Minnesota Farmer


On Lac La Croix

Here I am, barely back from one trip and I’m off on another, this time fishing in Canada.

My son, Paul, has had several fishing trips at work related outings and he decided he needed to take his dad and grandfather along this time.  Saturday we drove to Crane Lake in northern Minnesota.  We got on a boat and started east and then north to Zup’s resort on Lac La Croix.  After a stop at the Canadian border station we continued on to Loon Falls where a marine railroad lifted the boat into Loon Lake.100_3002 Once deposited on Loon Lake100_3005 We continued along the border to the Beatty Marine Railroad portage into Lac La Croix.  The trip included full bore traverses of rice beads and narrow rocky passages.

When we got to Zup’s100_3007 we were put up in the Rock Cabin,Rock cabin fed a large rib eye steak dinner and got ready for a morning of fishing.

Sunday morning’s walleye fishing was good.  We kept the largest walleye for the cooler and ate the small ones for shore lunch.  After lunch we headed over to where Lac La Croix empties into the Namakan River.  We anchored in the current on the east side of the channel and went after the bass hard.  Each of us boated several bass over 2.5 pounds (about 18.5 inches).100_3013

We also boated several large Northern Pike, one taping in at 28.5 inches (6.6 pounds).100_3015

That night were fed a quarter chicken with all sorts of good sides and went to bed early again, but not before watching a great sunset.

Sunset Zup's

Monday morning started out sunny, but turned cloudy and windy.  Although we caught plenty of fish it was not up to the high bar set on Sunday.  Still we managed to fill out with our last keeper walleye and have plenty smaller ones for shore lunch.

We gave crappie fishing a try, but only boated two nice ones.  We decided to go back to the river for a few more bass before we left.  We brought in several nice bass, and a few smaller keepers, but fishing was slow here also.

In the last hour of the afternoon, I hooked the biggest walleye of the trip.  She taped out at 25.5 inches (6.1 pounds) and was indeed a beautiful fish.

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After a rack of pork ribs for dinner we spent some time catching the folks back home up on what we had been doing and went to bed.  The evening had turned cold so we needed the heat on in our cabin.

Tuesday we packed up, took a hike around the island and collected our fish for the trip home.  This was a great trip and a good time of generational bonding.  We’ll have to give it a try again some other day.



HluHluwe iMfolozi

On this trip to South Africa we again made a trip to the Hluhluwe iMfolozi game park near the eastern coast.  Our plan was to again spend two nights at the Hilltop Camp.  What was different this time was the presence of five members of the Ondini side of the Shetek Conference-Ondini Circuit partnership.

Hluhluwe iMfolozi game park was the private hunting grounds of Zulu kings and has been protected since before the white man came into the area.  Its rugged hills make it a tough place to farm so it remains a place for wildlife.

Hluhluwe map

We entered the park at the Nyalazi gate on the eastern side and made our way north to Hilltop camp.

We knew it was going to be a good trip for animal sightings when we were greeted at the gate by a lone elephant.  Spider monkeys, zebra, warthog, nyala, kudu and a rhino were all sighted shortly after we entered the gate.  The highlight of the drive up to Hilltop Camp was a lion sighting.

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Yes, there is a lion in this picture.  Just follow the drag marks in the ash and he is in there eating a buffalo.  Finding a lion in a game park is very hard. Their coloration is the same tawny brown of winter grass, they are made not to be seen.  We were lucky that three young males had killed that buffalo in the morning, and they were days disposing of the carcass just twenty feet off of the road.  Really, this was the highlight of the whole trip.  It was obvious that everyone wanted to see the lions, and that made them all the more determined not to be seen.  But dinner was there just behind a bush next to the road, so they stayed nearby.

Our friends from the Ondini circuit had never made a trip over to the park and were also excited.  This is an area that is out of reach of many who do not have the resources to travel as we do.

100_2933 The rhinos above and the wart hogs below were taking advantage of new growth and open sight lines.100_2937

They had been burning the old grass, so many of the hills were black with only the tallest trees untouched.  This new green drew animals into the open and made them easier to see.  Some of the fires had been recent as many logs were still burning.

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We even got to see a congregation of vultures, pied crows and an eagle, all looking hopefully around in the ash on this hillside.

While at Hilltop Camp several animals were found taking advantage of the protection of humans.100_2916Dik-dik and nyala grazed within a few feet of people.

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Spider monkeys posed on the ground or in trees while they waited for an unwatched, open, door or window.  They would dash in to seize food items left in the open, then race out to enjoy their booty while fighting off their fellow raiders.

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We got to spend quite a bit of time watching this herd of elephants meander across the meadow when we made a side trip to the Memorial Gate on the north side of the park.  My favorite picture of this trip is that of a giraffe.

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I was able to wait for this tall fellow to amble into position by this tree.  This is Hluhluwe in winter to me.  Tall brown grass, leafless trees and wild creatures posing on the hilltop for you to take a picture of.



What’s in a South African name
August 20, 2014, 5:04 pm
Filed under: South Africa, travel | Tags: , ,

Names in a foreign country may be one of the hardest things to deal with.  We all want to be recognized by name, and we want to know other peoples names.  But foreign language pronunciations add extra difficulty to remembering a name.

Everyone who knows anything about South Africa knows who Nelson Mandela is, but who is Rolihlahla Mandela?  Well, they are one and the same person.  Rolihlahla Mandela was named Nelson by his teacher to conform to the custom of that time to give every school child an english name.  Rolihlahla was Xhosa, and not Zulu as were most of the people we lived and worked with.

In our travels in South Africa we still find many who are known by english names who may have other names unpronounceable to us english-only speakers.  David, Lee, Christopher and many other people were introduced to us.  These folks are mostly born in the era of apartheid and are primarily known that way.

Others have names that are more like knick names.  Rambo, Simba, Nana and others of various ages were people we worked with.  One young lady whose name was Sindiswa, was known as Cindy to us.

As apartheid ended, names changed.  I know of two men who were called Doctor, neither of whom was a doctor.  There was another named Freedom.  An excellent name for one born shortly after apartheid ended.

More strictly Zulu names like Bonisiwe, Mayibongwe, Bhekani, Mosa, Loni and others that I hesitate to try to write for fear I will misspell their names were all around us.  Some were known by english knick names, others by shortened versions of their name.

Zulu is also interesting because there are different forms of clicks in the language.  David’s last name is Xaba, and the X is a click, (click)aba.

Reading Zulu hymn books was usually easy, unless you were trying to read a word where the first letter, usually an N was silent.  That N changed the pronunciation of the next letter.  Then there were the X’s and Q’s that denoted clicks of different types that none of us quite got.

Still we all did our best to get and keep peoples names straight.  The younger members seemed to do well with their South African counterparts.  Maybe because the young brain, mouth and tongue are more flexible than those of us older folks.



Women of Ondini gather
August 20, 2014, 8:36 am
Filed under: church, Kwazamohkuhle, South Africa, travel | Tags: , , , , ,

While we were in the Ondini circuit of the ELCSA there were two women’s gatherings.  The first was a meeting of the Ondini circuit women to which the ladies of our group were invited.  It was held at the nearby KwaZamokuhle school for handicapped children.100_2961

The second meeting was held the next week in Ezakheni near Ladysmith and was a “Mini” conference of the whole South Eastern Diocese.  We all were invited to that meeting.

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The roomful of black and white clad women was impressive, but even more impressive is the way these women celebrate.  There was rarely a quiet minute.  Someone would start off with a hymn and soon the whole place was singing, and sometimes dancing.  There was indeed a roomful of joy.

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They were not always in uniform.  At the evening meeting there was a choir and a group of dancers in bright garb to get the crowd moving.  There was also gift giving galore.  Every woman there had at least one gift to take home.

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The evening meeting was also a time to get out your party best and sing and dance.  There was lots of color in motion at that session.  We of course were invited into the dance.  Since we were wearing our yellow partnership tee shirts that evening we were easy to pick out.  Although we did not know the words to the songs, we did our best to follow the dance steps.  We were also grabbed up for picture taking.  We, after all, were celerities, folks who had come from another continent to share Jesus love with them.

The party went on for hours, with the evening meal finally served at 9:30 p.m..  It proved to be a short night, as we all were ushered off to host homes.  We had to be back for the church service at 8:00 a.m. and some of us had miles to travel.

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Church the next morning was very “high” church with alter boys, incense and chanting in both Zulu and English.

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The deans and the bishop played their part and were also dressed in their best.  They went through all of the ritualized  service.  During the 45 minute sermon they had translators scattered in our midst to help us understand the message, which was about Jesus coming to the disciples walking on the water.  The message went very well with our partnership theme of “Walking together with Christ.  It was so fascinating that we really did not know the service went for three and a half hours until it was all over.

This was an interesting experience and one that few from across the pond get to take part in.  The experience was just lucky timing on our part.  So glad we could be there to take part.



KwaZamokuhle chapel
August 19, 2014, 5:39 pm
Filed under: church, Kwazamohkuhle, South Africa | Tags: , , , ,

While we were in the Ondini Circuit we spent most weekdays at the KwaZamokuhle Diaconal Centre.  Every week day chapel was held in a rondavel style building.  Time varied, but it was usually at 8 a.m.  You just had to be alert to see when the others were headed down the lane.

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The building was small.  When you added our 11 to the normal group it got quite cozy.  Chapel was held in Zulu.  We never really got the message of the readings unless we looked up the bible verses ourselves.  The music was always good.  You just grabbed a Zulu version of their hymn book and read along.  Finding your note was by ear, and harmony was common so there were usually several notes to choose from.

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After chapel there was always a line up of people to shake hands with (Zulu style) before heading off to work.  It was a great way to start the day.



Ondini churches

If you go on a trip with a church group you are going to spend some time in local churches, and our trip to South Africa was no exception, we were in several.  These were not grand churches of the city, these were the humble churches of  poor country folks.  Simple, rustic and sacred to their congregants.

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The church closest to the KwaZamokuhle center were we stayed was part of the Empangweni congregation.  This is the site of the double funeral I wrote about earlier.  This is the largest of the Ondini church buildings I was in.  There is a school across the street and the home/school for handicapped kids just down the road.100_2772
The interior seems to have had some work done with fewer broken windows and fewer banners than I remember.
Church buildings are located for walkers, this large of a building means that there are quite a few people who live within walking distance.  This is one of the few churches I saw that actually had a planned parking area.  In most churches if someone drives to church it is unusual.  In areas where one pastor has several churches to cover, his is usually  the only car in the lot.
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The Hoffenthal church is also located next to a school but in a more remote area.  The nearby orphanage and the Gogos (grandmothers) who run it are what sets this church apart from others.
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Again it is a simple building inside an out.  The Gogos are proud of the fact that their gardening project has earned them enough money to paint the church.  The Hoffenthal congregation has seven buildings that the pastor hopes to be at at least once a month so he can preside at communion.  Usually a lay preacher presides when he cannot be there.  There are just under 400 congregants between these seven church sites.
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The church at Emangweni has an impressive pulpit in front.  This is the only church I celebrated Sunday services in on this trip to South Africa.  Although a bit remote, it is home to several important people in the partnership.  When I was there my host for the day Christopher (CK) Mazibuko was acting as the guest speaker.  There were about 35 women, 45 children and young adults and 5 men in attendance that day, each group sits separate from the other, unless a very young child needs to sit with its mother.  Again the church is located near a school, in this case both and an elementary and a high school.  The high school where CK and Bonisewe were teachers.
I had attended smaller churches on my last trip to South Africa.  You can check on my posts from February of 21011 to see pictures of them.


Back to Kliptown
August 16, 2014, 4:48 am
Filed under: Johannesburg, school, South Africa | Tags: , , , , ,

Coming back to a place for a second time you will see things differently.  Sometimes it is because of the changes in the place you visit, sometimes it is because of the changes in you.  Both of those changes were there for the visit to Kliptown.

When I went to Kliptown in 2011 we were newly arrived in South Africa.  My recollections were those of one who had little experience in the area.  Now with a past trip and a few more years I saw more and took pictures less.  I invite you to look at what I wrote about Kliptown in 2011 and compare that to what I write today.

Kliptown is a collection of shanties on the Klip river outside of Johannesburg, South Africa.  The collection of cobbled together huts does not seem to have changed much.  There are still the few water taps that seem to run all day where people come to collect bathing and cooking water or to wash their clothing.  There are still the illegal electrical taps put in by self taught electricians that provide light and power to these shacks.  The community porta-potties are a still there.  The changes are at the Kliptown Youth Program (KYP).

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In 2012 the KYP and its director Thulani Mandondo were named one of the 10 CNN Heros.  Along with that award came a monetary gift of $50,000.  The changes have been transforming.  The computer lab that was built with the money has allowed the children of the area to have a better chance of moving up and out of Kliptown.

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With reliable electricity these labs are kept busy with children of all ages learning so they can be a viable part of the modern world.

While water may still run down the street to the Klip river the same as it did in 2011, there is now more hope for the children living here.  Changes have occurred here in Kliptown as they have in me.




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