Orange You Glad I Didn’t Say Banana?

PastorSo, this is Pastor. His name is Mlungisi Dlamini to be exact, and yes, I asked. He is a real Pastor. His church is near where we are staying. And the congregation is about 75 people strong. Pastor wears a lot of hats. He preaches at this amazing church, he works with the youth in his community, he recently ran for Parliament (and only lost by 54 votes!), and he is a wonderful part of our adoption agency’s family. Pastor is supposed to be our driver. But he is much more than that. By the end of our first day, I knew he was going to be my very good friend and advisor.

Pastor is teaching me his language. I am teaching him the little Hawaiian that I know — Aloha! He is teaching me interesting little tidbits about life here. I am teaching him knock knock jokes. Badly. (You’re supposed to say banana three times, then orange, not orange three times, then orange again!)

How’s this for an interesting tidbit. Here they call speedbumps, sleeping cops. It just cracks me up.

So, this morning we attended a service at Pastor’s church. It was an eye-opener on many levels. The church was a simple building made of wooden planks with a tin roof. It was insulated by sheets of plastic. Our very soft-spoken friend is a fiery preacher and he was inspiring to listen to and watch. He would preach in English and his wife would translate, all while matching his tone, volume, and intensity. Their words would overlap and weave together and for me, at least, this made the sermon that much more beautiful.

There were about 60 adults and perhaps 2 dozen children in attendance. The children were wonderfully behaved. If they got antsy, they just wandered outside for a bit and wandered back in when they felt like it. The music was beautiful and heartfelt. It was a true place of worship and it was an honor to be there. The only part that was difficult for me was when Pastor asked me go to the front and say a few words. I was so overwhelmed by being there in the first place that I felt choked up the entire time.


One of the little boys that was following me around the church.

After the service, we spent a short time outside talking with Pastor’s wife and some others. We were introduced to a couple from England/Arkansas that are working to build a classroom for Pastor’s church. I’ve been invited back to see school in session. I can’t wait.

At one point during the conversation, I turned slightly to see a group of four boys staring at me. The littlest one walked up to me and took my hand. It was absolutely the sweetest thing. I bent down and introduced myself to each one in turn. They were so shy that they whispered. They really liked my camera and got a huge kick out of picture of a monkey that I showed them. I told Pastor that next week, I need to wear pants to church. I want to play with the children!

I knew this trip was going to be magical. What I didn’t realize was that the magic would start before I even met my daughter.

Exactly How Many Cows Am I Worth?

dancer.africaSo, I have to kill some time before the government authorities will let me meet Luyanda. Today Mom and I visited the Cultural Village. Very fun and somewhat goofy. My mom & I really enjoyed the singing and dancing performance. The tour was interactive whether you felt like interacting or not. Our guide, Albert, would assign the guests various roles such as village chief or first wife and encourage us to act them out. There was one couple from Italy who were rather reserved and didn’t want to pretend. They’d say, no no no, no thank you, and back away. That didn’t stop our guide. He would just continue on with his story, and assign the role to another person. The funny part was, 10 minutes later, he’d tell the Italians that they were some other family members and the whole, no, not us, no thank you, begging off would begin again.

I’m still not catching everything that is said to me the first time I hear it. Sometimes I have to ask people to repeat themselves. Sometimes I don’t realize I’ve misheard. Today, a boy walked by Albert and they exchanged a few words. Albert then teased me in the same way he must tease other women every single day. He said, “that boy over there thinks you are very attractive and would like to offer 7 cows for you!”

I called to the boy, “Only seven? I’m worth at least 8!”

Later on, during the tour, Albert told us all that a bride cost 17 cows. He said this several times and it dawned on me that I had misunderstood that boy’s offer. I had heard Albert say seven cows when actually he had said seventeen! Here I was trying to be cute, when instead, I had responded to the boy’s offer by lowering the price!

You Haven’t Arrived Until You’ve Been Hustled

Day 2 of travel and already it’s been exciting! Left Honolulu on Sunday afternoon for the 8 hour flight to Atlanta. Spent the day sleeping at Hollee’s house! THANKS GUYS! Then met my mom at the airport for our flight to Africa.

When I got on the plane, I asked the attendant how long the flight was. She said, “15 hours and 3 minutes.” I turned to mom and said, “It’s 15 hours, Mom.” And the flight attendant said, “Don’t forget the 3 minutes.”

While I was not excited about the prospect of being on the plane that long, I was looking forward to the movie extravaganza. I had been told that the 777′s have screens in the back of the seats that entertain you the entire flight.

Mom had the whole flight planned out. We would chat until midnight, then she would go to sleep. I planned to watch movie after movie… it would be a treat! We got on the plane and my mother’s screen wasn’t working. Then came an announcement that we would be delayed taking off because the entertainment system was on the fritz.


They ended up rebooting the system twice and got it working after about a 50 minute delay. Well worth the wait in my opinion. I couldn’t imagine 15 hours on a plane without some fictional person’s drama to keep me entertained. And apparently the crew couldn’t imagine it either!

I experienced a tiny thrill after lift-off when I scrolled through the menu and found at least 6 movies that I had missed because date nights are few and far between. We each picked a movie and pressed play and… nothing. The system wasn’t working. We were able to get the monitor in the empty seat between us working, but there was no sound… and the Japanese subtitles didn’t help any.

I have to give the crew a nod of appreciation. They tried. They rebooted that system at least 7 times (I’m no longer a fan of Linux). To no avail.

Believe it or not, it wasn’t that bad. For whatever reason, I arrived feeling pretty good and not a bit achey. It felt more like 10 hours than 15.

When we arrived, we sailed through “passport control” and then flew through customs where the officer who approached me said that Hawaii was a scary place. I just nodded and smiled. I didn’t realize at the time that he was a customs officer, since he talked and walked with me at the same time. I guess that was my inspection.

After we exchanged our currency we were descended upon by the porters. Two guys took our bags without really giving us a choice at all and we trotted along behind trying to make small talk. My guy had never heard of Hawaii. A minute later, we arrived at the shuttle terminal and I hand our guy some money… he pulled out a much larger bill and said, “We’re working the night shift, we don’t take any less than this.” He said that he and his friend would split it.

I hadn’t worked my head around the exchange rate yet so I agreed. When I took out the money he changed his mind saying that they each deserved that amount.

I said, “No, you can share it with your friend like you just said.”

We went back and forth a few times before he shook my hand and said, “a tip is a tip” with a sunny smile and disappeared into the night.

I knew I had been hustled, but I wasn’t sure for how much. Finally did the mental math and realized that I had tipped him a little less than $14 for 60 seconds of chit-chat and pushing a cart. But that’s okay — he was happy. I’m happy now that I realize I didn’t fork over a fortune.

I’ve been duped at least once in every country I’ve ever visited. (In Nepal, Kerry and I got squeezed by a 7-year old.) Just one more little story to add to the many I hope to acquire while on this amazing adventure to get daughter #2.