A Race, a Balloon and a Newborn 40 Year Old

Posted: 4th January 2017 by Caryn in Posts by Trent

There are things in life worth fighting for. Sometimes that thing is life itself. Overcoming is a sweet victory. Joy and expanding life can be harnessed if we care to find it.

There were two ways I chose to mark my 40th in November 2016. The first involved pain and the second involved pleasure. I didn’t realise how much significance each of these events would hold as I crossed the milestone of another decade. They sum up much of my life, and create foundations for exploring the next chapter.

Both events happened:

  • Trent and I completed an olympic length triathlon and I actually finished in one piece, albeit an exhausted piece. (Trent also finished but that’s not my story to tell.)
  • Trent and I relished the experience of floating to 7300 ft in a hot air balloon.

Both events brought a great sense of satisfaction.



The pain event was a challenge posed a year ago: to complete a triathlon of a 1.5km swim, 40km cycle and 10km run before I turned 40. That’s more than double the distances of anything I’d done previously. The concept was unfathomable to my untrained body. BUT. I had watched Trent and his brother finish complete with the endorphin hit at the end. Couple that with the fact that Trent is a natural born motivator, and I was moved to say “Yes!” in that half hopeful, half determined kind of way.

The rewards from things I’ve had to fight for, or spend myself on, are often sweeter, even if not immediately felt.

Treasures are only valuable when we’ve had to seek them out. The people who have the most impact on me are people who have persevered through struggles or hardship and all the while maintained soft or hopeful hearts. There is something that happens in the fight, in the seeking and in the hardship that tests and solidifies our inner strength, or breaks us to a point of having to rebuild afresh.

I’ve needed inner strength desperately numerous times in my life. There is much advice out there about how that’s achieved. I’ve tried ‘looking within myself to find what I need’ but I have found introspection when my mind and heart are clouded to be quite damaging, sending me into downward spirals. There is also the recommendation of disciplining myself to eliminate negativity and to dwell on positivity. I have found that this can lead to a false positivity, and a denial of difficulty. Help from others has been good but no one can walk my inner healing journey for me, it’s still up to me.

My most trustworthy source of strength without doubt is found in the person of Jesus.

Not only gentle Jesus meek and mild, but also the table-turning, miracle-working, weather-commanding, demon-destroying, future-telling, death-defying, life-giving Jesus. Time and time again when I have been at the end of my own strength I have said to Him, “God I need your help.” Usually the answer is not immediate, but when I reflect back I ALWAYS see how He has responded in love. These times were most powerful when I had nothing left within myself to find, and was finding it hard to see any positivity anywhere. As His faithfulness and unconditional love have proven themselves true, our conversations have progressed beyond the emergency help pleas to become a more regular kind of interaction where inner strength is cultivated through Him. With Jesus in the picture, introspection is much more productive. I DO seek the positive in all things because my life being rooted in the Life-Giver’s hand means that hope is guaranteed in any given circumstance.

During that olympic length triathlon I hit a wall. I needed to run another 2.5km to finish and it felt impossible. My body was starting to tingle all over, my knees were sore, I was overheating, and I could feel my willpower shutting down. A runner in front of me folded and started to cry as another runner put an arm around her. Then I wanted to cry because I felt the same, but I knew if I cried I wouldn’t be able to breathe. It was a battle of the mind that I wasn’t sure I could win. So I did the “God I need your help” thing. A few minutes later…”Caryn, I’m here! I’m catching up to you!”. It was Hanna, a spontaneous running buddy I’d met at the start of the run. We had been intermittently keeping pace with one another. God knew I needed a companion to get me through. The finish was surreal, quietly blissful and it changed me into an overcomer.

It’s good to do hard stuff.

I have discovered that with Jesus I am stretchy. When I invite Him to be present in my life, he stretches the boundaries of my capabilities beyond what I had ever thought of or imagined.

I need people in my life.

I needed Trent who knows me, to tell me that he knew I was capable. I needed Hanna to spur me on. As a shy, introverted, melancholic teenager with a low self esteem, God placed people in my life who saw potential in me that I couldn’t see and who invited me to step into More. I remain a shy, introverted adult with a tendency towards melancholy, but a renewed sense of identity means that I am at far less risk of implosion. I have been invited by Jesus to stretch a bit further into this more meaningful existence, into His good plans and bigger picture.

Something changes in us when we become overcomers.

There is great joy in finishing the race. In that instant we become more resilient and better equipped for what may follow. There is also great joy in receiving the desires of our heart, particularly when we did not think we would ever see those dreams realised.

The pleasure event was one of those dreamy things that simmer in the back of your mind as a nice-to-have but not likely. For me it was the indulgence of flying on a hot air balloon. 40 seemed like a big enough milestone to consider it, and through the love of friends who chose to bless me, it became a reality.

The hot air balloon was a dream realised, but without a pain requirement. There is such a thing. It was the gentleness of that hot air balloon flight that surprised me most. Before I realised what was happening the ground was inobtrusively growing smaller. We were ascending, no – floating – without any power other than that holding the balloon upright and inflated, and a few noiseless engineering mechanisms. We were simply released after being made ready. It was only when I saw other hot air balloons below us that I realised the heights we’d reached. Our spirited pilot took us as high as we were permitted to go. Soon we were out of the valley, above clouds and mountain ranges and could see new perspectives of city skylines on the horizon and other mountain ranges in the distance. It was a feeling of awe and wonder and a peaceful kind of bliss. I think it’s in those moments that we are free to feel the joy of God.

I’ve found that life is pixelated with joy moments.

Sometimes there are many pixels joined together for stronger and more powerful imprints of joy – like our wedding day, and fantastic times with family, a hot air balloon ride, and my friends travelling all the way to Noosa to celebrate with me. Sometimes, though, those pixels are just dotted around everyday things – like the person who lets you go in front of them, or the bill you didn’t have to pay, or the friend who encouraged you just when you needed it, or the verse you read that gave you wisdom for a decision. It’s too easy not to see those pixels or to quickly forget them, but sometimes those things keep us floating. I learned this most effectively during a month-long gratitude challenge when I realised that I didn’t need to use my back-ups in case of a crappy day, because every day, including the crappy days, yielded at least one thing to appreciate and be grateful for. Collect 30 days of those, and you might find the valley quietly becoming smaller as you rise above.

I actually do love people. People bring me joy.

People tire me out and bring me pain sometimes, but those people are not in the majority, and sometimes the God-changes in journeying with those very people mean they ultimately bring the most joy. Most of my cherished moments in the gratitude challenge involved people with whom I enjoyed being, or who had blessed me somehow, or were simply people to be appreciated. I have since maintained a rhythm in my journalling of stopping to catch the joy pixels. Trent frequently features – I never imagined a husband could be such a wonderful gift. And God features every time as I uncover more and more aspects of how gracious and good and real He is. I need people in my life to experience joy. I need God for those things to matter.

There was very little air stirring around us as the hot air balloon rose up from the valley because we were in the wind, and the balloon is made to move with it. The Spirit of God is described as a wind: we can’t see Him but we know He’s there because we see the effect. As we ‘sailed’ the wind in the hot air balloon I thought it was a fitting analogy of how I’ve seen Him at work in my life. I know He’s there even though I don’t physically see or hear Him, but

I am made for movement, and when I invite the dance of moving with Him, He gives direction and momentum.

Without me even realising His influence sometimes, I find myself at higher heights than I imagined, moving in new directions that feel right, gaining new perspectives, and finding a new kind of joy that refreshes and strengthens.

My experience is that life can feel like it’s full of suffering – to the point where it’s quite overwhelming or even daunting. Life can also hold moments of pure ecstasy – those times where there is so much beauty or joy or love that it’s hard to describe or contain. Sometimes I find myself holding these polar opposites in each hand simultaneously. But I think that’s what I’ve learned over 40 years – it’s not usually not just one or the other. Nor do they particularly go hand in hand or balance each other. As I get older I am slowly learning to manage the tension between things that seem to oppose each other. When in the dark valley, don’t forget to look up to where the sun still meets the land. Find the flowers that grow in shade. Enjoy the mountain top experiences fully and unashamedly without letting the valley experiences rob the joy of those moments. Cherish God and cherish people – we were made to enjoy each other as we do this thing called


Jacobs Journeys, May 2011

Posted: 27th May 2011 by Caryn in Posts by Caryn

Hello again, treasured friends. For a change I’m writing from the same continent as the last Jacobs Journeys update. Yep, still in Boston.

The Trent Version

  • Enjoyed time with UK friends who visited in March. Trent worked while I explored Boston with our friends like a genuine tourist. And then he joined us for the non-museum stuff.
  • Trip out of Boston to wintry Cape Cod with Chloe & Steve, plus a glorious day of skiing with them in New Hampshire
  • Trip to New York with Chris & Vicki. We were blown away by the energy of New York.
  • Trent handed in his resignation to Dynamyx as per his agreement with them, and his last day of work here will be 31 July. Business ideas for Australia are now brewing in his mind, nurtured further by discussions during a 4 day business visit from a Dynamyx work colleague here. Otherwise, work for Trent here in Boston has earned the label ‘Disappointing’ and remains about as exciting as carving soap.
  • I received my Employment Card allowing me to work here legally – yay! But have not been successful in finding a job – aaah. And so have found other things to try, like donating blood – thunk (that’s me fainting).
  • Had one of our best ever holidays doing a road trip along the Californian coast from San Francisco to Los Angeles. From redwoods to Hollywood, every day was unique.
  • Between work and holiday Trent and I have explored Boston and it’s surrounds a bit more, including watching a battle reenactment in a quaint town, going cycling, and watching men’s lacrosse at Harvard stadium (lacrosse is similar to extreme lepidoptery, but nets catch a ball rather than swarms of carnivorous butterflies).

The Caryn version

Warning: This version gets very philosophical, because I have had PLENTY of time to think and reflect over the recent months. Since I’ve had feedback from some of you that you enjoy the detail, I’m giving you the detail. Plunge in with me if you care to.

This is the very philosophical part.

There seems to be an ebb and flow in the highs and lows of life. Although Trent and I aim to keep the highs to a maximum, they don’t always emerge from what glitters ahead of us. Conversely, sometimes the lows yield gems in the most ordinary spaces. Our American experience up to this point has been a bit like that. What glittered alluringly about being here has turned out to be far less than it promised, and it has sometimes been in the far more ordinary things that we have found moments to cherish.

In the work arena, which is what brought us to Boston in the first place, Trent and I have each faced disappointment.

For Trent, the disappointment was that the initial project on which he was placed with the view to him moving out and up as projects increased, has become the only project. And he’s going to remain the technical guy at grass roots level for the full duration. No client liaison, no management, no branching out. To deal with this he’s geared down into cruise control, changed his focus to a point a bit further in the distance, and readjusted his perspective to see a bigger picture. Despite this laid back exterior his entrepreneurial brain is holding an Ideas Fest as he considers business opportunities for our pending return to Australia. Cycling, gym and the time to nurture his emerging love of photography have been saving graces for him.

For me, the disappointment has been watching big ideas about using my OT skills in versatile ways shrink to smaller ideas like waitressing, and then vanish into negligible prospects of any form of employment. (I’ve had zero response to job applications of all kinds, except for one interview after which there was zero response.) The irony is that I obtained my $400 Employment Authorisation card this month. BUT being unemployed in my situation is not all bad. I am a firm believer in embracing what can be learned from any given circumstance with the help of my counsellor God who walks alongside me through everything.

This spiritual journey starts with questions and often ends with more questions, but can uncover pearls of wisdom along the way. I can’t remember a time when I have been stripped of the status that work brings as I am now. Nor can I remember a time when I have been so un-needed by the people around me. It’s left me in a space trying to find validation. It’s left just me and God, and He’s given me the question – "What if this was all it was ever going to be for you? Just Me. Could you come to a place of ease if I said "no" to all your ideals and desired outcomes?" Well I still don’t know if I can truthfully answer yes to that question, but while wrestling with it I was strongly impacted by a series of talks entitled "The Gift of God is God", and a book by Brother Lawrence (see references below) throwing out the challenge to ‘practice’ being in the presence of God as the ultimate in our journey with Him. Both teachers hailed the sweet, pervasive peace-despite-circumstances that stems from endlessly including God’s presence into the conversation of our day. Releasing my hold on Caryn-designed outcomes opens my life up to numerous God-designed possibilities.

Having few better sounding options, I have delved in further and tried to live each day with the focus being on simply enjoying being a loved child held in the embrace of a loving Father. And I’ve started to listen oh so keenly! Starting from a point of assurance that I am loved just as I am, what I think I have heard my Father say is, "Write, my child, write." This message seems to have been repeated to me in various ways: sometimes through the comments of trusted friends and family, once in a dream, sometimes through reminders that pop into my mind when I forget and start pursuing other things, sometimes through Oprah saying "Do what you feel passionate about!" (Yes, God even uses daytime TV!) and sometimes when I wake up at 3am and it’s all I can think about. It’s a still small voice that provides neither a guarantee nor a visionary future result, but it’s accompanied by a gut feel that this is the way for now, and I should walk in it. Not for the outcome, but for the journey.

So that’s what I’m doing. I’m writing emails and writing in my journal. I’m writing notes to strangers in shopping centres, and reflections on Facebook. I’m writing to terminally ill children, and persecuted Christians in prison. The writer’s workshop I registered for was cancelled, so instead I’ve gone to a writer’s lunch time session and I’m reading a writer’s blog. And I’m writing to you. (Thanks for reading.)

This part has some philosophy but is mostly news.

Disappointment has not been given permission to run rampant in the Jacobs’ household though. We still have endless blessings for which to be grateful. There have been some glittery highs that have proven true to form. Never in our lives had we seen glitter in a city like Times Square in New York! Led forthrightly on by our good friend Vicki from the UK, we had the privilege of exploring some remarkable places in this hotspot of the world. Trent and I wholeheartedly agree that New York must be the most zingy, energetic, fun-filled, dream-generating, sky’s-the-limit city in the world.

Another glittering beacon that did not disappoint was our trip to California. These were the highlights:

  • Cycling around our favourite place by far: charming San Francisco. It holds a mix of beauty and bohemia perched on an earthquake ridden landscape with the steepest (and crookedest) roads ever. 
  • Getting away from it all to a cabin in a redwood forest, conveniently placed along a majestic coast that is home to whales that made an appearance for us.
  • Driving through wine country, past Santa Barbara and Malibu opulence into celebrity-mad Los Angeles. In Los Angeles we made our TV debut giving public opinion for "The People’s Court" airing here in June. Following the guarantee that I would not have to talk on camera, the unwelcome microphone was thrust in front of my face, and my opinion on whether Americans have a hang-up with nudity was a saucer-eyed "Er….". I don’t think I’m going to make it to the big time. 
  • Noted very interesting contrasts between the superficial and the deep when we enjoyed a meaningful service at Anaheim Vineyard church (the original Vineyard church) one morning and ventured into Hollywood in the afternoon. Food for the soul in the one, and junk food for the soul in the other.
  • Discovered that celebrity spotting in Beverly Hills is a bit like a game drive. Scrutinised the pavements of Rodeo Drive (where one requires a $15000 credit clearance to be allowed in the shop, or one has to make an appointment to shop) but alas no game came out of hiding despite our tour guide calling out loudly for any famous people. Almost saw George Clooney but it turned out to be a friend turning into his Beverly Hills driveway. 
  • We added to the truly American experience by accessing our inner child(s) and bouncing around the attractions of Disneyland for Trent’s birthday.

A welcome break into all things foreign here, were two visits in March from good British friends. It was an excuse for us to explore Boston like true tourists and we enjoyed checking out Cape Cod with Chloe & Steve, watching the Blue Man Group with Chris & Vicki, traipsing the Freedom Trail (ok, Trent was at work for that one), and putting our downstairs cinema to the test. But perhaps the best high of it all was in the ordinary – the talking, sharing and laughing together – the simple joy of friendship.

We’ve also been grateful for growing friendships in the home group that we go to. It has been my delight to have two new friends to meet up with during the week for coffee and a chat. One is from the home group and the other friendship was forged because she is the one and only other South African at our church that everybody knows, so we were enthusiastically ushered toward one other for introduction.

Amidst the highs of travel opportunities and lows of work outcomes, Trent and I have been seeking out as many of the gems of New England as possible. Simple things like signing up for a library card led to the discovery of the magnificent building that the Boston Public Library is. We also got to enter the beautiful Trinity Church building this week where we heard famous author and pastor Rob Bell share his out-the-box insights. A trip out to the small town of Concord to view a battle reenactment made for a highly entertaining day that enlightened us further on American history (and those nasty Brits who tried to take over!). I had great fun meeting up with newfound friends to watch the Boston Marathon in April. AND, last but not least, I am slowly but surely getting used to the idea of cycling with cleats.

This part is pure reporting

With Trent having handed in his resignation and having confirmed his last working day in the US as 31 July, we are girding up our loins to be on the move again in August. Hopefully for the last time in a long time. We’re travelling back to Australia via South Africa to say hello to loved ones there again, and of course meet our newest nephew. Before that we’ve got trips planned to Washington DC and the coast of Maine. But more of that in the next Jacobs Journeys….

Much love to you all, and once again, we always enjoy hearing what’s going on in your lives, so keep us in the loop!


Caryn (and Trent)


– "The Gift of God is God" sermon series by Dave Shmelzer, pastor of Boston Vineyard church;http://www.bostonvineyard.org/first-visit/service/sermons

– "The Practice of the Presence of God" by Brother Lawrence

My Lent Dilemma

Posted: 29th March 2011 by Caryn in Posts by Caryn

People with dirty smudges on their foreheads suddenly emerged in public on 9 March here in the US. Apparently the smudges were ash crosses, and Lent had begun.

Lent was a foreign concept to me growing up. I don’t remember mention of it at my churches in South Africa, nor would I have been able to tell you anything about Shrove Tuesday or Ash Wednesday or how pancakes related to it all. In tradition-steeped England, I discovered that many people around me, even non church goers, actually went so far as to deny themselves something desirable – usually chocolate – over the 40 days leading up to Easter, because that’s what you do during Lent.

The concept appealed to me. Easter is the high point of the Christian calendar – a time of remembering and celebrating an earth-shattering move of God. It made me who I am today. Yet Easter in my life usually comes and goes too quickly, with far less fuss than Christmas, which is just the start of the How-Much-God-Loves-Us story. So I thought that the ‘suffering’ that arose from denying myself something for 40 days would help me to identify with the incomprehensible suffering that Jesus went through on my behalf on that doomed crucifixion day. Perhaps it would help me to be closer to Him at Easter, and so make it all the more meaningful.

So I did it. It was suitably uncomfortable. It was nice when it ended. It didn’t feel so much a spiritual experience as a discipline, but then again, following Jesus is like that at times – a daily “left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot” approach. And yes, it made Easter more meaningful when I reflected on images of my beloved tortured King on a cross and realised that the best I could ever do, the most valuable thing I could ever give would not be enough to repay this kind of Love.

But I think all of this missed a big point. The happy bit. The big bit about God birthing new life out of death. There was resurrection! Suffering was neither the purpose nor the end. Dwelling on Christ’s death alone during Lent, to use my husband’s analogy, would be like getting excited about having a ticket to a U2 concert, but then staring in awe at the ticket whilst at the concert instead of watching the band. Missing the big point.

This Lent my curiosity was piqued by a group on Facebook called ‘The Lent Experiment’ that put out the following challenge: ‘What would happen if a group of people decided to take something up this Lent instead of giving something up? What would happen if a group of people tried to be just a little bit nicer? What would happen if we all committed totally senseless acts of niceness?’

I love this approach. Previously I found that personal Lent sacrifices, rather than becoming an exercise pointing to God, became an introspective wound to nurse with the pride that I was succeeding in something ‘righteous’. It became all about Me. It’s much easier to deflect that self-focus when my heart turns towards being kind and generous to others. Spread the love and stop the wallowing. That’s what I say. I think Jesus likes the fact that I gave a chocolate to a cleaner way more than the fact that I didn’t eat chocolate. “I desire mercy not sacrifice, acknowledgement of God rather than burnt offerings [sacrifices]” – Hosea 6:6.

But I think there’s an even deeper level. Good deeds can still be self-focused. I feel good when I do good, so it can still be all about Me. How do I get to the point of really demonstrating my appreciation of a sacrificing and victorious Saviour? Easter is really about the Fullness of All That God Is, meeting the inadequacy of all that we can offer. The result was the threat of a divine tsunami, earthquake, nuclear power plant explosion and hurricane combined into one because of the absolute incompatibility between God and us. But then because of Jesus’ actions, God could say to us, “It’s okay, I’ve got you covered. Let’s talk. If you’ll just hop into my heaven-copter [Ha ha – that’s my word] and let me steer, I’ll get you away from this turmoil. I’ve got some great plans for you.”

How do you pay homage to that? I’m learning. I think it’s understanding that God gave us Himself. The reward of following Jesus IS Jesus Himself. The goal of seeking God is to have more of God Himself, not necessarily just what He can give us. It’s preparing our hearts to understand that all our sacrifices and good deeds are not earning us any greater value in God’s eyes, but simply paving pathways to becoming more like Him. He IS love. He IS joy. He IS peace. He IS kindness. He IS mercy. If we want more love, joy, peace, patience, generosity or forgiveness in our lives we need more of Him. He IS all that is good, and we need Him in order to become like Him. The Easter story says we can’t get that right without a personal trainer, so the price was paid, and we got free access to Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit to help us along.

Lent is half-way through today. 20 days to go. I am eager to continue with The Lent Experiment, because it’s a way I can offer the little I have, which apparently Jesus values. But even more so, I hope to prepare for Easter by filling my days with an awareness of the Presence of God around me. By repeatedly ‘gazing on His beauty’ in my thoughts and my heart so that some of His attributes may rub off on me and hopefully infuse the things I do and say. And my prayer is that this Easter I will be able to look back on this time of Lent and exuberantly celebrate with Jesus all that His sacrifice and conquering of death has enabled.

My wife the weather reader…

Posted: 28th March 2011 by Trent in Posts by Trent

Caryn did this during a tour of NBC Studios in New York. Love it…

Jacobs Journeys March 2011

Posted: 3rd March 2011 by Caryn in Posts by Caryn

Well I’m writing to you from….

Boston, Massachusetts! Yay, we finally got here!
An unbelievable amount has happened in the last 3 months, so it’s a challenge not to turn this into a book. If you’re up for it, here goes.

The Trent Version

  • We have a new (fourth) nephew as of 22 February!
    Spent a happy Christmas and New Year in South Africa with loved ones.
  • Enjoyed bundu-bashing, game-driving, motor-biking, river swims and night-time bushbaby spotting on a game farm a few hours outside Jo’burg.
  • Trent’s enthusiasm for cycling (road and mountain bike) increased exponentially after some grueling cycles around Cape Town. (Thanks Pete and Noel) …
  • … so we are excited about our new road bikes bought here in the US and  about launching into new cycling adventures.
  • Quick trip back to Oz for fun celebration of Trent’s dad’s 60th. Just in time to see Kurt and Vix’s safe arrival in Oz despite Brisbane flood disaster. Then…
  • …landed in the US of A on 16 Jan 2011! Loving America so far.
  • Trent has started full time work and I am sort-of getting there-ish.
  • Boston is COLD! But snow storms and temperatures of -15°C made for some great skiing!
  • Have managed to find a great apartment 15min outside Boston city centre, (er…I mean centER), buy a car and wade through most of the admin of doing everything legally here (it’s overrated).
  • Greatly looking forward to friends visiting us in our new home for the first time.


The Caryn Version

Our native home
Going back to South Africa is always an emotional journey. This time, for the first time, we entered not as South Africans back from exploring the world, but as permanent residents of Australia. It required some psychological adjustment that wasn’t necessarily easy, and in a way it was helpful to see how some things had grown and moved on without us. But being with loved friends and family was a reminder of the valuable and lasting things in life.
Because of the impromptu nature of our visit we mainly saw close friends  and did some supercharged catch up, but it was revitalising. Trent was happily swept up in the cycling fanaticism of Noel and Pete, and we were reminded how insane South Africans can be. Trent donned a sexy purple Cadbury’s cycling outfit complete with ‘dorky pants’ (thanks Ryan!) and they went on 50km+ cycles all over the mountain on every possible day (including once ‘round the mountain before work for Pete). Of course this just invigorated Trent’s enthusiasm, and it possessed him to try out cleats (ie: shoes attach to pedals) for the first time – on a single track mountain bike trail. He fell over…just a bit. Nevertheless, the bug bit hard. Read on…
Colin and Carin once again made us part of their home in Cape Town, and we got to see a lot of extended family. Then on to Jo’burg where we spent some quality time with my parents, Lauren, Mark and the utterly charming little Luke. I had some delightful moments frolicking in the garden and the swimming pool with Luke, as only children can make you do. (And now we are very proud that we have a brand new delivery of Nephew No 4! Ethan arrived on 22 February amidst much excitement.)
In keeping with my parents’ tradition, Rhenosterpoort, a game farm near Nelspruit, was once again the destination for the New Years Eve week. It’s one of the best places to really unwind: out in the middle of nowhere in a rustic stone bungalow with no electricity or cell phone reception. The stargazing was magnificent. We went on hikes up the mountain and swam in rivers and waterfalls. Saw a sand snake and I almost stepped on a puff adder! My dad brought his new motorbike along and the guys had a bit of fun with that. The owner took us on a sunset game drive around the farm. And we spent lots of time lazing in hammocks, occasionally listening to baboon calls in the surrounding hills. Real bliss and a wonderful way to welcome in the new year.

Our ‘permanent’ home
The new year began with much activity! Back to Australia where the heavens had opened! We watched incredulously as the flood crisis in Brisbane unfolded, but it was equally amazing how communities in Australia rallied together and helped each other out. We were fortunately far enough north to avoid the floods, but the unrelenting heavy rain was quite a phenomenon.
Despite all that, Kurt and Vix’ emigration from the UK into the flood zone proceeded without glitch and the whole Jacobs clan eagerly welcomed their safe arrival to their new home.
The fun didn’t stop there – on to preparations for Dad Jacobs’ 60th. A party, a golfing cake, some ridiculous dress up props and a photo display made it a memorable occasion. It was also the first time in years that the whole Jacobs family was together. We left the next day.

Our temporary home
The long awaited business trip to the USA finally came together and we landed in Boston after a 30 hour journey, on 16 January this year. And Trent started work for Dynamyx Worldwide Inc. on the 17th!
Trent’s project got off to a good start and he has been coasting along quietly since then. I quickly established that I would not be able to practice as an occupational therapist here: I was gobsmacked to discover that since 2007 OT’s here need a Masters degree to practice! Poor things. So that left me to think out the box – Writing? Blogging? Hospital work? Volunteer work? Studying? One interview lined up so far – Program Manager for a summer camp for children with Aspergers Syndrome. Will see what happens…
The admin of settling in has felt like a bit of a minefield, but we managed to get a car without having a home address, car insurance without having a US driving history, an apartment without having a bank account, and a bank account without a social security number. Yay. Not done yet though – there’s still health insurance and employment card…
But the pros quickly outweigh the cons. We really like Americans. They have consistently been warm, friendly and positive people. Almost daily we have strangers wishing us a great day. Our accents are commonly cause for friendly enquiries about where we’re from. Not an easy question to answer! I was once given a discount at a local Italian deli “…‘cwos you’re from the UK.” We’ve chuckled at the ‘Bwoston’ accent where they drink ‘cwoffee’ and go to ‘Huhvard’ University.
As for the city of Boston – we’ve really liked what we’ve seen so far: convenient meets quaint. The area, known as New England, bears names that are only too familiar to us, starting with Reading(!) and moving along to Berkshire, Newbury, Salisbury and Gloucestor, amongst others. We’ve had the great opportunity already of going skiing in perfect conditions in the neighbouring state of New Hampshire and aim to get to the state of Vermont for some more sometime soon.
Then, as soon as the ice melts we’re going cycling! Yes, Trent’s cycling Bug resulted in the purchase of two road bikes. Since Trent is currently devoid of insane cycling partners, I am IT. We are now both fully kitted out for cycling (cleats included – what am I doing???) and I am being told all about how exciting it would be to aim for the 224km Boston to Cape Cod race here. Yes, dear.
6 months is going to go REALLY fast.

Our spiritual home
The great thing about being Christians is that no matter where in the world we find ourselves, if we find a church we have instant family and a social network with common purpose. Our search led us first to a tiny little Baptist congregation. What we didn’t realize was that we’d be the only white faces, so we really stood out and were consequently heartily welcomed! Even offered the pulpit! We felt privileged to hear their really slick jazz band jammin’ worship tunes. We also visited the local Vineyard church which was HUGE (Holy Trinity Brompton style). We just looked at each other and laughed when the worship turned into rap, and then country. Something for everyone! But the teaching was brilliant – truths from the Bible outlined in such relevant ways for our lives today. Also visited a very contemporary Presbyterian church, whose focus on humility and repentance before a generous God was really meaningful. We’re planning to get involved in small groups sometime soon, and are praying for God’s guidance on where we can best serve Him.

Looking forward
That brings you up to speed. Now we eagerly anticipate welcoming the Smiths and then the Tattons from the UK, as our first visitors. And after that America’s our oyster – so much to see, so liitle time! But that will be for the next Jacobs Journeys.
Blessings to you all. We love hearing from you, so please keep us filled in with what you’re up to.
Lots of love,
Caryn and Trent