Nylstroom: A small message of Hope

The last blog post shared some of the scenes around our town, gripped in one of the worst droughts in history.

I have shared some photos on facebook about the state of our town’s dam, the main water supply. But here is some of it for those readers not on my facebook…

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I have taken this rock to our church, as a token of remembrance-  we need rain…

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Beauty in death…

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I also learned this past week that one beer can really hurt you. And no, I did not step into a broken bottle…

A week or two ago my wife and I sat in this dam, between the cracked dry mud, and we prayed. Something mayor is going on in our lives, and we are experiencing the onslaught in so many ways. Landing on the front page of the Afrikaans newspapers all over South Africa, just by buying a beer at a  National Cricket Game and being identified as a pastor afterwards did not help at all.

This morning I had to deliver a letter at a Crocodile farm. I took the long way home, feeling very down and out at the moment. The long route took me across some of the beautiful scenery in our part of the world, even if it severely dry at the moment. I just am in no mood to be amongst people today.

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And so, with this long route back home, I drove past our Donkerpoort Dam again from the other side, and went in there again- it is one of my favorite praying spots.

The Lord must have invited me there. Because what I have seen, has really blessed me. It did rain over the weekend, quite a lot in some places. And when I walked over to the middle of the dam, I saw this sight…  the change has begun. The slow restoration of hope has started to change the scenery…

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A very small stream has begun to flow, covering the cracks, bringing the promise of a new season…  It is still very small. It disappears into the dry earth quite suddenly. But… it is there. And if it continues to grow, it will make a huge difference…

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Friends in wet countries will probably not understand my excitement over such a small amount of water. Friends in desert countries will rejoice with me. In a normal year, even these rocks will be a few meters under water.

I needed to see this promise of hope this morning.  The wonderful sound of water flowing. The frogs- where have they been??? has started croaking again.  And I so long for the day the fish wlll be jumping again at sunset, and to hear the cry of the fish eagle again soon…

A little bit of water brings a lot of hope to a dry place.  I now pray for the same to happen to my heart…

PS Photo Quality sucks… took it with my phone- plan to go and show it to my wife this afternoon and take a decent camera along.  And pray a little more…

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Spring is in the Air…

I live in the SOuthern Hemisphere, remember?!  On Sunday, spring will start in all her glory… but where I live, we just can’t complain about the weather at all. The sky is blue, the sun is shining, and it is already touching 30 degrees Celsius here in the Bushveld. (In winter!)

I am supposed to sit behind my desk. I have 3 sermons to deliver in the next 72 hours! Tomorrow morning I have to lead a funeral. And Sunday Morning and Evening worship services are just waiting around the bend…

But while I am sitting here behind my desk, I hear the joyful sounds of nature. The hummingbirds are outside in the Bauhemia tree, collecting their nectar. As I look outside, I see a new season unfolding in all it’s glory… So- how could I resist the call of Spring? I just had to go and grab my Canon 400D, and go for a walkabout in my garden. And that is the beauty of life, sometimes the most precious experiences wait for you just outside your door, if you would but open your eyes…

Just outside my front door I planted a Day lily two weeks ago. And it is happy there…

Day lily

Day lily

At the front gate there is this bush that my wife said I must cut down. I told her about the beautiful white little flowers, and she argued with me, she has never seen white flowers on it…  I am not that good at gardening, I do not know the names of more than half the things in our garden. So Bridget Jackson and my other friends with green fingers must help- what is this bush called?

Little white flowers bush thingy...

Little white flowers bush thingy…

And then I saw the hummingbirds in the Bauhemia tree on the sidewalk. And I am extremely sad that the longest functioning lens I have, is 250 mm… this photo is already cropped a lot:

_MG_0051They look black, but when the sun catches them just right (which I obviously didn’t) they have the most amazing metallic dark green colour…

On my way around the house, my eye caught the Strelitzia, a bit worn after the August winds around here, but still one of South Africa’s most loved indigenous plants:

Strelitzia

Strelitzia

I walked around the house to the back yard. My honeysuckle is still having one or two blooms- I planted it in a pot in front of my bedroom window, to draw the hummingbirds and other nectar feeders near-

Red Honeysuckle

Red Honeysuckle

Just outside our bathroom we planted a pomegranate bush in the autumn. The fruit is so filled with natural goodness that you just can not live without them. They cost a lot for one fruit in the shops, it is a beautiful bush anyway, so why not have your own?  It lost all it’s leaves during winter, but is jumping right back for another season of fruitfulness (i hope!)

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Pomegranate bush

I also planted 6 River Bush Willow trees (Vaderlandswilg) outside our bedroom on the lawn, because, as you can see from our winter temperatures, it gets really hot in the Bushveld- we need all the shade we can get during February, when you Northern guys goes skiing… then we have temperatures around 40 degrees Celsius (would that be about 110 Fahrenheit?) The Bush Willow loses it’s leaves in winter, another plus for the compost heap and the warming of the house by the sun…

Bush Willow tree

River Bush Willow tree- Combretum erythrophyllum (River Bush-willow) or Vaderlandswilg

I have no idea what all these plants are called, they are drought resistant, and grows in front of my youngest son’s window…

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And so, in a space of 5 minutes, I had a fantastic morning in my own garden, looking for some inspiration for tomorrow’s funeral sermon. And that is the beauty of nature, even in the death of winter, there is always the promise of new life in spring.

So sorry for my friends in Cape Town, they are having enormous winter rain, and snow on Table Mountain. And we are having this amazing winter weather, much better than England’s summer!  I hear there is a cold front moving in from the CApe, and we should also expect some cold weather to hit us over the winter. The winter witch gives her last parting shot. But then, then it is Springtime, an amazing time of year in our part of the world…

If you could forget about politics and crime, we live in a very special place indeed!