Life has not been easy since we returned to Cape Town from Glasgow in early May!
We had a fantastic 3 weeks in Glasgow spending time with our family and friends. We met Sam, our new grandson, who is an absolutely adorable and contented baby. We were able to look after Freya while Ruth and Justin were working so got to see her personality developing (she may look like Justin, but she is definitely her mother’s daughter with the gift of the gab!). There were lots of highlights of the trip including Lorna spending her birthday surrounded by family. Don was able to visit Dumfries Baptist Church, a church which he designed, and it is now completed with the congregation and community using the facilities as envisaged. We were really thrilled to be able to be present when Adam and Cindy were baptised together and shared their testimonies.
However, just four days before returning Lorna found a lump in her breast.
We are very fortunate that our church supports us by funding our Medical Aid here, so she was able to be seen quickly by our GP in Cape Town and referred for further tests, but it turned out following a biopsy to be a cancerous tumour requiring surgery. It was difficult hearing this news and being so far away from family but we both felt we should stay here meantime and our family fully supported this decision. Lorna underwent an extensive lumpectomy and reconstructive surgery in a 4-hour operation in early June less than 2 weeks after diagnosis. The procedure was successful from the physical point of view and Lorna is healing well after a period of real pain and discomfort. But despite full and encouraging pathology results with clear margins and no lymph-node involvement, Lorna’s oncologist was keen for her to have a further definitive genetic test. This is to determine if she is high or low-risk for return of the cancer. If she is found to be high-risk this could result in difficult decisions having to be made which could take us home, bringing our work here in South Africa to an end just as we feel it is getting started. We’re currently awaiting these results.
As I am sure you can imagine, all of this came as a complete shock and there has been many tears shed, mostly by Lorna, but we are still confident of our call here to Cape Town. We have been supported by our families and showered with love and care from our colleagues and church family here who have recognised how far from home we feel at this time. Amid all these mixed emotions there have been many middle-of-the-night discussions and long walks talking over what this might mean for us. But despite at times feeling very low, Lorna’s faith in God’s hand on her life has never wavered, and Don has been able to provide support, fully assured of God’s purpose in bringing us here.
This has been a season when our belief that we are ‘no longer slaves to fear’ (from Romans 8:15) comes into sharp focus and we therefore trust God for His outcome during this real time of trial. But it is also important to recognise that often trials come in direct opposition to what God is doing.
On the last Sunday in April at our home Church of Bearsden Baptist, we shared a little bit about the work we are involved in and our hopes and plans for the future. We also showed a video we had made in Sweet Home Farm about the potential of building a Community Hall there and the many opportunities this could give the local people. We also posted this on our blog site and Facebook & ‘Givey’ pages in the hope that some people may feel able to help contribute to this project. However, we were totally overwhelmed by the generous response by so many people, some of whom we do not know personally, and by the time of our return to Cape Town we had raised 40% of the original target figure of £40,000.
But it has always been our hope that some of the money raised for the community hall would come from Cape Town as it demonstrates to the community in Sweet Home Farm that their fellow citizens understand and acknowledge the need on their door-step and are willing to help. Our church here, called ‘Connect’, is actively developing an “Agents of Change” programme by identifying the many people in the church that are involved in social justice within NGO’s and supporting them in that work. As part of this programme Connect had a showcase Sunday on the 20th of May for all the organisations to share about their work and we were both able to have a stall explaining the work of UBU and NewDay United and the potential overlap of the Sweet Home Farm Community Hall project. We spent nearly the entire day talking to members of the congregation at all 3 services, many who were very interested, and were quite exhausted and hoarse by the evening. Two days later we were completely blown away when we received the remaining amount of the community hall fund into the NewDay bank account. God is so good. What we thought would take at least 9 months had taken less than four weeks with the majority, 60%, of the funds coming from Cape Town! God definitely wants this hall built.
In conclusion, we are so excited that a group of young adults are coming out from Bearsden Baptist Church in early July to work alongside the NewDay United team in Khanyisa. They will lead a holiday club for the local primary children in the morning and a music and drama workshop for the teenagers in the afternoon. With 3 weeks to go, the number of children signed up for the morning was 150 with 50 teenagers in the afternoon. In support of this, we have organised a fundraising ceilidh on the middle weekend of their trip. After all this they are going to need a couple days rest to recover and hopefully enjoy a few sightseeing trips in order to see both sides of this amazing city.
We knew our time here was not going to be an easy ride but we are so grateful to have so many people, both here and at home, who encourage us and support us through the highs and lows.
Thank you to all of you.
‘I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out – plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.’
Jeremiah 29:11 (The Message)