6800 Kilometres, 68000 metres, 4080 miles. It was certainly a long way to go. The car loaded up with everything you would take away on holiday, plus everything you need to take in Africa, some spares, fuel, water and lots of dust (well you collect it on the way). After being quite done in during July we decided to go away for 3 weeks and after some deliberation decided upon Namibia.
Now of course, those that know me will know that I can’t resist doing a little bit of work wherever I go, whether it be thinking, meeting someone or plotting in my head. So you won’t be surprised that on our trip, we had a few incidents and happenings that gave I think perhaps a greater significance to our journey. To give you an idea I thought I would write about them here.
On the way, we stayed in Livingstone for a couple of nights. After a manic day driving to Lusaka, getting the car balancing sorted and having a roof rack made (yes made on the way!) then driving on to Lusaka, we thought we would stay put a little. Apart from seeing Victoria Falls, this gave the opportunity to meet up with Sly who happened to be in Livingstone before setting off to Botswana. Sly is part of a trio of people who work around Namibia and Botswana. He’s 27, his friends Bernard and Keegan are 25. Well they just go off to places and stay for 3 months doing mission. I like it! So inspiring to see. Well between us we have possibly hatched a plot to plant the Life! Initiative in Botswana. It all depends how it opens up, however it was such an encouraging conversation, I thought that I would mention it here.
After Livingstone, it was a long drive to Windhoek, via Rundu and the main road via Otjiwarongo and Okhandjia. Nothing special happened in Windhoek suffice to say that we made it and that it was a brush with a more ‘normal’ life. As soon as you leave Rundu, it’s like you leave Southern Central Africa. Everything is neater and well the towns are like towns, rather than collections of semi dilapidated buildings. The distances are vast, you can drive for hundreds of kilometres and pass only a handful of villages. Again, these are concentrated to the north, and the further south you go the less villages of the traditional type there are.
That certainly rings true in the desert. On to Swakopmund with it’s European feel, where else can you sit in a Konditorei in Africa? Where else can you have Shwarzwalder Kiersch Torte or no end of German baking delicacies? In the early morning with the fog, it is like it is raining, I think it was 7 degrees one morning. I’ve got to admit it was heavenly being away from the dust and heat. Yet, go 30 km into the desert from Swakopmund and you are back in it, amazing.
We spent some 7 days camped here and simply put the feet up, relaxed and did things like quad biking and dune boarding. The kind of things missionaries do………… 🙂
It was on the way back that some of the lessons came flooding in. It is difficult to drive an entire distance to a destination in Namibia in one day. It is too big, too little people and too little in between. So, you have to stay over at many places. One of the things you can do is stay on a Guest Farm, and we ended up on one such farm called Vreugde (see http://www.vreugdeguestfarm.com) We had driven over the desert, then into the hills of the Kaokoveld, past some of the Namibia’s highest mountains in the Brandberg massif. Then onwards towards Etosha National park which was where we were headed. Situated just south in a conveniant location was the guest farm.
I can safely say, I have never and I mean NEVER, had such a warm welcome anywhere as we did at that guest farm. It really wasn’t a surprise to find out the Elsie, a likeable larger than life woman who speaks at least Afrikaans, German and English, was actually a Christian. Maybe at dinner when she spoke about people needing to know Jesus, gave it away. In the surrounding areas, over the last 20 years, she had been doing mission work with the workers of the farm compounds in their area. What really encouraged me is that a lot of values that are important to the Life! Initiative, were so much in evidence here. Fantastic! She was even careful about outside help (investors as she called them) as she was worried about the effect that ‘aid’ would have on people. I couldn’t have said it better myself! I’ve travelled a lot in Africa, but have not met many people who share my sometimes more ‘radical’ views on mission in the church. It was great to find some people who did.
The second thing was the structure of rural society. We have concentrated predominantly on villages, which is our calling, but I have also begun to realise that farm compounds make up another sizeable section of the rural population. Maybe God was just signalling that to me for the future?
From Vreugde I spent 3 days in Etosha National Park, where the children were not the most enthralled with Rhinos etc. no it was Honey Badgers! This is all the fault of Jeremy Clarkson, who in Top Gear, says that Honey Badgers are one of the most dangerous animals in the world. So my kids were somewhere between enthralled and petrified when two of the little badgers came scurrying to raid the bins in our camp site whilst we were watching them. Jacob kept asking me, “Do Honey Badgers die?” to which he meant, “are they going to kill me?”. I assured them they wouldn’t. See you never thought Top Gear would have such an effect would you?
From the dangerous Honey Badgers it was on to Rundu in an afternoon, where we entered what I think of more normal Africa. You could tell it at night. Speed humps the size of mountain ranges over the road, people wandering everywhere and the distinct smell of Africa. Rundu is right on the Angolan border, and from where we were staying it was about ooooo 20 metres. This is the closest I’ve been to that country for some 2 years. I still feel a burden for there, just need the opportunity to plant the initiative there……. that thought could make all kinds of trouble happen…………..
Then the next morning, a 300 mile dash to Katima Mulilo on the border with Zambia. here I was meeting Bernard, a friend of Sly and an attendee of Dignity’s School of Rural Evangelism and Discipleship in Lusaka in July. It was great to see him and we discussed about the possibility of starting some Life! work in Namibia. No guarantees, but it may just happen!
After 3 more days and more than a day spent at different immigration offices, trying to get my permit updated, we eventually made it home. It was some trip, a bit of an expedition at times.
It is on such trips that you begin to get a vision for a place, begin to see how things could work in the future. You meet people, you befriend them and sometimes they become very important people in your future as well. God has a rich tapestry that he is weaving with this life of ours, we however, need to open our eyes to see it, to embrace it in the here and now.
I try to travel with my eyes wide open. When was the last time you really, really opened your eyes and took a good look around you at what God is doing in your life?
Maybe it’s time that you did?