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

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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.