Saturday, November 26, 2005

Did Jesus use a modem?

    Hello friends,
This week i thought i would share a poem with you that I had found again amongst my stuff as I was packing up my classroom.
Did Jesus use a modem, at the Sermon on the Mount?
Did he ever try to broadcast fax to sent his message out?
Did the disciples carry beepers, As they went about their route?
Did Jesus use a modem, at the Sermon on the Mount?
Did Paul use a laptop, with lots of RAM and ROM?
Were his letters posted on a BBS at
Did the man from Macedonia send a text saying,"come!"?
Did Paul use a laptop, with lots of RAM and ROM?
Did Moses use a joystick at the parting of the sea?
And a Satellite Guidance Tracking System, to show him where to be?
Did he write the law on tablets or are they really on CD?
Did Moses use a joystick at the parting of the sea?
Did Jesus really die for us, one day upon the tree?
Or was it just a hologram, or technical wizardry?
Can you download the live action video clip, to play on your PC?
Did Jesus really die for us, One Day upon a tree?
Have the wonders of this modern age made you question what is true?
How a single man in a simple time could offer life anew?
How a sinless life, a cruel death then a glorious life again,
could offer more to a desparate world THan all the inventions of men?
If in your life, the voice of God is sometimes hard to hear
With other voices calling, He doesn't touch your ear,
Then set aside your laptop and modem, and all your fancy gear,
And open your Bible, and open your heart, and let your Father draw near.
Author unknown

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The Musical was a success

Hello friends,

last time I wrote news I talked about Sudoku's and mentioned that there was a website you could go to find out more. I forgot however to include the URL for the website - it is:

Now, to talk about the Musical "Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat" which we managed to stage on Tuesday Evening. I have to say that though from a producer's perspective there was much that could have been done better, and there were a few mistakes, the young actors (all primary school children) did their very best, and I am proud of them. They deserve all the credit for a job well done. It was the first musical ever to be staged by the school I work at, and everyone thoroughly enjoyed the performance. So all who read this who have been following the saga of the play/musical on my blog. It happened, and as they say "It was alright on the night."

It was a first for me producing a play, and I learnt through this experience. I am not going to hit Broadway yet, but I definitely do plan to continue involving myself in local drama groups and school plays as I really enjoy drama.

A few weeks ago I wrote a commentary on Giving all the Glory to God. - AMDG. This I have to do in this case. There were many ways in which I saw God moving in the preparation for this drama. I am hoping to get some pictures, and I will put the best up on the blog for everyone to see.

Monday, November 21, 2005

19th November

Things week I have been struggling with some writers block (I can hear some of you say,"Hurray!") so what I am going to do is give you my news first.
My poor mother had a fall on Monday and she broke her leg just above the ankle in four places. She had it plated and is now sitting at home with a "moon boot" on.
The play is making progress though I am still very trepidatious about how it will turn out. The children are working very hard and I was delighted to see that so many of the children came today (Saturday) for an extra rehearsal. The show is staged on Tuesday Evening. If I can organise someone with a digital camera I will try and post some pictures next week.
Yesterday I attended a farewell for myself. For the past few years I have been a part of a missions committee for SIM. If you want to know what that is, I suggest you go to their website but briefly it is an international mission organisation. They gave me as a going away present, three cups and saucers.
I was delighted to see that the YOU magazine had published my letter - well parts of it. You can see YOu magazine on the web - - the subject of my letter was "Forgiveness" and I was urging a lady whose husband had brutally killed her three children, tried to kill her and then killed himself to forgive him completely.
How many of you like Sudoku's - I must admit that I am slightly addicted - if I see one I will try and solve it. Don't know what a Sudoku is - look at this website.
Your friend John.
By the way, I have only had one comment to my email address. I welcome comments on my blog especially when I'm commenting on one or other issue. As you can see from the following blog - those with interesting comments will be posted to this blog for everyone to read. All personal details (except name will be deleted.)

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

mmre about mermaids

My friend Outi from Finland writes:
Hello John,

I am not a specialist on this but I have the impression that Finnish people have developed their idea of mermaid mainly according to H.C. Andersen fairy tale and/or Disney version of it. Anyway, mermaid is not an evil thing if you ask about it from a Finnish person.

We do have a thing called Näkki or Vetehinen (water spirit) amongst our traditional mythical creatures. This is an eveil minded spirit with ability to change its form and its aim is to tempt people to go too deep to the water and drown. There are different kinds of traditional fairy tales
telling how Näkki does his trick (looking like a beautiful female/handsome male, a tame horse pretendeing to be willing to carry the careless to the other side of the water etc.), but anyway the reason for these stories is the same as the evil mermaid stories you heard about: Preventing children to swim too deep and explaining "mystical" dissapearings of people who had gone to for example fishing and never came back.

The difference is that here in Finland we do not believe in Näkki or Vetehinen any more. We just think it is a valuable piece of our tradition and therefore it is thaught amongst other forgotten mythical creatures on history lessons at school.

Nowadays children just have to believe that it is dangerous to swim too deep, because their parents say so. :)

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Saturday 12 November


Warning: The following article in NOT aimed at little children. I strongly recommend adults read this article before considering whether their child should read it. If talk of the supernatural scares you, then I strongly suggest you read no further. This is a serious discussion about different cultural perspectives on mermaids.I would really value your input and ideas and to hear your perspective, and the traditional beliefs in your culture about Mermaids - you can me email direct, if you know the address, or you can send the email to

Had an interesting conversation with a group of Grade 4 children, this Monday on the topic of Mermaids. I had found a piece of paper where a child had been playing a game where they have to list things in different categories for each of the letters of the alphabet. Under M this girl had written for "animal" - Mermaid. So I asked, "Is a Mermaid an animal?" To my surprise there was quite a lot of debate about this question. One child sagely said, "It's half an animal, its half a person." Well that sort sums up our mental pictures, but I was intrigued by the reaction, the mention of Mermaid provoked amongst these African boys and girls so I asked them to tell me more about mermaids.
"Do you believe mermaids are real?"
"Oh yes they said, and they are very dangerous."
"Dangerous? How?" I asked.

They told me that if you are swimming in water where there are mermaids, they will take you down and you will never be seen again. By now I am beginning to realise that their perception of mermaids does not have its roots in the the Hollywood concept of a mermaid. So I decided to speak to my colleagues about the belief in mermaids. To my utter surprise, these educated adults also believed in the existence of Mermaids too and they were greatly fearful of these creatures. I asked them what they called them. They said, "Ijuzu".

So, what do you make of mermaids? I was told that according to African belief, that if one is lost to the Ijuzu then nobody must cry or let out any form of lament or regret, because the Ijuzu will send the person back as a Muroyi - a witch. I was told if you don't cry the person will die but they will not become a witch.

Now as a Westener, I am more familiar with the more sympathetic perception of a mermaid by children - not one of fear, but the mermaid is usually, if I am right, a very beautiful maiden (and mermen similarly are depicted as "gorgeous hunks") who are on the side of right. Think of the Disney animation movie, "My little Mermaid." But From our perspective merpeople belong in fairy tales. They are make believe, not real.

I was one of those who felt that they were the stuff of legend. From the world of make-believe. In the same category as flower fairies and goblins etc. - fairy tales.

I cannot say that my beliefs have changed about mermaids, but I am curious about the reasons behind the Africans' belief in Mermaids/Ijuzu.

From a purely materialistic perspective that rules out any supernatural, one might say that the African has explained a very normal and unspiritual event, such as the disappearance of an individual who had gone to the river and blamed the evil Ijuzu, when in fact there may be a perfectly logical explanation for what happned, like the person being taken by a crocodile at the water's edge. In an effort to warn people about the dangers of the river, this concept of the dangerous mermaid, is useful. Secondly, the African, who is a very "spiritual person" will always interpret the unnatural death of person as having a supernatural cause. Thus instead of a crocodile, the Ijuzu is to blame.

However I am one who does believe in the existence of the supernatural, and spiritual beings. As a Christian, I believe that such spiritual beings belong to one of two groups. They are either of God, and therefore angelic beings, or they are of the devil and are therefore demonic. My feeling is that what the Shona man refers to as "Ijuzu" is in fact of the second category, i.e. a demonic manifestation that associates itself with water. So while I do not believe that there are beings who have a human torso, head and arms, but instead of legs has a fish's tail, I do believe that a demon can manifest as such a creature.

It's interesting that this concept of the evil mermaid is also mirrored I think in the legend of the Sirens on the Rhine who sing with the beautiful voices, which lure sailors to close the rocky places and their ships are wrecked and the lives of the sailors lost. Are Sirens mermaids? I don't know.

What conclusions can we draw from this? Are there any lessons that we can learn. Well you may come up with a different list but here are a few of my ideas:

  • Just because something looks (or sounds) good does not mean that it is good for you. Whether or not you believe in Mermaid or Ijuzu, I am sure you will agree that this is truism. There exists something called "fools' gold". It looks like its gold, and even feels like it, but it's not. you may have been duped by fool's gold. However, more harmful that fools' gold are poisoned sweets (candy). As I mentioned in my blog of last week, a friend of mine mentioned that there have been some cases of people distributing poisoned candy to trick-or-treaters during halloween. These pieces of Candy may look nice but they contain a very harmful substance. Another apllication of this is in guarding our children against the danger of abduction by people who use attactive lures to lure children into their cars or homes from where they can more easily abduct them. We tell our children never to accept anything from any person unless we (their parents) say its ok. This is really important advice. Every year, millions of children all over the world are duped by fine looking things and lured into dangerous situations. However it is not only children who need to beware. I have been hearing stories on BBC and Radio Netherlands of women who have been persuaded to leave their home countries in Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe to go to "jobs" in Europe, that turn out to be be slavery situations. These women often land up being forced into prostitution. They had been promised prosperity. Fortunately some women have managed to get away and expose the evil practice. And their message to people back home is stay where you are! DON'T BE DUPED! Finally (for this point anyway) there are many activities which on the surface may seem good and even beneficicial but are "laced with poison" a spiritual poison which damages the soul. I have in mind such things as horoscope, tarot cards, fortune telling, yoga, free masons, oija boards, heavy-metal rock music, hypnosis.

  • One cannot assume that your understanding or picture of a concept is going to be the same as another person's. Until recently I only thought of a mermaid as a lovable make-believe creature. Now I realise that there is a very different perspective to that. The lesson i draw from this is to ensure when communicating that I take care to ensure that the intended meaning of what is being said is understood. That is if I am speaking I must make sure that those listening understand what I mean, and do not "put another spin" on my words. IF I'm listening, I should try to clarify with the speaker what is meant if i'm in any doubt.

Well so much for mermaids: Now onto my news.


  1. Exams are finished. (For this year, anyway.) This is the best news.
  2. Musical only ten days away and there's a lot to be done between now and then. Oh - Our Music teacher left again this week. This time he ain't coming back. We have found another keyboard player (no mean task in Harare) but it is all rather nerve wracking - still the show must go on. I said in my introduction of myself back in September, that I'll try my hand at anything - well this week was a typical example of that. I was music teacher and even a dance coach (Now that's a hoot!). Thank goodness, next week we will have a real dance teacher to come in and give the children some guidance, courtesy of a pupils' mother who has kindly taken care of the financial side of things.
  3. I forgot to mention last week that I was called up by people from Radio Japan International for their "Hello from Tokyo" Programme. Unfortunately I missed the broadcast on Saturday, so I did not get to hear myself.

Thanks again for reading. Please let me know what you think. I welcome comments provided they are specifically about the content and not merely "nice blog and now I want to sell you something." My response is the same I give to the street venders in town: "Very nice, I'm sure, but NOT TODAY, thank you." However if you want to discuss anthing I've talked about on this blog, you are most welcome. Email me at or my home email address.

John Blog

Saturday, November 05, 2005

This week, I am trying a different way of posting my blog. I'm doing it via email.
What a week it has been. The count down to the Musical is gathering pace! We are just about two and a half weeks away. Most of my exams are complete. Only one to go. Hurray.
A verse of Scripture which I was encouraged with this week was Galatians 6:9: "Do not become weary in doing good, for in the proper time we will reap a harvest of righteousness."
It is easy to give up trying to do the right thing, especially when one's efforts are unappreciated and ignored. It is easy to stop doing the right thing, when you look around you and people who are cheating seem to be rewarded for their dishonesty. But the verse says in the proper time. We often do not know when that it is, and we become discouraged.
Needless to say when you are in the midst of the struggle, it is easy to lose focus on the goal. But Paul in this verse reminds us again, that at the proper time, we will reap a harvest of righteousness. However, even with the goal in focus, without help we will fall flat on our faces. However, with Christ living in our hearts and the Holy Spirit, we are helped. The key is Waiting on God. What does that expression mean? I believe that it means that we need to spend time in prayer (not a few minutes) seeking God's will in how to move forward, and there is a wonderful promise in the book of Isaiah. Isaiah 40:Those who wait on the Lord will RENEW the Strength. They will soar on wings like eagles, and will run and NOT GROW WEARY, they will walk and not be faint."
It may seem disappointing at times when we work hard to bless somebody, and either the act is taken for granted, or it is completely ignored. We wonder was it worth the struggle. It was, for we have heavenly father who notes everything we do. Now I don't want you to get the idea that God somehow weighs the good up against the bad that we do. That is a wrong thinking. We are saved ONLY by faith in Jesus Christ and it is becase of God's grace. But the good that we do, does go un-noticed.
That's all for this week.
Remember, you can email me either on my personal email or the one that I have set up for this blog -