Monday, February 28, 2011

Deep theology

I received an email from a friend with the maxim 'Don't try to be smarter than God.' It's a thought that keeps coming back to me. No one tries to be smarter than God, most of us don't think we are smarter than God - but so often we do stuff without waiting for God and the implication is that we think we know better. But sometimes it is hard to wait.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Sometimes it's funny

I am slogging through various documents doing exploratory reading for my PhD. Desmond Tutu (who is likely to have a key role in my PhD) has a great sense of humour.
This between him and Cyril Ramaphosa at a TRC hearing:

Cyril Ramaphosa:

Chairperson, Mr Ronnie Kasrils is sitting right next to me. For some reason or other, he believes that his freedom of speech for the moment has been completely curtailed in this Commission and he is boiling inside and would like to respond to those two questions because he was much more directly involved with those two. I don't know whether he is permitted or that should stand until he makes his own statement.

Desmond Tutu (Chairperson):

He will be speaking. We suggest that he reduces his temperature.

And these instructions as to the use of the translating headphones:

May I also, ahead of time, express our appreciation to those who help us by providing translation and now that I talk about translation, yes, all right I will, I'm being given wonderful signals over there. As you know these are headphones. For those who don't know the 11 official languages of this country, you may use one of these. Xhosa will be heard on channel three and English will be heard on channel two and please do not remove these things from the venue. They bite! Once you leave the venue with these things it turns into something horrible, a monstrous thing that hurts you.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Like an Anchor

There is a new post on Singukukhanya for those following my devotional journey in Zulu! Njengehange (Like an anchor).

A Seminarians' Prayer

Hat tip to Matt Stone on this one from Thomas Merton:

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself , and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that, if I do this, you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

Thomas Merton - Thoughts in Solitude

Monday, February 21, 2011


I determined that I would do no PhD work today - it has been absorbing my mind too much! I have Greek to do as well. And today was the second day of Phakamisa training - which seemed to go well.
The thing with both the PhD and Greek is that they have become computer problems and techie stuff absorbs me. For the Greek I have now loaded Moodle onto my laptop hoping that I can do more interesting things with it. So far so good, but I can't get things to work quite like I want them to!
For the PhD I need to do searches on HTML files and Windows Explorer is not behaving quite as expected - I'm itching to get to grips with the problem and the content of the files . . . but not until I've finished Chapter 10 of the Greek.
Life could be worse and God is good!

Saturday, February 19, 2011


Today, being Saturday looked like this:
We divided the grass at the family house in Pietermaritzburg into three sections as my son was not coping with looking after it all and I mowed my third.
Two hours of ironing (while downloading 160Mb of data for my PhD and listening to Matt Redman).
One hour of waiting for netball to start at SMMS and then half an hour of energetic playing.
Started looking through the PhD data and then persuaded by my second daughter to do our 5km run up the hills and through the forest (in the rain and hence mud!)
Could be worse!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


There is a new post on Singukukhanya for those who want to decipher my Zulu!
Njengezinkozi. (Like an eagle.)

Wednesday is methodical

Wednesdays at seminary are what I think of as methodical days. They have a relatively large amount of structure in them - chapel at 7am, double Greek at 10.30am, Zulu sometime in the afternoon and seminary meetings at 5 or 5.30pm. I quite enjoy the fact that I start the day with a things-to-do-list and spend the gaps plodding through the list. It is quite restful because there is no time to be creative (so I don't have to think), but if I get through enough stuff on my list it feels productive.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Brentwood Pre-School

I spent a little time at the pre-school at Brentwood this morning. I went to say goodbye, because the seminary has decided not to send me there this year. I knew that it would be hard to go out today, but my heart is breaking a bit more than I expected. Not so much because I won't be involved, but rather because I see a project that I think is going to die - or at least never fulfil its potential - for lack of leadership and support from the local church. But I do have an idea that has maybe a 50% chance of being taken up . . .

Monday, February 14, 2011

Lunatic Phase

Prof Richardson told me that every PhD thesis starts with a lunatic phase. A phase where anything goes and you dream chaotically and madly. I thought I had circumvented that to some extent by coming to a topic fairly easily - however as I start reading more seriously I find the options overwhelming. But I do think that this is the most fun and the most challenging part of the thesis writing so I don't want to rush it. Well - no, the truth is I do want to rush it, which is what makes it fun. It adds the edge to the challenge!

Friday, February 11, 2011


I went to the UKZN library today for the first time since registering for a PhD. Previously I was allowed to take out three books at a time and I thought I would ask and see if I had been 'upgraded' in any way. I joked with the librarian and said I hoped I could take out ten books. She checked my card and said 'You can take out twenty!'
I couldn't carry twenty books, but I have taken out ten. I feel RICH!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Clawing my way

Like stories where people pull themselves out of deep and dark places by dragging themselves by their fingernails, I am trying to coerce my brain to go back into academic mode. Slowly I am edging back into Greek . . . and surprisingly it is all coming back to me. The effort required is to get myself to actually apply myself, but when I do it comes quite easily.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Showing Off

Here I am just showing off, because I am so pleased with myself. If you don't feel like being sickened, you are welcome to tune out!
I have being trying to figure out how to improve my Zulu. Last year I had a particular strategy which worked reasonably well. This year I thought that I would have a go at writing an inspirational Christian blog in Zulu. I will try to post once a week . . .
Here is my first post - only slightly modified by one of my colleagues. Singukukhanya.
(Yes, I am pleased with myself!!)

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Time to study

Today - all being well, should be spent on putting together an action plan for my doctoral thesis. Seeing as I enjoy this and should have a reasonable amount of time today, it feels thoroughly self-indulgent!
Phakamisa yesterday went very well. We had a total of 29 pre-school teachers in two classes. I watched them colouring in pictures with pencil crayons. I spoke to one old lady and said something about the fact that she could never have gone to pre-school and that she was catching up now. She was pleased and excited to be able to go home and show her children what she was learning!
I have been moved away from Brentwood, but I don't know where I will be going. I am quite sad about leaving Brentwood - I wish there was some way that I could have carried on there, but I know that the time is right to go. Maybe I'll blog about that a bit more later.

Monday, February 07, 2011

A Little Spark

It is 7am and I am sitting in the car park at Metro Methodist Church. Today we start training pre-school teachers in conjunction with Phakamisa Pinetown. Our waiting list is overflowing. But will they come? Will they pay? Will there be too many people? We can only wait and see.
This is a little spark. Training happens one day every two weeks. We will train between 30 and 40 people. A tiny centre in the relatively small town of Pietermaritzburg.
But what we see is the potential. To run more training courses in the future. To provide different sorts of training. And of course, each trained teacher goes back into their communities with new found knowledge and hopefully a sense of being loved and that there is a living saviour called Jesus.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Taking a deep breath

I'm taking a deep breath before heading off into next week. The first week of the academic term at seminary. I am happy because things have started, the ball is rolling, we are no longer warming up, but moving.
I'm a little stressed because I'm not quite keeping up with my personal survival goals. Weekends have been catch up times for the last two weeks. But I think this is because I am have been very tired. It amazes me that I can basically sit and do nothing (well listen to lectures) and then be exhausted at the end of the day. I seriously wondered if I was getting too old for this and then my daughter started orientation at UKZN - and came home exhausted. So I'm looking forward to a bit more control of my time and a bit more quiet space in the weeks ahead.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Bit of Time

An unusual bit of free time . . .
I still need to put a song into powerpoint for the Covenant Service this afternoon, because the one I chose earlier turns out to be nonsense!! The verses that aren't in English don't make sense.
I promised to go past Metro Methodist Church and do some stuff for Phakamisa,
I need to send smses to all those registered for the Phakamisa courses which start on Monday - awesome!
Two emails to write.

I'm still a bit in limbo for my programme for this year at seminary. But some things are becoming clear . . . and I have some space for a while to get going with PhD studies and Greek 2. Oh yes, I must also read through last year's Greek notes this weekend!

God is good!

Wednesday, February 02, 2011


I'll find out what my seminary programme for the year/semester will be tomorrow. I am afraid. I ought to trust God. Trust the seminary staff. I spent some time with the Phakamisa project today (mostly carrying boxes of books, admittedly). It looks like we are going to be oversubscribed. We need to figure out how we can expand. I am trying to be a good seminarian and be at all the orientation classes, but I am also a bad seminarian with a subversive need to be involved in what I see as the work of God. Submit, submit, submit. Can I do it?

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

One of those days

I had one of those days yesterday when I felt like I didn't do anything right!
Stop. Analyse. Could I have done differently? Sometimes, yes. Sometimes, no. But then I get into a spin and wonder if I am making excuses for myself . . . get into more of a spin. Know that the best thing is to get some sleep and a fresh perspective!