The Dungeons of Hell

 

slave-dungeon-in-elmina

 

I have been to a place that I have never been before.

I had to go in to the Oncology ward to have more scans and tests done, and because of financial reasons, I was taken to the Addington Hospital in Durban.
Understand this, I do not equate this hospital with the dungeons of hell.  In fact to the poorest of the poor, and to the sickest of the sick in our society, its is a beacon of last hope.    A place where care and treatment is given, free of charge, to those in dire need.  It is for them a beacon of shining hope and help.

Derelict, depleted old, and the long dark damp red-brick corridors brought to me what the dungeons of hell could be like.   The patients, moving in dim light and shadows, grave-faced, heavy burned, some uncomfortable and in silent pain, where there was no joy at all, patiently and stoically stood their turn for attention and treatment.

But there was too a great sense of efficiency of the systems at work.  Good work was being done in an organised and proficient manner, and getting the masses lined up for their treatment and care.   The Staff were patient, and kind.   Very kind, and understanding.   One  nurse in the Oncology ward, softly sang “put your care upon Jesus”
as she took blood samples.    I had a lovely imaginary picture of a little song-bird singing among the trepidation of the treatments that were to follow.   It gave comfort and brought hope, and smile to my face.
The ministry of soft song in suffering is powerful.

I went through the motions of the day, waiting many hours till my turn came   I sat in a waiting room that was filled with light.  It had a “sea-view”, but it was a rainy day and the day and the mood was sombre and a misty grey.   As I waited I saw the passing parade of the busy street in front of the hospital.   Life was carrying on as usual – traffic cops on duty, deliveries being made, visitors looking for sea-side parking.
I saw a new and understanding doctor, who had a heart for her patients, went through the motions, did the tests and x-rays.   Then finally referred to another hospital for follow up scans and tests.   A thorough investigation of my present condition, for which I am grateful.    And all the way through my trusty husband was there to help me get through the physical obstacles, with patience and endurance.

Once done, I was helped out to the car, where a car guard offered to help where he could, in the hope of a reward.    He was an elderly white-haired Indian man in a turquoise track suit, with hardship written on his face.   He was working in the rain for a pittance for his own survival – oh the hardships of poverty !

It is an experience that I do not cherish, but do so appreciate.   For in a moment in time,  it brought me closer to those who suffer in their poverty, and in the sicknesses and ailments.
It is in  poverty, sickness, disease and death that we may perceive the horrors of hell, where there is no joy, no hope and everlasting misery – all these linger in the dungeons of hell.

Song bird

Isaiah 61:1
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,
Because the LORD has anointed Me,
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those
who are bound.

 

 

 

 

Anticipating Abraham

 

I like to peer into, and glean from the lives of men who are the heroes of our faith, who have gone before us, and walked with God.   It is helpful in walking our own road of faith.
Abraham was a great believer, and to me was most notable for his obedience.  Obedience was the great facet of his life, yet there is more, Abraham was fully persuaded and lived in constant anticipation, so ever hopeful of following, and finding his promises from God.

When you are on a journey to a faraway place,  the road just seems to go on and on forever.
I  grew up in the heartland of South Africa, which is farmland, and so flat that on a good day you can see tomorrow.    The national road, that took us on our annual summer vacation to go and see, smell and taste the saltiness of the ocean,  was a very flat, straight, long, lazy strip of tar in vast farmland fields.    It went on forever, or so it seemed to me at the time, for when you have great anticipation, the getting there is almost unending.
Or, do you remember when you were a child, the almost unbearable anticipation for the time to open the Christmas gifts under the tree?   You could just not wait !

Anticipation is a healthy frame of mind. It is a desire that may, or may not be delayed, but nevertheless creates expectation, and that leads to hope.
The opposite of anticipation is anxiety, which is rooted in fear, the opposite of faith.
Anxiety creates worry, that can can lead to depression.
Hope is required for a future,  and a future needs a vision.
Perhaps one of the reasons mental illness is so prevalent in our times is that we have it all and there’s nothing to look forward to, no anticipation.
Proverbs 29:18 says  –  where there is no vision, the people perish. 

If there was one thing that Abraham had its was a vision of the future.
He is one of the great heroes of our faith.    In fact Abraham is the father of our faith.   It began with Abraham, when he heard the call of God to go on a journey to a faraway place that he did not know, or even how to get there.    That would require a response, and faith.   And what is faith  – believing the invisible, that which you cannot see, as if it were a reality.

Faith verse

And though some of you may not be familiar with who Abraham is in the Christian faith, his is a fascinating story of another dimension, set in the ordinary of the every day life   -yet woven in is this thing called Faith.   

Here briefly is the story of Abraham.

He was living in a heathen civilization, where idols were worshipped.  God told him to leave this land and his family and to go to another land.   A place where he would inherit the promises of God – the Promised Land.  (There is a parallel story here, between the physical and the spiritual)
Abraham, obeyed the call, and began to move on the long journey.
Abraham had a vision from God, and was promised that he would be the father of many nations, even though he was old, and did not have an heir.    Sarah his wife laughed when she was told that she would bear a son in her old age.     Isaac, which means laughter, was born to Abraham and Sarah – a miracle child.

Abraham became a wealthy man, a man of renown.
Apart from Isaac,  Abraham had other sons too.  Ishmael was born of Hagar, but they were sent off into the desert.

Isaac, the beloved son, married Rebecca and she had two children, the twins  Jacob and Esau.
Jacob, was sent to seek a wife from Isaac’s people.   He was deceived into marrying Leah.  He had 10 children.    Then he married his first love, Rachel, the sister of Leah, and they had two children,  Joseph and Benjamin.

In all Jacob had 12 sons, from which the 12 tribes of Israel would originate.
So the foundations of the nations were laid.

The forging and fostering of a people of faith began to emerge.
When  famine struck, they all went to Egypt for survival, which would become their place of slavery for four hundred years.   There they became known as the Hebrews.
Moses was born to deliver these people from their slavery and their oppression.

And so the story of a rescued people, destined for a better life in a promised land continues.   Their story unfolds through altar stones of worship, tabernacles and temples and then the City of Jerusalem.     Their story and wisdom congeals and is chronicled in their rich history in the  Old Testament.

Abraham had a vision of a city, of which God Himself  ‘is the builder and maker.’    And to this Abraham was called – to journey into the unknown, a journey of faith, for it was not, as yet, a real city.   A city forged in faith, through the making of a people of faith.   This was God’s vision,  a  v e r y  long term vision indeed – and Abraham received and
perceived it and so set out to find it.

 

City of God

 

I had been wanting to look a little deeper into faith, so when Dr Mark Chironna did a series on Hebrews 11,  I began to connect some dots, that overflowed, for me,  into the bigger picture of our faith.
So I tried to piece together the “faith genealogy” and where Abraham fitted into the whole of God’s story, and came to this brief summary, which may indicate that Abraham knew the story from the beginning to the end – he was given the whole story, apart from the details.

Adam,……… to Seth to Enoch and the genealogy line to Noah, the Flood.
Abraham,  the called faith people of God
Moses, the Law of God’s people
Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the Kingdom of God, –  the miraculous ushered into the physical realm.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ, – the New Creation.
The City of God, the New Jerusalem.

Abraham was an ordinary man.   He made mistakes along the way.   He’s faith had not yet been perfected.
We can make mistakes too, our faith is not yet perfected.  ‘ Faith is good, becomes great and then perfected ‘ – says Dr Chironna.

History tells us that when the beloved city Jerusalem is finally destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD they are scattered, and Judaism is established to keep alive the Jewish traditions.
Jesus Christ is born in Bethlehem, and His followers become known as Christians, and the Christian religion is born on the back of the Jewish belief – in an invisible God, Creator of heaven and earth, with a Messiah and a redemption story for mankind, that would pave the way to a New Creation.

Redemption from the Great Oppressor of slavery, an evil liar who kills steals and destroys wherever and whenever he can do so, and still doing so to this very day !
And thereby may hang another story.

I suspect that Abraham may well have understood the Heavenly vision for
John 8:56  tells us that ‘Abraham saw Jesus’s day and rejoiced in it.‘   He knew that God raised Jesus from the dead, and this gave him the faith to know that God could raise up Isaac, when he was told to kill his own son as a sacrifice.
Abraham had great faith in God.

Abraham and sacrifice

 

 He knew that God was a miracle working God.    He was not only able to obey God, but trusted God, for he may well have known the story of Jesus and His resurrection from the dead, in fact the Gospel story.

Today, it is still faiths’s pattern to look ahead to a better future,  with anticipation and with hope.   A better place.      A place called heaven, the Promised Land,  that has a city where there are no tears or pain.   For now, an invisible place, that requires eyes that see and ears that hear and a heart that understands.
It requires faith to make it a reality.

Faith is important.   It is an essential substance that should be applied to our everyday lives too, for without faith we cannot please God. 
Hebrews 11:6  But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for He who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
God is faithful.

Let’s be the people that will go to make up that City….. a people of Faith, and practice it in our ordinary everyday lives,  always looking ahead  ‘calling those things which do not exist as though they did.’    There are still miracles that can be called in through faith, there are still people that need to know that God is a miracle working God, that all is not lost, that there is a better tomorrow, because with faith hope and love anything is possible.    Its God’s way.
As Dr Chironna says :  faith collapses the impossible into a possible reality.
(Love that !)

Its the miracle Gospel story, that will open us up to the same faith journey that Abraham undertook.
May we, like Abraham, perceive a good future and moved into it with anticipation, expectation and hope, standing on the promises in God’s Word – that is Faith !

 

God’s-Promises-Are-Yes-And-Amen-Bible-Quote

 

 

 

 

Sap Rising

 

Big tree

 

Here in our part of the woods, the Southern hemisphere,  Spring is coming.
The sap is rising is an often heard description of early spring.   If you cut into the stem or branch of certain trees  on a cool spring day, you may see sap dripping from the cut end.

Did you know ?

In early winter, deciduous trees enter a dormant phase.   They drop their leaves, move sugar to their roots and wait for warmer temperatures to return.   During this time, as long as the temperatures are above freezing  (water is still liquid), water will continue to flow into the roots.
Trees will absorb water until the water pressure in trees is equal to the surrounding soils.
When air temperatures rise, the tree is primed and ready to go.   It’s flush with water and starts moving sugars from its roots to the twigs, supplying the energy needed to grow new shoots and leaves.  Ref : Woodlandtrust.org.uk

Isn’t Nature wonderful ?   There are so many wonderful lessons we can learn by observing nature.   The soil, the seed, the plant, and the seasons – the essences and cycles of life.    And these cycles of life have one purpose in mind – to restore, replenish, rejuvenate and  resurrect.
All done in the silence and mystery of the nature of things.
Sometimes when a tree is cut right down, and the stump gets a scent of water, it will send out shoots in anticipation of new life, of resurrection.

Job 14:7-9.  says it beautifully

8.    For there is hope for a tree,  if it is cut down, that it will sprout again,   And its tender shoots will not cease
8. Though its root may grow old in the earth, And its stump may die in the ground.
9.  Yet at the scent of water it will bud,  And bring forth branches like a plant.

Resilient humans are like that too.    When brought low, they may be dormant for a while then at a hint of hope, will rise up, like the sap in a tree at the coming of a new spring.

To continue in the metaphor of the tree, there is also a pruning season. Why a pruning season ?   Well in nature, the reasons for  pruning trees are  –  beautifies them,  helps the tree to grow, encourages fruit production, removes hazardous branches, treats diseases and improves vistas !   Most humans need pruning too, that is spiritual pruning, probably for the same reasons trees do, only we may feel the pain of it more intently.

images (3)
In trees is the breath of life.  They take in carbon dioxide and give off oxygen, a commodity we cannot live without.   They fulfill such an important part of our existence here on earth.   They provide the nutrition of good food to keep us healthy,  wood to keep us warm, and paper to write our hearts on.  On a hot summer’s day they give shade to man and beast.     And they are a beauty to behold.

jacaranda trees

I love the parallel between people and trees.
In Scripture there are many descriptions of people like trees :

Psalm 104:16   The trees of the LORD are full of sap,  The cedars of Lebanon which He planted,

Psalm 92:12  The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree.  He shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.   13.  Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God.   14.  They shall still bear fruit in old age,  They shall be fresh and flourishing. 

Isaiah 55:12    ….   And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. 

Job 8:16   He grows green in the sun, and his branches spread out in his garden.  

I think God likens people to trees.  I like to think that in His fields of Faith, throughout the ages and generations He has planted many seeds.  Some seeds (souls) lie dormant for a long time, some come to fruition in their time.
In the fullness of time, the seeds begin to grow, and if watered and nurtured by His Word, they fulfill their destiny and His purposes.
Of course there are dangers around every turn to prevent the souls from coming into their full potential.   Danger lurks everywhere once the stem pushes through the soil.
But once the seed becomes a fully grown tree it provides beauty, shelter, shade and food for others to enjoy.    In its season, the sap will rise, to bear more leaves and branches, to give more fruit and more shade.
A season for pruning may come, to cut away distorted growth, diseases and the necessary surge for new growth to take place.  All to the advantage of the beautiful tree.

God watches over His fields of Faith, the planting of the Lord.   He knows and sees the trees of the field, and knows their needs, their desires and their seasons.  He lovingly waters them and nourishes them with His care and by His Word.

So in this new Spring season I tell myself,  ‘don’t be a dying stump, reach for the promises of God, allow the sap to rise, and grow new praise branches.’

 

green-graphene-gum-trees-1

Waiting Rooms

 

I had to get up earlier than usual so that I could travel the distance and arrive early for my appointment at the oncologist’s waiting rooms.
The invader had returned.  And so I had to go through the process of assessment, markings, being escorted to the other building where registration,  x-rays and scans were done for more markings and measurements.    All done professionally and regimentally with precision and courtesy.  There were other patients waiting their turn, and so I had to wait my turn too.   But the waiting for me was not an inconvenience.   I love to sit and observe the passing parade, whether it be in traffic, or in the waiting rooms of life.

I  remember being in this place before, when I had to come in for the original scanning process at the beginning of my cancer challenge.   Strangely the whole building, the registration, the waiting-foyer all seemed much smaller than I remembered.

That very long corridor which I sat in waiting for the radiographer to call my name, was not so long now.
Long corridor

It still had the beautiful seascape paintings on the wall, but somehow it was not so daunting.    I wondered why.
Is it that memory shrinks the environment.  Or is it that when one is fearful of the unknown that everything seems bigger and a little overwhelming?
It is like when you return to your childhood home, or school, that everything now seems much smaller.   An interesting phenomena.

There were three others waiting for their treatment, and so I had a chunk of time to pass.
I read a magazine. And then scrutinised the paintings, thinking how I could perhaps re create them when I started my drawing again.    And then I thought to use the time to write.  I had brought my notebook with me.    All I saw was the blank wall, literally and figuratively, nothing creative would come to mind.

Gloom CloudBut what I did see was the cloud of doom hovering over the other patients’ heads.   There was a sense of gloom, and a sense of duty in the corridor as the clinic sisters hurried along with their work.   But even they seemed to have the gloom cloud over them.

Eventually all the necessary scanning preparation work was done, and I had to return to the oncologist’s rooms again.
Now more waiting.   But here was a large TV screen, and South Africa was playing India in the Cricket World Cup.   I watched for a while, but lost interest, so decided to inconspicuously observe  the other cancer patients instead.   And though the waiting room was light and colourful with flowers in vases and the TV screen there was an air of travail in the room too.   It was as if the people’s problems were very present in the room with them.  There was a certain amount of gloom in the room.     And understandably so, cancer is a serious problem, an  almost insurmountable problem, with its own sense of burden and invisible gloom. In some there was a resignation to the suffering of the disease.   In others there seem to be a bearable tolerance of the inevitable.   We were all wrestling in our own way with the fate that had befallen us.
There was a certain gloom, but there was hope too.  Treatment of whatever kind meant there was help, and the people in the medical and healing professions, who have great expertise, also  have important caring attitudes that carry the cancer patients through in times of illness and desperation.  Kindness is a good companion in the healing process.

I came away with further appointments in hand, for ongoing treatment.   But somewhere  in the waiting rooms, I had resolved not to pick up on the gloom, but to rather look on the soaring side of hope,  and choose joy when gloom wants to press in to order the mood of the moment.

soaring eagle

But those who wait on the Lord,
Shall renew their strength,
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.
Isaiah 42:31

A Story of a Sparrow

 

Let my sparrow drawing bring you a tender story.

Mossie

Written in the annals of our nation’s very diverse history is a story of a sparrow.

The background is the Anglo Boer war of 1901.
With the discovery of gold and diamonds, the British Empire came to occupy the land.
The British desperately tried to bring the pioneer Boers to submission.   The Boers,  fiercely resisted, fighting their enemy with guerrilla warfare,  that cost the British much.  Eventually a ‘scorched earth policy’ was implemented, where their farmsteads were burnt down, their fields salted so that they could not grow crops to survive.  Their women and children were taken to concentration camps.   But there was, overcrowding, bad hygiene, severe malnutrition, and endemic contagious diseases.  Over 26,000 women and children were to perish in these concentration camps of the Anglo Boer war.  The women in particular knew immeasurable grief as they  helplessly watched their children suffer, and give them over to death.
One such woman was Anette Marais, and the story goes …

“Anette Marais sat on a log and shook the dust off her tatty clothes.  Around her sit a group of women with familiar but weary faces.  Just a few feet away is the high wire fence of the concentration camp.
She opens her Bible and begins to read.   She had wrestled with God in the dark hours of the night, and begged Him for a message of hope for these women,  for who knows how much longer……!

Anette reads the words of Matthew 10:29 .
 Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin?   And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will.
But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
Do not fear therefore, you are of more value than many sparrows
.
While she is busy reading these words, a small insignificant sparrow comes and sits upon her shoulder.
The group of women stare in surprise at the incident unfolding before their eyes.
And so the sparrow becomes a sign of hope in the impossible situation of the concentration camp at Bethulie.

It is fantastic to see how in the following months the sparrow of Bethulie became a beacon of faith and hope for these women.    On May 1902 the Anglo Boer war ended.
Anette, on returning to her home, met a women of influence, and told her the sparrow story.    She,  in turn, retold the story.
In 1923 General Jan Smuts had two sparrows minted on the smallest coin of the then South African currency.”
-cent-south-africa-1963.jpg

So remember the story of the sparrow on days you may feel small, insignificant, forlorn or forgotten.   May faith and hope be a beacon in our lives too.

PS     In South Africa, the sparrow is known as a Mossie.   I translated the story from Afrikaans.  The author is unknown.  More Afrikaans sparrow stories can be found in my Menu bar, just click on Random Writings and scroll down to Mossie Dag.
Reference on the background of the Anglo Boer War is from Wikipedia, should you want to know more.

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Knowing Me from the Inside Out

 

October seems to be the month that highlights some global afflictions and diseases.
It is always good to be aware and to speak of our issues, devastating as they may be, but I wonder, why always highlight the negative ?   Why not, just sometimes, highlight the positive ?  Which month can we choose to highlight, the month of Good Health, that we can be aware of our blessings with thanksgiving, instead of curses, living with fear and trepidation.   Who invents these months of  Whatever anyway ?

Mental affliction is one, and lately Cancer has found its niche of awareness in October too.   As I said, it is good to hear the stories of others who have suffered these afflictions and diseases.  It is good to know that one is not alone in difficult times – as long as it leaves a residue of hope.

Where I live, October is well on its way to Spring, and Spring speaks of new life, and new life always brings hope.
I hope that as I share my encounter with cancer it will leave that residue of hope.

imagespeach blossom

On reflection now, I thought I saw the ghost of cancer in the corridors of the Scan Imagining building, when I visited there a few weeks ago.
She was a little, seemingly old, lady who had an ashen face, with a turban on her head.
She was small and quiet, with knowing eyes that were observing the comings and goings of the other patients there, while she waited for her turn for treatment.  It seemed obvious that she had been there before, and suffered the chemo therapy, that may have left her looking like the ghost of cancer.
I did not pay her much attention at the time.    And I am sorry now, for I missed the random opportunity, as I passed her by,  to give her a warm smile of encouragement – which she may well not have needed, as she seemed surrendered in her wait.

I was preoccupied with getting through the procedures of the day.  Foreign procedures of bone scans, drinking lots of liquids in waiting rooms marked  ‘Nuclear Medicine’ !!  Enough to send the ‘majeebees’ down the spine and ignite the imagination into orbit.   These scans would show up images, that could reveal the tell-tale signs of cancer in the internal parts of the body.
The scene was fitting too, for the huge scanning machines were quite intimidating, impressive, but intimidating.  Like a giant submarine, ready for launching into the deep.
And into the deep I went, with many images being taken of my ‘insides’.

As I lay there, between scans, my eye caught the little screen above to the left, which I thought at the time, were reflecting the images of my internal organs.    “At the end of this,”  I thought, “these people will know me from the inside out” – chuckle !   But I turned my gaze away, for I did not need to look at something I could not make head or tail of.

So instead I took the time to ponder on just how fearfully and wonderfully I am made.  The body is just the outer part of me, then there is the internal me, that makes me function well on the outside.  A whole marvellous, (maybe not as pretty as our magnificent universe out there among the stars),   but our very own inside universe, real in its own right !  Carefully designed, expertly operational, well orchestrated for detailed absorption, nourishment and distribution for me to be functional and healthy.
The human me – a walking talking miracle !

“But wait, there is more” I thought as the time passed.    Beyond the internal organs, there is the soul me.    Not quite sure of its exact location in the body.  Probably in the brain with its own magnificent design and structures to house the intellect, the will, and the emotions embedded in memory, with the ability of consciousness or awareness that harnesses the signals coming from without, … and the thought life from within !

You would think that this is enough marvellous creation-force to complete the whole of the human me.    But no – there is more !
There is the spirit me – a very delicate work indeed.   The invisible spirit me, which is the real me.   This creature called Me, goes very deep.  You have to dig deep if you want to know the real me …. if I allow you !
It is in the arena of the invisible, the impartial subconscious – and this, I believe, is linked to the spirit realm.  A personal porthole, if you like, into a much bigger story, …. of glory !

Now, enter a new scene in the adventures of me. The spiritual realm is a mystery.   It is a place where my Creator lives.  He is the original Originator !  He fearfully and wonderfully made me,  with light and probable nuclear forces at work too.   He designed and knitted me together in my mother’s womb –  my bones, my sinews, my muscles, my precious organs and my flesh.
A place where the impossible is possible, where wisdom and knowledge are kept in waiting rooms – not marked Nuclear Medicine, but Truth and Revelation.  A place where Joy and Peace live side by side.

But, there is another story at play.   The spiritual realm is also a place where huge battles are fought, sometimes won, sometimes lost.  A place of very dark vicious and powerful influences !  Influences that want to steal, kill, and destroy the whole of  me.
So my God, in His wisdom,  made a battle plan for victories to be won.   A plan to destroy the works and influences of darkness.
The plan is the gospel of Jesus Christ.    It makes for a most amazing, wonderful story – the greatest story ever written !  You will find it in a book called The Bible – an all time best seller !  Put it on your ‘Must Read List”

In the Book, the plot is centred around Jesus Christ.   God says when I accept Jesus, His Son, as the Saviour and Lord of my soul, and thus my life, I become reborn.    I become a new creation.   A brand new me !  Yes, there is a new world coming !
And so begins new adventures for me !

For a new creation person in this world, it does not mean the discarding of the ghosts of cancer.  Cancer which can and does thrive on harbouring fear, ignorance, (which often work together) intimidation, manipulation, mangled mutations, malignant growths and even awful mutilation – all products from the horror factory.    Not to mention an intense  strangling and plummeting of the emotions, for all concerned in the cancer story.  Cause as much deformation and destruction as far and wide as possible, – is the end goal of evil.

But a new creation person can overcome these evil negative things  – (and therein lies yet another story!)      There is always faith hope and love in their armoury, stout weapons that carry weight and power, to the ultimate victory in Christ.
For it is in-Christ, that we are made more ready for, and indeed become the New Creation.   Yes, there is a new world coming !

Go ahead and read the long,  and very brilliantly written interwoven stories that make up the amazing story of God and His love.   A story of victory and beautiful, beautiful restoration !     A story He has written for all,  and let it pertain to you too.    Become an Over-comer, get to know the story,  and become part of the New Creation that is coming.
Make it your adventure too.
And take Hope home !

2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation, old things have passed away; behold all things have become new.

 

light peach blooms

Words to Durban

Hello Durban,

Sometimes it takes words of affirmation to create an atmosphere for going from good to great.  You may be the Cinderella of all the cities in South Africa, but you have the power of attraction for those who need time off from the merry-go-round of life.
But you are more than that.   You are a kaleidoscope of hope, of contrasts and diversity, set in a paradise of green.

Durban you are a port on the East Coast of Africa.

Durban Port
Ships from afar, carriers of merchandise, wait their turn to enter your port, to foster the economy of the South.  And hope does not go unnoticed as the number of these ships have increased dramatically over the years – reminding us that indeed you are
‘a market place for nations’.

Container ship

A  city of lay-back laziness that can trap the diligent and industrious person with a lethargy brought on by the gentle tropical climes of a warm ocean current.   “Tomorrow is another day” well may be the creed you live by – and yet !  The steady onward everyday flow of the inevitable, continues to urge you to perform your duties with diligence.  Your  history is rich, your position is well place for the growth of a new emerging world on the African continent.
Your Oil Refineries are strategic,  as are your marketable industries on the south side of your city.    The southbound road takes your travellers back on a memory road, to old favourite holiday resorts, that have filled up many family  photo albums with sweet memories of lazy sun-filled bucket and spade holidays.

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Quite uniquely, in the heart of your city, are the Durban Botanical Gardens.   Noticed, apart from its magnificence,  is the peace that lingers there.  Now if ever the Good Lord would want a cathedral to live in, it would surely be in this majestic cathedral of green  –  a garden with its huge trees that were planted some 300 years ago.  It is one of Africa’s oldest botanical gardens, and I suspect by far the best on the continent.

Your inner city now scarcely reflects the former heyday of your holidaymakers’ favourite destination.  It has become crowded and derelict, as most inner cities are, with the influx of those desperate for employment and cheap accommodation.   Yet, two or three blocks up, on your sea-side,  are found well-kept paved promenades.  Walkways with tall hotels, all with sea-views, that tell a different story of who you were, and now want to become.

A city caught with one foot in a developed world, the other foot still entangled in poverty.   And indeed is this not the state of any modern city in the world of today ?   A world on a runaway train toward globalisation no matter the cost – for there is always a cost, there is always a price to pay for progress and development !

colonial house
Now going northward  – the touch of your colonial history is still markedly seen in your suburban landscape of the yesterday-wealth. Grand homes in beautiful tree-lined streets with lush green gardens, steeped in your recent history of refined living. Planted and painted into a part of the master portrait of South Africa’s history of diversity. Durban you are a world showcase for diversity.

But time moves on.
And a new era, for some, has arrived.   A time of unprecedented sophisticated living, as seen in the great shopping mall of Gateway Theatre of Shopping, some say the largest in the southern hemisphere, and the brand new developments of the Pearl towers for renowned accommodation.

The Pearls

Umhlanga Rocks reveals your ability to transform yourself, yet again, into an    international  tourist destination with its new modern high-rise Pearl towers and hotels, –  contrasted by the ever loved ‘little village’ where  the locals still meet and converse over a pint of brew.

Light house

Walebone Pier

A promenade of note with its iconic Whalebones Pier that enables one to walk on water!    The recognised landmark of  Umhlanga Rocks, the red and white light-house, a beacon of light,  near the world-famous Oyster Box Hotel.  No expense is spared, nothing but the best is offered to presidents and kings, and the visitors of Europe and the Elsewheres of the world.

Still northward bound on route to the new King Shaka International Airport., the outskirts of the city give a show of brilliant green that is seen in the waving sugar cane fields, and the rolling hills that call out ‘ go the distance !’
sugar cane

Beautiful are the green hills of Kwa Zulu Natal – the green Province with its emerald-green beauty and  flowing hills, a setting fit for prosperity – equally so for the penny and for the soul.

Green Emerald

Going further north through the sugar cane fields,  the main road will bring us to the mushrooming town of Ballito Bay, one of South Africa’s fastest growing modern real estate developments.

But if we are astute we will notice the road signs that take us off the main highway to settlements and townships that do not enjoy an acclaim to wealth.

Kids at Shacks

And if we travel far enough we may encounter the rural folk of another world.  A folk that have not yet made the leap from poverty to ‘progress’ –  but have so much to offer with their rich cultural heritage.

Rural Hills
The very wide gap from the arrogant and unsaturated rich in their affluent towers and malls to the simplistic living of the rural inhabitants is a screaming silent reality.                                                                                         Rural KZN Acat.jpg

Acat veggie growing

Inequality is a stamp on all our record sheets.
And it is in this ever-widening gap that a paradigm shift  needs to occur, a miracle needs to happen, so that you can go from good to great.   Pay attention also to the needs of the poorest of the poor, so that they can rise up and experience a kind of progress too.

 Herein lies your miracle,  bridging the gap between two worlds,  if not three,  – the haves, the have-nots, and the have-yachts !

Sailing-Yacht

Nevertheless all worlds can offer their own version and contribution toward  ‘being rich’  –  whatever that may mean,  each in their own way.  For sometimes the rich are not rich, and the poor are not poor.  Sometimes the ‘developed world’  has much to learn about being  “civilised”,  the knowing of   ‘Ubuntu’  –  respect – simple courtesy, simple humanity !   Someone once said, ‘ courtesy is the first rung on the ladder toward civilisation ‘  – something the 4×4  riders, taxi drivers and road-ragers need to know and understand !

As a City you have kept up with your own transformation – indeed you have to do so, for your saving grace is in the lucrative revenue that lies in the holiday and tourist trade,  robust business and employment, and of course the fine revenues from the Ports and Customs.

But most noteworthy of all are your peoples – a vast array of cultures  within your social perimeters,  which is  the very fabric of your rich design,  all gems in the crown of your disposition.
Zulu culture

The Zulu people, with their ancestral and stout warrior history with colourful beads that tell their stories;

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The rowdy yet gentle influence of the British, intertwined into your history.

Indian sari

 

 

Bunny chow

 

 

 

 

 

The colourful vibrancy of the Indian culture, with their special cuisine of aromatic spices, curries and  of course the famous Durban Bunny Chow.

KZN politics

The African People with their new-found vehement political clamour, coming to terms with power, and what that truly means, moulding the nation for tomorrow.

Indeed a beautiful mosaic of cultures, living side by side by the sea, in peace and harmony.    Amazing microscopic worlds within a world, called Durban.

SA's sports people.jpg

Your people and your children are easy, fun-loving, and sunshine kids – and daring too.  Totally Sports obsessed, with any reason to walk, run, ride, swim, surf or canoe an epic event –  a case in point the Comrades Marathon.  A marathon of well over 90 kilometres between  Durban and the hilly countryside of Pietermaritzburg.  Who thinks out such things !!?

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Sky Car at the Moses Mabhida 
Moses Madheba Stadium
Moses Mabhida Stadium

Moses Stadium

Great are your vistas for sports, but more so are your spectacular views of land and seascapes that lend wings to those who need to be lifted higher.

Durban, you are like a brilliant green emerald gem,  emeraldan often overlooked gem, among the chief cities of South Africa.   Slowly going about your daily business of business, culture and sport, with the determined purpose of welcoming your visitors from afar with warmth and hospitality.  Hospitality that inborn trait you carry off so well.

No better place to see, no better place to be other than in  “Durbs by the Sea”  as our upcountry  folk would say, when they pack for their annual holiday to crowd out your beaches with abandoned glee.

Durban visitors

 

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Durban, as the sunshine state of South Africa, you should surely be on the ‘must see list’ of the global community.  You may take your place with pride, among the ranks of other destinations who strive for the recognition of  ‘most beautiful place in the world ‘  – nonetheless contrasted by ‘new worlds’ waiting to be born into prosperity.

When your visitors step into this green paradise, they will surely hear the wind and the waves softly whisper :  “You are welcome here”.

Go Durban !green-emeralds stones

 

 

God said No

 The colourful little sticker says :

“Casual Day Celebrate Diversity with Persons with Disabilities”  

Butterfly SA

The purpose of the sticker serves as a motivation for the South African
public to be aware of those with disabilities, and the many kind-hearted charities that work hard to ease the life of those who know and live with disabilities.

So on the first day of September you will be excused for wearing your “takkies” to work, as long as you display the sticker you bought to support those Disabled among us.   A lovely fun gesture, that knits community together.

I remember watching the TV broadcast on the Para Olympic Games held in London in 2012.    Among the nations of the world there is none that can hold pageantry like the English.    It was  a magnificent display of courage and of hope to see those with Disabilities reach for their dreams.

Hope is intrinsic to human beings.   God has designed us that way.  He has built into each one of us faith hope and love.  And when life happens, to some harshly, to others not so much, and when things don’t work out the way we had planned , we are still left with hope.  There is always hope, that helps us to carry on regardless.   And this is what we are given by those with Disabilities.   They are hope-carriers.

They are a very costly gift to humanity.

Observing those with disabilities brings us to the threshold of suffering, and the age-old question arises “why does a good, loving God allow suffering ?”

broken glass

Just for today,  I hope we can pause, and remember those with Disabilities in our own families, in our communities, see them through new eyes, and be a little kinder to them.
The following little writing was sent to me, and I am passing it on to you.  Unfortunately I cannot acknowledge the writer as I do not have a name.  When I read it, it brought to me a smile and a tear, all at the same time….. and perhaps too a little more understanding.

GOD  SAID  NO !

I asked God to take away my habit,
God said, No it is not for Me to take it away, but for you to give it up.
I asked God to make my handicapped child whole
God said, No his spirit is whole, his body is only temporary.
I asked God to grant me patience,
God said, No patience is the by-product of tribulations, it isn’t granted, it is learned.
I asked God to give me happiness,
God said, No, suffering draws you apart from worldly cares and brings you closer to Me.
I asked God to  make my spirit grow,
God said, No you must grow your own, but I will prune you to make you fruitful.
I asked God for all things that I might enjoy life.
God said, No I will give you life, so that you may enjoy all things.
I asked God to help me love others, as much as He loves me.
God said,  Ahh,  finally you have the idea.
This day is yours, don’t throw it away.
God bless you.
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Showing off

CareSA Designs had a lovely experience showing off all its crochet craft at the five day Kwa Zulu Natal Christmas Craft Market this December.

In the spirit of entrepreneurship more than 150 traders gathered at the City Hill Church auditorium in Hillcrest to show off their creations and hard work done during the course of 2016.   Certainly a work ethic is being developed to combat poverty.

As I quietly observed the people and their displays for progress I could not help ‘seeing’ an informal economic pillar being built for a better future.   Yes, not all will make the businessman or woman of the year, but there is resilience and resolve, and if perseverance is thrown in with good measure, it could make a small dent in poverty, and lay a foundation for a better future.

Entrepreneuring runs on Hope, develops imagination – where anything is possible – builds a necessary work ethic, releases expression and God given creative potential.

The other side of the coin however is getting to know the nuts and bolts of running a successful business.  This is another story altogether, yet has to be embraced by the budding entrepreneur,  if good  lasting results are to be obtained.  So the next phase would be to get business savvy, and look for mentors willing to take a walk with ‘the future economic builders’.   It may be a long walk, but a start has been made, and as they say … Rome was not built in a day.

Have a look at some of the 2016  CareSA Designs crochet craft range that was on sale at the Christmas Market this year, and feel free to leave a comment or two on new additions, improvements, or add some new ideas for developing a small enterprise.

All it takes is some pretty yarns, hooks, needles maybe a button or two and a little imagination to make a happy hobby – that one day will grow into a budding enterprise.

Here’s to diligence and to hope, and may the work of our hands prosper.

HOPE TRADERS

A quote I once read said this “leaders are dealers in hope.”

Well, what follows is the result of about two years’ meetings with community workers –  that there makes them leaders in themselves. Ladies who faithfully and diligently go into the poorest of communities to encourage and uplift people who are in dire poverty.  The contrasts in our communities are vast, and the outlaying communities from our cities are the worst off financially and materially –  yet so rich in community life.

In an endeavour to develop community crafting skills as a means to alleviate poverty these women have been meeting to seek out a practical plan or model for entrepreneurship.
The following writing is perhaps but one version of an expected final document that can capture the concept of   caring through community entrepreneurship.

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THE  HOPE  TRADERS  CO-OPERATIVE
–    Traders in Hope   –

Hope gives a future.

When the Non Profit Organisations came together through Durban’s Soul Action Network, a vision began to birth to capture entrepreneurship as a way to aid the alleviation of poverty among clients of their organisations. In 2012 the Hope Christmas Market saw the light of day and has since become a very successful annual event, complementing an entrepreneurial mind-set for community development.

Emerging from this initiative was a gathering of community workers who formed an Entrepreneurial Development Focus Group, who have been meeting for the past two years to establish a realistic and practical plan for entrepreneurial development for the local crafting communities.

The Hope Traders Co-Operative  writing is but one draft, that may take the task forward, through the following prospect.

To develop and promote  community entreprenuership, –  and advance Durban’s profile as a favourite tourism destination, – by establishing an unique retail space where creative displays of local craftsmanship  will attract visitors and revenue from the international and South African tourist industry, – and expose creative Crafters and their stories, to a global market, and Durban as a caring city.

Vision:

  • Create an unique tourist attraction for prospective visitors and investors to the city.
  • Establish an unique retail space to showcase local Crafters and their products.
  • Connect the consumer and producer through use of story/multimedia/experience.
  • Promote Entrepreneurship through creative collaboration in Durban and wider communities.

Mission:

  • To identify, celebrate and nurture the creative potential within communities.
  • To attract revenue from the tourist and local trade toward sustainable living for Crafters and their communities.
  • To facilitate opportunities for entrepreneurial and community development.
  • To act as a catalyst to integrate cultures.
  • To weave community caring into the fabric of the Durban society, and its city image.
  • To encourage and educate the South African public to buy local South African products.

Conclusion:

In South Africa we live in a society where the “resources” of its various members have the potential to – and yet do not always – address various forms of cognitive, physical, social and emotional poverty. (Phil Bowyer, Soul Action Durban)

If,  with the tools of our rich diverse cultures, community caring, crafting skills and imagination, we can harness a personal work ethic, through Entrepreneurship, there is no reason we cannot take on the mind-set of … “from poverty to progress“,  and contribute to an emerging informal economic pillar for a prosperous South Africa – that benefits all.

Durban’s best.
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