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

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