Dear friends, family and sponsors.
In this letter
- Mom's heart.
- Wycliffe Muslim project.
- Handing out Bibles etc.
- Climbing Sleeping Beauty!
- Family pics.
-Badminton in George, Rugby season!
- THE SA record holding WHISPERING TREE!
MOM HAD A HEART ATTACK
“How did you not know?” the Doctor asked.
To which I replied, “Usually people with heart attacks fall to the ground!”
We all laughed while taking in the somber news. We knew something was very wrong and two Stilbaai doctors confirmed heart failure, including my uncle. Hearing the words ‘heart attack’ is different.
If it was not for my uncle who is a practicing pathologist, who very quickly opened a way to a sonar of the heart, we still might not have known how close mom came to dying. This is the second time God spared mom’s life. Three years ago a doctor gave her the wrong heart meds. Her heart beat slowed to unimaginably low yet God restrained the grim reaper that night too!
A few days before we confirmed that mom had a heart attack I climbed a high mountain peak. In hindsight this climb connected me deeply with what God was speaking to me about my mother.
This mountain (1,343m) is usually covered by snow this time of the year. At 7:15AM I arrived at our arranged place of meeting, the jetty overlooking the spot where Stilbaai’s river enters the ocean. It is pristine. It fills the cup.
We were warned about the weather and 35 people of the original 40 changed their minds not to climb. My WhatsApp message to them read:
“I am not scared of rain the weather is not predicting.”
Four others had the same idea, one of which is a registered South African Trail Guide. This fact gave me peace to climb onto the head of what someone called, “one of the unacknowledged wonders of the world.”
Is it not like this in life, with God as our Trail Guide? Sometimes we have to climb where He leads. How many times in the face of death and deep misery, will we, who walked, look back and say – the road of suffering is an unacknowledged wonder of the world.
We drove off to the famous high mountain in Stilbaai’s backyard, called Riversdale’s Sleeping Beauty. First we stopped for the Oakdale Highschool cows to have their way.
Perhaps this is really where this story starts. Nature that one cannot control. Rain, snow, the hand of the watch ticking while waiting for cows in the road. At least mom’s pace maker still have 3 years of battery left. Mom’s heart failure, causing her feet and liver to swell, is like nature - the darn cows are in the way. You can go dance and shout in the poop and get nowhere or take a picture with a smile and make others laugh too.
We finally arrived next to the old toll-house and parked the car. The sky was an early morning clear blue that made looking up a worthwhile moment. No wind. No clouds. No other people. With my raincoat in my backpack, coffee and bread I baked myself, I was ready as can be. With one of the most important object also in my bag, a walking stick, we started climbing.
The beginning was easy and filled with all sorts of flowers you only find in the Western Cape, nowhere else in this entire world. Only here do you smell the indescribable smell of Fynbos. It is a bit like the smell of my mother.
How do you describe the smell of a mother that has positivity as her number 1 strength finders’ test answer.
It is like the fire that swept over Sleeping Beauty three years ago and today, unless you knew, you would not know it was destroyed. Nature is positive. My mother is nature poured into a cup for me and God said, "be blessed with this one in a million gift I give you."
I think this is where Holy Spirit started to hover over me like only the mist can within seconds, covering a mountain out of the blue, the blue I just looked at, white in seconds.
We kept walking and then the serious climb to get to the top of the head of Sleeping Beauty and her stunning eye lashes, nose and mouth started. I read somewhere that it was suggested Sleeping Beauty be on the list of one of the world’s wonders! She is perfect when you pass on the N2 through Riversdale.
As I walked, I noticed footprints, step by step dug in by time and other mountaineers before me. It made this steep part a bit easier. I could lodge my foot into their foot and together climb higher with people unseen.
God spoke into my spirit, “Just like these feet you step into, I have gone before you.” In my spirit I knew He was referring to the very uncertain road I am walking with my mother. He has gone before me and knew everything. It brought so much peace to me. You can just imagine how grateful I am living in Stilbaai in this season.
The higher we climbed the more wed face a strong 59 kmph wind billowing around our ears. “Sleeping Beauty is dreaming up a storm!” Fortunately this strong wind came from behind and literally pushed us up that steep neck. Then came the point where it was too steep to climb and predecessors drilled two silver cables into the mountain rock so that one could pull yourself up the ledge. I was never fearful but the strong wind definitely made me extremely cautious as to where I stepped next.
Three of the five reached the top before me and when it was my turn, I could not see them. I could barely stand still in the wind and it was freezing cold.
Where did they go?
For a moment it was a mystery because I was standing on Sleeping Beauty’s head – a cliff, literally the end of the road. Then I saw movement. A head. Then a face. Thank goodness. It was my friend who knew the Mountain. They sat behind a massive rock that completely blocked the wind. What I thought was a cliff, was a hidden safe place. We had the most extraordinary view: farms all the way to Stilbaai’s ocean in the distance. It was all worth it.
In real life, being hidden in the cleft of a rock, extremely foreboding times become beautiful (Ps32:7 & Ex 33). It becomes a sentimental time of deep calling unto deep in heart abandoned worship, and no one can take that from the one being hidden in God when storms roar.
We drank our coffee, and I pulled out my rain jacket. We were freezing. Just like that, clouds in the distance came rolling in over the mountains. I said to my friend, we better get down if we want to see the path! It took us 3 hours to climb… it would be a while before we reached the car. Now the wind was pushing us from going down fast – and this is where I learned how incredibly important a walking stick is… and my knees also said, thank you!
Psalm 23:4 had new meaning to me.
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.”
Have you ever noticed that David connects the rod and staff with a season of death and how it brings comfort? In this case of going down a very steep mountain, into a valley, a walking stick becomes a few things: A third arm for strength to lean on, balancing the body, protecting joints against the hammering blows of going down. It takes down spider webs in the way too. May I not
be found without God’s Rod and Staff in this valley!
It took us a full two hours to get back to the car. When we looked back and up, the head of Sleeping Beauty was covered and we drove home in the rain. That night the entire day flashed before me and a new prayer poured forth from deep within:
God, you are the Shepherd’s rod in my hands. You stabilize my going up and coming down. Without you I would have slipped and fall numerous times. God, you are the Rock that is higher than I and finding shelter in you takes new meaning. How can one survive on the mountain of life where wind wants to push a mere walking man of a cliff? I am so glad I am found in you!
You are the invisible, yet visible footsteps!
Mom is receiving a stent in her heart 17 August! Two collapsed veins need to be re-opened.
We just need to sit on the top of this stormy mountain, hidden behind The Rock of all ages while we wait!
Isaiah 26:4 Trust in the LORD always, for the LORD God is the eternal Rock.
Things are moving forward with the Makhuwa Muslim Project. It seems that this will be a two year project alongside Wycliffe Bible Translators, filming “Creation to Christ” Bible stories for this people group. This Mozambique people group is 4,419 Million people.
Thank you sponsors!
Thank you prayer partners!
Next in line, is filming the Fall of Mankind and The Dream of Pharaoh. These stories are translated and captured in audio for me to use for this project by people on the ground in Mozambique.
Please pray a covering over me as I will need extra wisdom to stay culturally relevant and biblically sound at the same time seeing that this is for a non-white audience. All the figures have to be re-designed and painted in cultural acceptable ways. It will be a head-scratch for some figures. 1 Cor9:22 Paul wrote, I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.
If you read last month's Otter Trail letter, you will remember how I came into contact with people who did not own a Bible.
FRIENDS, we need to pay attention to those around us and as far as it is possible, inquire if the strangers we meet, have a Bible.
These pictures is from the trip when I took mom to the Hospital three weeks ago. The road was stunning and as you can see, the temperature only 2'C !
It was freezing cold.
At one ENGINE garage, a man saw my car and asked if I had a Bible for him. I made sure to find one and gave it to him when mom and I returned. He was so happy. I am trying to connect with the Gideon's but to no avail so far.
I emailed CUM asking if we can make a plan for Bible distribution and once again I had no response. It is my wish to go on an extended walk through small towns, inquiring about the needs for Bibles. I cannot assume that all South Africans have a Bible in their house after the last couple of weeks' experiences. Pray that a door will open for this.
In the mean time, you and I can start to ask our 'neighbor' the right questions!
RUGBY SEASON & Badminton
Yes, that family photo with all the children on the shoulders - those are all the grand kids!
Did you know that my late brother played on Loftus in Pretoria at age 12? Due to pain in his hands, even at that age, he literally walked off the field, even THAT field. I miss Alexander's father at every game. I so wish he could see Alexander play.
It is a joy to watch their Rugby skills develop. Their aunty is not such a great fan of kids playing rugby so I am making sure both boys get their Badminton skills also up to date! By default I started helping out with the 24 primary school kids and I really like it.
Pics below - Stilbaai, Mosselbaai, Outshoorn & George play day. It was awesome.
ITS A DOG'S LIFE
The Whispering Tree – ALBERTINIA
Guest House & Writers Retreat on the N2 between Mosselbay & Riversdale
Did you know that the thickest tree in South Africa is a mere 37 minutes’ drive from Stilbaai? For close to 200 years, this impressive wild fig has stood in the town of Albertinia. The Whispering Tree is a massive Ficus burkei (Burke's fig or common wild fig) in Voëlroepersfontein's garden with SA Champion Tree status.
The Voëlroepersfontein Whispering Tree has a trunk circumference of 14,6 m (this excludes a second trunk), and a diameter of 4,67 m
Photos: Mom and I with Marietjie.
If you are Afrikaans, you might appreciate this article about Marietjie.
Thanks for your ongoing monthly prayers and sponsorship.
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