Trip to the Eastern Cape: Day 15

I was reminded of our donkeys on my
father’s farm as we travelled back home yesterday. Speed was not their forte on
the way from their place of abode…but just turn them around! The moment they
realised they were headed on back to the kraal, they galloped as if a demon
from hell itself was pursuing them. All this to say, we made good time on our
way back to Cape Town…
We had a long way ahead of us, but we had a
late start…how could we refuse a full English farmhouse breakfast with some of
the dearest people we now have the privilege of calling friends? Or better
still, family in Jesus. Keith and Pam went out of their way to make us feel
welcomed and loved.
All of those we met these past two weeks
were wonderful and kind hosts…we truly experienced Christian hospitality at its
best. Thank you one and all.
Unfortunately, my Man Cold has taken a turn
downhill. I now sound like a nasally Mr Toad from Wind in the Willows.  Croak. 
Thankfully, Louise is still fine.
We came home to a warm welcome from those
who were at the GtC office. It is always nice to know one was missed.
John Ramsdale, who had promised to do some
research into Arthur’s work at Zonnebloem, had also left two photocopied pages taken
from a three volume work which he found in one of the cupboards at the College.
The author cites statements made by Bishop Gray and Arthur’s superior, Glover,
in which Arthur is described as “a teacher of outstanding ability” and as “an energetic
good man” who “shows much kindness to the boys, making friends of them as well
as out of school as in school.” The author then goes on to say that “it was
provident that a man of such a calibre had been chose as Sub-Warden, for Glover
resigned his post in May 1869 and Lomax had the entire responsibility of
superintending the College for the next two years.” I do need to see this work
for myself, as the author cites letters and reports that may yet be in
existence somewhere.
All in all, I must say, this trip was
rewarding.  Time alone will tell how many
will respond positively to our challenge to set dates for future trainings, but
we trust that the Lord will water the seeds sown and provide the growth in His
good time. We heard that some Anglican priests were trained by J-Life this past
weekend in Queenstown in spite of our struggle to meet with our coordinators.
We trust that they will now meet up with Siphiwo and together make a concerted
effort to get the training up and running through the Mbashe Diocese.
Lord, in Your mercy…hear our prayer.
This ends the travel diary of our short
trip to the Eastern Cape.


Stay tuned for more exciting news as the
Lord opens doors for ministry through the Province!

Trip to the Eastern Cape: Day 14

I have the Man Cold. Louise will tell you I am a miserable sod when I have a cold…I’m bad enough when I’m healthy, but when I have a cold I become a pitiful, pathetic please-feel-sorry-for-me blob. Well, maybe not quite that bad, but I do feel very sorry for myself when I have a cold.

However, I do have the ability to rise to the occasion when I have to, and as we still had two presentations today, one this morning and one this evening, I had to swallow hard and carry on. Both sessions were rather informative…the questions put to us after the presentation always reveal the pulse of the parish or diocese. Today was no different. We are surprised that so many months after the Provincial Synod’s charge to Growing the Church to find a way to promote the Archbishop of Canterbury’s challenge for global intentional discipleship, there are still many on the parish level that know nothing about it. This is one of the reasons we have taken to the road to inform the people in the various Dioceses of this new Disciple-making material taught by GtC…and everywhere, we have had positive responses with people wanting to set dates. But the setting of dates is not our prerogative…that has to be set by the Diocese itself…and so we can do little more than leave the ball in their court with a prayer that the Holy Spirit will lead and direct their deliberations in the future.

Both presentations today were very positive. The Plettenberg Bay Community is rather diverse with rich and poor rubbing gathering together as one parish. In the morning session, we also had a

representative from the local Community Church attending who would like to do the course with the Anglicans. Wonderful!

This evening, representatives from a poorer area came to hear about our LEAD program. They were so excited and also wanted to know when we were coming to do the training. All we can do is pray and encourage.

Tomorrow we head on home…this will be a long day…between 6 to 7 hours of driving with a stop or two. But we need to get the rental car back before 5 PM if we are to avoid extra charges. So, we push on though…man cold or not…

Trip to the Eastern Cape: Day 13

Today was a driving day…that’s basically all we did all day. We left East London at 7:30, admittedly a little later than we had planned, but both of us were…actually are…tired. We had no meetings and, other than Louise calling Mother’s Union and AWF leaders to remind them of a breakfast on July 15 when we will introduce the LEAD material to them, we did not really do any work type stuff.

Unfortunately, the CD player and radio in the car has a rather bad stutter…so we couldn’t listen to music. We talked a lot…about our children and grandchildren…about our ministry…about the Lord…we spoke to the Lord a lot too.

And we did not take a single photograph. We enjoyed the scenery…this really is one of the most beautiful parts of the world…we saw quite a few wild animals…we enjoyed lunch at a Greek Restaurant a stone’s throw away from the beach at Jeffrey’s Bay…and we enjoyed meeting Keith and Pam Berning, our hosts for tonight and tomorrow night in Plettenberg Bay.

We spoke to Pam at length about the LEAD program, we spoke about prayer, healing of memories (desperately needed in southern Africa!), we spoke about the churches in the area and their struggles, and oh so many other things.

We are about to enjoy a lovely dinner Keith has prepared for us, so if I don’t have anything more to say, I will not return to this blog until tomorrow.  

Trip to the Eastern Cape: Day 12

One of the favourite games Louise and I have played on this trip is the game of dodgem…dodgem taxis, dodgem people, dodgem animals, and, our all time favourite, dodgem potholes. We left Molteno at 7 AM, which doesn’t sound early, but it is still not quite light at that time…so it was hard to spot potholes until you were right on top of them…unless, of course, some thoughtful person had painted a white line around the potholes…no kidding. They erect signs warning you of potholes and they paint around them with white paint, but they don’t fix them. Go figure…

I can well understand why our ancestors wanted to settle in this area in spite of the awful winters. -1 this morning! But the landscape is simply stunning…the valleys and the hills…the flora and the fauna…add in the mist over the dams and lakes and rivers…add in the golden hues of pinks and lilacs of sunrise…and you have magic.

Our first stop today was in a town named after Queen Victoria…Queenstown. This is one of two Dioceses in which we have struggled to get appointments, but a dear gentleman by the name of Siphiwo requested to see us today…which, in turned out, was his birthday!
He wanted to know what we were doing so that he can pass on the information to the Bishop and the rest of the Diocese…but, more importantly, he wants us to train his parishioners how to disciple others. We did the introductory presentation with him and the Diocesan secretary and prayed with them. He showed us around the cavernous Cathedral of St Michaels and All Angels. Gorgeous building…and really interesting decor…among the typical stained glass windows and stone carvings, they have a brown Jesus behind the altar.

Then we had to push on to East London for our first meeting at St Mark’s, Cambridge, at 12:30. East London is part of the Diocese of Grahamstown, but these folks are chomping at the bit…they are so ready for the disciple-making training, the only repeated, almost urgent question was when do we do this? There were 24 at this introductory session…other than Mthatha, this was the largest group we have addressed. They are all excitement and so we set a tentative date, subject, of course to the approval of their Bishop.

We then went to the Guest House where we will spend the night. The building belongs to a member of St Mark’s Church, but he is a St Thomas Christian from Kerela. They trace their origins to the evangelistic activity of Thomas the Apostle in the First Century. How fortuitous that we should be staying in a house owned by a man who is a Christian today because of the obedience of one of Jesus’ original disciples…to make disciples of all nations…even if that meant crossing land and sea and cultures and languages to do so…not to mention, lose his life in the process.

After a short rest we returned to St Mark’s for the second session.
This was not so well attended, but some key people were there with key ideas and key questions. It really only take one or two…that’s the beauty of disciple-making. You don’t need huge numbers, huge budgets, huge buildings, huge anything…you just need huge hearts filled with love for God and for people. It is that simple…

Tomorrow will be the longest drive yet…so it is time to find a pillow and get some shut-eye. Nighty night world…

Trip to the Eastern Cape: Day 11

We had quite an early start today as we had quite a way to drive! But…we didn’t take into consideration how long we would have to wait at roadblocks…the particular road we travelled on today was under construction – all the way! The only thing worse than sitting waiting for the STOP sign to turn to GO is doing the job itself…it must be brain numbing to stand hour after hour waving a red flag to unsympathetic motorists or turning a sign over or pulling the plastic roadblock out of the way. We always greet everyone with a wave and a smile and they respond with the same every time.

As we have been going non stop since leaving Cape Town, we rewarded ourselves by taking the day off today. So we headed down memory lane, stopping off at another mission my great-grandfather had on his list. Dortrecht. The church in which he served as Rector is now in a sad state of disrepair…but the rest of the town doesn’t look all that hot either. Sad, really.

Next, we headed off towards Molteno, a tiny town in the Eastern Cape where Louise’s Dutch ancestors were friends with my British ancestors three generations ago. At the time, the British and Boers were not that happy with each other and a huge battle was fought right on Louise’s grandfather’s farm, Klipfontein.

Old man van Zyl thought thieves were trying to steal his sheep so he let rip with his rifle…unbeknownst to him, the trespassers were British soldiers trying to get some sleep in his barn – their mistake was that they didn’t ask his permission first. When they heard the gun shots, they thought they were surrounded by Boer soldiers and they ran for the hills. In the end, it was a Boer victory, so maybe Old man van Zyl could take a pat on the back.

Louise’s father was also born in Molteno in a small house just off main street – because there was no hospital back then. He also went to school here and ought to have inherited one of Old Man van Zyl’s farms, but…well, it is a long and convoluted family story. There were coal mines here at one time, but after the war, they discovered that the grade of coal was inferior, so they closed the mines…the town had a brief boom period, but it quickly declined as residents left seeking their fortunes elsewhere.

One such resident was my great-uncle Ambrose Lomax. Ambrose was a chemist and amateur photographer. We visited his old shop today which has been converted into a Magistrate’s Court, a library and a wee museum. In the museum we saw a photograph – a self-portrait – of Ambrose as well as a newspaper from April 1910 in which my grandfather is listed as having won a tennis match. My great-grandfather, Arthur, died in December 1910…I wonder if he was present when his son won this match?

We did visit the grave sites of both my great-grandfather and my great-grandmother Mary Ellen as well as Louise’s father’s grave…the former in Steynsburg, the latter in Molteno. Always strange visiting grave sites and wishing one could somehow tell them what is happening in our lives and hear what they had to say about that…maybe that is better left unsaid and unheard.

 Tonight we are staying over in a lovely Guest house called Olive’s Cottage. On our way today, we received a call from the owner to say her husband had had a heart attack and they were in East London – he was having emergency heart surgery…but we could still get into the Cottage via a kind neighbour. We told her we would be praying and we called her just a wee while ago to hear how he is doing. Apparently everything went well…he is in recovery. Thank You Jesus.

Tomorrow is going to be a long day. From Molteno we drive to Queenstown to meet with the coordinator of GtC in the Kahlamba Diocese. We meet him at 8 AM…so we will have to leave a freezing (literally) Molteno no later than 7 AM. Then on to East London for two meetings at St Mark’s Cambridge, the first at 12H30 and the second at 17H30. So, it is an early night again tonight for us!

What a day…it has been a trip down memory lane and it has been fun.

Ambrose Lomax’s Chemist and Photographic Studio

Trip to the Eastern Cape: Day 10

Close your eyes…you might just think you
are in Cambridge or Westminster or King’s College…but no, wait! The words are
not English, but Xhosa. Open your eyes and you are looking at roughly 5000
people crammed into a tent. I think to myself: “My great-grandfather did not
build churches. These people. They are his legacy.” According to the SPG in
London, Arthur was here to train indigenous missionaries…indigenous…that’s what
this church is now. While it is a perfectly sound Anglican service, it is all
done in isiXhosa…the Prayer Book, the Scripture readings, the Hymns, the
service music…and all are indigenous people. Just the way Arthur would have
wanted it to be.
We were told to be at the church at 8:30
AM, but by the time we got there crowds were already singing lustily in the
tent…cars parked everywhere…and wave after wave of procession marching up the
street from Ebenezer to the tent. I was there just in time for the very last
one…with all the Canons, Archdeacons, the Provost and the Vicar General. Eish!
Whatever happened to Africa time? 

I walked alongside the Chancellor of the
Diocese…a good man to know! He and I chatted about the LEAD program and he is
sold. One more on our side! Thank You Jesus! The tent was actually overflowing
when we processed in and more people kept arriving throughout the service. As
guess I managed to get a seat on the stage because I was with this final
procession…it helps being late sometimes!
The service was amazingly organized. The
choir was magnificent. As I said to one of the Archdeacons, today even the
angels were silent. I hope I can buy one of their CD’s as I would love to hear
these spectacular voices again. As neither Louise nor I speak or understand
Xhosa, we were at somewhat of a disadvantage, but one of the great things about
the Prayer Book is that even though it is in a different language, one can
figure out what is going on from time to time.
These chaps do like their incense, though!
The acolytes were so well trained and to watch them…their serious little faces…was
a treat. The Eucharist is probably the largest I have ever attended with
Chalices and Patens galore…the Vicar General kindly asked me to serve the bread
– I loved every moment of it. Every man bows and every women curtseys as they
receive the elements in upraised palms…precious brothers and sisters.
As this is a “Family Day” celebration
service and everyone from the Diocese is present, there were reports to be given
and gifts to be received. From the entrance of the church came the loud sound
of dancing and singing as a group of enthusiastic young folk dragged in two
sheep…a ram and ewe. As we did not understand what was being said or sung, we
wondered…independently as we were not seated together…what was going down. Was
this some OT scapegoat type ritual? The sheep were shoved onto the stage and
made to sit at the feet of the Vicar General. My curiosity took over and I
asked the Archdeacon next to me what was going on. He told me they were gifts
from the Diocese to the Vicar General as a token of their appreciation. He was
told that this was the start of a flock for him and his family…not to eat, but
to multiply. They gave him an envelope with money for food…just to make sure.
Then came my turn to address the crowd. I
had prayed fervently that the Lord would give me the right words. Of course, at
gatherings like these, there are many to address prior to saying anything…the
Vicar General, the Provost, the Canon, the Archdeacons…and so on. But when I
spoke, I told them what a blessing it was for us to be here on their family day
as I am part of their family in a sense. I then told them about Arthur being
the first principal of St John’s College…at this point people applauded and
cheered. I had wondered how they would react, but it was very positive indeed.
I told them all about GtC and the LEAD program and that I would be meeting with
their Vicar General to discuss dates, times, and venues. The expectation is
palpable…they want this training.
It was all over too soon…then there was
lunch. Lunch? No, a feast worthy of the word celebration. Chicken, beef, lamb,
rice, samp, butternut squash, spinach, salad, and dessert…these folks can eat!
When it was time to say goodbye, the Vicar General said he would see us before

And, in spite of an unbelievably busy
schedule, he did! We had a wonderful chat over some light treats – who could
eat anything heavy after today’s lunch? He is going to check on the Diocesan
calendar, but is tentatively thinking of having us come up to do the first part
of the training in October. Whoohoo!!!! We may be able to get some folk from
the other Diocese to join in the fun too!


Long day…time to find a pillow.