flotsam and jetsam

I got home this afternoon after 7 nights away. I wish I could say it was a vacation or at least spent on a beach, but... Nope. I was in the capital city for a training conference. At least it was hotter than Harrismith is, and I even swam once. (Quite a big deal for me, with my aversion to water and all...) So I've got some stories for you. In addition to our crazy shower escapade, Kelly and I managed to have some other crazy times. (Can you believe it?!)

We stalked the national bird of South Africa, which is quite a formidable creature. Of course, by "we", I mean Kelly.

During a break between sessions, we walked over to our guest house to discover that the front door was locked. Since we only had keys to our bedroom, we hung around in the hopes that someone else had the front door key. Each person who approached asked why we were outside. "The door's locked," we'd explain. No one had the key. As we started making phone calls and trying to figure out a Plan B, another pastor wandered over. He asked the unavoidable question and received the inevitable reply, but his response dumbfounded us. "Oh my God," he said, his eyebrows furrowed and his eyes forlorn. It was hard not to laugh at his oh-so serious-ness. I really wish you could read his statement the same way we heard it -- with his thick African accent that I've been mimicking ever since.

There was only 1 other woman attending the event--"Bishop Esther". And Kelly and I were the only whities. It was like Cross-Cultural Differences 401. We laughed at things they thought were serious, and what had them doubled-over in giddy laughter, we just didn't think were funny at all. Women weren't invited to get their meals first; ironically, we were graciously shown our place at the back of the line. Since it was someone's birthday, I was approached and asked to lead us in song because that's a woman's job. I kindly declined, knowing that was the lesser of the two evils; eventually a pastor took the lead. He had us all join hands and then he led us in a chorus of "Happy Birthday". I looked over and Bishop Esther was only holding hands with one person. Her free hand was lifted high in the air, her eyes clamped shut. For "Happy Birthday"?! I just had to shake my head and smile...

Sadly, several of the pastors visibly looked down on females, and snubbed us openly and publicly. During one session, a pastor who was involved in hosting the event, went through the room and split everyone into small groups, and sent them outside for discussion. He skipped over us entirely. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, we thought maybe he was saving us for last. When the whole room had emptied except for us and Bishop Esther, his intentions were a little more obvious. "Is that everybody?" he asked. Someone pointed out that the women were left. "Oh, Bishop Esther, I'm so sorry..." and he told her which group to join. Then he started to head outside to his own group, with Kelly and I very noticeably the only two people left seated in the room. Someone again pointed it out. "What about those other ladies?" To which he so perfectly replied, "What ladies?"

"Oh my God."