so as tbV and i are nearing the end of our time here at the Simple Way in Philadelphia, Americaland, we have had to focus a lot on looking forwards at the exciting times and opportunities that lie ahead, but i also want to be mindful of taking some time to look back – there is a lot to be grateful for…
there is a saying that ‘God owns the cattle on a thousand hills’ but i would go one further and add that for the most part He seems to have placed that cattle in other peoples possession and without a bunch of generous people coming on board, we would have really struggled to make it here as relatively easy as we did.
december 2010: having alerted the church where i worked almost a year previously as to my intentions, i resigned after 6 years at the Stellenbosch Vineyard church and Val and i were obedient to what i had strongly felt God telling us in terms of waiting on Him for the next move… for Val is was a huger step of faith in a sense as she had not heard from God but had to trust that i had. So we started 2011 with not too much money and relatively no income.
waiting on God for the next steps can be a daunting thing, especially when you have no income and it is not as if expenses have dried up – we still were renting an apartment and paying for petrol [that's gas for you Americaners] and trying to eat on occasion. Val was finishing her Masters thesis and apart from some tiny TheatreSports show income [altho to be honest, petrol to the show usually exceeded money from the show so that was never likely to send us overseas] and then later some dictation work we did, there was not a lot coming in. i was salaried for January and then nothing.
and when you start writing lists of people to thank, you will always leave out some key people, but there are some names i do want to mention that stand out and trust that if you did not get a mention it is just because it is early morning as i type this and for a minute you slipped my mind – we are completely grateful for anyone and everyone who helped in various ways.
Tim van de Venter is one who comes to mind who ‘randomly’ during one of the months we didn’t have salary, called us up and told us God had told him to pay a month of our rent. That was the only time that happened in a couple of months of not having rent and it turned out it was the one time e really needed it. i do remember a specific time [and think there were more] of needing to pay something on the Friday and knowing we didn’t have enough in the bank and going online when i got home to find someone had mysteriously deposited just what we needed in our account.
my friend and ex youth guy Steve Legendwood and his wife Anne totally blew us away with a gift from London that far exceeded ‘hey, here’s a nice little gift’ proportions, at a time when we really needed to buy air tickets to get over to Americaland.
one of the faceless [to me, i'm pretty sure he has a face] recipients of the weekly ‘Thort for the Week’ messages i used to send out weekly, a man named William Bates, suddenly appeared out of nowhere and decided to start blessing Val and i with R500 in our bank account every month for a year [and i am pretty sure that year ended a while back, while the support didn't]
shortly after we got here, an old family friend who i had not seen for probably ten years or so, Lisa Pieterse and her husband Jacques, started sponsoring Val and myself a generous amount per month to be used specifically for date night money, which was an incredible way to give us a gift [as we were able to use it solely for that without feeling guilty or as if we should be spending it elsewhere] and so it was really great when we got to host them between midnight and i think 4am one night as they had a Philly stopover on the airport and catch up and meet them for the first time.
my buddy Duncan and his wife Megs and young son Connor ‘What’s that?’ Houston [of the clan Houston] who invited me and Val into their home for the last week or ten days before we left South Africa [despite my housesitting reputation of setting off pretty much every single alarm in any house i have ever housesat and, sure enough, at something like 1am the one morning...] and have just been crazy generous in a lot of other ways as recently as lending the money [that we have coming in from tax back home but don't have yet] to be able to buy a ticket so i can fly home and once again daring to have us stay with them once more.
our friend Naomi Brooks from Scotland but really Stellenbosch and now Scotland again, who has been uberly generous in all kinds of ways and manners since we have known her, but particularly for opening her flat to us before we left and then keeping us supplied with cards and letters and chocolate stash and gifts while we have been here – there are still not many things that beat receiving fun mail in the post that you can hold [and eat!]
and then those who i lovingly refer to as ‘My Top Deck crew’ and my, there are a lot of you… a few years ago i was awakened to the horrors of ‘Americaland chocolate’ in the form of something called Hershey’s [which is not chocolate - i hate to use the word 'vomit' so i cannot tell you what i honestly think of it, but it is bad] and while there are some saving graces in products like Dove and Ghirardelli [and the free ball they give you every time you visit a Lindt shop!] that do exist over here, nothing Tops the Deck and at times the generous donations from friends and family back home have really lifted me emotionally and given me strength to face another day, moment or challenge. after years of research back home it was shown that melted Top Deck, accompanied on occasion by melted Smartie Eggs, is at the top of the chocolate food chain. for some reason ‘left in the sun’ [and drunk from the bag] beats out ‘nuked in nukrowave’ in quality of taste and experience, but both are great. so THANK YOU – you know who yous are.
as i said, there were more people and occasions than i can possibly remember – i just felt it important to highlight a few [and special mention must go to Dreadlocked Mike and formerly Emo Kev who took hours out to start off my dreadlocks a day or two before we flew over here, and my beautiful wife for setting that up] in terms of letting you all know how grateful and thankful we are for the provision of God’s cattle, whether directly from Him [and we had the sense of those times] or indirectly through people in many ways, shapes and forms – we literally, figuratively and metaphorically could not have done it without you.
we have met so many generous and loving people here as well and give much thankx to the friendships and encounters and experiences and hospitality God has placed in our paths and a special mention must go to our friend Jon Butcher, who within a week or so of knowing me had offered to buy me a new laptop in place of my ailing one and who introduced us to some really cool friends and had some great hanging out times.
we love and appreciate and thank God for you all and for the hundreds or maybe even thousands of you who have stayed in touch and been praying and taken time to find out how we are doing and those who have visited or skyped or written… thank you, thank you, thank YOU! we have felt extremely loved. and supported.