Category Archives: Living Life

Post 194. The Danger of Isolation

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One night I had a dream which I felt was significant for CNC. It went like this:

Elephant and the tiger

A sweet young Ugandan guy  Mark, from our community, was leading about 20 of us along a narrow path, through some thick bush.  We stopped for a while to watch two baby elephants playing.   As we started walking again, I spotted a huge tiger crouching in the bush, ready to pounce on the baby elephants.  Mark tried to chase it with a stick, but it didn’t flinch.  We knew we had to pass it to get where we were going.

Jordan was small (in my dream and actually 🙂 and was lagging behind, getting distracted by the scenery.  Mark shouted, “Pull together so we look like a big elephant!” We all pulled in toward each other.  Jordan got scared with all the panic and started pulling away instead of pulling towards us.   I was shouting at him to come to us but he was crying and couldn’t move.

As we huddled together,  the tiger crawled into the bush and towards the back to where Jordan was.  I noticed a tigress crouching on our right. They both had their eyes on Jordan.  I kept shouting at him.  They got closer to Jordan, but Asha managed to drag him in; just in time.

The tigers backed off and disappeared into the bush.   We kept together, shuffling slowly along the path, surprised at how much we did actually look like a big elephant.

 

Post 193. “I do.”

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People just kept coming.  Madhur Milan was soon too small for us and the owner wanted to increase the rent.  We started to look for another place to meet.

During our time in that red-carpeted banquet hall, we had many picnics, baptisms, meetings, parties and lots of food. We also had our first cross-cultural,  “controversial” wedding.
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Ajit and Aphi were from Nepal and Meghalaya.  Both families insisted that the wedding should not take place. Ajit and Aphi disagreed.

Aphi came from a matrilineal society in which the youngest daughter of the family inherits all ancestral property. Husbands move into their wife’s home and the children take on their mother’s surname. If a couple can’t have a daughter,  they adopt one in order to pass their rights to property to her. The birth of a girl is celebrated while the birth of a son is simply accepted. Aphi’s parents were concerned that she would lose her name to a man. They informed her that if she decided to do so, they would write her out of their will.

Ajit was from a Brahmin Hindu family and his parents were not happy with his choice of wife or “religion.”  Neither family agreed to attend the wedding.

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Part of CNC’s multi-cultural choir: Debbie Sanate (Shillong)  Zoe and Asha (British/South African Kiwis)    Zia (Bangladesh) Mark, Ronnie and Mark (Uganda) and Joshua John (Woodstock School via Kerala and Bihar)

It was an exciting event for CNC.  Many of our community witnessed a Christian wedding for the first time.   Ajit’s dad graciously appeared to bless his son and actually really enjoyed the occasion.   A few of Aphi’s relatives also attended and seemed happy with the proceedings.  Aphi felt it right that she take on Ajit’s name.

Having grown up in South Africa in the years of apartheid, I was kind of hoping I would never have to deal with it again. Unrealistic, I know.  This beautiful wedding was our initiation into the pride and prejudice of parts of Indian society.   Little did we know that there were many more to battles to come.  Young couples would fight for their love and their lives.  They would do everything they could to get the blessing of their parents.  When they knew they would never get it, they would make a call to do what was right for them.  That was a very hard call.

(A comment: It was amazing to see that all the parents finally came round after the deed was done.  They often became the biggest blessers of the couples. Especially when their grandchildren arrived 🙂

PS. Any comments from these couples? 🙂

Post 192. Cooling Down

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Delhi’s infamous summer hit us from behind.  We had experienced it on our short visits over the years, but we had never lived in it.  The billies from the hills weren’t prepared for their first summer with temperatures above 45 degrees C.

Our Gypsy’s air-conditioning had given up the ghost during Tony’s accident (see Post 156) and the black garbage bag covering the right rear window didn’t  even try to keep the heat out.   Driving around Delhi was unpleasant to say the least.

It wasn’t in our budget to get air-conditioners in the flat but we were able to install a desert-cooler in the living room.  It was made up of a steel frame, a water trough and straw padding.  When we first turned it on our house smelled like a horse’s stable, but it did the job.  When the smell got too bad, we put a few drops of essential oil into the water and that was sucked up into the straw.

Summer power cuts were common.  With everyone using their air-conditioners, Delhi’s power source took strain.  When the power went off,  everything went off.  No lights, no fans and no desert-cooler.  Fortunately we had done a strategic swap with Raman and Kiron:  our electric blanket for their inverter.   This re-chargeable battery was able to run two ceiling fans and a tube light in the lounge for about three hours.

During night power cuts,  we would wake up drenched with sweat not knowing how long the fans had been off.   One by one we would drag our mattresses into the lounge.  The kids would soak their sheets in water and we would lie spread eagled under the two droning fans.  There would be lots of giggling and silly nonsense before we finally drifted off to sleep again.

We casually mentioned our vehicle and air-conditioning situation to God. “God, we can do this, but don’t expect us to be too productive.”

When Dudley Daniel heard of our predicament, he very kindly helped us to purchase a/c s for the whole house.  We were so grateful.

Soon after that, someone unknown to us, sent us money to purchase a brand new Toyota Qualis.  Again, we were amazed and incredibly grateful.

For Jordan’s birthday we gave him a gift we could all use.  We put it on our back balcony and it was perfect for those hot, sweaty summer nights.

Necessity is the mother of invention.

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Post 190. Begin again

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22 January 2000:

We had just had an amazing and much needed holiday in Goa.   Over the years we had driven for four to five days to get to the beach, but this time we went by train which took about 36 hours.  It was long but we survived.   Jordan was good at making us laugh in tense situations so we had our share of free entertainment.

When we arrived in Delhi we realised how different life was going to be.  The road trip from Delhi to Mussoorie  usually took about 9 hours.  We would get off the train or plane in Delhi and sleep over in a cheap hotel or with our friends, Andries and Brenda.  We would then get onto another train to Dehra Dun and then into a taxi all the way up the very windy mountain to Mussoorie. Sometimes we would arrive late at night and have to walk along the narrow path to our house with sleeping children and luggage.  There was always someone to help us, but it was quite a feat to arrive home sane.

This time we stayed with the Lindeques because we didn’t have furniture in our flat.  Andries, Brenda and their children Sarah and Simon were already an important part of our new community.  It was a Saturday.  Arun Handa and Raman had secured a school classroom for us to use for our first meeting.   All I could think of was, “What will we do with the DESKS?”   We were grateful but all felt there was something better.  At 5pm on Saturday evening,  Tony, Raman, Andries and Arun booked the Madhur Milan Banquet Hall!  It was across the street from Lady Shri Ram Girls’ College where Sharon John was studying. The guys came back very excited. Brenda asked if it had red carpets and it did.  A few weeks earlier she had a dream about a place with red carpets.

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The next day was Sunday and we were wondering, like Asha had been,  if anyone would come. We had nothing to worry about.  Word got out and friends were brought.  It was an amazing  first meeting.  There were about  40 people, including children.   People stayed well after 1 pm to chat.

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It was an interesting mixture of people and we knew that once again we were going to be part of another Community of Nations.  Enthusiasm and expectations ran high.  Mid-week house meetings were set up and there we were… At the very beginning of a beautiful new community.

No-one was more surprised than Asha.

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Post 169. Please be quiet, I’m trying to fly this plane (Part 2)

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Our pilot friend, John Sinclair handed us upgraded tickets at the airport.    He said we could sit with him in business class.  He also had a first class ticket, which one of us could have.  I was too scared to sit by myself so I declined.  I couldn’t fly without holding Tony’s hand, so we all sat together.  I burnt John’s ear off the entire trip with my silly questions.  Every time there was a change in the sound of the engine, I asked him what was happening.  I asked him about the pilots and why I should trust them to get such a huge, heavy piece of machinery into the sky and keep it there.   What if one of them had a heart attack?  What if both did?  He answered patiently.

During some mild turbulence, I stopped talking and started sweating.  I wanted absolute silence.  I needed to listen for anything that would indicate we were going to crash.  John talked to the air steward who asked me to follow him.  He took me into the cockpit and left me with the captain and co-pilot.   They were happy for the company.  I was amazed to see them facing each other and chatting over cups of coffee.  It was still turbulent and I expected them to have their hands on the wheel or at least watching where we were going.   I mean, there were all kinds of things to crash into, right?  I asked them lots of questions and they didn’t laugh.  That was helpful.  My last question was, “So, why aren’t there any parachutes on these planes?”   They looked at each other and decided to tell me the truth.  “Lady, if we fell from this height, no-one would survive.”  He was so relaxed about it.  No sign of panic, just really matter-of-fact.  Then and there, in that little cockpit, I accepted the fact that if the plane crashed, I would die.  Instantly; and a weird way, I felt better.   It suddenly dawned on me that I wasn’t afraid of dying.  That was settled when I was thirteen years old.  I was just very afraid of the “how.”

I had seen too many plane crash movies.  The most recent one was “Survival.”  The plane crashed into snow-covered mountains.  There were a handful of survivors who resorted to eating those who were less fortunate.  The other movie was about a plane crashing into the ocean.  The survivors spent the night in the deep with sharks circling underneath them.  Most of them ended up as shark bait.  I hated that idea.  I didn’t want to eat Tony or be eaten by him and I definitely didn’t want to be eaten by a shark.

Once, on our way to Australia, we did a transit stop in Malaysia.  It was a rough ride.  I got off the plane shaking and crying.  I told Tony that I wasn’t going to get on the next plane.  I wanted him to leave me there and pick me up on the way home.  I wasn’t hysterical or loud about it.  I was just totally prepared to stay all by myself for however long it took.  He patiently explained to me that wasn’t going to happen.  I would need to get on a plane to get home to our kids anyway.  No matter how scared I was, I had to get back on the plane.

As we were flying, I heard God gently but firmly say,” If you give in to this fear,  you will affect your destiny and the destiny of your whole family.”  I fought with fear and turbulence like they were the enemy.  There was no way I wanted to give in to fear.  I knew we were called to nations beyond India.  The only way to get to those places was to fly.  I needed to win the battle.

I had to nail one issue at a time.  I had to get right down to why I was so afraid.  Only then would I be able to board a plane without being convinced that the plane I was on, was the one that was going to crash that year.

It was illogical.  It was base-less and limiting.  It was to do with self-preservation.  It was going to affect my destiny.  i just couldn’t allow that to happen.

Post 155. Territorial spirit

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Pic- Hike to Kedarnath

A few months before our move, the Watkinson family joined us for a hike to the Gangotri Glacier.  We had done the hike to up to Kedarnath with the Ferreiras and Jono and Char in 1996 and now we were going to the source of the great Ganga River.

From my journal:

Tuesday:

Left at 4.30 a.m.  Gorgeous drive to Gangotri.  Huge landslides and incredibly steep gorges.  Drove over a 410-foot bridge.  Awesome and scary.  Nice weather with soft rain most of the way.  Arrived at 2 pm.  The trainees were waiting for us.  Had lunch and all slept for two hours.   Woke up with such a bad headache.  This place is full of the dark side.  Little men sitting in caves and tents doing all kinds of cultic stuff.  Incredibly powerful waterfall and amazing rock formations.

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Wednesday:

Good sleep.  Girls in one dorm, guys in another.  Set off early for Bhojbasa.  Vasanti pulled something in her leg and was in a lot of pain.  She was determined to get there.  Hiked for fourteen kilometres up to 12,385 feet.  The guys took turns to carry Jordan in his carry seat.  When the girls got tired they went on the mules; SO close to the edge at times.  It was so good to get to Bhojwasa.  Heard mice scuttling around all night. 

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Hike to Gangotri

Thursday:

Found all kinds of things in our shoes in the morning.  The mice had fun while we were sleeping.  Left early for Gaumukh.  It was a challenging nine kilometre hike but not difficult. We went up to 13,000 feet.  Did a lot of boulder climbing.  Vasanti said it was too humiliating to get on the mule,  so hobbled almost the entire way.  When she finally gave in, she was healed instantly!  SO funny.  Amazing to be at the source of the Ganga.  The glacier is HUGE.  Saw massive blocks of ice breaking off and floating down the river.

We all stood on a big rock and prayed and prophesied over India for an hour.  Good time.  Really felt God’s presence. 

It was a long walk back to Bhojbasa.   I walked most of the way with Esther.  Talked about how spiritually easy it had all been. 

That night I had a really oppressive dream.  It may have been a vision because I wasn’t able to get to sleep.  I dreamt that I was thinking how easy it had been.  Suddenly, Shiva’s face appeared.  His mouth was huge and he was laughing right in my face.  He said, “It was easy because I’m not afraid of you; twelve people praying on a rock.  This has been my territory for decades. What do you think you can do?”  The laughter was loud and intimidating.  I was struggling to breathe but didn’t want to wake anyone up.

I woke up feeling really discouraged and oppressed.  I told Tony about the dream on the hike back to Gangotri.  I felt my throat closing up and I started gasping for air.  Everyone prayed for me and I was fine.  I knew it wasn’t true.  I knew our prayers had made an impact.  I knew Jesus was more powerful and that He had been there not just for decades, but from the beginning of time.

After a night in Gangotri we drove back to Mussoorie.  It was going well until we hit very thick winter mist.  It was so scary.  We could barely see the road in front of us.  Just before we got home, Tony and I saw two huge black holes in the mist.  If we had been too distracted by them, we would have been over the cliff.  When we got to our house, we were all shaken up but so happy.

A cup of tea later and we were all in bed.  As my granddad used to say, “A nice cuppa tea and I won’t need no rockin’ tonight.

Post 129. Goodbye my lovely dad

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I was shaken but the steel in me refused to bend.   I knew then why I had been so strengthened by God.  I was going to need all the strength I could find.  A few phone calls to South Africa, confirmed dad’s critical condition.  Tony booked Jordan and I on the first flight out of Delhi.   I packed my bags and we did the eight-hour drive to the airport.  My stomach was in turmoil the whole way.  There was no way to keep in touch with Tony or my family in South Africa once I left the house.  I kept wondering if dad was still alive.

I said goodbye to Tony and prayed there would be someone to help me with Jordan on the way.  I wasn’t sure how I would manage with my suitcase, bag, nappy bag and Jordan.  What if I needed the loo?  I got to the check-in and a man travelling from Delhi to Durban started talking to me.   He was a “typical” South African man.  He smoked, talked about rugby and the meat he couldn’t wait to eat.  He had no idea he had been chosen by God  to be my very own angel.  When I needed to change Jordan he looked after my bags, he kept me a place in the queue and held Jordan when I checked in.  When I got on the plane, there he was in the seat right next to me.  I told him about my dad and he was concerned when I cried on and off throughout the flight.  Fortunately Jordan travelled amazingly well.

When we touched down, I was shaking.  My “angel” helped me off the plane and walked with me into the arrival area.  I could see my family waiting for me.  They all looked pale.  The first thing I asked was, “How’s dad?”  He was still alive but it wouldn’t be for long.  I handed Jordan to my mom and my legs collapsed under me.  I shook for about five minutes.

Everyone made a fuss of Jordan.  He was just over three months old and a real cutie.  We went to Rolleston Place to freshen up and then headed for Entabeni Hospital.  Dad looked awful.  He was black and blue.  It was a shock to see him hooked up to pipes and breathing apparatus.  He was weak but so happy to see me.  The nurses felt he was still alive because he knew I was coming.   I was told to keep him calm. When he held Jordan, his heart rate went up and we had to take him away.

We had a quiet conversation. In a very weak voice he expressed his last minute doubts about going to heaven.   I assured him that his simple prayer of surrender to Jesus that many years ago had secured his place in heaven.  Jesus had taken away his sin and in that instant, he had been born-again.  He was a new creation.  The old had gone and the new had come.

He also talked about his dreams and morphine hallucinations.  He could see himself in a huge warehouse full of wood, then on a stage surrounded by musicians and people and then in a bookshop.  On the shelf was a book about his life and his family, written by me.  He asked me if I could do that since he hadn’t got around to it.  I didn’t make any promises.   I realised that all the things he was thinking about were the things that he loved; wood, books and music.  Those were his passions.

I was with him when he took his last breath.  I had never seen a person going from being alive to being dead.  Gone.  Just like that.  In one second, my lovely dad was gone.  There was such sadness but as we were leaving the hospital, someone said, “It must be so bright in heaven.  I hope dads got his sunglasses.”  We laughed until we cried and then we cried until we laughed.

Going through his cupboards was hard.  He had no worldly wealth to speak of.  He had lived a simple, contented life.  He left the house to mum and his entire jazz collection was sold to the Natal University Music Department.  They got the best end of the deal.  It was awful watching it go. I got his old typewriter and his tartan bomber jacket, which he got in his early 20’s. I also got his diaries.  The earliest one was from first grade.

When I was going through his things, I was amazed at how sentimental he had been.  There were boxes of photographs and reel-to-reel movies of holidays, births, weddings, relatives, babies, cousins and every family get together.  There were neatly stacked piles of all the cards we had ever made for him and every letter we had written to him.  He hadn’t left us with any “inheritance” to speak of, but such wonderful memories.  It sat well with me.  That was the kind of inheritance I wanted to leave my kids.

Post 122. Little blue tent

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My favourite place to sleep

I had just turned thirty-four.  It was 1994.  Ash was about to turn eight and Zoë was going to be six.  I was happy they were going to be old enough to help with the baby.  Three mothers are better than one.  We were all so excited.

Life continued at a rapid pace and before we knew it, it was time for our three week Goa holiday.  It was too expensive for us all to fly, so we started planning our long road trip.  Tony took the jeep to the carpenter in the bazaar and showed him our ingenious design.  We wanted to turn it into a bed so we could stay anywhere along the coast and not have to spend money on accommodation.  The ply-wood bed was put on stilts so there was plenty of room for our luggage underneath.  The bed was at the height of the driver and passenger seats.  There was a section on a hinge, which could flap over and rest on the dashboard.  At night the whole jeep would become one big bed; big enough for one man, two small girls and an almost seven month pregnant lady.  Or so we thought.

We packed the car and the girls were happy on their big bed.  There wasn’t much height for them to sit up, so they spent most of the time lying on their backs or tummies.   It wasn’t long before their elbows started getting red and raw but they were happy with their books, toys and plenty of water and snacks.

It all went well until our third day on the road.  We were crossing a narrow bridge.  A jeep came from the opposite direction and onto our side.  Tony swerved and slammed on brakes to avoid him.  The girls were lying on their tummies with their faces right near our heads.  They flew towards the dashboard and I screamed out the name of Jesus so loud it freaked Tony out.  I put my arm out to stop them in their flight and Tony somehow managed to get the car under control.  When we pulled over we were all crying.  We looked for blood but there wasn’t any.  Disappointing after such an ordeal but we were grateful to be alive.

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Our favourite place to be

We went to Palolem, our favourite beach.  Tony talked Gaitonde, a resort manager, into allowing us to set up our tent on his property.  He said he would charge Rs 50 a day. We agreed.  We found a spot under a lamppost.  There were two coconut palms for our hammock and a tap right nearby.  The showers and toilets were a few metres away and there was a children’s park in the middle of the resort.  The beach wasn’t even 500 metres away.  It was so perfect.

We spent the whole day setting up, getting rations and hanging up big bed sheets for some privacy.  Tony got some fresh fish and fried it on our little gas burner.  We were all so happy.  The girls were excited about sleeping in our tent.

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Our little blue tent

It was a five-man tent and there was just enough room for all of us including my tummy. Tony felt the need to be our security person.  He did a good job of locking us in so that nothing could enter or escape.  Including air.  It was tight and the ground was bumpy but we all somehow managed to find a comfortable position.  We lay there talking and laughing about storms and wind and what would happen if the weather changed.

We talked until we were exhausted.  It was hard for me to breathe in such a tight air-less space but I did my best to concentrate on other things.  Just as we were about to drift into much needed sleep, Tony decided to fill up the tent with his pent up gas.  We all started flapping which made things worse.  We couldn’t breathe and we couldn’t get out of the tent.  Our eyes were burning and we didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.  We hit Tony with our pillows and told him he would be sleeping on the beach if he even thought about doing that again.

As soon as the sun came up, I crawled out of the tent on my hands and knees. I took a deep breath of fresh Goan air.   It was so different from the air in our small blue tent.

Post 121. EEEEEEEeeeeee!

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Zoe- photo by Terry Kreuger

The girls and I were in the bazaar so I popped into the pharmacy to get something for my nausea.  I had been feeling sick for a while.  We seemed to live with those feelings so it wasn’t really a big deal but Tony was away in Australia and New Zealand and I didn’t want whatever it was to get worse.  I was also feeling really tired.  We had visitors every month and life was full on and I needed to be well.

Our Tibetan friend Sonam and Vijay Masih were in Australia with Tony.  He wanted them to meet our friends from NCMI and see that we were part of something bigger.  We were so grateful for the many friends we had made in South Africa.  Many of them had visited us and helped us to get the community up and running.  It was an exciting, fast growing movement.  After we left South Africa there had been an explosion of community planting all over the world.

A couple of years before that, we were stuck.  There were international sanctions against South Africa and we were an “unwanted” people.  The world wanted us to change our racial policy; a fair request.  Things started to change when Nelson Mandela become the first black president of South Africa.  The world loved us again and we became the “Rainbow Nation.”

In the late eighties our prophetic, eccentric friend, Malcolm Du Plessis, prophesied, that in a few years we would be bumping into each other in international airports.  Many of us took it with a pinch of salt, having no idea how that could possibly happen.  From May 1994, our prison doors opened and we were free. Then we were everywhere.

Many left South Africa for safety reasons.  They wanted their children to have a quality of life.  Many left because they were racists and couldn’t stand the idea of being ruled by a black political party.  Unfortunately they took their racism with them and struggled with people of colour wherever they went.  Many were fearful.  There were prophecies that there would be a blood bath.  It was a miracle there wasn’t.  White South Africans had been dominating the majority for generations.  They had no idea how the majority would treat them now that the tide had turned.

There was also a prophetic word that the nations would call South Africa.  She would be a lighthouse to the nations who were still struggling with racism.  South Africans had been there and done that.  They had fought the apartheid system and won.  It was a miracle and no one could deny it.  Tony was in Australia for one of the first NCMI conferences with excited, wide-eyed South Africans carrying brand new suitcases.

The girls and I got home and I unpacked my packet from the pharmacy.  I asked the girls to come with me to see what I had bought.

It took me ages to get hold of Tony in New Zealand where he was visiting his family.  International calls were always a challenge.  When he finally got on the phone, I didn’t ask him how he was.  The girls were shrieking and jumping around.  Through all the crackling and chaos, I shouted, “I’m pregnant!”