Hazy Days

the shadow of the life to come

Hazy Days

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Where splintered pews had lain…

His face paled. Oh my God! escaped his lips, bouncing off the mike at the pulpit.  It echoed throughout the auditorium.

I was shocked.  What would cause a pastor to blaspheme?

The man standing by his side – the man who had, moments ago, whispered an urgent message into his ear – stared at the congregation, his brow furrowed, his mouth turned in sorrow.

The pastor spoke again:

There is bad news.  We have just heard that St James Church was bombed this evening.  We don’t know anything else.  But, before we go, please let’s pray.

A wave of dreadful knowing hit me.  My dad was there.  And my brother.

Earlier that evening, I had just finished a confirmation class at St James Church, my family church.  I was waiting at the curb for my mother – we were planning to visit another church service that night.  My sister, her friend, and my boyfriend of 8 months were coming too.  I looked up briefly at the words on the church wall, Thy Word above All Things.  Perhaps I should stay here tonight, rather?  I wondered briefly.  But, then, the little blue Volkswagen Golf arrived and I piled in.

Let’s pray.  My head bowed, and then the tears slid down my cheeks.  Hot and hurting.  The air around me thick with horror; warm with fear.  My dad was there!  My brother!  My imaginings ricocheted from flaming buildings to a charred shell of a church.  Please God, I bargained, let them be alive.  I’ll be a better Christian, I promise.

The pastor’s Amen lingered in the silence of the room.

Smiling politely, my mother greeted those around her; her own shock clouding her reality with the normal and mundane.  But not for long.  My sister’s anxious voice broke through, “We’ve got to go there!”

Like a Hollywood drama, the dark rain echoed the tears of our hearts – an aching pummelling of the roadside, the car and our senses. The wipers, back and forth, scraped in high pitch at our wounds.  The road ahead, barely visible.  Yet, the accelerator beneath my mother’s foot mirrored her new reality.  Again my sister spoke, the fear, the anger, the not-knowing tense in her voice, “Slow down!  You’re going to kill us too!”

Too.

Again, the unthinkable slammed my chest.  Tucked under the arm of my boyfriend, I sobbed.

We could see the lights before we turned into Derby Road.  I craned my neck to see.  Where were the flames?  Was there nothing left?  Surprised, we saw the building intact.  But the flashing ambulance lights, the police tape, the anxious crowds in the beating rain extinguished any flicker of hope.

We weren’t allowed inside.  Police pushed the crowds back.  My law-abiding nature left me when I slipped beneath the tape and burst into the foyer.  My brother.  My dad.

Slowly, slowly, we got to hear.  Dad’s ok.  So is your brother.   But, Richard was killed.  A hero.  He had thrown his body in the way of the two girls with him.  Marilynn’s husband, gone.  And Marita.  Her daughter, Liezl, looked me in the eye.  Dazed, yet matter of fact, “My mother’s dead.  Did you know?”  I knew.  I knew.  But I knew not why.

The TV channels crowded day and night with the news.  APLA, the terrorist arm of the PAC were responsible.  Apartheid South Africa their enemy.  St James plastered the newspapers.  Soon everyone’s lips spoke of The St James Massacre.  The count was up to 11 killed, 58 injured.  The Russian visitors among the dead – one survived, but lost his limbs.  Others maimed.  Many more emotionally reeling in the trauma.

But, like a phoenix rising from the fire, the gospel came to the fore.  Why St James?  the media asked.  One of the most racially-mixed churches of South Africa.  A cornerstone for gospel outreach.  Never an advocate for apartheid.  Why not St James, we answered.  The headlines asked new questions.  What makes a people so forgiving in the face of such tragedy?  Who is this Jesus they speak of?  Why?

It wasn’t long before we gathered again.  The auditorium stood testimony of the tragedy and the triumph.  The days my mother and others spent scrubbing and cleaning could not fully remove the blood stains from the carpets.  But the remaining marks and empty places where pews had once been met with a body of believers, undeterred, unbowed and utterly dependent on the saving grace of Christ.  The tears still flowed.  The wounds were still raw.  But, the power of the gospel, the power of knowing Christ and his infinite love and protection, pulsed through that congregation – it was electrifying.

I knew then that my bargaining had been a childish, desperate and impossible plea.  I could no more be a better Christian than a child could promise her father to be a better daughter.  I could try.  But, it wouldn’t matter.  Because, my Father would still love me.   Because there was nothing I could offer in exchange for the gift He had already given to me.  Oh, yes, the gift of the lives of my brother and father are blessed and held dear.  But their beauty and worth is shadowed compared to the incredible gift of forgiveness that Jesus had already given to me.

In that church building – standing testimony to the fragility of this world; this life – were the families of the lost ones.  Looking at the empty spaces where splintered pews had lain, I knew with great certainty that this world is not home.  Home is where He is.

John 14: 1-4 – “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”

Genesis 50:20 – “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

Ladies Convention - 2011 (2)

Thursday, 25 July 2013 – St James Church Massacre memorial service
7pm @ St James Church, 3rd Avenue, Kenilworth.

There are only Two Ways To Live

Of gastro and interviews

For the past 6 weeks or so, I’ve been on a bit of a local book tour.  Speaking at churches, events, enjoying an official book launch (photos coming soon) and on the radio too.  I’ve done one telephonic interview and then, yesterday, a real, in studio LIVE interview on SAfm.

The kids and Craig have been game to come along to other churches with me.  But, I have noticed the strain it places on them all.  Which is why when the interview for SAfm came up, I was stumped. 

It was one of those examples of life interrupting life.  We had planned to go away that weekend.  I wasn’t supposed to be in town for the interview, which was sprung on me at the last minute.  But, with other events happening in-town that the kids didn’t want to miss, and with my publishers urging me to take up this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, Craig and I decided to stay in town.  Craig urged me to do it – it’s a huge opportunity after all.  But, I still felt unsure.

It’s been the first real heart-struggle for me.  I’ve already spoken on this blog about not wanting to let the author hat usurp the mom, wife and family member hat or compromise my values.  But for the gracious support of my family, including those to whom we were going for the weekend, I suspect that I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to chat about Seekers on air at all.   Sometimes, I think, it takes outside perspectives to help one muddle through the tougher decisions.  And even the tough, but not greatly (or foreseeably) significant in the long run, decisions – like this one! 

So, having agreed to stay in town, and agreed to the interview, we had the whole weekend (newly) planned:  kids off to church events on Friday night, then parties on Saturday.  We’d celebrate Father’s Day together at church and then later with Craig’s folks.  At some point, Craig and I would slip out for an hour or two so that I could chat to Nancy Richards of the SAfm Literature show at the SABC buildings in Seapoint.

Then Sam got sick.  Really sick with horrible gastro, which he is still struggling with.  And so went our plans.  No church for me and Sam on Sunday.  No extended family lunch.  No Craig to accompany me to the interview….  Disappointed?  I was, a little.   Yet, now I chuckle.  Not at the poor little boy who is still feeling quite grim.  But at the fact that even if I try to dream dreams of grandeur, the reality of my life won’t allow it!  You see, here I was speaking to the well-respected radio personality, Nancy Richards on South Africa’s biggest national broadcasted radio station, about my book – only to return home, via the pharmacy, in order to nurse a sick boy and administer anti-nausea suppositories. 

The irony of agonising over whether to do the interview or not, because I didn’t want to compromise my family, and then spending most of the long weekend washing soiled bedding, cleaning up vomit and soothing a sick, sad little boy, did not escape me.  And it made me realise how very silly I was in the first place.  I am abundantly aware how easy it is to slip down the slope of self-glory to the neglect of those around you.  But what I hadn’t thought too much about was that, in some ways, that slope is not so slippery when reality slaps you in the face on a regular basis along the way.  It reminded me that for Christians, being in God’s will isn’t about walking a tightrope.  But rather it’s about living within the broad, generous boundaries He has outlined in His Word. 

While praying for Sam’s health, I was also able to pray a prayer of thanks.  Thanks that in this decision which had me agonising over issues of my selfishness versus my service to my family, I had a very real experience of “it’s really not that big a deal, Taryn”!   

More on the interview itself, as well as the audio clip of the interview here: http://tarynhayes.com/safm-interview-with-nancy-richards-2/

This post first featured here: http://tarynhayes.com/of-gastro-and-interviews-2/

2013 St James’s Women’s Day Away

Saturday 11th of May was a wonderful full day of fellowship, food and great teaching from the Bible.  St James’s women’s day away focused on what’s going on in our hearts, especially in relation to how we view ourselves and the rest of the world. 

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In the breaks, those who had skills and/or desire chatted and knitted squares for blankets that will be sewn together later.

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The weather was a great blessing!  We loved it. 

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The singing  – beautiful!

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Hayley did the three talks superbly well.  What excellent reminders that it is not who we are but WHOSE we are that matters! Thanks Hayles!

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Michelle B and I were interviewed about her CD and my book respectively.  Michelle has the voice of an angel!  She’s recorded some covers and some original songs which she got to share with us at the event.  Michelle is blind, so we got to enjoy the company of her gorgeous companion, Panda!

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May has been a month of interviews for me.  Great exposure for the novel, Seekers of the Lost Boy.  But, wow!  Exhausting too!  Alison E asked me a few fun questions and I got to share with the ladies all about the book. 

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I also got to do a book review talk  – reviewing three (four) books.  That was fun to prepare and challenging anew.  They sold well too, which was encouraging.

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Little Imogen visited with us too.  So sweet!

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Aunty Glynda did a wonderful talk explaining more about the St James Educational Trust and the work they do in Mannenberg

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Lunch was delish and the sun continued to shine!  Ah!

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After lunch, some of the ladies took part in a massage class, while others …

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…learnt how to decorate cupcakes a la confectionary stop style!

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Judging by the giggles all around, it was a lot of fun!

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Pretty!

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All in all, a wonderful day serving each other and the Lord!

Hands with Words

This past month, the Lunch Bunchers had the enormous privilege of witnessing the birthing of a pioneering venture. 

Did you know that sign language is not “in English” or any other language, but is a language of it’s own? Did you know that the bible in South Africa has never been translated into sign language?  Did you know that the only way to effectively do this is to create a sign language DVD? 

That is what Hands with Words is aiming to do.  Lisa Craye is a woman who has been given the gift of a deep passion for working with the deaf for gospel purposes.  Lisa is a hearing woman who first encountered the need for sign language many years ago when she was working with special needs kids.  Today she heads up the Hands with Words ministry and today they have an aim to raise enough funds to eventually translate the entire Bible into sign language.

Hayley organised for us to meet with Lisa and the others involved in the project.  Lisa told us a little about sign language and taught the kids the alphabet in sign…

 

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Signing away…

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This young girls’ parents are both deaf, so even though she is hearing, she can sign beautifully too.

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The kids were treated to three Bible stories in sign. 

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Agnes here is being filmed doing an advert for an up-and-coming deaf camp.

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The kids were fascinated with the whole experience – filming, green screens and the amazing way in which Agnes has to memorise everything she is signing as she can’t just read it off a script.

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You can learn more about Hands with Words at their website: http://www.handswithwords.com – there are wonderful ways in which you can support them and be a part of this awesome pioneering project.

http://www.handswithwords.org.za/projects/bible-translation

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