Wednesday, May 23, 2012

No longer covered

We're about to head out tomorrow on vacation with some friends visiting from Seattle. As a part of getting ready, Rob and I were getting gas at the station when I started to muse on how many trips we had left on the car before our next scheduled maintenance. I was thinking it was at 64,000 km but couldn't remember for sure. So, I asked Rob to check, looking down at the mileage and seeing that we had driven 60,128 km. He checked; it's supposed to be done at 60,000 km! And the nearest registered service center for Jeep is 1000 km away!

OK, so I freaked out for a bit. Suddenly, I was thinking that we'd have to rent a car for driving our friends around, which would make me feel all manner of stupid and unprepared, especially with a perfectly good car beached in my parking space, just waiting to be taken in for maintenance.

I'll spare you the gory details. Sufficient to say that we discovered during the booking of the service trip that the car is more than 3 years old now; therefore, we're out of warranty. So, going over the 60,000 km is no longer relevant, in terms of warranty. Thank God! And I think I can honestly say that this is the first time I've ever been happy to find that the warranty on something had expired!

Have we really had that car (i.e. lived in Maun) for 3 years already? Time flies, eh?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

(Re)learning to pray

As of 5PM last night, there were 3 things that I could not find, all of which I needed to complete my week's work: the contact info for our newest committee member, the call for papers for the conference that I may be speaking at in July, and our coming due phone bill. I searched and searched, to no avail. Rob saw me looking frazzled, expressed sympathy. I prayed that I would find them but quit looking for the day.

This morning, I set about looking for them all again, in all the same places I had looked before. I found them all. Thanks be to God! And there was much rejoicing.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Hitting the road

Tomorrow morning, Carolyn (the intern) and I head for Gumare, along with Bahiti. We head back to Maun a week from today. Workshop, meetings, and the cultural festival; welcome to my holy week!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Time for a new workmate

Now, my work computer's fan is making a grinding noise. Sigh. Streaky screen, weird noises… this 6 year-old has seen better days. Rob's has been acting up these days as well. Given that they've served us well in a very hot and dusty place for the last half of their life-to-date, I'm not complaining. We're approved to replace them but need to raise the funds to do so. To support the "Veith Computer" project at Lutheran Bible Translators (a tax-deductible donation for U.S. folks), click here.
at a meeting with the current computer, in healthier days

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Lost and found

I lost the keys to the office today. Actually, I should say that I discovered that I could not find my keys when I went to leave the house to go to the office. They must have been lost sometime between leaving the office yesterday and this morning. I was late leaving then because I had to turn the house upside down, all to no avail.

So, on the way to the hopelessly locked office, where I knew that Bahiti and Keene would be waiting for me to begin the day's work, I began to think of things that we could do instead, that didn't involve office space. I told them that we would have a field trip morning instead. There were some new Shiyeyi materials at Mrs. Musupukwa's place that Lydia had left there for me and I hadn't gotten around to picking them up; we would start there.

She wasn't there when we arrived but her daughter Pearl was. She welcomed us, we sat in the porch area. She brought out the new materials for me to take some. We ended up sitting and chatting for quite some time, switching back and forth between 3 languages the whole time; Setswana, Shiyeyi, and English. Bahiti shared about what we had been doing at the new office, told her how to find it. She had been meaning to visit but wasn't sure of the location.

After a bit, we left there and I asked if they would come with me to Sexaxa, where the Shiyeyi cultural village for tourists is. Bahiti said that it was not too far from where he lives and said that he could go with me; Keene came along as well. We drove out, just about 15 minutes outside of town.

To make a long story short, we spent an entire morning driving from kgotlas to basket shops to people's homes, looking for the contacts for the cultural village so I can arrange a visit when my intern moves here. Along the way, we talked to dozens of people. Each time, Bahiti shared about the Bible translation work and chatted a bit with whoever we found. The way that he introduced me to people was kind of fun; he said that I was a Muyeyi, that I speak Shiyeyi. And throughout the course of the morning, I did. Not streams of it, mind you; I can read and understand it far better than I can speak it, by a long shot. But in the moments where the appropriate response in Shiyeyi came to mind, I used it. People's responses when I do that are fun to watch. Shock usually features in. Laughter happens. And Bahiti smiles, like he's played a particularly clever trick on those who heard me. We had a good time.

Once we finally tracked down the contacts for the village, I dropped Bahiti at his place on my way home. We stopped for a moment to visit with his mother, who was visiting him there. Then, I headed back to town with Keene, to drop her at home also. Normally, she would grab a taxi from the office when we finish work but we could see a major storm coming and  nobody wanted her to get stuck in that. It actually hit when we were halfway to her place. Rained so hard that we had to pull over and wait for the roads to be less flooded and for visibility to return. Lightning was everywhere. Rob called me while we were parked on the side of the road and asked if I had seen the strike just then from where I was (on the other side of the river). I had. He told me it had struck immediately next to the house, close enough that he was actually shocked, while inside the house. How wild is that?

Eventually, we decided to creep back onto the road and go slowly with the hazard lights on as the rain showed no signs of stopping any time soon. As we crossed into the main part of town, we drove out of the storm. Just like that, we were in a totally dry place. The sand near the road was totally dry and people were walking about freely, no idea of the deluge that was happening just a few kilometers up the river. I dropped her at her ward and began the trek home.

I couldn't help but notice that the morning had been highly productive in ways that I hadn't planned on when I got up this morning. I may have found a place where I can learn to dance with the mawayawaya (the reed skirt) and to weave a basket (ku ruka shiteko). I got out there and practiced using my Shiyeyi-ears and my Setswana-ears with people other than my immediate circle of friends and co-workers. I got to startle a bunch of Wayeyi with my presence and amuse them with my "Shiyeyi tricks". People in Sexaxa have been told about the Wayeyi Bible Translation Project.

So, am I sorry that I lost my keys? No, I can't say that I am. But I sure wish I could find them. God, if you were trying to lead me somewhere with this inconvenience, I have gone; thank you for that. But can I have my keys back now?

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Akin to the whirlwind

So, I'm trying to get a handle on Shiyeyi kinship terms today. I've read Thomas Larson's "The Bayeyi of Ngamiland" (naturally) and his section on kinship terms, about 2 pages long. The challenge is that it's all in prose, making it difficult for me to visualize how everyone connects. For example, he writes:
"The wife of one's father's brother is moshemoze wakaza mokorana. A father's brother's child is a tate yo xene, while the father's sister's child is called moyokoranga. One's wife's brother's child is mono mokarako zanga. Father's sister's husband is moramo moqhana tate. The mother's brother's wife is called wamokaza moora ima…" (Larson 1992, p9)
Now, that's all very well and good for him to rattle it off in prose but it sure makes it difficult for me to pick up reference patterns from a paragraph. It's even harder to try to use this as a reference for studying how to refer to someone.

Then, I found a handy free app – SILKin – for creating kinship charts. I've spent all this afternoon so far creating the charts and entering kinship terms in:

And I'm not finished yet. But my head is spinning and my chart is getting larger and larger and larger…

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Running in circles

I feel like I'm chasing my own tail today. In trying to enter a story into my linguistic software, I got bogged down with the ongoing issues in formal word division that the current version of the orthography has. So, I stop to try to write something up detailing what morphemes are the ones that seem to be the most problematic. In the process of doing this, I see that the problematic morphemes are generally ones that do not have a comparable utterance position to Setswana. Furthermore, some of these morphemes occur in tiny clusters... or are they actually separate morphemes in their own right that just share syllables with other morphemes? I decide that I need to go through the available grammars to see what they say about the nature of these morphemes. I'm going to write a simplified grammar based on these more complex ones, then test with Shiyeyi speakers to see which of these should be written separately from the morphemes around them.

Time from sitting down and starting to type in the story to beginning the simplified grammar? Four hours! Half a day and I feel like I'm getting nowhere! And I still need to come up with some sort of Language learning activity for tomorrow morning's session. Aaagh!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Leaping lizards

Literally. Rob just heard a sound on top of the air conditioner. When he looked, he thought he saw a snake's head. Thankfully, it was just a lizard with a snakelike head. But when he tried to brush it off the air con and into a bucket, it leaped several feet across the room and onto the filing cabinet. Egads! I didn't know they could do that! He dealt with it with no help from me; I was in the bathroom, hiding out. He's my hero.

Monday, January 16, 2012

If you want it bad enough...

Have I mentioned before that true, Chicago-style deep-dish pizza is not (to my knowledge) to be had in the country of Botswana? Yet, sometimes, it is just the thing. The combination of watching Top Chef All-Stars and a sudden craving yesterday resulted in this brain-child. It took me about 15 minutes to make, from the moment of walking into the kitchen, concept fully formed in my brain, to serving it up. Here goes, the recipe for feeding two people:

Stewing sauce:
1 small (~410g) can of diced tomatoes
1 tsp chopped garlic
1 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
1/2 tsp dried rosemary, crumbled
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp mixed "Italian herbs"
2 Tbsp red wine
freshly ground black pepper (I used about a 1/4 tsp)
salt to taste (I used about 1/4 tsp, Himalayan)

Combine in a pot that will have plenty of room for expanding dumplings; bring to a simmer. Let simmer while you grate cheese and mix dumplings.

On* Dumplings:
3/4 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1 egg
1/4 cold water

Mix dry together; add wet. Drop by the sloppy spoonful into the simmering tomatoes to make a circle of dumplings.

mozzarella cheese - as much as you like (I did about 1/4 cup, when grated)

Immediately after putting in dumplings, sprinkle the cheese over them. Cover. Simmer without uncovering for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and eat.

I was floored by how well this satisfied the craving! Will definitely be doing this again and again. I may even introduce some favorite toppings in the future, maybe some sliced Kalamata olives, a little additional fresh basil. I hope that this brings many of you pizza-craving satisfaction, especially those who are living in places where great pizza is ne'er to be found.

* My only modification to the basic recipe that I know that I'll be trying next is to use a different dumpling recipe. I have two basic recipes, both of which I use and love. The only reason that I would choose one over the other is that one is designed to be cooked on top of a thick stew, the other is meant to be cooked in a soup. The On version is the one that I used this time - so you can use this dumpling recipe from above on top of any stew for beautiful fluffy dumplings every time, in just 3 minutes. But, as I noticed when dropping the dumplings, the tomatoes were really liquid enough that I should have used the In recipe, which is follows.

In Dumplings:
1 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp oil
1/2 cup milk

Mix dry together; add wet. Drop by the mounded spoonful into simmering soup. Cover and simmer without removing the lid for 15 minutes.

Edit on January 21, 2012 - I take it back; I won't do the In dumplings in the future. I tried it last night and it was very similar to the On version. The primary difference is that the original On version was much faster and the melted cheese with the original recipe was more like melted cheese, less like a bubbly cheese-flavored foam. So, go for On!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Angel in the mophane trees

We were arriving at church this morning and got out of the car, as we always do, grabbing our hymnbook, Bibles and the drum. On the way to the front door, I noticed that the ground seemed to be shifting around. I quickly realized that there were little caterpillar-looking things everywhere. And I mean everywhere. We went into the church, all the while my brain belatedly realizing that the critters were inside as well, teeming across the church floor. I went to the front pew to sit as usual, kind of on auto-pilot, headed for the best place in church to hold and play a drum comfortably.

Sitting down, I saw that the were not only coming in the back door; they were crawling through the front door as well. I froze. They would get too close to my feet; I would try to scoot them away with the (thankfully) closed toe of my shoe. Jumping in to the first chorus and drumming meant that one actually made it up onto the bare top of my foot without me noticing until I set the drum down at chorus-end. Flicking it away in disgust, I handed the drum to Rob and sat with my feet elevated.

Long story short, after seeing that one had actually made it all the way up to the skin of drum without me noticing its progress, despite my vigilance, I fled. I squawked, grabbed the drum and my purse and fled. Off to the car I ran, where I skitted from one foot to another - they were all around the car as well - brushing them off the drum before placing it in the car, closing the door and fleeing across the parking lot.

I had to go almost all the way to the entrance of the parking lot to find a place to stand where they wouldn't be sneaking up onto my feet. I had lasted only 30 minutes in the service before running from the wee beasties. I was actually shaking. I couldn't believe that people were still in there, carrying on with the service like there weren't little worms wriggling everywhere! I was a little surprised that Rob didn't immediately follow me out, I don't mind saying - more on what he did do later.

While I was standing there in the late morning sun, trying to clear my head, calm down and figure out what I was going to do next, a car pulled up. It was Luise, a friend of mine who had decided to come visit our church for a look see. She had already attended the Methodist church that morning but had somehow felt compelled to come to my church as well. She saw how rattled I was and got out to talk to me. When I pointed out the swarm, she agreed that it might be best to visit on another occasion and offered to give me a lift home. It had been about 15 minutes since I had run out of the church building and Rob still hadn't followed me so I thankfully agreed to the lift. I sent Rob a quick text message and hastily got in her car; off we went. On our way out, Luise noticed a cabbage patch next to the church grounds. We hypothesized that perhaps some pesticide had been recently applied and they were all just looking for a new home, seeking sanctuary in the sanctuary, so to speak. Later, I discovered that this was a smaller variety of the phane worm that lives in mophane trees, the worm that some southern Africans eat for food. These small ones are a real problem right now, competing for food with the larger, edible worms.

She took me to her house first, to show me around her new digs. While there, I had a cup of sweet tea and regained my composure. We chatted for a while about our respective Christmas holidays and plans for a Bible study that we hoped to begin in the new year. About an hour later, she was dropping me off at my front door, in a much better state than she had found me. I still had a serious case of the willies for
a while but I'm OK now.

It was a rattling experience to see those critters crawling across the whole church, structure and members. Rob got my text message late and so had been there for about half an hour longer waiting for me to return to the pew. But he reported that while I was gone, he too had been distracted by the sight of them everywhere; on the altar, the pulpit, the guy sitting next to him. On the one hand, I felt like I was witnessing some kind of wholesale desecration of "the house of the Lord", made all the more surreal by the people around me who were continuing with liturgy as usual, just as if the place weren't infested. I seriously was incapable of thinking heavenly thoughts during the entire half hour I was in there and, truth be told, for some time afterward. I rather felt like the first person to be kicked off of Fear Factor for failing an insect-based challenge and was feeling rather sheepish about it. I mean, what kind of missionary am I?

On the other hand, the arrival of Luise – out of the blue and entirely unexpected – could have been accompanied by blasts on a trumpet, so palpable was my relief. I have no doubt that she was a God-send; she agrees. And so, she had the chance to be the love of Christ to me in the midst of my own tiny, embarrassing crisis.

And I'm OK with that. And I know what kind of missionary I am. I'm not the kind of missionary who believes that the desire to live the Fear Factor lifestyle is an essential component of being a missionary. I'm the kind of missionary who lives elsewhere only because that's what the job that I've been called to do requires of me. I don't look for trouble and when trouble finds me I'm likely to run screaming like a little girl. But I run to God, to the One who sent me here, even though He knows how I feel about creepy crawlies. I'm the kind of missionary to whom God - in His mercy and grace - will send an angel in the mophane trees.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Trying to make microblogging more macro

I've learned a new word this week: microblogging. That is the sharing of snippets of info and daily life via status updates, such as on Facebook or Twitter. And I've realized that microblogging is actually where I'm at these days, rather than standard blogging. Just read down this page, check out the dates; you'll see what I mean.

I've been doing the Facebook status update thing for several years now, at least once a day. I even found an app that allows me to share my thoughts on what I'm reading on Twitter with a few taps of the iPod screen. Now, I've discovered and created The Exegette, my own media newspaper created from microblogging content. Look to the right of this post, in the sidebar - there it is!

So, even if I am not getting around to having anything more fleshy or pithy to say here on the Dancing Sni, folks can still read a little something-something without having to check all the different sites where I post stuff.

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