Today- 20 Years Ago

Spoiler alert: CHURCH story- move along to another blog if you do not like church stories… 

Today 20 years ago was a very historic day in South Africa. Nelson Mandela was inaugurated on this day as the president of the new South Africa.

That would be what everybody was thinking about, reading the heading.

But: on the same day me, my wife and a 10 month old baby daughter moved to a town we had to locate on a map, to begin our fulltime ministry in the church.

This is the church that called me to their ministry:

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My photo of the Dutch Reformed Church of Waterberg in Nylstroom.

Our calling to this church was at a desperate time in our lives.  In our church, we have to do 6 years of university training, including ancient Hebrew and Greek. Six years at university is a long, long, long time… and very expensive. After I finished university, being a pale male, I had to do compulsory military service, in the second last group of men that had no choice (except 4 years jail and a criminal record). I was a chaplain in the South African Army, Engineering Corps. After I have finished the army, I was unemployed. It was bad. Nobody wanted to give me a job, because I am “overqualified…”

Our church had 200 too many pastors, ministry posts was very scarce. I had a part time pastors post with a very small salary after 3 months, a very temporary arrangement until I got a “Calling” to a church as full time pastor. In these times in 1993 the political situation in South Africa was really bad. The interest rates were sky high, and I had a huge student loan. The bank was really breathing down my neck, and I was sinking to nearly the point of no return debtwise…

During 1993 and 1994 I applied for 67 available posts in the church nationwide. I went to 7 interviews, on one occasion on the other side of the country, and that time they did not even give me a cent for travelling costs. We also had our first child in these desperate times. It was really, really bad. After 6 years at university I was only trained for 1 “company”.

Then, shortly after the first democratic elections on 27 April 1994, I sat on my bed one evening. My wife and I hit rock bottom. We were losing the temporary post at the church we were at. We had to move out of our dilapidated railway house we were staying in. We had a child to raise, a lot of debt, and it felt as if the church did not care…

That Sunday evening my phone rang, and the good people of Nylstroom were on the line. The voice on the other side asked if I knew who was talking, and I said I did not. He said he is my fellow- pastor (medeleraar in Afrikaans). I replied I do not have one. He then said that they had a meeting earlier that evening, and I came up as the next pastor in their church. I had to look Nylstroom up on a map, I did not even know where it was.

It was so good to become a full time pastor at last. I was 27 years old when I earned my first full salary check!

The sad was: I was only in this church for 11 months. In that year the good bigger church of the region decided that this congregation was too big, and the neighbouring congregation was too small. So, with a lot of church politics involved,  I with 1/3rd of the church was passed over to the neighbouring church in the same town.

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And here I still am, 20 years later in the same town.

We came to town with the Beetle, some borrowed furniture, a very young pastor and his lovely wife and fiery redhead baby daughter.

20 Years later- in this 2o years we got 3 sons added to our family, and a lot of jokes of not knowing where babies come from. We had some extremely sad times, sometimes I even felt suicidal… But we also had amazing times, with great joy, great friendships. great experiences.

I have about 18 years left before I have to retire at age 65 from full time ministry. Looking back, I am really thankful. But I also would really want to know what difference, if any, I made in peoples lives in the past 20 years. I know I have helped many people over the years. But I also know I have not been able to help everybody. Like everybody else I have also made enemies along the way. There are people who will sing that song “What a friend we have in Jesus!” when I one day get called to another town.

Meanwhile- I am here to stay. I have nowhere else to go. I am happy most days (not every day…)  I really love this church, this town, this region of our country.  I am willing to go another 18 if that is the script for my life. But some evenings I lay awake and worry about the lots and lots of empty pews on a Sunday morning…

Today is a rather huge mile post in my journey of life. Thanks if you have longsufferingly read up till here… 🙂

 

 

Beetle and Bike- another LONG day…

I must confess… last night I would have given the Beetle away for free.  But sorry- you are too late, I feel a little bit better today!

I stayed over at my mother’s house in Pretoria on Wednesday night. Yesterday morning I had to visit some of my critically ill church members in hospitals in Pretoria again.  I also used the opportunity to buy my BMW a Givi Topbox, as I like to look like the pizza delivery guy!

Last night when I came home, I felt the urge to work some more on the Beetle… I peeled away an old floor mat of the Beetle. And saw that the damage that the rust has left, is much worse than I thought.

This is the sight that greeted me… ok, after I poured some Hydrochloric Acid on the rust…

Man, I was depressed!

So I jumped in with the angle grinder and the inspiration caused by the pain, and here is today’s result…

No, not really- I saw this “Beetle” at the place I buy my VW Spares…

Today I started early, like half past six. I sanded some last places on the outside that really irritated me, and then I used the last of my spray paint on the outside…

Like I said on facebook-  The outside is done becaise the paint is finished!

I like the Arctic White and Matt Black theme on this car…

It now needs a very thorough cleaning, some sanding with 1500 grit paper and rubbing compound, and then a layer of good quality car polish.

A friend also came over to help me sort the electrics, and I am proud to say that the horn beeps again and the brights shine brightly again..,

I  have been busy today, I also fitted the new Givi Top Box on the BMW…

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There is still a HUGE challenge remaining  on the inside of the Beetle. Although I had the seats reupholstered, the rest is still naked rusty 47 year old German steel…

I still need to fix the floor pan with fibre glass, and I will also have to engineer a new bracket for the petrol pedal.

Not bad for a total beginner with NO technical skills whatsoever… The car looks good from a distance, just dont look too closely at it…

Now, in my typical Friday fashion, the barbeque fire is burning, and I am chillaxing…

So that is why I am so scarce on the blogs at the moment, and in town, and in my friends company…  This was a LONG Day!

Now, let’s BRAAI!

 

Today I voted. And Rode.

What a day!

Today is a public holiday in South Africa. We are having our 5th election for everybody. I am glad.

So a lot of my biker friends went for a breakfast in Bela Bela. My wife rode with, she loves the new bike.  We had a great time.

Then we voted.

Then my son and I painted the Beetle some more.

I tried to take a nap this afternoon.  I heard another man of our church, which I admire a lot, is dying in Pretoria, our capital. I threw a few clothing articles in a small suitcase, and went to the hospital to visit him.  This really hurts to do, but it means a lot  to people. Nobody should die alone!

Now I am in a student watering hole near the university campus.   It is dark, the music ia loud, and the food is good and cheapm What a place! I am double the next patron’s age! BUT I now need the aliveness and mood here. And the food.

What a day. I am knackered. The student next to me is putting some Italian herbs in a newspaper and lights it. The smoke smells sweet and funny. Purple turtles are flying around my head. What a LEKKER place… I wonser how Basil in a newspaper tastes? The Jalapeno steak for about US $ 7 is awesome. Peace out!

Goodbye to you, my trusted friend…

With the joy of a new motorbike also comes the sorrow to greet an old friend for the last time. Yes I know, it is only 200 kg of Italian Steel and French rubber. 14 Years since it all came together in the factory in Italy. But any true Biker will tell you: Any good bike is so much more than the sum of its parts. It does have a soul of its own. OK, I am not being a good theologian at the moment… maybe I never am anyway…

I have owned motorcycles since just before my 16th birthday. In South Africa we could only ride a 50 cc between 16 and 18. We made the best we could of them, with some customizing like ports, free flow exhausts. I had an accident in my first year at university. An unfortunate incident involving a police vehicle ended the life of my second bike, fortunately not mine… At the end of my first year at university I bough a Honda CB 400 N, one of the bikes I really loved the most. This bike served me well through 5 more years at university, and 1 year of compulsory Army service. But then I had to sell it- our first child was on the way and I was unemployed. We needed the money.

Many years went by without a bike. Until that day in 2005 when I was first invited to the introduction of the Harley 2006 series at a vehicle testing facility outside Pretoria. It was like an alcoholic taking the first drink after rehab- I was hooked again!

And so, after searching and studying, my paths crossed the Aprilia Pegaso. It was 4 years old, in showroom condition with only 10 000 km on the clock. I bought it. And it was such a good friend to me all these years…

One of my blog’s header photos is the Aprilia at the Southernmost point of the African Continent…

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It did the longer journeys so good, but was also such a joy in an urban setting. As a Dueller it is supposed to be good on the dirt roads as well, but I am not such an offroader myself…

This bike has brought me through the wind and the rain, the sunshine and the pain (that is some song, right?) When I felt depressed, it picked me up. It gave me such good memories, for 9 years long.

But now my needs have shifted. I want to travel  more with my wife, now that our kids are able to fend for themselves…  My R 850 R is adequate for the job, but the rear seat hurts my wife a little bit, and you don’t want an unhappy wife on a bike journey. So, I put both the Aprilia and the BMW up for sale. I want to keep one for touring with my sons. I have hoped to sell the BMW, but the Aprilia sold first.

So, this afternoon, with tears in my eyes, I handed over the keys to a young man of our town. He is much younger than me, and have the yearning for adventure in his eyes that I understand and respect. My Aprilia will be in good hands, and be his new owner’s first love and first Ride. I really pray that he learns to ride safely, and take good care of her…

Maybe this is life- you may be good enough but your replacement is peeking over your shoulder…  The last photo this afternoon…

My Aprilia is gone tonight. And it is really sad for me… But may she have a beautiful, and safe future!  And may the yellow BMW behind her start writing a new chapter in our family’s life!

Looking at this post- I must be a bit crazy. But I really loved this bike!

 

Cee’s Share Your World– 2014 Week 18

Cee’s Challenge this week: http://ceenphotography.com/2014/05/05/share-your-world-2014-week-18/

What object do you always have with you when traveling and why?

What subject would you like to study in depth, if given the time to do so?

Which would you prefer:  a wild, turbulent life filled with joy, sorrow, passion, and adventure–intoxicating successes and stunning setbacks; or a contented bordering on happy, secure, predictable life surrounded by friends and family without such wide swings of fortune and mood?

What are your favorite spices?

Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

1. These days, when I travel, I like to have an electronic reader with me- my trusty Kobo. Before these times you would always find me with a soft cover book. Always.

2. History or Geography.

3. Wild and Turbulent! Please! Not boring.

4. Vanilla, and a good Indian Curry…

5. I bought my dream bike last Friday. As it is 14 years old, it is a bumpy ride to get it as I like it, and it is still a small challenge to get it through the Road Worthy Certificate (MOT for British readers…)

I now own 2 BMW motorbikes, and it makes me HAPPY!

The good, sad news is that the Aprilia Pegaso, (black one at the back), my faithful friend for 9 years, is sold and being collected tomorrow… May the new owner also have such safe and good memories as I had. I think it is still in amazing condition, with only 40 000 km on the clock after 14 years of age… it went through the Roadworthy Test with flying colors.

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I am a blessed man!

With a wife who still loves me after nearly 25 years of marriage and 4 kids! And who rides with me on my new bike! What more could a man want in life?

Today we took our first ride together on the “new” GS…  It was fun!

And yes, I love my wife dearly!

So… I am cooking tonight’s meal: a Chicken Pot…  served on a bed of Couscous…  The chicken is underneath all the veggies…

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