It's Sunday afternoon. We have been having so much fun with family that we haven't taken time to e-mail. Sorry! I'll try to catch you up on the highlights.
Jon Stratton arrived on Tuesday in Bloemfontein. We picked him up at the airport about 9:00 am. From there we did several errands the rest of the day. Mid afternoon Nt. Kali called me saying something was wrong with the wheel on the truck that he had used to go to a Bible Study at Ha Motheho. On the way home from Bloemfontein, we had to stop at the van der Merwe's then as soon as we got to Matukeng and unloaded the truck, Daddy and I loaded up an assortment of tools to go see if we could some how get the Isuzu truck back. I think it was after nine by the time we got to the village. The lower ball joint had completely worn out until it came apart and the wheel fell out sideways. I just replaced all the ball joints within the last year. I didn't buy from the Isuzu dealership, but I thought the brand I bought was good quality. I guess it wasn't. We took out the ball joint and with the help of some sledge hammers beat it closed enough to limp the truck home very carefully. The next day I bought a new one from the Isuzu agent and put it in.
Wednesday Jon and I went into the mountains to pick up Nt. Pheko and a tent. He held a week-long meeting in the village of Nokong near the Mapoteng congregation. Daddy stayed home to finish up the doll house he made for Kaitlyn for Christmas. Mama and Steph spent the day cooking, packing, and preparing for our vacation.
Thursday morning early we left to go up into the mountains of Lesotho for a little vacation. We drove up along the NE edge of Lesotho to Butha Buthe then up into the mountains over Moteng Pass. In the village of Moteng, we stopped to visit Rev. Maliba who used to be a pastor with the Church of the Bible Covenant but is now independent or with some other church. In typical Basotho hospitality, they invited us into the house and with in a few minutes had a meal for us of papa (corn meal mush), moroho (boiled spinach), and sardines in spicy tomato sauce. We all appreciated their generosity but Mama was more than happy to share her sardines with Kaitlyn! :-) I also enjoyed visiting with them and catching up on each other's lives since I hadn't seen him for several years.
After crossing several high mountain passes (around 10,000 feet above sea level,) we got to the "lodge" where we were to spend the night. The place was an old Fraser's trading post that someone is trying to make into a self-catering lodge for tourists. The owners live in South Africa, but several village people are manage the "lodge." There is an old style house, two or three rondavels (round houses with grass roofs,) and the bunk house where we slept. Nothing was in tip-top shape, especially the bunk house where we stayed. Though it was fairly clean, the place could best be described as rustic. The ceiling was saggy, the furniture was worn, the mattresses were tired, and the hot water heater wasn't working. Our first impressions weren't good, and I think Steph and Mama were a bit disappointed. In the end everything turned out all right except we had to take "bucket baths" with water heated on the stove. Fortunately there were no signs of either bed bugs or mice, for which we were all thankful!!!
The last couple hours before we arrived at "the lodge," we drove through light rain. Some places it had really hailed a lot and it was quite cool. The rain pretty much stopped when we got to "the lodge," but it was still a chilly evening. My clothes had gotten wet, so I was cold and in the mood for a cup of hot tea. Since it had been hot in Maseru before we left, we hadn't packed either tea or sugar. I asked the caretakers if their was a shop near by in the village. They said yes and pointed up the mountain. I asked if it was far, and they assured me that it wasn't. I should have known better since the people who live in the mountains of Lesotho are accustomed to walking great distances on a regular basis. I set off on foot and a mile later and much higher up the mountain, I found the shop and bought tea and sugar.
The next morning we set off before 7 for Sani Pass. Sani Pass is the only road that goes from the high mountains on the eastern side of Lesotho down into South Africa. It was very impressive, but hard to describe. I'll put some pictures on our blog. In a few miles, the road drops from the alpine regions of Lesotho into the tropics of Zululand through a narrow chute surrounded by sheer cliffs. Though I grew up in Colorado and have been privileged to cross several pretty rugged passes, I've never seen so many switchbacks in such short succession. To top it all off, there was an ancient 10 ton four wheel drive lorry hauling huge bales of wool down. I'm sure the driver had nerves of steel!
We didn't go clear to the bottom; but we did go down the steepest part down to where the road went into a narrow valley. We ate lunch beside clear stream then started back up the hill. Thaba Ntlenyane, the highest mountain in Southern Africa, was only about 2 hours walk from the road we were on, but by the time we got back to where the trail took off, it was too late in the day and there were already dangerous thunderstorms moving across the mountains.
We spent the night back at "the Lodge" again. About the time we got back, a rain showers came through and started home about 7 the next morning. We drove down through the central mountains of Lesotho through a little government outpost town called Thaba Tṥeka. The road wound in and out, up and down endlessly. We crossed some high mountains, drove through flocks of sheep and goats grazing in beautiful alpine meadows, skirted along the top of deep ravines with rivers hundreds of feet down sheer cliffs, and crossed several rivers. It was a beautiful drive and we all enjoyed the time very much.
Monday morning we left early to take Daddy and Mama to the airport in Bloemfontein. We were all sad to see them go. We had such a wonderful time while they were here, and we really appreciated everything they did to help us out. Kaitlyn really enjoyed them both, and we are so glad that she got to know them better.
As always, the week of Christmas is a busy one for us. Nt. Kali has been a huge help to me this year by doing most of the transport for preparation for the conference. I did mechanical work yesterday and got our Golf running again. It seemed to be running hot, so I had the radiator cleaned. That seemed to fix the problem.
As you enjoy Christmas this year, please remember to pray for this special prayer request: Bro. Tilo, one of the young pastor from here in Lesotho was given an opportunity to study to be a doctor at a university in Nigeria. His expenses and a small living stipend are to be paid by the government of Lesotho, and in turn he will have to work in government hospitals for a certain number of years after he graduates. Since they sent him there in November, he hasn't received any money at all. Last night he called us and said he and the other students from Lesotho with him there are literally starving. Since he doesn't have a bank account there, he sent me the banking details of the university. Supposedly he can receive money that way, but our bank in Ladybrand can't send money until I have his personal address. I'm also very concerned that the money will just disappear into the university. I'm going to call him again tonight to see if there is a better way to send him money, but bank will be closed now until Monday. As you sit down with your family for Christmas dinner, will you please pray for this young man who is far from home and has nothing to eat.
Have a blessed Christmas!