Sunday, December 30, 2007

Challenges of 'The Simple Life'

The past week has been pretty much committed to spending time with our kids since they’re here such a short time. We drove 6 hours to pick them up in Vilanculos then turned around and drove another 6 hours back home. Needless to say, after a bedtime cup of tea we hit the hay! We were sure tired, and the kids were jetlagged on top of it. Amanda was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed the very next day and anxious to do some baking, so we decided on gingerbreads.

On their 2nd day here we figured we’d venture into town for a few groceries and to pop in on a few friends. Well, our poor old road had started to develop another boggy spot and wouldn’t you know it, as we drove through, it decided to give way under the car. So there we sat in our finest, up to the bumpers in mud. 4X4 and diff lock were of no use to us because we were high centered. The tires on the side that had sunk into the mud simply spun like beaters in cake batter! Hours of digging and ingenious ideas to try to extricate ourselves only resulted in sinking deeper! The guys finally resorted to winching us out with a rope and chain. Thankfully there was a strong enough tree nearby. I guess this was re-baptism by fire for our kids—“Welcome back to the bush guys.” They took everything in stride, but that night we nursed sunburns.

Same mud hole 2 days later.
Yet another very squishy, soft mud hole in our entry road. It's getting more and more difficult to find terra firma to drive on around here!

Otherwise, it’s been a great time with lots of talking and visiting old friends. We dropped in on Fred who worked for us for 10 years and is now retired. He was happy to see the kids, but was especially awestruck with Russell’s size. He kept looking at him, head to one side saying, “This is Russell? ....Ayeee *click* ayeeee...he is big now. . .Ayeeeee. He is a man.”
But even the arrival of our kids couldn’t coax the sun out of hiding for more than a few hours before heavy rain clouds would move in and deliver their quota of yet more rain. We had a dandy of a thunderstorm one night. Bolts of lightning struck alarmingly closeby and the crash of thunder made us cringe. In fact, we were eating supper on the veranda with friends and the rain was so loud on the tin roof that we couldn’t hear each other talk. We shouted, gestured with our hands, exchanged shocked expressions and laughed. We unplugged any electrical appliances to protect them and we already don’t have cell phone coverage. While the rest of the world rushed forward at its usual hectic pace, we out here in the bush sat fairly cut off from it all, engulfed by rain, eating our supper and laughing. The challenges of bush life have sent many running back to civilization, but it is simple in its own way. (The rain water drainage from the highway forms a small river as it crosses our entry road...women actually come here to do their laundry.) Good news: Our internet modem was hand delivered last week and is now hooked up so we’re online again! Yay! Or shall I put it into local dialect and say...‘Ayeee, *click* ayeee.....ulululuululu’!

Less good news: It’s still raining ALOT! Weather forecasters on Radio Mocambique say it’s going to keep raining like this until March and we can expect cyclones too. Wow. I’m starting to wonder if our little home will get washed away by the raging river tide! Water now completely covers what used to be the mission garden.

In fact, it rained so hard the night of the thunderstorm that the water rose several feet and nearly ripped our river pump off its perch high on the rock. If we in the higher altitudes are feeling rained-out and flooded, I hate to imagine what Beira is like right now since the city is downstream from us and is below sea level. No, this is not a good time to visit Beira. It may also not be a good time to drive the low-lying highway through Mozambique to take our kids to Jo’burg to catch their flight home! We may have to take the Zimbabwe route, regardless of the chaos in that country. I know one thing for sure, our kids may like ‘the simple life’ here in the bush, but they don’t really want to miss those flights back to the frozen North!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I think it's going to be a muddy Christmas!

Just a little update. In a nut shell I should just say it's the same old same old since my last blog post! On Saturday we got stuck here on our way out to town to hook up to internet and get some groceries. That night it rained 69 mm and turned that bad patch into something that resembled a river bed!
Here the ground is either giving way or Dwight is testing its 'unsoundness'! Watch out Dwight, you don't want to get stuck in that!
We cancelled our Sunday plans (to phone our kids to see how last minute packing/studying was going). We really didn't want to get hopelessly stuck! On Monday it was all hands on deck as our staff worked flat out to dig ditches to redirect the continual water flow down the road. We resorted to laying heavy boards along the tire tracks so at least our pick up could make it out, but the truck was simply too heavy. It got stuck just trying to haul the wood and broken bricks to help fill huge eroded gaps in the road. It was one dirty, smelly mess let me tell you!
On the cleaner and brighter side, this is one of the sponsored students who recently received a gift from guess where?? Canada! He was so pleased to receive his care package, he just smiled and smiled. This is his dad beside him, also smiling!
Internet Modem update: Well, it seems to still be in transit somewhere between the UK and Africa... A modem did arrive at the Harare DHL and they thought it was ours. But it wasn't. So we're still waiting and trying to be patient.
Rain update: We can't believe it's STILL raining as heavily as it is. Our rainy season is about as short as Canada's summer and we dont usually get torrential rains so early. We've already had last year's entire rainfall and the season heavy part of the season (Jan and Feb) are yet to come. The local people are concerned that if this keeps up they won't be able to get in and weed their crops which could mean a dismal production year. So we're praying that the Lord will help the clouds contain themselves just a bit :).
As I write this our kids are in the Toronto airport. Their Edmonton flight left just after midnight after a day of exam writing. I'm sure THAT felt like cruel and unusual punishment! That schedule wasn't intentional, just an oversight. It's a good thing they're young, not sure I could handle it. We are on pins and needles awaiting their arrival here in about 48 hours.
In case I'm not online before Christmas, let me wish you all a VERY Merry Christmas! Please enjoy the snow for us, and we'll 'enjoy' the mud for you :)!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Did I mention it's been raining alot?

It’s still raining, believe it or not. We’ve got mushrooms popping up everywhere and our entry road has become a swamp! If it weren’t for 4 wheel drive and diff lock I’m afraid we’d be cut off from civilization. (Late note: even that gave up the ghost this morning on our way out to town...we got royally stuck!)
Our river just keeps filling and filling and the sound of the river cascading over the 6 meter drop is quite impressive. I was reading today from the book of Ezekiel and he described God’s voice to be ‘like the roar of rushing waters’. This is about the only stretch of the Mucombeze River that has such a drop, so we count ourselves blessed to be able to sit on our veranda at night and listen to the thundering waterfall. God’s voice. No wonder it’s so peaceful.
All this rain means lots of bugs EVERYWHERE (the ones in with the candle are not meant as a display). And frogs are out in a big way too. My neighbour caught a huge one in our old pool, he must have been about a pound in weight! I rather prefer this little guy who I found on our veranda. This is for Amanda :).

We’re also still rather behind the times since our new internet modem is still making its way here from Harare. Maybe, just maybe, it’ll be here before next weekend! In the meantime I’m learning how to work the internet cafe computers a bit better. I wish they were closer, but twice a week will have to do for now. They may not be real fast or reliable, but any system sure beats what we had 10 years ago all to bits. Beats what we’ve got right now too!

Last week the 5th grade graduation ceremony was held at our school. 17 out of 20 kids passed, and 10 of those have sponsorship which means there’s a good chance they can carry on to grade 6. (I think I mentioned already that over 80% of our grade 5's passed the national exams compared to 57% of the nearby community's grade 5 class.) Not all the sponsored kids attended the ceremony because the river was so high that it was treacherous to come across, but these ones were there. Once prizes were given out we called them all up to ask them if they’d in fact like to carry on to grade 6. (It’s important to ask certain questions in life.) As each one was asked, “So, would YOU like to carry on with your education??” The answer was be a shy “Yes.” When we got to the last guy in the line we asked the question everyone had memorized by then, “So, would YOU like to carry on with your education?” Instead of the pat answer though,he replied enthusiastically with, “Oh yes! I really would! WITH ALL MY HEART I want to keep on studying!!” We were all pleasantly surprised by his animated response and it drew several chuckles and comments from the parents in the audience.
Here they are... the 2007 5th grade class from Mucombeze Primary School--ready to take on the world!
Hey, grade 6 at a boarding school IS taking on the world. All of them passed and impressed their teachers.

We’re just finishing up harvesting the last of the litchi’s. It’s been a challenge for the guys to just get in and pick with all the rain of late, but it tastes just as wonderful as ever! Every time I walk past the trees I can’t help but take a little detour to pick a few as a treat. Much to our dismay, we’ve noticed that the fruit bats can’t resist that urge either. We find pips and skins strewn in piles like this almost everywhere in the surrounding bush! They must be having an absolute feast every night. We don’t even want to think of how many kg’s they make away with. No wonder they’ve been quieter lately, they’re mouths are too full of litchis to screech! It seemed fitting to call this picture, “Bat Scraps”!

Well, less than a week until our kids arrive! We have our staff christmas dinner this week plus the routine busyness...and I've got to bet busy baking too! Signing off for this time.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Left Behind in the Rain

We've felt a bit left behind and rained on too of late just like this little teddy bear! As you likely know we've had a few technical hiccups in the past few months what with a burnt generator, a back up unit not working, the 3rd back up burned its capacitor after several weeks and things rather snowballed from there! We had to borrow a neighbour's generator which meant 3 hours of driving every day to pick it up and drop it off, but we were sure thankful for the electricity! Unfortunately, in all this our internet modem also got fried...hence the silent blog. So yes, left behind in terms of all that needs to be done and all that is happening online. (I'm currently at an internet cafe in town--nearly an hour's drive from home, so not the most conventient way to do things.)
We've also been rained on royally in the past month, especially in the last few days. We held a pastor's intensive seminar last week and though we weren't sure how we'd cope with all our power troubles (which also means possible water shortages), we managed and things went very well in fact! Here is a picture of the certificate ceremony with orphans performing in dance and song.

Right now we've had a group of youth leaders...65 in all...for a 3 day retreat. We don't usually accommodate so many, and on such short notice, but there was some miscommunication and they REALLY needed a place to stay. So we agreed. Maybe we shouldn't have since they had no sooner arrived and moved into the tents when the skies unleashed a mighty thunderstorm and torrential rains that lasted a good 8 hours! It was one wild storm and it dumped 200 mm of rain over night. Then last night it did about the same thing, just with a little less rain, but still the cumulative effect on our river has been impressive!Exciting news:
-2 of our staff have completed their training as 'Health Care Worker's' at the provincial hospital which means that finally each health post will have its own full staff member plus a spare for vacation leave! Yay!
-Sponsored school kids helped a man with leprosy (with no use of his hands) to plant his field with corn for this year. This is the first time in a long time that he has a crop in the ground and he is SO happy! It's great when people work together.
-Christmas time is coming! I love Christmas, and this year is extra-special because our kids are coming to spend it with us! We are counting down the days and know that though our time will be short together, the moments will be packed with all the talking and whatever else we can fit into them.

Just a little green here to add to your Christmas :) TTYL (hopefully from a repaired internet modem)

Saturday, December 01, 2007


We are experiencing many technical difficulties:

This is Lynn's son here. Lynn called today with an update on the happenings in Mozambique. Though the generator part arrived and the generator is up and running, the modem for their satellite internet has died.

How long it will take to resolve this problem remains unknown.