Coffee along the way

Coffee along the way
Coffee along the way

August 31, 2011


Yesterday was the end of the month of fasting.  Here it ends with a nice big lunch.  I was still busy with school, so my dear husband went off for a walk around the village....and boy, for once was i glad that i was still busy!

As he rounded a corner the chief greeted him enthusiastically and invited him to lunch.......They said that they had already eaten but they would join him again.  And so they sat down and washed their hands.....  A big plate of ugadi (maize meal) appeared and with it a big plate of fish stew.  This was going down well and he was enjoying sitting with the chief and our neighbour.  But as usual all good things come to an end - another plate now appears - with only two little things in it.  Two little birds - like sparrows - lie there just waiting to be eaten!  Heads, tails, bones and even a few feathers - all nicely fried and crispy!

He cautiously points to the birds and asks the chief to show him how to eat this "delicacy" - hoping that then at least one will be gone!  But no, the chief takes only a head and pops it into his mouth and then, just becasue it is so good, the other one too (best bits go to the chief, you know!) only the little scrawny bodies the good missionary that he is, he breaks off a wing, tiny as it is and tries to get the meat off the bones, while all eyes are now on him.  (Have you ever tried eating when everybody is watching you??)  He kind of throws the tiny bones over his shoulder nonchalante and wonders how to proceed next?  But by now, they are laughing at him and telling him to just eat the whole thing!  Bones and all?  YES!!  So, he pops the body into his mouth and crunch, crunch chews and ...sparrows, i mean, swallows.

"And it wasn't too bad", he said!  :)  "Well, done!"  i said!! And then our little boy prays "please help pappa not to get sick!"  :)

bella, the not-as-brave-as-my-husband-but-thankful-for-him!!

August 29, 2011

Kindred spirits

I was never one for many friends.  Being popular was never important to me, but having a liked-minded friend was!  Even just one or two was and is, good enough for me!  Kindred spirits are not found in all friends, but it makes it doubly worthwhile when one does come along!  (And here i must add, that when the Lord gave me my husband, He also gave me my best friend, for which i am forever grateful!)

I spoke to a dear friend this morning - it was her birthday and i had to use up all my self-control not to burst into tears because i missed her so much.  I tried being strong, but the truth is, i am not.  I am such a sissy deep inside me and letting go, leaving behind and waving goodbye to the plane is NOT my thing!  I want to cling to my few good friends!

I sometimes wonder why the Lord picked me for this out-of-the-way job and place where we live.  Did all the others say no to Him?  And only i was left?  Or is it just this - that i only need a few friends and that makes me a good person to live like this? I'm not sure....but whichever way it is, i do miss my good friends - friends where i do not have to explain myself!  Friends where i can just be

On the other hand, the Lord has, at unexpected times, blessed me with a friendship excactly when i needed it - He is faithful!!  I just need to look up for a while and realize His blessings - even if i have to let go and move on again or let them move on!  I do wonder how it will be in heaven one day??  I know i will be totally caught up in God and His totally awesome-ness, but will i also have fun with friends?  I do hope so!  I see mine so little that i would like to spend eternity with You and them!

Thank you Father for the friends You have given me, bless each one.

"Why would you want so many friends if you won't have the time to get to know all of them very well?"  CS Lewis (loosely quoted).

August 25, 2011

New friends - important ones!

There is a new circle of friends that i am desperate to be part of!  I think of them daily, trying my best to find ways into this circle.....

Feelings of insecurity fill my being – am i good enough, will i be able to be part of them?  Will i make it into the inner circle? 
When i’m alone, i feel guilty that i’m not spending all my time with them.  I even neglect my chores!  Who wants to be washing dishes if you can be in the company of these friends? And friends are so scarce here!!

If we get together with others from here, all they talk about are how they finally understand CM or how interesting AM is!  Wow!  I want that too!

And what about Ju and A?  They are mostly mind-boggling too me!  To know them would actually open words, i mean worlds!  Lu-Si will you accept me?  And what about you Ci-Yi? 

Are you curious about these new friends?  Do you think i’m a teenager again, trying to be “In”  :)

My new friends are the ChY language and all her mates!  CM – Class Maker, Adjective marker, the Noun classes – Ju-A, Lu-Si and all the others!  Man, i need to spend every waking moment, thinking about them!  How do i improve my “friendship” with them? I daily think up new schemes and it weighs heavily on my mind as i do the 100 other normal things that keep me busy, keep me away from “them”!

And so, dear Ju-A, Lu-Si, Wu-Ji, i really do need to get to know you better!  Share your secrets with me?  I’ll try my best to be a faithful friend!

bella, hopeful about this language!

August 16, 2011

Fear vs Trust

Next month we will visit a big city where we lived for two years.  With it comes an adventurous roadtrip of 2 days, seeing friends, visiting our church and hopefully some shopping thrown into the bargain! 

But i am not overly excited......actually i am quite fearful!  With malaria, food allegies, unknown roads, etc, etc i am not surprised that it is with fear and trepidation that i set off.....and there is that word fear again!

Sometimes, i just get so tired of always being out of my comfort zone!  I don't even know where this Zone is anymore!  :)  As i was reading a book about the life of William Carey to my boys, it really struck home.  Here he was, having just arrived in India after being at sea for 5 months and what does he do as he gets put ashore?  He starts preaching, eating, bonding with the people!  Wow!  But his poor wife did not do so well.....she had some good reasons and i think personally with today's help she would have made it, but it got me thinking.....

How many times do i choose to fear rather than trust?  And if i fear, i do it wholeheartedly and if i trust i do it with did this come about?  Don't i know my Father?  Don't i believe He has the best intentions for me?  Probably not, if i'm totally honest!  I do fear a lot of things!  And i must admit all the allergies have pushed me over the fearline into being terrified at times!!  Not a good place to be at all!

I read the other day in the Book that the Hebrews chose not to believe God and trust Him and so He ended their days in fear and futility!  Yikes!  I certainly don't want my life to end this way!!  But how do i really, really give all my fears to Him and trust Him unconditionally?  Please Father, i do believe, help me overcome my unbelief!

bella, needing to trust!

August 13, 2011


Last night we watched Invictus (so now you know where we come from!) In any case, this morning i just have this deep sad feeling inside of me, a heaviness, if you will.   I have saudades and it's bad! 

I miss a home, i miss a country that does not exsisit anymore.  And i don't mean the pre-apartheid era.  I mean the time where there was hope and a future.  Now it seems that all i hear is bad and sad.

I miss my own people - even the ones who don't look like me and speak any one of the 11 official langugaes!  I remember  a few years ago, meeting a lady once from Swaziland here and i busrt into tears when i heard her accent.  I guess it doen't help if your own mother also says...only coming home next year?!  Wow, that's soooo long still.

So there you have it!  How can i shake this feeling?  Ho do i not cry myself dry over someplace and some people that i miss terribly?  I do wish at times that from their side they would have more compassion for me in this, but hey! you can't blame it on someone else, can you?  And so, i will choose to put on the Garments of Praise for this spirit of heaviness, and the oil of Gladness!  And maybe i'll lsiten to some of my own type Fado and slowly get over it again.....

bella, feeling a little bit lost.

August 11, 2011

Me, The Fake Missionary....

Lately, due to a build-up of many happenings in my life, i have stopped eating red meat.  Why, i prefer not to discuss!  :)  In any case, i was safe - meat is scarce here in our village, or so i thought!

In this month of fasting things really do go topsy-turvy!  For one, the people are off the road as soon as the sun sets to go and eat (or rather feast), which makes it much safer to travel at night!  Another fact that shows things are upside down is that the stuff that would normally happen in the day-time now gets shifted to the evenings.  I didn't think that would make a huge difference and so off i went to partake in the 40day-cut-shorter-to-7days end of funeral ceremony.  Happily me and my husband walked in the full moon over to our neighbours......ignorance is bliss, they say.....

I joined the women and straight off noticed that almost the whole village was present!  Not a good sign!  When they have this kind of ceremony outside the time of fasting you get a cup full of very sweet, runny porridge - not extremely tasty, but fine for any semi-vegetarian.  Lots of people meant only one thing - MEAT!

Yes, sure enough, the cooking fires glowed red and the heaped and steaming plates were being passed around already by the time we arrived.  I tried finding a spot where no one would take any notice of me, but momentarily forgot i have a very white face which kind-of shines in the moonlight.  (Let your light shine?)  In any case, after giving a passing man the fright of his life when he suddenly looked up into my very white face, i was seen and brought closer to where the food was!  So much for my 1st plan!  But then, me being me, i already had a second plan!

The food was placed in our little circle and "luckily" in the darkness of the little half-hut.  Although the moon was bright, where the bowls stood, it was quite dark!  And another thing, here we eat from a communal bowl, so no one really knows how much you eat (or don't eat, in my case!).  So, this was my plan - i first asked what the mboga (sauce) was and they promptly replied......goat!  The one lady took a small piece and nearly stuffed it into my mouth, but just as i thought i would have to swallow she ate it herself - phew! Life was getting stressful! I had to put my plan into action and fast! ....i would pinch off a good sized ball of chima (stiff maize meal) roll it around like a professional and then make as if i dip it in the sauce, pop the dry chima into my mouth and voila! it would seem like i was eating!  Thus offending no-one!  Does this make me a fake?  Does it mean i have no integrity?  Or is it just trying on to hold on to “me”, but not wanting to offend anyone?  It is so hard always having to do stuff that you don't like, please forgive me this one?

bella, the strange outsider.

August 05, 2011


This country we live in is truly beautiful! White beaches framed with palms, granite rocks strewn all about, high and low mountains – just beautiful!

We were coming back from the conference, on a 4 hour drive, and as we passed one of my favourite places, i noticed the houses....

But firstly, let me paint a picture of this favourite place – even though it might be a poor one... 

Quite suddendly the road goes up onto the escarpment – up until then you have gone through droves of indigenious trees, broad rivers and around the feet of small hills, but then as you turn and go up, a breathtakingly amazing view catch you by surprise....high mountains in hues of blue and purple, deep green valleys covered in trees, small hills in between, every shade of green - as far as the eye can see! Truly beautiful! You can’t help to stop and drink in the vista.

As we were passing i also thought, “What a wonderful place to build a house!” and then i saw the village – built right on the edge of this beautiful vista. The next thing i noticed was that not one house faced the view – and yes, i know the people here do not really live in their houses and have nice big windows and so on, what i mean is that even their “living quarters” were facing the very boring and dusty old road. They have all this beauty right in their (literally) backyards, but they don’t see it, enjoy it, marvel at it!

And as always, it got me thinking about my own life – where do i not to see God’s hand, God’s beauty in my life? Where am i blind to His blessings? What do i choose not to “see”??
It might be small things and it might be big things! A new friendship – even though different than i would have thought or only for a short time? A budding rosebush right in front of me? A plate filled with good nutritious food? What are those things that my Father blesses me with that i miss? And then also, especially in times when i feel my life spin out of control or times of intense sadness, times when my Father comes and comforts me, do i see Him in it at all? Or do i choose to only look at the ugly, the dirty and the death around me? Sadly, the aswer is yes on most bad days and i thank God that He used a beautiful view to open my eyes! Especially today as i have to go to a funeral of and old man from our village – one who did not have the chance to get to know God. Help me see Your comfort, Your care ....... i sure need it!

And so, i choose to see! Please open my eyes Father as you opened the eyes of the servant of Elijah! I don’t want to miss what You do and give in my life. Thank You for loving me.

Bella, with open heart and open eyes.