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.



Humor me in reading another story from our recent visit to the Kruger Park. Our visit also served as a bridge building opportunity. Not of the physical kind but figuratively. One of my childhood friends work on a farm and I saw him for the first time in over three years. It was wonderful to visit with him and his wife who dated for almost ten years before tying the knot!

He works for a man who has almost everything, in a physical sense that is. Money is no problem. Our friend told us of a recent incident. His boss ordered the latest Mercedes Benz two and a half years ago, and after the long wait it arrived. He ordered our friend to take the old model (also an extremely pricey vehicle) to the closest dealer.

The vehicle needed some repairing.

Because of the nonuse of his car, a family of rats found the stationary vehicle a most comfortable habitation. In order to ‘settle’ in their five star accommodation; they ate their way through hundred yards worth of electric cable.

The dealers fixed the car and returned it with six individually sealed bags. Each one containing a rat – post mortem.

This story is a vivid reenactment of Jesus’ words in Matthew 6: italic additions mine

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth (or rats) and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth (or rats) and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. V19,20


I'm busy preparing a sermon. The family is watcing a program called FAKING IT. It's a British reality show where they take a girl who grew up in a 'common' part of London through a month of intensives , training her to pass as a London higer class girl. The one scene I caught was in the restaurant where the guy asked her questions, she responded in a wonderful way. He advised her to tone down her sparkling personality because the London rich people are 'bland'. What a weird program!

This is my brother Francois. A genius in his own right. Brilliant with all things computer, electronic and hair. You can e-mail him at to congratulate him on his stunning hair.
My father does not approve of his current looks. His hair elicits at least one negative comment from the old man. He says his hair reminds him of a "Freakin' bushpig". I disagree. He reminds me of Moses with this particular look. It's really cool to have a prophet in the house. My own private Oracle. I've told him he should stand up in his class of 150 and shout to the professor : "LET MY PEOPLE GO". If you want him to do this, e-mail him as soon as possible with some courageous fanmail and/or words of wisdom.

Lollie is sick. She has been in bed from Monday. We took her to the doctor on Wednesday after we failed at curing her ourselves on Monday and Tuesday. Our doctor is really good - she is a pastor's wife too.

I had a good lunch with a friend I haven't seen for three years. We had a stimulating conversation about the Kingdom of God and how we can be part of it. During our conversation we noted how sad it is that a lot of people serve God in order to have 'fire insurance'. A good person to have when we die.

Yesterday I visited with Slimer and we had a huge Wimpy coffee, out of nowhere he asked me: 'are you a Kingdom now person?'.

I am. Jesus taught us to pray as Kingdom now people. And it makes a lot of sense in the context of His teachings in Matthew 25.

I'm having problems with Blogger, I'm pondering whether I should redesign the whole site?


Staying in the Kruger Park is a tradition in lots of families. It also involves a particular rhythm. In order to see wildlife it’s essential to wake up early; five thirty will work. Game drinks early in the morning and late in the evening; those two times are the best time for sightings.

A typical day in Kruger consists of an early morning wakeup a game drive till eleven eating a brunch taking a nap and then a drive at four followed by a barbeque in the evening. Next day the rhythm starts again.

A game drive is a slow tedious affair. The speed limit in the park is fifty kilometers an hour (thirty one miles per hour). Driving through the park at that speed will reduce the animals to an unrecognizable blur. The key is to go slow; no need to set a new speed record in the park. A good speed for viewing is twelve km/h.

Game watchers have different techniques in spotting animals. Let me explain.

Some people have a systematic scanning procedure to see game. They will look either move their eyes vertically or horizontally over the brush. In doing this they will look for the slightest movement or irregularities in color or texture. Game has the most amazing camouflage system. Lions can sometimes be spotted by only observing the swoosh of their tails. The above mentioned technique is the more thorough method.

Other people are too lazy to use a systematic mode of viewing. They can’t concentrate for too long. In order to make up for their deficiency they race through the park at neck breaking speeds searching for a concentration of cars (people who used the thorough method). They feed of the successes of others.

Game watchers have different goals too. Some people go to bag the big five. Seeing lion; rhinoceros; leopard; elephant and buffalo are all they’re interested in. Others love birds. Instead of scanning the ground they will scan the trees. On top of these differences you have those who love insects and reptiles – they love to scan the water. Different strokes for different folks.

Now imagine the class between people with different goals and techniques in the same car! One person feverishly looking for the big five the other inspecting the flying five hundred. That’s what happened in our car. Lollie the bird watcher, Tom the big five hunter.

Here’s an illustration of how it plays itself out in the drive. Lollie yells ‘stop!’; ‘stop!’ I’m seeing something. Tom immediately assumes it’s a lion or one of the five. She looks in the treetop I’m looking at the ground. She takes her binoculars and look at an eagle roughly twelve kilometers from where we are (read three hundred meters).

We study the bird and look at our bird book after which we identify the eagle. Another family approaches us – spotting that we spotted something. They drive towards us and ask ‘what are you guys seeing?’ My response: ‘nothing, just an eagle’.

Nothing just an eagle. How arrogant I realized afterwards. Reducing something to nothing because it’s not part of my goals! I do it in other parts of my life too. How sad. I joined Lollie’s bird watching venture and I discovered a whole new world in the Kruger Park. I’ve visited it at least once a year for the last twenty and I’ve never noticed the birds. I repented and scales fell of my eyes. I’m a bird watcher (and a big five watcher).


Our time in the Kruger Park was a blast. We saw a lot of animals and had some good experiences. Over the next few days I’ll post some incidents and stories.

Marloth Park is a settlement on the banks of the Crocodile River. Animals live freely with people. My mother’s brother and his wife live there. Our first evening was spent with them; they have a beautiful home with an unobstructed view of the river. Upon our arrival we saw Zebra grazing in their yard it was a beautiful sight.

Later in the evening a warthog snorted his way towards us, ripping their lawn to pieces. Rena seemed unfazed by his presence and went inside to find him some food. Corn. I took a picture from their balcony. The warthog is a massive beast and a definite force to be reckoned with. I went downstairs and sat two feet from him. While watching him I asked Rena if he won’t charge me. She told me that he’ll never do such a thing describing his good nature and behavior.

Well the next moment he charged! In full blown aggression he was ready to kill me. Demon invested. Not quite. Due to some extreme gymnastic abilities on my side I evaded the satanic invasion of my privacy.

With adrenaline rushing through my system I managed to laugh at the situation. Rena was totally embarrassed and chased the big old pig out of their yard. Her husband hosed him with some water and that was that.

Later that week I read my e-mails and found that one of our best friends prayed for us on Monday (she didn’t know why) I think I know why.

Practical tip: Don’t sit within two feet of a warthog.


The Kruger National Park is one of the biggest game reserves in the world. It hosts the big five: lion; rhinoceros; elephant; leopard and buffalo. Lollie and I will spend Monday to Thursday watching game, driving through God’s creation and just hanging out in one of the wildest sanctuaries on earth.

I really hope we’ll see lion and a pack of wild dogs. On my wish list you will also find an auditory request, I want to hear a lion’s roar. I can still remember the first time I experienced a lion’s roar.

Dirk (my brother) slept with me in our little A-frame tent. Our parents dozed in the caravan (RV if you’re from the Sates). We were five and seven. A lion walked around the perimeter fence; the roar was earthshaking! Being the oldest brother I jumped unto my brother to protect him from the impending danger; if you sift that last sentence through the reality scale it would read: I WAS SCARED TO THE POINT OF DELIRIUM.

This time around we will be in a safe bungalow; so dear lion – BRING IT ON. Last week a young boy was killed by a leopard in the same park. A good reminder that the wilderness is still wild even if some of the roads are paved! One of my friends always says ‘Africa is a rough country, people die.’

Our trip will also serve as a time of prayer and fasting regarding our future. May God speak to us through his creation and in the silent appreciation of His handiwork.

Will be back blogging at the end of the week.


South African Independence Day

Today was a big day towards our own independence. A Smith independence day if you wish. For the last three months we were fortunate to drive with our parents’ car. It was a huge blessing. My mother sacrificed and inconvenienced herself big time, giving us her vehicle.

The last eight weeks we looked for a car. It was a long and hard process. Yet, we thank God for the privilege to be able to buy a car. In South Africa having a dependable car is a big deal. Hijackings or Carjackings are a daily occurrence. Everyone’s touched by it.

Two weeks ago one of Melodi’s (Lollie’s sister) friends ran into some car trouble on a major highway. She phoned her parents to ask them to send someone. While she was on the phone, she was apprehended by thugs and raped.

As a husband, stories like these translate into a weird mixture of fear and accepting responsibility. May something like this never happen to my wife. Responsibility in ensuring she drives a decent; dependable vehicle.

Well today we bought our own vehicle. We call him “Vlam” it’s Afrikaans for “Flame”. The color made the name pretty obvious.

In order to insure the vehicle we had to install an anti-hijack device. The device has to be activated by pressing a secret button. If any of the doors are opened, the button has to be pressed again. Failure to comply will result in the cutting off of the gasoline supple (called fuel in SA).


I found this article via Emerging Minister. It’s about the editor of GQ living in the Christian subculture for a week. He reads, watches, eats and surfs only Christian stuff…
Even the mouse pad I'm using comes from the Christian store. It features a quote from Hans Christian Andersen printed on a snowy olde-time Christmas scene rendered by Thomas Kinkade, Painter of Light. You've seen his stuff: wee little button-nosed children, frisky dogs, a diffuse golden glow that drips from everything as though somebody spilled a bottle of Mrs. Butterworth's. It's not even good kitsch--it's too slick, too savvy somehow. Ark culture is mall Christianity. (more)


A few years ago our family hiked through a well-known forest in South Africa. The hike is a mixture of excitement and mystery. Eons of history echo in the silence of the lush hushed vegetation. Anticipation is heightened by knowledge of some animals roaming free in the bush – Elephant!

My brother and father, saints that they are, removed a precious sign from the forest (please don’t tell). The sign said: DANGER! YOU ARE NOW ENTERING AN AREA WHERE ELEPHANTS ROAM WILD. ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK. This is a joke you can pull in South Africa – definitely not In the States.

In more than one church we visited in South Africa we also found a particular and peculiar sign. The sign says: PLEASE LET US KNOW HOW WE CAN HELP YOU FEEL COMFORTABLE IN OUR CHURCH. This sign is as dangerous as the forest with its glaring omission of information. The church has the Lion of Judah roaming in it – heck how can it be comfortable? Just ask the tourists who visited South Africa a few years ago. Close to my house is a canned lion park. A canned lion park is a park where lions are allowed to roam in a relative small space. All of this for the comfort of the tourist; can’t let them search too long for a lion sighting! One of these groups had an individual who wanted a picture of a lion at close range. He left the safety of his hired car, took the coolest picture of a lion and… lost his life! The retrieved camera revealed some spectacular pictures.

We are committing a serious felony in wanting to make people comfortable. Bearing our own cross will never be cushy; it’s hard shoulder-crushing work. I don’t think we will succeed in transforming people from comfortable consumers into radical followers of Christ.

Better to tell the people of the dangers involved in the Christ life, and the church life for that matter from the beginning. Maybe we should post a sign that says: DANGER! YOU ARE NOW ENTERING AN AREA WHERE THE LION OF JUDAH ROAMS WILD. ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK in the front of our gathering places?


Every now and then we discover a gem. Unpublished, un-hyped but mature these gems once discovered prove to be so enriching. Lollie and I wanted to see a movie the other day and chose Whale Rider, a movie from New Zealand. I had no expectations and not a clue what it would be about. It was a gem. I shared with Lollie my fear that it won’t be shown in the States (it will be Terminated by the big 3!)

Well, I was wrong – it shows in the States. If you’re there go and check it out.

We met with our fourteen friends for the first time last Sunday. Next week we will study the nature of church and the Kingdom of God. We are excited!!

++God, help us not to mess this up++


Oh, by the way we're experiencing the season's first thunder storm. The wind is howling and the sky is illuminated with flashes. Spectacular. I'm going to bed now. Enjoy your day and evening.

Farewell to a friend

We had a fun day with our friend Schalk. Schalk works in Mozambique. He lives in the town of Vanduzi where he is one of ten whities. His project entails farming, teaching people English and helping people through sport and computer skills.

We love Schalk. Miss Betty , his dog, will travel with him to Moz a first for her. The locals are known for eating dogs (when they are intoxicated with alcohol). Please pray for them, especially for a safe journey. African border posts can be challenging! His drive will take him three days.


Lollie and I watched Terminator 3 today. It was pretty good, I think primarily because we had no expectations or hype to spoil the moment. We also bought a baby shower gift for one of Lollie's friends. It's interesting how our friends are moving into the getting babies faze. Will we follow soon?

Today the fine people at Ruimsig let us know that they really want us to apply for the position they have available. It will be decision time for us in the next few weeks. The decision has been narrowed down between starting/planting/founding a church or joining a church that was planted two years ago.

Over the weekend we will meet with fourteen friends for a barbeque to discuss a possible church plant. The meeting will be informal - all the people there know us but not necessarily each other. Our plan is to meet for four weeks and discuss a possible church plant, after the four weeks we will have a week of praying and fasting to hear what God says.

Not having our own place is still a challenge, our parents are great but nothing beats your own place!
Finding a car with our current budget also proves to be a challenge, we are definitely learning patience.
I'm really missing Colorado at the moment, the beautiful mountains - the carefree/safe surroundings and our wonderful friends. We will have to practice the sacrament of the present moment and be where we are. Have a good one.


Over the weekend we (my dad and I) played in a golf tournament, it was great fun. We ended in joint sixth place. Golf is a great way for me and him to bond. My dad has a lot of golf books, in fact I sometimes think he finds more pleasure in reading and trying new ‘methods’ than just playing. His latest book has an illustration in the beginning chapter which starts with a cesspool at the bottom which the author terms ‘golfing hell’. Golfing hell, according to him is all the other golf instructions you’ve ever heard of. The illustration then continues with all of his advice which, if adhered too, will get you in golfing heaven. A little arrogant don’t you think?

Last week was spent reading a manual on church planting. We read a book by Dynamic Church Planting International. It’s good for us to get a general idée of what we are getting ourselves into. Last night I preached on Jesus as Living Water. It was a fun service. Our liturgy consisted of eating salt and having a time of meditation and confession, we had the opportunity to think of all the counterproductive ways in which we satisfy our thirst. The liturgy also included drinking fresh ‘living water’ – and thanking God for it.

We challenged each other to practice the spiritual discipline of the Faucet. That is every time we use the faucet we will do two things. Firstly we will thank God for being Living Water and secondly we will ask God to use us as a channel of water.

I think this discipline can also include a third dimension. Let me explain: I read the following statistic the other day:

“More people die each year from unsafe drinking water than from all forms of violence, including war. More than a billion people—one in every five on earth—do not have access to safe drinking water.”

Every time we open a faucet we can pray for the billion people who are not as fortunate as we are. We can also pray and ask God how we can be part of helping the ‘poor’ in our area.

Today was spent hanging with our friend Schalk and buying some supplies for his house in Mozambique. We learned a lot of interesting things like how to lay a floor using self leveling screed. Schalk will use this technique in the room where they’re training people in language and computer skills.