Saturday, January 25, 2014

The start of 2014

Before I post anything about 2014, I should really close 2013 with a few photos of November/December. We spent a considerable amount of the time traveling between Mozambique and South Africa as well as quite a bit of time being in South Africa on business. We also got hung up for awhile checking up on health issues. I hadn't been feeling well for several weeks and my Dr. wasn't happy with the results of some routine tests, so I was sent for not-so-routine tests/procedures to rule out anything terribly nasty. Preliminary results seem to indicate nothing too nasty, likely "just" a respiratory virus. Just a virus that made me sick for about 2 months--right through our annual holiday and Christmas--nasty enough for me.

One of our stops on one of our trips between SA and Moz was at Messina just south of Zimbabwe. We "climbed" a rock. As you can see, I did it in flip flops so probably can't officially be classified as climbing. It's a unique part of the country and is full of Baobabs and rock outcrops. It's also HOT there.

   We received a container of mostly medical supplies from Sweden, among the items were some wonderful cupboards. Here the health workers and Tome deliver a cupboard to the one health post. I don't know about them, but I smile when I see this picture because I know it meant we could finally take health records/forms/etc. out of the paper boxes we've used for years and put them in a cupboard. Talk about civilized! 

One of the big items to tend to in South Africa (at Mercy Air) was the Cessna's annual maintenance. This doesn't mean just checking under the hood and changing the oil--it  means pulling just about every moving part of the plane off, or open, and looking inside its cavities, examining the wiring, testing this, testing that. I don't even know what all they do but it's a pretty big job. It is absolutely essential though since it's fairly impossible to take a pit stop if something goes wrong when you're 7000 something feet in the air over dense bush.

When the maintenance is done, the plane has to do a test flight or two to make sure everything's working well. Officials from Moz also came through to check the facility and do an aircraft inspection since the Cessna is now Mozambique registered. It was a busy time for the guys, and we were very thankful that everything worked out so we could fly home in time for Christmas.

We stick to as many Christmas traditions as possible out here where there is no snow or other things that are normal signals (for us) that it's Christmas time. And every year, I dutifully pull out one of my old puzzles that I've done and redone many times. This particular scene is a snowy church scene of some place in Germany. Doing this puzzle helped me pass quite a few hours of not-feeling-so-great-but-don't-want to-waste-time-in-bed. But apparently what you define as "bed" depends on whether you're a human or a cat.

To add to our Christmas and New Year's celebrations, we also celebrated the first landing of the Cessna on the mission airstrip. This was the culmination of quite a few years of hard work, money spent, document processing, inspection passing, and so on. So it was truly a joyous event! The plane has already made several "work flights" from this airstrip, one being to take essential supplies to pastors in a remote region north of us.

Moving along here. 2014 so far has been pretty busy and we're not at the end of January yet. There's been gearing up for the beginning of school for the over 300 students in our sponsorship program, making progress on construction projects, preparing budgets for the new year, reports for our AGM in February, etc. And then there's been addressing the crises that seem to pop up regularly.

At lunchtime one day last week, we heard a huge BOOM in the distance. We weren't sure what it was but in short order received a phone call saying there had been an accident between two big trucks on the highway right in front of the mission property. Could we please come quickly! The scene didn't look good, but surprisingly there was only one casualty and he was alive. The health workers who live and work nearby had already made it to the scene and bandaged up the guy's head and checked him over. As quickly as we could, we got him loaded into the mission vehicle (which we have also nicknamed our local ambulance) and took him to hospital.

I'll try to wind things up with one last photo that everyone will be fine with. But this is your heads up that the ones to follow are the "bug section" which I always try to put at the end of my posts so the more sensitive readers can stop scrolling down in time :)

We currently have a group of students from Prairie who are spending a few weeks at the mission ministering to needs and relating cross culturally. Last Sunday after an animated church service, we were all invited to the pastor's home (above) to enjoy a lunch of Massa & Caril (stiff maize porridge that you dip into a stewed chicken sauce). This is served hot off the stove and eaten with the fingers. We north Americans know how to eat with our fingers, but handling piping hot food that way takes a bit of practice and a very light touch. It was delicious though!

It's summer here which means it's very hot, humid and rainy. This weather summons creatures of all varieties and sizes out from hiding (or wherever they were) and into our house. I'm sure they go other places too, but I especially notice the ones that come inside. Especially when they're oversized.

 This first one is a huge centipede. These guys pack a nasty sting, though I've never been on the receiving end. Thank goodness!

 The fork's sole purpose here is for comparison. Just clarifying.

Next is a cute chameleon. This one didn't come inside because they hate being inside, but we often find them in our yard busy hunting and eating insects. Good! :)

The one below came inside and even went so far as to crawl up and get  all snuggled into a fold in our mosquito net.  A scorpion in one's mosquito net is not a nice visual to wake up to. Thankfully he didn't decide to come snuggle in our sheets instead.
 He's semi-lifeless here. I have since discovered 2 others in the house :O

The stick on the wall below is actually a stick bug. It is rather disconcerting to spot a live and moving stick on the wall outside one's bathroom! Although they don't bite people, obviously they can bite and eat their prey (smaller insects...good!). I think this is the largest stick bug we've seen to date. This is a KAOS radio station pen from Fort McMurray, btw, where it's -28C right now.

And then there's the tarantula type spider. Actually, we've spotted several of these, one of which was crawling up a big window in our front room.  I should have taken a photo of it but I was too distracted at the time.

And to everyone's great relief, that's all I will post for now. All the best to you this 2014!

PS: There's lots more news at