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Saturday, October 6, 2018

Five Fires

Paul had FIVE pastors' seminars scheduled.  Yesterday was the last one.  In each one, I would take the ladies for about an hour to teach them.  

Each day I included an object lesson on Isaiah 43:2, "When thou passeth through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fires, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee."

Now, I don't try to be a comedian, exactly, but I do enjoy it when people laugh, and we enjoy the humor of a situation together.  That fire object lesson was a good opportunity for some shared laughter. 

The first time I did it, I was standing on a little hump on the edge of  a corn field, while the ladies sat on benches on the flat path.  I was feeling sick when we started, scared to need a bathroom in the middle of my program, and scared I wouldn't arrive on time.  

The wonderful promises in this verse are for God's people, so I talk about how it's easy to believe the first part, that we can go through water and it will be OK, God will be with us.  After all, we wash ourselves, do laundry in the river, swim, or things like that, but to go through fire?!?!?  I want to give a lesson that will help people believe that part too. 

 I have a handkerchief that  represents the child of God.  I put it through water (mixed with Isopropyl Alcohol, rubbing alcohol, from the pharmacy) and then hold it up to show it is OK, even after its dunking.  Then I say I'm going to catch it on fire, and it's still going to be OK.  

Well now, that is what is supposed to happen.  That day in the corn field, I couldn't get a match lit long enough to light the handkerchief!  I went though about 8 matches, and I could see the ladies wincing at the waste of it.  Finally, one could stand it no more.  She came up and started a proper fire, out of corn husks, in seconds.  We dipped the handkerchief into that fire, and it burned!  It burned too much!  One corner of it was completely gone!  Oops.  

We put the fire out.  I think as I was holding it up and talking in that windy field, and waiting for the translator to talk, the hankie dried up, and thus it burned.  

I talked about how we go through hard times and trials.  I showed 'em my scar from breaking my arm in 5 pieces, when I fell off a horse when I was 30, and how God was with me through that, and how my mom came to help with the baby.  I said this was like going through the waters.

I told  them about losing our daughter in 2006, and how that was like going through the fire.  I said God brought us through that.  Later we went inside, and I re-dunked the hankie, and set it on fire.  This time the pastors could see it too, and it worked, and they clapped and laughed.  I stuffed the missing corner into a pipe I was using to hold the hankie, so no one could see, but I had mentioned we don't always come through our trial unscarred.

Yesterday, again the hankie didn't want to light.  I added more alcohol, dipped it again, and it lit.  Right about then about a bazillion kids invaded our classes.    They were intrigued, so they stayed, quietly at the back, until there was laughter and clapping from Paul's class next door, and they quick scuttled out to go find out what they were missing over there.  Coolness when people are drawn into a church by the laughter and joy coming out the door, eh? 

The most educational time for Paul and me is the question/answer time.  We've been teaching, not really knowing what the exact concerns of the people are, but that is where we learn a little.  It's exciting to see how God's Word has answers for them, just as it does for us.  When it's time for questions and answers, Paul likes to sit down to answer the questions.  By then, he's already preached several times.  These seminars are around 3 hours long, with Paul preaching withdrawing, doing object lessons, and using a translator.  It's tiring.  

My ladies group, being infiltrated by munchkins in the back.  It was a good problem to have.  
Isn't that cross cool?  It's just sun coming in holes in the bricks. 

The Pastor translated for me.  He tried out my little sock puppet and liked it. 

The ladies and I moved back in with Paul and the men for the final message.  
 My little Tic-tac buddy.   When the Bible says, "Make to yourselves friends of  mammon", I think Tic-tacs are mammon too.  

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity (Psalm 133:1).
Then was our mouth fill with laughter... (Psalm 126:2).

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Stranded in a township

Two flat tires at once today!   In Khayelitsha, of all places!  I'll tell you what happened.

I was at home, having all the crises associated with a ladies' Bible study (We ran out of sugar for the tea and a ball the kids were playing with went over the wall into the neighbor's house.  Rather tame stuff.).  Our niece Gloria was going back to her house to get something, when she ran into her husband dashing out the door.  He said Uncle Paul had called for help, as he had two flat tires in Khayelitsha. if you'd like to know the history of Khayeltisha

The last time we mentioned Khayelitsha, it was when we went to a church there, and there were 13 taxi drivers killed that morning before we arrived.  It wouldn't be my number one choice as a place to be vulnerable, with a Jeep with TWO flat tires.

But it was good!  People stepped up to help!   A local couple helped by giving Paul a ride to a tire place.  A police man gave Paul a ride back to the Jeep, then he gave Paul and his sister Grace a ride to the school where they were to be speaking.  The school staff gave  them a ride back to the car.

Two of the people who helped refused pay.

All these helpful people were Black.  Racial tensions and horror stories are frequently in the news here, but the happy reality in this situation was kindness and helpfulness to vulnerable people.

We thank the Lord for His safety, and His people we meet along the way.  

 James went zipping over from home with that yellow coiled thing to inflate the tire. 

 It looks buried in the sand, but it's cement, not sand. 
Grace speaking in one school. 

Monday, August 20, 2018

Translation Troubles

I know you're all on pins and needles to hear the latest on our current mission trip.

After Swaziland/eSwatini, we moved over to Queenstown for a week.  One memorable part was stopping in Kokstad for the night.  We chose a hotel called:

                                         NO FRILLS GUEST HOUSE

So now we have clearly defined what frills are.  Shower, rubbish receptacles, heat, name a few.  It was about $30 for the three of us (two rooms), or over $100 for a place only a little better.

WOW, was it cold!  It was below zero Celsius outside, and pretty nearly that cold inside.  It was rather fun warming each other up.  We went to bed by 8 PM, and didn't dare stick our toes out on the cold tiles til 7 AM when we jumped up and ran around packing in haste.

We continued on to Queenstown, where Paul had a full week of preaching to schools, a ministry, and a few churches.  
We enjoyed staying with Pastor Michael Watson and his family.  I love the following picture.  I poked my head in to Josh's room one morning, to see if he was awake yet, and he was not only awake but entertaining guests!  

I so enjoyed the three kids there, Caleb, 6, Alexandra, almost 3, and baby Joe.  Paul had great preaching opportunities, in very well behaved schools.  

On Saturday we moved on to East London where we are staying with Luaan and Suzanne Goosen who have a ministry to many, but particularly the Amazioni people.  So yesterday Luaan brought Paul to speak to a little tin church, where his sermon was translated to Xhosa.  From there, we went to a deaf, Xhosa church.  Luaan had to give a couple a ride to their home, so he dropped us off first, and there we were.  Three of us, with no Xhosa skills, and precious little sign language, "alone" with about 15 deaf people.  
Paul set up.  Then he decided to try draw a little.  I had heard of Google translate but had never tried it on my phone, and this seemed like the perfect time to try it.  The trouble is, my phone doesn't type very well, so I have to push about 3 times to get each letter. It was slow going, but the results were wonderful!  They were so excited about my little messages like:

ebusweni bakhe kukho ukuzaliseka kwenjabulo

which means:
In His presence there is fulness of joy

My phone got passed around from person to person, supplementing Paul's charades and drawings in the front.  

The people asked Luaan when he came back if I knew how to write in Xhosa.  :- )   I have a new respect for technology.  

What a sweet meeting.  Luaan translated into Xhosa, then a mostly deaf lady read his lips and signed for the rest of the people.  And the end, they ALL came forward to have special prayer.  Please pray for these vulnerable people.  Luaan says they get persecuted for their faith.  

Someday "Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped."  Isaiah 35:5 

Wednesday, August 8, 2018


 This should more accurately be called glimpses from a Swazi home.  I got sick soon after we arrived in Swaziland, and I didn't go hardly anywhere, so we didn't wrack up very many pictures.  On top of that, my phone was repaired recently, and it no longer takes any normal photos, only selfies.  So I raided Josh's camera for these glimpses. 
We are staying with Leo and Jill Baan who are a Dutch/English couple with that beautiful home you see above.  They and their 8 cats welcomed us.  Even with 8 cats, the mice seem to be everywhere!  A lady I rode with today keeps rat killer in the cup holder in the back seat of her beautiful car.  Hence we could get the close up picture of the cute little guy above.  I just need to think the perfect meme to go with those mouse pictures.  Any suggestions? 

 See those black flakes on the ground?  It's called "black snow".  It's the fallout from  the routine burning of the sugar cane fields surrounding the house in Nsoko.  Not the greatest picture, admittedly, but that "black snow" is worth knowing about.  It can wreck a load of laundry if you hang it on the burning days.  Actually, you don't even have to hang it.  The flakes can land on you and smudge and make more laundry.  The flakes can drift in the windows and make dust and messes in the house, but it's part of the process of making sugar.  
Most of the pictures were taken on evening walks.  The burning also enhances the orange in the sunset.  

So far, Paul has a nearly perfect record in Swaziland, in that every school where he asked if he could preach, has let him if they were open.  Only the army hasn't said yes, when he tried to preach at a base near us.

Thursday, 8-9-18, we plan to head toward Queenstown, South Africa, where we need to be on Sunday.  We are meeting lovely people along the way, including a team from Durban who came to volunteer in Swaziland just for a few days.  Josh enjoyed having some other young people for a few days.  Jill Baan and I have had good times together.  She took me to her Bible study, and craft group, and we've shared a lot with each other.  

 Paul and Leo have traveled to the schools and prison together.  Leo, 6'6"  is nearly as tall as Paul.  He has learned as few do, how heavy Paul's equipment is, and now has a sore back.  Josh went with them today, and I think he's going to carry that bag.  

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:  Fear God and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.
Ecc. 12:13

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Up, up in the air, in a beautiful balloon

I don't feel like I've shared enough of our balloon trip! Being a once-in-a-lifetime experience, it needs more than a quick treatment.  
We had to wait almost a year from the time we were given the gift at a party for our twenty fifth anniversary in Maine.  We tried to schedule in Cape Town, but with our fickle wind and weather, it had to be rescheduled each time.  We would have insisted they take us, but we    didn't want to get swept out over the Atlantic Ocean, nor the Indian Ocean.  
So on this fine morning, we got up in the dark so we could be rising at dawn.  It wasn't just us.  First of all, Josh got to come with us, since we discovered that a balloon ride up-country (in the North West province, near Hartbeespoort Dam)  costs about half of a balloon ride in Cape Town.  Whoo-hoo!  

Josh wasn't the only one with us.  Turns out we had a big basket and there were 14 of us total, including our captain.  We were a very international group too.  Besides our 3 American selves, there were 2 from France, 3 from the UK, 2 from Argentina (yeah!  I got to speak Spanish a bit!), 1 from Denmark, and 3 South Africans. 
All of us were thrilled with the beauty and the peacefulness of the flight!  I didn't feel afraid at all.  Before we went up, I had felt nervous of being cold, but that morning I put on 4 layers, and that did the trick.  I was peeling layers before we came down.  The firing up stage was suspenseful, chilly, and fascinating.  

Notice the blue ring inside the balloon.  To land, they open that small circle, and the hot air in the balloon escapes out of the blue circle so we could descend more or less where the pilot wanted.  
We landed in a cow pasture.  We had to be careful where we stepped.  

Ta-da!  We were ready to go up!  (Sorry these are not in the order I intended them.  I struggle with moving pictures around.)

We got over a mile high.  We saw these fields looking like quilts, and game, and cows, and mountains and water.  We saw God's Creation!  

The balloon basket was divided into 5 segments.  It reminded me of a picnic basket with a section for the cutlery, the dishes...

After the balloon ride, we got down to business.  We went to Sasolburg where Paul preached in a bunch of schools, and a church on Sunday.  Josh continues his homeschooling, and I watch for opportunities to add something to it.  
After Sasolburg, we moved to Back to the Bible Mission, near Barberton.  All of the rest of the pictures are from near Barberton, except the glorious sunset from Sasolburg.  

Josh and Jock of the Bushveld.  We read that book by Sir Percy Fitzpatrick for homeschooling, and learned some South African history so now we're in Jock's territory and were excited to see this statue of him.  Sort of. He's a little larger than life, I think.

Late afternoon walks are a normal part of life for us, and in Barberton we enjoyed walking the railroad and even crossing a trestle.   Not everyone was so sedate on our walks. 

We toured this house called Belhaven in Barberton.  Notice the coffee plant growing on the left.  The guide tried to act like everything was so old and out of date, but I kept seeing things I grew up with, like the ringer washer, low door knobs more like I see in America, and linoleum like we used to have during our stays in Kenya.  So it kind of made old seem not so long ago.  But if our lives are merely a vapor, nothing is so long ago, so it's not that I'm old or anything like that. 

One day Josh and I got to use our Jeep and went off to visit Lizelle's new baby Ziya in Nelspruit.  What a cutie!  I hope she and our Clarity get acquainted at some stage.  

Isn't this tree beautiful?  We saw several in bloom, but I don't think I'd want to climb it...
It doesn't look user friendly.  It's a nice little parable there about beautiful, but prickly people. 

When Paul preached in Alberton, we got to eat lunch with the pastor and his family.  We met his friendly birds...
and his daughter who was so good with the birds. 
This wall fascinates me.  Poles with rocks in between. 

We had a memorable meal where Josh sampled snails. 

Sometimes we're in the city so much, I forget we're in Africa.  Other times I am reminded. 

We are fishing for men!  That's another way to say "Drawing Others to Christ." 
Paul preached on Psalm 90, the brevity of life, numbering our days, applying our hearts to wisdom, being satisfied with His mercy, rejoicing, being glad, and working for the Lord.  
He preached on lots of other things but his photographer wife misses a lot of photo ops.  :- / 

25 years and counting!  We visited an outdoor wedding venue.  Even with no wedding going on, it was special with its bamboo walls. 

"So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom!"  PSalm 90:12

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Cruising the Karoo

 I'm glad to be out on the road again, cruising through the Karoo.  While my guys slept, I tried getting some photos with my phone.
 The Karoo is semi-desert, with hills, shrubs, and a lot of wide open spaces.  The occasional windmill calls my attention.
 This kind of driving is calm and relaxing.  I feel my mind clearing and praises coming.  The huge rocks and wide expanses remind me I'm small, with a very big God.

Each trip is sort of a reset button for me.  I think of the verse, "Because they have no changes, therefore they fear not God." Psalm 55:19b

Somehow a change of location like this trip we are starting on (scheduled to be out from April 30-May 23rd) gets me to examine myself anew, and see how I can better please God.  I get more focused on our earthly mission, to draw people to Him, and I try to simplify my life back to what is really important.  It's refreshing.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Home again! but remembering Maine.

Day THREE at home.  Time to reclaim the kitchen.  I've dodged cooking as cooking and jetlag are a dangerous combination, and because I could.  Monday we scraped by on leftovers, and Tuesday was Gloria's birthday and they invited us over for lunch, thus procrastinating the inevitable.

By the time I got into the kitchen today, I was itching to putter around, cooking, cleaning, setting the little  alfalfas to sprout, making a couple of batches of granola, and baking a huge batch of chicken to rescue it from going bad.  

But I do want to chronicle some things from our trip to America.  It was the ultimate good birthday gift, made better in that I didn't have to do it alone, but Josh was with me.  

 Josh is such a good travel companion.  One of the perks for him, was when he got to drive his cousin Ariel's car (Boris, an orange Kia) when we went to New Hampshire.  New Hampshire doesn't require a driving permit, just an older driver to teach the young upstarts so the three of us went together to give Josh a chance to practice driving.  Not only did he drive, he got to drive first on the same street where he was born, 2 Fortier Drive, in my parents' guestroom!  They've moved two or three times since then, so we all thought this was just symbolic and special and cool.

While we were in the neighborhood, we went to visit a bridge where we used to walk, and we enjoyed memories.  Josh was maybe 4 the last time he was there, but he remembered.

 One of my projects at my Mom's house was to work on cleaning out some of my boxes in her basement.  For 25 years, she has been harboring boxes of my stuff, mainly full of pictures.  So I decided to transfer the slides to digital, the only way I could without buying more stuff to stash in her basement.  I projected the slides onto my Dad's old screen with my old projector and then took a picture of that picture, either with my phone or with Joshua's camera.  I'll be putting them on Facebook or here or sending them right to friends and former students.

That was a fun project.  I got to see pictures of my life from age 16-26, mainly, as well as my parents' wedding and honey moon at Niagara Falls.  There was my first missions trip to Mexico way back in 1982, and some of the second Mexico trip, in 1986, with the Bob Jones Mission Team.  I delighted to see my teaching days in Peru, and some of my cute little students who are now big grown up people, and I loved sharing some of these pictures with the family.  I'm having a good life!  I praise the Lord!  Following Him fills a life "with all precious and pleasant riches."  No regrets here, not on the parts where I've obeyed.

 Then there was Chester.  Chester and Felix are my sister's family's cats.  They are identical in color, but different in physique.  Felix is an indoor cat, and he is so heavy and bulgy, while Chester gets to go outside during the day, and he's sleek and lithe.  I think I see a lesson in there for me...

 Of all the reasons I wanted to get back to South Africa, here's my number one!  The love of my life, my handsome hublet, Paul.  ( As usual, I must apologize for the weird order of this blog entry.  I struggle with dragging pictures around, getting them to the best place.  So I just flex, and go with the order they appear.)
 The airport in Portland, Maine was decorated with lobster buoys painted with flags so we grabbed a picture before we headed back to South Africa.

 My son in law Ryan and I had a fun moment
making a snow toddler, with a pine cone nose.
April could be quite warm, but this one hasn't been yet.  I was thrilled to see and enjoy snow for a change.
Pippin, my sister's dog, was not so thrilled about the snow, but quite pleased to hang out by the fire.  He will be 15 in June, so I guess he's earned the right to the pampered life.  

Four generations of funny people!  My Mom, our daughter Evangel, me, and Clarity, our granddaughter, all with fake braids.  Our pastor wasn't too impressed when we brought them to prayer meeting for head coverings.  We didn't actually keep them on, just long enough to scare him.  

This is a photo-driven post, showing what I had pictures of, not necessarily the most important things.  Just a glimpse, but some precious family time there, the issues of Life. (Proverbs 4:23)