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Marie: My Story

For a long time now, I’ve been thinking about writing a blog post about ‘my story’ for those who don’t know me so well – recent friends, new acquaintances, even family, so today I’m actually getting round to it…

During this blog post, I want to mention and highlight a few wonderful people who have all played significant roles in different seasons of my life.

Firstly, I’m truly grateful to my parents (Wouter and Yvette Theron) for raising me in the best way they knew how and for teaching me the values of hard work and authenticity. I was born and raised in Zimbabwe, my home, and attended boarding school in Harare from the age of 5 until 17. When I was 14 years old, a very special friend of mine (who was also my dorm prefect at the time) Joanne Milligan, invited me along to River of Life Church. At first I thought ‘why on earth would I want to go sit through a long, boring, formal, stuffy service listening to an old guy preach at me and singing from hymn books that are not relevant to me today?’ My parents don’t attend church and this is what I thought churches were like, but Jo immediately went on to tell me that the church meets in St John’s high school hall, there’s a band and lots of boys! 🙂 Well I can’t remember if she used those exact words, but it’s what I discovered on the first Sunday that I went along. I remember thinking to myself ‘why not try it out? It’s better than being stuck at school on Sundays’ (as boarders, we would try anything to get out of school). Well, I can honestly say that that day changed the course of the rest of my life…

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I was in my vulnerable teenage years, peer pressure at its strongest, where I could have chosen popularity, boys, sex, drinking or drugs over God any day. But I’m so grateful that God revealed Himself to me through River of Life Church – I asked Jesus into my life and I came to know His powerful love for me, I experienced a true happiness and joy and peace that I’d never known before. From that moment on, I wanted to live for my Father and Him alone, because the Father’s love can not be compared to anything else in this world. So many people search for fulfillment in the things of this world, but only God’s love can truly satisfy the longings in our hearts. If God created us, then surely He knows us better than we know ourselves, and He created us for Himself.

I left school and went on to secretarial college for a year, and sadly stopped going to church for a while. I had a fairly serious boyfriend who occupied my time at the weekends (and during the week), but after about a year the relationship ended and God lovingly drew me back to Himself.

The following year, I started working and studying a BA psychology degree part-time and started going back to River of Life church, which was then meeting in Mount Pleasant School hall. God gave me some real quality friends in church (male, female, black, white and Asian) who I genuinely had loads of fun with and who had my best interests at heart, one of them being Chipo Rwapunga, who was just always there for me whenever I needed a friend to talk to or get advice from. She’s a woman of wisdom.

By this time, I had a fantastic mornings-only job working for agricultural businesses doing their bookkeeping (also still studying at this stage), but River of Life church (which now has its own building in Eastlea) offered me a bookkeeping job. I asked God what He wanted me to do as I was being paid very well and I’d be taking a big pay cut for doing the same type of job and the same hours! It sounds ludicrous to change jobs for reduced pay, but money is not everything. So no surprise there, He told me to take the job! 🙂 So I worked at ROL Eastlea for a year and a half until I finished my degree. To this day, it has been the best job I’ve ever had, I loved every minute of it! There hasn’t been another job that I’ve enjoyed doing more. I had amazing work colleagues and a real sense of passion and purpose for the work I was doing!

However, for a long time I’d been asking God if He wanted me to move to the UK when I finished my degree, and eventually He said yes! I told Scott Marques (my boss at the time) and he said he’d ask around the Newfrontiers UK contacts if there were any available jobs (ROL Eastlea is part of the Newfrontiers International family of churches). To cut a long story short, through the combined efforts of Scott Marques and Sean Mullens, I started work at the Newfrontiers office in Brighton, UK as Matt Simmonds’ PA in December 2007. Matt was responsible for Newfrontiers Media & Comms and Newday event at the time.

At the Newfrontiers church in Brighton, I met my special Australian friend Ali Devitt 🙂 If it was not for her, I don’t think I would have lasted in the UK as long as I did. Ali introduced me to a host of other friends in church, we went to loads of social events and even travelled around Europe! It was a real season of enjoying my youth – fun, friends and travelling 🙂

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After a year and a half of loving life and good friends in Brighton, God spoke to me again and said it was time to move to London! This was not what I wanted to hear as I was nicely settled in Brighton, I had good solid friends and I was loving my job – I didn’t want to start from scratch all over again.

Anyway, there was a job vacancy advertised by email for an Office Administrator at the Newfrontiers London office, so I thought I’d apply for the job and see what happens. I was asked to go to London for an interview and then got offered the job! Within a month, I had moved to London and started working as the Office Administrator at the Newfrontiers London office in May 2009.

When I started the new job, I met my wonderful husband Anthony Somerset who was working as the IT Co-ordinator for Newfrontiers UK at the time. We were friends and work colleagues for a long time before anything further happened between us. Then (thanks to the matchmaking skills of my boss Sharon Mukungu) we finally took a huge risk entering into a relationship because of the fact that we were working together. It would have been hard to continue working together if the relationship hadn’t worked out. However, just 4 months later we were engaged and 4 months later we were married! 🙂

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For 3 and a half years, I lived and worked in London.

For almost 2 years of marriage, Anthony and I lived in London together.

Then we both felt that God was wanting us to move back to Zimbabwe and start a family, so in August 2012, we packed up and moved to Zim when I was 4 months pregnant.

On 22 January 2013, our first child Ronnie was born 🙂

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On 12 September 2014, our second child Rosie was born 🙂

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Both our children are such huge blessings to us and they’ve brought us so much joy and happiness and laughter 🙂 Yes indeed children are very hard work, but we love them to bits and would lay down our lives for them and we’re so grateful to God for each of them!

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Anthony, being the incredible husband and father that he is, has provided for his family and looked after our financial needs, which means that to this day I’ve not had to go out to work, but instead I’ve had the huge privilege of being a stay-at-home mum. It’s the hardest job I’ve ever done, and day after day I’m having to rely on God to give me the grace and patience and love to discipline and raise my children in a way that leads them to Him, our Heavenly Father, who created them and loves them more than I do, because He literally laid down His life for them.

I’m so excited to see what God has in store for us in the future, I love living a life of adventure with Him!

Until next time….




Zimbabwe Life – 4 Months In

It’s been a while since I’ve posted here, it’s a testament to how busy its been for me with work, church and life.

I thought I’d give an update on African life 4 months in as it’s the new year, its been interesting to look back on the last few months and compare the differences to life in the UK.

I’ll try and not rehash too many of the details that Marie shared in her last post.

So we have been in Zim a little over 4 months now, I have to say all the negative stories you hear about Zim are probably a little over blown by western media, sure there are some problems but I wouldn’t say they are as bad as western media makes out.

We’ve been blessed enough that we live in an area with very few power cuts and I mean perhaps 2 mins every other week or so compared to 12 hours a day that some areas get. I think this is because we probably are on the same power feed as the local hospital in our area.

Water hasn’t really been an issue for us with the exception that you cannot safely drink straight from the tap, we have a borehole (2 actually) which supplies drinking water for the complex, but its not enough to run the general water supply for the whole complex, which means the main water pipes are fed from a tank which is kept full with a mixture of Borehole water, Municipally supplied water and even the Swimming Pool when the municipal supplies are not working (which is fairly regularly at least in the winter months which are June through September). As you can guess chlorine isn’t good for you and it’s commonly known that the municipal water is not to the same standards compared to the UK. This is mostly down to the infrastructure not being as reliable (burst pipes, no power at treatment facilities etc). The water situation hasn’t been too much of an issue for us, we have our containers with which we go to the main borehole tap and fill for drinking water and for the puppies, which is luckily by the side of our house which is convenient. The only real challenge has been remembering that I must spit the water out when rinsing my mouth out after brushing my teeth (I used to have a quick drink after rinsing my mouth in the UK).

As I mentioned, work has been pretty hectic the last few months. I’ve made some changes as well in recent months too, I was previously spending a lot of my time working with Frederick Townes, Willie Jackson and the gang at W3 EDGE who are the main go-to guys to go to when you want WordPress to scale. It was a blast but unfortunately it was ultimately taking way too much time away from spending it with my wife and doing some of my own project based work (not directly in the WordPress/Internet sphere).

While I was working at W3 EDGE, I had the privilege to take a trip down to Cape Town in October and speak at a WordCamp Conference. I spoke on how to scale servers for maximum WordPress performance. It was quite a geeky and very tech focused talk but it went down well from feedback from others. I put the slides up on slideshare and the video has been uploaded to YouTube, unfortunately the audio quality for the first few minutes of my presentation was a bit poor but it picks up further in. Hopefully I’ll be able to do another talk at WordCamp Cape Town in 2013.

So even after wrapping up with the W3 EDGE team it turns out I was still very busy, some new hosting clients came in looking for more capacity for their magento store, as they were paying a rather hefty amount to Rackspace each month but not getting the amount of scale they desired. Scale roughly can be thought about as the amount of traffic a site can take based upon certain factors – for example when I mention scaling up a site, it could mean adding more servers into the equation or adding resources to the existing servers or just optimising the existing gear so it can do more in the same hardware, and so on. I won’t bore you with all the details, if you do want to find out more, please do take a look at my business website and contact me there 🙂

So Christmas has been and gone, perhaps the most exciting thing in the run up to Christmas this year was getting to be involved with our church’s (ONE Church) large missional event. This year it was called “Christmas Unrapped”. It was a mix of traditional carols, a 5-10 min gospel message and a play/performance combining Spoken Word, Dance, Acting and even some Bollywood, all in the Avondale car park (there’s a reasonably large Indian population within the Avondale area). I was originally only put down to do some lighting design and lighting on the day, but quite late on it was realised that a lot of the technical side of things was not arranged yet at all. So I got promoted to Technical Director and ended up arranging and organising all the technical aspects of the event from Power, Sound, Lighting and then running Sound on the night. It was definitely an eye opening experience and may have given me a few grey hairs in the process, but looking back I really did enjoy it!

Christmas itself was nice and quiet, I was able to take just over a week off which made a real change to the fast pace busyness of work and was really relaxing, spending lots of time with Marie, enjoying the quiet moments while they last, and playing with our puppies! We can’t really call our dogs “Puppies” for too much longer as they are over 6 months old now and just recently got spayed, which was a little bit traumatic for them but Salt & Pepper have both bounced back nicely.

In just a few days that quiet will be all but gone for the most part & I don’t say that as a negative point. Our baby is due on around the 28th January, so it literally could be any day now. In some respects its still a bit surreal that I’m going to be a dad in a few days time (because I haven’t really had much to do in the last 9 months), in some respects its quite scary to think another human life is going to be totally dependant on me (& Marie) for absolutely everything, and in some respects its quite exciting and I look forward to the challenge. I’m certain that as I learn stuff, I’ll share here as time allows as well as share as many photos as I can, here or via facebook.

I’m going to leave it there for now, hopefully we won’t be so tardy with updates in the future (I say that now….).




To Serve

I’m currently reading a Bill Hybels book, and as I was lying on my bed reading this evening, the Holy Spirit impressed the following message on me: “The reason why I’m calling you and Anthony to move to Zimbabwe is very simple: to serve”.

Now this had absolutely nothing to do with what I was reading in my book, it seemed to just come out of nowhere, but I felt that God was speaking to me at that moment.

Both Anthony and I know that God’s called us to move to Zim, but it’s always nice to know the reason why J So I was filled with joy and peace and encouragement after hearing it, thanking God for the privilege of hearing His voice and having Him as my father.

Then I thought, ok God wants us to serve in Zim – to serve where, to serve whom and in what capacity?

So I thought about how we are serving here in London at the moment, and the things that we are passionate about, and it gave me some ideas. God wants us to serve the church we’re going to join, the people in the church, the leaders of the church, the teenagers on Zam Hols camps, the people that we work with, the non-Christians around us, and of course our family and friends!

What a massive joy and privilege it is to be able to partner with God in serving others!




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.

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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!




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