Thursday, March 19, 2009

Backing him up

This morning, we recorded the last of the backing vocals for Rev. Sechele's worship music album. Finally, my vocal quality, lack of bird/bug-noise, not too awful heat without the fan and our schedule coincided to finish this phase of the project. William will be coming in a couple of weeks to hear the result, pick out which parts of my backing vocals he wants to keep and get ready for the final master. This will be the second cd that Rob has worked on in Botswana that will be available commercially, to date. Others may be coming (like the recent ELCB projects) but the Naro choir and William got there first.

We had another Setswana lesson last night. Usually, we're doing Sunday afternoons but Beauty is away this weekend so we squeezed one in yesterday. She is also offering us a freebie Setswana culture lesson, to be fit in sometime next week. Her topic? Spiritual realities, in a specific to Maun context. I'm much looking forward to it. She's a deliverance minister at her church, the Village Church here in Maun, so this is an area in which she has more expertise than your average Setswana teacher… or your average pastor or missionary for that matter, I would imagine.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Talking bugs

From the first day that we moved in to our new home in Maun, there was a locust on the gate. It always sat in roughly the same spot, right above the lock, only switching the side on which it was sitting. Oddly, it was usually sitting right where my hands needed to go to open or close the lock. This often earned it a gentle swat, just to keep a clear path for my hands to move. After a few days of swatting, I began to wonder why my swats weren't driving it away altogether. Rather, it still sat, looking up at me with it's off-center, googly eyes.

I didn't give it too much thought; I had bigger bugs to fry. You see, we found this house at the very last minute, just one week before we ran out of other people's homes to housesit for, after bouncing from one housesitting gig to the next here in Botswana since September 2007. We really felt like this was God, acting on our behalf, in the nick of time. But now, living in our first place in more than 2 years which was only ours, we found that we were paying all the rent but sharing the space… with termites. My heart kind of took a nosedive. After all this time without a house, after sensing that God was behind the new house, why were we getting stuck with wood-eating bugs? It was starting to seem like we could never receive anything that would be complete, that every gift would come with a little bit of rot, something to take the edge off the joy such a gift should bring. Beautiful office space to do translation work with Sarah? Cobra! Exciting new liturgy recording in Gaborone? Bakkie breakdown! Finally, a place to live? Termites! I could see the pattern; what I couldn't see was the purpose behind it.

Anyway, after a few weeks, the regularity of the locust punched through the funk. The sense that there was more to this locust that met the eye was suddenly heightened on the day that I came home and, lo and behold, there was an armored cricket on the gate now, along with the locust. Suddenly, I remembered the Pereq Shira.

The Pereq Shira is a Jewish devotional device, using animals and other parts of creation as mnemonics for segments of Scripture. I found out about it during the rat problem we had in Gabane while doing research on natural ways of getting rid of rats. I came across a woman's story of how she had a rat she couldn't get rid of until her rabbi asked her, “And what does the Rat say?” The general idea is that, if you encounter the same animal over and over again, that's God trying to draw your attention to the verse attributed to that animal. The Rat, incidentally, says Psalm 150:6.

So, what does the Locust say?
O Lord, you are my God!
I will exalt you in praise, I will extol your fame.
For you have done extraordinary things,
and executed plans made long ago exactly as you decreed.
– Isaiah 25:1 (NET Bible)

Executed plans made long ago exactly as you decreed. Hmmm. According to the NET Bible notes, the Hebrew phrasing is plans from long ago [in] faithfulness, trustworthiness. The Hebrew word for faithfulness is a feminine form, trustworthiness a masculine form. The 2 gender repetition is a Hebrew way of emphasizing that this faithfulness to the plan is absolute, to the letter.

So what does the Eshinee say? That I may see the pattern but I may not see the plan or purpose just yet. That doesn't mean that there is no plan. In fact, I can count on there being a plan. Maybe if I spent more time pointing out the great gifts that God has given me than focusing on the dangly bits that look like plans-gone-wrong, I could relax and enjoy this amazing life I've been given a little bit better.

And the locust? Well, I copied the verse onto a card and put it on the fridge as a daily reminder, to help me internalize this current lesson. And when we got back this week from a cross-country trip, the locust was gone. I haven't seen him since.

Daily grind

I have to get used to things taking longer. For one thing, the heat has been much more hot up here in Maun. I was slightly startled the other day when I took out a thermometer to see if I had a fever and, when I turned it on, it started registering a temperature right away. I've never lived anywhere hot enough to register on a digital thermometer before; usually mine says “Lo” when I first turn it on. Anyhow, just checked the temperature in the living room; it's a blistering 92 indoors. But I haven't been able to just stay inside today since we got back from a week of travel and I had to catch up on laundry. Since we've been working the last 7 days straight, we had to take today as our household duties day. Rob is still working on his Setswana for this (coming) Sunday, as I also will, once I finish this blog entry.

Back to my point (I'm rambling in this heat); things take longer. I can't just go clip the sticky weeds cropping up around the clothesline because I'd quickly be roasting. I have to do it in spurts. And I'm not just tossing today's 5 loads of laundry in the dryer. I'm putting it on the line, again in short bursts to brave the heat. I'd think I was crazy doing laundry in this heat but a quick glance around the neighborhood shows a lot of people thinking the same thing. Clothes are hanging everywhere, despite the misery of hanging and taking it in. It's rainy season, that's the thing. We have to make clean clothes while the sun shines.

Also, I'm trying to continue unpacking. 1.5 years without a filing cabinet has meant bags and boxes of unfiled papers that I am, frankly, dreading to have to go through. Still, I made a dent in it today. We haven't bought a bookcase yet but there is some built-in shelving in the room that we're using as an office that I managed to spread my books out on, so as to actually make use of them in the coming months.

Monday, March 16, 2009


Funny thing; we drove to Gaborone to pick up our residence permit last week. They told us that our application had been forwarded to Francistown. So, we drove to Francistown and, Monday morning, went to pick up our residence permit there. They said that they had mailed it to us already, about 10 days, before to the shared Francistown mailing address. We checked with Carl but he had received no envelope from immigration for us. So, we got in the car and drove back to Maun.

Arriving back at Maun, we get a call from Carl saying that he had checked the mail after we left and guess what just arrived in the mail?

Timing is a wonderful thing.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

ELCB Sunday School cd presentation

The presentation this morning of the cds from the ELCB Scripture songwriting workshop in Francistown (done this past Novemeber) went well. Everyone seemed excited to be getting their cds, cassettes and accompanying songbooks.

Some of the workshop participants performed one of the songs from the cd. It's from this Scripture, composed in both Setswana and Kalanga:

1 John 1:9 - But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous, forgiving us our sins and cleansing us from all unrighteousness. (NET Bible)

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Snapshots of home

The view from the front of the house

The view from the kitchen window

Rob adds toilet seats in the bathrooms

Monday, March 02, 2009

Chicken vs. Elephant

A video clip from a recent trip to Francistown, via the Makgadikgadi Pans.

Long time, no post

It's been a wild month and I won't even go into it. We moved into our new place and immediately had to begin work on it, something I never would have expected from a rental property. It's been a bit of an adjustment. From a termite infestation to plumbing that can't handle a washing machine, we've been picking up handyman skills on the fly. I was pretty pleased with myself when I resealed the tub in the bathroom with silicone when it separated from the wall. Rob seems to be getting a charge out of hacksawing fly screens to fit the windows.

It's an odd phase we're in right now. After being here for over a year, we're starting to settle in. That means having to take time to do things that don't really feel work-related and having to think of them as work so we don't get frustrated at having to spend a seemingly inordinate amount of time doing them each day. Like, getting a washing machine working. We have to wash our clothes, right? If we have nowhere to wash our clothes, we'll be too dirty to go out in public. Therefore, before we can get back to business as usual, we have to get a washing machine working. It took 5 hours one day to actual buy it and get it home (don't ask). The next day, we spent a couple of hours trying to jury-rig fittings to make it work with our plumbing. The next day, we had to go back for more fittings. Those leaked so I siliconed them, waited a day for that to dry. Still leaked so, when we get back to Maun next week, have to go at the plumbing fittings thing again. Feels like a lot of fussing about but I keep telling myself that, hey, if we'd been doing this when we first got to Botswana, I would have been accepting this as just part of the settling in process. It's the lateness of it all that makes it seems like an interruption, rather than a natural course of things.

In other news, Rob had a recording session tonight, at a Spiritual Healing church, Kalanga and Setswana songs. And we should be picking up our Jeep tomorrow. Yay! We have our new license plate number already.

Also, I have a power cord for my computer again. I had been without one for a few weeks. It cut into my online time significantly since I had to share Rob's when we went into to town to get email. Hence, way low on the blog posting.

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