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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)

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Zooming through Zurich

 Josh and I had an 11 hour layover in Zurich so we decided to get out of the airport and go exploring.
 I read up on the internet in advance so this church with the towers was on our hit-list.  Most of Zurich was closed for the "Holy Day" of Easter Monday.  But the church towers were climbable.
 We didn't do the boat ride, but noted how cool that they had these low boats that fit under the low bridges.
 The view from the top of the tower was great!
 I thought I could pick out the Matterhorn on the snow covered Alps in the distance.
 My nosey side loves looking at how people have roof-top rooms, and how they use them.
 The church was called the Gross Munster.
 Our one Zurich meal was memorably delicious, and memorably expensive!  I want to try it on Paul when we get home so I'm putting the picture to remind myself.
 At the top of the tower, we could see our twin tower across the way.
 A drone's view of Zurich, without the drone.
 "On the rooftops of Zurich, coo, what a sight!"
 The explorers!  Josh and I.
 And Zwingli used to live here.
 A pretty door.
 There must be some Spanish people around.
 It would be fun to rent the Lime Bike and explore that way, but we didn't.
 This craze of locking lover locks on bridges is here for sure...
 in Switzerland.
 I was so glad we agreed on meandering, exploring, and photographing.  Maybe I'll get some Josh's pictures here too.  Mine are just with my cell phone, so his are probably better.

Paul sounds like things are going well in Kenya.