by Tony Copple (and L-A, Kaysha and Daniel) (A Day at My Father's House Worcester)
Pictured above, is L-A, and to the right is Tony sharing at My Father's House Worcester. These pictures were taken by one of our leaders, Chantal on L-A's phone. She usually takes selfies, but blessed us with these as well. L-A captured Tony and Daniel practicing up for the music. L-A is otherwise singing and playing bodhran, and some of the children shakers.
This sharing was mostly by Tony, but he invited L-A and our friends Kaysha and Daniel to share as well. This is how it unfolded:
Tony: God is like one man with three jobs – God the Father is the creator. He made us. Jesus is like the designer. A designer helps people to make something, that’s Jesus. And the third one has the job of being the comforter. But he’s one person. One person. We’re going to think and learn about the Holy Spirit today.
Daniel: Hello guys, I remember you from last week. You know that God is a person, right? He is in heaven, but can be in your heart too. He can be in heaven, but we can be all the time with God, because the Holy Spirit stays right with us. And he’s always speaking to us.
Tony: Daniel is from Brazil. Who knows where Brazil is? It’s in South America. But we have someone who is from North America. This is Kaysha. She’ll tell you about the Holy Spirit in her life.
Kaysha: I’m Kaysha, I’m from America, and right now I’m living in Robertson. That’s not very far from you. I want to tell you about the Holy Spirit. He’s personal for me and he’s personal for you. He loves all of us the same, but he loves each one of you, individually and uniquely as you are. So for me, he loves me and he’s like a best friend to me and to you. Do you know that about God? (yes)
L-A: You all know who I am, Tante Laurie-Ann. I also come from North America, but in Canada. And for me, Holy Spirit is a friend. Even when I didn’t know God, I knew about God. I was actually into evil spirits and not the Holy Spirit. So the Holy Spirit starting speaking to me about finding God. I remember sitting at my friend’s kitchen table, and my life wasn’t going very well. So I said to myself, “Well, next year is going to be the year when my life is going to change.” And do you know what? The Holy Spirit came to me and touched me. He felt like a waterfall of joy and love over me. Do you know what he said to me? He said, “Good, now is the time to find God” – and I knew he meant Jesus, because the Holy Spirit always points to Jesus and always points to the Father. So I began to search for Jesus, and I began to read the Bible. I then went to a conference, where a man told me that you could only love Holy Spirit and not evil spirits. Jesus became my friend that night and Holy Spirit washed over me again. So Holy Spirit since then has always been with me. He’s the one who gives me strength, he’s the one who gives me smiles, he’s the one who gives me joy. And if you’ve ever noticed, the Holy Spirit comes to you through my smile.
Tony: It’s my turn to share about the Holy Spirit. I have Holy Spirit on my phone (and my heart). I’m going to tell you some things about him. I heard this teaching this week from a wise man who knows Jesus very well. Here are some things that he said about the Holy Spirit. First of all, the Holy Spirit makes us STRONG. He makes us strong. Another word for strong is that he makes us mighty. He makes us mighty. And he makes us able to do things. In the Bible, they say ‘mighty’ a lot. They say God is mighty. God almighty – and that’s because of the Holy Spirit. He’s the one that gives us strength – and even Jesus needed the strength of the Holy Spirit, when he was on earth two thousand years ago. He had to have the Holy Spirit in his heart, so he would know what to do. In those days, not too many people had the Holy Spirit in their heart, just a few people. So if Jesus needed the Holy Spirit, you can see that WE need him even more. We need him a lot more than that.
The Holy Spirit may be part of ministry. I’d like to say that the Holy Spirit is here, and he is laying hands on this group of people (Tony touches some of the kids). His holy hands are touching everybody here, so we have the Holy Spirit watching over us. But he is also IN people. He is here in ministry. I know for a fact that he is inside Laurie-Ann’s heart. And he’s inside Daniel’s heart and Kaysha’s heart. Am I right? Actually, he’s in all your hearts. He’s inside talking to you, but you have to learn how to listen to him. He’s the one who will guide you.
We will see a movie about this a little while later. The Holy Spirit is a leader. He leads us on paths that we have to go on. He may say to somebody, “You need to go to Africa – there are children who want to know about me.” And there are other children, in China, in Africa, in all these places. The Holy Spirit gives them that feeling that they just want to come.
And the Holy Spirit empowers people. That means he gives them power. So you may think you’re a little bit weak and you’re not very good at something. But when you’re doing something for God, then he will give you the power that you need. He will give you the strength and the knowledge. I love feeling the power of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes I feel him a little bit, sometimes I feel him a lot. So he anoints us. Anointing is like he touches this hand, and says, I’m not you, but you will have special capabilities from me. You can read about that in the Bible. I’d like to think that he wants to anoint all of us for something special. I am weak. But if I have the Holy Spirit, then I can be strong. I don’t mean physically strong, I don’t mean that I can come and lift a car up. But I mean that he gives me strength, like right now, to talk to you about him. That’s coming from him, and not coming from me.
He is our stand by. Sometimes we call him our stand-in. Sometimes we fall by the wayside. We are not doing what we should do. We drop out a little bit. The Holy Spirit can take over a little bit. He can stand in for us. You know, whatever strength you think we have, it is TINY compared to the Holy Spirit’s strength. The Holy Spirit’s strength is huge and our strength is tiny, so we need his strength in our lives. Now Jesus, before he died, he said to his apostles, “When I go away” )he meant when I die) “then the Holy Spirit will come.” The Holy Spirit will come. He won’t come unless I die. So people were a little confused, they didn’t know what he was talking about. But what he meant was that when he went back to heaven, to be with the Father; then the Holy Spirit would come and be available for everybody. This meant more than just for a few people, like it had been at that time. So Jesus said, “When I go away, I will send the Holy Spirit to be a comforter. He will be a comforter. He will also be an advocate. Now advocate is another name for a lawyer. It means that if you end up in a court of law, you have a lawyer who puts your case before the judge. The Holy Spirit will take our case. He will say, ‘Yes, I know he’s done some bad things in his life, but he’s also done some good things.” That’s the kind of help he can give.
And he will be a counsellor. A counsellor is someone who can give you wisdom, or advice. Most of us don’t know much about anything. So if we need help, we can go and ask someone who can help us. That’s what a counsellor does. He’s a helper. He’s an intercessor. That means he helps us pray, and is passing our prayers onto God the Father. So when you pray, don’t ever think your prayer is wasted, because the Holy Spirit is carrying your prayer to God the Father. Alright, so that’s a few things about the Holy Spirit, and now we’re going to have an Alpha video about “Who is the Holy Spirit.”
The following week, we invited the Iris Harvest School extended outreach from the Robertson area base to come minister with us. It was the Holy Spirit day "How can I be filled with the Holy Spirit?" Not only did they join us, as well as our friend Daniel, but MFHW founder Jan Buchanan was there as well! What a blessing! Here are montages of that day:
by Tony Copple
This week at My Father's House Worcester: Our new helper Daniel Mendes from Brazil shares a greeting, and Tony held a quiz with the kids - the prizes were homemade bed socks knit by Jan Buchanan's mother. Since there aren't furnaces in South African homes, what a lovely way to keep your feet warm at night. Later we mention rainbows. Worcester has a lot of them when it rains, and we were able to catch this one in central Worcester.
We have been singing songs, we’ve been singing songs to Jesus. Why do we do that? That’s what I want to talk about today. If you went to church yesterday, Sunday; I think they probably they had singing. Did they have any singing in your church? In churches, they always sing songs. And why do we do it, that’s the question for today. The Bible is where we go to answer questions. The Bible says that in heaven, there is continual singing of praises to God. So all day long, they are singing in praise to our God. Why would they do that? Many great poets and musicians, composters and painters… they have written music for God, and painted for God. Tony asks L-A, “have you ever painted a painting for God?” L-A answers, “yes, many times.” She’s going to be a famous artist one day, for God!
People write great poems for God, and it’s the same thing – they want to say to God, thank you. When we understand what God did to create the world and then to sing a song to Jesus here, because Jesus came to earth and then was killed, so that our sins can be forgiven. And so we are really, really grateful to God and Jesus. We thank Holy Spirit too. And that’s why we sing songs to him. We sing, thank you God, thank you Jesus, you created the world, you created me, and then you died for me, so that I can live forever in heaven. And one day I will see him in heaven. So of course, we’re going to sing songs to him in praise and gratefulness. It’s very, very important, and it’s very natural. In fact, the Bible says that if people didn’t sing praises, then the stones and the earth would start singing. They know they were created by God.
You could say thank you to God in a prayer. You could say, dear Lord Jesus, thank you for making me. Of you may want to write a poem that says, (Tony sings) Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for creating me. And some may sing the song with you, or you may have a whole orchestra. Here’s the incredible thing – we want to sing thank you to God and Jesus, but he also wants to tell us that he loves us. He cares about us, even more than we can possibly care about him. So it’s a two way thing. We are thanking him, and he is thanking us for loving him. It’s all to do with love. We love the Lord God, we love Jesus, and he loves us in turn (although He loved us FIRST). If something happened to one of you, if something bad happened, maybe if you fall over and hit your head, Jesus cares about that. And if you ever cry any tears, Jesus feels compassion for you. So he’s that kind of a God, that he cares about each one of us. And even if we are someone who doesn’t believe in God, he still cares about us. There are people who don’t believe that God exists, but he still loves them. Some people think that songs are the most important part of a church service. Where Laurie-Ann and I go to church, Worcester Christian Church, we spend about half of the service singing praise songs, and then half with teaching. Now something interesting yesterday in church: Laurie-Ann had a vision. A vision is when you think you see something, but it’s not there in front of you. God’s Spirit instead puts the picture in your heart and mind. I’m going to tell you a little bit about Laurie-Ann’s vision. It’s to do with the same thing that we are talking about.
The vision was to do with a man who is a worship leader in our church. She told him that she saw him and the worship team in the Spirit. She saw him in the throne room with God, and the light was blue all around them. Father of Lights was shining into them with love and power. Holy Spirit was flooding into him like a waterfall that would not stop. The light streamed out of him in all kinds of colours, bringing rainbows into the church, like he was the prism. The light was also living water. It was an amazing combination of light and water. Power and nourishment bringing life from the Lord. She saw the colours fill the room, birthing prophetic creativity into the church. It was to touch not only our church, but all of Worcester. Yet it was just beginning to be birthed here. She asked Holy Spirit, what was the blue light, and it was the prophetic, coming from the throne of God, from the heart of the Father. The colours are prophetic creativity. That fits, since she says she's been seeing and drawing rainbows for over a year now.
So that’s how God feels about us singing to him. He loves it. And when you’re singing a song like “I have Decided to Follow Jesus,” you’re making him very, very happy. He loves it when we sing to him. That’s why we sing songs of praise in church and also here in this club with you.
Laurie-Ann then shared what the vision was like and about the rainbows. She asked if they liked the rainbows they see in Avian Park when it is raining and sunny at the same time. They nodded that they did. So L-A described heaven and the throne room as being a place full of colours and wonder. And that God wants to bring that colour and creativity to them too very soon!
by Laurie-Ann Copple
We’ve found that God has been so faithful during our time in South Africa. In fact, it didn’t just start here. Yet, since we are Iris Ministries Canada long term and full-time missionaries working for God, we are carried in so many ways in our work and even our play. Before I share about our ‘playtime,’ I should share about our work with Iris in the Western Cape.
Our work involves so many other ministries as well as our own. We partner and work with My Father’s House Worcester on Mondays, for their Monday afternoon Kid’s Club alongside YWAMer Soraya Volkwyn. This club is located in central Avian Park at the library, since MFHW doesn’t have a building yet, other than a ‘wendy house.’ We are part-time teachers at MasterPeace Academy, run by principal Dr. Mella Davis. Tony teaches science in the mornings, and music on Wednesdays after lunch. I teach art on Tuesdays, as well as bring family lunch of sandwiches and juice.
We are part of two of kids clubs on Wednesdays (and we hope one of these will be moved to another day). One is in Riverview township, which has been held outdoors. It’s led by Mella Davis. We share worship music, teaching, learning the recorder and food. The second is an Iris Western Cape kids club for the children of farm workers, not far from the Rooiberg winery off Route 60, outside of Robertson. They meet in a small farm library where we sing, dance, draw pictures, and play games. And when they will listen, we share Bible stories and more.
We also train some Avian Park teens to become children’s Bible study leaders for the Mailbox Club in our home on Saturday afternoons. This is also part of My Father's House Worcester. Saturday morning we are in Brandvlei prison holding Prison Alpha, which is something we have waited for, but it’s well worth the wait. We also lead a soaking prayer and evangelism group called “Soaking Prayer in Action” in and for Worcester Christian Church once a month. These are some of the ministries that ministries that we work with on a regular basis (not counting Folla’s child ministry in Avian Park, or the Boland hospice).
I also help ChangeMaker’s Worcester with their accounting (books), which is something new, since I’ve not done this sort of thing for a number of years. However, I have confidence that in time we will have a system in place.
Our own ministry includes our internet radio station, Copples Western Cape Radio (CWCP). We broadcast through Galcom International in Canada, but stream from Worcester, Western Cape. We re-broadcast a CFRA show called “Good News in the Morning” (with permission from CFRA) on Wednesday nights. Our own show “The Worcester Reports” is aired Thursdays at 8 pm SAST (2 pm EDT/1 pm EST). Tony interviews interesting local people from different ministries, and we have music and news, and sometimes sound clips from the kids we work with. We also feature devotional teachings that I record called “Ways to Grow in God.” I’ve been working on “Ways” for my waystogrowingod.org devotional site since March 2013, but adding audio podcasts has significantly accelerated how often I write and produce teachings. Some topics are re-written from earlier articles. Others are brand new from the mission field, from our lives, from scripture and from different books that I’m reading.
So that is our working world, which is pretty full. Then you add Afrikaans lessons, and just plain life (like shopping). We also worship at Worcester Christian Church, are involved in a connect (cell) group, Soaking Prayer in Action group, men’s prayer group and we like to visit Hillsong in Somerset West about once a month. When we can, we also ‘do family’ with our Iris Western Cape mama, papa and colleagues. We’re spread out between two towns and a farm, so it’s a challenge.
Now on to our late June-early July ‘winter’ holiday! Here come the blessings and God moments. We were concerned about our garage door that we could not open properly for months. Finally, just two days before we were to leave, the repairman strolls in on a Saturday afternoon. It’s now fixed.
After we loaded up our car, we prayed that we would have many God moments in the midst of our holiday – whether we were at work (still doing our online work for our websites, as well as writing), or play. Love looks like something no matter where you are. Tony began this by stopping for a lady on Route 60, just outside of Ashton. Her name was Margaret, it was her birthday, and she needed a ride. We dropped her off in Swellendam, where we tried to look for the spot where we had a picnic and latte two years ago with our Western Cape outreach team.
Then we found the spot, on the N2, past Swellendam. I shared with Tony that this was the very spot that I shared our prophetic dreams about South Africa with Johan and Marie Fourie, our base leaders. They were able to confirm our calling here. So this spot was special to us. This time, we brought our home sandwiches and cake and ate them with latte bought from the café onsite.
While Tony was off buying some water, I was approached by a worried looking Xhosa man from East London. His name was Earnest, and he was driving from East London to Cape Town. He had run out of gas, and out of money, so he could not buy any more. He had managed to push his car just outside of the BP station that was beside our coffee shop. Since I only had about R40 on me, I knew that wouldn’t get him very far, so I suggested he wait for Tony to rejoin me. I introduced Tony to him and shared his story. Tony was concerned on whether he was telling the truth, although I believed him. He just looked too worried to be lying. Besides, I knew we were to give him something. So Tony went to get change, and gave him R100 to get him further down the road. We prayed over him, and he then was able to get help and a push from six men to get him over to the gas pump. He wasn’t lying at all. Later I remembered that I had a banana and an apple in our lunch bag. Earnest was probably hungry, but I honestly didn’t think about offering him the food, so I began to feel guilty. However, I later discovered that it was okay because I would need the banana!
Later that day we arrived to a lovely and funky suite hotel in the Point Village area of Mossel Bay, right by the Indian Ocean. I love ocean waves and the smell of sea air, so this was a needed respite. They had an elevator and secure indoor parking, so we didn’t need to cart luggage up the stairs. We also found friendly staff, who recommended the Kingfisher seafood restaurant that was steps from the hotel.
When we arrived at the Kingfisher restaurant, which we had no reservations for, they were going to put us upstairs by the sushi buffet. Then the owner sees my walking stick and talks the employees into giving us a much better spot (that is, if we weren’t going upstairs for sushi). This table gave us a near front row seat to the ocean, and we were able to enjoy rosé wine from Franschoek, and a wonderful angelfish dinner. Before our fish arrived, up comes Lize-Mari Bester, who we met and bonded with during our time at Pomegranite (Western Cape outreach 24) two years ago! She moved from Nelspruit to Mossel Bay and was having dinner with her mother at the same restaurant! That was an amazing and wonderful God moment. She still has Nelspruit as her address on Facebook, so we had no idea she was in the Western Cape, let alone the very town we were visiting.
The next morning when we found out that breakfast is quite a walk away in a restaurant, where we have been given breakfast vouchers. Remember the banana that I could have given Earnest? This is what I needed. The banana was a life-saver, since I can’t walk without my strong arthritis meds, and they cannot be taken on an empty stomach. I really did feel badly that I didn’t offer the fruit to Earnest the day before. We helped him with gas, but he was probably hungry too! However, the presence of the fruit the next morning, was just what we both needed to take meds before the breakfast walk.
Another surprise was in Tony finding a bottle of Amaretto DiSaronno in a large liquor store in Mossel Bay. We couldn’t find any in Worcester at Christmas (it’s a Christmas taste for us). This is not something that we would drink regularly. We also found DiSaranno later in a Jeffrey’s Bay café when we were having our last taste of the Indian Ocean seashore. So Tony had carrot cake and I had a thimble of Amaretto for dessert. We’re such foodies for certain tastes. I’m so glad this was part of our holiday. Even though that liqueur is from Italy, it felt like a taste of home.
Then we drove through a beautiful part of South Africa – the Garden Route along the Indian Ocean. Unfortunately I didn’t get photos, since we were travelling along the N2 and could not stop. But it was very green, with lakes on one side of the highway, and ocean vistas on the other. We did stop in Knysna for lunch and got to drive around their lagoon. But since we still had a long drive to Port Elizabeth, we couldn’t stay that long. Finally we got to the border of the Eastern Cape – which was high up in the Tsitskamma mountain range. We crossed the famous Bloukrans bridge at the border and Tony decided to go see where the bungee jumpers jump from, as well as take a photo of the bridge. There were no jumpers to watch at that time, so we just enjoyed the view and the driving break.
Our guest house hostess called us several times from Port Elizabeth, first in Knysna, then at the bridge. Since we were arriving ‘late,’ she gave us her mobile number to call so we could be let in the security gate. We didn’t get to have supper, but since we had such a good lunch, we were fine with tea and fruitcake that we brought with us. We were able to enjoy a nice long table and electrical outlets without requiring the long extension cables we used in Mossel Bay (they didn’t have a desk there, so we improvised using two bedside tables and Tony’s lap). Now we could compute (and I could post my then-most recent blog post on child hunger). We also got to watch English Christian TV, which isn’t available on our ‘free’ Open view channels that we have in Worcester (with the exception of the Brian HoustonTV show on Sunday mornings). Even the heater worked, and they had real milk beside the kettle!
We also had a lovely surprise when we visited Port Elizabeth’s Walmer Park Mall the following morning. While I still can’t find an English-Afrikaans Bible (other than the Gideons-published New Testament and Psalms that you can find in hotels), we did find the latest Willie en die Wenspan CD! We find Willie’s music perfect to learn and sing with the children we love on. We also hoped to find a copy of “I can only Imagine,” since it’s on iTunes, but we can’t access my account since we still don’t have the replacement of my Visa card that expired three months ago.
At the same time, we had a confirmation from an Iris affiliate that I really wanted to visit in East London. They are Josh and Rachael Minter, who run Global Mercy Missions, in a former garden refuse dump. They have a really exiting ministry. They offered us a bed for our visit, which we actually don’t need, since our B+B was not refundable. I was hoping we can return in December and spend more time with them, but Rachael might be in the US with family. However, our time with them a day later was incredibly special. We connected with them quickly and I was feeding the Xhosa residents bread to go with their stew. Later, Tony got to interview the Minters for an upcoming Worcester Reports radio show.
We also found out just how artsy our next guest house location was. I wanted to go to Grahamstown for its history. Officially, Grahamstown has been renamed Makhanda, but most references are still to Grahamstown. I read about the 1820s settlers from England and wanted to see this “frontier country.” However, it’s a university town, and also home to many artists. They had just started their arts festival and we caught the opening night of a visual art show while we had a lovely dinner of artichoke and pea pasta in Haricots restaurant. I was especially impressed by the artist Nicola Byers, who painted several exquisite portraits on the walls. My favourite is here. This girl reminds me of several that we work with, and she’s holding proteas, one of my now favourite flowers (South Africa’s national flower).
We also made a new friend at our Grahamstown guesthouse named George. He was very helpful, as was Celeste, who also worked there. When Celeste saw my walking stick, she looked up at the room (above the garage) that we were to stay in. It had a long set of outdoor stairs. While I could manage the stairs (there was a railing), they decided to move us to an indoor room that was near the breakfast room. We were quite happy there, apart from the lack of lighting, but this was a very old house, with unique qualities. I was thankful and these were pretty surroundings.
I also had shared with George about what we would do in East London. He was so interested that he began to tear up. I think he had expected us to take part in the art festival activities (which would have been good had we the time), but then he heard that we are missionaries. After we returned from East London, and a Nando’s chicken dinner in King Williamstown, we found George sitting by the very old wood stove. He lit us a lovely fire, and gave us a glass of rosé wine. We prayed with him (he knelt before us) and shared ginger marzipan cookies. When we left the following morning, we got to hug George when we said our goodbyes. He said it was a blessing to meet us, since he could see that we are real Christians – and the love that is in our hearts shows widely for all to see. Aww, George, that is beautiful. We love you too!
It was also in Grahamstown that I found a different kind of South African protea flower. These were white! I saw them in the HomeGrounds coffee shop that we really liked. I went and took a photo of them – and they seemed to be real, not dried, like the pink, orange and yellow ones that we later bought in a Montagu shop. The pink and orange proteas below are fresh, but the dried ones are quite similar. Perhaps I'll see a King Protea closer to my birthday.
We had a lovely drive to Jeffrey’s Bay, which is west of Port Elizabeth. I suggested that we stop there for lunch and our last view of the Indian Ocean. I knew that our GPS would be taking us inland earlier than expected to get to our next guesthouse near Oudtshoorn, South Africa’s ostrich capital. We enjoyed fish, lovely coffee, ocean waves, and while Tony had carrot cake, I had a thimble of the almond taste of Amaretto.
Then we headed back to the road, and soon took the start of Route 62 (a road that meanders through the Langskloof Valley and the Little Karoo. It ends in Ashton, near Robertson). We were to drive that entire road. This is a two lane road with no shoulder, but it’s generally quiet. Storm clouds began to form over the valley and it rained. The rain was badly needed, although it made it more difficult to drive – especially when it got dark. Our battery began acting strangely and our GPS kept shutting off. It was off when Tony made a wrong turn, instead of staying on Route 62, he turned the wrong way. Since I have a good sense of direction and had studied the maps, I asked Tony to return to the right road, which he did. I prayed him through the rest of the drive to Oudtshoorn, on a dark, rainy, windy road, where we couldn’t see that well. I just had a look at the road we would have travelled through if I didn’t ask Tony to turn around – it was the Outeniqua pass leading to George! I hear that’s a beautiful pass – but I don’t like driving passes at night unless I have a choice. And in the rain! I kept praying throughout the entire journey, and every once and a while, Tony got off the road, so that vehicles could pass and we would follow their red lights instead. I’ve never liked being the first car on a dark mountain road.
When we safely got to Oudtshoorn, it was just 9 more kilometres to our farm guesthouse – although there was a minivan behind us with bright lights, so it disoriented me. We stopped to regain our bearings, when the driver of the minivan tapped on our window. He greeted us, welcomed us from Worcester (our car plates say CW, the code for Worcester and Touws River), and offered to drive in front of us to our guesthouse). The man was a blessing, since it was hard to see in the dark. We arrived safely, and after settling in, Tony talked me into having dinner at the guesthouse restaurant – which was even better than Worcester’s best restaurant, Fowlers Grill, where we had celebrated our anniversary less than a month ago. Tony ordered Karoo lamb and had tap water, which they added fruit to flavour our beverage. I ordered excellent sweet potato soup, and braai’ed ostrich with vegetables. Oh, my goodness, was this meal excellent, and the meat tender. This was a one-off, since these meals were the equivalent of $40 Canadian, but it was oh, so good with a glass of velvety Cabernet Savignon.
The next morning, Tony was still concerned about the car – in addition to the battery problem of the GPS shutting down, the temperature of the oil gauge went very low. You would think it would be high on such a long drive from Jeffrey’s Bay, let alone from Grahamstown. Tony found the closest Mercedes mechanic was in George – so he used my iPad to Skype call his garage. There was no answer. We decided that we would still brave the drive over the famous Swartsberg Pass – and trust this was just a minor mechanical fault. We filled up with diesel in Oudtshoorn where the attendant volunteered that the low oil temperature may well just have been due to the low temperature the night before.
We had a lovely coffee and scone at a children’s animal farm where they have camel rides and zip lines, and then we drove the Pass. The climb was gentle on the south side, so we got to the top fairly quickly. The other side was another story. We passed by the signpost to the road for Die Hel (Gamaskloof), a remote place that requires a 4x4 vehicle. The pass we were on was challenging enough. Tony did an amazing job in navigating all the hairpin turns and surprisingly, I did NOT get the vertigo that I had on either the DuToitskloof or Bains Kloof passes. This was far higher – but the rocks were stunning in the same weird and wacky colours as the Cogman’s Kloof pass between Ashton and Montagu. After we navigated the pass, we drove along a highway at the edge of the Great Karoo to the next road that navigated the mountains – the much easier Meiringspoort (along a river). There was even a waterfall, that had a waterflow due to the heavy rain the night before. Later, we discovered that the pass may not have been open the day before, and it was to rain the day we left, so we had perfect timing. And the car? The temperature gauge was normal!
We also discovered that we received the rest of the insurance funds from my operation in March! Every bit helps. Now we wait for reimbursement for Tony’s stitch up (from his fall in April) and his back issues in June, which he hasn’t yet claimed since the treatment is ongoing. We also found that Tony’s UK pension has not come in since December, but he thinks that they probably thought he was not still alive (they send our emails periodically to make sure the recipient is still this side of the turf. He thinks it’s an easy fix, and we can catch up. That just makes me marvel all the more, that we’ve been able to manage financially for six months without that pension! We live simply, so that helps, but we haven’t been starving ourselves either. God must have been stretching our funds to supply what we need. Perhaps we can use that pension catchup to further whack down any debt we have (like the mandatory window replacement that’s coming in our Ottawa condo)! We also FINALLY received my Visa credit card from Canada - after five tries. Most of the cards ended up in an Ottawa area branch that we have no connection to - but this time, it came by courier just today!
After we had a lovely breakfast in our guesthouse, we found a surprise gift for our friend Andre. It was something that he’s really wanted, that we only heard about shortly before our journey east. He wanted ostrich biltong, and sure enough it was in the gift shop at our guesthouse. I also picked up a toy ostrich for my niece, which I will take in my suitcase to her next year (on our home visit to Canada). It doesn’t make sense to send it in the mail; it can wait.
We continued on in our journey to our next stop – the port capital of South Africa – Klein Karoo’s Calitzdorp. We had a very high wind and also didn’t have a complete GPS coordinate for De Krans, the port winery bistro we had chosen for our morning coffee. Somehow we skirted the town and headed the wrong way. When we began our return, we were “attacked” by a giant tumbleweed that seemed to pounce on our car, rather than blow away from it, like all other tumbleweeds we’ve encountered. The car is okay! When we got to De Krans, we pulled the thorns that the tumbleweed had left around our car hood. At least it wasn’t a tree or an animal!
Our journey continued through to Ladismith, where we stopped for a Karoo buffet lunch that was heavy on meat and potatoes. There was still sun, but we had long, strange clouds that filled the sky. They pointed west exactly where we were going. By the time we reached Barrydale, it was raining very heavily and there were no coffee shops open. We continued on into Montagu in bad weather. We had to wait for the reception to open for us – we were the only guests, and the whole town had shut down. It was only 4 pm. While we could have forfeited the night and continued home, it was better to stay. They did not have our specially booked ground floor room for me, despite confirmation that I would remain on the ground floor. The receptionist made up the room for us, and gave us extra tea and cookies. It was a good thing, since there were no restaurants open (other than the expensive Avalon hotel, which we were recommended to try). We had tea, cookies, and crisps from the local grocery store. It was fine. It was warm, we had the World Cup on DSTV (something we don’t have at home), and the bed was very comfortable. We had a good, comfortable rest.
The next morning, we headed to the Montagu dried fruit factory store (where we bought dried fruit and nuts for baking, as well as dried proteas for me). I knew this store would be closed had we visited the day before, so this was one of the reasons why I decided to stay the extra night in Montagu. That and the weather was awful. It was raining in Montagu but snowing in Worcester and even Cape Town! Once we drove through the Kogman Kloof pass, we saw snow on the Langerug mountains in Ashton, Robertson and beyond. Our own Brandwachts and other mountains around Worcester were snow covered as well. My friend Janey was excited, since she’d never seen so much snow on the mountains. I think I was spoiled by the snow in the Kootenays – having lived in a mountain resort, where they ski often. Still, it was beautiful.
While we were still in Montagu, we tried connecting with our Harvest School friend Matthys. He had contacted me on Instagram (we don’t use it much!) between Oudtshoorn and Montagu. He was staying in Montagu. It could have been a God connection, but he didn’t check his phone to see our phone calls and messages. So close, since we were in the same town at the same time at least.
Once we drove through Robertson, Tony stopped for a lady who was waiting for a ride. There’s a certain spot that hitchhikers stand as Voortrekker Road becomes R-60 again. This lady was on her way to Bellville in Cape Town, although she initially told us she was going to Worcester. We dropped her off at a spot on the N1 in Worcester so she could get another ride. She offered us money, but we told her, no, keep it, the ride is a gift. She was amazed, and we blessed her further by praying she get a good and safe ride home.
We came back to sunshine in Worcester, and felt joy in seeing the snow on our mountains. Tony had told our friend Janey that we would bring the sunshine back to Worcester – after being cold and rainy for a few days. The rivers are still running, but it is nice to have sunshine between the rains. After all, flooding can be an issue too in the catch up of filling all the reservoirs.
The next day, Tony had the car looked at. The Mercedes repair man suggested that we go to Battery World. It may be a simple fix after all. They found a connector on the battery was loose and fixed it properly. There was no charge to fix it!
Tony then got to pray for a lady in the Worcester ‘Chinese-run’ shop. He stopped to buy me a vase for my proteas (just R18). There was a lady named Portia, who was holding her head in pain. Tony was able to reach out and pray with her. It made a special end to the holiday as we began to settle back into ministry life here in Worcester. The thing about being a missionary is that it’s not something you take a break from. Love looks like something – everywhere. Not just in the town or base where you work.
God was also faithful in continuing to heal Tony for his driving and hiking through the Swartberg Pass. Just two weeks before, he could barely get in and out of bed without my help. Tony even wheeled suitcases around and managed to lift suitcases. He was nudged to discover ways to do life without hurting his back. This includes simple tasks of getting in and out of bed, lifting suitcases, etc. He has a follow-up appointment soon. We did manage kids club with the farm kids (the most challenging group), by Tony leading worship while sitting down and having no heavy lifting. Sometimes you just have to be wise when you’re 77. God will continue in being faithful – we just wanted to share just how much he carried us on our journey. He always finishes what he promises. Thank you Lord, for all your care for us in so many ways.
I am very sure you have wonderful God moments yourselves. I would love to hear your stories. I may write on Ways to Grow in God via God Moments. Usually they are small things, but sometimes they are quite big and major answers to prayer. May our eyes be opened to God working in our lives every day!
“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” (Philippians 1:6 NLT)
by Laurie-Ann Copple
I’ve been praying for keys to reach the township and farm kids. In some ways, it’s been hit or miss, and a definite growing experience. We often have special bonding times with individual children, right from the very start.
When we first ministered with the Vinkrivier farm kids near Robertson, it was August 2016, near the end of the South African winter. Tony played sports with the kids, and I was assigned to do art with some of them. There are some keen artists in this bunch, and I connected with an older girl named Carmen. She was interested in Canada. Others were interested in the Canadian pencils I brought as a gift, as well as Canadian flags and maple candy. I even decided on using my own name in South Africa, rather than a nickname, when one of the farm girls told me that she really liked my name. Double names are common among the coloured Cape community. Since this demographic is our main mission field, this was a perfect fit. I don’t mind being called Mama Lala (in Mozambique), Ann (in Kenya, Sierra Leone and Pakistan), and Rabia (to the Somali refugees). However, there is something special about using your own name!
So we returned to this area on our long-term mission, and began to work with different kids groups. Tony fitted in well with Nigerian YWAM missionary Folla, who runs a kids club three nights a week bordering on the informal (shack) part of Avian Park. Tony began his children’s ministry here, once a week usually on Fridays. I joined him in January in two kids clubs (My Father’s House in Avian Park, and Riverview kids club in Riverview), and we became teachers at MasterPeace Academy. Tony teaches science daily, and music weekly. I became the weekly art teacher. This was a stretch for both of us, but with encouragement from Principal Dr. Mella Davis, we grew in our fields. We especially poured love, encouragement and teaching into Khanyo and Mpho, who live in Zweletemba township. They are Xhosa and are gentle, fun-loving boys. Khanyo is gifted in art, and Mpho may be ADHD, but under that disability, he’s smart, and very spiritually sensitive. He’s also funny. We have come to love them, and we trust we will love the two new boys who will join us near the end of July for the winter term.
In February 2018, we also re-joined the Iris Vinkrivier Farm kids club, which is located near the Rooiberg winery off R60. This group continues to be a handful, but we found inroads to many of them – for example I am known as the pencil sharpening lady, and the artist auntie. They loved my prophetic drawings that we scanned in black line form. They were able to colour in my drawings in unique ways that totally absorbed all of them. Normally this club is loud and rowdy. The day we brought out my drawings, they were quiet for more than 45 minutes!
The other clubs have benefited from my other side – as teacher and musician. Mella Davis asked me three times to lead a teaching time with the Riverview kids, and these went well, so I did the same with the Avian Park kids. It has been these two kids clubs where I had some intense God moments where I was filled with searing compassion for a specific child. In the case of Riverview, I brought a teaching (Gospel in Colours), as well as jam sandwiches and naartjies (satsumas). All went well, and I had a few extra satsumas left over. While five of the older kids were in music class with Tony, one of the littlest kids came up to me and we bonded. I asked him if he’d like a naartjie, and then asked for a hug. He didn’t know much English, but he gave me the sweetest long hug. It was during that moment that my heart was deeply filled with compassion and joy. I’ve hugged kids and been hugged before, but this was different. It was like we were family.
The next My Father's House time was in Avian Park with 60 kids. We didn’t have our translator and our teen helpers were not as helpful as we needed. However, God broke through in a connection with two of the children. These encounters were in the midst of the other children becoming louder and getting annoyed at the teen leaders. I was working at the juice station, which requires concentration. Even with being careful with the cups, I always manage to spill juice on the table.
Since the teens were busy with the sandwiches, I personally handed out juice cups, from my table station. There was one little girl I had not seen before, so I greeted her personally. I didn’t know her name, so I said, “I’ve not seen you here before, sweetie. Welcome, you are so welcome here!” I gave her a great big grin. It was like the Holy Spirit filled me so completely with searing joy and compassion that this spilled onto her. She lit up and gave me a huge smile in return. Normally these Cape coloured township kids don’t smile that much. But she did. The next encounter was shortly after. The kids began returning their juice cups. One little boy saw that I was doing this on my own, and he wanted to help. So I let him pile different cups together and we packed them so it would fit in the big juice pail. We had this silent understanding that we were family and it was a joy to work together. When we were done, I gave him a grin, which was returned. I offered him my right palm for a ‘high five,’ which was returned with enthusiasm. The surge I felt with him was different; it was more like a sense of belonging for both of us – but like the moment with the little girl, it was intense and memorable.
Other times I’ve been hugged, thanked, called ‘Tunnie’ and had great connections during leading worship. Some of the girls absolutely love playing my apple and egg shakers. Some are interested in my Irish bodhran that we brought from Canada. But nearly always there is a connection with these little ones.
And then came the teen girls who act as helpers at My Father's House. When we started with this club in January 2018, there were teen boys, who later became unruly. They didn’t seem to like Soraya’s discipline, and after the first few weeks, they didn’t really connect with us Copples either. Later on, we began searching for teens to become leaders of future Mailbox Clubs. Eventually we would have eight such girls. Training will take three months, and since the Avian Park library is not available on Saturdays, we have the training in our home. Tony picks them up at the library and brings them to our home in two trips, and also picks up Soraya, who is leading their training in Afrikaans (Tony does the English portion).
I fell into the role of making sandwiches, as well as serving cookies and juice. They are always hungry, and often asking for more. They giggle, go into the bathroom together, and are always asking me questions. One picks up my dinner bell and rings it, so I tell her that I ring it to let Tony know that supper is ready. Another notices the fridge magnets, and that one is of me with my mother in New York City. They were fascinated. Then they wanted to see Facebook pictures of my niece and step-granddaughter. Still another girl loves to play with my hair – especially in playing with the ringlets. These are real curls, different than the fake hair extensions that she is probably used to seeing. This girl loves to lightly punch my arm to say hello.
Meanwhile, not all the girls wanted to stay indoors – they wanted to explore the streets of the retirement village, which I hoped wouldn’t alarm the neighbours. Thankfully it didn’t. Others still just wanted our Wi-Fi code. But what was wonderful, is that at one of the girls asked Tony if she could go home in the second batch the following week. She thought I was cool and she wants to spend time with me! I’m not naturally attracted to teens, despite a word of knowledge that I had been given that I would be a loving support to some broken teenage girls. You just never know. While they were asking me questions, it was like I was in unknown territory and just relying on the Holy Spirit to keep us connected. He did not disappoint. I could be myself with them – and if I was not, they would see right through that. Then the girls began calling me my Grandma name that's actually reserved for little Sagan Copple. I'm Grandman LaLa. These girls didn't know that and began calling me LaLa on their own. I didn't mind, I answered to it.
Each time I meet with the kids or teens (whether My Father's House or the other clubs), I am stretched and stretched. But this is good, since it keeps me leaning on God for the ever ‘more.’ Jesus is using my skills and talents in various areas, and creating something new. This newness shows up in prophetic colouring books, different talks, singing and percussion; teaching art formally in school and loving on the kids as tante (aunt) and ouma (grandma). There is more in store … and it’s good that I like cooking, because that’s of use too. Nothing is wasted in the kingdom. It’s all in preparation for those God moments. May we have many more of them.
The latest stretching was the discovery that some had sipped away on Tony’s bottle of Cool-mint Listerine in our bathroom. It does contain alcohol, so after the initial surprise, we need view this in the context of alcoholism in the coloured townships, and that teens usually ‘push the envelope’ in trying things out. We’re thinking of an amusing response to this discovery. We can still remember what it was like to be a teen!
Tony and Laurie-Ann Copple (usually Laurie-Ann)
L-A's devotional blog
TONY'S DEVOTIONAL BLOG
Tony's south african journal
TONY'S POST MISSION JOURNAL