Whoever the heck is praying for me back at home, you are doing one hell of a job. This morning as I was driving back from South Africa into Swaziland a timber semi’s trailer swerved into my lane and my tire caught the edge of the road and I spun out of control. The road was under construction and in the mountain rift, so not a place for an error. As my vehicle lost control, I spun about 3 or 4 times and came to a stop in the middle of the road facing the wrong way. It was only by a miracle o f God that my life was spared. I just sat there as my heart paced trying to start my truck, praying no more semi’s came over teh hill. This is life though, that is why we just have to move forward. God is to good to me. So here is some writing I did last night. I wll be home soon.

There are times when I feel that I am in Africa and living what we all “think” we know of Africa and then there are those times when it just feels as if I could be anywhere in the world and am as comfortable as ever. Tonight, in the winter drought the rains came. We had such a obnoxious thunder storm. It was quite refreshing. Now all of the power is out and I just have a candle by my bed finishing up work.

Today I drove about 4 hours south to meet up with the owner of Montigny Timber, the largest timber exporter in the country. He showed me the production plant and explained all of the value added processes that take place. Then we drove back to his house across the border in South Africa. It has been amazing learning more and more about the timber business and how we can apply much of this back at Bulembu.

The last 2 days we invited 2 Representatives from USAID and TechnoServe up to the lodge and spent the day with them showing them around, giving them rides on the quad and discussing with them the strategic plan. I thought it went extraordinary well, but to be honest, it doesn’t matter who you are once you come to Bulembu the people and the place do all the selling needed. Both of the representatives were my age and doing the same thing, volunteering out here. It was nice to just have conversations that reminded me of home and have some fun. I am certain they will be coming back – it was a lot of fun.

So there is something that I learned while here, that I just have to make note of. I must have thought about it for at least 3 hours today. When I came to Africa I was such an idealist. I was young and passionate, but more than anything, I was dangerous. Uncontrolled passion is a dangerous fire to play with. If that passions give wind to your ideals, this is what breaks the people with unrealized hope. I have been there before and done that, and I wont do it again. This time, although I might have come with a $60,000 degree and plenty of experience, which is more than most will make in a lifetime here, it means hardly anything in Africa. Things are so different here and cultural differences flaunt your ideals, however, it is imperative that you let go of the ideals you bring and instead just listen to the people. It was so good for me to just go up into the forest and listen to the guys who harvest the trees, the guys who fell the tree and those that long-haul it to the depot. I listened to how each of them think the economics and incentives of pay should be set up. It was really important, because regardless of what I thought was best, they are the ones who know, who experience and need to be heard. It was humbly and incredibly rewarding.

I learned a lot while out here this time around. I learned that I was made for this and cant wait to get back here. Tomorrow I drive back to Swaziland and to the orphanage, a day I have been waiting months for – just to see my little Phoebe. Saturday I get to bake a birthday cake, just me and her to celebrate my quarter of a century mark (yes, I know, I am getting old). Then I am picking up my 5 Canadian Dr. Friends and we are going to the orphanage and then to Bulembu. We are going to climb the highest mountain in Swaziland and come back to watch a village dance, where even the chief will be there. It is quite exciting, like always.

Thanks for your prayers, they have been needed. Although, things have been fast paced here and much has been going on, those moments of silence are extremely lonely – it is just you on your own and it gets dark at night and there is nothing to do but think. No internet, no movies or TV and the same books lose their appeal the 3rd time around. But I feel I made it through and time to come home and start a whole new world of transitions – such is life.