Do you ever feel like driving to a random city and engaging in spontaneous activities? Well, not me. I'm a planner. Everything is calculated, estimated and thought out. I know where I'm going, my ETA and what I'm going to be doing there. Let's just say my days are scheduled and not left for random dumb things to think of. My trip to Winterton was not taken lightly, rather, that weekend was the Mighty Men's Conference in Estcourt. And since there weren't much places in Estcourt to stay in, I chose the nearest city which was 40km away, Winterton. It was probably the best decision I had ever made. So, on the 23rd of July, I left Durban at 11am, taking the N3, heading north. I arrived at The Rolling M Ranch, a farm that spans over 600 hectares! But before that, I had to face 16km of dirt road that made me grit my teeth for half an hour.
Now, I know the road doesn't look all that bad but I sure did feel it. And maybe that's the reason why I never enjoy the majestic view that surrounded me. Maybe that's how life is, we are so focused on our problems that we fail to see the beauty that weave through our days.
Upon arriving at the farm, a small boy beckoned me through the grassy landscape, directing me around flower beds and sheds. Yes, there wasn't a driveway. I finally drove around the badminton net and parked on the lawn outside this rustic cabin that was covered with a thatch roof.
I arrived at 2pm at the farm, followed by a quick tour after checking in. Now this young boy was only twelve, but he was in charge of the chicken run. I can assure you that this boy is more mature and business minded than anyone I could think of in the city.
My tour wasn't long because I had to freshen up for a Might Men's service at 5pm in Estcourt on another farm called Green Pastures. However, the biggest mistake I made was leaving all my warm clothes at the guinea cottage. I drove to Estcourt with a t-shirt and jeans with a spare jacket in the backseat. As I arrived at Green Pastures, I admired the sun setting over the horizon which occurred quite quickly. In fact, the sun sunk behind the mountains before I could even walk from the car to the field where the service was being hosted!
But what I didn't know was that once the sun disappeared from view, the cold crept into the air. However, even that wasn't the worst thing I experienced. When the night fell, the icy atmosphere engulfed me, making me shiver. It was freezing! The service was amazing. George Cawood preached a great sermon that night but by 8pm I couldn't take it anymore. The cold was too fierce for me. I began walking away from the service only to find that the further I walked, the more darker it got. I didn't know where my car was, neither could I see anything. I ended up wandering into another farm, stumbling into people and asking them for directions. Tragically, their directions got me more lost! I then backtracked my steps and walked in some foreign direction using the bleak torch of my smartphone. I walked with frozen steps as the night froze more by the second. I eventually found my car and climbed in, turning on the engine and blasting the heater to feel the remedy of warmth. Slamming the gear into drive, the car surged forward, but I couldn't see the driveway. And that's when my car sunk into a ditch, the wheels spinning but not moving. I was stuck in the dark and I wasn't going anywhere.
I had this crazy idea. I got out of the warm haven of the my car seat, and into the cold night, attempting to push my automatic car out of the ditch. Well, of course it didn't budge. I almost wanted to phone my Dad who was 3 hours away but by the time he got here, I would be frozen. I was surrounded by bakkies but who would help me get out of this ditch? "God help me!" I prayed, wincing at what I had just prayed because one of my characters in my latest book 'The Wake Up Call' prayed to God the same way when he was stranded. And suddenly, a thought came into my mind. 'Turn the steering wheel' So I got into the car, turned the steering wheel fully to the right and with the gear in reverse, I accelerated which caused the car to bounce a bit. I then hit the gas all the way and the car surged out of the ditch. I found the driveway out of the grassy parking and made my way back home.
But don't forget the 16km dirt road that I still have to face. Driving at a slow pace and my headlights on bright, I saw rabbits hopping across the path. I even saw a baby deer. And the term, 'deer caught in the headlights' came to mind.
I eventually got to my cottage and hit the sack. Crazy day right?
The next day was Saturday, There was a service in the morning around 10am. I attended that and the preacher spoke about repentance with deep conviction. I then took a drive on all the way down the R600 which lead to Drakensberg. I noticed all the shops that I passed by, making a mental note to stop at several on the way back. At the end of the road, there was a hike trail which would take 3 hours. After calculating the time left in the day, I decided to leave it for another time. I then ate at Scrumpy Jacks, bought chocolates and tea from Chocolate Memories, venison burger patties from Macedonia and bought scented candles from Kwa-Zulu Weavers. And amazingly, the Drakensberg mountain landscape could be seen for kilometres...
Then Sunday came, I was on my last visit to the Green Pastures Farm. Angus Buchan was going to be preaching today. He spoke an amazing sermon about family and gave a testimony about his father. It was a heart and soul moving message and afterwards he greeted the people who attended. I stopped to eat before going back to my cottage and asked my host if I could visit the Tugela river. So they kindly took me down through a mountainous terrain that was speckled with thorn trees. We arrived at the bottom of the valley where the river flowed, surrounded with black rock. There was this giant black rock that I ascended, I felt like a kid again...
We spent some time exploring the rocky terrain that ran parallel with the river. There were rapids that lead to a small waterfall. It was an amazing and majestic view.
We then returned to the farm where I versed the 12 year old boy in badminton. I haven't played that game for 15 years, and when I did, I couldn't stop. I played barefoot for hours, even when the night fell, we only stopped playing when we couldn't see the shuttlecock anymore.
I woke up on Monday with a sense of melancholy and nostalgia. A part of me missed my parents, but the other part of me didn't want to leave. The farm is peaceful, no stress, no worries. Whereas, the city is fast paced, there is always a rush, a chase after something. But the farm is realizing that you already have everything you need. A last badminton game occurred in the morning before leaving. I had milked the cow that morning, taken some milk and eggs home. I had memories and adventures to remember. But I couldn't help admit there were lessons I would be taking with. I had also come to get a message from God because I would be preaching at an outreach soon. I had written a blog about what I head received from God. You would see a blog post about vessels.
But I know why the sadness caused a tightness in my chest, that every time I remembered these moments, it became harder to breathe. And I realized that a I had lost a part of me that I'm still trying to regain. The child in me that once believed, that had faith to move mountains, the child that never suffered with doubts and fears, never succumbed to stress and worry, the child I had been trying to get in touch with. Before you had to face the real world, where haters crucified your dreams and told you what is possible and what isn't. Before they told you what you were and what you couldn't be. Before the world brainwashed us into believing that money is the ultimate goal, before we miserably chased our next paychecks, chasing a cause that never amounts to happiness. Yes, I believed again, and I have to go back to find the person who I really am before the world buries him forever...