Saturday, November 2, 2013

28 Oct - 2 Nov 2013

 Each of us, I am sure, has made decisions which, when looked back on, makes you wonder why you did such a thing. Monday we left Port Elizabeth driving to Cape Town where we were invited to participate in a meeting concerning the underemployed in that area. As our Nissan car is not equipped with the most comfortable seats the automotive industry has ever designed, my anatomy encouraged me to offer my seat, which was located behind the steering wheel, to Angie. Almost immediately, I gave myself a mental lashing for no more had she seated herself behind the wheel than every control imaginable had to be adjusted; the seat positions were adjusted, the mirrors were swiveled this way and that, air adjusted etc. Finally we are on the road and I am taking advantage of observing the scenery when suddenly I am jarred from my relaxation by the violent rumbling and shaking of the car. When my senses are collected I realize that she is driving on the side of the road, managing to hit each and every rumble bump. Upon inquiring why she was so far off the side of the road, she responded that it was difficult to judge where she should drive. As one of the virtues I am trying desperately to acquire while on this mission is patience, I calmly explain that the purpose of the two lines, the one in the center of the road and the other on the side of the road, is to assist the drivers to stay on that portion of the road designated as the driving lane. In addition, for those individuals that find it difficult to make that judgment, they also put little bumps along the lines to warn the drivers that they have miscalculated the driving lane and should make the necessary adjustment, which she did.  (Insert in my defense) I was only driving on the edge of the road to avoid a car coming at us passing a truck in the center of the road. It’s common here for drivers to just make their own lanes and turn a 2 lane road into a 3 lane road. That’s the first time Lee’s been a passenger sitting in the left seat and I know the feeling of thinking you’re going off the road or you’re going to sideswipe someone’s mirror. (End of insert)     But the thing that caused me to really question my decision came as when we were behind a large truck which she wanted to pass. As she pulled out into the passing lane, with maximum depression on the accelerator, she asked, “Is anything coming?”  Well, since I could not see around the curve we were on nor over the hill we were climbing, I simply said, “You should probably get around the truck as soon as you can.”

However, the drive to Cape Town was great, the terrain, the farming, the mountains, the ocean were all spectacular. I hate to use superlatives because most of the time they are over done but in this case their use is appropriate. We have included a few pictures that hopefully will help you to capture, in-part, the scenes that we were able to see. As a geologist, it was of particular interest to see steep mountains immediately juxtaposed to gentle sloping terrain. In some cases, steep and rugged granitic mountains are present on one side of a valley while on the opposite side of the valley are flat laying sedimentary rocks. I know that this probably means little to most of you but to me I have to analyze the dichotomy. And, in doing so, I visualize in my mind the clashing of tectonic plates, earthquakes, hot magma bodies being pushed up through the earths crust, erosion stripping the blanket of softer sediment from the granitic plugs leaving behind the masses forming the remnant mountains present today. And thus, as we traveled along this amazing route we were able see the amazing transformation of relatively flat, unflattering landscape in and around the Port Elizabeth area blossom into a moving picturesque cinema.

Some of the stream valleys that dissect the fore-ground of the mountains could more aptly be called canyons with steep angular walls deeply incised into very hard metamorphic to igneous rock which show every sign of being highly resistant to erosion and yet are abundantly present. We stopped at one of the valleys which was preceded by a sign advertizing bungee jumping. It turned out to be a small resort that had both bungee jumping and thousands of feet of trolley cable strung across the valley in a crisscross manner which one could ride equipped with a harness. If time would have permitted, I would have liked to have taken the ride. Angie got to pet her giraffe so …..
Tsitsikamma Falls Park with cable rides

Cable rides


 Water Falls

                             Braving the suspended bridge

I found mine!!!!

 Scenery Pictures from George to Cape Town



Entering whale watching area at Humanus

Other than seeing a few whales' backs and a
few poking their heads us, this was the best
whale we saw.

Farm land

                                                          Grape Vineyards at Hermandus
After arriving in Cape Town, we gathered together with leaders of the Church for the meeting for which we were honored to have been invited to attend. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the most pressing problems in their area which they determined were unemployment and financial stress in the family (which, by and large, is the same thing). The discussion began with trying to find a solution to the temporal needs of the people. We told them that before trying to solve the temporal needs that we need to get to the root of the problem by addressing the spiritual needs - do they and the people really believe, i.e., trust that the Lord can keep his promises? They agreed that needed to be the first priority and set in place assignments to begin a Stake-wide emphasis to address it.
Then the temporal needs were addressed. The problems here are even worse than in the PE area. The units are so spread out and remote, transportation is a major problem, lack of capable leadership in the units, lack of technical understanding by those in the remote areas and basic communication skills are lacking. In a number of cases, telephone time and necessary equipment is not available to the people. But even if they were, they lack the ability to utilize them. In most cases the Church have Employment Specialists called in the units but it is like the blind leading the blind. The specialists need mentors themselves let alone having the skills to help someone else.
There is so much work to do here I wish we were based here. The Stake is willing and desirous to embark on the work but they need full time help - constant contact with the specialist, nurturing and feedback to the Stake leadership. They grasped the suggestions made to them and are willing to issue the assignments but in order to keep the momentum going there needs to someone who is constantly steering the efforts.
Agreeably, the needs here are not much different from elsewhere in South Africa, but it just brings home the tremendous needs of some of the people. The members of the meeting agreed that they need to put major emphasis on Career and Self-Employment Workshops. They are scratching their heads trying to figure out how is the best way to implement them, where to hold them, how to follow-up, how to get and assign mentors etc.

The following day after our meeting, one of the church leaders invited us to travel with him as he visited some of his job sites located on the cape south of Cape Town. And, even though the weather was that of a misty drizzle, the sites were spectacular. Small communities and fishing industries dotted the shoreline along with penguins, seals, an occasional goat contently standing upon his house (below) and very plush vacation homes (and a few permanent ones). Our guide showed us multi-million dollar homes built into granite rock bordering the ocean.  One such home in which the owner utilized once or twice a year for a week or so, was six stories high and had rooms which were connected by passageways made through the rock. My mind just cannot grasp how anyone can accumulate the amount of money required to build such a mansion. 


 When our errands and business was over on Friday, we decided to see "The Cape" of South Africa which is a peninsula which extends from Cape Town to the south about 50 miles. Luxurious summer homes, residential homes and beach resorts occupy much of area immediately adjacent to the Indian Ocean on the east and the Atlantic Ocean on the west. The interior is crowned with massive rocks rising 400 to 500 feet above sea level. The vegetation is mainly scrub brush and grass. The locals said that the entire area was clear cut in the early 1900's but how dense the tree population was is impossible to tell today as there is no remnant of previous trees nor is there any new tree growth on the peninsula.

Main Street at Simons Bay
 On the east side of the cape, there is a fairly large population of penguins. However, the ones that we saw were not as large as the ones shown in the media from Antarctica.    

Entering penquin territory

Warning signs are prevalent all along the Cape warning about the baboons - don't feed them - don't get out of your car - keep your car locked, etc.  We scoured the country side trying to spot one of these dangerous primates but we must have looked like a likely candidate to molest as none were detected lurking about.

 The southern part of the Cape is national park which reportedly is the home of a number of different animals and bird species. We were sitting at the entrance debating whether to go or not when we  glanced up and there sitting on the entrance sign was a mother baboon and her baby. And then, just moments later, the male showed up and we were able to photograph the whole family. However, they were the only ones we saw other than a single one farther down the interio

Mom and baby

Chacma Baboons

Ostriches were plentiful throughout the Cape. They were anything but spooked by people. I walked within 10 feet of a couple and they were not in the least concerned.

Turtles were highlighted as on of the attractions on the Cape and we expected to see large sea turtles but this was the largest we saw.

 Don't know the name of these critters. The literature indicated that there were Eland on the Cape and other types of antelope so you can take your pick.

 Don't know the name of these critters either but there sure were a lot of them around. Notice that the sign indicates this to be "The most South-Western Point of The African Continent." This is not to be taken to mean that it is the southern most point of Africa as that honor is located about 75 kilometers east of this location.

These monuments are ancient Portuguese markers for ships. Although you cannot see it from this photograph, the back side is all black. The plaque on location indicated that the different colors helped shippers to know what side of the peninsula they were on.   

At the top of Cape of Good Hope there is a restaurant which can only be gotten to by taking a 45 minute hike and which Angie wanted to give some business to. Fortunately, our time was limited and the trek was forfeited for more Cape exploration and a picture had to suppress her appetite.

Scenery pictures along the Cape

 The above photo was taken looking east showing the end of the Cape. The restaurant, shown above, is just to the left out of the photo. 

 Looking south with a view of Cape Good Hope.

                                                            Just more scenery.

     This photo is of one of the communities located on the Atlantic side of the Cape north of the park.

Angie could not resist taking a picture of the tree above as it is typical of the trees shown in most African scenes. (Couldn't get my cursor under it so this is the best I could do).

The picture above(below the tree) and those below are of Table Mountain and subsidiary locations  located on the north side of Cape Town.

 The above picture is of Lion's Head located to the east of Table Mountain. A trail leading to the top can be seen in the right of the picture.

The pictures above and below, were taken from Signal Peak (again in the area of Table Mountain) looking south towards the island (barely visible below) where Nelson Mandela spent 25 years of life while in prison. It more accurately stated he was exiled to the Island. Reportedly, he had a private home on the island and had the freedom to move around as he desired.

                                               Hang gliding off Signal Mountain

1 comment:

  1. Awesome to get a glimpse of your Missionary Life in S Africa!