After a brief visit with Mother, Mary Charlotte and I left for Will’s home in Anderson for a visit and belated birthday celebration (my 62nd). We returned the following Monday for another doctor’s appointment at the Army Medical Center, but got no information on Mary Charlotte’s condition. Finally, on Friday we got the final medical papers from the AMC and mailed them to the South African Consulate in New York. All we had to do now was to wait for the approval of our request for permanent residence status in connection with my 3-year appointment as a senior lecturer in computer science at the University of Cape Town, at a salary of R9,900 (then about $14,000), and to begin the 1976 academic year (on or about March 1). Mary Jo and Clyde had sold their beautiful new home in Toledo, and we had to complete the transfer of our stored household and personal effects from there to Will’s home in Anderson. Accordingly, we left Hyattsville on November 10th for Anderson, took care of Mark and Emily while Will and Judy went to a 2-day computer conference, and then went to Toledo in Will’s van to cart the last of our things to his house. He had made an A-frame storage shed for them in his backyard. Ever since we had given up our home in Landover Hills four years earlier, I had to use one relative’s home after another as our “permanent” residence, in order to have a mail point and to qualify for a driver’s permit. We didn’t use Mother’s home, as then the State of Maryland would have demanded income tax on my pensions, so we had first used Mary Jo's home in Toledo until Ohio adopted an income tax, and then Will’s home in Nashville. Now that he had moved to Indiana I got an Indiana driving permit. Will arranged for several speaking engagements for me with students and faculty of Anderson College, but the groups were small (25, 25 and 10).

We left on Friday to return once again to Hyattsville, and had a near disaster, when three nuts on the left front wheel came off. It seems that I had failed to tighten them when I rotated the tires at Will’s. The Lord revealed the problem to us before an accident occurred, but it delayed us several hours to fix it. We spent the next month at Mother’s, with little of note to do — waiting can be quite tedious! Finally, on December 22nd we took the road to Anderson for the Christmas holidays with Will and family, visiting Mary Jo and Clyde on our return to Hyattsville on January 2nd. Not wanting to put up with the winter weather, we decided to go to Florida to wait, and settled in a nice motel on Panama City Beach. We spent the time walking the beach, throwing a stick in the water for Su-Su, who loved to swim after it in that cold water, and in looking at nearby real estate. Finally, on the 20th Marion called to tell us our permanent residence in South Africa had been approved, but a call to the New York consulate revealed that the permits were not expected for two weeks, because of vacations of personnel in Pretoria. Nevertheless, we decided to get our stuff shipped, and returned to Hyattsville to make those arrangements. Moore MacCormack agreed to carry them on a ship leaving Baltimore on February 9th, arriving at Cape Town 20 days later. The next week was spent in getting everything crated and shipping papers prepared. The 1974 Impala was made ready for shipment, with a full range of servicing done by a service station in Riverdale (MD), and Marion had agreed to drive it to the dock in Baltimore after our departure. I had emphasized to her not to give the trunk key to the dock agent, but she did anyhow, with the result that all my tools and spare parts I had bought to go to South Africa were stolen by either the longshoremen or the ship’s crew. Such is life! We had great difficulty in getting reservations on British Airways, and the permanent residence visas depended on the missing permits. We also had not received the dog import permit that we had applied for months before. I decided to go to South Africa on a tourist visa ahead of Mary Charlotte, and go personally to the government offices in Pretoria to get the necessary papers. Mary Charlotte would follow four days later.

I arrived in Pretoria on Wednesday (February 11), after two nights on airplanes, with a bad cold that had plagued me for the last two weeks. I found that our permits had been mailed to New York on the 4th and should have been there when I inquired for them on the 9th. They refused to reissue them, but promised me a letter saying that they had been issued. The letter was as good as the permits, and got my household goods and car through customs with no trouble. I got the dog permit the next day, and called Mary Charlotte to learn that she would arrive at noon on Sunday, bringing the dog with her. I nursed my cold on Friday, rented a car on Saturday, and drove to Johannesburg to be a guest of Dennis House Saturday night. Mary Charlotte arrived on time, and we got the veterinarian's approval to pick up the dog at 2:30. British Airways had made her buy a larger kennel for the dog, at an outrageous price, saying that the kennel I had bought didn’t meet their requirements. Marion had driven her and the dog to the Kennedy Airport, so she would not have to get the dog through New York City. I still had to return to Pretoria Monday to pick up the promised letter and get permanent resident stamps in our passports. We then took off for Cape Town, arriving on Wednesday after a look at the Big Hole in Kimberley, where hundreds of diamond-mad men had dug a pit 2500 deep and a half- mile across at the turn of the century.

We had written to Geoff Rutter to arrange accommodation for us that would accept Su-Su, and we found ourselves at the Hofmeyr’s (see Stella at right) where I had stayed with Terry Sparks the year before. He had also arranged for us to have the home of Mel Jones, a computer systems analyst for Univac that I had met the year before, who was going on vacation on Friday and wanted a house sitter. Mel also left us his second car, so I was able to turn in our rental. The first bad news was that the sailing of the Moore MacCormack ship that was due in ten days had been postponed. The second bad news was that the rand had been devalued by 20+% and my salary along with it, as well as my household shipping allowance, meaning that I would have to pay nearly $500 for what we had shipped. We had dinner with the Jones’ Thursday night, and made arrangements to pick up a set of keys after they had left. Mel gave me key to the back door to use when we came over Friday night. I spent the day Friday at the University, getting acquainted with people and lining up my job.

Friday night the Hofmeyr’s had invited us to a club for the celebration of a friend’s anniversary, and there we met Bishop Bradley, (see left) and his wife Shirley and learned of two possibilities for house rental, one of which worked out. We left the party early to get settled in our borrowed house, but to our horror the back door key didn’t work! The house was solidly locked up, but the living room windows were open, although protected by burglar bars. I could see the ring of front door keys on a table about ten feet from the window. Remembering the movie “How to Steal a Million,” I decided to try one of the techniques shown there, and went back to the Hofmeyrs to look for a long, light rod that I thought they must have to get cobwebs off the high ceilings in their vintage house. Sure enough, we found one and I went back to try my luck at fishing through the window for those keys. I made it on the very first try, and we got into our new home without further ado.

Our rental home at 49 Ranelagh Road, Claremont, was ready just as the Jones returned, so we didn’t have to go either to a motel or other host. Our ship was several weeks late, however, and we had to make do until it came. One of the church ladies, Maureen Van Eyssen, loaned us a kitchen table and chairs, tableware and some dishes. We bought a bed and bedding, and rented another car. When the ship came in, we had to hire a man to clear our stuff through customs, but we got our household goods and car in good condition. We attended St. James Church Sunday morning and evening and also began to take part in their weekly activities, finding the people most friendly and right on the ball theologically. The only trouble was that St. James was Church of England, but not like any Anglican church we had ever attended. For several weeks we tried all the Presbyterian churches in the accessible part of Cape Town, and didn’t like any of them. From the beginning, since my message and interview there the previous year, I wanted to make St. James my church, and Mary Charlotte soon agreed. From then on we were at the church every time the doors were open, almost literally. It also turned out that Bishop Bradley was presiding bishop of the Church of England in South Africa (CESA) — the tiny denomination to which St. James belonged, not the major Anglican denomination in South Africa. CESA was founded as an evangelical offshoot in the preceding century that refused to go Anglo-Catholic at that time with the rest of the clergy. Bishop Bradley lived less than a half block from us on Ranelagh Road. Two weeks after we had moved in, there were riots among the colored population around Cape Town (the colored constitute 80% of the residents of Greater Cape Town), and a citizen’s night patrol was instituted to be on the alert for arson. I drew Bishop Bradley as my companion on my night of duty and I had a delightful hour from 2am to 3am getting acquainted with him as he drove us around. We had no trouble.

Classes at the University began on March 2nd, and I found myself with an 8am class and a 4pm class, with nothing in between. These were both Fortran classes, one for business school students (which was mandatory) and one for all other faculties (which was elective). I had to develop a course outline for each group, and almost immediately prepare the final examination, as this had to be approved by a referee from another university! I had to develop three programming tasks, emphasizing statistical applications, in progressive difficulty. The course grade would be determined from three examinations and the three programs. I found the British style of university work somewhat oppressive. Many of the students went to school to escape the draft, just as many in the US had done, and some just didn’t care what grades they got, as they could take six years, government subsidized (55%), to complete a three-year curriculum. Professor MacGregor, it seems, had been appointed head of the department of computer science only because no one else answered the advertisement for the position. The ad had been published in every English-speaking country in the world, and offered a rather low salary. He had never taught at the university level, and had been a salesman for a British computer company (ICL) in South Africa when he applied. Although I had a parking place right under my office window, I always found when I returned after taking the car out during the day that someone had stolen the place, making it necessary for me to park in a distant student lot. I finally got tired of this, and sold my place for what I paid for it to the department secretary.

We Settle In

Life in a new country takes a lot of learning. About the second Saturday we were in our house, we had gone downtown for some errands, and had to walk several blocks from where we parked. I didn’t notice the light change on the street we were crossing, and before we could get across, one car with a jackrabbit start had covered the block between us. When I saw we wouldn’t have time to make the far side, I pulled Mary Charlotte back to let him go in front of us. Thinking we would continue, he swerved to go behind us, and ran right into us. He had almost stopped, and I merely fell over the hood, but she was knocked down. A crowd gathered immediately, and an ambulance was called for. It soon came and took her away. I got back to my car as soon as I could, and went to the hospital, where I found her in the emergency area, about to be X-rayed. A half-hour later she came back, apparently none the worse, praise the Lord. I paid the ridiculously low bill for the ambulance and X-rays, and we went home. Shortly after getting my car cleared by the Automobile Association, I heard a growl from the rear end and took it to a filling station. They found the rear end dry of grease! That filling station in Riverdale must have emptied the old grease and failed to put any new in. The growl persisted, and I tried to get new gears, but they were unavailable. A mechanic friend at the church, who specialized on foreign cars, took the rear end down and examined the gears, putting them back. He said I might be lucky and the gears would grind themselves in again; if not, I would have to send to the US for new gears. They did heal themselves, or else the Lord healed them for me, because the growl slowly disappeared. We were not able to use the washer and drier we had brought with us. We had been advised by our friends in the US not to open the crates, as they would stand the shipment better if in the original sealed cartons. When we did get them opened, we found that the drier had an open-circuit in the motor, and no amount of searching could find it a new motor that would fit. US washers are built for hot water input that is under the same pressure as the cold water. Hot water heaters in Cape Town were low pressure types, with only gravity to make the water run to your faucets. Local washers take in only cold water, and heat some of it for the washing. There was no way we could use the washer. For our whole stay in South Africa we had to use the laundromats. Before finding all this out, I had revamped the maid’s bathroom to be the laundry room, running electrical service from the panel board in the kitchen. White homes are built with a small bedroom and bathroom for a colored live-in maid, which practically every white woman has. Mary Charlotte wouldn’t have one, and became quite unpopular with the many such that applied for a job. What a disappointment after all that work to find it was all in vain. The worst of the matter came a year later, when the owners of the house moved back to Cape Town and wanted their house back. I had to restore the maid’s bathroom at considerable expense. The house had ventilator holes built into the upper wall, as tropical homes do, although Cape Town was far from being tropical. When the winter cold set in a few months after our arrival, I got cellophane and covered all these holes. When I tried to put in some more electrical outlets in the living room, I found that the interior walls were solid poured concrete. The original wiring had been put in before the walls were poured, and one would have to tear down a wall to install a new buried wire. We had our first Easter week-end less than a month after setting up housekeeping, and in ignorance had failed to stock up our food to cover the four-day period when nearly all stores were closed — four days! Only the so-called cafes, which are much like our convenience stores only with no canned goods, bread, milk or other staples — just candy, soft drinks, junk food, magazines and the like. It was a long week end. Even most restaurants were closed. Grocery store prices were topsy-turvy to our experience. Local products were quite cheap, but all processed foods were two to three times our costs, and choices were extremely limited. Just when we found a brand to our liking, the store would get new supplies, invariably different brands. Whole wheat bread was subsidized, and very cheap. But the loaves had no wrappers, and were handled by the store personnel like fruit or vegetables. Some stores did not supply paper bags. You had to bring your own. Stores closed at five or five-thirty, just as I was getting home from the University, making it necessary for us to do all our shopping Saturday morning. Stores closed at noon Saturday until Monday. The economy was far from being ordered for the convenience of the buying public. My salary had appeared to be adequate when we decided to come here, but I found it difficult to make ends meet. I wondered how it was possible for the whites who made far less than I to get along, to say nothing of the colored who made about a third of the average white income. It was an economy that took some getting used to.

After a few weeks I began to get speaking opportunities at churches and schools, and for a short while they came once or twice a week. I was invited to bring the message at a Presbyterian church in Pinelands, and wound up conducting the whole service. It must not have been very well done, because I was not invited again. I had settled down to the routine of teaching, but wasn’t reacting too well to the weather of approaching winter. Cape Town has its rainy season in winter, and we had one occasion where we had a winter rain storm that lasted a full eight days. The wind would blow the rain horizontally, making it impossible to walk about without getting drenched. I had the flu off and on nearly half the time. As we would have a short school holiday of five weeks in July and early August — midwinter — I had no difficulty in persuading Mary Charlotte to go with me for a holiday in Rhodesia, which had very mild winters. Also conditions were rapidly worsening there, and over certain highway routes, private cars had to go in convoy with military escort, usually only once a day. I had made a number of contacts there as well as in South Africa, and thought I could make myself useful with space-film meetings. Thus we got invitations all along the way, and would have the pleasure of staying in homes rather than hotels for much of our time away.

Holiday in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe)

Geoff Rutter’s secretary Linda Boyes had agreed to stay in our house with her sister Alison while we were away, looking after Su-Su for us. Youth for Christ had also furnished us with accommodation and me with speaking engagements at several places along our way, both in South Africa and in Rhodesia. The first of these was Welkom, where Terry Sparks’ gold mine was. Our hosts there were Philip and Sally Alberts, children of Louw Alberts, YFC president, and I had a meeting with the YFC Saturday Club. The next morning, I was invited to bring the message at the Methodist Church Sunday service in Kronstadt, on the way to Pretoria. Reaching there that evening we had an informal presentation to the Fick family and friends, who were our hosts. The Ficks were a remarkable family. Dr. Fick was an ear specialist, and had been Springbok rugby player in college. That means he made the all-South Africa rugby team — like our All-American team members. He was on the board that elected the Springbok team members each year. He had grown up on a farm in an Afrikaans family, whose black workers were Xhosa-speaking. So he was fluent in that African language. His wife also grew upon a farm, but the black people were Zulus — she was fluent in Zulu. Now their yard workers under Dr. Fick were Xhosa and their house workers under Mrs. Fick were Zulu. Each of them held Christian meetings each week for their respective workers and friends in their native language, evangelizing them and discipling those who responded. That is what Christianity is all about, becoming reconciled with one's enemies and making them one’s friends. Derek Weston had set me up for meetings in a number of high schools and colleges, with over 4,000 young people in attendance. I remember one school where the first-period assembly was supposed to be my time. However, the school team had won a hard-fought game the previous day, and the principal took half of my time to praise the players and the school over the victory. He had asked me not to run overtime, and seemed not to be at all eager for me to be there. I asked the Lord to give just the right words for the occasion and started speaking. I felt lifted up as I have seldom been, and that my voice was from someone else. I kept expecting the five-minute signal I had asked for, but it didn’t come. I gave my hole presentation, which takes about 35 minutes, going overtime at least 20 minutes. When I asked the principal why he hadn’t given me the signal, he said he would have let me speak all day!

Leaving Pretoria Monday morning we went to the border at Beitbridge, but missed the military convoy by 15 minutes (it left at 2pm), and we had to stay overnight and go in the 7am convoy to Fort Victoria. We had a delightful two days with Ted and Colleen Nineham, who took us to the Zimbabwe ruins. Then we went on to Salisbury (now Harrare), in convoy half the way, and found that we were to be guests in the home of Des and Gwen Kobus for the next four days. On one of the several short sightseeing trips around Salisbury, we had to climb a small hill to see a statue of Cecil Rhodes. Mary Charlotte fainted on the way up, the first time this had happened in many years. She recovered in 15 minutes or so and seemed no worse for the experience, but why remained a puzzling mystery. I had speaking engagements on all but one of our days there, including two church services on Sunday. We left Tuesday for Kariba, the site of the great dam across the Zambesi River that provides power for much of Rhodesia and Zambia. Kariba Lake behind it is one of the world’s largest artificial lakes. We drove out on the dam above the place where the excess water shoots out from the dam’s side in a magnificent waterfall to the valley far below, where it joins the outlets from the turbines that power the generators. We stayed there a day and a half, mostly resting and playing scrabble. We then returned to South Africa, retracing our steps and staying with the same hosts in Salisbury and Fort Victoria. On our way back to Cape Town we visited Kruger National Park. Because it took so long to go through customs at Beitbridge, we were 15 minutes too late to enter the park that day and had to stay in a very expensive motel outside. It was a disappointing visit, as the animals don’t come near the roads in the winter time, as they do in summer. We got back to 49 Ranelagh Road just four weeks after leaving. It was the last good time to visit Rhodesia for years to come.

Life in Cape Town

The fall semester at the University was pretty much a repetition of the spring one. My course load was the same, but now new courses for the next year were in the making. I was to prepare a curriculum for business-oriented computer science majors, as well as to continue the elementary Fortran course that involved half the department’s students. The University used Univac’s Model 1106 computer, a clone of the top-of-the-line 1108 which had had its speed of operation cut in half and its price nearly as much. Univac had just released its version of the 1974 update of COBOL, the programming language used by 80% of all data processing installations in the world. This update introduced many new features including real-time operation, data bases and communications interfaces. I was supposed to implement this version in my COBOL courses, so had to learn about the new features myself. I had great trouble with two of them. Try as I would, I could not make them work, although I tried to do just what the manual said. To make matters worse, none of the Univac experts in South Africa knew anything about the new system. I even wrote to Will, hut he couldn’t find anyone who knew how to handle these features. I eventually stumbled on to the correct procedures, but it was after months of frustration.

St. James Church was becoming more and more the center point of both our lives. Our church friends here, just as they had been in the communities hack home, provided our entire social life. We became particularly fond of an older couple, Leslie and Radie Goatham (see left). Les was the verger of the church, a position not found in US churches. He was responsible for the upkeep and repair of the church property, opening and closing the church for its various meetings, and keeping it clean, but had colored men to do the physical work. He also prepared the communion elements and ran the tape department, which recorded each worship service. I know these duties well, because I substituted for him for three months just before winding up our stay in South Africa in November 1978. He was greatly loved by all the people, and one of the buildings had been named after him even while he continued as verger. We saw them again in 1990, when nearly 80, living in a nursing home.

Mary Charlotte became particularly thick with two women her age, Drina Binedell and Rhona Romburg. Drina is a divorcee who never remarried, and Rhona a spinster who lived with Drina for some years. There were many other people we came to know and love, including a colored couple (members of the church) and a black man named Samson Ramabulana, who served for a while as the ambassador to the South African government from Venda, his homeland. Four of our younger friends later entered seminary and became pastors in the denomination, even though they had teen-age children and good jobs. I instituted a system of registration for persons attending the worship services, quite common in the US but virtually unknown in South Africa. St. James Church was growing fast, but so many were coming as visitors from other churches that it was quite difficult to know what the real growth was. These records proved invaluable to determine real growth, and formed the basis for building a 1,000-seat sanctuary some years later.

Mother’s Death

I had been reluctant to leave Mother and come to South Africa. We discussed the matter several times before I accepted the post. Mother, in her usual self-effacing way, urged me to take the job, saying she had no idea how much longer she might live, as she had already lived 20 years longer than she had ever expected. When we left in February, Mother was being cared for by the Rodriguez husband and wife team, and was quite happy to live her last days in the house that had been her home for more than half a century. She had always been such a faithful correspondent when I was away from Hyattsville, but now we heard very little directly from her, or from anyone in the family. On Saturday, November 6th, I woke up after a vivid dream in which I clearly saw Mother and heard her call me, “Francis, Francis". I remarked about this to Mary Charlotte and she remembers the incident well. The next morning a policeman brought me a wire from Margaret, saying that Mother had slipped into a coma, and was not expected to recover; that I could decide whether or not I should come home now, or wait for her imminent death. I decided to wait. We had planned to come home for the Christmas holiday season, leaving at the formal end of the school term. We had purchased tickets to London, and had Mike Emery purchase excursion-rate round-trip tickets for us from London to Washington. On Wednesday, November 24th, a wire came from Marion, telling of Mother’s death that day, and that the funeral was set for the following Monday. I had finished all my formal school responsibilities for the term, so requested permission to leave two weeks early on the following Saturday, so as to be able to attend Mother’s funeral. Permission was granted. When I told Mary Charlotte she said she couldn’t get ready that soon, so I asked for compassionate reservation privilege for myself only, as there was a long standby list for the Saturday flight to London. When I got home Thursday night, Mary Charlotte said, “You are not going to leave me alone in this country!” We had the University travel agent working all day Friday to get a seat for her, which was not confirmed until just before closing time. Saturday morning we left Cape Town for Johannesburg to change planes for London. We had been able to arrange a couple named Pearson who were just starting the ministry at one of the denomination churches to live in the house while we were away, and take care of the car and Su-Su. I could not get our tickets from London to Washington changed in Cape Town, as they had been issued in London, so we were told we would have to get them changed at Heathrow. We had a two hour connection time, so thought that would be no problem. How wrong we were! Because of a “petrol-handlers” strike at Heathrow. the SAA plane stopped in Paris before London (instead of the scheduled order London-Paris) in order to refuel there. That made us an hour late arriving. I was told I could get the tickets changed at the transient ticket counter, but when I got my turn in line, the agent said I would have to go to the main counter in the international departure building. That meant getting our bags, going through immigration and customs, walking through the rain with our bags, and then finding the departure building jam packed with people with queues of 20 or more at every counter. And now we had 20 minutes before our flight departed! It turned out that our ticket change was handled at a counter in a corner of the building, so I rushed there to find all agents busy. But just then an agent came out from the rear and took my case. He made up new tickets, collected £50 from me, and said we had five minutes to get to the departure gate. We ran as fast as we could up the stairs and down the corridor, and reached the gate just they were about to close it. We got on, with the plane pulling away even before we had time to sit down. Phew! The plane was only half full, and due to the strike had to stop at the Shannon (Ireland) airport for refueling, for which we had to wait over an hour for our turn. We arrived in the early evening (Washington time) 2-1/2 hours late and dead tired, but were so glad see Mike and Billy Henney there to meet us. They took us to Mother’s house, where we met Mary Jo, who told us of the assembling of the family and close friends at the Gasch Funeral Home in Hyattsville for the final viewing before the church funeral service the next morning. Mother was buried in the Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Baltimore, next to Dad and her brother Wilbur, attended by Marion, Margaret and Bob, Mary Jo and Clyde, Bertie and Tom Cashell, Lynne, Adele, the entire Henney family and us. It was a sad but heart-warming occasion, as our family had not been together since Mother’s 88th birthday reunion over six years previously. We were deeply grateful to God who made it possible for us to be there.

Holiday in the US

After three days of visiting friends and my former associates at Goddard, we flew to Toledo to help Mary Jo and Clyde move to their new apartment, and to borrow their car to go to Anderson. The heater wasn’t working and a cold spell was in the making, the temperature dropping 20-25 degrees while we were on the way. We arrived in 12-degree weather nearly frozen! Mr. Reyes had invited me to come once again to Cuernavaca, so I took the availability of these two extra weeks to do so, flying down on December 6th and returning on the 17th. He arranged speaking engagements for me at a number of churches in and around Cuernavaca and Mexico City, including his own, of course. We stayed at Will’s home for most of our time in the US, so as to be able to speak to Will’s classes at Anderson College, which convened on January 4th. I remember particularly during the week after Christmas preparing 50 packages of my book "Beyond Science” (11 pounds each) to be mailed parcel post to St. James Church in Cape Town, where Pastor Frank Retief gave them to people he counseled -- hundreds of them! When I went to the post office to mail them at 10:30am on December 31st, the thermometer at the nearby bank read 27 degrees below zero! We returned Mary Jo’s car to Toledo, after getting the heater fixed, and they took us to the Detroit airport to fly to Washington, and on to London. When we deplaned at London we were told that the baggage compartment door had been frozen shut, and we had to sit two hours in the unheated customs building until our bags finally came. We stayed with the Emerys for four days, getting caught up on our sleep and then left Heathrow on our SAA flight to Jo’burg. That flight was non-stop, 14 hours in the air. The plane was completely full, and we had front-row seats which were not comfortable. I was as close to exhaustion as I had ever been in my life when we arrived in Johannesburg, and we still had to get to Cape Town and home. Les Goatham met us at the airport after I called him from there, and we got home January 18th to find that the Pearsons had left two days before, the dog was starving, and there was no food in the house.

Life in Cape Town wasn't that bad. There were several beautiful parks and we enjoyed visiting them (see left). I had six weeks to prepare for my new classes, and that was barely sufficient. The next few months were life as usual, until the owners of our house wanted it back and we had to find another. A relative of Leslie’s had renovated an old house at 81 Haywood Road, in the town of Crawford, several miles further from Kenilworth (where the church was) and Rondebosch (where the university was), but not so far as to be inconvenient. We rented it and moved in on June 17, with a lease I wrote that said the owner could not break it until we left for the US — I didn’t want to be pushed out again. However, that lease was to hang me when we wanted to break it later. I received a few invitations for meetings, particularly during the mid-winter school break, but in my whole three years there at the university I had fewer opportunities than I had had during the four weeks with Youth for Christ in early 1975. I was elected to the church council in January and served there for the rest of my stay in South Africa, attending the synod meeting in Johannesburg in the fall of 1977 and again in 1978. I also attended in late June a 2-day computer seminar sponsored (and paid for) by ICL, the British computer company, for computer science lecturers in South Africa universities. One of my purposes in taking the teaching job was to be able to evangelize student and faculty there from the inside. I found that next to impossible. When I was a “VIP” from overseas, organizations fell over one another to invite me to meetings, but when I was just another university lecturer, the invitations were few and far between. I found UCT to be a very cold place, socially as well as religiously. The faculty were not at all friendly to me (not hostile — just completely indifferent), and spent more time jockeying for political position than anything else, so it seemed to me. There were several small student Christian groups and one faculty group, but the total was less than 1% of the student body. Perhaps the most active organization on campus was run by Roger and Leslie Palmer of the YMCA. They had me speak at their off-campus student center quite a few times, and we got to know them quite well. They attended at St. James whenever their work with the students permitted. The man who impressed me the most among the South Africans we got to know was Frank Retief, the rector of St. James. He was a deep student of the Bible, and believed his congregation should understand its doctrines. He taught a Wednesday night Bible class, which was midway through the 7th chapter of Romans when we came on the scene. When we left nearly three years later, he had just gotten up to the end of Chapter 8.

The Sunday evening service was geared to attract the non-Christian. Every such service was evangelistic, with an “altar call" at the end. Teams of church people would pray throughout the service on a rotating basis, and other teams of counselors would talk to those who responded to the call. Mary Charlotte and I took the training courses for this duty, and served regularly on our appointed Sunday nights. Another way of attracting people was home dinner parties. Mary Charlotte had several of these in our home (see right). One of the men in the administration department at the university with whom I had had business (Mike Steele) came through the counseling room on one of my nights and chose me to talk to. I do not even remember the occasion, but he told me later that was the start of his commitment to Christ that finally took him to seminary and a pastorate, where I had the privilege of speaking on a recent visit to Cape Town.

Mary Jo and Clyde Visit Us

One of the highlights of our three years at UCT was the January 1978 visit of Mary Jo and Clyde. They had talked to us about it at Mother’s funeral, and we encouraged them to come at that time, when I would be free and the country would be having mid-summer weather. Margaret and Bob had already been to South Africa, and didn’t care to go again. I had given up keeping diary by this time, so I no longer have exact dates and places to relate to you, but the general facts of the visit are sweet memories. We met their plane at Johannesburg, and drove them around the country, visiting all the major cities, both Swaziland and Lesotho, and points of interest such as Kruger National Park, several game parks in Natal, and of course the Big Hole in Kimberley, diamond capital of the world. We shared the driving and split expenses, making me feel that I was really not a host, but they would have it no other way. Clyde is a bird watcher, and he was able to add quite a number of new birds to his long list. They shared our interest in animals, and particularly enjoyed the game parks. We had planned to exit Kruger by its south entrance to go directly to nearby Swaziland, but heavy floods required the closing of that gate, and we had to leave by such a round-about route that we lost a full day. Also the roads in Swaziland were too bad to permit us to visit the Trans World Radio station there, for which I was particularly disappointed. We had a very interesting conversation with the hotel manager in Mbabana, the Swaziland capital, about the royal family and the affairs of that little kingdom. It was all too soon that they left Cape Town to fly to Jo’burg and on to Victoria Falls, which we had told them was a must, before flying to Kenya and a visit to Tree Lodge, a famous game park there. They later told us how nearly deserted the beautiful hotel at Victoria Falls was, and how few people were on their Rhodesian Air Line flights between Livingston and Jo’burg.

As mentioned earlier, Mary Charlotte and I moved into the verger’s quarters at St. James Church in August 1978, so that Les and Radie Goatham could take a 3-month trip to Australia, where they both had close relatives. I tried to break my lease, but the landlord insisted I had to pay him or else get another tenant, and got a lawyer to enforce his demand. We were paying more than we should, and no one else would pay that much, so I had to pay clear up to our departure date, even though we lived at the church the last three months. Living at the church was quite an experience, and one that I would not care to repeat. I never before had been exposed to the demanding side of church people, but some of these were downright unreasonable! It made me appreciate Leslie’s ability to function without ever flying off the handle — a quality I’m afraid I don’t possess.

We Prepare to Go Home

Our three years were coming to a close, and I must say I was glad to think we would be going back to the good old USA. Mary Charlotte had been planning for sometime to settle in a little town south of Miami called Homestead, which was the farthest south of any place on the map not in the Florida keys (which had too bad a hurricane reputation to interest her). She had once wanted to settle in Southern California for our retirement home, but the enormous escalation in prices there made that out of the question. We had been saving my pensions to provide a nest egg for buying a home, and Mary Charlotte had decided she wanted four acres, so that she could have a garden, chickens, and a fish farm. I had expected to make a killing when the time came to sell my car, but alas! the rust from the Cape Town salt air had so covered the underbody that no one would buy it for the kind of money I was asking — R5,000. After advertising it for several months in a Sunday only paper that went all over South Africa, I finally got a call from a dealer near Johannesburg who said he had a client that he would bring to Cape Town to see it. When he got there, he said the client was interested, but that he, the dealer, would have to strip the car to get all the rust off it, and that would cost him R2,000 or so. He offered me R2,500, take it or leave it. I took it — with only three weeks left — before going back to the US. He gave me a check he had made out to himself, which he endorsed, and took all my papers, which he said he had to have to register the car. When I went to deposit his check, the bank refused it, as they they would not take third party checks, not even for deposit. That check was the only evidence I had left of the deal. Was I in a stew! The dealer had had me sign a bill of sale for R4,500 which he said he had to have for his client, even though he had paid me only R2,500. Now, I thought, the Lord is letting me have it for falsifying a record! Fortunately for me, the dealer called a few days later to get some information on the car, and I asked him to send me a check made out to me. I refused to return the check which he first wanted me to do, but I told him that he could stop payment on it. He did send me the second check, which the bank accepted. This taught me that the Lord can assess real penalties on His children who deliberately do wrong!

Leslie had said he would like to have Su-Su, who had become quite attached to him as he gave her almost daily exercise while I was working, but Mary Charlotte couldn’t think of letting her stay with him. Since we would have no home in Homestead upon arrival, we decided to leave Su-Su with Leslie and let him send her to us a week later than our flight. We had heard that Argentine Air Lines made a specialty of transporting animals, so we booked her with them. It didn’t turn out as well as we thought it would, because they bumped Su-Su in Buenos Aires and kept her in her kennel an extra day without food, water or opportunity to relieve herself. She was a sad looking dog, parched, starving and full of excrement when we finally got her in Miami. So much for airlines that specialize in animal transport!

For ourselves, we found the best bet to be Varig (the Brazilian Air Line), as its flight originated in Jo’burg, but stopped in Cape Town before crossing the South Atlantic to Rio. We would have to change planes in Rio to complete our journey to Miami, but the connection was good. I had been invited, almost at the last minute, to have meetings in Bloemfontein and Jo’burg. By using Varig, I would get a free ticket to those cities in order to initiate my flight from Jo'burg, because the South African government required all foreign air lines to base their fares from Jo’burg, even those which went directly from Cape Town to South America. Mary Charlotte would board my plane when it stopped in Cape Town on its way to Rio. That worked out real well. The only incident worth commenting on was an unpleasant one I had in Jo’burg the day before I was to leave. I had left my hotel to walk to the post office a few blocks away. Although there were many pedestrians on the side walk, I temporarily was in the open, when suddenly someone jumped on my back, threw his arms around my throat, cutting off my wind, and tried to get my wallet out of my pants pocket. It was a 10-year-old black boy who was being trained in this technique by an older boy. As soon as I recovered from my surprise I tore his arms from my throat and hollered for help. He jumped off and both disappeared in the crowd. No one paid any attention to me! He didn’t get my wallet, which had practically nothing in it, but I had a sore adam’s apple for a couple of days.

Although we didn’t know it then, our ties with our many new friends in this part of the world were not being permanently broken. Just how many there were was evident at our departure from the Cape Town airport, as 40-50 of them came to see us off, headed by Frank and Beulah Retief. It was a hard farewell!

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