Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Canoe above Tshopo dam

In the hole the hose was digging

Friday, February 12, 2010

crazy bobcat road trip, etc.

CFM’s population dropped significantly at the end of last week. Members of CFM’s board were here. Among them was Gary Rogers, a Missionary pilot who works in Chad. He grew up in Congo and Indonesia, so he had some neat things to share. He also shared some amazing stories of how God is reaching the Islamic world with the gospel.

Now the board members, Jonathan, Dr. Rittenour, Keith and Tammy are all gone. That doesn’t stop the craziness from happening around here though. Yesterday afternoon Nathan, Melody and I went to the gravel pit and had a water fight against ourselves with the motor-pump. We dug nine-foot-deep holes right though the gravel with the stream of water. We tried going in the hole with the water flowing – that was one fast way to fill shorts with gravel. Then Nathan had me shut off the pump when he was in the hole. He was almost instantly buried up to his shoulders in gravel, and couldn’t move. Good thing the pump started again…

Lately I’ve been working mostly at hanging doors and setting up the solar power. Since the locals set the door frames, hanging some of the doors eats up a lot of time: I’m getting used to cutting curves to get the margins okay. Yesterday Nathan and I finally got the solar system connected: we spent way to long at the drawing board with this project – then when we went to put everything together we had to make a bunch of changes because of parts that hadn’t been spec’d out right, or things we’d overlooked. Sure is nice to be benefiting from the free power Keith and Tammy paid so much for.

I had a nice little crazy bobcat road trip on Thursday. I was running to get a tool when a worker ran to me, telling me to get the bobcat while he made tumbling motions with his hands. I went to Mikendy, and he told me the truck was stuck down the road. So I grabbed chains, hopped in the bobcat, and headed off with a couple of workers in the bucket for the free ride - I mean, to give me directions. We went right to a place I was planning to never go with the bobcat: the puddle section of road close to the local village, about a mile away.

I managed to push the truck out of one puddle, then it got stuck in a place where I couldn’t push it in the next puddle. So I had to go around, but I got stuck beside it when I tried. I monkeyed around a bunch, but I had slid into a place that required shovel work to get me out. At this time I noticed I was getting low on diesel: losing power at some angles. After digging, I tried to get out without going close to the truck, but kept on sliding close to the truck. At the thought of being stuck in a hole with no diesel, bocking the whole road with both vehicles, I hastily decided to risk the sliding into the truck and go forward. So that’s how the lower window on the passenger side of the truck actually got broken, and how the bumper got slightly more bent out of shape; even though I was jokingly trying to blame these problems on Andrew and Pr. Mtenzi’s kids..

But, I made it through to hole (using the truck as traction maybe) without doing any more damage and pulled the truck out of the hole before running completely out of diesel. Then the truck and crew went on to get bamboo, while I ran back to the property to get diesel. By the time I got back, the truck was also back, waiting. We filled up the bobcat, and on the return trip it was me who got stuck first. Out came the shovels again – the workers finally were able to push me out of the soft spot I had discovered, and off we went again. I only had to push to truck out of one hole on the way back. Then it was more driving down the road again, smiling at the locals who were wondering why this crazy Mzungu was driving that intriguing machine down the road.

Apparently there was a rainbow around the sun a couple days ago, and locals say it signals the end of the dry season. Last night I woke up to some of the hardest wind and rain we've had here - I sure had to get my bed inside quickly. There's water in all sorts of places it's not supposed to go now. But at least it's cooler.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

the hippo and the weight loss plan

Last night I woke up to getting rained on, so I had to quickly set up my bed inside. It was nice though, it rained enough to significantly cool it down here. I had been rather warm. I knew it was hot here: probably slightly over 30C. Turns out it was about 40C. I guess I’ll have some adjusting to do when I get back home.

I’ve been taking it easy lately. I discovered an excellent weight loss program. The night of Sunday Jan. 24, I got crazily cold for a couple hours, then hot again. The next day I spent in bed and on the ceramic. I’ve seen ads that say things like “I lost 15 lbs in 2 weeks”. I now know that’s nothing: I had them beat within a couple days. Thankfully, I’m now feeling almost 100% again. And thankfully, just like with most of those advertised weight loss programs, my pounds are coming back slowly.

Through the time of feeling bad, I got to take some photos and videos, and get some good reading in. The lay missionaries were here, and we filmed some of them telling some really good stories of God blessing their ministries and overcoming challenges. Witchcraft is a very real thing here, and these missionaries experience first-hand God’s power to overcome it.

We’ve gone to the beach twice this week. On Sunday, we saw the hippo again. After it retreated into the reeds, a fisher cautiously paddled up to the area in a canoe to check his nets. After a while, the hippo decided he didn’t like the invasion, and threatened the canoe, coming quite far out of the water. The fisher paddled off, with his son throwing rocks from the canoe. I think they were almost used to the ordeal, and were more annoyed than anything. We sure weren’t annoyed though; we were happy to get good views of the hippo.

Many times while working with the one-day church structures here, I found myself wishing I’d learned things faster. Now I’ve been teaching a few of the local workers the ins-and-outs of building them. It’s quite an experience, especially with my limited ability to communicate with them. It’s very rewarding to see them learn. Life here can be very rough, and finding work is a daily struggle for many people here. Hopefully the skills our workers are learning will serve them well in the future.

Best wishes to all the friends and family of Pastor Burgess. I’m sad I won’t be seeing him again in this life. Thank God: He “Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise”. Here’s what CFM is all about: spreading this good news to the many people here who haven’t heard it. By the way, if you question the above quote, I’m sure you have good reason to. But let me know: I’ll be happy to share with you the reasons I believe it.