Sunday, January 11, 2015

Midrand Presbyterian Church

Midrand Presbyterian Church
I went to church today, the first time in a very long time.
Having been in Johannesburg now for a little over a year and spending almost every day at work I've not been able to find a church I want to be a part of. Nothing wrong with the churches, more to do with a lack of time and being too exhausted to go out looking. Having been raised by my parents in the Presbyterian church, I find I tend to return again and again to the same church each time I move home, in my case many, many times through my life. I am a Presbyterian, no doubt about it. Anyway, this morning I Googled "Midrand Presbyterian Church" and found this church just a few miles from home so off I went. When I arrived I was impressed by the number of people there and their young ages, compared to the average age of congregants at one other Presbyterian church I had visited about eighteen months ago in Edenvale where everyone was quite a bit older than even me. Then I went inside. Oh Wow! Talk about going back in time. What a magnificent building.
Everything about this church just fitted right, it was like coming home at last. The service was perfect, the people were friendly and genuine, there was plenty of parking, the gardens were well maintained and so on and so forth. They have Holy communion on the first Sunday of the month so today we gave thanks to Jesus for His sacrifice with bread and grape juice. While this was happening I got an image of Jesus knowing this was the last day before He was to be murdered and the tears started welling up in my eyes. What a terrible time that must have been for Him. Anyway, there is no rock band to accompany the worship but a genuine pipe organ. Absolutely stunning.
The pipe organ
   Oh how perfect God's  timing is. A few weeks ago I would probably  have not been in the right head space to appreciate all of this.
The sermon itself (2 Timothy 3 v 1-5 & 10-17)was about the end times and how mankind was only interested in himself, pretty much how I tend to see this world we live in. Did it speak to my heart? Like bells on a church calling worshipers.
Imagine that in Midrand
There is so much more I could write about but I first want to spend a little time with these people before I gush too much so I'll leave you with some images to exemplify the building and what has been achieved here, the whole building was moved here from Pietermaritzburg about forty odd years ago. Ill write about the process once I know more.
details on the downpipe

Just look at that workmanship
Amazing stonework
cast iron grill in tiled floor
the story of the moving process
My love and God's blessings to all who read this post, Geoff.

Thursday, January 08, 2015

On faith and the law

image source http://mndgmzministries.org/2014/03/
Then what are we to say? That gentiles, who made no effort after righteousness nevertheless achieved it, a righteousness based on faith; whereas Israel made made great efforts after a law of righteousness, but never attained to it. Why was this? Because their efforts were not based on faith, but (as they supposed) on deeds. Romans verse 30 to 32.
Do you love your children? Of course you do. Would you say your love for your children is dependent on  their deeds or works? "Bad child I will no longer love you because you didn't sweep the floor as the house rules dictate you  have to do." How insane is that.

image source http://todaysfreshmanna.wordpress.com/2013/10/30/gods-loving-touch/
God the father loves his children in the same way as we love our children. Let me tell you about an incident that happened in  my own life:
One day a few years ago, after I had had a huge fight with God, I was very down and despondent thinking that the God of creation, He who had formed me in my mother's womb and to whom I owed everything, could never love me again nor could He possibly forgive my irreverent and outrageous arrogance in fighting with Him. I was walking around the farm lamenting my unjustified outburst wishing it had never happened. I was talking to the Lord saying "I'm so sorry Lord, I know you can't forgive me, please take my life now so I can go to where I'm bound, in hell, and be done with my pathetic life."  This went on for hours and hours.
I think, after a while, He became quite frustrated with me because, all of a sudden, the following words came to mind: "Do you love your children?" Well yes, of course I do. "Would you still love your child if, when drunk and having been abused, belittled and mocked and in a very bad emotional state, he fought with you, called you a liar and swore at you?" "Well would you forgive him and still love him?" Yes, of course I would. "Would you sent that child to hell for one outburst or would you write it off understanding that he was not in his right mind at the time." No Lord, I would never send my children to hell. I would forgive them no matter what they did to me, I love them. "In the same way I love you and have forgiven you long ago. I will not send you to hell to pay for something you did in extreme distress, I love you too much to do that just as you would forgive your children no matter what."
image source http://christianinspirationalquotes.tumblr.com/post/78606848716
This changed my whole outlook on life and on what love means. I had tripped over the stone the Lord had laid in Zion, the one that hurts you. God's love for me is not based on the things I do to try to get into heaven, but on His having looked into my heart and seen the person I truly am. He sees just how much I love and trust him, how much I love Him and why.
I do not consider myself to be a righteous person, certainly not lovable nor even likable and yet God, the creator of the entire universe and everything and everyone therein, tells me He loves me and has plans to prosper me and not to harm me.
God obviously sees something in me worth loving, even though I don't. Well Lord, I will trust your judgement above my own, thank you.
God's love for his children is not based on our following his law and our attempts to obey but on our faith in His love for us and trust that He is faithful to us in all circumstances even though we go way off course and do things that break His heart.
God is love. Love is enduring, forgiving and the strongest force in all the universe, way stronger than fear or hatred. I love the Lord, I love my children and to be quite honest I love you.
Will you have faith that God loves you as much as you love your children, even more? Have faith in His love and trust that no matter what, His love for you will overcome even your worst situation? God's love is all you need to get through this difficult life. He really does love you.
Lord God almighty thank you for this astounding love and gentle care for all of us. May your kingdom come and may all of humanity finally realize that you are so in love with us your creation. Bless you so much Lord, Geoffrey.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

2015

Happy new year everyone.
2015, What will happen this year?
Well this year, I would like to get back to where I was a while ago, as far as writing blog posts is concerned. 2014 was a rather disjointed year for me. No more walks on the beach with God, no more walks up the hill on the farm and saddest of all, no more friends to sit and chat about God with.
I've been told by quite a few people who have moved vast distances from their usual homes that the first year was their most difficult to cope with, me too.
We closed up shop on the twelfth of December after having about six stores postpone their shopfitting work till this year, I was so glad. The first two days of leave I slept, that's how exhausted I was, but I'm rested now and ready to get to it again on Monday. We had been working every day for four months, seven in the morning till six at night seven days a week, phew.
My brother's wife Tracey is still undergoing radiation treatment for lymph cancer, not much change yet, we'll see in due course but apart from her fear of dying she seems to be in good spirits.
James, my son, is in London right now having returned from Washington and New York. He'll be going to visit my sister in France on his way back to Cape town.
The rains came rather lat this year, I think the first storm we had was on the tenth of November. Wow, has it rained or has it rained? This afternoon the freeways going into Johannesburg were closed due to flash flooding, who would have thunk of such a thing. Gauteng in winter is SO dry, nothing to photograph, no mushrooms, flowers, insects and so on, all my favorite subjects. The mushrooms above were photographed on the small holding, where I live in Mid Rand yesterday, hard to find and very small. In summer this place has thunderstorms every day from about three in the afternoon till about seven and then it clears up during the night with bright sunshine in the morning, very different from Cape Town where the rainy season is in winter, which I prefer.
My new home

I think for today I'm going to call it a day. It'll take a while for me to get back into blogging again but I do think that your support while I was having such a hard time in Cape Town kept me going and having a platform for my pictures certainly motivated my photography. thank you for that.
May the Lord bless and keep you all in 2015 as He has kept me and blessed me all these years.
Lots of love, Geoff.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Waterkloof air-force base Aerospace airshow 2014

Pitt special
Airshow on the 20th at Waterkloof Airforce base Gauteng. And a great time was had by all, about one hundred thousand spectators. whew!
As you know by now, I really do enjoy taking pictures but these aircraft are quick and finding them in the view finder takes a little skill and lots of luck. I was using a Canon 18 to 200mm lens, quite heavy and without a tripod a bit shaky but what beautiful pictures. There are a few things I would do differently next time, slow the shutter speed from 1/4000 second to about 1/ 1000 second so that the propellers would be a bit blurry. These pictures look like they have been photo-shopped in, otherwise they are pretty good in my opinion.
Rhino anti-poaching unit with dogs on skids.


 Oh how my heart longed to be in any one of these spectacular craft. Having flown airplanes and helicopters in the past, very distant past in fact, I watched their antics with glee but must admit, most of my time was spent looking through the lens.
One of the thoughts that kept bouncing around in my head was how terrorized people living around a hundred years ago would have been by this incredibly noisy aerial display, can you imagine?
One of the exercises performed was the Rhino anti-poaching unit display using helicopters and dogs. It was very impressive. What happened was they came in with the choppers and the soldiers rappelled to the ground with a German Sheppard harnessed to them. Once on the ground the dogs were released, taking about 15 seconds to release, and off they went after the poachers. Two dogs and two poachers in full dog training padding. Unfortunately for one of the poachers, the dogs saw only him so he had two dogs attacking him at the same time, very scary indeed. Those of us in the group I was with had a good laugh watching him trying to get away, very funny to watch. He was not injured in any way, just in case you were wondering.
Harvards in formation fly by.
   I'm an old fashioned type of person, I like old. South Africa has some very old planes still in use, like these Harvards. I remember, while living near Pretoria in my late teens, watching these beautiful little trainers doing exercises over the hills where we lived. They have a very distinct engine noise ( not very noisy)and were always painted the same, just like these two. Ah, good memories. Unfortunately the shots I have are from underneath, because of the display they were putting on, but that is pretty much how I've always seen them anyway. Lovely. And then came the extremely noisy and unbelievably (1370 miles per hour) fast Gripen fighter jet. This is apparently one of the arms purchases made by the new South African government in the 2005 arms scandal. Although 26 were purchased and paid for, only one is in flight ready use today, another twelve have been put in mothballs. I live in Africa, oh well.
Saab Gripen fighter aircraft
The noise from this aircraft is amazing, and it was only flying by at about 600 miles per hour. Getting a shot of this aircraft was my greatest challenge for the day. Unfortunately every time it flew by it turned away from the crowd, which makes safety sense, so all the shots I did get were from underneath. Sorry about that.
There were commentators telling the crowd what to expect next with the pilots radio communications also audible, very interesting. Lots of stunt flying, Pitt specials flying in formation and then breaking away with, of course, the obligatory smoke trails. Hearts in smoke with smoke arrows, oh how the girls in the crowd cheered when they saw that.
Mustang
We left the show at about 2pm in an effort to get out before the grand exodus, 100 000 people take up a lot of car space, lots of traffic. It still took us over an hour to get away. On the way home we stopped at a little nursery in Irene for something to eat and a cold drink. A lovely end to an absolutely exhilarating day out with Shelley and Toni.
So what do you think of my photographs so far?
And on a final note, I am so amazed that God invented flying so long ago, no need to be terrorized, just amazed will do.
Blessings to all, Geoff.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Digital photography lessons

In my last post, that was written ages ago, I mentioned that I was taking photography lessons to improve my abilities, these pictures were taken since then. What do you think of them?
The first was taken in the garden at high speed to try and capture a bee in flight. It's winter and the Strelitzias are in bloom, not much else for the bees to feed on at the moment. Yes, I do admit it was a chance shot but I was set up for it on a tripod with an 18-200mm lens and waiting for the bee to take off.I must have taken about 50 shots to get this one. Ah, the joys of digital photography.
A few days later the red hot pokers came into bloom so all the bees migrated to the other side of the garden. Trying to get a decent shot of them with the bees buzzing around wasn't quite as easy. The wall behind the flowers was not completely painted yet so the picture has a pink background. Not one of my best shots.

One morning the class was sent off to the Nan Hua Budist Temple near Boksburg about 100 km from where I stay. We were required to be there before first light and at that time the frost was still white on the ground, brrr!
I managed to get some really lovely shots, rich in colour and shape. This shot of the entrance arch was taken just as the sun was rising. I quite like the result.
Of course things like iso settings, shutter speed and aperture all have to be learned now that I'm shooting in raw mode as opposed to auto.We did a night shoot as well as studio work, much more challenging than expected. Those pictures I'll publish on my next post.
Blessings to everyone, Geoff.

Monday, June 23, 2014

I haven't written anything for absolutely ages, no e-mails, no blog posts, not even a hand written letter, (not that I've received one of those for a gazillion years or so.) Sorry.
Now, down to what I want to write about. As some of you know I take pretty good photographs or so I've been told often. Well I no longer work for Setbuild, family and all that, I started doing photography much more seriously instead and decided to do a course on how to take awesome pictures with MY camera. There are a whole lot of things about digital photography that are a little different from film, ISO, shutter speed, aperture and so on. Yes I know about these things and how they affect each shot but how do I adjust MY camera to get it right, there are so many buttons and dials and bits on my camera, very confusing.
By the way, I was given an entry level Canon 350D dslr (digital single lens reflex,) camera by my son James quite some time ago but didn't really know how to use it, now I do.

It's winter in South Africa at the moment and everything is dry and leafless, rain falls in Johannesburg, where I am at the moment, in summer with great thunderstorms and lightning. I tried to find something to shoot that could be interesting to look at but there was so little around. This picture of the Modderfontien lake play ground was taken at about 10 AM on a school day so, no children. Please remember I was still trying to get to understand my camera but, as you can see, it still worked out to be visually attractive.
The next one was taken at the water's edge with the ducks coming quite close, I was standing alongside a fairly large tree so they felt safe. I haven't adjusted any of these pictures in Lightroom yet. The picture of the ducks is a little blown out because of the light reflected off the water, that will be adjusted a bit later for my portfolio. The light was in front of me and a little to the left leaving the duck's eye in shadow, which is a pity. Oh well, learning curve. I spent a few hours wandering around taking arbitrary shots but wasn't enthused.
The next day I took a trip to Johannesburg zoo to try and get a few animal shots. It was very cold that morning and most of the animals were trying to get warm in their dens or just lying in the sun.
Serval
I did get one nice shot of an African Serval. These creatures are hunted for their coals and no longer inhabit their areas where there is human habitation. This little thing was lying in the sun while it's mate paced up and down along the enclosure fence, sad but gratifying to know it's safe from the hunter's spear. There wasn't much sunlight in the enclosure, too early, so this was the shot I chose from about twenty odd pictures. Still learning about ISO speed at this stage. There were lots of other animals in similar enclosures that also had bad light but the pictures were too dark for my liking. The Johannesburg zoo does very important work to safeguard animals now considered too endangered to release back into the wild.
I ran out of battery power soon after this shot. Lesson learned; take extra batteries, fully charged, on any photo shoot.


 On Friday night I invited a young lady from the photography school to accompany my to a night club with a few friends so I could try my hand at low light photography, she turned me down, oh well, the rest of us went anyway and had a fantastic time.
Shooting in low light definitely has it' challenges. Very low shutter speeds and wide open aperture. The main problem with that is that people don't stand still for very long so there is a lot of movement blur in the pictures.
 Our eyes are a huge amount more sensitive to light than cameras but with judicious manipulation of ISO and shutter speed it will still look okay.
With a bit of luck I'll be able to post about the process I went through to get better at taking awesome pictures. There is quite a bit to tell, join me tomorrow when I talk about each aspect of camera work.
Many blessings, Geoff.

Toninos