Coffee along the way

Coffee along the way
Coffee along the way

November 25, 2010

(Un)scented candle....

I bought these very pretty and wonderful smelling candles a few months back to bring to the bush to enjoy......only to find out that after 5 months they were now just  candles - no scent what-so-ever!  So much for that!  But it got me thinking......always dangerous, i know!

Lately i have felt exactly like this candle - from the distance everything looks good and seems fine, just like the candle - there it said on the side "Rose Garden Scented Candle".  But when i struck the match and waited for the nice smell to fill the air, there was only sulphur from the flavour of any kind of rose!

I have lost my flavour - maybe culture stress is part to blame, maybe the last few weeks after a looong year, or maybe it is because i have lost faith that God actually still remembers that i am here?  Just like this province we live in, not named The Forgotten Province for nothing, or the people of my village, also quite forgotten by all, and then there is me - forgotten too?

I asked the Lord what He thought about of all these thoughts and He took me to Exodus......

The Israelites are complaining to Moses - "Why did God bring us here?  Was it so only so that we can die in this (forsaken) place??"  Quite close to home, i thought!  Yikes!  Yes, this was me too!  And meantime God has The Promised Land in mind and not the desert!

Forgive me, Lord!  Help me see your plan and keep on following You, not by sight but by faith and then i will be a sweet smelling fragrance to You again!

November 19, 2010

An itchi business.....

And so, there i was sitting in the bathroom (because there is a strong enough light to read by) trying to make out what the "Where there is no doctor" was saying at 12 midnight and not making any headway......

I was not feeling very well the past couple of days, but was shocked when i woke up in the middle of the night with lots and lots of itching hives on my back and sides!  Yikes!  What was wrong with me??  I was itching like crazy, of that at least, i was sure.  Now what?  I had a few options - 1) I could just go back to bed and sleep it off, or 2) I could wake up my husband and tell him how to administer some adrenaline just in case, but then i remembered the old stuff had expired and the new stuff hadn't arrived yet and so this wasn't really an option, or 3) I could wake him up and ask him to calm me down enough to sleep it, I went for option 3 and survived to tell the tale!

I tried to remember what i ate the previous day, and the only two things that came to mind was - wild honey (which was quite good) and Pringles (and i decided that IF it WAS the Pringles, i'll just bear the hives in future), but when i dressed and was searching for the ever present skirt, i remembered that we couldn't find our usual washing power and had to use Omo instead - so i dressed carefully in only-omo-washed-clothes and waited for the experiment to kick off!  And boy, did it kick off all right!!  By one i was itching like crazy and in all the right places where the Omo-clothes were touching my skin!!  One point for the bush doctor!!  Yeah!

And so, we will hunt for our old washing powder - Klin - and, although they can't spell, at least they get the kloz klin without the ITCH!!

October 23, 2010

pizza anyone??

Friday nights we have family night!  BUT, little snag, we had to go into town for a meeting late afternoon and then drive back at night......
Not to worry, i thought, we will "order" pizza at the newly remodeled padaria and then eat it in the car!
And we did just that - it didn't even take too long to actually make it (that must have warned me, but there i sat, blissfully unaware of what was coming).....i was very hungry by then and took a bite aswe drove out of town!  Yikes!  It tasted horrible!  There was something major wrong with the "pizza".
But being in Africa, you don't waste stuff like pizza, so we tested the cheese - fine, the tomoato - fine, i couldn't find a piece of chicken so that must have been fine too, and then the crust - NOT good!  It was as if they washed the pans with some deadly sickening liquid and then forgot to rinse it off!

But, once again, taking things in my stride and trying not too be wasteful, i just took off the topping and stuffed it into a bread roll - Calzone anyone??
At home we did the same and i even baked it in the oven, but sadly only my dear husband had supper....the rest of us ate popcorn with our movie.....
Ah, well we did enjoy the idea of going for pizza in town now for a few weeks, but i think next time we are back to toasted sandwiches!

October 21, 2010


Quite recently, i think the past month or so, i discovered i owned a TUMBLE DRYER!!  Yes, i know, even i didn't recognize it as such!  How do you own a tumble dryer when you don't even realize you have one??, you might as well ask.  Well, maybe "own" is not quite the right word, as such, just kind of "utilize"'s like this......the washing is on a line - outside  of course - and then the wind picks up speed, starts twirling around and voila!  the clothes are dried in an instant with warm air!  My own eco-tumble dryer!!  Ok, ok, dry and dusted!!  Others, the “half-empty-types”, might also call it whirlwinds.

Did you know bugs LOVE popcorn!  It’s like their favourite meal!  But so do we!!  And so, my latest clever invention is a way of removing these ugly looking bugs from the popcorn (although i must admit,  i have been influenced by medieval times) and this is how it works.....Take one big pot, heat up the oil (this is where the castle sieges-scenario comes in) throw in the popcorn AND bugs and now fish out dead (ie non-squirming) fried bugs, but QUICKLY, before the popcorn pops in your face!  And there you have it - a nice big bug-free pot of popcorn!

I also have a “winter” hair dryer!  Although I haven’t used it lately as it is summer now….You wash your hair at night, because there wasn’t water that specific morning, and then you fill a hot-water bottle with nice hot water and lie down on it!  Nice warm and dry hair in a jiffy (and yes, it does get that cold, even up here!)
Crying is a wonderful way to keep your eyes healthy and clean!  Salt water really works miracles here!  I have lately seen so many babies with eye infections.  Phew!  If it wasn’t for a good cry every now and then, I’m sure my patients’ germs would have spread to me too! 

The good thing of not having a real clinic or being a real doctor is that I have the medicine cupboard in our house – quite a distance form where the visitors/patients sit - and this gives me time to think what could possibly be wrong with this patient while I slowly walk back home to “go and fetch” some medicine.  I am also quite a quick reader and the “Where there is NO doctor” is always handy, as well as, for the more serious ones the “Village Medical Manual” or in worst case scenarios - time to email my good doctor friend (bless his soul!)
And that is kind of my point – the way you look at life makes the difference, doesn’t it?  Sure, some stuff will always be hard and will always be half-empty rather than half-full, but for the rest ….??  May I see tumble dryers and other wonderful opportunities to smile and see God’s sense of humour!

October 03, 2010


My fingers are just itching to write something, but my head is too full at the moment to sort out WHAT or WHAT NOT......but here i go anyhow......

We have been back in our village for nearly 3 months and have (sometimes literally) been bombarded by all kinds of cultural stuff - happenings in and around us. From funerals to feasts - not that one would be much better than the other - fasting, initiation, 40 days-after-the-death-meals, extremely sick people, drums at night - the works! The spiritual realm was probably in a traffic jam!!! All this to say that to work through all of this and observe, absorb and make sense of it all was (and is) quite exhausting! The fun of living in another culture.....

To find someone on the outside to understand and listen has proven quite impossible (at times)! I have found that if a person cannot hook it unto something familiar in his/her own environment, then he/she either discards it immediately or tries to downplay things. Some have even told me that it can't be all THAT difficult living here! Surely not, don't we have running water and who needs electricity anyway? Yes, well, if you are a career camper then you might be happy here all the time!! But then again, it is not about the physical stuff that one can see or wish you had - it is the things you are suppose to know or do, the things that everyone here understands - even the 2 year old - everyone, that is, except you!! It is the hard stuff that you need to work through, the suffering you see daily, your own feelings of inadequateness.....And so we plod on, hopeful that tomorrow might bring more enlightenment and encouragement - always the learner....

Sometimes the mischievous side of me really wants to take charge and write a newsletter full of this kind of stuff - just to see what kind of reaction i will get - but then again, i might get no reaction whatsoever!! THAT would be really bad! Talk about not being understood! :) (Iin a way i am doing it now, so don't be offended...just hear my heart??)

And anyway, it is not all bad, of course, it just gets a bit too much at times and it is then that i wish i could share AND be understood! I guess that, THAT is my lesson - i actually just read this morning:

"Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, who rely on horses, who trust in the multitude of their chariots (haha) and in the great strength of their horsemen, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel, or seek help from the Lord."

Woe to her!! And so i let go of all my expectations on friends, even the cyber space variety, and turn to the Lord - He is the One who created all peoples and He is ultimately the One who understands the surrounding culture .......and me too, of course!!

Dear Lord, where do i begin........

September 07, 2010

The trouble with being an anthropologist, is that you rarely study those in really nice affluent countries!  Rather, you are stuck with the ones nobody really wants to know in any case - the out of the way, deep- in-Africa type of place......

And in this type of location you find all kinds of challenges that you didn't bargain for or even thought of before embarking on your quest to get to know them!  You  know, to read about people suffering in the National Geographic, or to see it on TV, is quite different than seeing a person in agony and in the worst case even smelling death....

Yes, this is a bit of a morbid post, but hey, i have to have an outlet besides talking to my husband........and so here we go....
Yesterday i cleaned out a lady's wounds - Massive cancer growths that even the hospital will not treat anymore.  When i opened the dressing there were "things" wriggling in the dead skin!  Oh, goodness, how terrible,,,,but apart from coming to us, where will she go.  Where else will she get a soft hand and a soothing salve?  So sad, but so real - one of those things that you didn't bargain for when you signed up!

The whole point of living here is to get to know the people, but sometimes you wish you didn't know all that much - to lessen your own pain.  A face has a name, a name becomes a friend and when do you stop worrying and wanting to make it all better for everyone?  Too heavy a burden to carry! 

But in all of this, i know God's peace is around me, giving me the grace to deal with stuff that i do not know how to handle, helping me to have compassion, being in a small way His hands and feet here on earth.  And now i know why Jesus could not send away the crowds and had compassion on them......  

September 02, 2010

White bread

Yesterday i baked this really good looking white bread. But pride comes before the fall...... This morning i was ready for breakfast and cut two slices off......only to find that i had put too much salt into the bread and it was awful!!  Me, who likes salt, could not even eat it!  Not even with some sweet honey - it was totally ruined......

As my empty stomach was growling a bit, i got to think about bread and so on.  Sometimes my life looks like the white bread - all nice from the outside - even well-cooked on the inside, but there in the flavour something went wrong.  The taste - the most important factor - is off!

Sometimes the flour here has a funny taste too - something between fumigation tablets and strong cleaning liquid in a flour form.  Then the bread takes on that taste - nothing i have tried has rid the flour of that flavour.  How much do i allow the environment to influence my "flavour"?  How much things do i let into my heart to spoil my nice looking "bread" completely??

Something to think about today - what does my flavour tell others?  May the Bread of Life be my example and most significant influence today and every other day....... May i be a sweet smelling flavour to Him and the ones He placed around me.

August 27, 2010

Cultural clues......

There i was, sitting outside thinking of the millions of things that needs to be done inside, but trying to be just sitting.  Very difficult!!  Today is my son's birthday - the dough is drying out and tomorrow 32 people will be here for his birthday and meetings all combined - a good reason to sit and worry.

But why am i outside then?  Well, i have a visitor and until today, i have kind of enjoyed her visits.  But the clueless cultural detective that i am, i have only today realized that me, the great missionary, really could be missing the point of her visits......until it struck me, that she a mere girl, might not be wanting to visit me at all - that there might be Another Reason.  And so, i sit and think Very Hard, and try to look interested in my impromptu language lesson, but to no avail, my head is too full!  And in any case i was also wondering how do you get rid of visitors??  I know this sounds terrible, but there you go, the truth is out!  I wanted to bake a cake and knead the bread.  I sit, i sigh, i sigh, i sit, but nothing works, it's up to the visitor to decide when to leave...... and then i begin to wonder if i might just might be missing the point of her visit - could it be that there might be some interest in one of my sons??  My husband (this is a polygamist society!)  Yikes!  I go into full denial until my theory is proven (by asking discreetly our workers what they think) and hope to do better next time......

So i decide, i am a grown women and i have work to do, she is a girl and would be able to handle it if i say, "look, i really have work to do, but come and visit anytime (hypocrite!)"....and then i flee and pray that i didn't do too much damage - i can just see our whole ministry teetering on the brink of calamity because of my selfish act!  Oh, Lord, be merciful and give this poor anthropologist some insight and some clout! 

August 19, 2010

I know nothing!

Being married, each one usually has his/her role to play and things to do and i became very aware of all my incapabilities with my poor husband flat in bed with a slipped i was not only the chief cook and bottle washer, but also the fore(wo)man, the receiver of guests, the disher-out-of work and so on......and i wasn't doing well, trying to be my other half as well!

And so there i was sitting in the office of the local airline trying to convince this lady to book the ticket for a friend and i realize i have no clue as to how to do that!  (The Convincing her part)  She wants the passport and i don't have it, although i have all the info she or the next person might need to write a small essay on my friend who needs a ticket!  First i haven't been in town properly for nearly 5 months and then (to my credit) i haven't been to this office in over a year.....well, so much for my attempts, she just won't budge and what do i know anyway in dealing with this difficult kind of person??.

The next day....
I am explaining to our workmen where to plant some new grass, becasue i can't think of any other work for them to do at this moment.....and then after a lenghty explanation, they ask "So where do we plant this grass?"  'What do you mean Where?"  Oh, well, apparently i really do know nothing!  And it got worse as i had to now figure out that they Actually Meant which was that they didn't know How To do the whole thing...and sad but true, neither did i!!  I know nothing remember?

And then i'm in the village and i greet the wrong person or forget to do the shake my hand-three-times-in-one-go-thing and they roll their eyes, giggle or avoid looking at me who-knows-nothing!  Or i bring the wrong presents - pumpkins in pumpkin season, for example!  :)

In carrying all these new hats, of which many don't fit and some might (?) fall on the ground and others have been  forgotten in a deep dark corner, only remembered much later in the deep, dark night...hiehie, until my husband is up and running again, i guess we will just have to live with the consequences of things that's not done, not straight and not checked if properly done!!  At least i am still a good cook (if i get the time after picking up all those fallen hats!)

I may not  know much, but one thing i do know - all my days are in the hand of my Father and He is All-knowing!  Phew, what a relief!

August 04, 2010

What is in a name?

As a welcome back present we received a rooster from our village chief.  So the next step was to buy a hen and then we had to build a chicken coop and then get food and so on and so on.  They were also duly named – Vitalstatistix and Hennie Pennie.  What is in a name??  Well, for one you won’t easily be eaten!  Just imagine the scene – “Thanks mom, Hennie Pennie, sure was tasty!”  Yikes!
But to make matters a bit more complicated we received another chicken gift – a rival rooster!  Our chicken coop was definitely not big enough for two male egos!!  So what to do, oh, what to do?
This last rooster kind of got a name too, but it didn’t quite stick…and so as my husband asked me what I thought about the idea of eating number 2 for Sunday lunch, I sat gazing out the window at the free chickens scratching away and I just couldn’t say yes.  So much for the strong missionary type!  (I once received a slaughtered chicken present and when they put the bag in my hands it was still warm, i shudder just thinking of it!)
But then, inspiration struck – why don’t we trade the rooster for another hen!!  Yipee!!  The day (and the rooster) was saved!  And I would eat something else tomorrow and try not to think about it too much!  
Bella, the almost vegetarian.
Ps.  I’m thinking about a name for the new hen already!

June 29, 2010

Tuesday thoughts......

"It's an interesting phenomena", says Mister Steyn in "the god's must be crazy" about his reaction when coming in close contact with a lady - his brain just stops functioning.....haha, very funny when talking about love!

It is, however not so funny, when faced with this phenomena when in contact with certain people in my life.  When the best that i do will never be good enough.  When i am with them my brain seizes up and i go into little girl mode - insecure, small and not worth the money spent.....

It took me 29 years to accept God's love for me!  That God could love me was a most impossible thought - I mean looking through "their' eyes, I was never good enough or deserving enough, or whatever.  What a glorious day when i read that God loved me when i was still a sinner!  My life changed forever!  To infinity and beyond!

And then i have a crash landing when faced with the old situations!  i scamper away, trying to avoid the hurt and the pain, never succeeding in any case, wondering how can anyone love me?  Do i live my life in the shadow of these hurts or do i live in the Shadow of the Almighty where i am safe and protected?  Do i open my ears to my dear husband's "I love you's" or do i still choose to believe the old echos?

My smallest son, aged 7, heard this saying and repeats it often "The past is history, the future a mystery, but today is a gift"  Very wise - i would do well to listen to him!  It's just so hard! 

And so, Lord, hide me under Your wings and when i do venture out, clothe me in Your armour!  Without it i am like a chicken without feathers in a raging snowstorm! :)  Thank you for the loving people You have placed around me from time to time, help me to believe in Your Truth.

June 24, 2010

Living by "faith'

Just when you think everything is going rather quite smoothly, you slip and fall flat on your face!!

And so here we are at the end of our furlough with still so many things to do and buy that we really do not know what to take and what to leave, what to buy and what not!!

But this is not the problem - i mean people are very adaptable!  The problem has to do with me of little faith.  Living by faith is really not aptly named, don't you think?  Something more like living every day with only God's support and supply and not taking into consideration my weak old little faith!  Or what about living by the Faithfulness of God?  That's much more appropriate, i would say!

God is always faithful, but i struggle with "will He do it for me?"  "Is this the right thing to do NOW?'  I don't know.......

This Scripture has really been a challenge to me -

"If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan? 

I think the easy life is looking very attractive right now - the "men" have worn me out, i guess.  And i want to run with horses - what a joke!  

But then i think of the man who asked Jesus to heal his son and then said - 'I do know You can do it, but help me in my unbelief"  Help me Lord to see You in all of this, this churning, doubting, wondering about many things - help me in my unbelief!

June 17, 2010


I have been struggling with this for a long time!  Why do i blog?  If i am totally honest, i guess it would be to have a sort of voice out there and given my situation i lack (great understatement) fellowship, so it fulfills that role.  But deep down i wonder if it is not a sign that i really don't have enough meaningful conversations or - let's just say it as it is - not enough people who really understand me and my life.....sigh! and also friends come and go as do the seasons......

And so i blog because of this and then wonder why i don't get any comments - haha!!  One day i will write up our life story and it will take all my effort and then no-one will read it!  But i confidently blog on.  At least i think through the things that are churning in my mind and in trying to make sense of them by writing them down it has greatly helped me gain perspective (mostly).

I guess i have my answer and so to me from me.

cultural issues....

Being here in my own culture sure has been interesting! People here really do not like probing questions as to why they do something or do not! Espesially when faced with things that they are trying to ignore and we, as "outsiders" once again see very clearly! I really do not mean it arrogantly or even that i am judgmental, it is just that i am so used to ask questions and be inquisitive that i can't help myself! And so when i forget to be quiet and ask the very untinkable yet again and the person rushes off with a sudden onset of a coughing fit in search of something to drink, not to return, then i sigh and resove once again to smile and and nod.

But yesterday i just had so much FUN! I went to a ladies confernece for the day and was a bit puzzled when the pastor's wife said just before we left that we need to mingle with the rest and not stick to our own group....and so i hoped to find enlightnement when we disembarked from very smll cars going very fast up and over hills, a half an hour later. We were met by about 200 friendly women that were not of our own culture.....ah i now see clearly why we had to be reminded to "mingle"! I, on the other hand was IN MY ELEMENT!

This is what i do everyday - trying to look as if i belong although i once again stand out like only a white person can with wild hair and a tall frame in the midst of brown haired, very short people!! BUT this time, i could use my own precious language and ask and wonder and be curious to my heart's desire!! And feel loved and accepted by these dear, wonderful ladies!

I went to the confernce expecting, i guess, to learn more about God (which i did of course!) but i went away with such a wonderful sense of knowing for sure that God's call on my life is working cross-cultural and that He know me best!
When i used to work as a physio a long time ago, i wasn't a believer and so even though i had a lot of compassion it was only half of the picture.

Last week i did an advanced medical training to equip me more for life in the bush. It was really an excellent time of getting up to date again and to learn new procedures in case of an emergency.

As we worked alongside the nurses and doctors the Friday night (in a government training hospital) i was really challenged by seeing so much "raw" sin. Previously i just felt for the patient - you know, wounds, diseases, heart problems, etc.........but this time i saw a world needing salvation, needing healing, needing God. What a privilege to touch a foot and pray to my Father for calmness and peace upon the patient, for healing, but above all for another chance to get to know the only true living God! How sad i was to see them in pain, people without any form of Hope. We live in a broken world, we cannot be silent any longer!! How can we keep the Hope we have all to ourselves??

May 22, 2010

to my husband......

Yesterday we did some interviews and personality tests and, lo and behold, if i answered b), his was a) !! We didn't do it together but i mean it was sooooo obvious!! The poor lady doing the interview probably thought - poor husband and then maybe poor wife (as i got to go first!) haha Yes, opposites we are!!! and we have the "test" to prove it - as if it didn't come out just about in every scenario!!

But in saying all of this, i want to give credit to my dear husband! He is the stabilizing factor of this unpredictable and sometimes crazy woman! He is the one who keeps me focused and brings me closer to God. He is the one whom God has used to open my eyes to so many misbeliefs i had about our Father and i thank my God for him!

opposites we may be, but i see it more as two halves forming a whole - a and b!!

May 16, 2010


I was feeling very tired thinking about the week that lay ahead, all in neat little compartments and everything mostly very predictable!

in our village, life is rarely predictable and i guess i have just become so used to this Unpredictability, that too much predictability and inflexibility really gets me down!

I mean, school always start at 7:50 (and they have bells!), classes at 8:30, shops open at 8 and close at exactly 7 and so on! The traffic lights change after every few minutes, the microwave ticks of the minutes to the second! You turn the tap and water comes out, you flick the switch and the light comes on - and if it doesn't, you find out why very quickly.

All good things, for sure! But i must admit, Africa at her best does not work like this! Maybe the shop will have what you want, maybe the shop will even be open! Maybe the truck is still stuck on some border or river crossing. You need something today?? Good luck if you set your heart on it!! All you will probably gain by thinking along these lines is high blood pressure, which i predict will happen if you continue in these unrealistic expectations!! :0

Somehow it's part and parcel of deep, dark Africa, but also part of her allure....yes, it does get one down some days, but i do miss it! I miss not quite knowing what, where or when things will happen!! I miss getting up without a fully worked-out program! Don't get me wrong, i do do my work and have a rough program to follow, but it's never set in stone! It can't be! What do you do if you are cooking supper and a baby is about to be born? Do you look on your schedule to see if it's slotted in? Or what if the tank overflows or the veld burns down or there's a rat in the kitchen?? These things do not like to be put on hold!! And it definitely does make the days more interesting....

Ah, i guess, i just miss "home".....

May 08, 2010

last night a good friend phoned and i didn't recognise her voice!! I know how her house and little one looks like, her friends and places of ministry, but i haven't heard her voice in more than 9 years! ?? so much for facebook, blogs and so on!

Why do i blog, post on facebook, write emails?? Is this really the way to go? I wonder....

Although it really does fill a gap, taking into consideration that we live remotely far from anyone, i do feel the need to "talk" with someone face to face from time to time!
Even to blog is really only a monologue isn't it? (which is ok for this introvert, most of the time - i guess - at least i can finish my sentence!) But does the typing sound of the keyboard fill in the blanks? Can you read between the clicks??

"A lone voiceless voice into a void" is then more an appropriate name for my blog!
But on the other hand, writing has become an outlet in my situation, not so much as getting info across but more of getting what is going on inside of me into some kind of understandable order.
And so to answer my own question, i guess i write mainly to myself about myself. Not very deep, i'm afraid!

On the positive side, i will visit soon with my friend whose voice i didn't recognise, but at least i will know what she looks like!!! :)

May 05, 2010

expanding my borders......

Last night i watched this movie "Motherhood" which was quite funny and in many ways very real to my life....

I haven't had a "real" job (whatever that means!) or exercised my grey matter much over the past 10 years (as a mother), apart from learning a new language or living and thinking cross-culturally, but i'm not sure if that counts! Well, next week i get the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to undergo a refresher course on first aid and then a 5 day Ship's Captain's medical training!! Stitches and all!! Whoohoo!! And to top it off we get to practise what we've learned in the ER room on a Friday night!! I can't think of anything more exciting than this!! Until i really started thinking.......

I clean forgot about my inability to focus on myself for longer than 5 min. Not that i'm for the Me-Time thing at all - it's just that i have quite a busy household! In any case, will i be up to it?? Yes, i have medical background and even worked in trauma ICU, but that was ages ago before i had to share my brain cells with my kids!! ;) But this will be a week, yes, a whole week, where I get to do and learn about stuff I love!! WOW!

But then Panic set in again and all i could see was myself fainting on the very dirty floor of some obscure government hospital, while the poor patient loses all confidence in the ones there supposed to be helping! My, oh, my, what did i get myself into?? BUT as I was typing this i was just reminded of these words.....

"Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you your heart's desires!"
Thank you for this wonderful opportunity Lord, thank you for knowing exactly what i'm like and even what i like and need! I will trust You on this one too!

May 01, 2010

lesson nr 123 678..........

i like taking my boys to school - i get to meet new people every day! "Hi" and "Bye" in front of the gate! Or i sit and wait for the boys' judo to finish or rugby match and i get to "talk" to the parents waiting.....not much, but hey, it's something isn't it??
Oh, how i miss having a good (girl)friend who finishes my sentences and knows when to laugh at my silly jokes and when to cry with me......(and just for the record, my dear husband is my best friend, it's just that i also need women in my life!!!)

it's one thing to be on furlough but quite another to be in a place where you know no one much deeper than "Fine, and you?"

I do think the Lord has me going through this for a reason - a lesson i really struggle with - finding myself in Him, being with Him and becoming strong in Him! What a hard lesson, i tell you! I once wrote "In acceptance there is peace" in a joking manner but what a true statement - esp for me!! Acceptance comes after a long and hard battle fought from my side!

Yesterday someone asked me what my greatest need was out there in the bush and I said "A Wonderful Woman Friend!" Afterwards i felt really guilty as i wondered if i haven't learnt a thing in the past couple of months!! Do I trust God to fill this need? No, sadly not! And now i have this man praying for something i know the Lord will not give an ear to (most probably later when i have accepted my "lot"). So there you go, my sad little truth!

I guess the lesson from the bush just intensified here in "civilization" and i realized the life i chose has it's cost - this side and that side of the border. Custa muito as they say in Portuguese! And so Lord, be gentle with me as i struggle along, i want to be learning from You it's just that some lessons are harder than others!! You are my ultimate friend!

April 18, 2010

furlough fun....and other lessons

I sometimes call myself the Unwilling Anthropologist. But not anymore! My enlightenment came at a very unexpected place - a women's conference......
Before embarking in 3 very small, very low-on-the-ground cars the pastor's wife reminded us to "Not stick together but mingle" ?? "Now why would she have to say that?", I wondered, but not for long - these little cars can really fly!

When we arrived (safely, thank goodness, i couldn't find the seat belt!) i saw the Why....we were the minority, or let me be frank, the twenty of us were the only whites. As i never were much of a group person or could handle any form of a click, i was off to "mingle" and very happy to do so!! And this, dear friend was not to make a point or to be an example of what a good integrated SAcan could look like, oh no! This was SURVIVAL IN SOUTH AFRICA for me!

Let me explain a bit more......

When living in another culture one naturally has to ask questions, learn the reasoning (if any) behind certain behaviour or mannerisms or whatnots and so when i go back to the good ole' SA i really struggle NOT to do it! I have a hard time not to ask questions as to why or why not?? I have learnt the hard way that people of my own culture really do not enjoy this at all! They are affected in strange ways - the person could suddenly contract a severe sore throat, or a coughing fit and they would HAVE to go off to find something to drink, never to return to your side of the sitting room!! Or if i would forget that i am not suppose to challenge ANYONE and say some little thing, the subject would be changed or dinner would be instantly ready, or they would urgently HAVE to go shopping for a very important ingredient...ah and nod, i guess!
and this brings me to yesterday......

And there i was, IN MY ELEMENT again - the tall, wild-haired, white person in the midst of small brown people, people who were eager to answer my questions even though i was a total stranger! I am naturally a shy person, but here i was making new friends and having really a great time mingling and not feeling strained or unnatural, even blending in (well almost!) Doing what i do everyday when in my small village! (and just for a treat i could speak to these new friends and sisters in Christ in my own mother tongue!)
I went to the conference expecting to receive input (which also happened) but came home with a new sense that God really has called and equipped me for exactly this...and so, no more "unwillingness"from my side! God knows me best!

Bella, the curious and willing anthropologist! Viva!

February 25, 2010

my temporary dwelling......

i had to take the workers to the building site this morning as my poor husband had to leave at 5am to go and buy stone - it takes 2 hours for this very interesting little trip - and the little truck couldn't take more people on as well! In any case, as we were driving along the muddy path, one of the guys was chatting loudly in his own language and the others were laughing or making comments....and it got me thinking (which isn't always good, i know!)

one year and 4 days ago we crossed the border and i am really looking forward to be in my own culture and amongst my own people soon! It is sometimes such an effort to always be straining to understand, trying your best not to offend (but still do!), not fitting in - actually sticking out like a very, white, sore thumb!! And i mean this literally, as the people here are really very short!! haha!! so much for going tribal! only if you would hunch down and roll in coffee could you closely "fit" in, but then again, you might be mistaken for the Missing Link!!

In any case, it then struck me that earth is not my home - even in my own culture i don't get half the jokes, or TV ads, or latest sayings!! I had to hand over my mobile phone for credit last time to the cashier, because i didn't know to which network i belonged!! and i'm not even going to mention my "fashion"!!

Ah well, this is good to realize before we go, isn't it?? Brings The Ole Expectation down to a normal or lower is not my home! So i can only pray that where i do spend most of my time that my Father will help me be content and fulfilled and grant me grace when i feel i need to belong somewhere! And if i am compleely honest, i do like it more here than anywhere else!!

February 24, 2010

my unpreachable sermonette.....

you know, i sometimes have this sinking feeling in me whenever we need to visit the home churches.....this is one of them, sinking feeling, i mean!

Soon we need to give some feedback in a couple of churches and i wonder what is appropriate and what not? Last night an old man died in his tiny hut after a stroke......he died without EVER having the chance to make a choice of following the One True God. For him there is no warm fuzzy feeling this morning, there is no heaven, only hell.....

that brings me back to the church in the home country, could be anywhere, do i make them feel nice and fuzzy? or do i give it to them straight? Do i let them squirm in their seats to not be able to sit still a minute longer, to run out and find someone to share the Gospel with?? Oh, i wish! send a check, to hear the missionary is coping and even "enjoying" it over there, looking at some nice funny pictures........much easier than reaching the co-worker, talking to someone who rolls out a prayermat in the tea room a few times a day.

sorry, funerals does this to hits home hard!

i think deep down many believe that God is so gracious that he will actually take into account that this man did not have anybody to tell him the truth and accept him into the gates of heaven......another convenient lie form the father of deception, to keep the church pews warm and fuzzy.....just read Ezekiel 3:18-19 if you don't believe me!

And so i guess, my heart is just so broken this morning and i wonder if we will ever reach the many people who still don't know, but i pray and i have HOPE!

February 22, 2010

good and ...... worse

I have found that I am really, really good at some things and really terrible at other things! This is what you learn out here in the bush where you do most of the things in life yourself – I mean you are the baker, butcher and candlestick maker plus many more things of course!!

Well, I have come to realize I am terrible at making fires, especially with wet wood – I just cannot do it! I can though, cough extremely well when faced (literally) with smelly, smoky fires! I can also sneeze really good during the dry season when there is lots and lots of dust all over the place!

The other thing I can really do well is break things and I can jump superbly on an overfull suitcase and close it - all in one go!! Isn’t THAT something?? I am not much of a butcher I must admit, but I have killed (with the car) a few chickens crossing the road here – the children keep count of that sort of thing, so if you would like figures, just ask them!

When it becomes time to move – which has happened quite often, I am really the worst! I take out all the linen and leave it on the bed for a few days while I pack up a quarter of the kitchen, make myself endless cups of tea and sleep between the piles of washing and stuff on the bed! Terrible packer!! But somehow it gets done – maybe I am really good sleepwalker-packer?? In any case I am quite good at walking in and over boxes!

I am also extremely good at crying when I break something or when I make a batch of bread (again) without salt or when I see my dead vegetables in the supposed to be veggie garden! I can also cry when the bugs eat my roses – it’s not for them! But I am also good at smiling again, esp when I get a hug from my children and blow my nose on my dear, understanding husband’s hanky !

I am quite good at making people laugh! I am the village stand-up (or sit-down) comedian! I am just such a hilarious person! If they see me, they start laughing and I’m not even saying anything yet!! You should see them when I am on my bike!!! At least I can also laugh at myself – although I am better at making others laugh…..

I guess you learn more about yourself here than what you would like to know, but then again you realize that the verse in John that says “without Me you can do nothing” really, really is true! So please Lord, don’t leave me, because I am really terrible on my own……

February 13, 2010

Colours and other nice things.......

This is my blog, so i can speak my mind, right? And if it wasn't for the fact that i live mostly all by myself, i wouldn't even be posting this, but there you go - Blog, my friend who doesn't talk back, but always listens quietly, will now be spoken to! :)

I have been thinking about this topic for quite a while - so bear with me.....

Where we live now the walls are just grey cement - they have never even seen a paintbrush! So i suppose in our newly built house i overcompensated a bit with the colours....hiehie...a year is a long time in a dull little house! But, it's done now and i love it! Or i did until i recently started wondering why people expect that when you are a missionary you are supposed to live really, hmm how shall i name it....???......bland?? No vibrant colours, no nice interesting effects (that by the way, cost nothing!), just the plain old white please! (obviously there is a balance needed as in all things - ie flat screen TV's, Leather couches or whatever is the latest and most important thing in your culture! - this is not what i mean, we try our best to be good stewards!!!)

It bothered me so much, i deleted the colourful rooms from facebook! It really bothered me so much that i couldn't stop thinking about my shell and stone bath (which we picked up ourselves), my very blue kitchen with ironwood tops - iron wood!! (and i'm not even mentioning the teak window frames (also readily available and cheap here!).

And so with all this in mind i was out walking today and i saw one of my roses (roses? yes!) when it struck me!! Who made the rose? The sunflower? Who made the rainbow for crying out loud!! My Boss, that's Who!! So, i'm sorry if my colours or beautiful things taken from nature offend you, God knows i try my best not to offend anyone in any culture, but hey, He set the standard!! Viva colours, i say! And one day, i hope to teach the people here to see and admire the beauty around them, created by the Most Beautiful Person I know, my God!

(Ps I sincerely hope i didn't offend anyone by writing this?? Speak now or forever hold your silence! :) )

February 12, 2010

Of offerings and other easy songs.......

Well, there i was, way past missionary midnight (9pm) sitting on my bed, playing guitar for two reasons - to keep me awake so that i could drink more water and to praise the Lord because i was scared stiff!!

Kidney stones.....probably not so scary when you know the hospital and friendly doctor is at your beck and call, but to me last night, the night being a dark one of course, it was a scary thing!

I turned the page in my song book and i just couldn't, couldn't sing "I will offer up my life..." when this pain in my side made the reality of sacrifice and offerings very painfully clear to me! We so easily sing these songs! How hard is it to mouth the words when in a very comfortable place? (This, by the way could be anywhere - even here in the (un)comfortable bush!) Do these songs really filter down and touch our hearts - do we think God doesn't take EVERY word serious?? He who created by using WORDS!!! Yikes!

As you can gather, i don't take songs lightly, but i must admit, when we are in the good old passport country i do get carried away by the thought if worshipping the Lord with 1000 others and then sometimes sing without thinking too much!! But, sitting on my bed seeing those words, i was confronted with the thought "am i really willing to offer up my life??" It could be painful! And then i realised - it is painful, and i don't mean just the kidney stone!

God takes us into His school and asks us along the line to surrender more and more to Him - not commit, because committing still leaves you in control, but surrender - and that is painful! I guess there are many ways to offer up your life and i should just trust God that He knows best for i awoke this morning, there was a song in my heart......"I will offer up my life, in Spirit and Truth, pouring out my sacrifice as my worship to You!"

February 09, 2010

A normal day, i guess.....

I had to write this on paper first and so if it makes it unto the computer i guess it's important enough!! hiehie! OK i have decided to write it or type it out for those who still think life here is sooo idyllic!! Bless them! ;)

Why first on paper? Well, in the last 7 months we have lost 2 power supplies for our computer - may they rest in pieces! Just think about it - we have had a laptop for maybe 10 years now and never has this happened! Wear and tear gets a new meaning here! Africa is not only hard on its missionaries (another story altogether!) but also on its appliances!

So, here i was trying to do something on the laptop when the batteries finally died on me.....completely! I got up to do something else - wash the water in the tank! So i had to pump water first, but then i also discovered the little filter to the washing machine is completely blocked up by nice green algae! (Living the Green life!) But i couldn't clean that out as i was still waiting for the water! I wanted to bake some bread, but was quite discouraged to do THAT after looking at the flour supply, so i decided to make some tea but then saw there was only about 100ml of milk left...big sigh... shops are kind of far, far away and in any case closed by now...

So i sat down to read a book - which by the way doesn't need any power by day, and then one boy got really hungry, close to starving by the sounds he made and then another and then another!
By now the house is till unswept (i hurt a muscle and rib so sweeping is extremely carrying a heavy hot water bucket...yes, another story too!), the dishes piled up because i had to send out our helper to organise firewood to heat water, which by now was filling up nicely.....

In all of this confusion and "deurmekaargeit" i hear a car's horn! Unexpected Visitors... but just in time!! And so i welcomed them into my really very disorganised home, quickly packed a basket with coffee and the last drops of milk (hoping the Lord will multiply that for the visitors' sake!) and off we went to the building site! Where we had a really good visit!

It is 12 o'clock now, the house is still in the same condition but the frustration levels have gone down a notch or two and i actually am having a cup of tea with the last drops of milk in it! All in all, a good normal day! ;)

January 29, 2010

Dress codes

For years i have struggled and fought against this constant skirt wearing thing....i mean i have to do everything in this skirt! Walking, cycling (which i gave up because of health and safety issues!), painting, climbing and even swimming!

but today i see clearly why it is so important to adhere to the dress code of rurual Africa....and it all came about quite sudden too....

I was alone on the building site with the workers, happily painting away - the boys went to haul sand - and as the one worker closed the tin, the paint, that "shouldn't go into eyes", did! A beautiful green streak in his brown eye!! Yikes!

Crisis controller that i am, i quickly searched the room for a cloth of some kind - preferably cotton and clean...well there was none....except own T-shirt! So what do you do? You grab the end and wipe the paint out, of course!

Yesterday it was my youngest with blue-green paint in his eye and up went the skirt seam and out went the paint! Very handy!! haha So, even if it irks me to always were the thing it CAN be handy in emergencies!

But a kind warning - when painting or when anticipating emergencies - wear the longest possible skirt and T-shirt! :)

January 25, 2010

Getting perspective....

It all started when i gave the boys a haircut each - yes, i am the hairdresser too! The wind blew a bit and the hair got stuck all over me and i so desperately wanted to take as shower.....

i asked the boys to start a fire for me, which they normally do very easily, but after one of them got a singed (already short) fringe i took over....

And so, there i was lying on the ground trying to make a fire so that i can take a bath...and so NOT enjoying it! The wood was wet, the smoke made me cough and i was struggling for the longest time with the smoldering and then dying coals.....and i felt oh, so sorry for myself!

But then my very level-with-the-earth eye caught sight of my neighbours and i thought "What am i complaining about??" I am heating water that comes from a TAP for taking a shower INSIDE a warm and cosy house!! And so with new vigour i blew on the embers to heat my water with joy....count your blessings one by one!

January 22, 2010

in my element....

Two young boys were tearing down the gravel road on their bike when they.....fell. And that's why they ended up sitting next to our fire house, looking sad and sore. Elbows and hands covered in blood.

I loved being a physio - no pain, no gain and all that - :), but seriuosly, i fit into my job perfectly! And i miss it somedays more than others! But here i was, sitting on my low stool, smoke curling around the reed hut, thunder rumbling in the background, feeling in my element! Don't get me wrong - not because of their pain, but because i can in some small way be of help! Physio or first aid, reaching out to touch a painful part....that's how God wired me, i was born with a bandaid and antiseptic cream in my hand!! :)

And i thought to myself....i am happy here! I can be there for my kids, support my husband and even get to dress some wounds! I pray that God will use this special compassion for the sick to open hearts to His Ultimate Compassion for them!

January 20, 2010

God as Genie?

Do i measure how much God loves me by what He DOES for me? And so, if He doesn't DO things i think i need, then i feel unloved, uncared for?? The short answer is probably ....yes, this is how my thinking goes.

Living here sure will cure THIS misbelief!!! haha! Some days here EVERYTHING goes wrong! And it keeps on going wrong for a looong time too!

A few years ago God challenged this same thought, but with a slighty differnet angle - Do i value more what i DO for God or whom i AM in God's eyes?? And the same goes for God (respectfully said, of course!) - Do I value more what He DOES or who He IS??

I must admit, last night after everything else went wrong and i saw my beloved table being bashed about (to be fixed) and then cracked (accidentally) i nearly lost it! So instead we sang and prayed together and all the songs had the same theme.....even if all goes wrong God is still the same and blessed be His Name....

I was reminded of Daniel's 3 friends when threathened with the fiery furnace...
"the God we serve is able to to save us, and He will rescue us from your hand, o king. But EVEN IF He does NOT, we want you to know, o king, that we will NOT serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up."

Even if He does not....such a short sentence but oh, so profound! And so, i pray that i will be able to say (from my heart) .... Even if God chooses not to make __________ or do ________ or ____________, i will still serve and honour Him, worship Him for who He is.

(this is hard teaching too!)

January 18, 2010

Preaching to myself.....

"This is hard teaching. Who can accept it?"....many of His followers turned back and no longer follwed Him.

How many times have i said, "This is too hard!" or even to my shame, "It's IMPOSSIBLE!!!"
It's too hard living here, it's too hard to learn yet another language, it's impossible to love him or her, or even this culture!! .... "This is hard teaching"

Then Jesus asks His disciples (and me, His follower), "You do not want to leave too, do you??" And i think i know the answer to THAT one! But listen to Peter's reply, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We Believe and Know that You are the Holy One of God"

Wow, that silenced me. Where could i go? (and i have read Jona and learnt from HIS experience!!) "It is only in Your will that i am free", sings Robin Mark, and oh so true. And so, i stay and learn to trust Him more, especially in hard times, because of who He is - the Holy One of God!

January 14, 2010

One wonderful thing about living Out Here in Africa is that i get to homeschool my children. Yes, you read right, it's a wonderful thing! And to all those we do not believe in it or believe that parents CAN actually teach their kids, fasten your seat belts!!

Some days are just a stubborn we-have-to-do-this-so-lift-up-your-head! (What job ONLY has smooth times??) Most days it is so much fun to see them "get" something! Or, my favourite, when you hear them play and one is Atilla the Hun and the other two the poor invaded Chinese....or whoever they are learning about!

Teaching them to read has been my worst struggle - and i don't mean the reading part! To keep a straight face and not burst into giggles when, for example, the youngest Insists upon doing a specific voice for every character! "Little Bear" has never been so funny! This HAS to be the best! Someone once said children spell love T-I-M-E, and it's so true!
It is a priviledge and i'm going to enjoy it while i have them here with me!

January 12, 2010

this side of heaven

Some mornings i wake up with a spring in my step....only to be knocked back down by REALITY! Well, i shouldn't sound so negative and maybe this blog will be positive some day, who knows?? :) But until we reach heaven, i guess, this is how it goes!

This morning a mother and her very sick (one year old) baby waited outside for me. Nowadays they all say the child is over and above one, because i don't give medicine for under one year old' now i have to guess the age as well as the diagnosis and treatment!! Phew! A tall order!

I felt so bad, because i had to tell her to take the child to the nearest clinic as i suspected malaria....."Not a bad idea", i hear you say? True in a way, but as the clinic is 10km away and she will have to WALK all the way with the sick baby on her back, it does add up and sometimes they just don't go.

So i sent her away with a silent prayer as i touched the little one's forehead and my heart broke, again, for these people....and i suspect correctly that it won't be the last time either! Lord bring Your healing in their lives, be the Living Water and the Bread of Life! They need You , i need You.....

January 08, 2010


Saudades.....longing, missing, feeling homesick says the English/Portuguese dictionary. A word that cathces you usually offguard. Only a word, not a very long one, but, oh so powerful that it can knock your feet from under you in a second!

I went through the whole of Christmas and New Year and didn't feel a thing and now suddendly on this wet, muddy Friday it has bowled me over! Saudades.

Missing things that people "there" take for granted, longing for the normal and commonplace. Feeling homesick and missing friends and family. Part of my life. Hardening my heart and moving ON. Saying "hello", i don't say that anymore - i have learned from a good(bye-saying) friend to just say "See ya!" and not make a big deal out of it, otherwise your heart will break!

In times like these it helps me to focus on what God has called me to be here....
I sometimes wish there were more understanding PEOPLE too out there to make it more bearable Out here in Africa....BUT He is faithful and knows my every thought, He sees my breaking heart and brings comfort! Holding on to that thought today!

January 07, 2010

No half measures.....

Have you noticed that in Africa nothing comes in half measures?? It's either too much or too little! If there is dust there is dust everywhere! If it rains, it rains cats and dogs - never a nice drizzle! There is no middle ground!

Here i am trying to be a good parent and teaching my boys restraint in eating their favourite cereals (which we only get here at hilarious prices or either have to import form the good ol' passport country) and what do i get for it?? A huge maggot and moth infestation!! So now, no more restraint - eat it all boys and as quickly as you can before the bugs beat you to it! At least we will have good memories!!

Yip, even the bugs do not come in half measures.....

January 05, 2010

Holding on to the Light

I have this very interesting little "bedside lamp". Well, actually it's a small bicycle headlamp and it fits snugly in my hand. As we live, let's call it, Green, we do not have a lot of electricity laying aound at night waiting to be burned on outdoor flood lights or dim passage lights (that's now if we had a passage!) In any case if you would try and find us on Google earth you would not see a thing here. And yes, this is deep, dark Africa!

All this to say that each dark night i have one hand firmly in my husband's hand and one small light in my other hand and so i fall asleep.....

On one such a dark night i didn't fall asleep immediately and i started thinking about life and such and well, i realized how important holding onto the light had become....but then it struck me that The Light actually never lets go of my hand! So even if i let my little lamp slip from my grasp as i fall asleep, God has me tight and secure. A very nice thought on a dark night!