Hello, lovely people!
This past weekend Will and I spent some time in the lovely, hilly/mountainous country of Lesotho. For those that are not acquainted with Lesotho, it is a mountainous country located between Pietermaritzburg and Johannesburg and completely surrounded by the country of South Africa. It is a place filled with hundreds (thousands?) of little villages hidden on the sides of the mountains. There are not many roads that are developed enough to drive on between the villages. Most people there either ride on donkeys or horses or walk to get between them. So, we got to go off-roading a bit to get to the places we visited. The roads that are fairly driveable are usually not paved, making it feel like you are off-roading even when you are on the road. It’s an adventure to drive anywhere there.
Another interesting thing about Lesotho is that there has been snowfall registered there in every month of the year. Because it is mountainous, I suppose this isn’t all that surprising, but it means that you are never safe from being cold. The people of Lesotho frequently walk around with blankets wrapped around them and fastened with large safety pins or they tuck them in. Anything to keep warm. While we were there, it wasn’t particularly cold. In fact, it was quite nice during the day. Because of that, Will and I didn’t wear long-sleeved shirts on the first day we were out visiting and “doing ministry” in the villages and therefore got lobsterized….that is to say we got pretty severely sunburned. We were mostly attacked in the face and the arms. This made for a rather painful rest of our trip. We had not thought to bring sunscreen, as it was not on the (supposedly) comprehensive list of supplies we were to bring with us. And we had no aloe or anything to put on our aching skin. So, we suffered through the next two days trying to stay out of the sun as much as possible. This is easier said than done.
Another fascinating part of Lesotho is that there are very few trees. Because there are few trees, there is little shade or escape from the sun that is beating down on us. On top of the lack of trees, there is almost always an intense wind blowing that whips across you and scratches any exposed skin with the dust and dirt that it kicks up….it doesn’t feel good on burned skin.
Though the sun and wind were harsh to us, the people were most certainly not. We shared almost every meal with people in the village we were staying. We shared smiles and tears with the people in the villages. (I love that the language of emotion transcends the languages of the tongue. It’s great to be able to translate even when you don’t speak the same language). W played games with kids and preached the gospel to those hungry for words of grace and love.
We made friends and more connections while we were there also. We met some American missionaries (one of whom is a Midwesterner) that we are hoping to stay connected with. And we met some local pastors that are preaching and praying in the area.
All-in-all Lesotho was an amazing experience and I, for one, hope to get back there sometime. As for now? I am going to go lather my face and arms with more camphor to help soothe my burns.
Much love from South Africa (and Lesotho)