This blog is an account of our lives and ministry in South Africa. Please click on the tabs above to learn a little more about us and what we do.

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Friday, July 22, 2011

On Any Average Day . . . Snakes!

Warning - This post may creep you out!!

We've seen our fair share of snakes here in South Africa.  At our current house, we've had a spitting cobra and a puff adder.  I didn't get pictures of either of them.

We recently had this snake in our house:

We've been told it's probably a harmless mole snake.  Regardless, I really don't like any snakes in my house!  We have 3 cats and a dog, I'm not really sure how this thing got in.

At our previous house, we saw spitting cobras on two different occasions.  The first time, Kyler was riding his scooter on a sidewalk behind our house.  He opened a gate and yelled that there was a snake.  I came running, opened the gate, saw a cobra flared up at me and freaked out.  I ran yelling "IT'S A COBRA!! IT'S A COBRA!!!!!!"  I probably scared it as much as it scared me. By the time Lincoln arrived with a hammer, the cobra was long gone.

The second time, we heard Rocco barking and something slamming into the fence in our yard.  Lincoln went out and saw this cobra below striking at Rocco through the fence.

When we lived at the Children's Shelter, the snake below was found and killed near the playground.  It was a 6 foot long Mozambique Spitting Cobra.

Our friend Johannes killed it with a shovel.

And just because you can't have too many dead snake pictures in one post, here's another small snake that we found and killed in our house.

Fortunately, no people were hurt by any of these snakes.  The same can't be said about the snakes though.


Monday, July 18, 2011

South African English

English is spoken all over South Africa.  But there are a lot of South African English words that are not the same as American English words.  I found this fun South African English dictionary of some of the more commonly used words.

A few that we hear on a regular basis:

So long - In the US, this would mean farewell or goodbye.  Here in South Africa it means "in the mean time."  For example, when seated in a restaurant the waiter will bring a menu and say "Can I bring you something to drink so long?"

Biscuit - This is the name for a cookie.  The word for a typical US biscuit would be "bread roll" or "scone".  But the "o" in scone is a short sound,  scone here rhymes with the word "gone".

Now Now and Just Now  -Both of these mean "not now".  As far as I can tell, "now now" is sooner than "just now".  For example, I might say to my child "Please find your shoes, we are leaving now now."  Now now is another way of saying soon.

"Just now" could mean pretty much anytime in the future.  If someone tells me "I will get that to you just now", it means "I will get that to you at a time in the future that is convenient for me."  Lincoln learned this the hard way when he went to someone's place of work to pick up some paperwork.  The man he went to see told him that he would get the papers to Lincoln just now and then left the office.  Lincoln hung around and waited for quite a while, thought the man had forgotten about him and ended up leaving - without the paperwork.

Robot - We actually don't hear this one that often, but it always makes me giggle a little when we do.  Traffic lights here are called robots.  "Make a right turn at the 3rd robot."  Giggle.

Shame - This is an all purpose word used to show understanding, sympathy or to indicate that you think something or someone is really cute, or perhaps really sad.  "Oh shame, look at that adorable little baby!"  

Or "It was so cold in my house last night that I'm pretty sure I got frostbite" "Oh shame!!!"

Fillet is used instead of the word steak. It took a while to get used to saying "fillet", because here the "t" is pronounced at the end of the word and the word rhymes with skillet.

Crisps - In the US we call them chips.  Chips here are what we call french fries.

Is it? -This is like saying "really?" and is very addictive! I find myself saying this all of the time!  A friend will say "I went to the store yesterday" and I will answer "Is it?"  It kind of drives me a little crazy!

Those are some of the most common words we hear, check out the link above for more!


Friday, July 15, 2011

4th of July in South Africa

Sorry this post is a little late.  Our internet speed at our house has gotten so slow that we can no longer post to our blog or upload pictures from home, so we have to go to a friend's house or the mall to get online.

On the 4th, we got together with the other American missionaries living near us and had a BBQ (this is the one time of the year we don't call it a braai - the South African term for a BBQ.)

We gathered at the Children's Shelter where Lincoln and I used to live and work.  Our friends Jeff and Abby still live and work there.  Jeff and Abby have 2 jumpy castles they use for children's outreaches and they set them up for the kids to play on.

Kyler and his friend Matthew


Madison and Isabel

 Madison, Kyler and Isabel

We can't get fireworks here, so we had to settle for cheap, novelty sparking candles.  The candles were Pink, White and Blue, close enough.  We lit the candles and sang "The Star Spangled Banner."  It was very patriotic ;)

We ended the night with a bonfire.  The kids loved it!


Monday, July 11, 2011

On Any Average Day . . . Fires!

Fires are a very common occurrence during the winter here.  We've never really been told why everyone burns pretty much everything, it's just the way things are done.  We assume that burning weeds and tall dry grass is cheaper and faster than mowing, and it also probably has something to do with making the soil more fertile for crops.  Though much of what we see burning is not farm land.

Some fires are probably accidental, and some are probably set by kids messing around (we're pretty sure one near our our house was set by kids.)

Lincoln and I were driving home from Phokeng (about 25 minutes from our house) and I happened to have our camera with us.  In that 25 minute drive I saw probably close to 20 fires.

Coming from Colorado, where fires like these would cause mass evacuations, it still freaks me out a little to see this!

The above and below fires were right next to the highway.  Often the smoke will be so thick on the highway that visibility is almost zero.

 Three separate fires burning.

This is the road coming into Rustenburg, on the horizon you can see the smoke from all of the fires.  We breathe this junk every day!

A few days before I took the above pictures, the fields around our house were set on fire.

This is our front yard and our dog, Rocco. 

The two pictures below were taken out of my bedroom window.  The concrete wall is the edge of our yard, and about 10 feet away from our house.

The pictures above and below are of our backyard.

The kids have now seen enough fires to know that we are relatively safe.  Here, Madison poses by the fire.

This is how the field in front of our house now looks.  It will stay like this until it rains again, probably not until September or October.


Friday, July 8, 2011

Quotes That Inspire

What I do you cannot do; but what you do, I cannot do. The needs are great, and none of us, including me, ever do great things. But we can all do small things, with great love, and together we can do something wonderful.

Mother Teresa

Monday, July 4, 2011

4th of July


Photo Source: bayasaa

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Right Way?

Jenny and I have been reading a book called When Helping Hurts by Brian Fikkert and Steve Corbett.  We highly recommend it for anyone interested in missions work in any capacity; for full-time missionaries, short-term missions teams, or even those who support missionaries financially. 

The book has challenged our thinking and has caused us to re-evaluate a lot of our missions philosophy.  It’s easy to read a book and agree with it from a theoretical standpoint.  But when you have to read a book and apply it, it can be quite frustrating.

One of the points in this book talks about how westerners are very focused on the task at hand and focus on producing a quality product or doing a good job.  Africans on the other hand are more focused on relationships and the job being done is secondary.  Sounds good in theory, but in practice it can be very frustrating.

We’ve been building a house for Mama Agnes, a lady in the community who feeds roughly 80-100 kids everyday from her mother’s porch.  With the help of a visiting team in May, we began construction on the house.  Sounds easy enough for someone like myself who has worked in the construction industry in the U.S. for 13 years.  The problem is that in the U.S. there is one objective: build a quality product on time and under cost.  Africans don’t share that same single-minded focus.  To Africans, the primary focus is on the relationships that are built and sustained within the community, the construction project is secondary.  In the U.S. relationships are a tool for the job, in Africa the job is a tool for the relationships.  In Africa I could build a quality house on time and under cost, but if I do it without fostering and developing the relationships in the community, then the project is a failure. 

I’ve realized that my focus on quality and cost has been in the way of relationships.   Mama Agnes told me that some of the men in the neighborhood were telling her that I’ve prepared the ground for the floor the wrong way.  (These men want to be hired to do the work the "right" way.)  I know without a doubt that I’ve done it right and the way that they want to do it will cost a lot of extra money and time.  (Things that westerners value more than Africans.)  But I realized that trying to convince Agnes of this was futile.  After I consented to do it their way and told her that in the future I’ll be sure to consult the neighborhood “experts” before building, her whole demeanor changed.  What started out as frustration over my “mistakes” turned into a conversation about how we can all cooperate and find the best way to get the job done.  Her posture changed, her tone of voice changed and her attitude changed, not because I recognized that her way was right, but because I recognized and acknowledged her.

Is the job going to get done with quality, on time, and under budget?  No. But I realized that’s ok, because that’s not the point. 

I didn’t come to Africa to impress them with my building skills.  I came to Africa to change lives.  And that can’t be done outside of relationship.

Evan as I write this, it’s painful for me to shift my focus.  It almost literally hurts for me to accept doing a job that takes more time and costs more money for lower quality.  In the U.S. I’d be fired for doing that.  It goes against everything I’ve been taught my whole life and career. 

But I have to remember why I’m here, and stay focused on letting myself be guided by Biblical principles, not American or African work ethics.


Friday, July 1, 2011

Phokeng Grocery Shopping

Every week we shop for food for the kids at Martha's house and Agnes' house.  Martha feeds around 30-40 kids a day and Agnes feeds around 80-100 kids a day.  The weekly shopping trip includes purchasing fruit and vegetables from a store aptly named "Fruit and Veg City" and buying milk and bulk yogurt from a dairy.

Once a month Lincoln also goes to the butcher to get a month's supply of meat to freeze and he goes to a wild store called "3 Star" to get dry goods.  3 Star is like a warehouse store that is always packed with people shopping and crazy employees driving forklifts.  It's not uncommon to have to wait in line for hours to pay.  I didn't get any pictures from 3 Star this month, I'll try to remember to take some next month.

Loading a week's worth of fruit and vegetables into our car.

This week we bought oranges, butternut squash, potatoes, pumpkins, tomatoes, carrots, onions and cabbage.

This is just the fruit and vegetables in our car, I didn't get a good picture after we packed the milk and yogurt in there.

Lincoln and Mama Agnes.

Unloading at Agnes' house.

The kids love to help out.

Food piled up in Mama Agnes' kitchen.

Unloading at Martha's house.  Martha's son, Gift, is on the left.

This is how Agnes and her sister Caroline cook the children's food each day.