Saturday, December 23, 2006

A Look At The Last 4 Months of Life Here

It is always good to reflect on things. Nature, a conversation, a good book, why I ate half a BBQ'd chicken last night? (why, oh why)? And since it is also the end of the year and you're kind of supposed to do it anyway, I thought I'd share my reflections with you!

So, what has happened the past 4 months with me? Well, I staffed this HIV/Aids school, which is supposed to train people to get out into HIV/Aids ministry and hopefully make a difference wherever they go. So, I hope and pray we did the best we could. And as for me personally? I think I've finally figured out what I want...Yah....To know God and to be known by Him and to somehow express His love and goodness to whatever world I happen to be in. Wherever God sends me, I have this to hold onto. Him and me and the journey. Not always clear; often not clear but why must I figure it out? Why not just live it?

So basically, after 4 months here, I've come back to the beginning of vision. It's all new. Anything can happen. And I'm OK with that.

Monday, December 04, 2006

World AIDS Day 2006

For World Aids Day we worked in conjunction with the police station next to Beautiful Gate and some local social workers. We performed a little skit about having hope while living with HIV. 1 in 4 people here are infected with HIV so it is important that while we raise awareness about how to prevent HIV infection, we also encourage those living with HIV that they can still have a full and happy life. ARV treatment makes it possible now for people to live much longer and to remain healthier for longer.

Our verse we quoted in the skit is 1 John 4:18 "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear."

If you didn't know it was World Aids Day on December 1, I reccommend taking time to think about what HIV/Aids means in your life and what part you can play in helping to raise awareness and stopping the spread of this pandemic!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Taxi Protests In Our Neighborhood

Well, things are much calmer since Thursday and Friday and everyone is fine. Only the mamas had difficulty getting to work because there was no transportation. Volunteers with cars drove them home after work. I actually had no idea anything was going on because we often here police sirens and think nothing of it. We are very well protected here and this kind of stuff sadly is pretty regular, so no one was very suprised. But here is an excerpt from one of the newspapers just so you can get an idea of what goes on here in our neighborhood.

"Today's action comes in the wake of chaos erupting on the roads around Cape Town on Thursday when protests by taxi drivers turned violent.Thousands of Cape taxi drivers demonstrated on the N2 near the airport. As tempers flared, they began stoning cars and buses. Police reinforcements were brought in and tried to keep the swelling crowd back with rubber bullets, stun-grenades and teargas while a helicopter monitored the scene from above.
At the centre of the operators' discontent is the national taxi recapitalisation programme, which seeks to regulate the industry and to bring in new and better vehicles.

The Cape Town drivers claimed they were being harassed by the South African Police Service and metro police, who were clamping down on illegal drivers and unroadworthy vehicles. Metro police officers were deployed to the N2 Borcherds Quarry intersection from as early as 6am on Thursday, where taxi drivers blockaded the road and threw stones, said metro spokesperson Novellen Petersen."

This article was originally published on page 1 of Pretoria News on October 27, 2006

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Facing Giants

One of our students has made the courageous decision to go home early because of some real struggles she's facing. She leaves tomorrow and it is just a strange feeling to see her go. In a lot of ways it reminds me of the decision I made to come home early when I was here last. It isn't about giving up or failing. It's about realizing our limits and taking care of ourselves so we can take care of others and do the things we love to do, well.

Please pray for her as she faces her "giants."

Saturday, October 21, 2006


Ugh! Sorry for the disgusting picture. But it so accurately depicts how I feel most days here. Mostly in the mornings as I wait for my allergy medicine to kick in. Oh! It just dawned on me. Here at Beautiful Gate we are enjoying new landscaping, new grass, new plants, new flowers, all inundating me with their glorious pollens as they grow! It's a much more aesthetically pleasing base with a much more lethal effect! Sigh...pass me the kleenex...

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Canadian Thanksgiving in South Africa

I made the pumpkin spice cookies. Dylan made everything else! His momma taught him well! He even made the stuffing himself! Since having Thanksgiving dinner just the two of us seemed a bit sad and pathetic (we can't help being the only Canucks on the base), we invited some of our friends to join in. It was a very international Thanksgiving, but Dylan was sure to play some Gordon Lightfoot (look, he's from Red Deer the poor boy, so let's not be too hard on him), and we sang the national anthem for them, though not very well... It was cool to watch Angeline and Loy eat pumpkin pie for the first time, a vital part of Thanksgiving for us Northerners. They seemed to like it... And to end off the evening, Dylan even bought some Kilkenny which we savoured while dreaming of the Great White North.

The oh-so-important carving the turkey picture. I'm holding the cranberry sauce. Mmmmm Posted by Picasa

The Thanksgiving Bounty! Posted by Picasa

Dylan (Canada), Gretchen (Alaska, so pretty close), and the cowboy hat had to make an appearance for an occasion such as this! Posted by Picasa

Pretty close to PERFECT! Posted by Picasa

Dylan's luscious pumpkin pie! Posted by Picasa

My pumpkin spice cookies...made from scratch, as in no canned pumpkin to be found anywhere in Cape Town! Posted by Picasa

Loy, from Angola. Also a pumpkin pie eating newbie Posted by Picasa

Angeline, from Germany enjoying her first bite of pumpkin pie Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


At Boulders Beach to see the penguins. They didn't say anything to the penguins about cleaning up after themselves.....ewwww

Before the school officially started, we took the students that were here already to Boulders Beach to see the penguins. They smelled. (Not the students, the penguins). But I particularly liked the word 'poo' just flung out there on the signs, sounds so posh. "poo bin..." I attracted quite a few stares from my choice of headwear, but I am the only Canadian in this group and I feel like I have to get it out somehow. No one understands Timmies, touques or even the rodeo....sigh....such an uncultured group of people. ;-)

I am enjoying the students though. They are seriously intense though. My staff team (the 3 of us), did an overview of HIV/Aids for them and they were furiously writing down everything we were telling them. Intimida-shun!

I was really, really stressed out, but my fabulous staff team helped rearrange the duties so i feel a bit more balanced. I finally had a nap this afternoon, a glorious, uninterrupted 2 hours of sweet sleep. Mwah! Things are so much better after a good sleep and meal.

I still have no clue about what I'll be doing after this year is up, but oddly, I'm OK with that. I can't believe it, can anyone else who knows me believe it? I am really OK with whatever plan God has for me. I am really just at peace with the whole darn thing.


Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Why It's All Worth It

I'm tired. So tired. It's one of those days I feel stretched thin. Like there isn't enough of me to go around or to get it all done.

I was on my way to my bed for a quick nap, when Mama Francis came over, looking for a song to play at Vusiyeka's memorial service tomorrow. Vusiyeka was a childcare worker here at BG. I didn't even know she was sick when we found out she had passed away.

Looking for a song...where to start? Something upbeat and hope-filled Mama Francis asked me. I opened the CD player and saw my Kathryn Scott CD in there. Played the very first song. "Heaven Is My Home."

Mama Francis closed her and eyes and swayed to the music there in my bedroom. "Yes!" she cried out in her perfect, beautiful Afrikaans accent. "Will you bring your player and play it for me at the service?" she asked with blue eyes shining. "I won't be able to get up and say something because I will just cry. But I can dance for Vusiyeka. I can dance for her."

Yes. Yes, Mama Francis, you can dance for her. We will all dance for her. He has turned Vusi's mourning into dancing. And He will turn our mourning into dancing too.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

September: Spring? Or Fall?

The other night I had a dream about Tim Hortons Coffee and Donut Shop. In my dream I was driving past and was contemplating stopping for my usual extra-large triple triple. I guess I was on my way somewhere and couldn't stop. But.... Mmmmm....Timmies!!
At little after I woke up, I suddenly remembered the dream and laughed! Any takers on the interpretation of that dream???!!! :-)

So, it's September. September as I know it is the smell of new school supplies, pencils, paper, binders. I love that Staples ad with the dad exuberantly shopping to the Christmas carol song playing in the background "It's the most wonderful time of the year," while the kids look on angrily.

September is also to me, cool fresh mornings and warm days. Leaves will start turning colour, days get shorter, and we grasp the last glorious days of summer before we need to pull out the socks and sweaters.

Well, September in South Africa is a celebration of Spring. September 1 marks the first day of this season for locals. One of the BG staff here bought everyone a rose to celebrate. The radio announcers had listeners call in about how they celebrated the first day of Spring. The last few days there has been snow (SNOW!) on the mountaintops, which we can see off in the distance. The snow too, is a sign of Spring here!

Anyway, why am I telling you all this? Simply to help you understand how strange it is to be thinking about Spring, with Summer soon to follow, when all my life, this month has usually been a bittersweet one for me. Here I am, just waiting for the warmer days so I can wear my shorts, and my flip-flops and to get a tan.

So, to all my Northern hemisphere friends: Enjoy Fall, and to the Southerners: Yeehaw! Welcome Spring!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Some Thoughts

"When communities set expectations about the sexual behaviour of young people, they must also create an environment where that behaviour is possible," said David Stanton, a clinical epidemiologist at USAID.

I came across this quote when I was preparing for my presentation yesterday. There are 2 new things I've heard since coming back to Beautiful Gate and getting involved again in HIV/Aids work.

We encourage abstinence because it is the only 100% effective way to prevent HIV infection. But we often don't understand the situation young people, particularly girls, are in. Now, if it is known that a girl is abstaining from sexual contact, she is more likely a target for rape, and therefore at risk for HIV infection. There is still a myth spreading around that HIV can be cured by sleeping with a virgin. Please pray for the young people here to hear and know and be transformed by LOVE &TRUTH!

When I was here last, the prevalence of HIV infection was 1/5 in South Africa. It is now 1/4. This makes me so sad. It also makes me wonder what it is we really need to do to reach into this dying, confused, suffering world to bring LIFE, HOPE, LOVE? I can feel it sometimes, living here in the township, the desperation; the fear. But I also feel the strength of this place. How it fights. Please pray for the communities to be changed from within and for people like us, coming from wealthy, developed nations, to minister in humility and love; to have teachable hearts.

I can't end off this entry without mentioning some of the very positive things going on around me. The children here at Beautiful Gate for instance, are for the most part healthy and happy. Some have gone back to their families, some have been placed in foster families. The older children are going to school now and have the opportunity to interact with other kids in the community.

We have 25 students coming to our school and almost all want to place themselves somewhere where they can minister in the field of HIV/Aids work. 25 students can go to many places and reach out to many lives! We are praying for one student, from Nigeria, to continue the work our friend Rahim had started there before he passed away.

So despite the overwhelming statistics and the seemingly hopeless situation, I trust in "the God of all comfort who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God." (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Hey Michelle, You're Not The Only Teacher In The Family Now!!

Tomorrow I am going to the YWAM base in Muizenberg with Elaine and Edith to give a presentation on HIV/Aids. I don't know how many people will be there or what they'll already know but please pray for us, that we can be a blessing to them, that they will really learn some things and that it will be not only informative, but interesting and useful. My part is teaching on prevention/risk.

Am I nervous? Oh yah, pray for that too! :-)

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

"The air smells of braaied meat. The sun is hot, now that it has risen over the misted mountains. I ran along the beach in awe. Am I really here...again? And then I wondered where God is taking me this time. Sensed a complete upside down turning of my world yet again. I also wondered, how do I contain this moment in time? Holding hand to breast, I feel overwhelmed. The beauty, the calling, the life. Longing to be part of it, to face my fears and live in it, all messy, wild and beautiful.

God, You are my ocean, constant, rhythmic, strong, vast, comforting, alive, pulling me to the centre; all that is necessary; all that is needed; where the rest fades away into the horizon.

There is a gentle waft of ocean air. Lord, help me bring it to the deep places where it can be planted and part of me."

(August 5, 2006)

Monday, August 14, 2006


We had our first official HIV/Aids School meeting this morning. I'm working with Elaine (US), Beth (US) and Edith (Holland). They are all beautiful, strong, wonderful women and I'm excited to work with them. I am now in charge of worship, hospitality (for the guest speakers who come each week) and food for breakfast and dinners. I'll also hold a small group each week. So it'll be busy but I think good. 25 students are coming! I've met some because they are already volunteers here at Beautiful Gate and that is great!

Here are some pictures from my get together with Cape Townian friends Rodger and Linda and thier 7 month old Rebekah.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

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Kuala Lumpur City Tour

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Introducing Icky and African-Icky

For the pics below to make sense, I must introduce you to some important travelling companions to me, Michelle, and Shannon. Icky, a leopard-spotted newt, and African-Icky, a giraffe have already travelled extensively and wish to share their photos with you as well. Collectively, they have been to England, Ethiopia, Korea, India and South Africa. Now they can add the US and Malaysia to their long list of adventures. Cheers!

Icky and African-Icky in their hotel room in Kuala Lumpur

African-Icky in LA