Suffering and Success

Most of us think of success, which is what we want to achieve, being the outcome of favourable conditions, determination and skill. Sometimes there is a little luck as well. But the really notable successes are the people who can turn disaster or defeat into success. Sometimes they do it with suffering as well.

In The Bible, Joseph became the leading figure in Egypt despite all the injustice that attended his life. Indeed he turned his sufferings into opportunities for personal advancement.

The apostle Paul was able to turn suffering to gain on more than one occasion. When jailed, he held a prayer meeting and converted the jailer. When brought into court to be questioned by the king, he turned the courtroom into a church and preached to king and commoner. When locked in a dungeon to get him out of the way, he spent his years writing New Testament scriptures.

Do the same. Don’t let your disadvantages, setbacks and sufferings get the better of you. Use them. Convert them into advantages. Turn them into opportunities for doing some good.

(from Faith for Daily Living: see www.edlunnon.co.za)

The Cape of Stormers

©2012 Edward C. Lunnon

Tuesday 27 March 2012: 5 years 6 months on … Deuce

BA Flight 6324 on Wednesday 14 March 2012 was scheduled to leave Port Elizabeth airport at 09h50 – destination Cape Town International Airport.

Before I could board, I had to do my radio interview telephonically with Lance from the terminal building an hour earlier than usual – attempts to obtain permission to broadcast ED is in wED from the air at 10h30 had failed.

I sat chatting to Gareth Hunt until the broadcast was about to begin. Gareth’s brother Steven plays for the Springbok 7’s. Then the broadcast, then boarded, seated in 15F (at the right hand side window to see the coast!) and then take-off in an easterly direction over Algoa Bay towards East London.

But a sharp bank to the right put us in the correct westerly direction headed for Cape Town.  It was a beautiful clear morning – the light blue sky juxtaposed by the dark blue mountains, the Indian Ocean below, the white beaches, the green coastal plain and in the distance the brownness of the Little and Great Karoo’s framed by the various mountain ranges in between  us and them.  

We followed the south African coastline and passed over the Garden Route:  Jefferys Bay, St Francis Bay, the Tstsikamma, Nature’s Valley, Plettenberg Bay, Knysna, the Lake District and then George airport, 3 kilometres below us and more or less the halfway point between departure point and destination.

From there, and as we started descending into Cape Town, we followed the more inland route to the south of the Outeniqua and Langeberg Mountains. Places like Riversdale and Swellendam passed by on the coastal plain, and in the Little Karoo, Oudtshoorn, Barrydale and Montaqu.

Then my heart missed its usual beat as the dark blue mountains of the Western Cape moved into sight. First the Hottentots-Holland Mountains, then over the Drakenstein Mountains, and then a sharp bank to the right – and as the right wing pointed sharply downwards towards the earth, Stellenbosch – my birthplace – and Helshoogte, my university residence, came rushing up towards us. I thought the pilot had done that manoeuvre especially for me!

Three more manoeuvres to the left brought us from our westward flight facing back to the east and ready for landing at Cape Town International . During that process, the Atlantic Ocean and Robben Island  came into view and then the mother of all views, on our right, as we landed at 11am: Table Mountain flanked by Devil’s Peak and Lion’s Head. 

What was initially called the Cape of Storms and later the Cape of Good Hope was directly below me.

I was Home yet again!

This time for a school reunion at my alma mater, Hottentots-Holland High School  – aptly named after the mountains that surround the Valley, and Somerset West, Strand and Gordon’s Bay.

Whilst we waited for our luggage, I joked with Gareth about partying in Stellenbosch and being tempted to stay too long in the Winelands. We joked and parted, and when I turned on my cell phone, the first message to come through was to advise me of Gareth’s father’s death!

Gareth’s trip had nothing to do with partying in the Winelands – it had been all about his dad and yet he had kept a smiling face and not said a word to me! I felt so bad!

I phoned both Gareth and Steven to express my condolences, and by then Sebastian, my nephew-in-law was there to fetch me.

As usual, he had a surprise for me, and we headed straight to a newly found German pub in the foothills of the Hottentots-Holland Mountains, overlooking Strand, Gordon’s Bay and False Bay. Two litres of beer later, lunch and obtaining some business for my sister Lyn’s printing company, we headed for her home in the Strand – what had been our family home for some thirty years – and my base for the next four days.   

I was determined to keep this trip as easy and slow as possible – pace myself just to make things a little easier!

Thursday morning we took a trip to Stellenbosch, and planned to have coffee with my niece Jess at the café in the Botanical Gardens. She overslept, so we had a bite, then visited Helshoogte, and headed of home.

I went for a 5km walk along the Strand Beach and had a swim at Melkbaai (Milk Bay) – something I haven’t done in many a year! The weather was wonderful and the water was warm! It was so lekker being home!

 A short nap preceded a visit to the driving range restaurant where I was joined by ex-school and Varsity mates, Herman van Heerden and Jaco Olivier.

Later Herman dropped me off for supper at Estelle Jordaan’s home in Heldervue, Somerset West.

Estelle and I last saw each other in 1969 when we were in Standard Five at Hendrik Louw Primary School in The Strand. We had spent our primary school years vying for academic positions 1 and 2 in the class. She went on to Rhenish in Stellenbosch and Rhodes University in Grahamstown and I went on to Hottentots-Holland in Somerset West and Stellenbosch University. (She calls herself a nurse and is, in fact, the Nursing Executive on the Executive of the private hospital Medi-Clinic group.)

We spent the evening eating, drinking and reminiscing about the 43 years that had passed by!

On Friday morning, I paid an all too brief visit to my Primary School, Hendrik Louw. Unfortunately, it has been completely rebuilt, so other than a few photographs to jolt the memory, there is very little to reminisce about.

Then on to see Sonja van Rhijn, who was as school a year or so ahead of me, and now has MSA (Multiple systems atrophy). We spent a great two hours together, although anyone listening to us would not have thought so. We discussed and compared our diseases, our symptoms, our ups and downs, and our joys and concerns. It makes it so much easier to know that other people out there can understand what we are experiencing and going through! We can laugh and cry with each other, and yes, we can understand each other. It makes our burden so much easier.

I was late for the usual Friday lunch braai at the Ridgeways Furniture Store, but enjoyed the hotdogs anyway (and was delighted to see Sebastian’s Railway Stand season tickets)! So another power snap nap before we headed off for Newlands to watch the Stormers take on and beat the Blues in a Super 15 rugby game. There is always a great atmosphere to experience at the home of the Western Cape’s rugby, and which may not be the home for much longer, what with talks aplenty about moving to the newly built World Cup Soccer stadium in Green Point, Cape Town!

Then the big day arrived – our reunion at the De beer’s Football Club. I deliberately spent a quiet day so as not to overdo things.

Lyn and Anton dropped me off at the venue and by the time Anthony West took me home at 1am, there had been a spitbraai by Lappies Labuschagne, dancing, 70’s music, talking and laughing about the preceding 40 years and the seventies that we had spent at school together.

It was a tremendous boost to meet up and reminisce with friends of yesteryear. What had started off as a page by Karen Holthauzen on Facebook, “Somerset West Nostalgia”, a few years ago, had ended up as a real-life get-together of so many of us who have been privileged to grow up and be schooled in the Hottentots-Holland Basin.  

On Sunday morning I transferred from Strand to the Wüsts in Durbanville – almost my home from home! After a lunchtime braai with Willem’s mother and their daughter, Anagret, also joining us, we headed off for Greenpoint and a long 4 km walk along the Atlantic seaboard towards Sea Point and back. A latte at a local coffee shop, in the shadow of Cape Town’s Soccer Stadium, finished off a wonderful weekend in the Cape!

After a quiet Monday morning of taking stock of myself, Gretel and I went for lunch at the Tyger Valley centre.

Then, a visit to my Std Five teacher, Mr Peter Preuss and his wife, who now live in Monte Vista in Cape Town’s northern suburbs.  Although only two handfuls of fingers separate our ages, at the time in 1969, he had seemed so large and intimidating!

It was two of the most wonderful hours that I have spent in a long time, talking about family, friends and fellowship – of growing up in The Strand. It was emotional, too, and I wiped a tear or two away as I headed back to Durbanville …

… and on to Cape Town International at ten on Tuesday morning 20 March. We left on time at 11h30, flying off in a westerly direction over False Bay and The Strand and this time in an A seat on the left-hand side of the plane (pre-booked by my niece Nicky who works for BA at Cape Town airport).

This was in order to get that last view of our family home in Gordon’s Bay Road, Strand, the Helderberg and the Hottentots-Holland Mountains, before heading straight back over the Overberg, George, the Garden Route and the direct  short landing from west to east into Port Elizabeth at 12h45.

Sean was there to fetch me. We went home and then directly to Gary Hunt’s funeral, back home, and then back to the airport to say goodbye to Pera who was heading off to Italy that very evening.

Sean and I then decided to have a 2-for-the-price-of-1 sushi at the Cape Town Fish Market.  There he was also able to put his First Aid skills to the test when a patron, allergic to sea-food, dropped over stone cold within seconds after eating the stuff … 

It had been just another “quiet” weekend in the Cape of the Stormers!

 

 

ED’s Diary: Sun Eleven and Mon Twelve March Twenty Twelve

©2012 Edward C. Lunnon

Sunday 11 March 2012: 5 years 6 months on … Advantage ED

I received an SMS early Sunday from Colleen Ogilvie to tell me that Dick was playing cricket in the Old Grey Six-a-Side tournament – the 50th time the event was being staged and making it the oldest such tournament in the world! Dickie bowled for EP in his day but that day was some thirty years ago now!

This was something not to be missed, so she fetched me at ten and off we went to Kemsley Park and we were later joined by their daughter, Megan.

It became a long day … we were joined by Pera for lunch (she was hurriedly completing reports at school) and eventually left after the final – Old Grey bowling Grey High out for 19 runs and comfortably beating that target in the second over!

At home, I had a little snooze and then our planned lunchtime braai became an evening braai, competently organised by Sean when he returned from NSRI duty. We were joined by Colleen, Dick, Megan, and Ken and Dorel MacKenzie (and later their son Duncan). Phillip left at nine for the hostel and it was way past midnight when we eventually got to bed!  

It reminded me of our early Port Elizabeth days in the eighties. Dick, Ken and I taught together – in fact, we were a very happy staff during those years. We not only taught together, we socialised together and we spent many days and nights at the Old Grey Club – cricket, hockey, squash, beers, and raconteuring with each other and many of our pupils’ OLD parents.

Now we are the old people, our ex-pupils (like on Sunday, the Gioconni’s, the Elficks, the Loons, the Strydoms, etc) are the “youngsters” who frequent the Club and their kids are the ones who are playing around outside and patiently waiting for their Dads to finish that last one for the road!

Old Grey Club, Lennox Street, Glendinningvale was considered the address of many of us teachers (now called educators) who were unmarried, footloose and fancy-free at the time.

And if we weren’t there, you could find us at El Cid Steakhouse (especially on Sunday nights where colleague Neil Tommo sang in the bar – Neil also sang at our wedding and Dickie was bestman). Monday mornings would see us have hamburgers delivered from the Hamburger Hut in Russel Road to the staffroom at breaktime!

And if you didn’t find us there, we were possibly at Lily’s at the Holiday Inn or The Pig and Whistle at the Marine, Faces under the old Elizabeth Hotel, Bar Bonanza, St James, the Pizza Palace, or late night at Evergreen, It’s Country or Cagneys at the Kine Centre in Rink Street!

Even the Railway Bar at the Port Elizabeth Station or the Farmer’s Home next to Mike’s Kitchen were occasionally visited and once, I recall the Hubcap in North End and the Campanile off Main Road – and in those days the Grey boys (and others) also occasionally, we thought, visited all those places! The rule, mostly kept, was that if a staff member entered such a place, the pupil would leave as quickly and unobtrusively as possible. In such a case, no one really saw anyone else, did they, and no canes were required on the following day!

So, yes, Sunday was a day of good memories, and Monday I felt a bit worse for wear.

Despite that, I managed to have Holy Communion with Bill Lindoor, from the Newton Park Methodist Church.

Next a meeting with Old Grey Dean Vernon, author of a new book PORT ELIZABETH in your hands – a must-have guide to Nelson Mandela Bay, it’s history and things to do (with most of the above watering holes now gone!)

In between, preparations for a trip to Cape Town …

Then Isaac Reuben arrived for our regular catch-up chat, then a quick power nap, took the boys to have their gum guards fitted for the new rugby season (thanks to MAX and Nico de Vries), early supper alone (Pera at governing body elections, Phil back at hostel and Sean at Old Grey rugby practice – the next generation of Old Grey Club patrons!)

By eight I was bushed and in bed, after reading (more looking at the historical pictures) a good deal of Port Elizabeth in your hands.  

 

One Bad Thing leads to another Good Thing

I often receive emails, calls or visits from people who are in need of some or other assistance or help in their own lives. Just when I think things are bad for me, I meet up with someone who has it even worse!

I have come to realize that no-one has it easy. And I know that I don’t have all the answers. That often stresses me out even more – that I don’t know how to help or what to say.

But this I do know:

Many people have endured great hardship and have come through strengthened in their minds and deepened in their understanding of life and the world.

Illness, loneliness, imprisonment, civil strife, religious persecution, poverty, exile, torture and war have all imposed abnormal circumstances which have tried people’s patience, endurance and faith – sometimes to breaking point. Most who have come through alive have said, “I have got to know Life more powerfully through it all than when things were rosy”.

So never let your outward surroundings determine your inner mental state. Things can be more powerfully active in your life when the normal conditions appear to be adverse.

I have seen that in my own life since I became ill five years ago. I am humbled by the letters, emails, notes and comments that I receive from people, more often than not from complete strangers, who read my blogs and follow my radio broadcasts.

I am not so sure that my work as a mathematics and computer science teacher, or as a businessman, ever had a similar effect!

Christians believe that Christ saved the world from His cross!

Paul preached the Gospel from jail – and wrote some of his most profound messages, which have endured for all time and are documented in the Bible.

In fact, adversity is one of the strange ways in which the human being produces his most effective contribution to his fellow mortal in particular and to mankind in general.

However hard life might be to you, however many setbacks, difficulties and defeats you may suffer, things will not get better for you if you wallow in your plight and expect someone else to come along and wave a magic wand to get you out of the mess.

 Do the few things you can do, right now, to move away from your hopeless situation. Use every opportunity to improve your lot, increase your faith and prove to yourself and the world that you are worth more.

 

( Click on “Faith for Daily Living” on my blogsite www.edlunnon.co.za if you would like to read more. My thanks to them for providing me with daily inspiration … )

“These were the worst of times and these were the best of times!”

What a Prick!

©2012 Edward C. Lunnon

Friday 9 March 2012: 5 years 6 months on … Advantage ED

Ever since becoming ill, I have always been thankful that I have not experienced any pain. A lot of discomfort, yes; but, thank God, no pain!

But all that has changed, and the last three weeks have possibly been the most difficult that I have experienced since becoming ill.

It all started, with no prior warning, in the early hours of Sunday morning 19 February.

On the Friday evening we had attended Shelley and Eddie Terblanche’s ‘surprise’ joint 50th birthday. It started with a bus trip with all the guests on board dressed in ”smart casual black with a mask” to fetch the birthday couple at their home in Summerstrand and then on to Leo’s Bistro in Walmer for a delicious supper.

Then, early Saturday morning (at three am!), I had to get up to get my lift to George with Kobus, an AlgoaFM listener who had kindly offered to take me to the Outeniqua Wheelchair Challenge.

 The challenge, celebrating its tenth birthday this year, attracted over 1000 physically challenged people participating in four events – the 42 km marathon, the 21km half marathon, the 10km event and the 5km fun run.

It is a most humbling experience to see so many physically challenged people participating in “vehicles” ranging from the most sophisticated to the most ordinary of wheelchairs. The fun run alone attracted over 900 participants in wheelchairs pushed by local professional, business and ordinary everyday people and many hangers-on, all with the emphasis on the fun part of it. The main streets of George – York Road and Courteney Street / Knysna Road – are closed for the occasion and the day belongs to those in our community who live life without what so many of us take so for granted.

The trip to George from Port Elizabeth is about a three and a half hour one, and so we were back in Port Elizabeth at about three thirty in the afternoon – some twelve hours after we had left.

I had planned to attend the Concert in the Park at five pm and had an appointment to see Marcus Wyatt, the guest trumpeter at the concert. Marcus is an ex-pupil of mine and he and Andrew Townsin, another ex-pupil, had trumpeted Pera down the aisle when we got married in 1990.

But, I was a bit tired and decided to postpone the evening concert and attend the Sunday morning one instead. A lie-down seemed more in order …

Lesson #1: don’t procrastinate!

I woke up at three on Sunday morning, my whole body in a spasm, my muscles tensed up and with the most excruciating pain. By seven we called the GP, and during a home visit nogal, I received Voltaren injections, pain killers and an anti-inflammatory – coxflam: one tablet twice a day; synaleve: two capsules three times a day for pain (warning: may cause drowsiness). I can quite easily see how people like the Jacksons and the Houstons become addicted to prescription drugs .. and take just a few more every now and then when the pain doesn’t subside! 

I wafted through the next two days, missed the Concert in the Park (and the Redhouse River Mile scheduled for Sunday afternoon), but by Tuesday evening was feeling much better – so much so that I was able to attend Elvis Blue’s concert at the Grey’s Afrikaans Week celebrations in the school hall.

Although I was left with a low level numb sort of pain, the excruciating stabbing pain eased off and the week became better – until Saturday evening (25 February), whilst watching rugby on TV, when it all started up again. Luckily I had “left-over” medication in hand and was able to doctor myself and lie down – but even that was a painful affair! And so some more drugs … Pax: one at night and Stilpaine: 2 tablets four times a day!

The next and third attack happened last Sunday evening (4 March). It is wearing me down and it is becoming more and more difficult to lift my hands and arms. Mentally, it takes its toll, too.

So, first thing on Monday morning, I spoke to the doctor and my biokineticist. It was decided that I needed to see a physiotherapist / chiropractor, and luckily I was able to get an appointment with Dr Pieterse at two that afternoon.

All the muscles in my back go into a sort of spasm and tense up. “Had I tried needles?” I was asked.

I had not.

So, one for one, I had needles pricked into the muscles in my back.

And, on Tuesday morning, I felt like a new person. All the pain was gone! And remained so until Friday morning, when I could feel just a tinge of that low-level ache returning. Luckily, another session had been scheduled for Friday, so round number two of the “needle attack” took place!

Lesson #2:  Don’t under-estimate the contribution that anyone can make in life – even the smallest prick can make a huge difference!   

 So three weeks have passed by with far too little been done. I have been down but not yet out. How long will the pricking last and how long will it bring relief? Who knows?

But, in the meantime, don’t be a prick … enjoy what you can!

 

iSaid 1

Saturday 3 March 2012: 5 years 6 months on … Advantage ED

i loved this iTem – iF you missed iT enjoy the read:

iT all began with an iPhone.

Our son celebrated his 17th birthday in November, and we got him an iPhone. He just loved iT. Who wouldn’t?

I celebrated my birthday just after Christmas, and my wife made me very happy when she bought me an iPad.

Our daughter’s birthday was in February so we got her an iPod Touch.

My wife also celebrated her birthday this month so I got her an iRon.

iT was around then that the fight started.

 

(Author unknown)