A Letter To Music

Dear Music,

You have no idea what you do for me from day to day; I mean, it is probably safe to say that I cannot live without you. You do something to me that words cannot even describe, but I’ll give it a go anyway.

It amazes me how you come in so many forms, suited to what mood I am in. You provide the ballad for when I am over emotional, the funk for when I want to be that little bit more sassy and the cheesy pop for when I just need something to fill my ears. In just one song, I can go from crying tears of hurt and pain to laughing so hard because the lyrics just don’t make any sense at all. But that’s okay, because you made me feel so much better in just 3 meager minutes.

If ever I was struggling for self-confidence, I could look to some of your creators for help. They would sing songs about being beautiful just the way I am and that every inch of me is perfect from the bottom to the top. If ever I felt that people were bringing me down, I could play a song that would tell me just to shake it off. If ever I needed motivation, you were always there to tell me to pump it. I don’t know how you do it but you seem to be there, whatever I feel like.

Even though you can be there just to fill the airwaves when everything else is silent, you are also there to help me use my voice when I feel like that’s all I can do. You have given me something to do when I am bored and you have given me skills that I could have only dreamed of otherwise. And for that I am truly grateful.

As well as all of this you do for me, you have been given as a gift to so many people that I look up to. They can write songs with you that help me to worship and reflect on the vast expanse of who God is. They can open up the Bible for me and teach me truths about my God that I may have otherwise forgotten. Music, you make my heart soft to allow God to move through me and do something in me and I must not ever take you for granted.

So Music, I just want to thank you; for being there for me when I have needed you most and for helping me see the beauty of the world around me, even when I am prancing around me bedroom with a hairbrush!

I am very sure I will be listening to you again soon, and boy, am I looking forward to it!

 

How Many Mums?!

I was talking to Chloe the other day, and I realised that I often forget what my name is. Now, before you all think ‘she needs to see a doctor for severe memory loss’, let me explain myself. For the last 6 months, no one has actually called me by the name ‘Chloe van Schalkwyk’. To save confusion in the house, I have been called ‘CJ’ and am often referred to as a ‘de Bruin’. But this got me thinking. I know that I have one mum – don’t worry, my bio teacher wasn’t that bad! But, since moving to South Africa, I can quite confidently say that there are women in my life that I would  easily call a mum. So, I am going to dedicate this blog post to all 4 of them.

  1. Suzanne van Schalkwyk
    I’m going to start with my real mum! Makes life a lot easier! Now, this woman is incredible. If you ever have the privilege of meeting her, please tell her how awesome she is and what a good job she is doing. Whilst I was living at home, I would constantly be challenged by the way Mum handled a difficult situation or would realise how silly I was being about something when Mum spoke one line of wisdom into the situation. She modelled what it is to be a woman after God’s own heart and has done it in a way which means I am constantly aspiring to have a relationship with God that resembles something of what my mum has.
    I knew that moving 6,000 miles away from her would be incredibly tough – I mean, I couldn’t really imagine doing life without her and my dad by my side. But I knew that they would be rooting for me, praying for me daily and looking forward to the times where we could sit for an hour and have an awesome conversation on FaceTime. 
    I have so much respect for my mum. She has coped so well in letting me be me and grow independently so far away from her. I can only imagine what it must have felt like for her letting me go at the train station that day. 
    I am praying that I become a godly and strong woman like her when I am older.
  2. Claire de Bruin
    Here we have a beautiful and very funny woman of God who happily took me into her home for a year having only met me once. There aren’t many people I know of that would do that for someone. 
    I love having cooking lessons every time I walk into the kitchen because there is always something tasty being made in there! And I feel that not only have I grown as a person whilst I have been here, but my cooking skills have too. (There you all were thinking I was going to make a comment on how I have grown in size!)
    Claire’s passion for people and making sure that everybody is comfortable is one that I pray that I will gain as I grow older. She models loving people with ease, even though people are the hardest to work with.
    I thank God that He has brought this woman into my life; the things I have learnt whilst staying in this home have been lessons that I will not forget in a hurry and I know that saying goodbye in July is going to be one of the hardest things I will ever do. 

  3. Liesl-Ann Monaghan
    There is so much that I could say to express the amount of gratitude I have for God bringing this woman into my life. I always look forward to seeing her and having a really great chat, knowing that there is someone who cares so deeply about me and how I am doing.
    I know that I am always welcome in her home and have appreciated the times when she has looked after me when I needed it most and took me on holiday with her family just so I could see a little bit more of South Africa.
    It was with this lady that I got my first South African hair cut. It was this lady who encouraged me to get my nose pierced and was the person I told first because I knew she would think it was cool! It is also this lady with whom I plan on getting my second tattoo. 
    What she doesn’t know, is that she brings out a side of me that most people haven’t really seen and don’t know even exists. I can safely say that it is this incredible, godly woman that has helped bring me out of my shell and has shaped me into the woman that I have become. 

  4. Cheryl Stead
    If ever I have a problem, or am desperate to talk to someone about whatever is on my heart, I know that this woman will make time for me and is happy to see me. This woman cares so much about my emotional and spiritual well-being and it makes me overwhelmingly happy to think that there is someone who is actively praying for me. 
    Her prophetic gifting is one which I admire and have found myself asking God for. The way in which she is able to speak into someone’s life with such accuracy and be there to offer support and prayer afterwards is incredible to see. 
    I am so blessed to be discipled by this woman. Her input and insight into my life is amazing and the only way I can explain it well enough is by saying that God knows what we need before we even know ourselves. She has brought me out of my comfort zone, to a place where I can easily say that I am 10x more confident in myself and in my giftings than I was 6 months ago. 

All of these amazing women all model something different to me and play a different role in my life. God has been so good to me in giving me these 4 women who hunger after Him and want to share that with me. And it gives me such pleasure to say that these women are all Mum to me.

Adventures in Cape Town

For the last few days, I have been exploring the beautiful city of Cape Town with some good friends of mine, the Monaghan family. The invited me to tag along on their trip, and obviously, the first thing to do when you get back home is to write a blog post all about it. So here goes:

DAY 1:
We left East London on Thursday. For me, this was the first opportunity I had really had to go and explore a different part of South Africa and man, I was excited! 
We took a few stops along the way and each have their own story. After the first stop, we began to make our way down to Port Elizabeth (PE). James, Brogan and I were in one car, following Peter and Liesl-Ann in their bukkie. As we had got into the car and rushed to turn the air-con on (it was flipping hot!), Peter told us that we were about to drive into a storm. He wasn’t lying. It rained so hard that we had to stop on the side of the road because we couldn’t actually see the headlights of the bukkie right in front of us! If we’re being honest here, it did make our hearts pound just a little bit!
But we also took a lovely stop at Storms River. Here, you can look at the view from the bridge, right down into the gorge – which is a LONG way down.

We stopped off in Plettenburg Bay for the night and spent some time on the beach, just stretching our legs from spending the majority of the day in the car. There is no doubt that Plett is a beautiful place.

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DAY 2:
We left early the next morning so that we could get to Cape Town at a fairly reasonable time. The best observation made from the whole trip was that the closer you got to Cape Town, the nicer the toilets were! 

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Once we got into Cape Town, we went straight to James’ new flat and explored the harbour which is right next door! Of course, we had to get both pictures of the seals and then go and get some calamari and chips for supper. It was all very exciting.

DAY 3:
Brogan and I spent Saturday morning exploring Kalk Bay. It is very beautiful and has some beautiful shops with beautiful floors!

When we had finished drinking out smoothies and had headed back to James’ flat, we went and took a closer look at the tidal pool…

That afternoon, we all took a trip to Bolder’s Beach to go and have a look at the little penguins; they are so cute!

After that, we took a drive around Chapman’s Peak – truly stunning!

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In the evening, we went shopping at the V&A Waterfront and then went for supper. As always, whenever Brogan and I are together, something bizarre happens. This time, a middle aged man who had clearly had a few to drink came up to us offering to take some pictures and telling us that his friends were in the CIA looking at the Russian spy ships behind us.

DAY 4:
We went to church at the South Peninsula location of Common Ground. It was a good morning as they launched their new series: “Too busy not to pray”. 
Afterwards, we wet back to the house and had a braai, which of course, never fails to disappoint!

Later that afternoon, we went to the house of a friend of the Monaghans, had homemade pizza and had a nice (and competitive) game of ping-pong. Sorry James, but I did actually win that. 
We then went to Common Ground, Ronderbosch for their evening service, which was awesome. It reminded me a lot of being back in Plymouth, where the church is pumping with students.

DAY 5:
Whilst the others were finding last minute touches for James’ flat, Brogan and I went on one of the bus tours of Cape Town, which would take us up the mountain and give us a look at all of the beaches. 

We first got off at Long Street and did a good bit of shopping. Obviously, we cannot forget the fact that we stopped for smoothies in a cute little cafe called ‘HunnyBun’. 

When we got back on the bus, we then went to see Table Mountain. Unfortunately we couldn’t get right to the top because it was way too windy but we got close! It just means that I have to go back now!

We then finished the tour by going to look around all of the beaches and finishing back at the V&A Waterfront. 

Because we couldn’t get up the mountain, Brogan and I decided that we should go into the Two Oceans Aquarium and have a look round. It was quite exciting!

DAY 6:
This was spent in the car travelling home. We left at 4:30am and got back at 4:30pm. Here’s a funny fact for you: the car journey home was just as long as my plane trip to get from the UK to South Africa!

Overall, I had an absolutely awesome time in Cape Town. If I said the word beautiful too many times in this blog post then I apologise but I couldn’t think of a word that better describes the place.

I also just want to say a big thank you to the Monaghans for letting me tag along, just so I could see the most beautiful city in the world!

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Was 2016 really that bad?

I guess many of you will be expecting a post about New Year and what I have been up to over the last week, but due to a rogue incident involving a toilet and a phone I am unable to get to my photos currently. But considering I have been in South Africa for the last 6 months and it is the beginning of the year, I thought it would be nice to have a look back at the year I have had and share it all with you.

January started off with a bang and 2016 was a year that I was very much looking forward to it. It was the year that I was finishing school, moving abroad and I was sat with a group of friends that I cherished. January was also the month that I booked my tickets to come to South Africa, the month where everything just became a little bit more real.

In February, I had a chest x-ray to make sure that I didn’t have TB, otherwise they wouldn’t have let me in to SA. I also had to think about all the other things necessary for me getting to South Africa as well as trying to study. 

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In March, I had still not had all of my medical reports done so I could apply for my visa. I struggled with receptionists, seeing the wrong doctor and trying to get everything done on time. It was proving to be quite difficult. But I was still feeling confident about God’s plans for me and was very much looking forward to all the rest of the year held for me. I also went to Belgium and France with my history teacher and some of the guys from my class. Now, that was a lot of fun!

April was my birthday month! And it was great. I was surprised with theatre tickets to go and see Billy Elliott by some awesome friends, and they even made me a pretty fabulous cake. I have to say that I was well and truly spoiled this month. But it was also the month where Dad and I took the trip to London to apply for my visa. I have never been so nervous to do something and I was just freaking out that something was going to go wrong. But it didn’t and then we went to the natural history museum to reward ourselves before we had to make the long journey home. April was a very busy month but it was very enjoyable.

I came down with a horrible sickness bug in May and it wiped me out for just over a week. It was not a nice time for me. Yet, whilst I was feeling very sorry for myself, I got my visa through the post and it made me very excited to think that I was going to make it to South Africa. The only thing that would hold me back at this point was the thought of getting on a plane. I also made the best fudge ever in May but it was eaten by the dog. To say I was annoyed was an understatement!

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June came, along with Arno and Claire! They flew across the pond to the UK and it was great seeing them and getting to know them better before I moved into their house the following month. It also heralded the start of exam season, which made me feel like I was very much unprepared for life. But the questions we got in the exams were much nicer than any of us ever expected so it made us feel much better after the season was over. 

Now July was a busy month. We had our Sixth Form Prom which was a lot of fun, Ellie and I went to France for a day and I moved to South Africa. Much easier just to put photos in here! 

August came and so did the feeling of home. I was enjoying being in South Africa more and I was very much looking forward to what the next year had in store for me. 

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I was very much enjoying all that I was doing in South Africa by the time September came around and I was beginning to notice more and more of the cultural differences between here and there. I think this is probably what made me feel homesick, but you will be pleased to know that I do not feel homesick any more. I am loving South Africa more and more each day! But shock of the month is that I went to the Hudson Matric Dance and was only told that I was going 10 minutes before we had to leave; that was an adventure and a half!

I went on a missions trip in October with some of the youth. We went to a place just outside of King Williamstown to help the kids there get to know Jesus better. But we went as the activities team, just there to have fun! And it was just that!

November was the season for lots and lots of social things! Everyone began to go on holiday and there were different parties to be had. We went to the beach often and ate lots of very nice food. 

And December meant beach trips and Christmas! Which was loads and loads of fun. I’m not going to lie, I did feel homesick over Christmas but I knew that would happen and I am very much looking forward to 2017 now! 

Right, I must go! I need to pack as I am off to Cape Town tomorrow! Don’t worry; I will take lots of pictures!