This week we had fun being missionaries and for those of you who read our weekly prayer updates, you are aware that a week away was just what we needed! Our time traveling with the Canadian short term team this week was certainly full of adventure.
Our power kept going out as we were preparing to leave our house to begin the journey so we left a little later than we wanted to. Dan actually had to start our generator to get the garage doors to close securely! Then we traveled approx 5 hours to the Bulembu border crossing. The last hour of the drive was an extremely rugged dirt road with a lot of cows, hairpin turns, and sharp shale on it. It is one of the prettiest roads in South Africa with incredible views of the mountains and waterfalls. Our trailer was full of tiles and carpet for the orphan home and Dan estimated we were pulling around 2,000 lbs at a pretty fast clip since we were trying to get to the border before they closed. Our truck can handle it, but apparently our tires couldn’t and we popped two tires 2 minutes before we reached the border post. One had 3 small holes in it, and the other had a slash and almost came completely off the rim by the time we made it to the border. Also, Miesha’s little tummy had trouble with the bumps and turns and we had some eruptive vomit about 10 minutes before the border. We couldn’t stop because we were so pressed for time. Poor little girl - she was pretty miserable. We made it fine through the South African side, but we were two minutes late reaching the Swaziland side and Dan and Craig actually had to wander around the buildings looking for someone to help us. At first they told us we’d have to sleep in no man’s land, but then finally agreed to help us when a beautiful Canadian calendar, a first aid kit, and some stickers appeared. We hate bribing, but I feel much more comfortable bribing with stickers than with money! We were quite the sorry group of travelers: Miesha and Heather were covered in vomit (pink vomit no less!) and Dan had donated his shirt to help clean up the mess in the back seat so he was wearing Heather’s sweatshirt rather than go shirtless to customs… We finally made it through the Swazi border and then changed the destroyed tire by the side of the road.
We limped down the hill into Bulembu around supper time, happy to have finally arrived! We spent the evening with Jasmine (the American teacher we took up to Bulembu in early January) and had a lot of fun catching up with her and encouraging her. What a day!
The next morning we patched up the other tire then visited Jasmine’s school, met the kids she is teaching, and Principle Skinner showed us around. It is amazing! The school where she is teaching is the same school our short term team cleaned out 18 months ago. At that time the school had been abandoned for quite some time and everywhere you went there was approx 2 feet of paper, books, sawdust, or cow poop.
Now it is sparkling white, they have carpet and desks, and it actually looks like a proper school.
The transformation is absolutely unbelievable! About half the 150 children at the school are orphaned children who are in Christian foster homes in Bulembu, and the others are Bulembu Ministry Staff kids or from the community. Jasmine has 12 kids in her class and they range from age 6-11. Her goal is to teach them all to read in the next six months. Since some of the kids have never been to school and some struggle with English, this is going to be a challenge for her. She does have an assistant who is fluent in SiSwati which will help her a great deal in communicating early on.
We then went down the mountain into Motjane, Swaziland and had tea with the Chomba family. It was wonderful to see them again and we enjoyed meeting the newest member to the family – Takazane. He is approximately 15 years old and is now the 35th child this family supports!
We also spent time with Pastor Solomon and Grace Fasamati who run Christian school in the same area. Our visit was timely since their son is in the hospital in extreme pain and Grace hadn’t slept in 2 days trying to care for him. (Based on the symptoms, it sure sounded like a kidney stone to us. Hopefully the Drs will be able to sort it out soon and help him.) It was good to spend time with them and encourage them. There are so few people building into the lives of those who are in leadership here.
The next day, the Canadian guys taught on coaching, transitions, and church health to the Swazi pastors at a conference and several enjoyed it so much that they are now coming to the longer conference this coming week in Johannesburg to learn more. Dan wanted to try to finish the rooms in the orphan house while the other guys were training, but it just didn’t work out. The weather was rainy and it was super muddy. We are also going to have to do something about the ants before the carpet is laid. He decided to leave the supplies and head up again in a week or two to finish everything.
We then took the guys to Kruger Park for a day and a half, saw some incredible wildlife up close, then headed back to Johannesburg last night.
So finally, after 35 hours of driving, 2 flat tires, pink baby vomit, cranky border guards, fun with Jasmine, encouraging Chombas, Fasamatis, and 40 Swazi pastors, seeing animals in their natural habitat and way more meals on the road then we wanted (imagine ground beef with mushroom pancakes - blech!) we are now VERY happily at home!
For those of you who were praying for my morning sickness – it worked!! I didn’t feel sick the whole week and this morning (Sunday) it is back. I certainly don’t mind battling this in my home, but having a reprieve on the road was wonderful. Thank you for all your prayers for us.
This coming week, Dan and I will begin co-leading a new Community Group for our local church. We are looking forward to impacting the lives of more Africans on a weekly basis. This starts Wed. The Canadian team is doing another conference from Tues – Friday this week. Please pray for great attendance, open hearts, clear communication and for the info to be relevant to impact African churches for eternity!