Dion's random ramblings

Friday, February 23, 2007

A new lease on life for an old bike!

Yesterday was a very exciting day!! Uncle Regie from KR and Sons panel shop phoned to say that my Vespa was ready for collection!

Uncle Regie is a member of a local Methodist Church. I was put in touch with by my friend, the Revd Ronnie van Eck. He offered to respray my old Vespa for me - you may remember that I had been trying to find someone who would do it, but no panel shop was willing because it was just too much work to strip, spray, and rebuild the bike. She was badly in need of some new paint and also needed quite a few dents knocked out. After all, she is 39 years old this year!

You may remember that this is what she looked like before:

So, after meeting Uncle Regie and his team, she was taken to pieces, a colour was agreed upon (Uncle Regie decided that she would look good in the new metalic Orange that is being used for the sporty Ford Fiesta), and I patiently waited. In the meantime I had ordered new rubbers for the side cowels, new grips for the handlebars, and a new badge for the front (a total of about $15 US (about R150 including postage) from a place in India that I found on the internet... When I first placed the order I was worried that the parts may never arrive... However, they came, well packaged in perfect order, and at a very reasonable price!)

Here's a picture of the Vespa during restoration.

The paintwork is absolutely perfect! She was stripped down, the dents were all fixed up, she was sanded down and then given a few coats of paint to get up to this shiny state! The orange used on this Vespa is quite different from that on my other one. This orange shines! It has some sort of metalic finish that makes it glimmer in the sun. It looks truly awesome!

AND!!! Here's a picture of the old girl all back together with the shiny new coat of paint, all the panels and beading, and saddle fitted! The orange draws a LOT of attention! At least I am always spotted by cars and taxis as I'm driving. I can now say that I have a truly unique Vespa. She has done 36 000 miles! And, I'm sure that I will do a few thousand more.

So, she looks great doesn't she!? She still has a few problems starting.... I will have to get the engine seen to as soon as I have a few spare clams to spend. The seat also needs to be replaced and the headlight is not working as it should (I can get a dim beam, but no brights). Also the speedometer doesn't work, so I am never quite sure how fast I'm driving... So that will also need to be fixed with time. However, when she starts, and once she is running, she goes like a dream! Italian craftsmanship with a South African flare.

She sure is a great joy to me, and she saves me hours of driving by allowing me to nip through the city traffic! I can't wait to leave the office this afternoon and take her out on the road home. Thanks Ronnie, and thanks Uncle Regie... You know what the best part of the whole deal is? Uncle Regie didn't charge me a cent! Now that's incredible!!

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Church of the Vespaholics

Church of the Vespaholics
Originally uploaded by DocJelly.

Now, that's my kind of Church! All you need is a few faithful friends (of course when I say faithful, I mean more than just Vespa lovers, I mean people who can enjoy God in creation and two-stroke oil!), some reasonable weather, a good cup of coffee, and the time to enjoy being alive!

Aahhh.... The Church of Vespa. I wonder if they will still fall asleep during my sermons!? That could be dangerous! NOTE TO SELF - don't preach while people are driving...

PS. My 'old' 1968 Vespa comes back from the 'beauty shop' tomorrow. A member of a local Church owns a panel shop and has resprayed her for free! Thanks for setting it up for me Ronnie! You're a real friend. I can't wait to post a few photos!

So, check back in a day or two, you may like what you see.

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Monday, February 19, 2007

God's word... Or, putting my words into God's mouth?

Those of us who preach, or who teach other people to preach, know the great temptation of putting our words in God's mouth!

I can't tell you how many times I've heard people preach absolute nonsense, abusing the intention and meaning of a text in the Bible, perhaps even preaching a heresy, and at the end of their sermon they proudly say "This is the word of God!" I think God wants to run a mile!

So, here's little resource that may be of some use to preachers, or teachers of the Bible (such as Bible study leaders).

It is a very basic introduction to Biblical Exegesis and Hermeneutics (that is, how we can responsibly study and interpret the Bible so that we get to hear God's word, rather than putting our words into God's mouth)!

Please give me feedback, comments, suggestions, and corrections. This pamphlet is based on an original pamphlet by the Revd Tim Attwell from 1999.

The link below is for the file in Adobe PDF format (if you don't have an Adobe reader you can download it for free at http://www.adobe.com/reader

If you would like an MS Word copy of the file please email me.

Basic principles of Exegesis for preachers and teachers 2007.pdf

Here's the MS Word version:

Basic principles of Exegesis for preachers and teachers 2007.doc

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Liam the great is (re)born

Today is the 15th of February 2007 (but you knew that already, didn't you?) Tomorrow Liam will be exactly three months old (as you may remember he was born last year on the 16th of November). However, since he was only supposed to be born this past Sunday (11 February) he is now only really 4 days old!

Today was also a very special day for us all. We have been waiting for it since he was a week old. We have had to wait until he was three months old before we could take him for an MRI scan to ascertain the exact location, size, and extent of the brain damage he had contracted as a result of the two grade 1 and one grade 4 bleeds in his brain. Well, today was that day. This morning Megie fed him at about 4.30 AM and then did not feed him again until just before the MRI, we also did our best to keep him awake from when he woke up after that early feed (about 6.30) until it was time for him to go for the scan. It seems quite strange to keep your baby awake, when normally you are trying to get him to sleep! The purpose of this was quite simply so that if he needed to be sedated he would not have eaten, but if he did not need sedation (which we discovered he could not have because he is too small) he would feed and then fall asleep with a full tummy.

We only had one 'paid' shot at the MRI (our medical aid only covers one MRI per family per year). So, we needed little Liam to lie still in that huge tube for the 30 or so minutes it would take to get the scans that were needed. Thankfully he was VERY well behaved (as we have known him to be).

So, here's the good news! The MRI showed that none of the three bleeds had caused any further problems. Also, the most severe of the three bleeds (the one in the right hemisphere) had not formed into a cyst and was draining naturally! And, whereas it had previously damaged about 15% or the right hemisphere, it now only occupies about 3 or 4 % of the mass of the right hemisphere as this picture shows (the damaged area is the lighter spot you can see in the top center of this picture). Nice looking brain that! I hope he will be a Doctor... but not like his dad, I want him to be a real doctor... But who knows!?

In fact, our doctor thinks that this cavity will simply leave some scaring and disappear over time. She said it is a miracle that he had recovered so well! The report indicates that there is no further damage, and that the small scar that is left will present much fewer problems than any of us had anticipated! How awesome is that!? Neither Megie nor I can believe just how blessed we have been. We are so undeserving of God's grace! Although, we are grateful that we have received it. And, as my friend Pete's recent post points out, we also don't know why we are fortunate to benefit from this grace... All that we know is that it happened, and for that we are grateful!

So, as of today Liam is born... again.... he is perfect in every possible way! He is truly a gift from God to us! And we are grateful.

We also received another bit of great news today! The background is that we have a very good medical plan that is an arrangement between the Methodist Church of Southern Africa and Pharos Private Health Administrators. However, as with all health plans there are limits to the cover we receive. Liam's medical bills have reached close to R300 000 thus far, of which we have had to pay approximately R100 000, some of this was our members portion, but some had to be paid after we had reached a few of those limits, and in some instances simply did not have enough cover for necessary or required treatments (in particular he has to receive 6 injections to protect him from a respiratory virus called RSV, they cost R10 000 per injection! our medical aid can only pay R3200 for the whole year). We have jokingly said that we are going to insure his legs for R30 000 each! However, the reality for us was that after we had depleted our savings earlier in the year we took out a second bond on our home (which we are very fortunate to be able to do. Not very many ministers own property against which they could loan any money). However, here is the great news! Today we heard from the Methodist Connexional Office that they are able to assist us with half of the cost of the RSV injections! That is just so wonderful! It makes us feel so richly cared for! So, instead of having to pay R60 000 we only need to pay R30 000. What makes this even more special is that the representative from the medical aid, Sister Venter, sent the motivation to the Church office to make the request. We did not even have to do it ourselves. Now that is both grace and great service!

So, all in all it has been a day of great joy and blessing! Tonight I will sleep well (Megie on the other hand will wake up every two hours or so to feed. Thanks darling!) But, thank you all for your kind care, wonderful support, and constant prayers.

In these last months I have rediscovered the joy of talking to God and the privilege of living in community. It makes me feel better... It is the source of all true healing.

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Sunday, February 04, 2007

Right of admission reserved!?

Yesterday I spent the morning doing a workshop with the clergy and leaders of the churches in the Magalies Circuit. It was wonderful to be at Rev Stuart Bosch's fantastic church in Sinoville. I was so impressed by the warm reception, and more so by the openness of this group to consider how they could share the Gospel more faithfully with their communities (not just 'keep the gospel' for the members of their church).

The workshop was based upon the liturgy and powerful stories in Kevin Light's wonderful little book (Light, K & Rogers, F 2004. Right of admission reserved? Cape Town. Methodist Publishing house).

The primary question was, "whose shoes do you see in your church during the week?" You see, shoes don't lie. They not only tell us about the persons who wear them (i.e., are they young, old, men, women, poor, rich, conservative, flamboyant etc.), but they also tell us who comes to our church and who doesn't. Look at the shoes of most Methodist Churches and you'll see that they normally represent one particular sector of that population... They will tell you a lot about that Church - perhaps they will be mostly male shoes, or maybe only adult shoes, perhaps there will only be highly polished black leather shoes from a particular uniformed organisation etc.

Here are the resources if you would like to run the morning of reflection with your church or small group. It does not require any preaching, just the reading of the liturgy and the reading of the three reflections punctuated with songs, then some time in personal reflection and discussion in groups.

I noticed a few typos in both the liturgy and the questions. I will fix them when I get a chance. Please feel free to distribute and use this material wherever you would like. And please, change and adapt it as much as you would like. Can I just ask that you reference Kevin's book when doing so?

I would love to hear some feedback from you if you do use or adapt the materials.

Just like his dad, a nice double chin and chubby cheeks!

Now, some news on little Liam. He was weighed again on Thursday, and now weighs 2.2kg's! So he is becoming a big boy now! He also had his vaccinations this week (two injections and some drops), which have left him a little out of sorts. However, it is all necessary! We are still waiting for our Medical Aid to give their approval for him to have the MRI scan so that we can assess what, and where, the damage from the brain hemorrhage is.

Megie is doing so well with him, although I think as only mothers could know, she is exhausted from waking to feed every 2 hours! Courtney is loving her brother and has been an incredible help to Megie and I.

As for me, I am at the end of two of the busiest weeks of the year! We finished our Orientation with the new students (see the picture below) on Friday afternoon, which meant that I was in class, chapel, or with the students from 7am to 5pm each day and then needed to do my other work after that (preparing sermons, workshops, preparing lectures, dealing with staff and student concerns, catching up on correspondence, and all the other management and administration requirements). I am pleased that we will start with our regular lectures from this coming week. However, we also now begin with screening new candidates for the ministry, which means that between now and easter we will travel to every one of the 12 geographical districts of Southern Africa where the Methodist Church has membership. It is always an honour to be part of those discerning committees, listening to people articulate and share their call, asking a few pointed questions, and helping them to find a path through which to express their unique gifts and abilities. So, I'll be racking up the frequent flyer miles (well, that should be the kulula, mango, and 1Time points...)

This is a picture of our new students, the staff, and the Bishop of the district in which the seminary is located, the Revd Dr Gavin Taylor, Dr Richardson is to his right, and that's me on the extreme right (wearing my favourite jacket!). This photo was taken outside of our chapel. Please excuse the angle of the photograph... My camera was perched on a chair (one day I'll get a tripod). PS. you can enlarge the photos by clicking on them.

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