Friday, October 14, 2011

Time Out

Sometimes life gets a bit too hectic and getting away from everything can prove beneficial to say the least. Take my recent trip to Johannesburg for example. In the days leading up to my departure, a departure I had no idea was imminent since it was a last minute arrangement, things started to really get on top of me. I was struggling to get to work, my boss was taking money off my invoices every time I arrived late, keys were being lost and I was having to walk to the bus stop in the rain so I would be able to take a bus trip that would take up to three hours in order to get there. Even the weekends offered no relief because there were lots of people on the farm painting and plastering the buildings in preparation for the big church meeting that was coming up in a few weeks time. When things went awry I started getting very close to loosing my cool and blowing up, of course I'm talking about work here but things on the farm were also pressuring me in unexpected ways. I was becoming miserable, I had even lost interest in blogging, something I have loved doing for a long time. Blogging takes time and when the pressure is on sometimes all you want to do when you get home is relax and get as much shut eye as possible. I could see no end to the struggle and was fast losing faith. I'm obviously not very good at handling prolonged pressure. I felt all alone and that God had given up on me, yes he was answering my prayers but I had gotten to the stage where I no longer knew what to pray for. I was having to keep my crew motivated and my client happy by being reliable and motivated myself all the while sinking deeper and deeper into a state of hopelessness. Very demoralising. But that was all about to change.
God knows how much we can handle and when He can see that we are at our wits end He steps in and takes the pressure off. It seems to me that He steps in almost always at the last moment. On this occasion He sent me to Johannesburg at a time when there was so much pressure at work that I think that if I had stayed I would have exploded. Good timing, thank you Lord.
So here's my story of how God stepped in and sent me on holiday.
In my previous post I wrote about how God had answered my prayers, now let me tell about the actual blessing itself and what actually happened. I got a phone call from Philip, my boss, on the Monday before I left to tell me that on Wednesday instead of going to work and catching a bus from the building site I should rather catch one of the rapid bus transport system (RBTS) busses to where he lives and his wife would then take me to the workshop. This is all very well but these busses don't come anywhere near Melkbos. So firstly I had to catch a normal bus to one of the RBTS pick up points and then get off that bus near his home which I  did. His wife met me at the bus station and took me to the workshop where I got a few things I was going to need in order to do a little work for the company while in Gauteng, the province in which Johannesburg is situated. (I think that I'm going to have to publish a map of South Africa so you can see where I'm talking about.) Anyway on arrival at the workshop I found that none of the company vehicles had fuel to be able to get me to the airport anyway so I needed to put R100.00 worth of fuel into the company pick up in order to get going, which I duly did. At this stage, as I said, I had no faith left and was just trying to get through each day as it presented itself.
So finally it was off to the airport.
I was going to be away for a few days but since I had been so exhausted for so long and laundry is not exactly one of the priorities of a single man, I had only done the washing to carry me through a few days at a time. My jeans were in any case worn out, my socks after months of safety boot wear were also no longer worth keeping and since shopping was definitely not one of my priorities all I packed were a few shirts. I was going to buy new clothes once I arrived anyway. Everyone who saw my tiny little back pack was flabbergasted. It was hilarious. When I finally arrived at the airport I checked in, this was in itself quite an undertaking since the airline had no record of my booking which had been the cheapest seat the company could find and had been done on-line at the last minute which seems to be the way they do everything. It took about an hour for them to sort out but once everything was settled I went through to the departure lounge. I had about two hours to kill before boarding which allowed me to have something to eat and drink. It's not all that difficult to relax when all you can do has been done and now everything is out of your hands. I bumbled around and took a few photographs before boarding knowing that I would write about this at some time but there really isn't much to take pictures of in an airport.When we finally boarded the plane I landed up with a window seat. This was fine in my estimation, only thing is, it was over the wing so as far as a view was concerned, there was none. Hmph! Oh well I was on my way, relaxed and looking forward to seeing my daughter and my family.
The descent into Johannesburg was smooth enough but when you are descending into a dense cloud of pollution and smog it is a little off putting to say the least. Well Shelley, my daughter, met me at the airport and immediately took me to my new car, the reason I was up here anyway. Thus begins the Lord's blessing.
As can be imagined she wanted to show Daddy her new home and tell me all about her life and how it was going. I'm very proud of my little girl. Shelley has been promoted to the position of service excellence auditor of Avis Southern Africa. Not bad for a little girl who was raised by her single dad hey? After seeing her little home and re-introducing me to her cats I followed her, in my new car, to my sister Toni's cottage where I was going to be staying for the duration of my visit. Oh what a welcome I got from my sisters and family. It's so nice to know that you are loved!
Shelley came to collect me that evening to take me out to dinner and to introduce me to her boyfriend Craig. What a nice chap. He's a Christian and believes in the same values as Shelley does, honesty, faithfulness and integrity. The two of them decided to take daddy out for supper, very sweet of them. As can be expected they took me to a fancy sea food restaurant, something people who don't live at the coast take great pleasure in. The dish I had was fantastic, I can't remember what kind of fish it was but I do remember it being superb. Since I live in the Western Cape, the wine producing province, they wanted me to choose the wine, I chose Sauvignon Blanc, an interesting variety with a slightly green peppery or grassy character, an excellent accompaniment for fish. The desert was also really good, a little too rich for my taste but still enjoyable.
At one point I went outside for a breather and was having a look at the displays in the shop windows when I came across this display in the window of an optometrist, very clever. Sometimes people see things in such creative ways. Those are 5litre jerry cans, don't you like them, I do. All in all I we had a very pleasant evening together. Thanks kids.
The next day it was off to Pretoria for me to get done the work that was needed to complete a job that the company had done some time ago. I first went with Toni to her place of work so as to get directions to the shopping centres I was having to go to. She introduced me to all her friends at work and we sat outside for a while drinking coffee and discussing the daily crossword that gets published in the newspaper. Toni, like Myles my brother and I, is also part of the movie industry. She is a 3d animationist, very interesting. There were a lot of suggestions as to the best rout to take to these shopping centres I needed to get to but eventually it was time to hit the road. Pretoria is about 60km from where I was staying and in due course I got the job done. I found the people friendly and helpful but on the way back to Johannesburg things took on a different complexion. There were police vehicles everywhere with police helicopters flying overhead and officers standing on the bridges overlooking the freeway with rifles pointing at the traffic below. Blue lights flashing and sirens blaring with the helicopters overhead adding to the din. Very threatening and intimidating, I do so much prefer Cape Town where this sort of thing isn't part of the daily ritual which it seems to be in Gauteng the crime capitol of South Africa. I took an alternative rout and scooted off back to Johannesburg, not that that is any safer. I spent the afternoon with Myles at his factory, he was very busy getting ready for an exhibition he was working on that was due to open in a few days time.
Today was my birthday, September the 15th so that evening the whole family got together at another restaurant for dinner. Here I met my niece for the first time, Jemma, Myles and Tracy's daughter. She's a sweet little thing but no doubt about it, she's daddy's girl. My oldest sister Felicity had turned 60 a few days before so this was quite a party. That red thing in front of her is what they call a jam jar, a type of drink made with vodka, cranberry juice and a few other things I'm not sure of. It lasted her the whole evening, I'm not surprised.
We had a whale of a time.
Friday morning and I awoke with a slight hangover, not surprising really after last nights celebration. I got going rather early and went to Myles's factory to get some paint I needed to sort out the next store I was on my way to. I also took the opportunity to call Philip my boss and to arrange for him to send more of the fittings he wanted me to install, I have no idea why he sent me up with so few, give me a whole lot and I will bring the left overs back with me. Makes sense to me. Anyway Myles wanted to show me his new home and what they had done with their garden. I hadn't been to visit my family for about six years so there were lots of changes. We had some strong coffee and then it was off to work for me again.
I couldn't get very much done because of the shortage of fittings, they were supposed to be delivered by courier the following morning. I did what I could and then went shopping for new clothes. Jeans and socks and so on. I found out where the remaining shopping centres were that I was going to have to visit and made a few arrangements with the particular stores to gain access. By then it was afternoon and since all Toni's friends were coming around to celebrate my birthday with us that evening I bought some eats. Cheese, lots of different types some of which I had never seen before. I got things like cold meats and snack type things too.
That evening the party started all over again. It was fun but after a while I found I needed to lie down or fall over so I quietly exited the scene and went to bed. A wise move, they carried on until long after midnight. The strange thing is, all the interesting cheese had been left over and the more bland types were eaten, boring people. Well we made good use of the leftovers on Sunday, Toni and I made cheese scones, they were delicious, we used all the really strong cheeses and there were lots.
Of course the bits I needed to complete the job I was supposed to take care of were not available on Saturday morning, instead of sending them by courier the company had sent them by overnight post and that meant they would only be collectable on Monday. This meant I was only going to get back to Cape Town on Tuesday night, rats. We went shopping on Saturday and just spent the day relaxing. Shelley came to collect me in the evening so we could spend some time together. It is good to spend time with your children catching up on each other's lives. We went to church the following morning together but Craig was sick so couldn't join us. It was nice to see where she worships the Lord and I enjoyed the service. Then it was back to Toni's place. Shelley is studying for her degree through Unisa, South Africa's largest distance university so she went back to her studies.
Toni, Felicity and I spent most of the day in the garden while they showed me all their plans for their home and what they were going to do with their rather large garden. We spent the afternoon playing a game called Triominoes, similar to dominoes but with triangular playing pieces, much more challenging than dominoes and a lot more fun. We also made the scones I mentioned earlier, yum!
Monday morning, I got the bits I needed, at last, and finished the work I needed to do, packed the car and got ready to leave. It's never easy to leave family so there were emotional good by's and lots of hugs and well wishes. I was on my way in the morning.I had an incredible time and was blessed in such a profound way. Family are the best blessing the lord can give you here on earth, value them.
This post is long enough for now so I will leave the trip for the next one. I hope you have enjoyed my little story and come back for part two.
God bless you my friends, hopefully now that I have a little more time on my hands I can keep up with this.
Lots of love to all of you, Geoff.


  1. Hello Geoff, this was so wonderful. Happy birthday. Nice things do happen to nice people. And I enjoyed all your pictures too. It is just nice to read your nice story along with the wonderful pictures.

  2. Krikey mate! You're driving down the wrong side of the road! hahahaa... just kidding. (And I know you're not Australian.) I'll stop back by later and write more thoughts. Actually, I should just be writing you a letter! Now, get to work on that laundry!

    Hey! Who took care of the pets while you were waltzing around the country?

  3. Hello Geoff... I'm back. First of all, in response to your mention of wanting to crawl into bed with a book and just ignore the world... yes, I can relate. Sometimes we feel worthless and where on earth is our life going? But you are very important to many people... especially your family, as you related in this post.

    Your approachability, intelligence, common sense, and love for life shines through your writing. I can tell you have scratched and clawed your way through life. You are a survivor-- Always trying your best, honest about your failures, and very humble about your successes.

    I so enjoy your stories about your life. This post about your trip and family (Chapter 1) is very interesting. I am looking forward to Chapter 2.

    I had much more to say, but don't have time right now. I'm going to visit my family this next week so will catch up with you later on.


  4. Loved the story. And, I too sometimes just feel like crawling into bed with a good book. God bless, Lloyd