How it all began

So how does a family from Sussex by the Sea end up deeply involved in the Kingdom of Lesotho in the middle of South Africa? How did we end up watching telly in Worthing, but cheering for the Basotho team in their pointy woven hats and blankets at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games, London 2012?! Well, it all started when Colin was told about a friend he hadn’t met yet – someone similar to him who shared the same vision and ideas about the poor and the marginalised, and what churches should be doing about them – his name was Steve Oliver, married to Heather. We drove to Bournemouth to have a coffee and a Heavenly ‘Bro-mance’ began. Colin went out to visit their church in Clarens and was thrilled to bits to find a community where different races were worshiping together, and the poor were treated with real dignity. He came home buzzing, having seen some of the things that he had carried in his heart – it was possible!! He had plans to take us a family, so we started planning and saving hard and praying. In 2010 we took the family on a trip of a lifetime, or so we thought(!). We threw everything at it – we went to South Africa and Lesotho, went on safari, visited different churches, went to the coast… In the back of our minds were the facts that we’d been offered a house swap back home, our car had been written off by drunk drivers the night before we left and we’d had a word that we wouldn’t fit back into the same shape after our trip. A couple of days before we were meant to fly back I was swimming and heard someone lying on a lounger worrying about a volcano in Iceland – ‘get a grip’, I thought, ‘that’s a very random thing to worry about!’ A few texts came throughout the day from family, “Are you OK?? Do you need money??” … ‘weird to offer a loan at the end of a holiday…bit late now…?’

Eventually the penny dropped the next morning I think, when we had access to a TV and realised a volcano had erupted and all flights were cancelled due to a ginormous cloud of ash. Colin phoned the airline and I remember sitting in bed listening to his call. “Yes…yes……mmm…… THREE WEEKS??? What am I supposed to do with my family??” My arms went fizzy with adrenaline, like when you have to swerve to avoid someone on the motorway. We were stuck! What was God doing with us? It took us a while to get our heads around it but we made the best of it and had a blast! An amazing experience, which was extended to six weeks. We saw this:

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..and more importantly, a lot of this:

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…and when we got back, we certainly weren’t fitting back in to this:

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