Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Treacherous Pans

Botswana has a lot of pans.  Not those kind of pans, the geologic kind.  A pan is an ancient lake bed that dried up thousands of years ago.  They are large, flat bottomed features with a high concentration of minerals.  Nothing much can grow here.  During the rainy season some water may collect here.  Right now the ground is dry with large cracks.  There are a few small white stones that are scattered around. I pick up one and it looks like a dry chemical accretion.

The pans can be quite large.  They can easily be spotted once you know what you are looking at.  Khama Rhino Reserve that we posted about a while back had several pans that had enough top soil to support grass and some shrubs and an occasional tree.

The most dramatic pans have nothing but air.  For some reason a few cows hang out on this pan.  Later I spot two donkeys.

Bob tells us that the pans can be a bit treacherous.  They look very solid, but when there has been rain, they form a crust that conceals a very soft under-layer.  Fun-loving folks try to drive across the pan, and as long as they keep moving they usually do OK.  But, if they stop the crust gives way, and the vehicle quickly sinks to its frame and all four wheels are stuck.  Not fun.

Pans are something to see.  We haven’t ever seen anything like them.  They give another illustration that things are NOT always what they seem.  What appears solid may be a clever trap. 
Much of modern society is like that.  What appears solid can trap us.  We need to know.  But more important than knowing is acting on what we know.

Scripture is full of warnings.  Now we have to act on what we know, lest we wind up totally stuck.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Yet Another Road Trip!!

Most everyone has told us that Cape Town, RSA is a must-see.  Based on this advice we decided we needed to go south.  The options were to fly, which is fastest but misses the country.  Some American friends took the bus to Jo’burg, then the train to the Cape.  It was an exciting trip with train breakdowns (plural) and consequent missed bus connections to return.  Given the stress in traveling here, I didn’t relish the additional stress and expense.

Then our friend Dave, who married a lovely lady from the Cape, told us about driving non-stop from Gabs to Cape Town to ask the parents for the hand of this fair lady.  Well, if Dave could drive both ways non-stop, surely we could do it by breaking it into parts.

So, we got a good deal on a car rental, which I picked up early Friday AM, and we headed south.  We got away about 0830, with a GPS-forecasted arrival a bit after 1400.   We stopped to cross the border, to get petrol, and that’s about it.  Oh yes, we stopped once more when I was caught by a famous Batswana Police speed trap.  

By doing this hurried travel, we arrived at about 1605.  Alas, the Big Hole (Diamond mine museum) closed at 1700, and we are really slow seeing these things.  Too late!

But there woudl be another day for the Big Hole.  We had our face set towards the Cape, and we still had many miles to go. 

Getting anywhere take time, effort, and patience.  This trip would be no different.  Any place worth going takes commitment.  This trip took plenty of that.

There are a lot of lessons on the road.  Even if your road is just a day-to-day  trip through life.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Working with Translators

The children of Old Naledi all speak Tswana very well, but English is NOT an easy language, and they have not been in a position to learn it.  Consequently Bible stories, songs and games are taught in English and then a translator repeats it is Tswana.  Even the game "duck, duck, goose" is played in Tswana.
The Bible story is probably the hardest to communicate in Tswana.  A lot of common terms us old-timers take for granted don't translate easily.   Think how a common term like "receive the L^rd Jesus Christ into your heart" might sound to someone who hasn't heard that concept before.

"Will this involve surgery?" might be a logical question.

Some of the CRU students have never worked with a translator.  The translators are BOTSCRU students, and they are very good, and very patient.

It's tough working with translators- for both speakers- but here are some things to do:
1) Speak slowly, the translator has to hear every word and translate it.
2) Use SHORT phrases.  The translator has to remember EVERYTHING you said and convert it, then repeat it.
3) Avoid slang terms.  We use hundreds of odd phrases in Christianity such as "Getting in the Word", and we use odd terms in English, such as "airhead"  "bad- meaning awesome- not bad", "awesome" applied to things that are not so awesome.  You know the drill.  (Gotcha).
4) Cut your lesson about in half- every sentence will be repeated, taking twice as long.

On the other hand, I like speaking with translators.  If forces me to slow down.  It gives me time to think while the translators is speaking. 

One of my good friends, and American living in Central America, does simultaneous translation.  While I am speaking, she is likewise speaking in Spanish.  This can be a bit unnerving, at least for me, but once you get used to it, it's not so bad.

Fortunately for us, we have a translator that intercedes for us.  Romans 8:34 asks/tells us, "Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us."

Hopefully that needs no translation.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Another Dumb Decision

Here's a recipe for disaster.  Take:
1) An old driver who hates driving and is ADHD (me).
2) A rental car.
3) Make that rental car a manual transmission.
4) Put the car and driver in a major city of almost 4 million, which the driver has NEVER seen in his life.
5) Lay out the city such that multiple streets come together at odd angles, streets aren't clearly marked, street names change from one block to the next.
6) Add a GPS that is a few years out of date (but a life-saver nevertheless).
7) Now add pressure, heavy traffic, darkness, and rain.

What outcome would you expect?  Yes, me too.

I knew this whole thing was a bit stupid, but I prayed and went anyway.

G^d truly answers prayer.  We drove and drove and drove over a 10-day period with just one day of not driving.  Yet, thanks be to G^d, we made it home with nary a nick.  We had some close calls, but we made it.

In all seriousness, Thank you L^rd!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Quest that Didn't make the Lord of the Rings

While at the cave, my best camera, the Nikon, fell out of my pocket onto the sand.  It had been acting up a bit, but this did it in.  When we got home I asked Bob, the source of most key info, about where to take it for repairs.  He sent us to the Kodak store near Lesedi, and I knew how to get there.

We took our camera in, and the Chinese proprietor gave us a nice business card and told us to go to African Mall and then call the camera guy to find his place.

We get to African Mall with no trouble.  We get out and look for the sign.  No sign is visible.  No problem, we ask a lady standing there for directions.  She has no idea and refers us to friendly looking guys, who refer us to another guy who looks at the address and sends us back out to Independence Ave, where we had just come from.

Go figure, I guess the Kodak guy was wrong.

We drive down independence looking for plot 787.  Oddly enough the numbers are going down on the left side of the street, but increasing on the right side of the street.  We call the camera guy and he says that his shop is right by Barcelo's Restaurant.  That should be easy to find.  We drive the entire length of Independence and we NEVER find plot 787 or even the 700 block.  We also don't find Barcelo's.  We call back to ask again.

"I'm in African Mall." says the camera store guy.  Where I ask, he says I am ABOVE Barcelo's.  Where's that?  He really can't tell us, just tells us to come to African Mall, where we were 40 minutes earlier.

Finally we spot Barcelo's about 40 feet from where we first stopped.  After some searching we figure out how to get to the floor above Barcelo's.  It doesn't look all that promising, but we ahve no choice so I forge ahead.

At last, there it is:  a tiny little sheet of paper with "Digital Camera" printed on it.  I knock tentatively and a guy invites us in.  I make a deposit, get a receipt and leave our camera.

Two days later, the guy calls to tell us it is ready.  Wow!  One issue is that the camera has a lot of sand inside,but also replaced the processor.  All is less than 48 hours.

I was impressed and told him so.  On the other hand, we may have been one of his few customers, because his place is so hard to find!

Matt 7:7 gives some great advice, "“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you."

Now if I would only do what Scripture tells me to do.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Bottle of Wine, Fruit of the Vine...

Italy is known for fine wines.  Right before leaving the country our friends took us to a big wine shop.  It was neat, though I did feel a bit out of place.

There were thousands of wines from which to choose. Of course, one wine caught our eye.  Take a look at a fine bottle of vino:

Note the price.  That's not 3250 dollars, but 3250 Euros, which puts the price at roughly $4,330.  It was a big bottle, but I am afraid it would be totally lost on me.  If you were hoping that Brenda and I bought you a little gift, maybe we did, but for sure this wasn't it.

I have a hard time imagining who buys a $4k wine.  I am guessing it is somebody trying to impress somebody else.

Most all of us are guilty of trying to impress someone, at least on occasion.  Others of us are guilty of constantly trying to impress each other.

Speaking for myself, it saddens me that I am more interested in what men think than what G^d thinks.  How about you?

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Spending the Night in a Cave

Kalahari Rest Lodge has the neatest Lodging we have seen.   When we arrived they first told us that they had no space free.  Then on second thought, they asked if we were interested in the tent they called, “The Cave”.  

Hmmm, odd name for a tent, And then we knew why they called it that.  Here’s the cave.

It was a unique place to stay.  It was quite spacious and included an indoor toilet and shower.  The main part of the tent had a large wardrobe.  There were two outer cave rooms, one with a bar, the other with a fireplace.  First tent with a fireplace (not a heater or stove) I have ever seen.

Hot water was supplied by this “donkey boiler” heated by a wood fire, lit by lodge personnel.  The water was already hot at 0600.

Our refuge brings to mind this interesting story in 1 Samuel 24:

And he came to the sheepcotes by the way where there was a cave, and Saul went in [c]to do his easement: and David and his men sat in the [d]inward parts of the cave.
And the men of David said unto him, See, the day is [e]come, whereof the Lord said unto thee, Behold, I will deliver thine enemy into thine hand, and thou shalt do to him as it shall seem good to thee. Then David arose and cut off the lap of Saul’s garment privily.
And afterward David [f]was touched in his heart, because he had cut off the lap which was on Saul’s garment.
And he said unto his men, The Lord keep me from doing that thing unto my master the Lord’s anointed, to lay mine hand upon him: for he is the Anointed of the Lord.
So David overcame his servants with these words, and suffered them not to arise against Saul: for Saul rose up out of the cave and went away.
¶ David also arose afterward, and went out of the cave, and cried after Saul, saying, O my lord the King. And when Saul looked behind him, David inclined his face to the earth, and bowed himself.
10 And David said to Saul, [g]Wherefore givest thou an ear to men’s words, that say, Behold, David seeketh evil against thee?
11 Behold, this day thine eyes have seen, that the Lord had delivered thee this day into mine hand in the cave, and some bade me kill thee, but I had compassion on thee, and said, I will not lay mine hand on my master: for he is the Lord’s Anointed.
12 Moreover my father, behold: behold, I say, the lap of thy garment in mine hand: for when I cut off the lap of thy garment, I killed thee not. Understand and see, that there is neither evil nor wickedness in me, neither have I sinned against thee, yet thou huntest after my soul, to take it.

David was just echoing G^d's mercy towards him.  L^rd help us to do the same.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Trailer Hitch Unhitched

You will recall a recent post about us taking  385 gallons (2500 lbs) of Avgas to the Kalahari with our friends Bob and Ester.

Bob had loaded the gas onto his trusty trailer, the same one we used in helping them move.  Bob gets a lot of use out of that trailer, and here it was again.

We drove about 6 hours to Kang, over mostly good paved road, with a few major bumps, and not too much traffic.  We pulled into the Lodge about 8:30 or so.  We got in our rooms and Bob decided to take some weight off the rear of the truck by removing the trailer.  When he disconnected, here is what he saw:

Wow, was G^d looking out for us!  One single bolt was holding the trailer to the truck.  Had that bolt broken, who knows what might have happened.  I picture a huge fireball.  What comes to your mind?  385 gallons of FIRE!
Why didn’t it come loose?  Only G^d knows, but thanks be to G^d it held.
G^d’s mercy is new every morning, and every night too.  We don’t even know from what all G^d has protected us.
Thank you L^rd for your grace and mercy.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Refueling Bush Aircraft

Brenda and I wanted to see the Kalahari desert, so naturally we contacted our Botswana expert missionary friends.  

“We’re taking a load of aviation fuel to Kang tomorrow, want to go?”   They asked.

“Do we?, Of course!”

It took a little while to get 385 gallons (2500 lbs) of Avgas picked up it and loaded, so we were a bit late getting started.  This is slightly more serious than it sounds,  The problem is that it can be dangerous to drive at night in Botswana.  Animals are dangerous. Not elephants, cape buffalo, and lions, leopards and hyenas, but horses, donkeys, cattle and goats.

At any rate, we made it to Kang without major mishap.   The next morning we wrestled the barrels off the trailer and into the shed.  We took a short break and came back to find the aircraft ready for fueling.

There was a pilot, a photographer, a survey guy, and a Botswana official there.  Among the 6 of us we figured out how to get the gasoline out of the barrels and into the plane.  That was fortuitous in that they had a 1400 -1700 mission to fly that afternoon.

Everybody needs fuel.  We try to fuel up on materialism, on knowledge, on fame.  Nothing fuels us.  We need G^d indwelling us to fill that void.  Only that is truly filling.