Donna Benjamin - South Africa - March 20, 2006

For noon today we had Kudu, Wildbeest, and lamb--lamb roast and lamb knuckles! I had to try a bit of each one.  Lamb knuckles were my favorite, but it was all very good.


About an hour from the convention grounds there are Penguins!  Somehow I always thought they were where it was cold. I thought they were at the Antarctic. (I think some are), but they are also in South Africa! The one here is the African Penguin. How I would love to see them!  But I think tomorrow is full, so perhaps that won't happen. I was asking about them at the table, so one of the brothers told me something very interesting. There was an oil spill down where the penguins are and thousands of them were endangered. So they cleaned them off, loaded them up and flew them a long ways away (I think he said about 800 miles). They knew they would return, but also knew that by the time they got back, the oil spill would be cleared up. They put radio trackers on three of them and followed their return.  They released them at the ocean and with a direct course, they began to return (swimming), and the newspaper reported their journey back!


The political situation varies here according to who you are talking to! :-) And the subject comes up in a variety of ways.  Some feel that if the blacks had not gotten into power there would have been a major uprising and much blood shed. The new Mayor of Cape Town is a white woman. Some are glad a white got in, and others are not! We mostly just listen - maybe ask a question now and then. One GOOD thing is that before there was no contact allowed with Madagasgar, and now workers are free to go back and forth. A couple of nice young brothers are here from there.  They are a different shade of black. They are black-black and folks here are brown-black. There are many shades of black :-) The Madagasgar brothers have to use the head phones like we do (for the Africanse), and have to speak in their halting English.


Speaking of languages...this accent is something else....! I hear it when I'm thinking, and hear it when I'm praying, and have only been here 10 days...I wonder how long till I will start talking it!  I sing it with may as well...I know what they are going to say, before they say it, so may as well say it like they do!


A cool day today.  Windy and wore long sleeves all day, but not a sweater. Good drying weather.  Not everyone has a dryer.


Tuesday evening, 21st.  Wow!  We got to see the Penguins today! :-) The ladies who were taking us out today had planned to take us not far from there anyway, so when they found out we ( especially me!) really wanted to see the Penguins, they included that in the tour!!!  How VERY special that was!  There are thousands of them at Boulder Beach, which is down near the Cape of Good Hope. One account says two pair came first and another account said about a dozen birds. But it was only 15 years ago, and in that short time there are several thousand. They are all over the place, and you can get very close to them, because they are protected, so aren't afraid. I was within inches of one little fellow and had a little visit with him over the fence!  He just looked at me intently and acted like he was listening!  I could have watched them for hours! At the gift shop they had a very nice film about them.  It was quite long and very interesting.  I was surprised how small they are.  Maybe about a foot tall.  They dig holes in the sand with their tail for their nests and a lot of them were nesting. Like birds, they molt, and when they are molting, they must stay on land.  They feed in the water, so they fast for 3 or 4 weeks while they are molting. Their black and white coloring is camouflage - white for underwater predators looking upwards, and black for predators looking down into the water. They can swim an average of 7km per hour and can stay submerged for up to 2 minutes. There are signs along the road to watch out for penguins crossing!  I was hoping we would see some on the road, but we didn't. So that was the highlight of this day for sure! :-)


It is four households here on the place at Cape Town. Two are actually on the convention property, and two adjoin so closely that I didn't realize they were actually off the property. Workers stay in each house. Nancy, where we stay, is a widow and they used to live in the main house and own the grounds. Now she is in a smaller house on the property, and her nephew and wife have taken over the grounds and are in the big house. Their children are grown. Then Nancy's daughter and husband and three teen age girls are just off the property.  And another young couple with two little girls are also just off the property. Sure helps with sleeping accommodations!


Wednesday evening: Well, another convention just begun. And then next week we move on to another unknown.  We've gotten very comfortable with this staff. We got to stay on the grounds between conventions, which helps you to get even closer. And our dear little "house mother" Nancy - we'll certainly miss her.  Wish she could visit us in the U.S. some time.


Thursday evening: The interpretation mike that Noreen and I use didn't work half of one meeting today.  I got the English words - about 6!! Noreen got a little more as the sister she sat next to wrote for her. Two spoke in English.  They got it working before the main speaker, fortunately. That would have been a long time to sit and get nothing. Most of the prayers today were Africanse and most of the testimonies were English. We were told that this convention is more English speaking. Someone said that the African young people aren't learning Africanse anymore, because it is a part of the time when whites were in power and blacks were suppressed, and they don't want anything to do with that any more. Up till now it seems pretty much everyone knew both languages.  I can't imagine that it will die out very soon amongst the Dutch, however, but I could be wrong. But if they are the only ones using it, it might die out. Someone said this is the only country in the world that uses Africanse, and of course it would be.  It is really a made-up language (Dutch, English and French, like I said earlier), but has become a real language with text books, etc.


We had Ostrich again for supper and I had a double portion!  They tell me this is the last time I will get it! I guess it's really from the knees or knuckles, rather than the body of the bird, so is nothing like chicken or turkey.


Eddie ChungKing told us his experience this evening of living so many years being afraid to die. Mentioned that verse about those who through fear of death were all their life time subject to bondage.  He said that was him.  He was so afraid of dying that he went to three doctors to see if he was healthy. Finally when he heard the gospel he could go to bed and sleep without being afraid he might not wake up.  Made me feel what a great thing it is to be a part of something that can do that for someone.


Friday evening: This was a good day. Such good meetings this p.m. and evening.  I usually don't get much out of the interpreted messages, but I did tonight. They were simple and not too fast, so the interpreter was able to say what they actually said, rather than just give the thought, and it fed my heart. Something to remember when being interpreted for, which we are also (into Africanse), but the interpreter is not on the platform with us.


Saturday a.m.: This Africanse - at first it is just a total jumble of words and nothing stands out. People of course teach us things like "dankie" (thank you), but the rest is just a blur. After while a few repeated things begin to be noticed - "Onse Fader" (our Father), and "in Jesus' naam" - that's pretty obvious in writing, but it's NOT pronounced like we would! This morning when I awakened, the first thing that came into my mind was "Onse Vader." A child's first simple words are usually mama and dada, but everyone is thrilled with them. I like it that the first thing I learned all on my own, without actually trying, and that came to me automatically, was "our Father." It seemed an appropriate beginning, and it was a thrill to me!


Only three campers here, and one private tent.  A little different than back home!  They do have sleeping quarters, but a lot of people must go home. A lot more blacks and colored folks this week. Not very many Dutch. Some of the older colored and black ladies still observe the former custom of wearing hats, but none of the middle aged and younger ones do. I think they are happy to be liberated! Ha!


Yvonne Fulton had a couple nice stories for us today. When they were children, one day she took a box of matches and took her little sister and they went out to play in the dry grass.  Her mother called them, and Yvonne threw the box of matches away, because she knew they were in trouble.  Her mother asked her where the matches were.  Then had a very serious talk with them about playing with matches, and said, "What would have happened if God had not told me to go look for my children....?" Then one day her school friend took her to where there was a peach tree and wanted to take some peaches.  Yvonne said she couldn't steal.  Her friend said, "The principal won't know unless you tell him..."  Yvonne said "My mother would give me a 'hiding.'"  Her friend said, "She won't know unless you tell her..." Yvonne said, "God will tell her." The thing that appealed to me is that she felt God had told her mother about the matches, so she knew God told her mother things. I like it that! As a child she had faith to believe that God talked to her mother. What a nice thing to feel assured of at a young age - that God talks to your mother.


Sunday: We're deciding human nature is human nature where ever you go! Saw a boy on the street the other day with his pants barely hanging on his hips, just like back home! A girl came into meeting with her split skirt split too high, and I saw several sweaters too tight, and someone was telling us about computers being used in ways they shouldn't be....  Noreen and I look at each other and shake our heads in amazement.  We come half way around the world and find the same things! We were just visiting across the breakfast table with Johan Marais who is South African (Dutch) and labouring in Peru. Noreen asked if they use regular coffee in Peru or instant.  He said they don't have coffee; they use other herbs, etc., because most of them can't afford coffee, and it takes a lot of paraphernalia to make it. I said in our country we not only have coffee, but lots of kinds of coffee. He said that when one need is satisfied people begin to look for more, whether they are rich or poor - that is human nature. Our country has lots, so people look for more and more.  But he said you don't have to be rich for that to be the case.  Any time people get what they need, they begin to look for more....  interesting!


Andy Robijn (pronounced Robine) spoke last evening. He leaves in a few days for the western U.S. and Canada where some of you will see him.  He told us a touching story about his father.  It was in Holland during the war. The family was very poor because of the war, and didn't have anything to eat.  His father who was, I think he said about 8, had to go and beg and dig through garbage bins. It was very humiliating. One day he went to a very rich area and no one would give anything to him. He went away and stood on a RR overpass thinking how much they had and he had nothing and they wouldn't give him a crumb. Then he heard planes coming.  They were British bombers. They made an error and bombed a wrong target.  They bombed that rich area where Andy's dad had just left. He went back, and from amongst the bodies and rubble, he gathered things for their need and took them home. Andy said in this country the little children will sometimes come to your car begging (I haven't seen that yet).  He said he usually just turns his face away from them.  But one day a little boy came to his car and Andy got a mental picture of his father, and realized that could have been him. He said he purposed to never despise anyone. Then he tested the meeting and said that with God there is no discrimination.  And blacks and whites stood together, to begin walking with God. This a.m. as we sang 392 together - whites and all shades of brown and black - I thought we all need to see Jesus - we all CAN see Jesus - we can all welcome the day and bid farewell to the mortal night. Then as we sang 217, I noticed the chorus: Love led Him to Gethsemane and to Calvary for ALL of us...the Lamb of God who died for all of us, no matter the color of our skin, so that the needy cry in every heart could be met....


Tomorrow we travel 1/2 way to Port Elizabeth by car. It's going to be a sad parting in the a.m. This evening in the house the three teen-age daughters sang us two trios.  They sing beautifully.  I wondered what road their lives will take. We see good hope for the future in this land. And will we ever see any of these folks again in this life....? 

Farewell to Cape Town, S.A...