Soul gardeners

Life is messy and not a 5 point plan! Jesus gave us wonderful metaphors to navigate the mess. We are an African couple committed to the Gardener. Our passion is tilling and working the soil of our lives and gardening with a community. We live in South Africa and we are praying for God's direction in our lives.


Reading and learning

We spent some time with good friends this week. Those of you who know us well understand that we have a huge value of allowing COF's (Cool Old Farts) into our lives. This week we reconnected with some of them. One of the blessings of our visit was an answer to the question: How can we discover the history and climate of our country? Our friends directed us to a bunch of books written by people who were part of the apartheids-era.

It's weird how you can grow up in a country and live in it for almost 30 years and not really know it! Both Lollie and I grew up in middleclass white South African families (and it was a blessing). Now after reengaging in our country it is fun discovering and researching things far from our experiences while we were part of the day to day survival in Africa.

I'm currently reading My traitor's heart by Rian Malan:

Like many white South Africans of his generation, Rian Malan fled his country to dodge the draft. He felt incredibly guilty for this act, but would have felt equally guilty for not doing it: "I ran because I wouldn't carry a gun for apartheid, and because I wouldn't carry a gun against it." Malan, the product of a well-known Afrikaner family, returned to South Africa and produced My Traitor's Heart, which explores the literal and figurative brutalities of apartheid. Death is a constant presence on these pages, and the narrative is driven by Malan's criminal reportage. This acclaimed book intends to illuminate South Africa's poisonous race relations under apartheid, and few books do it this well.

We know that it is crucial for pastors to know the stories and history of the country they live in and that's what we are doing. It is also crucial to know the history and stories of the church - we are also reading a lot of church history stuff. This is a season of discovery for us!


Leonardo Da Vinci and Jesus

I love reading, therefore people ask me what is the best book you read in the last year? A few months ago a Brazilian dude gave his wife a book. His wife told me to read it – I did and it propelled me into a searching. In the midst of a lot of postmodern talk going on, the book I read was a wonderful introduction into what we will experience in the religious smorgasbord of our time.

This book warrants a reading from Christ-followers who love God and have a desire to infect the culture around them. So here’s my idea. I’m starting a book study. The book we will study is The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. We will read the book and then start an on-line discussion. Beware this book will mess with your mind. Please let me know by Wednesday if you want to be part of this study. (Use the Shout Out function). Peace out.


The Australian blogger Darren (whose rugby team is better than the Springboks but lost to England today) wrote a very funny article on Harry Potter, he will make a lot of money with this.

I'm depressed

Spent some time surfing the blog world - and to tell the truth it depressed me. Why you might ask? Well because to use some Maslow - it seems like most people I'm reading are in self-actualization mode. I'm on surviving; trying to get a life- mode. Most of the posts I read have stimulating questions and discussions in contrast the discussion in my head goes something like this:

'God where do you want us?'
'Maybe we should join a church?'
'We can plant a church?'
'How will I put my kids through college (that I don't have)'
blah .... blah .... blah

Survival reads self-actualization blogs.
Well I'll go to bed and start again.


We are back from our trip. It was very good for us. Our time was spent eating, praying, sleeping, talking and doing things husbands and wives do when they go away on trips like this. Yesterday we told our friend in Alberton that we don’t feel like his church is a fit we thank God for giving us clarity regarding this

We barbequed on our vacation – and as you can see it was good! We ate a chicken flatty and some South African sausage (boerewors). It is so much fun making your own fire, waiting for it to reach the right temperature and then hearing the sizzling sound of sauces and fat dripping on the coals. It is therapeutic.

We jogged a 5km trail in the mornings and we found a very interesting sight. The resort is built next to the Hartebeespoortdam, and therefore has a lot of water. The resort offers some water-sports and it looks very enticing, that is till you read the sign on the riverbank: “DANGER NO SWIMMING ALGAE TOXIC”

This sign was a fitting reminder of what temptation is. Toxins in disguise. God will always give us the warning, the choice is ours to listen or plunge into the toxic pleasures prepared for us by the ultimate liar.


It has been more than a week since our last blog! The last week has been hard. It is difficult not to have your own place – a place where we can crash and just be ourselves. We are staying with our parents and we are really grateful for that, but nothing beats your own place.

Our friends Slimer and Adel gave us their timeshare at Magaliespark, and we will be there from today to Thursday. We will take our time to pray for wisdom. We have three options before us:

1. Join a church in Alberton, the town where Lollie grew up. The church has 700 members.
2. Join a church in Roodepoort, they are 300 strong.
3. Start our own church.
(4) Whatever God might be brewing behind the scenes.

Please pray for us as we seek God’s face.
Our lives a totally out of rhythm (you can gather that from our irregular blogs) this week will be ‘operation discover an organic rhythm’.

On a total different note. Internet access in South Africa reaaaaalllllly sucks. I’m using dial up and I usually have a book next to the computer, I read it while the pages slowly appear. I guess I’m going to acquire some patience.


It is amazing how easy we can adapt. Give us some time in a certain environment and we morph with the environment. It starts with a challenge and then we meet it – surviving. After years of living this way we become so accustomed to ‘survival mode’ it’s second nature!

I remember when we came back to South Africa for the first time after being gone for six months. In a certain way we were shocked! In America people live a safe life. Safe in terms of your house, your car, your life – people live without extreme security devices. In South Africa we live with extreme safety measures. For six months we lived in a city where you locked you car with a key and that was good enough, In SA you activate an immobilizer (cutting off the petrol), an alarm, you slide the gear-lock into place and then leave your car! For six months we experienced something that’s not ‘normal’ for South Africans and we lost some of our survival skills.

Now we are back for good and we are morphing, being safety minded is once again second nature. Last night I looked at our safety measures and I started to think about the lengths we go to protect our physical and material things. I wondered what about our spiritual lives? Should we not take as much care of that? I suspect the answer is yes.

In Proverbs 4:23 we read: “Above all else, guard your heart, for it affects everything you do.”

We have to guard our hearts above all else. I want to do a show and tell on how we are guarding ourselves physically in Africa.

This picture shows the keys I have to carry with me in my day-to-day use. The left console with the red button is the remote to open my parent’s electric gate. The remote with the two blue buttons is the anti-hijack remote for the vehicle. Once you’re in the vehicle you press that button and it locks down the whole car. If a robber forces the car open, it cuts of the petrol causing the car to cease. It also activates a tracking system that notifies the authorities. The remote with the green and blue button opens the electric gate at Lollie’s parents.

This is the gate at Lollie’s parents. The remote opens the gate. On top of the gate you’ll find electric fencing. Ready to bless a perpetrator with an 110v shock.

This is Spunky and Shasha – the dogs that will get you if you manage to get over the electric fence and through the gate. They are actually very loving dogs and won’t hurt a fly. But in the security business image is everything! These two do the job.

Now Scripture tells us to guard our hearts more than anything. We are going to great pains to guard ourselves here in Africa. I’ll have to meditate on what it will mean to guard my heart to the same extent. Maybe you have some thoughts?


Today is a weird Johannesburg day. Rain season is summer but it is raining big time today. We even have some thunder storms coming thru! Winter with rain. Today is our first Sabbath day in South Africa – my brother Dirk made a fire and we’re reading, thinking, sleeping and praying in front of the hearth.

I’m rereading The return of the Prodigal by Nouwen. It’s one of my favorite books. So much depth! His book is a reflection on the Father and his embrace of the Prodigal and the book is all about homecomings. He describes how important it is to discover our place in the Father’s embrace. These words really grabbed me:

I have a new vocation now. It is the vocation to speak and write from that place back into the many places of my own and other people’s restless lives. I have to kneel before the Father, put my ear against his chest and listen, without interruption, to the heartbeat of God. Then, and only then, can I say carefully and very gently what I hear. I know that I have to speak from eternity into time, from the lasting joy into the passing realities of our short existence in this world, from the house of love into the house of fear, from God’s abode into the dwellings of human beings. I am well aware of the enormity of this vocation. Still, I am confident that it is the only way for me. One could call it the ‘prophetic vision’ : looking at people and this world through the eyes of God.

Today is a good day to put my ear close to the Fathers heart and listen. To see through His eyes. I think Nouwen’s description is a wonderful defining of ministry and what it entails.


Driving Miss Daisy

The last few days have been NUTS. We are running around doing paperwork and getting settled into a rhythm. The past few days we applied for medical insurance - South Africa has the best medical insurance. Dicovery has been voted as the best scheme in a worldwide competition. This weekend we will preach at one of the churches in Alberton - a town in the North of Johannesburg. Last night was spent studying the parable of the prodigal son. We could identify with the son in more than one way. For a start we are also screwed up - like him (and you). Secondly - we experienced the joy of a homecoming. My mom prepared a very traditional South African meal when we arrived - lamb, potatoes, carrots, sweet patatoes and rice - YUMMIE. In the Third place we heard several comments from brothers that mom always give us the best treatment - they said the prince and princess returned. It is good to be home! We spent some time with friends today. I visited with Slimer - I drove to the appointment with my dad's latest project - a Carmen Gia. It was kinda ancient-future driving with Miss Daisy.



Incarnation. A theological word. A concept we take for granted. God living among us, drinking our water, breathing our polluted air, sharing in the uneasiness of our lives, what a blessing that is. He understands us!

We lived in the United States for the past three years and now we are back in Africa. Africa is different from the States. In a lot of ways – shapes, thoughts, ideologies, methodologies. We want to live life incarnate and understand what our people is all about. We want to discover our roots, delve through our history and by understanding build relationships that’ll redeem. It is hard not to impose our last three years on the people here – if we do that we will be total smucks.
The other day we had to go to the license office to apply for South African drivers licenses. The lady at the information desk told us to go to counter twenty. We walked over there not seeing the line of people waiting for their turn. When we walked to the window without waiting our turn the people sitting revolted. We apologized and took a seat. We struck up a conversation with our African friends who vehemently protested our skipping the line. They explained to us that they immediately thought we were thinking we are better because we are white. Conditioned by years of oppression they had flashbacks of being taken advantage of. We felt so humbled, that experience will make us sensitive to this very thing. We have a lot to learn.

We want to see and live a life incarnate, please pray for us.