Friday, October 31, 2014

Trip of a Lifetime: South Africa

Over the next few days - or weeks - I will be posting pictures and reports about our trip to South Africa and Europe. It truly was the trip of a lifetime for us! I still can't believe that I've been to these countries! Hopefully my posts won't be too long or boring, because when I get started talking about them, I can't seem to stop, especially about South Africa. Our hearts were touched deeply by the people we met and saw, as well as by the work our missionaries are doing there. I hope you'll enjoy the pictures and get just a taste of what is happening there.

English countryside near London, from the plane
Our trip started with two days of travel across nine time zones. We left Vancouver, BC, at about 8:00 on Tuesday night and flew nine hours to London, overnight. This was our first time to ever leave North America, and our first overnight flight. When we arrived in London, it was about 1:00 in the afternoon locally, but to us, it was 4:00 in the morning! We had a six-hour layover, though, so we had plenty of time to stretch our legs, get something to eat, and catch a quick cat nap. Then we boarded the biggest plane out there for Johannesburg, South Africa!

My tiny little diet Coke! I was watching a TV documentary about dogs.
This flight was eleven hours, slightly southeasterly as we flew almost the entire length of the continent of Africa. We were able to sleep on the plane some, which was almost unavoidable, being our second night flying. We left London at about 7:00 pm. The nice thing about these long international flights is that there is a TV in the back of every seat. You plug in your headphones and watch TV, a movie, listen to music, or watch your flight progress in real time complete with a map. I wouldn't suggest that last one be your only entertainment on an eleven-hour trip, but it was informative and fun to see where we were, how far we'd come, and (groan) how much farther we had to go. I watched some TV shows, tried to watch about four different movies, and kept track of our progress for a few hours, then slept a couple, then woke up and couldn't go back to sleep at about 2:30 am, in whatever time zone - I have no clue! I just knew we still had about five hours of the flight left and couldn't sleep!

We weren't sitting where we could get a picture of the sunrise, but this picture is very much how I remember it!
The sun was just rising as we landed in Johannesburg, and it was beautiful! Our first African sunrise! Our missionary host, Bro. Jeremy Johnson, was waiting for us at the airport at 7:30 on Thursday morning. We retrieved our luggage - all ten pieces of it - after only losing one piece, which was easily found at the airport luggage-handling counter. Someone had picked up one of our pieces by accident, and fortunately had realized it before they left the airport. We had lots of gifts from our church family for the Johnsons, especially because there's a new baby girl coming after three little boys!

Our Ford Explorer full of luggage as we were leaving home. There are 10 suitcases piled in back there!
The Johnsons live a little over an hour from Johannesburg, and I managed to stay awake all the way there. I was humbled by my first sight of a housing extension just outside Johannesburg. These extensions are where the native black people were forced to live during apartheid, and where a majority of them still live. The houses we saw were 10'x20', two rooms with outer walls of tin sheets, and a tin roof. Most of them had electricity, running water, and indoor plumbing, but some didn't. There were thousands of houses in each extension.

When we arrived at the Johnsons' home, we were greeted by Rebekah and their three little boys. We arrived about 10:00, and by 10:30 we had both had showers and were taking a nap. Wes set the clock on his phone to wake us up in a couple of hours, but he forgot to turn on the alarm, so we slept for four hours instead! We woke up in mid-afternoon and forced ourselves to get up and get ready for supper. The church there has its mid-week service on Thursday, so we went to church and began meeting people our first evening there! We sang with them in English, and then tried to sing along in Zulu also! The pastor spoke English, but I must admit I had a very hard time keeping up - I was still exhausted. I've never had such a hard time staying awake in church! We were able to get into bed by about 9:00 that night, slept great all night, and felt almost like ourselves again Friday morning. We still had to go to bed early Friday night, but by Saturday we were able to keep going all day and begin to learn about Bro. Johnson's ministry in Clewer and Witbank, South Africa.

Let me add here that I was going to share a couple more pictures, thinking I had access to some of the pictures Wes took in South Africa. I didn't take any there because he was using our big camera (instead of a phone or iPad). We have enabled photo sharing between our computers, but I suppose he only shared pictures from Europe to this point. I'm really running behind on getting these posts ready, so I'm going to publish this one and try to get some South Africa pictures to share. Thanks for your patience this week. My computer has had issues all week on top of trying to learn this "sharing" thing!

Next: Pictures from the Johnsons' ministry!

Photo credit for picture of the African sunrise:  photo credit: rod amaru  via photopin cc

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Mentoring the Next Generation

As most of you know, our son, Andrew, finished college last year and is still living and working in Lancaster, CA, where he went to school. During his last couple of years of college, he worked in the bus ministry at Lancaster Baptist Church, and there he met a young fellow named DayDay (that's a nickname; I'm not quite sure how to spell his real name!). Andrew got involved in DayDay's life, and as one thing lead to another, Andrew has become quite a "big brother" to DayDay.

Andrew's motivation runs deep: he wants to be different and make a difference in one child's life. So often, Christians complain about how inner-city kids are turning out. They turn to drugs and alcohol and immorality, and we shake our heads and do nothing. Andrew took action, and continues to be an integral part of DayDay's life, three years later.

Andrew doesn't want to just talk about doing something to help kids; he is doing something.

Something that has meant sacrifice for him.

Today I want to share with you Andrew's heart concerning DayDay, and invite you to help out if you can and want to.

Here's the story in Andrew's words:

"A few years ago I had the awesome opportunity of meeting DayDay and his family, and was able to begin tutoring him in some of his classes. The public education he was receiving seemed to be subpar. So last year I had the privilege of placing DayDay in a private, Christian school, and it went great!

Exceeding expectations, DayDay went from lackluster grades in his public school to impressive academic improvements in his first year of a private school environment. There have been bumps in the road along the way, but DayDay is continuing to grow socially, spiritually, and academically.

This year DayDay is back in his second year of private school, and the overall costs for a year of this education come in between $4,000-$5,000. These costs exclude clothing, after school care, and the occasional cheeseburger...

With only a single income, friends and family have encouraged me to start a fund-raising page for anyone who would like to be involved in helping offset the costs of this year's tuition. This is an opportunity to be involved in helping a kid receive a high quality education. Please consider being a part!"

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

We're Home!

A sweet view of the Eiffel Tower. This is not the best picture - I'm saving that one for the account of our anniversary!

What a month we had on our once-in-a-lifetime trip! We spent a fantastic two weeks in South Africa with our missionary friends, Jeremy and Rebekah Johnson. Wes spent hours and hours teaching in the Bible Institute Bro. Jeremy operates, and he preached in two services with a Zula interpretor. He also got to preach in the opening session of the local college, and students were required to attend - can you imagine that happening in North America?! We also visited a wildlife preserve and saw lots of animals we only see in zoos over here, and we learned a lot about South Africa and its people. I'll have a couple of posts, at least, about our time in South Africa.

Some excitement in the streets of London

We left Africa on October 3rd and headed to London. We were there for 7 nights, and enjoyed seeing many of the popular sights there. We also went to a place that had wonderful spiritual significance to us, and I can't wait to tell you about that! On the 9th, we took the Eurostar train under the English Channel to Paris and spent a beautiful 5 days there. We enjoyed a relaxed day on our 30th anniversary. The pace in Paris was a little slower than in London, simply because there wasn't as much that we were interested in seeing. The city of Paris is beautiful, with all its old buildings and iron balconies - I loved just taking a bus and riding through the streets just to see all the beautiful buildings.

The English like their coffee strong! I had 4 packets of sweetener and most of that little pot of rich, heavy cream in my cup, and it still had a bitter edge to it!

We took lots of pictures of the entire trip, but we have yet to get them all sorted out and ready to post. I will take the next couple of weeks to tell you all about our trip and show you lots of pictures. Wes is planning to make a video to present to our church family, and hopefully I'll be able to share that with you too.

The view from our hotel room on the outskirts of Paris. This was the most beautiful room and view, perfect for our anniversary week!
Finally, it is SO GOOD to be HOME! I've been scrambling around the house getting things back in order from our two trips and the time in between them - believe me, it's still quite a mess. One of the first things I did (after conquering the laundry) was to rearrange my kitchen. When we moved into this house in April, I just threw things in the cabinets and kept on trucking. That wasn't working at all! So now I've got my cabinets arranged much better and I feel like I can sanely work in there again. I'm really looking forward to nesting this fall and getting ready for Christmas!

That's all for now! Stories and more pictures coming soon!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Heading Out!

We're headed to South Africa! We'll be flying all night tonight with a layover in London, then flying another night. Thank you for praying for us as we travel!

I have another couple of requests to ask of you. A few months ago, I mentioned that a friend of ours, Katherine Aulin, was near death. Later that week, she rallied and was able to go home. We saw her at family camp just a few weeks ago. Her health had continued to fail, but she was cheerful and praising the Lord anyway. This past Sunday, we received word that Katherine had passed away during the night. We're sad to lose a friend here, but we rejoice in the promise of Heaven. She had lost both legs and had very limited sight, suffered from kidney failure with dialysis treatments, and had just recently been diagnosed with MS. All of that is over now, praise the Lord! She is walking and rejoicing with the Lord today! Please do pray for her family, though. They are saved, and have the same blessed hope, but the coming days will be hard for them. Her funeral is Thursday.

Another request: A friend of mine has a 5-year-old great-niece named Taylor. Last week, doctors found cancer in her right kidney. Yesterday, she had a CT scan which revealed cancer in several other places in her body. She was admitted to the hospital immediately to begin treatments to manage the cancer in her kidney and will go from there. The doctor said she needs a miracle. Please pray for that miracle for Taylor! She and her mother live in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada, and she is in hospital in Calgary, Alberta. There's a Facebook page for Taylor here, if you'd like to join and follow her progress. It's a closed group, so you might mention that you're a blog reader of mine as you request to join the page.

I'll update our trip as often as possible. See you in a month!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Trip of a Lifetime!

I told you yesterday that I'd have exciting news today. I can barely believe we are doing this, but it's all come together, and Lord willing, next Tuesday we'll be on our way to our next adventure . . .

Wes and I are taking a mission trip to 
South Africa!

We have two sponsored missionaries out of our church, one in Williams Lake, BC, and the other in Clewer, South Africa (northeast of Johannesburg, east of Pretoria). Almost two years ago, Bro. Jeremy Johnson in South Africa asked Wes to come and see his field and work. They began to work on the details, and now it's almost time to go!

We'll be flying from Vancouver to London, layover for about 6 hours, then another 11-hour flight to Johannesburg. From there we'll visit with Bro. Johnson and his family, which includes three little boys, with a little girl due in a couple of months. Wes will be teaching some Bible institute classes and I'll get to teach a couple of classes to the young ladies. We'll also get to know the young people in the Bible institute as well as help with some of the other work of the ministry. I'll be helping Rebekah, Bro. Johnson's wife, with much of the housework and cooking while we're there too.

Bro. Johnson also has plans to take us to Kruger National Park, a wildlife preserve that is part of the South African National Parks system. I don't know what to expect here. From what I understand, you drive through the park as the animals roam free. We've heard of an elephant attacking a small car of people, but the people were honking their horn at the elephant to try to get it to move. So he did! I don't expect we'll have such a problem, as I'm sure Bro. Johnson will do nothing to endanger us!

There will also be a national holiday while we're in South Africa, so we'll get to celebrate with the Johnsons and the people of their church. Wes and I are getting pretty excited about all we'll get to see and do while we visit a country I never dreamed I'd get to visit!

But that's not all . . .

October 12th is our 30th wedding anniversary. On our way back home, we'll have another layover in London, and . . . 

Photo credit: Moyan Brenn on Flickr
 Wes has planned for us to spend two more weeks in London and Paris for our anniversary! 

We will be in Paris on our anniversary! When we married 30 years ago, I never dreamed we'd ever visit Europe, let alone be in Paris on our 30th anniversary!

So that's our exciting news! We'll be gone for a month (several preachers and the men in our church are filling in for Wes while we're gone), and after that, we'll be finished traveling for a while. Please pray for our safety as we travel - we aren't ignorant of the world situations right now! And pray that we'll be a blessing to our missionary and his people in South Africa.

We will have limited internet access in South Africa, so I probably won't be able to update you from there, but I will do what I can when I can. We should have internet at our hotels in London and France. I will be most likely to post to my Instagram feed most often, so please feel free to follow me there.

Have you ever been to South Africa, London, or Paris? Any tips for us? Do you know any missionaries in London or Paris that we might visit?

South Africa Photo Credit: TagDeon Used with permission of Creative Commons license from  Copyright 2011


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