Tuesday, April 14, 2015


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.
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.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

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.

Saturday, March 21, 2015





Hello again from JoBurg, this week has been packed with interesting events and fun. I have to admit that I have had a bad a bad attitude for most of the week, being tired and moody, all that I can assume is that the novelties are starting to wear off and that spiritual attacks are commencing in earnest. Some of our students have been coming rather infrequently due to the weather, health conditions, and other varied personal reasons ranging from work to being disenchanted with the rate at which they are learning.  

On Wednesday of this week we, the young adults working here, went to a Turkish international school heritage festival. The festival was at the Nelson Mandela Johannesburg Theatre, and was comprised of theatrical displays, song, and dance from 15 different countries. Most of the youth were brilliant in their vocal performances. The point of the display was to promote peace and worldwide unity through the ideals and schooling that is offered by the Turkish schools and learning centers that are popping up all over the globe. The display was awesome, and we were able to see how their widespread view on expanding their “views” is working, there seem to be no qualms with throwing large amounts of free things to local and state gov’s to gain a foothold with the people therein. Here as well as in neighboring countries there have been many building projects as well as community betterment projects.

In the area near the theater there are yet more wonderful little coffee shops, one of personal interest is a little roasting shop called “Double Shot”. This little establishment offers phenomenal coffees from around the world, and are partially owned by the roasters, partially by the farms. There will be some photos to go along with the storytelling. While at this little shop on Wednesday I asked the roaster what I should try instead of simply ordering a random coffee, apparently by asking I was showing that I not only liked coffee I also know a little about it and appreciate more than simply things like syrupy sweet latte’s or cappuccinos. The owners/ roasters/ baristas, (they were all serving in the roles) were excited to have me ask, and to show their excitement led me to inspect their unroasted stock and join in on a cupping of a new bean that they were sampling. I was also given multiple drinks and shots of espresso so that they could show off all their roasts and methods. Needless to say, I think they may have been sampling their stock a little heavily!

Our Thursday experience and Friday was not too eventful, on Saturday morning we went to neighbor-goods market. This market is in downtown Johannesburg and is only open on Saturday mornings. There are elements of a “hipster” atmosphere, with open air music being played in a festive manner, stalls where foodies and chefs are selling hot meals or cold drinks and artisanal meats breads chesses and deserts. The individual stalls were delicious and offered their wares in affordable manners. This market which is located seemingly in an old parking garage is a place for people to go and try tastes of food from around the globe as well as from many of the finest eateries in the city. Of course this is simply my opinion, but the experience was really interesting.

While these experiences are fun to occasionally go out and have, the real reason is to reach out and build relationships here in order to share truth with people. Keep us in your pr@yers as we go out in our weekday job, and as we go about town; that we will be the light in the darkness and the sowers of good seed here in JoBurg.

I am thankful for the safety that my team here as well as I have enjoyed. I am also thankful for the successful surgery that my grandfather went through this week, not all Sp. Attacks come upon yourself, and sometimes those who are loved ones are also attacked in order to stop the work being done in the Kingdom. Thank you for your continued supplication to the father on our behalf here, and I ask you to continue in the good work.

With many thanks and thoughts,


Saturday, March 14, 2015

3-14-15. Pie day!
Hello again as promised yesterday, there is a little more time this afternoon to do some typing and recounting of recent events. This week we had a volunteer team come from the States and work in the different parts of Joburg to see what differing long-term teams do here on a daily basis. The team was large enough to split into several groups so that we only had a handful or so each day.
For the classes, we had the volunteers engage with the students to get a feel for what the teaching was like. The students loved being able to interact with other Merikinkias (Somali for Americans), and to show what they had been able to learn. One of the students that I usually teach has started to ask questions about what we as the teachers believe, in order to classify us I suppose, my answers are totally truthful and said in a way that uses culturally appropriate wording. I am glad that he has begun to question and want to talk, when I tell him where I stand in my beliefs he usually has been puzzled.  This young man realizes that I serve the creator, but I don’t seek the creator through the same path as him. I am hoping that these little comments are the beginning of a deeper seeking that is working within him. Please pr@y for dreams and visions, burning desire for the truth, clarity and the right words and actions to be used. The opportunities that are beginning to present themselves would be wonderful ones to develop further for the growth of the k!ngdom.
This week during the language study time that we had, the volunteer teams went out into the area of Mayfair and Fordsburg to do pr@yerw@lking as well as to interact with the people from all the races and countries that live in those parts of Joburg. We, the students here for six months, are somewhere around 50 hours of quality language study so far. At this stage of learning we are now to start speaking a bit….and boy oh boy is speaking the tongue twisting part! While language learning is mentally and physically exhausting, it is incredibly rewarding to see the reaction when you greet or answer a question in someone’s heart language.
As most people who really know me, know that I have a slight coffee addiction, and I have a weakness of sorts for really good coffees. The place near downtown where we have tended to buy our coffee was a destination that was requested by the visiting team. While there this week I was looking through empty bags that are used to ship the raw coffee from the farms to the roasters, when one of the employees who helps to roast the coffee as well as to make the drinks told me to come back to the area where the raw beans were stored. The man gave me an empty coffee bag from every coffee producing country that they are buying from and currently roasting! Enough bags to decorate a whole room in a house, and completely for free, ha ha! While this story is not important in the grand scheme of our work here, I thought it was necessary to share because it is one of the many little things that I can be excited about.
For the finale of sorts, concerning the post from yesterday, we got the opportunity to tag along with the college team as they went to a nearby animal park. While this park was really neat, it is definitely not one of the game reserves that you see on TV or such! A better description would be one of a farm that is over 3000 acres of pastureland with blocks sectioned off for the predators, but all of the antelope rhinos and wildebeest giraffes and such roam the rest of the farm. There are areas where the most exotic of the predators and herbivores are kept for controlled breeding purposes. I am sure that the place is a privately owned establishment, but they are working to breed endangered species for reserves and zoos around the world. Pretty cool stuff, I find it exciting having worked at a large animal veterinary clinic until just recently. I think that the only critters that were there but we didn’t see them, were the Cape buffalo.
Thank you for taking the time to read this and for keeping us in your pr@yers.

Friday, March 13, 2015

hello again from JoBurg, the week has gone well and has been interesting.

This update is going to be a bit in brief, hopefully I ill have a bit more time to up type a bit tomorrow. But for now, I have a few more photos of interesting critters that I had the opportunity to see today.
This is a 7 month old lion cub that we had the opportunity to pet.

This guy is a 12 yea old Cheetah, and the guy in the park talked me into the goofy pose. But hey, you gotta have photos like this at times!

Here is a White Tiger cub, 4 months old. the place that we went to functions as a park as well as a breeding program for all of the wildlife that they have there.
Enjoy the photos, and soon there will be more to read.