Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy Birthday

I've had a happy birthday today. It started off with conducting a Memorial Service in the morning - where I chatted to friends I did not know would be there. This was followed by lunch with a friend, Gwen. We chatted so long that the waiter had to come and tell us that the restaurant was wanting to close - that was a first for me!! Then we had tea together as a family, and there was much removing of sellotape and paper from various parcels - I have been very spoilt. Lots of phone calls and sms's. Tonight we are joining friends for a bring-and-braai end of year celebration. It's great having a birthday on the last day of the year - there is always a party somewhere to join and celebrate the year that is past and the year that is to come.

Blessings and Shalom to all who visit this blog!

Sunday, December 30, 2007


Technology generally, as I understand it, is meant to save time and increase efficiency. But it can also do the opposite - often and repeatedly - as our experience with homeDSL proves. We had this ADSL installed so that internet could be available more readily to our student sons (and the rest of us!) who need to download lectures, materials, etc etc. And it all works fine until the line doesn't work. For the past month the DSL light has been flashing (perhaps I should more politely say winking), which means that the internet is interrupted or not available when most needed. Phone calls to Telkom made no difference - until today a technician pitched up, fiddled on the line, and then said it was the surge protector that gives problems. So the line is connected directly to the modem and no longer through the surge protector. But has this helped? Not really! The line is still being interrupted, and the light blinks at me, and the internet goes off - and then it comes on again but too late to remain on the same page/ link and one has to do manipulations to continue what one was busy with. It's not just the internet that gets interrupted - when busy with a phone call that too gets cut/ interrupted and one has to dial again. This really irritates me - but I must say that I will continue to persevere. I hate writing and even this time-waster way of doing things is better than putting pen/ pencil to paper and sending things snail-mail. I guess I am just another sucker for punishment!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Family 2007

It is not often that we are all together, so when we are, someone (in this case Adri - Allan's girlfriend) is pressed into taking a photo of us! So here we are, left to right: Paul (2nd year Medicine at Tukkies), Beryl (carrying on regardless and trying to lose weight!), Ned (also carrying on regardless, and not as grey as Beryl!), Richard (4th year Electronic Engineering at Tukkies), Ian (Senior Medical Officer at Rob Ferreira Hospital in Nelspruit and newly engaged to Julz - previous blog), Allan (2nd year Internship at Helderberg Hospital in Somerset West). This is the first year that we were not all together for Christmas. Allan and Adri spent a week with us from 10th to 17th December; Ian will be with us for a few days from 28th Dec. It seems strange to have only half the off-spring around on Christmas Day - but I guess we will have to get used to diminishing numbers as they go forward in their own lives. Look forward to further multiplication in the future - there's the hope!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Christmas - where has it gone?

Check out this link

Looking Back

We drove up (and down!) the Sani Pass while on holiday in the Drakensberg on Monday 3rd Dec. One can only drive it in a 4x4 vehicle - which we did in the Hundai Tucson that Ned bought just before we went to Mocambique on outreach in June/July this year. This picture is a view up the pass, between the South African and Lesotho border posts. If you judge the road to be what it looks like in the foreground, you'll be in for a surprise. As you look at the winding road up ahead, you can see that it will be a bit of a challenge, but you don't really know what you are up against until you actually drive it and experience it. This is pretty much how I have experienced life - knowing the direction in which I am travelling but not really knowing what I will encounter on the way.

Oftentimes I have wondered what the purpose of the journey is, and whether I have perhaps chosen a way that I should not be on - maybe because the going has been rough and the lessons learned difficult, or the degree of perseverance required a bit too overwhelming to reflect on. But then I look back, and, as with this picture taken a few hundred metres from the Lesotho border post, I see where I have come from - the terrain that I have mastered - as seen by the rocks and boulders that constitute the road in the foreground. I see more of the beauty that I missed on the upward journey, and the river snaking below the winding road - and I realize that constant refreshment has been at hand all the time - that I have been accompanied and shadowed by the Living God symbolized by the abundant, flowing waters of the river. And I see the steady rise in altitude that I have made - drawing ever closer to God through my journey.
At the top of the Pass, on the South African side of the border fence seen on the right, were two Lesotho gentleman preparing to journey down the Pass with their cargo of sheep. We were intrigued by how they were secured with a rope net. I suppose had they not been secured that way the temptation for the them to jump out and escape would have been too great as the bakkie slowly bounced over the rocky places down the pass road. I too have often wanted to bail out during seemingly treacherous times or times when I have been in the dark and wondered what on earth I was doing and where I was going. But there has always been something that restrained me, something that said 'hang in there/ keep going' - something like this protective net securing the sheep.
Driving into Lesotho for about 12Km, it was remarkable how cold it was - in the middle of summer in the middle of the day the temperature outside was 12C. No wonder the locals walk around with blankets wrapped around them! The vegetation was scrubby - like the karoo - with not much grass. Dry. So it must be in the rain-shadow as where we had come from was wet and green. Its surprising how one encounters areas of aridity and drought in the midst of lush, green regions. We were left wondering how the people make a living as there hardly seemed enough vegetation for the sheep and goats to graze and browse on. A reminder to me of how God sustains me during times of paucity and famine.
Looking back along the road we had driven into Lesotho - back towards the Border Post - the road was not as dramatically steep or rocky - more of a gentle rise through the plains at the top of the berg.
During the past while I have been wrestling with the Lord about future direction, having got to a place and achieved a goal that He set before me. I suppose that I have felt a bit like Elijah after his triumph over the prophets of Baal at Mt Carmel - in need of rest and a fresh vision for ministry. God's words to Elijah - 'go back the way you came' - now make sense to me. As I look back over the Sani Pass from where we traveled and l see where we came from; and as we traveled the downward route to the bottom of the Pass again, revisiting what we had already passed through and over but with a different perspective and new appreciation of the journey and all that it had entailed, I now have a fresh perspective and elements to reflect on in my own journey in life, which I expect to contribute to a fresh vision and direction.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Speaking Out

Mugabe's supporters are claiming that his visit to Lisbon this past weekend was a triumph!

Note what the Archbishop of York says

Comment from The Daily Telegraph (UK), 11 December

John Sentamu once again made us sit up

By Liz Hunt

John Sentamu is a world-class showman who is divinely inspired. To mark his enthronement at York Minster two years ago, he updated the feeding of the 5,000 by holding a picnic for 3,000, courtesy of M&S. Eight months later, he shaved his head, pitched a tent inside the minster and spent seven high-profile days fasting and praying. Not quite 40 days and nights wandering in a desert, I grant you, but it was the best a busy 21st-century archbishop could do to protest at the West's refusal to intervene in the bombing of Lebanon. This weekend, Dr Sentamu had his "money-changers in the temple" moment when a guest on BBC1's Andrew Marr Show. The Archbishop of York is a long-standing critic of Robert Mugabe, whom he describes as the "worst kind of racist dictator". His angry frustration with other African leaders who persist in supporting the Zimbabwean president emerged during a discussion about the EU-Africa Summit in Lisbon and Mugabe's controversial presence at it.

Suddenly, Sentamu whipped off his clerical collar. "As an Anglican, this is what I wear to identify myself, that I am a clergyman," he announced. With a dramatic flourish, he started to cut the collar into pieces with a pair of scissors that just happened to be handy. "Do you know what Mugabe has done?" he continued. "He has taken people's identity and literally, if you don't mind, cut it to pieces. So, as far as I am concerned, from now on I am not going to wear a dog-collar until Mugabe has gone." Some have dismissed it as an organised stunt (although Marr certainly looked startled); others say it was typical of the flamboyant former Ugandan high court judge who now holds the second highest office in the Church of England. It matters not to Sentamu what others think. He got the headlines he wanted: he always does. Attention was once again focused on the horrors endured by his fellow Africans whose homeland has been turned, in his words, "from a bread basket to a basket case", and whose lives and livelihoods have been destroyed by a shameless despot.

As I watched Sentamu, I wondered if Gordon Brown was watching, too, and what he might be thinking. His decision to boycott the EU meeting because Mugabe - despite a Europe-wide travel ban against him - would be there had, to some, seemed admirable. But German Chancellor Angela Merkel's spirited attack on Mugabe's human rights record had left the absent PM looking a bit of a wimp. Now, here was further humiliation, albeit unintentional, at the hands of a clergyman who preferred to speak out against Mugabe rather than register a silent protest. Dr Sentamu certainly knows a tyrant when he sees one. He survived savage beatings under Idi Amin in the 1970s after defying him on several occasions, once jailing 10 suspects whom he knew to be innocent to save them from being murdered by the president's thugs. He quit Uganda in 1974 after gaining a place at Cambridge to read theology, and since his ordination in 1979 has risen through the church hierarchy, his ebullience, humour and tendency to speak his mind undiminished by the gravitas attached to his position. Sentamu is now an accomplished media performer who never wastes a sound-bite or photo-opportunity. It would be wrong to say that he acts or speaks first and thinks later - he is too clever for that. But he is a man of instinct. Those instincts are rooted in principle and when he speaks it is with the absolute moral authority of a leader. Many are wary of him - his charisma does not sit easily with the Church's preference for monochrome clergy - but in truth there could be no better ambassador.

Monday, December 10, 2007


It's official - they are engaged! Ian and Julz (Juliette) - I&J. And now I am a mother-in-law-to-be! No longer do I have to refer to Julz as my 'girl-friend-in-law' - she is now my son's fiance. We are thrilled! It doesn't seem so long ago that I and my sister & sisters-in-law were passing around the baby clothes between us - and now there seems to be a flood of engagements and weddings occurring. How did they manage to grow up so fast? Perhaps we shouldn't have fed them so much.

It's a double celebration, as Ian celebrates his 27th birthday today. Thank you for being a wonderful son, a tremendous brother, and a great guy to have around. We love you, appreciate you, and always enjoy your particular brand of humour. Be always blessed!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Scary Stuff!

  • having a caesar under general anaesthetic, then waiting in a semi-comatose state to hear if the baby was born alive
  • driving through the Transkei in the evening, returning from a shopping trip to a town 11/2 hours away, and having your toddlers jump up and down on the back seat singing 'bumpy road, bumpy road, bumpy road' – before there were such things as safety belts for kids
  • watching your 6 year old, who has been petrified of heights since birth, doing gymnastic manoeuvers on the high bar during a competition
  • watching blood pour from wounds under the chin and over the eye-brow of your young children after various playground accidents
  • having someone else's parents bring your child home early from a hockey match because he has fallen on his shoulder and snapped his collar-bone – this before cell-phones were the norm
  • seeing a tackle from the wrong side end up with a hockey stick in your son's face, blood pouring all over the field, and the first-aider on duty yelling at you not to touch the injury because of the possibility of HIV, and you're not wearing rubber gloves
  • letting your teenager take the car out on his own immediately after passing his driver's license
  • having a blow out in the rear left tyre on the freeway when your 20year old is driving the 'combi' with seven people on board - and the car didn't roll but was brought to a smooth halt!
  • hearing that your Intern son has had a needle-stick while sewing up an HIV patient
  • saying 'bye' to your son who is driving down to the Eastern Cape on his own in a car stuffed full of his life's possessions
  • driving over Van Reenen's pass in torrential rain, at night, with lots of trucks on the road – less scary if you yourself are driving and not someone else
  • having your son drive in parking-lot type traffic with others taking chances in changing lanes – and have his father make comments, suggestions and warnings from the back seat, increasing the levels of irritation
  • driving down the very steep, rocky road, hairpin bends at the top of the Sani Pass, and not be very au fait with how to co-operate with the ABS, TCS etc systems of your 4x4 vehicle when you get into a slide

There are many more of these, but the bottom line is that the level of scariness is directly proportional to one's ability to be in control of all factors. I guess that makes me a control freak?