Family Fun

Well, after many months of busy-ness it was time for a little fun together, especially since our dear Toby came back to us at the end of November, arriving into the Johannesburg airport.  We stretched a two-day drive back to Windhoek into four days, stopping at the Fish River Canyon (second largest in the world, after the Grand Canyon), the Quiver Tree forest and seeing some cheetah’s get fed.

We had some time at home to get caught up and work on projects and office work, and then took off for 3 nights on the coast, camping at a backpacker’s.  It was great to slide down the enormous dunes, go on a desert tour, and enjoy the tv at the backpackers (to watch the Amazing Race!).    We also got to see the world’s oldest plant, the Welwitschia, which can live to be 2,000 years old.  How strange to look at that plant and think it will still be there long after we are dead.

We enjoyed seeing the Atlantic Ocean from this side, after seeing it from the “American side” so many times last year.  It is a COLD side over here, and we were surprised at how chilly the coast was in the middle of summer, with the sun shining.  We definitely didn’t bring enough warm clothes.   On the way back to Windhoek, we stopped to see the seal colony where the Portuguese first landed in the 1400s, and then at the ancient Bushman paintings.  We also fit in a visit to the game park north of here, where we met dear friends who drove all the way over from Mozambique to meet up with us.  It was GREAT.

Back home, the kids were instructed to set up our tent and clean it, but found it difficult with two Great Danes who felt they ought to be lying on top of it.  Those dogs are heavy and hard to shift!

It was fun to show Toby our new city, and we managed a couple of hikes and other outings around our other responsibilities.  Toby enjoyed sleeping in most days, and was very helpful with painting and other house projects – he is headed for adulthood but still enjoys being spoiled by mom and dad.  We were pretty happy to oblige since we had missed him so terribly.  🙂 – C

 

 

Visiting Lesotho

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This post is mostly photos.  After our meetings, as part of Kevin’s new job with Alternative Theological Education (see “about us” to read more about this, we visited a lady in the capital and then a family up in the mountains.  It is about 5 hours south to the capital, and then another 5 hours up into the mountains.  He spent a lot of time talking with each of them and Ben and I enjoyed our time with them too.  The mountain views were spectacular and a big change for us after Namibia.  The twisty roads, men on horseback (carrying big sticks) and lone shepherds were striking.  It was very funny to see the sign at left for Sani Pass, because we came through there on our motorcycles back in 1996 when we drove through South Africa and came to this same area to visit a group of AIMers living there.  We were tempted to go up and down the pass again (considered treacherous and beautiful views) but time did not permit.  Lesotho gets snow in the winter and has almost no trees.  It is a fascinating country!

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Another Big Road Trip

After finishing up our team debrief and sending off most of the team, it was time for a big road trip to South Africa via Botswana, for meetings at our Regional Office as well as some training.  We

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packed up the Hilux and arrived at the Botswana border, 3 1/2 hours away, at 9 am, only to find out that we had forgotten Ben’s birth certificate back at home.  There was nothing for it but to turn around, go back and get it, and return to the border at 5 pm.  They very pleasantly stamped us across, and we drove ahead with no idea where we would stay that night as we would never make our planned destination.  Along the way, Kevin found a place online and sent them an email before our Namibia phone coverage completely disappeared.  We drove on into the dark and a road (the Trans-Kalahari Highway) that was swarming with cows, donkeys, horses, small antelope, big antelope, ostrich, warthog and I don’t know what else.  It was like a barnyard out there and we just prayed we wouldn’t hit anything.  We arrived at the hoped-for destination, after 14 hours of driving, at 9 pm to find they were ready for us.  Thanks be to God!

The next morning, we hit the road at 8:30 am after a cooked breakfast at the nice restaurant (we were the only guests) and drove without stopping except at the border, only arriving close to 6 pm at our destination.  It took much longer than anticipated and the pouring rain for the last 2 hours didn’t help.  We were so thankful for the safe travel, and also for the renewal of our South African tourist visas so we wouldn’t have to apply for extensions from with the country.

We will never forgot the birth certificates again, that is for sure!  One must have the original copy to enter South Africa (and apparently Botswana now) whenever traveling with children.  They are trying to combat child trafficking, and we applaud their efforts.  But next time. . . that will be top of the list to pack.  🙂 – C

Homeschooling

Yes, there are good private schools in Windhoek.  However, due to costs and to some other factors, we felt it was best to homeschool Ben this year for 5th grade.  It’s been a good decision so far because it has allowed us both to travel.  Ben only got his materials (finally tracked down used on Craiglist) at the end of October, when they were carried out by two different folks who traveled out to Windhoek.  We started beginning of November and had two full weeks of “normal” before we hit the road for our trip to South Africa for various things (see following posts).  Ben’s been enjoying the books in the curriculum, though the long division practice has been RATHER trying.  Especially when one is being thrown around in the back of a car on a twisty road. It’s also hard to concentrate while sitting in a restaurant, or at the home of people with other children with whom Ben really wants to play.   In January, things will settle down a bit more except for another 10 day trip north, but then Ben and I plan to stay STILL for awhile.  -C

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Trekking North

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Just a week after we took over leadership, we participated in the 3-day debrief of a departing AIM team, which was intense and exhausting.  From there, all of us drove 4 hours north to Grootfontein, the town we lived in 20 years ago, then 3 1/2 hours due east to “Bushmanland”.  There, we spent two days visiting the ministry site of this team and getting to know the local pastor.  This is the same people group that was in “The Gods Must Be Crazy” and the star of that movie is buried in the town we visited.  Their beautiful clicking language is like music.  Here is a photo of Ben with some of the local boys, who were friendly with him.  Many of these folks still go out to gather food in the bush, and the men go out to hunt.  There are a variety of small villages clustered around the town.  It is not an ideal existence, however, and the people struggle with issues which I can’t go into here.  Some of our personnel will return to work there and hope to come alongside in ways which will build up the quality of life both spiritual and physical.  Meanwhile, we were honored to receive names from some members of the group, and a warm welcome despite our short visit.  We plan to return in January, but it is going to be VERY hot up there in that desolate place!  It looks desolate to us, but of course not to the people who live there and know how to manage the environment.  We are looking for wisdom from above on how to move ahead there . . . it is complicated and we want to give God’s best for the people in that location. – C

Some New Stuff

JpegSome of you remember that we sold our grey Toyota Hilux in Mozambique, and here is a photo of our new truck in Namibia – again, a Toyota Hilux.  This one is a few years newer but was still cheaper than the one in Moz.  Vehicles are expensive there.  It has a metal cap on the back which locks securely – not good for transporting people, but great for keeping things safe when we travel.  God truly provided this truck, from a trustworthy dealer for a good price.

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Another big new purchase (not as big or as expensive) is Pepper, our new Great Dane puppy.  She was 8 weeks old in this photo but now, at 3 months old, is already over 40 pounds.  She is also referred to as “the intern” or “the pain in the behind”.  She chews poor Molly’s tail and just generally harasses her constantly.  She has a calm temperament for a puppy, though, and will be the gentle giant that Great Danes are.  Molly is getting elderly and needs a replacement who is well-trained. When Pepper is not tearing up the yard, she is adorable.  – C

Meanwhile Somewhere in Kenya

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Our Toby is attending classes at the boarding school.  The school is top-notch academically and in every other way and it is a great privilege for him to attend there.  The Algebra teacher actually helped him to LIKE Algebra, which is a feat for which she deserves a medal.  We have been so impressed with the staff there, who have leapt to help when asked, or whenever they see a need.  What a blessing.  There are also tons of activities for him there, and a lot of people who truly love the Lord and love MKs.

But, we miss him terribly.  At only 14 years old, to say goodbye is very hard.  We’ve had various people compare it to when they sent their 18 year old off to college, but it is hard to accept that this is the same.  It’s been a rough semester for all of us and we are thankful for the support on both sides, as well as the dorm parents’ willingness to include us in decisions and discussions.  All that being said, we are desperate to see him for December vacation and hear all about it!  Technology is a lifesaver, and we can communicate frequently on Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and email. – C

This is What We Do a Lot Of

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This is what we do a lot of – as in sitting at a computer working, not goofing around with silly grins.  A great deal of our new job as Namibia Unit Leaders is emailing, correspondence, bill paying, reports and other exciting things like that.  The first week in the office (and this is not our office, by the way, but rather us working in the Joburg office) was a flurry of responding to some crises, getting caught up on situations and hurried conferences to discuss issues.  We feel like we are beginning to get a handle on the admin stuff though, and think it will take up less of our time as the months go by.  All of the bill paying is now done online, we know where to find the files and what the schedules are of when things are due.  Namibia field does not have a lot of personnel, so we will be able to spend more time connecting and supporting them rather than just trying to keep everybody legal, accountable and up-to-date on paperwork.  That is a big plus.  Meanwhile, this is the first time we’ve worked together in a long time!  Years ago in Namibia we worked together.  While we lived in New York State we both worked for the same nonprofit (in different jobs) off and on but since then we’ve had very different roles.  Thankfully we are enjoying it and it is so neat to see how each of our strengths holds up the other’s weakness, as well as how fun it is to brainstorm together, discuss problems and decide things.  There has been very little of wanting to shake the other by the neck, and more often high-fiving as we both come to the same conclusion at the same time.  Thanks, God!  He is blessing us as we try to bless others and I am sure learning a lot from my wise husband and hope he can say the same. – C

 

Flying into Namibia

 

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Looks pretty dry, doesn’t it?  It is.  Our new home is dry, dry, dry.  The first few weeks, we had to slather on lotion twice a day to keep from feeling itchy all the time.  There were some bloody noses, and we had to adjust to the over 5,000 foot altitude of Windhoek.  Our neighborhood is pretty hilly, and after we bought our standard shift truck, there was a lot of grinding of gears as we re-learned to drive a stick shift on steep hills.

We are so appreciative of all who prayed for a Jpegsmooth entry into Namibia for us.  There were no problems at all.  This country has just over 2 million people, and is very protective (rightfully so) of the jobs of their population.  It can be difficult for foreigners to enter.  However, God provided the work permits we needed at just the right time so we could come for the handover from our colleagues.   Our house is in a middle-class suburb on a busy road, with taxis passing by constantly (a plus, since you can step outside the gate and hail one to take you downtown for about 80 cents US.  I took our puppy to the vet in one of those taxis and no one batted an eye.)  We can see the beautiful mountains surrounding the city from our hill, and we love to see the city lights from our windows at night.  Crime is about the same as in Moz, so we have burglar bars, big dogs and a secure gate, but an electronic security system instead of a guard who stands outside (or sleeps outside more usually).

img_4965There are a lot of wealthy people in this city and therefore there are 3 nice malls, and lots of “nice things” we can take advantage of.  We are enjoying those.  However, there is also a huge poor section of the city where, when we drove through recently, Ben exclaimed “This looks just like Mozambique!”.  The houses are rather different though, as you can see.   Those tin shacks must be incredibly hot in the Namibian sun.  We compare the climate here to New Mexico though we’ve never lived there.  You try to stay out of the sun between 10 and 3, though it cools down at night.

Here in Windhoek, we also enjoyed taking over ownership of the house dog Jpeg(as in comes with the house, not lives in the house) Molly, a 10 year old Great Dane who is the sweetest thing.  Quite a crime deterrent too.

It’s funny, so many things are familiar to us, even after 20 years away (we lived in Namibia from 1994-1996).  And the biggest surprise?  Afrikaans is still the main language though almost everyone also speaks English.  We are brushing up on our Afrikaans skills, long forgotten, and enjoying getting settled into our new house, with plenty of room for visitors.  All of our trunks arrived safely from Moz, and it is nice to have a few familiar things though there hasn’t really been time to arrange those yet.  After the thorough training by our predecessors, it was time to jump feet first into personnel care and support, our main job here. – C



Packing again

Someone told me recently that the missionary’s idea of heaven is no baggage.  Wow can we agree.  Travel we don’t mind so much, but the hauling around of belongings and worry over whether it will be accepted by the airline as 1472448253920well as wondering if it will arrive intact really wears you down.  When Toby and I left Mozambique, we had three more flights to get to Kenya.  From there, I had two more flights to get down to South Africa where Kevin and Ben had arrived two days later after two of their own flights to Johannesburg.  When we left the USA, we had a flight to Philly, then a flight to Qatar, then a flight to Nairobi, then a flight to Nampula (with a stop on the way where all the bags were taken off the plane and checked, then reloaded).

Every one of our bags arrived at every destination unbroken, unstolen, unrejected.  For those of you who haven’t traveled overseas to Africa before, you know that this is nigh on impossible.  🙂  We are so thankful!  Next week, we’ll fly to Namibia (after Kevin does another trip to Kenya this weekend) and hope that once again everything will arrive.  After that, we are relieved that our big suitcases will be put into storage for awhile.  There will be some small trips, but the wrestling of those big bags will be over for awhile.  What a relief.  – C