Sunday, October 28, 2007
Sunday, October 21, 2007
This is a recent picture of a big old fig tree that I originally photographed (below) about 2 months ago after a fire swept through the mission farm. I had been out the previous night trying to put out grass fires along a path I had been instructed to follow. Dwight had headed in a different direction. It was new territory to me and the path was not a well used one. All I had for light was a dim LED Dot-IT. As I stumbled along the winding path putting out little fires here and there, I came upon a strange sight. There stood a massive tree with sparks and fire shooting out of the long vertical cavity in its trunk. It was quite ominous. Downright threatening in the dark that night since I was alone in new territory--close to the revered ancestral graveyard I might add-- armed with only a dim little Dot-IT for light and a scrubby branch for self-protection. Neither of those would have been much help if I had come across something truly sinister! Nor were they of much comfort as I stood looking at the big tree, ablaze, and possibly about to crash to the ground! A pit formed in my stomach when I realized that the foot path I was following led straight UNDER the tree. I contemplated veering off the path, but knowing there are numerous poisonous snakes lurking about in the bush, and not wanting to get lost (remember Hansel and Gretel?), I decided the ‘under the tree’ option was my best bet. I studied the flaming scene for awhile. If I did it quickly, and with a prayer, I’d likely be fine. Not necessarily in that order though!
Since I’m now writing about this event, it’s obvious I survived it! Things are scarier in the dark, you know. I was determined the next day to retrace my steps to find that tree. I was sure it would be lying on the ground somewhere, a massive heap of charred wood and ashes. But when I got to the spot, there it was still standing, stark and bare against the late afternoon sky. I took a picture of it.
Spring-time is now upon us and trees are busy putting their new green leaves proudly on display. The old fig tree, believe it or not, is still standing. Not only that, but it has put on a leafy display as well! Many of its branches are still bare, but I was amazed to see any sign of life at all! It’s sort of a miracle of nature. Although this tree faced the fierce trial of fire...one that in fact gutted it and left a gaping hollow in its center...it still stands.
To cut a lengthy story short, after filling out a variety of forms, photocopying passports, etc. in triplicate, meeting with the Director of Religious Affairs and making repeated trips to town to first see this official, then that one, we finally got our permits renewed AND we got the shiny little sticker that proves we’ve completed the census. That tiny sticker that we didn’t have a few weeks ago and that brought our long trip to South Africa to a premature and grinding hault. Yes, THAT sticker. That sticker tells the story not only of our most recent trial, but of older, bigger trials we’ve come through as well! It tells of stories with a common happy ending...we’re still standing!
Sunday, October 14, 2007
This is also the beginning of ‘creature season’. This is a Cicada and the is their time to wake from dormancy and sing, “Zzzweeeeeeeeeeee” to their heart’s content. Generally speaking they only do this during the daytime, but sometimes they seem to get disoriented and ‘zweee’ at night too. There are thousands of them and they’re in every tree, so the sound can seem nearly deafening. They have an interesting life cycle. It’s a great topic for homeschooled kids to research (read: google)! It stands to reason that with the advent of bug season, the frogs come out to play. Here is a little guy who seems to like our front door step (pictured here beside the broom handle). When I come back home from hooking up to email at the office in the evenings, he’s often sitting there to greet me. We seem to have had a spate of fairly sick people and emergencies this past week or so...bicycle accidents (common here), snake bites (sorry for mentioning it again, Heather), an asthma attack, and so on. This 10 year old boy’s mom (see previous posts) is a widow who does odd jobs to help feed her 2 kids. A few weeks ago she got very sick with pneumonia which I treated her for. She improved but her recovery has been slow and the food supply at home is dwindling. This little guy walked for hours in the heat to bring the message that they need help at home. Here he is with a bag in hand with medicine for mommy, infant formula for baby brother and cookies for himself. We sent further food supplies to help them over this hump. Children learn responsibility and face life’s hardships at a much younger age out here! Thanksgiving. Yes, apparently it came and went recently. Thanksgiving is not celebrated out here so we usually forget it exists until family from home ask us, “So what are you doing for thanksgiving?” Oh...hmm. As it turned out, this year we were able to attend an English church service nearby then had potluck afterwards of cold cuts and salads. The heat that day was brutal. So instead of hot turkey on a cold day, we had cold chicken on a hot day. Maybe the only true similarity was the reminder to be thankful for our blessings, and to share with those around us. I guess that’s really the most important part!
Sunday, October 07, 2007
As you can see, in Africa we really like Coca Cola, Colgate toothpaste, Lux bath soap and Surf laundry detergent! Many little stores will give companies the ‘ok’ to paint their ads on their store fronts. You have to admit, it IS eye-catching. Even I’m tempted to stop and pick up some of the advertised goods! Other stores are left to display their real character.
On the 2nd day of our journey we make a pit stop at one of the few fuel stations along this stretch. Caltex must have foreseen big returns here since they built on both sides of the 2-lane-no-shoulders EN 1! The station on the other side is more impressive in that it sports what was to be a convenience store & restaurant. It was built in 2000 but has never been open for business. Only this side has ever had fuel. And every time we stop here to fuel up, we’re always the only ones. I’ve never seen another vehicle here...ever. We usually have to wait several minutes until the attendant realises someone is really there. And when we’re done, he settles back into his chair, cell phone in hand.
This is the Save River and to us it marks the beginning of our ‘home stretch’...just 5 hours from here to home! There is a boom across the one end which is manned by police. Sometimes we have to pay to cross. Other times we don’t. We’re not sure why, but some questions are better left unasked.
There are really no places to stop at on the 2nd day of this journey, so the best we can do is stop along the road, get out and stretch, grab a coke from the cooler (see how effective the ads are?), and by the time we’re done all that, the intense heat is chasing us back inside the airconditioned car! Once we get home, it’s time to unpack and get geared for work and whatever current crises may exist. But still, it’s awfully good to be home again!