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The Real Africa

The real Africa is the one they never show you. The real Africa is hidden beneath a veneer of poverty and hunger and death; a cancerous mass on the face of the earth the rest of the world term homogenous "Africa"...




New Year, New Adventure, Same Jesus

So its 2012 already, Happy New year! 2011 has been a blast in so many ways to count. God’s done amazing things in Mine and Marie’s life this last year and He’s calling us onto new adventures this year. It’s no secret Marie and I are planning on moving to Zimbabwe this year, we have talked about it a fair bit. Well the hard deadline is now set, we just booked our tickets to go for 30th August.

So we are on a new adventure from August, we are off to Zim, i plan to continue doing my business from there, Marie is going to be doing some volunteering for a Church out there assuming she has the time to do it and we will both be getting stuck into a new church plant/evening service called One which meets at the SevenArts Cinema in the Avondale area of Harare, more info here: http://www.facebook.com/ONEpeeps

Matt Ellis made a great comment at church yesterday, “It’s a New Year but its still the same Jesus!” which reminded me that although we will be going to a new country, We’ll still be following the same God that is with us in the UK. and just following on from that Andy Tilsley’s talk on Greed and Contentment, he was talking about being content with what we have and what God has blessed us with. These are going to be powerful words when times are challenging in a whole new country.

After his preach Andy got Lydia and the band to sing an old Hymn over the congregation called Give me Jesus, its actually on the end of the podcast itself over here i had the pleasure of editing the podcast this week because of the song, from our Multi-Track recording of the service so have the song on its own. It’s such a simple song that i want to make my philosophy for the year. you should have a listen to it.

Give Me Jesus

This was taken direct off one of the sound desks yesterday and has only had a little processing done to it, no re-recording or over dubbing. It’s a really beautiful track.




A precious 3 weeks in my home country!

After a long and grueling 15-hour overnight flight from London to Harare, via Joburg, Ant and I finally arrived at my parents’ house to the warm greetings, hugs and kisses of my family. In the past year, they hadn’t changed much at all (apart from my daddy’s and brother Andre’s stomachs appearing a few inches wider 😉 It was great to sit down and catch-up with everyone over a delicious cool lunch of cold meats and salads, after which I retreated to the bedroom for a much-needed afternoon nap (Ant prefers to stay up and fight the jet lag).

Our first week involved seeing lots of family and friends in Harare, with a large family braai at my parents’ house on the Tuesday evening for around 30 people (which was only half of my family!). We also spent hours and hours gathering together all the documentation for Ant’s residency application, going to the Immigration office and being told that a new additional requirement is police clearance from the UK. Blow! That came as such a disappointment to us as we were hoping to sort out Ant’s residency whilst we were in Zim this time round (now that we’re back in the UK, we’re busy getting Ant’s UK police clearance sorted at the moment). Thankfully, our friend Craig is coming over to the UK in February for a week, so he’s kindly offered to take Ant’s UK police clearance back with him to Zim for submission, along with all the other residency application documentation.

On our second week in Zim, Ant went off to Marondera (about an hour’s drive from Harare) on Zam Hols Boys’ Camp for 7 days, which consisted of 56 teenage boys and 15 leaders, a total of 71 males! Originally, I was going to go along as a spouse, but I then found out that I’d be the only female on the campsite, so I very quickly changed my mind! In the end, I went up for just one night with Craig’s parents who were visiting (Craig is the guy who leads Zam Hols Camps). It was great to join them for the evening session of fantastic Spirit-led worship and an inspiring talk by Tariro on the gospel and not living for the things of this world. After breakfast the following morning, I headed back to Harare with Craig’s parents, and looked forward to seeing my husband again in 4 days’ time. When Ant got back to Harare after Zam Hols Camp, he was very tired and sunburnt, but he said he had a fantastic time and looks forward to next time 🙂 Ant also did a talk on Sin the one evening on Zam Hols Camp, which he said was very well received by the guys, and he got a lot of positive feedback about it. He also led an afternoon Bible Study for the 16-18 year olds on 1 Peter 3, which he said was very interactive and it got people discussing.

On our third week in Zim, we headed to Kariba (about 4 hours drive from Harare) with my family, who have a holiday house there in an area called Charara. The house is a few minutes’ walk from Lake Kariba, so we often went out on my dad’s boat on a game-viewing drive or just for a ride. My brothers really like fishing, so they often took the boat out to go catch fish. There is also a swimming pool, so we’d often find ourselves in the swimming pool for most of the day, as temperatures were around 40 degrees on most days. The heat in Kariba is almost unbearable and the mosquitoes were a real nuisance (Ant especially got bitten the most out of everyone, we think it’s because of his English blood;) but apart from that we had a great time! Christmas Day was nice and relaxed, we exchanged presents, had a delicious and very large Christmas lunch, then relaxed by the pool for the rest of the afternoon.

We drove back to Harare on Boxing Day and flew back to the UK on the 27th. We thank God for a wonderful, relaxing, long holiday!




Updates and upcoming changes!

Its been a while since I posted. it was also a shame I had to start posting again with a rant about a delivery company but there lack of incompetency to deliver simple packages time after time just made my blood boil! Hopefully this makes up for it 🙂

So it has been a while so fair bit of news to share I think 🙂 Finally on my final year of my degree, just 5 modules and a final year project and I will be done with studying for the foreseeable future, given that fact its obviously clear I passed all my exams in june and august. its been a busy summer for me and for STS. I finally got round to going limited as a registered company which has some tax advantages and other benefits Not forgetting a debit card with the company name on it! there’s been lots of work coming in which has been really a blessing to Marie and I.

I’m keeping this fairly short as I’d like to try and do more updates than my once every couple of months routine, so I’ll move on to upcoming changes. there’s only really 2 changes, firstly Marie has been considering blogging about stuff that she is passionate about or just plain wants to talk about, and we thought why not put it all here, because that way this will get more content over time and doesn’t have any extra expense! So soon you will be seeing posts from Marie Somerset, do read and enjoy them because I’m certain there will be some good pearls of wisdom in there.

second change which probably quite a few people now about by now is that Marie and I will be planning to emigrate to Zimbabwe by September 2012. Yes folks that’s less than 11 months away! we had been taking the first 6 months of this year to pray about the long term future and where God is calling us be it Zimbabwe or the UK or anywhere else in the world. God made it pretty clear that Zimbabwe is the place we should be to raise a family and build my business (no Marie isn’t pregnant yet!). There is going to be a lot of challenges ahead for us and some tricky decisions to be made, like do we ship everything or do we sell/get rid of stuff and re-buy new stuff in Zimbabwe? down to what church we should be involved in, we’d quite like to get involved in one of the Harare church plants but that is still to be decided, ultimately we want to do what God wants us to do so we are still open to prayers on that. we really would appreciate your prayers and thoughts over this next period of time while we plan, co-ordinate and ultimately move from the UK to Zimbabwe. Initially the biggest hurdle in our way is that I need to get residency status this December when we travel for Christmas. because Marie was born in Zimbabwe and is a resident herself it should be a straightforward process, however we are not dealing with a straightforward government so we do need specific prayers that the right people see the documentation required and have the grace and wisdom to grant the application

I will leave our news there for now, perhaps next time you might see a post from Marie.




Home Delivery Network/Yodel are pants AVOID!

Here is an email I sent as complaint because the last 2 out of 2 deliveries have seriously been a lot of fail, I’ll update if they respond or resolve the situation

DISCLAIMERS:

  • I mention 2 companies below, Amazon and Made.com it’s by no means their fault that I have had this experience (although the decision to use HDNL in the first place could be debated) it is solely HDNL/Yodel causing the problems. Amazon and Made.com are good quality companies and i would recommend either of them 🙂
  • It’s quite possible this is a localised HDNL issue (New Cross Depot, London) however not a lot of my reading over the internet fills me with confidence that it is only localised but rather likely a systemic company/country-wide plague
  • THIS IS A LONG EMAIL – You have been warned 🙂
  • REDACTED a couple of items that would be otherwise exposing personal information unneccesarily

UPDATES:

  • made.com been in touch with me due to my comments on twitter, they are chasing from there end and are doing much more than is required to help me out – that is what you call customer service 🙂
  • 27/10/2011 – 8AM: one of made.com’s items finally arrived at 21:40 last night, totally missed the delivery window and…. after 9PM!!!!, still as of yet not even acknowledgement of my complaint
  • I got an actual email response from Yodel dated – 2nd November 18:32, the from name was Amazon which is slightly misleading (i might report this to Amazon), its just a generic letter of response and “assurance” that they will investigate it

To Whom It May Concern,

This is the second time in almost as many weeks that I have had a package going via Home Delivery Network (HDNL), to arrive shockingly late or not at all. So far in the case of the second time, I’d like to record a catalogue of failures from my 2 current experiences and ask you what you are going to do about it. I’d like to point out that out of around 8 dealings with HDNL, I have only ever had one package arrive within the set time on the set day, but even then the delivery driver had a lack of care for the package, but I am not referring to that incident.

1st Delivery/Order – Amazon.com

I ordered several goods via amazon prime, which entitled me to free next day delivery. One item, being sent direct from Amazon, was sent via HDNL. It was ordered on a Sunday and dispatched on the Monday. I expected to receive the package on the Tuesday and took time off work to be able to receive it. The package did not arrive on the Tuesday and at 7pm I called the call centre. I was advised that you were very busy and that delivery drivers were delivering until 9pm, despite your advertised delivery time of 7am to 7pm. I called later at just after 9pm to be told the same information, as the only information the call centre had was that it was still out on the van.

Needless to say it was not delivered on that Tuesday and I had wasted a whole day waiting in for a package I expected to arrive. I called on the Wednesday morning at about 9am once the delivery status had been updated to scanned into depot again, and they just told me the vans load until 11:30am, so they couldn’t say what was happening. They also said they would need a day to recover the package so that I could go and collect it, as I required the item I had ordered on that Wednesday (which is why I ordered next day delivery) so I said no. I also was advised that the driver “did not attempt delivery” which meant they would today, as drivers are “not allowed to ‘not attempt’ delivery more than once”. The advisor also as good as guaranteed that I would receive the package on that day.

I called up at 7pm when the parcel had still not arrived, and was advised that they were very busy and were delivering until 9pm – again your automated service still said 7am – 7pm. I also expressed my concern that I was told the exact same the previous day, and the member of staff was fairly blunt in saying there was nothing she could do about it because the depot was closed. When I asked to speak to the manager, she put me on hold and then took my contact details and advised me a manager would call back – this never happened.

I called again at 9pm as the parcel had still not arrived, and the advisor had no information and could not contact the depot or driver.

The package arrived at 22:15pm. 5 mins later and I would have actually have been in bed! Also the package was supposed to be signed for, however the driver literally just handed me the package after I opened the door and commented “its a bit late isn’t it?” and walked off, no signature taken or anything.

2nd Delivery/Order – Made.com

I ordered these packages some weeks ago and was prepared for the wait originally. I received an email from them on Friday 21st October advising that they were dispatching the goods to the courier. I received an email on the Monday 24th to say they were due to be delivered on Tuesday 25th. I clicked on one of the emails to reschedule the delivery to the Wednesday, which was more convenient for me – I wrongly assumed this was for both packages, however it looks like it was only for one of the 2 packages. Your system is obviously lacking the ability to realise that if 1 package to the same destination as the other is rescheduled, it should ask to reschedule the other.

I got an email Tuesday morning saying you were going to deliver between 4pm and 7pm, so I rush home in order to be able to receive it, however it did not turn up within that window. I called at just after 7pm, but before I did I checked the tracking status of one of my orders (at this stage I only assumed there was one order in your system and not two)

Lo and behold it says the package had been delivered. I have checked with my neighbours and they have not received a package for me, and I was also at the property at the delivery time and was no more than 3 metres away from the front door for most of the delivery window time, so would have heard someone attempting to deliver and heard a van drive up or away. I called to complain that I have not received the parcel, and they told me all they could do was email the depot because it was closed at 6pm. I asked to speak to a manager and was told I couldn’t. I asked why not and was told they were “busy dealing with escalations”, so I asked for the call to be “escalated”. The advisor took my contact details and told me a manager would be in touch – as of yet no manager has been in touch.

I called yet again this morning and was advised of the 2 parcels and I was advised such: for the parcel that was “delivered” but not i was told they have to contact the depot and interview the driver, and it can take up to 48 hours and that I should contact the seller: made.com
The second package they advised me was damaged and awaiting further advice, and the advisor didn’t really know what to advise me to do. As of yet I have not received either of these 2 packages and I actually need them for people to sit on tonight!

So from my details above, here is how HDNL/Yodel totally failed me:

  • First order arrived a day (and a half) late
  • First order management never called me back
  • First order the package arrived at 10pm despite being given two sets of information separately
  • First order didn’t get me to sign for it
  • Second order, two separate items, wasn’t made clear in emails
  • One item is supposedly damaged
  • One item was marked as delivered, but it looks like driver never bothered to deliver it
  • Advisors have no info or means to contact depot
  • Has still not arrived

I also have lost earnings as a result of waiting for packages, I am a freelance IT consultant and any time I need to stay off work and wait for a package is actual lost earnings, because I do not have things like annual leave, so to earn money I have to work. If I exclude the days when I arranged to be present to receive the goods, I have so far lost:

Order 1: 1 day
Order 2: half a day and counting

If I was to be working 9 – 5 during that lost time, based on the above figures, I have lost overin potential earnings due to the failures of HDNL and Yodel.

I also have the following questions of HDNL:

  • why do you deliver until 7pm but your depots “close” at 6pm, how is this even possible?
  • why do you have to deliver until 9pm and then not actually update your automated systems to advise of this?
  • why do managers not call back customers despite being told this would happen?
  • how are you going to repair your reputation with myself?
  • how is it acceptable to deliver packages after 10pm when your stated delivery time is 7am to 7pm?
  • how is it even possible for your drivers to take too many packages to deliver that they are not able to complete there delivery round within the delivery day?
  • is it acceptable to provide so little information to the customer?

Until I actually get a satisfactory response, I will be advising friends, family and other acquaintances to immediately cancel orders from suppliers that send via HDNL/Yodel, and/or to get their suppliers to choose alternatives to yourselves. I will also be forwarding trimmed down versions of this email to made.com and amazon.com and suggest they find alternative providers.

For your reference, my delivery address is:

Regards