Wednesday, December 22, 2010


We arrived home on Hans's 15th birthday - Dec 16th after something like 32 hours of travel. We are still dealing with jet lag and although we were not completely ready to come home, it is great to see Mark and Maja!

We hope you have enjoyed reading about our travels. Our goal is to put together a slide show to share with family and friends. We'll let you know when that is ready.



A turtle tour was fascinating. From 9PM to 1AM we travelled the beach in a big safari vehicle. We saw two loggerhead turtles making nests, laying eggs and return to the Indian Ocean. We learned that the turtles return to the same beach where they were born (15-20 years earlier) to lay their own eggs. Although the picture doesn't show it well, the turtles were about 4 feet long. One turtle laid nearly 65 eggs and only 1 of those will survive to adulthood.

We also took the kids on a snorkeling tour one morning. Six of the eight of us got seasick and asked to return early! The waves were high and shortly after our boat returned they canceled all other outgoing trips that day. Thankfully after a few hours on land, we felt better. We had a blast examining the tidepools and renting snorkeling gear the next day to explore underwater (near shore). We were rewarded with a huge school of sardines, many colorful fish and corals, a squid, eels and an octopus. It is the 2nd most popular diving area in the world - they say. I was pleased at how comfortable the water temperature was - about 26 C.


St Lucia

With much of our volunteer work wrapping up, we decided to head to the east coast for a week of exploring. Michele and I and the 6 kids camped in the St. Lucia Estuary and Sodwana Bay areas. We saw rhino, crocodile, hippos, many birds and monkeys. The kids enjoyed exploring the beaches for snails, crabs and shells. We had a guide for a hike through the grasslands and enjoyed his local knowledge and Zulu lore.


g33k$ perform well

The g33k$ participated in the South African FLL tournament and met two of their big goals. They achieved a perfect 400 on the board. They asked for a copy of the score sheet so they could frame it (shown in the photo)! They also got first place at the event and were given the opportunity of attending the FLL World Festival in St. Louis in April 2011. They are all so excited to have some more time to work and play together this spring. They will continue to do outreach and mentoring in their respective communities and meet with each other over Skype every week. It was a fun event and a great way to wrap up our season together.



We went camping with friends for the weekend. The kids were introduced to a game called Claylot which looked to me like " gather clay from the river and throw it at someone." They all seemed to have a good time even though they were filthy! The frogs sang to us at night and it was deafening. It sounded like a million frogs and my eardrums were actually sore. The kids also baked "stick bread" over the fire and had a watermelon seed spitting contest. We feel lucky to have friends to spend time with.


Friday, November 26, 2010


We spent Thanksgiving with a group of HIV positive orphans at St. John's. I am sure it will remain in my memory as my best Thanksgiving ever. I cannot explain the feeling I had when Annika, Zac and I were making apple pie with 5 of the children and one 12 year-old-boy (his name is Surprise) said to me, "Deb, I am so glad you are here with us today." And then his smile. Also when the girl named Pretty realized we did not have to measure our ingredients exactly....the smile and sparkle that came over her face as she shook and shook the cinnamon shaker! And when Nkosi noticed me snitching a little piece of apple, the smirk he had and then he copied me and laughed. The pureness of those moments are priceless. It was an amazing day. These children have really stolen my heart. Our schedule is busy but we plan to get back there at least 2 more times before we leave. I wish they lived down the street from me so I could see them often.


Mpumalanga FLL Tournament

The FLL tournament took place last weekend. It was a lot of fun for participants and spectators and really nice for this area to host their own tournament. By all accounts it was a success. Six teams from the area will be participating in the national tournament on Dec 4th. Hans and Annika's team happens to be one of them so we are excited about having another opportunity to earn a 400 on the board. Their scores were 350, 360 and 375. We took a lot of video but have little bandwidth so we cannot post anything for you to see. I have several favorite moments 1) When one of the first year teams we were mentoring (Robo Docs) achieved their highest score possible (275) - on their final board run and ended up taking the 2nd place robot performance award; 2) When my team so willingly coordinated the clean up while the judges were deliberating (and many other children then joined in) and then the look on the FLL coordinators face when he realized all his work was done for the day; and 3)the words of appreciation from so many teams for the work we have been doing with them over the course of our stay. I get a very hopeful feeling from people here about what they are planning and expecting for next year.

The kids here have all just finished their 2-3 week exam period and are off school until January 12th I think. This means my team will have some very focused time together finally! They have all been out at the farm with us for the last 36 hours. Games like kick-the-can and Ninja's along with watching Pink Panther 2 fill in their time together away from the robot and skit revamping. They enjoy each other and it is such a treat for them to be together. Although all teams have some struggles, this team has really been easy to work with. And it has been such a great thing to have both my kids on the same team. I really worried about that initially but overall is has been a very good decision. Annika has really learned a lot and grown into an important, contributing member of the team...not bad for a 12 year old with 14-16 year of whom is her brother!

This weekend we will camp with Liezel and Pieter's family as well as Marietjie's family. Then on Sunday we will join Liezel and Pieter's church for a potluck and short service. We realize we have a long list of things we still want to do before we leave......