"Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

This scripture is the guiding principle of The Gathering's Thankful Thursdays, and sometimes it's easy to forget about it, so it was good to be reminded of it so starkly yesterday, a day of phenomenal blessings and heartbreak.

The blessings had begun on Wednesday when I drove over to My Father's House in Simon's Town to collect a very generous food donation from them.

The first blessing yesterday was Joel choosing for the first time to come and spend the afternoon with me to help prepare the 100 litres of soup for the evening. It was a joy to have him there and it was a tremendous blessing to take him with me in to Macassar to deliver boxes of fresh food to the two Macassar Soup Kitchens we support. That was the second blessing of the day, which in fact had begun on Wednesday afternoon as we spent time preparing boxes of food for all three of the Soup Kitchens that church supports as well as providing one of our church members with a box of fresh food as she busily goes about quietly feeding her more vulnerable neighbours.

It's always a blessing to visit Mercia and Beatty at their homes in Macassar from where they feed so many people, and I was bowled over by Beatty's generosity as she had baked us a plate of koeksisters to take home as a thank you for all the support she's received from The Gathering. It was also great to chat with Joel about this afterwards, what a blessing!

The Gathering's Soup Kitchen itself was another lovely blessing as a large crowd gathered patiently for their turn to receive a cup of soup, a 1lt takeaway pot together with a tin of mixed veg and a packet of noodles each, whilst the children got their cup of soup and a sachet of peanut paste which they love. And as ever, The Gathering was generous in refilling the cups as many times as we could until the soup was all gone. It may only be a drop in the ocean, but oceans are made up of drops.

And then in the midst of all these blessings we felt very sad as we learnt that Joel's college is closing down at the end of this year. The closure was a real kick, but what really hurt was the apparent lack of care as they offered no alternative and simply waved him and the other students off in to the sunset. This felt very out of kilter with Joel's and our experience of the college during the year.

Then late in the evening we got the heartbreaking news that the UK had re-instituted its Covid Travel
Red List and South Africa was right at the top of it. Quite simply this means Christmas as we had planned it with family in the UK is cancelled. This is hard to take given that we haven't been to Blighty as a family for five years and haven't had a family Christmas there in eleven years.

However, I'm not going to focus on the bad news, but rather focus on the amazing blessing poured out in our lives yesterday, and we are incredibly thankful to God for his awesome faithfulness!


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