Wednesday, January 31, 2007

No Photo this time

We heard of a gentleman this past week from Eunice, our local women’s ministries coordinator. She was pretty sure he had Leprosy and he really needed our help. “Okay, tell him to come to the clinic on Saturday morning so I can talk to him.” I said. I had seen Leprosy victims here before. Most cases had sadly deteriorated past the hope of salvaging usable digits. One such person is a widow the mission helps with food each month. She’s a sweet elderly lady. The kind you want to embrace.

On Saturday morning I was up early enough. While I drank coffee and got caught up on world news I was summoned to assess a child with the worst case of LTB (croup) I have ever seen. While I was in the midst of counseling this mom on the best treatment for her child and running cement down to the school for the construction project, the gentleman with Leprosy arrived. It was yet another very muggy, hot African summer morning and I was dressed in the coolest sleeveless top I could find. I still felt like I was in a sauna. As I approached the clinic, Eunice introduced me to two men, one was her husband, and the other, dressed in a heavy, long-sleeved sweater, was the man with Leprosy. His eyes were mostly downcast and he kept his sleeves tightly tucked over the ends of his hands. Only after some coaxing did he pull his sleeves up so I could assess his condition. He had mere stumps with no fingers at all, on both arms. We usually take photos of all the needy people we help. But that day I simply didn’t have the heart to ask for his picture. His story goes like this: in 1992 when the Leprosy became obvious, his family evicted him from their home. At some point, they gave him a herd of goats to help him survive. He moved to some distant, isolated part of the bush where he lived with another gentleman who helped care for him. In the last few months, this gentleman has decided to move away, and so, this man decided to move closer to one of our nearby communities. He then started to attend one of the churches connected to the mission. His three remaining goats stand between him and starvation. Eunice and the church people have been helping to cook for and feed this poor man. On Monday the mission staff will meet to discuss how we can best help him. Ernesto, our clinic staff, will work with him to pursue any treatment that may be available to him through the government. With the Lord’s help, maybe we can still help him make something of what seems like nothingness in his life. Maybe we’ll get a photo of a smiling face yet!

Thursday, January 25, 2007


Last week we removed the furniture, dishes, etc. from our old guest cottage and left it ready for the new owners to take over. The furniture is pretty shabby, but it’s all we have for the next guest cottage, so we’re holding on to it! It’s funny how when you’ve owned something for a very long time you tend see it as having retained more value than others might see. Anyway, after the cleaning was done and as I pulled the door shut behind me, I paused for one last look at a place that held so many memories for our family and the mission. Scenes from times past quickly came to mind, like when my mom and I hung curtains when the cottage was brand new, of our kids having fun-packed sleepovers with their friends, and of the many people who stayed there for short or longer periods of time. Tears stung my eyes *choke*. The memories, we keep. It’s only the place we leave behind. And with that I closed the door for the last time.

Along that same vein, the other day as I was passing the huge wild fig tree on the “old farm”, I decided to take a couple of pictures of it. As I circled round and round deciding which angle would best capture it, I noticed all the carvings made by our kids and their friends in the tree’s bark. Although the carved inscriptions were at very least several years old, the happy memories were just moments away.

Even a piece of the old swinging rope kept its place of honour as if to say, “My purpose used to be to entertain kids. My purpose now is to help you remember.” There is no place we live and don’t leave “inscriptions” that tell our story.

If you look closely you can see “LAGORE” and in the 1st picture. In the 2nd, I’m in the lowest crook in the tree where I found a wealth of information…all in kid-hieroglyphics J. Although the words were unintelligible, the message was “happy kids played here”.

And while we’re on the topic, let’s take a step even further back, right to our first year here. We and another family of 4 pitched our tents around this old chicken coop floor, then had a thatched roof erected over it. The little square room at the back was the bathroom. That corner was missing from the original chicken coop and had to be completely built by us with brick and cement…hence it is about the only part that’s left, well, sort of intact! This “camp kitchen” was where we all cooked, ate, homeschooled, did laundry, treated the infirm, where pups were born, kids played, Christmas and birthdays were celebrated, the whole shmeer. Rats got into everything, snakes came to visit and when it rained, it leaked like a sieve. Oh yes, those were the days. And by the way, the brick walls are recent. In our time they were made of grass also half way up. There was a door on the far right as well as on the left.

This is our first “hot water donkey” aka Rhodesian boiler just outside the above mentioned bathroom. Converting a fuel drum into a donkey isn’t ideal for obvious reasons, but when you’re desperate, it’ll do just fine. I don’t believe this is the original oil drum by the way. It looks far too fresh! Our plan for a donkey at the new cottage is to use a big old propane tank (an empty, converted one, of course). Wish us luck!

(I had to fight with blogger today, so if items are a bit helter-skelter, please excuse the disorder.)

Friday, January 19, 2007

Paindane Beach, Mozambique

We took Nat and Jeremiah on a very brief 2 day break last weekend to one of Mozambique’s beautiful beaches, Paindane. Accommodations are a bit rustic but the beauty of the turquoise water and quiet beaches certainly made it all worthwhile. While the guys snorkeled I gathered shells. See…

Barbequing at suppertime.

The moon over the ocean at 2 a.m. (a bit of insomnia).

The morning sky at around 5 a.m. just before sunrise (no insomnia here, I just couldn’t resist getting up for this shot).

Pineapples for sale along the highway. We bought some and placed them in the back of our bakkie (pick-up), but after a very bouncy 20-something kilometer sand track ride to Paindane in + 30-something degrees, they were pretty much reduced to pineapple juice! We did manage to eat a portion of one of the 3 we bought.

So how was that for a mini-tropical-holiday? Probably much like it was for us, beautiful but brief! TTYL


Monday, January 08, 2007

Dona Elena

This is the axe that was made for me by one of the boys who used to attend our school. He is now a young man who farms his plot of land and does a bit of iron work/tool making on the side. I ordered an axe from him because we had no axe at our house to cut fire wood with (to use in our hot water outside tank under which a fire is built). I told him if he makes nice axes I would like to order one. I usually order from another older gentleman, but he was not around on this particular day. "Oh yes, I make good axes. I'll bring yours next week." So one night of the following week when we arrived home late a found an axe leaning up against my veranda wall (I nearly stumbled over it on the dark sidewalk). I was happy to see he had made it so soon, but my heart really melted when I saw the local version of my name burned into the handle! I'm usually addressed by other terms of respect, as in this culture there are several (Mama being one of them), but none of those include my name. Except this one, Dona Elena (or Mrs. Lynn). The last thing I felt like doing was send this axe into the bush to be used to chop wood, but alas, a cold shower isn't terribly appealing either!

As promised, here is the picture of the 10 boys who are apparently on their way to Grade 6 at a school about 15 km down the highway. We've received a report that they have vacancies at the school, now we just need to find a place for them to live. The mission, parents and school are working together on this and things are proceeding in an orderly fashion. We've learned some of what to do and what not to do from previous experiences. And to answer the question, "Why only boys?", actually, after our last school meeting we were approached by several parents whose girls do in fact also want to go on to Grade 6. The parents of the girls will be responsible to make sure there are vacancies, locate a hut where they can live and make sure someone responsible can remain there with them. You can bet that there are 10+ very excited younsters there! Some of these boys were pulled from field work for the photo shoot...

Orphan food distribution day is always a special time in its own way. Here mission staff unload bags of maize, rice, oil and other pertinent items. The home we're delivering to is the home of a widow who cares for 7 children. But the point of this photograph was actually to point out Joao, in the white shirt. His dad took Bible studies through the mission but passed away about 3 years ago. Last year Joao, after completing Grade 12 and some Bible study as well, approached the mission with an interest to serve as a volunteer but also with a request for the mission to help sponsor him through university in Maputo, Mozambique. He's a fine young man who has served the mission with his whole heart over this past year while he has awaited notice of acceptance from the university. Last week he had the opportunity to go to Maputo himself to follow up on his application (only 2 students from each province are accepted per discipline). We were sad to see him go, it felt like another of our kids leaving the nest (he often called me "Mae" or "Mom"), but at the same time we're excited for him. We know the Lord has something special in store for his life.

This feels like a long entry so I better close for now, besides, it's past lunchtime and am I hungry! I put on several km's I'm sure back and forth from generator to office to wooden hut and back again just to get all the hook-ups organized to work on the computer AND email. Bush life is sure labour-intensive :). TTYL.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Mozambique...we love the way you look!

These first few are for you Heather:

Orphan boys who receive monthly food and support from the mission. Aren't they cute? Laughing at a joke during a school meeting. These are some of our school kids moms.

The first phase of the "Raising the Roof" project at our school...taking the old roof down! Part of the plan includes finally partitioning off the wide open spaces into individual classrooms. Please pray for safety for our guys as they tackle this job.

And last but not least (well, the importance of the subject is I guess), this is for my kids. Ah, the memories eh?

I'm cutting the story telling short this time because it's late and I really have to go cook supper for us and the guys. We've had a great week with 1 meeting with the provincial health department and a productive school meeting. The health department would like to see us expand the current (newest) clinic to become a "Heath Centre" which would encompass more of the activities we would also like to see happening in this area like visits from opthalmologists, etc. It would also be staffed by 1 or 2 fully trained Mozambican nurses. So we're praying about the details to move in that direction. Part of the school meeting discussion was about the possibility of sending 10 boys off to "higher" education (grade 6) at a school just down the highway. Some solutions are needed like a place to stay since it's far from their homes, and whether or not there is room for them in the class for this year. It's an exciting possibility for these boys. I'll try to post their picture in my next blog. For now, I have to skidaddle. TTYL

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

It’s Rudolph. No…it’s Donder, or Blitzen

We weren’t sure what to name this newest addition to our pet collection. It’s a baby Duiker who is still learning to drink from a bottle and walk on the tile floor (hence the “flat-buck” or “Bambi-on-ice” position). This was unplanned, as many late additions are, but there he was at the side of the highway a few days ago being held up by a small boy for all passing traffic to see. When we asked how much they wanted for it, he stated (obviously verbatim as per his dad’s instructions), “100.00 or 90.00 MTN” (about US$4). I smiled, and then we started the process of negotiating the final price. As it turns out, this is the most vocal Duiker we’ve ever had, hence the toss up between naming it (her actually) Donder or Blitzen. Donder relates more to sound, but Blitz, in this part of the world anyway, is a term used for giving someone a piece of your mind. I think Blitz may just stick!

I guess New Year’s wishes are in order. Our new year is starting off with lots of rain and a long list of work that urgently needs to be done. We had a terribly hot December with very little rain. There were threats of thunderstorms, but that’s all they did, thunder. No rain. But yesterday, on New Year’s Day, it must have been THE day to rain because it poured cats and dogs for awhile, then continued a steady rain for several hours. It’s still raining today. Everyone is rejoicing because it’s a perfect rain and it’s covering large area instead of the sometimes spotty rain we get during drought years. A few more rains like this at spaced intervals will certainly reduce the threat of hunger this year.

The rain also increases the urgency of the mission’s prospective roofing projects. Thankfully our little cottage has its roof up, the mission office as well, but the school’s roof and a needy family’s home desperately need attention…now! So today we chose a “roofing team” from our staff who will start tackling these projects. Their first job will be to pull the old thatched roof off the school and take all the supports, posts and beams down. This should only take a few days…if it doesn’t rain all week! I’ll post pictures of their work as it happens. We’ll use the opportunity to put much-needed dividers between the classrooms as well. It’s always exciting to see things develop!

Well, my time is up so I better run along for now. TTYL.