The End Of An Era

Just to clarify – I’m not dead. I know there has been silence for the last two weeks but every time I got my laptop out to write, I just couldn’t face the music. My emotions got the better of me and I decided not to write until I felt more able. 

It has been a week since I left South Africa. A whole week. I didn’t realise a week could feel as long as this one has. But I am back in the UK and things are looking very different here – to say that I am experiencing “culture shock” would be an understatement. 

I was planning on doing a reflections post about the last year of my life. However, just thinking about it makes me very heart sore. It’s not that I don’t like the UK, because I do. But there was just something about little old East London that made me feel so much at home; it just felt as though I was supposed to be there. 

So, you are probably all wondering now what on earth I am going to write about. If I’m not going to reflect on my time in South Africa, what am I going to do? (PS: If you want to know what I did, just go back and read all of my other blog posts!) Well folks, today I am going to answer a question that has been asked of me loads over the past month:

Are you going to continue your blogs?

The simple answer if yes. But I know more of an explanation is needed than that.

For the last 5 years or so, whenever something went right or completely wrong, or a major event happened, my dad would always say, “it’s all part of the adventure”. If there was a bump in the road, when I got to the end, I would look back on the bump and see that it wasn’t that big in the grand scheme of things, or if I hadn’t of gone over the bump, I wouldn’t be in the place I am now. That’s what he always told me, anyway. 

When I created this blog, I figured that naming it “It’s All Part Of The Adventure” was pretty apt. I was preparing to go on my gap year to South Africa (a pretty big adventure!) and there were sure to be some bumps in the road. It seemed perfect. 

And now I’m back. So the question is, is there still an adventure to document? 

Again, the answer is yes. I may be back in the UK but I have loads I want to talk about. And life will never stop being an adventure. So buckle your seat belts. This adventure is looking to be even more crazy than before – especially when God is in the driving seat. 

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A Week Of Lasts

Yes, the time has come for me to start winding down all that I am doing here in South Africa and begin thinking about heading back to the UK (although I am trying to only do the latter after my holiday this weekend!). But, in finishing up here, it has meant that I have done things for the last time. I’m not going to lie, it has been a very emotional week.

Friday:
Over the past year, it has been such a privilege to be a part of the youth team. I have seen so many young people grow in their relationship with God and, in turn, it has only encouraged me more. 

This past Friday, we had an end of term party, which was a lot of fun. Much food was eaten, and I don’t think I have ever laughed so much whilst playing 30 Seconds. Apparently, a seal meows according to Ignite! 

I just want to say thank you to all of the kids that have made Friday nights so enjoyable over the past year. I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know you all better and building solid relationships with each of you. 

Sunday:
To say that Sunday was an emotional day would be an understatement. 

I led worship for the last time and even danced!! Evidence of this dancing can be found on Facebook for all those interested! But as well as this, it was my last Sunday with the de Bruins, so it was time to say goodbye. I know that it wasn’t my last ever service (I have one left – 9th July), but it was incredibly emotional just listening to all that they were saying. I was also presented with the most beautiful Bible I have ever seen. Honestly, words can not describe how grateful I am for that lovely gift. 

As is tradition on a Sunday in the de Bruin household, we sit down for a family dinner. This one, however, was coined “The Last Supper” by Chloe. Obviously, it wasn’t the last ever meal I will eat with them – just wait until you see pictures of this coming weekend – but it was the last Sunday lunch. And what a feast it was! Kalamari, fish cakes, chips… What more could a person ask for?!

Monday:
It was my last admin meeting on Monday. Unfortunately we didn’t get a picture of this (I would have been pulling ugly crying faces anyway) but again, it was an emotional one. I have to say that I am going to miss my Monday mornings; it has been such a pleasure to work with all of those on the team. I have been able to learn so much from each of them in so many different ways. It has been an awesome year sitting around that table. 

Tuesday:
Last night, we had our life group social to celebrate the end of term, and we went bowling. I know that I am not very good at said activity, but it was definitely a whole load of fun. Needless to say, Chloe’s run up to bowl was the most entertaining thing I have ever witnessed and we have a surprisingly large amount of people in the group that must secretly train for evenings such as this. Nicola, for example, is now the highest scoring woman. I am certainly going to miss being around this group of people – they’re pretty great. 

I’m going to stop writing now, because I am going to find myself getting emotional again. So I’ll catch up with you all again after I have been on my holiday!

Baptisms

On Sunday, I had the privilege of being able to baptise 3 of our young people with Cebo and watch another be baptised by her father. It was such an exciting moment to be a part of, even if the water was absolutely freezing!

For those who don’t know what baptism is, it a full-body submersion in water, which is a public declaration of your faith in Jesus. As you go down into the water, it symbolises you dying to your old self, and as you come back up out of the water, it symbolises being made new and washed clean in Christ Jesus. For me, it is such a beautiful thing to witness.

Firstly, we baptised Kuhle, who has grown up in Everyday People, and felt like the next step for her in being obedient to God and serve Him was to do this. 

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Next, we baptised Usi. Over the past year, it has been so awesome just to see him grow in His faith and then make the decision to take the next step in declaring his faith.

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What made this next baptism so special is that Mihle was baptised by her father, Vuyani, on Father’s Day. It was so beautiful to watch.

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Finally, Cebo and I were able to baptise Kayleigh, who has also been on such a journey with God over the past year, hearing Him speak to her clearly! 

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It was so beautiful to see these young people declaring that Jesus is their Lord and Saviour and I am so thankful that I was able to be a part of it. It’s definitely not something that I’m going to forget in a hurry.

CJ Was Dancing?!

This past weekend, I found myself at the C-Club in Cintsa, watching Matthew Mole performing. For those of you who don’t know, Matthew Mole is a South African musician who writes the most amazing songs. If you haven’t listened to any of his music, I am urging you to go and take a listen; they are incredible. 

One of his supporting acts was Jason Gladwin. He was born and raised in East London and his music is equally as incredible. Although I was listening to his music for the first time, I was so drawn to the unique sound. If you want to listen to any of his music, you can find it on Sound Cloud. 

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I’m the sort of person who appreciates just listening to music, but when I hear the artist live and they are just as good, I become a major fan girl. Both Gladwin and Mole’s stage presence and sound was seriously good, and I was so impressed at how Mole would walk around the stage and just pick up a different instrument and start playing. It was just phenomenal.

Now, If I know any of you well enough, I will know that you clicked on this blog post to see where I talk about me dancing. Because I never dance. But the thing is, whilst I was there, with great friends and great music, I found myself bopping along and really enjoying moving about a little. I mean, I know I am not a good dancer and I know I never will be. And I think that is probably what’s stopped me from moving before. But I literally had no cares in the world and I really had an awesome time. 

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Plans are a funny thing. You can arrange and organise as much as you like, but will it turn out the way you originally thought it would? Probably not. The plan could be as simple as what you are doing that day, or be as complicated as what you are going to do in 10 year time. But no matter what it is, the likelihood is, it will always change or be different from how you imagined it in your head. But that’s okay.

When I was little, there were quite a few things that I had on my bucket list that I wanted to do but there was only ever one job I wanted to do. And trust me, I had my heart set on it for about 10 years. While I dreamed of swimming with dolphins and having 20 dogs, I wanted desperately to be a dentist. Don’t ask me why because looking back, I literally have no idea why I wanted to look into people’s mouths all day. Not my idea of fun now. 

Then I got a little bit older and all I wanted to do was to become a police officer. Because you got to drive really fast with flashing lights on. Oh, and you caught the bad guys! It seemed like a whole lot of fun and I thought I could be an awesome cop. However, I then found out that night shifts were inevitable. That was something I was not willing to deal with. I struggle to stay awake past 22:30 and you can’t catch criminals when you’re sleeping. 

Opening a bakery seemed like the next logical thing to choose and I could tag team it with my friends who were also really into making cake. I mean, who doesn’t want to be surrounded by cake all day? Well, apparently the answer to that question is: someone who can’t eat them because you actually need to sell the stuff you make.

After taking time to seriously think about my options, I then decided that I wanted to be a History Teacher. Honestly, I wanted to do this for about 3 years. And as much as I love history, and think I would be really good at teaching, it’s the university part that stops me in my tracks. I’m honestly not sure that university is for me and I would rather just go straight into working. 

Now, you may be thinking, “CJ, why are you telling us your life story?” I mean, as nice as it is, I realise that with no point, this is just a very strange blog post. But, don’t worry. There is a point…

You see, as young people we are presented with a whole load of options of what we should do in the future and are expected to choose one thing. If we look back roughly 50 years, we would see that people would grow up, choose a job close to home and do that for the rest of their lives. That would be it. But now, we live in a world where we have the ease of travel to distant lands, more courses at university that literally have no point and a ridiculous amount of career paths that we could walk down. Some jobs are looked at as better than others and the amount of money you earn is considered to be the selling point of the majority of jobs. There are just too many choices and we have got fussier.

So I decided that I should just choose something and stick with it. For now anyway. If God wants me to do something else and puts a huge passion on my heart for it, then I will make a plan. But for now, I’m going to stick to my plan. Even if that means that I’m not going to go to university or that I’m doing a job that people may think is ‘beneath my abilities’. That’s okay. As long as I have a smile on my face, I’m happy. 

Changes

I’m not going to lie, before sitting down at my desk to start writing, I was completely uninspired. I had not a clue what I was going to write about and I think I must have re-written this introduction about 5 times. And that got me thinking. Dangerous, I know. 

This time last year I was also feeling pretty uninspired. I had just gotten rid of an horrendous sickness bug and I was about to start writing my final exams. And as soon as they were over, I would be moving to a completely different continent. And I had written and written and written about all of these things, enough to bore everyone that was reading it. I had reached a point where creative juices were no longer flowing and I had no motivation to open up my laptop and just start writing. 

But a lot has changed in the past year, and I think I would describe myself as a completely different person. Even though I was uninspired 20 minutes ago, I allowed myself to just let my hands move across the keyboard and see what happened, rather than completely shutting myself down (excuse the pun) and giving up because my brain wasn’t working fast enough. Now, I am not saying that my brain now works faster – I now know that if I give myself a little bit of time to think and not pressure myself, things will actually get done quicker. 

As much as I could babble on for hours about how much I have changed over the past 11 months, I think I will save all of this for an epic blog post in a few weeks time. Today was just a taster.  And don’t worry, I am inspired about them! I’ve even begun planning them in advance! 

 

A Letter To Great Gran

Dear Gran,

I always had this thing against calling you ‘Great Gran’ as I thought you wouldn’t like it, the reason being it made you sound super old and according to Mum, women didn’t like being old. But I also thought it made me sound really young, and in a way, I didn’t like that because I wanted to be older, more grown up. 

Remembering my childhood always includes a fond memory of you. I would be eager to come and see you just so that I could come and pick some flowers from your beautiful garden. Looking back, I can imagine you were probably freaking out that I would pick the best flower in the garden, the one that you had spent the most time caring for. But not once did you tell me that I couldn’t have this flower, and I couldn’t have that flower. You were willing to let me pick any flower, with some helpful guidance of course, just to see the smile on my face when I presented the bunch lovingly to Mum or to Nan. 

I must have really annoyed Nan and depleted her baking stock over the years because every time I knew we were coming to see you, I would always insist that you needed some fruit muffins or a little cupcake. Grandad was always happy with this, however, because he knew that only one or two of the batch would make it down to you and the rest would be left at home for him to nibble on. 

Christmas was always the most challenging season of all; I never knew what to get you. If I got you a tin of biscuits, you would probably try and give it back to me, insisting that I needed it more than you did, even if the tin did have a lovely pattern on it. But you would always tell me that my money would be better spent on someone else, you didn’t need anything – just a smile when we came to see you would be plenty. 

I will always admire the heart that you had for looking after others. Even when I came to look after you for a week when Nan and Grandad were on holiday, you wouldn’t let me make us lunch because it was your job. I would always be woken up with a cup of tea in bed, because you said it was a week off that I needed to relax. I wasn’t complaining, but it made me laugh. However, I have to admit that I have not eaten another turkey sandwich since then. There are only so many one can eat in the space of a week!

Although I am going to miss taking a trip to see you and picking tomatoes from your greenhouse, I know that you are much better off now than you ever were. Your love for Jesus was evident in so many ways and I pray that I can be like that too. And because you loved Jesus, you are now free of sickness and pain and tears. You can dance again, in fact, you have a whole new body! It is something I know you have been looking forward to for a very long time. 

I love you loads Gran, and I am so privileged to have spent so many years with you. 

Chloe Jasmine x