Here we are at the beginning of 2018 and we wish a Happy New year to all our followers and supporters. It must be our age, but the years do seem to be passing more quickly, and this last year has been no exception, spending virtually all of it in Cape Town pursuing a radically new calling on our lives. We have come to Cape Town in simple obedience and the result is that our hearts have been broken for people here who are marginalised, often forgotten, and powerless to improve their lives. They live in the grip of systemic failures that still have huge implications for individuals and whole communities years after apartheid has been legislated out of existence.
If you’ve been keeping up, you might remember that in our blog of a year ago we mused about what we would be blogging on 1st January 2018…
Well life for us is certainly very different, living and working entirely dependent on the support of others and having left behind family, friends and, relatively speaking, a more comfortable and predictable life. As we write, there has been no running water in the area we now live on the edge of drought-stricken Cape Town for 24 hours (soon to be resolved, we hope) and we are anticipating launching in to a year full of new challenges. However, our approach to these will now be based on a solid year of working alongside new and inspiring friends amid some of the squalid conditions that exist for hundreds of thousands of people in this outwardly developed City. As a result of this painful process it is true that not just our outward lives have changed but we have certainly also been changed inwardly. All of this is more bearable having experienced the love and support of so many people: family; friends from our church fellowship; work colleagues; and beyond. We can’t tell you how important this has been to us and we want to thank you all profusely.
This year we have seen our family expand with the birth of our first grandchild, Freya, and have enjoyed a trip home for her birth. Freya has even made the journey to visit us (she brought her Mum and Dad, Ruth and Justin, which was also kind of her) and over Christmas we’ve just had a short visit from Adam and Cindy, who are expecting our second grandchild in March.
We have had to move again to new accommodation having been forced out of our last flat due to the owner’s non-payment of the mortgage. But God has been good to us and this new setting is more open, with long views and a garden we can share…and is cheaper. This is the fifth move for us in about 15 months and we are looking forward to making this one last. Lorna even got a rescue-cat for Christmas!
All that aside, we now must turn our attention to the future. Lorna, together with her colleagues at NewDay United (www.newdayunited.org), is looking forward to further developments in the work at Khanyisa which she intends will include the development of a health education programme targeted at the specific needs of both care workers and community members alike. Don will continue to work alongside colleagues at UBU (www.ubu.bz) and with the community at Sweet Home Farm. The hope is that once the infrastructure works are more advanced and housing plots established, then facilitating the self-building of sandbag-housing can commence this year.
However, there is a real possibility in the shorter-to-medium term of a project which draws these two quite different aspects of our work together. The current community hall at Sweet Home Farm is poorly built, small and in a pretty dilapidated state. A new and larger building would make meetings more practical and provide a positive focus for the community during the chaos of the infrastructure works, while also making health education and promotion classes, after school homework facilities, computer learning centre and growing enterprise activities possible. The proposal would be to build using sandbag technology thus reinforcing the skills the builders in the community have already learned, provide employment, and further demonstrate the benefits of sandbag building to individuals ahead of actual house building. We are currently planning workshops so that the community leads in the design process, but current thoughts are that this could all be implemented for about the same cost as a typical UK house extension (£30K to £35K). Sourcing funding is always a challenge so if you want to know more and may be interested in partnering with us, even in a small way, then please get in touch.
Going forward, reliance on God must be our focus. He has put this challenge to us and has provided all the open doors along the way. Some reading this may not fully understand how this all works. We heard it described the other day as ‘confidence in God’ which may be more understandable than use of the word ‘faith’ for some of you. For our part we hold to the simple truth that if you have confidence in God’s leading, if you allow Him to lead you, then you will live a life of adventure, although this doesn’t necessarily mean a foreign expedition! It won’t always be comfortable, easy, or even make sense a lot of the time, but it will be the best and most fulfilling life you can live by far. Looking up, looking out!
‘I look up to the mountains;
does my strength come from mountains?
No, my strength comes from God,
Who made heaven, and earth, and the mountains.’