Its been nearly 5 weeks since our wonderful restaurant, cooking school and warehouse were wiped out by a wild fire that jumped from our neighbors property to our building. With it went all our equipment, stock, furniture and fittings from our restaurant, Living room (which we used for all our school functions and assemblies, cooking demos,talks and demonstrations, and our home, which was upstairs (we moved there to start the school a few years back)
Our lives are forever changed - we are growing through the painful process of rebuilding our staff's homes, making a little home for ourselves in our daughters half-renovated flat (that now includes the school office) and rebuilding our business and lives. We have gone through agrieving process of sorts, with anger, tears, joy and emptiness, and getting up in the mornings to a view of the burned out shell of a building is not great.
Despite all of this, Mark & I have been overwhelmed by the generosity from friends, family, acquaintances, strangers & the media. We have seen the love of God manifested in all your acts of kindness, from offers of prayers to donations.
Little things like including a pack of new insolesin my shoe size, have helped us be more comfortable (helped the black Tomytackies fit me).
It's as if God gave each person an instruction on what to give, from the grey cuddly blanket to the grey curtains with rods - the cute little matching lamps, with the red patterned lamp shades and matching pillows - which has made our bedroom very cozy. Then kitchen cupboards (donated) were sorely needed to convert a wash up area into a little galley kitchen, where we can now cook a meal in the electric skillet (donated) used to make our meals, while reaching into the little DEFY fridge (donated) and using the cutlery, glasses, plates, dishcloths all donated by all of you.
This letter arrived last week and really touched us..
Dear Mary-Ann& Mark/Dear staff,
We have heard about the terrible fire that has destroyed your home andbusiness. We had lunch at your restaurant last March and also had the chance tomeet Jan Pentz. We liked your place very much!
Instead of buying Christmaspresents we would like to support you with a donation. Is it possible that yousend us your account number so that we can treansfer the money directly to youraccount, We are terribly sorry but we are not with Paypal.
We are sending you comfortand confidence.
Karin and Regula from Switzerland
If you have been one of these people,Mark and I want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We have beenoverwhelmed. And, because of your generosity, we have been able to find somepremises down the road in Gordon's Bay and sign a lease with some very nicepeople, and to get going again.
We have been in here for a few daysbut already we are nearly ready to re-open. From Tuesday the 12th you will beable to come in and visit. We will do our best to have stock on the shelvesand, we will be opening the restaurant for our regular week day lunches andsoon to be our Natural & Organic indoor market and lunch on Sundays +Monday Evenings when we will do a Meatless Monday Dinner! So watch thisspace - we will let you know when these will start.
TheAim companies sent us TheGarden Trio - BarleyLife, Just Carrots and Redibeets and it was alifesaver to have their dehydrated juices available, which kept our immune systemsgoing in the midst of intense stress and air pollution.
It'sin times of extreme stress like this that we really value our commitment to ahealthy lifestyle, we have slept well most nights and have the energy andstrength to get up and get going each day - we would hate to have to deal withaches, pains and health issues on top this experience.
Friends- Gordon & Sue fed us dinner every day for 2 weeks while we tried to findour feet, others showed up with pots of delicious curries and casseroles, whichwe shared with our staff for lunches.
AHumble thank you to all of you - everything we touch or wear reminds me of allof you and of course of our Creator's love and care.
Thankyou too for all the clothing - both our staff and us are now better clothedthan before and my grandson says he prefers my "new look" as it makesme look younger!!
If you have not seen the video clips or donated and would like to.. here are the links
Why did this happen -we, and many have asked?. No one knows (not even the fire department) whatstarted the fire on the mountain neat to Sir Lowry's Pass, but it spread fromthere to the Gordons Bay sign in 20minutes (that's several km along themountain) The wind was blowing at over 80km per hour with gusts at much higherspeeds, there are thousands of acres of Fynbos - the vegetation indigenous andunique to the western Cape, and is probably the most flammable of plantsaround.
Then there was the factthat there are no firebreaks, plus the farms between the mountain and ourproperty are not only covered in flammable fynbos, but broken hulls of boats,piles of wood and sawdust, dead trees, old tires and just about every flammabletype of material imaginable with no fire breaks either.
It appears the fire trucksmerely stood by and observed our property and others in between burning..claiming to have run out of water. They refused to rescue an elderly woman whowas lost in the smoke with her dogs. It took an elderly neighbor with guts torace up her driveway and rescue them, while her house burned down. It seems youare pretty much on your own when it comes to fire - the fire department willnot douse your home or rescue you if we go by our experience in the community,but they were the first on the scene the next day with big smiles to collectthe burnt metal objects and roof sheets in their private trucks :( Just maybeit's in their interest that it burns as much as possible?)
The most bizarre part isthat the wind swirled backwards (see the videos in the clips above) from thedirection it was blowing to get onto our property and then it appears the windspeed picked up and within a few hours all was gone - not a single thing leftother than crumbling brinks and twisted metal.
But... we have been ableto experience the love and concern by so many and in making sense of it all Ihave to quote from a book our friend Lee Kotze gave us to read.. "Bitachon(which I believe means 'trust' in Hebrew) in Hashem (Father God) means notplacing your hope in man at all, with the full realization that a flesh andblood person cannot do anything unless Hashem decrees it should be thatway"
This has helped us bothdeal with any anger and frustration we have felt towards people who could havedone something but did not. We have to see the greater picture, the impact onour lives and the lives of the community around us, the children and adultsgiven the opportunity to give and receive and to see others giving. This hasbeen priceless..... all I can say is we are grateful and humbled by everythingthat has happened.
There is a long way togo, this week we start manufacturing our products and opening our restaurant ina warehouse in Gordon's Bay about 2kms from our original premises.
Our online store is openfor business at www.mary-anns.com andyou can pop in to purchase products at Wasabi Park, 74 Mountainside Boulevard,Gordon's Bay. If your travel towards the sea and town of Gordon's Bay - pastour burned premises for about 2km, you would turn left at the first trafficlight where the new Gordon's Bay Mall is (site of the old Animal Shelter) andabout 200m up on the left is Wasabi Park.
Pressthe buzzer to be let in - you can park on the premises or on the pavement
PhoneMark on 0842244200 for any queries.
Our loyalty rewardsprogram is working really well and is available for all of you to sign up forat www.mary-anns.com - which gives you9% back on any monthly purchases over R500 And up to another 18% back on 6 levels down when you tell others whotell others..
This is a great way foryou to earn more than what your products cost - so you get them for free - andhas the potential to earn you a really great income.
Right now purchasing ourproducts is the best way you can help us get up and running and providing forour staff - as well as providing for yourself. Click on the link below and sendto everyone you know who would like to get the best healthy food products atthe best prices, plus earn a healthy income.
Thank you all once againfor your kindness and concern - In the new year we would like to give you theinformation you need to help all be healthier, fitter and stronger.