chosen to use *absolution* in that I absolve you of any guilt should you not wish to read the 26 posts that will be coming this month.

Mr Speaker

The stock speakers in my car were appallingly bad, so much so that the bass sounded like a cardboard box being hit with a wooden spoon, so something had to be done.

Having been quoted +/- R1400 I decided to have a go at doing the job myself.  After a bit of research on YouTube on how to remove the door card and a few questions on a car forum, I set about the task and about an hour later I was very chuffed with myself.

And now the sound is WAY better than it was!

#AtoZChallenge 2021 banner
I last participated in the AtoZ Challenge in 2013 having also completed it in 2012, but sadly as I neglected the blog I forgot about this great challenge. But that's all in the past now, and so eight years on I'm participating once again.
South Africa's 21 day lock down was announced by the govt on March 23rd last year giving us all just four days to prepare for the coming few weeks.

Life got a little hectic as we knew certain items would be banned from sale for the duration, and so many people went crazy with hoarding, and it wasn't just loo rolls!

Alongside doing the bulk of the donkey work in terms of collecting donations, I also get to do the fun bit of passing them on to those that  are in need of them.

Over the last few weeks The Gathering has been blessed with just over 6 pallets of peanut sachets, with each pallet holding 72 boxes and each box containing 150 sachets. In total we've received about 450 boxes and as of today we have so far given 300 boxes away.

Today I had the joy of delivering 20 boxes of the sachets to False Bay Primary in Macassar, and they were delighted. It means that they, along with Macassar Primary, Marvin Park Primary and Firgrove Primary can target the hungriest kids and make sure they've had something to eat before lessons start each day. Now that is a huge blessing!

Further to my post a couple of days ago on Rejects Become Blessings, I've uncovered a little bit more of the story and I find it quite perplexing.

As I said in that post, some of the boxes we received were indeed rejected due to the odd leaky sachet, but the bulk of the boxes we received on Friday have been rejected for far stranger reasons.

I have to testify to the goodness of God and his traveling mercies yesterday.

I was on my second trip collecting the peanut paste sachets and pootling along with a loaded trailer at 75kph (a little under 50mph) when the trailer started snaking. I think it was a combination of the wind, the weight, and a poorly serviced trailer that caused the snaking. 

What a contrast two consecutive days can be!

Yesterday afternoon I was left feeling very deflated after once again running in to an unhelpful & unyielding branch of South African bureaucracy.

This morning I was blessed by the joy of borrowing a friends trailer and driving out to Muizenberg to collect 47 boxes of the peanut paste sachets that are so popular amongst our Soup Kitchen regulars.

It was pure joy and a real privilege to spend a few hours with my mate Shaddie this morning serving My Father's House as they prepare the food for their daily feeding programme providing for the most vulnerable members of the Simon's Town community and beyond.

I love what My Father's House are doing and their vision and motivation behind it all, so it's probably a good thing that we don't live any closer because I would invest more of my time in to their vision and work to the detriment of my main focus.

It's been a while since we were able to deliver any food parcels, so it was a joy to be able to package up just enough food today to be able to bless our HOPE Home Based Care ladies in Chris Nissen with a decent hamper each.

Despite the government recently easing our lockdown restrictions, life is still very tough for the poorest, so it was a privilege to be able to put a smile on the HOPE ladies faces as they received their hampers.

One of the joys of what we do is being able to collect donations, sort them and then send them out again to the right people/places to ensure they have the maximum impact.

So recently it was great to be in touch with a local who had several boxes of brand new flip-flops left over from a recently closed business enterprise. They were keen that the flip-flops were not sold but rather would go to people who need them and would appreciate them, which is where The Gathering comes in. Sadly some of the boxes were water damaged so we've had to bin the worst of the damaged flip-flops, but we were able to rescue seven boxes of 24 pairs to be given away. What a blessing!

The Gathering now has seven boxes of flip-flops waiting to be given away. Two will go to locals we know in Firgrove and the other five boxes will go to My Father's House on Friday when I go through to spend time with my mate Shaddie at their feeding programme in Simon's Town.

Over the last few weeks we've seen some steady growth in the numbers coming for The Gathering's weekly Soup Kitchen as well as seeing some old regulars that were holed up in other places reemerging. And what we know from all of this is that the need for food is greater than ever!

So last night for the first time since our 21 day lockdown began almost a year ago, we used the 70lt pot, and we served over 150 cups and gave away thirty 1lt pots for folk to take home.

It's exciting to be serving so many, but it's heartbreaking that the need is so prevalent!

Soup Kitchen

As ever it's a joy and a privilege to be able to serve our community through The Gathering's weekly Soup Kitchen, and last night was no exception.

Normally this one in the month would be our quietest given that pensions and disability grants have just been paid, but such is the need in the current climate that we were far busier than we had expected.

What this confirms to us is what we already know; the need is very real and those that come for soup are genuinely grateful for the reliability of the Soup Kitchen.

South Africa's lockdown was eased a little on Monday which means life once again has some semblance of normality about it, whatever that is, and we could feel it in the community as things felt a little lighter than they have of late.

4X4 Road Trip

I'm excited today because I've begun to collect some detailed road maps of South Africa in preparation for Joel's 18th birthday road trip.

Joel & I are planning a 4X4 road trip around the whole of SA for his birthday so the planning can begin in earnest now.

Sadly, due to the pandemic and college dates for Joel we're having to delay the trip from March to his June/July break, but the advantage of that is that we'll have no major time constraints and can make it a bit of a more leisurely trip.

We can't wait!

Fit Family

It's a joy to be keeping fit and exercising together as a family and it's a joy to be a part of the CEY family, a gym with a difference.

This is a place where all are made to feel welcome, a place where we all remember where we came from and how poor we were when we started. There are no elitist attitudes and no space for the posers, and it's all the better for it.

Paula & Eli love the Crossfit whilst Dean & Joel are addicted to the Boxing and our bodies are loving the health benefits. It's win win in every way possible.

Back Online

It's not how we wanted church to be, especially after the last few months where we've been gathering back in our building in Firgrove.

However, it is what it is and it was a joy to be able to gather freely, to worship without a mask and to share prayers and words of encouragement.

It was also a blessing to welcome a couple of new folk to join us online.

The Gathering will only grow from here.

Thank you LORD!

It's with a heavy heart that after the Christmas/summer break we have to reopen The Gathering online again. 

Church life was really picking up towards the end of the year and we were seeing exciting stuff happening, but sadly with the new Covid variant being more virulent than before, we (along with every other church in SA) have had to close our doors on Sundays. 

So, just as we did last time, The Gathering will be going back on to WhatsApp so that we can keep our gatherings in real time and open to contributions from members. 

 In the meantime we must pray that the virus is finally brought in to check so we can get back on with life.

My Unicycles

I've been asked a few times recently about my unicycles, so I thought I'd introduce you to my family...

I have three unicycles that I mix between, a 20", a 29" and a 36", each of which are quite different to each other with different purposes.

Eli also has his own 20" unicycle and I keep two other 20" unis in the garage for when folk fancy having a go at learning to ride.

The railing along the wall is part of the kit for teaching others to ride.