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Monday, August 21, 2017

40 Days from SA to Malawi and Back

Things I want to remember from our first trip to Malawi:

Crossing the border was peaceful.  We could have saved a few minutes if we had done insurance at the same time as waiting for our visas.

Our first hotel room.  Neon red walls, with a mosaic of broken mirrors and tiles.  Very dim light-bulb. Cassava for breakfast, and chicken gizzards. Paul was pleased to eat mine and Josh's too.

Our visit to the Malawi Museum. Kinda wanted to donate some time there.  It looks neglected.

Lots of long walks passing out tracts, and most people being so excited to get them. I wrote about it in our prayer letter, and said I wished we had a GoPro (just talking, not hinting) and a lady in Indiana wrote to say she had one she never used, and wanted to give it to us.  (Stop, do cartwheel.  Mentally only, you understand.)  

Kids and a lady who stopped on their way into church to admire themselves in the side of our clean (! for once!) Jeep.  The kids had a good time dancing, the lady admired her sparkly shoes.

Josh got a new camera for his birthday in May.  All of these photos are from his camera, and he took most of them.  You can tell which ones he didn't take as he didn't take the ones he is in, with one exception.  I'm thankful he's getting another talent/skill down.
Huh?  You say I have a fidget spinner in my ear?  

Wish I could do that.  

 One of the perks of this trip was seeing so many friends along the way, like the Frews who have been friends since 2006.  Back then, we had more kids than they did, but they have gotten ahead of us.
 We participated in FIVE weddings on this 40 day trip!  Joe and Blessing's was the one we got the most involved in.  They are planning to come visit us in Cape Town in December.
 We stayed with the Beamen's in Chipata, Zambia, but we didn't get a picture of them, just their hedgehog, Lucy.
 Crossing the Zambezi River between Botswana and Zambia on a ferry is a limited time offer.  They're building a big ol' bridge that will take some of the fun out of this crossing.  Paul said this is my 25th Anniversary Cruise.

Crossing the Zambezi will lose some of its romance when the bridge is finished, but for the sake of these poor guys in the big trucks, I'll be glad for the bridge.  They are backed up for THREE KILOMETERS!  We measured.  Waiting for their turn to cross.  It can take them a week.  I'm guessing fresh milk doesn't cross this border often.
 I love, love, love when our kids get involved in ministry too!  Of course, they've been involved since day one. They've been hauled around the world, winning people even as babies, and helping their parents be more winsome, but now they're getting right up there, teaching the liquor bottle lesson full of verses of what God says about alcohol in the Bible.
I suppose I should mention how glad I am that Paul's in the ministry too.  I sort of take that for granted. Of course he is!   I can't imagine him any other way.
 Visiting a tea plantation was maybe not supposed to be the most exciting trip in the world, maybe educational was more what we had in mind, but I think none of us will forget skidding and sliding down through the tea fields, getting lost, and finally coming out miles and miles from where we went in.  It was cool, for sure.  Josh liked the skidding parts even, Paul and I, not so much.  We haven't actually tried the tea yet.
 The unsung member of our team is Gypsy, our GPS.  Though she botched it that time, never giving us a hint of cows blocking the road ahead.

 Paul got drafted into a singing group's photo session.  We're curious if he'll get into the printed version on their CD they're making.  It was a Christian group of singers, very nice, that we met beside the road one Sunday.
 We made a brief stop at Malawi's beloved pottery place, Dedza for the Dedza mountains around it.  It would have been a nice place to have lunch, but we pressed on.    
 It was mouse season in Malawi, so mouse "bouquets" were for sale beside the road.  About $.05 per mouse.  Yum, yum.  OK, we didn't try any, just felt brave to have taken the photo.  And we tipped the boys selling them because we got their hopes up when we stopped for the picture.

 Road hazards!  I'm so thankful we never hit any animals this time except little birds.
 And then there were other road hazards.  Speed traps.  This one was intricate, in Botswana, and I got trapped.  Sniff.
 But Botswana is still the best country I know for seeing wildlife from the road.  We saw elephants too, but they got upstaged as you'll see in a bit.
 Mac Mac Falls delighted us, particularly in that we didn't know it was coming, and therefore had the thrill of discovery.

 There we are!  This was one of the coolest touristy things we've ever done, and we almost didn't get to do it.  We went to an elephant encounter, which does not include (the more expensive) elephant ride, but they let us ride the elephants "just back to the stables" and took our pictures, and it was wonderful!  and the price was right.
 I think the guides saw Paul and immediately matched us with Temba, the biggest of the 6 Elephants at Elephant Whispers.
 These are amazing animals!  and therefore their Creator must be AMAZING too.  Just logic.

We saw a lot of fires.  Smoky by day...

wild by night.  

 On the way back we stayed a few days at Back to the Bible Mission.  We loved it!
 Their campus is off in the hills near Barberton, South Africa, and they call it a "preacher factory."

The road continues, we move on, always on a mission, trying to draw others to Christ.

Monday, July 24, 2017

If you're ever in an African village..

If you're in an African village, and you don't speak the language, it can be awkward.  Of course, if you're important enough, or organized enough, maybe you'll get a translator, but if not, here are my tried and true ice breakers for making friends with smaller people from the village.
1.  Painting toenails.  Or fingernails.  Happy moments here!  I discovered this one on the side of a road in Kenya, many years ago, when we had a flat tire on the way to church. 
2.  Taking pictures and then showing your new friends their pictures in the back.  A Polaroid is even better!  A really nice part of this one, is that you have the happy memories afterward. 
3. Share Tic-tac's.  I suspect any little snack would work, but I want to put what I have actually tried and found successful.  You might want to be discreet on this one, or you WILL be mobbed.   
4.  Share hand cream or hand sanitizer.  Again, you will be mobbed.  Some of the Mommies got in on this one, and we all had a good laugh, but my hand cream ran out too fast. 
5.  Shake hands with everyone.  That doesn't run out! 
6.  Start learning words in their language.  I felt like I had a comedy act ready to go on the road with the laughs I got as I tried to mimic Sotho words when we were in Zebedeilia earlier on this trip.  I mean, move over Tim Hawkins, I had people with tears running down their faces, just at the way I pronounced words!  It's a heady feeling.  
7.  Whip out a Frisbee!  Those are a thrill when they're a rare commodity.  In our most successful  village using Frisbees, the people watched and said, "Oooo," the noise rising or falling as the Frisbee rose or fell.  Come to think of it, that same village loved watching our boys sword fight.  I can't claim that one, as I've never done it, but I know it was a hit.  

Cutie pies!  My friend Hilary said, "If you love people they can usually tell, and that makes up for a lot of awkwardness."  "This is love, that we walk according to His commandments," God tells us.  I'm glad He made little people easy to love. 


Thursday, July 6, 2017

What's going on?

 God's answering prayers!  
is the link to see this chalk talk.  It's one of those sermons that can keep on growing as the Lord answers. 
 On Tuesdays when we're in Cape Town, we got to kayaking.  It's about a 30 minute walk from our house, and is one of highlights of our week. 
 Sometimes is just the four of us, Josh, Daniel, Connie and I, and other times we add in some Vats and a Labuschagne for fun, or some Johannekans for even more fun, but it's always a pretty walk around the vlei (that water you see there.)
 Connie and I have been doing a little cooking.  We enjoyed her turtle. 
 Daniel and Connie (otherwise known as "the cousins") have been joining Josh for some art lessons many of the days while we're home.  We use a book called Joseph The Canada Goose for the first part.  I'm getting some good goose artists!  Our goal is to be done before we leave for Malawi, so we are hurrying, and doing several lessons a day. 
 Speaking of Malawi....
 Paul preached in an area of Cape Town called Samora Machel (who was an interesting man.  I was just checking him out a bit on Wikipedia, in case anyone is interested.)  to a Malawian congregation. 
 His topic was Psalm 126, preaching about revival, and the link is 
 Their church was meeting in a school, and then after church they were going to pitch in to work on their block building they are building. 
 As part of our art classes, we're using Jon Gnagy on You Tube, and getting some good results! is for one of the lessons, though I'm not sure it's the one they are doing. 
 As always, we're hoping they can use these skills to Draw Others to Christ, and the boys are taking it seriously.  Connie declared it too hard.  She's six, and I agree with her.  She's doing a couple of easier books or cooking with me.  We may have serious hopes for these skills, but our classes are not somber, serious time.  They're loving them, laughing a lot, and hopefully, by the end, we'll all be saying "I drew..." instead of "I drawed..."

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Blogging = Good Health

Have you all heard that my Darling Paul had a little stroke last week?  We suspect it had something to do with preaching 31 times in the open air on the first three days of 2017. 
 We have been very busy, pushingly busy for probably too long.  I've had a few little health issues of my own, and I have reached a conclusion:  If I don't have enough time to write an occasional blog post, I'm too busy!  It's not healthy.  So from now on, I'll check the life of my blog to check my own health. 
 One of the added busy things I've been doing, an unusual thing for me, was working on Evangel's quilt.  I rearranged our bedroom so that I had a little sewing corner, with space to lay it out on our bed,  and this became my go-to thing to do for the month of November.  My goal was to finish by the first of December, which didn't happen.  I was about a week late. 
 I learned new words like "shwe shwe" (an African cotton material, rhymes with "Hey, hey!") and the phrase "stitch in the ditch" and I'm sure my character was improved with the vast chunk of patience required to make a quilt.  I sure hope so! 
I learned the theory of mitered corners, though I failed in the application, I'm afraid. 

The Lord provided me with another Connie, right near the beginning of quilting.  I was in over my head with this thing, having no pattern, just some raggedy squares decorated by Evangel's friends.  The other Connie was at a conference I went to in October.  She went to my room with me, and in 45 minutes had me organized!  She drew a pattern, told me what size to make the squares, and helped me organize the colors.  She has a quilt shop in Texas!  I had been praying about organizing that thing, and once again, the Lord did  above and beyond what I asked or thought.

 You've got to grow in endurance, courage, skills, and love to make a quilt. 

And one grand day, it was finished!  I called my Mom, I sent a picture to Evangel, and I celebrated!  What a weight off!  Then I could throw myself into Christmas preparations. 

Josh is the guest appearance in the quilting plot, showing I did get out there and organize some fun Christmas gifts. 

Here's the whole Drawing Others to Christ team/family on Thanksgiving, and they're my main ministry.  When I'm sorting out "Love your neighbor as yourself,"  these are my nearest neighbors when we're in Cape Town. 

So if you notice the weeks going by, and I'm not writing, maybe you could drop me a reminder to take the time to blog.  I want to share what great things God is doing with us.