Coffee along the way

Coffee along the way
Coffee along the way

May 27, 2011

all i need is a challenge!!

Yesterday two men were sitting outside on my "Patient" bench waiting for me.  More often than not, it is the ladies and their children who come to me with their minor ailments, but not today.

So, i sit down and then greet first the one and then the other one, very patiently.....they greet back. We sit.   The next thing i hear is one of them shouting to a worker nearby "Hey you!  Come help me with this White One" in the local language! 
Humph!!!  He clearly does not think much of me and so taking this challenge with both hands (or is it with all the words i know?) i ask him very sweetly in his mother tongue "So, what is it, that is sick?"  and he replies and of course i understand him - i mean he uses his hands like any pain-stricken back patient to show me Exactly Where the Pain is ......with words following, of course.  So once again i ask very sweetly in his language if he has been working very hard?  "Yes", he now admits, looking sheepishly to his called-upon translator who shyly translates that which has already been said and understood.  So, i go and fetch some pain meds and i wonder what he is saying now, behind my back to our 'translator" and i think to myself...nevermind - well done!!  All i need is a challenge - even if it is in the form of a slightly chauvinistic man!!  :)

bella, maybe i need more of these challenges to get my linguistic endeavours going??

May 26, 2011

keeping control....

We have a few friends who are pilots and this week i was thinking of them and flying and this got me thinking  :)  would it be to sit in a small cockpit - maybe of a vintage plane, and have a set of controls right in front of me, but with the Best Pilot ever sitting at the front and main controls....but not really trusting Him......??

So here i am, at the back and the control stick is going left and right and we are getting ready to do a barrel roll or something Very Scary.....and so i reach for the controls and jam it the other way as hard as i can (maybe the pilot in front needs to give me control in real life, but maybe i could take control whenever i wanted to?).  In any case, this is kind of a long intro, but bear with me....

I take the controls and am not sure what i am doing, so we start to fall, or we go into a spin and Something Bad is about to happen if i don't let go, but i won't, or think i can't because i want to be in control.....and i can't trust anyone, but myself!  Meanwhile I have The Best Pilot Ever up front who is waiting patiently for me to give back the controls!!

And i guess that sums up my life!!  I think with me in control things will go smoothly, but actually i am in grave danger - All the time!!  I am no pilot and have no clue of what to do, but think i have it all!! I am like a small over-confident child who thinks she can fly  by jumping off the high roof, stubbornly not willing to jump into her Father's arms, only to fall and break my arm or leg or both!!

And so i release the controls, albeit reluctantly, and sit back (and hopefully relax) while My Pilot takes control!  It's not easy, but it's worth it!!  I may not have a single healthy bone left if i continue trying to be in control!

bella, the passenger who tries her hardest to Trust!!

May 21, 2011

Complications of another sort :)

Africa can look so innocent, so uncomplicated, but .......rarely is!!  Take washing clothes, as a very real and recent example……

Now, normally in the un-developing world (does such a state really exist?  I’ll leave that for another day!) – washing is really quite simple.  You pop the dirty stuff into the washer and then you pop the wet stuff in to the drier!  So uncomplicated…..even if you have no dryer, you can pop it on the line, without waiting for disaster to strike.  Well, this is how I do this very “simple thing” here and take into account I have a husband and three lively boys who really get their clothes dirty…..

First I check the time of year.  We have a rainy season that lasts exactly 5 months.  So in the rainy season I wash one bundle per day, because then I can get it reasonably dry overnight on the lines inside the outside kitchen (eliminating mango fly this way).

Now, the dry season – 7 months all in all.  This is where the tricky part starts!  It’s dry enough and warm enough to wash one to three bundles, but the drying is what makes it tricky.  Questions to ask are:  “Are there any strong winds” – if the answer is “Yes”, check direction otherwise you will have clean, but dusty clothes, so choose wisely what you wash!  Next question to consider – “Are there any People trying to Burn the old Fields?”  If the answer is “Yes”, then check the wind and the direction of the named variable and choose wisely.  And so on, and so on!  You get the picture!

Today, i actually  had one more option to consider, but didn’t!   
........We are making bricks from mud, which then need to be burnt in a great Mayan-temple-style pile of bricks and wood.  Now the questions that I forgot to ask this morning were “Will the brickmaker light his enormous fire?” and if Yes, “What is the current wind direction” and “Why, oh why did I wash two bundles today without checking anything???” 

bella, with smoked clothes!

May 17, 2011

Making your life count......

I read this morning that a 2008 Olympics gold-medal winner died today at the age of 24.  He jumped form a balcony and was either in a rage or tried to commit suicide after he was caught with another woman.....what a waste!  So much potential, so much lost.

It made me think about life and the actual living it part!  We all have a life but do we LIVE it?  Do we make it count?  Where i live, or rather  i should say "where my home is" to avoid any unintentional puns here!, it may seem that at times my life is wasted, that i could have been more "successful" in my old profession, but that's not what i mean here.  Of course you can be successful and not really live life!  You live WORK!  As a person i am not defined by what i DO, but by who i am.  I can do many things and still be nothing, still live a life worth .....nothing.  Have you noticed that if you meet someone new, they (or you) very quickly ask the question "So, what do you do?"  I suppose it is really much easier to ask than "So who are you really?"

I really like this verse in Romans - do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, then you will know God's will, his perfect and pleasing will! (loosely quoted)  God's way sometimes looks upside down from our world's perspective (but then again, we must remember we are looking up to heaven and no wonder it's upside down!!)  ;)   In any case, my "job" here on earth might look very insignificant to you, but i know i am living out God's will for me.  It's not the importance that matters, but that you are actually doing what God has placed you here on earth for!!  And that brings me back to poor Samuel, who died this week at 24.....and i guess it just reminded me that we need to make choices every day to live a life pleasing to God, that's the only way we will have a life that counts and life it too!!

bella, because You told me who i am...i am Yours!

May 11, 2011

Personal info.....

Today is my eldest son's birthday!!  We always try and make it special no matter where we are - it's just so important to remember the day our kids were born!  But not at all here in our village......

I see a lot of sick people and usually i need to know the age of a child before i can give medicine!  They are already so not used to meds that i definitely do not want to overdose them!  But i have officially given up now to try and figure out the ages and it's useless to ask!  The other day a small boy needed some parasetamol and i innocently asked his mother (yes, the one he was born from) how old is the child....well, her reaction was quite surprising!  She looked at me as if i asked her what size her underpants were!  I felt really embarrassed for asking such a silly question!  Or maybe it was more like asking you "and so, on what day of the week was your great-grandfather born?"  You would also look at me and think....."weird person!", right??

Well, no more of this for me....i now let the little kids stand up and then compare them to the height and weight of my own kids and then give the appropriate amount without feeling stupid!  In any case, the kids here are all a bit underweight and under-height for their age, so this system is actually much more accurate!
Just shows that there are so many things we think is NOT cultural but really IS!!  Culture goes deep my friends, much deeper than we would like to admit, because then we might, just might, have to change our very fixed ideas!!  :)

bella, the good guesser!

May 06, 2011

Wonder, awe.......

I was walking to the vegetable garden the other day, when i saw something that really touched me....
A brickmaker was looking with wonder and awe as one of our workers showed him how the tap and hosepipe works.  His face lit up as the water spouted out!  He couldn't believe his eyes!  WOW, said his whole face.

Another time..... a young woman came to me for help - a bee had stung her on her lip and it had swelled up three times it's original size!  I ran indoors to fetch an icepack and some anti-histamine.  When i returned with the cold pack, she held it for a split second and then cried out to the other and my heart nearly stopped, but then i saw the wonder on her face!  She immediately gave it to her sister to also expereince this very cold thing.  Never before had they touched such coldness.  Wonder and awe ......

On another day, when we still lived in the city.....we used to go to this little group of believers on a Thursday - A to give them Bible lessons and me to receive cooking classes!  One day they decided to bake a cake and i brought some icing sugar along.  When i took it out they were amazed and asked what it was.  I said it was sugar and gave them all a bit to taste - you guessed it - Wonder and awe on their faces, plus HUGE smiles!  This sugar was just the best!  They asked me all kinds of questions about it - where to get it, where to buy it, what else can you use it for, etc, etc.  They were amazed!

And that is kind of my point here - am i still amazed?  Can you see in your mind's eye people around you today who are still amazed?  Awestruck?  I don't think so!  And this is why it struck me so!!  Here in Africa there is much turmoil, bad water, poverty, etc, but there is also still this innocence and the childlikeness to be amazed.  I believe it is very special quality and i pray they will not loose it as in more "civilised" cultures.  I also pray that my God, whom I love and Who loves them, will amaze them with Himself one day!!  I can't wait to see that WOW on their faces!

May 03, 2011

of trousers vs skirts......creepy crawlies, etc.......

....nothing is ever simple here but at least it still can be funny!!!  It was my birthday and as we were on holiday in the mountains we went out for the day......a few years ago this little trout farm probably looked much more idyllic than now, but it was a good place for the boys to run around and have fun - if the boys are happy then the parents are happy!!

In any case, we were paying to go in and the man-at-the-gate was explaining in staccato English what we could "see" (nice green grass and trees and oh, and some trout-dams) and "do" (paddle around in a leaking "boat") Suddenly, i felt something bite me on the inside of my thigh!  Having lived in Africa all my life, i took it in my stride and tried squashing whatever it was, but then i felt More Things crawling up my trouser leg.  Although the man-of-the-gate didn't really understand or speak English, he could read my facial expression perfectly!
Just in front of us was a small cabin, he gave me one look, flung some keys out of his pocket and shouted in his heavily accented English......"COME ....Madam!!"  And i followed without thinking twice, actually i wasn't thinking at all - just trying very hard not to freak out!

So into the mouldy old cabin me and my husband went, whipped off my jeans and found a whole squadron of big and angry red ants!  Ouch!
It was just too funny and we cracked up laughing!  I thought i would never say this, but this was one time where a skirt would have saved the day!!  I can still hear the man-of-the-gate's voice .... Come ....Madam!  haha

bella, i think ants like me!!