Dinosaurs & Orphans

Dinosaurs & Orphans

It was a bit of a challenge to come up with a biblical reference to dinosaurs so let me know if you have something better than the one above.

described plant life…He also taught about animals and birds, reptiles and
fish.”  (I Kings 4:33) 


It was a bit of a challenge
to come up with a biblical reference to dinosaurs so let me know if you have
something better than the one above.  In
paleontology circles, Lesotho is quite well-known. Not long after the arrival
of the French Protestant missionaries of the Paris Evangelical Missionary
Society in 1833, they were finding fossils and fossil footprint trackways.  Lesotho has a rich fossil record and numerous
expeditions have come here over the years.  

Rev. David Ellenberger (left), who founded the PEMS Masitise
mission station in 1866, noticed fossil footprints in this area of southern
Lesotho.  One of his grandsons, Paul
Ellenberger, became a missionary pastor with PEMS in Lesotho from 1953-70,
including a pastorate at Masitise.  During this time he made important discoveries
in the fossil record of Lesotho. 

In the 1960’s new fossil
discoveries allowed Lesotho to claim the world’s earliest mammal for around 20
years until being surpassed by a discovery in Texas.  However, Lesotho apparently can still claim a
world record for the oldest amphibian fossil. 
It was discovered in 1970 near Alwynskop, which is just a mile from the

To wrap up this paleontology report, a brief
word on Lesotho’s very own dinosaur, Lesothosaurus.   According to scientists, Lesothosaurus lived in this part of
Africa about 200 million years ago and was a small (3 – 3½ feet in length,
10-20 pounds) plant-eating dinosaur that walked on its hind legs.  In 1992 Lesothosaurus
appeared on one of Lesotho’s stamps in a series on dinosaurs.

It is winter here and there
isn’t a lot of color in the scenery.  But
at least the days are now getting longer again. 
The wet weather of this past summer (the wettest in my 15 years here)
continued even into May and June, and now July, all of which are usually quite
dry months.  Testifying to all the rain
we have had this year is the fact that the little waterfall in the forest
between the school and church is still running strong.  It always stops flowing in winter but not so
far in 2011.  In case you are wondering,
we’ve had some snow flurries this winter, but nothing of any lasting
duration.  At the moment, only the
mountaintops in the area have snow.   

During the winter break at
school there is still quite a bit of teaching taking place.

Some of our teachers offer
private classes for the Form C & E students.  These are the students who have to write
national exams later this year.  I don’t
participate in this, but I do offer free extra individual help to my math
students who are living in the area and are able to come to school.  Two of my Form E boys, Moeketsi and Muso (right), are among those I am

Both boys live alone in town
about five miles away.  Moeketsi’s
parents are both police officers but they were transferred to Maseru, the
capital city, at the beginning of the year, so Moeketsi is looking after their
home.  On the other hand, both of Muso’s
parents are deceased.  Besides taking
care of himself, he looks after a younger brother and niece.  His grandmothers and an uncle live close by.

Muso’s situation,
unfortunately, is not unusual.  Earlier
this year the government asked schools to gather statistics on our
students.  The class I am in charge of
had 60% of the students with either one or both parents deceased.  Out of curiosity, I asked another class
teacher about his results and he also had a figure of 60% for single or double
orphans.  Not all orphans are a result of
HIV/AIDS, but quoted figures for these orphans alone generally are in the
150,000 – 200,000 range.  And this is in
a country with a total population of only two million. 

Please remember the orphans
of Lesotho in your prayers!  As said in
an oft-quoted verse from the book of James, “Religion
that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this:  to look after orphans and widows in their
distress…”   May God open our eyes to
those in need of our help, spiritual or physical, and enable us to provide

Yours in Christ,

Mark Behle
Email:  mark37438@yahoo.com

Mark Behle is a missionary
with the Lesotho Evangelical Church.  He is a Mathematics teacher at Masitise High
School, Lesotho.