Thursday, September 30, 2010

lemon meringue @ blue cow

We stopped at the Blue Cow in Barrydale for coffee. This is definitely a recommended place for refreshment.
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amber lagoon entrance

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amber lagoon permanent tents.jpg

We spent the night at a campsite called Amber Lagoon. This is just outside Calitzdorp near the hot springs on the old concrete road. Nine years ago Susanna left Germany and sailed to South Africa on a cargo ship called "Amber Lagoon". She eventually bought a derelict farmhouse, and turned the hill behind the house into a tented campsite. Lots of hard work has produced this amazing '0ut of Africa' experience, complete with toilets under the stars and bamboo shaded tents.
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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

bakkie and roof tent

I drive a 1994 Toyota Hilux Raider (which is a 4x4 with a 2.2 petrol engine) and it has done 300 000km. We have a roof tent which fits onto a roof rack. This is great when we travel because it folds easily. It also is useful in unfenced game reserves because the hyenas are below us and not next to the tent at night!

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fireplace in kitchen

Tony is standing in front of the fireplace in the kitchen of the schoolroom/accommodation on the farm bo-jane. He is a master at a braai and we feasted on chops, chicken and pork rashers.
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What's in a Name?

I got it wrong.

This farm is called bo-jani, which is a contracted form of "bobbejane" (baboons). The farm looks up at the mountains and the vegetable gardens are often raided by baboons ... and buck, and rabbits.

It is run by Thys and Carmen Henzen, who retired here from Pretoria. They offer camping and cottages. And provide meals on request.

This is a wonderfully refreshing place to stop. It is accessed by a steep gravel single-track farm road and I was grateful that we were driving our truck. We stayed next to an old schoolhouse that has been turned into bedrooms (where Granny slept) bathroom, lounge and kitchen. The kitchen has a large open hearth where we made a fire and cooked our meat.

The star-sprinkled night sky is unspoiled by city lights and our torches picked up the eyes of buck as they grazed their way down the mountain.

Refreshed we head off this mountain to see what the day brings.
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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Route 62

Today dawned bright and clear. After breakfast we set out from Port Alfred to Port Elizabeth, stopping at Nanaga for this roadside shop's famous roosterbrood. Coffee and jam-covered roosterbrood fortified us for the road past Port Elizabeth.

Next we stopped in Jeffreys Bay. Many people know this town as a premier surfing centre, boasting one of the best surf breaks in the word. But not our wives: they did not want the beach - insisting that we came to J-Bay to stop at the Billabong factory shop.

Many shirts and caps later we settled our nerves with a welcome cup of coffee before heading out of town. Just after Humansdorp we turned right, off the N2, into the Langkloof. This picturesque valley guides the road between two ranges of mountains, made beautiful in the evening sun.
More adventure tomorrow.

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bakkie and rooftent in the Langkloof.jpg

We are camped in the Langkloof near Joubertina. This is on a farm called "Bo-Jannie" (literally 'John above') which suggests that somewhere there must be an Onder-Jannie (John-below).

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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Dave Fidler's Ordination

Today David Fidler was ordained into the Ministry of the Methodist Church of SA.

Dave has been my colleague for the past three years. He has a kind heart, a wicked sense of humour, and a generous capacity to make friends. He speaks well in front of crowds, has the ability to 'get things done' and is not self-important. David is a wonderful father to his three children, a great cook, and a committed husband to his wife Kirsty.

But none of this qualifies him to be a Pastor in the Church of God. The quality that allows me to give my assent to his ordination is that David's desire to serve Jesus comes wrapped in grace. He might have moments when he speaks before thinking, or where he speaks truth without sweetness in his words, but he is deeply compassionate, and has absolutely no malice in his heart.

I wish that there were more like him.
Dave: go with God.
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Friday, September 24, 2010

path to madonna and child falls.jpg

A forest path. Lovely palm fronds, indigenous forest, and cool shaded walks.
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starways gallery.jpg

This is the local theatre in Hogsback - complete with lights, seating, kitchen, and seats in the round.
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I am Legion

Hogsback has Christians who remind me of "Legion" in Mark Chapter 5. We read of Jesus meeting a strange man in the village graveyard. In response to the question "What is your name?" he answered, saying, "My name[ is] Legion: for we are many." And Jesus responds by creating an internal, spiritual unity for this man, leaving him "in his right mind".

Well there is a stone church here called St. Patrick on the Hill. This is an Anglican Church that shares its Sundays out between ministers from the Presbyterians, the Methodists, the Dutch Reformed - and naturally the Church of England (CPSA). This has worked amicably for generations: even surviving the recent tragic fire in the chapel. The church is being restored and will soon be re-consecrated by the local bishop. Here, I thought, is Christian unity lived out in community ... A village that can live together within diversity.

But then I saw a notice posted on the door of a local coffee shop: there is a meeting scheduled for "all the Christians" of Hogsback to discuss building another Christian church. Huh? This will be called ... wait for it ... Hogsback United Church Fellowship! I am always amazed at how those who break away to begin yet another church will claim the word "united" for themselves. So the legion of Christian churches divide yet again.

But remember what Jesus did with "Legion", and with hogs?
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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Dangerous Running

In Hogsback Village it is safer to run in the centre of the road than to run at the side! This is because the road is rutted and littered with potholes, and motorists choose to drive along the outer edges of the road - which makes the middle of the road the safest place for my daily run.

I run a gradual uphill through the Village: on the right I pass the local Backpackers called "Away with the Fairies", followed by the Laughing Feathers Gallery, then the Enchanted Tree House, and the Hoggest Shop. A little further up, on the left, is Hobbit Lane, Granny Mouse House, and Mist Rising Nursery.

I turned at Hidden Lane, and headed back down hill, dodging cars driven by the locals ferrying the working classes homewards - unlike the vacationing classes out running their roads. There were monkeys swinging through the trees alongside the road, loeries calling to each other in the sunset, and a drunk woman berating customers outside the off sales.

I finished off my 5km run with a hot shower, and supper in front of the fire with good friends.

A great end to the day.
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Monday, September 20, 2010

Magical, Mystical Hogsback

We are camping. And experienced four seasons in one day: rain, sunshine, mist, more rain, and now a gusting wind.

We are at the village of Hogsback in the Amathole Mountains (Latitude 32*-35'475" Longitude 26*-55'805") This is found by driving through Alice (home to Fort Hare University), and climbing a winding road to 1200m above sea level. At the summit we emerged into a forest village that boasts places with names like Fairy Realm, Starways Pottery, Back 'o the Moon, Hobbiton, and Never Daunted. There is clearly much to be explored.

Today was the Coffee Barn at Misty Mountain, where we had coffee and chocolate cake in front of a warm fire. More places for coffee tomorrow.
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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Stop off in Alice

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The Ostridge

Our trip has taken us through Calitzdorp, Oudtshoorn, De Rust, and Willowmore. All share a passion for this bird. These prehistoric birds have wings but cannot fly; have the ability to kick forwards; and lay eggs that equal 24 hen's eggs. They are farmed for their eggs (the largest of any living bird), their meat (low in cholesterol) and their skin (similar to leather in its durability).
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Die Bliksem is Oop

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At Anysberg the swallows use the bathroom as their home.
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Saturday, September 18, 2010


We deviated off the R62, turning left at Ladysmith into the hills and stayed at the Anysberg Nature Reserve. Our campite was about 70km off the beaten track, surrounded by Gemsbok, jakall calling during the night, and friendly horses.

This morning we returned to the R62 via Seweweekspoort (sevenweeks cutting). This is a deep cleft in the rocks that has been used by travellers since "time before memory" and asks the passer by to repeatedly cross the river as you wind your way through the sheer rock cliffs towering above.
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One of the joys of travel is the opportunity to visit interesting places along the way.

This is a pub on the road between Barrydale and Ladysmith that began its life as a farm stall. The alleged story is that one weekend while Ronny was away, his friends changed the sign on his farm stall. And ever since then people have wanted to stop off here! It is now a pub festooned with graffiti -and bras and panties donated by visitors. There is also a coffee shop for those like us who do not want to drink and drive.
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Friday, September 17, 2010

Road Trip

Jenny and I have set off on Route 62. Our ultimate destination is the Ordination Service of the Methodist Church of SA - which takes place in East London. We have 9 days to get there. It will be a venture undertaken slowly.
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The Wimmin'

Mother and Daughter - my wife Jenny and her mom Edwina.
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Monday, September 13, 2010

Lost Shepherds

Luk 15:1 One day when many tax collectors and other outcasts came to listen to Jesus, the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law started grumbling, "This man welcomes outcasts and even eats with them!" So Jesus told them this parable: "Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them---what do you do? You leave the other ninety-nine sheep in the pasture and go looking for the one that got lost until you find it.

This is the core of our Christian faith: that nobody is forgotten…..

But this parable is not really about affirming the forgotten sheep:
Remember: Jesus told this story because there were religious leaders who were upset that he paid less attention to the regular members in synagogue on the Sabbath than he did to those who never came. They were upset because he spent time with the lost sheep. But he says: “those in the synagogue are OK: I have come for the lost sheep of Israel.”

This is a parable that challenged the Shepherds of Israel to walk in the footsteps of the Good Shepherd: And this is a parable that continues the challenge those of us who self-righteously thank God that we are OK with our Creator. In fact the modern church recognises that there might be some sheep who are "lost" and so they hire a shepherd to go in search of the "lost" sheep. But somewhere in this story is the notion that the 99 “safe” sheep had let the one "lost" sheep down. They should have made sure that she did not get lost in the first place!
So let us be challenged to
- bring healing to those who are broken
- bring courage to those who are frightened
- bring joy to the depressed
- And bring love to the outcast.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Losing Sheep

Luk 15:1 One day when many tax collectors and other outcasts came to listen to Jesus, the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law started grumbling, "This man welcomes outcasts and even eats with them!" So Jesus told them this parable: "Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them---what do you do? You leave the other ninety-nine sheep in the pasture and go looking for the one that got lost until you find it. When you find it, you are so happy that you put it on your shoulders and carry it back home. Then you call your friends and neighbors together and say to them, 'I am so happy I found my lost sheep. Let us celebrate!' In the same way, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine respectable people who do not need to repent.

The Ancient Israelites were a pastoral people. Both sheep and goats were kept for meat and milk as well as wool or hair. Most peasant families would own a few sheep - making shepherding a common occupation. Often flocks were moved from one area to another during the year. Flocks based in places on the Judean ridge (like Bethlehem or Tekoa) would be moved further down the steep slope into the Judean desert towards the Dead Sea when those areas had received rain and/or runoff allowing some grass to grow. So shepherds would move with their sheep in search of water.

Jesus tells a story about a shepherd and his sheep.

This is a story about the shepherd who has just moved his sheep from the desert floor to the high ridges in Judea. He had 100 sheep and he carefully guides them up into the hills. The rains have fallen and they are able to leave the hot desert regions and climb past Ramah, Bethel, Mispah, Shiloh….

He is probably not alone: all the shepherds are doing the same. And finally they arrive where the new grass has begin to grow: and they are able to let his sheep graze free. And they wander off to enjoy the newly shooting grasses.

That evening the shepherd calls to his sheep - in fact each shepherd calls his sheep: and they come, because they have been trained since their birth to respond to the voice of their own shepherd. Never call sheep stupid – they might be easily panicked – but they know their shepherd’s voice.

He has built a circular fence of thorn branches and he herds them inside. This will protect them against jackals at night. He will soon makes his bed across the opening, and light his evening fire. But first he counts his sheep. And discovers that one is missing! And so he faces a choice: The shepherd can decide that the ninety-nine are more important than the one. “I need to protect the ninety-nine – I will just have to write off that lost sheep.” This is a good business decision. It is called writing off losses and is the kind of decision often made:

Not long after Jesus told this story this is in fact what happened to him: John’s Gospel tells us about the high priest Caiaphas who argues that Jesus must be killed in order to keep the peace: “Don’t you understand that it is better for you to have one man die for the people than to have the whole nation destroyed?” (John 11:50).

In other words, Caiaphas and his kind say, sometimes it is okay, even necessary, to sacrifice someone or something for some greater cause:
This is very familiar in our society today:
It is OK to sacrifice one small business principle in order to make a profit.
It is OK to twist one little truth in order to win an election.
It is OK to ignore one small commandment of God in order to remain popular with society.
It is OK to tell one small member of the family to get lost in order to have some peace in the home.

But the story is not finished:
Luk 15:4 "Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them---what do you do? You leave the other ninety-nine sheep in the pasture and go looking for the one that got lost until you find it.
Jesus says it is not OK to sacrifice one small sheep for the sake of many.
Remember this the next time you are tempted to sacrifice a small principle of your faith for expediency:
Today it will be a small sin – tomorrow it will be your soul!