south of somewhere

Hi, our names are Sarah and Nathan Cooper. We are based in Sheffield in England, but are preparing to move to South Africa in September '06 to join a church planting team in the Western Cape. We hope that this blog will keep you up to date with our progress as we embark on this new adventure. Watch this space...

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The journey to Maputo

Well, we made it safely to Maputpo, our furthest point North on our trip. We spent a lovely few days relaxing in St Lucia last week, and got used to having to do a scan for hippos before leaving the backpackers in the evenings. They like to feed on the grass and drink out of the hotel swimming pools, apparently.

We then travelled north to Kosi bay, which has to be one of the most beautiful places on earth. Itºs a river mouth that flows in to the Indian Ocean, and is full of the kind of fish you see in aquariums. The water is warm, and we did a bit of snorkelling to visit the fish. We were quite glad to know that there were no hippos or crocodiles, as there are further up the river!

Yesterday we said goodbye to Kosi bay and headed for the Mozambiquan border. What a place! After making it though the border crossing, we were faced with a choice of 3 sand tracks, and no signposts. We were told that the middle one went to Maputo, so off we set. It was very difficult driving, to say the least! We were glad we had brought a shovel with us, because it was well used after we became quite badly stuck in a deep stretch of sand. With a lot of pushing we managed to get the car out, and made the rest of the journey ok, including a ferry crossing shared with lots of people and cars squashed onto the deck.

Other than Maputo, it is a very rural area. We didnºt pass many villages, only the odd group of straw huts, goatherds and women carrying water containers on their heads every now and again. So, we are now off to explore the city for two days, and hopefully fill up on some Mozabiquan cuisine after all our efforts spent on the journey getting here!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Hangin out with Monkeys

We are writing this from St lucia, on the coast near Mozambique. it's been an amazing few days, with two full days of driving to get here. It was wonderful watching the scenery change as we drove across the vast interior, the Karoo, and into the lovely rolling plains of the Free State,and then into the lush green hills of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN). We have seen many Zulu villages scattered across the hillsides. We stopped to go and talk to some of the people living in one of the villages. They explained to us that they build their houses from mud and dung. it is a very rural area here.

We reached Hluhluwe-Imfolzi park in the pouring rain, which meant we had to make a couple of river crossings. We were really glad to have a fourwheel drive and for once packing far too many pairs of shoes was very helpful, in giving us a bit of extra weight against the flow of the water! We had a bit of a close shave with a frisky elephant, and saw lots of wildlife (zebra, monkeys, baboons, giraffe, rhino, lion, buffalo, wildebeest, mongoose, and many different kinds of antelope.

Yesterday we went down onto the Imfolozi river and saw crocodiles and hippos in the water. We also went down to the local beach to hang out with the monkeys there. We're hoping to see some of the coral reef tomorrow if the sun will just come out for a bit!

We still need a buyer for our house, so we are praying for this still.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Adventure here we come

We've finished our work now, and are off on our travels today! We're heading over to Franschoek and Cape Town, where we'll be collecting Nathan's brother Joel tomorrow. He's signed up to a 3 week road trip with us! On Monday we head West to the Free State...

Please keep praying for a buyer for our house. We had one offer at the asking price but it fell through.

well, we'll keep you posted on our adventure!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

For Sale

Our house now has a For Sale sign outside which feels very strange. It's been on the market a week and tomorrow we are having a kind of 'open day', so hopefully people will come and look at it. A few months ago new laws were introduced which have made it much more difficult for people to get mortgages, which is good in that it should help people avoid getting into unmanageable debt, but bad for us in that the housing market has become very slow. PLease pray that we would find the right person to buy, at the right price!

We finish 4 weeks tomorrow, and are planning our road trip with Nathan's brother Joel - very exciting! Thanks for all your suggestions, we have taken note!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

you lose some... then you lose some more

This week we've endured a double sporting embarrasment, cheering on our woeful rugby and cricket teams as both were destroyed by South Africa. First up we got all the Next Level kids round to watch the 36-0 drubbing and they had a ball! Face paint,fancy dress and a lot of taunting. The winning fancy dress costume included a genuine Springbok tail sticking out of Ronel's jeans! Full marks for attention to detail and innovation (she got it from the local witch-doctor!).

Then on Sunday sarah and I joined Paul & Elaine at Newlands Stadium in Cape Town to see the 20/20 cricket. A huge crowd, with Table Mountain in the background and a not too shabby scoreline, meant we had a great time. We think we were out-numbered by 1000 to 1 as England supporters, which made it more exciting to cheer on all those fours and sixes (yeh, all 3 of them).

Quick update on our renegade Next Level member who stole our ipod: He appears to have left town without a trace! His mum has reported him to the Police as a 'missing person' and none of his friends have seen him. Please pray that he keeps safe and that he comes back soon.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Disappointment this week

I'm writing this with about 45 minutes to go until we have to be back at the house, where we'll be meeting the police. Last week one of the young men in our youth group stole a cell-phone from the house, whilst we had left him alone doing some work in the garden. He had asked for work because his family were running out of food.

We confronted him about the phone, but he denied having taken it. However, the following week at church, some of the other boys confessed that they had seen this lad with the cell phone during the week, boasting that he could get free calls! When we got back from church we found the house had been broken into, and the charger for the phone stolen, along with an adaptor. We confronted him again, he confessed, and returned all three items. However, the following day we discovered that our ipod had also been taken, and the young man in question was nowhere to be found.

We took the difficult decision to take the matter to the police and let them deal with it. We really didn't want to go to the police becuase of the serious implications for this lad, but at the same time we know that he's committed a crime and crossed a line that we don't want any of the other young people to cross, with ourselves or any other staff members. So we are hoping that whatever the outcome he will come to his senses and look at what he is doing with his life. We were very shocked and disappointed at what he's done, but still have hope that he can pull himself up with God's help.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


Hello! It’s steadily moving into Spring at long last, so we’re enjoying sitting out in the sun a little bit more, and not being freezing cold at night. The Northern Cape of South Africa is famous for its Spring flowers, so last weekend we finally broke out of the Western Cape, and took the long drive North (with friends Anna and Gina) to go and see the flowers. It took 6 hours and we ended up in Springbok, not far from the Namibian border. It was worth it! The flowers were stunning, and we did a 4x4 drive to see the best of them, which was VERY fun (for the driver and for the people hanging off the back of the car!) We chased some ostriches down the road and were very impressed that they were running at 45km/hour, and then enjoyed having a herd of springbok run alongside the car - they are amazing when they leap!

It also feels like a new season for us here. We have agreed with the team to finish our work here on 1st November. This decision has followed quite a difficult period of processing with the team what our length of stay should be, and although in some ways it will be very difficult to leave, we all feel that the right decision has been made. So, we are beginning to make plans to return to Sheffield in December - the next leg of the adventure!

Nathan’s brother Joel will be arriving on 2nd November and we are planning to travel together to see a bit more of the country before returning home. If anyone has been to South Africa and has suggestions for what we have to see before we go, please let us know!