when storms hit

April 28, 2011

As I find myself suddenly in a bit of a disaster zone, yet safe and sound with a roof over my head, I joined others signing up to help with the Red Cross efforts today. It was a pleasant surprise to see the sheer number of folks who turned up for the training session. I was also interested in their display of uniforms and equipment from the past. The need for disaster aid is certainly something that crosses many boundaries, I suppose–time being one of the least . . .

following the egg trail

April 26, 2011

Family and Easter just go hand in hand, I think. So the chance to spend this past week with many of my own family members left me infinitely grateful. It was also just a whole lot of fun . . . how could it not be with such a picture-perfect niece? And I was glad that she seemed almost as amused by my Easter-egg placement as I was :-)

my inner green thumb

April 21, 2011

It was a delightful surprise today to discover that I [an avid non-gardener :-)], was able to convince a patch of irises to bloom rather beautifully. I think it was about 4 years ago that I planted these, so a true surprise to come and find them blooming now . . .

not-quite-traveling shoes

April 18, 2011

Having what some may think is a bit of a foot photo obsession, it seemed fitting for me to document my feet-firmly-planted in the Western hemisphere status with this photo. This afternoon I went climbing. Bouldering, rather. So my feet were sporting the appropriate shoes. What was not so normal about this afternoon was that we had 2 little ones along. One who demonstrated her toddler prowess on the rocks; and one who demonstrated his sleeping/eating skills. What was also unusual about this particular afternoon is that our intended time was cut short by a bit of a fall. He did not seem as phased by it as one would think, but the little ones’ father took a tumble that resulted in a broken foot . . . so the emergency room intercepted our barbecue plans.
But all is well, and we had our belated burgers all the same–plus a few extra stories to tell. So yes, these feet are definitely back on American soil :-)

traveling mercies

April 12, 2011

As we neared the airport, my taxi driver asked me to pray for him.  “I would like to grow more spiritually like you,” he explained.  A bit surprised by this, considering my current state of not-feeling-very-spiritual nerves, I asked him what made him ask me that.  Maluleke shrugged and simply replied that he could see I lived by faith.  I said so long to him, saying perhaps I would see him next time I passed through, and gave him the last Rand I had to my name.  Ok God, here I am, living by faith.  I breathed out my prayer and headed back for day 2 of an attempt to get a standby flight.  Last night there was no seat for me.  So, as I knew I may need to do, I had booked a room at a guesthouse, to return the same time the next night and try again.  But what I had not known was that my credit cards would be denied at the South African ATM machines; I had been accustomed to having them work just fine for me in Zambia.  More my own fault was the fact that I was low on back-up cash for currency exchange.  So the day I spent at the guesthouse was in part spent trying to figure out how to pay both the guesthouse and the taxi.  Thanks to the kind flexibility of the guesthouse managers, I was able to get the payments done.  But it was so close that I had not even enough remaining to make a phone call at the airport.  I simply had to make it on this flight.

While the boarding commenced I tried not to pay too much attention to the discouraging looks on the attendants’ faces.  But finally, one looked directly at me and shook her head. “I’m sorry,” she said, “we are not taking anyone else tonight.” I stood there, stunned, for a bit, and I lingered, half expecting her to change her mind.  Then I slowly made my way over to the counter.  God, what are you doing? I prayed.  I don’t understand . . . I don’t know what to do now . . .

As I re-listed for the next day, I could no longer keep my composure, and I started to cry.  An older lady questioned me, concerned, and I just cried harder in my humiliation instead of answering her properly.  I did manage to blubber out a few comments about needing to find a place to stay.

Then a middle-aged gentleman walked over to me and said, “Excuse me, Ma’am?  I know you don’t know me from Adam but, well, I’ve been trying to listen to the Lord’s leading . . . I’m waiting standby as well, and am about to go spend the night with a missionary couple here in Johannesburg—you are welcome to come join me if you like.”

I stared at him, taken aback by his easy kindness, in such an unkind-to-strangers sort of city.  And then, still crying, I said that I was beyond the point of doing anything but just accept.

Later, as we waited for our hosts to arrive, I learned that this man was a short-term missionary, trying to get back home now.  When he mentioned that the couple coming for us had been in Zambia before coming here, I became more inquisitive. Then he said the name of the same mission board my own family was with . . .

A few minutes later I was introduced, and greeted with a hug rather than a handshake: “Oh, I knew your father—yes, I knew him well!  And your mother: is she well?”

We had an evening, the four of us, of reminiscing, and of “You remember so-and-so?” sorts of comments.

This morning I thought of how we were a bit of a motley crew there at the breakfast table: one couple spending their first night in a temporary home, hosting two stranded passengers.  But a happy motley crew J

Tonight we try again to get on that flight.  Praying to get the flight . . . but trusting that, if not, all shall be well all the same.



so it goes

April 9, 2011

Goodbyes are strange affairs. Strange to me in part because I feel so ungainly and awkward about them, either rushing through them in a stiltedly stoic fashion or blubbering through a weepy mess of sobs and sniffles. I’m just no good at them—incapable of going about it in an appropriately sad, yet graceful, manner.
Today I leave my workplace, my home . . . my life of eight months. And I am once more forced to confront this handicap.
There was a rush of busying about the library, hurrying to finish up the tidyings and projects that I had started, and that I had to complete in order to leave with peace of mind. There were classes to teach, even right as we finished that final day of term [it has, for me, always felt rather forced to try to carry on with normal lessons when dorm rooms are packed up and parent cars are waiting outside for pick-ups . . .]
There was a closing assembly: an Easter-themed service which included a farewell presentation.
And there was a going away party last night, after I had reasonably well taken care of packing business.
Today I am in the road, one last Zambian bus adventure before beginning the flights tomorrow. And I have spent a portion of the ride reading the book the students put together for me, with each class contributing a page of individual comments or signatures. Some made me sad. Many made me laugh, as a surprisingly large number of students felt obliged to mention singing or dancing in their memories of meI think my favorite came from one of the boys who remembered when I had taken over as football coach for the day, back in January. Muso wrote, “I will remember you doing football and making us run round the track.”
Enough said, I suppose ☺
This photo shows a couple of those completed library projects, as I show off my finished, “published” manual, along with the mock check-out of a catalogued book . . .