Hello St John’s and St Mary’s! We are Gareth and Nicole Hanekom from Cape Town, South Africa and we are super excited to be spending at least the next two years with you here in Isleworth.
We, along with our two cats, are staying nearby St John’s with Chantelle (Nicole’s sister) and her family. After Nicole decided to leave her job as a lecturer at a fashion design university in Cape Town, we felt that God was leading us both in a new direction that involved serving Him more actively. Knowing about this, Chantelle put us in touch with Tom and Dave, and our journey to Isleworth began. We were encouraged by Proverbs 3:5-6, which says “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
Gareth spends his time working in software development, developing his photography skills, attempting to skateboard, and making music. In South Africa, Gareth played drums and sang in his brother’s band and was part of the church worship team. He also plays guitar and some piano. Nicole loves to create and appreciate art, including drawing, painting, clothing design, and pottery. Soon after arriving, she joined Nicola’s crochet group to learn how to crochet.
We’ll be assisting at St John’s and St Mary’s behind the scenes and wherever Dave needs any extra hands. We hope to use our creativity and experience in worship and youth leadership to do work that pleases God and benefits both churches, as well as the local community.
We look forward to getting to know everyone!
Gareth and Nicole
On Monday, I attended a training session offered by Hounslow Council to people wishing to contribute to the Refugees Welcome project that Tom initiated, along with other local organisations and groups. The training emphasised that volunteers can help in a number of ways e.g. befriending, helping to learn English, or providing a welcome meal.
It can be daunting to open our hearts and homes to people who we don’t know, especially when there are cultural differences and a language barrier, and it’s really important to know that support and advice are available. Over twenty-five people attended the session. Mohammed Bashar and Nina Yusof, who led the training, did a great job of providing background information about the Syrian people and their land and customs, and helping us to think about what issues the refugees might be facing once they arrive.
It made me think about how much is possible when groups, organisations and individuals work together for a common cause. In today’s world it seems more important than ever to reach out beyond ourselves to create community wherever we can. The bible gives us a number of pictures to encourage us to work closely together for the kingdom of God e.g. like living stones in a temple (1 Peter 2 v5), or like different parts of the body (1 Cor. 12 v27).
The Shelter Project Hounslow, which we participate in here at St John’s and St Mary’s, is a really good example of this kind of working together. Maybe, over time, The Refugees Welcome Hounslow could be something else that we get involved with as a church? If you would like to find our more do speak to me or Rachel Maclure, or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
At the end of July I said a fond farewell to my class and left my familiar world of primary school teaching ready to take on a new challenge. I’ve always enjoyed teaching children but with the ever-increasing workload and long hours I was finding it hard to maintain a healthy work life balance.
For some time I’ve felt a strong sense of God’s presence in my life and have looked into jobs in youth ministry, so I am very happy to now be working for the church I’ve been a part of for some years. As Jesus says, ‘Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’ I’m thrilled to be able to work with our amazing children’s group leaders in preparing young people to enter into a meaningful relationship with Jesus and my vision for the church is that each young person knows how unique and special they are in God’s eyes.
I also feel very excited about the future of St. John’s and St. Mary’s as Dave takes on his new role of vicar. I hope that by working alongside him we will be able to reach out into the community and share the gospel to younger and older people alike. Flightpath, our monthly children’s service will certainly continue as it has been a success with the kids but in time it would be wonderful to enrich the children’s ministry in other ways too, so I believe it is time to dream big and have faith that God will bless it!
It was coming up to 3 months ago that we said goodbye to Tom and Jo. I am happy to report they have settled into church life in Nottingham where Tom is currently chaplain to the Bishop there.
A lot has been happening in the last 3 months behind the scenes for us at St John’s and St Mary’s, and I thought I’d update you on where we are up to. Thankfully, it has been agreed that I will be the vicar! The official service of installation will be on Tuesday, 17th October from 7:30pm at St John’s. All welcome. As a family, we are so excited to be in Isleworth long term. After some redecorating, we will be moving into the vicarage on St John’s Road in coming weeks.
Before all this, the Bishop is happy for me to take services, so from next Sunday 24th September, I will be back on duty. After discussions with many at church before Tom left, the PCC agreed that St John’s will meet at 10.30am to allow me time to get down from the service at St Mary’s, which finishes around 10am. This new service time of 10.30am for St John’s will come into effect from 24th September. St Mary’s will remain at 9am. I am aware that with service times it is impossible to please everyone and I’m sorry if these times are an inconvenience to some of you, but we felt we had no alternative now there was to be only one member of the clergy in the parish.
The final thing to add is a HUGE thank you to Brian and Gayle our churchwardens for steering the ship through the last 3 months, and for the many volunteers and clergy who have stepped in to help as well. See you soon!
Last Sunday was one of the most special days of our lives. Thank you all SO much for all you gave us. To see the church filled with so many people to whom we feel so closely bonded was the most wonderful context to worship together, to reflect, to pray and then gather together around Christ’s table. And it was a real treat to spend time later with many.
Thank you for the beautiful plate you gave us. It’s a perfect colour, not least as that shade of blue reminds Joanna of her alma mater university and me of my old school! For sure it will have a prominent place and we will use it a lot. Every time we see it, we’ll remember you. We discovered from you an amazingly generous gift voucher, to be spent as soon as we have a home in Nottingham. We’ve had lots of wonderful gifts: a great picture of St John’s, photo books, food, wine – your generosity and imagination knows no bounds (we want to thank the giver of the great golf ball clock – the card had become detached.)
We will live for a long time with the warmth, depth and richness of Sunday. We will keep in touch. My next post as interim Chaplain to Bishop Paul begins on 1st Sept, and we hope a parish in Nottingham will soon be confirmed. It IS amazing that the street opposite St John’s Church is named as it is, so that we could together walk a bit down the Road to Nottingham, our hearts strong with this blessing Brian and Gayle, on your behalf, had just prayed:
As Tom and Joanna begin their journey to Nottingham, we bless them in the name of the Lord. May our heavenly Father be your help, as you walk in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. May the power of the Cross and Resurrection keep you, by day and by night, from all evil. May the Holy Spirit lead you each day in your going out and in your coming in, that you bring in a rich harvest, from this time forth and for evermore. AMEN