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Maggie’s update from SA – Nov 2018

November 26, 2018

So I’ve been back in SA just over three months since my visit home. It took a couple of days to settle back in as I was a little disorientated but I soon found my rhythm again.  So I probably saw the majority of those who are going to read this when I was in the UK but I thought I would bring you up to date with my life in Robertson since I returned.

MY VISIT HOME

I was in the UK from mid June to mid August, staying with my sister Liz and her family (both two legged and four legged) in a little village on the outskirts of my home town of Cirencester. It was so nice to see the green green grass of home, Robertson being a bit of a desert, and to smell the Gloucestershire air in my nostrils.

I spent the majority of my time earning some £££’s by working for my good friend Rebecca who owns a beautiful farm shop called Jolly Nice. I’m very grateful to her for employing an old lady in the midst of her very young team for 6 weeks over the summer period. My favourite task was to make sandwiches sprinkled with the secret ingredient of love – they proved to be a best seller !!!!

I also of course caught up with many of my friends and family which involved A LOT of eating!!!  I regularly attended my home church (Golden Valley Church in Gloucester) which was a delight but also a bit crazy as I didn’t recognise about half of them!!!

It was also my joy to travel over the border to Bangor, North Wales, to visit my son Jimbo, his fiancée Jess and of course my furry grandson Jasper for a few days. We had a lovely time of chatting, walking and eating. Although it was hard to say goodbye to Jimbo, having done it a year earlier (and survived), it wasn’t as difficult this time round – we both knew what it felt like now and therefore there was no need to be in fear of the unknown.

I was also happy to find my father in good health and spend some quality time with him.  At his age, Jesus could call him home at any time so it was a joy to have spent a good time making memories with him.

MY RETURN TO SOUTH AFRICA

So on my immediate return to Robertson I packed up all my belongings and moved house!!!   Whilst I was in the UK  one of “old lady” friends, Barbara was taken into frail care due to her failing physical strength.  Her family asked me to house sit her 3 bed detached house with a beautiful garden until June 2019.  It really is a crazy Jesus blessing which I am so grateful for.

AREAS OF MINISTRY

SPCA

Monday mornings see me walking rescue dogs in the nearby town of Ashton.  I miss having a pooch and spending time with the rejected and neglected fills my need for canine companionship.  The pooches come in on a regular basis from the nearby 5 towns and I’m afraid that it’s a small percentage that get rehomed 😢 The biggest problem is the unsterilised dogs in the townships which continuously have puppies.  It’s heartbreaking 💔 however I’m happy to be able to give love to the ones I meet on a Monday morning.

THE OLDER GENERATION

Jesus just keeps increasing my ministry with people of my fathers generation and it really is my great joy to spend time with them building relationship.

I regularly visit Huis Le Roux which is the Old Age Home in the town.  It has over 100 residents and they all have different accommodation depending upon how much they can pay.  It ranges from lovely flats that have their own kitchen, bedroom, living room and bathroom to a single bed in a “ward” of four other beds with a shared bathroom and lounge area.

I have built up relationships with around a dozen of the residents who are from across the financial spectrum.  I spend time chatting with them and then we end in prayer.  The language barrier can be a bit tricky with some of them but we manage.  Just recently I lost my first friend 😢 I woke up one day with Martha on my mind so I purposed later that day to spend more time with her (she struggled to communicate well following a stroke) than I normally do.  Anyway on arrival at the home I was informed that she had died that morning 😢 I really should have asked the Lord why He had put her on my mind, Im guessing now that it was about her transition to her glorified life.

The loneliest lady in the home, I’m told, is Amy who is a blind lady who apparently has no visitors although she does have family in SA 😢 I have been visiting her regularly and our communication is good as English is her first language.  However I wanted to do more for her (she declined my offer of taking her out as I feel she has got rather institutionalised) so with her agreement I have started to read to her.  Her choice of book was either Little Women or Black Beauty as she remembered them from childhood and I was able to find Little Women in the library.  It’s my joy to do this and miracle of miracles she understands me reading, although I do have to remember to remain at a steady pace 😉

One of my favourites (and always the first I visit) is Jessie who is 94 and has no legs.  She is so beautiful and it’s my joy to tell her that on a regular basis – she just shines Jesus with such joy and optimism.  I am also her supplier of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk which she devours with great gusto.  In fact I have become rather a dealer of chocolate in the home – there are always bars in my fridge ready to be dispensed 😂

And of course there is Lenore, Barbara, Mabel, Marie, Wyatt & Eunice.  These wonderful people who are all in their 80s live in their own houses in town (except Barbara because I live in hers) and are reasonably healthy.  Lenore is probably my closest “old” friend; she describes herself as my South African mother!! In fact I recently hosted a birthday party for her in “my” dining room which she thoroughly enjoyed – she is widowed and only has one daughter who lives in Durban so it was my joy as her South African daughter to mark the occasion.  I regularly see them all, listening to their anecdotes over a cup of loose leaf tea (teabags are a definite no no) and homemade cake!!  The Lord has given me such a love for them all.

I visit Barbara once a week after I walk the pooches as Ashton is on the way to Bonnievale where Barbara now lives.  Depending on how strong she is feeling depends on how long I stay but it’s generally anything between 40 minutes and 2 hours.  She loves to sit very close to me, snuggling her head on my chest and listening to me pray for her.  She was very fearful of death but praise God she is now losing the fear and starting to really believe that she will fall into the arms of her saviour. Hallelujah what a joy!!!  Barbara’s children all live abroad but visit when they can – they have said that I can stay in the house until June 2019 regardless of whether Barbara lives or dies by then. We will see what Jesus does 🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼

FATHERS HOUSE DISCIPLESHIP SCHOOL

The Iris leaders here, Johan & Marie Fourie, twice a year hold a discipleship school in their mountain homestead called Pomegranate.  Christians from all over the world attend this residential course for 7 weeks.  It is my joy to join them as much as I can, doing a little teaching but mostly just being a “mummy figure” with arms open wide for hugs as and when necessary – the healing and restoration Jesus does is awesome but can be emotionally turbulent.  It was also my joy to join them on a weekend retreat to the coastal town of Witsand where I donned my swimming costume and jumped in the waves of the Indian Ocean 👏👏  Several of them got baptised in the ocean too which was awesome to witness – their public declaration of  accepting Christ, dying with him and then rising with him in His resurrection and newness of life.  Oh Jesus we will never be able to thank you enough for this great truth.  You are The Way, The Truth and The Life and no one comes to The Father except through you.

HOSPICE

So approximately two months ago I started volunteering at the Hospice charity shop.   Hospice is an amazing organisation here that not only cares for the sick and dying but also can support a bereaved family for up to one year.  It is very highly thought of in the community and much supported.  My role is just to help out in the shop – not very taxing but if it helps them to raise money to keep the carers and nurses doing their amazing work then I’m more than happy to give them 4 hours of my time.  I do hope to do some bereavement counselling training in the new year – I would love to come along side those who are in the dark place of grief to bring the love and light of Christ.

VINKRIVIER KLOOF FAMILIES – held about 10km outside of town where some of the farm labourer families live

I am still helping Kaysha out with the weekly Vinkrivier kids club and monthly ladies tea.  Recently I felt the Lord ask me to show the older kloof girls the Youth Alpha videos (for those of you who don’t know of Alpha, it’s a series of talks which look at various aspects of the Christian faith and encourages the viewers to ask the big questions).  Initially this was problematic because of the unsuitable venue, however, I have now found a more appropriate venue and am about to show the third episode this week.  They are quite quiet through the screening but have now begun to ask a few questions at the end.

There is a problem though with kids club because Kaysha is getting married on January 19th and moving to Rwanda.  This leaves the kids club without a leader.  Although I’m more than happy to help out and support I do not feel the Lord is calling me to lead.  It needs at least two strong compassionate souls who will love on the children but who will also be able to lovingly discipline them, particularly the boys who are out of control much of the time.  A good male role model would be perfect and maybe one from the area that speaks Afrikaans would be ideal.  We are of course praying about this and trust that Jesus will supply our need here.  It would be very sad if the kids club did not continue as i believe it’s been going for the past 5 years and I know the kids enjoy it.

J is a young lady from the kloof who is currently in Robertson hospital and will be for a while.  As her family live miles away and have no transport it is my joy to regularly visit her and to “be mummy” to her.  It’s an interesting hospital because it seems patients can make their own food there, so I regularly supply J with groceries because she is often hungry (portions are small and little in the way of meat).  I also supply J with drawing materials as she is a talented artist and loves to create beautiful pictures – the days are long for her, so it helps while away the hours.

SIDLAUSKAS FAMILY PRESCHOOL

Mike & Carolynn Sidlauskas (and family) are the American missionaries in town who came to Robertson via the same route as me but 2 years previous.  Carolynn is qualified in early years development and has run from their home a small pre-school for the past year.  Their plan is now to expand this little school to approximately 12-15 children and this will hopefully happen from January 2019. The idea is that the children will seamlessly transition from their pre-school to Logos Christian School.  They have asked me to be part of the board and to be school secretary.  I’m now busy looking at the creation of all sorts of forms and picking the brains of other people who have set up a pre-school in the area.

CLENCINA

My precious friend Clencina who lives in Nkqubela (the black township on the outskirts of town) with her two children is now working full time hours which is great news for her because it brings in more money but it restricts the time we can have together.  It is definitely a big no no for me to be in Nkqubela at dusk so it’s impossible for me to see her during the week and on a Sunday she fellowships in Nkqubela and of course spends time with her children.  Sometimes on a Saturday afternoon we can grab a couple of hours together to pray and just chat.

She is still in faith to be out of her shack in 2019 and into a brick house further down the mountain.  This will enable her to live in a more civilised way by having running water, in-house sanitation and a snake free zone!!

It was my joy recently to attend Blessing’s graduation from his crèche.  I was the only white person in the hall which was fine (something I’m getting used to) but what made me rather uncomfortable was that they tried to insist that I sit on the top table with all the dignitaries 😱😱😱 Fortunately Clencina rescued me and I was able to sit by her in the normal seats.  To this day I’m not sure why they did it and need to get to the bottom of it.  I hope it wasn’t because of the colour of my skin!!!

MISCELLANEOUS

Lydia and Paul Reeves are probably my best friends over here.  They are in their forties and have two children aged 15 (Michelle) and 18 (Ruben).  Paul has an English mum who I met last Christmas and no doubt will again this year.  They have a Yorkshire Terrier called Roger Federer who I love to cuddle.  I see these guys on a regular basis at home and in church.  They attend the Robertson Community Reformed Church where Paul is an elder

Lydia is the chairperson of Parents @Logos – the PTA for Logos Christian School and I regularly help out with fundraising events etc.  I’m also part of the intercessory team that meets regularly to pray for the school

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Every Tuesday morning I attend a Bible Study at Connie Raimondi’s house.  This used to be for about 6 of us but now there are about 16 ladies that gather together for fellowship and study.  Most of the ladies are members of the Robertson Community Reformed Church but not all.

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I still consider Golden Valley Church in Gloucester to be my home church and I regularly listen to Sunday sermons from there which get sent to me via email.  I have also listened live to a service or two via the marvels of modern technology.  My pastors also Skype me now and again for a catch up and prayer.  As I have a spiritual home I do not consider it necessary to “belong” to a particular church over here so I tend to visit 4 different ones.  Robertson Community Reformed Church (many of my white Afrikaans friends attend this one), The Gospel Express which is Anglican, a Congregational church (where Lenore and some other friends of the older generation go) and Pastor Paka’s Church in Nkqubela.  It might surprise you to hear that the one I feel more spiritually in tune with is Pastor Paka’s Church.  Although I am often the only white face in the congregation, Pastor Paka is a Holy Spirit filled believer who preaches anointed messages in English.  The praise and worship is mostly in Xhosa but I love their joy and always join in with the dancing – there is great freedom here and the presence of God is always evident.

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I recently attended a Christian course in town which was being run by an organisation called The World Needs A Father.  It was very informative and confirmed much of what I knew anyway; that fatherlessness is to blame for much of society’ ills.  The idea was to train those who attended to help others with their parenting.  I’m waiting to here from the coordinator about the next step but am excited for the changes this course could usher in, particularly with the introduction of good male role models into single mum families.

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My language acquisition has suffered a blow in that my Friday morning sessions at a local learning centre have ceased.  I’m not sure why but now I’m just learning by talking Afrikaans with friends as often as possible.

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We said Goodbye to Gary last week who has been a missionary in town for the last couple of years.  It seems he has fallen in love with a lady he knew on the mission field about 35 years ago and has gone back to the US to get married. I’m sure he will pop back for a visit at some point as he is an elder in the Sidlauskas family church back in Michigan.

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I will probably spend Christmas Day as I did last year, feeding the homeless with the Sidlauskas family.  Last year we fed over 100 people who sat down to a chicken lunch on trestle tables erected on the pavement outside the Sids house.  Christmas in SA is not the big deal that it is in the UK.  No one sends cards and there are very few decorations in people’s homes.  Certainly no “real” Christmas trees.  It’s just a time for family to gather and spend the day together.  I found this a bit odd last year but am obviously more prepared for it this year.

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So that’s it for another update.  I will leave you with a couple of thoughts:

  1. I recently attended the ordination of an Anglican priest and all participants including the congregation followed a prescribed programme of hymns, readings and prayers.  At one point the congregation had to respond to the words the Bishop was saying by saying “Have mercy on us miserable sinners oh God”.    Well I refused to describe myself as a miserable sinner and I will tell you why (1) I’m no longer a sinner.  Jesus Christ by his precious blood has wiped away all of my sins (past, present and future) and I am now described in the Bible as (a) a saint, (b) a son of the most high God (c) joint heirs with Christ, making him my brother (d) a friend of God etc etc etc IF YOU ARE IN CHRIST THEN YOU ARE NO LONGER A SINNER!!!   You will probably sin but you are a saint or a son who sins, not a sinner – big difference!!!  And I AM NOT MISERABLE!!!!!  If you are a born again believer in Christ, filled with the Holy Spirit then one of the most precious fruits of this divine Union is JOY.  The Bible tells us The Kingdom of God is righteousness peace and JOY in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14 v17).  As Roland Baker puts it “Joy is the serious business of Heaven”.  So I will re-phrase the response to the Bishop by saying “Have mercy on us joy filled sons Oh God our Father”!!!
  2. J (the young lady who is in hospital) was describing to me about her place of work.  She picks fruit for a living – most of the coloured community are seasonly employed to pick the wine grapes and other fruit grown in the locality. Many of them only have work from October through to February/March.  Anyway J was recently picking blueberries which is incredibly hard intensive work. They grow on bushes in close proximity to each other and can be found on branches very low to the ground.  This means the picker either has to keep bending down very low or sit on the ground. The field where J was picking is not only full of snakes but there are also baboons in the area and the occasional leopard.  In the event of someone getting bitten by a snake it is difficult to get help because there is no mobile phone reception and often the supervisor with a vehicle is not around.  They can work 12 hour days with just one break at lunchtime.   Oh yes and the weather can be in excess of 40 degrees Celsius.   What are your working conditions like?????

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I am so thankful to God for all that He has done and all that He continues to do in my life over here.  The incredible grace that covers me enables me to do more than I thought possible.  I give Him all the praise and all the glory – I know without Him and His great love for me, I just wouldn’t be where I am today.

I am also, of course, so thankful to all those who pray for me and financially sow into me and my ministry here.  Because of your great kindness and faithfulness I am able live and continuously bless the ones around me as the situations arise.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart ❤️

Prayer Points (for those of you that pray)

1. For leaders to come forward to take the kids club and kloof ladies tea into the next season

2. For my greater discernment regarding what Holy Spirit is saying – being led by the Spirit is so crucial in all my areas of ministry

3. For the hospice organisation to be greatly blessed with all the resources it needs

4. For J to be completely healed

5. For all of the older generation that I minister to.  May they find peace in whatever situation they find themselves in and that they would absolutely know the love of Christ personally for themselves before they die

6. That Clencina would move into a brick house very soon

7. For all the logistics of setting up the pre-school and wisdom to know the right people to employ and which children to say yes to (numbers are limited)

8. That the kloof girls will be impacted by the Alpha Course and have their lives changed by a personal vibrant relationship with Jesus

9. That the World Needs A Father teaching will be rolled out to many in the area resulting in less family dysfunction and better lives for all, particularly the children

10. That I would have more opportunities to “preach the gospel” to those that need to know the love of the perfect Father and the power of Christ’s blood spilt at the cross

and any other way the Holy Spirit leads you to pray 🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼

 

Happy Christmas to you all and may the Peace of Christ which passeth all understanding  permeate your homes and your lives this Christmas and forever more.

love you

Maggie xxxx

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