He lay in the filthy street, with matted black hair and beard, lifeless, white-washed eyes, as if a cloud of milk were injected into the ocular fluid. His mouth was partially open, dried crust surrounding it, and his lips stuck to his teeth. I stopped to look at him, I prayed for him, and I wondered, not deeply, but fleeting thoughts about what must have brought him here to die. His level of faith challenged me, and sparked a journey to go deeper.
The dry air, and stifling heat were oppressive inside the tent; which drooped in places and had warn holes in others. The burlap canvas stunk of dirt and age. The holes let light pierce through in laser like beams that reflected on the floating, constantly moving dust particles; showing off the freshness of the air breathed, chokingly, into the lungs of each inhabitant. At the moment, I was the only soul living within the shrinking mess, cluttered with rucks and other gear left behind by the rest of the platoon. It was miserable. I swallowed the pills given to me by the doctor; two Percocet, two Vicodin, and two flexural, washing my worries and pain away with the water that carried them down my parched throat.
Thus begins my journey into hiding from Saul and seeking rest.
In times when worlds are torn apart, when the infrastructure of nations are failing, when war is destroying societies, when sickness seems to have no cure we need hope, and people’s hearts, bodies, and minds need healing. Families, cities, nations, continents, and the earth need healing. Giving a hand or committing to a social program to aid in a single area only treats the symptom of the foundational problem. Destruction comes from the fallen heart of man. Each person’s selfish desire to survive, succeed, and protect family and friends so that their clan can flourish eventually treads on the rights and the dreams of other humans. If one area is treated the disease just grows stronger in another. To cure the sickness of this world the heart of men must change. How is this possible? Intellectual argument certainly won’t do it. There are hundreds of self-proclaimed experts continuously breathing out their opinions to the suffering and the poor. Opinions don’t feed people, they don’t clothe or shelter people. The only thing capable of penetrating the heart of any man is love. If we could allow ourselves to be compelled by love, our actions would provide selfless services to others. Love would allow us the grace to forgive. Forgiveness is not for those whom fault us, but is a gift of healing for our hearts. Love and forgiveness destroy the cancer called hate that grows in us. Hate destroys us, our lives, and poisons our relationships. Hate creates environments that must be ruled by fear. Love creates peace, understanding, selflessness, forgiveness, and kindness that seeks no return. Stress and anxiety are a major cause of illness. Love destroys anxiety. Be anxious for nothing. Fear is punishment. Love drives away fear and anxiety, and it lends peace. We cannot control others, but we can control ourselves. Discipline yourself to love. Return hate with kindness. Speak uplifting words to those around you. Love others and find healing. Love and foster hope. Seek the continuous source of love. The source is a wellspring of life. Those that find it are never thirsty.
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UPDATE: The Optima batteries have been exactly what we need. They were completely depleted during the shipping process and I was able to roll-start the truck and recharge both batteries and the auxiliary battery with only the alternator. I purchased a CTEK MXS 5.0 battery charger which I ran to the auxiliary batteries in the rear. I removed it and connected it to each battery individually and reconditioned them. The batteries work better than when I purchased them new. I reconnected the CTEK charger to the auxiliary battery. i use it when we stay at campsites that have power hookups.
I also purchased two 90-watt solar panels from Set Solar in Cape Town. The panels are made by set Solar and were half the cost of any I could find in hardware stores. I used their cables, connectors and charge controller and connected them the distribution panel which runs to the auxiliary battery. I had Lowveld Canvas in Nelspruit make a case for them so I could carry them on the roof rack. We spent 5 days at Beverlack (north of Cape Town) over the New Year. It was very hot and I ran the fridge for the entire time and only hooked the solar up during the day. The panels kept the batteries charged without any trouble. I am pleased with the solar setup we have, the battery charger, and the dual battery setup from IBS. My auxiliary is a 55 AH battery and in the future I may upgrade it to a slightly larger version.
A lot of things have happened in the past few months. Since leaving Morocco we headed back into Europe and visited family in Ireland and Germany. Ferries heading to Egypt closed so we decided to ship the truck. We utilized a clearing agent from Cape Town and shipped with a South African returning home from the UK. The truck arrived safely in Cape Town. We spent many months in South Africa traveling back and forth between Cape Town and Hoedspruit in the Northeast. After returning to Cape Town we took a trip to the United States so that I could take care of some medical issues. We are now back in South Africa, have travelled once again to Hoedspruit, and will be heading back to Cape Town mid-next month. Most of this time, besides site seeing has been spent traveling with various missions organizations, like Children’s Cup, and fostering new relationships with various people and organizations. We are at work rewriting our mission statement to addd clarity and specificity to it. With new partners and more clarity on planed for the future, our trip will have more purpose and backing.
We have partnered with Hedzup and Syrepu to help with funding our effort. Through the purchase of their applications we receive support from each company. Please use their apps and help support our travel and aid throughout Africa. We are working with several organizations throughout the continent to bring hope and healing to those in need.
We dropped the truck off in Tilbury, United Kingdom to be loaded into a 40′ High Cube container. She’ll be riding with Marius De Kock’s beautiful Land Cruiser “Sundance”. We had a previously scheduled flight to Cape Town so we left our truck with the shipping company on the 6th. Marius decided to bring his truck back the following Monday (the 9th), because that is the day the trucks will actually be loaded into the container.
Celine and I flew out of London Gatwick on Emarites Airlines on the 6th. We arrived in Cape Town on the 7th, collected our rental car, and headed to the cottage we will be staying in until the truck arrives on the 7th of October. We received an email on the 9th from Marius letting us know the trucks were loaded successfully and he even sent a picture of ours on the ramp.
This plan has always been flexible. Plans must remain flexible. Flexible does not mean by the seat of your pants or to wing it. It means have a plan with a start point and an end state while leaving flex room in the middle. A plan is a foundation, it isn’t the building. The design of a building may change as it is made, but the foundation won’t.
I come from a background that was guided by Commander’s Intent. There was an end-state, a common goal. Plans were made to achieve success the best way possible, with the most efficiency, and the least casualties, but these plans (in whole) never survive contact with the enemy.
In this case we are planning a journey, not just across a city, a county, a State, or even a country, but an entire continent. This continent is filled with countries with ever changing leaders, levels of corruption, borders, and accessibility options. In this plan, race, gender, and nationality must be considered. A Spanish guy crossing Libya is in no way common to an American crossing it.
We have been planning for the last six months, which is actually not such a long time in comparison to other overlanders. In that time, we flew from South Africa to Germany, then on to the United Kingdom where we stumbled upon a truck that I thought would be great to have in South Africa. There were many options open at that time and we looked at shipping the truck or driving the truck. Back then we couldn’t afford to ship the truck and decided that driving it would be best. Building the truck took time and a plan outline began to emerge. Once the truck was completed we needed to test the equipment and give Celine some training so we headed to Morocco for test runs. Those went well and we headed back into Europe so that I could meet my family in Ireland. We completed that part of the trip and returned to Germany to see what options were available to us in the present. For overland, we still needed to determine whether we could even afford a Carnet, but we also needed to determine whether we could still make safe passage.
Since we bought the truck, outfit it, tested it, and organized the administrative side of this immense journey Syria has fallen into a civil war that includes the use of chemical weapons leaving that route impassable, Iraq is still in turmoil leaving that route impassable (based off of information from a friend in country), Turkey began having violent protests and the conflict in Syria has spilled over its border into the town where the ferry crosses to Egypt. Egypt is in the midst of a coup and all ferries into the country have been shutdown, and two Americans tried to enter Sudan from the south and were denied visas.
We determined, through talking with a friend in Egypt, a friend who runs the country desk for Somalia, Ethiopia, and Sudan, and some other sources, that most of the trouble we would run into on this trip would be in the north. Why not ship the truck south and start there? Why not give these countries some time to figure things out and cool off? The trip will be the same, just starting from the opposite end giving us more time to prepare for the more difficult (politically) countries?
So the decision has been made. We will drop the truck in the UK on the 6th of September and it will be shipped to Cape Town. The same day we will fly to Cape Town and stay there until the truck arrives October 7th.
For a while I stubbornly struggled with this decision, thinking that I had to come from the north. I won’t let these things deter me. Well, having seen the horrors of combat, mob mentality, terrorism, and the like and having worked for the State Department where I often wondered how people got themselves into trouble, “Didn’t you read the travel advisories?” I decided I was being stubborn and prideful and that there is no reason to gamble our lives over a trip that can easily be flip-flopped to start from the other end.
In the end the Bible gave the correct answer in Proverbs 22:3, which says, “3 The wise see danger ahead and avoid it, but fools keep going and get into trouble.” Did I want to be wise or be a fool? I have been a stubborn fool before, not this time…