The weekend, the weekend. Madness.
Saturday, the FVI team had a retreat with their project leaders in Zim, and the Kings offered to take me out with them to the dam where they keep their boats. I opted for the family day, since I won't have another one until possibly Thanksgiving! It was fun, but I was pretty beat by the end of the day. The previous few days with FVI had been awesome and exhausting. I stayed home that night instead of going out to a concert w/ Tez and the kids (despite an elaborate matchmaking scheme that Tez had cooked up regarding me and a certain dude from Swaziland I met the week before at Ruth & Brad's, who also happens to be a friend of the Kings - fate?! I think not. Also, Warren wants the lobola - bride price - if they made the match, which made me laugh :>) We watched "Dan in Real Life" - one of my favorite movies - and enjoyed the night in, out of the rain. (RK and DK had spent like 2 hours dropping the pastors off all over Bulawayo in rain, lightning, and increasingly awful road conditions - also, people were out in the road walking, people were driving with no lights on, etc etc. Crazy times.)
Sunday we went to Beki's church and had a good meeting w/ some of the elders, who seem to be good men who support Beki, which is nice to see. We then picked up Fibion and saw his house, which is in the process of being built (pretty far along, the plumbing is in and working!), and went to get a pizza, since it was 4pm and we hadn't eaten since breakfast. We had tea Beki's church but a few biscuits and tea doesn't get you terribly far, ya know? Pizza was good, only had a slice because my parents called (they were at church, it was 10am in MD!) for the first time, so it was nice to chat with them a little, even if I was sitting in a van full of people on the street in downtown Bulawayo :>)
After we dropped Fibion off again, we headed out to James' place so I could visit with him a little and they could all see him again and I could give him some things from my mom and I for his fam (James is a very sweet-natured pastor who lives and has a church near the Kings; we met him on the last trip and my mom is very fond of him, to say the least. I think in her heart, he's her African son). Also, we needed to get a picture of a transformer, a water well, and a particular roof over at the high school that my family had visited on my previous trip and became invested in seeing fixed.
We went to James' place and had just sat down when an old man from his church came by and settled in, asked us to sing for him, sang a few bars for us, and preached to us a little. He was sweet and we listened for quite awhile, but dinner was waiting at the Kings within the hour, and we still needed to go get a picture.
**It started raining on Sat, with lots of thunder and lightning. Warren almost got hit by a strike while out of the car on the way home from the dam. A bolt of lightning hit a power pole right in front of the car, the thunder hit at the exact same moment so the whole thing felt like a bomb had gone off in front of us, and then Tez yelled "Where's Warren?!" He was behind the car, and fine, but had been kneeling with one leg on the trailer hitch. As he got back in the car, he said, "I got shocked, man. 240 volts! Whoa." !!!!! Only Warren King would react this way to nearly getting electrocuted :>P The rest of us, who'd been in the car, had practically peed our pants, lol. Insane. All this to say - the lightning and off and on rain were pretty intense for the next 2 days, thru when we left on Monday. The lightning here jumps around like CRAZY and splits the sky something amazing.**
It was raining as we piled into the van with James now in tow. When Ryan asked how far the high school was, he said, "Not very far." Which it technically probably isn't, but when you're driving in rain on already-rutted, now very messy roads, these things take time. We drove up out of James' place (where his garden is AWESOME, I gotta say; super exciting - none of it was there when we were there before and he's got a great water tower now, too) and along the road back toward some more buildings. We stop by someone's house. The guy there doesn't have the keys but someone else should. He (the man) gets in, some kind of administrative guy from the school. We drive some more. A woman gets in. She doesn't have the keys either. She knocks on someone's door, again down the road (we are sitting 4 to the middle seat at this point, me Ellen man woman). The guy w/ the keys isn't home. Maybe he's at the bar, says the neighbor. We got to the bar. The man and woman get out (in the crazy wind and some rain, mind) and go searching for the man at this... plaza with bars, which was packed. (Lots of rugby and soccer games these days.) They come back 5? ten? minutes later. He's not there. "Let's go back to where we were..."
This is when Ryan wisely pulls the plug on the whole operation :>) The school will be OPEN in the morning, so he and I go back then. We drop off the man, the woman, and James at their respective residences or driveways and head back to the Kings. An hour and twenty minutes later - no picture. TIA. RK said he could feel it coming as soon as I said, "I just need to get a picture..." Oh well.
Monday morning, RK and I drive to the high school (again w/ the rain). We pick up James on the way, run into the school. The headmaster isn't in yet, but we get seated in his office. Then a woman comes in and says, "Sorry, he's not in yet, what do you need?" We say we just need a picture ;>) She says, "It's raining." We say, "It's fine. We're adventurous. You can just point us in the right direction." She says, "No, it's fine. I'll come with you." I don't think she actually sighed out loud, but it was definitely there internally.
Awesomely, it only seemed to really rain hard when we were in the school offices. We went out and got our pictures, and just when we thought we were all set and going make a clean break, we see the headmaster has made it in. This extended our visit considerably, BUT it meant that we learned some neat things about how the school and it's graduates are doing. I really like this particular headmaster, even though he totally didn't remember me and directed all his comments to "Brian" (RK). I'm just glad things are going well. They do need prayer that they can get a kind of sciences/math accreditation; right now they can only pass students in A levels regarding arts - it's complicated. But the headmaster feels the school is doing well and keeps track of all the students who pass A-levels, which is super cool, and he's got some very successful people on that list. So. Exciting :>) The home ec teacher says she is still waiting for sewing machines from my mom! (Sorry, Geeg - apparently when you said you would try to work on it, they considered it a promise. Maybe next trip we can make something happen? :>)
We got out of the school right when we needed to, dropped James off and I said a tough goodbye to him (love this man and his servant heart!), packed up at the Kings and went to have breakfast with Denis at "his" cafe. Post-food, the men were having their usual intense wheeling-dealing-business session so Ellen and I walked up to the street to a super fun gift shop where I got a few neat beaded things. Then we were off the airport.
We flew without incident (that time) to Jo-burg, hit our AWESOME hotel, hung out, enjoyed the wireless access. Had dinner at "Rosie O'Grady's" Irish pub (yes, in s. africa), etc etc.
And that gets us thru Monday of last week.... :>)