Category Archives: The Long and Winding Road

Living life on the way: From a South African childhood to life in India and everything inbetween.

Post 121. EEEEEEEeeeeee!

Standard
Image

Zoe- photo by Terry Kreuger

The girls and I were in the bazaar so I popped into the pharmacy to get something for my nausea.  I had been feeling sick for a while.  We seemed to live with those feelings so it wasn’t really a big deal but Tony was away in Australia and New Zealand and I didn’t want whatever it was to get worse.  I was also feeling really tired.  We had visitors every month and life was full on and I needed to be well.

Our Tibetan friend Sonam and Vijay Masih were in Australia with Tony.  He wanted them to meet our friends from NCMI and see that we were part of something bigger.  We were so grateful for the many friends we had made in South Africa.  Many of them had visited us and helped us to get the community up and running.  It was an exciting, fast growing movement.  After we left South Africa there had been an explosion of community planting all over the world.

A couple of years before that, we were stuck.  There were international sanctions against South Africa and we were an “unwanted” people.  The world wanted us to change our racial policy; a fair request.  Things started to change when Nelson Mandela become the first black president of South Africa.  The world loved us again and we became the “Rainbow Nation.”

In the late eighties our prophetic, eccentric friend, Malcolm Du Plessis, prophesied, that in a few years we would be bumping into each other in international airports.  Many of us took it with a pinch of salt, having no idea how that could possibly happen.  From May 1994, our prison doors opened and we were free. Then we were everywhere.

Many left South Africa for safety reasons.  They wanted their children to have a quality of life.  Many left because they were racists and couldn’t stand the idea of being ruled by a black political party.  Unfortunately they took their racism with them and struggled with people of colour wherever they went.  Many were fearful.  There were prophecies that there would be a blood bath.  It was a miracle there wasn’t.  White South Africans had been dominating the majority for generations.  They had no idea how the majority would treat them now that the tide had turned.

There was also a prophetic word that the nations would call South Africa.  She would be a lighthouse to the nations who were still struggling with racism.  South Africans had been there and done that.  They had fought the apartheid system and won.  It was a miracle and no one could deny it.  Tony was in Australia for one of the first NCMI conferences with excited, wide-eyed South Africans carrying brand new suitcases.

The girls and I got home and I unpacked my packet from the pharmacy.  I asked the girls to come with me to see what I had bought.

It took me ages to get hold of Tony in New Zealand where he was visiting his family.  International calls were always a challenge.  When he finally got on the phone, I didn’t ask him how he was.  The girls were shrieking and jumping around.  Through all the crackling and chaos, I shouted, “I’m pregnant!”

Advertisements

Post 109. Funny signs.

Standard

We loved getting in the car and going on long road trips. There was not a moment of boredom.  When we exhausted all known car games, we made up another one.  “Let’s look for children along the way and see what they’re doing.”  The girls loved that one.  It was fun and serious.  They were amazed to see how little girls their age carried such heavy things and how such little boys could handle such huge animals.

One of our favourite things to do was to look for funny signs.  I would jot them down and it wasn’t long before we had quite a list.  We had fun reading them with our put on Indian accents.

ON THE BACK OF TRUCKS:

Love is froud

Haran pleej

Use diaper at night

Bearak please

Horan plese

Liver box

Fata box

ROAD SIGNS:

“Drive like hell and you’ll be there”

“ Hell or helmut. You choose”

“Sharp curves. Please adjust your bra–s”

Please park in take off position

Bye pass edns

Hotel Ramkana- parking left behind

Eneterence

Toilet faslitis

Way to in

Way to out

Drinking whisky makes you frisky

ADVERTISING:

Grewal stones

Denting and peinting done here

Chrishtmas

Chirstan cemetery

Prosecuute

Cotton pluffs

Concenitrates

Three whiler

Rewainding

Wear unders

Electrition

Housh numbers

God-fearing finance Pty Ltd

Weeding sarees

Do not pluck flowers, leaves and keep of grass

Machines and had cranes

Higer interest, lower tems

Crockries and gift centre

Spaire parts

Seet covers

Tyre puntcher

Dyanamo/Dianamo

Sutings and sweaters

Suitings, shirtings and trouserings

For the perfect holyday

Doormattery

Our all time favourite was one we saw in the classified section of a newspaper:

“One full box of sheet – Very good condition.”

Post 38. Is this the Love Boat?

Standard

While no-one wanted to admit it, the ship was a great place to meet one’s life partner.  Some called it, “The Love Boat.”  That really upset the leaders.  Funny that, since many of them had met their partners there.

The big rule was “No relationships in the first year”.   When their year was up, a guy could go to their leader and ask for “Social Permission”.  That meant they could spend more time with the girl they were interested in; if feelings were mutual.

The second biggy was, “No more than five minute conversations alone, with the opposite sex.”    Things could get out of hand after five minutes.  Most of the shipmates were single.  Some were happy to stay that way, and others really weren’t.  It was obvious that some were there to find a husband or a wife.

Those who were single and satisfied didn’t really notice when the year was up.  The desperate ones headed for their leader’s office on that very day.  There were all kinds of surprises sprung on people.

When our batch’s year was up, I was called into the girl leader’s office five times.  “So and so is interested in you and would like Social Permission.”  I was horrified. Also slightly flattered, until I found out that the same desperados had done the same thing for just about every available girl on the ship.

Things got really awkward.  The guys who I saw as friends, got all weird.  I couldn’t be as friendly for fear they would get the wrong impression.  I decided I didn’t want to know who asked for “S.P.”

I told the leaders it didn’t matter who asked, my answer was “no”.  I was not interested.  I did NOT want another trip to the office.

It seemed angelic.  The truth was, I had broken the rules in my first year and not been caught.  Mike and I had talked too much and got on way too well.  To complicate things, he had a girlfriend, Debbie, who was at home waiting for him.

He was finding it difficult to make a decision, so he asked the cute Kiwi boy to pray with him about his dilemma.  He obliged.

Mike’s two years were up and he went back to the States.  I went on to do the Public Relations for the ship.  We went ahead and got the port ready for the ship’s arrival.  We got interviewed on local radio stations, wrote articles for newspapers and contacted schools, church groups and town mayors.  We lived with local people and got used to living on land again.

When I was in Liverpool, I got a letter from Mike, letting me know of his decision to stay with Debbie.   I had expected it.  I was prepared.

What I wasn’t prepared for,  was the almost audible voice that I heard in that moment.  I knew who it was.  He had spoken to me before.  He had told me not to panic.  He had told me to stay in the ocean of His love and I would be okay;  no matter what storms came my way.

Those messages were clear and they needed no interpretation.  This one was different.  It was sing songy and kind of cheeky sounding.  I could almost imagine a smile on His face as He whispered into my ear,

“There’s Tony.”

Post 37. Nations

Standard

There were about 300 people on the Doulos.  Most were there because they wanted to serve and see the world at the same time.  It was a great way to do both.  

I fell in love with South America and her people; Spending weekends with families in small villages and towns, practising our Spanish, learning from their cultures and eating lots of amazing food. 

We had to get up early to exercise no matter what.  That was a challenge in Argentina when the main meal was brought out at 11 pm.  We slept on heavy stomachs way after midnight and got up a few hours later to run. 

It took us two years to circumvent the continent; Brazil, Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, Chile and Argentina.  We had also stopped in Puerto Rico, Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad, Mexico and Florida. 

Lindy and her family lived in Kentucky.  When we docked in Florida, I got a week off and took a Grey Hound Bus to see them.  It was a long trip but  worth it.  There were so many changes and we had all grown up.  I got a taste of American culture, ate lots of fried chicken and loved being with the Stuthridges again. 

Those days were not easy for South Africans.  One evening, Henriette and I were sitting on a small beach near the ship in Barbados, watching the sun go down on the ocean.  There was a daddy Rasta and his son, having their bath in the sea.  Their dreads were down and they were using sea sand as shampoo.   They came out of the ocean shaking their hair.  It was a beautiful scene.  We waved and they came over to talk to us.  It was going really well until he asked where we were from.  Suddenly we were being blamed for apartheid, racism and all the problems of South Africa.  It got really ugly so we said goodbye and left. 

When we arrived in Trinidad we were ship bound.  No South Africans allowed.  We had to get permission to stretch our legs on the quayside.  A team went into Bolivia but again, no South Africans allowed. 

We were feeling the effects of our injustice for the first time. 

I cried many tears when we sailed out of Recife to start our journey across the Atlantic.  I was going to miss the colourful, hot blooded, passionate Latin Americans. 

I met people from all over the world and made many lifetime friends.  There were times when I wondered which nation I would end up in. At that point, I was hoping it would be somewhere in South America. 

My heart was wide open.  I was prepared to go anywhere.

Post 36. Intense.

Standard

After working in every department girls could work in, I signed up for four months of Intensive Training.  The ship was in Chile.

It was so intense.  We had daily, weekly and monthly goals.  We read through the Bible from cover to cover, memorised long portions of scripture, read through lots of required reading books and listened to many messages which were on cassette tapes in the library.  

We got up to jog at 5 am every day preparing for a 25 km run and a 20 km walk.   That was interesting when we were at sea; running along the deck with waves splashing all around us, stopping to throw up then off again.  It was a test of endurance. 

Wherever we went we were either reading or mumbling memory verses under our breath.  On top of that there were certain hours we had to work.  We didn’t sleep much. 

The three day fast was a challenge.  The ship was docked and we were put into teams. There was a small church building where we stayed and prayed for three days.  Now THAT was intense.  We were only allowed to have water.  There were many manifestations of bad character but we walked back onto the ship thinner and better people. 

There was also a three day “faith trip”.   We left the ship with as many books as we could carry, no money and a change of clothes. When we met people we could answer their questions but not solicit anything in anyway.  If we sold books, we could use that money to buy food; if we didn’t, too bad.    

I had NEVER had to ask God for food.  I struggled.  My pride really got in the way.  The other girls seemed to be fine with it but I just couldn’t do it.  We had no food for the first day and a half and we all came to the conclusion that I was the Jonah.  They urged and encouraged me to just humble myself and ask God.  I was so hungry that I did.  That afternoon while walking around the small town, we met a lady who asked us what we were doing.  There was no hinting or soliciting in our reply.  She invited us to her house for dinner.  It was a HUGE house and the table was groaning with food.  

We ate, drank and were VERY merry.

Post 35. Stop panicking. Please

Standard

I also had a stint in the cleaning department.  The least desired department for obvious reasons. I was determined to enjoy it and by any means, not look like Sadie the cleaning lady.

Every day there were carpets to vacuum and toilets to clean. There were also vacated cabins to clean out.  Our greatest dread was the single guy’s cabins.  After two years without a mummy some of them really let themselves go.  When we opened the cabin door we were hit with a gorgeous fragrance of smelly socks, kimchi and ammonia.  Better to put a match to it, I thought.

We shone windows, portholes, public toilets and emptied rubbish bins from the offices.  We really got around.  The other dreaded job was cleaning the engineer’s toilets.  The smell and seasickness were never a good combination.

The poop deck was where the nursery was.  There was a cute little room with toys and books and an enclosed area with a jungle gym for them to play in.   When my cleaning stint was up I was asked to work there with the toddlers.  I was in my element.  It was amazing how much communication went on.  There we were, from all over the world, speaking different languages yet somehow able to understand each other.  A hug here and a smile there seemed to make up for all the words we didn’t have.

One of my favourite things to do was to spend time with the couples and their kids.  I did a lot of babysitting.  An American couple had twins and I was asked me to be their nanny.  I jumped at the chance.  I loved those little boys.

The twins.

I walked around the ship with their heads on my hands and their bodies tucked under my arms.  That way they could see my face and I could talk to them as we walked along.

It was a challenge when they needed their nappies changed at the same time.  One day, they were lying on the bed, screaming their heads off.   I kept saying “I’m here, I’m here.  Don’t panic.  I know what you need and I know what I am doing.”

As I said that, God showed me how often I had been like that with Him.  I was anxious about my future, finances and many other things.  All the while, He was standing over me. He knew exactly what He was doing.  There was no need to panic.

Post 34. Charlie

Standard

The programme was full; early morning devotions, studies, talking to people on the street, conferences to attend, weekends away with local families, minimum work hours and exercise.  There wasn’t much time to sit around. 

The dining room was a good place to get to know our shipmates.   After discussing the weather we went on to the food.  It wasn’t amazing, but not even the greatest chef could have come up with more than 100 ways to cook “Suzi-Wan.”  In one of the ports, some very generous people donated 1000’s of tins of bean sprout/noodle/vegetable meals.  We had it in many forms.  Mainly disguised, but we weren’t fooled.   We found it in everything. 

I really tried hard not to complain.  Some people never stopped.  Once when I was helping to serve at the tables, one of the big grumblers really got to me.   I looked at him in the eyes, with my serving spoon full of Suzi-Wan and warned him that if he kept complaining I would pour it all over his head.  That was the end of that.  He knew I was serious. 

“Charlie” was the name of the ship’s small second hand clothing shop.  It was right next to the key-cutting, shoe-fixing workshop where the cute Kiwi guy worked.  I worked there for a couple of months and loved sorting through the rubbish to find treasure.  I was ruthless. 

Church groups did collections and boxes were delivered to the ship.   I had heard stories about missionaries being sent second-hand tea bags but I never believed it until I opened some of those boxes.; worse than used tea-bags were used toothbrushes.  

Us O.M.ers weren’t known for our sense of fashion for a few reasons.   

1. We were all there for a minimum of 2 years; clothes wear out. 

2. We were given $20 a month, if it was there; it often wasn’t.

3. When it was, we could buy a few treats; like souvenirs or junk food; we got fatter.  

4. We couldn’t save it because the currency changed with every country we sailed to and there was very little we could buy for $20; Charlie was free.

5. People thought we didn’t have any taste or style; we got the clothes they had been hoarding since World War 2.  

Maybe they wanted to put them on a ship so they would never come back.  

That way they would never have to remember how bad it got.