Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Report of Another US Tragedy

We receive quite a few prayer letters each month.  I just received one from TX.  It contained news of a modern Christian tragedy.

The report talked about a pastor from a foreign country.  The pastor was a former professor!  How sad!

It is a pattern that is repeated too often.  A good competent businessman, a good competent engineer, and now a good competent professor, gets quite serious about Christianity, as we all should, and then.... goes to seminary, or cemetery, as I call it.  He then may or may not have an effective ministry in full-time service in a mission post or Congregation.

Foremost we must listen to G^d and obey, and if he calling you to seminary, get there as fast as you can.  ON THE OTHER HAND, figure out how to minister and grow where G^d has planted you.  I am all for getting all the training, Bible knowledge, theology you can acquire, but young people particularly, don't feel compelled to leave your occupation to do somehting "more spiritual" unless G^d clearly directs.

That foreign pastor may be highly effective, I have no idea.  BUT, a Christian professor, what a great idea!  A Christian businessman, or school teacher, or auto mechanic, or retiree.  All of us ought to be ministering wherever we are.  The pulpit is a great ministry, but not the highest calling.  Foreign missions is a great ministry, but not necessarily the highest calling.

Ask G^d where He wants you, then seek to minister right there in all the ways you can. 

Now, to practice what I preach!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Big Fig

When we got to Manyana to look at the cliff paintings, we got a bonus.  After seeing the drawings, the guide got into our car and directed us to "Livingstone's Tree".  This giant fig tree was a big tree when Livingstone was a physician-missionary in this part of Africa in the mid-19th century.  It was big enough for him to practice medicine under this tree.

The nature of this fig, and there are several types in Botswana, is that it droops to the ground.  The limbs touching the ground send out roots.  This strengthens the tree, provides more water, and gives it a long life.

Here is what it now looks like underneath.

As you know there's lots of Scriptures about trees and roots, so I won't quote those now.  It is neat to see/ touch/stand under a tree where David Livingstone stood.  He had a heart committed to Jesus the Christ.  You can't do better than that.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Getting Some Power

On Jan 17, 2013 I went to the Botswana Power Corporation for the second time, to get electricity for our apartment.  I waited a long while, filled out some papers, and then paid 1000P for pre-paid electric.  For roughly $125 I had purchased 1677 Kilowatt hours of electricity, or so I believed.

A couple of days later, I found my electric meter.  I wrote down the reading.  A few days later and the meter reading was higher!  Go figure.  I would have thought that a pre-paid meter would slowly show the diminished of the purchased power.

By mid-Feburary it was clear to me that the meter was recording my usage, not the use of pre-paid power.  I dutifully went to the nearest BPC office and explained the problem.  The lady referred me to a young man who smiled indulgently and told me, in so many words, that I didn't know of what I spoke, and that most assuredly I had a pre-paid account. I bought another 1000P of electrcity, because that is something hard to do without.

In late May I heard from a neighbor that BPC was going to come and convert all our electric meters to pre-paid!  I made another visit to the local BPC office, where they, not surprisingly, referred me to the main office downtown.  Downtown, fortunately I got to see Ms Nfali quickly.  She wanted us to be permanently available for a technician to... wait for it.... convert our meter to pre-paid!!!  I suggested that I was not sure we could be permanently available, so she told me that tomorrow before noon our meter would be converted to prepaid. I asked her if there was a hand-out, or any info on how to operate the pre-paid meter, and she looked at me as if I were crazy.  Go figure.

Sure enough at about 1230, Abel showed up and converted our meter.  Fortunately, I saw him and ran down to thank him and get instruction.  Kindly he showed me how to insert the codes off my receipts to insert credit into the meter.  The day was 31 May, and my original purchase way back in January had already expired.

Well, to shorten this post, it only took one trip to 5 different offices to get it done.  We now have over a years worth of electricity to last us for 6 months.  Just another small gift for the future occupiers of our apartment.

But, at least I am not crazy (and remember I have a paper to prove it).

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Pros and Cons of Tort Claims

Tort claims are commonly known as "lawsuits", wherein a person sues another for a tort, a wrong.  Living here in Botswana, where there are no tort claims, has made me think about the pros and cons of tort law.

There are no "cons" from the viewpoint of most attorneys.  "Tort Claims are the Fruit tree in the garden of an attorney" a young law student once remarked to me.  A lot of attorneys have made very good livings filing lawsuits on behalf of clients.  Sometimes the claims may be frivolous, sometimes not.

I sometimes do consulting for plaintiff's attorneys, and so I have made some money too, so I have some bias.  Walking around and seeing obvious hazards illustrates the problems of no tort claims.  On the other hand, tort claims add to the cost of doing everything.  I was once told that 80% of the cost of a ladder is liability protection.  Certainly auto insurance premiums are elevated because of torts.  I was told by the president of an arrow-manufacturing company that he pays $200k for a $2million dollars of coverage, with a $200k deductible.  That's some expensive insurance, which his customers must pay.

On the other hand, the threat of legal action makes us more careful to maintain property and mitigate hazards as much as possible.  It likely makes us more careful as drivers, shop owners, and vendors.

I guess there are philosophical lessons to be learned.  We need the threat of punishment to do what we ought to do.  When I sin there are two consequences:  1) the natural consequence of the bad decision, and 2) the pain of feeling separation from G^d.

The problem is, I just forget the cost.  How about you?

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Now, the Cliff Paintings

I have strung you along long enough.  Here are some of the paintings done by the bushmen, the San, allegedly 2000 years ago.

They used blood, marrow, fat, soil to create the paint that has endured the ages.  The cliff is somewhat exposed, and even though it is dry here, it does rain in the summer, and 2000 years of rain can do some damage to paintings.  It is a miracle of survival.

The top photo is on it's side.  It was one of our favorites, with giraffes clearly seen.  The second is a snake, whose head has faded into oblivion.

When these bushmen did these paintings, that had no idea a couple of rednecks from Alabama would be admiring them all these years later.

But these are far from permanent.  Nothing in this world lasts.  Everything fades.  Everything will ultimately disappear.  We came in a big bang, I suspect we will go the same way.  As Lewis said it,

"You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations - These are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit - immortal horrors or everlasting splendors."
C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory

We are immortal, as are those around us, and we ought to consider that from time to time.

What difference does it make?  It makes a lot of difference.  Think about it.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Camping on the Island

I was just talking about our overnight in the Delta.  We were told to listen for the animals in the night.

At around 3 AM, I heard a big whoosh.  It sounded close.  The guide lit a lamp and hung it up high.

In the morning, I asked about the noise.  "Just a hippo" he said.

Another guide claimed to have hear lions roaring, but I didn't hear anything else, not even snoring.

On our first game walk we had seen reed buck and zebra and a couple of elephants.  This morning we saw lots of giraffes, some more zebra, one blue wildebeest, warthogs and more elephants.  As we mentioned, it is neat to see these animals together.

It was a nice long walk, good exercise.  Some of the ground had been underwater earlier in the year.  Some of the now-dry waterholes had enormous cracks in the earth.

It's an experience being here, in this famous wilderness.  We realize that few people in our income bracket get to do this, and we thank G^d for this opportunity.

G^d gives all of us much more than we can ask or think...  (Eph 3:20).

Thanks be to Him!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Camping the Okavango Delta

In a previous post I mentioned our trip via mokoro into the Okavango Delta, the worlds largest inland delta.  I told of the several steps in getting to the delta.

I have camped a good bit over the years, but this was different.  This time the workers did the work.  They unloaded the boats with only a little help from us, set up the tents, rolled out the thick bedrolls with the built-in foam (I guess) mattresses.  The beds were impressively comfortable.

The workers gathered firewood, built a little latrine, opened up a little folding table, and started a fire.

This is the way to camp!

While they were working, they invited us to try out the mokoros ourselves.  Andrew made the first run and I the second.  The long, smooth bottom made it a bit tricky to steer, but years of paddling all sorts of canoes, kayaks, etc. gave us some clues.

While supper was being prepped, we made the first of two game walks.  All of our previous experience had been riding in safari vehicles.  Walking, getting to see the ground was a different experience.

I asked a lot of questions.  I was interested in tracks, droppings, feathers, snail shells.  The guides patiently answered.  We saw fewer animals, but it was different to be on the ground with them.  We saw a zebra that had lost its tail.  "Lucky escape from a lion" said the guide, but I am pretty sure that was 100% speculation.

After a delicious meal, we went to bed early.  The guides told us to listen for wildlife during the night.

I did hear an unsual sound at one point in the night and noticed that one of the guides had lit a light, probably to let the animals know we were there.

What I heard was... well that's another post I guess.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Snakes Alive!

We had a bit of time in Kasane, so we checked out the Snake Park.  Once again, the signage wasn't exactly the best, so we found it more by accident than direction.

We drive up to a small compound fenced in with high chain link.  We weren't sure it was open, but we ventured in.  Soon we were greeted by our guide.  After paying a small fee, we were given a personal guided tour.

This was a collection of mostly highly venomous snakes.  Here's a fang from a Giboon viper.

I have always been a snake aficionado.  As a youngster I caught a lot of snakes.  I am a bit more cautious here.  The only free snake I have seen roaming around was a spotted bush snake, but it is poisonous, if only a little bit.

Here were snakes galore.  The spitting cobra followed your every movement outside his cage.  The pythons were big enough that the handler couldn't enter their pen alone.

In the Garden of Eden it was Satan in the form of a serpent who tempted Eve.   At that point G^d created an enmity between man and snake.

Now here is the quiz question, When Satan asked Eve about the Tree of Knowledge, Eve exaggerated what G^d had actually said.

And that exaggeration has been faithfully carried on in many congregations today.  Check it out.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Gabs Game Reserve From a Diff Perspective

Whilst Andrew and Kelly were here, we made our second expedition to the Gabs Game Reserve.  It was their first chance to see African animals. It was our first chance to act as guides.

In my view, Gabs Game Reserve is the best deal in Botswana.  It's close to home, it's cheap to get in, and there are lots of animals. In just a few minutes we saw ostrich, monkeys, zebra, hartebeest, kudu, imapla, rock hyrax, more impala, more monkeys, warthogs, woodland kingfisher, geese, ground squirrels, and the beauty of the African bush.  We travle at out own pace, and have never seen another tourist there.

I was amazed at how pleasant it was to share this treasure with others.  Seeing it is neat, sharing it is better.

Sharing is good, it is right, it is Scriptural.  We ought to share more. We ought not just to share material things, but experience, knowledge, wisdom, and certainly the Gospel.

Most of us don't share much, because we seldom get asked to do so.

Let's change that.

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Snake Park Bonus

The Snake park also had a small warthog, barn owls, and some other small animals.
 It was great to have our own private tour, where we could ask all the questions that came to mind.  Questions are useful, and learning to ask questions is an acquired skill.
 Each animal has it's own place and its own charm.  These barn owls, found in the SE USA as well as in Africa are beautiful, useful birds highly skilled at catching small rodents in the dark of night.

The beautiful hawk below was being kept at the Park while their owner was moving.  The guide didn't know what they were, but they look a lot like peregrine falcons, and were part of falconry.  The Bible mentions the falcon in Job 28, a passage about finding wisdom, "No bird of prey knows that hidden path,  no falcon’s eye has seen it.Proud beasts do not set foot on it, and no lion prowls there."

As great as their vision may be, there is but one path to wisdom, and the falcon sees it.  

Have you found it?

Sunday, July 21, 2013

One Big Tree Revisited

As most know, and evidenced by our Alabama home, Brenda and I love trees.  I have written a coupel of past posts, and even posted a picture of the baobab tree below, but it bears repeating.

When Andrew and Kelly visited, we had a good opportunity to make a return visit to this huge tree in Kazungula.

It is clearly enormous.  I hadn't thought about this, but Andrew, who rock climbs, used some of his skills to climb this tree.

I don't think he was first to do this, as someone had hammered in some spikes of the type used in mountain climbing.  I have acrophobia, so I was scared just watching Andrew climb.

Though Andrew climbed the tree, he did not conquer the tree.  That tree has seen a lot of sunrises and sunsets.  It seemed quite healthy, so it will likely see many more.

As i went to bed last night, I marveled again at how quickly the days go by.  Every person over 40 has noticed that they go by faster and faster as we get older.

I am reminded of this poem by the great missionary pastor, CT Studd, founder of the Heart of Africa Mission.

"Two little lines I heard one day,
Traveling along life’s busy way;
Bringing conviction to my heart,
And from my mind would not depart;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, yes only one,
Soon will its fleeting hours be done;
Then, in ‘that day’ my Lord to meet,
And stand before His Judgement seat;
Only one life,’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, the still small voice,
Gently pleads for a better choice
Bidding me selfish aims to leave,
And to God’s holy will to cleave;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, a few brief years,
Each with its burdens, hopes, and fears;
Each with its clays I must fulfill,
living for self or in His will;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

When this bright world would tempt me sore,
When Satan would a victory score;
When self would seek to have its way,
Then help me Lord with joy to say;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Give me Father, a purpose deep,
In joy or sorrow Thy word to keep;
Faithful and true what e’er the strife,
Pleasing Thee in my daily life;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Oh let my love with fervor burn,
And from the world now let me turn;
Living for Thee, and Thee alone,
Bringing Thee pleasure on Thy throne;
Only one life, “twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, yes only one,
Now let me say,”Thy will be done”;
And when at last I’ll hear the call,
I know I’ll say “twas worth it all”;
Only one life,’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last. ”

— extra stanza —
"Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.
And when I am dying, how happy I’ll be,
If the lamp of my life has been burned out for Thee.”
C.T Studd

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Just Another Baboon Day

Previously I wrote about the thrill of seeing three lionesses in their own native habitat.  One of the neat things about the spotting was hearing the warning cry of a nearby Chacma baboon.

After an hour or so, a huge baboon troop moved across the scrub brush only about 100m from the lions.  It was funny to watch, as almost every adult baboon was focused on the lions.  There were a couple of baboon "lookouts" up in trees keeping an eye on the lions and keeping up a constant chatter.

It was intriguing.  Here we have baboons aware of lions, but still moving through the area, as if they have to get to some specific location.  Wouldn't it make more baboon sense to flee this area altogether?

Well, I guess this is just business as usual for baboons.  They live with lions.  They seemed to have a healthy respect, but went about their business.  We were likely a bigger threat than the lions, but they mostly ignored us.

We need to be a bit more like baboons.  There are many perils.  We seem to ignore the real spiritual perils and worry about the little, less significant ones.

L^rd, open our eyes to see the real dangers, and the insignificant ones, and give us the wisdom to know the difference.

Friday, July 19, 2013

A Lesson on Showing Off

I have a big ego and a strong desire to show off.  I do, often, and I get myself in trouble often.  But, I didn't invent showing off, or its consequences.

Bologna's most famous landmark is the Two Towers, Due Torre.  At one point in Bologna's history, the wealthy and powerful built enormous towers to illustrate how smart and rich they were.

Here's a shot of the Due Torre.
 Whoever built the taller one, surely noted its superior height.

The shorter tower builder might gleefully argue that his tower was much more massive, more substantial.  But if you see the towers in 3-d, or from a distance, there is one little flaw.
Yes, it is not only the tower of Pisa that leans, there are lots.  The nearer tower in this photo is pretty far out of plumb.  Look back at the first photo.  Those steel bands aren't for decoration, they are an attempt to keep it together.

The guy who bulit the leaning tower of Bologna failed to look far enough ahead.  Over the many hundreds of years, the foundation has proven insufficient.

How about us, are our foundations sound enough to last for an eternity?

Worth giving some thought, eh?

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Cutting away everything that doesn't look like a boat

When Andrew was visiting, we all made our first mokoro trip into the Okavogo Delta.  The journey is somewhat complex.

First we boarded a van to haul us to the boat launch only 3-4 km away.

From the van, we got into a nice size, maybe 20-foot, aluminum power boat.

An hour later we arrived at the buffalo fence, which marks the entry into the delta itself.

We piled into a mokoro, a long narrow traditionally wooden boat that is poled, not paddled, through the delta and apparently has been for many, many years.

A lot of mokoros are now made of fiberglass, but Brenda's and mine was hewn from a single log and did not leak one drop, despite that there was no apparent sealant on the hull.

After 2+ hours of steady poling, our guide, Mr. T, got us to the camping site.

I'll tell more about the camping in another post, but in helping unload the boats, I spied three fresh-chopped sections of something that looked like a poplar tree, about 5 inches across and maybe 14 inches long.

Along with the 3 pieces of tree trunk was a small adze, a piece of rebar flattened at one end, and pointed at the other, and an impressive heavy file.

An hour so after landing, Andrew's guide, Seekoo M, sat down on a log and began to whack away at one of those pieces of green wood.  In about an hour or less, he had rough hewn a small mokoro replica.

A while later and it was almost completed.  He then took a piece of broken glass and scraped the wood smooth.  The next day, he used the piece of rebar to burn a neat decoration in the outside of the hull.

That boat carving reminded me of one of Brenda's testimonies.  She describes herself as a rough piece of marble that G^d is steadily chipping away.   G^d is the artist, we are the clay.

Isaiah 64:8  says, "But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand."

How true, at least for folks willing to be sculpted into His handiwork.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


Driving here is interesting.  When the country became an independent nation in 1964, there were reportedly only 7 km of paved roads.  We just finished a trip of about 1600km all on pavement.

Despite the number of excellent roads, we did discover a stretch of highway between Maun and Rakkops that was a bit challenging.  It had more and deeper potholes than any road I have ever encountered in any country.

Now, don't forget it is not just the potholes that must be dodged.  There are animals all along the road.  Despite seeing giraffes, kudu, baboons, and elephants along the road, there are many MORE cattle, donkeys, horses, and goats than you can imagine.  Herds of these decide to cross the road at any given moment.  Some oldere cattle seem to be aware and willing to avoid moving autos.  This is NOT true of young calves, of goats, donkeys or horses.

But, the most scary for me are the people that sometimes choose to walk in the road, or very close to the edge of my lane.  That's just one of several reasons that we try to avoid driving after sunset.

So, to recount, your average drive of any length involves avoiding:

  • Potholes
  • Assorted Animals
  • Risk-prone pedestrians

You have to be alert!

But such is true of life.  There are many hazards, and sure enough there are many wrecked souls visible along the road.

"How can a young man keep his way pure?  By living according to your Word, Lord."  Ps 119:9

That takes some careful driving.


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Yep, Things Could be Worse

Ever feel sorry for yourself?  Things going badly right now?  Cheer up, soon we'll all be dead.

True, but just kidding.  If things are going bad, I just found out about a few folks having a very bad day.  I happened to see this memo by a local major employer:

"The _____ community is informed that there has been a delay with the supply of stationary which has caused a delay in the printing and distribution  of the June payslips.

We are in  constant contact with the supplier to try and resolve the problem.

The inconvenience caused by this is highly regretted..."

What would you think?  What would you say?

As I have written before, if we haven't learned anything else, we have learned that we OUGHT to have great gratitude for many of the things we took for granted before.

Sooo, if you have a job...and if your paycheck came on schedule, and if your electricity and water are reliable, you have a LOT for which to be thankful.

"The worst moment for the atheist is when he is really thankful and has nobody to thank."  
                                                        Dante Gabriel Rossetti, English painter & poet (1828 - 1882)

Thanks be to G^d!

Monday, July 15, 2013


Yesterday one of the UB students that I know well from Cru invited me to his congregation's 25th anniversary celebration.  It was interesting, and I am glad to have been a part of it.

The service went a bit over-time at a little over 2 hours.  The congregational praise team led singing, mostly in Tswana, for over an hour.  Several of the songs had the congregation running in place, or dancing, or doing a version of the hokey-pokey.  On some occasions, congregants came down and danced enthusiastically in front.  The dancing wasn't choreographed, it wasn't suggestive or inappropriate, it was simply enthusiastic.

I got tired just watching the praise leader and one of the congregants who burned some serious calories.

This was followed by another praise team from Zimbabwe.  They went about a half an hour with more dancing.

They were followed by a Christian dance troupe dancing traditional Batswana dances, called Christ Africa.  They danced about three dances, but when they walked off the stage, the crowd called for an encore.

After a few short minutes of announcements, etc. the dancers came out for two more dances.

In short, it was a worship service unlike any I ever experienced.  I didn't understand but a few of the songs.  I am not a dancer.  But, there is no doubt that most of the folks were enthusiastic and sincere in their praise.

It is good to know that many of these fellow Christians love the L^rd as much as anyone.  They praise and worship a bit differently than in some other parts of the world, but who's to say HOW it should be done.  I recall that King David danced before the L^rd.

I think in heaven there will be a great variety of praise and worship.  One day, before long, we'll know.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

My Jerusalem

Several people have asked me about my Christian ministry.  In discussing it with them, a thought has come to mind.

In Acts 1:8 we are told, "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

I have come to recognize that the university campus is my Jerusalem, and higher education in general is my Judea and Samaria.   And, it's not always an easy place to be.  As I have mentioned, in my view, the public university campus in the USA is the place consistently and intently the most hostile to Christianity.  Perhaps it is not surprising to many, but most academics are "too smart" for Christianity in particular, and religion in general.

True enough but the university in my place, and I love it.  It is full of life, even if much of thtat life is hostile to my beleifs.  It is a sitmulating place.  The "Ask an Atheist" gorup at the UA, makes it interesting.

Why would I want to ask an atheist anything?  Right off I can't think of anything to ask, or any reason to ask an atheist. Atheists have too much faith for me.  I look at the two testimonies, Scripture and creation, and I just can't muster up enough faith to suppose this happened by chance.  If I were going to create a religion, it wouldn't be Christianity, it would be something like Mormonism.  

If there is a G^d, and I am convinced of it, He would be a bit difficult to grasp by mortals, wouldn't He?  If G^d exists, it would take us mortals a loooong time to uncover His designs, His methods, His workings, wouldn't it?

Wow, if I only had the faith of my atheist friends in the Uni, I'd be one outstanding Christian.

L^rd increase my faith.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Miracle Babies: Survival

Animal babies, even elephant babies are just so cute!  Probably never thought you would read that on this blog, eh?

But there's no denying their cuteness.  I suspect that is a quality given us by G^d for preservation of species.

I find it miraculous that baby animals ever survive to adulthood, yet they do each year.

As a physiologist I find it quite remarkable that we survive at all.  We do not realize it, but a LOT of things have to go correctly each day for our survival.  We may be slightly hardier than baby animals in the wild, but we are still teetering on the brink of death.  I figure all of us are within a minute or less of death.  A blood clot lodges in the wrong spot, and within some seconds we are dead.  If our blood fails to clot, it may take a little longer, but we are still dead.  If our red blood cells are over-produced, in a few weeks we are dead.  If they underproduce, same thing happens.

There are a lot of miracles in the world.  As a scientist, I try to explain away as many "miracles" as I can, but guess what, there are more scientists than ever, doing more studies than ever, and yet we never run out of miracles to investigate.

Yes, indeed, if scientists are honest, every research study yields more questions than answers.  As I have said before, we are getting dumber at a faster and faster rate.

Yes, it is a miracle that animals survive to reproduce.  Same for us.

Thank you L^rd for the great miracle that is life.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

A Lion (actually 3) in Winter (actually Fall)

One of the most sought-after animals in Africa is the King of beasts.  Brenda and I, by this point had made several game drives.  We had seen lots and lots of elephants, thousands of impala, hundreds of zebra, a passel of rhino, lots of ostrich, many springbok, many buffalo, but NO lions or leopards.

Our best chance lay in this afternoon game drive in Chobe Park, a great lion sanctuary.  We had come to believe that afternoon game drives were more productive than early morning ones.  With afternoon drives, the later in the drive, the better the viewing odds due to the declining sunlight.

A lot of game drive quality hinges on the guide.  Our guide seemed knowledgeable, but we were a bit worried.  He was spending a lot of time telling us about things we already knew.  We were seeing a lot, but time was fleeing and we wanted lions.

We hadn't driven far when I saw a sign marking the private drive to the Chobe Lodge.  Almost directly across the sand road were 3 lions lounging in the shade waiting nightfall.  They were only about 100m away, but they were lying in the sand, and difficult to spot at first.  We could clearly see only two lying there.  A while later they stood up to start the evening prowl, and then we saw there weren't two lions, but three.

They were something to see, these 3 female lions.  Though they were female, you had to think of CS Lewis's hero, Aslan.

These were the real deal.  These were liions, not second hand ones.  Theses weren't caged zoo lions, these were the real thing.  As Lewis said of Aslan, "He's not a tame Lion.".  That's good to remember.

Seeing these real lions, wild, free, and not tame, will be a good reminder.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Creation Testifies

We have spent most of the last two weeks traveling around Botswana seeing the sights.  It is an interesting and beautiful place. It is now the dry season.  I just recently got a memo that our water would be shut off one day per week to conserve.  But that also means clear skies and beautiful sunsets.

It is now fall, and I am amazed at the flowers still blooming.  Our our back door are the faithful blue blossoms that have entertained us for many weeks.  On campus there are new flowers blooming.

We have posted many pictures of the beautiful animals here.  Today we were driving down a back road and there was a big baboon.  You never know where and when something interesting will appear.

The variety here in amazing.  There are many different antelope species, all different.  There are many, many types of trees, shrubs, flowers, and people.  Why such variety?  Why such beauty?  Why such complexity?

SomeOne, somewhere is sending us a message.  I do NOT have enough faith to think all this just happened by luck alone.  Nobody, no place is that lucky.

As a cynic and skeptic, I still must realize that G^d created the earth.  He spoke it into existence.  He is creative.  He is merciful.  He is full of grace and truth.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013


During Andrew and Kelly's visit, one of the most fun things we did was a bush camp at Elephant Sands Lodge.   During our previouis visit, Ben, the owner had highly recommended a bush camp, and he was right!

Franklin and Ben had the vehicle loaded when we got there.  After quickly gathering our overnight stuff, we piled in the truck and off we were.  We headed towards the public land bordering Zimbabwe, and hadn't gone two km, when we saw a herd of Kudu on the side of the road.  It turns out, that's right where we were headed, because soon we saw them again.

After a long but interesting drive, we located our camp between two waterholes.  It was a nice spot, and though you could tell others had camped there, you had to look carefully.  The great thing about the bush here is there is very little garbage here, unlike more urban locations.  There was a large herd of impala awaiting us at our camp site.

As the two guides set up camp, we spied some giraffes headed our way.  After a short walk around the waterhole, enjoying the sight of the elephant tracks.  Shortly we were enjoying the view of elephants headed towards the two water holes.

After a truly delicious steak dinner cooked over the coals of the fire, we heard the noise of elephants.drinking and splashing as they watered.  The gently splashing was interrupted from time to time by the buck impala snorting his unhappiness with our intrusion.  The snorting was reminiscent of a whitetail in rut, but was a bit louder and more pig-like.  The pleasing sound of the elephants and impala would continue through the night according to our collected reports the next morning.

It was amazing to me how pleasant was this outing.  I camped a great deal as a youngster and Boy Scout.  We also camped with our kids when they were young.  There is just something special about being close to G^d's creation, in the security of fellowship.

No sophistication, no luxury (except for dinner), no entertainment except for the fire and the sounds of the wildlife. We make things complex.  It is nice to remember and experience the simple pleasures again.

Thank you L^rd for your simple, yet expensive, grace and mercy.

Monday, July 8, 2013


Saturday we wanted to take Andrew and Kelly to see the "Main Mall" which on weekends is filled with people selling everything from the latest music, to mopane worms for cooking.

We were walking along when I noticed a well-dressed older gentleman, and an older lady standing  in the middle of pedestrian traffic.  I knew instantly that they were evangelizing something.  As we walked past I saw the tell-tale "Watchtower" of the Jehovah's Witnesses.

The JWs are an interesting group.  I recall meeting some sort of salesman in our home once.  After the sales pitch, by this bright young man, I began to share the gospel with him.  After only a few moments of polite listening he said that he had explored religion, and if he was going to join any religion it would be... Jehovah's Witnesses!

While Andrew was here we were on campus collecting sap for one of his profs back at AZ State U.  I looked up and saw the two young men with white shirts and black name tags of the Mormons.  They were doing their 2 years of missionary work, apparently in Botswana.

 How sad!

The world is being evangelized by JWs, by Mormons, and only occasionally by Christians.

There is NO doubt that I do NOT have the gift of evangelism.  I am not inclined that way.  Yet, the two times that Levi and I have shared the Christ on UB, two young men have prayed to receive the Christ.

The fields are indeed white unto harvest.  Let's pray that the Lord would raise up labors unto the harvest.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Small Things

During Andrew and Kelly's recent visit, we took them to the local botanical gardens.  I wrote about it in a post a couple of months back.  It is close to home and best of all, it's free.

We most enjoyed the rock hyraxes last trip.  It was the same this time.  If you ever have the chance to see them in the wild, do so, and take your time.

They are amazingly nimble and entertaining.
We have now seen lots and lots of most kinds of wild African animals, but these little critters are among the most appealing.  This last trip to Gabs Game Reserve, we saw a bunch of them there as well.

Here, in National Parks, there is much talk of the big Five: Elephant, Lion, Cape Buffalo, Leopard, and Rhino.  We have seen all but the Leopard, but it's the small animals that are sometimes best, at least from my viewpoint.

And there is a lesson in that for my life. The BIG and the DRAMATIC are interesting, but it is the daily walk that matters.

Someone once said that Isa.40:31 is written backwards.
"Those that wait on the L^rd shall renew their strength,
They shall rise up like eagles on wings of great length,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint."

(By the way the hyrax is mentioned in Lev 11:5.)

The critic suggested that the verse went from the most important to the least important.  But I think the critic got it wrong.

Blessings in your own walk.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Go Forth and Multiply!

It is breeding season in this part of Africa.  We have seen buck impala chasing does about 4 times in the last 10 days.  Baboons are breeding, as are other plains game.  I am amazed at the similarities between male impala and the whitetailed deer of Alabama.

It is the cycle of life.  Animals reproduce and thus the earth is replenished.  Ecclesiastes tells us that there is a season for everything.  A time for every purpose.

The male impala, like the whitetail is in a fighting mood.  We watched a buck impala at at water hole with his gang of breeding females.  Other bucks would approach his group.  He would chase that buck away, meanwhile another one would sneak in, and he'd just get back to the herd he'd have to chase that one.

Of all the Scripture that we OUGHT to obey, about the only one we have come close to getting correct is, "Go forth and multipy."   And, in the USA and some other countries we seem on the verge of messing that one up also.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Fightin' Giraffes

One of the most interesting sights in our recent safari travels up north with Andrew and his girlfriend Kelly, was fighting giraffes.  We were at what has become our favorite park, Khama Rhino Reserve.  We were watching 3 rhinos drinking, along with 2 gemsbok, and a couple herds of impala, along with the usual warthogs.

On the horizon, we could see two large giraffes.  Andrew said,  "Those giraffes are fighting."

Sure enough, through the binoculars, it was clear that these two big giraffes are smacking away at each other.   Some of you have likely seen the youtube of two giraffes smacking necks.  This was similar except the animals lowered their heads and whipped them into each other.  After a couple of good smacks they would pause and stand still for several seconds.  Then they would go at it again.  When we were leaving they were still going at each other.  

It is breeding season for many plains game.  The two males were battling for dominance.  They are very similar to us.  We moderns do it in a more modern and perhaps subtle ways, but we still battle. 

I was brought up in a very competitive culture.  We were engaged in sports, which are competitive by design.  And competitiveness seems a part of our fallen nature, both for man and for beast.

"What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God.  When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures."  Ja 4:1-3.

All of us need (not just needed) a Savior.  We need G^d's mercy and grace every morning.

"Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.

They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness."  (Lam 3:22-23)

Thursday, July 4, 2013

The GradingTona, 500

Well, it wasn't 500 exams we had to grade, it was only 179 finals for my PHR 304, Tests and Measurements class.  I had foolishly scheduled us to leave town the next day.  The exam finished at 1600 (4 PM) and we started racing towards the finish.

At about 1800, I had to go pick up the rental car.  I was well along in grading by then, and kinda liked the break, but there was plenty more to do.

I was "marking the scripts" as they call it here.  I passed the marked papers to Brenda who tallied the scores. She passed these along to Kelly or Andrew who entered the grades on an Excel spreadsheet.  When we were all done, Andrew called out the grades and I entered them into the UB grade reporting WWW site.

With all of us working we were done just before 2300 (11PM).  It was probably one of my most satisfied moments.  We had done it.

This marked my penultimate task of the term; but for me it was...
Independence Day!

Have a great Independence Day and take a few minutes to think about the great Freedom we enjoy in the Christ!