Well here we are in 2020 and already into March. The months since our last blog have been full of “peaks and pits”.
As we had reported in our last blog, ‘Peaches and Streams’, we had applied back in September for a further 3-year visa as we still feel a call on our lives to be here in Cape Town and had a peace that if this is where God still wants us to be then the complicated and emotionally exhausting bureaucracy would be smooth… It was! We received a further 3-year visa within the record time of 7 weeks, almost unheard of here. So, we continue to trust we are in the right place for now.
Due to the knowledge that our previous visa expired on 1st December we booked flights at the end of November and we were able to spend 5 weeks at home with the family. We had a very special time as we were able to stay in our own home for the first time in over 3 years and had room for family and friends to stay. We spent lots of time with Freya and Sam and they were able to have sleep overs with Papa and Gogo.
Lorna’s sister Marion turned 60 in early December and we enjoyed the family’s tradition of a celebratory drink at “Stumps” in Partick followed a few days later by a great party where we danced all night to the playlist that Marion had chosen. That made it an eclectic mix of music from Patsy Cline to Queen and Abba.
Also, while home, Lorna had her annual check-up appointment at The Beatson in December and all appeared to be well so will only need to return at the same time next year. She is, to all intents and purposes, back to full health and strength with only very occasional days of extreme fatigue if she is too busy.
Those of you following the blog will know that Lorna had an exciting visitation from representatives from the Department of Health in October to discuss partnership with Newday United and the potential of a local clinic in Tambo village, situated between Manenburg and Gugulethu. There is currently 850,000 people living in this relevant health hub area of Cape Town with limited access to health care and the DoH stretched for the required resources to meet the demands. The meeting was incredibly positive with the DoH agreeing to partner with NDU to develop a basic health clinic with the emphasis on chronic disease management. However, 5 months later, in true “This is Africa” style, with the wheels of government turning very slowly, Lorna is still waiting for the partnership proposal.
In the meantime, not to be put off, she is developing a basic wellness centre at Khanyisa Church. 50 enthusiastic local people attended the first programme which will now be repeated regularly, covering chronic disease topics and health issues. She has also been asked by another organisation involved in promoting healthy working conditions to provide some training to staff. The rest of the NDU programmes have all started and demand is high with a waiting list for Computer Learning, 20 attending the latest ‘Work 4 a Living’ course and 60 children attending the ‘Hluma’ the after-school daily.
As far as UBU is concerned, things continue to be a bit frustrating, with the formation of a new centre to locate a manufacturing/meeting/training base still just out of reach. However, a local businessman in a great location has offered a temporary building, which would be perfect for this, together with adjacent land for the eventual building of a permanent home…all rent free. But this offer was made back in November, with a promise that UBU could be in possession sometime in January! Watch this space (I think we’ve said that before)!
Despite this, UBU have continued to build, recently completing the classroom for Ikhaya Le Themba (Home of Hope) in a township called Imazamo Yethu in Hout Bay. It was a different and challenging project involving inclusion of design cues from the existing Ikhaya Le Themba buildings, and the involvement of a team of 30 enthusiastic American volunteers, together with input from the teenagers who are now benefiting from the completed build. On many levels this was a successful project which is now demonstrating to the local community the many positive assets of sandbag construction. Don is hoping that this ultimately results in home building in Imazamo Yethu, but there has also already been communication over further classroom builds.
Elsewhere, UBU has received a firm instruction to commence the building of the long-awaited two-storey Early Childhood Development centre in Khayelitsha, and awaits the final green light relative to up to 9 houses to be built with/by the community at Mshini Wam in the North of Cape town… we need that base, and soon!
We are extremely fortunate that our family keep in regular touch through Facetime and we appreciate that we probably see and hear from our children and grandchildren more than many people who live closer to family and we are grateful for this… but nothing really beats a hug.
More recently we have had the pleasure of John and Carina, our Pastor and his wife visiting us from Bearsden Baptist Church, as they spent 3 weeks of their sabbatical with us. We have been able to show them our work, meet our colleagues and introduce them to our friends, connections and Connect Church family. We are so blessed to be supported by our home church and we know that John and Carina won’t hold back sharing with others all they have experienced here in this beautiful city of extremes.
Life will continue to be busy in the next two months as both Don’s sisters and brother-in-laws are coming to visit separately in March and April. We will be able to spend time with them all as they enjoy a holiday in the sun, and see something of what we are doing in this small corner of South Africa with all its various faces. This contact with home helps us stay connected and feel less homesickness as the truth is it is getting more difficult to return to South Africa following each visit home. In this respect, God has been good and provided real encouragement. While we had a few days ‘decompression’ in Knysna following our visit home and before our return to work a complete stranger from the campsite approached us and nervously stated he felt God had asked him to speak to us. He confirmed that he knew absolutely nothing about us but went on to say that he felt God wanted us to know that, despite our disappointments and frustrations, we were ‘in the right place at the right time’, and that ‘we haven’t seen anything yet’. Wow!
‘Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” ‘
Exodus 14: 13-14 (NIV)