The LIGHT has come!

29 12 2011

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Theme words are not really my thing.  There will be an idea that I mull on for a bit, but normally a few words and concepts vie for meditative space and then a different concept comes along again.

The last week or so the idea of LIGHT has thrilled me.

My grandfather, a missionary from Sweden to South Africa for over 60 years, prayed consistently for ‘morke morke Afrika’: Dark, dark Africa. On so many nights in Uganda when our electricity is out, I cannot help but think of the physical darkness. And across so much of Africa a spiritual darkness remains. Things done in secret, evil hearts of people, so many who have never heard.

We had a special extended family evening of carols on 23 Dec : with a choice of meaningful songs, treasured Scripture and a precious atmosphere left me valuing the birth of Christ.  A Swedish uncle and his wife were visiting with us and we got to sing some Swedish carols, which we don’t do very often.  The Swedish hymn “Nu tandas tussen juleljus” – (Now we light 1000  Christmas candles) is one of my favourites.

As we were singing  one verse resounded with me:

I varje hjärta armt  och mörkt

Sänd du en stråle blid

En stråle av Guds kärleks ljus

I signad juletid

In every heart, poor, and dark
You send a gentle ray
A ray of God’s love light at this
Blessed Christmas time
.

It was impossible not to sing the words as a prayer.  For those in my family who are still in darkness.  For friends. For people we have met the last while in South Africa.  For people in Uganda.  At this time of Christmas especially would the light of truth shine on Christ and His coming.  May people be called to Him through this marvelous light.

We also sang a well-known Swedish singer’s version of Silent Night:

Stilla natt, heliga natt!
Mörkret flyr, dagen gryr.
Räddningstimman för världen slår,
Nu begynner vårt jubelår.
Kristus till jorden är kommen.
Oss är en frälsare född.

Silent night, holy night!
The darkness flees, the day dawns.
The time of Salvation  has arrived for the world

Now begins our jubilee.
Christ  has come to the world. 
Unto us a Saviour is born.\

As there was great rejoicing in the heavens at the time of Christ’s birth, so our carols should be joyful and grateful – the Light has come!  The night must flee!  The salvation for the whole world, the wonderful gift is here.   If you know what it is like to try to do essential tasks in the darkness, you would understand how welcome light is.  It is so much easier to move, to know where you are going and where to place yourself to avoid injury, to get ahead and to do what needs doing.  How blessed to have that spiritual gift of Light!  For all the world, for all to see – to know where to go.  To avoid spiritual harm to our souls – all made possible because the Light of the world has come.  Now begins our jubilee!  I praise our Saviour for His gift of the eternal Light, come as a helpless baby –to pay the price of all darkness.  Him in whom no darkness dwells came to a dark stable, to a dark world, to give a chance to escape the dark ourselves.  How amazing.  Jubilee! 

So it was in lightness and happiness I enjoyed this time.  With family across Gauteng, with family from across the world, to enjoy the Light who has come.

And this morning we received a text message to come and lighten the loads of others.

Baby Moses Baby sanctuary (www.babymoses.co.za) is closely linked up with our SA home church, Gemeente sonder Grense (GSG) – Congregation without borders.  We love the social involvement of our church.  One of the big projects they are involved with is a farm, ExSight.  The farm is being developed bit by bit to make a difference to many people. 

The newest development is for the Baby Moses homes. They are opening a new house on the farm – an awesome space with huge trees, lots of lovely animals to play with and such a great place to grow up.  Baby Moses is doing a really important job – there are great numbers of babies who are abandoned, orphaned, and needing love across SA.  The need for new houses grows daily, so God providing this house is an answer to prayers.

BUT the house needs a LOT of work before it can be livable – The walls are cracked, whole spaces need to be fixed up… it needs work!  We went along to help for a while this morning and were so encouraged to see things moving forward.

Can you see the Light of Christ?  N, our pastor’s daughter, gets stuck in with so much enthusiasm.  And on the right there is Lanie, the big mamma of all the Baby Moses houses – on the floor, serving in real ways, not just the cootshy-cuddling of babies. 

Prayers for the growth and needs of this home would be so appreciated – a lot still needs to happen before they open at the end of January.

Blessings for a stunning 2012 for all of you!

 

Undo edits





Gatherings and blossomings

23 12 2011

This week has been busy and a bit unusual for the week before Christmas.

We have packed all our things from where it was all being stored, in the garage of our previous home.  The house has been sold (totally miraculously: the housing market is in a slump at the moment and in the same area other places are just not selling.  Our place sold when the agent was banging in the board on the pavement – God REALLY cares about His own!)

So goods are now spread all over for many to use and some things are in storage until we have a home space that is a permanent base again.  For now we are between several spaces, but are SO excited to be a big step closer to a dream fulfilled:

We have signed the papers to buy our house in a game reserve, in the Limpopo province of SA.  Since we have been together we have dreamed of a nature-surrounded house, with a big stoep (verandah) and lots and lots of trees.  Our new space is about 200 m from the Oliphants river, with amazing mountain views.  The living space needs a bit of work but the reserve is lovely, and has tight security.  We have a water feature to attract animals to drink and are surrounded by the awesomeness of creation.  I cannot stop myself from thinking, saying and singing it – God is so mind-blowingly beyond us and it is an amazing blessing to know His favour.

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As soon as we get to being at our spot for a while I will have a lot more pictures of the entire reserve and all that it offers.  There is so much to experience and live for still! 

 

Besides that (which has taken up a lot of head space and a bit of time!) we have looked at flowers – blooms are rare in Mbale – the humidity and sun don’t work for many of them!

And hung around A LOT with family.  How amazing to have special people gathered from all over the world to enjoy life with.

 

Blessings for Christmas – but I hope to send a blog your way tomorrow too with some special thoughts for the days of celebrating Christ.





the South African bushveld has my heart forever… and ever…

18 12 2011

You will probably see the term bushveld here often.  It refers to a unique biome in SA. ‘veld’ is from Dutch, which has influenced Afrikaans extensively.  There is a ring of the word ’field’ in it and it refers to open spaces, typically grassland.  Bushveld is the amazing space God created for us South Africans to really enjoy – trees of various sizes and shapes spread across open grasslands in differing constellations and it is the type of vegetation I really love.  The amount of birdlife is vast, there is usually some shade to relish on a hot day and the trees are cummings-like: full of leaping greenly spirits.

We had a few days of rest in the Hoedspruit part of SA’s bushveld.  We stayed on a game farm, in a lovely chalet, with massive rock outcrops jutting into the air, and awesome bushveld views to admire from the bedroom window.  Just what the soul needed.

Getting internet access has been a little difficult in the last week, so here is a bit of a catch up.  We spent last Sunday night in Entebbe, at a guesthouse overlooking a part of Lake Victoria.  We were treated to a most glorious sunset

We don’t always get a full view of sunsets from Mbale, so this wide open view totally grabbed our attention. 

We also got to spend a few hours with my new friend Abby – by pure chance we were flying out of Entebbe within a few hours of each other, so we cloud catch up on the few months since we had seen each other and provide a reasonable way to spend the time without being bored in an airport! 

 

Of course, catching up on Good African Coffee and a bookshop was also fun and knowing that we were putting work aside for a while was a rather difficult mental space to adjust to.

On reaching SA, all we wanted to do was SLEEP!  But we managed to get in a bit of time with Deon’s mom before setting out on Tuesday for ‘Hoedies”, as the locals call the town.  If you are in SA for a few days and want a town where there is lots to do, this is it. So many game drive places, animal rehabilitation places, private game reserve places and even a few fishing places.  Good eating places around too!

So, from a perfect bushveld getaway, we got to:

Enjoy good bonfires and luscious bush rainstorms

take a step closer to fulfilling a dream

delight in lavish landscapes

appreciate the splendour of a magnificent Creator

Just drink in all the bush flowers (we don’t see nearly so many in Uganda!)

see more of the wildlife we love

This was a particularly amazing spot – always one of my favourites in Kruger Park, near to Satara camp.

I took this as a panorama, but wanted to explain – far left under a tree was a group of ten lion. The spot near the back is a big elephant bull drinking.  Near the front right is a pod of hippos.  Far to small in this picture are the baboons, geese, waterbuck and zebras in the background.  Kruger is not like this always, but at moments like this… AH.  Too good for words.

Here is a bit of a closer look at the lions:  (they were far so camera battled)

enjoying slow mornings on the verandah with coffee, good rusks and lots of birds to keep the eyes busy

who could resist a swim in this wonderfully cool pool on a hot African day?

And more totally awe-inspiring sunsets.

I am soul-ed out to the bushveld!  (even more so to the Creator of the bushveld!)





week gone by and packing

10 12 2011

I had wonderful pics to share yesterday but both Deon and I have been so bone weary it has taken much to gather strength for all we need to do. 

I wonder if this protein seen for sale on the street this week would have made much difference?

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(I only had my phone, which is not great, and had to pay for taking these pics too)!   Those are GRASSHOPPERS!  Sold in wound paper cones, or by the cup, these are great treats for people in Uganda, and have been around in abundance for a while.  This man sells them for UGX 6000 a cup – about $2,50. 

No, I did not sample them, even roasted as they are here.  To mee, they look good going down in these: (This was at Entebbe hotel on the way back in from Dar es Salaam).

There were many grasshoppers around, and the monkeys were very quick to catch them and down them.  It made for great entertainment: seeing monkeys climbing trees and shaking leaves for grasshoppers to fall out and gobble up and eat.  Even the tiny one got into it and loved the food!

Where did it go?  So tough to see the green of the body in all that grass…

 

 

Great to know that not only people look bad in foodie shots!

 

 

 

 

 

So, perhaps as a result of lack of grasshopper protein, we have to direct our energy wisely! We have en\joyed a bit of Christmas spirit – totally recycled wreath (cardboard and fabric scraps from one of the seamstresses in town) and poinsettia from our tree in the garden – it is looking wonderful and we don’t have to do much to keep it going!) 

There has been quite a bit of sunshine the last three days and we last had rain on Tuesday, and it has been great to enjoy the benefits of drying washing, less muddy roads and the birds appreciating the sunshine too.  We love watching the birds which have now learned that we put out food in the mornings.  They devour our offerings and offer great joy by their presence. There are sometimes 8 bulbuls eating at a time!   (Some more pics at the end)

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I have been sorting and trying to get some of the ladies’ knitted goods sold in town.  I have far too many phone socks to sell ANYWHERE.  But at least I know the ladies can make those now!  I will have a few items to sell in SA, and am trying to think through the best ways/ places to sell things.  But it is my greater wish that the ladies will learn to sell themselves, hence the business skills classes.

wanale lights 032

wanale lights 034The sunlight has been dancing on Wanale Ridge- and we are not yet bored with watching the beauty and wonder of the ridge. 

And then just enjoying the garden a bit.

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We are SO looking forward to a bit of a break.  It seems that our energy is totally UP.  We head out to SA early Monday morning, and are going to a wilderness area for a few days. Then lots of time with family, and we need to pack and store our (sold) SA house too. Ah.  Much still to do this year!

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PLEASE NOTE THAT ALL PHOTOGRAPHS ARE COPYRIGHTED TO US! 





party delayed and some help

7 12 2011

One piece of advice I received when doing missions training years ago was not to write letters when feeling down – the news would come across as far too negative.  Last night was a very down night and my thoughts were trying to process what had happened during the day. 

Yesterday afternoon. The table was set out. Multihued leaves covered a table cloth, specially chosen to look good for Christmas.   Sodas had been bought (in pouring rain) and a cake was baked.  The floors, left in a mess from a few days before, were swept and the venue was ready.  I had spent hours thinking about and then putting together gift bags for each student.  Certificates of achievement had been written out. 

And I sat and waited.

And I waited.

In disappointment and frustration at the futility of all my efforts. 

As I sat on the plastic chair before the room I looked at all the empty plastic chairs around the table.  The soda bottles, and straws, waiting to be used.  Just lying there.  Not serving their intended purpose at all.

There was another story mentioned in Luke ( 14:15-24) that my thoughts were drawn to.  A huge feast, far more lavish than our little party, was set out for invited guests.  A messenger, perhaps several, scurried out of the festive home to call the guests – things were ready for their arrival!  The party was about to begin!

And I am certain that the messengers were very hesitant to return to the Master with the news.  Several excuses.  And the guests would not be attending.

Getting married, purchase of new land – all totally good excuses that would get a person out of several important tasks in our world now.

But the excuses would keep the invited ones from the celebration.  There would be no party at all for them. 

I knew what the excuse would be – the rain came pouring down soon before 3.  I knew it would keep the invited ones from arriving.  But still – they would miss out. 

 

There is a celebration far more significant, as we have been reading about in our Ladies Bible study group.  What a celebration.  And if one looks at Revelation in detail judgment pales in comparison to the number of chances and the longing with which the Master seeks company at the feast.  He longs for all to come and gives chance after chance and longs for the company of His creation. 

In Luke the messengers were sent out to look in the alleyways and scummy hangouts, where we would not really like to be seen.  Gather those ones – those the world often despises.  Gather the ones who are hungry, rejected, physically restricted by different kinds of bonds. 

Still there was place. And still the Master waited for more to be invited, longing to see every place filled. 

Oh, how He loves us.  How amazing that we are welcomed.  With our blind spots, our lame ideas, our crippling hang-ups.  We who seek to hide in alleys, and sometimes even choose a gutter.  He calls us to come.  He longs to share His feast with us.  Not a simple meal.  Not a large Christmas dinner, even.  But a huge, massive wedding feast to stave off hunger in those who are malnourished and satisfy the longings of every soul.

Oh, God. Help that I get past excuses.  Let me not be kept from meeting with you because of even valid things that get in the way.  May I be one who is hungering and thirsting for righteousness. May I come running to your feasts.  May I run eagerly even for quiet humble meals with You.  I don’t want to be held back by anything. Not once.

But I was challenged to look beyond me too. The need to reach others and bring them to the table struck me most. What a huge table is waiting.  How the Father must long to see so many there – He is waiting and waiting, sending out messengers throughout all the world, again and again.  The challenge to fill every space remains.  May not one of these that we are working with  here in Uganda miss out.  The mind space of excuses thrives here.  May that not be a stumbling block to keep one soul away from the feast. 

And all the other nations.  The Spirit and the Bride say COME to each one.  Please continue to pray.  Pray for laborers who are strong and committed to go into all the world.  There are hundreds and thousands of opportunities to minister.  Pray for the space right where you are.  So many in ‘developed’ countries see no need for a Saviour when they are perfectly able to run their lives and feed themselves.  Pray that they would realise that life is meaningless if it is all about the now.  If there is no thought given to that marriage Feast of the Lamb, then life is utterly vapid.  So many at places at the table await souls to fill them.  We are perhaps the last generation.  Will our prayers, our going, our seeking out the lost for God’s spirit to save them, will this be what finally brings the Lamb back to claim His own?

I got a tiny sense of how it must hurt our Father – He has set everything out – will the cost be futile for so many?  As I sat  mulling, even fermenting in my disappointment, the rain dried up. The students arrived and we could go on.  Although they were late the party continued. I had considered leaving – an hour later than we should have started – but the people came. And we partied. 

(I did use this parable of the Feast as my talk for yesterday; urging excuses to be done away with.)

The spaces were filled and the ladies enjoyed themselves, as I had hoped!

(the goodie bags and certificates in the pic were the suggestions of the ladies – so proud of what they received!)

And then today arrived. 

Last week I had waited 20 minutes and then drove off when the ladies did not arrive where I said I would meet them.  Today they were there, waiting! WOW! 

My heart thrilled as we headed to the house next to where we live and the 15 orphan girls who live in that home.  The principle I long for the ladies to get is that something only becomes meaningful to us if we can give some of it away.  God’s blessing to Abraham in Gen 12:2, he would be blessed and through Abraham all the nations of the world would be blessed – that is something we live by.  If God blesses us it is so that we can bless others.

So we were going to bless.  There is no way that my little leftie self could teach all those girls (and their minders) how to knit – but the ladies did me proud!  There were a few hiccups but things turned out so well: the girls learned, some quickly and some with much difficulty.  They strained over too-tight yarn, they fumbled with the needles – but they appreciated the time of somebody sitting close, spending moments of a attention on them alone. 

There were a few painful thumbs to love (this was not a knitting injury, but from an accident yesterday!)

and a few babies to step over and keep entertained (my ladies brought their babies with)

But I feel there was a sense of accomplishment.  At having given time when there could have been an excuse.  At learning new skills that may provide some form of income. At spending time, face to face, perhaps with arms entwined, sharing hearts and lives.

Forget Mo-vember! We are creating some mo-moments in knitting!

And smiles like this speak deep into my heart…





k-whaaaap!

5 12 2011

That is the sound of unexpected events.  Yesterday all was going merrily and then – k-whaaap!  This morning I woke up with a pathetically excruciating headache, which eventually pushed me to see a doctor – the first thought I had was malaria, as there were a few other symptoms that seemed to fit the picture. 

I sat waiting for about an hour.  Wait.  I hunched over, grasping my head for about an hour.  Besides the pain and nausea, I was really uncomfortable with the sounds around me: crying babies, who just kept on wailing.  I felt so helpless but also realised these little bodies have no other way to deal with the pain.  When I saw the good doctor I was immediately taken to a room to lie down for a while, given a shot, blood was drawn and pills brought to help with head pain.  Soon I was swimming among the clouds and it was fiiiiine up there! 

We could not figure out what the cause is, but I feel much better after a day of taking things slower, and the meds helped too.  Prayers from family make a HUGE difference too! funny-pictures-orange-meh-cat

 

I think my Ma feels like meh-kitty too:  She had two skin cancers removed today and it is not much fun.  Please would you join me in praying that this will be the last of them, that the cuts will recover well and that there will not be bad scarring.  (one cut is on the lip and will make eating difficult.  Pray for a way to manage that too, please.)

 

 

 

 

 

kate

And then – a big K_WHAAAP , WELL DONE, WINNER!

Kate’s comment, #1, was drawn by dear Deon my DH.  A parcel of Ugandan goodies will be on its way soon. 

Kate is a buddy from a special group of people on ravelry.com, the knitting and crochet community that I belong to.  Kate’s gorgeous ravatar is included here – so pretty. 

 

Please comment when you feel you have something to add, suggest or if something here makes you think differently.  It means so much when people interact across the screens of colour.





jewels and geology

4 12 2011

I knew very little of the world of geology before I met Deon.  There are so many people from the world of education, several in medicine, but no geologists.  There are so many times that I am so amazed at how well Deon just KNOWS what he is doing:  He can give a glimpse at a rock and get a really good sense of what is happening with the contents, minerology and a bit of confirmation with equipment usually proves that his hunches are right.  I have learned a good amount about this world since we have been together and I am always eager to learn something new. 

There are several benefits of being married to a geologist:  Rocks are more interesting the older they get… my substance should fascinate him more as I age too!  The fun thing that I so love is getting to travel with Deon when that is permitted.

We got to spend an amazing night at an old diamond mine last year, as an example.  This was a space in the middle of the Karroo in SA: dry plains, with a multitude of stars gleaming in the night, and experiences to spark imagination for months to come!

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There are times that I have seen diamonds soon after they have been retrieved or a few other gems, although these are not the common minerals Deon goes in search of.

 

A little while ago I got to see the magical impact of Deon’s work on the imagination of others too.  The main mineral Deon is investigating at the moment is vermiculite… not one of the glamorous gems, to be sure, but it can still be fun!

Vermiculite is found in ‘booklet form’ – flaky pieces that can easily be separated.  It is shiny, but cannot be used easily for jewelry!  The main use is for industry: heat and sound insulation among other uses, and the way that most people probably come across vermiculite is in a garden centre as it helps to improve soil’s water retention and fertilisation. 

Vermiculite is usually expanded by heat before it is useful.  And even a candle’s heat can show some of this expansion, so I took some with to school a way ago so that the children could see vermiculite.  And the surprise of the day was that the one most interested in this rather uninspiring mineral (compared to gold, platinum or silver) was B!  She took a big piece to admire, and tried to expand her pieces in the heat a few times over.  Soon After break there was time for writing and, a girl after my own heart, B jumped into a topic that related to seeing the vermiculite:

(See the chunk of vermiculite on the desk, there in the corner?)

Some excerpts from the story – This would be my best day ever.

I would be working in a mine and I found many jewals. Good heavens! I’d say.  I never thought I’d ever get this many jewals! I would say.  I got 1000 jewels!  … I gasped. “Calirupus gems!  I am takeing these home…!

This story delighted me.  The joy of making a new name (don’t Calirupus gems sound gorgeous?).  The delight of new discoveries.  The great exclamations – so thrilling.

 

How I long to be so delighted at finding God’s ‘jewals’ all around every day.  The blessings of 1000 gems that there may be, waiting to be found.  The delight of sharing these with others, in many ways.  Good heavens!  There is so much to be delighted in, and one does not need to be a geologist to really grasp the value that there is.

 

Jewels I am thankful for today:

#203 – Getting a bit of time to relax on the weekend.

#204 – Dreaming, realistically, of a house in the bush

#205 – Friends. 

#206 – Going out for coffee with a friend, just for friendship sake, for the first time   in   years.   (I can’t say how grateful I am for Stephanie!)

#207 – Electricity for most of the weekend.

#208 – Sweet spot of sun AND electricity for a bit to do washing.

#209 – shiny things that make life pretty

#210 – Looking forward to home trip in a week!

#211 – God’s grace over our families.

#212 – Calirupus creations.

# 213 – joy of Christ’s coming; over and over and over.