The title says it all, The Gathering's Soup Kitchen is a dirty, scruffy ministry which demands one gets one's hands dirty, and after running for nearly three years, and getting to know so many regulars, it's impossible not to get one's hands dirty, and do you know what? I wouldn't have it any other way!

Thursdays are brilliant (and even better in term time when our Homework Club is running).  I spend most of the morning making the soup and then in the afternoon I get to prepare the venue and then serve the soup (normally with help from Joel and one or two church members), whilst Errol provides a semblance of order outside and encourages passers-by to partake.  He's a natural evangelist.

It's very easy to look at The Gathering's Soup Kitchen and think what a nice piece of work it is without fully appreciating just how serious a need it fulfils.  It's also easy to look at the pics of the many kids that regularly come and think how cute they look, but again it's all too easy to miss just how serious the need in the community is for The Gathering's Soup Kitchen.

Homework Club

Thursday saw our last two Homework Club sessions of 2017 and each of our kids have done themselves proud.

We've had some great feedback from some of their families and hearing how certain kids have increased their maths grades from 1s to 5s and above is fantastic.

Also learning that none of our kids are repeating the year is also great news, especially for one young lad who has been stuck in Gr4 for three years!

We had so much fun at The Gathering's end of year party for our Maths@Home Homework club on Friday.

22 kids were eager to get in with a few siblings and friends trying to slip in too, but we managed to contain the numbers.

Pray For Zim

We had the privilege of calling Zimbabwe home for almost three years from 2000 to 2003 and still to this day carry a torch for the nation. Zimbabwe is quite simply the most beautiful country we’ve ever been to. Zimbos are the warmest and friendliest people you will ever meet and visitors are always bowled over by the reception they receive.

Sadly though, all has not been well in the former ‘bread basket of Africa’ and since 1999 has been the basket case of Africa, and that can be attributed to one man and his colossal ego.

We are super proud of our four learners who all got 100% in the latest Maths@Home competition.

When each of them saw their names on the login page they were thrilled and excited for what they had achieved, and rightly so.

A lot of credit goes to Precious, our facilitator, she's great with the kids and they love her.

Stay tuned too for a big announcement about our Homework Club for next year as it grows and changes. We're really excited about what's happening!


Soup For All

The Gathering's weekly Soup Kitchen is definitely the highlight of my week, from cooking the soup in the morning, to serving it in the evening and clearing up afterwards, it's pure joy to be able to serve our community.

It's also a joy to see our venue take on a real world practical use as it's packed to the brim with locals wanting soup and sandwiches.

Tekkie Walk

Last night The Gathering was invited to join with the United Reformed Church in Firgrove as they held a Prayer Walk around the community.

The walk was brilliantly organised with one person being given a ribbon (for each stop sign) and the responsibility of praying for whichever topic they had been given. Then before moving on to the next street, they tied the ribbon to the stop sign.

It’s Thursday so in social media terms that means I must be about to post my obligatory weekly pic on Instagram, which then automatically re-posts said picture on Facebook and Twitter. However, this week I’m posting the inevitable photo right here on our oft neglected blog.

This is a pic of the five (yes five!) pans The Gathering owns. Currently we’re just using the big one on the right, it’s quite large and holds 50 litres which means we can serve 200 cups of soup.

Holiday

It was pure joy to once again go to Greyton for our annual holiday. This is the seventh year we've managed it, and our souls feel refreshed for having soaked up so much fresh air, good food and great family time.

Our holiday is precious time, not least because we get so little of it out here. Dean has posted on this before, but in Blighty we used to enjoy 5 weeks of annual leave, now we don't even manage a full fortnight.

For our Silver Wedding Anniversary last year I wanted to give Paula a gift that would last but also one that had a cost, not a financial cost, but a personal one. So, starting on our anniversary last year I gave Paula the gift of letters. No, I didn't give her the alphabet, though it would have been cheaper, easier and a whole lot quicker. No, what it actually meant was that I committed to writing to her every day for a year, sending her a letter or a card.  Some letters would be posted, some I would hand to her and others were left somewhere for her to find. I know I missed a few days but looking at the little mountain of letters and cards I know did my best. But more importantly, it was a huge blessing to me and a great lesson, but more on that in a bit...

I have to say it was a lot of fun. It was great to rekindle the letter writing skill (we used to write to each other constantly before we got married), especially in this age of connectivity and constant social media interactions when pens are rarely required. The whole experience was enjoyable and the highlight was intentionally setting aside a few minutes each day to write a letter or card. It meant that for a few precious minutes all I had to do was think about Paula and what I wanted to say to her.

Those were treasured moments!

Before & After

We're thrilled to finally see The Gathering's new kitchen completed and ready for service.

It's been quite a journey getting to this point but we're thankful for all the blessings that made this possible, and to our guys at The Gathering who worked so hard to prepare the space ready for the installation. I also enjoyed sorting the plumbing and electrics, it felt like old times doing that stuff again.