I left the Canary Islands Tuesday evening for my trip to South Africa/Mozambique. It was a long trip, especially when you consider that I had to fly to Madrid first, which doesn't make too much sense considering it isn't in the right direction. It added five hours to my trip but there aren't any affordable direct flights to Johannesburg from Tenerife. I made all my connections, and my baggage arrived safely in Jburg as well. I took a van/minibus (Citibug) to Nelspruit South Africa where I would meet up with Nathan and his family. It was a four hour drive, and I was very tired of sitting by that time.
I had taken an earlier bus to Nelspruit than what I had planned since I got through immigration/customs much quicker than expected, so I arrived three hours early. I didn't think it would be a problem since I had Nathan's cell phone number. I had to find an ATM to change money, then buy a phone card, and figure out how to use the public phones. Even though they speak English in South Africa, they had a difficult time understanding my American accent.
I forgot that things never usually go as smoothly as you think--and for some reason Nathan's cell phone wasn't working that day. After several people helped me try to reach Nathan, I sat on the curb in front of a laundry mat in the hot African sun. After traveling for 24 hours, I was a bit tired and overwhelmed--and couldn't hold back my tears. I probably looked very odd, with my suitcases and sitting there crying. It looked like someone had just dumped me on the sidewalk and I had no where to go. One man must have seen me and took pity on me, inviting me into his laundry mat and let me use his phone--but Nathan's phone still didn't work. Seeing Nathan and the kids pull up was the most welcoming sight! My frustration was quickly forgotten.
We stayed in a very nice guest house in Nelspruit operated by a ministry called Mercy Air. They help missionaries take supplies into remote areas of Africa, and do emergency medical flights as well. I was so thankful for a beautiful place to relax with the family for a few days before we ventured into Mozambique. Nathan and Emily like to stock up on supplies and groceries in South Africa since the prices and selection is much better.
On Saturday we loaded up the car and stuffed like sardines in their 4 door Toyota sedan, and we headed to the border of Mozambique. The immigration office was dirty, smelly, and not very welcoming. I suppose having been a missionary in Mexico helped me be better prepared to deal with the surroundings--it reminded me a lot of Mexico.
In my next post I will tell you more about Nathan's ministry and their every day life in Mozambique.