Category Archives: Bucket List

Things I plan to do!

Yippeh, we just published our first book!!!

Click here for your paperback copy!
Click here to get your kindle copy!

Yippeh! I am sooo happy that in between raising two young and very busy sons, pastoring a church, managing a preschool and doing various charity work, my husband and I were finally able to complete our first book together!

This book is born out of the amazing things we have experienced in our daily walk with God in a nation that has many challenges. With so much crime and no real social security, we need to hear God’s voice so much more.

God talks, wants to warn and advise and encourage you! Dreams, visions, the bible, prophetic insight popping up in your spirit when you pray, we talk about how you can fine tune into God’s voice.

This book contains more than 60 exciting stories and events in our lives where God spoke things we couldn’t possibly know through human understanding alone, and how God uses a sensitive believer to impact the lives of others. Your personal faith will be built up, we will make you rush back to your bible to see if God really does all we quote from the book of books, and you will be so motivated to listen to Him with a new expectancy of getting answers. Thanks for buying our book, you are supporting our work in Southern Africa.

You are welcome to check out for more information.

Since amazon has different platforms for different nations, you are welcome to browse on your respective amazon site for our names or book title and download the book onto your kindle or kindle app from there! Look for “The Powerful Impact of a Spirit Led Life”or Andries van Heerden or Christiane van Heerden.

Ipromon the meantime we have also published a compilation of prophetic words for 2015 available here check it out! Especially inspiring for South African entrepreneurs and educators.


Andries and Christiane van Heerden are senior pastors of Emmanuel Church in Louis Trichardt, Limpopo, South Africa. Besides impacting their own community in areas of ministry, education and charity work they travel to nations around the globe to inspire believers to really listen to God’s voice for a more effective impact into their communities. They enjoy raising their two sons, Steven and Samuel. For more information on their church and ministry check


Waterfalls on the South African Panorama Route

Hi my cherished followers. I usually publish travel related posts in my Traveler’s Log, so that people who are just looking for a review on a certain area in the world can do so without being bothered by my personal essays and such. We recently had so much fun on the Panorama Route where we were ministering in a lovely little congregation. I thought to share some waterfall pictures with you. For posts about accommodation and what to do with children, just browse through the other posts! Have fun, hope you enjoy the images!

Traveler's Log

If you just joined the blog, look at the previous posts to find out more about the location of these amazing waterfalls.

Here are a few photos for you to enjoy the scenery without much further talking!

If you love right-clicking and saving: For a real small fee I will email you the non-watermarked original – isn’t that better than working with pictures not knowing if its legal?

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How is that Bucket List doing?

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Alien Pinata I made last year for Steven’s Toy Story themed birthday. It’s his birthday month again and I so hope I will somehow find the time to make a unique pinata again. Gee, there will always be trauma, and people in need, but Steven will only turn 4 once in his life.

Update on my 2013 Bucket List

What a treat to quickly sneak in some blogging after an eventful week! This week was stuffed with happy moments, from finishing the new curriculum for the preschool to drafting the choreography for our Anti-Rape hip-hop drama, to hosting a trauma seminar today and finishing the planning for tomorrow mornings sunday school.

Now I want to quickly keep you in the loop on how that Bucket List thing of mine is doing.

My Bucket List 2013 – things I hopefully manage to achieve and experience.

As they happen, I will include links to what I was able to do in this regard right under each item. They might link, if fitting, to my other blog “Traveler’s Log” if it is about going places.

People Stuff

1. Meet new, interesting people

02.03. Organized a Trauma Counseling Seminar with Weynand and Barbara Louw which went down very nicely today. Really sweet and competent couple who have seem to traveled the ups and downs of life themselves and are definitely qualified to talk about the topic. Good stuff. Looking forward to maybe walking and working closer together in the future. Our people are definitely better equipped now to deal with the many traumatic situations we face in South Africa.

A picture of a male lion (duh) I got really close to. Find out more about my travels at my traveling blog! Click lion …

4. Learn how to speak Venda

Why local languages are important

5. Publish stuff, get back into public speaking (after and with little kids … who wants to Au Pair?)

February: Started to speak at a Woman’s camp together with my husband again. Been asked to publish. Have written a drama and choreography for the Rape Ape campaign.

6.Network and connect. This lone ranger needs to join hands with like-minded passionate Christians.

Not an easy one. Been asked to leave a much anticipated meeting of national leaders in the first five minutes because apparently my little kids were a nuisance. We were late, due to a crisis back at the church, someone had just lost a pregnancy. You do not leave hastily at a situation like that, saying: Hey, our pastor will be cross if we arrive late at a meeting 500 km from here? So we drove fast, and the kids needed to stretch their legs after a5 hour drive. I don’t blame them. They would have settled under a table with colouring books eventually. But so I had to spend the two days outside – although fully prepared with national pressing issues researched and questions ready… I might want to network with people who appreciate the effort to drop everything and come a long way to see them?

9.Have a good vacation with the kids, where the cellphone use is limited to the lesser moments.

Money is a big issue here, and also to have a trustworthy person who can stand in while we are gone. You can’t believe the amount of trauma happening in a relatively small town and how much a pastor is the first place of help for many people to run to.

10.Host a special event at church. Don’t fear the no-sayers. Not even if they get up and leave if you come on stage.

02.03. Trauma Counseling Seminar, done. Wonderful! It gave many new impulses to many, changing the mindset away from the mystical towards clearly defined roles and approach.

11.Go to Germany and see my family. They deserve to see their daughter, grandchildren, sister, once a year.

Again, money. Should do a video audition to play a small role in a South African drama… I can do it, I know that.

12.Make a lot of money so I can be more helpful to those who lack around me. A prayer and a handshake just doesn’t cut it in Africa. Work towards creating a sustainable structure for helping others.

Many single moms in the African community have to put their children in less than acceptable creches to be able to work in other peoples homes as maids and nannies. This grieves me beyond words. To pay 200 Rand a month, when you earn 1200 R a month, to put your baby in a dirty muddy yard among 50 others, with one or two ladies barely meeting your child’s basic needs, so that you can wipe other kid’s noses and wash their dishes? It is not right. I am slowly getting involved with Symphonia Quality education for South Africa and hope this will lead to involvement in helping improve preschool education in poorer areas.

13.Upgrade my preschool Emmanuel Kinderland to profile itself amongst the local nurseries.

Making jewelry at Emmanuel Kinderland Preschool

February 2013: Besides the Basic music classes and language development program that I designed myself I brought in gymnastics, playball and computer classes for the kids and also designed a wholesome daily curriculum. Like the school on facebook:

14.Go to gym and look like an action heroine.

So far, so good, going to gym 3x a week, spinning, workout, zumba- in the ideal scenario which means baby sitter needs to be in place and although its not during workhours, the church needs to befine. Apparently pastor’s don’t get to have privacy at gym, the office recently sent people over to see us there during spinning class. Hmm. But nevertheless, it is important. See here for why it’s helping me to feel one with the strange world I am in:

Exercise 1

19. Send 100 snapshots from where I am at the moment on Postcards from Chris

follow me on twitter for the postcards @ChrisvanHeerden

Gonna keep you posted. Thanks for cheering for us!


On learning the Afrikaans language

On the lighter side …

If you want people of a nation to take you serious, you need to learn their vocabulary and their humour. To joke in another language can be an exhausting feat, because humour is mindset.

Upon coming to SA I had to learn that the way we use language in Germany can be totally offensive to an Afrikaaner! Basically every 3rd word can be misunderstood as a swear word. You even have to say “lightning”(Blitz) in a hushed voice.

South Africans are really big on braai (barbeque)

A Brit on the other hand can’t even say “Good morning” without cursing 3 times (just switch on Gordon Ramsay, whom I adore for his hands on approach and you know what I mean.

This is what makes it easy for beginners to know are you talking to an Afrikaaner or Englishman.

For being accepted in a nation, you need to show your effort to get to eye-hight with those you address. Upon my very first visit at my fiancée’s parents I was told: “From now on you are not a German, you need to speak Afrikaans.”  Shows you the high value people place on their language.

When you do the intercultural marriage thing, be aware – you by default marry a whole country with it’s own history, likes, dislikes, moral values, demands and opportunities. It’s never just about the two of you (unless you escape to a remote island in the pacific, but i bet even there your diverse cultural habits are going to catch up with you)

The importance of communicating in Afrikaans was highlighted at every meeting, although I thought it was pretty cool that I communicated fluently in English with everyone – seeing that English is the third foreign language I learned.

In East Germany it was mandatory we all learned to speak and write Russian, which I enjoyed a lot because it is a very meaningful, poetic language. I decided that Spanish would be helpful when traveling the world, and I love the Latin American dances and cheerfulness. English – you can not do without. I also took Latin at school simply because most medical and scientific vocabulary is based on Latin and I want to be able to go and impress people with clever quotes.

Upon my very first visit at my fiancée’s parents I was told: “From now on you are not a German, you need to speak Afrikaans.” Shows you the high value people place on their language.

I learned the Hebrew Alefbet and the basic Jewish prayers and also dabbled a bit in Madarin, which opened up a whole new world again.

So learning Afrikaans was not difficult at all. What was challenging though, were the comments of my husband’s friends when they ask him: “Praat sy al Afrikaans”as if I couldn’t hear them (let’s you feel like a Ukranian mail order bride, not being taken real serious there). When I, much to the ladies shock, reply with a flood of fluent Afrikaans (they really think it’s such an intricate language no foreigner could possibly master it?) I am so tempted to add: Ja, and she also gives paw, does shake, fetch and roll over … 🙂

Naturally I made a lot of funny mistakes in the beginning, causing people to laugh (which is a good thing, I still toy around with vocabulary which I know is used different just to get a smile).

You can never just literally translate from one language into the other. Although ?South African Afrikaans and English people are both white, they agree on almost nothing. It took me a while to figure out that there are fundamental differences between the two – like why do Afrikaaners think you go to hell when you use the word “bloody” but then they say “dis bloedig warm vandag” (bloody hot today) and its fine? One always needs to know who one’s dealing with … if there is one down-side to South Africa that I could pin-point (another being the necessity for me to put “self-defense-course on my 2013 bucket list) it’s the fact that everyone seems so easily offended!

In Germany we do not use the f-word. Other harsh and unfriendly words especially in a seually humiliating context are used only by the low-lives and your common person on the street wouldn’t talk like that. If we are upset, we might call something a name that literally means the soiled straw of a chicken coop. And nobody will be offended when you call a spade a spade. One quickly learns that in English it is not acceptable to use the language of your action heroes in every day life – it is not appropriate. Afrikaans – there are a few words that translate really harmless but woe to you if you use them. In the end I was confused to even point out that there is lightning in a thunderstorm, because both thunder and lightning are regarded as swear words.

Afrikaans is the youngest language on earth and it is, actually, not a real language but rather a simplified mix of basic Dutch, Malay, native African  and Portuguese words and “dutchified” French vocabulary. Take away grammar like tenses and inclination, add a lot of different meanings to the same word and voila, you are the proud speaker of an easy to learn language. Which was exactly the purpose of Afrikaans, to find a common language for a broad spectrum of immigrants from all over the world other than the British Empire.

Language creates togetherness, and so if you want to win an Afrikaaner’s heart, do it by cooking boerekos (local food) and speak Afrikaans.

On this year’s Bucket List is learning to speak Venda.

I can’t believe I have been living in South Africa for over 8 years now and I have no idea how to communicate properly with the African population. On my visit to Kenya I was able to get the hang of Kisuahili, as it contains so much “European” references.

Different to Kisuahili, I simply didn’t get the idea of the South African black languages by just listening to them. I can sing the South African anthem though.

On various conferences here in South Africa Zulu worship songs were sung. I really enjoyed it a lot, African music has a way to touch one’s soul. And after a while, a little Zulu dictionary started forming in my head: if that means this, than this means that. Alas, Zulu is not spoken here in my province. Venda seems so much more indistinguishable and it looks like you can only speak it while shouting.

I am currently looking for someone who could teach me the basics.

Here are some Afrikaans funnies. Please do not take it serious I am just having fun.

Why a Bucket List 2013

The Scenic pathway to some of my dear friends

You can find the final bucket list and it’s step by step fulfilment as a page on top. Today is the day where we are all very aware that another year is coming to an end. Are you a fan of New Year’s resolutions?

Most of my friends brag about how they do not find it necessary to make a promise to themselves which they will only keep for a week.

I don’t know whether it is the German in me – but I am a strong believer in strategic planning. (I think I would have turned out that way even if I had been born in Brazil).

If you can not define where you want to be, what it takes and how long you have to get there, you are leaving your life up to chance.

And chances are, nothing much is going to happen. Believe me, that is a recipe for depression. To live a healthy life, a person needs purpose and progress.

My husband and I love driving together, and we never run out of conversation topics. We have crisscrossed South Africa many times and seeing all the opportunities really gets us excited. This december we found ourselves travelling back and forth on the N1 on several ministry occasions as well as our first date since the kids arrived. Long overdue, it was such a fun outing as we strategized about 2013 and how to avoid getting stuck. I ended up drafting a “stratogram” that will hand over my desk to remind me of priorities. So my new year’s resolution is less a “quit smoking, be kind to aunt Elzie” kind of thing but rather a bucket list of important mile stones that will have to be pushed into place before X can happen. X being the mark on my map of life where I, the eternal pilgrim, might finally find some rest on my journey and establish something that will have lasting value to pass on to my children. I have an exact idea what X is, but learned through experience not to share definitives until the project is well on it’s way. People are so fast to steal ideas and claim them their own! But believe me, it will be mind-blowing.

Finding your feet in a foreign nation kan be a scary thing when you are all by yourself with no handbook to go by. I would recommend the experience to any couple – go together to Japan and live there for a year. Fun. But being the only one from another nation, joining the culture of your spouse, trying to fit into the community that knew him since he was a wee one, is a total different ballgame. Especially if his entire extended family is living in close proximity and your own clan is about 10.000 km further north making it impossible to call for back up. (Really I have seen grown ups play the “I go and tell my daddy” game, especially amongst the Afrikaaners!) I do miss to be able to just visit my baby sister over the weekend and have a good laugh at life together.

Making friends when you constantly have to bridge cultural gaps is not easy at all.

CAlthough I don’t travel in herds … we always take our overseas guests on an Elephant Safari!)

Over tea with lady friends I have found myself wondering “what do you girls talk about with your other friends? I wished I could be a tiny mouse and observing how you do this “kuier” (afrikaans for visiting) thing generally. Because what’s happening here is boring me to death. Talking about little nothings, carefully avoiding any fun subjects that could be misunderstood as offensive – is it because I am a pastor’s wife or because this culture tends to generally be more “fluffy” than the German one?

In Germany we do not have “publicly accepted phrases for every occasion” like the English-speaking world does. I learned over the past couple of years that the Afrikaans culture also consists of typical phrases people utter without giving it much thought, because that is what one says at that particular moment. On the contrary, in Germany we usually say something very unique and original that comes from deep within and is really meant that way – and might appear rude to cultures that expect nothing more than a cute compliment.

I tend to take language quite literally, so when the first visitors arrived to congratulate me at the birth of my son Steven, I was confused when the ladies said “jy kan nou lekker pop speel”. (Now you can enjoy playing dolls). My son was born under dramatic circumstances at only 33 weeks. Because South Africa is not a social state, medical care is extremely costly and we were sent home two days later with a struggling, tiny 1.8 kg newborn. Playing doll was the furthest from my mind, his survival was depending on my care and I didn’t feel equipped enough. My husband had to continue working since baby had been only expected two months later. I found myself without a support system and a lot of stress.

Throughout many subsequent visits with other moms of newborns, one of my favorite pastor’s duties, I observed that “jy kan nou lekker pop speel” is really the most used Afrikaans phrase to comment on the birth of a new baby. And no, I do not plan on using it but rather I insist of uttering my very own, thought-through, unique and honestly meant wishes about the new arrivals. I learned, however, that people around here feel more understood if you do paraphrase what you actually trying to say into their usual contest. Use their buzz-words, simple phrases they often use, it wont confuse them that much.

All my serious planning is laid out in my office, and won’t find it’s way into the blog because it’s my work. I however am going to share my successes and learned lessons with you, as time passes.

King Salomon once complained: “Ecc 7:28  Which yet my soul seeketh, but I find not: one man among a thousand have I found; but a woman among all those have I not found.”

He realised how difficult it is to find but one good friend among a thousand – and that women are mostly full of little games and to find an upright comrade amongst all of his many wives was almost impossible.

I am thankful for all those people in my life who call me sister and friend, where would I be without you. I also realise that I did experience a lot of disappointment in people who I thought were friends but who would easily go and sell my trust for a lentil dish. But the threshold of a new year is a good place to let go of hurts and forgive and move on. I will forever be trying to see the good around me and I am ready to reach out and risk again. People are precious.

So here is my Bucket list 2013 in no particular order:

1.Continue the search for that rare jewel of special friends who won’t gossip, won’t betray trust, understand the darker side of humour, enjoy life in all it’s nuances and is are inspiring even on an intellectual level.

My husband and I have found that in our position as leaders it is almost impossible to find friends who just like you for who you are without needing you to catapult them into a better position.

I miss the cultural densitity and intensity of Europe – but bridging worlds is about crossing over and makign one mindset accesible to the other!

Friends who have the drive to be nation changers, the diligence to complete a project, to self-motivate and to be able to laugh about it all!!!! Would give all my earthly goods for that.

2.Increased used of the available media.

You want to change the world – be present in it, add your dot of colour, your vocabulary to it. Lend a helping hand. Entertain!

I want to dare to enter doors that open, especially in the area of radio. In a small town community people will always think you are a stranger, if your grandparents moved here from China decades ago you still stay the Chinese rather than the fellow citizen. So deal with it, make it a plus rather than a handicap. I am from Germany, I tick different, so what. I might see the country with different eyes than you, but I also might love it more than you do because I live here by choice.

3.Network and connect. This lone ranger needs to join hands with like-minded passionate christians.

4.Get my husband’s book published and keep his back free to travel and speak more.

5.Go to the USA and learn from Bill Johnson.

6.Have a good vacation with the kids, where the cellphone use is limited to the lesser moments.

7.Host a special event at church. Don’t fear the no-sayers.

8.Go to Germany and see my family. They deserve to see their daughter, grandchildren, sister, once a year.

9.Make a lot of money so I can be more helpful to those who lack around me. A prayer and a handshake just doesn’t cut it in Africa. I keep handing out food and clothes and money, but without a sustainable structure this is like pouring water into the desert.

10.Upgrade my preschool Emmanuel Kinderland to profile itself amongst the local nurseries.

11.Go to gym and look like an action heroine.

12.Make a movie or at least contribute some good ideas to one.

13.Go back to read my bible more. My wandering mind needs a stable anchor.

14.Do something really crazy I would have done 15 years ago.

15.Bake some stunning stuff. Since baby no.2, there was just no more time nor energy left to bake cakes and cookies. I did make some cool desserts for dinner parties and baby showers, oh yes and some real nice fraisier for march (255)a wedding, and, and …  but didn’t even bake and give away christmas cookies this year. When you can’t make a Sacher torte, make jelly. It’s at least homemade. But i feel it’s part of my feminine existence I shouldnt totally write off.

15 is a good number to stop and post the blog don’t you think?