Sunday, July 15, 2012

Leaving and Arriving--The Process

Often when I've written about our travels I've referred to the stages of leaving. That's because it's a rather involved process. Other people's trips may be simpler and more straightforward (probably just because I'm on the outside looking in), but ours generally feel rife with busy schedules, pressing last minute things to do/get, and that daunting task of packing 10 suitcases of stuff into a mere 4 suitcases.

Oh yes, and after all that, to get a good refreshing sleep that last night before the 40+ hour relatively sleepless journey to Africa. Yes, rest is important.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. We're back in Africa now but since it's been over a month since I updated my blog, let me get you caught up on what we've been up to.

First, and most importantly, in June we returned to Edmonton (from our B.C./Seattle trip) to attend our daughter's graduation from university. Two years ago she graduated with her B.Sc. in Biochemistry, and this year she graduated with an after-degree in Education. These 6 years in university were intentional since from day one since her goal was to become a high school math and chemistry teacher, and she was advised that this was the best way to prepare herself for that. It's been a lot of work for her but she remained committed to the end and has received her reward--graduation (with distinction as any proud mom would add), and a career ahead of imparting vital knowledge and inspiring young people to learn.

Grad ceremony at the Jubilee Auditorium in Edmonton

A moment to pause for a family photo at her grad banquet.

Hot on the heels of her grad was the annual Care A Thon which we attended. A portion of the funds raised at this event go toward SAM Ministries' school feeding program in Mozambique so it's a real privilege for us to be able to walk with these committed walkers. After the walk, Dwight shared a challenge with all those attending. You can find his message in PDF format at the bottom of this blog update on the SAM Ministries website.
 We were pleased to be joined by volunteers who share a love for Mozambique and her people.

Left to right: Suzanne, Dwight, Matthew, Andy (missionary in Mozambique), and Andrew. It was a great day with them and many others who participate in this event each year. And we were so glad it didn't rain!

One of the last minute things to do (for me) was to visit Emmanuel Foundation's warehouse and what a blessing it was to walk out of there with donations of medical supplies!  If I could have taken the desks, chairs, hospital beds, etc., I would have. But they would have complicated the packing process considerably :)
Donated medical items, along with suitcases to hold it all, stuffed in the back of Janette Stone's car. 
I was so glad Janette was able to be with me for this event, she kept us from getting hopelessly lost finding the place and it was great having the time together. She's due in Moz for a time of volunteer work there starting in October.

One of the donated items: an infant scale. 

Interestingly, earlier in the week one of the health workers emailed me saying how much one of the health posts needed an infant scale. I wasn't sure where I'd find one given the time frame we had. But voila, there just happened to be one at Emmanuel Foundation! "Unfortunately it's not needs batteries." the man said apologetically when he  brought it to me. I told him that was perfect for us since we don't have electricity anyway. How perfect. What a miracle.

Then of course was the job of packing all the donated items. Not only these medical supplies but other items donated throughout the course of our furlough. Thankfully there are a number of volunteers on their way out to us soon so I parceled out some of the excess critical items and hope they will find some space in their luggage allowance to bring it out!


 For our own flights, we were only allowed 1 piece each, 50 lb per suitcase on Air Canada...not much when you have so much that has to go so far. With a fair bit of sorting, squeezing and with a bit of excess luggage, we got what we really needed ready to go.

Two of our four suitcases, buckled together and duct taped as added security (hey, it's better than nothing) against the significant amount of theft that reportedly happens at Johannesburg's  O.R. Tambo airport. (Thankfully everything arrived intact.)

 Leaving Edmonton where everything was summertime green and lush.

Our route took us through London where we had 10 hours to either stare at the airport floor and walls or hop on the tube to see something we opted to go see the Westminster Abbey and the sights in that immediate area.

Then we hopped back on the tube to get back to Heathrow to catch our 10 or so hour flight to Johannesburg, South Africa. Once we'd collected our buckled and duct taped luggage (no mistaking it was ours, that's for sure) we picked up a rental car to get to Whiteriver where we were to meet team members Tony and Leila who drove our pick up down from central Moz for us.

But first, because there's never a lack of things to do upon our arrival or departure to or from anywhere it seems, we needed to pick up a bunch of boxes of leadership training materials. Turns out the rental car was rather small to cope with our 4 suitcases, 2 carry-ons, 2 laptop bags, cameras, etc. plus 12 boxes of books, so it took quite a bit of rearranging and pushing and shoving to get it all to fit.

But in the end, we triumphed and boy were we tired! (Many thanks for the help from our friends and the staff at Hebron Theological College.)


In Whiteriver we met up with Tony and Leila and have been getting last minute things here tended to. One of those was the purchase of books for the mission's primary school's library...oh what fun it was to pick these up and think of the delight on the kids faces as they see them and learn to read them! I look forward to where these kids' educational path may lead them. If all they do is learn to read well and do math, most will be far ahead of where their parents are. But who knows, I may attend some of their graduations from university one day.

And with that, I think I'll declare that we've arrived at the end of this post. That's been quite the process too! 

I'll leave you with a series of photos I took of a baboon we saw in Kruger Park. I thought his expressions rather captured how we were feeling after the past very good but also very busy 6 months on furlough.


Bye for now. There'll be more to tell once we arrive Moz and as soon as the dust settles.

PS: For more mission news, check the SAM Ministries website blog.