Monday, December 18, 2006
Friday, December 15, 2006
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Monday, December 11, 2006
Friday, December 08, 2006
Monday, December 04, 2006
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Westfield has also found another place to put ads - on the car-shaped push chairs. With their usual look to quality the Lexus stickers are coming off. I'm sure that Lexus USA would love to have this as their corperate image.
Yet another reason to stay out of the malls.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
This is Graham and Jean's back garden; It is the same one that my room over looked. It is a work in progress, Graham is building a gazebo, and Jean is restructuring where the plants should go.
In build the gazebo Graham had to learn to weld, he has got most of it done, and says it will be finished when he finds some time to work on it.
Monday, November 13, 2006
We were making a dash for the gate (we only had an hour to get out of the park, before they locked the gates for the night), when this car going the other way flagged us down to tell us that there was a leopard feeding down the road. We had seen people who had said that they could see a leopard earlier in about the same spot.
When we rounded the corner, wow, they are hard to see, but to see one this close, and eating -- amazing. We stayed and watched it pull the meat, and listened to it cracking the bones. PETA should come here and see what the animals do to each other.
I love rhinos, these two were walking along near the road. Most of the animals were close enough to where we were that I could take the pictures with my canon alone, these were back, so I used my binoculars and focused the camera through the sight.
We came across several pairs of rhino throughout the day.
Just a short way into the park we came onto this elephant. They make quite a ruckus as they break trees, or push them over -- they are also larger than they look at the zoo. I think it has something to do with the fence.
Later in the day we went to the poorly named "Hippo Pool", where we found no hippos, but we did find a group of more than 100 elephants wading in the water!
Right after we entered the park we came across these things -- lion food. They come in all sizes and colors, and they are everywhere. After a bit, they loose their appeal, and fade into the background.
We were told not to get too fixed on seeing the "Big Five", or we would miss all the other animals and birds; and it is possible to spend several days in the park and neve come across any of the big five.
We all had our field glasses, and were ready to see how many different kinds of birds we could find.
A few k into the park we were to see all we could imagine.
Graham and Jean arranged for us to have some time at the Kruger National Park over the weekend. We had a pleasant drive down, and stopped for tea at her sister's house.
I was not prepared for what were we going to see -- the view from our balcony would have been enough for me; there were all sorts of animals and birds gathered at the river!
Thursday, November 09, 2006
I had no idea that a country could run out of CO2. I hope I’m gone before the great gas crisis of 2006 causes riots in the streets. People will not be happy without their fizzy drinks.
The sign says:
The Coca-Cola Bottling System and related industries are currently experiencing a major shortage of CO2. The major supplier of CO2 in South Africa is encountering production problems. We regret that as a result you may experience some difficulty in purchasing some of our carbonated soft drinks.
We do realise that this is a great inconvenience to you, we are doing our utmost to resolve this situation as quickly as possible.
As a valued consumer, we would like to thank you for your patience and understanding.
I learned something interesting about fuel stations here when I asked Graham why none of the stations had prices posted on the road. I was curious how he could choose a station without knowing the prices. He explained that the price of gas is set nation-wide by the government, new prices change the first Wednesday of the month and are announce the week before. The stations must differentiate themselves by their service, or how clean they are kept. All the stations have uniformed attendants that wash your windows and check your levels. There are no rules or laws preventing you from pumping your own, but to do so would deprive someone of a job and lead to a rise in unemployment. In a country where more than 20% are unemployed, every job helps to keep the economy from tanking.
I went with Graham to the post office – he should get a discount with all the work he helps them in posting the packages. The post office is inside a market; post your mail, shop for food – very convenient. Like all post offices I’ve visited around the world, this on moved, but slowly. There must be a gene that makes people who are slow movers aspire to work in post office the world over.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
After the book table, Graham and I stopped by the offices of RadioPulpit -- a large broadcaster in Africa. They have had some issues over their FM stations which has caused GTY-RSA to lose some of its coverage in South Africa. At the office we learned that they are not going to be given several smaller AM stations which will actually give RadioPulpit greater coverage than before. This is great news from GTY-RSA.
This house is having its roof re-thatched. Notice how you can see right through the rafters into the house. There is nothing on the inside of the house between the thatch and the ceiling -- when you look up you see the thatch.
Thatched homes are seen on two types of houses: the very rich who can afford to maintain them, and the very poor who cannot afford and roofing material other than what they can cut growing in fields.
Graham set up a book table in Pretoria for a seminar where Wayne Mack is teaching. So many people were excited to be able to get some John MacArthur books to take home with them. One lady started jumping up and down when her husband said that she could purchase a NASB MacArthur Study Bible! She is just one example why GTY has offices in other countries -- people everywhere are hungry for the truth.
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
This is the main hub of customer service activity at GTY-RSA. The windows in the background open into the garden. Jean answers most of the phone calls, and is always a source of helpful information.
The phone rings the most as the program finishes -- just like at GTY-USA.
We are preparing the material for a book table that will be at a book table at Joel James Church in Pretoria on Wednesday.
This is the exterior of the Grace to You office in South Africa. The office has a staff of four and services all of Africa.
What makes this office somewhat different from our other offices is that it attached to the private home of the director. They likely have the shortest commute of anyone in any of the offices -- it is 3 steps from the breakfast table to the door to the office. While the office is attached to the home it is entirely separate; it has all its own facilities.
Today for lunch Graham and I went to visit a dear friend of GTY-RSA. I was encouraged to hear how God is using GTY-RSA in his life, and for his love for the ministry. He is teaching a group in his church, and he believes that GTY has equipped him for that work.
Monday, November 06, 2006
South Africa can be a dangerous place; in the past you could be attacked by roving bands of lions (which could still happen today, but unlikely in an urban setting), and today you could be attacked by a band of thugs.
Every mall and shop that I have seen has a sign similar to the in the picture. The houses all have high walls and fences topped with 10,000 DC volts of electricity, and some add razor wire as well.
Car doors auto lock, and there is an indicator light near the rear view mirror alerting you that the doors are locked.
People here seem to be very alert to their surroundings, but not in a hyper-paranoid way. Keep you possessions out of sight in the car, keep you pockets buttoned, don’t walk alone, close the gate, keep the doors locked, windows up. …
Just to keep things interesting last night at about 2:30am the alarm for the house went off – nothing like the sound of the siren to get your blood going. Turned out to be nothing, likely a spider walked across one of the sensors.
I got back to sleep after about ½ hour.
There are beautiful things everywhere. G&J have a wonderful garden filled with green plants, flowers, and pleasant spaces to sit. Graham is building a gazebo (Graham is always building something), which he works on when time allows.
Growing in the garden are some lovely delphiniums – Kerry, their wall keeps out all the munchers.
The flower in this post is from the gardens at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.
These instant cities are everywhere; they start out as small groups of squatters then enlarge over time. The people scavenge building materials from derelict buildings to construct their shelters. They have little or no running water, and only dug facilities. Some of the sights remind me of India – the very poor living near the very rich, with little boundary between.
Often near these cities are stopping places for the unofficial taxi vans that ply the roads stuffed with 16+ passengers.
South Africa is filled with all sorts of food. After church we stopped at this place to have lunch. The sign simply says "The Chicken Pie Restaurant” and that is what they serve; very tasty and filling. We sat by the water and enjoyed out lunch. Note the thatched roof and lightning rod.
Many buildings including private homes have thatched roofs – very cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Graham says that the upkeep on them can be quite a chore.
After 30 hours of travel I arrived in South Africa. Flights and all went well, and I was only semi-dead when I got off my last plane. Graham was waiting for me at the doors to the airport. It took 1 hour to do passport control and another hour to find all my bags and get through customs.
The buck in the picture was taken just outside the Voortrekker monument.
Monday, October 23, 2006
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
C1 and C2 played lego Batman together on the internet. They shared the chair and the keyboard - makes my heart glad.
It was good to come home and see that after all the things that did not play well together at GTY. One of our main computers, cityhall, did not recover gracefully from Monday's power outage. It finally came back after IBM said some magic words over the phone.
Sunday, September 24, 2006
Can you guess where this picture was taken? After church we went with our friends to Venice Beach. This punk family pushing a pram was just one of the odd things we saw. We saw many people who needed more clothes, and we saw people who needed less food.
We showed our friends why Venice is named Venice - the canals. Wonderful architecture and plantings.
From Venice we went to Melrose so they could shop. We waited at a Starbucks watching the odd people pass. Melrose is an odder odd than Venice.
There were many Jewish families in this area out and about for the High Holidays. We saw some Jewish young men in dark suits blowing their shofar.
I love LA -- You never know what you will see.
Saturday, September 23, 2006
After taking our friends to return their rental car at LAX we drove around showing them parts of LA. On our way to Apple Pan for lunch we drove past this lady who was dancing and rocking out to her music in an unusually modified golf cart. It was styled like a Hummer, complete with metal rims, and over-sized seats. This was the sight to see in LA this morning.
Thursday, September 21, 2006
Sunday, September 17, 2006
Friday, September 15, 2006
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
We had another great staff event at GTY. Today we had a conference call with the International Space Station - and friend of the ministry Jeff Williams. I got to help set up the conference with the Johnson Space Center - nothing better for a tech-head than to be able to say, "Can you wait a moment that may be my NASA contact."
It was great to hear all that Jeff is doing, including taking more that 70,000 pictures.
He says that he can spot the GTY building from space! When he returns to Earth he will have been in space more than six months. He says he is never bored, he loves seeing God's creation from space.
We all look forward to his safe return.
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
Sorry sir, the picture on your ID does not match your money. This MD has more rules and signs than any other - 3 refills max, 1 sauce, no loitering, no outside food, no extra ice. Come to Castaic and enjoy the rules. If it were cleaner you might think you were in Singapore.
Saturday, September 02, 2006
Friday, September 01, 2006
Seems like only yesterday that Jay and I were diving across the desert in 105+ heat (it was the cool time). When we left Lafayette we had AC and a dream of cool sailing. When we reached Houston, it started getting humid and warm in the car. At first I thought that the AC had iced over, so I turned it off to let it melt (keep telling yourself that Fickett). After about 20 min, I turned it back on and it felt cool -- well cooler than the oven we were in at the time. At the next rest stop we pulled over and gave the belts and such a look. All looked fine but we could not make it cool. After anointing it with machine oil, we gave in and knew that it would not be cool till we got to a hotel. For the rest of the trip we drank iced water and cola. After we arrived safely in Valencia I took Blue to get its AC repaired. It worked about 80% of the time, and then only made the car cool after about 10 min -- my ride home is about 7, so the AC was only semi-helpful.
After four years of faithful service our blue car has gone to its reward. Actually it went to Make-a-Wish, it needed to go somewhere and that is where we decided. It was too iffy to let a sem student get stuck on the side of the road when it wanted a rest.
For us it was fine - as I only took it to and from work, so our worst-case was less than 4 miles from a friendly place.
Now all we have is red and gold, I bet they will miss blue, but I'm sure our neighbors are glad to see it out of our driveway.