It’s An Amazing Adventure…..THANKS BE TO GOD!!

HELLO!  Welcome to ‘our’ Missisonary South African ‘journal’ — September 22 through October 7, 2o11!   Get comfy with a cup of tea, coffee, or soda as I want to ‘take you with me’ on this adventure we share together.    It’s your prayers and donations God is using so we may share in what He has in store for us here in this amazing country full of brothers and sisters in Christ!   There are more stories and photos to share.   However, from now on I will do them separately and without quite so much detail,  to avoid you being ‘blogged out’!    Okay – let’s get started ….I’m anxious to show you everything!!      Love, Ginger  (now officially GoGo Ginger on both the seminary campus and at the preschool/orphanage = elderly women – grammas – are called GoGo…I love it!)

Blog Update – from September 22

A Surprise Weekend – in Many Ways!

On Friday morning, September 23, I decided to join Pastor Randy Asburry and Zeal Beale on a trip ‘west’ to Kruger National Park.   My other option was to read, relax and reflect and keep the home fires burning at the seminary for the students, who left Saturday morning for a 5 day ‘spring break’ and visit to a Lutheran Church near Durban, South Africa, and  for Zeal and Pastor.  The ‘lure’ of adventure won out!  AND I am so very glad it did! 

   Here some of the photos from this adventure!   http://www.facebook.com/?ref=hp#!/media/set/?set=a.1949963040619.2088362.1588899801&type=3

God knew I would find more relaxation and reflection in the beauty of His magnificent creations that live and reign at Kruger.  Searching the internet Pastor found Kruger Adventure Lodge, the perfect get away located just outside Kruger National Park, where African culture, flora, foods, and décor combine to create a step back in time to an African Queen/Casablanca enchantment.   After a 4 ½ hour drive, thank you Randy, we welcomed the curious sound of our tires on the ‘acorn covered’ path which led up to this paradise on earth.   TC Constance, the owner, greeted us, remembering our conversation for reservations the previous day.  

Each of us were assigned to a Bush Hut – a round, spacious , thatched roof house, with lovely tiled floors, bath with shower, with twin beds and a double bed in each hut.   It included satellite TV and fully equipped tea/coffee bar with little refrigerator.  My photo album is linked on this Blog for those of you who may not have seen the lodge.  TC and his right and left hand aide, Pumla gave us the royal treatment.  They had reserved a safari guide for us for all day Saturday.  After a 2 hour dinner of BBQ Steak, Chips (French fries), and sautéed vegetables, we said our good night’s to be fresh for our 5:15am coffee and rusk prior to leaving on the safari at 5:30am.

With our ‘take away’ breakfast/lunch in hand, we boarded the safari vehicle with Bennett, our guide – a 14 year veteran – to discover we were the only 3 on the safari that day giving us each a full seat to slide from side to side for viewing and ‘shooting’!    Without a doubt, it was one of the most magnificent days of my life viewing God’s creations!  Within 2 ½ hours of entering Kruger, Bennett had treated us to sighting THE BIG FIVE – Lions, Elephants, Rhinoceroses, Water Buffalos, and A Leopard!  Prior to stepping foot in South Africa, I didn’t know the term ‘BIG FIVE’!   We KNEW this was a BIG DEAL because Bennett was excited!  The Leopard is scarce.  He is out mostly at night.   It was the only one of the Big Five that wasn’t within 7 to 25 feet from our vehicle, however, we had a view of him on a rock ledge about 150’ away, through the jungle that made our pulse race!

The rest of the day we were treated to a live, close up and personal view of more unbelievable creatures in their habitat doing what they do every day – live!   There really are no words.  It was magnificent!

Returning to the Seminary on Sunday, with Zeal driving most of the way back (you go girl!), we 3 shared our photos and relived the adventure, which we’ll continue to do the rest of our lives.  We thanked God for allowing us this privilege. 

Sept 26 through 30 — God has more surprise in store for Ginger and Zeal

Monday morning we’re off to return our rental car, but not before we go the grocery store.  Zeal has this driving on the left mastered – like she’s been doing it forever!  As a passenger, I’m still mentally turning into the wrong lane!  

We fully enjoyed sharing the 12 days with Randy around the seminary.   One other adventure or rather ‘mission’ we accepted was shopping for items to set up the 4th apartment in Mdluli House which was in a sad state when Zeal and I first set eyes on it.  It needed an HGTV makeover.  Well, Zeal and I ‘conscripted’ Randy to drive the seminary car and with map in hand, we three – 001, 002, and 003,  made our way around Pretoria with the ‘assignment’ from  office manager, Salomé -  now known as “M” -  sleuthing out consignment shops, and home stores for plumbing items, paint, dishes, table & chairs – plus!   “M” was pleased. 

 Both Zeal and I wished we had sat in on Randy’s catechism classes!  He did quiz us on the return trip from Kruger, however!   We bid farewell to Randy shortly after lunch knowing we’ll see him again in this life or the next.

The rest of this week was spent on office tasks and preparing the seminary housing for the upcoming conferences the end of October, along with covering the desk Thursday and Friday while Salome’ has some minor surgery.  With Zeal and I leaving for Shongweni October 1, returning the 14th, our plan was to leave Dube House, Mdluli House and The Guest House cleaned, beds ready and fully equipped kitchens for the additional 21 guests arriving October 16th.    By the end of the week, our tasks were completed; however it was a fully packed week!    Things were complicated a little by our seminary students coming down with a variety of illnesses upon their return from their break.  3 of them were taken to the doctor, while others took to bed with Tylenol and plenty of fluids.  It put a crimp in our UNO night, as Zeal and I were reluctant to get too close to what seemed to be a very strong germ running around campus!

While packing for our 2 weeks in Shongweni, we moved the items we wouldn’t need over to Mdluli House.  It’s almost ready, just a few plumbing/electrical items to be attended to while we are away.  We’ll move into Mdluli House when we return October 14th.  Here are some photos from every day life at the seminary…..Missionary Life at the Seminary

http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1955287853736.2088545.1588899801&type=3  

October 1 to October 14 – Our 1st SHONGWENI Experience!!

Bright and early- 6am – Saturday morning, Oct. 1, Rixi Taxi arrived at the seminary to take Zeal and I to the bus station.  We filled the taxi with our luggage since we are leaving most of what we brought to Africa in Hillcrest where we’ll be living the duration of our time once we leave the seminary.  

For a real good time please visit Zeal’s Blog regarding our bus ride to Hillcrest!  She has captured it!  We aren’t sure if we can handle the trip back.  Next time I will make sure it’s Greyhound tickets we purchase!

Here is Zeal’s Blogspot.  She has captured LOTS of our adventures with her ‘wit’ and wisdom’….enjoy!  http://www.servingthelordwithzeal.blogspot.com/

AFTER the 9 hour bus ride, we met Harold, Julia and Shara’s favorite taxi driver.  He was ready and waiting for us.  On the 30 minute ride to Hillcrest, where we have rented a charming ‘flat’ thanks to a lovely friend of Julia and Shara’s, Harold treated us to information on the Durban/Hillcrest historical and political demographics, weather variations from sea to valleys to hilltops, and very interesting insights into the why’s and wherefore’s of  various road and building construction.  I look forward to ‘the rest of the story’ from Harold as we will use him as our primary driver for long distances.  To get to Shongweni, where we will work every day, we’ll use the ‘combi’ – combination van/taxis that run every few minutes along main highways and small country roads.   This type of transportation will be cheaper than Zeal and I renting or owning a car.

Harold drove us to meet Julia, Shara, and Katlin, then to our place to unload our luggage.  The girls had planned to go to their favorite Chinese restaurant, so Harold dropped us and picked us up afterward, then took us to the grocery store so we would have items for breakfast.   Whew!  It was a looooong day!

Shara and Julia gave us directions on where to meet them in the morning to catch the combi for Shongweni then Harold dropped Katlin, Shara and Julia at their ‘flats’, then Zeal and I. 

Our place is very comfortable with lovely furnishings and fully equipped kitchen, even a coffee press which pleased me as I left mine at the seminary and brought only coffee singles.   This will be our home for the next 2 weeks, and then again when we return the end of November until the end of March when we will take over the apartment where Shara and Julia live.   After unpacking, Zeal and I settled in for a good night’s sleep.  

October 1 and 2 Photos – From leaving the seminary in a ‘cute’ little blue Rixi Taxi to our first day in Shongweni at the Chapel…..http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.2048335379866.2091630.1588899801&type=3

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The day dawned cloudy and cool!  So much for the heat we expected.  Thankfully we did bring our winter clothes with us, thinking it would be May before we would need them!

After a quick breakfast we walked the 3 blocks to the ‘combi’ corner where Shara and Julia joined us, and then we continued walking another few blocks to meet Katlin.  Since it’s Sunday the combi’s have a different schedule, so we went to Pinetown to catch the Shongweni combi.  With 5 of us climbing into a combi, we fill it quickly.  It’s interesting how the fare is collected.  The person sitting next to the driver is ‘expected’ to collect the fares, and make change if necessary.  The driver does not have change.  It was 12 Rand for the ride to Pine Town….that’s about $1.80.  The combi’s hold anywhere from 11 to 14 people with a variety of fold up/down seats.  Each row of riders collects their fares handing it to the row in front and tells that person how much change is needed.  It seems complicated at first, but actually works out very well.  And you actually ‘talk’ to the people sitting next to you, even if you don’t know them!

Now, the next combi to Shongweni, was only 5 Rand….about 75 cents.  It was a beautiful misty, hazy morning as we climbed up the hillside from Pine Town, back through Hillcrest, to Shongweni.   The combi driver stops wherever a rider tells him and he picks up riders along the roadside as there are vacant seats.

We got off right at the path leading down the hill to the crèche (church) and community bldg.  Along the way Shara and Julia stopped to visit with folks they knew, invite children they saw to VBS tomorrow, embracing everyone they met.  They have made themselves such an intrical part of this community it will be hard for everyone when they leave.  Zeal and I have our job cut out for us. 

As we walked down the path, the panorama of God’s world fell away around us!  It’s an absolutely beautiful location for God’s word to be shared.   Within minutes of our arriving at the church we were being hugged and greeted by members of the congregation who is the ‘foundation’ of the church.  She is a lovely woman full of love for everyone.   She is a Go Go, elderly women with grandchildren, but I didn’t write her name down.   I believe it’s Gogo Mkhize.  She is the one in white.  Gogo Zuma is in black.  Mildred is the other lady with them.   Young and old arrived and soon we were seated with the laymen, Gosi and Sandalac, leading the service.  Pastor Twala is away visiting another congregation today.

The seating is interesting and we need to ask Shara and Julia about it.  The adult women sat on the right side.  The children, boys and girls, sat on the left side in front.  The men sat on the left toward the middle.

We used a Zulu Lutheran Service Hymnal with liturgy and hymns without music, just the words.  No need for the notes – they KNOW the tunes and SING the tunes!!

It was an intimate and meaningful service of 33 folks with varied backgrounds and cultures sharing God’s word and love.  Two young women sang a beautiful duet.  The hymns with harmonious and heartfelt.  Sometimes the singing led to clapping of hands and thumping of books to keep the rhythm building in volume and enthusiasm!

Sandalam gave the sermon in Zulu.  And without understanding a word, I knew what he was saying.  His expression and gestures all told of God’s love and mercy.   I was spellbound by the simplicity and beauty of their worship.

One of my favorite parts was the giving of the offerings just prior to the close of the service.  The women started to sing, the men joined in, the harmony grew as first the children, one by one, walked to the altar and placed their offering in a wooden bowl.   The men followed the children, then the women all the while the singing continued until each person with an offering had been to the altar and returned to their seat.

It was very meaningful.

We were about ready to leave when 4 young girls who had been in church in ethnic dress, which was the dress for this Sunday, came through the side door of the church and prepared to sing and dance their native dances.  They were delightful as their faces lit up as they moved to their music.  The women joined in the singing and it sounded like angels.

With hugs and promises of seeing one another tomorrow at VBS, we 5 walked up the hill to catch the combi back to Shongweni.   I doubt I would know where the connecting points are to repeat the process, but over time I am sure I’ll get it!   On the ride back we were very crowded, and I sat very closely to a woman named, Sweetness.  Her son and husband were seated in front of her.  She said her son’s name was Gift.  He has 2 older sisters who are 22 and 17….so she said, “You see, he is a gift”!  He is 2 years old and very precious.  His daddy obviously loves him very much as he held him so tenderly.

Sweetness and I exchanged phone numbers.  They were returning from their church in Shongweni, so perhaps we will ride the combi together again one day.

After saying goodbye to Katelyn, Shara and Julia, Zeal and I walked to the Freshly Ground Café’ for lunch.  It was l:30pm and we were hungry.  It had been a long time since 7am breakfast.   The Café has a wonderful menu, great atmosphere with not only nicely appointed tables, but couches with fireplace for WiFi users.   Bingo!  We have no internet at our flat.  This café is 3 blocks away so after a delicious lunch we returned home, changed our clothes, grabbed our computers and headed back for free internet time!

I ordered a cappuccino and caught up on mail while Zeal completed sending her newsletter.  We only had an hour until they closed, but it was enough.  Heading home it was raining harder than it had all day.  Most of the day it was only misting, but I did buy an umbrella at the Pine Town market before boarding the second combi.  I needed it on the walk home – we were a bit damp by the time we made it the 3 blocks. 

With one whole day under our belt here in Shongweni, it’s exciting to know we will be living and working with these lovely people we met at worship today.  Next weekend there is a women’s retreat on Saturday and Sunday where we will be blessed to be with some of the women.  Tomorrow we will begin meeting and sharing time with the children while teaching Vacation Bible School.  I am excited and honored to be here.  May God bless our time together as we share and grow in our faith.

October 3, 2011  MONDAY – Our First Day of VBS

Photos from October 3, Monday  ….  http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1975099229008.2089258.1588899801&type=3

It’s been a cool, rainy day in Hillcrest/Shongweni.  After a quick breakfast, Zeal and I walked to the combi pickup point at the Caltex Petrol Station 3 blocks from our flat where we met Shara, Julia and Katelyn.  Shara is staying in Hillcrest today to be at their new place to meet the refrigerator repairman, the internet/phone man, and the man bringing their new stove. 

We left our flat at 7:15 am and were on the combi heading to Shongweni by 7:50 am.  It was a direct route to the drop off point for a fee of 10 Rand each.  The rain and fog were so heavy on the window we passed our stop without knowing it.  The combi driver was nice enough to turn around and drive us all the way down the hill to the church gates.  It was raining steadily but without any wind.

Pastor Twala came to open the gate and invited us into his home for a short planning session.  Julia and Katelyn went over to the preschool to set up while Zeal and I visited with Pastor Twala.   He is a very caring man, wanting us to know he’s happy we’ve come all this way, interrupting our lives to help in this village.  He described our team working relationship, some of the challenges we’ll face, and many of the joys and sorrows we’ll share with the community.  He is glad we are planning to use public transport from Hillcrest to Shongweni – the combi – as it will allow us to interact with the local folks, get to know them, developing relationships daily.  If we were to purchase a car and drive that whole aspect of living here would not happen.   I was impressed with his candor and sincerity.  He loves these people, is honored to be their spiritual leader and definitely has a full plate.  We are here to help him and the community in any way necessary.  Shara and Julia will leave big shoes to fill.  It’s wonderful God has arranged for us to work together for several months before the actual baton is passed to Zeal and I.   We will move here for good in December; work with Julia and Shara until Julia leaves in late February or early March; then Shara remains with us until late June.  After just 2 days of being with some of the women and now the children, I know we will have strong binds with them by the time both Julia and Shara are gone.  It will still be very difficult for everyone to have them leave, but God has given us the time together to make it as easy as possible.

Zeal and I joined Katelyn and Lindo, a newly hired preschool assistant, in the preparation of the craft for the day, The Belt of Truth.  Each child will design his belt which symbolizes how knowing the truth about Jesus and his love for us, how he died for us, is the way to ever lasting life.   The whole week is a study of putting on the Armour of God which helps us live the way God wants us to live and be prepared for any of life’s challenges.

The children had arrived by about 9:30 which was surprising given the rainy weather.  It was cool in the preschool room, but the kids didn’t seem to mind.  As we waited for VBS to start several of the boys gathered around me to watch me tune my guitar.  One fellow, Luwania, was particularly interested.  As I played Akekha Ofana nu Jesu….he started to strum, so I played the chords and let him strum.  He had great rhythm and will make a good guitar player one day.  The boys passed the guitar around and enjoyed the feel of it.  Soon Julia had the attention and VBS began.  The girls sat at one table and the boys at another as they started singing an opening hymn, then prayed together.   We then sang We Are Marching in the Light of God with the guitar.  Boy can they sing and really feel the song. 

The story of Esther was then read by one of the teachers in both Zulu and English.  These children speak quite good English.  I need to learn Zulu.  I’m having trouble with learning their names right away as they are different.  But I’ll get it!

They children were very quiet during the story, listening intently.  Afterwards, four of them were selected to be Queen Esther, King Xerxes, Mordecai and Haman.  They acted the story out to the delight of the other children and themselves! 

The craft was the next activity which they threw themselves in to.  They worked very diligently decorating their Belts of Truth and wore them proudly when completed.  We took photos and they played together, until their teacher  called them back to the tables.   She gave the older children, the ones who can read, a WORD SEARCH game based on the words from the Story of Esther.  The smaller children were given color books and picked out pictures they wanted to color.  They broke into ‘teams’ of their own choosing to work together on the Word Search.  Smaller tables were set up for the younger children to sit and color.

It was fun to see how they worked together on the game taking it very seriously.  Julia said this reinforces their English and she checks their work once it’s completed. 

It was time for snacks when they completed this last project and they dismissed with a group prayer in Zulu.  Before I knew it they were out the door!   Usually they sing a final song, but we missed that today.  Hopefully we can sing tomorrow as I love to hear them!

We cleaned up, put things away and were walking up the hill to catch the combi by 12:30 pm.  We all had our umbrellas up as the rain was coming down quite good!  The combi arrived within minutes and we rode with him quite awhile before he found another combi actually going ‘down’ the hillside to Shongweni!  He had just picked us up to get us out of the rain!!  We didn’t even pay him a dime as we left to get on the other combi.  Now – try that in a taxi in New York!

We had one more transfer to another combi before arriving in Hillcrest at 1:30 pm.  All of us were hungry so we went to McDonald’s, newly opened in March 2011, and I had my first Big Mac out of the USA.  It was wonderful!  It actually tasted just like home!

Throughout the combi ride and over lunch we enjoyed visiting with and learning from Julia and Katelyn.  There is so much to know and absorb that my whole body and mind are overwhelmed.  After lunch, Katelyn walked home, the 3 of us walked to Checkers for groceries.  Being mindful we have to carry everything we purchase, Zeal and I got just what we need for the rest of the week.  Tomorrow night we’re going back to Freshly Ground for dinner as Tuesday nights are Ladies Night and the meals are ½ price.  We will go early in order to use their free WiFi.

It was a cool, wet walk back to our flat where we unloaded our groceries and then rested awhile.  I fell asleep and woke up to the wonderful aroma of homemade chicken noodle soup Zeal had prepared.  It’s cool in our place now – about 65 degrees – and the soup was perfect, filling my tummy and mind with warmth and good tastes! 

Our 2nd day completed in Hillcrest/Shongweni finds my heart and mind so very thankful to be here with Pastor Twala, a very dedicated, loving servant of God and a team of volunteers, who this week, will join together learning from each other as we enjoy and share Gods love with these beautiful children.   This link has some of my photos from the week of VBS at Shongweni and the surrounding areas, plus Hillcrest the town where we will be living.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

2nd Day at Shongweni ~ VBS and the countryside ~ God’s World of Beauty!

Tuesday, October 4   Photos     http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1975181231058.2089260.1588899801&type=3

Sunshine greeted me this morning!  It was really uplifting as it’s been misty or raining since our arrival.  Our walk to the Caltex station was most enjoyable where we met our 3 comrades and hopped on the combi to Shongweni.  The morning sun on the green hillsides as we climbed the most was so refreshing.  We passed fields of sugar cane, which I want to learn more about.  This seems to be a very rich fertile area.  The vegetable stands in Pine Town are amazing. 

Our combi driver once again drove us all the way down the hill to the church and preschool.  As we opened the gate to the church, Mrs. Twala came to her front porch and greeted us.  Pastor Twala is in Jo’burg today.  We walked down to the preschool, greeting children along the way.  They ran up to hug Julia, Shara had go to a meeting this morning and will join us later. 

Lindo was feeding the chickens when we arrived.  They are now laying eggs which is exciting as these chickens are a new item for the creche’ and preschool.  They look like Red Rocks, and are very healthy.

Soon many children were playing on the play ground equipment waiting for VBS to begin.  The sun seems to bring them out of their homes today!  We began outside today with over 70 children in attendance!  They opened with the Lord’s Prayer, in English, then sang “Akekha Ofana nu Jesu” and “We are Walking in the Light of God” .  I was able to play guitar with both songs – it was very fun praising God out in the sunshine with the valleys of green surrounding us, the creche’ and the preschool!

The story today was on Jehosaphat and the Breast Plate of Righteousness.   Each child made a breast plate from colored paper with a cross on it and the word righteousness printed on it.   They are excited and full of enthusiasm and love being involved with the craft, singing and listen well for the story. 

After their snack, we gathered for another round of singing outside and they joined in a closing prayer in Zulu.   With more hugs and ‘see you tomorrows’, we climbed the hill to catch the combi in the glorious afternoon sun.

Our ride was such a delight, that the 3 of us, Julia, Zeal and I, forgot to get off at our transfer point!  We ended up riding to Pinetown with Shara and Katelyn who were going to pick up some items from one of the women who sew at the Shongweni Center!   Pinetown was ALIVE with people.  As the ‘hub’ of combi land everyone, I mean everyone is there connecting with their appropriate transport home…..and everyone is selling something we MUST need be it vegetables for supper, umbrellas, cigarettes, candy, toys, clothing – it’s there for sale!

While Shara and Katelyn went to pick up their items, Julia, Zeal and I went to Kentucky Fried Chicken for lunch.  Again, it was really busy and crowded and rather exciting.  Everyone seemed eager to get wherever they were going and maybe it was the sunshine that brightened the spirits, but it seemed to be a buoyant atmosphere.

We all walked to get our combi when Shara and Katelyn returned, and headed back to Hillcrest.  Once there, Katelyn, Zeal and I stayed on the combi after Shara and Julia got off rather than walk 3 blocks, we tried getting off the combi at our flat which is right across the street from our place.  We did just fine!  While Katelyn and I has a glass of wine, Zeal loaded her photos on her laptop and read us her delightful description of our bus trip from Pretoria to Hillcrest!!

At 4pm we walked back up to town to join Shara and Julia for dinner at Freshly Ground, only to find out the ½ price offer doesn’t start until 5pm!   We probably won’t be able to participate in that offer as none of us want to be out walking after dark – and it’s dark here shortly after 6pm.

Zeal and I stayed a little after the girls left to use the internet before walking home at twilight.  There are street lights, but we need to be on the safe side.

We’re hoping for another sunny day tomorrow, but no matter the weather, the sun will be shining in the faces of the children in Shongweni preschool VBS!

VBS IS A SUCCESS!!   October 5, 6 and 7. 2011

Wed. and Thurs. Photos – October 5 and 6….(don’t pay any attention to the dates on the photos album…just lost track of days!   http://www.facebook.com/?ref=hp#!/media/set/?set=a.1977591851322.2089324.1588899801&type=3  

Friday, October 7 Photos….http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1588899801&sk=photos#!/media/set/?set=a.1975099229008.2089258.1588899801&type=3 

How can one week add so much to my life?!   I’m sure we’ve all had experiences that ‘live’ with us long after they are over.  This week is one of them for me.   I realize we will return here to experience more day to day activities with the preschool, women and children, however, this very first exposure to the children as we learned, talked and sang about Jesus and shared His love, is very, very special. 

My hope is to be able to remain connected with some of these school age children, since they aren’t necessarily members of our church.  They live around the creche’ and preschool, and we do visit the schools from time to time.  Over the course of two years it I hope to build a relationship with some of them as they enter their teenage years.  Several of them were very interested in playing the guitar.  That may be a connection to explore.

From the start of each day, combi rides, set up for VBS, fellowship with our teaching team and the children, right through snack and clean up, it’s been a time of connecting.  When we return in next week the older children will be back in their schools.  The preschoolers who are enrolled at Shongweni will be back at their regular schedule with their assigned teachers. 

The sewer will continue their schedule with the community women using the room and sewing machines Monday and Tuesday, and the Shongweni Lutheran Church (creche’) women using it Wednesday and Friday.  Today I bought a beautiful bag to carry my extra items.  It’s strong and lovely.  I will see that some of these are sent back home for purchase.  Cost – 75 Rand or $10.15.

On Wednesday when we arrived at the bottom of the hill by the preschool gate, Mlondi came running toward us shouting, “one of the chickens is dead!”  Oh my!  Sure enough it lay on top of the hen nexts stiff a  board.  Katelyn stepped right into the hen house, grabbed the chicken and said, “someone get the shovel!”  Soon Mlondi and his buddy were burying the chicken outside the henhouse but inside the gated yard away from stray animals that could dig it back up.

Obviously Katelyn isn’t skiddish around nature and her ways, however, Julia was around the corner, out of sight of the dilemma, waiting to be told when it was safe to come out so she wouldn’t view the scene!   The 15 chickens arrived in May, so losing only 1 by this time is quite good.

The day was uphill after that!

Today, our last day of VBS for this time, the sun was shining, the day warmed up and the children were exceptionally excited and loud!  After the story of David and Goliath, they did their craft – the little ones making helmets (more like crowns) of salvation and the older children creating a frame that held the scripture verse about putting on the armour of God.   Following snack some of the girls wanted to ‘dance’ to close off the week.  The large classroom (serves as the lunchroom during the preschool time) was swept and with a ‘bit of effort’ the children were told in Zulu to form a circle around the 2 dancers.  Before long others were taking turns dancing to a music CD that had us all moving to the rhythm!

As the children left for home, they were each given pencils as a gift and many hugs were shared all around. 

Mid-morning today the team from Arizona arrived to greet and meet everyone before their departure to a game reserve for the weekend.  I met Julia’s Pastor from her Arizona church, Pastor Arnie, and Bob Funk who is also from her church, who has been a huge supporter of the Shongweni African Orphan Project.  The rest of their team is also here in Hillcrest preparing to show up on Monday morning to help build the storage/guest house.   The foundation and slab have been poured.  I hope to help with that building projrct next week.

Our combi ride back to Hillcrest ended with lunch at Julia and Shara’s Chinese spot with Mr. and Mrs. Woo.  They serve delicious Chinese – I ate almost all the Cashew Chicken entrée’ by myself!

Saying goodbye to the rest of the gals, Zeal and I took the combi to our flat, getting off at the Catholic Church.  We’ll all be leaving tomorrow morning at 11am for the women’s conference which will be held near Durban at a Lutheran Church.  We are to wear black and white which is the uniform of the women in the Lutheran Church South Africa.  I’ll have more on that after our weekend!  We’ve been told to expect very little sleep.

Zeal headed back to town to work on the internet while I laid down for a delicious nap in preparation for this weekend! 

 

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SEPTEMBER 5…..from Pretoria, South Africa

For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.  Philippians 2:13

Here ‘we’ are…..in South Africa!  After 3 days on the ground it seems I’ve adjusted after a total of 19 hours in the air!  And yes, to those of you who wondered, there was enough fuel in the plane for the 16 hour trip from Atlanta to Johannesburg!  We did NOT refuel in the air.

It’s spring here and just as lovely as you might imagine.  The flowering trees ‘jaqaran’ that are about to bloom in full ‘lilac’ color are from Brazil and line the lanes throughout the city.  The flowers do bloom year round here however, so the ‘winter’ we heard about is quite temperate compared to Minnesota.  

Friday Zeal and I spent resting in the lovely home of Cindy and Mike Rodewald, who have been in Africa over 20 years.  With their 3 sons, Caleb, 19 – now in US first year college, Jacob,16 and Seth, 14, they served 15 years in Botswana, moving to Pretoria 3 1/2 years ago.  They have generously given us their guest suite for the next week and a half.  Cindy who is our ‘boss’, is an amazing woman who wears many hats and all of them very well!  She creates an atmosphere of comfort while providing for the needs of her family and the many, many guests she and Mike host throughout the year.  Their guest suite has been occupied 250 days out of the past year!   And she really seems to enjoy it!  

God has lead them to a lovely home in a secure area of Pretoria, Lynnwood.  Zeal and I arrived Friday evening – Cindy was waiting for us at the Johannesburg airport.  Our bags arrived safely.  The plane was full, so my guitar road First Class!  Saturday we relaxed in the sunshine – Mike says that helps with jet lag.  He should know, after serving here over 30 years which adds up to thousands of air miles across Africa and around the world! 

Over this weekend we have been spoiled by Cindy’s wonderful meals while visiting with Dr. Tim Quill from Ft Wayne, Indiana on Saturday evening.  Then Sunday afternoon Glenn and Susan Fluegge and their 5 children came for afternoon tea and Cindy’s home made chocolate cupcakes and crumbcake!  Coral Rose, the mission business manager, was here also.  We women visited on the patio while working on beading Christmas ornaments for the local church to sell at the German bazarre held every year prior to Christmas.  I will pick up from here with the journal I’ve been keeping.  Read at your leisure knowing God is in the midst of everything I am experiencing and doing – even if it isn’t ‘exactly’ what I thought I would be doing.    He knows best and I can tell you it is incredible to be part of His plan in this place.  You will see many commonalities between home and Pretoria.  As we journey together I have no doubt you and I will see many changes in scenery, situations and needs.   I cannot thank ALL of you enough for your prayers, encouragement and support.  So now,come along with me over the 3 weeks ‘we’ve’ been together…..half way across the world!

September  5,  Monday  2011

So great to hear from some of you via email!  Yes, I am really happy for the internet!!

  No phone since we arrived.  We are shopping for a prepaid phone today just for calling within South Africa.  So no sports tap or email of my phone but I was able to see the Vikings highlights – again soooo glad I have internet.  Really keeps me connected to you all.  

This weekend was very interesting with Dr. Tim’s visit Friday night then yesterday afternoon another family from Togo who has moved here came for afternoon tea with their 5 kids, Glenn and Susan Fluegge from Nebraska – Mike and Cindy’s boys enjoy their kids.  Another lady came as well, Coral Rose from Milwaukee!…she is the business manager for missions South Africa.  We’ll spend tomorrow with her.    Watched a funny Conan brother movie with the family last night after everyone left.   Had popcorn —- just like home with my kids.

Church was like being in Hawaii…open air, lots of sunshine.  The service was traditional Lutheran liturgy with communion so felt right at home.  The best music was during offering and communion when the Africans sang their rhythmic songs.  Mike and Cindy host the musicians Friday night as they have a monthly contemporary service.  Seth, 14 plays drums and Jacob, 16 plays bass…their older brother Caleb, 19 is in the US in Missouri at college – he was their lead singer and guitar player.  I’ll try to forward a YouTube performance that Seth and Jacob had at school last week….they did well without the ‘lead’ brother!  They had to come up with a name for themselves at the last minute so Jacob called them – JSBD…….Jacob, Seth, Bass, Drums!  Seth thought it was ‘stupid’.  Actually the acronym sounds neat!  I met several of the other musicians after church as well as many of the seminary students.  Two of the young men were from Uganda near Masindi where Amy, Tanja and I were for 2 weeks.  They were excited about that – me too.  

Zeal and I are enjoying getting to know one another.   This week we will work out our lodging arrangements for the next 2  1/2 months while here in Pretoria.  Cindy is amazing.  She whipped up chocolate filled cupcakes after church yesterday and a crumb cake….very easy to be with – both she and Mike.  Their boys are regular kids – love soccer.  Both go to a sports school – they had to identify one or two sports they will participate in to qualify for the school.  Jacob is in soccer and Seth is in both soccer and gymnastics – they have a coach assigned to them.  It’s unique and they love it. 

 Cindy and Mike have a guest area on the end of their home – right off the main dining room area.  It has a separate bath, two rooms – one we sleep in, the other is the band practice room.   This was an American Embassy home so it is very secure in a lovely neighborhood

More later – enjoy your Labor Day!

September 6, Tuesday 2011

Off with Coral Rose for the day for education on doing our expenses, visit her flat, learn more about cost of products here and end up the day with dinner at Rotary.  It’s another beautiful day.  I’m on the patio overlooking this lush backyard, with flower s blooming.

 Mike and Cindy’s days are full of organizing God’s work here in South Africa.  They host other’s like Zeal and I constantly, which means repeating the same background, history, logistical info, providing bed and meals, ensuring each one has cell phone, internet needs provided – just LOTS of hands on – and they do it graciously and lovingly.  At the same time they are raising 3 sons and providing support to all of Africa as Mike is the Director of LCMS Missions for the entire continent! 

Today as I entered the kitchen Cindy was cleaning the windows!   Amazing woman!   Her meals are wonderful and she is a great baker.   They have lived through the missionary days when she had to get a ham radio in order to communicate.  Now……bingo….instant communication across the globe.

Off to be with Coral!

11 hours later…..

Whew – great day and evening!   Coral brought us to her flat which is a lovely 2 bedroom ‘granny flat’ attached to a home in a secure neighborhood in Pretoria.  We spent time learning the business side of this ‘job’ – how we expense items, what things costs, etc.  Then we headed back to the Menlo Mall for Zeal to see if the Apple store could repair her computer….her hard drive appears to have crash…hopefully not!   We returned to Coral’s home, enjoyed the outdoor patio, did some beading of Christmas ornaments for an upcoming German Bazaar to raise money for the Lutheran Theological Seminary church where we will be attending, and prepared finger food for the Rotary meeting at 6:30 pm.

Rotary was very interesting with a presentation from Scripture Unite which is an organization that informs children in schools of the importance of God’s Word.  It’s amazing to me that they are able to actually ‘talk’ to the children and teenagers on the school campus.  We all know that isn’t possible in the US.

I will post photo from the days we’ve spent here……soon. 

September 7, Wednesday  2011

Today was a ‘down’ day…..an at home day.  Worked on the computer, checked accounts, emails, Face book, business/correspondence housekeeping.    It’s another beautiful spring day.  Mike is off to Kenya – left last night.  I am enjoying this lovely home and read The Covenant. 
Zeal had a fellow come by to repair her laptop.  He was able to get it up and running but needs to return with more parts in order for her to get on line.   We are blessed to have the technology and now miss it when it’s ‘out of order’! 

We are enjoying Cindy’s meals.   They are healthy and delicious – how about that for a unique combination!   Jacob and Seth ‘dig in’ to their evening meal which begins with table prayer and ends with devotion and Martin Luther’s Evening Prayer.   I am memorizing it.  I’d written both ML’s morning and evening prayers in my Bible a while ago because I thought they summed it up – how to start and end the day. 

Martin Luther’s Morning Prayer

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen

I thank you, my heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son, that you have kept me this night from all harm and danger, and I pray that You would keep me this day also from sin and every evil, that all my doings and life may please You.  For into Your hands I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things.  Let Your Holy angel be with me, that the evil foe may have no power over me.  Amen.

Martin Luther Evening Prayer

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

I thank You, my heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son, that You have graciously kept me this day; and I pray that You would forgive my all my sins where I have done wrong, and graciously keep me this night. For into Your hands I commend myself, my body, and soul, and all things.  Let Your holy angel be with me, that the evil foe may have no power over me.  Amen

Jake and Seth are both in a Sports School, which means they identify a sport of interest and are coached in the sport while getting their education.  Jake’s sport is soccer, and for 2 years the school has made an exception to let Seth take 2 sports, soccer and gymnastics.   They are good students academically – and all around nice boys.

September 8,  Thursday 2011

A week ago today I left Rochester, Minnesota!   It’s been an amazing 6 days! 

Thankfully Cindy and Mike are coffee drinkers and like their coffee strong!  LOVE IT!  They use an electric pot to heat the water, and then pour it through a filter into a thermal server.  We manage to each get 2 to 3 cups of coffee each morning.  Sometimes we make a second pot.  Zeal doesn’t do coffee.  She keeps a water bottle full and uses Crystal Lite throughout the day. 

Each day begins with a nice shower – the water pressure is really great – almost too much, which I found hard to believe.  I don’t know if this is typical or simply because this house was built for the American Embassy.  Whatever reason, it feels great.   I was able to purchase a bar of Dove soap, forgot to bring it, which reminds me of home.

Today Zeal had the computer fellow here again.  The bad news I her hard drive is no good.   The good news is her photos are on her iPad.   After he left we took off for the day.

Cindy gave us a guided tour of Pretoria today….what a city!  Like every city in the world, its history is what makes it unique.   We started at the Lutheran Theological Seminary, which is a group of British/German style buildings and I’m not sure what they housed when first built, but a few years ago the seminary moved in from a remote location into the Pretoria suburbs.  It’s surrounded by a secure wall, which most residences are in this area.  It’s about 5 minutes from Rodewald’s home.   In its day the campus had to have been impressive and charming.  It’s been ‘used’ and maintained to a good degree, at least most of the buildings.  Today it houses the offices of the President and staff, plus the seminarians, their professors and guests who come to teach, for conferences and the like.  Zeal and I will be temporary staff through the end of November.  About 3 weeks of that time we’ll spend in remote training – 2 at the orphanage helping with Vacation Bible School in Shongweni plus we will attend a women’s conference in Durban..

We met the seminary office manager, Salome’, a South African white gal about 25 years old.  She will delegate work to us over the course of the time we are there.   We will also live in the office building where she has her office, since it is also a guest house with 3 bedrooms, a kitchen, living room and bath.   It’s very clean and again, ‘speaks’ of better days in year gone by.  If only the walls could talk!

From the seminary Cindy drove us past the German Lutheran Church, just a block from campus (there is a church on the campus where we will attend – it’s quaint, small and a newer structure).   This German church looks the churches in America – a big brick structure with square steeple and wide stairs to the main doors.  The seminary students are served lunch here every day – this is where Zeal and I will eat our primary meal – we’ve decided.   This way we won’t need to prepare a meal, as such, at the seminary since neither of us are excited about buying groceries and cooking.  We’ll have a light breakfast and dinner.  The lunches are ‘hearty’ according to Cindy and will cost us 20 rand/day….which is $2.86 ….not bad.

From the church Cindy drove another 3 blocks to a mini-mall where Zeal and I will be able to purchase groceries and personal items.  We are safe to walk there during the daylight hours….Combi’s are also available which is a mini-bus, much like we see in the US…like the Rochester Direct van which goes to the Mpls airport.

The rest of the tour is told via my photo album which I will post to Facebook.   Needless to say it was very interesting.  The city is clean and modern; however, there doesn’t appear to be new buildings going up.  Many of them are historic, let’s say 1900’s and then 1960/70 period.  I wonder if Johannesburg is the same.  I don’t know all the history of Pretoria…only that there are monuments to the Boer trekkers (Dutch/German) who took over this area in the 1800’s.  The Freedom Center, we haven’t seen yet, is the monument park devoted to the Freedom fight of the African Nationals which ended apartheid in the early 1990’s.  Nelson Mandela’s fight and subsequent rule.  I have lots more to learn!

One of the highlights of the day was our lunch at Duncan Town, which isn’t far from the seminary, and this excites Zeal and I.  It’s a wonderful little center of antique shops, unique dress, craft and gift shops all connected by cobbled lanes much like in Holland – without the canals.  The Duncan Deli will become a ritual for us – the bakery items looked awesome.  After a quiche and salad we were full so made a ‘date’ with ourselves to come back for the decadent looking chocolate cake!

After picking up groceries for supper we headed home where I worked on downloading my photos, putting captures on them and promptly ‘lost’ them somewhere in computer land.  I repeated the process and have them ready for publishing on Facebook, tomorrow.

Cindy created a wonderful Mexican dinner – both she and Zeal are from southern California – which we 5 devoured.  Mike won’t be home for another week.  The chicken enchiladas, guacamole, chips and salad made a wonderful meal.  After dinner we all watched season 7 of American Idol from their large sectional!  At one point Cindy, Zeal and I were all watching with laptops on our laps checking Facebook…..is this missionary land?  It was a ‘kodak moment’ missed!

September 9, Friday, 2011

This will be a stay at home day until we go to gymnastics at 4pm this afternoon.   

The sunny morning on the patio with fresh coffee listening to the doves was very relaxing.   After skimming the swimming pool, doing email, practicing guitar, washing and hanging out my laundry and updating my expense sheet, it was almost 11:30am.  We made sandwiches and continued to read and chat – Cindy, Zeal and I – and learn so much more about this area, the church history, what’s ahead, and shared our backgrounds.  We share stories and laughter which is great for our relationship as we move forward.   The internet went down after lunch, not sure what is the problem.  

The exchange rate is 7 rand to $1.00.  Coral Rose went with us to Seth’s meet which was 30 minutes away.   At the gymnastics meet I bought a large fry, coke and coffee for 30 rand, which was $4.28.    Seth is 14 in his 2nd year in gymnastics.  He did very well last night – taking 2 1st places, in rings and vault, and a 2nd place in high bar.  He also did floor exercise, parallel bars, and pummel, but didn’t place.  He scored high enough to continue competing in the next meet going toward the Nationals which will be in Cape Town, SA the end of this month. 

It was fun watching gymnastics again – had been many years since I’d seen a meet at the U of Minnesota.  This sport in South Africa is an Afikaner sport.  Meaning it is primary sport with the white Dutch influence South Afrikaners – that is what they call themselves.  The black South Africans are Nationals, and the mixed are Coloureds.  There is still tension and racism going on but at least the laws have changed to equalize the races.   Much like America, the prejudice continues.  This meet was announced in the Afrikaans language which sounds like German and is based on German/Dutch.  None of us, including Cindy and Seth, knew what the medals were being given for…..which apparatus.  We DID understand Seth’s name when called.   And they had great French Fries…in a bowl with a little, tiny fork….they call them Fresh Chips!  

It was 9:30pm when we arrived back at Cindy’s.  Jacob had been at home with the musicians from church.  Not enough were there to practice so they brainstormed about upcoming music events.  Jake had ordered 3 pizzas which was our dinner.  It was very good.  Coral headed home around 10:30pm and we all said good night!

September 10, 2011   Saturday

It was another gorgeous morning on the patio.  It’s this time of day, about 8am, that I like to sit with my coffee and devotions. 

Cindy spent 1 ½ on the phone trying to fix the internet problem.  We headed to the computer provider about 9am to see if they could diagnose.  The modem appears bad.  She’ll contact Zeal’s computer serviceman to see if he can possibly fix the problem as he is suppose to come back to complete the fix on Zeal’s laptop.  From the computer store we went to the Seminary Church as it was ‘spring cleaning’ today.  There were half a dozen people hustling about, raking, sweeping and cleaning.  Zeal and I joined 2 ladies, Mhpo (Em-po) and Rosemary and washed all the chairs in the sanctuary – but washed them outside in the fresh air and sunshine.  Lovely!

By 12:15pm we left the church sparkling(!) for tomorrow’s service.  Cindy wanted to find rye bread, a staple in their diet, so went to the Food Market; though at mid-day it would be unlikely the rye bread was still available….it sells quickly.  The Food Market is set up like a Farmer’s Market with some fresh vegetables and fruit for sale, also flowers.  However, it was more like an ethnic food market.  At 1pm the smells were delectable, so bought several items – sausage, cheese, fresh bread, olives, pestos spreads – to bring home for our lunch.   Such a lovely day that folks were hanging out at the picnic tables – almost like a county fair food court!  They are umbrellas covering the tables, a playground for the kids, and fresh squeezed lemon and mangos icees!

Upon arriving back home, we found Jake and Seth in the front yard building a go cart!!  Cindy had banned them from the using the ‘borrowed Nintendo-like handheld games’ as they’d been heads down in them for several days!  So, the “little Rascals’ ride again!  It was a hoot watching them put their heads together on what to use (find) that would work for steering  wheel and brakes – they had already completed the wheel base and mounting wheels as we returned home.   I hope to post the first launch of the Rodewald Brothers 10th or so go-card prototype on Facebook soon!

I sit now on the patio as evening approaches at 6pm.  The sun will be down by 6:30pm.  It’s light by 5am…not sure if this will change as the months go on.  I will learn that as well!

We will attend church tomorrow morning, then return home to pack our things for moving to the seminary on Monday. 

MONDAY, September 12, 2011

Since my last update, we’ve had quite a bit going on…..I won’ go into great detail, but will say we’ve enjoyed more interesting updates on Pretoria, missionary work, and just about everything related to our work and South Africa from Cindy.  I will try to put my photos on Facebook shortly, as that will be a more fun way for you to ‘see’ what we’ve been doing. 

For those not on Facebook and for Jeremy’s print out, here’s a summary:

Sunday up for 9am church at the seminary…..helped with Sunday School,  Zeal told the story of Jericho…I played the guitar and had one of the globes blown up for “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands”….Jesus Loves Me…and We are Marching in the Light of God!   Ten kids – half black, half white – all South African and speak English beautifully. 

Had coffee after Sunday School (missed church service – same time as SS).   Then helped the women of the church with beading Christmas icicles for decorating the tree….they will sell them at the German Bazaar held every year in October or November sometime.   NOTE:  The gal sitting next to me in the beading photo Carol (don’t know her last name)….mother of 3 children under 7 yrs old, husband is with the Peace Corps office here in Pretoria – is from STAPLES, Minnesota.  She knows exactly where Hilmerson’s RV is located where my son works in Little Falls.  My goodness!!  I will see her every Sunday as they are members at the Lutheran Seminary Church, which is smaller than the big German Lutheran Church down the street. 

After church Cindy had planned a lovely lunch at a place called MOYO which means ‘soul’.  It is also a game reserve and campground.  The Fluegge’s with their 5 kids, and Coral Rose joined Cindy, Seth, Jake, Zeal and I.  It was very very nice.  Mostly outside eating…musicians….see the photos on Facebook.   We all had their buffet and the food was wonderful – all local – lamb, sausages, chicken with steamed vegetables – spinach, cabbage, squash, sweet potatoes, rice, couscous, and more plus 6 to 8 fresh veggies salads in the salad bar, and a delicious sweets/fruits/pastries bar. 

Arrived home at 2:30pm …. took a nap…. then packed my things to move to the Seminary today.  We watched October Sky with popcorn and we 3 gals talked until 11:30pm.   Yikes!

Up this morning to load the car and stopped by the grocery store so Zeal and I will have some items for breakfast and dinner.  Lunch we are eating at the local German Church…..and ate there today – it was very good.  The Bishop’s sister, about 50 years old, loves to cook and does it well.  Today she served rice with a sausage/veggie casserole and broccoli with a light cheese sauce.   Our breakfasts and dinners will be light.  Neither Zeal or I really want to cook big meals.

The rooms here at the seminary are very nice.  We have the guest house to ourselves for now.  As other guests come and go we will have one other person here for a day or two at a time.   So this is our home for the next 2  1/2 months!!  Will get photos of the room and post – haven’t done that yet.  As soon as we finished unpacking we went to lunch then returned to talk about the projects Salome’ has in mind for us.  We started one of them – cataloging over 2000 books which were donated by a professor’s family when he passed away! 

Quit the book project for the day at 3:30 – and here I am!  It’s 5:30pm now.   Watched the VIKINGS Highlights!    Harvin’s return, Jared’s interception, AP looking good (and signed….YEAHHHH!)…..but really couldn’t tell why McNabb didn’t have more than 39 yards passing.  TONY(my son) – email me your thoughts!   

ENOUGH for now – you have got to be tired of this!  

Tuesday, September 13

Hi Everyone!

Just a quick note with photo attached of some of the seminary students here…..there are only 14 of them, all from various countries in Africa.  Three of them know Pastor Jake Gillard in Uganda which is fun.  They are friendly and find it quite a novelty that Zeal and I are here.  We spent the morning cataloging books online…..a pretty cool website called LibraryThing.com.   I input the title and author, it finds the book, I tag it and save it to the Seminary online library.  We underestimated the amount donated …. it will be at least 3000 books.  Got 100 done today! 

After our lunch at the church – a spicy cold German potato salad (spicy sausage in it) and fresh fruit – we spent the afternoon taking photos of the students for their ID’s, which they have never had.  We should have them printed and laminated by the end of this week!

Had to put some extra cushioning on my bed last night – it was harder than the ground! – and finally got to sleep by 2am….so am off to bed early tonight!   It’s great having the wireless here – had good strong coffee with online new then started the book project.

September 15, 2001 Thursday

It’s 7:18pm here on Thursday night, 9/15 – 12:18pm(noon) in Minnesota!  Cannot believe how early it gets dark – 6:30 – and right now I am ready for bed!  We did work hard today…well, kinda!   Managed to catalog 230 books, then after lunch Zeal and I, along with the German volunteer, Christof (who is also cataloging another group of donated books all written in German/Dutch about 2000 of them!) diagramed and measured each buiilding on the campus – it’s about a city block long and half a block deep.  We also are inventorying the items in each room as well as measuring. It will another week or so before we are done.

The student ID cards are ready print and laminate, just waiting on the seminary admin, Salome’ to do the printing and we’re off to find “insty prints” …..or some such thing.  The Dollar Store here is called the Crazy Store – so who knows what the laminating place will be called.

We’re settling into this amazing weather with the kind, gentle and fun students.  After lunch yesterday most of the students did not have classes so they started a volleyball game – regular fun for them – and Zeal joined in.  I have some photos and have them posted on Facebook in my photo albums.  I’m still getting the hang of ‘tagging’

We are in contact with the 2 gals we’ll be replacing in Shongweni.  They want us down there to help with VBS October 1 to 14, which will be great!  I am already starting to get attached to these seminary students, so know it will be bittersweet when we leave.  We eat lunch with them each day and just love how their faces light up when they see me in the morning and wave!

Last night a visiting Pastor Asburry from Missouri arrived to teach the students.  He’s been to the Sudan on a 2 week teaching seminary project 6 years ago, so he is also doing the ‘double-take’ here in Pretoria.  Pretty nice set up here plus we can drink the tap water, eat the fresh vegetables and fruit, and anything else we need/want is within a few blocks.  It won’t be that way at the orphanage in Shongweni – we are out in the country all day – but at night we will be in the city of Hillcrest near Durban where western stores are plentiful, I’m told.

I managed to get an hour of playing the organ in – therapy – this afternoon from 3:30 to 4:30pm.  It’s similar to the one I used to own.  It doesn’t meet the piano standards, but still felt good and made me relaxed.

This place is secured by a steel 6 foot fence with a key bob entry so we feel very safe.  I haven’t taken inside photos of ‘our home’ yet – will do that and put on my Blog/Facebook as it is very homey and quaint.  Even has a great hot shower with LOTS of pressure, something I did not expect.  Also has a bathtub….yea!

Zeal and I are ‘on the job’ each day at 7:30am and quit when Salome’ leaves at 3:30pm.  Yesterday we walked to the Eastwood Village mini-mall to check it out.  Did buy a couple chicken pot pies for dinner…just OK.  Nice pastry on the outside!  It was only 3 blocks away and went past a lovely park with ponds and flowers/trees which was directly across the street from the American Embassy.   So it’s a nice area of the city – with lots of businesses and also condos’ done very attractively.

The weather is Fantastic!  Having ‘spring’ follow ‘summer’ is pretty amazing.  My body’s season clock is kind of off center – Football and spring – hey, why not!  We have light breezes, sunshine, and cool nights.  I am going to enjoy it while I can!

September 20, 2011  Tuesday

We had a lovely weekend – weather wise and activity wise.   Friday night Coral Rose picked us up to go for Fish ‘n Chips and a movie at the Hatfield Mall.  Zeal and I plus Pastor Asburry and Christoph all went.  It was fun to see the city at night.  On Saturday morning Pastor Randy and I walked the 10 blocks back to the Hatfield Mall as he had some shopping to do and I wanted to get the IDs printed and laminated at the photo shop there.  They turned out beautifully.  I believe the students will be very pleased.    They were all cleaning the grounds and their rooms Saturday when I left for the mall.   As Randy and I returned from the mall we were surprised by the amount of people milling around, sitting on the sidewalks and grilling good….they were ‘tailgating’!   Just 2 blocks from the seminary is Loftus Field where Rugby and Soccer games are held.  Saturday afternoon at 5pm Pretoria and Cape Town were playing a Rugby match.  They are great rivals.   Fun to see people are the same everywhere regarding their fall sports!

The Youth Group met from 4 to 6pm with Pastor Axel, Cindy Rodewald and Zeal.  I practiced playing the hymns for Sunday’s joint church service. Once a month the German Lutheran and the Theological Seminary churches combine.  This month it is held here.  After church ‘viennas’ are served – really big hot dogs!   At 7pm Zeal had organized a game of UNO with the seminary students – they were eager to participate.  It was a lot of fun teaching them …..They caught on very quickly especially regarding the ‘draw 4’ card!  We had popcorn, chocolates, and biltong – which is ‘jerky’….really good!    We ended the evening about 10pm, promising to do it again.

Sunday’s church service was beautiful – on another gorgeous sunny morning.  The temperature was about 72 when church started and 80 when it ended at 10:30am. Both groups of youth participated in the service with readings, prayers and a skit of the “Good Samaritan”.   There was a variety of music during the service – traditional and African – and during the ‘picnic’ after the service there was a German band playing hymns and fun songs.  Our volunteer, Christoph, was right in the middle of the band playing his trumpet.  He’s quite the young man!   Such wonderful praises to our Lord!

Sunday after church Coral Rose took Zeal, Christoph and I to the craft market at Hatfield Mall – held outside on the streets.  There were a variety of African crafts available – I bought a book of poems “Lemon and Pepper” by a woman who is helping women in Zambia who have HIV.   She has a gift and is sharing it in such a positive way.  She’s also teaching them to sew handbags to help provide an income.

Sunday evening I moved into a different room for 5 days as a visiting professor arrived Monday morning to teach the students through Thursday morning.   I moved over to Dube House where we are working on the book project.  It’s a large house acquired by the seminary to be used as extra housing when councils, conferences, retreats and the like are here on campus. 

The rest of the week has flown by.  Our days are full and are flying by.  This morning I spent 5 hours with Salome’ ‘pricing’ the materials we need to fix up another 2 bedroom guest house on the campus grounds.  It’s in a large home which has been divided into 4 apartments.  There are 3 married seminarians living there with their wives and small children.   This other unit hasn’t been used for some time and NEEDS a makeover – HGTV via Zeal and Ginger!   We’ve been asked to clean, paint and sew curtains for the apt., and today was VERY interesting. 

Salome’ and I started at the equivalent to Menard’s  – Building Mart – pretty impressive.  We need plumbing ,electrical and bathroom shower equipment plus paint and brushes …all can be found there.  Salome’ will price everything, submit the list for approval, then she can purchase.

From the Building Mart we hit the antique store – “Cash Converters” – honestly, that’s the name of the store.  We found a great table and 3 chairs…hope it’s still there when Salome’ gets approval to purchase.  Then we headed to the MegaMall  at Menlyn Park  where I had been before with Cindy – to price dishware, refrigerator, end tables, lamps, etc….!

We took a break at 10:30am for cappuccino, and stopped by the fabric store on the way back to the seminary.   I really enjoyed the time with Salome’ – she is 30 yrs old, but looks 22, and has a delightful ‘light British/Dutch” accent that rolls off her tongue at 200mph!   We had a great time!

Our book project is almost half completed; however, with only 4 more boxes of English text books, we are facing a much longer time to enter the remaining books in Dutch and German – as it’s harder to determine title and author!   Christoph said he would help.  We have 2 more months so we should be able to finish!   

Zeal and I have also been inventorying seminar textbooks on campus and will be straightening the main library which has been neglected.  Salome’ is very appreciative and we are enjoying the variety of projects.

Tonight Zeal, Pastor Asburry, Christoph and I walked 4 blocks to the Eastwood Village mini-mall to have Pancakes for dinner.  There were wonderful – I had strawberries and real whipped cream on mine – almost like big Swedish pancakes.

Now I must head to bed – another day of projects tomorrow.  I love you all and pray you are well and happy!

God keep you safe.

September 22, 2011 Thursday

Twenty days in Pretoria and my goodness all I have learned and experienced so far!   I thank God every day for this opportunity to serve Him in this amazing way.   Each day we grow closer to the seminarians and those who visit the campus.  We are charmed by Salome’ and enjoyed a great afternoon yesterday helping her by shopping for the items we priced on Tuesday as she received the approval to purchase.  Pastor Asburry was a great sport and ‘volunteered’ (or was he conscripted) to drive the seminary car to pick up quite a list of items!   With Zeal backseat driving and me staring at directions and a map, we left the garage on campus, literally drove across campus, through the yards, around the buildings (we didn’t have the gate key by the garage!), and headed toward the MegaMall.   Pastor Randy IS a natural ‘lefty’ – he IS left handed at some things – and drove on the left side of the roads as if he’d done it all his life.  He kept saying ‘keep left’, ‘keep left’,  and it worked!

We had a great time finding the products – waste basket, toilet brush and holder, mirror, broom and dustpan, plates, cups, bowls, lamp, bath tub plug, etc.   Even met new ‘friends’ at the mall who helped direct us AND led us to one of the stores!   It is as big, if not bigger, than the Mall of America.

On the way back to the seminary, we stopped by Cash Convertors and YES, the table and chairs were still there.  So with the seminary credit card in hand, my USA Identification and address, I was able to purchase the set!   Great little shop with lots of interesting items.   By this time we all had worked up an appetite for dinner, so had pizza with Christoph upon arrival back at the seminary to top off another ‘adventurous day ‘ in Pretoria!

Today was a ‘cleaning’ and laundry day.   Zeal and I stripped beds at the Mdluli House where we are cleaning and preparing the painters.   One of the students and Christoph has graciously agreed to paint the kitchen which needs it.  The room is large and the ceilings are very high – in all the homes.  They are at least 11 feet high.   I was getting nervous thinking about being on a ladder that high, reaching out to trim out and then roll, etc.  Much better to have the younger folks working that end of it.  Zeal and I are great at the sweeping, washing windows, walls, and corners etc.  The home has been empty awhile and the dust has settled in.  There are minor repairs to electrical and plumbing which Salome’ husband will handle…then we can paint the cupboards and cabinets to brighten up the place. 

I moved back into the Guest House, cleaned Dube House and it seemed we all had laundry to do.  It’s fun around here because there is no dryer.  So everyone hangs there wash – we all appear so domestic, students included!

This coming week is spring break and the seminary students are going down to Durban to visit churches and spend time at the beach from Saturday through Wednesday.   Since Pastor Asburry finishes teaching tomorrow , Friday noon, we 3, Zeal, he and I, are renting a car and taking a 3 day trip to Kruger National Park where we hope to see lions, zebra, elephants, and all sorts of African creatures on a full Saturday safari.  We have rooms just outside the park, where we will drive tomorrow afternoon, about a 4 hour trip.  Saturday 5:30am we will be picked up at the lodge – Kruger Adventure Lodge – and spend the entire day in an open air vehicle riding through the park in search of the Big Five – Wildebeest, Rhinoceros, Elephant, Lion and Tiger – could we be so lucky?  We will return Sunday evening.  Pastor Randy heads home to St. Louis on Monday afternoon.    He and Zeal will be driving….not me!   I promised my kids I wouldn’t do anything dangerous while here!

More later upon return from the weekend. 

God’s blessing to you all as ‘we’ work here together in this amazing country with beautiful people.

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SEPTEMBER 1st…..DEPARTURE DATE for SOUTH AFRICA!

GOD IS WITH US

Be strong and courageous, and do the work.  Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you.

1 Chronicles 28:20

In the midst of the unknown, the one constant is God!  He remains steadfast asking only that we trust Him and follow the path He sets before us.

Spending this unexpected time waiting to find out the ‘next step has been challenging and yet very rewarding.   Upon receiving the news that Zeal and I would be re-assigned from Uganda to South Africa due to an extended church discipline crisis in the LCMU, a flood of emotions took over.  Saddness knowing I won’t be working side by side with Pastor Jake and Michelle, a sense of loss knowing I won’t be reacquainting with my Ugandan friends, missing the beauty of Uganda and the work we had envisioned there.  Yet intermingled in these feelings was the excitement of knowing God will use this situation in a different way in another mission field.

Within a short time Zeal and I received our assignment to train and work with two GEO Missionaries in an AIDS orphanage in Shongweni, South Africa.   Julie Wehrenberg and Shara Cunningham have been working at the orphanage for 2 ½ years along side Dean Twada, organizing the African Orphan Project.   Once our assignment confirmed and appropriate papers received and forwarded for our Visas, I became exceedingly excited about this new opportunity.  Pastor Jake in Africa and Pastor Jim in Rochester, MN have been very supportive and encouraging knowing ‘we’ – all of us –  will maintain our ties with one another as we broaden our mission and support of the Lutheran Church in Africa.

Please connect to this link http://www.hhafrica.com/ to understand this amazing African Orphans Project.

Changing / adding to my luggage is underway – the weather is a bit cooler along the southeastern coast of Africa so layering clothing is a good idea.   It’s not Minnesota winters, but we will have some cooler evenings and early mornings. 

Some of you have offered items for the children and women.  Baby hats (thanks, Hope), Pillow Case dresses (thanks, Carol) and treadle sewing machines(thanks, Gary and April)!   I will be in touch with you either prior to going or once I get to Africa to find the best way to receive these donations.   Below I have added an excerpt from the email Zeal and I received from Cindy Rodewald, volunteer coordinator for the Southern Africa region.  She describes the ministry we are joining so vividly.

There are so many folks to THANK!  All of you who continue to support me with your prayers and funding in this mission service I greatly appreciate.  I’m still working on funding my last few months of my 18 month assignment hoping to have these funds in place in the next few months.   Needless to say the next couple weeks are full of last minute ‘to do’s’.  I have been blessed to see many of you over the summer delay for which my heart is full.   Those of you I haven’t seen, please know I treasure our friendship and will stay in touch through these monthly updates from the South Africa ‘field’.  WOW!  This is really happening!  

May God keep you and your loved ones safe and healthy until we meet again. 

 

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BUT BY FAITH…….

But by Faith ( from One Minute Prayers for Women; text by Hope Lyda, Harvest House Publishing)

Galatians 5:5

But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope.

Patience is not one of my strengths, Lord.  It is a virtue I hope to develop as my faith grows and as I understand my life in Your will.  It is my faith that enables me to wait at all.  I impatiently wait for growth, an answer, a sign, a finger coming out of the heavens to point the way.  Such a list!

Help me to rest in Your Spirit and in the faith I have placed in You, my Lord.  I pray for true righteousness – the kind that comes from perseverance.  When I am tested by trials and even doubt, may I be a woman of conviction and commitment.  You not only see me through, but also carry me through these times.  You turn my times of waiting into moments of moving forward.

Ten days ago Zeal and I received word our departure to Uganda is ON HOLD for approximately two months.   Needless to say this put us in a spin.  Finding the Bible verse and message above, helps me put this change into perspective.  God has a plan.  He will give the ‘green light’ to us.  In the meantime we will continue to prepare and serve Him here at home.

It is now almost summer at the lake where I will spend most of my time at my cabin until the airplane tickets are purchased for our mission.   Anchoring from here means going to the coffee shop up town for internet which is a charming eclectic atmosphere where chatter abounds about local and state news, and aromas of coffee, lattes, and homemade soups and sandwiches permeate the air!  A week ago my cell phone developed technical issues, making communication difficult….simply practice for my time in Africa??… I guess.  (There is a replacement cell phone on its way!)  

Fund raising and talking with churches/organizations can be done from wherever I am located.  Everyone is very supportive.   Perhaps I WILL reach my goal of being totally funded for the 18 months prior to leaving.   If you have donated, I THANK YOU.  If you are interested in donating, simply click on  DONATE NOW on this page. 

In the last two weeks five friends have been called to Heaven.   I am thankful to be here to celebrate their lives this week at beautiful services.  Remembering how they touched our lives is a blessing.  It is also a reminder that EVERY day IS a gift.   Let us try to remember to live today as if it were our last day, embracing those we meet with a smile, embracing our loved ones with hugs and looking at the beauty of God’s world.

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Sunday, March 27

This has been a busy 2 1/2 weeks since return from the road trip.   Zeal and I are coordinating when and how to travel, what to bring and talking more with Pastor Jake and Michelle.  It is becoming REAL!

I can never thank you enough for your prayers and funding.  This work would not be possible without all of your support!  Blessings to you. 

This week I’ll be off for on a mini-road trip to visit my church ‘homes’ in Minnesota sharing God’s call in my life and thanking them for their examples which touched me during our time together.  

What I want to share with all of you today is an e-mail I received March 22 from Pastor Jake’s mother, Kathy Gillard. She and Greg, Jake’s dad, have been in Uganda with Jake and Michelle, Amelia and Evangeline since February 17th.  Recently retired (December 2010), Kathy won’t be leaving any grass under her feet as she and Greg answer God’s call to wherever He leads them. 

Tanja, Amy and I were honored to serve with them last March in Uganda.  This particular week which Kathy summarizes in this e-mail, is a very graphic and compelling journal.  As she says, we need to pray for our sisters and brothers in the rural areas of Uganda, particularly.  Perhaps if we are offered the opportunity to share God’s love and grace, as Kathy, Greg and Jake did, we can help make their burdens lighter.  May we be ever mindful of God’s goodness and mercy in our lives each and every day.  Ginger

E-mail from Kathy Gillard……March 22, 2011

We are back in Kampala at the Gillard’s home after 7 days of travel into the eastern regions of Uganda. Greg and I accompanied Jake as he visited some of the 12 churches in the remote eastern region which is very close to Kenya.  At times we traveled within 1 km of the border with Kenya.  It is an area with many vistas of layered mountains, plains, fertile plowed fields in places and dried up desert in other places.  Many of the villages along the way are what you would consider traditional huts of stick, mud and straw. The river beds are mostly dry now as they await the rainy season.

 We crossed a few dry river beds in Jake’s Land cruiser and we were glad for the sturdiness of the vehicle as we maneuvered the bad roads. Jake was given the name of ‘crop’ which means rain, as Amudat received their first rains on our first day there. I can say that we experienced many things I never would have thought I would see in my lifetime. Without Jake and some members of the Lutheran church, we could not have done the trip alone. We depended on Jake’s previous trips there and the kindness of the people the Lutheran church serves.  We felt it is not a place for first time mission trips as the conditions take some getting used to!!

We slept in a village two nights and experienced the ‘luxury’ of having the quarters build for guests by an Australian mission team a few years ago. We got to watch the daily lives of the village and, believe me when I say that I was humbled by their ability to live on what the land provides. Food is abundant in some places at certain times of the year and scarce in other places all year long. We experienced both.

 But, by saying abundant, I want you to realize that breakfast is tea with milk and maybe a banana. Lunch could be one item such as rice, posho (maize flour and water made into a pasty bread), cassava, beans, and cabbage. Meat such as chicken or goat is not served daily in village life. But, as guests we were treated to it. Sweets are fruits. I am glad to report both Greg and I lost a few pounds and have suffered little intestinal issues as of this writing!

We spent 3 days with the Pokot peoples. They are ‘related’ to the  Maasi peoples of Kenya (the cow herder/warriors that jump up and down to dance and wear the beaded neck disks). We enjoyed the people and the mountainous lands. Some of the people have cell phones but that is about where the civilization stops. I say this because of their lack of education. They are called ‘backwards’ by their fellow countrymen.

 I spent a lot of time with the women as they cooked and cared for children and developed a relationship with two that spoke English and could translate for the others that wanted to ask me about America. Common questions were: How do you cook your food? Do you use firewood as we do? How is America? Do you live where the cold and snow stays all year round? What are your favorite foods? (when I tried to answer this question with a simple food of ‘hamburger’, they did not know it. When I explained a hamburger they did not recognize it.)

The girls are subjected to female mutilation (circumcision) at the age of 10 and then married off for a dowry of cattle. Circumcision is outlawed in Uganda and the girl, the father of the girl and the circumciser could be arrested, if discovered. I asked the women why the girl would be arrested? The answer was that if she did not report the crime to the police, she is arrested as an accomplice!! Just think, a child victim becomes the criminal! But, to sit and have a woman explain why it is done and how it is done is very unnerving. The worth of a woman is measured in the children she produces. So, every woman and female child is carrying a baby, nursing someone’s baby (it doesn’t matter whose!) and caring for all children.

The idea that it takes a village to raise a child was brought to mind. Few men are around as they spend time with the cattle to prevent rustlers from taking their wealth. The Pokot people are in conflict with another tribe, the Karamojong. A few months ago Pastor Moses’ mother had all her cattle rustled. As she is old and now had no means to survive she committed suicide. Jake says it is common to do this when left with nothing.

 One mother asked me to take her beautiful baby girl back to America with me. The mother would have given the baby to me at that moment! I wondered if the father would have asked about the baby when he finally discovered it gone! The women shared their plight with me. They are married young, are beaten often by their ‘boozing’ husbands, and expected to do all the work including building the home, gathering firewood and water, cooking, and caring for home and children.

 School fees are hard to come by and most children never attend. Young boys are allowed to run wild and play all day while young girls are expected to join with their mothers to do the work. Men are expected to herd and defend the cattle or goats. When they do come home they want the women home.

 Most of the Lutheran church members in these areas appear to be women. The men that do attend church appear to be better educated. The church in Amudat has grand plans to construct a guest house for visitors, NGO members, and mission groups. This would generate income for the churches in the area. I believe this plan can be accomplished by the leaders in the Lutheran church in Amudat with spiritual and financial support. Pastor Moses is an educated Pokot in Amudat that could live and work anywhere in the world but chooses to remain with his people to lead them spiritually and improve their living conditions. Jake may be able to connect a church in North Carolina with this Guest House project as the NC church has done an exploratory trip already and understands the area and needs.

As for Greg and I, we were able to provide encouragement and fellowship as we joined in their large and small gatherings at churches at many sites. I learned a few new dances (I actually dance better to African drum music than American!) We also left some money to help roof a church in the middle of its construction, and another church that has the land and tin roof sheeting already but needs nails and wire to complete the structure with tree beams, sticks and mud. We left money with one of the Seminary students for his family to use as needed. We stayed with his family two nights and had the chance to do reading glasses on three occasions with the Seminary student’s help.

We provided reading glasses for 190 people. We actually ran out of readers of stronger strengths and could not help some people. We also purchased beaded jewelry from the Amudat Pokot women to help them provide for their families. I asked what they would do with the money. They said they would hide it or use it right away to avoid a beating by the husbands who would use it unwisely.

Greg set up his computer one night and Jake set up his speaker so we could show the Jesus Movie under the African night. No electricity is in the town so Jake hooked up a battery to the laptop to extend the battery life so the movie could be completed. About 30 people crowded around the laptop and we heard them talk to each other about the events in the film!

We learned from Jake and his experiences that we should buy food in towns or along the roadside markets and bring along tea, sugar, rice, beans, tomatoes, onions, carrots, and maybe some pineapple and bananas to help supplement the meals they cook for us. There are no eating places that offer anything other than Chapatti (flat bread) and tea (tea, sugar, milk).

When we return, we would bring children’s clothes, soap, toothbrushes, hats, sunglasses, and small toys. All these items are in short supply or absent altogether. Education in personal hygiene and cooking practices would be another area that needs to be addressed.

 So, with that all said, please pray that the Lutheran churches in eastern Africa will continue to grow and become more and more self sufficient. Many of them are neglected and need encouragement more than finances. It would be a good place for a GEO missionary that is familiar with primitive living conditions.

This is our last full week at the Gillard house as we head to Kenya on Sunday. Retirement as a couple has been wonderful so far! I truly don’t even catch myself thinking that I have to go back to work! Our adjustment has been smooth so far. Maybe that means we need to stay in Africa!

Love, Kathy

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March 2, 2011….The trip continues……

Help!

The storm finally abated and arrival in Destin, Florida was Saturday, February 12 - after spending a day with new friend’s in Louisiana. Delightful!  Arriving in Shreveport means I have visited all 50 or our great United States.   I have been blessed.

The days were full of fun and laughter with the gang in Destin.   From water aerobics, to yoga, to ‘the circle of knowledge’ each afternoon, to planned and impromptu gatherings; there was never a dull moment!  The sun came out and filled our souls as we pontooned one afternoon, strolled the beach, shared stories and enjoyed great seafood in the many lovely restaurants!   It’s called ‘spring break for seniors’  – 55+ most of us!

On February 19th I drove to Pensacola to meet Zeal Beale, my partner for Uganda.  It didn’t take us long to realize we will have no problem sharing 18 months together working at whatever God has planned for us.  We share one (of many) common interests that tickles me pick…..our kitties – Siamese.  Zeal has an 8-year-old, Solomon, who is absolutely gorgeous!   Growing up with a Siamese, Coco who lived 18 years, and living with Molly for 18 years, then Barney for another 7 1/2 – all Siamese – I just thought it was another one of God’s ‘fun’ moments when he heard and saw me greet Solomon with a squeal!   One of God’s winkin’ moments.  If you  haven’t read the book, “When God Winks”, you should.  It’s wonderful.

Zeal and I talked fast and furiously, toured her church home at Grace Lutheran in Pensacola, enjoyed her lovely home and a Cajun meal.  She’s committed at Grace through Easter, so our joint departure will be sometime in June.  My kids are pleased with this – and so am I!  This means more time together and a couple of months at the lake.  God knows my heart!  Zeal and I laughed and hugged good-bye with many questions still unanswered, but knowing our future is in the very best of hands.

I continue to speak and promote the work God is calling me to do.  Everyone is very supportive and encouraging.  The excitement builds.  Also with this extra time, which God knew I needed, I am able to visit with those people who are special to me before taking off for 18 months.   Some of these folks I haven’t seen in years.   And I’ve made new friends.   One can never have too many of them.

The challenge of blogging regularly was interesting when internet and cellphone coverage is limited or very slow.  When there was coverage I was either driving, exhausted, or lazy.  God must have known I needed this lesson in patience and discipline to prepare me for Africa!

My time with my son, Jeremy, in North Carolina was fulfilling for both of us.  His challenge is great.  He knows God is with him.  His faith is strong.  He witnesses to those around him and is trying to live a day at a time.  God has provided a childhood friend, Aaron Klink, now a chaplain with hospice in Durham, to visit with Jeremy while I am away.  Your prayers and mine have been answered through this blessing.  The peace it brings to my heart, knowing there are loving friends who will brighten my son’s days with a letter or visit, is beyond belief.   Thank you! 

For those of you who don’t know, we lived in Raleigh from 1982 through 1985 when Jeremy was 6,7, and 8 years old.  God knows what we need loooong before we know it!

The time spent in Raleigh went quickly.  It was beautiful to see Pastor David and Sally Sloop and base out of their home.  I had hoped to see more friends while there, however, the visits to the FMC to Jeremy were my main reason for going and took extra time due to the many restrictions for visitors.   To those of you I missed seeing or calling, I hope to visit one more time before departure.   I was able to hear Aaron preach at St. Paul’s Lutheran in Durham on Saturday night and share in the Youth Service Sunday morning at Good Shepherd, which is the mission church we were privileged to be part of in 1983.  David and Sally remain as the heart of this beautiful and caring congregation which has grown from our original 104 charter members to over 1500, at least.  I really didn’t get the numbers.  Praise be to God!

Today, March 2, I am in Atlanta to visit my Aunt Muggs and Cousin Elgin tomorrow.  Today is devoted to ‘catch up’ with the on-line ‘blog’ and ‘newsletter’ !   I hope to add a photo album and more links.   Stay tuned!  

For now I will simply say, God’s grace and mercy are so abundant.   This journey has been and continues to be full of lovely surprises and blessings.

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February 9, Wednesday

On the road again………well intermittently!   

After checking my list(s) once, twice and three times, saving some items for after my return from the south, I was ready to leave for 3 weeks happy knowing Green Bay won the Super Bowl!   Way to go NFC! 

 A friend and I left Rochester Monday morning, 4:30am, only to have a snow storm interrupt our travel in Des Moines, Ia.    We made it to southern Kansas yesterday but not without some ‘white knuckles’ on the steering wheel.   We’re in the middle of a winter storm warning which means we will stay put until the snow plows clear the Interstate.  The storm is supposed to lighten up as it moves further east. 

My plan was to meet my Ugandan partner in Pensacola, Florida tomorrow night after dropping my friend in northern Louisiana, then driving from Pensacola on Friday to Destin, Florida to stay with family for a week or so.    My meeting with my partner will be delayed until sometime next week as she is busy Friday through the weekend.    However, it will be fun to drive back to Pensacola, after resting a bit.  I’m excited to meet her to share our excitement about God’s ‘calling’ us to Africa. 

Today will be spent learning more about this Blog page as I try to set up ‘links’ to Pastor Jake’s Blog, my prayer card, and other items of interest.   The resources and possibilities seem to be endless!

Thanks for your patience as I learn the ‘ins and outs’ of Blogging. (wonder if that’s a word ….hmm spell check will let me know!)

Later!

Ginger

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