Monday, October 30, 2006

Nick's 30th

Today was Nick’s birthday. It was a pretty run-of-the-mill day, which made me feel a bit depressed. I didn’t arrange any form of party or gathering or even tea. I gave him his present this morning and the boys had their cards, and he had a few other cards to open, but then it was the day as usual. Jean popped on at 9 am to give him a present which was very generous. After lunch I headed off to Lorna. We had coffee and chatted, and then eventually got going on a necklace. She has just returned from a quick trip to the UK where she stocked up on beads as she’s new to the hobby. I think she is a bit overwhelmed by the choice now! It was good to be with her again, and she is also way into the card-making/scrapbooking scene, and has a wide variety of bits and bobs. She has lent me some crafting magazines which I’m going to enjoy looking at, for some ideas and inspiration. Nick took the boys up the mountain while I was gone, and they just wandered about up there for a while.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Just reading

We had a very leisurely day. In truth, we spent most of the day reading! Had to get the bulletins done this morning, but that was all by way of church duties. The boys occupied themselves well, Caleb was making things on bits of string, and Aaron paged slowly through a Thunderbird library book. Aaron can spend hours by himself looking at the pictures in books and catalogues, and Caleb loves drawing and cutting and making. Lunch was supposed to be pre-prepared lasagna which I had defrosting, which didn’t defrost in time for lunch, so we had it for supper instead and “mletzzas” for lunch (this is a pizza-type omelette). We left home at 1.45 for the Sandy Bay chapel, and by the time we got there it was almost packed. The boys sat quite well during the service, Aaron particularly who was very pleased with himself and the fact that he didn’t even suck his fingers, and that he listened to God and not the devil because he obeyed. Caleb found the bookshelf uncomfortable to sit on (so did I, I’m sure my back is bruised), so he sat cross-legged on the floor instead and listened. After the sermon, he could tell us two things he learned – that Jesus had friends, and he learned about Martha (Nick preached from John 11 – Lazarus’s death). Glad that he is starting to listen. After getting home and having coffee and donut sticks, we put a video on for the boys (we gave them an option of making a craft or watching a video), so Nick and I went upstairs and continued reading. I’m reading the second novel in the series, which I’m sure Nick’s going to want to read soon because it follows on after the first one, same characters.

Boys, boys, boys

Quite a nice day today, weather-wise – bit of a cloudy morning but the afternoon was lovely, even to the point of being hot. We had the sprinkler on this afternoon for the boys to play in (and for the grass of course!). We finally convinced the boys that if they stand in the middle of the sprinkler, they don’t get very wet, so that’s what they did.

This morning Callum’s granny phoned to ask if he could stay with us after GNC, which was fine by us, since we didn’t have a plan for the day. We also ended up with Andrew and Harry for a while, and another boy, Michael, also hung around since he didn’t have to be anywhere else, so for a while there were six boys running around outside. It was great fun.
I have been suggesting to Nick for a while now that he might enjoy reading the Francine Rivers Mark of the Lion series, and this afternoon he picked up the first book. He is probably almost halfway through it already since he has huge blocks of uninterrupted time that he can use (what a luxury), and he’s really enjoying it!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Shopping expedition

Wilson took us shopping this morning. I arranged for Maureen to babysit, so just after 9 this morning, Nick and I met Wilson in town for some grocery shopping. We went to Thorpes, and Nick and Wilson trailed around behind me while I loaded baskets. He said I mustn’t be scared to put things in the basket, he really wanted to spoil us because he doesn’t know if he’s going to see us again, so that’s what I did. I was still quite conservative in what I bought, but it was well-timed since I hadn’t done my grocery shopping yet. Then he took us and Jean to Ardees for coffee, and Nick and I ordered a plate of chips to share and went to get our drinks. In the meantime, Wilson ordered three ham and cheese sandwiches, so Nick and I shared one of those too. So yummy – all the works, cheese, tomato, ham and lettuce. The local lettuce is not your regular rabbit-variety. It’s more like rocket, quite tasty actually, it has a spice of its own and I find it quite palatable. I haven’t had fresh tomato in ages, it was wonderful to bite into a crispy slice of it. I helped the boys to make birthday cards for Nick this afternoon while Nick was out at the prison, so he will be getting two very home-made cards from the boys with glitter, wiggle eyes and foam fish, and lots of terribly-spelt happee borthbay greetings. I am giving him a DVD of his favourite guitar-playing person, which I ordered from Amazon (it’s not a surprise for Nick, unfortunately…)

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Lord at work

Nick visited Colin in prison today, and said it was a very positive meeting. Colin feels he is ready to become a Christian now but was too shy to pray, so Nick prayed for him and Colin said he would pray tonight. He said that when Nick was praying he felt all funny and shaky, so we are hoping the Holy Spirit is at work! We’ll see what the next few weeks bring, and then we’ll see what happens when he gets out of prison. At the moment it’s easy – he’s sober, he doesn’t have contact with his friends, and has no access to alcohol. Will be tough for him when he gets out. Very exciting though!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Chase the Wind

The album which Nick played guitar on is due for release next Wednesday, the 1st of November. The title track, “Chase the Wind”, was played at least ten times on radio today, and it’s the first time I’ve heard it – first time anyone’s heard it, actually. It’s excellent! Tammy has a beautiful voice, and the production quality is really good, all the instruments are nicely balanced and so on. At 4 pm there was a live radio interview with Tammy and the musicians (Nick included), so it’s really being pumped. All the excitement comes from this being the first locally recorded and produced CD, so it’s a history-maker. No other songs are being played on radio yet, because it’s being kept under lock and key at Jaspers (who is the only retailer of the CD, and who also sponsored it entirely), who will not allow even a snippet of another song to be played – they want people to buy it! I’m sure that it will sell well. It has a distinctive country feel to it, which the island loves.

We visited the old people again today. I stopped by Caroline and heard all about the ulcer on her ankle, onto which the nurses applied a white dressing and when they looked again it was green. Oh my. Then she told me again about how it was green. She was very worried about it, so I prayed for her, which she appreciated. The boys found a man in a wheelchair to talk to, and were delighted that he was pretending to be a baby, and talking like one, but I suspect this old gentleman had had a stroke which affected his speech!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Christmas in May and again in October!

Christmas happened for the second time this year, when we got our boxes and boxes from Wilson. Apart from the goodies we had ordered from the States which he brought for us, he had also packed more snacks, a very generous amount, which he had spread across at least 7 boxes (some small). It was so exciting to finally get our hands on the things we ordered. Nick had a very unfortunate time with his new guitar amp, in that it had been configured for US electrical systems and had the little US plug on it, which he cut off, and then attached a regular British plug – this made the amp make a very loud noise and smoke came out of the back. It doesn’t work now. He is going to try reattach the molded US plug and change the fuse, which we are praying will be the solution, otherwise it’s useless. I felt so bad for him, and he wasn’t too pleased about it himself. My scrapbook things are fantastic - my plan for this evening is to do my very first page! Very excited.

Monday, October 23, 2006

When I grow up I want to be a...

The ship’s horn sounded at 11.30 this morning, so directly after lunch we headed down to the docks. On the ship was Wilson, who regularly sends us snacks from Ascension - this was the first time we met him. While we were waiting at the docks, Caleb took the opportunity to evangelise, and struck up conversations with at least two strangers and told them that Jesus is the only one who can save them, and invited them to church. We are so pleased, especially because in Sunday School we prayed that God would give us people to witness to. He said afterwards that he felt good when he had shared the gospel. Instead of being a truck driver, he has decided to be a missionary in the Muslim countries. Aaron still wants to be a fireman.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Album ready for launch

Nick’s recording sessions are finished now – the album he’s been helping with is finished and ready for release next month, and there has been a bit of publicity in the local papers. This is the first CD to be locally recorded and produced. There was one article all about it, mentioning that Nick Clevely, a professional guitarist, has provided invaluable help. He is apparently now known as the best guitarist on the island, according to someone who phoned shortly after the newspaper article, wanting to use Nick for an old-people’s gospel venture. Someone we haven’t met yet, a Mr Timm, who is apparently a Christian who has just returned to the island after being in the Cape for many years. An Anglican, but he wants to use his talents for the Lord and really get involved in doing things. Sounds like the kind of man we’d like in our church!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Back to The Haven

I took the boys to visit the “old people” again yesterday. This is our second time. We started off in the main lounge again, but it’s difficult to really visit in there because the TV was on with the sound muted, and a radio next to it playing some loud and awful music. We stayed in there for about five minutes, with the boys staring in the direction of the TV which pictured little dogs dressed up in ridiculous jerseys, and then decided that this wasn’t really working, so I wandered around the complex until I found someone who could direct me to someone else to visit. We came upon a lady in her room who had been napping, and so the staff lady woke her up, and I sat on her bed while she spoke quite loudly, with an accent, about this and that. She was so happy to have visitors though and of course thought the boys were lovely. The boys, in the meantime, chatted with the staff lady who introduced herself as Phyllis, and was very friendly. We stayed with our new lady, Caroline, for about ten minutes, then walked home again. It was a positive visit though and I think more beneficial than sitting in the lounge with The Gathering. The boys are happy to come along, which I’m glad about because I want them to get into the habit of doing unusual things like visiting old people. If there were an orphanage nearby I’d probably take them there too. (Island culture doesn’t lend itself to orphanages though – too many grandparents around if the parent doesn’t want or can’t look after the child).

Monday, October 16, 2006

Local Friend

At last, the RMS is back in James’ Bay. She’s been gone for five weeks, so many people, including us, went to the docks this afternoon, just for the sake of seeing her again. We went down shortly after she sounded her horn, and stayed for about an hour, leaving just after the first bus-load of passengers had come through. It was fun being there – sort of like being at the airport, with all the buzz and excitement.

Yesterday, after the Good News Club, Callum stayed behind to play with Caleb and Aaron. They played in the back for a while, and we also had two girls with us who we needed to lift home to Half Tree Hollow. We decided to make some sandwiches and take the boys out to Plantation, thinking it would be nice for them to run around there. It was fun indeed, and somehow having another little boy there made our boys more interested in running around and climbing trees. The intrepid explorers had a quick look at a cave across the road. They all got extremely silly together though which is unfortunate but to be expected. At one point we had to rebuke blasphemy from Callum and ban it from his conversation. All the little kids, even the primary age, make use of the Lord’s name in vain and swear regularly. They pick it up in school, from their parents, older siblings, and the DVDs they are permitted to watch.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Sheep and Pigs

This morning we started school a little earlier than usual, so as to finish earlier so that we could accompany Nick to Sandy Bay to drop off prayer meeting lists. We left at about 10, and Nick had phoned ahead to let the first recipient know that we would be coming to tea. This was Daphne Peters, who lives with her husband William on somewhat of a farm in Levelwood, I think you’d call it. They have a magnificent view across a green valley to the green slopes and houses on the other side. It’s a big view, makes you feel like you’re in an I-Max theatre with that really huge screen. After a good chat with Daphne, I went to have a look at the pig, which the boys had seen last week already. They buy a piglet periodically, rear it and fatten it, then kill it and gut it themselves. It’s quite funny because Daphne speaks to the pig and sometimes even goes as far as naming it, so it becomes a bit like a pet, then they have to kill it, scald it in boiling water to get the hair off, then hang it up and slice it open to gut it, then cut it up and sell it. You can imagine that she isn’t particularly partial to bacon anymore. The pig is huge, about 1m long, and just lies in a dark pen and stinks all day. It got up when I looked at it and started snuffling and grunting and seemed quite skittish actually. Caleb was standing quite close to the pen, and there was a gap between the wall and the ground, so a wet pink nose came through the gap to examine the foot. While we were looking at the pig, their sheep came wandering down from the hills to an adjacent pen. I’ve never looked a sheep right in the eye before or even touched one, but these sheep came right up as close as they could without being nervous as sheep tend to be. A sheep’s pupil is rectangular, interestingly. William will be shearing them next month for the hot weather, so I might try to arrange that we can visit them to view the process – will be good for the boys to see that sort of stuff (we’ll skip the pig slaughter though).

Friday, October 13, 2006

I love the Dentist!

This morning I had to phone the drainage people at Public Works and Services because our drains are blocked. They came within an hour, I think, and set to work with their pipes and plungers on the outside drains. They put together about 20m of pipe, but still couldn’t clear it, so had to open up the street drain which is just outside our house. I was horrified to see what lives inside the drain just outside the kitchen – between the manse and the church – a thriving giant cockroach community, though I’m sure death by drowning is a regular event. The boys were keen to see exactly what was going on, and even the smell of the dirty water didn’t keep them away. Eventually the drains were all sorted out and we could continue with the rest of school.

Nick went with Colin to court today. Colin has been sentenced to five months’ imprisonment and a fine of £10 for his drunken conduct. He had to go straight to prison after court, so now he is locked away and probably not feeling too happy about it.

This afternoon the boys had their very first appointment with the dentist. They had been looking forward to this day since I first announced it, so it was on their minds all day. Time dragged on, but at last it was time to go. Caleb decided he would be first, so bravely got onto the big chair, and lay back, and opened his mouth wide and did all the right things. The dentist lady just looked very gently at his teeth with her mirror – no poking or prodding. When it came to Aaron’s turn he just crumbled and didn’t want to get on the chair at all. When I asked him if he would rather let the dentist look at his teeth or have a smack, he opted for the latter – so much for that threat! Eventually we got him on the chair though, and then he opened his mouth so wide I thought his smile might split. Both boys’ teeth are fine, very nice. Aaron’s teeth are crowded. Afterwards they got a sticker each and that was that.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Visiting the Elderly

Yesterday I made brownies with the boys in the morning. I let them split open the eggs after I had cracked them, but they didn’t like getting the runny stuff on their fingers! They love helping in the kitchen, so this was kind of a treat for them. They also stirred the mixture a bit for me. As usual my brownies didn’t turn out too well, but they’re edible. I took the boys for a (very) quick visit to the Haven, just across the road, because I want to make visiting old people part of our regular schedule. It was extremely awkward though, because we were directed to a lounge where a number of ladies were sitting, so we had to just sit where we could and chat to the person next to us, and unfortunately had deaf ladies on either side. I don’t quite know how to overcome this and find out who can have a conversation, but we’ll keep trying anyway. We only stayed for about 15 minutes, and then it was their tea-time which I didn’t want to intrude on. Caleb had fun, and was disgruntled at only having had such a short time chatting. Aaron only petted a cat on a lady’s lap but was too shy to speak to anyone.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Crab, apple

After yesterday’s beautiful day, the weather didn’t know what it wanted to do with itself today. We woke up to a cloudy sky, and then had rain during the morning. It cleared up, but remained windy and not altogether nice. Not really being an outdoor day then, we let the boys watch a video after lunch, but then went out later to the docks to feed the fish. There we encountered a boy of about 9 years old, fishing over the dock wall. He had already caught a few mackerel which he was using as bait. We watched as he baited his hook, then tossed the line into the sea – no fishing rod, just a line. The fish came, but he eventually let the hook dangle up the wall where the crabs were keen for a taste of fish. He caught two crabs while we were watching, whipping them up over the side of the wall, then picking them up, dehooking them, ripping off the claws, then squeezing them until they died. Then he would pull off the legs to use as bait. It was entirely revolting but the boys were fascinated, and held the dead crab gingerly by a leg.

The boys had an apple each to eat this morning (this shouldn’t really make news, but being St Helena, fruit intake is noteworthy). The point of this is that Caleb was complaining of a sore tooth after eating his, skin and all by the way, so I had a look and it’s loose. Yip indeed, his first milestone as a big boy. We reckon it should be out in a week or two. I feel strange that my little boy is growing up, and we’re into another phase now – I shouldn’t really feel so sentimental about a tooth coming out, but he’s getting so big and growing up fast. Before we know it he’ll be flying the coop.

Nick’s message this evening was excellent. Still in John, he preached on Jesus’ “I am the Gate” saying. We are the sheep, and Jesus is the Good Shepherd. What really struck me is that Jesus knows us by name – he actually knows my character and personality and strengths and weaknesses, and is interested in me personally. As Nick put it, so often we come to Him in prayer, and think He is concerned with everyone else but not really us, but that is not the case.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

South Side

Today the sky was a deep blue, and almost cloudless over Jamestown. After Good News Club, we packed a picnic lunch and headed off to the country. It was one of those hot days where you want to escape the heat of town, to where it’s a few degrees cooler higher up. We drove all the way down to the south of the island until we could drive no more, then parked the car and walked a short distance to a suitable spot. To our chagrin though, it was overcast, windy and a bit cold where we were, so our plan of experiencing the sunshine in the country didn’t work out too well. I was sorry I didn’t have the camera with me, because the vegetation where we were is very different to the rest of the island. This is sheep pasture, and the grass was spongy and tough, where you can step in tufts of grass up to your calves. Quite fun walking on/in it, especially because you don’t know if there are going to be any big holes you’re about to fall into. There are no snakes on the island. The countryside was dotted with little yellow flowers, of the variety that look dried even when they’re on the stalk. We had a superb view of Speery Island, and little Salt Island just next to that, and the sea was a deep blue, with white caps that made you wonder if there were dolphins about. Aaron wrapped himself up in the picnic blanket, while Nick and Caleb threw rocks down the mountain. I was the sensible one who sat sedately while I ate my lunch.

Later in the afternoon we went swimming, although the weather is still not to my taste for swimming, but the boys love it. They swim until their teeth are chattering and then some. Two girls from the Good News Club were there so of course they wanted to play with the boys. The girls treat Aaron like a pet or a doll – they love to have him sit on their lap, or they want to sit next to him with their arms around him, and he just laps it all up.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Scrapbooking Buddy

Elsa, my South African friend, picked us up this morning, and we drove out to Fairy Land in Bluehill. We were hoping to picnic there, but it was drizzling and windy, so we thought we’d try somewhere else. You can have so many different weather patterns going on at once on the island, so it’s worth trying different places for different weather. We were in luck at Rosemary Plain, where the sun alternated with severe cloud and wind. Had a good picnic – Elsa made sandwiches, and had used genuine South African cheese, which someone had imported for her. Yum! Not that the island cheese is bad at all, in fact it’s pretty good cheddar, but some fresh Gouda went down well. Elsa is quite keen on scrapbooking too, but like me she has never gotten into it. She had a look at the catalogues I had brought along, and has now also caught the bug and will be looking into acquiring supplies.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

I like Treehouses!

The boys now have a treehouse, except that it’s not in a tree and you can’t really call it a house. It’s actually a space underneath the back porch, where Nick has laid down planks of wood on the rafters to make a solid floor, which lends itself to a hidey-place. Nick nailed a ladder in place, so the boys will be able to play up there any time the need takes them. Caleb seems to be missing the point of it though and doesn’t want any toys or things or books in it. He just wants himself and Aaron to occupy it. I think they’ll get bored with it soon like that, but hopefully they’ll soon realize that it’s a good place to play with stuff!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Old Person's Day

Yesterday was Old Person’s Day on the island. I’ve never heard of this being celebrated before, but on the island everything can become cause for celebration. There were no parades as one might expect for such an occasion. Perhaps rolling people in wheelchairs down the main road wouldn’t be appropriate J We received an invitation to join in for tea at the Haven, one of the old age homes, for yesterday afternoon. This was generally aimed at our church, so all interested met at the Manse at 3 pm, then we walked the 200m to the Haven and squashed into the lounge. I don’t know how the 10 or so clients who hadn’t been taken out for the day felt about our presence, since we far outnumbered them, and we were a noisy bunch, taking over their quiet Sunday afternoon. Nick took his guitar along, so we had a sing-song which went down well, although the visitors sang more lustily than the clients! I think though that they enjoyed it, and it has certainly opened doors for future visits. Nick is very much burdened about the fact that there is no ministry to the seniors, and although he doesn’t want to run one himself, he is keen to get something started and hand it over. As for me, I’d like to go back in a less ministry-oriented capacity, to take the boys and visit one-on-one with some of the elderly. Of course the ultimate aim would be to preach the gospel, but also simply to show compassionate to the lonely. The staff are very good, and welcome visitors for their clients.

Yesterday was also the big event of another nephew being born - congratulations to Nick’s sister on the birth of Jack Nicholas Main!

On Saturday it was Good News Club, and then we didn’t have anything needing doing for the rest of the day, so I packed a picnic lunch and we took it to Ruperts. That was fun, but very windy (see photo). Caleb and Nick clambered over rocks, and Caleb saw a dead crab. Aaron enjoyed climbing up on a crane and sitting in the drivers’ seat. We had a DVD for the boys for the afternoon which we watched together.

Today was the first day of our holiday, so I had a present in the boys’ room waiting for them. It was a train set with a wind-up train that goes along the track. Quite nice, but Caleb broke one of the tracks within about 20 minutes. Oh well. Nick has taken the day off today so we can spend the day together. This morning then, we got an early start and headed off to Warrens’ at 9 am, stopping for petrol on the way. Warrens’ is having a big pre-Christmas sale on toys, clothing and gifts, starting today, so we thought it worthwhile having a look. Unfortunately it was mostly their horrible stuff that hasn’t sold for good reason, but we got a very nice bright yellow Adidas top for Nick for £2, and a few items of clothing for the boys, including pyjamas for £1 each. All I got was socks. Nothing else to do in town after that, so we came home for coffee and cake, and then Nick arranged to do a visitation out in Bluehill, which we all did together. After our visit we had a picnic lunch at Plantation House, but it was windy and cold so we didn’t stay long. Always nice to be out as a family though!