Well, we have just returned from a MOST EXCITING holiday! We were invited by friends at the beginning of this year to join them in going to Nepal in Nov to do the Annapurna Circuit Trek (17 days)! I was so excited I could hardly breathe! And there were THREE highlights – the Trek, going to Chitwan jungle game reserve to ride on elephants and hopefully spot some REAL tigers, and the cherry on the top was to fly past Mt Everest!! I couldn’t wait! Tom did LOTS of brisk walking with a friend who is a Springbok walker and became very fit. Then disaster struck! I tore the ligaments in my left ankle simply by stepping down a step….. was put into a moonboot and had lots of physio, just as that was coming right, I developed a small inguinal HERNIA! I couldn’t believe that, then in the week before we left I developed a serious lung infection! So I went off with three potential problems (and great excitement!)…………. and on Day 2, a 20km trek with steep, rocky ascents and descents, with Tom going at a great lick, he felt twinges in his Achilles tendon, and shortly after his calf muscles went into spasm. My heart SANK. With him leaning against a rock, I tried to do trigger point physio and massage – and how he managed to walk up a steep rocky path across a landslide to the next terraced little village, I do not know. My potential problems disappeared into thin air and Tom’s lower leg grew bigger and bigger. But he kept up the walking – and he walked 200kms on that leg! But, sadly, just before the snow-covered Pass, having acclimatised with no problem to the high altitude, (4,200m), Tom developed severe diarrhoea and our guide felt that it would be wise for us to turn and walk BACK OUT. It tore my heart to do this, I wept silently and my heart ached with such a deep pain, but I knew we should follow his advice. The others went on ………. and we spent 8 days walking out. But despite all these setbacks, it was a MOST spectacular Trek with exciting suspension bridges, stunning surprise views of those famous snow-covered peaks as we went round corners and up into high altitude, and quaint, isolated little villages always built on cliff edges . It was a wonderful experience, like time-out in another world. We couldn’t even find out who had won the USA elections! When we got back last Sun, Tom went to see the doctor on Monday, and after Doplar sonars, etc, it was found that he had a partial tear of his Achilles tendon, with which he had walked 200kms, AND a deep vein thrombosis! So, instant concern and injections, bedrest and Warfarin, and now the DVT has dissolved – and today he saw the Orthopod who, besides being amazed, says healing has already begun, so only a compression stocking is needed! But NO exercise or brisk walking for THREE months and physio only after that.
We had wonderful rides on the ellies, but saw no tigers, but did see the Nepal rhino, which looks armour-plated, and has only one horn. Interestingly, the guide, in giving us warnings when we were doing the jungle walks on foot, told us that tigers are only considered to be man-eating when they have eaten three people and are about to eat a fourth person!
We spent 3 days back in Kathmandu and from there did our flight to Everest ….. with Yeti Airlines (with a name like that we were a bit apprehensive but they have never had an accident yet!), in a 30-seater plane. It was STUNNING! Those mighty snowy peaks just soar up into the sky. When we got to Everest, we were each called up into the cockpit one-by-one to see it – what a sight! Altogether, we were away for the whole of November, and it was a most WONDERFUL trip (and Tom thoroughly enjoyed it!).
I forgot to mention that on the day of our departure, our 4×4 was stolen two hours before we were leaving for the airport! Last year, our most loved VW Kombi was stolen from WITHIN our churchgrounds, and just before we left for Nepal, they made an attempt on Tom’s BMW!
We had a really good mission trip to Mocambique in July this year. We were due to go up to Nampula district where all arrangements had been made. But on the way up we had such major setbacks with vehicles, corrupt traffic police, stuff stolen off the trailers in the dark while fixing vehicles by torchlight, punctures, that we were so badly delayed we realised we would never be able to get up to Nampula. But, we would not be overcome. Jonathan, our leader, managed through contacts, to alter the plans, and we ended up going to a very rural part of the Messica area, where they were desperately hungry to hear about Jesus! The tracks we went on to reach some of these little villages were unbelievable. They were footpaths with deep dongas, rocky streams flowing over them, and no landmarks to try and find your way out! And as for showing the Jesus films in these areas (we were in different groups working in different areas), it was one thing finding our way in, at sunset, but quite another to find our way out in the pitch dark! We had wonderful attendance and tremendous ministry and helped these isolated pastors and their leaders with further training, and in planting new churches. Fortunately, Jonathan goes up frequently to all these areas to check and do follow-up.
Judy and Don came up to join us in Sept, to stay at the mouth of Kosi Bay just south of Mocambique. There is wonderful snorkelling at the river mouth, but I had just done my ankle thing, so while they had wonderful walks, swims etc, I sat on the wooden deck and iced my leg three times a day – and READ! In October (also booked a year ahead), we flew down to join Judy and Don and friends to do the Whale Trail. It is a most wonderful trail with beautiful views, and as we got down to the coast we had the most spectacular views of these whales doing their interesting antics! We even saw some with their babies alongside them. It was a real, first test of my ankle over rough terrain and it got truly stretched!
We are going away THIS Friday for our Christmas holiday! A good rest for Tom! Time to recover and heal! Cherry and Susie are joining us, and we will take them to Hilton and Durban to see Cherry’s grandchildren, and then go through the Transkei to Cefane, between Kei mouth and East london, where we will camp for two weeks. Cefane is a lovely camp on a farm right on the beach and quite far from anything. None of our kids will be joining us! Karen and Steve are camping at Richard’s Bay. They need a good break after having gone through a very stressful time with little Ryan, who fell off a LOW bed on to a thick carpet, and fractured his clavicle and his femur. He was put into a hip spica for two months – extremely traumatic for them all. He came out of it last week, and has re-learnt to sit and roll, and now the NDT physio is working on crawling and standing. He just is a most cheerful little guy and is recovering quickly. Sasha is still so petite, Ryan at 13mths is nearly her size! Claire and Gerhard are camping at Suikerbosrand near Joburg, as Gerhard has to be on call for Bryanston Methodist where he is employed as Care Pastor – and just loves his work. Claire’s playtherapy counselling is going very well, and Joshi and Mikey are just growing so beautifully. Craig and Margie are on leave at home in order to get things done at home. Brandon is now 11 and Matthew 7. They are such lovely boys! Bruce and Penny are camping at Nature’s Valley. They had a very disruptive four months, when Bruce was sent up to near Badplaas to establish a Big Five Game Reserve in TWO months! Of course, that was an impossible task and it took him FOUR months. He loved it but missed his family so much. It was not easy for Penny, who works long hours, fulltime, at Shamwari, plus looking after their two precious children – Chris 3 and Sarah, who turned ONE and WALKED, without her Daddy being there. So, for the last two months Bruce insisted on being able to fly home every 2nd weekend. We love all our grandchildren SO much, and see them often, but really miss Bruce’s little ones.
We wish you a WONDERFUL CHRISTMAS and a BLESSED and BEAUTIFUL New Year.
With all our love,
Malla and Tom