Friday, October 31, 2014

Trip of a Lifetime: South Africa

Over the next few days - or weeks - I will be posting pictures and reports about our trip to South Africa and Europe. It truly was the trip of a lifetime for us! I still can't believe that I've been to these countries! Hopefully my posts won't be too long or boring, because when I get started talking about them, I can't seem to stop, especially about South Africa. Our hearts were touched deeply by the people we met and saw, as well as by the work our missionaries are doing there. I hope you'll enjoy the pictures and get just a taste of what is happening there.

English countryside near London, from the plane
Our trip started with two days of travel across nine time zones. We left Vancouver, BC, at about 8:00 on Tuesday night and flew nine hours to London, overnight. This was our first time to ever leave North America, and our first overnight flight. When we arrived in London, it was about 1:00 in the afternoon locally, but to us, it was 4:00 in the morning! We had a six-hour layover, though, so we had plenty of time to stretch our legs, get something to eat, and catch a quick cat nap. Then we boarded the biggest plane out there for Johannesburg, South Africa!

My tiny little diet Coke! I was watching a TV documentary about dogs.
This flight was eleven hours, slightly southeasterly as we flew almost the entire length of the continent of Africa. We were able to sleep on the plane some, which was almost unavoidable, being our second night flying. We left London at about 7:00 pm. The nice thing about these long international flights is that there is a TV in the back of every seat. You plug in your headphones and watch TV, a movie, listen to music, or watch your flight progress in real time complete with a map. I wouldn't suggest that last one be your only entertainment on an eleven-hour trip, but it was informative and fun to see where we were, how far we'd come, and (groan) how much farther we had to go. I watched some TV shows, tried to watch about four different movies, and kept track of our progress for a few hours, then slept a couple, then woke up and couldn't go back to sleep at about 2:30 am, in whatever time zone - I have no clue! I just knew we still had about five hours of the flight left and couldn't sleep!

We weren't sitting where we could get a picture of the sunrise, but this picture is very much how I remember it!
The sun was just rising as we landed in Johannesburg, and it was beautiful! Our first African sunrise! Our missionary host, Bro. Jeremy Johnson, was waiting for us at the airport at 7:30 on Thursday morning. We retrieved our luggage - all ten pieces of it - after only losing one piece, which was easily found at the airport luggage-handling counter. Someone had picked up one of our pieces by accident, and fortunately had realized it before they left the airport. We had lots of gifts from our church family for the Johnsons, especially because there's a new baby girl coming after three little boys!

Our Ford Explorer full of luggage as we were leaving home. There are 10 suitcases piled in back there!
The Johnsons live a little over an hour from Johannesburg, and I managed to stay awake all the way there. I was humbled by my first sight of a housing extension just outside Johannesburg. These extensions are where the native black people were forced to live during apartheid, and where a majority of them still live. The houses we saw were 10'x20', two rooms with outer walls of tin sheets, and a tin roof. Most of them had electricity, running water, and indoor plumbing, but some didn't. There were thousands of houses in each extension.

When we arrived at the Johnsons' home, we were greeted by Rebekah and their three little boys. We arrived about 10:00, and by 10:30 we had both had showers and were taking a nap. Wes set the clock on his phone to wake us up in a couple of hours, but he forgot to turn on the alarm, so we slept for four hours instead! We woke up in mid-afternoon and forced ourselves to get up and get ready for supper. The church there has its mid-week service on Thursday, so we went to church and began meeting people our first evening there! We sang with them in English, and then tried to sing along in Zulu also! The pastor spoke English, but I must admit I had a very hard time keeping up - I was still exhausted. I've never had such a hard time staying awake in church! We were able to get into bed by about 9:00 that night, slept great all night, and felt almost like ourselves again Friday morning. We still had to go to bed early Friday night, but by Saturday we were able to keep going all day and begin to learn about Bro. Johnson's ministry in Clewer and Witbank, South Africa.

Let me add here that I was going to share a couple more pictures, thinking I had access to some of the pictures Wes took in South Africa. I didn't take any there because he was using our big camera (instead of a phone or iPad). We have enabled photo sharing between our computers, but I suppose he only shared pictures from Europe to this point. I'm really running behind on getting these posts ready, so I'm going to publish this one and try to get some South Africa pictures to share. Thanks for your patience this week. My computer has had issues all week on top of trying to learn this "sharing" thing!

Next: Pictures from the Johnsons' ministry!

Photo credit for picture of the African sunrise:  photo credit: rod amaru  via photopin cc

7 comments:

  1. That indeed sounds like a trip of a lifetime! I can't imagine being in a plane that long.

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    1. There were times when I felt a little panicked at the thought of being on the plane for such long periods, but the actual time on the planes wasn't that bad. The attendants were excellent, and the people around us either did their own thing or were friendly.

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  2. What an amazing opportunity. I can't image all the new sights, sounds and smells. :0) So happy for you! Looking forward to photos!

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    1. Smells were different! LOL You'll be surprised at which city I think smelled the worst!

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  3. I am so happy and excited to share in your travel experiences. It's not likely we will ever travel abroad so it's nice to see it from someone else's eyes.

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    1. You might be surprised someday, Tammy! I never would have dreamed of such a trip, but things just all came together to make it possible.

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  4. Wow, Susan! You are quite the globetrotter! Looking forward to reading more about your amazing travels.

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Thanks for taking a minute to read my ramblings and leave a comment! I appreciate it!

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