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Cape Town Diary. Part 2

We land smoothly at 7.30am to cloud and a worrying temperature worthy of our jeans. On the way through customs, a courteous official asks to check my details and bag. This doesn’t normally happen to me and I was stopped at Heathrow too. Perhaps I’ve become more suspicious since our last flight, more the type with something to hide?

There’s nothing to worry about though, not like all those years ago as a law-breaking teenager when hitch-hiking around Western Europe. I can look the officials straight in the eye and even help them with their search. I wonder if that will be the case at the Heavenly Customs Point? It’s amazing to think that with all my failings I will be able to pass through with nothing to declare, all because of the blood of Jesus.

Yet the Bible tells me I will also have to give an account for my life and everything that has been ‘whispered in secret will be proclaimed from the rooftops.’ How will that work? Jesus doesn’t strike me as the type to cause that sort of embarrassment, but if the sins of the saints aren’t revealed then Heaven might not know the full extent of the mercy revealed.

On the other hand the Bible tells us that our sins have been removed as far as the East is from the West. I guess I’m just thankful that I’ll be getting through at all but it does make me wonder how important confession continues to be for a Christian. In particular, there is the rather niggly verse about confessing sin to each other. I’ve always thought that verse existed to help us really let go of the guilt that comes from sin. After all, there is something more releasing about telling someone else. It demonstrates accountability and a real desire to move onwards. Rather like baptism I suppose: an external expression of something that has changed internally.

“Hi everyone, I didn’t use to believe but now I do and this little plunge in the water shows I’ve been cleansed of sin!”
So why not; “Ulp, hello Saint, I’ve just errr slagged off your brother. I really shouldn’t have done it, but I’m sorry now.”?

Maybe those little secrets I keep horded up and locked away get proclaimed from the rooftops in Heaven? Hmmm, certainly a point to ponder.
Amongst the many faces waiting to welcome the travellers from the airport are a couple from Jubilee Church. It is partly through them that our trip has been arranged and they are here to spare us the task of finding our apartment for the fortnight in Constantia, a reasonably pleasant suburb of the city.
Like most affluent properties, high fences and electric wires form the
perimeter and the realities of danger from desperate people are clear to see. There is no state welfare here and a rate of around 40% unemployment means many troubles. Throughout our stay it is a common sight to see small groups of men hanging around or walking from one place to another. People are scared and homes are cages. Our front door is protected by an iron gate and the apartment block is linked to a privately-run armed response force. The sound of their sirens are a common sound on the air whether daylight or night.
Within the apartment, mountains loom into view from the window and Tom and Amy have a bedroom each, meaning major war is averted. Moreover, the church has provided a little white Mercedes to cruise around in but first, we simply have to crash out. None of us slept on the plane although Tom still shows no signs of succumbing.
The trick is to sleep for just a few hours or else the day is lost and the rest of the fortnight will be spent sleeping at the wrong times.

A while later, it’s into the car for the first excursion. Most pleasantly, petrol costs half that of the UK and well-mannered attendants fill us up and wipe down the windscreen as a courtesy. They will also check oil, water and tyre pressure if you ask them and South Africans usually tip them between two and ten rand (16 and 80 pence). Tipping is a common event here. At the nearby supermarket, unofficial attendants wave us into spaces and ‘protect’ our car while we shop. Almost everywhere we go we find this a common practice. As for the supermarket, the food is little different to what we’re used to. Even a shelf lined with Cadbury chocolate meets my eyes, although the price is high. The wine, however, is cheap! My face lights up at ‘recommended’ wines priced equivalent to a pound, but where’s the beer? Ah, same as America, the beer is sold in liquor stores only.

Posted on 26th Apr 2009

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