Sunday, May 24, 2015


5-23-15

Hello again from Joburg and I apologize for not updating more quickly, for the last several days I have had a bit of a bug and have been laid up in my apartment. For all who knew thank you for the thoughts and pr@yers, I can now move without a pounding head (and other various maladies)!

On Monday my roommate and I started feeling puny, and Tuesday he couldn’t leave the house. On Wednesday we shouldn’t have, and we ended up at a doctor in the afternoon to figure out what was going on. I can usually whine my way through a cold or flu and for a while I thought I could with this one, but it was a little too hard hitting for me to handle myself. The rest of Wednesday, Thursday and Friday were fairly bedridden for me, and inasmuch I had a lot of time to pr@y and think about the work we are doing here (when my head was not throbbing too badly!).

With the addition of a couple to our team here there is also an addition of their skillsets to the dynamic as well. Our new teammates speak a dialect of Arabic and are more than comfortable using that here in attempts to build bonds with even more peoples than just the ones we are specifically working with here. This is an awesome opportunity for kingdom development among the many peoples in this area.

To be a reference in size for home standards, an area the size of the town proper of Farmington or Bolivar and with a population of 5 million instead of 10-20 thousand, and it is within this area where our people groups live and feel the safest within the Joburg area. Massive throngs of people waiting to be told in a way that speaks to their hearts not just their ears. Our plan which we hope to get on the ground in the next day or two, instead of just being in the air, is to give the first of several key portions of scriptural text in the mother language, set side by side with the same text in English, to our friend/s. This first portion will be the book of beginnings from creation up to the covenant with Ibrahim. Since the accounts will be similar to what they have learned previously, we hope that they will read unhindered by disbelief. We are earnestly pr@ying that this will be accepted and taken to heart, and that through the hearing, reading, and possessing of the word He will move among the people’s hearts and a CPM will rush through this people.  

Last weekend we as a team went to the city of Durban, which is on the east coast bordering the Indian Ocean. We went to inquire about future expansions of our work to that area, and if there is a need for the ESL classes, which there is, and in what sector of the population the need is the highest. We found that although there are not many people with whom we are currently working with there are multitudes of cousins who need to hear the truth of the word. During this trip we went to places where we could communicate with others our age in order to inquire about need, we found and went to the major university. At the university in Durban, main campus I believe – it was huge, there was a Hindu temple right next to a Mosque in order to support peace and unity among students in ZA. It was to the Mosque that we first went in order to inquire if there were any students in need of assistance with English work. After going into the prayer room and talking to several young men who were studying there, I was then taken to the Imam to talk about where the greatest need for our services would be. In our conversation it was important to stress that we were part of an already existing effort and that we had a good rapport within the area we currently work, he wanted to know who and what we were and why we were there – understandable coming from a professor as well as a flock leader. I believe our conversation went well, and I think that there is most defiantly a future for work efforts in the area.

The area of Durban is known for its sunny tropical feel and its beaches that draw in the surfers. While we were there the sun might have come out from the clouds for an hour all told, but we got some quiet time to sit by the ocean and think, after going to the university. I even had the opportunity to have a personal devotion with the sound of the ocean as background. On Sunday morning we woke up early in hopes of seeing the sunrise over the water, but the cloud cover was too thick and it started to rain. The city of Durban was a place that in areas was very wild and dingy and in others the streets were like the streets of Miami, lined with palms and buildings painted in all colors pastel. Downtown in all the tall buildings (most stained from the salt air), every window was different – an array of colors, fabrics, and people. There were clothes hanging out to dry all over the city. We were caught trying to drive back to the place we were staying at 4 o clock on Friday afternoon while downtown. A drive that should’ve taken 6 minutes through crowded downtown ended up taking 35. At times there were groups of 25-50 people crossing our lane on foot during green lights. There were also 20 cars crammed into every intersection! People were even getting out of cars stopped in traffic to continue on their way on foot. Crazy, frustrating, fun, and often hilarious, we just had to sit through and experience it!

Durban is a five to six hour drive from Joburg, and the scenery is predominantly the same until 45 minutes’ drive from the Ocean. It was all highland savannah stretching over the hills with plenty of buttes and mesas thrown in for views. Near Durban were miles and miles of tree farms, all a type of pine, and the tree farms resembled the pine farms along the southern Mississippi, grown like any other crops. Once we descended into the valley, or down to the coast the climate went from high and dry to low and steamy. The humidity was a welcome change, if only for a few days. I am thankful that I had the opportunity to see and experience this part of ZA.

We went from Sunday morning in Durban trying to see a sunrise and being physically fine, to Monday morning the start of this stomach bug starting to hit.

I ask for pr@yer in our work here, for people to hear, see, read, be touched by, accept the Word, and for that hearing to develop into a CPM among our people here in Joburg. Also, there has been some sickness in the family back home and I believe that the whole of them need healing and SP protection, healing, and guidance. My sister will be needing protection as well as SP guidance as she sets off on a journey of her own in the upcoming months, and I pr@y all goes well with that and much learning and growth takes place.

Thank you so much for your pr@yer and support, none of this would be possible without all of you back home and your pr@yers.

Ethan.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015


Week of 5-5-15
Hello again,
This week has finally arrived, and I was apprehensive for no good reason. This week is the week that my teammate and I have been drafted into service as child care members during a company meeting here in JoBurg. After arriving and helping with the bags of families arriving from all over the continent, I thought that the children might be wild acting or terrified of me, but as it turned out I couldn’t have been more wrong. I have found out that our ministry here as short term guys has many facets, one of those facets is to work with and do any task that is required here to streamline and make the career personnel’s work more beneficial and efficient. During the weekend I assisted in the carrying of refrigerators for a team that was in another part of town, he called my boss and asked if he could borrow our labor for a few hours (we are like loanable tools sometimes). So, while we do our work downtown, and it is really exciting, we are also here to serve the people who are living their lives, raising their children, and giving up their homeland to serve and reach the Lost of the world. I am saying this so that people don’t think we are wasting time or funds while “playing” with children for a week. We do what needs to be done, and sometimes that task is unattractive or seemingly less significant for our purpose here, but it may just mean that in this instance in particular, the parents may be equipped to better handle the rigors of the field because I took care of their screaming kids for a few hours. 
On Monday we supervised the children during the time that their parents were in seminars and meetings, the children’s game of dodgeball quickly morphed into “hit the big guy”. This lasted for several hours, during which I was captured, climbed, and turned into a personal steed many times. Man-o-man was I tired! When I woke up on Tuesday morning I could hardly walk and I thought I had slipped a disk during the night (I didn’t!) - My back was so sore, those kiddos wore me out! A pot of coffee and a few hours later all was loosened up and it was back to keeping the kiddos out of trouble and occupied.
At one point in the space of ten minutes I thought I might lose my job here. The age group that I am with for the most part is the teens/ youth, but during general recreational time all of the kids are running about playing as they wish. It was during this time that I saw one of the 5yr olds throw a football into the nose of another and knock the child back and down, I thought that there would be blood and thankfully there wasn’t. The next one happened as soon as the hurt boy was taken to his mother, the hurt boy’s next older brother (a year or so older) was knocked down by accident by the second oldest brother and almost bit through half of his tongue. The brother who had tripped and fell is somewhere around 12 and had gotten a black eye from one of the little girls here earlier. So far this has been three boys in one family, injured on my watch but with no intervention that I could have done. A little later, during snack time, another little 5yr old was kicking a soccer ball with us and eating skittles when he was roundhouse kicked in the face by the boy who had bitten his tongue, this time the boy was too focused on his skittles to even notice the kick to the face, he just kept on eating. Skittles, like many American candies, have to be brought over in luggage from the States, they cannot be bought here. So, obviously the kids really love it when volunteers from the States bring sweets. 
What a day! They kept me going until well after dark when, as a diversion for the parents, we showed a movie that the kids (and myself) love – Despicable Me 2. Some of the parents were requesting alone time and appreciated the time filler.  
Wednesday has been very windy, and out came a stack of Frisbees from the team for the kids to play with. That turned out to be a great idea, even the adults wanted to join in! In the afternoon and on Thursday and Friday we played Settlers of Catan with the 10 and up groups and they really had fun with the strategy games.
During the course of the week a few of the children made the decision to follow the way and accept Christ. This was an exciting development, and made for a great end to the week.
On Friday we were kept on our toes until after midnight, and had a great time fellowshipping with and learning form these apprentices. We also were drafted into helping to load all the bags and gather odds and ends around the camp. Once we made it home from the camp we crashed from all the running of the week.
In the upcoming week we should be able to go with our language teacher to some cultural places to learn more about the people as well as to help to use.

Ethan Smith

Monday, April 27, 2015


Hello from JoBurg, we made it back in!

I know that it has been a while since the last update, and a fair little bit has happened since then. The day after the last update we went to a village about two hours outside of Gaborone into the bush, at this village we essentially watched as local believers that we had gathered from another village went around sharing faith.  The stage of saturation that we were witnessing was nearing to a CRCH plant. It was better for us to observe the local believers share than to try to share with people ourselves in English. The locals were using the people’s heart language and the observable response was exciting to witness.

We were able to talk for several hours with one of the young men in discipleship training as we rode in the back of a Toyota Hilux to and from his village into the bush.  It was refreshing to see the work that had started to take off with the local body of faithful. They have m!ss!ons as their foundation and all else is built off of that. ASAP new believers go into the community or to other villages and repeat the process that was used with them. Disciples making disciples….first century model style.

After the village we had the opportunity to meet and talk to/be quizzed by other expatriate career families. We talked about our reasons for being over here and our life goals, where we fell called in the future and such. The week in all was a good one. To cap off the week we essentially walked right through the boarder without any hiccups or issues.

Once we were back to JoBurg the reality of where we were set back in, I mentioned xenophobia in an earlier post rather hurriedly. If I can I will try to explain how the situation here had been in the last few weeks (no harm has befallen anyone on our team or to myself as a preface).  The area of South Africa has dealt with racism for many centuries. Not the gentle racism that is supposedly in the US of today, but rather on a level more like Nazi or Middle Eastern – for conceptualization sake, not the mass murders per se. Through different regimes and reigns it even became law in the early 1900’s – apartheid. Separation of races was enforced with military precision and aside from the racism ZA was developed and westernized until the end of that harsh rule.

Once Mandela became president after apartheid ended he brought a message of peace and reconcilollation, but according to locals from native and colored races the majority of peoples who had been suppressed wanted retribution and revenge for the wrongs done to them. This led to revenge killings and riots.  

Around the same time the whole of the rest of the continent saw that, at least on the official level, the country of ZA was the rainbow nation of many peoples and here to help the suffering of the destitute on the continent. Refugees started to pour into the country from all over, some got jobs others didn’t. The ones with jobs usually are doing the kind of jobs no one else wanted, but with high unemployment rates in the socialist economy, the native populace that had fought for liberty and freedom see the refugees as taking their jobs.

With tensions high and a lack of jobs some portions of the local populace found a new enemy of their way of life in the foreigners that they see as having stolen their jobs and pieces of their cities. In 2008 tensions peaked and in the ensuing riots many refugees were killed as well as their businesses and homes being looted and burned.

Here enters the part of the story that I have witnessed, most of our students at the ESL center have their businesses in the townships rather than in the city proper. The townships are the areas that during apartheid the coloreds and blacks were forced to live, essentially cities outside of the cities, making the mega-city. In recent weeks the beating of our students has pick up to the level where they are far too afraid to travel to work, their stalls and shops have either been burned or robbed in higher frequency than usual and there have been riots and the threat of riots in some cities around ZA. The news here has more correctly defined the type of hate here as “Afro-phobia”, so while the term xenophobia applies, the term afro-phobia designates more specifically the fear of other African peoples.  

This week one of the female students had black eyes where she had been beaten so badly that she was taken to a hospital to check for broken bones. Swollen faces have become shockingly too common around the area we teach, there are foreigners and refugees from all over in that area. I have noticed more homeless people sleeping in these areas of town due to being forced from their homes in the townships. These are daily observances, and the riots have never reached or affected us personally.

With the mob things can escalate very quickly and things that would never be done alone are committed when there is anonymity in the crowd. That is my explanation and recap on xenophobia here in ZA, we are in no more danger than before, but the refugees are for the time being.

 

Once back to class we started in on our lessons, with the cold coming the men are sleeping later and sometimes not even coming in to class. We had the opportunity to talk to our friend about his readings and if he had made any significant discoveries while reading. My roommate has an app for the Word on his iphone and this app just happens to have a translation in the language that we need. He has been using this app to test the waters, so to speak, and I think that we are going to work on printing off several key books in a word document for the barber. Gen. up through the covenant, Jn. acts and Rmns. He seems to be able to understand the language even though it is a bit more formal than the everyday Somali. Also he is interested in finding out more about these “other” holy books that he is supposed to read as a good Muslim. We are more than excited to help by showing the right texts in the Word.

Thank you for reading and keeping us in your pr@yers, have a great spring week.

Ethan.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015


4-14-15

The Hunt

Well, no luck on the hunt today. Not really “no luck”, but rather no kill today. We left out to the farm at 445am, when we arrived at the farm true dawn had just started and we were geared up to do some hunting. Our goal was to go after warthog and impala. The farm we were hunting on is primarily a dairy, but there are beef there as well as goats, sheep, and yard birds.

Hunting here in Africa is all stalk hunting with spotters and professional hunters as guides, the animals are different from those in the states in that they still have predators here and do not become programmable to clockwork feeding and watering times. The only hunters that set up around “easy” spots such as water holes are those too old to take part in the stalk or too physically unable, and the occasional bow hunter. Seemingly even most bow hunting is done via the stalk here as well.

Early on in the morning we began to spot and see plenty of ostriches, and if we had wanted to there were plenty of easy shots to be had. We approached a watering hole and spooked the troop of vervet monkeys that were there for their morning drink, as we were standing there watching a black-striped jackal was spotted and then ran off before a shot was available. The jackal here is between a red fox and coyote in size and considered by the farmers to be pests. Once finished checking out the watering hole we moved on down the line to an old homestead site, once there we were looking in particular for the hogs to be feeding. As we watched and waited there were tree squirrels among the ruins as well as a black-tailed mongoose. We eventually saw a massive hog across the bush on the next hillside over. He was a truly massive boar. We made our decisions and started or stalk. The distance as a straight shot would have been near to 700 yards, and the walk to him was 15-20 minutes. During our trek a giraffe spotted us from a far hillside and bolted, causing a stir in the animal kingdom of the immediate area. After we were sure that nothing else had spooked or had spotted us we continued on with our stalk of the monster boar.

We trekked to the area where we had last observed his feeding movements, and found his trail as well as plenty of other sign belying his passage. We followed his path through the brush for several hundred yards and thought that he was still quite a ways away when all of a sudden his head popped up 20 feet away and on my left side! (I am a left handed shooter) it appears that he was willing for a few brief moments, but I wasn’t ready. After the missed opportunity we waited for him to calm a bit before we followed in pursuit. He was a large boar and our fellow hunters/ guides weren’t just buttering us up, they were impressed with his bulk. To cut this narrative short it will suffice to say that after much walking and stalking the hog for me was never seen again.

After a water break, we are hunting in a rocky desert-like place by the way, we went to another water hole to see if our luck would present itself for a shot. On our way to the “honey hole” we startled a few impala….a bachelor herd of nearly twenty rams, over half of which were harvestable in size. I threw the rifle up to see them better in the scope and immediately found a ram with perfectly massive horns. Impalas are the ones whose horns rise off of their heads and make the shape of a very graceful lyre. It was a no shot because here you have to use shooting sticks and a spotter to call your shots for you, so we waited for the herd to circle through an area with a shooting lane and made ready the bracing apparatus. Of the whole herd not a single one stopped for a shot while passing through the lane.

                Some may be asking why I haven’t taken a shot yet….the answer is, if you wound an animal and cannot track it you still have to pay full price of the animal as if it were harvested. Which can get pricy in a hurry.  So best to make sure shots.

The impala did this routine several times during the next three hours of tracking and stalking until we finally found where they were standing in the shade. We had the wind in our favor and took steps to find a shot in between the little breaths of wind. The ground was incredibly rocky and the grass was as dry as the hay fields in late august, so the wind helped cover our sound as well as our scent. To line up an incredibly difficult shot took nearly 30-45 min. I had a bit of a shot at 210 yards at a ram with little horns that I passed – I am not familiar with the rifle or its scope. So the shot that I had in the end was a neck to the base of the skull shot at 70 yards, not too difficult, other than the window was a 3 inch square through the brush and aloe Vera plants, and their necks are more slender than my forearms.

I took the shot.

Needless to say, I missed the shot and the animal. I suppose you could say that I bagged a limb or some distant rock, and no tangible reward for my adventure for the day. But I’ll say that I have this story to tell in addition to two very tired feet and the excitement of having stalked impala and warthog in the bush of southern Africa. ( I am not currently in the country of South Africa by the way)

If you don’t kill it you can’t grill it!

It would have been nice to have bagged something while out today, and the opportunity may present itself in some way before we return to the states. If so I know that I will most certainly enjoy the hunt for the sake of nature and the love of the wild.

Until next time,

Ethan S.

Monday, April 13, 2015


Hello from Botswana.
4-13-15
We are here hopefully for only a short time. Our plans are to quickly head back to JoBurg to continue with our teaching and learning there. This little “break” that we have had due to mandatory meetings is one that has happened at a rough time in world issues for our people here. I am sure that the news has reached concerning the tragedy that occurred at the university in Kenya and now the subsequent retaliation that the government therein is taking against the population of refugees living within their borders. This is news that struck my heart and I know it has struck those of our students to the quick.
While we are teaching in JoBurg, our students have family and loved ones in the Dadaab refugee camps. These loved ones are now being faced with being relocated and possibly even forcibly. I know that to the people at home this news may not mean too much or speak too loudly, but I ask you to join with me in pr@ying for this situation and the people affected by it. This movement may go a long way for the sharing of the good news, and I am believing that our relationships and beginning of language learning will be beneficial to helping the people.
This whole situation is a mess and needs plenty of thought and pr@yer. I am hoping that when we get back to Mayfair that we can be put to the best use as possible for the sp. Benefit of the people there.
While here in Botswana I think that we will get the opportunity to partake of some trips into the bush and hopefully get to do some country things, involving hiking and camo. If I am lucky tomorrow I am probably going to posting pictures to FB.
Tonight I am supposed to be leading a study in Jn. for a group of guys that we fellowshipped with on Sunday morning, and the fellowship was phenomenal yesterday. It was very spirit filled and chocked full of great theology. Thank you for reading this and others that I have posted, and thank you for your support physically and spiritually. We as a team are scheduled to do some research work in the area of Durban in a few weeks, we are pr@ying for success with the work and ideas to reach the communities there.
 Ethan S.

Friday, April 10, 2015


4-9-15. update

 
Hello from South Africa, if I can I plan on posting a couple of little videos soon. This week has been devoted to educational meetings for most of the days. The area we are in is beautiful in a rugged and harsh way. If we were to make use of our exodus from the city, then we needed to take initiate of the situation and make journeys during our “free” time that has been scheduled down to the minute. Our meetings are at Gariep dam in South Africa, the scenery is phenomenal, and our meeting hall is completely closed off – the windows are closed and the whole of the hall is covered in sheets, so that the area we are in has no meaning.

So we go in the PM until dark and hike the hills and around the lake, we also went out in the AM yesterday (5-530) in order to hike to the top of one of the mountains before the sunrise. In the recent days I have seen Springbok and Kudu, Foxes (or Jackals), and neat little African Hares. The meetings are beneficial for finding out what is going on in other parts of this portion of the world. In what ways HE is moving and how the servants are working.

It has been really nice to get to talk to people at this meeting, to be able to know where people are working and what they are doing in those areas. Our work in JoBurg has been less in the recent weeks, there have been less guys coming compared to that in the past months. The women are still coming to English classes in droves…but that doesn’t matter for us because of the social differences disallowing the cross gender teaching. The lull in male students has given us time to go out to nearby shops and to talk and start building relationships among other working men.
video

Wednesday, April 1, 2015


4-1-15
Hello from JoBurg and welcome April, and a happy early Easter!
This past week has gone well, even while not being too “adventurous”. I was able to share fairly in depth last week with a friend and I hope that our conversation goes somewhere. The classes have been drastically smaller in the past week with next to no male students showing up to learn. While there have been a few days that I’ve either been too tired or in a funky attitude, and didn’t leave the classroom, there have been many days that I have taken the English as well as conversations to the nearby perfume stall.
The nearby store is a perfumery ran by a few men from Jordan, these guys like to talk when they are not too busy, and I had one of the guys coming to class for a while. I think that there are somewhere around 150 varieties of perfume and cologne that are sold there, all mixed and measured when the choice is made to buy.
I am now sporting a new hairdo, or lack thereof to be more precise.  I had a Somali friend shave my head last Monday, and while it took a few days to regain my sense of self, I think that I really like the new look. (Here people don’t assume that your part of a hate organization when your white and have your head shaved.) The new do is rather cold compared to a little hair on the sides.   
Our team is doing well, as are the little children that are part of the team. The baby, now 7 weeks old, is growing fast and not too fussy. Our team leaders had a child a week and a half after we joined them here, not to confuse anyone.
We are going to a meeting away from the city in the upcoming week and it will be a blessing to have some countryside quiet again, even if it is simply for a few days. Also, as soon as we are finished with the meeting, we have to fly to Botswana in hopes of renewing our visas. Some thoughts and pr@yers would be most welcome.
Thank you for reading this update, and I hope that you keep all of us over here in your thoughts daily.
Ethan