The past few weeks we’ve been getting ready and set to GO! Our excitement has been tempered by a list of tasks as long as my arm, which probably will not all get done.
I was busy preparing materials for my children’s Sunday School class, cleaning, and washing. Today I will continue those endless chores and add packing and storage as well.
Caleb continued practicing his addition facts on Xtra Math, and he got 100% on addition enough times to receive a certificate! That was very exciting, and I’m glad he was able to get that before we left so I could switch him to practicing subtraction now for our break.
Caleb’s birthday is the day we fly out to America. He actually shares a birthday with three other VIPs in our life: my sister, Seth’s sister, and our teammate’s wife. So for our teammate’s wife, I said for her birthday we’re going away. 🙂 I’m a little mad at her for planning to deliver her 4th baby right after we leave with no help from us. And for my sisters, their birthday present is to see US! (Doesn’t that sound conceited?)
Caleb was a bit disappointed to miss his birthday meal and cake. We asked if he’d rather fly on a plane to America for his birthday (and not have cake) OR stay home and have cake? He chose to stay home and have cake. So we’re leaving him behind for four months with a pan of cake. He’ll be all right. No, actually my mom is making a cake for him on the other side. Isn’t that nice?
He opened some presents today, the best of which was his very own Bible. It was special. He’s been praying and reading his Bible every morning, so we gave him the one that he has been reading.
Colin picked up this large grasshopper and was walking around with it attached to his shirt belly. In my fright I told him to take it off before I got a picture.
Seth finished teaching at LBI. Our teammate will administer his exams for him next week. He also has many things to prepare for our trip.
Today he is working with the boys from our church to put the remaining 29 poles in the ground for our fence. We don’t have the money currently for the barbed wire, but we are excited to see the poles come up.
TIA = our acronym for This Is Africa. A TIA moment (actually several!) happened this week. On one of the busiest weeks of our year, Seth happened to pass a member of the tribal authority council, who told him that our church “stand” (plot) was too big, and we needed to go see Mr. __ to have it measured. You’ve got to be kidding! We already cleared the stand, dug holes, and have almost finished putting the poles around the perimeter—all tasks that drained our time and money. Now with only one work day left before we leave for four months, they want to cut our stand.
We are used to this by now. We went through all the hoops to get the land itself and received the only type of receipt you can get for ownership of tribal land; at the time the tribal council members who were in charge just sort of waved their hands in the direction of the limits of our property. So Seth went on with the fence placement. Possession is nine-tenths of the law.
To make a long story short, although I know you might find the details interesting, they gave us the land! What a relief. It took half a day out of the week for Seth, but he managed to talk them around into letting us keep what we paid for and what they’d said we could have. We don’t believe they were being deceitful or malicious in any sense, just disorganized. The stand is now measured and recorded on paper, and we are 94% sure that no tribal authority members will bother us about it again. 🙂
Seth’s jobs were also added to because he taught Wednesday morning and Thursday evening classes at LBI for our teammate, who went to Zimbabwe to preach for a pastor’s conference that we like to help with whenever we can. They were in a strait and called asking for Seth or our coworker to help out with the preaching. Seth obviously couldn’t go, it being his last week before we leave for America; and our teammate obviously couldn’t go, it being one or two weeks before his wife delivers a baby. But he did go, and she did not deliver.
TIA. Miscommunication caused the pastor’s conference to start a day early. The organizer of the conference was stuck at the border with the main speaker because corruption wouldn’t let them through. And our teammate was unreachable in a rural area with two of our former LBI graduates to see their churches gather for a special baptismal service. It was wonderful to see those two men minister to their people! Seth and I saw pictures and videos last night. Very special!
By the time our teammate got to the conference (when he was supposed to), he was given only two brief sermons. Anyway, all is well now. He brought 5 men with him, and they had good times of fellowship at the conference and on the journey.
TIA. The organizer of the conference had already been through the wringer before arriving at all of those problems at the Zimbabwean border and at the mistimed conference. When he picked up the Zambian speaker at the Johannesburg airport, criminals followed them to his house, held him and his wife up at gunpoint, and stole all of their important papers and valuables as well as the Zambian pastor’s luggage. It gets worse—the luggage held the Zambian’s important heart medicine!
Amazingly, when this organizer called us from the Zimbabwean border a few days later seeking our teammate’s contact details to try to get someone to the mistimed conference to speak while he tried to squeak through the corrupt border post, he sounded calm and optimistic! Maybe when we have lived here for 30 years, we will accept tribulation and worrisome events with less emotional upheaval and lack of trust in God’s sovereign and good hand. And less bitterness.
God has been doing such a work in our hearts and lives by placing us in far-flung corners of the world for the Gospel’s sake, and we are eager to see our fellow Americans and share that work with you. We’re almost ready to GO!
Edited to Add: Unbeknownst to me, while I was writing this ironically, another tribal council member told Seth that they were taking a portion of our stand away. Therefore, Seth and the young men were unable to finish enclosing the stand with fence poles today. They will have lost weeks of work and some money in having to move the fence now, because of the mismanagement of one tribal councilman. Ita vita African!