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Maggie’s update from Robertson Western Cape 31st May 2018

Well I can’t quite believe it but it’s been nearly one year (June 6th) since I touched down in Cape Town SA. It’s been a crazy ride but am in total awe at the grace which has abounded around me and my life. Jesus is so faithful. I can’t express how grateful I am to Him – to think I have spent a year away from my family and friends and yet can say with all honesty “it is well with my soul”. To me this is as much a miracle as raising someone from the dead. I have proved him faithful in that if you step out of the boat, taking His hand, you can walk on the water with Him – He will not let you drown. For those of you that know me well, you know that I am most definitely a task orientated person and am happy with a structure to work with so over here I am completely out of my comfort zone as it’s all about relationships, people and most definitely little in the way of structure! God has a sense of humour!!! But I know we only grow as people when we are challenged to walk a path where we have to be completely reliant upon His grace – the easy life is boring isn’t it??????

So to update you regarding all that I’m involved in over here, please read on:

Ministry

The older generation

I continue to regularly visit Huis Le Roux (an old age home in Barry Street) to minister the love of God to all that will receive it. As I’ve been going in for quite a while now I have built up some beautiful friendships with some lovely old folk. It can be quite a challenge not speaking Afrikaans but we muddle through. Jessie is a particular delight. She is 94 years old and has lost both legs due to diabetes but joy radiates out of her and I love chatting and praying for her. I also now and again treat her to a bar of chocolate which she loves.

My friendships with the older generation in Robertson continue to grow and I love spending time with them all, hearing their stories and praying for them. Most are widows but there are a couple of couples too but you never know at their age when one of them will be called home. Lenore (84), Mabel (83) and Barbara (87) are three good friends, all widows, who have known each other a long time. They all live in their houses on their own, wanting to keep their independence as long as possible. I regularly stop in for a cup of tea and cake and to catch up on all their news. I guess Lenore is like a South African mother figure to me, as I’m like a daughter to her. She is so generous towards me, often giving me a few rand to help with a hair cut, petrol or something else. She also likes to call on me when she fancies a glass or two of vino – some of her friends frown on her occasional drinking so we go out to a winery and indulge ourselves. We laugh a lot!!!!

The younger generation

I help out with the kids club in the Vink Rivier kloof. It’s a stone throw from Johan and Marie’s farm and Kaysha (their long term missionary who lives with them) runs it. It’s great fun and very loud. The children are probably amongst the poorest I’ve met with some of them coming without shoes and in rags. I’m building their trust slowly but surely and even got some Mother’s Day cards from two of the girls – made me cry 😘.

I’m also building relationships with a few of the kloof teenage girls who need a loving mother figure in their lives who will encourage them and support them. I want to challenge some cultural norms but it’s a delicate job and I need divine wisdom to know how to navigate this path.

Kloof Ladies Tea

Once a month I support Kaysha in holding a tea for the mothers of the kids that come to kids club. Initially I found this very challenging as those of you that know me well know that I struggle with meeting new people, especially those who can hardly speak English. However, Jesus has given me the courage and I’ve now started to earn their trust and the last tea we had a couple of weeks ago was a sheer delight because I was able to have a real conversation with one or two of the mothers. They opened up to me with concerns about their children. It wasn’t a surprise to hear that their concerns are much the same as English mothers – drugs, sex, alcohol and rebellion. They are so grateful for prayer and to know that there are people standing with them believing for change.

LogosChristianSchool

I am good friends with Lydia who runs Parents at Logos. They often run fund raising and other events which I help out at, often manning the tuck shop.

Prayer

I attend various prayer meetings including weekly prayer for the Christian school. I’m the only non parent that attends which is a huge privilege. It’s an amazing school with a great ethos.

I’m hoping to get involved soon with a prayer group that Mike Sidlauskas is setting up to cover the teachers and pupils of the Langeberg High School in the coloured community. They struggle a lot from all sorts of problems and pressures including teenage pregnancy and a high drop out rate before graduation at 18 years. The stats of teenage pregnancy are alarming – out of a school of 1700 pupils of say half are girls = 850 – 220 are either pregnant or have just had a baby! Pregnancies have also been known in the primary school – a 10 year old was recently pregnant. The headteacher said that he knows of someone who has become a grandparent at the age of 24. It really makes you want to weep for the lost childhoods and lost opportunities.

Discipleship School

Johan and Marie run a twice yearly discipleship school for students from all over the world. They come and live at the pomegranate homestead for 7 weeks and guest speakers come to teach them all sorts of subjects based on the teachings of Jesus. I go up to the school as often as I can to support and do a little teaching – it’s a fun time of getting to know all the students and I sometimes go away with them to Witsand & Cape Town. Jesus uses me often as a mother figure bringing hugs and encouragement when it’s needed.

I also, when called upon, help Johan and Marie out on the farm. Farming over here is very different to what I’m used to. What South Africans call farms, we would call vineyards and the land is very different to what I’m used to in the Cotswolds! It’s very scrubby and desert like, which hasn’t been helped by the recent drought. I am looking forward to seeing the green rolling hills of England because it’s been a while 😉

Clencina and family

I see Clencina as often as I can to pray, support and love on her. I was recently able to give her £125 which one of my beautiful English friends donated towards the costs of her going to see her mum who she hasn’t seen for years. She has booked to go and see her with the children in late June. I’m so happy for her because she misses her – I try to be a mummy to her but it’s not the same. Clencina did surprise me a couple of days ago by giving me a small Mother’s Day present – I was so overcome that I cried.

The most exciting thing is that she has recently been put on shifts at work so she has time during some days to minister with me. We have plans to go in to the old age home in Nkqubela (more old folks 🤣🤣🤣), the primary and secondary school, the hospital in the town and possibly the prison. We will make a schedule when I’m back from the UK in August. This is an answer to prayer because I’ve been crying out for someone to minister with, particularly in Nkqubela (one of the townships in Robertson).

She is also hoping to move out of her shack and into a proper brick house with running water and sanitation. The municipality are building 500 new homes in Nkqubela but there is a waiting list and it’s going to take a miracle for Clencina and her children to be allocated one. Please pray for this to happen- I want my sister to live in a more healthy environment where she doesn’t need to worry about collecting water from a well and her children being woken up in the middle of the night with a snake in the bed.

Fourlegged friends

I continue to regularly walk the rescue dogs of the Winelands SPCA in Ashton. It’s a heart rending thing to do but I feel that I’m making a difference in their lives, even if it’s a five minute cuddle before being put down 😪. The statistics are horrendous. They euthanise approx 150 dogs per month and this is largely due to township dogs being able to roam around copulating willy nilly. I’m hearten by an organisation called The John Moore Trust which is now going into some townships neutering dogs for free – hopefully this will make a difference. There are happy endings for a few dogs – My precious Bruno who was in a very sorry state when he arrived at the shelter is now living the life of Riley in North Carolina USA 👏👏👏👏👏👏

Hospice

I have done some volunteer training with the Hospice organisation over here. They do an amazing job of supporting people/families through chronic illnesses and death. I haven’t been put on the rota yet but hope to be called on soon to do whatever they would like me to do, even serve in their charity shop. I would like to do some training in bereavement counselling which they offer. Watch this space ……..

Hospital

I love to go into the hospital to pray for comfort and healing. It all depends on who I go with as to who we pray for but generally if I go with Mike Sidlauskas or another chap then we pray for children and men but if I go with a female friend then we pray for children and ladies. The hospital does it’s best with the little resources it has but can’t compare to the Medi Clinic in Worcester which is generally where you go if you’ve got insurance or piles of cash. It’s facilities are second to none.

Jimbo’s visit

So Jimbo came to visit for a couple of weeks in April. It was SO lovely to see him. We did a mixture of things including a 4 day trip up the garden route. It was so beautiful and very green – they get a lot more rain than we do. I saw dairy cows with big udders positively radiating health (the cows where I am are in a very sorry state 😪). Jimbo swam in the Indian ocean which was reasonably warm he tells me but the biggest event was going to Addo Elephant Park where we were blessed to see lots of ellies by a water hole.🐘🐘

Jimbo left his mother on quite a few occasions to hike trails and climb mountains but his mother did hike two trails with him including Lions Head in Cape Town on his last day in SA. For those of you that don’t know a Jimbo is now a fully qualified mountain/hiking guide and he put this hat on to get his old mother up, what seemed like Everest! It was an impressive feat as his mother took about 20 rests on the way up and wanted to point blank give up on at least three occasions. Well done me (and Jimbo) 🧗‍♀️🧗‍♂️🏆

Visitors

I have recently had some other visitors to stay other than Jimbo. Christie (a discipleship school student) came to stay with me for one week after school had ended. She slept on my sofa-bed. Tanya then came for three weeks but as this coincided with a house sitting job we were both able to have our own bedrooms and plenty of space. It was lovely having company and we ministered together and prayed together regularly.

House/dogsitting

I seem to be getting a name for myself around town for being a reliable and trustworthy sort, so people have started to ask me to look after their houses/dogs whilst they are away. It’s a thing here – people rarely leave their houses unattended or their dogs in kennels. It suits me down to the ground because I get a bigger house to stay in and, most importantly, I get some pooches to love – A very happy Maggie 🤗🐶

Friends made

I have been incredibly blessed with the friends I have made. They are young and old, rich and poor, black and white – a real mix but I love them all. I get invited out for tea, lunch and supper- which is usually a brie (bbq) no matter the weather ( a lot of South African houses have outdoor and indoor brie rooms) and it consists of a lot of meat. I haven’t met a South African vegetarian yet!!!!! They were very gracious to Jimbo who has been a vegetarian for 5 years now although I think some of the men struggled to understand a life without eating meat 🥩

Churches

I don’t feel it’s right to join one particular church – there can be all sorts of politics associated with this so I visit approximately 5 churches on various sundays as the Lord leads. These are all very different and I will describe them to you (1) an Anglican Church run by Father Lionel, who is in his mid 80s but absolutely delightful. This church meets in a disused train located in the scrub land outside of town. (2) a Community Reformed Church run by Mark & Catherine Lille who are white Afrikaans. I have a lot of friends who go to this church and the service is completely in English (3) a Church which I’m not sure what the denomination is but similar I would say to a Methodist chapel. My SA mummy, Lenore, goes to this one and she loves it when I join her. (4) a charismatic evangelical church called Kings. I only go to this church when they have visiting ministers from UK otherwise it’s completely in Afrikaans which at the moment I wouldn’t be able to follow. Their worship is much more like my own church in Gloucester 😀. (5) last but by no means least, I love to go to Pastor Paka’s church in Nkqubela. I’m often the only white face there but I just love to join in with their joyous worship – sometimes even brave enough to dance up front with other African ladies!!! The message is in English and Pastor Paka is full of the Holy Spirit, preaching the purity of the gospel message without any witchcraft/ancestor worship which is quite common in the African churches. He has a beautiful heart and seeks to bring unity between the black and coloured township people – this is very rare.

My spiritual home of course is still Golden Valley Church in Gloucester and I’m very blessed to receive the weekly teaching via email – thanks Marjan

Accommodation

So I am still at 48 White Street which I love but recently was a little shaken by an intruder who looked in the windows of the house in front of me around midnight. He was scared off but came back a night later. Security measures are now in place which will hopefully deter any future intruders. I have had a change in neighbours – my very good friends Jannie and Jacques moved out (but are still in Robertson) and a new family have moved in. They seem very nice but disappointingly do not have any dogs 😪 only a cat and a parrot. We are getting to know each other and most favourably the wife processes insurance for the police force so they are a common visible presence which is also a good intruder deterrent. I’m not sure how much longer I will be here, there is hope that a house will become available in the kloof which I could live in along with other missionary’s to minister to the kloof people with a greater depth of relationship.

Health

Apart from the spider bite a while back, I continue to be in good health – thank You Jesus. hiking with Jimbo left me unable to walk for a day or two but I have now recovered the use of my legs 😀

Language acquisition

I am very blessed to have some free Afrikaans tuition from the local community learning centre. I am being taught by a few different teachers and most recently have spent the hour chatting with Joseph – a lovely young man who is learning to be a teacher. We end up laughing a lot but they seem to be reasonably happy with my progress. Maybe by the of 3 years I might be able to have a decent conversation 😀

Finances

I am so grateful to everyone who contributes to me being over here – I can honestly say that every pound makes a massive difference. It’s a bit of a challenge to make ends meet sometimes, especially when the rand gets stronger ( me being a little dim never even thought of this when calculating my finances in the early days of being over here) but it’s good spiritual growth to remain in trust that the Lord will provide enough to cover all expenses. Things over here are not as cheap as you would think – a lot of food is on a par with the UK. It’s also a new year for me coming up shortly so I will need to renew insurances (car and medical) and the car licence.

Weather

Well I seem to have largely acclimatised to the hot weather, only struggling when it gets over 40 degrees C. I must say it’s rather lovely to spend most days in shorts and summer tops not worrying about a cardigan. It’s also really nice to eat outside on my stoop (walled patio). However we are now entering winter and it’s most definitely chilling off. The crazy thing is that it’s colder inside your house than outside because houses do not have central heating. Some wealthier people have wood burners but most, like me, just keep adding layers including your coat, hot water bottle and duvet. One of the main reasons I’m coming home for a visit now is to avoid the worst of the weather ❄️❄️❄️❄️

Prayer Points

🔥 for a permanent person to minister with me in Huis Le Roux and other places in the town

🌪for the ministry house to become available in the kloof

🌈 For other long-term missionaries to join me here in Robertson and to maybe live with

☄️ For divine wisdom in all that i do here including challenging cultural norms

💥 For my financial resources to improve so that I can easily cover all my expenses and bless others

☀️ For language acquisition that I may be able to understand and speak Afrikaans sooner rather than later

⭐️ For my walk with Jesus – that it would go Deeper and deeper in the revelation of sonship And that I would walk in the truth of my heavenly fathers perfect love for me – Perfect love casts out all fear!

🌍 That by His grace I will fulfil all that He has called me to in South Africa. That I will walk the path that Jesus has laid down before me and no other

🌊 That I will always stop for the one and that one will encounter the love of Jesus bringing transformation to their lives

Thank you’s

The biggest thank you of course has to go to Jesus for his grace and his mercy. Without him none of this would have been possible. Secondly I want to thank all of you who pray for me and who hold me in your heart. I know that I am covered not only by the blood of Jesus by your prayers and I am extremely grateful for every single one of them. Thank you for your sacrifice of time and effort. Thank you also to all of those who financially support me. It is extremely humbling to know that there are many of you who give up your finances to support me over here. I know that the Lord will bless you for your sacrifice and I pray that as you have blessed me so you will be blessed many times over

Home

On the 15th of June I will touchdown at Heathrow and be greeted by the beautiful and smiling face of my sister Liz. I am very excited to visit home and hope to catch up with all of you at some point. I am so thankful to my auntie Chris who is loaning me a vehicle and to my sister Liz and her husband Ian who are letting me use their house near Cirencester as a base.

I am also intending to work as much as I can while I am in the UK so that I can help swell the coffers. I can’t work in South Africa as my Visa is a volunteer Visa.

If you want to sow into South Africa by supporting me financially on a monthly basis or indeed a one-off donation please catch me while I’m in the UK and I will give you my bank details. Or email me at maggieannejam@hotmail.co.uk. No amount is too small, believe me I treasure every pound 😘

So that’s it really. Not much more to say except that the rain has started to fall in The Western Cape for which we are extremely grateful. Water restrictions are being lifted and you can almost hear the plants sucking up every drop 🌧🌧

Baie dankie vir die lees en ek sal jou binnekort sien

Totsiens 😘😘😘😘😘😘

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Maggie’s missionary journey in Robertson SA – part one

The characters so far in my SA story:

  • Mike & Carolyn  – fellow Iris missionaries from the US – been in Robertson 2years
  • Johan & Marie – leaders of Iris Western Cape – are South African and run a vineyard
  • Gary – Elder from Mike & Carolyn’s church in US (and seasoned missionary) who has joined them in support

So, following my call to the mission field by Jesus, I touched down in South Africa on June 6th and was collected from the airport in Cape Town by Mike and Gary.

I lived with Mike & Carolyn (and their four lovely children) from Tuesday 6th June to Sunday 11th June when I moved into Gary’s flat because Gary returned to US for a 2 month break. Gary’s flat is a real blessing- it’s spacious, has all the necessary amenities for comfortable living and unlimited wifi so I am able to keep in touch with friends and family without difficulty- this is a particular blessing and answer to prayer – thank you Jesus!  The flat is situated in the centre of the town so shops are close by and I have been able to purchase much of what I am used to in the way of food and other stuff.  There is some noise at night but largely I am able to sleep ok. So during these two months I need to look for a place of my own- rents are quite cheap here compared to UK and I hope to get either a self-contained granny flat in someone’s garden or a flat like Gary’s.  My main concern is safety.  You have to go through 3 locked gates/doors to get into Gary’s flat and there are bars on all the windows – that makes me feel secure.  Although Robertson is said to be a safeish town in SA, there are those who through drugs, alcohol or poverty will seek to rob you and as a woman on her own, I am an easy target.  It is also not safe for me to go out on my own after dark or to venture out of town – many people have guard dogs and who knows I might just get a pooch myself one day to guard me and to be a companion.

The most crazy thing about South Africa that I have so far discovered is that it gets cold in winter (June to end of August) but there is little you can do to keep warm. It seems that the houses are built for neither winter or summer (being cold in winter and hot in summer), there is no heating or air conditioning (even though there would be enough solar power to easily do both), the duvets are thin eiderdown type things (in Robertson you cannot purchase a winter heavy tog duvet but might be able to get one in Cape Town for mega bucks) and electricity is expensive so if you do purchase an electric fire you don’t want to put it on!  I sit on the sofa with lots of layers on (so happy I brought my furry onesie with me), a hot water bottle and a blanket!  I guess I have got soft in my old age – growing up on the farm we didn’t have central heating!!!

So what am I currently doing?  Moving to a new country/culture is not that easy and it takes time to settle in. I am getting my bearings in the town (with little sense of direction this has its challenges) and trying to work out where everything is. The town had a population of around 25,000 and is quite compact, making walking to places quite easy.  I meet up with Mike & Carolyn regularly to talk about the issues relating to the town and sometimes go out into the township & informal settlement to meet people Mike has built relationships with. I was very happy today to meet a lady I had met last year from Nkqubela (the informal settlement on the outskirts of town).  I have been to the state hospital to pray for patients and generally just to love on them.  The state hospital is generally for the poor, those who have wealth or insurance can get 1st world treatment in the private clinic in Worcester which is probably about 10 miles away.

Johan and Marie have discussed with me their desire to see missionaries go into the state school which is huge – approx 1300 students and has many difficulties including many teenage (or earlier) pregnancies. These pregnancies generally result in either abortion or the babies being dumped in the garbage at birth. So very sad.  It does sound like something I would like to get involved with.

I am slowly building friendships and starting to learn the Afrikaans language – so far I can tell you a whole list of animals!!!!  I do have the odd home sick moment but Jesus is faithful to comfort and strengthen me and it doesn’t last long. I KNOW I am called here for such a time as this which makes it easier to stand when the going gets tough.

I am so thankful for your support, love and prayers. Financially too I am very grateful to all of you who have pledged your support – as I have said, I really want to live as simply as possible and have money over to bless those in need – whatever that might be.  If you would like to financially support me and haven’t done yet, please get in contact via Facebook messenger, what’s app or email and I can give you my bank account details.

Thats it for now – I will post photos of the town as soon as I have taken some. Part two in a few weeks

lots of love

mags xxxxxxxxx