Websters, Gerhard and Nataliia

Friday, March 31, 2017
Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa
Highlights today: 
  • Visited with head of Ukraine's Diaspora in South Africa
  • Visited with Jason and Monique Webster in Pretoria 
We boarded our flight about 8 p. m. Thursday night for the 10 hour South African Airways flight to Johannesburg. The A-340 jet was totally full. We were latecomers because we were changed from our earlier flight from Washington DC to Joburg to this one. The flight from Washington DC to Joburg would have had a light load.
This is our second night on this trip without a bed. We were tired enough that we did sleep quite a bit of the trip on this final leg from Frankfurt to Johannesburg. I think I slept about six hours and felt good when I got up; ready to go for the full day. The video screens on this flight were not working. There were no movies, music or maps. South African Airways has been continually going downhill in quality since I first flew them in the year 2000 on my first visit to Zambia, Malawi and Zimbabwe.
It took an hour and a half to get through immigration and customs. Johannesburg has very long lines as they are understaffed to process all the thousands of people that come through Tambo Airport continually.
All of our luggage came at baggage claim. Things couldn't be better! Jason Webster was there to pick us up and off we went to Pretoria where they live. We will stay at the Avalon Guest House which is one of our favorite places to stay.
For the Webster children, this is the end of the first quarter of school and they get a few weeks break. The school year starts in January and goes all year. At the end of each quarter, there is a break of two to two and a half weeks.
So, we all went to Willow Feather Farms in Johannesburg where Monique’s brother Neil Wallis works. We had lunch there and the entire Webster family, including their four children Tahlia, Daniel, Ethan and Kayla. After lunch, we looked at a kind of zoo for farm animals and fowl. It was fun.
Monique is starting her own family counseling practice and will receive her first clients this coming Sunday. We really enjoy being with their entire family as we catch up on all the latest personal news from the last time we saw them which was a year ago right here in Willow Feather Farm.
Then we went back to the Avalon Guest House where we rested a few hours and then went to dinner with some of their friends whom they met. They are Gerard and Nataliia (Zakriachenko) van Rooyen. We met at a restaurant in a shopping center in Pretoria Brooklyn. Both of these are people who have similar beliefs to ours. The Webster’s have had discussions with them and we all thought it might be good to meet.
So we did. And what an interesting late afternoon it was! We had dinner at about 4 p.m. as the Sabbath was approaching and we all wanted to have an early evening and go home before sunset. Sunset comes at 6:05 PM. What was interesting was that Gerhard’s wife Nataliia is from Zaporozhe, Ukraine. This made the visit more interesting.
The Websters, van Rooyen’s and Kubik’s all sat at one big table. The Webster’s have four children all about the same ages as my son Michael and Alix’s four children so I was well used to the dynamics of a family with small children. In the shopping center, there is a play area for the kids to run to where you can easily see them from your table.
Gerhard met Nataliia in Ukraine and married her. They have lived together for about ten years now in South Africa. It was good to speak to Nataliia in Ukrainian which was so pure and easy to understand.
She is the head of the Ukrainian Diaspora in South Africa which numbers about 1500 people. The dynamics of the Diaspora is similar to that of Canada and the United States. In fact, they work with Canadian Ukrainians.
Nataliia travels back to Ukraine often as she is involved in promoting Ukrainian trading and exporting with the outside world.
But, it was so good to talk about common beliefs as they keep the Sabbath and other beliefs similar to ours. It was most interesting to discuss this with them.
The first day in Africa was absolutely wonderful and full!  
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Gayle Hoefker

It was fantastic to read about your adventures this Sabbath morning! I do not think it was coincidence that you crossed paths with this Ukrainian woman.

peggy moss

How interesting!