01 September 2007

we're back!!

- Sawubona We’re back from the technological grave. Brace yourselves, as we have had a long week that has left us a little bit delirious. We’ve collected a few of the random thoughts from the past week here. Good luck. And check back often. We’re ready to reconnect.

- The 2010 Soccer World Cup is going to be in South Africa. Beyond all of the worries about crime and transport infrastructure and hotel availability and other such things that go along with hosting the biggest sporting event in the world, there is another concern. Stadiums. In Cape Town, they’re still arguing over the site and the cost and here in Johannesburg, they’ve got nine cranes (and construction crews) working around the clock to completely remodel a local stadium so it will seat 100,000 people and have all of the amenities necessary for the most-watched television programs in the world. When the World Cup rolls around, don’t be surprised if there are MAJOR issues. I warned you.

- People often ask us what we miss the most from home. A veritable cornucopia of things comes to mind, but they all seem trivial so we won’t waste your time listing them out.

There is, however, one thing we didn’t realize that we missed until I noticed it recently. Freshly carbonated beverages. You know, like fountain drinks. Maybe it’s expensive to keep CO2 on hand all the time or maybe the fountain drink infrastructure (you didn’t even know there was a fountain drink infrastructure - Google it) just hasn’t reached the third world yet. I don’t know. But no matter where you go, you are given Coke here in a can or a bottle. No cup of overflowing, bubbling goodness, refillable on demand. You get a can of Coke, whether you’re at the corner store or the nicest steakhouse in town. Well, there is one exception. McDonalds, in their egalitarian mission to humbly supply the world with nutritious meals at fair prices (I’m delirious), has imported their own miniature fountain drink infrastructure and proudly serves freshly carbonated beverages at all of their fabulous establishments.

One morning, we snuck over to McDonalds for breakfast ($2 for the Sausage McMuffin with Egg combo meal) and, gasp, the fountain drink dispenser was broken. I would tell you more about but, well, the pain is just too recent.

Anyway, I bet you didn’t realize how much you like fountain drinks, freshly carbonated and fizzy wonderful. Imagine going to Pei Wei or Longhorn Cafe or Martha’s or Outback or Chicken Express or Burger King or Las Palapas or Freebirds or Taco Cabana or (insert your favorite place to consume freshly carbonated beverages here)... Imagine going there and ordering a Pepsi or a Sprite or a Coke or a Big Red or a Diet Dr Pepper and being handed a can. A can!! Three hundred and fifty milliliters (12 ounces) of joy, no doubt. But, how much greater the meal as your nose tingles when you take the first sip of your freshly carbonated beverage and the bubbles tickle your nose, nay, your heart.

So, people, please. Next time you thoughtlessly grab your Coke from the hardworking, clean-shaven, proper-English-speaking drive-thru attendant, think of us and the millions like us. Appreciate that fresh carbonation. Appreciate it and then drink in deeply.

- Spring has sprung in South Africa. Well, it’s trying anyway. Cherry blossom trees are blooming and roses are opening up to warmer days. The nights are still holding a nasty chill, but the days are much friendlier to us. Soon enough, it’ll be summer and we’ll be tanning it up while you Northies (that’s a derogatory word I just made up for people from the Northern Hemisphere) freeze through a nasty winter. Enjoy that.

- Speaking of summer, what are you doing for Christmas? We’re trying to organize a trip to Durban (yep, Google it), unofficially known as South Africa’s playground. We’re hoping to take a bus (like a Greyhound or something) with a few friends and spend Christmas together on the beach.

We laughed really hard when we were talking to our friend Michael about Christmas. We were asking him what people around here do and he was trying to explain it to us. I kept asking him about Santa Claus, trying to figure out if he wore swim trunks in South Africa or something. He said he’d never heard of Santa Claus. He said he’d never heard of Saint Nick. I explained Santa’s red coat, his bushy beard, his big belly... “Oh,” said Michael, “You mean Father Christmas!!!”

Of course, Father Christmas. (What?) It’s going to be an interesting Christmas.

- Speaking of Christmas (we’re on a roll now), Stef and I just spent Friday night watching Home Alone on our 12” computer screen. We don’t go out (ever) in the dark and shortly after the movie, we were reminded why. Two indistinguishable pops (gunfire) burst out very close to us here. It was close enough that, after the screaming and yelling calmed a little bit, I snuck my head out the door to see if I could spy on the action. I couldn’t see anything, but 15 minutes later, we heard some more gunshots, only this time a little further away.

To make things even more cozy in our little hideaway, out of the corner of my eye I noticed an intruder and leapt over the bed with a kleenex in hand and smashed the deadly/hungry/scary/smallish roach. Stef then claimed for the next 20 minutes or so that she could feel bugs on her skin. Oh, we’re living large!! Look for us on the next episode of MTV’s Cribs.

- Johannesburg is the melting pot of Africa. On top of the thousands of Zimbabwean refugees that illegally stream into South Africa everyday, we have people just in our little church here from Malawi, Angola, Nigeria, and an asylum-seeker from Burundi. Being an “outsider” is difficult. They often live 20 or 30 people to a house and they have virtually no rights as they have no proper identification and no means to get it. They don’t know the local languages any better than I do and they have absolutely no way to establish a legitimate life. It is surely a life I cannot even imagine.

- People sometimes ask what it is we would have them pray for or why we don’t sort of list out prayer and praise like traditional missionaries do. We might just be lazy. Really, I think we trust that those who are so inclined will read the needs and respond to their hearts’ call. So, if you are wondering, we’ll keep asking you to read between the lines and rely on the indwelling. By the way, we are touched that so many people would think of us throughout their day. Our prayer is that this blog (even the nonsense like today) would somehow enrich your life and give you a window into a larger world - maybe even that it would provide a way for people to introduce their friends to Jesus. We aren’t always the most accurate representation and we don’t write to that end, but we pray that His light shines through even our weakest moments.

- We got to spend a little more time with our new friend David E White (you did Google, him, didn’t you?). He came through right when we needed him. He encouraged and inspired and generally hooked us up with more than our share of good conversation and good advice. He is officially the greatest Canadian to ever live.

- Did you people ever see the documentary “Grizzly Man”? It was not as eye-opening as “An Inconvenient Truth” or as bewildering as “Who Killed the Electric Car”. It was not as heartbreaking “When the Levees Broke” or as maddening as “My Best Fiend”. (If you couldn’t tell, those were my recommendations for documentaries you should rent and see before you die...) “Grizzly Man” was simply the most fascinating look at the most fascinating man. Crazy, but fascinating. I think my dad still has nightmares about it. How did I get onto that topic....? Oh, probably thinking about Canada which is near Alaska which is where Grizzly Man was filmed. Go figure.

- Somebody mentioned to me that the Chicago Cubs were in first place. If they win the World Series while I am in Africa, you can officially consider my support of baseball to be over. (They’ve waited almost 100 years...what’s one more so I can see it?)

- Did I mention that we live in the scariest, dirtiest (OK, Nairobi is dirtier, but cut me some slack - we’re going for maximum hyperbole here!!), craziest, busiest, most dangerous city in the world? We hear lots of gunshots. We drink lots of diesel fumes. We ride on crazy taxis. We are really enjoying it all actually, as exhausting as it can be. But, it warrants mentioning that this place is absolutely bonkers.

- Do you remember that Meat Loaf song “Anything for Love”? Ya, umm, me neither. No, you do. If you don’t, spend a dollar on iTunes and then you’ll be in on the fun.

Anyway, when I was working at Starbucks, we used to play this game where one person would sing “I would do anything for love” and then the other person would ask some disgusting question like, “Would you eat a bowl of cow eyeballs covered in toenails?” to which the other person would answer (singing just like Meat Loaf) “No, I won’t do that.” That was always how it went. Basically, the idea was to ask the most horrifying question possible. Now you know.

- I haven’t gotten any “you offended me” emails yet. That either means that our audience doesn’t extend past our mothers or that I haven’t had enough time to ramble. Don’t worry. We’ll get there.

- Our friend Andre is dying of cancer. We sort of share an office with him at the church, although he hasn’t been there in a while. We’ve been to see him a couple of times and he is not doing well at all. Beyond the help of doctors or medicine, he is dying at home in the care of his mother... We’ll talk more about him when it feels right.

- So, remember how I said we like soccer now? Well, that wasn’t a joke. We looked into buying some tickets for the boys who live at the Mission House to an upcoming Kaizer Chiefs game. I am told they cost about R20 each. That’s about $3 per ticket. $3? Seriously?

This gets me thinking. What must the players get paid? I expect that we’ll attend a game and afterwards, they’ll cart a chicken coop onto the field. Then, they’ll open the coop and let a dozen or so chickens out onto the field and the exhausted players will scramble around trying to catch them. Anything you catch, you keep. I think that must be how they pay the players. I'm pretty sure actually. :)

- I’ve been having a really good time the last week or so turning all of the Aggie jokes I know into African jokes. Like this one:

A Tswana, a Sotho, and a Zulu are going to the desert. (Remember that the Zulu represents the Aggie...)

They are sitting around talking about what they are bringing to the desert, you know, to sustain them on the harsh trip.

The Tswana says, “I’m bringing water so we have something to drink when we get thirsty.” The others nod in approval, obviously impressed.

The Sotho says, “I’ll bring food so we can have something to eat when we get hungry.” The others smile and nod, again impressed with their friend.

Finally, the Zulu says, “I’m going to bring a car door.”

Perplexed, his friends ask, “Why would you bring a car door?”

Confident, the Zulu then answers, “So when it gets hot we can roll down the window.”

(Oh, the locals love making fun of the Zulus.)

- We’re glad to have the internet back. I wish you could say you felt the same. Stay tuned this week as we already have posts lined up for every day of the week.

Darkness into Light...

1 comment:

  1. If you Google "fountain drink infrastructure South Africa", your blog comes up as the 4th link listed (you are big time)! I really didn't realize there is a soft drink infrastruture. I can't wait to educate some lucky individual the next time I spot him/her pop the top on a refreshing, carbonated, 12-ounce can of liquid sugar.

    Michael P. (Heather's husband).