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As Paul Harvey Would Say....the Rest Of The Story


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#31 HowardsMF155 ONLINE  

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Posted September 05, 2012 - 10:16 PM

Howard, thank you for sharing those great stories. What an amazing childhood.

Do you miss Africa, or do you return occasionally?

Dave, I suppose that for me the saying "you can't go home again" is very true. As long as Mom and Dad lived in Africa, I would visit every couple of years. But after they retired and moved to the states, it became VERY difficult to arrange a visit. And with them in the states, there was far less reason to visit. I wouldn't have posted the poem I did if there weren't some truth to it though. I think that while I would like to return, the magic has gone.
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#32 HowardsMF155 ONLINE  

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Posted September 05, 2012 - 10:24 PM

Great stories Howard. I bet you're a good one to have around the campfire... Reading that makes me realize that no one from my generation in this country know what it's like to live without so many conveniences.

tell us more!

Two-step, one reason I keep things quiet is that every story I want to tell needs some sort of preface. Simply blurting out "Small world? check this out: there was this one time I picked up some hitchhikers on the Great North road and it turned out I'd met them in the Wake county health office when we were all getting immunized against cholera and yellow fever" requires so much back story it kind of kills the story. My kids do love to hear my stories though.
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#33 Michiganmobileman OFFLINE  

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Posted September 07, 2012 - 12:27 PM

Thanks for the history Howard, it sounds like you had a very rewarding and interesting childhood. Also this gave me a little better insight into the work of missionaries overseas :thumbs: .
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#34 HowardsMF155 ONLINE  

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Posted September 07, 2012 - 08:08 PM

Thanks for the history Howard, it sounds like you had a very rewarding and interesting childhood. Also this gave me a little better insight into the work of missionaries overseas :thumbs: .

You're welcome. Personally, I think we had a better time of it than many of the other missionaries. We usually had better access to fresh food due to being on the farm, and we had better control over our "utilities". I remember one ingenious fellow, we called him Uncle Tom (all the missionaries attained uncle and aunt status-made up for moving away from true relatives) who rigged up a water tank in his attic and fed the rest of his house from that tank. Water was spotty where they were, but with the tank and a float valve, when the water would run, it would fill his tank and he could use water when he needed it instead of whenever it came on. We pumped water from the irrigation ditch into a tank and had near normal water pressure all the time. Of course, we all boiled all our water before we drank it--even the ice cubes and teeth brushing water came from water that had been boiled.
Speaking of boiling, our hot water can from an ingenious little device we called a Rhodesian boiler. You build a firebox with a chimney, then put a 55 gallon metal drum resting over the firebox. Close everything in with brick and mortar, then build a fire in the firebox and you have hot water. Now, if you put TOO much fire in the firebox, you could actually get the water to boil a little, and that would knock all the rust and such loose from the tank walls and mix it up pretty good. Then, when you ran a bath, your water was brown before you ever got in.
I've already mentioned the diesel generators that ran part time. Of course, with only a generator, we didn't have a lot of power so that's why we used the Rhodesian boilers.. We had lights for every room, a pump for water, chest freezer, a fridge and a washer and dryer. Sometimes, though, we had to trade off. No pump while the dryer runs, make sure lights are off, things like that. Because of the relatively mild climate we never really had to have much heat, but sometimes Dad would set up a little space heater, especially when he was doing paperwork in his office in the evenings, but mostly we used wood for heat, as many of the rooms had fireplaces. Air conditioning was out of the question, both in the home and in autos.
We never got phone service, though. Right up to the day they retired, if they wanted to make a call they had to drive to town and arrange to use one of the few phones in town to place the call. Usually, it was cheaper for me to call them, so we would arrange a time in advance. After they retired and I got a cell phone I got so spoiled, because I could call and talk while I drove in to work. Nothing earth-shattering, but so enjoyable after the lack of regular communication earlier.
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#35 caseguy OFFLINE  

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Posted September 07, 2012 - 09:22 PM

I am loving this story Howard! It reminds me of the stories that my Grandmother told me when I was a younger man. I think that you actually had it a little better than they did. My Grandmother was married and had started her family before the great depression. When I asked her what that had been like she replied "I never knew there was a depression, we were poor farmers who rarely traded with money. If you wanted some ham or bacon, you traded some eggs or vegetables to the pig farmer down the road."
What I believe is the common thread is the sense of community that you must have felt with the local folks that depended on you and that you in turn depended on. Sadly, much of that has been lost in today's society. I must say however, that this rag-tag group of garden tractor collectors is reassuring me that it still exists and gives me a little hope!
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#36 coldone OFFLINE  

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Posted September 08, 2012 - 07:25 AM

Howard, Thank you for the stories. Thank you and your family for the sacrifices that yall made so that you spread the Gospel.Being a young 40 years old and spending all of my life in the comfort of USA, I always find it amazing how good we do have it here. I didnt grow up poor or in hard times, my life has been relatively comfortable. I think alot of people, some older alot younger, than me do not realize just how good we have it here in the States. I always try to share stories like yours with my family to remind them that even though we are not rich we are alot better off than most of the world. Not to politisize this but to point out How good the States are (and most modern first world nations) poverty here is not like poverty in other parts of the world.

Thankfully, I work in a place that is a mixing pot of people from different parts of the world. I get to hear stories of growing up from every contenint. They are stories that inspire, like yours. After hearing some of these stories and seeing what these people have accomplished withe their lives you cant help but to be inspired to believe that you can do better and be a better person. Like your stories, they make me realize how good I do have it and it makes me more thankfull for what I do have.

Thanks for sharing.
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#37 HowardsMF155 ONLINE  

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Posted September 11, 2012 - 09:06 PM

I was reading something Olcowhand posted today ( http://gardentractor...y/page__st__330 ) and it reminded me of an interesting episode from my youth. Dad and I had gone to Mkushi (about 2 hours south of our farm) to visit some good friends of the family, Uncle Barton and Aunt Yvonne. Now, this family was not related to us, but they had the warmth and friendliness you usually find in families, so they also gained aunt and uncle status. Uncle Barton had a HUGE farm, much bigger than ours, and he ran quite a few cattle as well. On the day I have in mind, he wanted to show us his new tick dip. I don't know how they handle things here in the states, but what Uncle Barton did was to build a pen, install a "crush", which is a narrow walkway that forces the cattle to walk in a particular direction, then dead-ended the crush in the dip pool. At that point, the dip pool was about 5-6 feet deep, and then it ramped slowly back up to ground level so the cattle could walk out of it. So, what is supposed to happen is that the cattle are herded into the pen, then pushed into the crush, then forced to jump into the dip pool, getting completely immersed, then walking back up onto dry land and moving on to what ever fate had in store next. Just about the time we pulled up, though, something went wrong. One cow went into the dip, and managed to get flipped around so he was headed back for the deep end. Of course, he couldn't scramble out of the deep end, but we managed to get the flow of cows stopped pretty quickly so he didn't get trampled and drowned. First, they tried to coax him out, I even remember one man grabbing the cow's tail (I think they actually were steers, beef cattle), but of course that just made that steer pull in the opposite direction. So now the steer is swimming and splashing, and his horns haven't been cut, so that's an issue also. I'm not sure who thought of roping the steer's head first, but we got some rope out, and Uncle Barton sent one of his men into the rafters of the roof which protected the dip pool from rainwater. He made a loop in the rope, then hung from his knees and tried repeatedly to get the loop over the steer's head. Finally, he managed to snag the steer and pull the loop tight so it wouldn't slip off, then we were able to pull his head around until he was facing in the correct direction and took off up the ramp. When he reached dry land, he stood there rolling his eyes and showing white all around, with that rope draped across his face. We let him calm down for a while, then carefully retrieved the rope. It seemed like there was always some excitement when we visited Uncle Barton.
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#38 HowardsMF155 ONLINE  

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Posted September 11, 2012 - 09:45 PM

I'll tell another Uncle Barton story, because it ties back into the Hydro story that I've told before on here. When Dad was in the early stages of planning for his hydro-electric plant, he heard about another missionary outpost (different denomination) that had a working installation and he wanted to see it. It turned out that Uncle Barton actually knew "roughly" where the mission was located, and he also wanted to see the hydro installation. So he and Dad planned a trip, and I got to go along. I think the original plan was to drive to Uncle Barton's, then let him drive to the mission and back, then spend the night at his house, then return to our house the following morning. It is quite possible we intended to buy half a steer from Uncle Barton on the day we went back to our home, but I don't remember if that worked out. So, we got up early, drove two hours to Uncle Barton's, then moved our food and drink coolers over to his old Mercedes. Off we went again, on what was supposed to be another 2 or 3 hour drive. Things went well as we left the farm, got back onto the asphalt road and drove off. But after about and hour of driving Uncle Barton said "I need to stop, the car is overheating." So we stop, and find that the radiator is mostly empty. We used the melt water from the cooler to top off the radiator, and Uncle Barton says "I know someone nearby". So we detour off to this true shade tree mechanic, I mean we parked the Mercedes in the shade of a tree and the guy starts working on it. After a bit he shows us a small hole in the radiator itself and says, yes, he can solder this shut. So he does, re-installs the radiator, and off we go again, only now we aren't on the asphalt road any more, we are driving on dirt roads.
I don't know how long it was until Uncle Barton says, "It's overheating again", but we still hadn't made it to the mission. The good news is that the road we are on has been rolling up and down, and just about every valley has had a small stream. So we improvise water containers, add water to the radiator and go again. Fortunately, we only had to stop twice more for overheating, and water was available both times. We finally rolled into the mission late in the day and they were good enough to invite us to spend the night and use their tools to fix the radiator on the Mercedes.
We toured the hydro installation the following day, it was very interesting. It was an older style, with a mechanical governor. A vane set in the water flow would divert more or less water in response to changing power demands. We had seen the lights dimming and brightening through the evening, now it was apparent that the mechanical system took several seconds to respond to changing loads. I think Dad probably discussed flow and head characteristics with the folks there, but couldn't say for sure. Our trip back to Mkushi was uneventful, as was our trip back to our house.
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#39 KennyP ONLINE  

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Posted September 12, 2012 - 02:22 AM

That was great reading. Thanks again for sharing this with us!
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#40 LilysDad ONLINE  

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Posted September 12, 2012 - 07:02 AM

The few missionaries I've heard of, had to spend so much time in the States to raise money and then go back to their mission. I always thought that was odd.
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#41 HowardsMF155 ONLINE  

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Posted September 12, 2012 - 09:39 AM

The few missionaries I've heard of, had to spend so much time in the States to raise money and then go back to their mission. I always thought that was odd.

I always felt that the Southern Baptist Convention had their act together regarding this. Any Baptist church that wanted to support missions would donate money, sometime regularly, sometimes through a special offering such as the Lottie Moon offering drive. And many a small church that would never be able to "sponsor" a missionary of their own, could participate in missions work by donating to the Southern Baptist convention. The general work model the Convention wanted their missionaries to follow was to spend 4 years on the field, and one year on "furlough" in the states. Now, the mission board did have requirements when their missionaries were home on furlough about how many conventions had to be attended and there were requirements about how many speaking engagements had to be accepted. Here I am saying "requirements" but I think a better word would be "encouraged". Those speaking engagements at stateside churches allowed the congregations to gain some knowledge about the work they were helping support, so in that respect each Baptist missionary did work to raise support, but the money was never donated directly to them.
Now, sometimes a church would want to answer a special need, or they wanted to "adopt" a missionary. One example of the former, the church my parents were married in were big supporters of missions in general and my parents in particular. Once Dad began trying to run the farm in Zambia, he found that he couldn't do what he wanted to do with his Gravely, and wanted to buy a small tractor, the Massey 155. The church he was married in raised the funds to purchase the tractor, either outright or perhaps matched funds through the Mission board. So that was a more direct support. Other churches "adopted" us, which usually resulted in the occasional care package from the states with goodies we couldn't get there. The one "goodie" that is sticking out in my mind right now is Pringles potato chips, they traveled well, generally didn't get crushed in transit, and stayed fresh. Packages like that could take anywhere from 3 to 6 months to reach us.
I need to say something about housing. If you've read this far, you will have noticed that we were out of the states for 4 years, then needed a place to live for a year. This was another way local churches supported missionaries. Some churches would own houses and would set them aside for missionary families. As I understood it, you could chose a church in an area near where you wanted to be and make a reservation with them... way in advance LOL. Several churches supported us in this manner over the years. The last church Dad stayed at even provided an automobile for him.
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#42 HowardsMF155 ONLINE  

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Posted September 12, 2012 - 10:14 AM

Since this is a "Tractor-talk" site, I will add some tractor talk here LOL. About a year after we arrived, Dad ordered a Massey 155 from the "local" (He was in Mkushi, the big farming district) Massey dealer. I wish I knew more about how and why Dad selected a Massey 155. I do know that the Massey part was simply because that was the closest dealer, even though that was two hours away, because the NEXT closest dealer was in Lusaka, 6 hours away. So Dad arranged for the purchase, and we had to have it delivered. I'm not sure Zambians know what a lowboy trailer looks like. Our tractor was delivered on a "lorry", what we would call an 18 wheeler, and the bed of the trailer was somewhere between 4 and 5 feet off the ground. When the tractor was LOADED, the dealer had a loading dock, so that was no problem. WE, however, had no loading dock. Neither could we build a ramp that could support 5000+ lbs of tractor. So Dad's solution was to dig a sloping hole in the ground, about 3 feet deep, and mound the dirt from the hole back up into an earthen ramp. So the lorry could ease down into the hole in the ground, the bed would be about the height of the mounded dirt, and the tractor could simply drive off. And that part went well. The part that didn't go well? It was the rainy season, so all this freshly dug red clay soil was wet. And slippery. Once we got the tractor off, the lorry driver couldn't get out of the hole. So the first task we tried with the tractor was to pull the lorry that delivered it out of the hole. The tractor dug several holes itself before we finally got that lorry out.
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#43 daytime dave OFFLINE  

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Posted September 12, 2012 - 10:29 AM

Yes Howard. I agree with you. That is a very organized system. Who ran the farm when your family was stateside for the year?
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#44 HowardsMF155 ONLINE  

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Posted September 12, 2012 - 10:51 AM

Yes Howard. I agree with you. That is a very organized system. Who ran the farm when your family was stateside for the year?

It varied several times over the years. Before our first furlough, in 1976, the church growth had been so great that we had requested and been approved for another missionary family to join us at the farm. His primary job was evangelism and church leadership training, but he had also grown up on a farm and was able to run it while we were away. Another family replaced them before our second furlough in 1982, and again, that family was able to keep the farm running during the time we were away, and again in 1987. I think 1992 marked the first time we had a volunteer couple come out and run the farm, and I want to say that same couple returned in 1997, but I'm not completely sure about that. Mom and Dad never returned to Zambia, as they retired in 1998, at the end of their furlough, plus Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. I'm not sure if the Mission was never able to find someone to run the farm or if some sort of local politics came into play. I remember once hearing that the local baptist association looked at the farm as an asset that should be theirs, not run by "foreign nationals". Either way, the Zambian Mission no longer controls the farm. Dad returned around 2008, maybe early 2009, with my new stepmother, but that trip was more about visiting friends still remaining in the area, I think he only made a day trip to the farm.

Edited by HowardsMF155, September 12, 2012 - 10:52 AM.

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#45 HowardsMF155 ONLINE  

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Posted September 12, 2012 - 11:47 PM

]I've been wondering how I could turn pictures into a digital format. I finally realized, take a picture of the picture, that's the fastest way. So here's a few of the hydro for starters.
026.JPG
This is the business end of the hydro, the nozzles direct the flow into the turbine wheel. On this design, each nozzle can be blanked off. We discovered that it wasn't a linear relationship between nozzles and power. 4 nozzles produced about 2/3rds the power of 8, probably due to friction losses in the penstock and excess spray at the turbine wheels.
027.JPG
Here is the ditch which carried water out onto the "ramp" and saved money by not having to buy really large pipe.
029.JPG
This is the final fall of the water which has been collected. To the left is the final settling pool, and the head end of the penstock. The turbine house is out of frame on the right. I was really trying for the rainbow, not explaining the set up of the turbine.

Edited by HowardsMF155, September 12, 2012 - 11:57 PM.

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