It’s been a sad and tough two weeks living here in South Africa. From the serious illness with Zara, Barry’s little three year old grand-daughter, to Wendith’s incurable bone cancer diagnosis, Grant’s car hijacking at gun-point near Lamontville and most recently in the past few days, an illness in a family member in Australia and a serious heart attack to an especially good friend back home in Melbourne.
To add to all this, I have also been a little unwell with a miserable “man” cold. So it was with considerable hesitation and almost reluctance that I left for a weekend in Margate on Friday to speak to a group of young people at the Margate Kingdom Youth as well as do two talks on the Sunday at the Margate Ecclesia. It was really something in my heart and head that I was not prepared for. I was sad, I was suddenly feeling lonely and I was in a form of mourning for all the negative things that were going on around me. A two- hour drive down the coast for three days was the last thing I thought I needed. God obviously thought differently.
Margate is a seaside tourist town about 135klm south of Durban. It is the town that Glenn & Crissie and their boys lived in for the first nine months of their time in South Africa, so it is well-known to me. We have a small church there of about six members, depending on which weekend you do the count !! But they have a large “Kingdom Youth Group” of about 30, again depending on which day you count. This day there were 28, but it is a much younger group to the one I knew two years ago. The older ones have moved on to senior college studies and universities.
I arrived on Friday afternoon just a few minutes late (really …. I was just 3 minutes late) to a hall full of children sitting quietly listening to Nelson, the senior Zulu brother at Margate. I was quickly into the swing of things, picking up from where Nelson left off ….. (I think) …. and started explaining, amongst other things, why God gave us two ears and only one mouth …. again explaining that this was so we listened more than we talked, as two young boys started up a separate conversation of their own !!!
The evening ended with a medal-award presentation, which I was the surprise (to me) medal presenter from the previous week’s “Talent Show Competition”. Then Fezzy reminded (news to me) that we were having a “beach day” tomorrow (Saturday) and I needed to be back at the hall at 10.00am to give ALL the kids a lift to the beach !!! No problem I thought …. Well, one small problem …. one very small problem ….. I was driving a little (very little) small 4 seater car which as the driver, I took up one seat of the 4 seats in it !!! Here’s hoping only 4 or 5 kids come !!!
Saturday morning began with a beautiful sunrise, which I don’t normally get to appreciate because sunrise is far to early for me …… But on this occasion, it rose at just the same time I woke up in my seaside hotel …… the sounds of the waves thundering into the shore below and the rays of light permeating through the blinds seemed to insist on me getting up and appreciating this rare event !!!
I did ….. for about 5 minutes and then collapsed back into my bed …. BLISSS !!! By 8.30, it was time to rise and shine (again) and with a hot-cooked breakfast begging me to devour it in the dining room veranda next door, it was the perfect start of another beautiful day in paradise …… but paradise was not to last. By 10.00 am, I was back at the Margate Hall where I was gleefully met by about nine young people with towels and swimmers in hand, but no Fezzy — the sister responsible for arranging this event and whose attendance was absolutely mandatory from my perspective.
Suddenly on the horizon I saw her ….. Oh Joy, there she is … with another five children !!! My little car (Matilda) seemed to slump and exhaust out all the air in her little tyres at the thought of carrying all these people to the beach !!! Like a Commander-inChief of an army I lined all the kids up and explained (read – “riot act” here) of the dangers of swimming out to far, not staying between the flag, etc etc etc ….. I explained that Fezzy and I only had 4 eyes between us and there were 14 of them so they had to be good for us at the beach.
The replies were spontaneous and encouraging, Yes, No problem, We will … LET’S GO !!!! And go we did, singing as we went as poor little Matilda climbed each hill and saying under her breath, “I think I can, I think I can” ….. as she scrambled over each speed hump to the squeals of delight on the way up — and shrieks of pain as we hit the road on the other side. Two trips with seven kids and an adult each time got us all to the beach and back safely … if not a little stressed !!! A light lunch and a short Bible talk rounded the day of nicely with all the kids excitedly looking forward to their next youth outing, which sadly, I will not be around for !!! ( why am I smiling?)
All too soon (for the kids) the “Beach Day” had come to an end and Matilda and I were sailing up the road with the breeze at our backs and the thoughts of a quiet sun downer glass of wine on the deck of my hotel looking out across the waves of Indian Ocean and eating a block of chocolate. BLISSS again !!!
Again the morning greeted me before I was ready for it …… Doesn’t anyone know its Sunday and I am not a morning person? ….. although the ocean was stunning again.
Breakfast and a quick pack and I am on my way to Margate to give the Witness Talk and the Exhortation. The warmth of the greetings from Nelson, Cecilia, Fezzy and Themba makes the time spent down in Margate all worthwhile. They are a little church with one great big heart. They are a shining light down there; each time I go down there, they lighten up my day and my life.
The worries and fears I left Durban with have eased a little. The trials are still there to be fought, the challengers are still there to be overcome or worked through, but with a little ray of sunshine — all things are possible. For the past few days that sunshine …. that shining light as been the people of Margate.
My prayers and thoughts are with all those who are struggling with health issues in their lives or their families lives at this time. May God bless you, comfort you, heal you, touch you and strengthen you at this time.