A Very South African Christmas!

As many of you are very much aware, on Sunday it was Christmas Day. For a lot of people it is a day that they have planned strategically and know exactly what is going to happen when and where. For other people, they just relax as they know that they are going to be fed well and have a lovely day. Usually, for me, I like to be a bit of both; I like to know what is going to happen but I also like the day to be relaxed and let it unfold in its own way. However, this year I had absolutely no idea what was going on!

In mid-December I was asked by quite a few people when my flight back to the UK was. Most were surprised to hear me reply mid-July as they expected me to be going back for Christmas. The thing is, I knew I would regret not getting to experience it here if I did go back and also, I don’t have the money to be making multiple trips across the globe. So, instead of having a very British Christmas, I had my very first South African Christmas experience and it is one that I will never forget.

Now, here is the de Bruin household, we decided to do a family Christmas on Christmas Eve because Christmas morning was going to be way too rushed and we weren’t home for lunch.
We spent the afternoon playing board games and card games, and yes, it did get competitive. I know that I am a very competitive person (I get it from my parents!) and I also know that there are a couple of competitive members of the de Bruin family so it made for a very enjoyable afternoon. 
Afterwards, we laid the table and had the very Christmassy meal of chicken and bacon pasta bake! I know that my English friends will be going nuts at the thought of a Christmas meal without turkey, but just hold on to your seats guys; there’s more! The pasta bake was delicious and went down brilliantly with a G&T. 
We then opened our presents and just spent time enjoying each other’s company. This was swiftly followed by a lovely movie (Pete’s Dragon) and Peppermint Crisp Ice Cream Cookie Sandwiches. And that wraps up Christmas Eve.

I was picked up at 7am on Christmas Day so we could be at church to practice at 7:30am. The service started at 9am and lasted an hour and it had a lovely atmosphere. We even had a photo booth which proved to be lots and lots of fun.

After this, we headed out to Cove Rock to spend the rest of Christmas Day with the Elliots on the farm. There we had our Christmas dinner, which consisted of roasted meats and salads. No roast potatoes, no brussel sprouts; it was far from the English Christmas I had always known.

As well as that, it was HOT. Never have I had a Christmas where it has not been freezing cold and has forced me to spend my days sat by the fire. The pure thought of fire here makes me want to walk into a freezer.

Now the question you are all asking is did I even speak to my family?! Yes, I did. When I got home on Christmas Day. I opened the present that they had sent me in October and cried at the sight of Bourbon biscuits. 

All in all, it was a lovely day and I am so glad that I can say that I have experienced a South African Christmas. But it did also make me appreciate the good old English Christmas a lot more than I had done previously; man, I missed roast potatoes! But all I can say now is that Christmas 2016 was awesome and I am looking forward to Christmas 2017 already. 

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I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and enjoy your New Years’ celebrations on Sunday! See you all in 2017! 

One-Pot Chicken Fajita Pasta

So, I’m guessing that many of you reading this will be expecting me to write something about a South African Christmas. Well, sorry to burst your bubble but you will just have to wait another week for that one!

This week, however, I thought that I would do something a little bit different, something that I haven’t done for a while on my blog – making food!

This recipe is for one-pot chicken fajita pasta; this is a dish that is not only quick and easy, but one that saves on the washing up too. So without further ado, here’s how to make it:

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Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp oil (any will do. It can also be easily replaced with a low-fat cooking spray if you want a healthier option)
  • 3 chicken breasts, sliced
  • 1 red pepper, sliced
  • 1 green pepper, sliced
  • 1 yellow pepper, sliced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp chilli powder
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 5 cups milk
  • 4 cups penne pasta
  • 1 cup mozzarella, grated

Method:

  1. Heat the oil in a large pot over a high heat.
  2. Add the chicken and cook until there is no pink is visible, then take the chicken out and leave to rest on a plate.
  3. Add the peppers and onion, cooking until the onion is soft.
  4. Then add the chicken back to the pot with the salt, pepper, chilli powder, cumin and garlic powder, stirring until everything is evenly coated.
  5. Add the milk and the pasta, stirring constantly to prevent any pasta from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
  6. Cook for about 10 minutes until pasta is cooked and the milk has reduced to a thick sauce that coats the pasta. If it does not thicken then you can add a teaspoon of cornflour mixed with a splash of milk.
  7. Add the mozzarella and mix until it has melted.
  8. Serve and enjoy!

The Beauty Of Friendship

 

There is real beauty in friendship. When I’m feeling down, it is so comforting to know that if I am feeling down, there is someone I can call that will be there to help me feel better. It’s a lot like what I talked about last week; having a support system in the form of a life group is awesome. But, there are also individuals that give you that little boost, just when you need it most.

If I am being honest, I was really struggling with the thought of not being in the UK for Christmas. Now, we all knew that this would be the case and that it would hit me like a pile of bricks, but I don’t quite think I fully accepted that. What I really needed was a distraction – something to keep me busy but also to take my mind off of everything else. And this is where some very good friends come in. In the space of a day my smile was back on my face and my entire mindset changed. And although I do miss my family and friends back in the UK, I am very much looking forward to spending Christmas in South Africa. 

There is also beauty in teamwork. Building relationships with people that you are teaming with is an incredible thing and so many of my good friendships have developed when I have had to work with them to achieve something. Looking back at this past year, even the last few weeks, the teams that I have worked with have been simply the best! 

Joining the team at Everyday People was such a big step for me, and for them most likely! It required me to move 6,000 miles away and to just trust that God knew me better than I knew myself. And as for the relationships I have made? They have been awesome! In fact, I would have no hesitation in running to any of them if I needed help with something or needed a smile to be put on my face. These guys make my Monday mornings exciting!

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But the team of the week has to go to the Carols With Cows team. As a church, we hosted a carol evening, where I got plugged in as part of the band. I have never seen a team like the band bond together as quickly as we did. It took one practice of 2 1/2 hours for us to connect, and I have to say that I am sad the event is over! It was a fantastic evening and again, the relationships built were fantastic. 

A Home Away From Home

You know, there is something quite special about moving to a completely different place and feeling like you have always supposed to have been there; the way people are so excited to get to know you and you are so excited to experience life somewhere new.

At first, it can seem quite daunting, moving to a place where you know no-one. And there will always be those moments where you are just craving for a Lord of the Rings and cake eating marathon with those friends that you have spent almost everyday with for the last few years. Living 6,000 miles away makes that a little bit tricky. 

Yet, there comes a time where home doesn’t feel all that far away anymore.Yes, you miss all of those people, both family and friends, but you don’t actually miss the place. I love Plymouth, I really do. However, there is something about East London that just makes me so happy. It just feels like the place where I’m supposed to be – I am in no doubt that God wants me here.

But the thing that really makes the place into a home is the people. Being plugged into a church means that I have an incredible network of friends and actually, a brilliant family that love me for who I am and want to look after me all the time! 

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There is one family that gets a special mention here though, that one being my Life Group family. For those of you that don’t know, a Life Group is a small group of people from the church that gather midway through the week to have supper together and talk about Sunday’s service. But more than that, they are a group of people that you really bond with and love doing things with, even outside of a Sunday morning or a Wednesday night. I am incredibly privileged to say that I am a part of them and love seeing them all. 

The best thing? Being with a group of people that you know you wouldn’t have been sat in a room with had it not been for Jesus. For example, I am now great friends with a gynecologist, infectious diseases specialist, full-time mums, students and a teacher. There are many others that I could have listed, but to save you reading loads and loads, I thought I would stop there!

So to say that I have found a ‘home away from home’ is an understatement.