"Time keeps no measure when true friends are parted, No record day by day; the sands move not for those who, loyal-hearted, friendship's firm laws obey."

Monday, 25 January 2010

It's been a long time!

Hey guys,

I am sorry that there has been such a huge gap between this post and the previous one. So much has gone on! I will try and explain as briefly as possible, as I am currently in the post office in Kommetjie and need to not be too long!

I left Swaziland a couple of days prematurely, due to some things going on in the lives of the family I was staying with. This meant I had to stay with Kathy and Carlo for a couple of extra nights before my next destination. On one of the days, I actually had a hair cut here in South Africa - purely because they wash your hair and give you a 20 min head and neck massage included in the price! It was so amazing!!

On Thursday 14th January I travelled over to Footprints Children's Centre, just outside Jo'burg. I truly cannot express in words how amazing this place was! I hope my pictures and stories when I come home do it justice. Please ask me about them, what they do, and the children there. Amazing. I used to have a recurring dream when I was younger about a house filled with children. I think it was Footprints.

I stayed a week and flew down to Cape Town, where I was picked up at the airport by Kathy's cousin Paul. I stayed the night with his mum and brother in Hout Bay, a beautiful fishing town at the back base of Table Mountain. What an incredible landing in the plane, above the clouds, the sun setting and with an awesome view of Table Mountain!

On Friday morning, Will and Naomi Greeves picked me up in Hout Bay! It was so nice seeing them, especially in a foreign country. We drove along Chapman's peak (a coastal road with amazing views) to reach Kommetjie, a beautiful small seaside town. This last weekend has been filled with meeting new people, eating at some amazing places, seeing lots of wildlife, enjoying the (very hot!) sunshine and trying to spot sharks - for those of you that don't know, Fish Hoek (about 20 minutes from Kommetjie and where we paddled on Friday) is where a man got eaten by a great white shark just LAST WEEK! And people were still swimming in the sea. We are really amped to see a shark!

On Saturday, our friends Stuart and Sandra Thompson met us in Kommetjie. Stuart is a local Kommetjie boy and Sandra is his Spanish wife, they have been travelling around SA for the last few weeks. We were staying in their friends' house, right next to the beach! On Sunday we went to church here and then went to the beach as the boys surfed, finishing the day with a braai.

Today we are heading out to Cape Town, where we'll be listening to Will's friend Jonno who is a jazz drummer. His band are playing in the city. It should be lekke! Tomorrow early morning, we leave for Elands Bay which is further up the West Coast. Apparently the surf is going to be better up there, and we have a few days to ourselves at a nice house. And then I come home!

So here my blog ends. I hope this has been enough information. I assumed I will not be blogging again until I return to email on Saturday! A month has flown by - I have learnt lots and had lots of time to think about the future. I am looking forward to sharing stories with you when I return.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Swaziland - Tuesday...Play Time!

You see this first picture below? That is Sepho. Last time I was here, he had just arrived at ABC children's home as a baby. His twin sister and mother had both died in hospital. He was HIV positive. Now look at him! He is big, smiling all the time and babbling away to himself! And by some miracle, I am told he is no longer HIV positive! It was very exciting to see him!

In the kids club today (the last one) we took the younger kids down to the old school, where there is an adventure trail. They played and ran around, and then got tired and too hot in the sun. So we sat with them under the shade of the tree and pushed them on the rope swings. It was good.

And then I left. Plans changed and I left two days early. I travelled in the back of a bumpy landrover with 3 Americans and a Zimbabwean. Which leads me to here...sitting at the computer with a cup of coffee and a rusk! Tonight I move on to Johannesburg, where I meet a lot of new faces. I will be spending a week in Footprints children's home. I don't know how much internet connection I will get. Hopefully you will hear from me again soon!

Swaziland - Monday...New and Old Friends...

Photos below are:

Our little Chameleon friend!
The Tunnel Team!
Heather, Sian, Gennie, Natalie (teachers/volunteers in Bulembu) and I after dinner
Me and the ABC guys after they recorded some dancing videos for us!
Sian, Ketsiwe, Colin and Angus from ABC

Today, Jon and Jude went swiftly off to Pretoria for a few days to try and sort out Phila's UK visa. This meant that my plans changed as I was originally going to be taken to Nelspruit by them for my Citybug on Thursday. I now decided to get a lift back with Jason, Cara, Nick and Clever to Pretoria on Tuesday (and then be picked up by Kathy and Carlo again for a couple of days extra with them).

Sian and I attended the Kids Camp again this morning. We helped with the very little kids, who were climbing trees and playing in the sun. And then we spent some time with the ABC kids, filming them dancing. They have got so good! I will try and put a video on here later. Amazing dancers. Then we went over to Natalie's house (an English girl who's volunteering here for 7 months) for dinner. It was lovely, but I unfortunately felt ill so I had to quickly get home! (feeling better now though)

Swaziland - Sunday..."That's what the tunnel does..."

Sunday was a great day of getting to know people and the area better! We went to Church (being now up at Chinda, where we are all staying, and at 10am - rather than down in the Community Chapel and at 4pm in the afternoon) and it was pretty similar to the night before. More white people but still majority black, lots of singing and wonderful noises. Pastor Rolly's wife Kathy shared something she had been learning. It was very intrieged to see a woman at the front, that doesn't normally happen in this community!

After Church, a small group of us went for a walk through a 1km Tunnel. This sounds pretty weird, and it was! We had to use a landrover and quad to get there. And we walked through this man-made tunnel, where a rushing river ran down...in PITCH BLACK! It was the most bizarre thing ever. For most of it, I walked by myself. BIG MISTAKE! My imagination was playing tricks on me in the darkness! I couldn't believe it when I'd heard they'd taken 70 kids through here on a school trip! But it was fun. At the end, we had these crazy steep steps to walk up, with gushing water pouring down them. It was so slippery and the stone steps had been worn away, so it was hard to find footholds. But we made it! (check out the photos below)

We had a roast dinner in the evening, which was so exciting! And then Sian and I went to meet the YWAM team up at the view point, where they were having a bonfire. This place is beautiful. It is through the forest and you have an amazing view into South Africa. We played guitars, talked, and ate marshmallows. It was so lush. In the end, it was just Sian and I, and Elyse and Olivia (two YWAM-ers) who were left. And we decided to sleep out under the stars! It was beautiful. But we were wet in the morning haha. We slept under a literal blanket of stars. Amazing. So many shooting stars too.

Swaziland - Saturday.

I am finally updating you on the rest of my time in Swaziland!

On Saturday, Sian went hiking up the tallest mountain in Swaziland (which happens to be right next to Bulembu). I stayed behind and attended a meeting with a bunch of the teenagers about a potential new recreation centre. Now, this is pretty exciting stuff. When I was last in the Bu, there wasn't really anything provided for the older teenagers...even just somewhere to hang out and be teenagers together! But a new family in town (Jason, Cara and their son Nick) have really got the ball rolling, and we all met over at an abandoned building that we were going to do up. Things didn't work out quite as planned though, because we found out that the building used to be a masonic lodge and that sacrifices and weird stuff had gone on there. Some adults didn't even want their young people involved in the building at all. So we all stood together and prayed. It was really cool. A South African couple, called Steve and Liselle, came along too. And I spent about an hour after all the teenagers had gone listening to these adults all talking about the need for youth work in the town, and also about the need for a passionate church. It was exciting to hear and I was really encouraged. It seemed to fit in with what I have been reading and thinking about lately. And as the first few days in Bulembu had been quite hard, this was a really uplifting conversation to be hearing!

Anyway, the rest of the day I hung out with some of the ABC kids. We played music together and hung out in the garden. In the early eveninings, I went over to ABC to help with all the babies - as this is the change over time for the Aunties who work there. It gets very busy! They have so many babies too. Lots of tiny ones, including one week old baby. All so tiny. And then with all the toddlers running around too. Becky Starnes would've loved it!

In the evening, we went down to the chapel in the community for a service to welcome in the new year. It was so awesome! I wish I'd brought my camera and secretly filmed! They had a Swazi group leading the music and the sound was just unbelievable. I can only explain it as really African, lots of harmonies, amazing voices. It was cool. A great evening together.

For those of you that don't know who I've been staying with in Bulembu, look at the photos below! Jon and Jude Skinner used to live in Ilfracombe, North Devon. He has been the Principle of the School here in Bulembu for the past 3 years and Jude has been nursing here. The other children here at this time are Sian (one of the twins) and Phila, their adopted daughter from right here in Swaziland. Right as I type this, they are in Pretoria trying to sort out the English visa for Phila, as they will be leaving Swaziland soon. All very complicated! But it has been lovely seeing them all!

Thursday, 7 January 2010


Greetings from the wonderful town of Bulembu!

I left Johannesburg airport Wednesday morning for 4 hours of beautiful landscape. AND I GOT THE FRONT SEAT!! (Why on earth did no one want to sit there? AC on full blast, loads of leg room and the comfiest seat - BONUS!)

I arrived in Nelspruit, where I got a lucky look at one of the new football stadiums for the Fifa world cup this coming summer. It looks insane! All orange.

Anyway, I got picked up by Jude and Sian Skinner...and the latest addition to their family - Phila! We drove the mountain route back to Bulembu (which wouldn't have been anywhere near as quick 3 years ago as the roads weren't tarmacked). Again, so beautiful.

It was so exciting coming back to Bulembu. I saw Jon Skinner and then went straight over to ABC to say hello to the children. They are so big now. The eldest boys are nearly 18 years old. But it was the younger ones who had really grown. Sepho (who was my favourite - he was just a baby and he had arrived when I was last here) is now a young child walking around and living with some other children.

As school is out right now for summer, I helped this morning (Thursday) with a summer camp. We are having a carnival tomorrow so I was with the older children, planning games and painting objects. So many children everywhere! There are a lot of different families working here now too, as well as a YWAM team.

My afternoon today has been relaxing, hanging out with the older kids at ABC next door and just seeing the amazing developments in this town. They have a bakery, dairy and a new school, as well as the Lodge and Accomodation for visitors. I will try and get some photos tomorrow.

The rest of my time here is just seeing the work that is going on, and informally hanging out with the kids. The Skinners have just found out that after 3 and a half years of being here, they have to leave Bulembu by next month, which comes as a bit of a shock really. So they are doing a lot of thinking and praying and seeing where to go next. It seems a strange time to be here really, with so much change. But it is exciting to see where it is all heading.

So the next few days look like just hanging out with the kids. Saturday we'll go hiking up the mountain, or so I've just been told! And then next Thursday (14th) I travel back to Jo'burg to go to the Children's Centre for a week!

Thank you for reading and keeping an eye on me!

Monday, 4 January 2010