Sunday, June 22, 2008

Survey Trip: Week Three

Saturday, June 14th – We spent the morning in Huambo and had lunch in one of the city parks. That afternoon, we flew from Huambo to Luena. We were warmly welcomed by the missionaries and spent the afternoon and evening settling in, buying groceries, and cooking dinner.

Sunday, June 15th – Happy Father's Day! We worshiped with the small church of Christ here that is made up mostly of returned refugees to Zambia. It was a wonderful time of fellowship that reminded me piercingly of church meetings in rural Kenya. The church served us lunch afterwards, and then the guys stayed on to meet with some of the leaders while the girls and Alex went home to rest. We had dinner with the Trotts, missionaries here in Luena, and Alex enjoyed playing with their two boys, ages 5 and 7.

Monday, June 16th – Some of the group visited the local clinic. Others went out to visit an NGO that is doing some de-mining in the area. We also visited the local market, did some laundry, and enjoyed some time just to rest and process.

Tuesday, June 17th – We flew from Luena to Malange, the last stop on our tour of Angola. We spent the afternoon getting settled in at our hotel and buying a few groceries. The hotel is very nice; unfortunately, there is no water in the pool right now. We walked downtown to a restaurant for dinner, then came back to the hotel and watched a movie in English (with Portuguese subtitles).

Wedneday, June 18th – We enjoyed a great breakfast at the hotel, then drove out to the Kalandula waterfalls. They were pretty amazing. We enjoyed the view from the top; then, a “guide” offered to take us on a hike down to the base of the falls. We trekked through the jungle, along a trail that got pretty muddy towards the end, until we reached the river. Rusty did an amazing job with Alex in the baby carrier on his back. Then, some of the guys hiked along the river to the base of the falls while the rest of us waited at the river. After we hiked back to the top, we had lunch and relaxed for a bit, then drove home. We had dinner at another restaurant downtown, followed by another English movie back at the hotel.

Thursday, June 19th – We decided to head back to Luanda a day early since we were pretty much done with our surveying, and the missionaries in Malange were very busy and had told us they could not spend any time visiting with us. The guys spent the morning meeting with some of the ICA ministers while the girls took moto-taxis to the market. We checked out of the hotel, made our way to the airport, and boarded the plane for the flight back to Luanda. It was great to be back at the Baptist guest house, our home away from home!

Friday, June 20th – The guys had a couple of meetings downtown scheduled for today. The girls (and Alex!) stayed home and did a mountain of laundry and made tortillas for our taco night. Yum

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Survey Trip: Week Two

Saturday, June 7th – We met with the Chipenda's again, this time at their home. They recommended a good beach near their house, so we went there for lunch and played in the waves for awhile. That evening, we met with a Brazilian eye doctor and his family at their home. They fed us dinner and proved to be a wealth of information on life in Benguela.

Sunday, June 8th – We worshiped with an ICA church in Benguela and enjoyed our time with them. Alex nearly got clipped by a motorcycle after the service while he was playing outside – very scary moment. In the afternoon, we wanted to visit a local beach called Baia Farta (and, yes, I believe we cracked about every joke in the book and then some about the name). Baia Farta definitely lived up its name!  It was about the nastiest beach I have ever been on – piles of burning garbage, piles of drying fish, and of course, flies everywhere. We quickly decided to try another beach called Baia Azul, and this one proved much more pleasant. Getting home that night was quite the adventure. Our driver basically ditched us, and we could never find a taxi because we were pretty far out of town, so Rusty eventually flagged a passing car. The driver turned out to be a friendly Portuguese man who, along with his brother, managed to get us all back to the YWAM compound safely.

Monday, June 9th – We took a bus from Benguela to Lubango. For an entertaining account of our day (and a lesson on why NOT to rely on public transportation in Africa), please visit Teague's blog. We arrived in Lubango safely after an extremely long day, and were very glad to be warmly welcomed by the missionary community there.

Tuesday, June 10th – Teague and Jordan spent the day at the mission hospital. The rest of us did laundry, visited with the missionaries on the compound where we were staying, and spent some time in downtown Lubango. We had yummy hamburgers for lunch at a hole-in-the-wall (literally) restaurant, very popular among the expat community.

Wednesday, June 11th – Team prayer-time in the morning, followed by our first moto-taxi (motorcycle taxi) rides! It was pretty fun (Alex stayed home with Robert and Teague)! We spent more time in downtown Lubango, then had lunch with the Holden's, long-time missionaries to Angola, out at their house, which is still under construction. Later that afternoon, Rusty and Danny went to the mission hospital while the rest of us headed up to the Cristo Rei statue that overlooks Lubango.

Thursday, June 12th – We enjoyed a day just to relax at home before beginning the next part of our journey. We did laundry, emailed, and blogged, and Alex got a good nap in. We had dinner with one of the professors at ISTEL (the interdenominational seminary) and his family.

Friday, June 13th – We flew from Lubango to Huambo on a small 10-seater plane that the team chartered with MAF (Missions Aviation Fellowship). We arrived in time for lunch at a local restaurant, where we met Justin Pearce, an English journalist who now lives in Huambo. We found a guest house with enough beds for all of us for the night. Rusty, Alex, and I stayed back for the afternoon to rest while the rest of the team went out to explore the town.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Survey Trip: Week One

Saturday, May 31st – We arrived in Luanda at 4:00 a.m. We spent the day getting settled in at the Baptist guest house in Luanda, buying groceries, meeting some of the missionaries, and trying to stay awake until a late enough hour that night to avoid jet lag.

Sunday, June 1st – We spent the day with one of the ICA churches in Luanda. We worshipped with them; then they served us lunch. That afternoon, we visited a couple of other churches and met some of their leaders.

Monday, June 2nd – Most of the guys went into town to meet with some of the ICA leaders. Rusty stayed home because he had some sort of stomach bug. I enjoyed some time just to relax, write in my journal, and do some laundry. And Alex got to take a real nap for the first time in almost a week!

Tuesday, June 3rd – We spent the day in downtown Luanda. It took two hours to get there and even longer coming home because there was so much traffic and congestion. We walked on the waterfront, had pizza at an Italian restaurant, met with the Secretary for Religious Affairs, and registered at the U.S. Embassy.

Wednesday, June 4th – We began the drive from Luanda south to Lobito and Benguela (also on the coast). We didn't leave until about 2:00 p.m., and after a couple of breakdowns, it was dark and we were only halfway to our destination. When our second wheel bearing gave out, we decided to call it quits for the night. We were in a fairly large town, so found a hotel with two rooms for all of us to crash in.

Thursday, June 5th – We got up early and finished the drive to Lobito (the mechanic replaced the wheel bearing while we were all sleeping). We met with one of our contacts in Benguela for awhile, then got lunch and drove out to the YWAM (Youth with a Mission) compound where we were staying. Most everyone else went back into town for the afternoon. Katie, Alex, and I stayed back and all got good naps.

Friday, June 6th – We met with a realtor who showed us several housing options and gave us prices and other helpful information. After a late lunch, we walked down to the waterfront and spent some time just walking on the beach and playing in the waves. There are some really lovely beaches here, and the best part is they are not overrun by tourists (yet)!

London Vacation

We left the United States a few days before the rest of the team so we could spend a few days just as a family in London. We had a very nice time, and it was a good way to relax, in between the craziness of getting ready for the survey trip, and the survey trip itself. (Pictures will follow after we return to the States and have high-speed Internet again.)

Monday, May 26th – We left Memphis about 10:30 a.m. We had a layover in Cincinnati, then another layover in Chicago. We flew out of Chicago at 8:30 p.m. We were all tired, having not gotten much sleep the night before, so we slept most of the way to London.

Tuesday, May 27th – We arrived in London about 9:00 a.m. Unfortunately, our bags did not, but they were delivered later that day. After we picked up our rental car, we drove out to where we were staying at the Wycliffe Center. We spent the rest of the afternoon trying to stay awake, to avoid jet lag. We had dinner at the Center (Alex fell asleep at the table), then came back to our room and just crashed.

Wednesday, May 28th – We drove out to the Cotswolds, a truly beautiful part of the English countryside. It was foggy most of the day, but we still enjoyed seeing the little villages with their stone houses and winding streets. We had lunch at a very cool old English pub, and the food was delicious. We went to a grocery store and bought food and had dinner back in our room that night.

Thursday, May 29th (our 9th anniversary) – We spent the day at Warwick Castle – very cool! Rusty and Alex had never been. We walked around for a bit, then bought lunch and ate it on the grounds and let Alex burn some energy. We walked around the town of Warwick for awhile, then had afternoon tea. We got take-out for dinner that night and ate it back in our room.

Friday, May 30th – We were supposed to meet the rest of the team in London for the day, but they were all re-routed, except for Nathan. So the four of us drove downtown, had to sell a kidney to pay for parking, had lunch at an awesome Japanese restaurant, then walked over to where the Parliament Building and Big Ben were and took a few pictures. Then, we drove back to the airport, returned the car, checked in, and waited for a gate assignment for our flight to Luanda.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

You Know You're In Africa When...

  • you soak your salad veggies in bleach water before eating them.
  • you flush a toilet with the water you just soaked your veggies in and take a “military shower” to conserve water.
  • you wash your feet before going to bed.
  • you walk down a street that’s been literally paved with garbage.
  • a church service starts a half hour late, then lasts for over three hours.
  • you put your toddler’s carseat in a van, realize the van has no seatbelts, but strap the kid in anyway because that’s what he’s used to, and try not to worry too much about it. Later, your husband figures out how to strap the carseat in using a luggage strap and a carabiner.
  • you drink and brush your teeth with water that’s been put through a filter.
  • the exuberance and joy of a worship service is enough to bring tears to your eyes.
  • you go for days without checking your email or watching TV.
  • you walk out the front gate into an open air market where you buy bananas for your breakfast and bread for your supper.
  • you cut up a chocolate bar to make chocolate chip cookies.
  • your husband wears a short-sleeve shirt, tie, and red and white basketball shoes to church
  • Memphis drivers start to seem tame and well-mannered.

This is a running list that I will be adding to this month while we are in Angola. So far, everything has gone really well. We have been in Luanda for the past several days, just getting acclimated and taking care of some business. Tomorrow, we will be heading out on our 17-day tour around the country. We thank you for your prayers for our health and safety and ask that they continue.