Another week summed up in pics

30 04 2012

We are generally only able to get reasonably good internet when we come to town and sit still for a while at a restaurant, so I don’t really have time for a great blog this week.  Apologies.

We are heading to Tanzania for 6 months (or more?) in 2 weeks’ time – I will try to catch up on detailed blog when we are there. 

Here are a few highlights from the last week:

We had freezing and overcast weather (for the bushveld) from Tuesday to Thursday and the spiderwebs pulled out all their jewelry for display:

We slipped in a day’s visit to Kruger Park. Yes, even though we live in a game reserve, Kruger is still a great way to spend a day!

Some great sightings: wild dog (which are highly endangered) and a massive herd of buffalo – there must have been over 500. 

Zebras always show such character.  I hear the song “lean on me…’” here.

Deon’s sister and her girls came to visit for the weekend and we so enjoyed a chance to share our space with them.

Rusty started out well, then got a few ‘tatts’ and then stopped being such a great set of wheels!

T was particularly interested in antlions  ( I will write more about these fascinating creatures later)

And we enjoyed some great time around night bon fires

A few special sightings around our house:

Handsome nyala right near the kitchen window!  Night visitors: genets – 4 together on Saturday night!

And then some other pretty spottings on the farm.

(We saw this giraffe while walking and spent a good few minutes studying each other).

Sunsets are among the best in the world.

More detail will follow when I am not glued to the veld, looking for the next interesting natural phenomenon.





a whole load of loving

24 04 2012

Isn’t it amazing that life is never straightforward, and that even when it feels like some things are going well, there are always other things that God is challenging a person in, or stretching some faith?  This has definitely been the case with me for ages.  God faithfully reminds us that He is good, but also that we are still works in progress: we will not be perfect before Him until we stand in His presence at the end of our lives or when He fetches us all.  Until then we are being moulded and shaped (ouch), stretched and challenged (urmmm) and encouraged and uplifted (praise Him!) Through it all He remains the sovereign Lord who does ALL things well.

 

We have not got good internet coverage on the farm at all, so when blogs are few it does not mean I have forgotten people!  It is just difficult to get the messages through. We have also been rather busy (as is usual for us!) and I like to set aside a good chunk of time to work on a blog and this is not always possible.

 

Right now I am sitting, feet up on the coffee table, in Mom and Dad’s home, on a Tuesday morning.  We came down from the farm to Jo’burg on Friday for a full weekend.  We knew of a few certain tasks: buy many little things not easily available in Hoedspruit, celebrate at my birthday lunch, and buy a car.  All these have been achieved most successfully.

We had committed a vehicle search to God- we need something practical and strong for the farm (my old blue Tazz is now really starting to get grumpy at being treated like a 4×4!) but also something comfortable and good for when our parents come to visit.  We searched online, stopped at various places in several town around Hoedies and all across Jo’burg.  We had put in an offer on a good car but I felt it was a little too fancy for who we are.  Yesterday morning Deon said he was starting to worry: we have a certain budget to adhere to and need something rather specific. 

On a whim we drove down a road, saw a dealership and stopped.  The cars on the pavement were too pricy but inside, waiting for us was our new golden dream!  It is by far the grandest thing we have owned and are so aware of God leading us to this vehicle.  we are reminded in so many ways of His faithful love for us!

My birthday lunch was so lovely.  The venue, the new Second Cup in Weltevreden, is superb for small functions and we had the ‘cellar’ all to ourselves.  The girls were playing hide-and-seek under the tables while we got to chat with friends we have not seen for a while: how special is that?

 

Birthday party 003

So with full bellies and glad hearts we head back to our bushveld home in luxury today.  We need tangible reminder of human love and God knows that – thanks to ravelry friends for packages and cards, family for treasured moments, our home church for being such lovely people and friends for being just great.  How amazing to be a part of His plan.

look for the delight in it





Whew! What a week to start a bush life!

17 04 2012

It has been busy, fun, full-of-lessons, and a bit of frustration in the mix for a real-life-experience.

We are SO enjoying our bush place.  This is true wilderness: there is the full array of bugs and spiders and other bush inhabitants and one must just be a bit smart in how one goes about things to avoid a nasty experience then it is all good.  It is not as densely populated with game as a place like Kruger Park is, so each game experience is magical.  My heart has just about burst at joy of seeing near to 30 species of bird around our house in the morning; and the quest to see who visited in the night has still not become boring.

Bushbuck, honey badger, civet or genet and PLENTY of ape spoor (baboon and monkey) keep us in a detective mood in the mornings. 

The baboons and monkey are NOT our greatest buddies.  Part of our first important lessons are how to live: keep doors and windows closed. Remove all items that can be food  or toys– they have played dress-up with our tablecloth around a tree, tried to eat fire lighters a few times and got into our washing powder somehow too.  Deon is now perfecting skills with a catapult. 

Having a chance to go eat a meal in the bush is amazing.  We take Old Rusty and go sit at a dam, or have a braai on a hill top, with the beauty of nature around us.  This is just so fulfilling.

Other events of the week:

An art lesson!  It was great to get back to a teacher and I am looking forward to learning LOTS of art skills again – I feel terribly out of practice.

A visit to a local school where our farm staff are making a difference.  Maatla Primary is a government school, and is very representative of many such schools in rural South Africa.  There are about 700 students, and the farm staff have chosen to focus on the Grade 7 students, simply because there is too much to do for them across the entire range of learners. At the moment the learners are brought to the farm once a month, given lessons in ecology, taken for game drives and given some food.  The next task is to paint their classroom.

We also visited the pre-school section.  There are about 70 kids in this class, with 2 teachers.  About 30 of these children have been orphaned and are simply left in the care of the teachers.  Several others are dropped off by parents on a Monday and collected on a Friday.  This is NOT a boarding school: the little ones all cram into the tiny tin huts of the teachers.  One teacher who showed us around has 19 children staying with her.

Two of the visitors from the farm were young British boys on their first trip to SA.  The experience was eye-opening for them: things are so different in Africa!  The school children were struggling as one of the grade 1 learners had died a few days before: many of these children will not make it to Grade 7 because Aids is a big problem in the area.  Pens, pencils, books are often simply too expensive to buy. One of the great shocks of the day was seeing the pots of the school, standing empty.

The Government is meant to provide food so that the children in rural areas can eat: for several this is the only meal they will get in a day.  The food had not been delivered for almost a week and the children were going hungry.  Some of the amazing visitors with us on the day put in money so that we could get some food and the children would be able to eat.  What a joy to leave something so tangible for these young ones!

 

Another event: our boxes arrived from their storage joint!  It was great to be reunited with old familiar mugs, plates, pots… though not all were opened. Our kitchen is fairly small and we need  to do some building before we can be totally unpacked.

 

 

 

We got to meet our newest family member on a short trip to Nelspruit.  Welcome to the family, Kenzie Nilsson!  Just four weeks old, but such a gorgeous little thing… Ah!  Precious!

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are STILL trying to get our internet connection sorted.  Until such time as things work smoothly, blog posts will be rather irregularly posted.  We are considering new job options which may take us out of SA for a while again… things can change rather quickly! Fridge did not make it happily from Jo’burg to Lissataba. Somewhere in the week I turned fourty years old.

…. So there is a LOT that has been happening, even in the middle of the African bushveld!

Until a connection allows a chat again, I send greetings with the call of hippos in the background, our garden offerings in flower

and this really awesome fellow who popped out to say hi as we drove past. lissataba mid April (big cam) 111





changes. extreme changes.

10 04 2012

Apologies, first, for a lengthy break between the last blog and this.  Life has changed radically in the last few weeks and I was struggling to configure those changes before they occurred and infrastructure has not allowed for a blog since we have arrived at our bush house. 

 

 

Last Monday was a day of farewells… I hope.  I do long to see many of the precious faces again.  One of the awful parts of being in a missions environment is having to place such distance between hearts that have become close.  But the world is a much smaller place than it was 25 years ago and communication with friends is not impossible!

It took a lot to smile through this photo.  Stephanie and I just clicked and I will miss my American pal, with a heart for helping Africa, dearly. 

 

 

 

 

We SO enjoyed a special performance by the Mbale Mission School band.  This band is really good!  Deon’s comment was that he as heard a number of high school bands that sound far worse than this group of 7 to 11 year olds.  The tunes have rung through my head as earworms all of the last week… The vibes remain in my heart.

It was with very mixed feelings that Deon and I both left Mbale early on Tuesday morning.  We definitely needed a rest and a long time away from some very bad stress we had experienced but neither of us felt like we had achieved what we set out to do.  We had expected to spend 2 or 3 years there – we only managed one.  There were definitely feelings of failure, loss at being allowed to complete our aims, but we knew that situations beyond our control had forced us to make the decision to leave.  We still need time to process many thoughts and experiences from the last year.

 

Within all too short a time we were on the aeroplane back home… And then time seemed to drag for far too long! The 4 hour flight to SA can be the longest stretch of time imaginable!  and then Wednesday was a blur of organising, purchasing, greeting, packing and on Thursday we were off to our new home in the bush of SA! 

Our house is nestled between a few rocky outcrops, with an amazing view over the Transvaal Drakensberg mountains and after 5 nights I ma still pinching myself at the unreality of how AMAZING our God is.  To provide us with a place that is so wonderful and close to our deepest dreams is superb. 

There will be many blogs to follow on our experiences here, but here are some highlights so far:

First activity in the morning on the way out to the outhouse – looking for spoor to see what visited in the night.  We have had bushbuck, little wild cat-type spoor and a possible hippo visit, from what we can tell.

There are no screeching voices, no boda bodas or other engines, yelling past. No sirens. We hear insects chirping, silent winds and sometimes the humming of the Oliphants river as it makes its way through the small valley.  We are fine tuning our birding skills and are amazed at the colourful diversity in our own garden.  We try desperately to have fun in our game viewer (Which is not too easy – Old Rusty  Scrap is about as maneuverable as an ossewa/ oxwagon, being led by a span of oxen with ear infections.) … More on this vehicle will follow! We have been on some drives with him, including a great night drive date out at a dam tonight… fun as only the African Bush can provide.

We do not have internet access at all yet: one of the great anomalies of life in Africa is the ease with which one can get internet dongles and reasonably good service in Uganda, but we have not had the same experience here. Because of theft and companies wishing access to all our information, we just about need to donate blood, urine and stool samples to get a dongle in SA, after receiving clearance from the CIA and UN.  Perhaps we may accomplish that this year still.  Until then we shall try to find WIFI signals when visiting town – a good 1 1/2 hours away from home.  Ah.  The birds are becoming great buddies because we don’t need a cell-phone signal to have them here.

So, as I finish off while sitting on my stoep, a myriad of stars say it is time to go sleep.  We have an early start tomorrow to get several chores seen to in town.

Our large stoep is awaiting visitors and Deon makes great potjies… we will soon have a house ready to entertain.  But if you feel up to using an uithuisie, consider a visit where we can explain all the strange words to you in person.  There is a certain magic to the African bush that will win your heart forever.