Keep in Touch
We may be moving half-way around the world, but that doesn’t mean we will be out of contact. Here are all the ways you can reach us while we are in Swaziland:
If you are wanting to keep up with what we have going on in Swaziland, the best way will be to follow our blogs. We will have limited internet access, but still should be able to post regularly. You can either visit them on a regular basis or subscribe to them through an aggregate service like Google Reader.
- Dynamic Yet Consistent – Ben’s blog. Chances are you will find more technical / practical posts here.
- A Sugar-Mamma’s Thoughts – Beth’s blog. More than likely Beth will post more family oriented stuff.
[UPDATED AGAIN:] The mail system in Swaziland has actually proved to be relatively reliable, quick and not too expensive. On average, things are arriving here in 2-3 weeks and letters can be sent for less than $1. However, some packages have been routed incorrectly and taken up to 3 months. The best option for packages seems to be to ship through the US Postal Service using their Priority Mail boxes (with pre-set fees). A small 5 pound box will cost about $30 and a larger 20 pound box will cost about $60.
One thing to note, we have to pay import tax on whatever arrives, so be creative when you describe the contents of the box on your customs forms, the cheaper you can make the bottom line, the cheaper it is for us. Also, it may be advantageous to label your box “OVC Donations.”
I have been told there haven’t been any issues with packages being lost/stolen/confiscated, but it certainly remains a risk, so be smart if you do send anything.
We have set up our own PO Box so we can separate our personal stuff from business mail and here is the address:
ATTN: Ben and Beth Kickert
P.O. Box 439
If you need to send something to the mission (i.e. donations for the child care hostel), you can use the business address:
PO Box 5183
We have no real physical address beyond “St. Philips, Swaziland” but you can check out an aerial view of our compound on Google Maps.
Swazi Cell Phones:
Swaziland actually has very good cell service. You can sign up for a service like Pingo and call us for about $0.18 / minute. Swaziland is 7 or 8 hours ahead of central time (depending on daylight savings time) so the best time to call is either really late at night or before 2pm. In case you aren’t up on your international dialing, the “+” is what allows you to make an international call on a cell phone (usually achieved by pressing the * button twice on a cell phone). You can also use the international calling code of “011” in place of the “+” sign in the United States.
- Ben’s cell: +268.7683.3330
- Beth’s cell: +268.7673.3223
The major mobile phone provider here (MTN) recently rolled out 3G service to most of the area. While still super expensive, it does allow us a few First World luxuries like being able to use Skype on occasion. We can call phones in the US from Skype, but the quality is not great. But, we have found that computer-to-computer calls are actually quite clear and the data usage makes it cheaper than even using pingo. If you want to contact us, the Skype name we use is “ben.kickert” Just shoot us an email and we can try to set something up.
If you aren’t familiar with it, Google Voice is a service that allows you to set up voicemail online and direct incoming calls to any phone you want (among other things). It is helpful in the states, but will be very valuable as we travel. Basically you can call these numbers and leave us a voicemail that we will be able to get in Swaziland. It also allows you to call our computers if we happen to be online and we can talk for free. The other nice thing is that when we come back to the States, we can get a pre-paid phone and set it up with this number so you will already know how to get a hold of us.
- Ben’s Google Voice: 270.266.1117
- Beth’s Google Voice: 270.681.5425
Of course our emails still work just fine. We can often check our emails a couple times a day, but of the expense, we can’t handle large attachments. However several times a month we have access to wifi in town and can download whatever you send us. Our addresses are as follows:
Just like with email, we have access to facebook. However, because of the interface, it costs a lot on our data plan to use. So, we can browse it occasionally, but it is hard to interact on it. Please use email whenever possible. Most updates from us will probably come via our blogs listed above.
If you are on twitter, you can follow Ben at the link below. These “tweets” are simultaneously posted to facebook, so if you don’t have it, you aren’t missing anything. As you would expect, most posts are sarcastic observations of the world.