Finding North

Lees die Afrikaanse weergawe

My father taught me to always find North when getting to a new place. That way, he said, you would never get lost. He found his Way twenty-two years ago and doesn’t need the stars for direction anymore.

Me, on the other hand, still search for my North when arriving in a new town or city. Here it isn’t challenging at all, but I must confess that, when we lived or travelled abroad, I struggled to find it.

We lived in Egypt for a while and travelled to the Middle East and Europe and when I looked up at the night sky and didn’t see the Southern Cross in the Northern Hemisphere, I felt a bit lost. My inner compass just couldn’t find its North. Everything felt backwards and upside down. And it didn’t help that the Nile of the Bible flowed in the ‘wrong’ direction.

In Egypt I made East and West my goal. My husband, Deon, and I got lost while going for a walk on our second day in Cairo. We eventually saw the setting sun between the high buildings and followed it, because we knew that that was where the Nile was. In Cairo the Nile became my North – even though it was always East or West from where we were coming from or going to.

Tonight, when our son, Michael, walked to his cottage, he knocked on the window and called me to have a look at the stars. And there the Milky Way hovered in the load shedding darkness over our town with the Southern Cross reminding me – we are home.

© 2022 Fielies De Kock

Wife. Mom. Writer. Living in Hermanus in the Overberg, South Africa, with her husband, son and two dogs. Author of Yeovangya’s Quest, a children’s chapter book, and a few short reads, and co-author of a 125 Creative Writing Prompts for Petrolheads with her content writer son.

Om Noord te vind

Read the English version

My pa het my geleer dat jy altyd Noord moet vind wanneer jy in ‘n nuwe plek aankom, want dan sal jy nooit verdwaal nie. Hy het al twee en twintig jaar gelede reeds sy Weg gevind en het nie meer die sterre nodig vir rigting nie.

Ek, aan die anderkant, soek nog steeds my Noord wanneer ons in ‘n nuwe dorp of stad aankom. Hier is dit nie juis te uitdagend nie, maar ek moet erken dat ek, toe ons in die buiteland gebly of daarheen gereis het, dit nie altyd kon regkry nie.

Ons het vir ‘n tyd lank in Egipte gebly en na die Midde-Ooste en Europa gereis en wanneer ek saans na die hemel opgekyk het en nie die Suiderkruis in die Noordelike Halfrond kon sien nie, het ek ‘n bietjie verlore gevoel. My innerlike kompas wou net nooit sy Noord vind nie. Alles het vir my agterstevoor en onderstebo gevoel. En dit het ook nie gehelp dat die Nyl van die Bybel in die ‘verkeerde’ rigting gevloei het nie.

In Egipte het ek maar vir Oos en Wes begin soek. Ek en my man, Deon, het op die tweede dag in Kaïro verdwaal toe ons gaan stap het. Gelukkig kon ons later die sakkende son tussen die hoë geboue sien en het toe in daai rigting gestap, want ons het geweet die Nyl loop daar. In Kaïro was die Nyl my Noord – al was dit gewoonlik Oos of Wes vanwaar ons gekom of waarheen ons gegaan het.

Vanaand toe ons seun, Michael, na sy huisie toe stap, klop hy aan die venster en sê ek moet die sterre kom kyk. En daar hang die melkweg in die beurtkragdonkerte oor die dorp, met die Suiderkruis wat my herinner – ons is tuis.

© 2022 Fielies De Kock

Ma. Vrou. Skrywer. Bly in Hermanus in die Overberg, Suid-Afrika, met ‘n man, volwasse seun en twee honde. Skrywer van ‘n kinderboek, Yeovangya’s Quest, en kortstories en mede-skrywer van 125 Creative Writing Prompts for Petrolheads saam met einste volwasse seun wat vir ‘n webblad oor karre skryf.

Where were you when the News Broke on 9/11?

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Late as always, I drove to work on that September morning in 2001, praying while driving as was our little morning tradition.

I ended with “Father, and please show us today as much mercy as possible.” A bit baffled, I looked at our five-year old sitting in his car seat at the back and said: “Mommy prayed a strange prayer this morning, don’t you think?”

Normally I would pray for our safety and for our family and people suffering etc. but that morning those words came out of my mouth as if it wasn’t me uttering them. I found it strange, but quickly forgot about it as the morning’s nursery school drop off and work activities chucked it into the background.

Just after four o’clock that afternoon, I was packing away my things to go home while listening to the hourly news on the radio. Just as I was about to switch the radio off, the news reader interrupted himself with breaking news from the US. I listened without believing, and quickly called my male colleague – the only one who was still left – to come and listen if I heard wrong. His shocked face confirmed that I didn’t.

That night my husband and I lay on our bed and watched the TV coverage until the next morning. The scenes of planes flying into buildings, people running away from the ashes, people jumping from the top floors, political commentators speculating and news presenters bringing the newest information, played over and over on the screen and by morning it was still difficult believing what had happened.

That was the day our world had changed forever. Nothing that we would do afterwards stayed untouched. Air travelling had become a nightmare with new security rules being implemented and a new war raged on the TV news every night. For us it was something to observe when we took the time, but for the people of Afghanistan and the US, UK and the rest who eventually got closely involved, it was much closer and cost a lot more.

And as I am writing this, twenty years later, the world is still reeling. Because in the middle of another life changing event – a pandemic starting a year or so ago and leaving us to deal with so much illness and death caused by a virus which doesn’t discriminate – we also have to get to grips with the latest in the saga of 9/11. The US (and the rest) had abruptly withdrawn from Afghanistan, leaving the country and its fragile people in the Taliban’s hands again – and even ‘arming’ them with all the equipment left behind after the withdrawal.

As a wife, mother, sister, daughter and ex-military employee, I can’t help wondering what the point of the last twenty years’ struggle after 9/11 was? Had all the husbands, wives, sons and daughters on all sides just died for nothing? We even lost a South African friend and his two children (then teens) at the hands of the Taliban in their house in Kabul. The boy was in that very same nursery school class where I dropped our son off that still-innocent September morning…

© 2021 Fielies De Kock

Awesomest wife. Finest mom. Hopefullest writer. Foreverest dreamer. Living in a coastal village in the Overberg, South Africa, with a husband and two dogs in a small heritage house, and an adult, recently-graduated, and now mechanic-in-the-making, job-seeking son in the garden cottage. His CV is available on request. 🙂

Opera in the Sea Breeze

We had ‘n few cold and rainy days, so instead of taking walks, we spend our time indoors in front of the fireplace. Yesterday we went for a late afternoon drive to buy more wood and on the way home I asked my husband spontaneously to drop me off just out of town to walk back home.

Although I believe in the Almighty God of the Bible and believe firmly that He is in control and will bring us through this time of epidemic, riots and so many other things life throws at us, I sometimes do get discouraged and a bit depressed. I’m human after all.

I love cold coastal afternoons, when the cool air touches my cheeks and makes me feel more alive. When I’m feeling a bit off, just a half hour walk by the sea makes me a new person again. But, as I was walking down the road – not having reached half an hour yet and still not feeling so renewed, I was thinking about friends having serious problems, issues in the family and just all the changes we had to make and have to live by because of the pandemic. I was wondering if we would ever have a bit of boring normality again and if there will ever be a time when I would become as excited as a child about the future again. (I’m not sure if this lack of excitement had come due to circumstances or because of age, but that’s a musing for another cold afternoon.)

As I was thinking these thoughts, people passed by in cars and on bicycles and on foot – all enjoying the nippy, fresh air which the wind breathed in from the snowy mountains not too far away. I heard some music over the sound of a nearing car and thought it was coming from a nearby house or one of the boutique hotels. But alas, towards me walked an elderly man with his two leashed dogs and when we got close enough to each other, I heard opera music coming from the cell phone in his pocket.

I walked home smiling, way lighter in spirit and I just realised again, that it is the small things in life which causes happiness and which makes pandemics and problems bearable. The God of the Bible does burning-bush miracles, but sometimes He just sings opera in the cool sea breeze.

© 2021 Fielies De Kock

Awesomest wife. Finest mom. Hopefullest writer. Foreverest dreamer. Living in a coastal village in the Overberg, South Africa, with a husband and two dogs in a small heritage house, and an adult, recently-graduated, and now mechanic-in-the-making, job-seeking son in the garden cottage. His CV is available on request. 🙂

The Lost Treasure of Storytelling

My Musings #13/2017

I am from the lucky generation who still grew up without a TV. Well almost. TV arrived in our town in South Africa in 1976, when I was in Grade 2. Or it might even had been a year earlier. I can’t remember. My dad didn’t buy one immediately, “because they didn’t show the rugby”. Actually that was his way of saying that he didn’t have the money to buy one. Not that I held it against him. We never had money, but we always had food, shelter and clothes. And love. We, television-less children in our street had to gather at a house that had a TV every Tuesday at six to watch Haas Das se Nuuskas and Heidi. I had to wait until my oupa sold his TV second-hand to my dad years later to have the pleasure of staying at home to watch it alone – which wasn’t as much fun as wandering down the street to Theunis’ house every Tuesday evening.

I only realised much later in life that not having a television set in the house was much more of a privilege than having one. We ate together at the kitchen table, where we talked about our days and then we listened to the aandgodsdiens (a Bible message) and the ten minute story over the radio. And then we washed the dishes and we all retreated to our rooms, where I would read Bible and a story book before falling asleep.

Don’t get me wrong – I absolutely love technology to a point where I have to admit today that I am addicted. I struggle with it and hope that when our living arrangements change in a year or so, that I will be able to be less dependent on social media and will thus use my phone in a more constructive and balanced way. But for now, I have to live with the addiction, because when you live abroad, that piece of electronics is your life-line to family and friends back home.

One thing that technology killed in our day, is the treasure of storytelling. It’s no shock anymore that when you go to restaurants, you find big or small groups of people sitting together, conversing inwardly via their phones with other people than the ones they are physically with. The same thing happens when children visit each other. They ‘play’ with each other through phones and gaming equipment. Parents prop iPads and tablets into two year olds’ hands to keep them busy, instead of teaching them to play and use their imagination. We had become a strange lot indeed.

When we grew up we still knew boredom. We had no entertainment to speak of at home and very little at school. If we wanted to be entertained, we had to do it ourselves. I arrived late in our family, so I didn’t really had siblings to play with. My dolls became my friends and all the trees in our garden had names. I could sit for hours in my tree and watch people in the neighbourhood go by – without them spotting me. I loved it. I even packed rations to spend whole afternoons in my tree. I also made a ‘saddle’ for my tree trunk ‘horse’, because otherwise my bum would go numb. And I always had a kettie (slingshot) with me, because the Sering tree (I don’t believe the word I found in English for this tree’s name is the correct one) provided me with round, hard, green seeds as ammo. (As the only girl living in the street I learned to be prepared at all times.)

In that tree I dreamed up stories by the hundreds. My mother was the busy sort, so I don’t remember her ever telling or reading me a story. But there was a lot of storytelling around me – not as much as I wanted it to be, but nevertheless. I went to my single oom Mieg’s farm on some Tuesday nights with my grandparents, where my grandfather, grandmother and uncle played cards. Nothing fancy – just boring Rummy. But they played while drinking very, very strong coffee, which ou Betta, his house keeper prepared before she left for the evening. I always drank with and was always sorry afterwards when my stomach cramped so much that my mother had to give me medicine and promised me that I will never go with Oupa and Ouma to oom Mieg’s again. Until the next time. But I loved it, because I loved sitting there, listening to the old people talking.

My brother, Willa, was the first one to read me stories. He read stories to me and he read from the Bible for me and he preached to me and my dolls after school in the sitting room. I loved listening to him and the stories he told me. I think I became a Believer because of him. He practiced so well on me, he became a pastor in real life.

My Grade One teacher, Juffrou Ieta (Mrs Boshoff), was another first of the great story tellers in my life. She had the most soothing voice and some out-of-this-world stories. She would let us lie down on the carpet in the classroom and tell us a story. And if some of us fell asleep, she let us. But I never fell asleep. Stories awed me too much to let my brain go to rest. Instead, it triggered my imagination and I would later play out the stories in my room or in the garden with my dolls or my trees and with the growing number of characters who eventually took permanent residence in my head.

In Standard 2 (Grade 4 nowadays), we had a teacher, Miss Paul, who told us a story once a week. We nagged the whole week long, but she never gave in. We had to wait for Fridays. Her stories sometimes scared us, but they were never dull.

Both one of my primary school teachers – who later became my sister-in-law, Hessie (De Clerq) Breytenbach, and my high school teacher, Attie Saunders, were good enough storytellers to get me interested in history and to this day I still love the subject and it had quite an impact in several of my life choices.

I started writing my own stories and in high school a few of my friends and I even had our own little ‘library box’ with self-written stories, which could be borrowed by others. I’m not verbally good at storytelling, so I am in awe by people who are natural oral storytellers. But they had become very few. And if they still exist, there is no real place for them to practice their art in everyday life anymore, because story time is now watching-TV time or binge-watching-series time or being-glued-to-our-phones time.

Today, we live in an instant world, where entertainment is literally at the tip of our fingers wherever and whenever we want it. We don’t have to go somewhere to a social gathering or wait until it is dark. We push a button wherever we are and literally have endless choices. We actually have so many choices, that we can’t always make up our minds – and not just about entertainment, but about other things in life too.

I’m not against this way of doing. I do it too and I enjoy it, but I think that we have lost something very important with the way we are entertained in our day. We don’t need our imagination so much anymore, because all the imagining is being done for us now. That book that we should have read and the world in it we should have imagined, is now a movie and we don’t have to go through the trouble of imagining characters and worlds, because someone else have decided for us what it looks like. We just have to sit back and watch without any effort on our behalf. And then forget it again. Because tomorrow we will have some more choices and we will be bombarded with some more special effects and we’re getting so overly stimulated, that our brains doesn’t have any time to enjoy and process and remember the last thing we’ve watched before watching the next.

Our friend, Abri, is a good storyteller. He can entertain one in such a way by telling you about something happening to him that it feels as if you have experienced it with him. He also tells his sons stories. One of the ‘series’ he tells them is about Buks, a farm dog. Buks is an awesome dog. He makes grand plans and fight scary lions and nothing ever gets the better of him. The stories are entertaining and get made up as Abri goes, which sometimes are very, very funny. When he goes away, he records a few stories, so that his sons can listen to them. They love it! And not only does it stimulate the boys’ imaginations, but it tightens the relationship between father and sons.

We still have a few storytellers around. They are mostly humorous and are limited to a few TV shows and yearly cultural festivals and people have to pay to hear them, but at least they still exist. Are there still people telling ghost stories for fun and for free around a camp fire like we did when we were children?

God is a great storyteller. He created billions of characters throughout history and has ‘scripted’ their stories for them. I wonder how many of us live out our stories as He has originally plotted it out, or how much we deviated from His script for our lives to instead live our own, ‘better’ versions through the choices we make? Or how much living we are missing out on because we spend our days on our phones. He also made sure that a lot of His stories got written down for us, so that we can learn from the lives of Adam and Enoch and Noah and Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and Esther and ultimately, Jesus, and that we can have a ‘compass’ to navigate our own stories by. Luckily even those are electronically available today…

I sometimes ponder on how much we miss out on because of the entertainment we choose thanks to our technologically advancing lives. I wonder how many unsaid words there are between people because we choose to live virtually with our eyes glued to a little electronic screen in our hands, instead of looking around in awe at the world and playing out the ‘scripts’ we have with our loved ones.

Unless we switch off that little device every now and then, I guess we will probably never know.

©  Fielies (Riëtte) De Kock

Awesomest wife. Finest mom. Hopefullest Writer. Forever dreamer. Temporarily living in Cairo, Egypt.

Ek bepeins dié week in Afrikaans

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Foto’s: OFM News

My Weeklikse Bepeinsing #12/2017

So, gister was die groot ‘It’s Time’ gebedsbyeenkoms in Bloemfontein en daar was ‘n mag der menigte Suid-Afrikaners wat gaan bid het vir verandering in Suid-Afrika. Hier is net drie Skrifte (van die baie) waaruit Vader ons uit die Bybel leer oor gebed.

…en (as) my volk, oor wie my Naam uitgeroep is, hulle verootmoedig en bid en my aangesig soek en hulle bekeer van hul verkeerde weë, dan sal Ék uit die hemel hoor en hulle sonde vergewe en hulle land genees. (2 Kronieke 7:14)

Waak dan en bid altyddeur, sodat julle waardig geag mag word om al hierdie dinge wat kom, te ontvlug en voor die Seun van die mens te staan. (Lukas 21:36)

…terwyl julle met alle gebed en smeking by elke geleentheid bid in die Gees, en juis daartoe waak met alle volharding en smeking vir al die heiliges… (Efesiërs 6:18)

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So is ons land al vir baie lank al op die afdraende pad en toe hoor ‘n gewone, onvolmaakte  man (soos wat die Mosesse en Dawidde en Elias van die Bybel ook maar was) dat hy ‘n gebedsbyeenkoms moet hou waar mense van Suid-Afrika hulleself kan verootmoedig, Vader se wil vra en bid vir die omstandighede in die land. As ‘n mens die boonste Skrifte lees, sou jy dink dis heel  eenvoudig. Bid vir almal en oor alles en te alle tye is die basiese boodskap. Maar o, wee! Ons is mos (Suid-)Afrikaners en oornag was die land in rep en roer!

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En so analiseer en kritiseer en oordeel dit te lekker vir ‘n klompie weke lank.  En dit gebeur toe gister:

Een groep gryp die geleentheid aan, ondersteun dit en gaan bid. Die wat nie Bloem toe kon of wou gaan nie, het op hulle eie gebid of byeenkomste gereël waar hulle saam met ander kon bid – selfs in die buiteland.

Sommiges het gewonder of hulle kerke darem vandag ook vol sou wees en ander het die inisiatief uitgekryt as “nie van Christus nie”, as ‘n “die mekka van satan” vanweë “die oorvloed vals profesieë” wat daar uitgespreek is en so meer. En die onvolmaakte man wat dit gereël het, was volgens baie onder andere “geldgierig”, “net agter getalle aan” en “die anti-chris”.

Dan was daar die natuurlike reaksie van die ateïs dat mense net gaan om goed te voel oor hulleself en dat niks gaan verander nie.

 ***

Ek reken in ons quick-fix wêreld sal baie die hele gebed-ding as ‘n flop sien as daar teen môre niks verander het nie. Ek wens ons kon almal saam met dieselfde energie saamstaan wat deur sommiges gebruik is om te kritiseer en verdeling te veroorsaak. Dink net! Maar ons is nog hierdie kant van perfektheid. En dis hoe dit is. As ons dit tog net kan onthou.

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Gister se gebeure het my beide hoop gegee en hartseer gemaak, maar dis maar net nog ‘n teken dat ons in onvolmaaktheid leef. Deur Vader se genade is ek nie deur al dié dinge verwar nie, maar ek dink die optrede van baie Christene die afgelope tyd kon tot redelike verwarring by jong/nuwe gelowiges lei, wat ‘n jammerte is.

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Die Skrif uit Openbaring het weer gister telkens by my opgekom. Leef ons reeds in dié tyd?

Wie onreg doen, laat hom nog meer onreg doen; en wie vuil is, laat hom nog vuiler word; en laat die regverdige nog regverdiger word, en laat die heilige nog heiliger word. (Openbaring  22:11)

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As jy ‘n gelowige is, besluit maar self volgens die Skrif oor gister se gebeure. Te veel ‘geloof’ word in ons dae op opinie gebou.

 

 

©  Fielies (Riëtte) De Kock

Awesomest wife. Finest mom. Hopeful Writer. Forever dreamer. Temporarily living in Cairo, Egypt.

The Old Cataract Hotel in Aswan and Times Forever Gone

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My Weekly Musings #11/2017

As a lot of authors and would-be writers, I am fascinated by the writers from the past. I read up on them and read some of their works to try to learn from them. I have great respect for the way they wrote and how prolific they had been in a time before the technology we have today to make writing and publishing easier, was available. (Although I haven’t personally experienced this ‘easiness’ of getting published in the mainstream yet.)

I am a huge, huge, huge fan of Agatha Christie. She wrote wonderful stories that are still enticing today. I have read many of her books and watched more of her stories onscreen and just when I think that I’ve read or seen everything, something ‘new’ pops up. Here, where we are currently living in Egypt, bookstores stock her books and I indulge. She wrote so many stories, that one day if I manage to get through them all, I can just start over and read them again if I want, because they will be as good as new to me.

Another fascination of mine is Ernest Hemingway. (I’m currently contemplating naming our next dog Hemingway. Or Blue. Or something totally different.) I love his writing – some more that others, because let’s face it – in the times that he wrote, not too much happened in most works of fiction and it took a long time to happen.

Although a fan, I’m not blind to these old writers’ weaknesses. There was a lot of drinking and substance abuse involved in the lives of some of these authors and though I don’t condone it, I also don’t judge them. (Today it’s well known that writers and other artists are prone to mental illness and substance abuse.) And in Ernie and his friends’ case I suppose they were pretty much products of the war they survived.

So, even though Ernest and the Fitzgeralds and Gertrude Stein and the likes lived their lives as if there was no tomorrow, I can’t help to romanticise the period and circumstances they lived in just a little bit. Although conditions were still volatile during and after the war, things got simpler after that. There was class and style and ambience and boredom about the way they did their day by day routines.

A few weeks back while on a Nile Cruise, we visited the old Cataract Hotel in Aswan, Egypt, for the third time since we live here. Being there, walking through the big corridors, riding the old, slow wooden lift and sitting in the stylish library, makes one daydream about a time and innocence gone forever. In my mind I can see Aggie sitting in her suite, with her desk moved to in front of the open double doors, feeling the desert heat breezing into the room, stroking her cheeks and causing tiny drops of perspiration on her forehead underneath her neatly waved hair, while she is tapping along passionately on her typewriter – creating the circumstances for Hercule Poirot to solve the four murders in Death on the Nile.

In my mind’s eye, I can see Mister Hemingway standing alongside the chest of drawers, hammering the keys, thinking of rather having a cold beer down in the garden, whilst the current woman in his life is still in bed, nursing a hangover and moaning about him not attending to her immediate needs – to his utter dismay.

I can imagine the buzz in the dining room when the famous well-dressed Who’s Who whom chose to cavort in Egypt at the same time appears one by one or couple by couple in their evening best. They would look way different than our group of whom only some had bothered to follow the smart/casual dress code.

I hear Aggie and her hubby converse about the newest archaeological finding at a site nearby, contemplating from which dynasty it might originate. Over dessert, she wonders if she shouldn’t have stuck to only one murder in Death on the Nile, instead of the four, because “you know, Darling, I don’t want to contribute to the world becoming a more violent place”.

With war clouds still hanging over Europe, Winston Churchill decides that he has to come up with a strategy for the coming Armageddon.

And in another few years, Mrs Fitz frowned upon her husband’s alcohol intake, wondering aloud if it was Ernie’s bad influence on him or the other way around, while she remarks how she can’t grasp why she came to feel so lightheaded so swiftly.

Fast forward to a time the world became enchanted by the people’s princes, who, while smiling her shy smile to the world, is crying within her heart over her broken dreams and recent divorce and wonders what the future will bring as she listens to her Arab lover’s plans for their next holiday together…

Sitting on the lawn, having coffee at sunset with a group of people from all over the world – some of whom we know and more that we don’t know – it is so easy to being translated into another era filled with well-clad creatives looking at the same sun setting where cataracts form down under in the river. Watching the falloukas with their majestic sails on Egypt’s Nile of the Bible passing by, I sat back and dreamed that one day my name will be mentioned as a famous writer who loved visiting the old Cataract Hotel and that a book of mine will sit there on the library shelf next to my fellow South African, Andre P. Brink’s book. Wink-wink.

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PS: Google the Cataract Hotel to read about its history and about the famous ones who frequented there. It is an interesting place and if your travels ever bring you to Egypt, make sure to put Aswan on your itinerary as a must-visit place. There is a lot to see, including the Aswan Dam/Lake Nasr, the Nubian Village, the botanical garden Lord Kitchener planted from trees soldiers brought from all over the world and the Philae Temple – the youngest building from old Egypt’s history. It is also a four-hour drive/50 minute flight to the temple at Abu Simbel.

Cataract Hotel

© Fielies (Riëtte) De Kock

Awesomest wife. Finest mom. Hopeful Writer. Forever dreamer. Temporarily living in Cairo, Egypt.

Daydreaming

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My Weekly Musings #10/2010

 

I had a Writing Club for Children for years before we moved to Egypt. A few of you reading here had children attending, or may even have attended yourself. (I hope at least some of my old students read my blog.) I enjoyed it immensely and plan to revive the clubs when we are back home. Not only did I enjoy teaching writing to the children who were in my groups, but I enjoyed learning from them.

One of a series of workshops we did in in The Writing Club, was journal writing. These workshops were preceded by a lesson on daydreaming. My first two writing clubbers were home schoolers* who grew up on a smallholding and whose mom raised them to question things and gave them playtime. They made the lesson fun and easy and it became my favourite workshop of all.

With the next generation of clubbers it was a different ball game. They were only a bit younger than my first club members, but these days behaviour can change very quickly. The main difference between the two groups was that technology became more advanced and more easily available – and was quickly becoming popular toys for children rather than only work tools for adults.

I found this workshop to become more of a challenge every year. My first group simply listened to what I taught them and followed my guidelines to go home and spend some time deliberately doing nothing, while daydreaming a bit. But with the next groups, l suddenly found myself looking into pairs of eyes looking at me in confusion and perplexity. I got reactions like “How do you daydream?” and “l don’t have time to do nothing, because I have too many schoolwork and activities.” It saddened me that these words came out of the mouths of ten and eleven year olds.

Initially, when these children from the second ‘wave’ started writing stories, l could identify their story lines from the movies they watched. They couldn’t dream up their own stories. Thankfully that changed with time, practice and skill development.

I was shocked at these little person’s reaction, because as a child, daydreaming came as second nature (or in my case – first nature) to me (and all of my friends), but of course times and circumstances have changed and I can’t help to feel a bit sorry for our privileged children today. It is not all their fault. Technology is fantastic. I love it. I love gadgets and apps. And I have to admit that I too am addicted to my phone. Even if I try to spend less time using it and more time doing ‘real life’ stuff, I struggle to get out of my virtual reality. Because these days, one’s whole life is in your phone. My books are on there and so is a lot of my entertainment. And there’s a camera and some memories and – because we live abroad – my family and friends are in there too. It is difficult not to lose oneself in the virtual world. And with that, l realised that I struggle to be creative if it is not on an electronic device. My hands had become impractical. My imagination had become useless as a pencil with a broken point. Maybe that is why I reverted to writing weekly blogs instead of finishing my novel.

I sometimes wonder if people still daydream? Through daydreaming we learn a lot about ourselves. When I look around and see young people (and older ones) hovering over phones, worsening their bad posture, I can’t help wondering if this wonderful technology we have, will not do more bad than good. If one reads statuses and comments on social media, you have to wonder where common sense had gone. The more knowledge we have available, the less knowledgably we seem to get.

I sat behind a family at a wedding in The Netherlands last year. The seven or so year old boy was glued to a phone, playing a game during the service, his neck eerily bent in a very unnatural way. I could imagine him at 19, walking like an old man. While waiting at an optometrist’s room in New Zealand a few weeks ago, a boy younger than two years was playing games on an iPad, so engrossed in the little device that he almost fell off the chair he was sitting on. Whenever one sits in a restaurant, you see people having coffee with one another, while in conversation with other people elsewhere through their phones. What is the point of going out with someone if you are conversing with someone else the whole time?

We are certainly living in a strange world that is getting stranger every day. It is a world where the real makes room for the virtual increasingly. It is becoming a place where I can testify first-hand how I am becoming less and less social, while spending more and more time ‘engaging with’ a little device that doesn’t love me, can’t talk to me or listen to my feeling and cannot hug me. And it quite scares me, because even if I try, I fall back into the bad habit of spending hours per day on it every time. I keep telling myself it will be better when we are back home again and closer to everyone and everything we miss. I really hope so. In the meantime, I will try my best to spend less time in the virtual and more in the real. I miss my daydreaming and my creativity. I want my hands to become usable again.

Do you still daydream? Do you take time to just sit and do nothing? Or are you also a victim of your busy schedule and the little thing in your hand that keeps you awake at night and can’t hug you back? Tell me if you feel you want to. And in the meantime, read a book printed on real paper, plant a herb (and don’t forget to water it regularly), talk to your spouse while having a glass of something special over a home-cooked candlelight dinner, look in your child’s eyes when he or she talks to you and go lie on the grass somewhere and stare at the clouds and dream…

* In case you thought that those first home schoolers were idlers: They moved to England with their parents for a while. The boy joined the British Air Force teen cadets. They moved back to South Africa, went to public schools and the girl went to work and travel abroad and is now back and studying in Stellenbosch. The boy had become an engineer, got married and builds and flies those little drones (or quad copters I presume they are called.) The little sister who later joined the club with our son, was a good daydreamer too and is finishing her public school education this year.

You can like and/or follow The Writing Club/Die Skryfklub on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/thewritingclubdieskryfklub/

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I’m not sure if it really was his words, but if it was, he was a true prophet 😉

©  Fielies (Riëtte) De Kock

Awesomest wife. Finest mom. Hopeful Writer. Forever dreamer. Temporarily living in Cairo, Egypt.

 

My children’s’ book, Yeovangya – a Princess’ Quest for True Love, and short stories are available at https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=node%3D154606011&field-keywords=riette+de+kock&rh=n%3A154606011%2Ck%3Ariette+de+kock

Uprooting

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My Weekly Musings # 9/2017

Recently, we have been visiting our friends who now live in New Zealand. They might or might not stay there forever. They live in an area to where a lot of Asians emigrate to. And a lot of South Africans also. (I think for the South Africans, the choice has to do with the weather, because the north island’s weather is much warmer than the south island’s.) They live in the Auckland area which looks quite a bit like a mix between the Western Cape and Mpumalanga. That might have something to do with it too. In recent decades a lot of South Africans have immigrated to especially countries such as Australia, New Zealand, the UK and Canada. Very few had returned to their ancestral countries of origin, which were mostly The Netherlands, France and Germany.

The reasons for South Africans emigrating is mostly the unacceptable crime wave which are causing people to look for safer places to calm their nerves and also because of work opportunities, due to many people being laid off after becoming BEE (Black Economic Empowerment) victims. It is not only white people who emigrate though. The world is full of young black South Africans making their mark elsewhere in the world too.

We South Africans had become used to ‘losing’ friends to emigration. It is a touch phenomenon to get used to, because parents have to let their children go, adult siblings get separated and, with young children and new-borns growing up in a foreign country, young South Africans become estranged with their families back home. It is indeed a challenging situation. But, thinking about it, I also realise that migrating is sort of a ‘natural’ thing throughout history. It was after all how we got to South Africa. Our ancestors from The Netherlands sought new trade opportunities and the Christian French Huguenots fled from religious persecution, just as some South Africans now leave the country’s shores in fear of their lives and/or looking for jobs.

And of course the uprooting of families is not unique to South Africa. South Africans are at least still doing it by choice (although I blame no one who emigrates due to the fact that they had been high jacked in their own drive-way three times, or whose parents were brutally murdered on a farm or in a city house or whose daughter were raped and murdered when she went for a jog.) Our TV screens are filled daily with displaced people who flee for their lives from places where the blood hungry murderous make it impossible for them to live. One of the drivers we use when we go to Jordan told us that he is Libyan. He spent a few years working in South Africa (nogal!) and then ended up in Jordan. His brother lived in a few other places and currently stays in Israel. Across from our house in Cairo is a small Catholic church. The congregation is made up of expats working here, Egyptians – I presume and Sudanese and various other refugees. The international working force of Egypt is from all over the world. We lived in a displaced world full of displaced people.

So back to my pondering this week after a very long start. While we were in New Zealand, we saw lots of Afrikaans speaking South Africans in the streets, malls and on the beaches. Within ten minutes’ drive there are three shops selling South African products. We had wonderful boerewors (sausages) and biltong (dried meat – like jerky, but better)! The South African numbers are so many there that Browns Bay is referred to as ‘De Bruynsbaai’. And all the time we were there, I tried imagining how it feels to uproot yourself – knowing that it is going to be forever – and go and live in a strange place, building a new life so totally different than the one you had, away from your family and your friends.

We are only temporary living abroad. We are now here in Egypt for three out of a four year period. It had been wonderful and crazy and difficult and frustrating and emotional and a lot of other things too. I really miss our pets, our country, our food, our language, our culture, our ways and especially our people. Whenever we go through passport control at OR Tambo, I want just want to hug and kiss the person behind the counter, but I know I would probably be arrested for it, so I refrain from doing it.

I tried to put myself in the shoes of someone deciding to emigrate to New Zealand – just because it was the country many South Africans choose and we were visiting it. It is a wonderful, first-world, effective, beautiful place with nice, warm, down-to-earth people. It is also a very, very, very expensive country where some of the products are just plainly over-priced. I think it must be difficult in the beginning especially. I wondered if you ever stop missing the rugby fights, the fact that there is a joke minutes after any bad thing happening, the Nando ads, the excellent and the poor Afrikaans songs, the biltong, the South coast beaches, the clean, unique smell of Cape sea air in your nostrils, the shenanigans of politicians (okay, not really that, because now the rest of the world had caught up with us too) or the smell of fresh beskuit and bread of your aunt’s house. I wondered.

We met a young South African girl our son’s age who worked at the supermarket we went to. She heard us speaking Afrikaans with each other and immediately started a conversation. While ringing up our things, she told us that she was living  there with her parents for twelve years now. I commented that she must be full blown Kiwi by now, seeing that she was so young when the moved and probably didn’t remember ‘home’.  Her smile vanished and in a soft voice she said:

“I dream of Cape Town all the time.”

We met with quite a few emigrants from different countries. They told us that the divorce rate under uprooters is quite high. Listening to them a few things came out for people to consider before they make the decision to emigrate. These are:

  • Don’t emigrate to run away from your personal problems. If your husband has a wandering eye, it will be going with him. If he is an alcoholic, he will still be one on the other side. If your wife has a money spending problem in South Africa, you’ll have bigger problems living in a country where the currency is ten times (yep!) stronger.
  • Sort all medical stuff out before you leave. A lot of medical issues can get your visa delayed or even cancelled.
  • Don’t lie about anything on applications.
  • Plan. Plan. For everything.
  • You need a lot of initial capital to move to and settle in another country. (Hundreds-of-thousands-a lot.)
  • Moving countries causes immense stress – for every member or the family. Don’t underestimate that factor. Prepare for it. Change is never easy. Uprooting is up-there on the stress list. This counts even for ‘short’ stays abroad like ours.

My hope is that we will always have the choice to live in South Africa. I love my country. I miss my beautiful country with all its ups and downs. I hate the violence and the corruption. I hate it to be scared at night. (I sleep like a baby in Egypt – and everywhere else we go.) So, I know I will have to face my fears again. I will worry about Michael driving alone at night. I also realise that he might be forced to seek greener international pastures and leave us behind.  I’m not blind for all the challenges. But I miss the good of South Africa. The good things as well as the good people. And for that I hope to stay.

We will just cling to our Protector and remember that ‘Elohim has not given us a spirit of cowardice, but of power and of love and of self-control’. I hope our faith and love and self-control will be enough in the end.

©  Fielies (Riëtte) De Kock

Awesomest wife. Finest mom. Hopeful Writer. Forever dreamer. Temporarily living in Cairo, Egypt.

Keeping my Mouth Shut

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My Weekly Musings # 8/2017

I have so much to muse about. About so many things. But I can’t muse about them out loud. The reasons preventing me to say whatever I want to say is always one or more of the following:
It’s not diplomatic.
It’s not politically correct.
Or it’s insensitive towards religion/s.
It’s not in line with popular opinion.
Or in line with liberal belief.
Or with conservative belief.
It’s hate speech.
It’s offensive.
It’s racist.
Or sexist.
Or not gender sensitive enough.
And always too Biblically literal.
And too old fashioned. (Ah, and there were simpler times, weren’t there?!)

Anyway, my father taught me that actions always have consequences and that you don’t utter words if you are not prepared to have them testify against you in the black and white of ink on paper. A wise man he was indeed. I lived my life by those words. And it didn’t only teach me a lot – it saved my butt many times. I even treated love letters I wrote during my younger years according to that principle. (Of course when I write to the beloved I throw all caution to the wind – just because I can.)

But I’ve learned over the years that living by a rule like that not only saves one embarrassment, it also builds you up. It makes you think before you speak your mind. Because even if I have an opinion about everything under the sun, it doesn’t mean that the world needs to hear it. That also doesn’t mean that I may never air an opinion, because that would just make me spineless. But there is a time and a place for everything under the sun, and sometimes it is time to keep quiet.
Fortunately, there is One Who is always listening and to Whom I can talk about the undiplomatic, politically incorrect, unreligious, unpopular, unliberal, unconservative, offensive, racist, sexist, gender insensitive, too Bibilcal and old fashioned stuff all I want. It’s called prayer. And it is private. And it can be done any time, anywhere. Nobody has to shout at me to do it. I’m not restricted to a time or a place. I can do it anywhere, all day long, without anyone realising. There is also no paper trail so that this post-modern society can accuse me. I’m only left with the relief and the knowing that He has it all in Hand.

The defiled one destroys his neighbour with his mouth,
but the righteous is delivered by knowledge.
(Proverbs 9 verse 11 – From the Bible)

© Fielies (Riëtte) De Kock
Awesomest wife. Finest mom. Hopeful Writer. Forever dreamer. Temporarily living in Cairo, Egypt.

Friendship

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My Weekly Musings #7/2017

There is something as precious and beautiful as gold and very often as rare. It is free and yet it costs much. It starts with the utterance of a single word and yet is not to be found in every easily spoken one. And like gold, the real thing only becomes better when tested. Other than family, it might just be the most important thing us humans are being blessed with while we live our earthly lives.
Friendship doesn’t always come easy. Not all friendships last. Not everyone calling themselves ‘friend’ is one. Sometimes friendship comes from strangers or people we don’t consider friends. Some friends betray, let down, lie, don’t keep their word, walk away, fade, can’t stand the heat or just don’t care enough. They hurt you, but when the hurt subsides, one realises that it happened for the better.
There are friendships though, that last. They are formed between people who never stop caring and never will – no matter what happens or how difficult circumstances become. Because real friends never quit on each other. They always make time. They walk the extra mile. Sometimes friendship takes hard work, perseverance, forgiveness and being forgiven. It takes unconditional love, keeping secrets and speaking harsh words if it means helping and not contributing to a path that leads to destruction.
This week we are visiting friends who we haven’t seen in a few years and who (literally) live on the other side of the world. We have made many wonderful memories together in the past and we have shared quite a bit of heartbreak too. And it is when the conversation just continue as if we saw each other the previous day, and you still laugh at each others’ silly jokes and have made a new worth-to-remember memory within the first few days together, that one realises how blessed and fortunate and lucky you are to have real friends. And to be called someone’s friend. And that’s how they say you get real friends – by becoming one.

Thank You, for giving us friends.

Ointment and perfume gladden the heart. So one’s counsel is sweet to his friend.
(Proverbs 27:9)

©  Fielies (Riëtte) De Kock
Awesomest wife. Finest mom. Hopeful Writer. Forever dreamer. Temporarily living in Cairo, Egypt.

Keeping One’s Word – a Trait Extinct

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My Weekly Musings #6/2017

This is not a post about the new American president or on how good or how bad he is, so you can keep on reading. In order to get to my point though, he has to be mentioned indirectly. As I was writing something else this morning, the TV news was on in the background. I must have had finger trouble, because it was another channel (it wasn’t FOX though) as the usual (BBC). There was a panel on video call discussing the subject that I won’t mention in this post only due to the fact that you might already suffer from fatigue on the topic.

I wasn’t focussing, so I wasn’t sure if the three men were supporting the above non-mentioned person, or if they were making tongue-in-the-cheek comments. All I knew was that my head bobbed up by the one man’s words.

“He is doing everything he promised.”

Now, I know about the jokes going around about that same sentence, but it wasn’t until this man said it on TV this morning that the penny dropped.

I suddenly realised that I was ‘participating’ in something that I really thought I wasn’t involved in. I was accepting lying as ‘normal’ behaviour. Oh, I realised it somehow, but I don’t think it had ever really sunk in, because I thought that I was above that.

We are so used to people making promises when they are running for office and when getting elected, they do the opposite. And we accept it without much resistance, because – well, we knew it would happen! I heard the above non-mentioned person also making promises, but thought by myself, “Meh, he won’t do it.” and “He can’t do that!” and “He won’t be allowed to do that!” Now he is starting to do everything he promised and the world (me very, very included) is shocked!

We got so used to people promising us the sun, the moon and the stars, but instead delivering garbage to our front doors that we have accepted it almost with thanksgiving! We have learned to pardon it. Even those under us who see ourselves as not ‘foolable’, have gotten so used to being fooled that we accept it as the norm. And in the world we live in these days, we are being fooled by almost everyone  we are suppose to trust – politicians, business people, religious leaders and of course every person working on the other side of  an enquiry who promises to call you back.

So, when suddenly someone comes along and keeps his promises – how far reaching the consequences might be – we are suddenly reminded that we are not used to living in a world where people keep their word anymore. And we are fooled when they do. (Like the media and the pole analysers were after the particular election that the non-mentioned person above won.)

Thankfully, we learn from the Word of God that ‘whoever guards His Word, truly the love of Elohim (God) has been perfected in him’ (1 John 2:5). And we also learn that there is One who will always keep His Word.

“I shall not profane My covenant, neither would I change what has gone out from My lips.”

(Psalm 89:34 from the Bible)

 

© 2017 Fielies (Riëtte) De Kock

Awesomest wife. Finest mom. Hopeful Writer. Forever dreamer. Temporarily living in Cairo, Egypt.

46 Is not an ‘Appropriate’ Age to Die

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My Weekly Musings #5

This was a difficult week to be away from home. Our friend died. She was only 46. She had health problems since long before the 14 years that we knew each other. She had more than 30 operations and had been in and out of hospital all the time. We knew that her body took strain that no human body can sustain on the long haul. But we never wanted to acknowledge it. We got used to her being in and out of hospital and life going on in between.

So last week she was in hospital again. On top of her ‘normal’ problems she was fighting a resistant bacterial infection for over a year. She was sent home after treatment with strong, long-term antibiotics. But on Monday morning when her husband woke up, she had left this world quietly next to him during the early hours of the morning.

We were of course, in shock. Still are.

We were still trying to come to terms with Adri’s death, when I got a message from home that my loving godfather went into a coma and not long after that, that he too went to heaven – on what would have been my father’s 90th birthday.

Although any death is always difficult, I’ve learned in life that loss feels different when people die at different ages. My dad died at age 73. That is an acceptable age to die in my books, although it doesn’t make it any easier that one’s father dies at an appropriate age when you stand next to his bed watching how the artificial life orchestrated by machines, leaves his body. Two years later I learned that 49 isn’t an acceptable age for someone to die, when my beloved ouboet (eldest brother) was taken from us in an instant.

We were expecting Oupa Koos’ death. Both he and Ouma Mienie, his wife, was/is very sick. And they were nearing 90. Still, when he died he didn’t only leave a person that would be missed dearly in my and his closer family’s lives. He left and took a whole part of my life with him. A whole part of my history was intertwined with his. Fortunately, as long as I stay mentally healthy, I will have those memories to cherish. He was one of the few left of their generation in our family. And now we are becoming that generation. That is life. What a sobering thought!

We didn’t expect Adri to die young. 46 is an inappropriate age to die. But then – life and death isn’t in our hands. It isn’t ours to give or to take. God gave Adri a wonderful life, in spite of her struggles and she leaves a testimony of His great glory behind through the many lives she touched. She sang like an angel on earth and I believe she is having a ball worshipping the Living God with the real angels now.

Until we see each other again, my friend. Sing your heart out.

And say hello so long to Baas Wynie and Ouboet Piet, Oupa Koos. Tell them they are in my thoughts. Every. Single. Day.

 

And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I return there. יהוה (the LORD) has given, and יהוה has taken away. Blessed be the Name of יהוה.”

(From the Bible – Job 1 verse 21)

© 2017 Fielies (Riëtte) De Kock

Awesomest wife. Finest mom. Hopeful Writer. Forever dreamer. Temporarily living in Cairo, Egypt.

Living outside of One’s Comfort Zone

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Just before having to get out of the way

My Weekly Musings #4

Last week, our American friends invited us to visit the camel bazaar outside Cairo (on the Giza/Sakkara road). We’ve been living here now for just short of three years and I have never been outside of my comfort zone so much in my life. It is literally a daily thing. It is good for me – especially for spiritual me. Not only does it teach me plenty about the world around me, the people of this country, their strange culture and their fanatic religion, but it also teaches me a lot about myself. Living in a culture where you do not understand the language and isn’t even able to read their alphabet or have the same traditions and customs or worship the same God, things can get quite uncomfortable.

It isn’t necessarily a bad thing being out of your comfort zone. It confronts one’s own beliefs, upbringing, culture, customs, world view and lifestyle when you are thrown into a world where nothing is familiar or make sense to you. Not only do you question the behaviour of the people around you, but you question your own. It is not a once off thing, but an ongoing everyday introspection. And not only do you learn to value what is ‘own’ to you, but you also learn to embrace and appreciate diversity. Very early on in our stay here, I have decided that I don’t understand much (not even a reasonable bit) of this culture, but that I am not even going to try to understand it. It makes life here a little bit easier and less complicated to observe rather than to label.

Back to the camel bazaar. I’m sure that this place wouldn’t even exist in a Western country. It’s a raw experience. Camels, by their hundreds, maybe even more, are brought together on a Friday morning to be sold I was told, mostly for meat. Men and (some very young) boys herd the animals – hopping along on three legs as one of the front legs is tied with rope to keep the animal from running away – towards the various ‘auction stations’ with long bamboo sticks. It isn’t a pretty picture to see. On the surface and in the viewpoint of a foreigner like me, it is a harsh place for a camel to be. And also for the people involved.

Upon arriving there, we were only four females in a sea of males – something that already pushes the discomfortometer into the red. The sticks hitting the camels’ bodies – be it on the humps, legs or head – is another difficulty to deal with. Furthermore, none of the camels looked like they had the potential for dinner I would want to see on my plate.

But I realised that it wasn’t my world. It wasn’t my place to judge. With that I don’t condone the behaviour of the people or the suffering of the animals. Sometimes in life things just are what they are – people making a living, surviving the only way they know how to the way they did for centuries – maybe even millennia. My disliking it, my discomfort and the fact that I might disapprove of their way of doing as a foreigner in their country, is not going to change that. I’m not going to alter a country’s culture, customs and actions which are way older than my own culture. What I should do is learn to appreciate it for what it is.

I realised that I would probably be out of my comfort zone many, many, many more times in the period we have left here in this interesting, phenomenal country. How I handle my discomfort is what is important. If I can’t change people’s behaviour or world view, I can at least work on my own. I can learn to value the diversity of this place and the other countries we are visiting, as well as that of my own country when we go back. Hopefully, when we are back in our own culture – which is just as diverse – I will be able to feel less uncomfortable in the mixture, while still staying true to my own upbringing and beliefs and being more tolerant towards people who are different from me.

In the end, when one sees the bigger picture from a forever-living-worldview, we are reminded that we who confess Him as our Saviour are one body in Messiah (Romans 12:5). One day we will be immersed into His culture and all the discomfort of worldly customs, poverty and illness will be something from the past.

PS: I spelled necessarily correct without using spell check or a dictionary.

© 2017 Fielies (Riëtte) De Kock

Awesomest wife. Finest mom. Hopeful Writer. Forever dreamer. Temporarily living in Cairo, Egypt.

The Hole-in-the-wallet, Laborious, Frustrating Process of Acquiring a Travel Visa

My Weekly  Musings #3/2017

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We are planning a visit to friends in New Zealand next month and with that, we are trying to obtain travel visas – something that wasn’t necessary for South African citizens only two or three months ago. But thanks to people abusing the system or hypocritical red tape or whatever, the New Zealand government now finds it necessary for us to get that little hated stamp in our passports. (And now the South African government reciprocated by implementing visas for Kiwis to visit SA! It makes no economic sense.) We are currently residing in Egypt and to get a visa, one’s passport has to travel to Dubai for this privilege! As if that is not uncomfortable enough, the costs are enormous! Not only is there the fee for the sought after stamp or little paper glued into your passport, but there are handling fees for the passports to get there and more separate handling fees for them to get back. And apart from the cost, the effort is just silly. After all the documents they’ve required were attached, they requested some more documents after receiving the passports.

There are many reasons governments give for requiring visas. Some might be legitimate, but I sometimes wonder if the visa process doesn’t just keep the good guys out. Because when there is an attack somewhere in the world and everybody is surprised by a person on a terrorist watch list carrying out the attack, l really question the system. Obviously, he loopholed the visa requirements. How can they get into a country so seemingly easy and us good guys have to carry out time consuming efforts and pay the financial penalties? As if travel tickets aren’t expensive enough.

We’ve received our passports back yesterday. There are no visa stamps or stickers in. Instead, they informed us that the visas are electronically issued against our passport numbers. We will get an email to confirm that.  An email! All that effort for an email! Where is my visa stamp?! I hope it works, because when we arrive in New Zealand after two flights of four and sixteen hours respectively, and they don’t allow us into their little country, I will leave a piece of my mind there!

Thankfully, after our patience being tested going through the process, I’m reminded of a place where we won’t need visas to go to one day. All we need is to confess the Truth. It is that simple. Or that Complicated. The choice is ours.

“To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God.” (From the Bible – Luke 8 verse 10)

© 2017 Fielies (Riëtte) De Kock

Awesomest wife. Finest mom. Hopeful Writer. Forever dreamer. Temporarily living in Cairo, Egypt.

The Myth of Free Speech

My Weekly  Musings #2/2017

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“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

― George Orwell, Animal Farm

A lot of things happening in the past months and recent years made me think real hard lately. Life had changed in almost every way in the past decade, thanks to technology and other developments – some for the better and some for the worse. Our world had become used to terrorist attacks in the form of shootings, knife attacks, sexual assaults, cars and trucks ramming into people, people getting beheaded etc. This last year we saw laws, policies and governments change – strange changes that are still very difficult to believe or to get used to. I’m starting to think that maybe it is a totally natural thing that is happening. In history we had build-ups like these which led to the tower of Babel, the Flood, the Crusades, the First World War and WW2. Talk is that we might already be in the middle of a Third World War of sorts.

When a bucket gets too full of water, it overflows – naturally. There is a saying: Give a person enough rope and he hangs himself. Bucket overflowing or too much rope? It’s the same thing. Balance always needs to be restored somehow. The Western world is playing with its very, very long rope and so is the anti-Western world. And as individuals, agreeing or not agreeing with current directions, we are all steered into, hanged along and sacrificed in the process as collateral damage.

We live in a world where our words, our Twitter feeds, our Facebook statuses, our email (only normal people, not presidential candidates apparently) could get us fired – not only for big things like threatening state security or threatening people or libelling or acknowledging theft (except if you find yourself in certain positions in certain governments) or something immoral like that, but also for being moral. For having values and principles. For believing in the God of the Bible and the Word of God. And for having the audacity to have opinions about religious or any other fundamentalism, abortion, marriage, parenthood, crime, gender issues, sins and the likes. Defend unborn babies, marriage between a man and a woman and stand up for your rights if you are not a person of colour and whatever you say is branded as ‘hate speech’ – no matter if and how sympathetic you are towards these issues in general.

There is no room in the world anymore for a person to speak freely without being branded or bearing far reaching consequences. We are being told what opinions to have, what to think and what causes to support. Would anyone in the Golden Globe audience have had the courage to disagree with the actress’ speech the other night? Probably not, because she was speaking on behalf of the ‘trend’ right now and no-one with a reputation to uphold can afford to think differently? There was a time when, even if they were wrong, people could speak their minds in the democratic West.

We are navigated into believing that it is our right and even our privilege to live perversely. Consequences for our actions and responsibility for our choices aren’t relevant anymore. Sin had become a non-mentionable word. And where does God fit in? Well, He just doesn’t, does He? Modern man – oops, sorry! – Modern, genderless, colourless, faithless person is its own god now. All that matters are ‘it’, ‘itself’ and ‘its’ inner-god, and happiness is its ultimate goal and religion. Its behaviour, lusts and needs are to be practiced to ultimate satisfaction. Anything goes in our little ‘self-god’ world. And the little gods are not bothered for one moment that they are ignoring their Maker’s Instruction Manual. It is like a person trying to use a refrigerator as a washing machine. The plug will fit into the wall socket and the power will go on, but the water put in will freeze as the clothes stay dirty. Eventually, the person would have to reassess and use the appliances for the purposes they were manufactured for.

Life is like that too. Nature has to go its way and imbalances have to be addressed. If man doesn’t do it, God does. And His way is never the easiest way for man.

Be blessed and stay strong, because we are living prophesy.

The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil. (Proverbs 16:4)

© 2017 Fielies (Riëtte) De Kock

Awesomest wife. Finest mom. Hopeful Writer. Forever dreamer. Temporarily living in Cairo, Egypt.

I wasn’t Planning on Writing Anything Newyeary

My Weekly  Musings #1/2017

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It’s that time of year that everyone who writes, writes about having New Year’s resolutions or about breaking them or about their goals for the new year. This year was no different and those who believe they cannot write or are too lazy to write something themselves, sent their friends funny/silly/nice/beautiful/religious/rude/crude messages and poems written by some funny/silly/nice/beautiful/religious/rude/crude writers to wish them a good/blessed/prosperous/whatever 2017, because apparently 2016 had been the worst year in the history of the world according to social media users or liberal American voters or both. Of course it had been a bad year for some individually, but I was just wondering if every one of the WWI and WWII years for example, might not have been worse in general? Anyway, who am I to differ with the social media experts?

I didn’t want to continue on the topic of this most plastic, man-made phase of the year, but hey, while I’m on it… Today’s date is just a date. Dates maybe rule our work lives, but they don’t define our character. Yes, we do remember the things – good and awful – happening to us by the Gregorian date that we use, but to wish a ‘year would die because it had been the most awful of them all’? Really? Is that what life had become for modern us? A date on a man-made calendar with absolutely no guarantee that the next da(y)te on the almanac bring only prosperity/happiness/blessings.

I’d hope that we can rather thank our Maker for every new day, no matter the ‘date’, because He says that He makes every day new and every day His mercy and loving-kindness is anew (Lamentations 3:22,23). Of course we will remember the awful past (even that terrible, dreadful 2016), but eventually we will also remember the beauty and the joy and the memories it brought us. Bad memories have the tendency to be overshadowed by good ones in due time. I don’t say this lightly, because some of us had real hard times and others had horrific things happening to them in 2016.

Let’s be thankful for another day, whatever the date may be, because how evil 2016 might have been, there had been good times and 2017 hasn’t shown its true colours yet. Let’s be grateful for waking up this morning and being alive for just one more moment, maybe even one whole day. I know it sounds like such a cliché, but in the end all we have is now. Enjoy it to the fullest.

Be blessed.

(Blog entry/ies vaguely related to this topic: https://fieliesdekock.com/2014/01/08/my-favourite-days/)

 

© 2017 Fielies (Riëtte) De Kock

Awesomest wife. Finest mom. Hopeful Writer. Forever dreamer. Temporarily living in Cairo, Egypt.