Showing posts with label Africa. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Africa. Show all posts

Sunday, 31 May 2015

Danger and Sacrifice

Danger and Sacrifice
Posted: 03 May 2014 06:26 PM PDT
Today I'd like to share a letter from our dear son Milton who is serving in Mozambique.

 To all my brothers and sisters in Christ;

     "Some say I've made quite a sacrifice in spending so much of my life

 in Africa... I never made a sacrifice. We ought not to talk of 'sacrifice'

 when we remember He who left His Father's throne on high to

 give Himself for us." ~ David Livingston


As I sit down to write inside my climate controlled room, painted in rich hues of blue and brown, and decorated with African paintings, I wonder if the comfort I enjoy makes me complacent.  Why aren't we willing to make genuine sacrifices?

Perhaps the continual relaxation is removing my need for the Comforter and Guide by sedating my spiritual appetite with lesser things; things that are worthless. Perhaps I am being sung a lullaby and rocked to sleep.  I must be alert. I must watch and pray.

Our house is on top of a hill and cannot be hid, at least from a distance. Up close, no one can see over the wall and into the shimmering oasis amidst we dwell.  A stone staircase carved out of the dirt meanders from the garden and up to the patio, where we often grill chicken, hamburgers, and steak. The lawn, grown from American seed, glistens with droplets of water from the sprinkler. A rainbow of flowers adorn the beds in front. What is life?  Why aren't others as blessed?

But that's enough. Let's step out of this murky swirl of abstract thought, and I'll tell you what we've done since I last wrote; about building wheelchairs, visiting the sick, buying new vehicles, touring a coal mine, seeing an old volcano, climbing a tower, and almost being crushed by a fuel tanker.

Most of our projects revolve around repairing wells, so when Kevin mentioned that a handicapped man had asked for a wheelchair, I jumped at the opportunity to do something different.  We had an old tricycle from several years ago sitting in the yard that the guys before had built. Looking at it, we decided that the design could be improved by making it lower, using bigger wheels, and reworking the steering.

This meant a radical departure from the beaten path, but in many ways that's when I'm the happiest. After a couple of days of welding, stopping to reconsider, and remaking what already has been done, we had a crude prototype of what we envisioned.

Gene, Mark and Beth's interpreter,(they are the missionaries in Ulongwe) was at our place planting grass while we were working on it. He came down to the armazén, our workshop, and in his bold manner proclaimed.

"This isn't good! These axles need to be removable. You need too think of the person using it, not just yourself. These are not good ideas at all."

His words bit.  Just because the design was different didn't mean it was necessarily worse. Besides, I was fully aware of the imperfections and was wondering how to go about fixing them. It irked me immensely to face criticism from someone who had no solution and no pretense of helping me.

It was discouraging, but I swallowed my pride and began on an improved design, ignoring the 'I told you so' comments from Gene when I unceremoniously tossed the old one into the trash.

I felt I was entitled to praise rather than condemnation; a far cry from the servant described by Jesus who comes in from working in the field and serves at his master's table, realizing he is just doing his duty.  I thought I deserved better than just crumbs underneath the table, but rather a place of honor. With an attitude like that, genuine sacrifice is impossible.

Taking turns joy-riding the wheelchair around the yard, we discovered several deficiencies and rectified them. Once the prototype was complete, we made four more and painted them each a different color: red, blue, green, yellow, and gray.

Each wheelchair has 3-26" bicycle wheels; a 19" wide, padded vinyl seat; a locking park brake; 1:1 gear ratio; and a breaking hub on the front drive wheel. We spent 6000 meticais (200 dollars) on parts and are selling them for 1200 metz.

While in Angonia, we dropped the blue one off for Gene's father, who has nothing but two stubs for legs. He didn't know what to say, but was obviously holding back tears of gratitude. He pedaled around his mud hut and declared that his new bike was for going to church.

We also found people to give the others to. The green one we brought to a man in Dondo, near the ocean. We sold the green one to a man in Changara, and the red one to a man here in Moatize.  The gray prototype we will keep to make more off of.

The genuine appreciation we are shown is humbling and reminds me of how undeserving I am. They have no hesitation to compliment because we might become proud or think we are better than them. It's not as if they would be eaten up inside if we looked down on them anyways - they're rather used to that from white azungus.

One Sunday afternoon, we went to visit João's sick baby in the provincial hospital. I wasn't really enthused about going along, and Trevor wasn't, but eventually I decided to 'make the sacrifice.'

There are people everywhere pressing into the hospital with their families, hoping to receive treatment. Two mothers share the same bed in the intensive care unit. Both of their babies are breathing oxygen from masks. Ten beds are packed into a room roughly the size of our living room. In one corner, a boy who is stiff and sweating is surrounded by ladies chanting for an evil spirit to be gone.

We sing a dozen hymns in Chichewa with Albino, his wife Maria, and Samuel. (They are all members of the congregation in Chingodzi.) Some of the tired patients seem a little embarrassed when we see them singing along, but continue anyways.

The baby is doing better than he was yesterday, at least now he is crying. Before, his eyes were motionless and he didn't make a sound.  Cerebral malaria has beaten him down.  Leaving at four in the morning, his parents walked twenty kilometers to the road to catch a bus to the hospital. They have done what they can, but now he needs another blood transfusion.

João already donated blood two days ago, so I offer that they can take mine. Kevin's go home for supper, and Albino, João, and I stay to wait for the nurse.

After testing me for the disease, they take a half-liter of blood and we're on our way. We walk down the dark streets of downtown Tete and stop for Cokes at a stand wired together from dinged up pieces of tin. At the taxi stand, I ask a driver how much he'll charge us for a ride to Chingodzi. It's 300 metz, which is extravagant compared to the chapas which would have cost only 30, but I'm wanting to enjoy the beautiful evening in the spacious open air.

We cross the brightly illuminated bridge over the Zambezi river and stop at Albino's house. Of course I must stay to eat something, even though it is already 9:00.

Maria serves us massa with fried termites and broiled tomatoes. During super I learn that Albino is a driver for businessmen arriving at the airport. They rent cars and have him drive them around.  For 18 years now he has been doing this.

It is late and I must go catch a chapa, one of those rickety, packed busses.  There is also the two km walk from the main road to our house.

We try to wave one down, but all the chapas are packed. Eventually one stops and I get in. I have to look over my shoulder to see ahead of me so that I don't miss or road. We sit as a tangled mass of humanity, with legs and arms invading the personal space of everyone else.(which doesn't really exist) I can't see the back of the bus, but my guess is that there are about 25 of us inside. Once I tell the doorman to stop, he taps a coin on the window, 'tap tap - tap tap', and the driver pulls over. I manage to squeeze out and walk the lonely stretch home.

The evening wasn't a sacrifice at all.  Instead, it served as another examples of the great oxymoron: who seeks to save his life will lose it, but who loses his life for Jesus's sake will find it.

Some of the vehicles on the mission field are due for replacement, so Kevin has been involved in purchasing three new Nissan Patrols. We went down to Beira to try and get the import duties worked out. The vehicles cannot leave the shipping containers until they clear customs, and there has been difficulties. At first we were told a 15% tax would apply as we are a non-government organization and the Patrols are a ten passenger vehicle. Then, once the vehicles had arrived, the customs officials charged 55% as the   Patrols are a 4x4 SUV.  Only a $40,000 difference.  It made for more than a little annoyance.

On the way home, we were stopped for speeding. When we protested at the step fine, the officer retorted in Portuguese.

"Give to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's."

Taxes on imports and money from speeding tickets are definitely not the main source of the government's revenue. That distinction would have to go to mining royalties.

One Saturday, we were lucky enough to get a tour of Vale's Moatize mine. One of our neighbors, a man from Brazil, works in the mine overseeing equipment maintenance. He offered to navigate getting through the tight security for us and show us around.

Construction on the mine began in 2008 and continues today. The first coal shipped out in 2011. Three massive open pits are all that they are currently mining, even though a large percentage of Tete province has coal underneath it.  It is estimated that by 2025, Mozambique could supply up to 25% of the world's high grade coal, which is what most of it here is.  The coal from this mine is used mostly for metallurgical purposes, mainly in the production of steel. 

Currently, 4 trains of 42 cars each leave on the track to Beira every day. Each car is overloaded with 180 tonnes of coal, making a total of 30,240 tonnes per train. The market value is about $120 per tonne, so that is $3.6M of raw material per day, and $1.3B per year.  The government's share is 5%.

With the completion of the 912 km rail line to Nacala, the mine capacity will be tripled.  Right now, the heavy use of the Beira line by Vale's competition is their limiting factor. Already 68 locomotives and over 1400 cars have been purchased for the new track, which will be operational late this year. Each day, eight trains loaded to overflowing will depart on it.

Coal isn't the only mineral deposit that Tete has. In the extinct volcanic mountain, Muambe, there is over 1 million tonnes of blue and yellow carbonatites, a crystal-like rock.

Trevor and I went to see this mountain one day while on a trip repairing wells.  About 5 km across, it is 780 m high and has a 200 m deep caldera.  We wanted to go down into it, but there were guards with ancient rifles held together with wire that stopped us. Exploration companies were doing seismic work that they didn't want us to disturb.

On another trip to repair wells, the pipes fell down into the casing and we were unable to get hold of them. We left, leaving the villagers with the pipe fisher and telling them that we'd be back when we had a better tool made.

The next morning while I was working on the new tool, they called to inform us that they had caught the pipes and removed all of them during the night. This was good news, but I was disappointed that I couldn't continue engineering a better solution. We went back to finish up that afternoon.

While we had been there the first time, Trevor had marveled how Movitel could afford to ruin a generator to power their cell tower way out in the bush. It was right beside the pump we were working on, but miles from any significant population. This had reminded me of my longing to climb one, and this was the perfect opportunity.


I asked one of the natives who was helping us of it was alright if I went up, which he said it was, even though he was too scared to do it himself.

The tower had 14 sections bolted together which had 18 one-foot rungs each, so it was approximately 250' tall. About hallway up, I checked the bolts and was disturbed to discover that they were loose. The tower was stable, however, as it was supported with plenty of gywires. After clearing away a nest, I enjoyed a bird's eye view of the village and nearby river that wandered through the savannah.

"So what was the view from up top like?" I was later asked, but I didn't know exactly how to answer without deviating from the realm of concrete details.

Sitting up there, I remembered driving home from Fingoe with Wendell in the back seat, his mouth opening and closing but making no sound. We were almost continually out of control, was his statement later, but that was an exaggerated claim. After all, the riders in the box were still grateful when we arrived.

In the passenger seat, Trevor had sat downing his third Red Bull of the afternoon, slamming the can back against his aviator sunglasses. He was levitating over his seat, but whether from the drink or the driving it was hard to tell.

"So tell me," I asked Wendell, "will your report of Africa include us, or will you have to gloss over that part?"

He hadn't been able to say - perhaps because he was too kind, or maybe because his mouth was too dry; and in my abrupt way I blurted.

"Why aren't we willing to make real sacrifices?"

We were bouncing through the middle of nowhere; a nowhere crowded with people who had no good water, no electricity, and no Savior.  Who was going to go to them?

Sitting on top of the world on the cell tower I could see it all again: the distance we tend to make between us. The blessings we refuse to give up because we firmly believe we deserve them, that we earned them with all of our hard efforts. I could look down on the primitive huts as one who observes artifacts in a museum, and be intrigued. I could shout down advice, but remain far separated from the ripped clothes, the hunger, and the poverty, of which I knew nothing of.

Last week, when we were driving from Beira to Tete, we witnessed a horrific accident.  It was on the road between Changara and the city, which is hilly and full of curves. We rounded a corner and saw a white flatbed semi on the left side of the road flipped on its roof in the ditch. The red sea-can that it had been carrying lay tossed 40' behind it.

Although we were only the second vehicle to stop, a crowd of more than 50 people from the nearby village was flocked around the truck, trying to assist in some way.

We stopped a hundred feet ahead of the wreck and Kevin and I jumped out and walked back to see off we could help out. The rest of the family stated in the vehicle.

Making my way through the crowd, I asked if everyone was okay and had made it out alive. Everyone had, I was told, except for the driver.  He was alive, but trapped between his seat and the steering column.  As well, his foot was pinched between the crumpled door and the frame.

I helped to remove the fuel tank, which was blocking access to the door. 

While I was standing with my back to the highway, trying to pry free the man's foot, I suddenly heard screaming.  Looking up, I saw the crowd frantically fleeing as a gasoline tanker truck barreled towards me.  It swerved, overcorrected, and lost control.

The image seared into my mind is of the truck spinning through the air as it ploughed into the throng of people. All I had time to think was 'this is going to be ugly.'

When the semi stopped, gasoline was pouring out of the top of the tank, facing me. It had rolled one and three-quarter times.  Trevor, watching from the Patrol, said that it had almost appeared to go right over me.  In reality, it had passed within 10 feet

Kevin, who had been farther away, took off to move the Patrol out of harms way. The driver of the tanker took off running across the bridge. An explosion seemed imminent.

I ran to the police officer who was standing beside his car and demanded that he stop the traffic.  He told me it wasn't possible here at the bottom of the hill.  "Not here! At the top of the hill!" I said, and he left to do it.

I rushed to the victims, and was the first one to reach them.  It wasn't as devastating as I had feared.  Three were obviously dead.  One boy was in critical condition, and since there was no chance of medical help outside of the hospital, I recruited two men to bring him there. One lady was hurt, but got up on her own and went to her house.

This left only the man still trapped in the first truck.  The entire crowd was gone by now, shook up and keeping their distance.

Checking in on the trapped driver, he looked into my eyes and begged.  "Please help me! I'm dying!"

I promised I would, but we had no tools, and no one else did either.  I grabbed a steel sign post, knocked over from the crash, to use as a lever.  With it, and a chain, we pulled on the steering wheel until it was all bent out of shape.  It gave him more room, so that his thighs weren't pinched, but he was still trapped by his foot.

We tried and tried, but without tools it was impossible to get him free.  I explained to the police how we needed to lift up the one side, and was told that a crane was coming. They would get him out then.

The family in the Patrol was desperate to leave, as we had to pick up Fred and Denise arriving back from America at the airport, so we took off. I washed my hands of the blood and dirt, and changed my ripped clothes.

That night, my conscience bothered me.  Had he really got out?  I prayed he had.  When he was calling out that he was dying, I'd asked him if he knew Jesus.  "Yes." He replied.

Why did I leave him? If it was my parent, my friend, or my sibling - I wouldn't have. If it was someone I deeply loved - I wouldn't have. Even if I couldn't do anything to help I would have spent the night together sharing in their agony.

If it was Jesus - would I have? The Lord's words stung.  "In as much as you've done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, you have done it into me."

The phone rang, and Wade, the missionary in Songo, had forgotten his keys.  He was locked out of his house.  Trevor and I offered to drive out to meet him, to save him from driving two hours back to get his keys.

We passed the wreck that had happened earlier that day and I asked Trevor to stop.  I had to see if the man had gotten out.  I walked down the hill in the dark and found some men stripping the truck of parts. He had got out, I was told, after the weight on his foot was lifted. He would live.

Feeling free, I returned to the pickup.  It seemed as if I was released. The night was dark, with no moon, but a billion stars shone brilliantly from the Milky Way.  "Turn off the truck," I said to Trevor, "and take a look at this!"

With a God like this, we need nothing but to be still, and stand in awestruck silence. Who else can protect us? What can compare? What else is worth pursuing? It's all mere rhetoric to even begin.

"That business you have is booming! Will you purchase the treasure of heaven with your profits?"

"Wow! What a great smartphone! Does it give you an instant connection with God?"

"What a peace-making country Canada is! Will she be able to make peace for you in eternity?"

"Those Oilers in their heyday made Edmonton the City of Champions! Do you think they'll sit enthroned in heaven one day?"

"How marvelous is your house and your beautiful furniture! Will you dwell in it when the world is on fire?"

The night is late and this letter is long, so I must say goodbye until next time.  Remember me in your prayers.
Please remember him in your prayers.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

That's MY Baby!

Have you ever read or heard of stories about the atrocities that happened in Catholic boarding schools a couple generations ago?  There's a new twist on that old story that makes me shudder, partly because I almost felt I had BEEN THERE! 

Back, maybe sixty years ago, or so the story goes there was an all girls orphanage run by nuns who were very severe. Possibly because of the lack of love in that atmosphere, some of the girls got carried away with guys they secretly met, and babies resulted. Of course this was responded to with shock, horror, and disapproval. The one girl who the story focuses on dearly loved her little boy, but was only allowed to see him for a short time once a week. Imagine the delighted reunion when they fell into each others arms during these brief visits! Picture these very young moms running into the room barely heeding the stern commands to walk like ladies!

The scene changes in a flash!! Almost too late this girl finds out that her child is going to be snatched  away and adopted! How she screams and wails  and races down the stairs but is held back. She tears up the stairs once again and calls and calls out the window to her sweet little boy.  Imagine her excruciating dispair and agony of losing the love of her life! Little boy crying outdoor

She never, never forgets him, and eventually searches extensively...and finds him...after he dies.

So what does this have to do with ME, you ask?

I had a strange sensation while we stayed in a spacious cottage that used to be a vacation home for nuns. It was chill, musky, plain house and far too easy to picture that young girl flying down the stairs in that sort of atmosphere. There was even one or two iron crosses hanging on the walls.

But I'm leaving you on a down note. Next time I'll post about the positive sights on this spots.


Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Sticks and Tin and Plastic


You are probably wondering by now if I am ever going to write about the famous outdoor markets. How am I ever going to describe them to you? Can you imagine several acres of structures put together with sticks with coverings of tin or plastic? Can you? Well, I didn't really think so, but that's what I saw. And no, they wasn't just a shanty here and there, but they were CROWDED together with narrow, dirt alleyways in between. Not that you'd have much opportunity to notice the uneven terrain beneath your feet because there is so much else to gaze upon. I've expounded upon the people, people everywhere so you can just take it for granted it's the same here. For some reason I got the impression that the locals were either happy and smiling, showing their gleaming white teeth, or very sad. None of this impassive, distracted-by-business cares look. We saw lots of piggy-backed babies wrapped in shawls, of course, and many, if not most of the women wore wigs. There were beggars, here, to, of course. Did I tell you already about the little guy with pleading eyes who I let finish my pineapple drink? I was amused that he spit out the first swallow. Probably didn't want to get 'white man's germs,' but was touched that he shared it with his little friends. 

 An explosion of colors bombards the eyes
   s.  Rolls and rolls of vibrant material was available in many shops. Heaps of peanuts, mounds of tomatoes and other fruits, high stacks of egg cartons, dried fish, squawking chickens, well you name it. I saw one chicken hanging upside down in the hand of a young girl, so innocently oblivious to the fact that it was heading for the stew pot. What else did I see? Would you believe techie stuff was really quite popular, especially cell phones?  I wouldn't have been quite so impressed, perhaps if later a friend told me of the total absence of such devises in Cuba. My, how can a person communicate properly in an area where the main mode of travel is by foot, if you can't at least try to reach someone on a cellphone? Okay, okay, I can almost see your amused expression and yes, I know they did it for thousands of years, but hey things happen. Someone is caught in a  lightning storm, miles from their village, a bike tire goes flat, well you name it. If it was your loved one, wouldn't you want to know what's keeping them so long?
I keep forgetting to check my notes. Hold on a sec while I see what I am missing. I had to studiously avoid the many cries of "mama" or "sister" partly because I wouldn't understand their language anyway, but mainly because I didn't want to disappoint them by admiring, yet not purchasing any of their pretty trinkets (or whatever.)
I think I had better 'slide" into home base now if I want to get this posted before it's time to leave the library.

Boah no-i-tah (Good night)
P.S. My pictures are never exactly what I saw, but as accurate as I could find on the internet. 

Monday, 21 July 2014


Come on grab a pair of sandals, there's plenty of those over there by the door. I can lend you an extra sunhat if you don't have one, and don't forget the sunscreen and mosquito repellent. Even though it's wintertime in Mozambique we don't want to take any chances of getting the nasty, and sometimes recurring malaria.  I want you to walk where I walked and see what I saw. It didn't take me long to feel bombarded by all the different impressions. Just between you and me and the baobab tree I experienced some serious culture shock while there. Don't tell anyone, but I broke down and cried uncontrollably for a couple hours. It was just too much. Too much poverty, too much ignorance, too hard a life, and I felt too helpless to do anything about it.

I found it a bit uncomfortable bumping along these rocky, rutted roads in our big, four wheel drive truck, but all around us people were walking, always walking which would be far more exhausting. . We saw thousands of black faces, many so solemn looking, carrying heavy bundles, often on their heads and the women, it seemed like more often than not, had a baby or toddler wrapped on their backs. I guess seeing the numerous pedestrians with heavy loads and  knowing they would be  sleeping on bamboo mats, and the pitiful diets were among the things that hit me the hardest. Hey, they are people just like you and I!

At first we babbled foolishly about what can we do to help, but eventually fell silent. What could we do? Their needs are so great, and our efforts so small. Even the education of many was a crying shame. Some children could hardly even write their name.
We saw far too many places similar to this. How would you like to call this home? 

I was asked later if I would go back if I had a chance. I thought about it for a while and this is my answer. For an adventure, no, but as a missionary in order to help the people, yes, a resounding yes, IF I could learn the language sufficiently to share my love with them. Life for so many in Africa is a hard life, and it would be also, to a lesser extent for the missionary because it would be a huge adjustment. No an adventure seeking spirit couldn't drag me back, but love could.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

WHERE Is The Road?

Bon Deah!

I hope all you Portuguese speaking readers aren’t flinching over my spelling, but I chose to write words the way they sound in order to pronounce them more accurately.

Come with me to our first well repair site. You may well be surprised with how many people are walking along the roads wherever you go. I certainly was. Mozambique is definitely a land of contrasts but some of the dramatic changes are very recent. The beautiful, smooth pavement we are now driving on came in within the last six months so try to imagine what it was like before that!

Since it is their winter time the landscape is dry and desolate but interesting because of its very strangeness. I kept half wanting one of Africa’s famous animals to show up somewhere off to the side but this is far too populated an area for that to happen! Every year the grass is burned and the mice and rabbits flushed out and eaten so obviously there isn’t enough vegetation, or small game left for the mightier beasts.

Soon we’ll leave the highway behind, and then we’ll get a more authentic picture of the ‘real Africa.”  Before we left Tete, Milton picked up a slim man by the name of Antonio who could speak Portuguese. Since he would be directing us to the well site I got my first chance to hear my son having a real conversation in a foreign language. Why did I suggest that this man was slender? I quickly observed that most of the natives were not over weight, probably because of all the walking they do, and the heavy loads they must carry.

If you are like me, you are wondering about now if Antonio knows where we are going. Having Milton say he had forgotten his GPS doesn't help, but I’m not really concerned, because I know he has gone on trips like this countless times. Sometimes we are on rocky excuses for roads, but other times the track disappears completely as far as I can tell, but we keep plunging across the uneven terrain. Sometimes we see a little brick shanty or two or three, and of course even way out here black people show up, going somewhere or maybe just sitting and watching us as we manoeuvre along. The ‘roads’ we are traveling on were not in the so distant past mere walking trails that evolved into something for motorbikes, then eventually vehicles like ours pushed their way through.

AH! Here it is: the well site! I watch with interest as the men quickly and efficiently unload the truck in preparation for the repair job. Now where did all these little children come from? They seem to have arrived from all directions! Even some mamas with their babies are observing from under that tree over there. The children are shy, especially at first, and hang together and a little back. How I longed to be able to talk to them. Some are so bright-eyed and giggly but we couldn’t communicate! My stammering efforts to speak Portuguese wouldn’t even help here because they only knew Chichewa. How can we tell them about the wonderful Heavenly Father when there is such a communication barrier between us?

Even here there is the suggestion of class difference. One wee urchin was wearing a seriously ragged T shirt. I mean it had huge holes in it, while others were clinging to their school satchels and seemed better dressed. They were obviously the more fortunate ones. One little girl had a constant nagging cough and I tried to express my sympathy through sign language but I don’t think she quite got the message.
Milton tried to explain to them that I was a Mama and a Grandma. It saddened me tremendously that children like these are still being taught that white people want to steal little black children and eat them, although I’m not quite sure they really believed it.

On the way back I understood better why Milton remarked about wishing he had the GPS along. Antonio stayed at the village, and we ended up doing some back-tracking because one clump of brush and wider area in the sand looked pretty much the same as the next, but obviously we made it out or I wouldn’t have gotten this written!

 Ate’ Logo: Ahteh Lawgo (Until later)

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Losing Altitude--In Africa

Ho, hum, what happened here? I thought I had sent off a post about landing in Johannesburg but where is it? Then this morning before coming to the library, I wrote one introducing y'all to our first trip into the African back lands---and it vanished! Well, it's time to hustle out another one! 
Here goes!! Maybe I'll even get two written!

As the plane loses altitude  and the African landscape rolls out before us, I am enjoying a very African looking sunrise. If you ask me why it looked more African than any other sunrise I can only say because the colors so closely resembled one in a picture I checked out in my online research.

After landing in Johannesburg we had to (guess what?!) go through customs again. There weren't as many blacks as you might have expected but many that I thought had a distinctly Africaan (Dutch?)  look. Not that that made them much easier to understand.

There was a bewildering array of exotic looking souvenirs that we scurried past on our way to our next flight.

As we hurried through the airport the gift shops were like a kaledoscopic blur

The plane that took us to Tate was the smallest I've been on in in a long, long time. I had an opportunity to chat with a man who regularly flew back and forth between Mozambique and South Africa because he worked in the recently developing coal mines.

Now I was sorry for trying to protect my son's brand new computer by squeezing it into a suitcase without completely removing the box. Those customs officers quickly got wise to the fact that it was a Brand New Laptop and wanted to levy a seriously hefty duty tax on it. With all the dilly-dallying and delays our son and the missionary finally were able to get through and help with the language problem. I understand that they wanted to charge us the equivalent of a week, or was it a month's wages for that tiny piece of wires and, and well whatever. There was a woman there that was willing to pay 200 Metcash for that slim, sleek looking piece of technology, but 'we' swallowed our ire ad paid the duty. I looked and listened carefully, but never once heard any remonstrance that I should have packed the laptop differently. Thank you!

The temperature was pleasantly comfortable when we landed, and would you believe we didn't hit a serious heat wave until we got back home to northern  Alberta?

Monday, 14 July 2014

"Goodnight" In the Air!

Part of the Trip to Africa series as found on my
Our next flight was three hours longer than the first one and was also an over-nighter. I’m really not great at falling asleep even at home, and this was no exception. How my legs did ache! Out of desperation I would get up and walk around once in a while. It is a marvel to behold how readily some folks zonked off. There were those that were snoozing with their chin almost on their chests. Did I envy them? Well, maybe a little, but I did wonder how their necks would feel when they woke up. One sweet, young teenager leaned over to talk to me as I trudged past. Our conversation was about this long: “You can’t sleep? I can’t either!” But it was a friendly connection in a sea of shadowed faces. On a different plane one man was asleep even before takeoff and slumbered almost constantly until he had to drag himself off the plane many hours later. Oh, to keep the record straight, I did fall asleep for a few seconds, not minutes on the flight from London to Johannesburg. On the way home I even slept longer!

There were others that were prowling around in the dark. One businessman (?) was doing knee bends to aid circulation and he and I got to chatting. These late night vigils gave me opportunity to exchanged smiles and a few words with more than one gentle-faced woman clothed in Middle Eastern attire.
I felt sorry for one Chinese couple, though. Off and on all during a certain flight their toddler was fussing. I wanted so much to go help them, but that just Isn’t Done and besides they may have not even known English. I saw “Daddy” in the back with a child but could offer little more than a sympathetic smile. When daylight arrived, I discovered that it wasn’t one, but two toddlers that were having an unhappy flight. They were identical twins!

Maybe that’s enough for now. I feel ready for a nap!

Monday, 9 June 2014

A Peek Into My Private Diary

Today I am going to let you have a peek into my own private journal. The thing is, something so special, so thrilling, happened that I want to share it with the world.

Maybe you have heard by now that we are planning on taking a big trip. BIG: as in a trip of a lifetime for poor folks like us.

Okay; blessing number one: someone offered to pay for half of the trip. Can you imagine that?! We are traveling clear to the other side of the globe to see our son who is doing volinteer work in Mozambique, and these folks really wanted to go, themselves, but they thought we should go rather!!
That decision happened a long time ago, but since then, something else incredible, or at least very special, happened.

Our son had informed us that, sure, the workers would do our laundry, but we should bring four or five extra sets along, anyway. Well, this ole Canadian girl doesn't have a closetful of lightweight cotton dresses for galavating across the world. I had purchased some material earlier to sew up, but had decided to wander into Value Village, a good second hand store, to see if I could find some suitable dresses. Generally it is highly unlikely that I would find something that is modest and becoming according to our conservative Mennonite standards, so I rarely even look.

This is significant enough to consider as a new paragraph. I started browsing, just casually browsing, and lo and behold I found a very cheerful garment that would match my complexion and aurburn hair just perfectly. (Oh, yes, and it was a great fit.) I continued searching and another home-sewn Mennonite style dress showed up, and then another! (All in my colors and size!) I took them all because they were all so lovely and looked like new, but quit looking. If there were any more, let someone else have the joy of finding them.

I was so overwhelmed and thankful, and could hardly get over it! Boy, does God ever like to spring neat surprises on his children!

P.S. I also found a nice pair of walking shoes as an economical price.
P.P.S. I'm almost reluctant to add this because you'll think it's too good to be true. This all happened on Tuesday which is 30% off day for Seniours. (No, I could hardly believe it, either!)