Thursday, 6 August 2015

gettingUP when you're knocked down 

- by Ettienne Lombard

It is great to be part of the process when lives are being changed in a positive way; when those who have been knocked down by life-changing events, decide to getUP and move forward with their lives. This is happening in Swaziland. People are finding their feet on the stable, unshakable Foundation. Young people are sharing Good News with their friends. Dreams of a brighter, better future are spoken without fear of being ridiculed of laughed at. CarePoints (CP) are not merely feeding schemes to sustain survival - they are turning into Life-giving nourishment points enabling lives to move from survival towards a point of dreaming of success and thriving in life!

I have been fortunate to be involved with the ministry-team of Adventures in Missions (AIM) and Children’s Hope Chest (CHC) for the last three years. My involvement is but a slice of the ministry pie delivered here. My involvement started with the development of the Ngesikhatsi (gɛ-si- kæt-si) Grief Support Course and currently involves facilitating the development of the Discipleship Life-skills Curriculum ‘Sisekelo Setfu’, which means ‘Our Foundation’. 

Over the past 6 months Bheki Motsa (Discipleship Coordinator) and I have been at work to measure the impact of the Ngesikhatsi Grief Support Course and gather feedback from facilitators who present the course at the CP’s as well as from those children who attend the course. There are some truly inspirational stories of Godly restoration of broken hearts and young people who standUP after life and sad situations knocked them down.

Back in the nineteen-hundred-and-nineties, (an angry) Alanis Morisette made the world aware of the anguish one can suffer when painful life-events strike.  While some of her songs dripped of anger and resentment, many of them were actually quite accurate in their description of the thoughts and feelings that accompany loss-events. In one of her songs though, she hits the bulls-eye on the question ‘how do we get through pain’. She talks about wanting a ‘softer, more comforting place’ when she thinks of her pain; I briefly quote form the song:
“Every time I’m at a loss I feel I’m bolted from difficulty.
My tendency to want to hide away [from the pain] feels easier. 
My urgency to dream of softer places feels understandable; picturing another place more comforting to go.
I’m confused I think there must be easier ways… [to get through pain]
I could just walk away and hide my head in the sand.”

Young people in Swaziland have many and varied loss-experiences at the CarePoints where AIM/CHC staff are operating. Many of those interviewed as part of our evaluations have indicated, “It is easier not to feel anything and forget about the pain, than to face the pain.” [I could just walk away and hide my head in the sand] Living in this denial often creates a continual numbness of the heart, which eventually leads to the wellspring of life to dryUP. Dreams evaporate; personal value plummet; the fog of hopelessness obscures the life giving light of hope. We hardenUP and life passes us by.

The Ngesikhatsi course is not a ‘silver bullet’. It’s not the only way to heal hurting hearts. It is however a puzzle-piece which brings Son-light into their lives and brightenUP their belief and view of the future. As time moves on (which can be translated in siSwati as “ngesikhatisi”) the fogginess clouding young minds is clearingUP. Son-light brings growth and life. It is in this new life, that Hope is encountered. And we are privileged to be witnesses of this in the lives of those who have attended the Ngesikhatsi course. 

Through the Ngesikhatsi course, we are trying to create an environment where kids don’t have to hide because of their pain, shouldn’t feel valueless, unimportant or insignificant because they have no one left in their lives to love them. Through the community created by the small group sessions, young people are rediscovering their worth to God, reviving their support for one another, and liftingUP their gaze, allowing Hope to assure them of their future.   

The chorus, of Alanis Morisette’s song says:
“The only way out [of pain] is through [the pain], the faster we’re in the better. There’s no quick-fix way.
The only way out is through; the only way we’ll feel better, ultimately; the only way out is through.”

To faceUP pain is hard. To face the emotions related to this pain is even harder. But the hardest thing to do, is to find the courageous willingness to wade through that pain in order to grow through the experience, become more resilient, and live a life that truly testifies: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” - Philippians 3:14
Here is one life that has been strengthened by God and found ‘new life’ after attending the course.  All the children in the stories we’ll be sharing have agreed that we can tell their story. They are proud of the growth in their lives and want people to know how God has impacted their lives. We look forward to sharing more of these in the upcoming blogs. Bongiwe and Bheki write the following:

(Picture: Bongiwe (facilitator at Mphaka Care Point) Innocent and Bheki)
Innocent Dlamini (16 years) lost his dad at a tender age. He and his brothers have been raised by their mom who is not working, and she is an alcoholic. Everybody in the family has been growing up doing whatever they please because the mother hasn’t been responsible at all and she is always drunk. 
Innocent and his brothers started stealing and selling stolen items to make a living. Due to his tiny stature, his older brothers have been using him to sneak into houses through windows to steal. Even at the care point he would steal whatever valuable thing he comes across so he can sell. 
After attending Ngesikhatsi Course this is what Innocent said: “I didn’t understand why my father died while we were so young and my mother didn’t care for us. This has been so painful in my life so I started doing all the bad things with my brothers and friends. However, the more I did those things, the more my life felt hopeless and meaningless. I’ve been in a lot of fights and have been stabbed a few times hence I got to a point where I really hated my life. I didn’t want to live. 
However, after attending Ngesikhatsi, which I didn’t know at first why I was chosen, I began to feel loved. It’s like a light flashed into my life which made me understand: God has always been there for me and He has good plans for my life! I started to feel hope being restored in my life and it became so real that even now I know Jesus loves me and there is hope for my future in Him. His presence made a difference in my life and now my life is better and I have stopped stealing, and I’m associating with good friends.” 

Children no longer have to face their painful journeys alone - with the support of friends, love of the facilitators at the CP’s and discovery of the value they have in their relationship with Jesus, kids are moving out of the grip of pain and growing through it. Moreover, they are showing signs of life; spring-like buds and blooms of fresh fragrance flowers that carry the scent of victory of death - just the way Jesus promised!

Thursday, 18 June 2015


By Ian S. Smith
A question you have been asked or asked yourself. The situations can be varied; tough days at school, stressful exam periods, busy times at work, hectic times with kids, a death in the family, a divorce.  In my case it was recently while participating in the day long adventure that is the Comrades Ultra Marathon.  The 87.7km journey from Durban to Pietermaritzburg.  Especially during the tough second half of the day often you will ask and get asked about how it is going.  How are you holdingUP?
HoldingUP according to Merriam-Webster is “to continue in the same condition without failing or losing effectiveness” and according to me would include being resilient and able to absorb even those things that just happen as part of life.
During the hard parts of the Comrades it was sometimes just about keeping on moving, walking is a valuable way to recover, I am not running, but l am moving in the right direction. It was about keeping in the mind the finish line, my goal, the dream and the immense satisfaction awaiting me. The finish line was a tiny part of the journey that was Comrades 2015.  I committed to finish what I started not just on race day but in the months of preparation before the day too.  I had told too many people and I was held accountable.
It was about breaking up the very long distance in manageable parts.  By aiming for the next water point and celebrating each of these milestones on the way to the finish line.  Everyone needs support in achieving their goals.  From my family, friends, loved ones, experts and even total strangers. Self-limiting inner stories and stories that the world had told me began to dissipate at each water point milestone.  I was able to boostUP with the good stuff and slowly but surely leave the baggage that is not serving me well behind me.  I was tired, sore and exhausted but ever closer by each milestone I passed.
Preparing for my journey was about getting enough sleep and rest, an adjustment was required for a more balance lifestyle and appropriate order of priorities, encouragement from friends that are like brothers/sisters and just being in love but always I believe it depended on my own joy (Proverbs 15: 13a A happy heart makes the face cheerful and 17: 22a A merry heart does good, like medicine).
Your holdingUP story can be an encouragement to someone else. Support them in facingUP to their situation. Live your story and then share it.  

Wednesday, 13 May 2015


by Adele Basson
Remember when you were little and you tried your hand on gardening for the very first time? Most kids start off in this way, by enfolding a simple kidney bean from the grocery cupboard between some cotton wool, keeping it wet religiously until a small piece of green appears.  Some beans took a bit longer, others evolved quickly.
I can also remember the disappointment when you forgot to give the water and that little bit of green becomes a mess.  You had to start all over again.
Pain is like the kidney bean.  In the grocery cupboard, on its own, it will never sprout that little bit of green. It will stay hidden in the dark and never become more than exactly what the packet told you it would be.  There would be no growth and no learning.  There would be no healing.
The kidney bean needs the damp cotton wool. 
As humans we have all experienced pain at some stage in our lives, it is inevitable. And we also need the cotton wool to fold around our pain and support the fight against the darkness.  Whether your ‘cotton wool’ comes in the form of a friend or a family member or even someone you have just met, you need to allow that caring.  Only with dedicated, loving care would the pain evolve into something living, something green.  Embrace it.
·        Like beans in cotton wool
·        Embrace each other’s pain by caring
·        Allow other’s to embrace your pain
So let us all coverUP each other’s pain by being the ‘cotton wool’ it needs and let us bring some ‘green’ into someone’s life.

Monday, 27 April 2015


by Adéle Basson
My favourite, early morning pass time on a Saturday is watching videos on the internet. Of course only when there is not that dreaded load-shedding. I watch comedy, music videos and also catch up on the latest gadget trends.  Last week I came across a video of a 28 year old woman who is married, with two small kids and who have been deaf her whole life. And then she received an implant and for the first time in her life she could hear. I then also watched the video where she appeared on a talk show, a mere week after this miracle and she was telling the host how she could hear birds singing outside, her children laughing and also her husband snoring.

This video made me reflect for the next week to come. One of the first things that caught my attention during the talk show video was the perfect way in which this woman was talking. There was no indication that she could not hear the voices of others a week ago. She had no speech impediment at all and when asked about this her reply was that she received a lot of coaching while deaf.

 I then had flashbacks to my own high school years, and remembered my one friend, who was born deaf, but came to a ‘normal’ school without any special needs classes available to assist her.  She recorded every class and in the evenings her mom would transcribe all the day’s lessons for her.  That is a huge commitment to someone else and even more impressive that this friend of mine is a qualified pathologist today, also with the help of her mom.

I used these two examples to explain something really simple.  We all have people in our lives that can give us guidance.  The friend who already did what you want/need to do, and who can give you advice on the do’s and don’ts.   Or a parent who can guide you with your own children’s upbringing.  There are so many mentors if we would only listenUP and hear them speak.

1)      Keep quiet

2)      Focus and avoid distractions

3)      Really Listen

4)      Ask questions

And listenUP and learn from each other.

Friday, 13 March 2015


by Adéle Basson

It feels like only yesterday that we packed away our holiday decorations, bought the new squeaky clean diaries and got rid of all the food with 2014 expiry dates.  We are indeed already 1 quarter done with 2015 and for some those new years’ resolutions are but a distant memory written down many pages ago.

We all know the old cliché “where did the time go” and we might even experience it with regular intervals.  Maybe you promised that friend you bumped into at the school reunion last year that you will organise a braai soon, only it is not 4 months later, and you can’t remember where you’ve written down the number.  Or that unpacked box of clothes in the corner that is way too small for your kids has been looking at you every day since January.

You might need to freshenUP a bit.
Perhaps you have fallen back into the old habits of last year, spending hours on social media and in front of the television.  Last week I mentioned to someone how I would just ‘quickly’ look at Twitter, only to wakeUP an hour later finding myself looking at a video of something I have absolutely no interest in.  Old habits die hard!
And maybe a quarter into the year is a good time to reassess your goals and plans that you so carefully set out in the beginning of the year.  Are you still working with a plan and using every minute of every day to the best of your abilities?  Do you feel satisfied at the end of each day with what you’ve accomplished?

So let me dare you, go and create time.  Keep a diary, see what you spend your time on and decide if that is what you really want to spend your time on.  Switch off the television, computer, tablet, phone or whatever is eating away your time. Go for a walk, admire the sunset, talk to your neighbour, and hug your spouse.

And let’s freshenUP for the rest of this year!

Tuesday, 20 January 2015


by Adéle Basson

The holidays are forgotten, the school clothes are bought (at a ridiculous price!) and traffic is once again crazy.  Shopping malls quieten down and holiday decorations have long since been packed away. It is 2015 and if you’ve started working you might already be writing the “5” of 2015 without thinking about it anymore.

It is back to normal for you, but is ‘normal’ going to be good enough this time?

For years I’ve had the same routine, every day.  My alarm would go off at 5:30.  I would hit the snooze button for the next 30 minutes.  I would get up, shower, get dressed, drink coffee and leave my house in a rush at 6:30 for a 45 minute commute to work.  Often by 9:00 I have not yet had anything to eat, and by 11:00 I would be tired and completely unproductive.

Even though the flaws in my system were so obvious, I religiously keptitUP.  That was my ‘normal’ and in a way I felt safe knowing that every day would be the same. 

Until one glorious morning in December last year.  I was still trying to continue with my ‘normal’, but suddenly during the second snooze of the morning I grabbed my phone, switched to the calculator and punched in a few numbers; the result: 3 132 - the number of working days I’ve completed in my career so far.  Without counting overtime, that addUP to more than 25 000 hours.  And according to the people that know, it takes 10 000 hours of doing something before you can be considered an expert in that particular ‘something’.

While waiting for the alarm to go off again it dawned on me… I should have been an expert in something by now.  But I’m not… not even close!

My problem? Like so many people, I got stuck.  Stuck in the safety of routine and the comfort of ‘normal’.  I went through the same routine every day, never once did it occur to me that I can actually just set my alarm for half an hour later, and get a solid uninterrupted 30 minutes of extra sleep.  Or that I can get up at the first alarm and perhaps start my day without a rush.  I might even be able to have breakfast!

And so I changed my ‘normal’.  And it was scary!  I would wake up at 5:29 and be anxious for the next 31 minutes.  I would often worry that I will be late, and I would stare at a fully stocked fridge, unable to think of even one breakfast meal to prepare.

Then suddenly, halfway through January, I was having a peaceful moment drinking coffee and eating breakfast before the day started, when I realised how quickly we can change… our habits, our thoughts, our ‘normal’.  Gone were the stressful morning rushes, the tiredness and the poor health habits. Change was changing life.

It is indeed possible to change the way in which you are building (and living) your life.  Age doesn’t matter, nor does the time of year, where you live or what you do for a living.  All it takes is a choice. Choose to change the daily routines and thought processes that break you down and start investing in positive self-serving routines that will buildUP who you are and the person you are becoming.

 You can get anywhere from anywhere. Don’t wait for the right starting point.

May 2015 be extraordinary in every possible way!

Thursday, 19 December 2013

tree-is-UP, now put your feetUP

Ahh, Christ-mas. It seems we’ve waited a long time for it to come along.
For most of us it is a time to gear-down (before gearingUP again in January) after a year of expending energy.  Time to plug-in and recharge.  Time to unwind.  Rest. Recuperate. It is a time of the year that we look forward to…
Finally, we can slow down and have a bit of me-time. Or so we think…
With holidays come increased time with family members.  The lovely ones we see (or bear) once a year.  “And with that”, as a mother recently voiced to me, “I need to have the children around all day long! It’s only been a week or so, and I’ve already circled the school starting date on the calendar.” “Don’t get me wrong, I love the kids dearly, but having them (and their requests) around all the time takes getting used to.”
Yes, this holiday period is billed as a time of rest.  However, it's also comes with intense times of stress for some.
We all deserve a breather during this (often emotional) holiday period.  While you’re doing it, consider the following:
Grow closer: During this extended time with family, loved ones and friends, see this time together as a time of building experiences and sharing good times. Take photos of family laughing, kids opening presents, people swimming or enjoying a cool drink next to the pool.  These are the good times we look forward to – capture them (and only load them onto Facebook in January!)
Unplug: Most communication (estimations are as much as 90%) is non-verbal. Many parents restrict screen-time for the kids during the holidays (while increasing their own gadget-time) forcing them to “play outside like we did when we were children.” Here’s an idea for adults: why not join them? Put the phone (and other electronics) down and join the play! Not every holiday-experience have to be updated as a status.
Pick Your Battles and battle respectfully: Conflict comes when people spend time together.  We get on each other’s’ nerves.  It’s normal. But not every (little) thing has to get us into battle mode. Treat conflict in a respectful manner.  Remember, young people around us will learn from us in every situation. Parents, “holiday” doesn’t mean the ‘moulding of my child’ stops. If things are too much or too heated, get away from the situation for a bit and spend some time doing something you like.
Talk less, listen more:  A recent study found that children felt that parents only listen to them when they have time.  Another study showed that only 20% of adults feel they are listened to.  This is the perfect time to sit on the beach, lie next to the pool, stand by the fire, go for a coffee and listen.  Your ears might be the best investment you’ll make into the building of relationships during this time.

Consider others: Plainly said - be nice.  While many of us revel in the celebratory aspect of Christ-mas holidays, there are those for whom this is a time of sadness and emotional turmoil. Whether you’re at Carols by Candlelight, Christ-mas mass or a shopping centre… some people need a hug, smile or just eye contact that says ‘you matter’. Look out for them. have patience with one another; offer to take a photo of someone it their arms are too short for a decent 'selfie'; let someone else pull out of a parking area or walk through he door first... be nice.
Rest: An internet poll in January 2012 showed that 60% of people feel drained and have a sense of discontent following December holiday period.  If you are taking a break over this time, we challenge you to not be part of the stats.  We suggest that you consciously make an effort to, at some point in the day, take stock of where you are and ask yourself: Am I on holiday?  We hope your answer will be a resounding: *deep breath* Yes! I am.

As the song goes, we also wish that “your days be merry and bright”. We pray those who celebrate a Christ-mas without a loved one who has passed on, or someone spending their first Christ-mas alone, will be filled with good memories and caring people around them.
May the gifts under your tree never take a more valuable place than the gifts in your life. Celebrate those gifts! Selah.