Thank you for loving me…

Yes, the Bon Jovi song is swirling around in my head…

Today 23 years ago my bride came down the aisle in the church, to be my wife, my best friend and my lover…

Today, we are spending the day at Bloubergstrand. When I finished my sermon on Good Friday, Mrs Rider informed me that life is too short to stay at home. Inside an hour we packed, and began the 1000 mile journey across South Africa.

We went to church in Bloubergstrand this morning, to attend another of my oldest friends (in friendship years, not age) who had conducted a wonderful Easter service. Afterwards we had a huge breakfast at Ons Huisie…

Now I had a nap at my friend’s house. Quickly posting this. Then we are going to the Blue Peter Hotel where we had our honeymoon long time ago. We want to see the sunset behind Robben Eiland.

We came down to Cape Town with just the youngest 2 kids. And we only have 4 days here, so it is not possible to visit all my Cape friends this time- so sorry!  Back home on Thursday with my BMW on a trailer…  This time my bride will get to see as much of Cape Town as we can possibly get to do…

Dreams do come true- thanks for all the good advise! Pictures will be posted later, I havent figured it out on the cellphone blogging yet…

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Decisions decisions…

I am sitting on a razor blade this morning…   It is the Easter Weekend.  It is traditionally the one weekend when most South African road fatalities takes place. People drive like maniacs, lots of unroadworthy vehicles tries to sneak by the traffic cops. Lots of drinking and driving, lots of drunken pedestrian walking on highways…  It is really dangerous…  It is a good weekend to stay at home!

On the other side, there is still one week of school holidays left. I am thinking.  After my Good Friday sermon, I could hit the road with my Bakkie (pick-up truck), and drive down to Cape Town. I could tow a trailer, and put my BMW on it, and be back by next weekend. On the trailer the bike will not have to pay all the toll fees. My rear tire, which have about 1500 km left (just under 1000 miles) will then still be ready to do the Lowveld trip in April. My wife and I can spend Sunday in Cape Town on our anniversary, and go watch the sunset behind Robben Island, at the Blue Peter Hotel, where we had our honeymoon 23 years ago. We could visit our good friends in the CApe, and start driving back home on Thursday.  A beautiful scenario. Except for one thing… it will cost a lot- our fuel price in South Africa is at the highest level ever. There are a lot of tollgates along the way. And whatever we plan, there will be a lot of extra costs, like meals, ice cream,  maybe a movie…

The academic year is nearing it’s 4th month, and my bank has still not paid out my daughter’s study loan- everything so far has been out of my pocket…

On the one hand- there is another adventure waiting to be born. On the other hand… we still have to pay our bills…

When I was a little younger, there would not be any doubt at all about this one.   I need to start making up my mind…

Graphics: http://loopholesonlife.com/tag/indecision/

Ps. I see the Daily Post has also decided to play the decisive game of decisions decisions

The Camino de Santiago…

While I am following Jordana on her journey on the Appalachian Trial,  I have this longing for that kind of journey again.

Two years ago I had a part of such a journey. I answered the Call of the Camino.

I am not by nature a very good hiker, I am a bit heavy on my feet…  But I just needed such an experience in that part of my life. And so I took up the challenge, and started the planning. I wish I had the time available to do the whole Camino Frances. I only had about 3 weeks available, so I took up the journey from Léon to Santiago- about 317 km of hiking.

The symbol of the Camino is the scallop shell, and my daughter designed this version for me, to put on my backpack and clothing…

Why do people need to do things like the Appalachian Trial and the CAmino? Because it teaches you so much about the journey of life. It takes you out of the rat race for a while, and the only thing that you have to do, is just to LIVE.

I am sometimes so worried about the finances needed to live and provide for my family. I have this overwhelming need to feel secure, to know exactly where I am going to sleep tonight, and that I will have something to eat. On the Camino I learned to just go with the flow, that there will be food and shelter every day, even if I can’t see it by lunchtime.

We need to be pilgrims, to feel alive, to make sense of our lives, to meet other people and share a part of the road with them.  We need to break bread with other people, share a bottle of water, treat each other’s blisters.

As I sit here in my study, preparing for the Sermon of Good Friday, I have this intense yearning to be on the road to Santiago again, to hear the words: “Buen Camino”  by the local people again, to eat the black cherries left along the road by friendly locals…

I feel the need to jump into the Atlantic Ocean again behind the harbour wall in Finisterre…

There is a stirring in my heart… the road is calling my name…

A treasure chest was opened today…

Do you realize how much the world has changed the past 97 years? And that some people lived through it all?  I really felt blessed today when a treasure chest of life experience was opened and shared with me.

I had this amazing experience this morning when I went to visit the second oldest person in our church- she is 97. The oldest person is a lady who reached 100 in February.

The lady I visited this morning, is still in good health. Yes, it is a bit difficult to move around, and she can’t see so good anymore. But her hearing is much better than mine! And her mind is still razorblade sharp.

She told me this morning how much her world has changed. When she was a little girl, their whole world on the farm changed when her father bought them a radio. Suddenly the realization came that there is a much bigger world out there. The news coming through the airwaves was astonishing to them as children.

An even more amazing experience was when her father bought the family their first car in the 1920’s- the sudden mobility it created for them. It took them quite a while to get electricity connected to their farm.

From then till now the world has changed radically. Her whole world, when she grew up,  was the farm . Now some of her great-grandkids are growing up across the world in Australia. She was amazed at how it is possible on Skype to see and talk to the grandchildren, seeing the newborn baby in their arms.  On the other side of the world.

The world became a bigger place with the buying of the radio, and again a much smaller place with Skype.

It is hard to think of a world without electricity and electronics.  But that was the world she came into. And that was a happy world, where people had still time for one another. Where deep talks were held in front of the fireplace, they would never understand tweets and facebook communication in those days.

I had such a good time, visiting this special lady. I really have respect for somebody who are 97 years old, and still full of live, love, and humor.  Such people really enriches my life.

Not all the old people I know are pleasant to visit. SOme became embittered by life’s experiences, and some just focuses on all they have lost in life along the way.

The wisdom I decided to keep out of this morning’s visit: I do have a choice about how I am going to grow older.  I choose to be grateful for all blessings. I choose to find happiness in relationships and experiences, not things.  And I really hope that when I am an old, old man (with an oil leaking old Harley out the back door of the old age home), that people will also feel they receive much more than that they came to give, when they visit me!

Reading when not Riding

I sometimes wish that I knew how to be a full time traveller…  I have to work for a living.  But I also love to be a family man, with a wife and 4 kids. It is just not possible to be away from civilization all the time.  I only get to have about 2 weeks per year of living my dream- riding away into the sunset, living the adventure, and then returning home to my loving wife’s arms…

The rest of the time?  In our job we really work long hours, despite all the jokes about pastors only working on Sundays.

How do I survive, being wild at heart, having to behave tame in a congregation? How can I be the Biker, but also the Pastor?

I remember this one scene from one of my favourite old movies- Dead Poet’s Society. This one young man is caught stealing books. When he is confronted with his crime, these famous words are spoken- “We read to know that we are not alone...”

In my house next to our church, you will find more than 2000 books. Some are impressive: old theological classics like the Institution of John Calvin.  (They are to be found underneath a thick layer of dust, as they are supposed to be…) But then you will also find a lot of travelling books. Like: Ewan MacGregor and Charlie Boorman‘s Long Way Round. Next to it- Long Way Down. Next to it- the book of a good friend, Lodie de Jager, who wrote “Noord van Naboom”-  North of Naboomspruit (a sleepy little town in the Bushveld of South Africa) about his journey from South Africa to Germany in 2010 on a Kawasaki KLR 650.  Next to that- Dan Walsh‘s “These are the days that must happen to you…” And so the list goes on an on.

In my office there are thick piles of travel magazines.

And between appointments in the week, I read the blogs of quite a few people, some I found on Horizonsunlimited.com, people crossing the globe on two wheels. Others are new friends, like Nea, travelling througout the world without her own bike, but living her dream of freedom.

Although this is a new blog, I am an old blogger- I have written my previous blog for three years, but in Afrikaans.  I have met quite a few people with the wanderlust in their blood. And this gives me great joy- to read a blog about someone travelling someplace I have never been. Eating some cuisine I have possibly heard of, mostly not… Swimming underneath beautiful waterfalls, drinking some foreign sounding named beers.

I am sitting behind my computer in this little town of ours, wishing I was someplace else, seeing something new, eating something for the first time, swimming in new pools, meeting new friends…  Reading books/ travel guides and magazines/ blogs takes me there.  Thank you all for sharing your experiences with me!

Graphics from http://serendipity-puzzles.blogspot.com/2010/10/023-bookworm.html

Ps- jut saw this on facebook under the page “Knowledge of Today”

When Plan A fails, always have a plan B…

You have heard about the sad state of affairs, me being more than 1600 km (1000 miles) away from my beloved BMW. While the repair news from the Cape sounds good, I have a very big ride coming up again soon. We are going on a Rally with the South African Bible Society from 13-20 April, from Kempton Park through to Louis Trichardt, and then to the wonderful biking routes of the Lowveld.

I really looked forward to this ride on my BMW. But I am not sure if I will be able to go down to Cape Town and collect it in time.

But fear not, dear readers… 🙂  (This sounds too much like one of those irritating Pauly Shore movies like Jury Duty…)

I did not have the heart to sell my old trusty Aprilia Pegaso yet. And it is still going strong- 13 years old, but only 40 000 km on the clock.  I went to the High School just now to see my children in practice for the school’s Rugby and Hockey week, starting tomorrow. And here she is in all her glory. Her name is “Huisbesoek” or in English it would be “Visitation” – or “House Calling” – that thing that Pastors have to go and visit their church members at home.  The thought is that my wife could honestly say that I went out on Visitation, and she wouldn’t be lying…

This trusty old friend has never let me down yet. There was that one unfortunate incident involving me sliding across the gravel with her, but that was the brandy’s fault, and the stupid driver on top, not hers…

I think she is good for any trip I can dream up…

Being a Biker is a state of mind

“It’s not about the Bike” would be a more appropriate title for this one, but somehow, in the last 3 months, it has lost it’s meaning…

Being a biker is to love a motorcycle. Some guys are fortunate enough to own a BMW S 1000 RR. Others are old enough to drive around on a Harley. Any Harley is supposed to have some sex appeal (please give generously- for I am old…)  You get the biggest crowd in our country on a BMW R1200 GS (best selling bike in South Africa) but they just look down upon lesser beings not able to afford their toys.

But every now and again you find a true biker. Someone who drives SOMETHING with two wheels and an engine, and loving it for what it is. The passport to Freedom. They are not in the least worried by how sexy it looks. They do not try to impress anybody else, they just want to RIDE!

One such biker’s bike I saw outside the Landmark (Agri Co-op) in De Rust. I never knew John Deere went into bikes…

This is Jan’s Deere:

Respect, Jan!

Living in South Africa- it’s still good!

As a nation, we have so much things that we moan and groan about.  We are having such a hard time understanding all the politics of this country. We see all the negative things like crime rates in every newspaper.  We moan about the cost of fuel and electricity. All our tax money going into luxury cars for politicians, our president’s new palace…

Sometimes we have reason to be angry/ sad/ disillusioned/ disgusted…

BUT- There is another side to the story, which we tend to forget. This is still also quite an amazing part of the world to live in!

I had the privilege of a young Brazilian lady coming to visit on my blog. She and her boyfriend has visited our country, and she experienced it as a life- changing journey. They made/  a video on Youtube about their experiences, and it is so good to see it from a tourist’s point of view.

Look at this post: “South Africa tattood everything” by Liana Mastrocola. It is so good to see a few experiences of our country through a young couple’s eyes, and enjoying their love of life with them on their visit here…

What is so good about living in South Africa, despite all the challenges we face?

  •  We have pretty special weather in most parts of the country! 
  •  We have such biodiversity- all the different kinds of animals in our national parks, like that beautiful lion in Liana’s video.
  •  We have some of the world’s finest bird watching
  •  Our coastline does have some of the finest scenery around.
  •  We have such a wonderful sports nation, with excellent teams and facilities.
  •  We are an outdoor nation, always on the lookout for adventure like bungee jumping and parasailing…
  • It is still so good to sit underneath a big bushveld tree next to a camp fire, and feel small underneath the wide open starry sky.
  • We have all this diverse landscapes- bushveld, forrests, desert, coastal, mountains, savannah, wetlands.
  •  Have you ever surfed at Jefferys Bay?
  •  Have you stood on the top of the Drakensberg Mountains, overlooking the whole of  Kwazulu Natal all the way to the sea?
  •  Have you skinny dipped in a mountain stream at the Cederberge?
  •  Did you hear a lion roar really close by, and the nervous giggle of a hyena afterwards?
  •  If you have visited Europe and came back, you would find that we do have some excellent barbeques with high quality meat, in huge (according to European standards) portions.
  • And despite a small minority of really irritating people (politicians and criminals), we do have such a wonderful diversity of cultures- I think all of our cultures do have a very hospitable nature. Met Eisjh ja…
  •  We do have some of the world’s finest wines.

And so we can go on and on and on- there is so much good living in South Africa. But we really miss it sometimes, because we can get so focused on the negative media.  I am so inspired I am sommer planning a huge braai tonight, boet…

It’s a strange, strange world we live in, Master Jack… *

Today was most probably just another day in the life of Planet Earth and all it’s inhabitants.

Some people:

  •  Made love to the one they love
  •  Cried about the loss of something special in their lives
  •  Enjoyed a sunrise/ sunset  over a beautiful part of the planet
  •  were trapped in a traffic jam, inhaling all the smog
  • drew a picture of a happy family
  •  dumped a photo in the trash can
  • bought the car of their dreams
  •  resigned from their work to chase down their dream
  • Killed a stranger for a cell phone
  • planted a new garden
  • sat in front of the television with a huge hamburger and fries
  • gave birth to a baby- day 1 of a new life
  • crashed their motorbike around a corner- a stupid mistake
  •  listened to Adele on their Ipod
  • screamed at and then slapped their “significant other” ‘s face
  • played Angry Birds on their cellphone in a tube/ metro/ other public transport
  • walked across the bridge over the river Seine next to Notre Dame Cathedral
  • Woke up in a dumpster under a piece of carton box
  •  read a beautiful book
  • hijacked a car/ passenger ship
  • Bought a beautiful red rose for a beautiful girl
  • had a bad hair day
  • caught a trout in a Highlands stream
  • caught the Aids virus
  • threw their Blackberry away in anger
  • Swam in the Pacific Ocean
  • Raped somebody
  • Planted a tree
  • Avoided contact with all human beings
  • Took a photo of Tiananmen Square
  • Fell in love for the first time…
  • died
  • wrote a blog to combat the bad side effects of the new medicine driving them to anxiety and depression…

And all those choices, by ourselves or by others for us,  had a huge impact on Planet Earth, and all of us…

(* The title of a South African band’s locally famous song- 4 Jacks and a Jill)

Monday morning blues…

Why is it so hard to adjust to your real life when you have just completed a dream trip?

I have arrived home on Thursday, and went to both the worship services of our church on Sunday. This morning my “normal” life has started up again in racing mode…

My morning started with a visit to our local Department of Home Affairs- I had to register a wedding I have officiated in a while back. In South Africa this is a wonderful part of a pastors life- and a bad one! I love meeting young couples who are in love. I love having a few sessions with them, talking about your family of origin, drawing a geneagram to understand where they come from. I love talking about communication skills and conflict handling (although my wife would say I am far from an expert in dealing with those issues in my own marriage…) I love hearing about their dreams and expectations, building a relationship with them. And the day of the wedding- that is one of the most wonderful parts of being a pastor, sharing in one of life’s great moments…

But then afterwards- all the paperwork! The ID documents of bride and groom. The ID documents of both the signing witnesses. My ID document- all copies certified. The certificate of divorce/ death where it is not a first marriage. The Marriage Registration form. The form stating there is a marriage contract in place.  All these paperwork, and then I have to go stand in the long rows of people waiting to be served at a state department, who excells in doing nothing very slowly, driven by barrels of Kentucky Fried Chicken…  It is a true nightmare- and the new marriage Registration forms also requires ID photos and fingerprints of bride and groom…

Afterwards I had a very good piece of quiet time. I have this Bible Study group of about 50 people, each Tuesday Morning in our Church hall. We are slowly working through the Gospel of John, and we are doing the prayer of Jesus in John 17 tomorrow. It was a good part of this morning, just sitting behind my desk and exploring in the Word of God.

Then I had to go and visit some sick people.  Each visit just brings home the message how blessed I am to be healthy. It is also a strange satisfaction we experience as pastors to be there for people in need, to help carry their burdens for just a little while, and praying for healing, hope and strenghth in their situation.

I also had to work through some forms of our General Synod, who in its wisdom thought up the idea of a central Board who decides if and when we are fit to serve as pastors. They are also quite helpful to get rid of pastors in some congregations when they deem you unfit for ministry.   I had to make sure my details are in order. And I have to pay a yearly professional fee to be a pastor in our church.  I am feeling rebellious in my heart about this-  I feel that this is exactly what is wrong with the traditional church, and why we as a church are in decline…   My old struggle to compare today’s Organisation with the Body model of the Bible, and the Church as a Relationship network or Organism.  It is with a heavy heart that I will have to scrape together the substantial “professional fee”-  the way I see it, it is like the family of the condemned paying for the hangman’s rope…

I also had a visit from the neighbouring church’s pastor this morning, just wanting to hear about my trip to Cape Town.

And I just received an urgent prayer request from some missionary friends in the Ukraine- they have a much more difficult ministry than mine…

It was quite a lot I had to work through in just the first 5 hours of this working week. And there is still another 5 hours of work ahead on my calender for the rest of today. I am already feeling exhausted, and in need of a walk on the beach. The only problem is; the nearest beach is 800 km (500 miles) away…

Photo: http://projecttgm.com/2013/01/give-your-pastor-a-break/