Archive for March, 2009

One morning in Pietermaritzburg

The girls are “on holiday” now for the two week Easter break.  We thought this was a good opportunity to spend some time at Bonginkosi preschool.  During the drive I gave Rachel a camera and asked her to take pictures of things we would not see in Virginia.  There were times it seemed unsafe to take pictures, but here is what she was able to get:

cows-in-street

ladies-with-tables-on-their-heads

Unfortunately this truck was fairly empty.  There are often 10 or more people standing up while driving on major roads at high speeds

Unfortunately this truck was fairly empty. There are often 10 or more people standing up while driving on major roads at high speeds

Mud and wattle home

Mud and wattle home

even mud houses often have fences around them!

Even mud houses often have fences around them

On sunny days women carry umbrellas for their long walks

On sunny days women carry umbrellas for their long walks

In addition to umbrellas, it is often common to see women with babies slung onto their backs with a blanket holding them on

In addition to umbrellas, it is common to see women with babies slung onto their backs with a blanket holding them on

And then we arrived at the school…

Bonginkosi is getting ready to move into their new building.  Check out the link to find out more and see a short video.  I was the photographer for much of it 🙂  We played with the kids while the teachers packed

The tape player/microphone we brought them from home

The tape player/microphone we brought them from home

bonginkosi-bekah-and-kid

Speaking different languages did not matter here

Speaking different languages did not matter here

Rachel's buddy Thando... he loved her hair!

Rachel's buddy Thando... he loved her hair!

I wish I could bring him home...

I wish I could bring him home...

We saw all of this before hearing the Muslim prayers from across the street at 12:30.  A typical morning in Pietermaritzburg for those who have eyes to see.

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Coming Soon

If  South Africa has working internet, watch for Safari pictures soon here and on Rachel’s R Cubed Blog…

Lesotho

I admit it… I don’t function well in the third world!  We are having ongoing issues with internet access, which means it is difficult to email, blog, and skype.  As a result I have been unable to post the great things we are seeing and doing.  Since I am getting a signal right now, here we go…

If you look at a map of South Africa you will see a small “island” within the country… This is the country of Lesotho.  We went with the Passaros and another American missionary named Jeremiah to Lesotho two weekends ago.  What an awesome experience!  Only 4×4 vehicles are able to negotiate the treacherous roads up Sani Pass…

lesotho-view-with-road

lesotho-trecherous-road

Here we are halfway up to the top…

lesotho-group-photo1

lesotho-bri-and-rachel1

lesotho-family-pic

lesotho-the-girls

There are three “Grades” of road into Lesotho.  Initially the driver took us over Grade 1 roads – typical gravel roads.  Then as we approached Lesotho the roads had deep potholes and fairly large rocks, probably the worst roads I have ever been on – Grade 2.  Then in Lesotho Grade 3 roads – Yikes!  Rachel and I were in the back laughing hysterically because we could not carry on a conversation due to the rocking of the vehicle as the driver took us over huge rocks, through streams, and around hairpin turns.   Fortunately the Passaro’s had been to Lesotho before and suggested we bring Ruthie’s car seat for this trip.

lesotho-girls-on-bus

Annie, Charlie and Peter with the girls

Annie, Charlie and Peter with the girls

lesotho-good-view

One of the many waterfalls we saw

One of the many waterfalls we saw

This did not look like the Border Posts in the United States!

lesotho-better-border-pic

Unfortunately Lesotho is a very poor country.  Many of the people there are shepherds, but it takes days to get the sheep to market in South Africa.  Supplies must come from South Africa as well, so “taxis” negotiate the dangerous roads occasionally.  At an elevation of over 9,000 feet the winters are harsh; it was already getting chilly at the top when we were there.  Can you imagine living in these primitive huts anytime, but especially in snow?

lesoto-hut

lesotho-village

lesoto-huts

People hang out different color flags to show what supplies they have in their huts to sell.  Here is a white flag to signify that they have brewed their own beer to sell.

lesoto-village-with-flag1

In one area of the village people were hoping to attract some tourists by entertaining us.  Look carefully to see their homemade instruments…

lesotho-music-group

These men are draped in the traditional Lesotho blankets that we saw most people wearing. Unfortunately we could not find any to purchase.

One family invited us inside their hut to show us their homemade crafts and to offer us homemade bread and beer.  The beer has a very low alcohol content so rather than be rude, EVERYONE tasted it out of the same cup…

Rachel's first (and possibly last!) beer.  None of us cared for it!

Rachel's first (and possibly last!) beer. None of us cared for it!

The hut we visited... The little girl captured our hearts instantly

The hut we visited... The little girl captured our hearts instantly

lesotho-little-girl

Some shepherds on the long journey to South Africa to sell sheep to Zulus for their sacrifices to the ancestors

Some shepherds on the long journey to South Africa to sell sheep to Zulus for their sacrifices to the ancestors

Unlike South Africa where we see extremes of “haves” and “have-nots,” in Lesotho we saw only poverty.  But it was  in the midst of the most amazing scenery we have ever seen.

lesotho-views

25 Belvista Rd

We have had almost no internet access again this week – the 3G internet service was out for all of South Africa for days!  Can you imagine if that happened in the US?!

Anyway, we have great news.  We have a new address starting Saturday 28 March.  We met with the family who is living in Madagascar and agreed on a rental arrangement.  Unfortunately it did not work out to use their car, so our schedule will require some tweaking, but we are pleased with this housing option.

Zanele will work for us there on her day off (Wed), so we can continue regular contact with her, and hope to develop relationships with Precious and her daughter.

Thank you for praying for us.  We continue to be well taken care of here.

Maybe not homeless?

We have been without internet all week  (it has been obvious recently that we are indeed in a third world country!) so I have not been able to update folks on our housing status… We have two weeks before the Baker family returns to this home, so the push is on.  Two days ago we finally got a lead that might work out!   A family who is now living in Madagascar still has a furnished home here, and it appears they are willing to rent it to us!  It is in a nice neighborhood with several girls in neighboring houses, has girl toys and bedrooms decorated in pink and purple (since they have two girls), and even has a trampoline in the back yard.  This family’s former housekeeper Precious lives with her 10 year old daughter in the servant’s quarters, and seems very sweet.  When I told her that Rachel and her daughter could be friends Precious said, ” would she play with a black girl?”  Ugh.

Unfortunately the house is quite a bit further from the girl’s school and the University, but it is definitely doable.  This family will be back here this week visiting family, so we will meet with them either Wednesday or Thursday.  They also have an extra car sitting in the garage, but as of now are not too excited to let us use it… Maybe when they see Ruthie’s cute curls their hearts will be softened to the idea 🙂  Having one car has not been too difficult since Brian and the girls could walk to school from here, but moving further away will add a challenge to the morning and afternoon routine.

I am actually excited to see how this all works out.  I have already spoken to Zanele about continuing with us at our new place so we can continue our relationship and help her earn extra money.  Maybe we can also befriend Precious and her daughter.  I will keep you “posted”!

Happy Birthday Aphile

The birthday girl scouting for animals out of the top of the Land Rover

The birthday girl scouting for animals out of the top of the Land Rover

Zanele’s daughter Aphile turned 6 a few weeks ago, so we decided to celebrate by taking their whole family to a game park.  Unless they live in the Bush, most black South Africans have never seen African animals… Well, now Zanele, Aphile, and Nana have!!

A family from church loaned us their Land Rover for the day so we could all fit in the same car and go “off road.”  What an experience to drive on dirt trails and come upon these:

Five elephants were right next to our car!

Five elephants were right next to our car!

We caught the lions at nap time

We caught the lions at nap time

The animal Aphile most wanted to see was a zebra...how about a whole field of them?!

The animal Aphile most wanted to see was a zebra...how about a whole field of them?!

Aphile with our binoculars

Aphile with our binoculars

This was incredible - 12 giraffe surrounded our car.  They are HUGE!

This was incredible - 12 giraffe surrounded our car. They are HUGE!

None of us will forget these guys right next to us

None of us will forget these guys right next to us

The best part for me was watching Zanele, Nana, and Aphile’s faces when they caught their first glimpses of these animals.   Nana (age 19) said to me, “we are from here (meaning Africa), but we have never been HERE.”

After we returned from our adventure

After we returned from our adventure

Opening gifts back at their house

Opening gifts back at their house

I had learned from earlier conversations with Zanele that it is difficult for her when the seasons change because she can’t really afford new clothes for Aphile.   After some chocolate cake Aphile opened our presents – a “track suit” (sweat pants and sweat shirt), “trekkies” (sneakers), and play dishes.  Ahe looked beautiful in the pink outfit with matching sneakers (photo above).  She had Zanele help her open the gifts so they could carefully save the wrapping paper to reuse.  After, the girls went into the bedroom to play with the dishes, and with tears in her eyes Zanele said, “Thank you.  I wish my mother was alive to see this.”

Garbage Day, Funeral Day, and the SPCA

These three things summarize much about South Africa…

Garbage Day:  I have grown to dislike Fridays because it is the day for local garbage pick-up.  Many black South Africans start early walking around town rifling through the garbage from white homes, and ours is no exception.  Garbage day also brings many people to our gate looking for work and food.  Today I gave out bread and apples shortly after seeing an old man digging through our neighbor’s garbage bags by the curb…

Funeral Day: Garbage day is followed by Funeral Day… If you drive in any black areas on a Saturday you will certainly see many large tents and people gathered in the streets for funerals.  AIDS, TB, and violence are destroying the black community.   The life expectancy in this Province has now dropped to 36!

SPCA: With all this poverty surrounding us, certainly white South Africans must be overwhelmed about which charity to give to, right?  Well, No.  They are actually quite united, and give to the SPCA.   There are donation boxes and signs in prominent places in town, and we have been approached by smiling white ladies asking for donations to feed local animals!  The worst to me is the Christian school where Rachel and Rebekah attend …they apparently had the children do a community service project last year… making blankets for dogs.  I am not kidding.

This is South Africa.