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.

9/26/2003

Mozambique is amazing! We slept in a little bush town called Sussundenga where we supported the band who practices in Schalk`s garage. The concert continued till four this morning and started at five pm!! Africa time is amazing, yesterday started at seven am. Our task for the day: pick up the band members and take them to Sussundenga - 100 miles away. We finally arrived there at three o´clock. The people here are leisurely, friendly and full of energy. They jived at the concert (will post pictures when we come home). We also spent some time with American Peace Core volunteers who live and work here - three girls in the middle of nowhere teaching Biology, Science and Math. Cheers.

9/21/2003

Lollie returned on Thursday and our reunion has been sweet. I love my wife; she is my best friend and my lover. After salvation she is definitely the best thing that happened to me. My BL (Before Lollie) years can be described as a colorless, black and white ordeal. The AL (After Lollie) years are marked by being more courteous, organized, neat and having a better diet. She's my highlighter. I’m glad she’s back.

She had a great time in Italy (I’ll let her tell the story herself).

We met with our group today and stated unpacking the “Kingdom of God”. During our time we discussed the difficulty of merging our kingdom with God’s. It’s hard. No wonder the cross is one of the most prominent symbols in the Christian journey. The cross – a torture instrument – opposed to the glittery, sparkling sterling adornment we now have around our necks. An electric chair would be a modern day equivalent. I wonder if we would have execution chairs around our necks in generation to come.

Tomorrow we leave for twelve days in Mozambique where we will join the ministry efforts of our friend Schalk. We will be in the town of Manica and will be one of twelve white people in a thirty thousand large town of blacks. Mozambique is one of the three poorest countries in the world. We will be available to God and people during our stay. Investigating how God might use our friends from Pierced in this setting is part of our plan.

On a more personal note: I’m battling through some fear issues,

Shalom.

9/14/2003

Adventures are impregnated with expectations and anticipations. These two elements provide the excitement in the air before the journey. Nights before the adventure are spent dreaming, imagining, visioning. When Lollie decided to go to Italy it already started. In my mind I conceived a plan for hiking the Grand Traverse – two hundred and eighty kilometers on the highest mountain range in South Africa.

I spent most of last weekend preparing for the trip. Buying food for a twelve day hike was a daunting task (planning to carry the weight even more challenging). On Monday we drove into the province of Kwazulu Natal – ready for the journey – an epic one.

Early Tuesday we started hiking laboring our way up the mountain. Schalk kept a detailed journal of every hour. Detailed. What we ate, saw, spoke. . We reached the chain ladder and after leaving the last rung we were on top! The scenery was beautiful, being on the roof of Africa is truly amazing.

We had a beautiful view of Devil’s tooth. Winter brought a huge drought to our country turning this alpine environment into an arid desert. Water was scarce, at the Tugela falls, South Africa’s highest waterfall, the river was reduced to a few still standing pools – dead water.

We stocked up on water and slogged our way South. Navigating with map and GPS we winded in and out of valleys reaching vistas from which we could see miles away. After seven hours of hiking with our 65 pound packs we reached our first evening’s destination. It would be our first evening of twelve evenings on the trail.

Icidi is a beautiful place, a frozen waterfall with an alpine pool provided cool refreshment. It also helped a lot in cleaning our dirty bodies. The winter served up a lot of fires on the mountain and we walked through miles of burnt mountain vegetation.

At eight in the evening we were in our bags sleeping. Schalk woke two hours later convinced that it was early morning! We had a good laugh and tried to sleep again. Early Wednesday morning I woke up to the sound of a pony or horse snorting. It was a cold evening and I was snuggled into my sleeping bag. I dozed of thoughts of horses galloping in my mind. A few minutes later my dream was distracted by someone running away. It startled me as I tried to place the sound into a known category of my mind – none. Just then I saw someone’s hand reaching into our tent. Needless to say – I screamed like a pig. The perpetrator ran away – but he stole two of our three backpacks.

My scream woke Schalk and Jacque and we could only hear them run away with our stuff. At first we thought that Schalk and Jacque’s backpacks were stolen. I really felt bad for them, it was their first trip in the Drakensberg. Poor Jacque worked through his losses – all the gear he accumulated for this! His first hike. He reported in detail what he lost. Morning broke and we got ready to leave, I reached for my bag only to find out that my bag was not there! Jacque’s bag was the one that was left. Suddenly my position shifted from sympathizer to victim. Jacque on the other hand had the wonderful privilege of learning a valuable lesson without paying the price.

Our dream shattered (ala Crabb). It really pissed me off. Yes, I lost about $1000 of equipment but worse than that, my dream of connecting with God and hanging with a friend in a beautiful surrounding was obliterated. They invaded the wilderness God has used so many times to speak into my life. They stole my car keys too and my dear parents drove all the way to bring me the spare – three hundred and fifty miles.

They are the Basotho the people who live in the country of Lesotho. They are a nomadic people, living on the roof of Africa. A small group of them gather in bands and rob people on the Berg. The South African army camped on the escarpment for four weeks in an attempt to arrest these villains. They caught not one!

We hiked back with the equipment we had left. I went through Kibler-Ross. Denying – It did not happen! Anger – what would a Christian way be to kill these people? Bargain – God I will give everything just make the Basothos choke on something and let us find our bags. Depression and Acceptance.

Our boots were in the tent with us so at least we had good foot protection. The problem was that we had a lot of equipment to take back with only one backpack. We devised a plan and carried the gear in shifts back to the car park. It was major PT. Our adventure was adventurous but not according to my script – we were thrust into a totally different story.

You know the Master Card advertisements? Well here’s one:

Cell phone - $300
Food for twelve days - $100
Backpacks - $300
Clothes - $200
Cash - $150
Maps - $50
Having all the above stolen and not your life taken – Priceless.

9/08/2003

Two weeks of soul searching and adventure start today. With Lollie in Italy at the moment I decided to fulfill one of my life dreams. Hiking the grand traverse in the Drakensberg Mountains. Drakensberg means dragon’s back and serves as a picture of the ridges in these extraordinary mountains

Hiking in the Berg is tough. We (Schalk and I) will hike 250 kilometers in twelve days. One of the beauties is that we will navigate our way one hundred percent; there are no established paths on the plateau.

We will sleep in a few caves – one of them on the edge of a two thousand feet cliff!! YEAH!

We will be back with a full report.

“The spiritual life cannot be made suburban. It is always frontier, and we who live in it must accept and even rejoice that it remains untamed."

9/04/2003

Tom always says that our site is called soulgardeners not soulgardener for a reason. That reason being that I am supposed to say my say as well. I said I’ll say something if I really have something to share. So………

This Sunday our small gathering of Jesus followers got together as usual the topic this Sunday was grace, which was a good thing since I had to facilitate our time together. To learn about grace we turned to Jesus to show us the way. We talked about the meeting Jesus had with the Samaritan woman in John 4. In preparation for Sunday I read Phillip Yancey’s book: What’s so amazing about grace in it he refers to AA meetings that he went to in support of a friend. He said it was amazing that the sentence:” Hi I am John / Susan / Kate / Jake and I am an alcoholic” placed everyone present on the same level .The fact that some were millionaires and some were street bums made no difference. I was so moved by what I read that I realized it was time to level the playing field in our group on Sunday. So on Sunday each on of us got to say the following sentence: “Hi I am (Lollie) and I am a sinner. When it was my turn I choked up. It overwhelmed me to think of how selfish, hateful, proud, and many more sad things I had said or done just in the last week. Yet I have a Savior that forgives and loves again and again and again.

If you are anything like me you are quick to judge and slow to remember that the selfish me needs Jesus just as much as the murderer in jail. Anyway why don’t you say the sentence and let it really sink in.
Hi, I am (……….) and I am a sinner.

9/03/2003

We looked after Slimer's house the last few days. It seemed to be a good opportunity to be alone, a hiatus from staying with our parents. On arrival we saw a Nile flowing through their kitchen! Liters of water oozed its way slowly towards the other side of the room.

Slimer warned us, and asked us to use the towels on their balcony to clean the mess. We used the two towels, repeatedly. After each sweep we sucked up more water, slowly but surely working our way towards a clean kitchen. The sucking was followed with the wrenching of the towels – forcing the water out of the fabric.

This process repeated itself every forty minutes for the last two days!

The water came from a pipe that broke in the wall. It became painfully obvious that our cleaning treated the symptom and not the cause of the mess. We turned the water to the unit off.

Turning the water off seemed a logical decision, at least till the plumbers can come and fix it. The problem was that the units shared their water supply (contrary to South African law). Thus, our turning the water down affected the apartment underneath Slimer’s.

I’m an expert at scratching the surface,
Challenged to have the Spirit work on my inner plumbing.
My life as a work-in-progress will always affect the community around me.
++Lord, work in my life because I leak++

Next-wave got a face-lift thanks to Jason Evans and his friends, they published one of my ramblings about my sermon struggles check it out - here.

9/01/2003

Imagine a human being without a spine! It will be a mess. It’s no different in the spiritual life, without a spiritual spine we can’t function. Our Christian heritage offers us a rich legacy that’s helpful for obtaining such a spine or a ‘rule of life’.

“A Rule of Life is a pattern of spiritual disciplines that provides structure and direction for growth in holiness.”
Marjorie Thompson

For the last few months I have used Celtic Prayers from the community in Northumbria as a part of my rule. I decided to put the specific links up (left-hand column). I hope some of you will join me in praying the offices of morning, afternoon and evening prayer. I love the idea of people separated by continents praying these prayers and using them to recalibrate their hearts.