Cape Town

I spent last week in Cape Town doing Dignity Campaign training.  The Dignity Campaign was started by Aukje Brouwer (also founder of Beautiful Gate) a few years ago.  Aukje has a vision to train people to work with girls and women to help them find them identity, purpose and belonging in Christ and in community.

It was a fantastic week.  The speakers were so inspiring and the content challenging and helpful.  The group of women that came together for the training were also very inspiring.  Hearing their stories and getting to know them was a real honour.

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The week was full of so many good things and yet was truly heartbreaking at the same time.  I know that girls and women have real challenges in many places around the world and Southern Africa is no exception.  Hearing stories of rape and defilement, trafficking and abuse all the while knowing there is a general code of silence about these things in many cultures is heart wrenching.  I am becoming increasingly aware of the challenges girls and women face.  In the fabrics of many African cultures is a sense that girls and women are less than boys and men.  This belief has implications into every area of life.
But one of the things that was truly the most impacting was hearing about what God can do, that he is bigger than the challenges and experiences people have.  God can redeem the worse of stories, and he is doing just that in many women.  It’s our hope that if girls and women can find their identity, purpose and belonging in Christ first and in a strong group of other girls and women, that God can do what sometimes looks to be impossible.

In addition to this there was lots of talk about menstrual management.  I’ll save that for another time as I have lots to say(!) and perhaps that is a women’s only post 🙂

On a personal level, last week felt so timely.  I felt I needed some time away and time to recharge and just be.  The base where the training was is a five minute walk to the most beautiful beach so I had many walks in the mornings and evenings strolling the soft white sand beach.  It was so good to have lots of time to process and pray.  It was so refreshing.  The week felt like a real gift for me personally.
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The pitter patter of not so little feet

Ben is walking.  Hallelujah!

About 10 days ago he did his first proper steps and then in the last five days he’s suddenly just taken off.  It’s amazing!

After such a long time of crawling, admittedly it feels very strange to see him on his feet and tottering around the house.  He is loving his new freedom though.  He’s never been happier.

Many people have said, oh, once he starts walking, you’ll wish he hadn’t started.  Sorry people, I think you’re wrong…  When your 23 month old starts walking, there is nothing but rejoicing!  🙂

In about two weeks we will celebrate Ben’s second birthday.  These first two years have been hard, I would be lying if I said otherwise but it really feels like we’re starting a new chapter of Ben’s life now though.  He is feisty and sensitive and will probably change the world one day (it must be that red hair!) but finally we are more hearing laughing, singing and talking than screaming and crying and he is playing on his own and interacting with other children and not just wanting to live in my arms.

We are rejoicing.

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Solar Power

Zambia is having a power crisis at the moment.  It would appear that there isn’t enough power to run this country anymore, mostly due to poor planning, so now we get to experience daily ‘load-shedding’ – throughout the country people are on various schedules where we are without power for eight hours a day.

Apparently when Zambia’s mighty Kariba Dam was built in 1959 it was never supposed to power the whole country and, as it stands, it attempts to power most of it (despite the population and consumption of electricity having increased significantly in the last 57 years).  Rumour has it, that the dam is in a state of disrepair as well, which is quite worrying.  The rain seasons here have been quite light over the last few years which means the dam has very little water in it.  I read recently it is sitting at 12% full where as at this time last year it was apparently at 53%.

Obviously Zambia as a nation is really suffering because of this.  The Kwacha, our local currency, has plummeted.  Food prices have shot up.  The future looks very uncertain at the moment.

We’ve been incredibly fortunate in the midst of the power issues as the site we live on has a beast of a generator which for several months ran many hours a day to keep the site going during the day for the workshop and mechanics’ college.

That said, just before Christmas we got the best gift perhaps we’ve ever received.  Our ah-mazing landlords had been thinking about the future and really felt an investment into solar power would be well worth it.  They approached us and asked if we would like our house set up with solar power as they were looking to do that for the rest of the site.  We gave a hearty ‘yes’ and less than a week later some incredibly generous friends in the UK said they’d like to pay for this for us.

So, when we got back from our holiday in December, the solar panels were beautifully adorning our roof, batteries were there being charged from the hot African sun, electrics reworked and now we have solar power.  For eight hours (sometimes more, rarely less!) we rely on the sun to power our house.

Having solar power has been nothing short of fantastic/amazing/wonderful/glorious!  When the main power stops, the solar power just kicks in and we can use our lights, charge our phones and computer, and generally get on with life.  We can’t cook or use our washing machine but the laundry can wait and we have gas little stove for easy meals and the generator can be used if something needs to be baked.

In short, we feel incredibly grateful for the blessing of solar power.