After successfully completing my Suzuki violin teacher training with SASA I began teaching the violin in Limpopo, South Africa.
How exciting. In our little rural South African town where there is no theatre, not much culture actually happens. I really miss classical music and playing together with like minded people.
So I decided if there aren’t any colleagues around, I should train some up myself.
By now I have quite the little violin ensemble of enthusiastic young musicians, all of which are new beginners.
In order to keep ourselves motivated we should have the opportunity to perform, I reasoned. That is why on Saturday, July 1st, we are going to have a wonderful winter music concert. I am teaming up with a young lady teaching the piano, so her and my students will be performing at the best of their abilities.
And of course, I will be playing some much loved classics to entertain our audience as well.
Most of my students are boys, so we are going to play some rock music as well and some Orcs and Goblins. Its definitely not going to be boring.
Yesterday I took some time to make a Lebkuchenhaus with my little boys.
We have summer holidays here in South Africa. Nevertheless I want them to grow up with some of the German Christmas traditions I so cherish.
While the English do have something they call gingerbread it is not even close to true Lebkuchen. And we don’t really enjoy that burning ginger taste. Lebkuchen dough is made with honey and many spices and has to rest a few days before baking.
So yesterday we took the dough I prepared earlier from the fridge and started baking, decorating and assembling this little house.
While I go through length to preserve some true German Christmas tradition, Germany this year shocked me with throwing out these reminders of Christ in order to not offend Muslim migrants. Schools and Kindergartens were asked to refrain from singing Christmas carols and some Christmas markets were renamed into Winter market.
Cutting out the house shapes
Icing the roof.
Can we eat it now? Please?
Last night there was an attack on a German Christmas market. 12 people were killed and 48 injured.
Why is Christmas, the story of a little baby boy being born as Gods promise for the salvation of mankind, so offensive to some? Why are Christians in the Middle East and elsewhere persecuted and killed for their faith?
Why do a nations leaders opt to repurpose Christmas instead of sharing this story of Gods humble decision to dwell amongst us as a child?
The forces of darkness can’t tolerate the messengers of light. Christmas always came at a price. We can ignore the persecution of Christians in the middle east until persecution is at our own doorstep or chose to help answer protest.
While Muslim nations forbid Christmas celebrations, German officials have congratulated Muslim immigrants to their religious holidays and then proceeded to repurpose Christmas markets as oriental bazaars and winter markets. Instead of teaching immigrants about Christianity and the values that made the European countries so attractive to migrants in the first place, German kids had to endure compulsory visits to mosques this year. There was very little resistance from churches, in fact leaders of state financed churches rose up to claim Allah and the God of the bible are the same. Christian refugees who often flee serious persecution in Muslim nations are being assaulted in Germany, the country they came to for safety. By Muslims, who are treated with utter cultural sensibility.
Jesus came as a baby in the middle of persecution. Romans where pressing His people hard for taxes, the religious clergy had no answers, the Edomite king Herod slaughtered thousands of babies trying to kill Jesus and only angelic visitations provided Joseph with the necessary insight to bring his family into safety.
Since then, Christians have always been on the receiving end of persecution for what they believe. Although the message is one of love.
His kingdom is not one of Earthly power and manipulation. Those who seek earthly fame will always hate those who proclaim eternal life.
God is just. I pray that Germany will reach out and preach the gospel to all those seeking shelter and refuge from the pain they tried to escape. I also pray that the country will not throw its pearls down the drain but conserve their Christian heritage and not tolerate persecution of Christianity within their borders.
‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me? says the Lord. Or where will my resting place be?” Acts 7:49
Prepare your heart as a dwelling place for the Lord.
“At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon during the night in dream, and God said, ‘Ask for whatever you want me to give you’” (1 Kings 3:5 NIV).
Living in South Africa has at times been a paper war nightmare. As it is with a couple from two nationalities there is always more documentation, visas, and passports to constantly keep updated. This year I finally got my permanent residency permit. It took 6 years to get there. The home affairs offices changed procedure so many times, losing our applications when they moved office, sent it to the wrong place. At one occasion we had to type everything ourselves into the home affairs computer because the lady didn’t know how to operate a PC, then photograph the screenshot and email it to the Pretoria office!
In the process we became so knowledgeable in this area that we have been able to help quite a number of binational couples with their paper work.
On one of these visa occasions, we submitted the application for my South African visa and were waiting for it to be issued. After a couple of visits to the local Home Affairs office, it was just a matter of waiting for the visa to arrive. We were told we westerners are just too impatient! Two weeks before the expiry of the current visa the officer assured us that there would be no problem—we should just remain patient, which we were. The week the visa expired, we went back to the department to find that all the staff was on a training course in a different city placing them out of office for at least three weeks! This posed to be quite a problem for us, because the immigration department in our region was very strict and we knew this would mean trouble or even deportation as in the case of many other people in similar situations.
The long and short of the matter was that the immigration department advised us to go through a border and come back, and they would give us an automatic three-month extension. This sounded like a plan. We decided to go through to Botswana, pass through the border, and come back and get the three-month extension. We packed and left the next morning. After traveling for about two and a half hours, we reached the border post. We had entered through it, but to our amazement, the immigration officer refused to allow me back into the country because of my expired visa! We were stuck in Botswana and had to make another plan. We prayed and felt we should go to another border post, which was very far. We had no Botswana currency and little to drink, and it was an extremely hot day. There was no shop at the border post and no town or settlement nearby.
We traveled very far to the other border post only to receive the same bad news when we arrived. This border post was literally in the middle of nowhere; apart from some chickens and a few men with machine guns there was nothing. It was so dry the ground was burned; there were a few dusty bushes and a shack, but nothing else.
Here are some pictures I took that day. They cant possibly capture the heat, the dust, the thirst and the feeling of totally depending on God to get out of that.
As we stood behind the counter and wondered what to do next, the immigration officer did a double take and called us over. He asked me who I was and explained that he had dreamt about me the previous night. In the dream, he continued, I spoke Afrikaans to him. So although I had been in South Africa for just 6 months, thinking on my feet, I quickly switched to speaking Afrikaans with him and it made him obviously very happy. (I had watched some Afrikaans TV shows just to help me learn the language). He was so happy about it that he gave me a one-year extension on the visa, which is quite an extraordinary thing on its own, and he helped us through. We just praised the Lord as we came through!
Overjoyed that we would be able to come home, we also experienced God’s provision in regards to fuel. The BMW we drove at the time gave us on average about 650 km per tank of fuel. Well, that day we drove 1,280km on one tank and unbelievably pulled into the gas station on the last fumes. Hallelujah! God is good!
“Then God came to Laban the Aramean in a dream at night and said to him, “Be careful not to say anything to Jacob, either good or bad” (Gen. 31:24 NIV).
This and many more testimonies of adventures with the Lord you find in our book
As 2016 comes to a close, I want to delight you with our very own South African version of the classical children’s ballet Peter and the Wolf. My 4 and 5 year olds at preschool practiced very hard to perform it for you. My own little Samuel, 4 yrs, wanted to be a cat, and Steven, 7, helped out with light effects. Enjoy and comment if you like.
Our oldest started grade 1 this year! How exciting, and how challenging at the same time.
Finding my feet and my place in the “mom collective” at our son’s school hasn’t been easy. I grew up and studied in Germany, the South African way of doing school is absolutely different from what I knew as school. Even the things 1st graders do here are different!
Plus, although I do my best mastering the Afrikaans language, it does happen that my son comes home from school with a word I have never ever heard of before. Enter social media. It is super nice to be able to quickly WhatsApp the teacher a picture of the word in question and get a prompt reply.
How wonderful to quickly be able to google the recipe and do my part to fundraise for new toys and playground equipment. I probably baked 200 of those…
As far as blogging goes, between running a preschool, teaching our churches children’s church, giving violin lessons and playing in our worship band, blogging sure takes a back seat. But I definitely daily take the time to check the news and stay current. And this can be done really, really easy using twitter.
In talking with several wonderful friends recently I found that many people do not know how to really take advantage of the social networking microblogging service.
There are gazillions of Christians out there with twitter accounts of about 36 followers, and since there is never anything cool to read, they often haven’t been on twitter for month or even years.
And of course you get those who follow 7199 people and the content on their timeline is so confusing that it would take quite long to find out what’s current and important.
Apart from the search function in twitter that lets you see the currently trending #hashtags (anything that is moving people in that moment in the country you chose to search there is another way to curate your twitter content.
You can sort accounts that have a specific contend into lists.
A list is a curated group of Twitter accounts. You can create your own lists or subscribe to lists created by others.
That means you do not even have to follow all of the celebrities you like to stay in the loop with. Just create a list called Celebs and add anyone you are a fan of into that list. Later, if you want some celebrity news, just open that specific list.
Viewing a list timeline will show you a stream of Tweets from only the accounts on that list.
That’s how I can see all important international news at a glance without having to scroll through a thousand people’s interesting but more trivial comments first.
Here are a view examples of lists I compiled.
At the end of this blog I will teach you how to create your own lists.
If you don’t have to take the time to create a lot of lists, you could simply subscribe to already compiled lists like my NEWS list:
and so on. You are welcome to subscribe to any of my list to save you time.
As a rule of thumb, I follow people who follow me, people who have interesting content and are willing to interact. And then I list those that are too high and mighty to follow back but who are important enough to be of interest.
This way, it takes only 3 min to scan through anything newsworthy, helping this busy mom to stay in the loop!
Select a name for your list, and a short description of the list. The default setting for your list is public (anyone can subscribe to the list). To make the list only accessible to you, slide the switch next to Private to on.
To create a list on Twitter for Android:
In the top menu, you will either see a navigation menu icon or your profile icon. Tap whichever icon you have, then select Lists.
Tap the plus iconto create a new list.
Select a name for your list, and a short description of the list. The default setting for your list is public (anyone can subscribe to the list). To make the list only accessible to you, tap the checkbox next to Keep private.
I hope this helped you a little! See you on twitter!
The earliest reference to Christmas being marked on Dec. 25 comes from the second century after Jesus’ birth. It is considered likely the first Christmas celebrations were in reaction to the Roman Saturnalia, a harvest festival that marked the winter solstice—the return of the sun—and honored Saturn, the god of sowing. Saturnalia was a rowdy time, much opposed by the more austere leaders among the still-minority Christian sect. Christmas developed, one scholar says, as a means of replacing worship of the sun with worship of the Son. By 529 A.D., after Christianity had become the official state religion of the Roman Empire, Emperor Justinian made Christmas a civic holiday. The church fathers of old wanted to put Christian stamps on old rituals. They thought the feast of the winter solstice, when the days get longer again, would be a good time to celebrate that…
This year I had so little time to blog because while the normal tasks continued, preschool, charity, church work, raising 2 boys, I was working hard to translate our book into German. Voila, its done! Learn about dreams, visions, angels and the prophetic, now also in German! Available in English or German on Amazon. Ebook or paperback.
Over the last couple of years renowned prophetic voices in South Africa have been gathering together to hear God’s voice concerning the coming year. From this the God Said Series was born.
Since its inception, God’s instruction and words concerning South Af-rica and key nations were given. The accuracy of the words has been pro-found and given many a strategy to prepare.
Truly the words of King Jehoshaphat have been proven true when he said to Judah:
2 Chronicles 20:20 “Hear me, O Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem: Be-lieve in the Lord your God, and you shall be established; believe His prophets, and you shall prosper.”
The prophets gathered again in the beginning of August 2015 to receive the word of the Lord for 2016. We are encouraged to see that some of these words have already come into fulfilment. We believe that you will be empowered to pray…
Being such an international family ourselves, my husband and his brother had some fun with the local congregation in Uganda teaching them the happy Afrikaans classic Almal wat die Here lief het staan maar nader… Everyone that loves the Lord, come closer!
Ever since moving to South Africa, and to such a small town in the rural province of Liompopo in particular, I missed the culture and events of a big city. So at every opportunity we are trying to organize fun events for our children and the students of our preschool. This week we all had a lot of fun having Ollie the Clown come and visit and do a DVD recording at the school. For most of my learners this was the first time they had ever seen a clown. What a joy to watch them smile! A big thank you to @Olliedienar the singing clown.
In April last year we were lucky enough to personally meet with the world famous Jessica the hippo who lives partially wild but choses to visit people once a day for a drink of Rooibos tea. National Geographic and many other channels did documentaries on this amazing hippo so I dont have to say much, here are some links to some professional documentaries
Jessica the hippo has become an international sensation.
Rescued in the 2000 floods in Limpopo when she was only a few hours old, her story has touched many.
So last year we went to Mpumalanga and had a lot of fun meeting Jessica, learning about her story and feeding her sweet potatoes.
Here is a clip of our amazing interaction with Jessica
Jessica is a 10year old female Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius) who lives near Hoedspruit – South Africa. What makes Jessica so special and unique, is the…
Sjoe, is what we say in Afrikaans when we are shocked, amazed, impressed. Sjoe did my 5 year old just stumble over an elephant. How did that happen.
We took our sons to have an interaction with rescued elephants at the African Elephant Whispers rescue center in Hazyview, Mpumalanga.
For those seeking a unique and memorable wildlife encounter, an Elephant Interaction and Ride at Elephant Whispers is an exciting and touching experience not to be missed.
Situated in the Sandford Conservancy on the banks of the Sabie River in Hazyview, Mpumalanga, Elephant Whispers offers an Elephant Experience of a lifetime which will leave you with a renewed respect and admiration for these gentle giants of Africa.
The kids really loved the animal interaction a lot!
The Elephant lied down so we could see him close up, feed him and pat him. Steven, then 5, decided he wants to spontaneously jump…
Time to be thankful. Steven is now 6 years old and a healthy, happy boy. Do you know that we almost never had him?
In the video you see him as a healthy 3 month old baby. Which is amazing, considering the fact that he was a preemie born 7 weeks early.
With a 3 kg fibroid I was told I would have to have a hysterectomy.
We so much wanted kids. I was already 28 years old when we got married, considering that my now husband worked in South Africa and I held a job in Stuttgart, Germany, we took our time to pray about that big decision. When I hit 32 and we still had not fallen pregnant (I never used any contraception my entire life) we decided to consult a specialist.
The doctors here in South Africa saw no chance for that. We had made a 5 hour journey from rural South Africa to Pretoria to consult with fertility specialists at the Femina clinic. They were very concerned and wanted to immediately schedule a removal of my womb since I had this huge fibroid.
Taking a moment in the park at the Union buildings in Pretoria, we were very devastated at the news. But I knew God’s command to be fruitful. This couldn’t be the end of the road. Instead I felt we should immediately go to a christian book store and get something that would motivate us in this sad moment.
I picked up the book supernatural childbirth by Jackie Mize and began reading and believing. I read it out loud to my husband all the way back to Louis Trichardt. All those scripture verses about God’s promises of offspring really lifted our faith. So we tried again and within 2 month we fell pregnant.
My gynae told me not to get excited at all, she predicted the pregnancy would not go full term. At 12 weeks I began bleeding. At 14 weeks there was heavy leakage, I was hospitalized and told to terminate as there was visibly on sonar no more fluid left in the womb.
I talked to my unborn child and told Steven to hold on and promised him he would be able to swim a lot later. I prayed 2 days non stop. The doctors tried to convince me to terminate, saying his lungs and kidneys and brain might be too damaged. But of course that would be a decision that a mother cannot take. I was at peace, if this baby couldn’t hold on he would go and be with Jesus, fine. But I would fight for his life!
After 48 hrs the water had come back and a specialized gynae said she could see how there is scar tissue on my placenta where it could have been torn. At 30 weeks I went into labour, with the help of Adalat the doctors tried to stall contractions for one more week while I received steroids to strenghten babies lungs.
At 31 weeks Steven was born via C-section, 2 days later we had to go home since we couldn’t pay further medical costs. South Africa is really tough that way.
Steven was breathing and nursing perfectly and overcame a slight jaundice rather quick and today he is a happy healthy child.
I had the fibroid removed by the only doctor we could find in South Africa who would do it on a 3kg sized growth, everyone else wanted to perform a hysterectomy. 1 year later I fell pregnant and delivered a healthy baby at 38 weeks. Wow thank you Jesus!
Once off projects are great. Having a sustainable community running for its second year is awesome.
Our project has so far provided over 170 victims of child abuse with a box of comfort while awaiting their testimony at court. Here is what it is all about:
In my work as a pastor and counselor at Emmanuel Church Louis Trichardt and headmistress of Emmanuel Kinderland preschool I have come to work with many people who themselves were survivors of abuse or came on behalf of a close friend or relative who had suffered through sexual abuse and rape.
As you are well aware of South Africa has a devastatingly high rate of rape, wikipedia talks about the highest rape rate in the world.
The SAPS statistics report that there were 64,514 sexual offenses reported to the police in South Africa in 2012 alone of which over 45% percent where child rapes. However, variable reports claim that only 1 in 9 or 1 in 25 rapes actually get reported. This means that the numbers could actually run up to 1,548,336 rapes every year
This means that someone is raped as often as every 4 minutes
Interpol has named South Africa the “Rape Capital of the World”
The greatest increase in sexual crimes is against infants and children under the age of seven (Rape Statistics South Africa & Worldwide 2011 www.rape.co.za) 50% of South Africa’s children will be abused before the age of 18. 85% of them will be by perpetrators known to the child. It is crucial that perpetrators will be identified and severely punished.
When predators get away with it, it will happen again and again. 40%percent of South African men have raped for the first time when they were under aged themselves. Why is it possible? Cases do not get to court and when they do, it can mean a potentially traumatizing experience to the child and the family. In many rural communities to report abuse means to risk ones life. Houses get burned down and families ostracized for telling on the criminal. It is crucial that cases do go to court as to send a clear message that abuse is not acceptable.
Most rapists are serial rapists. Seeing them severely punished for their crime acts as a deterrent for other potential rapists while every one that “gets away” is per implication an encouragement in his social circles to others to keep doing the same.
There are so many facets where we need to be involved in to start preventing these crimes.
We as Emmanuel Church and community need to do our utmost to make the conditions for survivors testifying as bearable as possible.
I am asking church members, parents of our preschool and community members to assist in putting together comfort boxes for children testifying in court, as these parcels can provide a minimum of comfort to a child in such a stressful situation.
It generally is a big struggle to get child abuse cases to trial, as the young girls are being shamed and not supported by the local culture. Also, at court the young abuse survivors face many challenges. Long hours of waiting, having never met their intermediaries before, testifying, often 3 hours of cross examinations are just a few of the challenges. The children are often spending an entire day at court without having even had a breakfast. The children are often nervous and shy. When they are not able to establish proper communication and to prove that they actually say the truth, the case gets dismissed and the offender cannot be judged.
Often the girls and boys (we make special boxes for boys) will be too shy and close up totally so their testimony can not be validated and subsequently the case cannot go into trial.
I came up with the method of using care boxes to help the children relax.
The box contains a new, cute stuffed toy to immediately help the intermediary form a connection with the child.
The box contains a high quality fruit juice and some snacks to help keep the child alert during a long and hard trial.
Furthermore there are crayons, colouring books and sticker activities to help the children bridge times where the court is in recess or formalities need to be followed up with, which can talke an hour or more.
All items are all new and the fruit juice and snack are high quality. The box is closed with a sticker (picture provided) that says you are special and indicates whether the box is for a boy or a girl.
We have handed out over 100 boxes in 2014 of the value of 70 -100 Rand each. This year we have been able to make 70 boxes so far. We are weekly informed by the intermediaries working with the children in court on how many boxes have been handed out and what the age and gender of the children is, to ensure we provide for the right needs. Monthly we need about 30 to 40 boxes as they go to the different Magistrate Courts in the are such as Sibasa, Waterval, Musina etc. This project has been developed with the approval of the SA Department of Justice.
Your assistance in providing juices, snacks, colouring in and sticker activity books, stuffed toys and sweets is highly appreciated.
STEVEN(5) drew this for me all by himself (when I wasn’t even around) and explained what it is: on the top are two praying hands embracing a heart. Underneath is Jesus. Steven says: Prayer is the string that brings Jesus into our heart.
Stevens message is pretty powerful coming from such a young heart. It really touched me that’s why I thought I would share it with you today.