Swazi Blog

Thursday May 31, 2012

The picture of the house is the 1 room cottage we stayed in for a few days. The bush beside is of the Bird of paradise ...

Wednesday May 30 2012
Well friends the last 2 days have been busy, sorry we missed Monday and Tuesday. We had our exit interviews today and things are wrapping up nicely.  We have reviewed all that we did , it became clear we have accomplished way more than we had ever hoped for .

Yvonne had a funny thing happen to her this morning ... as she was in the bathroom getting ready for work a small Gecko came in from under the door and decided to run across her foot! This however did not go over very well with Yvonne who let out a pretty good scream, I came to the rescue and determined we should keep him around cause he eats all the other things that Yvonne doesn't like ... so we have named him Gunther..
Gunther the Gecko !  "G.G." for short .  He climbs up and around our walls and comes and goes as he pleases.  There are lots of new critters to get used to here in Africa. 

Sunday May 27, 2012
roadOn our way to church driving on the wrong (for us, but correct for here) side of the road.  On the straigh-away it's not too bad, but the
corners sometimes catch us by surprise.  It takes some concentration to remember when when we're turning right we have to go to the far lane, and when we're going left, it's the close lane.  Cars have the right of way over pedestrians, so when we instinctively stop for someone waiting to cross the road, it can be dangerous if there are cars behind us - and it confuses the people on foot.  We're learning to just drive past them, so hopefully we won't get a ticket when we get home for failing to yield to a pedestrian. 

Von in pink flowers
von at church
We got to church a little early today, so we went around taking photos of all the amazing flowers in the park in the school yard where the church meets.  This is winter, so most of the flowers are out of season, and yet everywhere we look there are different and interesting plans blooming and making the world here very pretty.

 We've got a few new favorite worship songs to bring home.  The musicians here are very accomplished, so it was a pleasure to worship with them, and learn a little from them too.  It's amazing how God brought us all the way to Africa to hear the messages he had for us in this church.  He really is the almighty God of the WHOLE earth, and I'm so privileged to be called His child.  I hope and pray that our last week here in Swaziland will be a useful to the folks here at TWR and to the Lord's work.  Thanks to all your prayers - beyond a little jet-lag and tired headaches, we've been completely healthy and safe for our time here.  One more week to go, and I know God will watch over us no matter what.  Thanks to you all for your prayers.  We remember you too in our prayers, and pray that God gives you a nice restful Sunday, and a good week ahead.  We look forward to hugs and greetings next week when we're home.  We'll be back in Regina Sunday night around midnight, so we won't make it church until the 10th, but I'm sure we'll see many of you before then. 

Saturday May 26, 2012

Today Brian did what Brian likes most - he worked on a tractor.  A green tractor.  And he was actually able to get the parts he needed.  He's never fixed a green tractor before, but apparently they break down just as much as all the other colors. 


On the weekends we have to wear ear plugs if we want to sleep at night because the club behind our apartment building likes to play the music loud. This weekend the loud boom-boom of the club music was in competition with the late night worship service across the street from us.  It's amazing that we can hear the voices from the church over top of the music from the bar until about 1 am.  These folks can SING!

Friday May 25 2012
click the picture ,
i think we have seen in real life Africa, everything in this picture.

Thursday May 24 2012
Brian fixed many things around the Shop , welder , air compressor , tractor jack. Here is a picture of him on
the old lathe making a new specialized lifting screw.

Wednesday May 23, 2012
Work was pretty easy today because there was a Brea at noon to celebrate Sam and Steve and Lorraine's 35th anniversary with TWR.  It's quite an accomplishment to spend 35 years with any company, but 35 years in service to the Lord with TWR is just awesome.  It was fun to hear some of the stories about how things were in the "good old days".  Back when radio was actually reel-to-reel tapes, and switching to commercials, and transitions was a manual process.  Thankfully computers make that part of the job much easier now. 

After the Brae (all meat lunch), there was an extra car at the site - everyone car-pooled from different locations, and were returning to different locations, and so Brian had to drive.  His first experience driving on the left side of the road.  He did a fantastic job, but I think the guys who were riding with us are going to nickname him "White man who drives like a turtle" because he took it pretty easy.  Thankfully it wasn't rush-hour, but even at that, I'm sure he'd have done great.  Well that hurtle is over, now we'll be able to drive any time...

Tuesday May 22, 2012
The Hoskins

Another productive day at the office today.  Brian finished up with the welding he needed to do on the tractor, and at the end of the job, the welder broke, so his job tomorrow is to build a new copper bolt and thread it to fix the welder.  The challenge is, we can't get parts here, he has to manufacture them himself...  And it's a good thing he loves that kind of challenge. 

Yvonne was at the office today working on little computer bits and bytes .  Nothing too crazy, just some everyday twiddling of bits  moving computer Data, /permissions / shares /backups / installing newer backup drives/ creating a raid 5 in an external enclosure and the huge task of reading server log files to make sure everything is in tip top shape before we head back to Canada ... 

The picture here is of our neighbors.  Some great new friends we've made here in Swaziland.  they've been here almost two years as missionaries with the Southern Baptist missions IMB (International Mission Board), and have helped us find our way around, and feel comfortable in the city.  Take a good look at the background - that's the typical landscape of Swaziland.  Beautiful!!!  The rock they are standing on is called "Execution rock". 

Monday May 21, 2012
What a nice weekend we had.  Saturday we walked around town.  We're getting more comfortable finding the shops that we need.  We're having a hard time finding postcards in town, so those who haven't received one from us will have to be patient.  Everything takes a little longer because we walk everywhere.  Fortunately we're right down town, but it's still a number of blocks to the grocery store and back.  After a day of walking around town Saturday, we were ready for a restful Sunday, and we were able to relax visit some with our neighbors.  The Sunday service was a real blessing to us - and Brian was enlisted to play guitar, so he got to worship in his usual style...
Brian Geared up

Today we were at the transmitter site continuing with the work we started last week.  Brian had to go shopping for some welding supplies, so he got to visit the local machine shop supply store... leave it up to a guy to find an excuse to visit a "man-cave" store...  He bought some welding rods so he can help do more repairs on the farm machinery and one of the Texas gates.  

Friday May 18

Today we worked at the transmitter site , Yvonne on the servers and backup system and Brian on the farm machinery that had just broke, 
as the bales were being hauled, one arm of the bale spear (3pt hitch) snapped off and was in need of welding and reinforcement, good thing Brian has a friend named Warren Peters who taught him how to weld.

Thursday May 17

Today is a national holiday for the Swaziland people .... its called  - Ascension Day: Ascension Day marks the day when the risen Lord Jesus Christ ascended up into Heaven. It was 40 days after his resurrection from the dead. They also celebrate many other holidays like Good Friday : Easter Sunday and Easter Monday , but I wanted to bring to your attention Ascension day, a holiday we don't have back in Canada.

The population of Manzini, Swaziland is about 110,000.  A modern African city.  Its very hilly , you either find yourself walking up hill or down. There are no actual flat roads.  Here you will find car dealerships , Hotels with pools and goats, sheep, chickens and cows loose beside the roads as you drive. Chickens and goats are common in back yards and lots of roosters crowing early in the morning waking up the population to a brand new day.  It's actually quite "homey" to hear the roosters.  It reminds us of our rooster on the farm.

The people here walk at a leisurely pace always taking care to avoid the cars and trucks. Automobiles here have the right of way, and it doesn't matter if its at a street corner or traffic light, you will be hit if you don't look both ways.  Drivers actually expect a pedestrian to pass behind them, not in-front of the car . Stop signs are not a place where you actually bring your car to a full stop, it is merely a suggestion to slow down and avoid hitting other cars.  Pedestrians enter an intersection at their own risk when it comes to a 4 way stop corner.

Walking is the main mode of transportation, but to get around in Swaziland a little faster , you may need to flag down a taxi-bus (there are no taxi cars).  Taking a taxi-bus requires you to negotiate a price for the fare before you get into the minivan, seat-belts are not required and buses are often seen absolutely packed full of people like a can of sardines .

Swazi women are exceptionally strong , you will often see them walking home with a child on her back, carrying another 10lb's  groceries on both hands, balancing a 25 LB bag of corn flower on her head, all this in a pair of heels on her feet.  We know one fellow who walks about 10km to get to work.  

Wed May 16 

I needed to Climb the tower again to replace some more equipment and this time I took the camera ... this picture is of the field of bales that TWR makes and sells to the local farmers to help the stations financial needs, I thought it was a nice picture of some of the towers and bales, it was quite the view up there, but boy were my arms and legs burning by the time I got down! 


Tuesday May 15
I asked one of the engineers if I could take a picture of him as he was fixing radio equipment ... this picture is of Hans .  I have had many good chats with him on all sorts of geeky radio theories and how they are able to transmit to such far distances. He is very knowledgeable and a great asset to the goings on here in TWR Africa. One of the coolest things he told me is how they beam the radio signal into the sky and let it bounce off the ionization of the atmosphere to send the radio signals to other countries .... the guy can build just about any thing electronic !   very cool.
Monday May 14, 2012
At 4pm every day TWR transmits to some of their furthest areas (from South Africa all the way to Pakistan - over 7500km) - and as a result, the electro-magnetic energy in the air is palatable.  They showed us how you can light a fluorescent light just by holding it.  Here's Brian and I lighting a couple lights just with the energy in the air, and our bodies acting as grounding rods.  Pretty amazing how something invisible can become visible.  Kinda like the love of God.  He uses His people to bring the light to the world.   

Something silly happened today - (Dad will like this) - one of the engineers at TWR asked Brian how many cows he paid for me.  No really, I'm serious.  He was recently married, and he still owes his in-laws some cows.  The average going price for a bride is 12 cows.  After some discussion and teasing, they settled that I'm probably worth 40 cows.  A pretty hefty bride price for this area, but hey, I'm worth it. 

Sunday May 13, 2012
Today we went exploring walking around the city we came across a local market several blocks from our apartment, the tents were very low so you had to duck under them and watch your step or you would end up tripping on something and doing a face-plant, but it was very interesting , people selling lots of fruit and vegetables in the middle of the sidewalk, clothing, fabric, trinkets, shoes. we only know a few words in the local dialect so negotiating a price is difficult for us, but Yvonne did find some fabric she liked and is currently making a Swazi skirt .  

Saturday May 12, 2012
brian on tower
A picture of monkey Brian climbing the tower to repair a broken Transceiver ... We have been told  Swaziland Africa gets the most lightning strikes than any-other place in the world , I'm not sure thats true but they do get lots of strikes and it tends to fry electronic equipment like in this next photo...
fried to a crisp

This equipment is repaired and or replaced on site with the help of knowledgeable technicians and some very cool electronic tools like this brand new Scope in the middle of the bench.
new scope

Thursday May 10, 2012
Today was another fun-filled day of network sniffing, and device tracking - no really I mean fun-filled!  It's quite a rush to figure out what's all on the network and how it can be optimized.  I just hope we can really make a difference for these folks. 

We met a nice young Christian couple in our apartment building, and we hope to get to know them a little this month. 
shadow people

One thing we're learning about the people here is that they may not have a lot of money, but they sure are resourceful with what they have!  The picture to the left is a water heater - made out of pop bottles.  It works amazingly well, and for those who want to know the details... Brian can explain it when you see him next. 

We went for a walk the other day and Brian shot a picture of us on the swing bridge by the transmitter site.  I thought it was pretty cool the way he captured our shadows so I'm sharing it with you ...  Love y'all (our new neighbor is from the deep south). 

Wednesday May 9, 2012
We have no new pictures today because we tried to "blend in" a little instead of shooting pictures of everything we saw.  We shared a short version of our testimonies at the TWR staff meeting this morning, and felt very welcomed by the folks there.  Then we spent the morning at the office.  At noon Mark showed us a good place to get lunch just a few blocks from their office.  We left off early in the afternoon to walk down to the market and get some groceries.  It was our first outing beyond the fence without an escort, and it felt like an adventure.  We finally got some laundry soap, and Brian figured out how to work the washing machine (he's the official laundry man now), so we could do a load.  It's a blessing to have a washing machine right in the apartment.   
Monday May 7, 2012
  This is Yvonne explaining the finer points of NT Authentication at the transmitter site today.  We're in the process of learning what they do, and how they do it here.  It's fascinating to see how the antennae are setup and how the transmitters work.  A lot of it is automated, but they still need on site staff 24hrs/day.  The folks who work there were helping us figure out how to greet people properly in siSwati (pronounced see-swat-ee).  They were laughing at our bad accents, but it was fun to try to speak their language.  They are very gracious people!  Most of them speak English too. 

May 6, 2012
road sign
After a restful Saturday, we went to church with some folks on Sunday in a town close to a game park.  On the way to church, we passed a sign, that just had to make it onto the blog...  You know you're in Africa when...  (click the picture for a larger view).

What a blessing to attend church here.  The songs were familiar, and sung with strong African voices it sounded amazing!  The people are so friendly!

After the service we visited the game park for a African Bri.  A Bri is an all-meat fire-cooked meal.  Often times they have 5 or 6 types of meat, all meat, and just meat, nothing else... These folks took pity on us and had some lettuce and buns too, but normally a Bri does not include these items.  It was very tasty!  After the Bri we drove through the game park and saw elephants and a giraffe among other things. 

May 4, 2012
We made it to Swaziland today.  It's been a long day, and Brian looks like he's coming down with something... too much go-go-go combined with too many nights of interrupted sleep!  We took a bunch of pictures on our way here, so I'll post some soon, but don't have the right power adapter just now, and I'm too ready for sleep to want to pull it out.  Thanks to everyone who's sent us a note or email.  Even if I haven't responded yet, I've read it, and appreciate it!  It sure makes me feel loved and supported to read your encouraging words.  THANKS.  Take care, and I'll write some more tomorrow...

May 3, 2012
Today was all about learning what needs to be done in Swaziland.  We went over the task list and the current projects with the tech here, and he taught us what we'll need to know.  There is lots to remember, but the good news is that if we hit any road blocks, he's just a phone call or email away... At lunch we went for a walk around the building and we saw a rose bush flowering in Mid winter.  they keep telling us that it's usually colder in the winter, and I'm sure it's true, but today was plus 25-ish again, and was a beautiful day for a walk.  We're learning a few things about local South African life, and it's a very beautiful and interesting place!  There is a bird of prey flowering just outside the office door. 

We've learned that when you're drive, not stopping at a stop sign is not a bad driving habit, but a security thing.  Apparently stopped cars are a target for mugging or hijacking.  I'm glad I'm not the one driving - not only would I be constantly turning into the wrong lane, but I'd probably not be able to resist the urge to come to a complete stop...

I snapped a shot of Brian as we got back to the building.  This is where we're learning what we need to know for now... at the TWR ARO (African Regional Office) in a township near Johannesburg.  If you look carefully, you can see a reflection of me (Yvonne) in the window...

The TWR office has flags of all the places where they have offices.  We thought is was very interesting, so we're sharing it here with you... it's amazing how much of the world they cover.  Blessing to everyone.  We thank God for you and your prayers and remember to pray for you each day too. 

May 2, 2012
Wednesday has been a day of learning the ins and outs of the computer systems.  It's amazing what the local techs have been able to accomplish, and develop in house.  The network and infrastructure is relatively complicated, so we took lots of notes, and hope to remember it all when we get to Swaziland.  A gentleman from the office here took us out for supper to a place called "something fishy"  It was a little fishy looking place ... (hee-hee) but had some really good food.  On the way back, Brian got a nice shot of the African Regional Office where we're staying and training for now.  It's a comfortable place to transition into Johannesburg culture.  Here's a picture of Yvonne updating the blog.  (click on the pictures to enlarge)

May 1, 2012
What a blessing to be in Africa!  We're still pretty tired today, but hoping to get a good solid sleep tonight to be fresh tomorrow.  Today was a National holiday, nobody was working, so we were forced to visit the Lion and Rhinoceros preserve with a local fellow.  He was a great tour guide, and we got to see all sorts of new and interesting animals.  reptiles and few large tarantulas.  I've got a bit of reading to do tonight, so I'll leave it at that, and post some more tomorrow.