Life in Africa Feb. 2007

Feb. 11, '07
Hello from hot, humid South Africa and Mozambique.  This is the way I remember it on all the missions trips we used to make to Moz. before we moved here. We used to come in Jan. and Feb. which is the hottest time of the year here and then return to Canada at the coldest time of the year there. Not a good idea!
We were in Moz. at the end of January, visiting the main missions base near Maputo. It had already been very hot in Nelspruit before we left so I knew it would be worse there and it was. It was 120 F. (that's 50 C.) and humid as well. Sweat continually running down your back as well as running out of your hair, down your forehead and into your eyes. Now I understand the function of a 'sweatband'. Unbelievable! But there is usually a wind which is a lifesaver. Keith had opportunity to teach a couple of classes in the Bible School for the national pastors. And as always we were available to minister to the missionaries on an individual basis.
We had the privilege of going with one of our missionary friends to see a new center she has opened in downtown Maputo where she works with prostitutes. Katy is an amazing lady who has had this ministry for many years. She and her staff have plenty of horror stories to tell along with stories of God's redeeming grace. Prostitution is big business in any major city of the world and trying to interfere with that puts her in constant danger. But the Lord's protection comes in many ways. Some of the street people actually look out for her and offer protection at times. She's doing a wonderful work there.
We had a very interesting trip across the border this time as well. We usually go by bus or with other missionaries who happen to be going at the same time since we still can't take our car across the border. We bought this car a year ago now privately and still do not have the official ownership documents. Technically the car is still in the name of the previous owner although we have a temporary permit for S.A. only. It could be impounded if we tried to take it across the border. Keith has been to the office so many times he stopped counting at about 15 and that was months ago. He goes and stands in a long lineup with everyone else and then they tell him they don't know what the problem is but that it takes a long time to get your documents from Pretoria! Of course, the documents have arrived in their office twice now but they never contacted us by phone as they were supposed to do, just sent the papers back to Pretoria again. Nothing is on computer and they won't even make a phone call to the offices in Pretoria. They just say "Come back next week". This is typical life in a 3rd world country.
However, there was an Iris vehicle (registered in Moz.) that had been over here for repair and needed to be driven back so we were asked to drive it. That was nice since it saved us the bus. We made sure to get all the necessary documents etc. and set off for the border. Got through the first checkpoint with all the papers without problem. But then as we were leaving the gate the guard stopped us and sent us back to the office saying there was a problem with the # on the car.  So back we went and Rachel and I sat in the car praying while Keith talked to the guard who was looking over the vehicle. He seemed a bit more than serious and finally took Keith down the stairs to the police station. After another 15 minutes Keith and the guard and a policeman came back. The policeman seemed quite serious, opened the hood and the door and started looking for numbers on the vehicle. He had a clipboard which he kept consulting along with someone on the phone. In the midst of all the Zulu I caught enough English words to understand they were looking for a stolen car.
Finally after another 15 minutes or so the policeman said to the guard (in English) "No this is not the car we're looking for. It fits this description and has this license number but the motor number is different!" Then they led Keith back downstairs to get the papers they were holding for the car.  More time passes and finally Keith appears again and we are free to go through the next checkpoint without any more trouble.
Only after we were well inside Moz. and on the road again did we hear the full story. After the police and the guard decided this was not the car they were looking for they lightened up and started joking around with Keith. The guard said to him "Well, you're a lucky man. I was looking forward to putting the cuffs on you". Then they went back into the police station and one of them asked "What do you do!" to which Keith replied "I'm a pastor." "A pastor!" said the guard, "Well come over here and pray for this man. He needs prayer!" And he led him to another policeman who pulled down his shirt collar revealing a large ugly bruise likely caused from a fight. So Keith laid hands on the policeman and prayed for him, retrieved the car documents and bid them all goodbye!
And that's only one of the reasons I request prayer every month when we cross the border. There are many things that can happen. Just when you think they are all asleep and not checking anything at all, they will spend a long time looking through a passport and grilling someone on small details. Our next monthly trip is scheduled for the end of this month and a few days into March. We always appreciate the prayer covering.
We had a visit recently from friends we had not seen for 5 years. Some of you would know Craig and Tina Pero from Kingston. They are now living in S. Korea doing missions work and teaching English. Two weeks ago they were in S.A. visiting friends and taking a holiday in Kruger Park. Since we live at the foot of Kruger they spent a few days with us as well. It was wonderful to be with them again.
That's about all the news from here. It's a slower time of the year. With the heat it seems that everything and everyone just slows down out of necessity. Bodies and mind's begin to shut down - I think it's a safety mechanism :) I've just checked the temperature outside and it's 115 F (around 43C ) here in Nelspruit today. Thankfully our house stays relatively cool even without air conditioning. It's usually between 80 and 90 indoors.
Thanks to all of you for your faithful prayers for us. Please prayerfully, consider before the Lord how you might be of help to us in the work of the ministry.
Keith, LaQueta and Rachel Paul