A day in the life…

Welcome to a day in the life of… well… us.  We recently spent a week in the village, and I spent an entire day walking around with my phone in my hand, taking pictures of everything we do in a day.  Disclaimer: All our days are not the same, but this general picture gives a decent idea of where we are, what we do and what it looks like.  Continue Reading

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At the foot of a hill

It has taken me weeks to work up the courage just to sit down and even attempt to put into words what we have experienced lately.  I may fail… words may fail… but maybe, just maybe, some of what my heart feels will pour through and touch something inside you…

It was 5 weeks ago that we packed our suitcases and backpacks and camping gear and hit the road at 3am to kick off the drive to Zimbabwe.  Much of that first day on the road seems to be a blur to me, I think mainly because we had just finished a busy weekend and we were tired, but also because it was just such a thrill to be contained in a small space with my three best people.  We talked up a storm, and savored our time together with not much else to do than enjoy each other.  We spent the night in Pretoria and the next morning at 4am we started the 2nd leg of our journey.  We drove and prayed and prayed and worshiped and drove and prayed all the way to the border.  Four hours after we arrived there, we entered Zimbabwe and we PRAYED and drove and PRAYED and PRAYED and PRAYED.  The roadblocks in Zim were no surprise to us, we had received a fair amount of warnings – but they were no less intimidating, and I believe we literally prayed our way through most of them.  We slowly made our way to Lake Kyle, just outside Masvingo, and even though we had our first and only encounter with the police on the road late that night, we arrived at our first destination and Peace flooded us as we slept and rested for the days ahead.

Our family at the magnificent Lake Kyle

In the garden at Norma Jean’s

The following afternoon after another 5 hours on the road, we reached the small village where Pastor Jairos and his family had prepared our home for the next few days; a small school building which had been emptied out and filled with beds and blankets.  After meeting the local chief later that evening, we settled in and had another peaceful nights sleep.  The next morning before the sun had even come up properly, we were woken by the smell of smoke and soft sounds of someone preparing a fire outside our “house” – this ritual took place every morning that we were there.

The fire was prepared early enough, and water had been carried from the borehole, and warmed, so that we could wash before the day began.  The kindness and servant hood we encountered in these people had us at a loss for words most of the time.  We set off to start the prayer visits that had been planned for the day by Pastor Jairos.  But he surprised us with a stop at the great Bangala dam which is hidden a few km up in the hills near their village.  It was so beautiful, so magnificent, so peaceful.

For the next couple of days we drove into the hills until the bakkie couldn’t go any further, and then we walked further until we reached the homes of people that have stayed so hidden from ‘society’ that our white skin colour sometimes actually frightened their children.  While we prayed and ministered, the children would sit at a safe distance and just watch us, some of the younger kids actually started crying when they saw us.  Some of them couldn’t wait to touch us, some of them were too afraid.   And I hope that when we left, we left behind love.  I hope that the peace of the Holy Spirit was so tangible that the fear and uncertainty wouldn’t be remembered, but that they will always remember our smiles, and the gentle tugging of the Spirit, calling them into a living relationship with Him.

The home of the first family we visited, at the foot of the hill

 

I hardly ever carried my own bag, this dear lady took it off my back at every stop, and carried it for me

All in all our days looked the same, we walked, we prayed, we shared meals at the homes of people we had never met, we walked some more.  In the evenings we held crusades, we showed the Jesus film, we worshiped, we prayed, we worshiped, we danced.  The kids slept wherever they were when they got tired, they ate whatever they were given, whenever they were given it.  And yes, we used any kind of bush or bit of tall grass or tree that presented itself at the time of need for a toilet.  Everything was so new, and yet so familiar.  I will never forget the feeling I felt one morning as we were walking from one hut to the next… at the foot of these rolling hills…  Meeting these people… Sharing Jesus… I couldn’t contain the gratitude in my heart, and as my tears were flowing I just thanked the Lord for bringing me here, with my family, doing what we were doing, with Him, for Him.  It felt so surreal, knowing that a year before this moment we had never even imagined that this would be our lives.  In the wink of an eye everything changed.  He changed everything for us, around us, in us.  And He fulfilled a desire so deep in our hearts that we didn’t even know existed – a desire to follow Him everywhere and anywhere.  And here we were… anywhere…

Our kids weren’t the only ones who slept wherever they found a spot – Little one sleeping under the tree

We saw people meet Jesus, we saw healings and miracles, we saw hope in and for a nation that has been taught that hope is gone, we saw perseverance in a people who knows that it’s not over, a people who is waiting with great expectation for God to heal their land.  One of the moments that touched me to my very core was after the church service on the Sunday morning.  It was the day that we left the first village, and they asked to pray for us before we went.  A team of ladies gathered around us and laid hands on us and prayed.  But one woman knelt down in front of me where I was sitting, she put her hands on my dusty feet, and laid her face down on her hands and prayed for me like I don’t think I’ve ever experienced anyone praying for me ever before.  She was praying and crying so passionately that when she stood up and walked away, my feet were wet from her tears.  And I felt her prayers rising up inside of me, breaking chains, casting out fear, stirring up Love.  And I thought of Jesus, interceding for us… at all times…  And I realised again, It’s hardly ever about me.  It’s always about Him.  It’s always about what He wants to reveal, and to whom He chooses to reveal it.  It’s always about His love touching ANYONE, at any time – even me, in a tiny village, at the foot of a hill, in a foreign country that many would call broken.  But Hope is alive, never failing, always pursuing, always calling for just one step out of the boat; and stepping onto the waves we see that the water was never an uncertain place at all.

I hope that these pictures would do a better job at describing our journey… I still find myself at a loss for words.  But I know that He revealed to us a treasure deep in His heart, a Pocket of Beauty.

Our expenses for this trip has not been covered yet, if you feel that you would like to make a donation towards this trip specifically, please find our bank details on www.pocketsofbeauty.co.za, and reference your payment “Zimbabwe”, or contact me at hello@pocketsofbeauty.co.za

 

 

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Adventures Still Calling

Instead of sending out a newsletter for the month of April, I have decided to share a new post on the Pockets of Beauty blog with some of the news from  the last few weeks (and months).  Hope you enjoy!

Sneak peek of some of the prints we will be using for our products

Please ‘like’ and ‘share’ our new Facebook page!  It really helps to spread the word on what we are doing, and it is a convenient way to share our blog 🙂
You can find us on Facebook by clicking here

It will be exceptionally helpful in spreading the news that I have started making a Shweshwe (in honour of the beautiful Transkei) range of handmade products , to sell from our website and Facebook page in support of our family’s mission fund.  So PLEASE support me by sharing Facebook posts, the blog and by showing your friends and family!

We had the great privilege of visiting the Garden Route recently, and seeing our family and friends did our hearts well! We ended the 2 week break with a celebration in the forest when my sister and her knight got married.  It was the most special weekend filled with love, family and JOY!

We are back in the Eastern Cape with refreshed hearts, minds and spirits and so excited about the BIG things that are happening! As many of you know, Aflame ministries bought a piece of land in the Transkei and we are so excited to have the opportunity to spend more time (longer periods at a time) in the village where we currently have our Sunday meetings.  We are beyond grateful for the team that volunteered to come all the way from Cape Town to fix our little house, and we are so looking forward to receive them and see our property being prepared for the fruitfulness that will flow from there!

A couple of weeks ago after our Sunday service, our lovely translator asked us to go and pray for a mama on the other side of the village – she was sick, and couldn’t walk to come to church.  We arrived at her house unannounced and the look on her face was so priceless – She was given a pamflet of aflame ministries a while back, and recognized Henk from that photo.  She couldn’t believe we had come.  Just a couple of weeks before that, Aflame ministries together with a Cape Town missions team was running a crusade in the village, and this mama had sent out children to the road to call the team to pray for her.  The Team was too far away to see or hear the kids and the mama was passed by.  But this time we came.  She was healed that afternoon, and she spent the rest of the week walking from house to house with her bible, testifying of how Jesus healed her (she couldn’t walk to even her neighbours house for almost a year), and praying for everyone she visited.  That following Sunday she walked to church to attend the meeting.  This is ONE woman, being touched by Jesus, and being a living testimony, one that cannot be denied, to all around her! Hallelujah!

Please continue to trust with us for a missions vehicle for our family – The Transkei roads and terrain is rough and transporting our whole family with luggage and equipment has become a necessity as we will need to all be together for the longer periods that we spend there.  If you feel in your heart that you would like to make a contribution towards this expense please find our banking details on the Pockets of Beauty website and use the reference “Gift – Transport”.

In more personal news, our little Song has just turned 2 years old! We celebrated her birthday with our family while we were visiting, and shortly after her birthday she got to spend some special time with her GREAT grandpa as he came down for my sisters wedding – such a blessing indeed!

Our little warrior is doing so well in homeschooling – he has joined a ball skills soccer/cricket class which he loves!  With all the sewing that has been happening in our house, he has asked me to teach him, and for the first time ever I have some understanding of what it must have been like for my dad when he taught me how to drive… My nerves were shot the first few times and all I could say was “Slowly! Slow down! Careful!”, but he is getting the hang of it and I am looking forward to MANY fun projects with him!
Thank you to everyone that follows our story – Thank you for your support in prayer, in communication, and in finance.  I realize that in giving to us financially you don’t necessarily always see the specific fruit of what you sow into our lives, but I cannot testify enough about the times that we stood facing some payment that had to be paid, or some expense that had to be made, and the Lord has stirred your hearts (countless times) at exactly the right moment – Bank notifications have arrived at the most incredible moments (such as standing in line at the till at the grocery store) and always add to the testimony as it enables us to also sow into others lives! So thank you to EVERYONE – Even the nameless ones that choose not to reveal who they are when making contributions, I cannot express our gratitude for your love and support!  At the end of November just as we were about to leave Cape Town, two of our dear friends gave us a rather large Pick n Pay voucher as a gift.  I put it in the back of my wallet, knowing that there would come a ‘right’ time to use it.  And yesterday, when I stood facing long grocery list, I remembered about that voucher, and even though we haven’t seen our friends in 5 months, it felt as if they were walking through Pick n Pay with me, holding my hand, carrying my heart, and feeding my family.  So THANK YOU, you do not know how much your gifts mean to us, but we appreciate it with all our hearts!

All the glory to Jesus for the way He cares, all the glory to Jesus for His plan and provision to reach the remote Transkei villages.  It is BEAUTIFUL to see His plan unfold, it is BEAUTIFUL to see Him weaving the tapestry of our family into the picture He had in His heart for us.  And it is a blessing to share it with you!  All our Love xxx

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Home is where the Heart is

Saturday 26 November 2016, The moving truck finally pulled up to our little house.  We stood watching as all the boxes we packed the weeks before were loaded.  All the hard work and tears that went into those boxes finally paid off.  As the belongings we gathered over the years were carried out, we spent time with precious friends who all came to say goodbye.  The tears were already flowing.

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Loaded into the truck – Ready to go

About two hours later our house was empty and silent.  I stood in the lounge and looked out the window and soaked in the memories that lived there.  I couldn’t stop the tears.  We spent the next few hours just sitting in the empty house, having one last cup of tea with a handful of those we love.  Laughing.  Crying.  Remembering.

We loaded out tiny car with a few things that were too valuable/fragile to go on the truck, a few sets of clothes each, and our cat.  The tears freely flowed as we drove through the beautiful Cape mountains. img-20161126-wa0038IMG-20161129-WA0000.jpg We soaked in the scenery and thanked the Lord for the most beautiful season we had spent there.   And my heart didn’t ache as much as I thought it would.  Table Mountain in the rear view mirror didn’t look quite as heart breaking as I thought it would.  And instead of sadness, I felt free.  Instead of being bound by grief and memories,  I felt freedom and light and I knew once again that home is where the heart is, and my heart is in Jesus.

We spent the night at my parents and the next day made the trip to our new home! We arrived the night before the truck, and were received by our friends and fellow team members.  We slept wonderfully that night, knowing that the hardest part of the move is over and done.  Moving all our things into the new house was the fun part – hard work of course, but FUN! So early the next morning we were up and dressed and ready for the phone call that told us the truck had arrived.  We were all standing around when Brown Eyes phone rang and our little Warrior shouted for joy because he knew what that ring meant.

I was ready!! All our boxes were numbered and colour coded and I had already run through how the morning would go and what would go where a hundred times in my mind.  But the phone call wasn’t as quick as I expected… Brown Eyes tone of voice didn’t sound as I expected.  He looked at me and shook his head…

Our truck had hit a low hanging power cable in the neighbouring town, it caught fire and they didn’t realise it until someone stopped them.  The fire station was just around the corner and their response was immediate, but the fire had already consumed the inside of the truck where our things were.  No one got hurt, and there was no extensive damage to the truck, but all our furniture, all the boxes we packed, all our instruments, clothes, toys, my grandmothers sewing machine, my wedding album… it was all gone.

Brown Eyes and his friend made the trip to the truck to see if anything could be salvaged.  They came back with a table and two benches, two yellow toy cars, my pot plants and my wedding album.  Suddenly our new house seemed really big.

Upon hearing the news, my heart was filled with a peace that completely transcends all understanding.  Because how is it possible to have peace in the moment that you find out that everything you owned had burned to the ground.  Not only peace consumed me, but also joy.  Home is where the heart is…

The most difficult moment by far throughout this experience was hearing Brown Eyes voice over the phone when they opened the truck and saw the remains of the content.  I could hear, feel, the pain in his voice as he looked through our damaged things.  And that was hard.

But people all around us started phoning and sending messages, people started making donations and lending furniture.  And today we will move into our new house.  We will move in with different things… fewer things… But a much deeper knowledge of how God can and will and does turn every evil-intended thing for the good of those who love Him.  As I type this I have a deep longing to reach for my bible, and quote scripture on these pages, as I always do.  But I remembered yesterday that because our suitcase was already so full, I packed our bibles into a box.  It would only have been a few days and then I would’ve been able to take it out again.  I’m sure that small things will pop into my mind over the next few days and weeks, memories of things that I packed that I won’t see again.  And I’m sure that I will miss the sight and feel of many of those things.

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In our new house with what the fire didn’t destroy

But my heart is steady.  I have JOY.  I have PEACE.  I am flooded by LOVE.  And Jehova Jireh is my provider.  And He does it magnificently.  Grace on top of grace.  So a huge thank you to everyone who has already contributed in any way towards building up again what was lost.  We are exceedingly grateful.  The Lord has called us, and He restores us, and as an instrument in this process He will bless your generosity and love and kindness.  Our hearts cannot contain the kindness we have experienced since this tragedy hit.  And we pray a blessing over you all for your open hearts and hands.

This journey has not been anything like we expected.  But it is turning out to be more beautiful than our hearts have ever seen.  It is richer, deeper, and more grounded in the Fathers love and heart.  And we are happy! We are joy filled.  We are free.  We are home.  In a (really) new Pocket of Beauty.

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Real

This is real –

Our adventure thus far has just been so beautiful.  Every moment so miraculous, every detail so carefully worked out, every moment we have spent in prayer and worship so uplifting and encouraging and faith building.  And in between these precious moments – life happens.
Continue Reading

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The Answer

Speak, even if your voice is trembling

Please, you’ve been quiet for so long

Believe, it’ll be worth the risk you’re taking

You’re afraid, but you can hear adventure calling

There’s a rush of adrenaline to your bones

What you make of this moment changes everything
– Amanda Cook (The Voyage)

I am so in love with these words at the moment – I listen to them many times a day.  The first time I heard this song, the lyrics washed over my soul as if the Lord was singing right into my heart, and it still leaves me breathless.  What you make of this moment changes EVERYTHING.

This moment seems huge to us.  The moment when you pack up your life as you know it, and answer the call into the unknown.

Well, maybe that is a little dramatic – Continue Reading

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The Call

When Brown eyes and I got married, we had big plans – We were going to live in beautiful Oxford (UK) where we got married, I was going to be a successful child psychologist, he was going to be a successful financial trader, we were going to buy one of those dreamy Oxford homes, we were going to have 4 kids to fill that big dreamy house and of course, we were going to get a puppy.

I’m not exactly sure where reality kicked in – but somewhere in the next few months we started realizing that things probably weren’t going to be that way.  We were in the UK on working holiday visas, our 2 years there were almost up, and I was missing the South African fields and mountains and people and food and languages and my family.  We needed a new dream.  During our time as university students that dream started to shape and finally became a reality when we were expecting our dearest little warrior and desperately needed a place to call home (and an income to go with it).  So we made the huge leap and moved to our dream city – Cape Town.

For the first (at least) 3 years of living here, I cried every time I saw Table Mountain.  I cried because it was the most beautiful sight, and I got to see it in real life, as often as I wanted.  This brand new place became our home.  We settled in with a church and friends who became our family, the fynbos smell became the smell of home, we grew familiar with the Sunday-morning-newspaper-delivery-guy who we could hear coming down the street as he called out the name of the paper he was selling, we had two babies here, we lost 4 babies here, we rooted our lives here as we started dreaming all over again.  We picked our favourite shops for our routine grocery shopping, we picked our favourite roads to get to those shops, we picked our favourite mulberry trees to steal pick leaves from during silkworm season, we had a family doctor where we have taken our kids since birth, we got a family membership at the aquarium and went there every other weekend, we knew what to do and where to go for whichever mood we were in, and the Cape knew how to soothe our souls and fill our hearts.  And my message to Brown eyes was loud and clear – We will never move.  We will raise our kids here, their preschool friends will be the ones they grow up with, we will eventually buy a house somewhere in one of the suburbs that have older houses with wooden floors and big rooms (which has become a challenge because I didn’t end up being a successful child psychologist and he didn’t end up being a successful financial trader) and we will live in that house and raise our future puppy and silkworms there.  And if people ever asked IF we would ever move anywhere else, our answer was always the same: “We will move IF the Lord tells us to move”.  And we meant it – mostly because our hearts really seek Him in whatever we do, and secondly because I didn’t really think He would ever tell us to, after all, He is the one who prepared this place for us, He called us here and we have seen Him move in and through our lives countless times, and we LOVED it. Here.

Earlier this year, while I was praying one morning, a gentle whisper blew through my soul – “Is this it?”.  I didn’t understand the question?  Doesn’t that question normally come from us as a people, and isn’t it normally aimed at God, especially when we get bored or frustrated with our lives and we really want to know if this is all there is?  So having the question aimed at me felt quite bizarre, but I was intrigued.  It soon started sinking in to heart – is this it?  Is this what I limit God to?  Is this how I will always do things? Just because I’ve always done them this way…
Will I always wake up and have coffee, just because that’s how it’s been?  Will I always fold my laundry a certain way?  Will I always pray a certain way, and expect God to answer in a certain way?  Is this it?  So the next morning I set out to make changes, small changes, but changes none the less.  Like having tea instead of coffee when I wake up.  And repacking and switching around everything in my kitchen cupboards.  And driving different roads to the ones I’m used to.  And trying a different store.  And parking on the other side of the library parking lot.  I just had such a desire to do things differently!  And I did.

One thing I didn’t mention at the beginning of my story, is how Brown eyes started saying things early in the year like “Imagine the Lord sends us somewhere, like another country!” to which I OBVIOUSLY responded “Ha.Ha.Ha”.  And I think Brown eyes and God had a bit of a thing going there that I wasn’t aware of, because the next few months became interesting.  We both became aware of a change happening within us.  Something.  I don’t have the words to even try and explain what it was, I don’t even think I know.  Let’s call it preparation.  Small changes turned into bigger changes, turned into bigger changes.  Mostly inward changes, the deep kind that can’t pin point once it’s happened, but you know it happened.  The Lord started calling us, gently.  To open our hearts to a new season.  To walk on the water.  To move.

He clearly gave us direction, He gave us purpose, He gave us peace, and he gave us the blessing of those around us, those that have been so weaved into our hearts that I still find it difficult to imagine not being in their homes on a regular basis, or in church with them on a Sunday, or in the parks and mountains and on the beaches that surround us.  But He has also tied our hearts to His call.

Everything in me wants to stay – I love this city.  I love these people.  I love the smell.  I love the sunset.  I love what God has done in us and for us and through us here.  I love Him.  Which is why everything in me wants to go – I Love His voice.  I love how He calls.  I love seeing the mystery unfold.  I love seeing Him make a way where there was no way.  I love Him.  Everything about Him.  And I know He calls us for a reason.  A very specific purpose.  A time such as this.

So we are in the process of sharing the news with those around us.  Sorting out the logistics that unavoidably come with such a big move.  And dealing with the emotions that make themselves known from both sides of the spectrum.  I will wake up some mornings with such huge excitement that I cannot imagine having to wait to start packing, and by lunch time I would have spent an hour half an hour crying with my angel neighbour on our front step about leaving and I would have had a high again – at least once.  And yes, I have a million questions.  I wonder about everything all the time – How will the trip go?  How will the kids adapt?  How will the cat adapt?  Will I find mulberry trees?  How will my kids friends take the news?  How will it feel to go to our library for the last time?  How will it feel to drive through our mountains for the last time, and to look at Table mountain in the rear-view mirror and know I won’t see her tomorrow? And then my heart is lightened with the questions that await me.  How will we see God move in our new city?  Where will we go on our first hike?  How will our first new sunrise feel?  Who will God introduce us to, that will become our family?  What will become our favourite things to do, and places to go?  What will make me cry, because it is the most beautiful sight, and I get to see it in real life, as often as I want?

This adventure is a big step for us.  Our hearts and deeds and children and money and thoughts and plans and dreams are invested in this.

Do I ever experience doubt? Yip…

Do I ever feel like I might want to hide in the cupboard for a while?  Yip…

But every time I hide my face in my hands and ask the hard questions, I end up in the same place.
I end up standing with one foot in the boat, and one foot on the raging sea, and my King is holding His hand out to me, never taking His eyes off mine.  He is calling.  And this ocean around me doesn’t matter anymore – because I see Him.  The most valuable, immeasurable, unchanging, all-consuming pocket of magnificent beauty.

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