Friday, September 30, 2011

Visas, Blogs and Facebook

It has been awhile since we have been able to update our blog.  I am not sure where the time is going!  It seems like yesterday we just starting our busy outreach season and months away from our visit to the States.  Now we are getting ready for our last outreach of 2011 and we are only 7 weeks away from arriving in the States.  Crazy how fast time flies ...

Some have asked for an update on our Visas ... well there is not much to say other than we are STILL waiting and would appreciate your continued prayers.

We do have several people fromZimbabwe that attend out monthly leaders training and they have asked the mission to come and teach their people. This past month a few of our fellow missionaries headed to Zimbabwe to "check" out what is going in on in the area.  Please check out Doug and Debbie's blog for a report on the trip and lots of pictures. 

Don't forget to follow Samaria Mission on Facebook we do try to keep our page updated with the latest on the happenings in the mission. 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Unexpected and Last Minute Holiday Botswana

Yep, you read the title right ... this was a very unexpected and last minute holiday to Botswana.  First, I need to fill you in on why we had to go to Botswana.  When we moved to South Africa we arrived here on a 2 year visitor visa and then we would be able to apply for an extension when the time came.  Well, our two year Visas expired on May 30th.  We made a plan to apply before the required 30 days "before expiration" needed for an extension.  We applied in April and they are STILL processing them.  Anyway, long story short, we left SA for Mozambique with our first outreach before our Visas expired and we returned to SA after they expired and received 90 day permits at the border.  No biggie.  We have spent the last several months calling and trying to patiently wait.  All we know is that they have been "processing" for the last 4 and 1/2 months.  Mark came back from Mozambique when his dad and uncle left while the kids and I stayed to set up for the next camp.  Therefore, Mark's 90 day expired 2 weeks ago and the kids and mine expired this week.  Mark just happened to be going to Moz the day before he expired and returned afterward so they gave him a new 90 permit.  Meanwhile, he was in Moz. I knew the time for the rest of ours was to expire was coming up and I thought surely they will be ready.  I kept calling, faxed copies of our applications and even made a visit to the H.A. office here.  No progress made and we had to make a plan.

Well Botswana doesn't charge US citizens for a VISA and it is only 2 and a half hours to the border... so Mark started researching where we could go for a few days.  Then once we come back to SA we should be given a new 90 day and then we continue to wait on our new VISAs.  Quick skip to today as we came back into SA ... we were expecting 90 days and they only gave us a 30 day saying that really they should have just given us 7 days ... ugh!  They encouraged us to call the head office about our applications ... REALLY?!?!??!  That is what we have been doing for the past 4 and a half months. We are thankful for the 30 days they have given us and we are trying to be patient and trust the Lord completely in this.

Anyway, I do have to confess that I didn't even want to go on this "holiday."  I spent the week before stressed and frustrated listing all MY concerns to the Lord ... we just started school, it costs money, we are leaving for the States in November, there is so much to be done before we go to the States and on and on and the other thing I kept saying was, "it is just the principle of the matter, I feel like we are being forced to take a vacation!"  Good grief was I ever having a pity party.   One day I was washing dishes the Lord reminded me that while we were in Salani I was actually thinking that it would be nice for the 4 of us to get away for a few days and spend time together after our busy outreach season but I knew there was no way for that to happen with school and not needing to spend the money on a trip.  I then realized that this "forced holiday" was actually the answer to the much needed time I was wanting to have with my family.  So I went from being frustrated about it to getting really excited.  I know that I am stubborn but I praise the Lord that He loves me and continues to work in my life and grow me more and more daily.  I praise Him for my man who continues to put up with me when I am being continuously molded and shaped.  Oh how far I have to go...

Sorry about so much information but I like details ... So now onto our time in Botswana.  It only takes about 2 and 1/2 hours to get to Tuli Safari Lodge (Botswana) from Polokwane.  We had a great time.  We managed to even get all of our school work done except for Fridays work - but we do have the weekend to get caught up.  Brit chose to do her work in the room and then come to the pool to study for a test.  Luke of course did not want to be inside so I made a deal with him - one subject complete then 15 minutes in the pool then back to complete another subject.  It actually worked very well!  It was great to do school by the pool with lizards and rock dassies hanging out on the rocks behind us and then wart hogs, monkeys and bush bucks feasting on the grass in front of us. 

Here was the schedule:
 We arrived at 1 pm and got all settle in our room and then spent time walking around "checking" out the lodge.  We had "high tea" at 3:30 and then our guide took us out on our first drive from 4 - 7.  Dinner was at 8 pm and 10:00 we were heading to bed.  Wednesday and Thursday ... Up at 5:30 am each morning, tea, coffee and muffins and then out for the drive from 6-9.  Brunch at 10 and we started school at 11:30 or so then swam and relaxed.  High tea again at 3:30 and drive from 4 - 7 and then dinner at 8.  Friday ... up at 5:30 then tea, coffee and muffins, drive 6 -9, brunch at 10, walked to the hide, climbed to the star deck and walked to the river then we had to leave and return to SA.  Alex, our guide, ate brunch with us each day.  We really enjoyed getting to know him and Mark was even able to share the Gospel with him and another guy while we were there.  We pray that seeds were planted.

We saw SO many animals and birds ... the highlight for us was finding the leopard.  That completed our Big 5 hunt.  We have seen the others (rhino, elephant, lion, buffalo and leopard) several times over the last 2 years but have been wanting to see a leopard and we got to up close and personal.  I must say it sorta scared me.  Alex, our guide, knew there was a water buck kill under a tree by the river and the leopard had been seen there.  He drove off the road and down into an area that was THICK with trees.  So thick most of the drive down we spent laying on the seat so we wouldn't get hit with limbs.  We got down there (the only way out was to reverse to one area and then have to reverse back and forth a few times to turn and drive back towards the top.  The leopard saw us and was not too happy.  Brit actually got it on video about 20 yards from us and it growled (if that is what you call their noise) and jumped (not far but enough to make me shake) then it finally sat down and kept an eye on us for awhile.  AMAZING - God created so many beautiful animals and birds.  We love the bush and it was great to spend time in it and just enjoy creation!

Ok my mom and mom in law are probably ready to see the photos.  We took so many it was hard to choose, we even have some family photos (now we need to see which one to use for our new prayer cards for our visit to the States - Gayle and Diana will enjoy those pics.)

These next few are for the grandparents :)