Executive Director, Pastor Joel Saint's Diary
October 28, 2017
Toby Grater

Our Executive Director, Pastor Joel Saint's diary on his trip to South Africa

Newest posts are at the top. Scroll down for previous posts.

Last South Africa and Zimbabwe trip post: Tuesday, 11/8/2017, around 3:00 AM (or
so I reckon), somewhere above what looks like Nova Scotia

At least it appears to be Nova Scotia; there is this screen about six rows in front of
me that displays a graphic that shows the progress of the flight. Maybe we’re above
Greenland or something, I don’t know; I actually don’t recognize the landmasses.
What was nice about this flight (from Dubai to JFK was that I have three seats all to
myself. So, I was able to get some good sleep by lying down (trust me, that is a
serious luxury on a trans-ocean flight) across the three seats.
I am super grateful for the wonderful mercies of God: Hardly any jetlag, no sickness,
wonderful weather, opportunities to speak, getting to know other believers, good
food, and tremendous Christian fellowship; well, it could not have gone any better!
While it’s not quite over yet (Audrey will be picking me up at JFK), I absolutely have
no complaints. Of course, my hosts, Charl and his family, along with Cozmore, have
been a big part of that.
Most surprising: I’ve been in Africa for ten days and only received one mosquito bite
that I know of. How about that!
It’s a little weird travelling on a plane for a long distance: You just sit, which would
seem to make it easy to read, but I struggle with that. For some reason, it’s not so
easy for me to concentrate while reading a theology book while flying.
The steward just came by with a glass of pineapple juice: Excellent, hits the spot.
OK, that was weird: The “EXIT” sign just lit up. Now why would the exit sign light up
at 35,000 feet above sea level? Anyway, things seem just as smooth as ever, so no
worries, apparently.
I want to tell you a little more about Cozmore. He is Charl’s right-hand man on the
ground in Zim. While Charl basically raised the funds for the recently concluded
weekend retreat at Hwange Game Preserve, it was Cozmore who put the details
together. It was work: He had to travel hundreds of kilometers, deal with
incompetent bureaucrats, handle funds, and sort of regulate who was to come to this
weekend retreat, all the while attending to his young wife (he was married this past
April) who is pregnant with their first child, due this January.
It is a bad thing, but many Africans have very little (if any) sense of time. But
Cozmore is a young man who is seriously on his game: He picked us up a the airport
right on time, and drove Charl and me around for the entire weekend, seeing to our
accommodations etc. And always right on time. In addition, very unusual again, he is
starting a business raising chickens, and told us that in a couple of week he will be
able to purchase double the amount of his previous flock, which he has already sold.
Again, rather unusual in Africa, but wonderful so see.

And speaking of Africa, work, etc., on the way back from Hwange, we passed a huge
soccer stadium. Cozmore told us that it holds 60,000 people! He said that many, if
not even most of the fans come to the games and get hopelessly drunk.
Now, consider this: The only currency worthy of the name in Zim is US dollars. The
people are poor, certainly by our standards. But have you ever noticed that no
matter how ‘poor’ you think you are, it seems you always have $$ for the things you
really want?
You know, like buying tickets for soccer games and getting drunk. That cost money.
Meanwhile, you don’t have the means to care for you family! But you watch, we
seem to have the same issue here in the US: Everyone seems to have the means to
help them do what they really want to do.
OK, I’m getting super tired again; I’ll try to get some more sleep now.
Approximately 6:30 AM, above Canada
I got a chance to get some sleep, and just had a pretty good breakfast of an omelet
and a croissant. The passenger in front of me is watching “Mary Poppins.”
I actually awoke to a somewhat startling situation: A woman was talking, almost
shouting, but not quite, saying something “Ba-ba- ba-ba- ba…” and I couldn’t make
out the rest of what she was saying. Shortly after that, I heard a baby crying, and
then I heard the woman crying. A steward showed up, people stood up to look, and I
heard talking in a different language. I asked another passenger what was up, and
she said that the baby had woken up with a seizure.
By this time, the baby was still crying, but things seemed far calmer. I don’t know,
but I think that after an experience like that, that hearing a baby cry is actually a
good thing.
Speaking of stewards/stewardesses, I have been observing just how hard that work
really is. Pulling heavy food carts around, bending over, organizing the drinks on the
food carts, chatting up the passengers, and smiling, always smiling. I could almost do
this job except for the ‘always smiling’ part.
Anyway, I couldn’t help but think how foolish it is for the state to mandate wages, as
if the bureaucrats some know more than the employer and the employee. The
benefits to this job are not in the money so much as they are in other aspects like the
travel. The actual amount of monetary compensation is only one aspect of the job
satisfaction equation.
But the state can’t regulate all aspects of employee compensation, so they regulate
what they can: Wages. But they can never regulate job satisfaction, job security, or
other non-tangible benefits. Actually, I just spoke w/ a very capable steward, and he

told me that his favorite part of the job was hearing customer feedback is his
favorite part of the job, and that yes, they do actually get paid comparatively little,
but that there are many other benefits, again, like hearing positive comments from
the passengers.
I see the sun is just appearing over the horizon to my left, so I figure we are headed
straight south. My TV screen says we have 56 minutes until we land at JFK. So, I’ve
travelled over 20,000 miles in a matter of two weeks.
But… When Carey first travelled to India from England, I think the entire trip took
more than a year, if I recall correctly.
What a difference.
Can’t wait to get back home and see my wife, grandkids, and kids.
In that order.
I’ll try to send off this last blog post after we land at JFK, where I should get good
WIFI service. To whoever it was that has kept up with reading this blog, thank you!
And, your feedback is most welcome, be it by written or oral communication!
OK, I’m home now, and up at 1:30 AM; slept earlier today, but awake now, guess I’m
just getting over the last bit of jetlag.
Thank you again!

**********

Victoria Falls Airport, 9:15 AM, Monday, 11/6/2017
I’m back from two days of ministry at what we have been calling a camp for adults;
here in the US, we would more likely call it a Retreat. Charl and I will have to board
our plane to Capetown in about 30 minutes. Tomorrow, then, I’ll fly back to the US.
Anyway, we got there late Friday afternoon after a trip of about two hours. It should
have taken less time than it did, but it seems like you are dodging various cows,
sheep, goats, and even donkeys that occasionally wander out on to the road and gum
things up.
But none of those are as bad as the police stops. Thankfully, we were detained only
once by the police even though there were three ‘official’ stops. Our driver, Cozmore
(I’ll tell you more about him later) got questioned rather directly about his
occupants (Charl and me). Cozmore told him that he was transporting missionaries.
“No you are not,” replies the police officer, “You are transporting tourists.” I guess he
so figures because Charl and I are white. “No,” replies Cozmore, “In fact, I am also a
missionary, and we are on our way to do mission work.”
“Impossible,” returns the officer, “You cannot be a missionary, because you are
black.” I guess he figures that being black and being a missionary are mutually
exclusive conditions.
Now, even though TIA, you really have to be struck by the logic here: Cozmore can’t
be a missionary because he is black, but Charl and I must be tourists because we are
white. Cozmore can’t be a missionary because he is black, but Charl and I must be
tourists because we are white. Anyway, the officer then went on to berate Cozmore
because he did not have some kind of a proper license plate that authorized him to
transport tourists.
Yes, it is the personal business of the country of Zimbabwe to be sure that its
citizens have a proper license to transport a couple of white guys a couple of
hundred kilometers.
O, and one more thing here: While this exchange between Cozmore and the officer
was going on, I could sense that something wasn’t exactly copacetic, but Charl
understood more than I did. The situation really did not look good. So Charl says to
me, “Imprecatory prayer time.” About a minute or two later the officer left us drive
off without squeezing us for any money, which is what he wanted the whole time.
Once again, we’ve thrown out God’s Law and have replaced it with man’s law. God’s
law is in a book, the Bible, and it is written and finished. Man’s law, or laws, on the
other hand, are an open loose-leaf notebook, and there is no end to the nonsense
they can come up with.

I’ve got to go; I will tell you more about Cozmore a little later. I’ll also tell you how
the weekend camp went with the folks from the village of Gwaai River. It was an
excellent weekend; more later.

 

**********

Thursday, 11/2/17, 10:30 AM, Capetown
I’ll be headed off to Zimbabwe (or “Zim” as they say around here) with Charl in about 30
minutes. We’ll fly out of Capetown in about 2 hours.


Thursday, 11/2/17, 3:30 PM, in flight above SA/Zim
I got interrupted while I was writing earlier, and am just getting back to it now. It has been a
pleasant flight so far on Air Kenya.
OK, so Charl has been telling me that things don’t run in Africa like they do in the states.
When things go south, their saying is, “Well, TIA (This is Africa). But actually things have
been running pretty well so far, but today I got a chance to see what he was talking about:
Out tickets (to Zim) stated clearly that we to board at Gate A-6. Well, we hung out for a bit,
then headed for Gate A-6. Makes sense, right?
Well, maybe not. As we waited at Gate A-6, something didn’t seem right. Like, there was
almost no one waiting there with us at Gate A-6 not right. Finally, with about 40 minutes to
go, Charl asked the attendant at the gate what was up? He was then informed that our gate
location had been changed: We were now boarding at Gate B-3.
We headed that way. Charl was, um, glad he asked. As was I. Would anyone have told us
what we needed to know in a timely manner? Who knows?
Next, we get on the plane, which was (and is) fine, but here’s a funny thing: If you’ve ever
flown on a commercial jet, you know that there is a curtain that hangs between the economy
seating (where we are, of course) and first class. Well, normally that curtain is hung nicely
and securely, right?
Not this time. From my seat, I can see right past the curtain all the way to the front of the
plane, as the haphazard way this curtain is hung, it almost looks like it is barely hanging on.
It looks kind of like how the blankets are hung when one of the kids wants to make a fort
out of his bunk bed.
Hopefully, the pilots and mechanics who are responsible for this jet plane function in a
more…let’s see now… focused manner.
So now, the stewardess just handed to me an “Immigration Declaration” Form. What’s this?
Looks like I’ve got to fill out this form for the buereaucrats who wish to know my
downsittings and my uprisings upon my landing in Zim. Flight number, nationality, name of
my host in Zim, and even how much cash I’m carrying. Downright annoying.
What are they worried about? I don’t know. Whatever you do, don’t complain. Sit down,
shut up, and fill out the form.
TIA.
Talk later, after I’ve filled out the form…

**********

Wednesday, 11/1/17, 9:00 AM, Capetown, SA
Alright, now I have a few minutes, and I can resume my blog work again; sorry for
the 3 day delay here! But, I have a few minutes; Charl is picking me up in around an
hour to take me to Frontline Fellowship’s admin office, where I will be speaking to
the staff for about an hour. Then, tonight, I will speaking and interacting with the
Soldiers for Christ group. These are young men that Charl (and others) are
discipling (haha, spell check does not recognize that word “discipling). Again, as I’ve
heard and certainly believe, it is hard and difficult work.
So far, by the grace of God, I have experienced very little jetlag, and no stomach
problems. The food here has been great; we’ll see what happens when I get to
Zimbabwe in a couple of days.
OK, this is what I’ve been doing: On Monday, I attended a Reformation Conference
held in a town called Franschoek here in SA. I heard excellent lectures from Peter
Hammond and a young man by the name of John Clifford. Peter’s presentations
recounted the difficulties faced by Luther, as well as the changes brought on by the
Reformation. John’s presentations chronicled a recent missions trip he took to
(mostly) southern Africa, and also presented a challenge to consider who God is.
That seems to be a growing problem here in SA (as well as many other places, no
doubt).
I had about an hour to present “The Desperate Need for Reformation Today.” For
that topic, I focused in on the present-day thread of Pietism. Pietism (as
distinguished from piety) is an idea, or even doctrine if you will, that promotes the
idea that you can love God without loving your neighbor. Or, that the only thing that
matters is my relationship with Jesus, and the idea that I must be concerned about
my neighbor is optional at best.
In my presentation, I went to Psalm 15, discussing the entire chapter. Verse 1 asks,
“Lord, who may abide in your tabernacle? Who may dwell in your holy hill?” The
rest of the chapter basically answers that question. Any in order to get the point
across, I referenced verse 4, “In whose eyes a vile person is despised.” I pointed out
that, most obviously, despising a vile person in your heart is looked on favorably by
God.
Well, there was Q & A time afterwards, and didn’t some dear sweet elderly South
African lady, in her thick Afrikaans accent, challenge what I had said? Actually, she
did not challenge what I said ultimately, because it was the Bible itself with which
she had a problem. So, didn’t she wind up saying that, as far as despising a vile
person in one’s heart, that we should consider Jesus and the New Testament, and
the she disagrees with the Psalmist! After she was finished speaking, I asked her if I
really just heard that she disagrees with the Psalmist, and she—with no visible
shame that I could detect—repeated that assertion.

I felt I should let that comment stand on its own, and basically decided to move on.
Later, Charl pointed out to me that the folks that attend these conferences are
actually “the best of the best.” Indeed, there is an incredible amount of work to be
done.
When I get back, I’ll talk more about what I saw in the squatter camps, but for now,
I’ll say I had the opportunity to speak in two camps so far. O squatter camp! Thy
name is poverty, irresponsibility, hopelessness, violence, crime, and, overall
Godlessness! Again, there is much hard work going on there by Charl and (his team,
with very little to show for it—for now.
I spoke briefly through an interpreter, there was singing, then the meeting ended,
and then the kids (basically teens) were given food. Charl told me that some of the
kids may have already had decent meals that day, but that there were others who
may not have eaten for 2 or 3 days.
I’m running out of time here, and feel like I’ve told you very little. I haven’t spoken
about meeting and working with Mobuti, a dynamic young man who lives in the
squatter camp at Stonehill (local name: Klipheuwal); or meeting Rozanne Visagie,
the daughter of the former president, or chancellor if you will, of SA. Or of
interacting with Charl’s family, or my host’s family, or even of the massive mountain
ranges I have enjoyed. Those mountains are truly unlike anything else I have ever
seen: They rise above the planes like a giant tidal wave, seeming to rise straight up
into the sky like giant hands, arms, and fingers.
Talk later!

**********

Sunday, 10/29/17, 4:45 AM, Capetown
I guess the jetlag is catching up a little, as I’m pretty much wide-awake. Did I
mention that I found my reading glasses? Too late, I’ve already bought the new ones,
as I’ve mentioned.
Today (yesterday, actually) I spent the day pretty much w/ Charl. We had breakfast
at a restaurant outside of Capetown; then went back to Charl’s house to see if I could
get set up electronically (I needed the right adapter to charge this computer) which
we did get done, thanks to some running around and extra work Charl’s part.
Later, Charl took me to a part of Capetown called the Waterfront, I believe (I took a
bunch of photos), and we had a light lunch. It’s like a huge mall at the bottom of the
cape as it faces the Atlantic Ocean. It’s a beautiful spot, as you look out and see the
ocean with the commercial boats and smaller boats dotting the deep blue surface of
the Atlantic. Then, you look to the right and see the towering peaks of Table
Mountain. I’ll tell you what: This part of Capetown is no third-world dead end: The
shops and restaurants could compete with any western shopping center I’ve ever
seen.
And you know I’m a serious mall shopper connoisseur guy, right? Or maybe not…
Than evening, then, we had a cookout at Charl’s pastor’s house. Pastor Mark and his
wife Cindy put on a great spread. I don’t know, this will probably change, but this SA
food is really working for me (so far). O yeah, Audrey, I took my probiotic tablet
today; don’t think I needed it, but I took it anyway.
You’ve got to tip your hat to Pastor Mark: Just because he knows Charl, he extended
an invitation to me to preach tomorrow (today actually). Very gracious, and, as you
folks know, also very gutsy!
There’s a mosquito that somehow got into my room, and it is singing around my
ears. I’m hoping it will be attracted to the light of my monitor so I can end its
miserable little life, but so far, no go. But even if I get bitten, no biggie, as malaria is
apparently not a problem is SA like it is in Zimbabwe.
I’m getting the impression that working with the young folks in the squatter camps
is hard, hard, hard work. Cindy (Pastor Mark’s wife) was telling me today about a
recent encounter she had with a young girl 13 or 14 years old who has grown up in
a local camp. Anyway, here’s what Cindy told me: She (Cindy) was trying to teach
the concept of volume to this young girl, and showed her a picture of a (there’s that
mosquito again!!) 3-D rectangle. The girl, on a piece of paper, had four choices to
compare to the 3-D rectangle. Just 4 choices! Couldn’t do it. What with, who knows,
extreme poverty, alcohol everywhere, very little protection for young girls from
lecherous men (yes, you read that right), and fathers that they hardly see at all
except when they come home in a drunken stupor to beat them (yes, you read that

right also), humanly speaking, they hardly have a chance. Sonia, Charl’s wife, was
telling me the same thing. She also works with these young girls, and it seems like
the work is just so slow and hard and hopeless and discouraging.
But she soldiers on, because “Be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the
work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”
Not in vain in the Lord. No, not in vain. “For the earth will be filled with the
knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” It is inevitable. It will happen.
Christ has saved us; is His arm too short to save them as well?
OK, I’m starting to hear the birds outside. I need to get up in an hour and a half, so I’ll
try to get a little more sleep.

 

**********

 

26 October, 2017, New York, 9:30 AM
At least I think it’s 9:30 AM; I just put my phone on a public charging station, and I
don’t feel like getting up and walking ten feet to check the time on my phone.
I left the house about 4:40 this morning, being picked up at home by Dave Stoltzfus,
who then chauffeured me right up to terminal number 4 at JFK airport. Thanks
Dave. Otherwise, I would have had to take a bus from Reading to the New York Port
Authority, then take shuttle bus from there. With all that shuffling going on, there
would have been plenty more opportunities for my luggage to get messed with (lost,
abused, etc.).
So I’m sitting at the airport now; thankfully, I “checked in” online, and avoided the
on-location check-in line that, I’m convinced, was over one quarter mile long. Yeah.
Check in on line if you can.
I keep looking over at the phone charging station; yep, my phone is still there.
Actually, every other phone there is a much later model than mine, so I think my old
Iphone 5 is quite safe.
I think I have everything, but… I just remembered that Charl (my host is SA) sent me
a letter of invitation that I was supposed to print out, but… I forgot to do that. O well,
hopefully I won’t need it; it’s in my phone anyway.
But, speaking of forgetting… Looks like I left my reading glasses at home, and I really
don’t like being without them. Just get another pair, right? Stop in at one of those
airport shops and pick out a pair. Should be hard, I can get a pair for less than 3
bucks at home at the Dollar Store.
Next stop, Dubai. Thank you for praying. My only request at this point is that your
prayers would parallel Paul’s request at the end of Ephesians: For boldness.
I am grateful to and for all of you! I’ll check in again from Dubai.
27 October, 2017, Dubai, 9:00 AM
So now I’m in the Dubai International Airport, trying to relax. We ran into serious
turbulence (for what I’m used to, anyway) coming into Dubai, and it wasn’t long
before I recognized the old sea-sick feeling I used to get when whenever I went deep
sea fishing. My stomach would get upset, I’d get the sweats, and seriously envy the
passengers around me who had no problem sleeping through that mess.
No problem, though; even I was able to get to sleep after awhile, and when I woke
up we were on the other side of the turbulence.

Someday somebody needs to do one of those efficiency studies on how much time is
wasted just messing w/ security at these airports. I got here (Dubai) at one end of
the airport, and walked like a half mile to the other end to go through security again
(I’d already done the security gauntlet in New York).
Here’s the thing: As I’m walking that halfmile, I’m seeing that I’m walking past gate
after gate where passengers are waiting for their flights, and I’m thinking, “Bet I’ll
have to walk all the way back here once I’m through security!”
Sure enough. O well…
One observation. This airline offers more electronic entertainment than hajibs in
Mecca. It used to be that you could get on a plane and strike up a conversation w/
the person next to you.
Not so much anymore; the guy beside you is watching a movie or even a TV show. As
I looked around the plane, nearly everyone was keeping to themselves.
I’m reading through the French Reformer Pierre Viret’s book, The Christian and the
Magistrate. There are a lot of gems in this short book! Here’s one:
“[God’s] Law shall supply us with true Christian ethics, politics, and economics if it
be will understood.”
And one more: “[What is] said of the civil government must also be understood of
the familial and household government, and of self-government as well.” Truly, Viret
understood that no one is qualified to govern another if they cannot govern
themselves first.
Talk later: I’ll send this whenever I have access to WIFI.
28 October, Capetown, SA, 8:00 AM, Saturday
We landed at the Capetown International Airport at about 6:30 PM, local time after a
fairly uneventful flight. As I walked down the gangway (I think that’s what it’s called;
you know that walkway that allows you to go from the jet plane to the terminal
building) I looked to my left and saw these huge mountains that dominated my first
view of South Africa. They looked like giant rocks, with very little vegetation, if any.
They we just huge. They compared to our “mountains” in southeastern PA kind like
Gulliver to the Lilliputians.
Charl picked me up from the airport at about 7:00 PM, and we drove to his house,
where I met his wife Sonja and his daughter Anya. Later, I was to see his son Jason
again (he had attended the recent Future of Christendom Conference with Charl). I
also met Charl’s other son, John Mark for the first time.

This was the first time I had ever ridden in an “English” country where you drive
your car on the left side of the road instead of the right, like we do in the US. Felt
really weird.
On the way, Charl showed me a local shopping center. I asked how safe was the
place to say, go to and from your car? Charl said that these shopping centers
generally have security personnel on hand, but that they won’t always come to your
aid if you are getting robbed. Reason why? Sometimes it is one of their buds who is
doing the robbing, so you’re on your own in that case.
The reason why I asked the original question to Charl was that SA is now one of the
crime capitals of the world. It wasn’t always that way, though: There was a time,
even in my lifetime, when SA was one of the safest places in the world to live. Not
anymore. All I could think of was, if you don’t have the fear of God, you don’t really
have much of anything.
Sonia made these little sandwich things they call Curri (sp?) Bunnies. Basically, they
are homebaked bread rolls sandwiched around a local hamburger recipe. I’m not
sure what was actually mixed in with the hamburger (I think I spotted some potato),
but whatever it was, they were delicious. Here’s something else: We took those
same bread rolls and made a combo jelly and cheese sandwich which I’ve never had
before. I didn’t know you could combine cheese and jelly, but again, it was super
good.
After dinner, Charl took me to Warren’s house at about 9:00 PM. Warren is a former
police officer whose family is out of the country right now. I’m staying in one of his
kid’s rooms. I slept like a rock. I didn’t even have one of those half wake-up
moments, you know, when you wake up in the middle of the night and wonder
where you are.
Charl is coming to pick me up for breakfast at 9:00 AM. I’m hoping to charge this
computer soon; it’s down to 20%. The electrical plugs here in SA are different, so
we’ll have to figure that out somehow. Also, I don’t have internet access yet, which is
why I still haven’t sent this blog. We’ll get it figured out today, I’m sure.
OK, gotta go. Warren, my host, has a book titled, “A History of Christianity is South Africa.” I want to look it over some more.

Article originally appeared on Mid-Atlantic Reformation Society (http://www.thinkandreform.org/).
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