A Small Round Stone

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The mountains may be high, the waters may seem deep, but there is a Light!

How do you feel today? What emotion predominates and if you were to allow it free rein where might it lead you?

 

One of my favourite stories is that of Joshua and Caleb, who together with ten others were sent to spy out the promised land. They saw amazing sights, incredible abundance, bunches of grapes so huge they were carried by two men. Two large men. Goliath sort of men. Were they impressed? Absolutely they were. Did they return to Moses filled with excitement and glee at all that awaited them? Er, no.

Apart from Joshua and Caleb that is.

The report that was given is as follows:

We are not able to go up against the people because they are stronger than we …. It is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great stature. There we saw giants….and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.”

Really? You were so scared you didn’t stick around to find out what they thought!

Fast forward a goodly number of years and we find a similar story. This time a Philistine by the name of Goliath is spitting fear into the hearts of the feeble Israelites. Once more they weep and wail, and it takes the arrival of a young lad, who has done nothing more than tend sheep while his big, brave brothers are off at war, to say “What is with you lot? He is nothing. I’ll sort him out!”

Don’t you just love the brashness of youth? David’s opinion of himself had not yet been hammered into submission by the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune”. He had protected his sheep, he knew his strength and his ability, they had been tested by the lions and the bears he had killed, the giant was no big deal. No talk of grasshoppers from this lad.

Later in his life, doubt crept in, leading many times to bleak despair. But he never backed away, the lessons he had learnt early in his life formed his reactions, his ability to pick himself up and carry on regardless of the height or intensity of the obstacle in his way.

Interesting how we are formed by our experiences, our emotions, which then inform our perceptions, which dictate our reactions to situations, or people, and sometimes small insignificant incidents in the grand scheme of things take on a life of their own, and become monsters, leaving us feeling lowly in our own eyes, and, we are convinced, in the eyes of those around us.

We talk of a chain of events: one thing leads to another, to another, to another, and suddenly you are out of control careering down a slippery slope, the brakes don’t work, and before you can blink you are buried under the pile of garbage your descent has brought down with you.

I’ve certainly been there.

What causes me to be oversensitive at times, to take um where none was intended? The answer is not one that I particularly like, because it points to a part of me I would prefer remain hidden, the part that isn’t as squeaky clean as it should be, where the still small voice niggles, and that niggling makes me wriggle. It might be a word out of turn that I spoke, or an act of kindness I didn’t make, that causes anything that happens to take on a menace, a meaning that is usually devoid of rationality.

Guilt is an obsequious emotion. It grovels and bends, sometimes real, sometimes imagined, but always hard to admit to. Even harder to put right. So I try and squash it. Put it away where I can’t see it, hear it, feel it.

What we don’t fix, however, doesn’t go away. At some point the container cracks, the yuk starts to leak out. The prophet Ezra puts it this way:

Ezra 9:6 : And I said: “O my God, I am too ashamed and humiliated to lift up my face to You, my God; for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has grown up to the heavens.”

Goodness me!

Then:

v8. “And now for a little while grace has been shown from the Lord our God., to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a peg in His holy place, that our God may enlighten our eyes and give us a measure of revival in our bondage.”

That grace is so precious, that redemption from guilt, from sin. But how do we appropriate this release, this revival in our bondage?

The answer is simple. Own up. Admit you blew it. We all do. You are not exempt. You are not the only person to get it wrong at times. And, chances are, you will do it again. We all will. So what’s the big deal? Losing face? Nah! That’s the lie – owning up takes a special kind of courage, a moral strength that is easy to come by – you only have to do it once. The sense of relief and release is so heady that it will be easy to say “sorry” next time. Or, should I say, easier.

The right way always looks harder than the easy way for some strange reason.

That is what verse 8 is about. For a while we have peace, and enlightenment, a way of escape. This recipe is echoed by that most sincere and earnest of the disciples, John, in his first of his epistles:

Chapter 1 verse 9: If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

  1. if we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

Chapter 2 v1 My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.

  1. And He himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.”

What comfort do these words offer? Ah, I love them. Again and again I am able to come to my heavenly Father, bow my head and say, “I blew it, again, Lord. Help.” And He who knows the inmost secrets of my heart, says gently, oh so gently, “Rise, take up your mat and walk, your sins are forgiven!”

Don’t allow circumstance, unintended insult, hurtful words, spiteful spats dictate how you behave. You have a choice, pilgrim: you can act or react. Be kind, or be cruel. Be tough, or be gentle, be loving or be hateful.

Generally when I feel like a grasshopper, I am miserable. And in my deep unhappiness, my cheeks raw from tears, I am horribly sensitive. If you ask me how I am the wrong way, I take it as your opposing me. If you don’t see me in the shopping mall, I take it you don’t want to talk to me. I read into each and every situation what I am feeling at that moment. I interpret your actions according to where I am in myself at that time. If I am not feeling good about how I have treated someone, chances are I will put that motive into your actions, and react accordingly. Ouch! And the longer I leave it before putting it right, the harder it becomes.

The Israelites had been holed up for forty days, ridiculed and denigrated by Goliath, before David arrived. And when he questioned their fear, they got angry with him. Guilt does that. Makes you angry at the wrong person. David persisted. The problem was not insurmountable. It had to be confronted and dealt with. If we can learn this one small lesson, how much better our lives might be, how conflict might be deferred, peace restored, communities revived.

All it took, was one small, round stone, no sharp edges, fired from a simple catapult to end the scorn, the pain, and bring relief.

Deal with your Goliath. You are not a grasshopper in anyone’s sight. You are a precious child of the living God (note all the ‘G’s’)  whether you subscribe to Him or not.

And that Grace is yours for the taking.

 

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It’s Christmas!

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For most of my life I have downplayed the importance of Christmas for a variety of reasons, the main one being that my grandmother and my father both died in December, casting an air of sadness over this season that seems to have lasted a lot longer than it should have.

My mother hated the hype of Christmas after my Dad died, so she would pack us up and off we would go to Ponta do Ouro in Mocambique where happy trappings did not prevail. I tried once I had children to counter this, determinedly decorating the house, trying to generate excitement which always seemed hollow. This year I haven’t needed to do that. I’m in a temporary home, not going to be here, no grandchildren to impress, and I suddenly realise that I am missing the fun and the pretty.

I realise, too, that I like Christmas!

I love the buzz of excitement, the decorations, the music in the shops, even the harried faces of desperate shoppers. The shops overflow and there is a bustle that crackles. There is a faint sense of panic as various businesses and firms close, happily displaying “open in January” signs, and so one comes to a place where you have to decide: surrender your reservations and go with the flow; or keep them and be uptight and lose a chance of happiness.

It is good to have a season where we can be silly, where children can escape into a land of fantasy and wonder for a while. Let’s face it life can be daunting, and we all need a trip away from harsh reality every now and then. I have been watching a friend on Facebook who has a naughty elf that is bouncing around her house, rummaging in stockings and checking the chimney, and I can imagine the joy it is giving her children as they watch to see what it is up to each day.

 

This is the time when we traditionally think of others, find gifts to delight, imagining the smiles that will light up little faces, and even old ones. I remember when I was a child, the excitement of the build-up to Christmas Day, wondering what was hidden inside the bundles of pretty paper. In Mbabane every year there was a production in Coronation Park, where an outdoor carol service took place. Tableaus of nativity scenes would be staged, local residents in full costume, spotlighted in various poses, as the relevant scriptures were read, and appropriate carols sung. A huge Christmas tree stood at the entrance and we would all bring a gift for children in hospital.

The wonder of the story of this amazing baby, wrapped in swaddling clothes (whatever those were) laid in a manger, the shepherds, the three wise men, all of it created a sense of wonder and gave some purpose to Christmas, that I find lacking today. It taught about love in its truest form, about humility, about giving, sharing with others less fortunate. It is the Christmas story and it should be told in all its simplicity to everyone, not heeding the voices of the cynics and the demands to ignore our tale in the relentless face of “Interfaith” – there would be no silly season if there were no Christ Child, no Emmanuel!

I was thrilled last night to find a programme on TBN featuring an older looking Paul Baloche singing Carols, and found the words easily filling my mouth as I sang along. Instead of the tableaux of my youth, children read the scriptures, and the pictures they evoked were down to imagination. It filled that hollow of longing that I hadn’t realised was there!

It is also the season when we can take time to sit quietly with friends and family, drink tea together, share a meal, catch up after a year of threatening to do just that, the pressures of work and obligation put aside for a couple of weeks.

So, as I prepare to fly north to spend Christmas with festbon, Dwayne, and Maike, I would like to take this time to wish each person reading this the silliest of seasons, filled with laughter and joy, and of course, peace.

May the essence of the Nativity story bless you, may the peace promised be your portion, and may the God of Israel keep you safe.

I look forward to hearing of all the fun that was had in the new year!

God of Comfort

I have often found that people who claim the bible to be a collection of fables, a series of tall stories, or historical references that have little relevance today are generally those who have never read it.

When the call of the Lord on my life became such that I could no long ignore it back in 1979, the first thing I did was look for a bible I had been given a couple of years previously. I needed to find out about this God, who drew me with such insistence. I began reading, as advised by the good Samaritan who gave it to me on the flyleaf, the gospel of John, the book which contains more uplifting promises than any other. But as I read John, and then Luke, and some psalms, I found myself being drawn more and more to the old testament. I needed to know where Moses began and Noah ended. I needed to know about Abraham, I remembered who Isaac was but Jacob was a bit of a blur.

I am a voracious reader, able to read before I went to school and years of ingesting books have made me a speedy reader. I devour books. So was it such an impossible feat to read the bible as most people suggested? Certainly the nuns who had trained me at school seemed to think so. I’ve read novels thicker than this without any problems.

So I decided that if I was to understand how and where I fitted in this business of Christianity I would have to read The Book. All of it. My dearest second cousin, Margaret Leach, who had much to do with my conversion, had recommended a bible commentary: What the Bible is All About by What the Bible is All AboutHenrietta Mears. It is still available – I saw it in Cum books a few months back. So armed with Henrietta and my Good News Bible, I read both from cover to cover. It took me about six months. Since then I have re-read the bible twice in its entirety, once in the New International Version and once in the New King James Version.

The ‘begats’ are a challenge, but without plodding through them how would that great student of the Word, Bruce Wilkinson have stumbled upon The Prayer of Jabez in 1 Chronicles 4:10, and taught such invaluable lessons from one tiny verse, and then followed that with teachings on the Fruit of the Vine, A Life Worth Living and more besides. Ah, Swaziland, one day you will answer for chasing this man of God and his vision away!

Where those ne’ersayers are possibly right is that it is impossible to take in all that is in this tome in one sitting, probably even in ten. The truths, the stories, the poetry, the ups and downs of the amazing love affair that God has with the pinnacle of His creation, Man, cannot be ingested in one, two or three read-throughs. It has to be a lifelong study, little bites each day, refreshing revisions of certain stories, or simple enjoyment of the poetry of love and of prophecy.

I recently read a book about a widow mourning the loss of her husband. It was achingly yearning in its description of her pain. Throughout I wondered when she might turn to a higher power for comfort. She didn’t, and grieves still. I sorrow for her, and for all who spurn God, determined to find their own way in this morass we call life. At least my grieving widow did not blame God for the loss of her spouse, as many do when catastrophe strikes.

That is another frequent debate generally preceded by the question: how can you believe in a loving God when you look at all the suffering in the world? How can He allow it?

I believe that He hates what happens to His children, I have no doubt that the broad carpenter strengthened shoulders of Jesus are frequently wracked with sobs as He watches His children mauled as forces of evil struggle for supremacy.

For I firmly believe in a spirit world, where good and evil are in constant opposition. That mighty man of wisdom and wealth, King Solomon, writes:

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The finger of God?

 

He (God) has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.

 

Ecclesiastes 3:11

The Bible tells us that God is Spirit, and He is truth. John 4:24. It also tells us that when the great confrontation took place in the heavenlies between the Father and Satan, He gave Satan dominion over the earth. For a limited time. A time I, and others like me, believe is close to its end. The signs are all there, politically, metaphysically, humanly.

Then God gave us free will – the choice to believe what we will. Being a sinless Deity He is unable to controvert or go back on his word. His protection can only cover us as far as we are willing to walk within its parameters. If we refuse His invitation, He will do nothing other than continue to reach out to us in the hope that one day we will accept His hand.

The cry of the Saviour when He walked this earth was, and still is: “Come to Me all you who are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Mathew 11:28. And Again: “….I have come that you may have life, and have it more abundantly.”

This God is so moved by the plight of man that He made a way of escape for us. That way is Jesus Christ. John 3:

“16.For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten on, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

  1. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world, through Him, might be saved.”

That is the power of Christ, He took the fall, endured the beating, the shame of the cross, so that we could walk freely into eternity. That this love is unconditional is told in Romans 5:8:

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Onto verse 10

“For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.”

Wow! I don’t know of any other religion where the deity worshipped reaches out to bring his followers to redemption, into communion with Himself. The opposite. The onus is on the follower to prove their worthiness, through diligent self-effort, with dire consequences should they fail. Or the questionable promise of a virgin or two should you blow yourself and a few others to smithereens.

My God is a God of comfort, whose heart contracts in pain each time one of His children is wounded, abused, or killed, and His constant call is: “Come, come now, come!”

One of my favourite scriptures is found in Romans 8. Paul ends this amazing chapter by saying:

“38: For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, no angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come,

39: nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

The words of the Psalmist, that Royal David, echo as strongly today as when they were written millennia ago:

“Today, if you will hear His voice,

Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion,

As in the day of trial in the Wilderness,

When your fathers tested Me, though they saw My work.”

Psalm 95:7b-8

The love of the Father, of His Son Jesus, and of the Holy Counsellor, the Spirit who searches the hearts of men, is boundless. He invites you to come, just as you are. There are no conditions, no works, no words. Just come to Him, He will show you the next step.

The Wedding on the Banks of River Khwai

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I’m a tree. I’ve been a tree for a long time. I live on the banks of the Khwai River. It is a peaceful spot and I am tall enough to see a good distance all around. I have a couple of close companions, the Shepherd’s Bush tree has entwined her branches with mine, and a little distant from us is my sister. She got hit by lightning and almost died, but she is managing to produce some branches and leaves at last.

About ten days ago strange happenings got us all talking. The men who patrol this place arrived and began to clear the grass. We had never seen such a thing. In places they pulled it out by its roots, leaving the earth bare and unprotected. And then they cut a section, making it as short as it is at the end of the dry season.

Themba, the elephant who likes to rub the itch out of his behind against my trunk couldn’t decide whether he was put out or not. The hippos didn’t care too much – there was still enough grass for them. No one else seemed to notice.

Today things really began popping around here. Vehicles arrived, people fiddled around the trunk of my sister, suspending tables from her branches. Chairs were brought and set up on the cleared earth.

Soon vehicles arrived, filled with people, who they left with us. Now the lush African bush glimmered in the mid-afternoon sun, the sky clear and domed over all. An air of expectancy hung over the small gathering, milling around the clearing, protected by our shade.

I love being fanciful, but now I will take back the narrative. For once in this pristine environment where they normally rule, the animals gave way, seeming to understand that this was not their time to parade – it was Dwayne and Maike’s turn to be on show.

I had visited the site with Dwayne earlier in the week to make sure all was as it should be. The staff of Mogothlo Camp had cleared it beautifully: a dusty aisle leading from a small, multi-stemmed bush, to the altar canopied by the entwined leaves of a Leadwood and Shepherd’s Bush tree. Another small pathway led to a second Leadwood, old and gnarled, not many leaves left, where drinks would be placed for guests as they waited for the vehicles to bring everyone from the camp.IMG_3000 (1024x768)

The river was fuller than anyone remembered it being for a long time, with parts of the road underwater, much to the glee of Sylvie and Ben, my grandchildren, who had never been in a car that went swimming before. Everyone was assembled, the drinks had refreshed and people began to take their seats.

Dwayne handed me his glasses. A few minutes later he asked for them back again.

“I won’t be able to see Maike!”

Mark and Darron had sorted out the music, the hi-fi camouflaged at the base of the small bush, that would also screen the bridal car when it arrived. It was a game vehicle, and no one needed to see how Maike would get out of it in her wedding dress!

“There are bones under that tree,” Mark said quietly.

“Hopefully that means the lions have eaten,” I answered.

Sound carries in the still of the bush, and we heard the Game Vehicle long before it came into view.Maike arrival

It is translucent in the oblique rays of the sun. Maike is bathed in a soft glow: she looks like a Princess! She smiles, and waves. We all cheer, not too loudly. The Leadwood tree is caked with mud deposited by an elephant as he daily rubs his rump, and we are not sure what time this ritual takes place, or how irate he might be at having his space invaded.

The vehicle comes to a stop behind the bush. There is a rustle. Mark takes his daughter to meet the bride. Sylvie is the perfect flower girl dressed in a lovely, lacy, lay18920373_10158972193525093_972454792950330557_nered dress, as she leads the retinue down the dusty path, strewing bougainvillea petals before her. Dwayne gives me back his glasses as Pastor Chris summonses him. His brother stands next to him.

Maike is assured, only her eyes seeking the approbation of her groom give a hint of her nervousness. Her dad, Stefan is tall and proud as he leads her to her future. The ceremony begins. It is simple, full of love and joy. As the sun begins to reach for the horizon it catches the diamantes in Maike’s veil and she is silhouetted in a halo of light. The vows are 18952684_10158972213420093_6608664925218973324_nspoken, the register is signed, the paperwork completed.

Pastor Chris turns them to face each other.

“By the power invested in me as a minister of Jesus Christ, and the Republic of Botswana, I declare you man and wife, and I present to you Mr and Mrs Elderkin. Dwayne, now you may kiss your bride.”

Sylvie turns to me and exclaims: “They are like us! We are also Elderkin.”

With that the gathering surges around them and shows them with rose petal confetti. Congratulations resound in the golden air. The photographer, Lilani, allows us time, and then begins to organise everyone for the shots that will be so important later on.18920663_10158981079795093_2704545013130258265_n

The guests are taken off to a spot further upriver for sundowners while the family photographs are taken. Soon, we too, are carried off to join the rest of the party, leaving Dwayne and Maike with Lilani. The first thing I see when we join the rest of the group is a restless pod of indignant hippos in the pool, unsure of this intrusion into their space. Kim, the Manager of the group is anxious, concerned for the safety of all as one hippo keeps standing up out of the water, looking quite menacing.

“Keep the children behind us, as far from the water as possible,” she tells me.

But I think there iss safety in numbers, and the hippo soon settled back into the water in IMG_3004 (1024x768)a happy huff, staring balefully at us as we enjoyed canapés and whatever on the bank.

All too soon it is time to return to camp and the wedding feast. The boma looks amazing. Stefan had painstakingly ringed the area with strings of tiny led lights that twinkle like a profusion of stars. Tilley lamps and candles cast a soft glow over tables bedecked in white and green. Ramona, Maike’s mum, had handcrafted white butterflies which seemed to hover over the tables as they perch on wine glasses. Closer inspection reveal they carry our names on their wings.IMG_2996 (1024x768)

Conversation swirls, sparks from the fire outside rise star-wards as we wait for the newlyweds. Soon they arrive to a fanfare of bubble blowing, and the evening begins.

Have courage, Walk in Integrity

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After the storm, an eagle soars…

 

Whenever the Lord starts giving me scriptures about trusting Him, it’s a sure-fire certainty that I am about to be tested in this area. The last two weeks seem to have lasted at least a month, but I rejoice that along with the testing come answers, and lessons that amaze in the simplicity of their revelation.

 

One of the hangovers of the victim mentality is a feeling of abandonment, and I am particularly susceptible to these negative emotions when I am tired. Of course the person who gets the blame at these times is God: where are You, why are You not helping me out here? Why no answers? Why must I always fight for everything? I am so tired, so very, very tired!

It was with sinking heart a couple of Fridays ago, after a particularly gruelling battle with bureaucracy, that I realised I was descending into this pit, one I had not been in for a long, long time and I really did not want to go there again, longing instead to be where God is, secure in the knowledge of His love. I battled with my thoughts all day, with the fear that threatened to overwhelm once more, the knowledge that while people seem to think I am strong, I really am extraordinarily weak. The feeble hands hung down, the loins remained un-girded as I silently did battle with my Maker.

Late that afternoon I stopped prevaricating, and sat down with Bible in hand, ready for a “session”! Oh how He must laugh at His children, when He is not in despair at our antics!

He led me to Jeremiah 10 v 6: Inasmuch as there is none like You, o Lord (You are great, and Your name is great in might). Like it or not, He is God, He can do as He pleases. A friend in Mozambique once said this to me when I questioned God’s role in events. At the time those words left me with a faint sense of indignation, although I could not argue with them. Now He was telling me the same thing Himself!

Thereafter I heard this insistent voice saying: “When are you going to leave things in My hands?”

This led to a fresh outburst, which was good in that for once I was able to answer honestly, instead of apportioning blame: Because I am scared, I am scared you won’t answer, I’m scared of the future, and I don’t want to be alone anymore.

The answer really is very simple: God is Lord. He does as He pleases and that is His prerogative. My part is to do as I am told, as long, of course, as I clearly hear the instruction. I am usually so busy off to sort everything out, I don’t hear His voice trailing into the distance behind me!

The next day, after a good night’s sleep I was better positioned to listen. The Lord led me to Deuteronomy 31 v 6: Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”

Old, well-known, comfortable and comforting words, but this day they leapt off the page at me with new meaning. God truly does go with me, I am the one who gives into fear. He knows that, so He says: “Don’t fear them, for they are impotent in My presence, they may not touch you! I go with you.”

The cross reference to this discussion is found in Psalm 27, another old favourite. “Though an army may encamp against me my heart shall not fear…” and again that injunction: …”wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart;…”

It couldn’t be clearer. Or could it. My cell beeped with the tune indicating a message from my home group. it was Fi, with our daily lesson which this day came from Proverbs 4 v12: When you walk your steps will not be impeded, and if you run you will not stumble.” Not on ly did she send these words, but she then sent a prayer for us which began:

“If you don’t learn to thank God in advance, you won’t have the strength you need to wait for the promised.”

Day led into day. We had a dreadful storm, a tornado which ripped through our community, uprooting trees, destroying buildings, leaving us without electricity or water for almost a day. Funny how the Lord tests one’s resolve – I don’t like storms, and strong winds terrify me, but through this storm I was able to keep calm, even filming the gusting rain to send to my boys. Having to deal with the after effects, however, in addition to what seemed like pressure to perform in various aspects of my life on all sides, and pretty soon I felt as if I were in free-fall again.

A new set of questions: You say I must leave things in Your hands. You also say that I am Your hands, that I must be ready to act, to move, to have courage. How do I know when to move and when to wait? The anxiety began to mount once more. A sleepless night, a gnawing in the pit of stomach, a cry for help.

Somewhere along the line I ended up at Deuteronomy 8 v 1-10, again dealing with the need for courage, but telling of God’s presence through every difficulty, of His provision, of how we will suffer lack at times, but never for long. Another day I was impressed to turn to Psalm 37 where almost every question and concern I was struggling with is answered with amazing assurance, but also throughout the verses is the injunction to wait, be patient, wait on the Lord, be controlled, forsake anger, chose instead to trust Him who is able to do abundantly more than we can ever imagine.

I began to understand properly for the first time how worry can lead to wrong doing, but in trusting a door is opened for peace.

Ps 37 v 11: “But the meek shall inherit the earth, and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace”! When we allow ourselves to fully trust God, it induces humility – we are stating that we are powerless, He alone is able and worthy. If we can get to this place, this state of simple being, the reward is an abundance of peace, in which we are able to delight. Strong words, powerful promise!

Another lesson learnt, a step closer to my Lord, a walk in the fertile sunshine of my Father’s provision.

And so, as I face the questions that confront me, the choices placed before me, I know that I have to walk in my own integrity, regardless of the actions of those around me. I cannot treat others as they may treat me, I have to treat them as God directs, and above all, I need to guard my heart, so that no hint of resentment paves the way for a root of bitterness to grow from what sometimes seems grossly unfair.

Home Help or Hindrance

I read an account in our local paper a while back of a woman who had been robbed by the person she employed as domestic helper. The help had made off with thousands of emalangeni worth of jewellery, and I have no doubt, a lot more that the employer will discover over the months to come. The article talked of the abuse that is meted out by these helpers as they lie, cheat and steal from those who employ them.

I wonder why this is? What makes this particular strata of society feel it is their right to help themselves to whatever they fancy in the homes they are paid to clean and take care of?

My first bad experience of this was after the death of my mother. As an only child whose father died when I was nine, and was now a relatively young twenty one, the trauma of losing my only parent was huge. When the funeral and various formalities were over, I turned my attention to the home we had lived in for the past however many years. The house belonged to the Swaziland Government and I had a limited time before I needed to vacate it.

I started in my Mother’s bedroom, because that was the most painful, and slowly moved through the rest of the house. All went relatively well, until I opened the linen cupboard. What had once housed been shelves brimming over with table cloths, matching napkins, sheets, pillowcases was now a cupboard with bare shelves.

I called to the woman who had shared most of my life with me.

“Where are all the table clothes, the napkins, all the things that were here?”

She shook her head. No idea what I was talking about. There had never been anything in that cupboard, all my imagination. It got worse. When I got to the dining room plates of all description, together with most of the cutlery, was gone. She’d moved fast.

What hurt was not so much the value of the items taken, although there obviously was a cost involved: silver forks and spoons with the Warburton and Leary family crests might have some commercial value but that was not what mattered right then. It was not only the loss of that tenuous link to my past, but the feeling of betrayal, that trust that was shattered. Items that I could have held as I remembered precious moments, gentle words spoken beneath my father’s piercing blue eyes, my Mum’s green eyes flashing merrily as we laughed at some piece of fun – that aura of comfort so necessary in a world suddenly lonely.

That was the first time, sadly not the last. It is a way of life, the sudden discovery that something is missing. You learn to accept that it is going to happen, your only decision is how much you allow to disappear before you act and diplomatically remove the offender. It isn’t always stealing. Sometimes it is simply carelessness and glasses, cups, even furniture is broken. Responsibility for repairing or replacing these items is eschewed with a shrug of the shoulders.

I have been pondering all this for a while, trying to decide whether employing someone to assist me with housework is a help or a hindrance, how much more damage and loss can I afford. As always, God has a happy knack of showing up with a reasoning argument just before I descend into active dislike and resentment.

Our Ladies’ Bible Study started up last week after the Christmas break, with a study on the book of the prophet Hosea by Jennifer Rothschild. All my complaints and mutterings seemed to be duplicated in the first chapter! God is talking about the behaviour and attitude of the children of Israel, who had come to such a parting of the ways between themselves that they were now two kingdoms, quite apart from deserting God, and insulting Him by consorting with other gods, and deliberately flouting every one of His injunctions!

To demonstrate His point, God instructs Hosea to marry a prostitute, which he does. Thereafter follows a tale of love and despair, of faithlessness and forgiveness, the story of a God, tried to the utmost by the actions of His chosen people, yet determined to claim them as His own, to bless them and honour them as His adored creation.

I think I have a small glimmer of how He feels, because I have treated Him in much the same way as domestic assistants down the years have treated me. In spite of all my wrongdoing, He still proclaims in ringing tones:

Then I will sow her for Myself in the earth,

And I will have mercy on her who had not obtained mercy;

Then I will say to those who were not My people,

‘You are My people!’

And they shall say, ‘You are my God!’’

Hosea 2:23

There are many gems throughout this book:

For I desire mercy and not sacrifice,

And the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.’

Hosea 6:6

Again:

‘My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge’ Hosea 4:6

– we presume to judge God, to insist He should act as we would have Him act, and when He doesn’t we thump our chests and say ‘See, what kind of God is He?’

As in all things, we have a choice. What I do about my domestic situation is in my hands, I have the authority to decide how much ‘abuse’ I am prepared to take, if any at all. There will be a cost, and again I get to decide how much I am prepared to give.

Does our Father not get the same right? To decide how much He will take from us, give us warning when we go too far. The difference is God’s love is so much greater than mine, and if He can forgive me all that I get up to, how do I deny forgiveness to others?

 

Clumsy, Thy Name is Glenda!

It all started before Christmas. I was on my way home from Nelspruit when I did something really stupid.

On a previous trip, during winter, I had caught glimpse of a gulley that looked as if it was on fire. It was aloes, in full bloom, clinging precariously, victorious in their ability to hold themselves fast in the rock clefts. There is nowhere to stop easily at that point, so I had to imprint the picture on my mind because I knew I wanted to paint it.

A few months later, after playing with the picture in my mind, I decided I needed to take a picture of the spot. I had to go to Nelspruit, so I knew I would have my chance. I have learnt over the years that even the simplest of cameras takes a pretty good snapshot from a moving vehicle. As I turned onto the stretch of road leading to my ‘Flaming Kloof’ there was a line of fairly slow moving vehicles in front of me. Aha! My chance!

I would put my swanky new cell to the test. A little problem – my driving glasses reduce everything within the car to a mild blur, most particularly anything on the screen of a mobile. While I was squinting, trying to figure out where the camera icon was, something felt a little off. I looked up to find myself trundling merrily off-road, down a pretty steep hill straight towards a small dam!

A quick manoeuvre brought me around. But. There was brick edging to the road at that point, and I crunched over it with a sickening thud, followed immediately by a screeching scrape. At the point where I steered back onto the road was a small but deadly rock! It had completely massacred my front passenger wheel. Yes, wheel. The tyre was shredded, the wheel buckled, the hub cap protruding at an odd angle.

Shaking like a leaf, I called the friend with whom I had spent the night. Her husband immediately made a plan to rescue me, until reason prevailed and I told him to wait a while, surely some intrepid soul would stop to assist. A minibus trundled by, hooted in greeting. Didn’t stop. The ubiquitous white Fortuna, much loved by most of the population in this part of the world, slowed, took one look at me, and drove off.

Pray! That small still voice penetrated my panic. I did. Within minutes a spiffy white Audi appeared. I tentatively put out my hand to flag it down. Relief allowed some moisture back into my mouth as It pulled over. The man behind the wheel assured me he had been in the tyre business for decades and proceeded to change the wheel for me.

The first quote I got put the damage far beyond what I had in my budget for “whatevers” – oh the cost of folly! I made it through Christmas, determinedly ignoring the fact that I was driving around with no spare tyre.

As we do every year, I determined that 2017 is going to be a good year. I lost my way in 2016, largely due to taking on the chair of our local equestrian federation. Writing schedules went out the window, the days became substantially shorter, a new system, accepted by some, agreed to begrudgingly by others, took huge mental effort to understand, and resolving age-old differences tested my conciliatory skills to the nth degree. I was tired, irritable, desperate to get my writing back on track, and 2017, that magical number for whatever reason, was going to do it for me.

Until I came home from work, opened the car door to get out, realised the windows were open, turned the key in the ignition to close them, got out and went to talk to the gardener. The next morning keys stubbornly missing, I decided to look in the car. I saw them in the ignition through the window, and was turning away when a mournful beep, beep, beep, made me open the door. I hadn’t only left them in the ignition, but left the ignition turned on.

A kindly neighbour, who agreed to let his watch of the cricket be interrupted, got me jump-started, but an annoying yellow light, reflecting the letters ABS persisted in mocking me.

Things happened in quick sequence hereafter. A phone call asking me for a reference for a domestic helper who had once worked for me. Except it wasn’t once, she was currently working for me. How dumb is that? Giving my name as reference when you haven’t given notice? I now had to lock my poor Lexie into the house when I had to shop, or work, or whatever.

My life took a swift turn to the stressed. Washing I can handle, vacuuming I can manage, but ironing and mopping floors are a challenge as yet unattained. Then there is Lexie. With none to keep an eye on him he has refined his skills as a worthy follower of Houdini to a fine craft. He has my cat as teacher, so windows are to be jumped through, the gate scaled, and furniture is there to be chewed when boredom threatens.

Trying to make him feel better after one day of long incarceration in the kitchen, I bought him a new ball and a hide bone. He immediately buried the bone with great ceremony and secret ritual. When he was done he returned, and eyed the ball with an expectant glitter in his eyes. I went to cut off the label, and get rid of plastic bags and life continued.

Until two days later when I needed my spare house keys. I searched, and searched. I went around the garden thinking Lexie may have made off with them. at last I decided I must have thrown them away with the label of the ball. The packet with the hide bone had two in it – I only gave him one – the other is also missing. Conundrum: Lexie or the refuse bag?

It was refuse collection day, so I decided to go and check through the bag I had deposited there a couple of hours earlier. I knew exactly where it was, to the side of the pile. It would be messy but quick. So I thought.

But no. Life in this cycle is not that simple. In this country we have people, men mostly, who eschewing the psychiatric facilities live on the streets, where they laugh and sing and dance to whatever beat they alone can hear. Our resident chap was having a whale of a time going through all our stinking bags, and mine was no longer where I placed it. I stood for a couple of minutes trying to recognise it, confident I had tied mine differently to those I was looking at.

I mean, really?!

By the time I had opened the third one, been covered in flies and sickened with stench, I gave up. My decision was hastened by one of my neighbours driving past and waving cheerfully. Then the farm manager rode past on his bicycle.

“Afternoon, Madam,” without a change of expression.

I took stock. Here I was, with the village imbecile, looking through refuse bags in full view of all the world on a Tuesday afternoon.

Is 2017 going to be a better year? With a start like this, it has to be!

 

 

When there is no cake

I try and walk most mornings, weather and lungs permitting.

A few months back, much against my better judgement, I allowed myself to be talked into taking a young puppy, who came with the claim of being a purebred Jack Russell. Well, judge for yourself! But he is a character, very enthusiastic about many things, and ‘walkies’ is high on the priority list. Each morning he watches me like a hawk, and at the first sign of the possibility of a wander, his tail begins a silent tattoo, and he inches closer and closer to the gate in expectation. But should I show no sign of compliance, his demeanour crumbles piteously, hurt eyes dart towards me from under still expectant eyelashes, until at last with a sigh he closes them to escape the horror of another day within the confines of the yard. Such a guilt monger as you have never met!

img_2840
My faithful Lex, whose nagging ensures I exercise regularly

 

It was on one of these perambulations that I was stopped by a young man, gently insistent when I tried to walk on past him after the usual greeting.

“Please look at this,” he pleaded, pulling documents out of an ubiquitous brown envelope.

It was his school report, together with the offer of a place for Form 1 at a local high school. His finger trembled over a paragraph towards the bottom of the page. I saw the amount in, typed in bold. E4990. An impossible amount for me, and for many of us, but totally out of reach for some 65% of the local population. He had passed Form 7, the last grade of junior school with a second class pass, making him deserving of further education in my book, and obviously in that of the school to which he had applied.

That was me netted. How do you tell a kid who wants to better himself that there isn’t a hope of him finding that sort of money, you don’t have it and the chances of your convincing anyone to help are slim to non-existent.

It’s the same story each January. Parents and children alike, desperate for that chance of a better life, unable to find the wherewithal, take to the streets in the hope that they will find some good Samaritan willing to part with some ‘bucks’. For some, employers will take pity and lend them the money – they spend the rest of the year paying it back.

Anyway, I tried, very aware that it was not only the preposterously high school fees that I was looking for. School uniforms are not cheap, although at some stage in our independent history there was a suggestion the same uniform be adopted throughout the country to lessen the cost. Then there are books, endless school building funds, whatever. I knew the E5k would end up closer to E8k. and if we didn’t find all of this, by the end of January he would be sent home from school until such time as he could make payment in full.

Every day thereafter Siboniso was at my gate, his eyes pleading, his shoulders desperate. After a week, I knew I had to be honest with him.

“Siboniso, you need to accept that this is not going to happen.” His shoulders slumped. “But I have an idea. Distance learning. You can get some part time work, and study part time.”

“How?”

“Emlalatini.”

So the next day saw us off to Ezulwini, that sometimes lives up to its name and at others seems to represent the other place! (Ezulwini means ‘heaven’ in siSwati)

Emlalatini was strangely quiet, but the principal was in and after a short wait we were invited into his office. I told him our story, he looked at the paper work, and gave the nod for Siboniso to register. The delight on the young man’s face was a picture to behold. The excitement and exuberance that accompanied me home was fabulous.

And that was the last I saw of him. I found him work. He was due to report that Saturday to find out the details. I kept checking my gate, the road. No show. We were supposed to register last week. No sign of him.

Now, he did lie to me, told me he was an orphan, that neighbours took care of him. I gave him food one day because he was so hungry. I then discovered he had both parents, his father was employed, but that is no guarantee that he would be able to shell out what amounts to a large fortune to most of the people of this land of eSwatini to ensure his oldest son’s education.

Was it a scam? If so, to what end? Did he think I would hand over E5000 crisp brown or green notes, without making sure they went where they were intended? Was it a test of some sort? The bible says we will be tested by men and angels?

Whatever. The issue represented in this tale is what really concerns me. Why have we in Africa made it so difficult for our people to be educated? In this country the increase from primary school fees to secondary is huge. After much fuss, a programme was rolled out to offer free primary schooling, which used to be around E500 a year, but to jump from there to approximately E8000 a year, in a country where the average worker earns less than E2000 a month is disproportionate.

The end result is a large portion of population, barely educated, trying to eek a living out of the soil, handicrafts, or their wits. Surely we would all be better off with well-equipped, enquiring minds, bringing new inventions and businesses and ideas to stimulate our sagging economy? The same goes for most of Africa.

In neighbouring South Africa the #Feesmustfall campaign was born of a desperate need by youngsters who believe they deserve to be equipped to succeed at their chosen careers, to have the same opportunities as many children they see daily in television programmes and the internet from around the world.

Is there a deliberate, covert policy to keep the masses uneducated? Do the minority that constitute the leadership fear that if these young minds are trained to think, they may ask too many questions that cut close to the bone? Why is it that only the well-off, the well-connected can educate their children, and so perpetuate a system that is not beneficial to the vast majority.

I fear that our laxity in addressing this issue will lead to our downfall. There is a tale told of a conversation in the French court at the onset of the revolution that changed the ways of governance in the European world. The queen, Marie Antoinette, asked why the masses were so unhappy, so restless. When she was told that it was because they were hungry, her replay was: “Tell them to eat cake!” Her words were called back to her as she knelt in front of those hungry people, put her head on a block, and waited for the blade to fall that would sever it from the rest of her body.

I am a great proponent of the lessons of history and I think we in Africa would do well to become conversant with them, before we, too, lose our heads for living in lavish excess while our people die hungry and our children are denied their right to a better future, one that comes from being adequately educated and equipped to deal with the challenges of the modern world.

 

 

 

 

 

Poisonous Pens

There are many conflicting thoughts running around in my head today, so this blog may turn into three!

Over the past week I have, among other important happenings, received three scurrilous, long-winded messages on two WhatsApp groups, with, as always, Barack Husain Obama the huge, terrifying monster through whom our entire world is about to be destroyed.

These barbed missives always come with a plethora of Bible verses to support the author’s viewpoint, and to terrify the global Christian community into a frenzied outpouring of intercession. For what outcome? Donald Trump as the new President of the United States of America? Will this man stop abortion and homosexuality? Seriously? Because those seem to be the only two issues that this group of right-wing bigots can offer up as any sort of political fodder, unaware it would seem, that abortion has been around since conception began, as has homosexuality. Please don’t think that I condone these. I don’t. I just happen to think that more pressing social problems exist in the world like extreme poverty, children denied access to health and education, rhino poaching and the destruction of the world’s habitats are all hugely important issues in my book. But I quote those two because they are the issues that are touted so monotonously.

My bible is extraordinarily clear: we are to love all men, win them to Christ that not one be lost. Math 18:14; 1 Tim 2:4.

That includes Muslims. And blacks. And Hispanics. And Jews. And women. And gays. Everyone.

What saddens me, and yes, annoys me to distraction, is that the basis of these messages is always false, aimed at the un-initiated, who mindlessly send them on to numerous people and never think to check the veracity of what they are reading. Has every person who signed up to Obama-care received a chip, and thus received in themselves the 666 mark of the beast of Revelations? Did not the Bush administration moot the suggestion of a two-state solution to Palestine and Israel?

Not according to poisonous pens of these authors. Their statements are blatantly untrue, and easily ascertained as such. But still the mails do the rounds, and people waste time reading them, forwarding them, that could and should be spent on real issues. Even people of colour, who seem unaware of the innate racism that drives these people, are caught up in religious fervor associated with sending these messages on.

As I pondered these messages, a revelation dawned. These are not claptrap to be facilely discarded and scoffed at. These tracts have played a very real role in bringing Donald

Trump onto the world stage.

Reading Numbers 13:33 through all of chapter 14, we see graphically the result of the false report brought by 8 of the 10 spies who were sent to check out the promised land. Sadly there too, the majority were believed. When Joshua and Caleb averred, and stood for the truth they were threatened with being stoned. The result? An entire generation spent 40 years wandering in the Wilderness, until everyone one of them, with the exception of our two true men of faith, was no longer.

What all must have happened in the known world of that time as a giant and barbarous nation held sway? How many people in neighbouring countries died? What of the battles that ultimately had to be fought before the Israelites were able to claim what had been promised them half a century previously? And the sin of the Israelites that brought this about? they didn’t trust God. If we need to convince an world that one man is able to wreak so much havoc, what does that say of our faith in God?

My fear is the consequences today of a concerted effort by what at best can be described as right wing fascists, demented in the fear that anyone unlike them, especially if they happen to be black, might prove to be more worthy than they, will be a world sucked into chaos in a vortex of hate and irrational fear.

Christian, you need to examine yourself. You need to test your motives against the light of the perfect love and freedom we have through the sacrifice at Calvary. If you have taken any part in this campaign, passed on a message, not sought God’s will before acting on it, you need to get face down before your Maker in repentance. You need to seek forgiveness from Him and from those who may have been hurt by your action. Do it the same way you sent on the false hood, through email or Whatsapp, it doesn’t matter how, but you need to make it right!

Then ask your Father, who loved you enough to ensure your salvation, to fill you with that perfect love that drives out all fear.

If we are truly rooted and grounded in love, if we understand who we are in Christ, then our identity must be secure. And if we are confident of our standing, accepting of who we are, then we have no need to fear others. We can relate as equals, equal but different if you will, but as people who are able to accept others, respect their differences, and pray for all men according to the will of our Father in heaven.

 

There are many conflicting thoughts running around in my head today, so this blog may turn into three!

Over the past week I have, among other important happenings, received three scurrilous, long-winded messages on two WhatsApp groups, with, as always, Barack Husain Obama the huge, terrifying monster through whom our entire world is about to be destroyed.

These barbed missives always come with a plethora of Bible verses to support the author’s viewpoint, and to terrify the global Christian community into a frenzied outpouring of intercession. For what outcome? Donald Trump as the new President of the United States of America? Will this man stop abortion and homosexuality? Seriously? Because those seem to be the only two issues that this group of right-wing bigots can offer up as any sort of political fodder, unaware it would seem, that abortion has been around since conception began, as has homosexuality. Please don’t think that I condone these. I don’t. I just happen to think that more pressing social problems exist in the world like extreme poverty, children denied access to health and education, rhino poaching and the destruction of the world’s habitats are all hugely important issues in my book. But I quote those two because they are the issues that are touted so monotonously.

My bible is extraordinarily clear: we are to love all men, win them to Christ that not one be lost. Math 18:14; 1 Tim 2:4.

That includes Muslims. And blacks. And Hispanics. And Jews. And women. And gays. Everyone.

What saddens me, and yes, annoys me to distraction, is that the basis of these messages is always false, aimed at the un-initiated, who mindlessly send them on to numerous people and never think to check the veracity of what they are reading. Has every person who signed up to Obama-care received a chip, and thus received in themselves the 666 mark of the beast of Revelations? Did not the Bush administration moot the suggestion of a two-state solution to Palestine and Israel?

Not according to poisonous pens of these authors. Their statements are blatantly untrue, and easily ascertained as such. But still the mails do the rounds, and people waste time reading them, forwarding them, that could and should be spent on real issues. Even people of colour, who seem unaware of the innate racism that drives these people, are caught up in religious fervor associated with sending these messages on.

As I pondered these messages, a revelation dawned. These are not claptrap to be facilely discarded and scoffed at. These tracts have played a very real role in bringing Donald

Trump onto the world stage.

Reading Numbers 13:33 through all of chapter 14, we see graphically the result of the false report brought by 8 of the 10 spies who were sent to check out the promised land. Sadly there too, the majority were believed. When Joshua and Caleb averred, and stood for the truth they were threatened with being stoned. The result? An entire generation spent 40 years wandering in the Wilderness, until everyone one of them, with the exception of our two true men of faith, was no longer.

What all must have happened in the known world of that time as a giant and barbarous nation held sway? How many people in neighbouring countries died? What of the battles that ultimately had to be fought before the Israelites were able to claim what had been promised them half a century previously? And the sin of the Israelites that brought this about? they didn’t trust God. If we need to convince an world that one man is able to wreak so much havoc, what does that say of our faith in God?

My fear is the consequences today of a concerted effort by what at best can be described as right wing fascists, demented in the fear that anyone unlike them, especially if they happen to be black, might prove to be more worthy than they, will be a world sucked into chaos in a vortex of hate and irrational fear.

Christian, you need to examine yourself. You need to test your motives against the light of the perfect love and freedom we have through the sacrifice at Calvary. If you have taken any part in this campaign, passed on a message, not sought God’s will before acting on it, you need to get face down before your Maker in repentance. You need to seek forgiveness from Him and from those who may have been hurt by your action. Do it the same way you sent on the false hood, through email or Whatsapp, it doesn’t matter how, but you need to make it right!

Then ask your Father, who loved you enough to ensure your salvation, to fill you with that perfect love that drives out all fear.

If we are truly rooted and grounded in love, if we understand who we are in Christ, then our identity must be secure. And if we are confident of our standing, accepting of who we are, then we have no need to fear others. We can relate as equals, equal but different if you will, but as people who are able to accept others, respect their differences, and pray for all men according to the will of our Father in heaven.

 

 

So Who is the Real Loser?

It’s four and a half hours since I awoke to a silent house, no hum of fridges, or water pumps, or daylight switches humming their warning that they are about to go off.

I don’t mind too much. I’m broke so every minute that my meter is blank, I think of all the units I am saving and smile. Sure, it’s inconvenient, but I have a gas ring so I can have a cup of tea, even make a meal. I have candles and rechargeable lights, all the mod cons needed to deal with outages such as these over the years. Others have generators for emergencies.

I remember driving home from work one Sunday afternoon many years ago in the foulest of weather: wind, driving rain, trees bending and breaking – scary. It was the onset of Cyclone Domoina, or ‘Zamcolo’ as it is known here. In front of me was a truck easily identified as belonging to the Swaziland Electricity Board as it was known then. As fast as poles crashed down, they were putting them up, an amazing effort in the face of huge adversity, and well worthy of great reward.

Before Christmas, with scant warning, we were told the staff of SEC were going to begin a sit-in, or go-slow or some such action because they had not received their annual bonuses. That doesn’t worry me too much either. Power outages in my area are endemic, sometimes as many as seven times in a day the power goes off. At times it comes straight back, or we can wait an hour or longer. We seldom have twenty four consecutive hours of uninterrupted power. All of which contribute to a gradual degradation of motors, and we then have the expense of replacing fridges, modems, water pumps, irrigation systems, the list is endless.

A number of times we have been out for ten or more hours at a stretch. We are told the technicians have gone home, or they are waiting for the storm to pass, or we don’t get any explanation at all. That is always assuming we can actually get someone to answer at the call centre. I doggedly left the phone ringing for forty minutes once. Twice I have received follow up calls after reporting the lack of power, once three days later, the other time a day later. I mean, please, why waste money on the phone call?

Today we were told that the technicians now only start work at 8am, which happened to be some three hours after our power failed. It is heading for 10 am, so over five hours I’ve saved a goodly number of units, far less than SEC has lost! All of which must be translated into revenue, or loss of earnings for the Company.

So who is really the loser in a situation like this? As I see it, the degenerating service offered by the Swaziland Electricity Company is causing more people to look to alternative forms of power. Solar is no longer as expensive as it was, companies like Guba show how waste can be converted to gas, wind is another option. I have friends who have converted almost completely to solar, and take very little from SEC. Another has made numerous alterations to their home and will soon not only be off the grid, but in a position to sell power back to SEC.

I certainly, if I am ever in the happy place of owning my own house, will look at alternate energy sources. I love the idea of self-sufficiency, not being dependant on someone unwilling to get out of bed to go to work on a rainy morning. But as more people look at these options, the workers of SEC may find that not only do they not receive any bonuses, but they may not have jobs to go to either.

 

I'm a writer. One book down, two in the pipline, one half way and one in the head!

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