Tag Archives: discipleship

Post 120. Open house


Dudley Daniel couldn’t believe what he was seeing.  He sat in the corner of our lounge and watched.  Later on when it was all over, he said, “I don’t know how you live like this.”  It was just another Sunday.  Our house was jammed, wall-to-wall with bodies.  They were in every room, making chai in the kitchen, chatting on the veranda and on the roof.

When Chris and Meryl came, they brought notes on, “How to open your home.”  After a few days with us, Chris changed that to, “The importance of closing your home.”

Hospitality was one of the most important things for us in those early days.  For those who had no family it meant they belonged.  They had a house to relax in and a place to learn.   They knew they could pop in any time and there would be food and chai and conversation.

At one stage we felt we needed at least one day off, so we asked people not to visit on a Monday.  The response was interesting.  It was as if they couldn’t believe we wouldn’t want to spend our day off with them.  We were best friends.  We were family.  Why would you not want to spend your day off with your family?  We felt so awful but they were fine when we assured them that we still loved them and there were six other days to be together.

An open home meant an open life.  People could see how Tony and I were with each other.  They could see the fun we had and they could see when there was tension between us.  It was up to them to decide what things they would do and not do in their own marriage and parenting.  They watched how we raised our children and how we disciplined them.  It was helpful for our kids to know there were others watching when we weren’t around.  The couples that had children started to look just like us.  When their kids were naughty, they would make them look them in the eye, make sure they understood, put them over their knee, give them a couple of spanks on the buttocks with the bum woody, hold them, kiss them, make the child say thank you and off they would go.  When a baby was born, I got all the ladies together and demonstrated how to bath it and change it.

None of the village mums used nappies or waterproofs.  It was a revelation to me that those things were a Western luxury.  The babies were wrapped in any cloth available and they wee’d and poo’d all over everything.   We deliberately didn’t get carpets for our house.  It was easy to wipe the marble floors and it didn’t matter how much mess was made.  I taught the mums how to make cloth nappies and how to make waterproof pants with plastic bags.  The soft, thin bags worked best.  Small ones were perfect for new-borns.  I cut the handles in half and snipped the corners of the bag according to the size of the baby’s legs.  Once the bag was pulled on, the handles were tied around the baby’s waist.  All the mums started using them and it made their lives so much easier.  It was a good way to recycle plastic too.

Most of the discipleship took place over plates of food in our home and other’s homes.  There was a vulnerability about it; sitting on the floor, eating with our hands, hearing stories of parentless, fatherless sons and daughters.  Having people listen to our stories and struggles brought healing to them and us. Our house was their house.  Their house was our house.  Home sweet home.

Post 28. Moo Hills


I had itchy feet.  Rigby and Sue had left for Bible College and I needed to get out.  Youth for Christ was running a year programme called Y-1 so I decided to sign up.

I travelled with Rig and Sue to Half Way House,  to a cute little farm called Moo Hills.  That was to be my home for three months.   There were 30 young people full of life and energy, ready to take on the world.  I would be away from my home for a year.  It sounded like a life time.

Our dorms were converted cow sheds and it was very earthy.  Each room had 6 bunk beds so we lived in each other’s pockets and all kinds of lessons were learnt.  It was there that I learnt how to hand wash and iron my clothes. I really missed Val.

We dreaded the 6 am morning trumpet call.  It was loud and right outside our dorm.  I had sung many songs about an angel with a trumpet and people disappearing.  I was always relieved to see that it was just Johnny.

It was my first experience living with people who weren’t “white South Africans.”   Alistair Lowe from Rhodesia was no relation but he was a brother to me. On our weekend off he came to stay with us at No 28.   It was a first for my family too.  He was hilarious.

We had rules at Moo Hills.  Lobo the dog was not to be fed, lights out at 9, only one slice of bread after meals, no relationships between the sexes allowed and absolutely NO physical contact.  All those rules were broken,  but not much went unnoticed by Charlie and Wendy Paine and Sean Daly.

Lobo got fatter and fatter and so did we.  We talked way into the night.  One night we had a brilliant idea.  We lay on our bunks with our feet up against the wall.  On the count of three we stomped as hard as we could.  The girls in the dorm next door thought it was an earthquake and ran out onto the field in their pyjamas. It was freezing.

The girls joked that if ever we wanted some physical contact, we could go to Sean for a haircut.  Only if we were guilt free.  Once he got us under the scissors he would ask how we were doing.  We were convinced he could see right though us.  We didn’t have haircuts that often.  We heard that Alistair, when under the scissors and the stare, couldn’t take the guilt anymore and bellowed out, “Ok, ok, I fed Hobo!”

At the end of our three months of discipleship training, we were put into teams.   The music team needed a sound mixer so I auditioned.   Thanks to Wilf I had a pretty good ear and I got the “job.”

It was an intense three months of early mornings, excercise, study, kitchen duty, learning how to live and so much about loving God and others.

We packed our bags and jumped into minivans for our 9 months of road travel.  What we had learnt at Moo Hills was going to be tested.  We were going to find out if what we had learnt was going to work.  Or not.