KOAM

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Written by Taymen Graye – my son,  when he was 15.

From Zim to Maf there is a woman travelling on a mission
With no clear destination, just driven by love and endless ambition

She’s here for a purpose, even if at the moment it is still a mystery
One thing’s for sure, she will always be my missionary

She connects my soul to the depth of my heart and brings my soul into my life
Through all the struggle, she makes the joy eclipse the strife

When my life lost direction she gave it some alignment
She’s so precious, hard working with many sacrifices, like an African blood diamond

Talking to her is like aromatherapy in its finest finesse
Clearing my pores of all the tyrant stress

Always there for me, making me happy, for a better mother I could not pray
Always willing to be my goalie on a hot Rooigrond day

Tranquil, calming moments with her
Just like the old Friday afternoon at Spur

Sitting on the patio at Leopard Park, reflecting back
Giving me the inspiration to keep my life on track

Even on the worst days, when I talk to her my day flips
I’m like a zipper and she is that helpful hand to put back the rail when it slips

Like the soothing cream on a painful rash
She is my airbag whenever I crash

She straightened my life out whenever it bent
Even making an adventure out of staying in the tent

Even without money, she made sure that Christmas presents were bought
Always sending me angels for support

She brought a little girl into my life and made me a brother
A little girl with so much life, a pure reflection of her mother

I’m sure she must have two hearts because one heart could not possibly
be big enough to contain the love she has for her family

She has a heart warmer than the sun’s ray
If I had to describe as a colour it would be StormGraye

She has a heart with no barrier
She’s made for big things like a cargo carrier

Bound to no limit, potential to the highest supreme
Great expectations I have for this African Queen

The road to her crusade has just begun
Yes, I’m certainly proud to be this woman’s son

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Get out the Tent

dakota_tent

The summer thunder showers have made it unbearable for my five year old daughter, Dakota and me to live in this tent near a dam on the outskirts of Mafikeng.  There is no one else here.  My relationship has ended and I am a single mum who can’t afford rent.  I need to get work and find a proper home for us to stay in.  I am getting ready to meet a potential client who will hopefully agree to do business with me.

I want to be organised but it is hard when it is muddy outside and the tent floor is wet from our feet.  We would have been dressed on time if it were dry outside.  Dakota knows how important this meeting is and I have her co-operation during our mad rush.    I step carefully through the mud wearing slops and carrying Dakota plus my shoes to the car.  Slowing down at the robot in town, the driver alongside me indicates that my muddy slop is stuck in the car door, which annoys me as I don’t want to look like my life is falling apart.

We arrive at the Wimpy to meet with Lincoln for the first time to discuss me designing his website.  He is a black man with a beaming face, softly spoken and slightly shy.  I immediately like him and relax.  Dakota understands that she can only have a small milkshake.  I must buy Lincoln and myself a coffee too.  I am broke and desperate for Lincoln to choose my quote.  I know he has at least two other companies that want the job.  After our meeting, Lincoln tells me about his church.  I had seen the lead pastor of Christ Embassy in Nigeria, Chris Oyakhilome on television before but was not aware they had a satellite church in Mafikeng.  Lincoln invites me, I don’t want to go but I need his business.

‘I’d love to come,’ I say.

It is Sunday and I am parked outside the church.  I want to stay in my car but I have to go inside.  I stand at the door of the small prefab building and stare at the packed room.  Lively black people dancing and singing – I immediately feel spare for coming and that I won’t be welcome.  Where is Lincoln?  He sees me.  Dakota is enticed to the room next door where children go.  She is as apprehensive as me.  I miss her.

The pastor walks into the church; his presence stirs the room as if a king had entered and we are all in awe.   He is wearing a smart suit, his one hand holds onto the front of his jacket and the other arm swings by his side.  His walk is slow and slightly awkward – it might be his shoes that are too long and pointy.  I think they are made of crocodile skin.  He doesn’t look at any of us – only straight down the aisle towards the pulpit.  Two serious tall men, perhaps bodyguards walk behind him.  The music stops and he starts to preach in his Nigerian accent.  His message starts off slow, and then builds up to enthusiastic.  He marches up and down the aisle.  I am on an aisle seat.  I quickly learn to say ‘Amen’ when he says ‘Hallelujah’.  He notices me.  In town, black and white people go to the same churches but white people don’t go to churches in the black communities. I am aware of this.  I remain humble to show I appreciate this fact.  Besides, this is temporary.

At my second meeting with Lincoln I mention to him where I am staying and he immediately arranges for me to meet with the pastor.

I’m sitting alone with the pastor in his lounge and he has barely spoken to me.  He is quiet and seems perplexed.  He keeps leaving the room.  I think he doesn’t know what to do about my situation.  This is awkward.  I’m confident he is going to save us though – his message on Sunday made me believe he has supernatural powers since the Holy Spirit dwells within in him or anyone who believes in Jesus and equips a person to face all circumstances. Wealthy people go to this church – doctors and business owners.  He has arranged for us to temporarily stay at a guest lodge owned by a member of his congregation.  Dakota and I are in heaven.

I volunteer as an usher.  My wardrobe is jeans and t-shirts – always has been.  I have to wear smart black trousers with a blouse and high heels.  I have made a friend, Portia.  She likes smart clothes; she is large and cheeky with dreadlocks, I like her.  She arranges clothes for me from some of the ladies in the congregation.  Ushers stand throughout the service which can go on for hours – in high heels.  I am being trained as a soldier.  Disciplined.  Committed.  I can never miss a meeting or service – being sick is no excuse.  Each Friday at the end of the month is all night prayer, from 6pm until 6am.  I have to stand – in high heels – for 12 hours.  Dakota has a bed made under the table at the back of the church where I stand.  One Saturday morning we had to go to a funeral in an African village, straight after the prayer night.  I wasn’t told that it was unacceptable for a woman to wear trousers in a village and was mocked by the residents.  I learnt to sing songs in Tswana and Zulu even though I had no idea what they meant. I had to catch men and woman on my own – in high heels – that were slain in the spirit (falling down under the anointing of the Holy Spirit) as the pastor prayed for them.

One Sunday, Pastor Ken was coming to visit and flowers were ordered for the church.  The florist whom I knew, arrived during the lively African worship – you can’t help but dance!  She looked stunned.

This was my secret.

 

Back to our Roots

gr8 gr8 gr8 grandparents

I took a trip to Bulawayo to show my daughter, Dakota where her great-great-great grandparents spent 40 years as missionaries.  They arrived in Matabeleland (Bulawayo, Zimbabwe) in 1875 and served at a mission station called Hope Fountain which is still there.  Their names were Rev. Charles Daniel Helm and Elizabeth Eduardine Neé Von Puttkamer.

They travelled by ship from Europe to the Cape and months by wagon to Matabeleland.  Elizabeth had a small child and gave birth to a second during the trek by wagon.  She got ill and had no milk to feed her baby so they bought a goat from King Khama in Bechuanaland (now Botswana), which soon after got killed by a leopard one night at their camp, so the newborn baby had to be fed sloppy porridge!  They had six children who were all sent to England to do their senior education and only saw their parents again once they had completed their school years – all grown up!

Elizabeth was a German baroness.  Her father had a castle in Germany and her cousin, Johanna von Puttkamer married Otto von Bismarck, the Prime Minister of Prussia, but Elizabeth chose instead to live a life as a missionary.  King Lobengula, the leader of the Ndebele, thought highly of Rev. Helm and used him as his interpreter and adviser. Rev. Helm started the Rhodesian Ridgeback dog breed.

They both died at Hope Fountain and were buried there.  I took Dakota to see their graves.  Actually her great-great grandparents as well as her great grandparent’s were buried there too.

Dakota standing in a cave with bushmen paintings, MATOPOS, BULAWAYO

Dakota standing in a cave with bushmen paintings, MATOPOS, BULAWAYO

Dakota doing a bushman dance

Dakota doing a bushman dance

Cecil John Rhode's grave, MATOPOS

Cecil John Rhode’s grave – founder of Rhodesia, MATOPOS

After an elephant ride

After an elephant ride

Into the Wilderness

Therefore I will block her path with thornbushes;
I will wall her in so that she cannot find her way.
Hosea 2:6

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In order to better my chances with a client choosing my quote to design his website – I accepted an invitation to his church.  It was an all-black church with a Nigerian pastor.  When the pastor began his powerful preaching, I thought – this is what I have been waiting to hear.  Tears were streaming down my face – he kept glancing at me – I was thinking he thought I must be a broken-hearted prostitute.  His message gave me hope – no matter my circumstances.

A storm had torn through my life and left me and my daughter on our own.  Business was slow and I had just lost a quote which I really needed.  Although we had a roof over our heads, it wasn’t home.  I had enough money for one more meal and a car on empty.   I decided to give up.  It was a freeing feeling actually – not to have to try anymore – just lie in bed until whatever.

I did get up the next morning after thinking about what the pastor had preached – stepping out in faith and how nothing is impossible for God.

Miracles happened that day including buying a book called Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge.  I cried so much through reading it – I read it right through the night.  I was a warrior princess being pursued by a Warrior King who was fiercely passionate about me that He would thwart my path to get my attention and bring me to Him to be the only one who could rescue me.

Therefore I am now going to allure her;
I will lead her into the desert
and speak tenderly to her.
Hosea 2:14

I was so excited I asked the pastor if I could tell the church what I had discovered.  It was not the normal testimony of prosperity – it was about Jesus being captivated by me – I was being romanced – this was a love story.  I don’t think anyone understood.

My hardships were still ongoing.  We were disciplined by our Nigerian pastor – giving total dedication.  I was made head usher with duties such as keeping the church clean, which started off in a tiny prefab building and ended up in a tent.  But still we had to be dressed in smart black trousers and blouses with high heel shoes.

I would have to stand at the entrance of the tent throughout the service which went on for hours.  I often thought I hope nobody from town sees me there – what would they think?  I remember the florist delivering flowers to the church for a special service when the head of the church group visited.  She came in late and the worship had started – it was a vibrant African song and we were dancing and singing and she gave me such an astonished look – once I was painting the town red and now I’m doing Ipi ‘Ntombi moves in a tent out in the sticks.

After the pastor’s sermon, people from the congregation would be called to the front for prayer.  As an usher I would have to stand behind the person he was praying for and catch them if they were slained in the spirit, letting them come down gently.  But some were too heavy and I would go down with them on top of me and in a split second have to wriggle out under and be standing behind the next one to catch.  My pastor didn’t find that amusing and the high heels didn’t help.

Every last Friday of the month we would have an all night prayer.  I would have to stand for 12 hours in high heels.  I would be so cold I would want to cry.  I didn’t own a jacket, never mind a smart one.  In fact the clothes I wore were given to me by a lady in the congregation.  I had only ever worn jeans and t-shirts and certainly couldn’t now afford new clothes.  Sometimes I would be offered a jacket by one of the men in the congregation, often smelling of wood smoke.

The pastor was having an affair with a lady in the congregation and I couldn’t trust him anymore, so I left the church.  It was hard after that as I struggled with sifting through what we had been taught by him and what could have not been of God.

Even though I had left,  in the year that I had spent in that church – I had become spiritually fit, that when my car went rearing off the road (as the wheel had not been connected securely to the steering shaft, after the CV joints were changed), I was able to walk along the quiet dusty road home in the pitch dark singing ‘Our God is an awesome God, He reigns from heaven above….’ but more than that, I had had so many encounters with Jesus that I knew no matter what I go through in life – He will always be with me through them and never let me fall.

The English Flower Garden

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I used Gravetyre Manor in West Sussex, England, as an assignment for a photography course I am doing.  The manor became home to William Robinson in 1884, the famous gardener and botanist who wrote The English Flower Garden and The Wild Garden.

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