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Dominicans in The Farm Workshop

I have been doing some reading on Dominican spirituality, for an essay I am writing, ‘what unites and what divides Aquinas and Eckhart?’ It has been a fascinating read and exploration.

One of the changes I have made to my reading and writing was to do some of it in The Farm Workshop we are making. At home I had my dedicated study in the house or the use of the library at Queens or the library and studies at Sarum in Salisbury. I have studied two ends of the spectrum, in a century’s old academic institution in Salisbury and a leaking farm workshop in South Africa, both have strengths and weakness. The privilege of walking a few feet to a shelf in the library for the book I would like to use, is now understood as even more of a privilege than before. Yes The Farm Workshop roof leaks when it rains but I have big white walls to work on. In the workshop space I have been reminded the Dominicans were an order of preachers called to bring Good News to others, they were not meant for a safe …
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One of the events on my life back in the UK was to go on a regular retreat and I am aware that those people are holding me in their daily prayers. Retreat is something I have just been able to make part of my life here in South Africa. Not knowing where to go was a bit of a challenge for me. I asked  Cecil, the local Methodist minister, and he gave me some contacts to explore. I made arrangements for a two night stay (I did not want too long, as they might be a bit too religious.)
My journey was to take me to Belfast. Not the Irish original one, but the one about 144 km away halfway between us and Johannesburg, through some lovely countryside. The town takes its name from Irishman Richard Charles O’Reilly and his farm called Belfast (we Irish get everywhere.)

I eventually found the farm at the end of a very long dirt road but it was worth the drive. It's called the iDwala Retreat Center run by Heidi and Hermann who are professed members of the Society of St…

Shhhhhhhhhh I have a secret

I want to tell you a secret. There are some people who believe the hub of Mercy Air is focused on fixed wing planes and helicopters. Well its not true but don’t tell them! The real hub of Mercy Air in terms of machinery is our John Deere 2130 1976 Tractor, yes its true well that is my humble opinion.

It is the machinery that my team of four use to make to farm work, to clean, tidy and tow. It the vehicle that helps keep the farm looking beautiful for a guests, who tell us the place is looking great( well done team) it is the tractor that keeps the runway fit for propose, when the rain comes it is used to cut the runway every week.
So for the past two week I have been servicing our John Deere. As I have been doing just that I have been showing Vusi what to. Vusi is one of the team I work with on the farm and has shown a keenness to learn more skills. Vusi has been my apprentice as I was an apprentice to other people. I think of people like Mike O’Connor who was patient and showed me wh…


Today, on this cool Winter day in Whiteriver, South Africa, we have planted 9 Camellia bushes. Our vision is that as they grow they will form a walk down from the orchard behind our house. From a distance we hope to gaze on the white, pink and red flowers. Visitors who come to the farm will see a walkway of green bushes that will be flashed with camellia colour. Erin and I have planted the Camellias after the recent death of my best friend Chris, known to me as CD. He and I met at the age of 5 on the way to school and stayed lifelong friends until his death at the age of 60 years. At this point in my grief I feel nothing good came out of his death, nothing dampens the pain of loss, emptiness and unfulfilled dreams; not Camellias, not the fine words at his funeral, or laughter in sharing his life with others.

So for the moment we have planted 9 Camellias to try and mark his life on a continent he was never able to visit. Camellias - because they were his favourite plant and flower an…

Doa and Mutarara 2019

During May I had the privilege of flying in our helicopter with Joel to ASAM in Mozambique, and to be part of a mission outreach. We flew first to Chimoio and then on to Doa for two days, then to Mutarara for 5 days. We were a group of 5 people with various gifts and skills, plus local pastors. As two teams, every day we flew in to two remote villages where we were met by the local church.

The pastors  in the villages were people I had met at the school ASAM where they were part of the twice yearly intensive teaching program. 

It was truly amazing to meet these pastors in the own context where they live their daily lives. The pastors and students are part of a teaching program which takes them through 25 books over a number of years until they finally complete the course and graduate. 

Myself, Andy and Joao taught in the villages, and I was spoke about the role of prayer in our daily lives. I also presented certificates for books completed as part of graduation program. There were yo…


On my recent trip to Mutarara with ASAM, the celebration had ended and we were just about to leave the village.  I was told that someone wanted to give us something for the mission, to say thank you. Well my background informed me to get ready to accept a cheque. We gathered in a semi circle and a young man stood before us clutching an old worn back pack. Large cheque I thought! He opened the bag and out popped a live chicken. Oh  this is interesting - where in my training was I prepared for this? So I took my lead from my friend Joao and the young man told his short but eventful story.
He wanted to give us a chicken to say thank you for showing care.  He wanted to say thank you to the mission for the help they gave, when his wife was pregnant with their child. He wanted to say thank you, for helping him after his wife died after giving birth. He wanted to say thank you to the mission for giving milk for the child after the birth. He wanted to say thank you, after this, his only child, die…


During my week on mission trip to Mamoli one of the highlights was to visit local schools. during the day these schools would very quickly become health clinics. I have spent a fair amount of time in schools in my adult life. I have shared many school assemblies with the children, I have been a school governor and helped in classrooms. But Mozambique gave me a whole new insight to what school is like for many children in Africa.

At one school we visited there was two brick-built buildings firm and sound, they have no electricity or glass in the windows but they do have good old-fashioned blackboards. Here as always lively engaging children interested in new visitors. But outside on the ground in the sun lay the children’s school books drying out in the 35 degrees heat. The books were wet because of the heavy rain during the previous week.

Then we went to another school this one had more children attending and seemed very busy. But it was the first school I have ever visited with a hear…