a windy day, the beach

28 09 2012

It could sound rather idyllic.  But today has not been so.


Last night we got to bed very late: We were helping to take H to the doctor and to take care of the two boys who were anxious and uptight.  H began treatment for Pneumonia, came home to the lodge (where we are staying as we search for a house) and we all tried to sleep. 

The week has not been easy.  H is facing life changing decisions: seeing years of work and dreams of her family wrangled in the deceit of greed. Alone here, she has carried great emotional loads.  We have listened, given our advice and laughed with the boys at their love of life.

We have heard numerous other stories: some of Deon’s workers have had to evacuate the town where they are staying as Massai tribes have been at war. People were killed on the lands they are investigating. Another South African friend has faced threats of eviction, deportation and other nasty sounding words. We ourselves are uncertain of where we are to settle (if such a thing is possible with us).

The storms started in the night: the winds raging, the waves of Lake Victoria sounding fierce and ragged against the rocks and sands of the beach.  Thunder echoed around the bay, rain bashing against the thin reeds of the cabin’s roof. 

It has been stormy for a few days, but the sun normally shines after sunrise and all is fine. This morning it was oppressively humid for a while, then the winds began developing into strong gusts. We sat to order lunch and look out over the lake and I mentioned to Deon how I understood why the disciples would have feared storms as they were fishing.The waves roll in at about a meter or so. Deon mentioned all the precautions one would take when sailing.

A group of teenaged school children arrived: all skinny jeans  and machismo. There were somersaults in the sand, dances to internal rhythms, and the usual parading of too much hormones and not enough wisdom to accompany  it. There were several who went in to swim in the lake, although the waves were boisterous and gusty.  I watched one loner who might have been struggling but he seemed fine after a few moments.

C and Z, the young Saffer boys, ran up to give us a fright, speak of their new brave endevours and share the usual light hearted talk we share. The message of hope we needed came to me there, but its poignancy only sank in hours later.

The wind became too disturbing for us and we moved into our room to watch a dvd and to eat lunch there.  We hear the waves and a few teen-aged yells but it is not windy and not loud.

Within about a half hour Z came to bang on the door. shaking, C at his side, pointing to the water and body language reflecting shock far more than words could.

Those bodies brimming with vitality, rhythm and many unlived years were shaken. Two of the boys had drowned as we were watching a screen. One had been dragged out and lain flat. Z saw that CPR was being given wrong and tried to push life into bloated lungs, but it was too late. Another body was carried out into the lake and has not been recovered yet.

Z came into my hug, tears streaming down. The words of prayer poured from my heart as he stood in my arms. Z’s mother and father are miles away, he is shaken after his care-giver aunt’s illness and his effort to save a life was pushed away by a greedy overseer.

Where before there had been showing off, laughter and movement was now stillness… shock… questioning.

There are so many layers to this disaster that one does not know where to start. There was not adult supervision of the group. The broken jetty’s “out of bounds” sign  has long been ignored (it seems like the boys knocked the jetty somehow). The water looked far too dangerous from the start. The resort is mired in politics: this could not have come at a worse time.

Now there are so many hearts broken. Mothers, fathers, siblings, friends. Our little heroes, C and Z, minds filled with images that might frighten their dreams.

This morning two young bodies had forever.

Now forever is gone.

Of course, the brevity of life comes to mind. Why so young? My thoughts have been around if they were ready to face eternity.  Because I know: when I saw that green-sheeted stretcher being carried out the gate today it was not the full stop on that seventeen year old’s existence.  Eternity awaits.

And God reminded me of His gift-image as we sat after ordering lunch, before it all took place.

There at our feet sweet mama Tulip lay, her month old puppy curled between her legs.  Tuna (precious pup) was oblivious of the raging winds, vicious waters of the lake and even the tough night we had last night. 

She lay curled, sleeping in the heat of her mother’s safety.

No need for anxiety, worry or trembling.  Big Mama knows how to care for her, has not abandoned her to this point, and keeps little one secure.


If only the disciples fully grasped this and would let go of their fears on the lake! If only we will keep it close to our hearts in times of storms…

we cannot save ourselves from drowning. We cannot rescue ourselves in the storms. We can rest in an almighty loving God, who if He leads us  He will keep us. 

He is not fearful of tomorrow: He is there.  He will not abandon us in times of fright: He promised to never leave or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). We cannot accomplish anything at all in our anxiety. 

If only I can live like our little puppy. God is bigger than all, He knows all and I can rest in His certainty and sovereignty.

Psalm 86:5.  Oh Lord You are so good…so full of unfailing love for all those who ask for your help.


back on Swahili planet

21 09 2012

That is it… Tanzania is not just another country, it feels like an entirely different planet! There is a great amount to tantalise the eyes: awesome colours, shapes, characters to behold.  And then the fact that things work so differently: Our rental car came standard with a broken bumper, shot brakepads, shredded fanbelt, battery leaking acid… and I think that was AFTER it was fixed by the  rental company!  So I get a chance to catch up from a hotel room in Arusha while the car gets put into a state good enough to tackle some of the bumpy park roads ahead of us.

We make every endevour to be positive about this trip, which is not always easy here, but we have seen some great things since arriving. A replacement  battery for my computer, for which we sought a replacement for about a month in SA… we walked to a little shop 100m from our hotel in dar es Salaam and found it there! First shop we tried.  The new company are taking good care of us and we feel more optimistic about this job than the last. Deon had a superb day out in the veld yesterday, with his geologists.  It was one of the days that he LOVED being a geologist: in vast open terrains, interesting sights to see, with rocks to keep him thinking.  Great. We also know people here already and are far more familiar with how things are done.  I had a lovely lunch with Anita, a Swedish family friend while in Dar. Blessing times.

Some album moments:

There was a lovely terrace restaurant on our hotel roof (Holiday Inn, Dar). Pleasant atmosphere, lovely night sites over Dar.


I just loved EVERYTHING about this: The “Hardcore Gangstar Gym” is between a hardware store and a German restaurant in Moshi.  The pile of shoes outside the door. The expression on the guy’s face, the size of those abs, maybe becoming a gangstar if one attends this gym.  Ummm. Africa rocks.




Some lovely places to stay around Arusha:

(Karama Lodge). Great atmosphere, nice service and interesting bushbaby calls at night. Some great little touches:

Perhaps both more to a girl’s tastes, but beautiful little dispensers in the shower cubicle and fancy table décor for breakfast. 

Lovely view of Mount Mweru from the lodge too:

More mountain views… best ever Kilimanjaro vision

and Mount Longido, where we stayed over for Deon to do some actual work in the field.

We both enjoyed this space a lot and will come check on the workers here quite often!

I spent the time looking at birds, buds and blossoms.  The acacia trees are in bloom and I got to see whistling acacia up close.  Amazing creations!

Another amazing creation is this genurek.. ja, a genurek.

A snooty mix between a springbok, a camel and a llama, methinks. 

Also a gorgeous new bird lifer, with the rather uninspiring name of a red-and-yellow- barbet.  Or is the bird just so wow that one is too stunned to think of a better name?

So, back in Tanz.  We feel prayers from people helping us (you need those prayers in Tanz!) and we know that we have purpose here.  So we keep on going from one adventure to the next. Immediate next:  Let’s go see if our car is ready.

splashes of colour from God’s garden

17 09 2012

We had the opportunity to see the spectacle of flowers in South Africa’s western parts.  Every year, between August and September large sections of the dry western parts come alive with flowers.  This year the rains in winter had been very good and the flowers are displaying especially well… lucky us! 

We had only the vaguest ideas of an itinerary, we bought a new little tent for ease of movement  from a supermarket along the way and so enjoyed the freedom of exploration.  

We would hear from people along the way what they enjoyed, we used the amazing assistance of the Kleenex Flower hotline and free map of the routes (available at almost any touristy place) and followed our eyes and noses.  Most common expression of the week: “look at the…!”.  It was a wow time.

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The ranges of colours and shades in various areas was astounding.  We recognized at least 70 different kinds of blooms – there are hundreds of different kinds of flowers.

The area is so sparsely populated and farming dominates as income provision.  Often the best flowers were seen in fields that had been used for grazing or other agricultural activities previously. Windmills are a feature of so many vast fields in the area… their own floral beauty makes for some photogenic scenes!

All the patches of colour there are God’s handiwork.  We literally saw zillions of blooms.

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The local “indigenous” people group have a large amount of San / bushman blood and we saw that they still carry out ancient San ways, some even choosing to live in the old style huts.  Fascinating.


A LEKKER (Afrikaans for totally good) thing to do is stop and eat local. Many  dorpies (Small towns) in the area are very Afrikaans and at this restaurant we had what may be a typical Boere (farmer)meal – here I ate homemade bread with cheese and biltong filling.  Moer Coffee, made in the old farm style washed it down well. Eaten in an ancient thick-walled homestead, with authentic décor… such a special feeling! 

The number of old ruins provide excellent fodder for possible artworks:

old ruins

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Most of our trip was spent in very close communion with the camera!  My dear little camera went through batteries like never before in its existence.  I could not get the kind it needed as civilisation is incredibly sparse in the area and had to simply revel in a great deal of enjoying the sights through my own eyes and saving them in my mind.  

We had superb weather for most of the trip: sunny days (which are great, as the flowers open in response to sunlight) although nights were generally very cold.  We spent one night in The Namaqua National Park: what an experience!  Look how close we are camping to the sea, and there are not many people around at all.  It is a place for the rough: only 4×4 vehicles can get in, and one must take water for own use. Unfortunately our water canister broke, and the miserable turn of the weather pushed us out a little earlier than we had hoped, but we long to go back some time! 

Fascinating images capture the imagination, like the Quiver tree, or Kokerboom.

Collage, quiver trees

I would encourage any atheist to spend an hour in a field and explain the absence of a loving Creator. 

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These are great memories to keep with us: we have just arrived back in Tanzania, after totally amazing time in SA.  We start all over: house-hunting and fitting, getting into language and cultural differences and we had a rough time here the last stint around June.  The great news is that we have friends here already, Deon’s work situation seems good and we have a far greater sense of what we are in for.  Bring it on! 

much. mucher. muchest.

6 09 2012

So much has happened since last I wrote, and so much is on my mind at this time, so this will be brief and more leisurely updates will follow when we get the chance.


*  Our house is being renovated: the loft room has been adjusted and a store room is being added to our loo room.  it  is already looking great, but the thatch, dust, clutter and extra legion of workers forced us out of our home for a while so we fulfilled a dream and went to

* look at the amazingly gorgeous God-gardens of Namaqualand and the western regions of South Africa.  We tented (mostly) and saw wonderful displays. More images will follow, but a prelude is to say if you do not do this trip at some time in your  life you are missing out.

* we got to have passing visits with some friends and family, who mean much to us. 

*Muchest:  My heart weighs incredibly heavy for our most dear friends.  A big part of their ministry is towards a children’s home focusing on girls.

house entry – I wrote of this place previously.  Just this Sunday we stopped by the house to say hi, and saw how the place is flourishing.

There was a devastating fire at the home last night. All lives are safe, but as these girls are so vulnerable already, such an event becomes so overwhelming to make sense of.  My own thoughts are filled to overflowing and I utter prayers throughout the day: for the leaders who must decide so much, for the girls working through yet another trauma, for all those who feel this inferno in some way.  Please pray for Baby Moses and our friends, Hennie and Anschke, as they process all the parts of this fire.


(Pictures from facebook page)

* We leave for Tanzania again on 16 September.  Much too soon, methinks.


When I can make sense of our home, my photos, my thoughts and the extreme cold here in SA right now, more news will follow in some detail.