Sunday, November 06, 2005

The End of Myself

Day 6-ish: Sunday!

Another perfect day...I was a little nervous about playing and singing in the church service(s) (okay...more than a little), but today's devotional was exactly for me...which is why I volunteered to lead it at the last second. Funny that that kind of thing doesn't scare me--Maybe I just didn't have time to fear or had my mind set to other things. Or maybe I was so encouraged by the words I read that I just didn't care.

The reading for today was about being in dead-end situations. These are the situations God puts us in so He can shine. I talked about how this trip in all its preparations and in the guitar playing, etc...had really brought me to the end of myself. There were times when there was absolutely no way I could come up with the necessary funds. And then there are days like today when there seems to be no way that I can play for a crowd of people--to do what I am called upon to do. God loves it when we come to the end of ourselves though--I think He must sit up there and say "Finally! I was wondering how long it would take you!". 27 years, apparently. God wants to empty us out so He can fill us up. This is only the beginning of the "impossible" things...the "dead-ends"...He has called me to.

Less of me and more of Him. Every day.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Hot, Quiet Day

Enjoying Freez-Its in the shade of the new tabernacle!

(Day Five-ish, continued)

The day went by quickly...even though we really didn't do much...just singing, visiting, hiding out from the rain, eating...Several of the women from our team tried carrying buckets of water on their heads to the amusement of the local women.

Lunch was bacon, tomato, cucumber, butter and cheese self-assembled sandwiches. They also made fresh squeezed orange juice. I went for a refill--or what I thought was a refill. I took one big gulp and discovered I had mistaken Mazoe for OJ. Mazoe is this concentrated syrup that you are supposed to dilute with 3-4 parts water. So...straight up...pretty nasty.

Several people ran into town to buy Freez-Its, which are basically like chubby Otter Pops. People go nuts for them on days like today...which, by the way, was unbel-eeeee-vably hot! Dripping sweat in the shade. I hid out in the truck with Eva and Maggie for a while and practiced my guitar while Cookie and Jennifer role-played various HIV testing scenarios. Cookie cracks me up...I thought I remembered her as being the straight man to Jim's crazy antics. But I see now that they are both quite crazy. So much fun. And so loved by the people here. Christy is a doll too. She says such adult things but gets soooo excited over candy and her bicycle (and huckleberry jam).

Well...I guess that's it...except to say that I do miss the comfort of home a little, and my family and Rocky and Kathy a lot more. I will be excited to go home. Okay. Miss you...Good Night.

The Greats

Gerald and Tawanda dance to the "Driv-ah" song. I defy anyone to see this (or the video!) and not love life.

Day Five-ish: Saturday

Earlier (very early) in the day, we discussed what our plan would be for the Sunday service. I got put in charge of worship...but then I volunteered to go with Jim to the separate service that he was invited to preach probably will be worship leading in some capacity at both services. Very scary...but there is comfort in knowing it's what I'm supposed to do, and that anything I do will be well received. I'm actually more scared of playing in front of the team than the nationals.

Tawanda and Gerald know most of our worship songs, and taught us a bunch of Shona/Ndebele songs and dances today as well. They are both really talented. I guess Gerald is in a rock worship band called Walking on Water...and Tawanda is "learning" to play guitar (much better than me) and sings really well. He has volunteered Gerald to teach me and said we would all play together. I've been letting him play my guitar too. So tempting to give it away with all the trouble I had getting it here!

(Right: Gerald teaches us a song. If I could find a way to bottle up what this guy has and spread it around, the world would be a sweeter place. His laugh alone, I am convinced, could turn it upside down. How I miss these guys!)


It took me like 7 shots to get that one bolt of lightning...and it wasn't even a big one!

Day Five-ish: Saturday

The storm is dying down now. Darn it. Boy did we pray for rain! The only trouble is that the roof on our tabernacle was finished today and it started to fly off in the last thunderstorm (of the day). That was a fun storm too. We had been sitting with some of the nationals, exchanging songs...when a storm came up and everyone scattered. The locals all disappeared to their homes and the rest of us, including Ephraim, Mr. C? and the ACTS crew all crowded into the ACTS Overland truck. It was such a moment!...So of course my camera quit working...But I got some video, etc..We danced to the funny "driv-ah" (driver) song (Row the Boat, Mix it Up, Sadza! Sadza!, etc...Dennis adding the garden tool dances to everyone's delight)--It was so cute. We passed around a giant bag of candy, read Laffy Taffy jokes, played concentration, the Hua (for lack of a better description...think karate chops) game, and Zhup...Bong! (Zhup passes it on and Bong reverses it). Here's a demonstration...

So yeah. That was fun.

Thundering Distractions

Day Five-ish (Finally!): Saturday

Wow. Right now Cathy and I are sheltering ourselves in our tent during the biggest thunder/rain/lightning storm. I love it...but it's even a little frightening for me! The whole tent swaying. The ground shaking. A tent flap that won't zip and bursts of sand flying in.

Tomorrow morning, Cathy has to preach a mini-sermon and I have to sing and play guitar. We are both nervous...I like having the storm to worry about instead. Besides...what cooler way to die than being struck by lightning in Zimbabwe? Well, I guess dying for a cause is "cooler"...but this is for a cause...Anyway...My mind is doing its best to distract itself.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Polaroids, Worship and Shower Refusal

My giggling Polaroid Girls

(Day Four-ish...The End!)

In another lull...from construction and braid-watching, I found 3 little girls hiding by a tree who let me take their picture. I took a Polaroid of them and they of me for them to keep. They were so delighted. They kept finding me and just giggled--and would not let go of their photos. Then the pastor's son asked me to take some photos of him. All so sweet.

Lunch of steak, green beans and squash. Second half of framing for tabernacle. It was so hot today. And we were working in the hottest part. I'm guessing it was upper 90's-100. Even the locals say it's way hot. But they still wear long sleeve shirts and pants, etc..(men). The snappy dresser from the ACTS crew even said it was unbearable. I'm not sure what part they come from--but they all speak very proper English, and snappy dresser even played worship songs on guitar tonight. (Pictured here, singing.) A little humbling since I had just bumbled my way through--not can't really be humbled when you know you're lousy! It was just really cool--to hear songs we sing coming out from behind the truck.

Ephraim, a little 23 year old we befriended as soon as we arrived in Bulawayo, plays too. Beautiful. Maybe I will get a chance to learn from them. (That's Ephraim the Brave climbing up on the frame of the tabernacle!)

Everyone but me took showers tonight. I had a chance at the very end...but I was chicken. It was pitch black out except for the lantern on a rock by the shower which is under the tree. And all the giant beetles come out at night. to bed now! Everyone else is asleep. Snoring.

Construction, School and Hair

Cathy models her new hair-do.

(Day Four-ish...still) everyone woke up (and woke me and Cathy up) around 5:30. I haven't noticed any jet lag...Just plain tired-ness. Cathy and I "showered" in the tent with Wet Ones (Instructions: #1: Wipe.) Then an awesome breakfast of french toast, Cookie's cinnamon rolls, bacon-y stuff and beans. I was full. Eva led devotions. And Dennis too, since we were a day behind. We prayed. Our foreman, Dean, arrived 8-ish and we began the tabernacle work.

When there was a lull (because something needed to be welded or torched or something...which took some finding in town and extra work--a miracle, really), all of us girls went with Cookie and the young pastor's wife (a newlywed @ 20 years old--and so cute) across the street to meet the school officials and teachers, and peek at some of the children. Monday we will be able to spend lots of time there, but today was just formal introductions, etc.

So...more building (Dean's quite a taskmaster)...mostly for me just meant holding a rope...(okay that's all it meant for about 20 out of 25 of us), and taking everyone's pictures for them.

In another lull, Cookie brought up the subject of having some of the women give us cornrows. So...for 3 hours (with a few breaks), Stacey and Carly got theirs done...Cathy's too, but hers didn't take so long.

Eat, Sing and Sleep

(Day Four-ish: Friday, continued)

It was pretty close to dark once we got into Garanyemba, so we pretty much went straight to setting up the tents. Then Gerald and the ACTS crew fed us a wonderful dinner of baby potatoes, "relish", which is not relish at all, but a tomato-based almost salsa-textured but kind of sweet and super good sauce-thing. I can't remember what else we had--beans maybe and some kind of meat? (It wasn't a mystery, I just don't remember). Oh yes...and on the ride over, Cookie bought some "kapenta" fish in Gwanda, which are tiny, dehydrated, salted fish (think minnows) that they eat like potato chips...eyes and all. I tried one. Everyone else said they were super salty. I didn't taste anything but a lingering fish concentrate in my molars.

Stacey was really sick all day--throwing up, etc. The ride was pretty rough I think. And the tiny 3 seater (as in 3 across) plane we took from Johannesburg to Bulawayo would've done a choppy little number on anyone's stomach. I actually fell asleep on that plane though--with my mouth open and all--when the stewardess tapped me and asked if I wanted a drink.

So, back in soon as we rolled into town, people started coming out from nowhere. We met the members of the church we are building the tabernacle for and they sang some songs for us. We headed for bed pretty early since we were all exhausted.

Just for You, Cuchillo

Day Four-ish: Friday?

I'm sitting in my new home right next to my roommate (tentmate), Cathy. We are both writing with flashlights in the dark.

Today was an amazing day...But before that, I should say that we arrived in the tiny village of Garanyemba yesterday by the sweet ACTS Overland ride. They picked us up...and Jim, Cookie and Christy, who also met us at the tiny airport in Bulawayo. As soon as we got there and began going through customs, it began to rain. The airport is kind of open air, so you could smell it. Jim said that was the first rain they'd had in 2 years. It didn't last long, but it was a nice welcome, and seemed like a good sign for us. We have been praying for God to send His rain--in every way.

They didn't really go through any of my bags--I was a lucky one. Cathy got stopped at customs for her mysterious load of a 25 lb box of drywall screws...I guess the clerk refused to believe that they were so cheap...They would be something like hundreds and hundreds of US dollars here--if not more...I think one of the officials asked Cathy if he could go home with her.

It took about 3 hours (I think) to drive from Bulawayo to Garanyemba. I slept better on the bumpy ride in the super-truck than I had the whole trip...except that I refused to allow myself to sleep because the scenes passing by were so amazing. Bulawayo is very least what we saw--colorully painted shops, beautiful houses...most beautiful people who stared a bit in wonder at the big truck of white faces driving by.

The drive outside the town ("city") was gorgeous too. For lack of a better description...very very Africa. This made me happy because, flying into Johannesburg, it all looked pretty ugly. Just super brown. William had warned me that Johannesburg was a city totally without charm. (Where he lived, Durbin, and Capetown, are the South African charmers, I guess). But Zimbabwe...and its people...are beautiful.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

A Beautiful Discovery

I took this photo from the window of our truck as we were driving through the streets of Bulawayo on our way to the village. The funny thing about it is, I took it because there was a woman standing in the doorway waving to me. But I don't see her there now. Maybe she was an angel...or just camera-shy and lightning fast.

Day Three-ish: Thursday? (It's so hard to know)

I have to confess that, for a large part of this trip (thus far), I have been wrestling with this "What on earth am I doing?" feeling. (It is usually accompanied by the weight of my guitar or the forced isolation that it seems to bring--just too big to fit anywhere). Anyway, I really got to wondering why God chose to make the earth so stinking big. I mean...we have airplanes to take us all around it and it still seems like a headache to reach these areas (or they us). How on earth were the early Christians to be expected to fulfill The Great Commission without airplanes?
I'm being a little silly...but really...have you ever wondered why God made the earth so big? Well, driving into Zimbabwe on our spectacle causing giant truck, I think I discovered why. Because it was absolutely impossible for God to imagine His world without these beautiful people...without me. That's amazing. He is big. And He loves.

The Long Flight--Part II: Reese's, buff arms, touchdown, curly grass

William just came back from a leg stretching and said, "They're never going to publish your novel". He wants me to make him a fair isle jersey instead. He put in his order while I was knitting my turtleneck scarf.

I really wish I could get to my Reese's Pieces right now. I should've taken advantage of the leg stretching to sneak them out of the overhead. But wait. There is nothing sneaky about a 4 lb bright orange bag of candy. I might as well "sneak down" my guitar and play us a tune while I'm at it. Speaking of unsneaky guitars...boy was that hard case not the best idea. I's nice...but I WILL be the buffest right arm in the universe. If there is ever a next time for guitar traveling (heaven forbid?), I think I'll take the risk and use the soft case. But, if a super buff arm is all I have to complain about...then things are pretty good.

So, as I said, the flight from Atlanta to Johannesburg is about 17 hours. It was divided exactly in half by a pit stop on Sal Island. I do believe that was our first African touchdown. Or I think that it is Africa-owned. (It is). We weren't allowed to leave the plane for the hour or so that we were there, so I just looked around at the brown-iness of everything and the curly grass. It feels Africa-ish anyway.

Seven hours later and we are soon making the descent into Johannesburg. I can't believe we have to do this again in a week or two.

The Long Flight--Part I: William M.

I've come back from Zimbabwe (for a week now...but I've been lazy)! I'm still catching my breath in many ways. There's no internet in the wilds of Africa, so I'm just going back and posting some journal entries for you, at Mr. Bee's suggestion. I hope you enjoy. If you stick it will come to a wonderful story at the end...I promise. I love you guys!

We are now seven hours out of Johannesburg, South Africa. The second leg of this flight is shaping up nicely. (Somehow I don't like those expressions when mixed). I just had a ham and cheese sandwich and water served to me by one of the cutest human beings I've ever seen. I do believe he winked at me. The way you wink at a 6 year old when their parent is sitting right next to them...which is funny because I'm sure I'm much older (than 6...and than he). My "parent" is also an adorable human being...named William M. I only know this because I took a peek at the boarding passes which were "coming out [his] ears". I have not yet worked up the courage to ask officially. Maybe in that 17th hour of flight. Seventeen hours. And an hour to refuel on the Ilha do Sal (Sal Island) . I could not ask for better company to be seated with. He has been cracking me up since take-off. He likes to make funny observations about other passengers and things. These are made all the more cute and funny by the fact(s) that he has a heavy New Zealand/South African accent and just turned 80 years old. You wouldn't know it to look at him. I know I certainly don't hope to be taking this flight when I am 80. Or 30. In his own words, he thinks he's only 40 and is always getting himself into trouble doing "stupid" things like lifting heavy objects with a bad back. But, he said if the most he has to complain about is a bad back, then things are pretty good. I wouldn't exactly call it complaining. Maybe it's the accent. And if he were a complainer, he could surely be bitter about losing his wife or his son, who was paralyzed "like Christopher Reeve" for 20 years. Instead, he just looks far away for a minute or two before coming back to his commentaries. William M. has made me want to cry...and I feel as though I've fallen in love with the world. I'm going to miss him when we part ways. He makes me feel safe...when I otherwise feel misplaced.

A random link in case you're bored...How To Speak South African