Thursday, December 24, 2020
If we accepted them, many wanted to talk on Facebook Messenger. It was too much! Hundreds of messages, mostly from people we didn’t know, and many were hard to understand. But we tried. We spent hours on there, though we’re not usually Facebook junkies, especially Paul. Some of the people invited him to preach for their churches. He prayed and asked the Lord where he should go, if he should go, when, and how. He got guidance to DRIVE to Kenya, and be with several pastors and other ministries, and then go on to Uganda to be with a good many more pastors.
All but one of the pastors worked out! Paul had to use a translator a lot, which is different from South Africa, but still we had good meetings. We saw people come to profess faith in Christ. We loved meeting the pastors, and many other people. One pastor told the people, “I met this man on Facebook, and he chose me for his friend!” with so much emotion. I instantly felt so guilty for the people I had deleted. It meant more than we knew.
One pastor, Pastor Jonathan near Kampala, was beat up, perhaps because of being with us. A group of men broke into his home yelling, “Where is the money?” Maybe they assumed we had given him money. They cracked the bone in his forehead with a thick hoe. He was in a coma for over 24 hours, until the doctor operated to relieve the bleeding on the brain. We went to see him the last morning before we left Uganda and were so thankful that he could see a little, and recognize us, and was thanking God for sparing his life.
Another pastor had the most enthusiastic church worship team we have ever seen. It was good and inspiring to be with them in Kamuli, and again at a more rural church. We learned that we do like savory bananas for breakfast, though I didn't get the recipe.
I'm sticking in a "surfer dude" picture of our Grandson Cyrus and a monkey to give some comic relief, and a dose of sweetness.
When we stayed with Lois, we visited a few of her “sons’” churches and saw people we had met back in 2018. Only one is not going on with the Lord, but the others press onward, leading churches, managing a children’s home, and planting new churches.
We had many little crises which kept throwing us back on the Lord. One time a police lady kept my driver’s license after a police check in Kenya. It was quite a procedure to go through all the hoops, and we drove away without noticing she kept my license. I slumped down for a nap, tired from the ordeal, while Paul struggled with the traffic of driving through Eldoret.
As I woke up, I was reliving the whole annoying police episode in my mind, when I suddenly realized she hadn’t given me back my license. We were like 5000 miles from home! NOT a good time to be without a license. I was panicking. And praying! And calming, then thinking, and beginning to panic again. It was a long, slow hour of driving back through Eldoret to try to get it back.
We finally got there, and the police lady was gone from her post. Others kept pointing until we found her. She immediately called out, “You forgot your license.” I didn’t trust myself to speak, but then she said, “I’m so sorry I didn’t get it back.” It’s amazing how an apology takes all the sting out of the mistake! It was “above and beyond” what I expected, and I’m so grateful. I got my license back, and I didn’t say anything wrong! I was grateful for both.
That same day we had a scheduling glitch with our next appointment being impossibly far to make it to on time. We couldn’t get the pastor on Facebook or on the phone. Paul was driving, I was checking the maps, looking for a plan, and we prayed. Then I got the idea to call Gideon, one of Lois’s “boys” who is nearly my age, and ask him for help. He sorted us out in about two sentences! We were heading the wrong way, and the right way was much closer! And also closer to the Ugandan border where we needed to be the next day! We were so grateful!
While we were near Nairobi, we took the Jeep in to be repaired. The place had no parts for a Jeep, but they told us we needed a new cap on the radiator. From the time they looked at it, we began to have problems with that radiator. About the third day, it boiled over three times, leaving us on the side of the road or the middle of the intersection until it cooled! We prayed, poured water, and tried to make it to our appointments. It was a rough day, though we had two really good meetings.
After the second meeting, five o’clock was approaching fast and we began to hunt for a new radiator cap. We had been told we’d have to import one from a Jeep distributor in another country. We prayed and stopped to ask at a Toyota place if they knew what to do. They sent us to a parts place back in the thick of traffic. There we found a radiator cap that did the job! We haven’t had another over-heating situation since! We thanked the Lord!
Another little scare was when Paul started getting sick. No!!!! That is not allowed in this Covid era! Even the sniffles make everyone nervous. And one of his symptoms was feeling gaspy for air. That’s scary on the wife. It turned out to be a cold, which meant days of low appetite, low energy, and those sniffles. We are learning he cannot over-do with impunity. Gradually he got his energy back. He never missed a meeting, but he left one early to get to bed.
God is good! He is faithful! And He tells us to talk of all His wondrous ways! So that’s what I’m trying to do, share some of what He brought us through.
“Who can utter the mighty acts of God? Who can show forth all his praise?” Psalm 106:2 I’m mentioning a few little things, but the big important things are more hidden. “The Kingdom of God cometh not with observation.” Luke 17:20.
We saw people come forward to make professions of faith, and heard prayers prayed. I wondered sometimes why it was Paul who had to come so far. Was he the only one who could do these things? I think almost every pastor we worked with commented on his strength and continued service for the Lord at age 72. Was this what the Lord wanted people to see? So much goes on that we don’t have a clue about. We don’t know all that went on for the Kingdom, but we like what we know.
So now we’re on the return journey. We got a Covid test in Kampala, and headed south into Tanzania after the negative result came back. We had a few adventures in Tanzania, praying each night to find accommodation, and the Lord leading us to places night after night. Our GPS failed us a bit in Tanzania, taking us in exactly the wrong direction, with some idea of going through Kigali, Rwanda to get to Dodoma! It was disheartening when we learned how much time we had lost (about 2 hours), and after that we didn’t trust our GyPSy so much.
When we got to the border of Namibia this morning, we had hopes of quickly getting across the border and buzzing along toward Cape Town. We did the Zambia exit without too much trouble, but immediately on the Namibian side we had a problem. Our Covid tests were more than 72 hours old, and we had to get fresh ones. They told us it might take EIGHT days because of Christmas and the weekend, to get results back!
Finally we learned of a private option that should be much quicker. We got the test this morning, and hope to get the results on Christmas day. Until then, we wait in a hotel room, getting caught up on our blog, letters, and other work while we wait.
I wanted to cry as we began to realize how delayed we were going to be. We had hoped to come squeaking into Cape Town Christmas night, but now we might not even be able to start that way. I prayed one of those profound prayers that our Lord must hear a lot, “Help, Lord!” and the tears went away. He took the sting out of the disappointment.
Both of us confided to each other this morning, that the moment we felt the air conditioning in our room was the moment we thought we could last two days and two nights while we wait for that negative test. The heat is intense with very high humidity, so A/C felt like a necessity.
🎵 All I want for Christmas is a negative test🎵 😊
That's it for myself, but I'm praying for so much more. So many friends and family are hurting because of Covid. The Lord knows. He is in charge. I'm seeking His help for them.
Saturday, November 21, 2020
|My foot beside a hippo print. We saw the hippo in the dark, so didn't get a picture, but just his print impressed me. |
Grueling and Glorious! Eleven days after we left Cape Town, we crossed the border into Kenya! Over 7000 kilometers away! It was crazy to do such a journey in the midst of the Covid problems…crazy, unless the Lord God who created the universe guided you to do it. I’d have to keep reminding myself of that when the problems and obstacles would mount up in my mind:
--We’re not spring chickens.
--We didn’t have a visa for Kenya. One website proclaims that visas are no longer available at entry points, only online.
--We didn’t even have a negative Covid test when we started!
--We were denied entry into the very first country we tried to cross into, Botswana, and we still had at least 4 to go!
(Previously, Botswana was our fastest ever border crossing, accomplished in 10 minutes one time!)
Just because the Lord guided us to go, it was not trouble free. We had rough roads, a bug storm that was rather thrilling in its rareness, and our tired bodies to contend with. Our air conditioning was a treat while it lasted, but somewhere in Zambia it deserted us.
So yesterday I gave a testimony about it in church. I got blubbering! The Lord did it! In spite of my doubts and fears. He wanted us here, and He got us here.
Every night, we found a place to stay. Sometimes it was hard because it was after dark. We’d sing “Guide Me, Oh, Thou Great Jehovah” as we’d squint through the blackness, trying to find accommodation without killing a cow or goat, or worse, a pedestrian.
The two night in Namibia were memorable. The first we stopped before dark and had time for a long walk, passing out tracts, in the streets of a small desert town. It was HOT! We met a baby meerkat! And I am still annoyed with myself that I didn’t take its picture. It bit me, softly, and it was a perk of the trip. When we got back to our motel, I peeked down a passageway, and found a pool! “Above and beyond what we asked or thought!” I guess they don’t tell people about it, because we didn’t know they had a pool, and we were the only ones in there, after dark, letting the heat of the day sizzle away.
The second night in Namibia we had just passed through a bug storm that delayed us a bit trying to clean the windshield enough that we could see. It was very dark when we found a beautiful place to stay, right on the Okavango River, a place famous for its wildlife. It was more upper crusty than we usually do, but was a necessity at that point. The big thrill was a HUGE hippo that was grazing right near where we slept! I couldn’t get a picture because it was dark, but we got a glimpse of the size of the beast and a new respect.
We also spent 2 nights in Zambia, and came close to spending a third. The first night was in Livingstone, near Victoria Falls. We had a great time passing out tracts as we walked around town in the dark. People are so receptive. Many asked for extras “for their friends” and one guy asked for 31 to give one to each of his students!
In South Africa and Namibia we could buzz along at 120 kilometers per hour. In the rest of the countries, the max was 100 kph and 50 was a lot more common. We were thankful for cruise control that helped us obey the limit, until I hit an exceptionally bad pot hole and the cruise control doesn’t work any more. 🙄
Lusaka is a favorite stopping place from other trips, but this time we went through around noon, so there was no stopping that early.
We kept going until nearly dark, and tried to find a place, but I wanted someplace quiet as the Livingstone night was in town and Saturday night noisy. It got totally dark, and then we discovered we were only another hour or so from Forest Inn, a place we had stayed in 2012, so we pressed on, anticipating a decent place. It came with a flood of memories, making me miss the three kids all afresh. They had WiFi…our last night for it until Kenya.
We had hopes of making the border of Tanzania the next day, and we did, but it was a grueling day. They are making a new road, so they had us and 18 wheel trucks use a parallel dirt road. We’re grateful for our Jeep! It did fine in the holes and mud and bumps, but it was slow going. We reached that border around sunset.
Border crossings are a little scary. There are so many variables! This one took a long time, and another good chunk of money, but it went smoothly. You not only have to get a visa, but travel insurance for each country, permission to “import” your vehicle, and now the negative Covid test. There can be local taxes, road taxes, and other hoops to jump through. There’s no arguing, just jumping through each hoop, and trying not to get robbed.
Paul LOVES passing out tracts at border crossings. There are so many people, and they have lines to wait in so they might as well read and improve their knowledge of eternity while they wait. We get in fun chats with people, and several times people have felt the need to give us their opinion of our President (not my fave 🤨). I get free Swahili lessons too! At the Namibian border crossing a lady behind the desk told me I didn’t sound American, so I put on my best Southern accent and said something like, “Hey, y’all! We’re so glad to be here!” She was charmed, I’m sure. Paul told me I did cultural appropriation.😁 He’s the only one who knew my accent wasn’t spot on perfect for a Southerner.
The second night in Tanzania we had made it to Dodoma!!!! Dodoma is made famous in The Jungle Doctor series of books by Dr. Paul White that our family has enjoyed. The doors say “Sukuma” on them, which means “Push”. The Jungle Doctor had named his car Sukuma, so that gave us a little thrill, and we had to take a picture of the word the first time we came through on the way to Rwanda in 2016.
This time we arrived just at dark, after a gorgeous trip through winding mountain roads from Iringa. We began to hunt accommodation. We punched in maybe 8 different places that our GPS showed, and we’d work our way through dark, crowded streets, and the things were not there! None of them! (I need to write a little letter to Garmin!) We were so tired, and it seemed so impossible after awhile. Then we saw a place! We pulled in, but it was full. Dejection! BUT the girl behind the counter was a sweetie! I asked if she knew another place we could stay and she called two other places until she found us one! Then she said it was close, but hard to find, so she sent the gate man to show us the way! He did a stunning job considering he spoke very little English. We drove quite a long distance down a sidewalk, but that’s not important as long as we didn't kill anyone. We made it!
This was better than the place the night before! It had a toilet seat! Both nights together cost us less than $30.00 total, with breakfast included in the one place. Our hostess was named Sarah, and she was just so sweet and helpful. Just what you need after a rough day of driving. We were able to clean up and get organized before we went to bed. She probably would have given us hot water if we had asked, but we both thought the cold shower felt good.
We left a little later than our usual 6 AM because of the included breakfast, then had a memorable hunt for motor oil. I think we visited 4 petrol stations before we found one that had oil, but had such fun doing it. I asked for oil and got the key to the toilet. I laughed, and kept pronouncing Oil as best I could, and the guy finally said, “Oilee!” Yes! Then he laughed, and I laughed, and the staff inside got laughing at how two such different things could be confused. No, they didn’t have “oilee”, but yes, they would love tracts in Swahili.
Tension was building in me as we neared the Kenyan border. I was driving across the vast plains of Tanzania when I first spotted Mt. Kilimanjaro! Wow! Awesome! Majestic! And I couldn’t even see the top! It was covered in clouds. That was an inspiring reminder of our God’s size and strength.
We arrived at Namanga around 3 in the afternoon, tense, but hoping in God. More than 3 hours later, we finally made it in!!! The biggest delay was to get a Carnet for the Jeep. Happy spots were tract passing (though some very aggressive female made a pass at Paul in the midst of that) meeting 2 sniffer dogs, and meeting a young man who let me use his WiFi hotspot to check WhatsApp. First time for WiFi since Forest Inn in Zambia so it was a thrill.
We passed the last checkpoint and burst out singing the Hallelujah Chorus. And began another hunt for accommodation in the dark. It took another hour, but we ended up in a nice room, with Wi-Fi! We slept way late the next morning, at least until 6, I think 😂, had a proper breakfast, not our usual in the car variety, and continued on to the home of Lois Osborne, our hostess, the carrot on the end of the stick.
We had the rest of that day to rest and DO LAUNDRY!!! We hadn’t done much since South Africa, and our clothes were getting more use than usual. It was time!
|Lois' s Beautiful Home|
|The morning after the bug storm, at the Zambian/Namibian border, some helpful baboons tried to lick the bugs off. I'm amazed they didn't burn their tongues. |
God is good. We did the impossible because He guided us to. Now to settle down and reach out to people while we’re here.
Friday, September 18, 2020
August 30: Clarity turned 3 today! But that has nothing to do with my Tract Meet Diary. I just want to jot down some of our adventures.
Today a little girl asked me, "Are you a whitey?" I assured her I was, and showed my blue eyes as proof. She just asked again, so I assured her I was and quit trying to prove it. Paul wonders now if that means something we haven't thought of.
I gave one tract to a lady and she started coughing and vomited (spit?) a few times. Hmmm.
Paul had one little girl start crying as he gave her group tracts. She said, "I read the Bible every night, but I don't understand it." And she left, but she came back soon after, and they talked, and she and two other children prayed and asked the Lord to save them.
Tim and I got a bit lost. We walked down one street, took a left and then a quick left to walk back, but it wasn't at all parallel. According to my watch we walked 4.6 kilometers, finding lots of people to pass out tracts to, but not stopping long with anyone as we had agreed to meet at 6:05, and only found the car again at 6:23. Tense times for punctual people.
Oh! Before we went out on the streets, we went out for lunch to celebrate our 28th anniversary. We went to the V & A Waterfront, which is kind of fancy. Tract passing does not tend to go well in rich places, but listen to what actually happened.
We had a place in mind, Hungarian Stax, but it looks to be a victim of Covid madness. It wasn't open, so we hunted around for another place. We found a seafood place, and Paul gave out a tract as the receptionist led us to the table. A few seconds later, a waitress came over to our table and apologetically asked if she too, could have a pamphlet. Then a second waitress joined her, asking too, and could they have three more for others? Well, sure! We could spare them. 😁 A waiter came too, after a bit, to get one for himself. So much for stereo typing people in the rich quarter of town!
August 31st...not our best day. It was raining, and there weren't many people in the community we were in, Retreat. But we did not retreat from Retreat. Instead we drove around in our car looking for people. We passed things out the window to the people we could find, and got out at a few groups that took some foot work, and passed out tracts, including one nice long line of people waiting for food distribution.
The bus station was a hive of activity, not like when the train was running, but still quite busy. Many received tracts, some were glad, but I hit some real negative responses. What's up with that? There must be a reason, and I'll let you know if I find out.
September 4, 2020 We missed the 2nd for torrential rains. We'd have needed plastic bags for each tract or they'd have been sogged up!
I just had a funny little thing happen. I was getting a tire fixed at the BP station, and afterward, after the fix and a tract, the attendant said to me, “Madam, I am young, and you are so old. So much older than I am. What is the meaning of this sickness?”
So we talked about if God sent it or just allowed it and he
says he likes the work that I’m doing.
Nice guy. But his opening
line!!! One of those funny little
cultural bloopers for my culture that he doesn’t know he just made. Came home from that, looked in the mirror and
discovered I never put on make-up this morning so he can be forgiven for
calling me “so old.” 😊
Yesterday while we were “tracting” I kept running into the same man, three different places. The third time I jokingly told him he must stand still so I wouldn’t keep trying to give him a tract. He didn’t smile. He invited me in to his house pray for his wife Marlene who has cancer. The doctors said there is nothing they can do. So I did go in and pray. End of story? I hope not, though I may never find out the real end til Heaven. But I thought you might like to join me in praying for Marlene in Lavender Hill.
Still need to go out officially passing today.
We often ask, "English or Afrikaans?" in passing out tracts. Some people get amused by this, and try asking for other languages. Twice people have said, "I want Spanish." and I have the joy of calling their bluff, by speaking Spanish to them.
It happened again today, and the guy actually knew a few words of Spanish, but just a few, and had to admit it rather shortly. So then he tried French. Now it was my turn for bluffing.
"Bonjour" I said.
''Parlez vous Francais?" he said.
The only thing that came into my head was, "Cest la vie." Then we both burst out laughing. I hope that makes him extra eager to read the tract and follow Jesus.
Paul was sick and stayed home yesterday, so Tim and I attacked Retreat by ourselves. We were in one neighborhood where Tim had been before, but he was driving. He said he thought at the time, "I wouldn't want to be walking in this neighborhood," but now here we were.
Tonight Paul felt much better and was leading the pack again. He said he had one bad experience, which is rare. He came upon a street game of soccer, and, as he approached, the ball came sailing toward him. He helpfully, he thought, stopped it, and sent it back, and then tried to hand out tracts. The leader of the group immediately refused, rather rudely, saying he was Muslim. Others also refused. Only after awhile did Paul realize the ball he stopped was actually in play, heading for a goal. Oops.
Tim and I met a terroristic pit bull that rushed the gate as we passed, slamming both front legs into a metal clad gate, making a horrific bang. I would have screamed, I'm sure, but I saw it coming so could just laugh at this dog who had his timing down perfectly to scare people.
Today Tim had crowds of kids around him, thrilled to see the guy they had seen in school. Tim does the liquor bottle "magic" lesson. Today a boy asked him, "What size shoes do you wear?"
"15" was the answer, and amazed the kids. I told our little crowd, "I don't know how he got so big. Maybe he was drinking giraffe milk." They looked amazed by this, so I admitted it was just a joke.
For the first time ever, Paul had a girl ask him to wiggle his ears while out tract passing. 😊🙉
Another first today: a boy showed Paul a picture of Paul drawing the rainbow picture. Paul asked where he got it, and the boy said, "On Facebook."
I saw an old age home, as they're called in South Africa, and just felt sorry for them still in isolation. So I went to drop some tracts there, but I was beset with problems. First there was a bee on the doorbell. But he flew away when I reached up to push the button. Next, the man who came wasn't a Christian, but he said he'd take 50 of them 25 in English and 25 in Afrikaans for residents AND workers, so I'm hopeful.
Friday, August 28, 2020
God has stirred us up to go pass out tracts in some neighborhoods around our home. I love the quick little adventures that happen each day.
One day we met a little girl whose 6 year old sister was shot in the head and killed by gangs. Accidentally. I think. I hope. This little girl was 9, the older sister, and so sweet and cheery. She loved going around with us and passing out tracts. We enjoyed her being with us, and then she later told us her story. Ouch. I told her maybe her sister Nathalie has met our little Cherish in heaven and can play with her. We don't know, but I'm thankful for the hope.
In that same neighborhood, which is famous for the gangs' shooting, Tim and I walked through a "party". Loud music was raging, so we couldn't (didn't have to?) talk too much, but we buzzed through this party where many people were smoking (which was illegal at the time) drinking (also banned during the virus) and preparing and smoking more drugs than I have ever seen in my life.
After we were a bit away from that chunk of excitement, I got the giggles, telling Tim that was an unusual mother/son outing. (Pray for those tracts to make an impact! I imagine people waking up with the rotten after-effects of that party, and finding a tract in their pocket, and reading it and crying out to God.)
We offer tracts in English, Afrikaans, and Xhosa with just a few Chichewa left so we're trying to get one translated into Chichewa. Most people are pleased to receive a freebie, and we just have great fun passing these things out. Tim particularly seems to get mobbed by kids who want to collect as many as they can.
"Small Paul" is rather well known to the young people in these areas because he's preached in so many schools. Eyes grow wide when I tell them Tim is our "baby", and they laugh at the idea that this big 6'7" guy is anyone's baby. Many ask, "Are you one that did magic with the bottle?"
I had a teen ask for 20 rand. I told her I didn't carry money at times like these, but offered her a tract. She took it, then protested, "I'm a Muslim."
Me: This won't hurt you.
Her: I'll give it to my Christian friend.
Me, smiling: OK, but read it first so you know what you're missing.
Another day a boy was telling us that his uncle choked to death the night before. Sure enough, there was a big crowd in the boarded-in yard of the house across the street. They were just sitting there, many with beer bottles, looking sober. They obviously needed to know the way to Heaven. Tim looked dubious, but it reminded me so much of a "reunion" in Peru, I just felt at home and charged in, greeting men (it was all men), telling them "I'm sorry", and passing out tracts. I didn't chat long, just kept moving. May they be used for the good.
Once Tim got drawn into some kind of bar/party joint while I was the one left outside. I had a quick little panic attack as my imagination went into overdrive. What would I do if I suddenly heard sounds of a scuffle in there? Time to quick worrying, start praying.
He was out a few minutes later, just fine, and we continued on down some extremely muddy streets. It was like a tunnel of tin on the sides. There was no side way out, we had to walk out one end or the other.
Many times some tiny children, too young to read, will hold out their hands for tracts too. I tend to ask them, "Can you read?" and you see the little cuties' faces work as they ponder this. They're worried, trying to think if they can lie, knowing their siblings or others might tell on them, but they really want what the big kids are getting.
Of course I cave in, and give them one, saying, "Can you get your mum to read it to you?" Their faces light up as they grab it and run, before I change my mind.
We've been asked if we're Jehovah's Witnesses, and last night some lady with a Bible wouldn't take a tract. That's rare.
My friend Margie came with us once, which was fun. She said she felt rich afterwards, and was checking out a house for sale. We had another little helper last night, but we weren't comfortable with her following us when we crossed into another neighborhood. That's when we discovered our helper wouldn't go home! We had to walk back and hand her over to her Mom before we could continue.
A little girl called out to us, "Hello, white people!" which made me laugh.
We occasionally have rudeness, but it's rare. Some of it we can laugh off. If it's not in English we can ignore it. None of it has been too bad.
I wish I could be braver taking pictures. I've had 2 phones stolen this year so far, so it makes me cautious. I don’t want a THIRD cell phone to get stolen, but these shacks are fascinating, and the tunnel effect between them is like a HUGE maze on sand. Thankfully little kids love to guide us around in there. They tell us important things like where the dogs that bite are, and how to get out.
The sky above is beautiful. The neighborhood is...creative.
|The little girl whose 6 year old sister was shot and killed.|
|A little memorial to Nathalie, the 6 year old, right near their doorway where she was shot.|
|Kids leading Tim through the maze. These guys were part of the crowd that said, "Make way" or "clear the way" much to Tim's embarrassment. |
|So many needs! May they come to the One who created them, loves them, and can meet all their needs. |
|This game of mancala looks fun, and the guys were friendly to us.|
Thursday, May 14, 2020
Mom a few weeks ago.