Here’s To The Dads

A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog post dedicated to all the mums that have made an impact in my life over the last year. So I thought that it was only fair that this week I shared with you some of the dads that have been there for me when I have needed them the most. Now, without further ado, here we go!

  1. Grant van Schalkwyk
    Starting with my real dad, this man has truly been an inspiration to me. He constantly encourages me to run after Jesus with all my heart and trust that His plans are best for me. Although he struggled letting me go, I know that he was so thankful that with me moving to South Africa, I was chasing after what God had in store for me and I know that makes my Dad so proud. But the best part about Dad? He makes me laugh by doing the most ridiculous things, trying to justify why grammar is incorrect, realising that there are 5 fingers on your hand etc. If ever I need cheering up, I know that all I have to do is talk to Dad for 5 minutes and he will have made me cry with laughter. Dad, thank you for always being there for me and encouraging me to live for God, no matter how far out of my comfort zone it takes me. 

  2. Arno de Bruin
    I wake up every morning so thankful that this man was willing to take me into his home for an entire year after only meeting me in person twice. I’m still not sure he fully realised what he was letting himself in for! Arno has been so generous towards me and I feel so at home here, like I have been adopted into his family. I mean, I even find myself questioning whether my real surname is van Schalkwyk or de Bruin! I feel like Arno has helped bring me out of my shell and makes me laugh so much when he is in a funny mood, although I feel like watching Masterchef Australia somehow helped bring out that mood. One thing I know for sure is that saying goodbye to this man in July will be very tough as he has become like another dad to me. 

  3. Pete Monaghan
    The first thing Pete asked me after I got my nose pierced was whether I had asked his permission to get it done and laughed at how I was encouraging Liesl-Ann too much. That was the moment I knew that I had gained another dad. I know that I am always welcome in the Monaghan household and it makes me so happy to know that there is a place I can go when I just need some space. And I also know that by the time I get back to the UK, I will have been turned into a rosé drinker. Pete, I really want to thank you for making me feel so at home.

All of these men are an inspiration to me and encourage me to be the person that God made me to be. I thank God for putting more dads into my life when I needed them most.

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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! 

I Miss My Friends!

Let’s be brutally honest here: I moved 6,000 miles away from home leaving pretty much everything behind to come and make a new life for myself in South Africa. In all of the excitement, I completely forgot about the fact that I wouldn’t be able to pack my friends in a box for them to come with me. And I have to say, when it came to saying goodbye to everyone, I broke and felt like someone had torn a hole in me; something that I had never felt before. Even thinking about that moment makes me well up!

I knew that God was calling me to be in South Africa and that He would provide all I needed for me to make it through the year. And one of those provisions was going to have to be some pretty amazing friends. But something that skipped my mind was that friendships take time to develop. Now, I have made some awesome friends and I will definitely keep them with me for the rest of my life. However, I do still feel like there is that hole in me. Whenever I think about the friends that I left behind, I break down because I feel like I don’t have anything like that here.

Thankfully, my friends from the UK are all very good at keeping in touch. I regularly FaceTime Rebz and have some pretty entertaining conversations with the ‘Fictional Character Emotional Support Group’. I will often see a message pop up from a school friend or a church friend. And I am so appreciative of that and that I have friendships that will stretch the extra mile (excuse the pun) to make it work for us. 

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The Fictional Character Emotional Support Group

I feel like I am saying ‘but’ a lot in this post. But I feel like there is good reason for it. As much as I can try and fill my head with the good things – my friends are staying in touch and I am making some friends here – there is still that niggle at the back of my mind that makes me think of the hole that is inside. Yet, this is not something that I want to be at the back of my mind. This is because I want to try and make sense of the feeling and do something about it rather than just leaving it and feeling sorry for myself.

So, what am I doing to make myself feel better?

  1. Going to places where I can interact with other people of my age group. I have decided (with the help of a little nudge from people like Cheryl) that I am going to go to places where I know young adults go to so I can meet people with the same mindset as myself etc. I think that in just meeting new people, more friendships will form, in turn making me feel better about having the majority of my friends 6,000 miles away.
  2. Make more of an effort to try and meet up with people. I have found that there are specific days of my week which can get a little bit lonely if I don’t plan anything. So, over the last couple of weeks, I have made a little bit more effort and it has really been helping. Knowing that I have something to do on a Saturday evening is quite nice and reassuring!
  3. Reminding myself of God’s promises for me. If I am feeling particularly lonely, the one thing that makes me feel better instantly is to shove on some Christian music and sit and read my Bible. There are some great verses in there that help to remind me that I have a constant friend in Him and that what I am doing is all to bring Him glory.
  • “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him and He will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3 vs 5-6)
  • “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted.” (Psalm 34 vs 18)
  • “Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11 vs 28)
  • “The Father of compassion… comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” (2 Corinthians 1 vs 3-4)
  • “But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenwards in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3 vs 13-14)

Where Did I Go?!

As many of you are aware, there was no blog post last week. Some of you may have thought I was severely ill; some may have thought that I couldn’t be bothered to post. Others of you may have thought that I had nothing left to write about. But you are all wrong.

The reality is that I was itching to write a blog post, I just couldn’t physically get to a computer, let alone one which had internet connection. Last week, I went for a whole week with no communication with anyone from the UK, and even anyone from SA! Now, I know that you are all thinking that I was being super spiritual and fasting from technology for a week. Sorry to disappoint but, I was actually just in the middle of no-where on a missions trip with my youth group.

So, rather than bore you with just a whole load of writing about what we did, I thought I might as well try and tell the story as well as I can with pictures (however, there will be a little bit of writing to fill out the necessary areas!).

Sunday:

Monday:

Tuesday:

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Yes, my face is that red because I got sunburnt again…

Wacky Wednesday:

So, although I managed to get pictures of myself looking incredibly nutty, I did not manage to get any pictures of the main event of the day…

The Activities Team (the team that was made up of youth from Everyday People) were in charge of the evening fun – obviously. But, I mean, it wouldn’t be a real camp if the Activities Team didn’t prank everyone. So, we blindfolded everyone with their bandannas and led them outside. They yelled aloud three times, “WE TRUST THE ACTIVITIES TEAM!” But they really shouldn’t have. Because we then threw water balloons at them. They got us back by throwing buckets full of water over us, of course. So for obvious reasons having a phone/camera on my person would have been a very bad idea!

Thursday:

On Thursday night we held a talent show and I ended up being roped in to do some lip-syncing. Now, I am not posting the videos on here, but if anyone with a video of it feels led to leave it in the comments on Facebook, I am unable to stop them…

Friday:

 

So that just about wraps up last week. I had so much fun and I would definitely do it all again!

When The Cat’s Away, The Mice Will Play…

So, this is the week where Arno and Claire have gone away and have left Chloe, Josh, Keagan and I to fend for ourselves. This is a true tale of survival, with that splash of adventure thrown in, of course. 

Let’s start with Sunday, the day before the big day came around. Claire was recovering from this awful flu that has been going around so decided not to come to church and spread her remaining germs to everyone there. Josh also realised that he had a geography project that he needed to get done so he, too, stayed home from church. This meant that it was Arno, Chloe and I heading out to church first thing in the morning, jamming out to some classic music and listening to the most entertaining story from the Olympics this year. For those that know me well, I will struggle to explain this but I feel I have to give an explanation to what I just said so I will leave a link here.

Church went down with a bang, what with Arno speaking on Revelation 20 (basically the apocalypse) and having to use very mathematical diagrams to explain his point! I have to say, I learnt a lot! 

After church, Chloe and I finished the Lord of the Rings trilogy. At this point, I must mention that I did manage to quote more of it than I anticipated and I am not ashamed to admit that I can do so! Although I am sorry if I injured Chloe in the process of getting way to excited/emotional whilst watching. Also, I have to add a quick apology to Brad, Josh and Sango who I may have scared with my over-excitedness… Oops!

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Monday came round with the blink of an eye; it was the day when Arno and Claire would leave for a week and trust that the four of us would be responsible enough to keep the house functioning! The admin meeting went by really quickly and efficiently – in fact, we were done by 9:30am. But it was the worship meeting quickly followed by the youth meeting that kept me there until 13:20pm! I was so hungry by the time I got home but only had enough time to make a couple of ham sandwiches for Chloe and I before I picked her up from school to take her to maths tutoring. This was made all the more difficult by realising that I had run out of airtime just as I text her where I am parked. All part of the adventure I guess. Proudest moment of the day though was when Chloe realised that she knew how to direct me to Beacon Bay… this in itself is a miracle! 

We made a cheesy pasta thing for supper and chilled out with a couple of movies to end a very eventful and enjoyable first day at home alone!

Yesterday involved me procrastinating so much I had cleaned the entire top florr of the house by 9am. I then worked until Josh and Chloe got home from school when we just chilled and watched movies. It was a delightful day, topped off by having pancakes for dinner! Yummy, yummy in my tummy! (Yes, I am a responsible adult who encourages her siblings to eat healthy dinners…)

Today, Chloe is home sick from school. She too has caught the flu. But, yes, I am that sibling that makes her sister do some studying when she is sick because studying is important. But, sleep won and she succeeded in sleeping of the majority of the bug – back to school tomorrow, me thinks! But I also watched ‘The Martian’ all the way through today. It is an absolutely fantastic film and if you haven’t watched it then you should because it is awesome. 

I went shopping to get some groceries (don’t worry Arno and Claire, we will always have milk as long as I am here so that I can have endless cups of tea!). But also to get some supplies to make dinner for life group tonight. Yes, life group is at our house tonight – that is all 6 of us that aren’t dying from the plague. So, games night it is! But there is no need to fear! Although I am a highly competitive person, I aim to keep the house in one piece as I do not want to be the one responsible for curtain poles falling off the wall or tiles breaking or creating holes in the floor. I will make sure that we are all mature adults who can calmly play a game of spoons…

Tomorrow is when Arno and Claire should be worried though; it is party time! (No, I am joking and anyone that knows me well enough knows that I would love to avoid awkward social situations where people are required to dance.) Tomorrow is a day with nothing but work planned – all exciting stuff!

So really, there is no need for anyone to be worried about coming back to a broken home because there are four very responsible(ish) people living inside it and making sure that everything remains in one piece. When referring to the phrase ‘when the cat’s away, the mice will play’, you are literally referring to mice who eat pancakes for supper, live for the movie channel on DSTV, and are most active when a game of spoons is suggested. These mice are hard core!

P.S: I passed all of my final exams!

Moments

Moment (noun) – a particular stage in the development of something or in the course of events.

We all have moments, moments that define who we are. You may, perhaps, want to call these ‘significant life events’. But it could be said that we all have moments that make us wobble in the journey towards those said significant life events. 

Today, I suffered from a wobble. I suddenly realised that all of my plans, all of the things that I have been working towards for the last two years are going to ‘happen’ and become my significant life events in just under three months. That freaked me out. They are all coming soon! 

However, it would be silly of me to not explain how this wobble only lasted for a few minutes because of the fact that there is so much excitement within myself, that I am struggling to contain. Yes, I will have finished education  in 64 days. Yes, I will be getting on a plane to move to a different country, on a different continent in 89 days. But, dwelling on the fact that this is all going on just makes me feel so underprepared and quite frankly terrified. So, it is for this reason that I am in need of reminding myself of Gods plan for me and how incredible that is by drawing comparisons between where I am now and where I will be in just under three months.

  1. My Location – at the moment, I am in Plymouth. But, in 89 days, I will be living in East London!

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  2. The Weather – right now, I am sat looking out the window at a grey sky and rain. On googling the weather right now in East London, jealousy has kicked in, along with even more excitement, which I did not believe was possible!
  3. Amazing Friends – amazingly, I have already been able to make connections with those in SA, meaning that I already have some amazing friends! But I also have some absolutely incredible friends here that I am going to miss like mad. I love them all to pieces and I thank the Lord for Skype!
  4. Fantastic Family – I love my family and I know that I am going to struggle without them. I makes me emotional now to think that I won’t be seeing them for a while. Yet, I love the fact that I have a home with a family that I already feel a part of in East London. I am looking forward to joining them and making new memories with them! It is all part of the adventure.

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So these wobbles are unjustified. There is an adventure to be had an it is mine for the taking. Therefore, my moments shall be no longer. Sure, there will be times when it is hard, but breaking down before I can carry on is not worth it. I must fully embrace Gods plan for my life, even though it is way out of my comfort zone.

Now, I must get back to watching ‘Mandela, Long Walk To Freedom’ and Trevor Noah sketches, in my adventure of learning about South African culture. See you later!