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...

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

5 weeks already!

We have hit the five week mark, and although it doesn't sound all that long, it feels like we've been here much longer, especially when we think of all that we've done already! It has also been our hardest week yet in terms of reality hitting that we aren't going to be flying home any time soon! We're getting to know our way around town now, beginning to put names to faces at church, but also really missing our amazing friends and family back in the UK. Many of our friends have shared life with us for the last eight years and that depth of community is not quickly replaced. We're also beginning to notice the things that aren't part of South African life - The Guardian and real ale being two key things! (Guess who misses those the most...)It's funny how the little things play a suprisingly big part in helping us to relax and feel at home.

We had our first youth meeting with all the members on Friday. It was great fun, and we're definately enjoying getting to dream up crazy games and then do them! We also started our teaching series called Lessons from the Garden. We'll be looking together at the three relationships which were going on in the Garden of Eden - people with each other, God, and the enemy,and encouraging the youth to see how these same three relationships play out in their own lives. It's exciting stuff and we're also getting a lot from it.

Please pray for 2 of the young lads in our group, who have dropped out of school. They both took jobs outside of town which has meant they have been seperated from their family and church, so both have taken a step of faith and said they will quit in order to work closer to home. Please pray for the courage to actually do this, for the provision of suitable work here in Worcester, and that they would have the finances to return to school in January since school isn't free here.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The End of the Road?

Don't worry, we haven't given up! But this week we did reach the end of the road... literally! Oh Africa we love you. We'd been to the coast and were on our way back when the tarmac just stopped and mud started! It's been one of several things that has made us realise life here is quite different from the UK. The roads in general are providing us with plenty of culture shocks. Undertaking seems to be an art form, the roads are full of pick-up trucks exploding with people in the back, and at road works there's always someone whose job it is to stand a mile ahead waving a little red flag. Businesses don't seem so quick to take your money; they'll happily tell you to go down the road where it's cheaper, or say they'll call you back later (still waiting!). We've seen whales, antelope, a tortoise and a preying mantis in the bathroom (the whales, antelope and tortoise weren't in the bathroom). There's a lot to get used to!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Great news!

Thank you for your prayers, we have just heard back that our application for a mortgage here has been accepted, so we should be able to move into a home of our own in a couple of weeks! This is such good news... you may remember that back in June we came over to South Africa to 'spy out the land' and discovered with a bit of a shock that there is virtually no rental market in Worcester, and that the rent would be higher than a repayment on a mortgage! So we started to pray that God would open the way for us to be able to buy something over here. We had no idea how He would provide, but were sure that He would somehow! So to have first the deposit and now the application approved is really great news!

fun-days, wheels and fahitas!

This Sunday was a special day for the 50 or so children in the People's Church... a Fun-Day with loads of outdoor games and activities. The church meets at the local School for the Deaf, which is actually a campus of buildings, and we made full use of the playing fields and sports stands. The kids had a great time, but most of the adults were fairly hoarse afterwards!

Thank you to everyone who has been praying that we get a car... We now have our very own set of wheels, a 1995 Land Rover Discovery. It's already proving to be a real asset. The roads in the shanty towns are at best full of holes and piles of rubble, and at worst don't exist. We definitely feel safe and confident in the car's abiity to cope. Being able to fit seven people in is also a real bonus. We've already taken out our first carload of the youth - so nice not to need a minibus!

Last Saturday we took a second group of four girls to the cinema. We were really encouraged that the girls were all really enthusiastic and that they are already beginning to get some ideas of what they would like to get out of the group. This Thursday we are having our first NextLevel meeting (involving fahitas!) with all eight girls. Please pray that this will be a good time for them and for us as we start building relationships.

Please pray for our mortgage application - that the banks will look favourably on it, despite our lack of a salary!
Please pray that we are able to collect our shipping successfully - after several long delays we're just hoping it arrives safely.

Totsiens! (see ya!)

Monday, October 09, 2006

TheNextLevel is launched!

Meet Leonie, Jessica, Suzan and Corrie, four members of TheNextLevel!

After many months of planning and a fortnight getting our heads around Worcester, TheNextLevel was launched at the weekend. Our aim is to take 12 young people who have been regular members of the Peoples Church and the GANG (the current youth initiative) and invest in them through building relationship and mentoring them... as well as having lots of fun. The GANG can have up to 40 young people, and the leaders have been wanting to develop a 'next level' for a while, so we've stepped up to the mark, knowing this will be a stretching experience for us! The young people in TheNextLevel are hugely diverse, in their backgrounds, life experience and even mother tongues!

We're starting by taking groups of four at a time so that we can get to know them. But it is just as much of a challenge for the young people to get to know each other, past barriers of language and culture. We hope to hold our first whole-group meeting in a couple of weeks. Please pray for wisdom for us as we guide the group, and for barriers to be broken down.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Here's our house!

It's a blistering...12 degrees and pouring. Ahh, Africa. Still it's been good to run around sorting out all the practicalities while it's still cool. Our main news is that we have had an offer accepted on a house, which we are so excited about. We feel it will fit our needs really well, to be a place where we can retreat to but also a place where we can have the youth round. It has old 'servants's quarters' which can be used as a guest flat for all our visitors, so book yourselves in! We are still in the process of looking for a car, and are busy gathering all the paperwork needed to apply for a mortgage over here. We just hope that all of that goes smoothly.

We have started some planning for the youth work and will be meeting with the leadership team to discuss ideas tomorrow. Sarah will be taking the Sunday school once a month (20 - 50 kids, from about 3-8 years old) and Nathan will be starting to lead some of the worship at Sunday church services. With music practices, Afrikaans lessons, planning for the youth and Sunday school, we're beginning to get started with things. Don't forget to stay in touch with all your news!