Sunday, February 22, 2009

Some of the Sights of Gabs

We've had another great week here in Gabs. No tremendously big news this week. Well, I did get my hair cut this week. To some, that may sound like "no big deal". However, when you have short hair like me, if the cut is bad, you can't hide it!!!!!!.....unless you wear a hat. (Which, I have a big floppy hat to wear when I'm outside with the girls.....don't need any more wrinkles!) I digress. Anyway, the hair cut I received was excellent! I am thankful for my stylist back in NC (Hi Kim!!) but am thankful to have found someone while here. She was recommended by a friend. So, all those who wondered, "WHO will cut your hair?" No worries. I'll be taken care of. :-)

Many have emailed and asked, 'Just what does Gaborone look like?" Well, it depends on where you look. Like any city in the US, you've got areas that are poverty stricken, and you've got other areas that are wealthy --- and then there are the 'in-between' areas. Downtown Gabs where the dignitaries live is called 'the Beverly Hills of Gabs'. I don't have a picture of that area for you to see in this posting. For now, here are just a few pictures taken on our way to church this morning. There are so many other areas I want you to "see" as well. I'll be working on getting additonal pics.

A neighborhood in Gabs. In the neighborhoods, there aren't sidewalks. Many of the houses have the high walls. Everything is very green now. We are still in our rainy season. It is still summer.

A typical intersection in Gabs. Notice the 'No U-Turn' sign. And what else do you notice....anything unusual about the side of the road we're driving on? Yes, we drive on the left. (By the way, I'm getting more and more used to that.)

We're still behind the same blue truck. Again, notice the road signs - one for pedestrian crossing, the other is a yield sign. When we first arrived, it was really, really odd to see blue and red road signs. And the speed limit signs are just round with the number (in kilometers) --- still blue and red. Sorry, don't have a picture this time of one of those. One more thing to point out....see how some of the tall grass has been cut? The grass isn't cut with machines...but by hand. Laborers use machetes to cut the tall grass.

This is a house in a nice neighborhood, which is full of homes with walls around them. This house does not have a wall around it, but a make-shift fence. The yard is mostly dirt. This type of home is made of cinder block, and has no air conditioning. One is thankful for a nice breeze on hot days, and some cold water to drink.

To change gears on you a bit - this is part of the front of the church where we worshipped again this Sunday (Open Baptist Church). The pastor who spoke today (Joel Carwile from Valley View Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky) is here on a missions trip - teaching at this week's Pastor's Conference - which is being hosted by Open Baptist Church. Pastors from Southern Africa - Zimbabwe, Zambia and Botswana - were in the service today - to participate in the Pastor's Conference this week. Hearing these pastors introduce themselves was beyond words - to see with my own eyes the men who are leading flocks of their own back in their countries and towns. Listening to Pastor Joel teach was a treat - it was good to hear his American pronunciations. He is originally from northern Alabama. S met him before the service. We found out Pastor Joel is indeed an Auburn fan. WAR EAGLE!

The other amazing discovery is that 38 nationalities are represented in those who worship at Open Baptist Church. As the Senior Pastor said today, "Just look around you....this is what heaven will be like.....all races and nationalities singing and praising the Lord together!!!"

This is one of the Sunday School classes. Classes are held outdoors under the canopies. The children have class while the adults are in the worship service. Our girls will be attending SS for the first time next Sunday. They are a bit nervous and excited at the same time.

This is a typical sight in Gabs; using an umbrella to shield the hot sun while walking. These ladies had been in the worship service with us.

This is the road to church. The paved road ended and the dirt road began. Interesting thing I found out this week. The location of the church used to be a restaurant. Hmmm......sounds familiar.....a church using an existing building and turning it in to a place of worship to glorify the Lord!!! Awesome.

OK - changing gears again. This picture was taken on the way to downtown Gabs. This sign means "No Stopping".

A couple of the buildings/businesses in downtown Gabs. I forget what these businesses are - but the buildings look like something you would see in the US.

Lastly, this is a picture of one of the mosques in Gabs. As the girls and I are studying and learning about Africa in school, we've learned that it is not uncommon for Africans to embrace several religions. They may go to a Protestant church service on Sunday, and also attend Muslim or other services during the week as well.

Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life.
No one comes
to the Father except through me." John 14:6

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Girls in Gabs

This is a picture taken of the girls (posing!) in the wall cut-out, which is in the wall between the foyer and living room. Too cute not to take a picture. They say it is comfortable to sit there...for short periods of time. I just tell them not to fall on their head when they climb out!

Our school room is also our office. Very handy to have the computer where you 'do school' least it is for us anyway. We had the same set up back at home. Our 'stuff' hasn't arrived yet....but we're told it is on a ship headed our way! (We expect to have the shipment delivered around mid-April.) So, we don't have our school table and chairs the girls like the relaxed environment of laying on the floor or sitting in the recliner. It doesn't do much for the handwriting portion of their lessons...but that's OK for now. :-) We have a HUGE...I mean HUGE map of the world on one of the school room walls. The previous occupants of the house put up the map. The map makes our geography lessons so much more fun!!! In the pic - R is pointing to Gabs. Should have had B point to NC. Yep, that's quite a distance between NC and Gabs. That's why I'm SOOOO thankful for technology!

We went to church for the first time today since leaving NC. I've really missed the fellowship with other believers. Going to church today was so wonderful. I was so excited to be singing with my fellow brothers and sisters-in-Christ. (Even when some of the songs were in Setswana!) The church is called Open Baptist Church. The pastor teaches the Word of God and doesn't 'water it down'. Today's teaching was from Isaiah 6:1-8...the passage where Isaiah sees the Lord and says "Woe is me!!! I am a man of unclean lips".....and God says "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?"....and Isaiah says "Here am I. Send me." This is one of my favorite passages. Many years ago - when I was in my early teens I guess, I was scared to death the Lord would one day send me to some strange, faraway place.......LIKE AFRICA!!!!!!! Well, here I am in Africa - and am not scared. I am at perfect peace. This is where the Lord has our family. I just want to be shining for Him, sharing His love and compassion with the people of Botswana.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Cereals, Milk and Biscuits....Oh My!

I thought you might be interested in 'seeing' some of the products we use here - they are a bit different from what we are accustomed to in the US. FYI - everything here is metric - volume, distance, speed limit. Our currency is the Pula. I'll write more about that in another post.

Milk here typically is packed in 1 litre containers - and is not refrigerated. This gives the milk a longer shelf life. The girls go through one of these a day. (We do refrigerate the milk so it is nice and cold before drinking.) You can find refrigerated milk in larger containers (equivalent to about a half-gallon - but the girls don't like the taste (brand). The brand they like is Clover. Milk here does not taste quite the same as back in NC. We are thankful to have found a brand the girls like. They love their milk!

Saturday is our 'sweet cereal day'. The girls have 'regular' cereal during the Corn Flakes (which is the favorite here in Gabs), or Rice Krispies or our other favorite 'Oatmeal Crisp' (which you cannot find we ordered some from Amazon!). (Ordering groceries through Amazon is quite normal for us 'foreigners'.)

Coco Pops is like Coco Rice Krispies....and is R's favorite sweet cereal.

Another favorite item here in Gabs are 'biscuits', not cookies. These 'Marie Biscuits' are one of our favs. We've also found the Southern Africa version of chocolate chip cookies. A store called 'Woolworths' sells them. Just about all the products we buy are imported from South Africa.

This is another yummy cookie (biscuit)....shortbreads. Don't you just love the name??!!! Eet-sum-mor.

You won't find Keebler or other brands of crackers (like saltines) here either. The closest we've found is these...called 'Salticrax'. The name is funny...but the crackers are really good. I ate a lot of these when we first arrived...until I 'adjusted' to the different flavors in the foods and such.

As a Vegan friends will get a kick out of this...I am now drinking soy milk. In the States I drank lastose-free milk. Love my milk. Well, you can't find lactose-free milk here...anywhere. I've looked and looked. I did find a lactose-reduced milk. Tasted funny. Soy milk it is for me. Comes in 1 litre cartons, just like the girls. I'm glad to have found a substitute.

Thanks for reading....hope this wasn't too boring.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Some Things Never Change

Hello from Gabs! Some things never the girls building and playing under a home-made fort. Amazing what you can do with a blanket and heavy books...and a great imagination! The girls loved to make 'forts' in their rooms back at they enjoy making forts in their new the living room where there is plenty of space.

We are settling in to life in Gabs. The weather here is great!!! The season is changing to the days are getting cooler...and the humidity is decreasing greatly. The lows are in the low 60s with highs in the low 80s...and a wonderful, refreshing breeze. Just wonderful. Feels like spring back in NC. Sorry we missed all the snow back at home. The girls were bummed to have missed that...but the snow in Germany made up for that.

We're getting in to a good routine. School in the morning, and finishing up after lunch - then off to run errands in the afternoon, or play outside or in the pool. Our school days are shorter than before we left, since we're waiting on the remainder of our school books to get here.

Many have been asking about our house. Here are a couple of pictures of the front - one half, and then the other. (I haven't figured out how to use the 'stitch' feature on my camera yet to make one big panoramic pic.) The house is a single-story (which is common for Gabs), and it is L-shaped. The main parts of the house (living room/family room, dining room, sunroom, kitchen, laundry room, office are all in the front part, and the bedrooms are in the other part). Don't see many two-story homes here. I really like living in a single-story home. When the girls are in the front living room, and I'm in the 'back' in one of the bedrooms, I can't easily hear them. That can be good or bad - depending on what they're up to. :-)

For those who look closely at the pics, yes there are bars on the windows. That is standard for many of the homes around here. We also have a high wall around our 'compound', as it is called - with a remotely controlled gate. At the top of the wall is an electric fence. Sounds scary, but it really isn't. This is 'the norm' for living in Gabs. As a new friend here told me, "Eventually, when you look out your windows, you will not notice the bars." She was so right. Recently, as I was looking out the kitchen window, I was in awe of the beautiful sunset - and didn't notice the bars. You just get used to it. Also, we have a long, curved driveway (bricked) that the girls enjoy playing 'tennis' or frisbee on. They look forward to when their bikes and scooters arrive! Oh, and we have a pool in the backyard, too. :-)

For those who have mini-vans - and remember me saying "I don't want a mini-van, I like my 4-door sedan..." Well, yours truly is now driving a Honda Odyssey minivan. This one was made in Japan - thus it doesn't have the typical sliding rear doors, but has car-like doors, AND the steering wheel is on the right side of the car. Here are a couple of pics - and no, those 'uh ohs' on the van were not made by us....but the previous owners. Fits right in with the other cars here!

At times I still can't believe I'm living in Africa! A year ago we had NO CLUE we would be where we are now. I am so thankful that the Lord is in control of our lives, that HE knows what the future holds for us, and that HE reveals HIS plans for us in HIS perfect timing. Our desire is to walk in obedience to His leading. We know His ways are perfect. His ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts.

Friday, February 6, 2009

The Blog is Up!!!

Greetings from Germany!!!! (At least for today anyway...tomorrow we head back to Botswana.) Yes, we'll be leaving the snow, majestic mountains and mild/cold temps for lots of sunshine and 90 degree temps. We've had a great week this week - but are looking forward to heading back to our home (our temporary home for the next 2 years).

I'm totally new to this whole blogging thing...but think I will really enjoy it. For those of you who are veteran bloggers....feel free to share tips and tricks with me as I learn.

I've posted a bunch of pics on Facebook of our time in Botswana so far - and of the time we've spent in Germany so far this week. But, I'll post them here as well. Enjoy the pics.

Feel free to follow our blog....we thought 'SHINNanigans' was an interesting title. We're full of mischief at times. :-) Never know what those Shinns are up to....or where the Lord will lead them next! Every day is an adventure. For now, we are right where the Lord wants us to be. And that is the BEST place to be. We miss our family and friends back home in the US tremendously.....but are so, so thankful for the technology at our fingertips to keep us connected.

I think I'll post the pics in seperate entries - so it will hopefully make sense....going from the present - back to our arrival in Botswana.

Tours - Neuschwanstein Castle, Wieskirche church, Ammertal wood carving shop

On Thursday, Feb. 5, the girls and I were mesmerized by our day tour to see the castle, church and wood carvers shop.

About 35-40 others from our resort were also on the tour. We traveled by bus first through a bit of Austria (we're just 30 miles north of Austria), then back in to Germany. Our first stop was the Neuschwanstein Castle. We were not allowed to take pictures inside the castle. The castle is still furnished with the ORIGINAL furnishings, including drapery, upholstered furniture and other fabric coverings!!!!! All was in great condition....considering it is over 137 years old!!!!! Please go to this site to get more details and see pictures of the castle. It was absolutely breathtaking. I would have loved to have had more time to take in the beauty of each room. The art work and wood carvings were not like anything I've ever seen before. The vote was unanimous for the girls and me....our most favorite rooms were the Throne Room and King Ludwig II's bedroom. As you read the history of the castle, you will learn that King Ludwig died before the castle was completed. The throne room was never doesn't have a throne. Construction stopped when King Ludwig died.

Neuschwantein Castle Pics

Wieskirche Church - (Church in the Meadow)

Sunday, February 1, 2009

On the Way to Germany

Yes, I'm posting 'backwards' on the blog. I wanted to get the most recent stuff up (since it is the stuff I remember more easily!!!!) and then 'back track' to when we first got to Gabs (Gaborone is often called's just easier to say).

We left for Garmisch, Germany - in the state of Bavaria, last Saturday, whatever date that was...Jan. 31st? (I don't have a calendar in front of me at the moment....and since I'm on vacation....I can't keep up with the day of the week either.....or is that just my age showing??!!! HA)
Anyway, we left Saturday afternoon...and arrived the next day. We had an overnight flight from Jo'burg to Munich...then took a train down to Garmisch. We used a plane, train and a taxi to get here. Reminds me a bit of the Steve Martin movie "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" least the title anyway.

These are pics of us on our way to Germany.