Thursday, April 30, 2009

Mighty Men of God

My older son, John (in blue shirt) and friends prepare to go to MMC09 last Thursday night

The Mighty Men’s Conference which takes place on a private farm in Kwa Zulu Natal has grown to such enormous proportions it seems almost unbelievable. A little over five years ago, Angus Buchan, well-known South African evangelist, heard from God that he should host an all-men’s conference on his farm.

The first year he had 584 men attending. The next year, the numbers grew to 1,100. The third year Angus realised that the men were obviously bringing men with them the next year. They expected 5,000 and more than 7,000 arrived. In 2008, they prepared the land (grass for campsites was planted on three farms) for 30,000 men and in excess of 60,000 arrived. This year the registration bookings for campsites were at 175,000 before the start of MMC09 on Friday 24th April. The final count has not been made public but my sons, who both went with several friends, said they believed that more than 200,000 men were present on the farm this weekend.

This group of men were well organised with their own portable toilet!
A group of Christian bikers heading off to MMC09

This man's not ashamed to say Who is number one in his life
Nor is this biker...
Vehicles filled with men rearing to go

The reason for this conference is for men to get together and for them to attend Christian sessions led by Angus Buchan. In this way they get to know God. Many Christian men bring friends with them to meet God. This weekend was no different. After the first session on Friday night, when Angus Buchan made the altar call, two thirds of the men in that open air service committed their lives to God.
A sign at a well-known roadside rest station urging the Mighty Men to go"onward, upward, forward"

Busses, double cabs, station wagons filled with men only

On Saturday morning Angus ministered in his charismatic way from the huge stage in the middle of these masses of men. Once again, men were convicted and came to know the Lord as their personal Saviour. After the morning session the men all went back to their campsites to relax until the evening session.

Then disaster struck. While returning to his home a short distance from the stage, Angus Buchan collapsed. The doctor on site was summonsed and his diagnosis was that Angus’ blood sugar was very low; he was suffering from fatigue and he was very dehydrated. They feared that he'd had a heart attack.

Meanwhile the MMC radio station summonsed all the men back to the stage area to come and pray for Angus’ healing. The men swarmed up in their droves and fell on their faces in the grass, humbling themselves before God and beseeching Him to spare Angus’ life. They continued to worship and praise God as the helicopter airlifted Angus to a Medi Clinic in the nearby city of Pietermaritzburg.

When Angus arrived at the Emergency Unit of the clinic, the cardiologist examined him and found nothing wrong with him! A farm vehicle had been driven to the hospital and he was driven back to the farm, arriving there three hours after collapsing. The men, who had no idea what was happening, rejoiced when the MMC organisers announced that “we serve a living God. Angus Buchan is alive and well!”

Angus told the crowd on Sunday morning, that when he flew out in the helicopter and saw all the men praying and worshipping God, he immediately felt better and he knew he was healed.

Quite a number of men were very disappointed when they realised that Angus would not be delivering the message on Saturday evening.(It had been announced that Angus would rest until the next morning) They decided to leave the conference. There were a couple of thousand men who left, yet it made not a dent in the crowd that remained on the farm. That evening the MMC team announced that there would be a special worship service and the men flocked to it. My sons tell me that this session was even more hallowed than the ones Angus had led.
Heading home after MMC09

For Angus to be afflicted in this way, can only mean that God in His wisdom was showing the men that they should worship and follow only God, not man. Often the danger lies in many men making an idol of a man who is so outspoken and preaches the Gospel like Angus Buchan does, with no holds barred. Angus definitely didn’t want this. Whatever he does, is for the glory of God and God alone.
Every vehicle on the National highway was filled with men going home after receiving new Life and Hope at the MMC09
Vehicles... far as the eye could see

I believe that South Africa is going to be a better place with so many thousands of men standing up as Mighty Men of God. They’ve gone home to repair relationships, to right any wrongs they’ve done and to be the fathers, husband, employers, employees, brothers, sons, and friends God purposed them to be. Amen!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

You Have Mail!

I love receiving mail the old-fashioned way. Last week I received this envelope, which contained an autographed bookmark, from my friend Lynda in Pennsylvania

I’ve been away from home for a few days and came home to a pile of “snail” mail that John the gardener collected for me. Imagine my delight when I noticed an envelope with a US postal stamp on it. It was from my dear friend Lynda Lukow in Pennsylvania. A few weeks ago I won the digital version of her book, Every Heart Has Its Day, (which you can read about here) and this was the autographed bookmark she’d promised me. She wrote a very special message on the back before signing it. I will cherish this bookmark as a very special gift from a very special friend.

Thank you Lynda!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A Special Kind of Service

Welcome to the prettiest church in Africa!

This weekend I went down to Kwa Zulu Natal to visit my d.i.l. Debbie and my three grandchildren. The men had gone to the Mighty Men’s Conference (you can read about MMC08 here); we women and children spent three days of quality time together in the Drakensberg area.

On Sunday morning we attended a worship service at their church. This takes place at a holiday resort in the Champagne Valley of the Drakensberg. The building in which we attend church doubles up as a venue for functions as well. It is situated on a tranquil dam surrounded with mountains.

The church view with the majestic Drakensberg mountains rising up behind it

As we sat and waited for the service to begin, I noticed that many school boys were walking across the bridge to church . This is quite normal as the Drakensberg Boys Choir school boys often attend these services albeit only a few at a time. In order to clarify let me explain what the Drakensberg Boys Choir is.

The Drakensberg Boys’ Choir, South Africa’s singing Ambassadors, have a school set on a 100 acre estate in the central Drakensberg, was founded in 1967 and claims to be the only choir school in Africa. It is most beloved in South Africa and indeed the world.
The church is accessed by crossing the dam on a long wooden bridge
Since 1971 the Drakensberg Boys Choir has toured extensively, establishing an enviable reputation before audiences as far afield as the United States, Europe, Israel, Egypt and the Far East, and winning acclaim as the most outstanding group at World choir festivals.

The choir received a special award at Disney's Magic Kingdom in recognition of the pleasure they bought to American audiences, and at the request of the Vatican, sang at a Papal audience in the presence of 25 000 people.
The church has it own resident Speckled Pigeon
The boys’ choir had as its original vision to create a multi-racial, multi-cultural choir school to rival that of the Vienna Boys’, and that they have achieved. This possibly has much to do with the fresh mountain air the boys breathe based in the beautiful Champagne valley of the Drakensberg, and the enviable teacher-student ratio in a school that accommodates little over 100 boys. The boys are all aged between 9 and 15 and from various cultural backgrounds.

The mission of the Drakensberg Boys’ Choir School is to prepare boys for life and leadership through excellence in music, academics, sport and social enrichment in a Christian environment.

The view from inside the church

At the start of Sunday's service, the Drakensberg Boys Choir rendered a beautiful prayer in Zulu (one of the eleven official languages in South Africa). Next the worship leader led the congregation in worship. I, who love music and serve on the worship team in my own church, delighted in the different voices around me.

After the pastor had welcomed us to the prettiest church in Africa, he delivered a powerful message on our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. It’s no use knowing all the right things to do and say as a Christian if your relationship with the Saviour is lukewarm or non-existent. None of this has to do with what church you belong to; this service contained people from every nominal church in South Africa. The main thing is to draw close to Jesus and you will begin to walk in obedience to, and victory with Him.
A church elder ministers to the new converts after the service

The Drakensberg Boys' Choir singing a Zulu prayer

When the pastor made an altar call asking if there was anybody would like to commit their lives to the Lord, the whole school stood up and went forward. What an amazing sight. To see young men making the most important decision of their lives while they’re still fresh and unsullied brought a lump to my throat. I rejoice when I see young people choosing to serve God and I rejoice that it is so many LESS for Satan. Amen!

If you're ever in South Africa and in the Drakensberg area, be sure to visit the Drakensberg Boys' Choir. For further information click here

Note: I downloaded the last two photos from the Drakensberg Boys' Choir website.

For other beautiful photos around the world, be sure to click on MyWorld icon in the sidebar.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Prudence and Fresh Produce!

A selection of colourful, crisp, fresh vegetables which my husband buys from the market in Khartoum

My husband, who has to care and cook for himself while living in Khartoum, has mastered the art of shopping. I'm so impressed that he doesn't just buy directly from the large supermarkets in the city, which are very expensive. Instead he does what every prudent "housewife" would do: he shops around. He actually buys all his fresh produce from the market. Last week he sent me a photograph of the selection of vegetables he'd bought that day (which I've posted above) Now all I have to do is convince him to take a photo of the stalls / stall holders in the market, but he's not yet got to that stage...

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Wholewheat Pita Stuffed with Roasted Vegetables Accompanied by Pan Fried Halloumi

A selection of vegetables, drizzled with olive oil, seasoned with salt, black pepper and fresh herbs

When you eat a solitary meal and one sans meat, you make every effort to make it tasty, colourful and appetising.

Last weekend I felt like roasted vegetables in a pita with pan fried halloumi.

This is exactly what I had.

A toasted wholewheat pita bread stuffed with oven roasted vegetables accompanied by pan fried Halloumi cheese

Nothing could be simpler than this meal.

Wash, pat dry and cut into pieces/wedges/quarters the vegetables of your choice. Place in a casserole dish. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and ground black pepper. Cover the dish and bake in preheated oven (200°C/375°F) for about 45 minutes. When the vegetables are cooked, remove the lid and grill for about 7-8 minutes.

Meanwhile, add 5ml olive oil to a non-stick pan, blot strips of halloumi cheese with kitchen towel. Place cheese in pan, turning after thirty seconds; fry the other side until brown and crisp as well.

Serve in a toasted pita bread, adding a little balsamic vinegar if desired.

Note:You eat this delicious fare in your hand!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

All Creatures Great and Small

The baby snail which came in from the herb garden

On Monday night I invited my younger son, Angus and d.i.l. Amanda over for dinner. While preparing the meal, I fetched a bunch of basil from the garden. I rinsed it in the scullery and came through to the kitchen to chop up the leaves for a tomato-based sauce. Just before I lifted the knife, I saw a slight lump on one of the stalks. As I pulled it off, I realised I was holding a teeny snail between my fingers.
We placed the little snail in front of the pencil point which shows how small he actually is

I placed him on a sheet of white paper and while Amanda and I oohed and aahed over this cute little guy, Angus grabbed my camera and snapped away.

I kept the snail indoors that evening and next day I placed him back on the basil plants where he’d obviously come from in the first place.

Many readers of this blog will know that I do not use insecticide or any other type of poison in my garden. I also do not kill anything in my garden. (You can read about this here) Snails, frogs, bugs, beetles, snakes and flying insects are all welcome in my garden. The reward for this “friendly” gardening is that also I have a myriad of butterflies, dragonflies and birds visiting me.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Men of Promise

The traffic jams lasted more than four hours on the way to the Mighty Men's Conference 2008, yet no-one became angry or impatient
Above is just one of the campsites on the farm with 10,000 campers
Mighty Men of God walk through the maize fields
to the Sunday service held in the big tent
According to the Guinness Book of Records, this was the largest tent in the world
60,000 men and some women congregate inside the tent
before the family service

When this post appears I'll be away. I’m in Kwa-Zulu Natal staying with Debbie and my grandchildren while my two sons and friends attend the Mighty Men’s Conference in Greytown.

This conference is a Christian Rally for men only and it's is the 5th time it’s being held. Last year Debbie and I stayed in a Guest House in Greytown and attended the Family service on the Sunday.

30,000 men were expected so a Mammoth tent, which could seat 20,000 people, was erected. 60,000 men arrived! Well - known South African evangelist, Angus Buchan is the preacher and the rally is held on his farm.

This year 200,000 men are expected from all over South Africa, from neighbouring countries and overseas. All services will be held in the open air. Men come from all over to meet God in a special way. Men, who already walk with God, bring friends and relatives to meet their wonderful God. The testimonies of changed lives and healed relationships (especially in marriages and families) abound.

I will be back after the weekend to post about this year’s MMC09.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Where, O Death, Is Your Sting?

Yesterday while standing in a queue to cast my vote (yes, it’s voting time in South Africa ), I heard the sad news that an old friend and neighbour of ours had passed away. He and his wife were on their way to vote and as he locked the front door he collapsed on the porch and died.

After placing my mark next to the party of my choice, I walked over to the house of the bereaved. Dozens of cars were parked at her house. Inside friends were rallying around the widow, others were making tea and still others were helping the people from the funeral services who’d come to collect the old man. This is life in a small town. People all know each other; they celebrate life together and they are there for each other during sad times.

This couple was born here; they knew each other as youngsters, went to school here; later they married and farmed a few kilometres outside town. Twenty years ago they handed the farming over to their son and moved into town. Their house is just four doors from mine. Having celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary in July 2008, they were the couple with the longest marriage in town.

As I sat next my dear old friend and stroked her hand, I thought how fragile life is. The deceased (who was 87) had a long and full life. You could see by his conduct and lifestyle that he was faithful and lived God’s way. Yet yesterday morning when he walked out of his house, who’d have thought it was for the last time? It’s heartbreaking for those left behind to reconcile to their loss. Nevertheless you cannot get a Christian down who has his focus on heaven. When a loved one goes home to be with God, it is actually a time of rejoicing.

If you've just lost a loved one or are experiencing heartache, why not turn to Jesus? He is there for us; all we have to do is accept Him as Lord and Saviour, follow Him and He'll care for us.

Jesus said: "I have told you these things that you may have peace in Me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. "John 16:33

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Inspirational Stuff

Being an "Author in progress" keeps me writing and writing and writing...

As an aspiring writer, I appreciate the regular email newsletters I receive from a website called Writer’s Relief.

Writer's Relief, Inc. is a highly recommended author's submission service. Established in 1994, Writer's Relief will help you target the best markets for your creative writing. Visit their Web site at to receive their FREE Writers' Newsflash (today, via e-mail) which contains valuable leads, guidelines, and deadlines for writing in all genres.

In a recent newsletter they state (and I quote) “We love to share our information with writers, and we're happy to pass some of these INSIDER'S SECRETS along to you. This FREE e-mail newsletter may help improve your writing and your acceptance rate! Feel free to print this e-mail to use as a reference. Pass this issue along to your writer friends. It's packed with great information this month! DATED lists of anthologies, theme issues, etc. are included in this newsflash.”

Personally I glean many valuable hints and tips on writing from them. For instance in last week’s newsletter, Writer’s Relief covered, among other things, the age-old confusion of contractions. For example: Its versus it’s and who’s versus whose.

A year ago I purchased a tee-shirt from Writer’s Relief. It has “Author in Progress” and the Writer's Relief website address printed on the front. Wearing it motivates me to sit at the computer and write; it also reminds my family what my vocation is!

Thank you Writer’s Relief for a truly inspiring newsletter and website.

To find out more about Writer’s Relief, please click on their link in the sidebar.

Hot off the press: Lynda Lukow's historical romance

While in keeping with the writing theme, I must share the following with you:

Last week I received a Hallmark E-card with Easter blessings from a published author, Lynda Lukow who lives in Pennsylvania and whom I’m honoured to call my friend. The same day Lynda also sent me a link for a competition in which a hardcopy and a digital version of her just-released book, Every Heart Has Its Day, could be won. I entered via the link and forgot all about it. Imagine my surprise and delight when I received a mail from Lynda to say that I’d won the digital version!

I got to know Lynda through the Internet. I “met” her in April 2004 on a Writing Board and have been corresponding with her ever since. Not only is Lynda a wonderful friend with a beautiful family, she also gives me invaluable advice on my writing. In 2005 I wrote an essay called “Rivers”. It is a true story about our experience during Cyclone Demoina. This phenomenon hit the east coast of South Africa in January 1985 and played out its worst fury on the northern Zululand coast where my husband, I and our young sons were living at the time. I submitted my writing to an exercise link on the Writer’s Exercise Board where Lynda was the co-community leader and she edited it for me. Later I entered Rivers in an annual competition with an American writing magazine, Writer’s Digest for which I received an Honourable Mention Award in 2006!

Lynda is always there motivating and encouraging me with my newspaper reporting. Last Saturday before I attended the quiz, which you can read about here)I confessed to her that I didn’t enjoy going to social functions without my husband. She replied and said “Remember, not only are you attending the quiz as a contestant, you are also going as the journalist. So be confident and enjoy your evening.” Well, as you can see by my post I had a wonderful time at the quiz and came back with photos and a story for the newspaper.

To read more about Lynda’s new book click here

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

My World - A Quiz in the Country

The sun was setting as we arrived at the venue for the quiz
On Saturday evening I attended an annual quiz held which was held this year, in a town called Tweespruit, about 120km / 75 miles from my home. My teammates collected me in the afternoon and together we rode across beautiful countryside, through farmlands to this little town which is even smaller than my hometown.
The sun was just beginning to set when we arrived at the venue. Not wanting to miss the opportunity to capture it I quickly set up my camera and took a few photos.

People queuing at the delicious buffet of grilled steak, potatoes and Greek salad. The smartly dressed young man in the photo, was our new question setter. He's the local IT expert and posed many computer-related questions which had the older folk stumped

Participating teams, family and friends made up the audience

After a lovely dinner of grilled steak, potatoes and salad, all the quiz contestants, their family and friends repaired to the conference room to battle it out. The annual quiz is contested between four or five towns and last night we had nine teams with four contestants in each team competing. The reigning champions, two brothers from our town, both in their eighties decided to retire after this quiz.

Although the quiz is serious business, it is also a lot of fun. Many of the contestants are getting on in years and are quite deaf. Teammates argue amongst themselves to the amusement of the audience and other contestants. Of course, everybody knows everybody and comments fly around the room as people banter with each other, while constantly being shushed by the Quiz Master!

One of the other towns took first prize

Me (in grey pullover) with my teammates.
The two men are retired sea captains!
The trophy which I hope I remember to polish

In the end my teammates and I tied with another team for fifth place ;)
Once again a mild argument broke out between my friend, Mossie (which is “Sparrow” in English) and me. Neither of us wanted to take the trophy home because having it means polishing it. I eventually accepted it and have it displayed here in my office. I photographed it and sent my husband a copy. He now thinks he’s married to the smartest lady in South Africa. In his e-mail reply on Sunday morning, he said: “You’re a clever lass. Tell me, how did the rest of your team fare?”

I also covered the event for the regional newspaper. This was a first for the people of the other towns - my fellow townsfolk are used to seeing me at functions with my camera slung around my neck – and once again much joking and teasing as I lined the winning teams up for official photographs.

This is my world...

Take a tour around other parts of the world by visiting

Monday, April 20, 2009

Vegetarian Stir Fry

The chunky wok / stew strips brown easily and cook in minutes
People often ask me if it isn’t boring to be a vegetarian. I always answer them honestly: It’s anything but...

I remember during the hippie era in the sixties, there was a “weird” guy at our school who was a vegetarian. He wore his black wavy hair longer than regulations allowed, always had a far-away look in his eyes and hardly ever spoke; when he did, his speech was laced with expressions like: “hey man, it's groovy, dude”. We were too nervous to ask him what he ate (modern vegetarian fare, as we know it today, was non-existent) but we heard via the grapevine that all he ate was mushy cereal called muesli!

These days the supermarket shelves and freezers display a great variety of vegetarian products. I, for one, always buy the protam meat alternative, which is a specially developed vegetable protein derived from natural ingredients. I regularly enjoy hamburgers made with protam burger patties, hot dogs with protam Vienna’s and or braai (BBQ) sausages under the same brand name.

Last week I found a packet of protam chunky wok or stew strips. If I didn’t know any better, once cooked, I could have been conned into thinking they were beef strips from the butchers.
All the above products contain no meat, milk or dairy, no preservatives, no colorants and no cholesterol.
A healthy, colourful and tasty selection of stir fry vegetables
Over the Easter weekend, I was alone after having many visitors in and around the house for the past six weeks. I decided to treat myself on Thursday night and have stir fry for dinner.

Once the vegetables are done to your taste, add the chunky wok/stew strips and the cooked rice

A truly oriental meal

The following recipe is my own creation. You can add fried chicken strips or chunks of pork sausages to turn it into a meaty meal.

Vegetarian Stir Fry
Serves 4
190g vegetarian chunky wok or stew strips
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into strips
3 – 4 courgettes, topped and tailed and cut into strips
150g mushrooms, stalks removed and sliced
I large onion, peeled and sliced
½ green pepper, deseeded, cut into rings
½ cup frozen peas
30 ml olive oil
1 cup Wild and Brown rice

Boil rice in lightly salted water, until soft. Drain and set aside
Heat half the oil in a wok and fry vegetarian strips for 6 minutes
Remove from pan and set aside
Heat the rest of the oil and fry the onions until transparent
Add carrots, courgettes, mushrooms and green pepper
Add peas; stir fry for about 10 minutes
Add a little hot water to prevent vegetables sticking to pan
Simmer until vegetables are soft and all liquid is reduced
Add chunky strips and rice and carefully turn over to mix
Heat through gently and serve with Soy sauce

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Scenic Sunday

Free State farmlands in the transition from autumn to winter
A disciplined yet peaceful scene: fields of fodder neatly baled and set in rows
Last week I took impromptu photographs of early sun rays reflected on my pond. That evening I managed to capture the most beautiful sunset this season, playing out over my garden.

On the spur- of- the-moment, I decided to post the photos on Monday's blog. Well, it was the best thing I have done since joining the blogging world. My regular and loyal followers and fellow bloggers, Lynda, Dedene and Esther commented and complimented me on the photography. Esther also suggested that I join SkyWatch. I’d seen many links to this website but never gone onto it. Well, this week I did. Not only did I visit the blog, I signed up and I linked my post there and viola! On Friday I had a myriad of people reading my blog and commenting! Thank you to all who visited my blog this weekend.

Through SkyWatch I also linked to MyWorld and Scenic Sunday. Now I have a new label and will regularly post on each of the three links mentioned, probably on a weekly basis. South Africa in particular and Africa in general has the most beautiful scenery, skies and is My World! I love her dearly and want to show her beauty and wide open spaces to the rest of the world.
Today’s post portrays the results of one of the farming activities in the area where I live: hay/grass baling. In past years the farmer used to burn his grass but today he cuts it and bales it for winter feed for the cattle.

As you drive through the farmlands the scenes of hay bales neatly rowed in the fields, are one of the signs that herald winter in the Free State. I praise God for another season set in place by His hand; a season of rest; a season of cleansing through extreme weather conditions and yet a season of preparation for new birth we expect with spring.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

God's Promises

When a person says, “I can’t solve this...”
God promises us, “I will direct your path” Proverbs 3:5-6

When a person says, “It’s impossible...”
God promises us, “Everything is possible” Luke 18:27

When a person says, “I feel all alone...”
God promises us, “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you” Heb13:5

When a person says, “I can’t do it...”
God promises us, “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13

When a person says, “I don’t deserve forgiveness...”
God promises us, “I have forgiven you.” 1 John 1:9

When a person says, “I am afraid...”
God promises us, “Do not fear, for I am with you. I will strengthen and help you” Isaiah 41:10

When a person says, “I am tired...”
God promises us, “Come to us all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

When a person says, “No one really loves me...”
God promises us, “I love you.” John 3:16; John 13:34

When a person says, “I don’t know how to go on...”
God promises us, “I will show you the path” Psalm 32:8

Source: Faith for Daily Living Guide (March/April 2009)