Trip to Cape Verde in May 2018
One of the fun responsibilities in my role as Regional Personnel Coordinator is to visit our missionaries on the field to see how they are doing and to provide missionary orientation for our new missionaries. A couple of weeks ago, I got to do just that. I traveled to the City of Praia, Cape Verde, on the Island of Santiago and was able to spend 4 days with 3 of our missionary family units, having a time of training and orientation.
Normally a trip to Cape Verde would take approximately 12 hours. I would normally take an 8 ½ hour flight to Dakar and a quick hour or so flight from the tip of Africa to the Cape Verde Islands. Unfortunately, those flights were all booked up, so I had to take tone of the other option which was 36 hours of travel to Cape Verde and 24 hours back. Basically, I traveled for 3 days and spent 4 days in Cape Verde. My trip took me from Johannesburg to Doha, Qatar; Doha to Cassablanca, Morocco; and Cassblanca to Praia, Santiago Island Cape Verde. I had a long layover in Cassablance, but due to scheduled protests that day, I spend my 17 ½ hours in the airport. I booked a room in the airport hotel and worked a bit and slept a bit. This helped give me the needed rest so that I wasn’t totally exhausted when I arrived in Cape Verde. Unfortunately, I also got bed bug bites!! Thankfully I had a Benadryl cream sample with me and the Gonzalez had some when mine ran out.
I arrived in Cape Verde in the wee hours of the morning by Aderito Ferreira, the FSC for the Lusophone Field. He drove me to my hotel, so that I could get settled in and get some much-needed rest. I stayed in a nice little hotel that is within close walking distance of the district center. This is my second trip to the Cape Verde Island of Santiago and I was pretty sure I could find my way to the district center, but Sara Gonzalez met me and walked with me to the center to make sure that I remembered my way. The next 4 days were filled with times of sharing and orientation. We spent time going through the missionary handbook policies and procedures and talked about the “how to’s” of missionary life. I surprised the group by giving out snickers bars for correct answers to my questions (shout out to Jodi and David Cooper for the tip). I was also able to spend time with each family unit, talking through individual questions and needs; as well as spend time talking to the FSC and Field Treasurer, Loide Vaz, about various things that are happening on the field.
Our little group consisted of Sara and Camilo Gonzalez, who have been serving in Cape Verde as Work & Witness Coordinators for almost a year; Roseli de Carvalho, a volunteer dentist from Brazil who has served for almost four years; and Socorro & Sara Fontes, new missionaries who will be moving to Angola to work with pastoral education and church planting. These 3 missionary family units are on different parts of their journey; but share the same love for the Lord and passion to serve where He has called them. I am so thankful for this group of missionaries, and for those who support them through personal giving and through the World Evangelism Fund offerings!
I could not have done this without the help of Camilo and Sara. They not only helped set everything up for our time together, but they also helped with translation each day. They say that they speak “Portunyol” (a combination of Portuguese and Espanyol (Spanish)). 😊 Whether Portuguese or Spanish or a mixture of the two, I am thankful for their help throughout the week. Aderito and I tend to move between English and French when we speak, so we speak Franglais (a combination of French and Anglais (English)) and we can communicate pretty well between those two languages. These are the realities of our lives as missionaries.
One of the perks of traveling is being able to sample national cuisine. Every afternoon, our lunch was catered in and we were able to sample some of the lovely dishes of Cape Verde. From tuna dishes to Bitoque de vaca ( steak with a fried egg on top) to the lemon mousse, each dish was delicious. Another Perk is getting to spend time with our missionary families. Tuesday evening, I was invited to spend time with the Gonzalez family. I had met their 3 kids at General Assembly last year and we had a great time reconnecting, especially when I found out they were Marvel Comic fans! 😊 We spent quite a bit of time talking about the various Marvel movies! Camilo made a traditional Venezuelan meal of Arepas – let me just say that he is a great cook and the Arepas were delicious! Wednesday night, I met with Danilo & Maria Carvalho in their home. Danilo & Maria are Cape Verdean missionaries, serving in the Casamance region of Senegal, who just happened to be home on furlough. We had a lovely time together and Maria is a fantastic cook. She prepared a 4 course Portuguese meal of soup, fish cake, topped with prawns, fruit and desert. It was nice to see their home and be able to spend some time together. Thursday night was our last evening together and we celebrated by going out to eat at a local restaurant. I had a delicious tuna steak, while others ate pizza or prawns. Let’s just say that I was never hungry on this trip. I didn’t do any sightseeing on this trip, but will build that into my next trip to the islands.
My trip home had a bit of a crazy start. At the airport, my suitcase handle would not contract, no matter what we tried. At one point the contents of my suitcase were on the seats, my suitcase was open, with the lining unzipped, the handle was unscrewed from the frame, and 3 men with knives, coins, and keys in hand were all trying to get the button pushed to compress the handle – all to no avail. Eventually, everything was put back together, and I had the bag wrapped with the handle up and checked it that way. It’s a good thing I had gone to the airport early, because after all of that, I barely made it through security in time to get on the plane.
On the way back, my layover in Casablanca was much shorter, and I found a free lounge that was very nice. They offered free hot tea and space to work or rest. There were comfortable chairs to sit in to get some work done, free wifi, and a couple of large rooms with low lighting and lounging chairs where you could stretch out and get some rest. Next time I’m in Casablanca, I’d love to venture out and see some sights, but if I am stuck in the airport, I’ll definitely remember that nice lounge.
I arrived back in South Africa on Friday evening to find that there was a mix up with the driver, and no one was there to pick me up. After a couple of WhatsApp phone calls, Tim hooked me up with an uber ride home (my first time using uber). The crazy thing is that Tim was still in West Africa and he used his app to arrange the uber for me from there since I don’t have the app set up on my phone yet. I do love it when technology works.😊 The uber driver was great and we talked the whole way home about life in South Africa. I arrived home safe and sound and ready for a good night’s sleep.
As I reflect on this trip, I am so thankful to be able to serve the Lord in a place where I can work alongside such a wonderful group of people. We work with the best missionaries and national leaders! Thank you Lord for your faithfulness to call us and direct our path!