Monday, May 27, 2013

Traveling Lessons: Part Two

(If you have not read the first part of this story... please read this post first.) 

When I pulled up next to the man in blue, (who conveniently stood in the middle of the street), he showed me my speed and told me I was 20 km over the limit.

“But... we are out of the village...” I protested. “I can go 110 km here. I’m under the limit.”

He did not seem amused and just shook his head in response. “Pull over.”

I obeyed but did not feel any guilt. How could they expect me to obey signs that did not exist?

The man handed ‘my case’ over to a woman in a neatly pressed blue suit and a clip board. She sauntered up to the truck and told me in no uncertain terms that there would be a fine.

“You must pay $20.00 dollars,” she informed me flatly in melodic Zimbabwean English.

I tried to plead my innocence saying, “But there are no signs..... and the village has ended.” She seemed unimpressed and politely insisted I pay.

When that did not work, I asked her to forgive the debt. “Can’t you just forgive me? I promise I won’t do it again.”

“I’ll forgive you tomorrow,” she quipped. “Today you pay.”

She was polite about it, but not very lenient.

“But tomorrow I will know where the village ends,” I explained, “And I won’t go over the limit.”

Perhaps I pushed longer than I should have, but I did not want to pay a fine for something so trivial. 

Lesson Five: Even if the rules are not posted, you can still get fined for breaking them.

When my third attempt at forgiveness fell flat, I gave up and said, “Okay... but I’ll need a receipt for this fine.”

Only then did she look at me in surprise. Up to this point, she hadn’t even asked for my license or registration.

“A receipt?” she asked, tilting her head to one side.

“Yes,” I said while pointing to the official looking papers on her clip board. Then I searched through my purse for the twenty.

When I handed over the bill I hesitated before letting go and said, “I must have a receipt. (Slight pause.) This is God’s money... and I must show how it is spent (hard serious stare).”

Once I finally let go of the bill, she looked at it, then at me and said, “You are a person. I am a person...” I nodded in agreement thinking to myself, ‘Sure. We are humans. Okay. What are you getting at?’

She continued on with her convoluted sentences, adding some nonsense about us being ‘people’ and I agreed with her again. But I did not get her point and just stared at her blankly.

Then I repeated kindly but with resolve: “I need my receipt.”

With time she stopped talking about ‘people’ and offered to split my twenty if I didn’t insist on a receipt. Her precise words were, “How about you go with ten, I go with ten... and we are done.”

I smiled, but only to soften the ‘No’ that was soon to follow. The look of surprise on her face was priceless. She fully expected her offer to be received. When she did not move, I spoke up again. “Sorry Ma’am, but no. This is God’s money. Since you insist I pay... I must insist it be used for the fine.”

She was not impressed.

But seeing that I was not willing to permit the bribe, she grudgingly filled out the form, asking for the spelling of my name (as she had still not asked for my ID or driver’s license!). I could have told her I was named “Ferdinanda Finklespunker” and she would have jotted it down in the same irritated way.

Lesson Six: Always get receipts, if only to irritate the less-than-honest!

Eventually she finished the form, handed me my receipt, and then walked off in a huff.

No goodbyes. No safe travels. No farewells.

I didn’t mind the brush off and was soon on my way... but as African roads would have it I didn’t get far.

Potholes led to flat tires, and flat tires led to bent rims, and bent rims... well they got sorted out in the end. It just ate a chunk out of our travel time.

Lesson Seven: ALWAYS travel with a spare tire, car jack, and bike pump!

Not surprisingly after my speeding ticket and flat tire, Roy decided to drive again. Who could blame him? I had shown myself to be inept at talking myself out of fines, and even worse at avoiding road hazards!

Subsequently, we did not make it back to Mozambique that night. (It was unlikely, anyway.) Instead, we stayed at a friend’s house in Matare where they fed and watered us, then tucked us in for the night.

The next morning, we woke early and were quickly on our way as we had one final border to cross.

Getting out of Zimbabwe was a cinch. However, we gnawed our nails wondering what Mozambique would bring. Burdened low with motor engines, donated clothes, various electronics, and the general splendor of three pack rats, we couldn’t say whether they’d let us through.

Would we have to declare everything? Only time would tell.

So we prayed. And... I know you prayed as well.

And upon entering Mozambique God blinded the custom officials to all our stuff and shimmied us through in no time!

Lesson Eight: Prayer works!

From the border we were just an hours drive back to Maforga.... where ecstatic, bouncing children waited for their hugs.

In the end, our two day trip took three... but it was fun and insightful all the same. Thank you for covering us in prayer. The more I think about it the more I realize the favor and grace we received each step of the way. 

What a blessing!

Traveling Lessons: Part One

I’m told we are in early autumn, but it’s hard to believe. Everything is growing. Everything is green. In fact, my first two days here it rained almost non-stop. We unloaded our vehicle amid warm, steady showers.

But we were so happy to arrive, no one cared about the mud or the soaked bags.

In fact, our welcoming party was one of shrieking joy and the bouncing ecstasy of children. Dozens of them. Running. Clapping. Shouting for attention. Calling for Papa Roy or Mama Trish to wrap them up in a hug and a kiss.

The party was not for me... but I enjoyed it all the same. I stole a few hugs from the younger ones and slapped hands with those ‘too cool’ for hugging. The older girls remembered me well, and greeted me by name.

As I stood there taking it all in, one by one their cherub faces morphed into memories for me.

I was back.

I was really back.

The army of children unloaded the truck and trailer in no time, carrying each packet on their heads despite the downpour.

But I get ahead of myself a bit. I intended to write about my journey here. But so much has happened this week, my thoughts are crowded out by more urgent and pressing ones.

Nevertheless, my trip here was noteworthy... so I will write it. Please bare with me.

Achem... let’s see. Where to begin.

After the end of my three-week delay in South Africa, Roy picked me up bright and early Thursday morning. The plan was to leave directly, picking up some car parts on the way to our final destination that night --Zimbabwe.

But when I saw that Roy arrived without the truck packed and Trish was nowhere in sight, I knew we had a long day ahead. Smiling wryly, I loaded my bags and prayed that my American affinity for schedules would not get in the way. 

Lesson One: Schedules are not important... but people are.

We were supposed to pick up a phone card on the way back to Trish, but the directions were not good so we steamed on ahead without them. This proved to be the wrong choice as once we packed up the truck and trailer (which took several hours), we had to go back for them (adding an hour to our delay).

By one in the afternoon we were on the road to Pretoria where a friend’s car parts were waiting. But we were so heavy loaded, no one expected to find room for them.

Miraculously, there was.

It took three strong men to lift the engine block into the back of the trailer, rearranging the donated clothes as they went. But to everyone’s relief and surprise, it worked!

Lesson Two: In Africa, there is always room for one more.

Now with an engine block, massive donations for the orphans, my heaping bags, and three adults we set out for our journey. It was well past two in the afternoon at this point and we no longer hoped to reach Zimbabwe that night.

We’d have to stay at a guesthouse in South Africa.

Plus once we started calling around, it became clear there was trouble at the border and no one was getting through. Friends had been waiting for hours in line with little progress. 

A few more phone calls and we secured ourselves a room in a small guesthouse in ???. But we only pulled in to our destination by 9 p.m.

We got settled quickly, found a restaurant that was still open that late, and had a quick bite before we turned in for the night. We could not be sure of what the border would bring the next morning and wanted to be rested before we got there.

The next morning started at dawn. The guesthouse gave us a breakfast of champions. Eggs. Bacon. Fried tomatoes. Yogurt. Fruit bowl. Biscuits. Toast. Cereal. Meat spreads. Cheeses. And more!

Apparently this is a common English Breakfast, but my eyes could not take it all in. There was more food than I could eat in a week --all for just three people! But no doubt, this home-made luxury put a smile on my face as we headed out the door.

It took us another two hours before we reached the border.

I’m not sure what I expected... but it was certainly not what I saw. Large warehouse-like buildings in various stages of ruin (or repair depending on your view in life) peppered a flat open space hemmed in with chain-link fences and green-clad guards in berets.

I did not see any guns... if they were there at all. But I did see a long line --which was getting longer while we watched.

Trish was hesitant to leave the truck for fear our stuff would up and walk off. And even when we finally joined the line, she watched it like a naughty child hell-bent on finding its way into trouble.

Fortunately our wait in line was not as long as expected and we were through the South African side in under an hour. But once we had our passports stamped, we then had to be granted access into Zimbabwe.

This meant more lines, more officials, and (for me at least) more money. I won’t bore you with the number of lines and stamps needed. Suffice to know, it was more than a few.

Lesson Three: Even with all the right papers, Africa can still take hours and hours.

By lunch we were finally through and on our way to Matare. But a few hours into the drive, Roy got sleepy and offered me the wheel.

I was happy to take it (as I love to drive), but I wanted to do it right. Since no speed limits were posted, I constantly kept asking Trish, “How fast can I go here?” and “Is this the right speed?”

It got so bad that Trish began to chuckle and repeat in slow, articulated English, “It’s 60 km in the village... and a 110 on the highway.”

“But how do you know where the village begins... or ends?” I asked in desperation. The highway was nothing but a narrow two lane paved road with tuffs of dirt on either side. I could see no houses and just a few people from the road.

“The best rule of thumb,” she began “is to look for crossroads.”

“Crossroads? What do you mean ‘crossroads’?” I complained, “It all looks the same to me.” 

She laughed again, then pointed out a tiny dirt path shooting off to one side.

“That!” I exclaimed in indignation. “That could barely fit a large motorcycle!”

“Precisely!” she continued, “If it could fit a motorcycle, then it’s a crossroad.”

I just shook my head in confusion and carried on.

Lesson Four: Even if the rules are not posted, you still have to know them.

It did not take long for a ‘village’ to appear. But the only thing I could see that made this village a ‘village’ was the large tree shading a handful of traffic police with speed guns pointing right at me.

But I had anticipated them and had been able to slow to the proper speed in time.

The dilemma was... I could not tell where the village ended. Once I passed them, I didn’t see any more footpaths and naturally started to speed up. The heavyly loaded trailer and truck did not allow this to happen quickly, and thus I was only at 81 km when the next pile of traffic police waved me down.

The scoundrels!

(Read the rest of the story in Traveling Lessons: Part Two by clicking here....) 

Friday, May 24, 2013

New Pets!

While cleaning my new home the other day, I came across some mystery egg shells. They were WAY too large to be spider eggs... and infinitely too small to be crocodile eggs.

What were they?

For the life of me I could not say. So I gathered up a few and put them in a jar. Some were starting to hatch and I was sure to find out quite soon.

One day later, out emerged the tiniest gecko I've ever seen.
    --So darling! 

I was going to 'hug him and pet him and call him George'... but blast it, those buggers can climb! And he was out of his make-shift cage in seconds flat!

Live long little gecko! May you eat all my mosquitoes and never be eaten yourself!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

House Warming Present

This morning a white cat with pale green eyes came to visit. She meowed until I went out to greet her. Only then did I discover she had brought me a half-dead lizard as a house warming present.

When I didn't eat it but rather encouraged her to enjoy, she ate with gusto leaving the spasticly wiggly tail as dessert.

As I watched, the tail jumped and bounced like it was still full of a frantically desperate life.

But not for long... Yum!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Delayed. Blessings.

During my three week delay in South Africa, I was hosted most generously and lovingly by Calvary Chapel Johannesburg. Although I had originally planned just a two day lay-over, they took it like champs every time my departure got pushed.

In fact, they took it like Africans --which means they laughed and goodnaturedly slapped me on the back, saying, “This is Africa my friend. You might as well get used to it now!”

Some weeks that was easier than others.
    --Oh Africa!

Heather & Chad Naaktgeboren
But as I look back on this long delay, I cannot help but be thankful. For in it, God gave me time to tie up loose ends (update my immunizations, cut my hair, regulate my bank accounts). But He also made sure I got some much needed rest.

I didn’t realize it until the jet lag passed, but I was exhausted. That last month in the States sent me deep into my energy reserves. I was spent.

And so when I got to Jo’burg and was informed it would be some time before I could make it to Mozambique, I took advantage of the time to rest.

“What did I do with my time?” you ask.

Fabio, Jonathan & Deon
Good question. Let’s see...

I spent almost an entire week devouring the 2011 Calvary Chapel Missions conferences CDs. Some sermons I listened over and over again until I had them transcribed. It was like being at my own personal missions conference. God met me every day!
    --What a blessing!

I shopped a lot for things to set up my household. Cups. Cutlery. Cooking pots. Honestly, I’d forgotten how much was needed to have even a simple kitchen in place. I was tempted to get a knife and a cutting board and be done with it... but in time I was persuaded otherwise.

I hung out a lot with the CCJ staff and church body. Praying. Drinking coffee. Chatting. God allowed some amazing friendships to develop and I count it as the biggest blessing of the delay.

Hannah & Deon Bothma
In fact, let me introduce you to a few of them now.

The pastors, Chad and Heather Naaktgeboren, are American born but slowly blending into the South African way of life. They say, “Ya-AH” and “Ya. No. But....” and “Is it?” like pros. But it’s clear that they won’t be losing their American accents anytime soon.

They planted CCJ six years ago and are seeing some beautiful fruit. Their church has moved from location to location over the years, but it is currently held in a tent on an expansive property in the Honeydew area of town.

Mickie Horst
Chad is a gifted teacher, and he has surrounded himself with some dedicated staff. The assistant pastors are Deon (who also leads worship) and Fabio (who heads up the singles ministry).

Heather (Chad’s wife) and Hannah (Deon’s wife) both work hard in women’s and children’s ministries. And Mickie (a missionary sent from So. California) works mostly with discipling ministries and an outreach to the nearby slum, Sandspruit.

Brendon Kelly
Others that stayed at the house were Brendon (the guy who took me on my first taxi ride, ha ha!), Jonathan, and Enwea (Sorry dude, if I spelled that wrong! I'm also sorry I could not find a picture).

And of course you cannot forget sweet Sofie, the house help. She was the bright smile of welcome every morning!

And last but certainly not least... were the delightful Naaktgeboren children! If everyone had kids like you guys, this world would be a better place!

I won’t bore you with the minutiae of my days there; suffice it to say that it was a truly blessed time. In fact, I got all weepy when it finally came time to leave. My heart was so happy there... it was like leaving home.

Sofie & me
So here is a huge THANK YOU to all those at CCJ who loved on me and encouraged me and welcomed me so well! I miss you all so much! And I cannot wait to see you in Cape Town in September!


During my stay in Johannesburg, the lovely and most hospitable Naaktgeborens, (aka: Calvary Chapel Johannesburg’s pastors extr’aordinaire) invited me on one of their family outings.

We went to the zoo.

The Naaktgeboren clan at the zoo.
Now as for zoos, I can take them or leave them. But a chance to spend the day with the Naaktgeborens... well that’s a whole other matter. When they invited me to join their impromptu day at the zoo, I was eager to go.

Not for the critters... but the fellowship.

We didn’t go to the zoo in Johannesburg (which I assumed was our destination), instead we went to the neighboring city of Pretoria which is about a 45 minutes drive from CCJ.

Pretoria is South Africa’s capital city and boasts of many sights... only one of which is their zoo.

We got there by late morning and immediately started rambling about the place. Monkeys, anteaters, and white-handed gibbons were some of my favorites.

Hungry Hungry Hippos!
I was also pleased to finally get a close-up look at the hippopotamus and gorillas. However, when the leopard got a close-up look at us... I confess I was considerably less pleased. There was something deeply disturbing in that steady stare as the leopard expertly hid behind the foliage and watched us pass.

She was inches away and barely visible. Yikes!

After lunch we decided to take the telepherique up to the top the the park. And from our high and wobbly perches, we could see lions and tigers... and bears! Oh My!

No... seriously. We saw several female lions; both white and regular bengal tigers; and two bears sleeping with their feet in the air.

What fun!

When I stop to think about it, however, I occurs to me that these three animals represent The Large and Ferocious of three distant continents. The lions are mostly seen in Africa. The tigers are only seen in Asia. And well... those brown bears are decidedly North American, for sure!

I wonder if that's what makes that song in the Wizard of Oz so funny?    Hummm.

But I digress. Back to the zoo!

Fun fact: male seahorses gestate their young.
Of all the places we visited that day, I must say I liked the bird sanctuary the best. The chirps and songs that livened up the soaring canopy at dusk was majestic.
       -- God’s original symphony.

And of all the animals we saw that day, the crocodile definitely won the Funniest Face award. With those close-set eyes and wicked grin, he looked too stupid to do anything but lie there and soak up the sun.

I’d hate to see that grin in the wild, though. It’d be decidedly less funny then! All in all. I’m glad I went.

Thanks Naaktgeborens for inviting me!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Taxi Anyone?

When my friend and housemate, Brendon, invited me to go shopping at the mall last Saturday, I was excited and quickly agreed. It was not so much the shopping that interested me but the chance to get my hair done.

Yep, I was desperate for a hair cut!

He, on the other hand, wanted a chance to talk ‘missions stuff’ and drink coffee. Now, how can I say no to that?!
    --That’s two of my favorite things ever!

There was just one catch; we’d have to take a taxi.

Keep in mind that the definition of Taxi in Jo’burg is definitely not same as the definition of a taxi in say... any other American city.

Apparently, it is something feared by many which explains his trepidation when asking me.

The conversation went something like this.

--“But if we go to the mall... we’ll have to take a taxi. You cool with that?”

--“Yes,” I asserted quickly, then added, “By taxi you mean the public transportation, Right?”

--“That’s right...” he hedged a bit then added, “They are not known for being very safe. They drive like psychos.”

--“Oh, that’s no problem. I’ll be ready in five,” I said matter-of-factly, and I meant it.

However before I left, I checked in with the pastors of CC Johannesburg, Chad and Heather Naaktgeboren, just to make sure that using local taxis was not breaking some kind of rule.

When I told them I was going to the mall in a taxi, they laughed nervously then snuck in a few sideways glances. Finally Chad spoke up. “You can take the taxi, if you like. But I’d only feel good about it if Brendon were there to protect you.”

I nodded in agreement. Then Heather chirped in, “Yeah. It’s not safe. Women are often the victims of robberies. They steal your phones... and your wallets.”

--“Oh... so it’s like in the Philippines,” I ventured. They nodded but then stopped.

--“No. It’s worse,” Chad began, “Here, it’s worse. I know some white South Africans that have never taken a taxi in their lives. They are too afraid.”

--“Yaa,” Heather added. “I’ve been here 7 years and I’ve never taken one.”

--“So... should I not go, then?” I asked quite sincerely. I didn’t want to make a cultural blunder.

--“No. But just know... if you don’t like it. We’ll be happy to come pick you up,” they offered kindly.

I laughed in response, but to be honest it made me wonder. Could it be all that different than the Tap-taps in the Philippines with the pick-pocket gangs? Could it be any scarier than the Matatus in Kenya who raced about at neck-break speeds?

It was time to find out. Plus, I love an adventure!

Before I go on, I should explain that Brendon is a white South African with more grit and grizzle than your average bloke. He lives on the CCJ property and has a heart for missions work. God willing, he’ll be preaching up a storm in South America soon.

As a local, Brendon knows his way about town and assures me that taxis are his preferred way of traveling the city.

So we were off.

As we walked to the intersection to catch the taxi, he explained some of the basic rules.

--“You must never jump the line. They don’t like that”, he began. “And make sure you line up from left to right.”

I nodded then repeated dutifully, “Never jump the line. Check. What else?”

--“Hum... oh. Yeah. They don’t like it when you talk really loud in the Taxi,” he explained. “You’ll find people talk in very low voices.”

I smiled. Then laughed. Yes, Americans are not known for being very quiet.

--“Okay. No loud conversations,” I agreed happily. “Anything else?”

--“Yes. One last thing...” he smirked, looking at my shoulder bag sideways, “You don’t have anything in that thing that can be easily lifted, do you?”

I smirked back, “No.”

“Then we’re set.”

As we continued to walk, I continued to pepper him with questions.

How do you know where the taxi is going? Where do they stop? Are they marked? Why do they drive so crazy? Why do people fear using them?

He answered my questions as they came, but it all stopped once we got to the intersection. Then he told me where to stand, and how to make the right hand signals.

--“When the taxi drives past, you have to hold up different fingers to tell him where you intend to go,” he tried to explain while pointing his index downward, palm facing inward. “This way he knows you only intend to go somewhere local.”

I mimicked his action but felt a bit silly doing it. But one quick glance around showed me that everyone was doing it too and I figured I should just go with the flow.  

--“How do you know which is a taxi?” I asked, more than a little confused. They all just looked like unmarked vans.

--“There’s a round sticker in the windshield,” he explained. “Can’t you see it?”

I looked and looked, but it didn’t seem very clear.

--“How long do you typically have to wait for a ride?” I continued to interrogate.

--“Depends. It’s fast... typically no more than 15 or 30 minutes.”

I smiled at his interpretation of ‘fast’ but didn’t comment. Time here is relative.

As we waited, unmarked vans slowed to get a better look at us. And some drivers even flashed hand signals back on their way by.

No one honked; no one hung out from an open door tapping on the roof of the van; and what is more, no one screamed out destinations or solicited riders.

It. was. all. so. very. sophisticated.

Meanwhile, the ever-growing crowd on the side of the road continued to wave different sets of fingers at the on-coming traffic in hopes of taking the next seat.

Vans passed. Fingers waved.

Several minutes ticked by this way, giving me ample time to learn the Finger Code.

“What is the finger code?” you ask.

Excellent question.

Here’s my best attempt at an explanation.

The Finger Code 101:
  • Right index finger pointing upward, hand facing inward = going downtown to Jo’burg.
  • Right index finger pointing downward, hand facing inward = going somewhere locally, (aka: before you reach downtown).
  • Four spread-out fingers pointing upward, with thumb tucked in = going to Fourways (a well-known intersection somewhere about town)
  • Right index finger pointing behind your right shoulder, elbow sharply bent = going to Randburg (a neighboring town or sub-burb, I’m not fully sure where).
  • Hand spread out flat, palm down, tottering from side to side in an uneasy motion = going to a township (aka: squatter camp or slum) and you might want to reconsider your destination. 

In time and after much finger waving, we found a van with two empty seats and crawled in the back. Hot and cramped explains it well. This is typical of all public transports, but there was something missing.

I couldn’t quite put my finger on it at first, so instead I took a deep breath and settled in for the ride.

The quintessential tour guide, Brendon pointed out sights along the road and eventually helped me take a few pictures of the taxi on his phone since I was NOT allowed to open my bag, and definitely NOT allowed to get my camera out.


He took advantage of this time to also snap off a few pictures of me. As we looked at them, we laughed and I offered to show them to the two young men sitting to my right. They looked at it more out of courtesy than interest, but it was fun interacting with them all the same.

Of the two young men, one was a good 4 inches taller than the other, but both had the same crooked teeth. In fact, their teeth were identically crooked meaning only one thing.

So I looked at them and asked, “Are you brothers?”

The one closest to me looked up in surprise, then nodded shyly. He kept looking to his brother for permission to speak but after waiting a long, uncertain minute and getting nothing, he finally decided to speak a single syllable in response.


--“You look alike,” I continued on with my widest smile. “Which of you is older?”

I already knew the answer --it was clearly the taller one-- but I had some time on my hands... and why not talk to them. Life’s more fun that way.

Once the older brother was identified, I teased the younger one by asking, “Is he a good older brother? Or is he a bully?” The younger smiled full-on at that point, showing off a new layer of crooked teeth in response.

--“Yaa. He is a good brother,” he chuckled.
              --Wow! I got more than a syllable. Success!

--“He never beats you up?” I continued to tease. He just laughed and shook his head in response.

--“Yaa, he seems like a good older brother,” I ventured. Then the conversation started to fade.

I could see he was definitely not used to talking to people like me, and I wondered why. Was it the fact that I was clearly this dorky older woman with stupid questions, or was it more?

It’s times like this that make me wonder just how my skin color is perceived around here. Some days, I think it’s nothing. Other days, I think it’s all there is.

One thing is for sure; Brendon and I were the only white people using any of the taxis that day. Despite this fact (or better yet, because of this fact), I felt very safe and secure.

Long story very short.

We arrived to our destination, shopped, then returned home on another taxi after a full day of hair-dos, coffee, and fun.

And only now as I write this all down, does it occur to me what was so vastly different about these taxis.

The silence.

Not once did I hear any hard-core punksters screaming their woes at mind-numbing decibels (as found in Kenya). Nor was I ever subjected to any rap bands blasting to the beat of blown-out sub-woofers (as experienced in the Philippines).

Yes, I would have to agree. In South Africa, silence is definitely key to riding the taxi.

TIA: This is Africa

For those who follow this blog regularly... I’m sure you’re more than a little confused. Didn’t I say I was going to Mozambique? Didn’t I raise all this fuss about support and prayer because I was going to the land of Moz?

Didn’t I?

The clear and easy answer to those questions is YES!

Yes. I fully intended to be in Moz by now... but I’m not.

In fact, I landed in Johannesburg almost two weeks ago and have been here ever since.

The kindly and most hospitable crew at Calvary Chapel Johannesburg has welcomed me into their guest room. And here I have been resting, hanging with the locals, and slowly getting my affairs in order for Mozambique.

“Why the delay?” you ask.

Good question. Reasonable question. But one that is not so simple to explain.

Well, actually it is quite simple.

This is Africa.

When I say TIA (This is Africa), I don’t say it with a sneer; I say it with a sly smile and a quick shake of the head.

Let me explain.

My ride into Moz depends on my directors, Roy and Trish. And although they are deceptively white they are most assuredly not Westerners. I suspect if you took a Brillo pad to their skin, you’d find a brilliantly gorgeous black underneath.

They are Africans. Pure and simple.

So when we arranged to have them come to Jo’burg to pick me up, I was thinking like a Westerner. They were not.

The first day we met up, they told me they wanted to stick around Jo’burg for a few days to get refreshed, and I smiled to myself. For I knew that a few days to them might be more like a few weeks.

I was right.

One week turned into two. And soon it will be three full weeks before I arrive in the ever elusive land of Moz.

At first I was disappointed by the delay --the let down, the dashed expectations, the expense, etc. But I don’t feel that way now.

To be honest, I’m relieved.

I left the States very tired --the constant goodbyes, the relentless repacking, the last-minute details. But now after a time just sitting at His feet in the early morning sun and sipping on coffee in the late-afternoon heat, I’m rested.

Praise Him!

I’m told, however, that we’ll be heading to Mozambique sometime this weekend. So please pray for traveling mercies. The roads are better in Zimbabwe, so we’ll head that way first, then dart over into Mozambique.

I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes!

Also... thank you so much for praying for my bags and my ticket reimbursement. My bags made it here safely within a day or so. And I was finally able to sort out my ticket reimbursement just this week!

What a relief!


A week of so back I had the privilege of going to one of the neighboring townships (aka: slums) to visit a Christian daycare run by lovely pastors --David and Fortuna.

This township is called Zandspruit which means Sandspring in Afrikaans.

My tour guide for the morning was Mickie, a Calvary Chapel missionary who has been working with CC Johannesburg for the last two years.

Mickie w/ Pastors David & Fortuna
Although my time there was short, the energy and joy of the place was quite overwhelming.

Kids that would otherwise not have a place to go during the day are instead loved on and given a safe place to grow up.

But more than that... they hear about Jesus.

Now that's something I can get excited about!

Below are a number of pictures I took of that day.


Victory Christian Church provides the daycare for Zandspruit.

Kids on recess, later they went inside to learn.

The kids loved having their picture taken by Mickie!

Studying the world outside... This one didn't realize I was watching.

The grounds are colorful and interactive for the kids.

Inside the older kids classroom after recess. What a hoot!

These smiles are going to stop hearts one day.... and soon!
Thanks Mickie for allowing me to join you on this special day. It opened my eyes to many of the needs in this area. For sure!