Friday, November 23, 2007

Signs of the Times

Recently our lectionary reading was from Luke 21 concerning signs at the end of the age. There are parallels in Matthew and Mark as well, all encouraging vigilance and discernment. Well, what applied then applies now. Al Gore has a passion for investigating and giving out information on the reality of the effects of global warming, and future consequences. Here are some images for you to reflect on - seriously - and then be vigilant. What will you do if you see them?? Please let me know - your ideas might be helpful to others as well.

Perhaps we can get together for a feast?!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Simple Solutions

I read quite a while ago an account of how the Americans had spent a lot of time, effort and money on researching the manufacture of a pen that could be used up in space - and then discovered that the Russians used pencils!

Eugene (the missionary we support in Mocambique) was telling us how well the Ndau version of the Jesus Film was being received and understood in the region in which he ministers (compared to the Shona version - Shona being a related language). After a showing of the film and time of ministry with the leaders in the area, one man expressed his desire to give his life to the Lord but said that he was in the process of taking a third wife, and wanted to know how this would affect his decision. Eugene asked why he was acquiring another wife, to which he replied that his first wife was getting old, his second wife had children, and so he needed another wife to work in the fields. Eugene then asked why he didn't just hire a worker - to which there was a stunned silence. And then the elders started laughing - and then Eugene said he 'clicked', and expressed what was not being said by the others: it wasn't about having someone to work in the fields - it was about having sex. Typical fallen humanity - trying to cover up the real issue at hand with something that seems more acceptable or reasonable.

I learned the other day that donkeys are very territorial and will defend their territory and all that is connected to it 'viciously'. Thus, one of the cheapest and most effective ways of defending one's sheep from predators like caracal or jackal is to have a donkey with the flock. Some farmers put out dogfood pellets for the jackal - which helps of course to prevent them from tring to feed off the flock. And this is better than shooting them out - which in turn would cause an increase in caracal attacks, because the caracal prey on the jackal. A seemingly simple way of keeping the balance and succeeding in a farming venture.

Another agricultural 'trick' - this time with a pest like the stalk-borer that is the bane of any mealie farmer's life - is to use a sort of 'push-pull' system, in which a plant which repels stalk-borer is planted between the rows of mealies, and a plant that would attract stalk-borer is planted on the perimeter. The mealies are happy, the stalk-borers are happy, and of course the farmer is happy - and the consumers would also be happy to not pay for imported maize.

Have we become so technically minded that we are no longer able to think of simple solutions?
Do we, perhaps, imagine that the simple solutions are not good enough - much like the lady who asked if she wanted a local anaesthetic before having her tooth filled said indignantly that she would prefer the international kind!? Do we think that we have to go to great expense in our endeavours to overcome difficulties in life? With all the visual media and aids to understanding that are available to us - are we perhaps forgetting how to really think? I wonder!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Footloose and Fancyfree

I'm getting itchy feet. It's not a new condition but has reappeared due to the various travels of my youngest son, Paul. Having promoted all his subjects as first year medical student at Tukkies, he has no exams to write and had a stretch of 3 months to 'chill' from mid-October. One week playing computer games etc, followed by one week visiting brother Ian in Nelspruit.
This picture was taken when he visited Ian towards the end of Ian's Internship year (2005)

Then another week visiting brother Allan in Somerset West. Allan and Paul seen here together on Christmas Day 2006, just before Allan left to commence his Internship in Uitenhage - from whence he has transferred to Somerset West.
And now, after a week of planning and booking, off to visit cousin Nicky in Edinburgh along with her two children, Matthew and Lucia - pictured here with Paul. He'll be there for 3+ weeks - visiting other friends and family as well, and fitting in a Haggis Tour of Scotland too. What has actually caused of the recurrence of my itchy feet is that I have been doing some of the bookings - and I am not travelling anywhere - and my system feels that that is a great injustice! Since I last went overseas with Paul on a soccer tour to England at the end of his Gr.7 year, travel seems to have become even easier. Booking and making payments of International and local flights and tours via the Internet from the convenience of the computer corner at home - and printing the various tickets straight away; no more booking of and waiting for traveler's cheques - just get an International Travel Card for a mere cost of R50, load it up with foreign currency from your account and off you go - a great saving in bank costs; even London transport options can be explored and maps printed out in advance - so he already is at ease concerning how to get from Heathrow to Gatwick.
I'm going to have to do some serious thinking about travel plans for myself. I did go to Mozambique with the Outreach Team for two weeks in July, and I spent a week with a very close friend in Barberton. But does that count as travel? - no, not really - hmmmm!!

A Different Kind of Moses?

If Moses had demanded cash, perhaps the journey through the wilderness would have been differently recorded?

From The Financial Gazette, 8 November

Governor: Why we believed n'anga

Clemence Manyukwe, Staff Reporter

A senior government official has revealed why government officials ignored advice that a rock could not produce refined diesel. A strong belief in spirit mediums convinced top officials, including members of the Presidium to authorise expenditure of $5 billion in taxpayers' money on a woman who claimed to have powers to cause diesel to flow from a rock. The advice was given by a number of people, including Cabinet ministers, who had expressed scepticism over Nomatter Tagarira's claims, that she could induce diesel from a rock at Muningwa hills in Chinhoyi by pointing her "sacred stick" at it. The Financial Gazette established this week that police have recovered $3 billion of the $5 billion that government paid to Tagarira alias Mavhunga alias Sekuru Dombo. In an interview yesterday, Mashonaland West governor Nelson Samkange, who is believed to have been one of a group of senior officials involved in selling the diesel story to President Robert Mugabe, confirmed that advice for the government to proceed with caution were ignored. "There are reasons (why the advice was ignored). The government and the President believe in African culture, we believe in spirit mediums. She said the diesel was coming from our ancestors, so we had to pursue it," said Samkange. "The second reason is the current fuel problems. If we had not pursued it, she was going to blame the government."

The other reason was that in the initial stages, those who were sent to collect samples from Tagarira came back with "pure diesel", but it later turned out that the fuel was not coming from the rock. Instead, it emerged that diesel bought from truck drivers was poured into a tank rigged with pipes, from which Tagarira drew the fuel, thus duping government officials into believing that it flowed from a sacred rock. Samkange said if prosecutors asked him to be a state witness in Tagarira's trial, he would be keen to testify against her as she had taken the government for a ride. In addition to the $5 billion the government also gave Tagarira a farm, a farmhouse and food among other rewards. Court documents seen by The Financial Gazette this week show that police had recovered $3 billion of the amount showered on the n'anga. On Tuesday, Tagarira appeared at Chinhoyi magistrates court and was remanded in custody. Resplendent in new prison garb – distinguishing her from other detainees – she seemed crippled with fear as she walked into court. She faces charges under the Criminal Law (Codification Reform) Act for fraud or alternatively, for being a "criminal nuisance." The state says in court papers that as a result of the misrepresentation by the accused, national interests were compromised, resulting in human and material resources being wasted.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Brain Works

Inspired by Wessel's pictures of the brain (see Wessel on my links), I thought someone (you?) might like to investigate the working of his/her (your) brain. Check out this link to Brain Works, download the Brain Works quiz, and be intrigued!