Monthly Archives: August 2013

Post 18. Wilf Lowe

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A re-post: In memory of my dad

The Long and Winding Road

Dad’s jazz collection kept growing and so did his knowledge and influence in the world of jazz.  He had one of the biggest, oldest jazz collections in the world. People loved his radio programmes “Artistry in Rhythm” and “Jazz Journal” and he became known as “South Africa’s Jazz King”.  He got lots of letters from Jazz fans all over the world and won a trip to England on the “100,000 TO GO” quiz show. The topic was JAZZ of course. He knew the ins and outs of jazz. The Quiz Master had to scramble for other questions when the puritan jazz man refused to answer certain questions, stating “That is NOT a jazz question”.  Well, he won a trip for two, to the land of his birth.  It was his first trip home in 20 years.

 

 

His sister and her family visited us once. It was a culture shock for…

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Post 128. The best kind of drunk

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When Jordan was three months old, our friends Yip and Frieda invited us to spend the weekend with them.   They were on a farm about forty-five minutes from Dehra Dun in a small town called Selaqui.  It was right near a chicken farm.  The flies were unbelievable.   It got really tiring trying to get rid them, so we stopped flapping and let them sit all over us; hundreds of them.

Yip and Frieda’s story was amazing.  They had been in India since the early 80’s and had picked up fifty children whose parents had contracted leprosy.  After a couple of years of moving around and staying in all kinds of place with all those children, they found a huge “haunted” property, which no one wanted.  It was a Godsend.  They had four of their own children, Kirti, Asher, Shuva and Neebha.  They got on really well with Asha and Zoë.  Our favourite game to play with them was, “Last Touch.”  Someone would start it as we were getting into the car to go home.  None of us would give up. There was a lot of wildness and chasing after adults and children to get that last touch.  We loved visiting them.

They introduced us to their friends Sanjiv and Sushila who were working with them on the farm and in the hostel.  We loved their down-to-earth Christianity and learnt a lot from them.   They had three children, Shruti, Ashish and David.  David was Asha’s age and had Downs Syndrome.  He was such a cutie and for some reason, he loved Tony.   He actually loved all of us.  He would go to the toilet, sit on the pot and then call each of us for help.  “Aaasha!  Own-y! Ninda!  Ozzyyyyy!!!!”  One after the other we would laugh and shout, “No David, I’m not coming.”   His amazing parents were always there ready to help him.

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David had a love/hate relationship with one of the roosters on the farm.  When it was running wild, it would chase him and peck his legs.  He wasn’t very agile but he would run away from it as fast as he could.  To get his revenge, David would wait for it to be locked up in its cage and then wee all over it.

Tony had been invited to lead a worship time with the community on the farm.  We spent time with the kids during the day and had meetings with the staff in the evening.  On the last night,  there were about ten of us in a small room.  We all went for it.  There was no holding back and our hearts were open and vulnerable to God.  We sang at the top of our voices, not caring what anyone thought of us.

I had never experienced the presence of God like that in all my life.  From my head to my toes, I was tingling.  I started to feel the muscles in my face giving in.  I suddenly had the thought that the Holy Spirit was overwhelming me.  I was getting drunk.  My legs got wobbly and I was struggling to stand.  When I tried to talk, my words came out all slurry.  Before I knew it I was stumbling over people but refusing to go down.  I held onto curtains and ladies’ saris to try to stay up.  I kept telling everyone that I was a good girl and had never been drunk before.  Tony had never seen me so “out of control.”  He found it so funny.  So did I.  So did everyone.

The next day I was still flying high.  I couldn’t believe what had happened to me.  There was so much lightness in my heart.  We drove back to Mussoorie laughing and talking about our incredible weekend.  Tiffany was waiting for us on our veranda.   As I hugged her she said, “Lin, your dad has had a massive heart attack.  He’s in a critical condition.”

Post 127. Training in the cow shed

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Standing: Anand, Tony, Rabden, Aman, Obed, Sanjay, Ritu
Front row: Puran, Baby Barkha, Ratan, Chandra with Rebecca and Champa

We had seen some amazing growth over the years.   There was a group of young men and two couples who wanted Bible training.  Most of them were keen to start new communities in other parts of India and Nepal sometime in the future.   Just after the big outreach we found the perfect place for our first ACTS (Apostolic Church planters Training School).  It was a big unused cowshed,  it was cheap and it was a miracle.  We took it without hesitation.

It was one big shed.  The single guys moved in there.  They got saris and bed sheets and created “bedrooms”  and a small hall for training and a kitchen. It was makeshift and rough but perfect. The toilet was as far as the eye could see into the bush surrounding the property.  There were two rooms for the couples in a nearby building.

Chandra and Champa were married and had just had little Rebecca who was Jordan’s best friend.  Champa had a rough birth and struggled to breastfeed.  They moved in with us so I could help her with her night feeds, bathing and everything to do with babies really.  Jordan was just six months older.  There were nights that Champa just couldn’t find the energy to feed Rebecca so I fed her.  They all joked about that and said that was the reason Rebecca was so fair.

Ratan and Ritu were real characters.  They had a little girl, Barkha.  Before his conversion, Ratan had been part of a heavy gang in Darjeeling.  He had a hectic lifestyle and had been tortured many times.  He had lots of scars to show for it.  Ritu was outgoing and full of confidence.  She loved to dress in Western clothes and was always changing her hairstyle.

Aman, who we had found under our house, was blossoming.  He was quiet but very secure and happy.  Anand was one of the first Garhwali believers and he was keen to learn as much as he could.  Sanjay was an edgy, funny, slightly imbalanced guy.  We loved him but he was a lot of work.    He would play up every now and again and drive everyone nuts.  One day after one of his manifestations, Tony picked him up and put him over his shoulder. He took him to the edge of the cud and told him that if he didn’t stop messing around, he’d throw him in the bushes.  He came right for a while after that.  Puran was a young guy from Nepal.  He he first came into our meetings he was fascinated with the sound desk.  His English was quite good and he was teachable and very eager to learn as much as he could.  We didn’t know Rabden very well but he was related to Ratan and wanted to get some Bible training.  It was an amazing group.  They were all so eager to learn and grow.  It wasn’t without its challenges.  Most of them needed strong fathering to bring them into maturity.  We saw such growth in their lives that year.  They became leaders in the community.

The budget was tight; just enough for very simple vegetarian meals and chai.  At some point the young guys got so desperate that they caught a rat  and cooked it.  The only reason they didn’t want to tell us was because they thought we would think they weren’t happy with vegetarian food.  They found it so funny.  Mmmmm.

Those who came out to help teach sat on the floor of the cowshed.  They used the bush like everyone else did.  It was basic.  Simple.  Earthy.  Jesus would have loved it.

Post 126. ” It’s a boy!”

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When we first arrived in Bombay in 1991, we visited some friends who had a newborn baby.  Zoë held it’s hand and asked me, “Mummy, when we get to our house can I have a pet like this one?”  I had given her a half baked smile and a half hearted nod.

I had been taking caulophyllum again.  I was convinced it had made all the difference with Zoë’s easy birth. We left the girls with the amazing Tiffany (who always seemed to be with us when I went into labour) and drove up to Dr Goldsmith’s Clinic.  I had no pain,  just tightness in my groin.

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Tiffany with the girls

Tiff brought the girls up at lunchtime and they spent the day with us.  Before long, the room looked like a playground.   There were colouring books, crayons, dolls and puzzles everywhere.  It felt like home.  All through the day people from the outreach were calling from the road below asking if anything had happened yet.  People popped in all day and sat and chatted about how the meetings were going.  The Town Hall was filled to overflowing every night and Rob Rufus was preaching his lungs and heart out.

I had no pain all day and I was beginning to wonder if anything was happening.  At about 3pm I had a few mild contractions but nothing I had to use my breathing skills for.  When the midwife examined me at 4 pm she told me I was fully dilated and ready to give birth.  Doctor Goldsmith arrived.   She informed me that because I wasn’t having contractions, I would have to be induced into labour.  One shot in the leg did it. Rigby was outside the door shouting “Push, Lin, push!” and push I did.  Tony was so supportive.  He had learnt from the other two births how to not irritate me in transition.  Twenty minutes later, we were holding our little boy, Jordan.   We cried with joy.  My first words to him were, “Hello, I know you”.  I felt I knew him so well.

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I was shaking from the shock of the rapid birth.  The midwives helped me to our room down the corridor.  Tony carried Jordan behind me.  Rigby was sitting on the bed waiting for us with a huge smile on his face, as if he had helped in some way.  He was the first one to hold Jordan.

Tiff brought the girls back after dinner.  They were so excited to hold their baby brother.   Within an hour, the room was filled to overflowing with people.  There were children sitting on the window ledges and climbing on the bed to look at Jordan; people with viral coughs covering their mouths and complete strangers from the shops and street coming in to celebrate the birth of a boy.  Anil Kapoor, owner of the Brentwood Hotel, sent me breakfast, lunch and dinner.  It was so different from the quiet, sterile environment of Johannesburg General Hospital.  It was a real celebration of life.  After about two hours we put a,  “Please do not disturb” notice up on the door in Hindi and English so we could get some rest. Everyone presumed we must have put it there for someone else.

The outreach continued through massive hail and thunderstorms.  Tony stayed with me.  When it was all over and our visitors were boarding the bus to leave for Delhi, I managed to persuade the doctor that I was strong enough to go home.  Jordan was two days old.  We went to see the bus off.   I stood there trying to look brave and strong but I could feel the blood rushing into my feet.  I nearly passed out.  I was so happy to be going home.

Jordan had come two weeks early so Sue had missed it all.  I was bathing him when she walked into our bedroom.  When we saw each other and she saw Jordan we both burst into tears.  Tony’s sister Jan and brother in law, Allan also came to visit.  It was a lovely time with all of us together.  Asha was amazing with Jordan and Zoë was happy to finally have a pet.

Post 125. Overwhelmed by kindness

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From Jordan’s scrapbook. Bottom left: In the town hall, the night before going into labour.

The next big event in our planner was an outreach in the town hall in the last week of March. My due date was the 9 April.  Rob Rufus had agreed to be the main preacher and we were expecting 101 people from Nepal, India, South Africa and other parts of the world, to pitch up.  We booked buses for them from Delhi to Mussoorie.

The plan was that they would go out on prayer walks in areas where church members lived.  We mapped out Mussoorie and were so happy with ourselves for being so organised.  When we showed it to our local friends, they looked at us as and asked us if we were deliberately trying to give our visitors a hard time.  We hadn’t given much thought to how many kilometres or how many hills they were going to have to walk and climb.  We started all over again.

When people found out I was pregnant, they called Sue to ask her what I needed.  She called me to ask me.  There was very little I could get in Mussoorie.  There were no baby grows or onesies, no waterproofs, no light cotton clothes, actually there wasn’t anything.  I mentioned some of those things to her and didn’t think about it again.  Newborn disposable nappies were number one on the list.  I was planning to use towelling nappies after the first couple of weeks so I just needed a few.

We got to the town hall on the first night of meetings and people started handing me bags.  Most of them said, “I’m so sorry I couldn’t fit more in my bag, this is all I could carry.”  I was overwhelmed with baby things; carry cot, clothes, hundreds of nappies, vests, honey dummies and everything I needed for my baby.  It was incredible.  We packed it all into our jeep to take it home and it filled up most of the vehicle.  It was amazing.  We didn’t have any cupboards but managed to pack it all in behind the curtains in our makeshift wardrobe in our room.   I had already worked out I was going to be able to share my nappies with Champa who was six months behind me in her pregnancy.  We were so amazed at the generosity of our friends.  Some didn’t know us at all.

The town hall was packed to capacity for four nights in a row.  It had never seen such chaos.  The worship times were wild and noisy.  People from all backgrounds danced and sang Jesus songs.  Rob preached his heart out and many were prayed for.   We had people in our house all day, for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Most of our visitors were staying at the Brentwood Hotel, which was at the end of the busy alley where I would be having my baby.  Doctor Goldmith’s Nursing Home was in the bazaar near Picture Palace.  The stairway was narrow enough for one person at a time.  There were surgical gloves hanging on a string outside the window and there were three small rooms.  One surgery/delivery room and two room for inpatients.   Each room had three hard wooden beds with thin, just as hard mattresses and pillows. The blankets were the heavy, rough type. There was an attached bathroom, which needed a good scrub before it could be used.  It wasn’t unusual to see a rat running down the passage.  There was no oxygen or incubator if anything went wrong.  The closest one was forty-five minutes down the mountain in Dehra Dun.  Mrs Goldsmith was a lovely lady from Mizoram, North East of India.  She had delivered hundreds of babies.  I felt comfortable with her. She was the old fashioned type who didn’t need an ultra sound machine to tell her the position of the baby.   There was no fuss.  Pregnancy and birth were treated like the most natural thing on the planet.  I was happy with that.  We had made sure Tony could be with me during the birth even though it wasn’t an Indian practice.

My pregnancy had been great and I had been healthy and strong.  We had a few ultra sounds done down the hill in Dehra Dun and everything was good.  We were quite eager to know if it was a boy but were aware that it was illegal for a radiologist to inform patients about the sex of the baby.  There was so much female foeticide.  In the 6th month we had seen “something’ that made us think it was a boy.  The doctor wouldn’t tell us but he had smiled and told us that there was a 90 % chance that it was what we were wanting.  We still weren’t totally sure.  Whatever it was, we were going to be thrilled.  I felt so close to our baby and so excited to finally meet.

Sue was booked to arrive a day before my due date.  We were hoping she would be able to be in the delivery room with us.   I had been feeling tightness in my inner thighs for a week and lots of Braxton Hicks.  At 4 a.m. on the 26 March, right in the middle of the outreach, my waters broke.  Two weeks ahead of time.

Post 124. The Snake Tribe

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We had outgrown the small chapel and our friend Anil Kapoor, owner of the Tavern Restaurant gave us the use of his restaurant on Sunday afternoons.  It was as wild as ever.  There was lots of dancing.  Community of Nations Church wasn’t good at holding back on their joy.  When we got too rowdy, he let us have a smaller hall above the restaurant which filled up within a few weeks.  There were people sitting along the windowsills and on anything that looked like bum space.

The gypsies from near Landour Community Hospital started coming back.  We hadn’t seen them since Raju died.  There were also a few families from a snake tribe.  They trained monkeys to do tricks and hunted porcupine in the jungle.  Their dogs were thin and covered in quill marks.

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Sarda at the church camp fire.

Jesus had healed their youngest daughter, Sarda, during one of our outreaches.  She kept coming back and her family followed close behind.  Her parents, Dayaram and Pooja were so grateful.  They had a corn business.  They sat at the side of the road with small steel woks filled with hot coals.  They cooked corn-cobs over the coals and covered them with chilly and lemon before selling them to passers by.  When the corn season was over, they walked from place to place, selling bangles and bindis.

They lived in a plastic tent above King Craig with their two sons and two daughters.  Their place was so lovely.  The outside was made of black plastic and they had lined the inside with a tribal fabric.  There were a few trunks with mattresses to sit on and a pile of mattresses, which they put on the floor to sleep on at night.  Near the door they had made a clay oven and there was a basket for their few steel utensils.  When the weather was good, one of our favourite things was to lie on a mattress on our tummies and look down onto the Doon Valley.

Once when I was sick, the ladies came into my room with marigolds from their little garden.  Every now and again we would find a packet of sugar or flour at our door.  They even brought a freshly caught porcupine for us.  We had no idea what to do with it, so they went into the kitchen, turned on the gas and cooked it right then and there.  No pots or pans needed.  They gave the quills to the girls.

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Bina with Asha

One of our most memorable church camps was with these new families.  About thirty of us went down to Laxiwala and set up our tents near the river.  There was nothing there, just lots of trees and space to set up camp.  We all had duties and there was lots of hard work involved.  When it was all done, we took our soap, shampoo and towels down to the river to have a baptism, wash, swim and brush our teeth.  Tony was wading in the river with Dayaram’s brother, Om Prakash.  Om Prakash looked into the water and at lightening speed, caught a snake that was swimming by.  Tony thought it was pure luck until it happened a second time.

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Camp lunch with our jeep in the background

At night we sat around the fire and sang our hearts out to Jesus.  Some songs were translated into Hindi and stories were shared.  There was lots of laughter and giggling that came from the tents late into the night.

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Zoe with Pooja

They were so good at jungle living.  We weren’t.  We had run out of paper plates so someone climbed a tree and got huge leaves for us to eat off.  They made an amazing fire in minutes and before we knew it, we were sitting around enjoying our dal, rice and sabzi.  They had strengths we didn’t have. They lived so simply and efficiently.  They knew how to use the resources they had.  Nothing was wasted.  Nothing was extra.  Everything they owned was necessary for their survival.  We learnt so much from them.

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Tony making chai

On the last day, we decided we needed to celebrate.  We needed meat.  Tony got in the jeep with Om Prakash and his wife Bina and drove to the closest village to find some chickens.  The only ones available were live ones.  They put ten of them in the back of the jeep with Om Prakash.  While they were driving along, Tony looked in the rear view mirror and saw feathers flying.  The chickens were going crazy as Om Prakash was getting them ready for dinner.