Monday, 27 November 2017

South Africa 2017 - Day 9 – 26th November

A busy day today!  The churches in South Africa do like to start early on a Sunday morning!  Haven’t they heard of having a lie-in on the day of rest?  Godfrey and I were down for breakfast at 7am as we were being picked up by Andre at 7:45.  The breakfast wasn’t quite as good as the day before, the bacon was a bit dry and the sausages weren’t as good.  Perhaps it God’s way of telling me to stop eating so much fatty food on the road as I doubt it’s doing my expanding waistline any good!  There was granola cereal though, which they didn’t have yesterday, so that made up for it.  I love cereal.  A lot.

On Saturday John, the pastor, accidentally introduced me as Nigel to someone and only the next time he did it did I correct him to Phil.  We all had a laugh about it and it’s become the running joke of the weekend with him referring to it a couple of times.  I guess Godfrey’s just relieved to not get called Geoffrey all the time!

Andre picked us up in his really rather lovely 4.2l Audi A8 and whisked us off to ACF.  His wife wasn’t with him this morning as she is a very keen runner and was doing a short 15k run that morning!  I’d die if I had to run 15k.

The band at the church did three songs at the start of the meeting at 9am then Godfrey shared his talk and as usual absolutely nailed it.  The crowd responded enthusiastically to the good news we’ve got, in words and songs!  It’s heartening that in all kinds of church settings you can pretty much guarantee that the gospel will go down well no matter the style of church, the theology they have, the traditions they have or whatever.  People love to hear the good news that they’re in, that God is not disappointed with them and they are precious beyond measure.  So many folks were obviously having a free revelation of this foundational truth and came and told us so at the end.

Andre and his brother Marius and his family took us for lunch at a nice restaurant with John & Bev.  I had steak for the first time on this trip and it was a good one with an excellent pepper and cream sauce.  Godfrey was pretty tired as it’s been quite a long morning and he needed to sleep before tonight’s gospel party so Andre took us back to the hotel.  My right shoulder had started to ache and it’s definitely down to the electric drum kit, you just don’t get the bounce-back you do on acoustic drums and cymbals so there’s a lot more work for your muscles to do, especially when playing faster songs like ‘Gospel Train’ and ‘The Wine Is Alive’.  Hopefully a couple of hours rest will sort me out and if not I’ve got paracetamol and ibuprofen with me!  A very smartly dressed young black lady got in the lift with what initially looked like a large oddly shaped suitcase when we go to the hotel, but when she got off on the sixth floor I realised it was a massage table.  The hotel does have a fitness centre, not that I’ve been anywhere near it, so they must also offer massages in your room.  I thought my shoulder could do with some of that but I would be far too weirded out getting a massage in my room from anyone, man or woman, unless Mags was there too.  Maybe I’m more prudish than I thought.

Andre picked us up again at about 5pm to get to the meeting which starts about 6pm and Godfrey wanted to just double check the words on their system and put ‘Wild Goose’ in there, as several people had requested it.  It’s not a song he or I have played for many years but it is a lot of fun so he’s keeping it in reserve.  When we got there we were delighted to see that Chereen and her husband Vian and her dad Gordon were there with a lady friend of Gordon’s who I think was called Daphne.  I was so glad to meet Vian having heard some of their story from Chereen and he’s a lovely man, very easy to like and we chatted about motorbikes for a while.

The church band were going to start with three songs so I went to sit at the back and watch and they did an improvised jam to start which was really good and I filmed a little section of it with my phone and whacked it on FaceBook, then they did their songs.  It’s good to be in a church where although the songs were unfamiliar to me they were at least New Covenant songs and not all about pleading, and striving!  Who needs to sing about that nonsense? The church needs to sing songs of how great our God is and who we are in Christ to remind ourselves as we forget so easily.  As most people in a church get their theology from what they sing it’s important to sing the truth not a load of either theological twaddle or Old Covenant do-do.  Most folks can’t remember a damn thing the preacher said five minutes after they’ve left the meeting, no matter how good she/he was but they’ll remember the lyrics to the songs and sing them at home or in the car, so we need to reinforce the gospel not the lament! (Rant over!)

At the end of R U Ready I did a little drum break on the snare and Godfrey said ‘Nigel’s such a good drummer’ and then the crowd started chanting ‘Nigel…Nigel’ over and over.  It’s good being in a church that doesn’t take itself too seriously and can have a laugh.  We did do ‘Wild Goose’ right at the end but it was not fun to play on the electric kit, that song requires some complex floor tom work with quiet ghost notes and then suddenly some crashing power and the electric kit simply cannot respond well enough. 

After the meeting we had some food from the ladies in the church kitchen and said our goodbyes to everyone.  There is currently a plan for Godfrey, and hopefully me, to come back in May next year to do the worship at their conference and if that can work out work and dates-wise that’d be brilliant.

When we got back to the hotel we popped into the bar for a quick beer and both of us got propositioned by ladies of negotiable affection, one very subtly and one right out in the open as bold as brass.  You’ll be unsurprised to read we politely but firmly declined and decided to beat a hasty retreat to our rooms!  I was quite surprised that a quality hotel like this wasn’t a bit more on the ball about allowing that on their premises.  It’s sad though to encounter people in that situation, I don’t imagine it’s anyone’s first choice of a way to earn money.  Desperation can take people to some dark places.

Tomorrow we fly back home at about 8pm in the evening, arriving at Heathrow about 5:30am I think.  Then it’s a drive up North to where Mags will meet us to pick me up.

It’s been an amazing trip and I’ve met some wonderful people.

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