Saturday, October 31, 2009

Making do, temporarily

It’s surprising to me how many supposedly “temporary” things in my life have become more or less permanent. Like when we moved to Mozambique 16 years ago we picked up a white plastic picnic table because we had no dining table (among many other things). “This is temporary” we told ourselves “until we get settled and replace it.” Well, that white plastic table has been through an awful lot since then and, due to a number of reasons, 16 years later still holds its position as our main dining table. I’m hoping that’s about to change though.

“Making do” and “temporary” is something we do a lot here at the mission in general, partly due to poor availability of supplies, and partly because there are just too many “Priority-A” items on our list.

The mission office is a good example. It serves not only as the hub for administrative activities, but is also used for:
1. housing the staff “First Aid Room” (in what will one day be the bathroom)
2. conducting a variety of classes and meetings

Here, Jethro, a Brazilian missionary/agronomist, conducts a mini agricultural seminar in the back yard of the office.

Summer holidays are now on, so students came to the mission to write letters to their sponsors on Monday. There were so many students they couldn’t all sit in the office, so Matthew arranged chairs on the front lawn. Most of them, plastic chairs, no less.

A lot of thought going into these letters!

Then the students did a few chores like cleaning the mission van. It gets a lot of use!

But back to the office though--it is also used for storage for:
a. camp supplies like tents, dishes, mattresses, beds, linens, etc.
b. used clothing awaiting distribution
c. intensive seminar items (cooking pots, blankets)
d. old computers/keyboards/etc. that could just come in handy one day
e. spare furniture—comes in real handy too. Usually.
f. Etc. (Because there’s a surprise in just about every bag or box in there.)
It’s also our main internet and modem set-up/hook-up spot.

Here, short-termers Keren and Glenn, along with Matthew, work on VBS preparation, school database updating, developing the women’s health section of the health manual, and so on. Note that it’s sort of squishy space-wise since they share the space with the internet system and boxes of stored items!

We’re very thankful for our office but we’re sure looking forward to the day when the training center is ready for occupation. At this point, we’re still back-filling the foundation though, so I guess we’ll be making-do with the existing office space for a while yet.

Last week I promised pictures of our weekend group trip to Paindane, so here they are.

Paindane Reef and crystal blue waters in the background, coconut palm thatched cottage in foreground.

Morning sun from the thatched gazebo. There were even whales tails to be seen splashing in the ocean.

I was so taken with this little local girl that I took about 30 photos of her. She smiled but her little brother on her back was sure shy.

The guys went to the local market looking for, ideally, surfboard wax. :) All they found were ordinary candles.

Which they warmed in the sun to help make the wax spread-able. Ah yes, making do. Actually, I got the whole gang (myself excluded) in this shot although those near the water look like mere dots.

It was nice to get away but also nice to get back to carry on with our work. We’re half preparing to move into our house next week. Even though it still needs a lot of finishing work like cupboards, screens, and more bathroom fixtures, we figure if the key rooms are functional, we can cope. I mean, it would only be unfinished temporarily. Right? ☺ Here are some photos to update you.

This is the shower I tiled. The pebble mosaic on the floor was a real nuisance to work with so if you think you ever want to tackle it yourself, I have some good advice.

Dwight busy installing the kitchen cupboard he and Murray made. If you’ve ever worked with plumbing, you know Murphy’s law that states (making this up as I go) that any pipe that has been wrapped, once, twice, thrice, even more, in plumbers tape and has been perfectly joined to another pipe will leak immediately as soon as the water is turned on. 10 times over. Arg! “Ok hon, taking a photo now. Can you smile?” He’s such a good sport!

I’m glad to say that the leaking pipe finally got sealed. The cupboard will remain as is though. Temporarily (no, really) so other jobs can get done.

And after that long post, I should run along. Got a house to work on.


PS: Oh yes, presidential elections were held this week in Moz. So far, things are peaceful, so that’s good.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Tools to move the job along

I know. Mary Poppins actually sings that "a song”, not tools, will move the job along. But a song only goes so far when you have a huge field to plow and a year’s worth of maize to plant, all by hand. In the hot sun. Even on days when you don’t feel so good. So you can understand why Pastor Pedro and his wife are smiling here as they receive this donated plow. This year, for likely the first time ever, they’ll have cows and a plow to work their fields.

It was a happy outing for us and a bit of an adventure too for our newcomers as we bounced over bad roads and even bush whacked a bit in order to deliver this plow to Pastor Pedro’s home. We were welcomed with such warm smiles!

After the plow was unloaded, its blade and wheel had to be fastened and tightened. There were many hands to get the job done plus a fair share of “oversight” by little ones—just to make sure the job was done right!

This means it was a great photo op too!

This is Pastor Pedro’s granddaughter and her friends

It was quite the neighbourhood event. Even passersby stopped to see what was up.

These are the cows that will pull the plow. They were bought recently and are getting used to their new corral.

Here, the women sort through raw peanuts to select good ones for planting.

I can’t imagine preparing and planting huge fields with a cow and plow, never mind by hand, but I do know these “tools” will be a huge help to this family.

This week, Keren arrived from Three Hills, Canada. She’s a nurse and a short termer who will be with us for about a year. I have a number of jobs lined up for her including helping me complete the preventive health manual and do some home visits (and so on, and so on), so she’ll be a busy young lady! She also needed something to help "move the job along" while she’s here, so she went to Chimoio yesterday and got it:

She’s the proud owner of this set of wheels which, I can guarantee you, more than just a few around here envy her for right now.

And last but not least, I couldn’t help but get some shots of a Praying Mantis crawling on Murray’s stuff. The mantis seemed genuinely as interested in the camera and us as we were in him.

Below: He stretched up toward me in this shot and actually jumped right onto my camera!

Here, Glenn gets a shot while the Praying Mantis stretches up to get a better look at Glenn.

I better sign off for now. This post comes early because we are preparing to head out on a group trip over the weekend—a bit of a getaway at Paindane Beach. It’s about an 18 hour drive round trip which is the downside, but it is just about the most beautiful spot along the Mozambique coast and for that, it’s worth it. I’ll post photos of it next week.

Until then!

Saturday, October 17, 2009


Father and Son serving lunch.

Family is great! At least most of the families I took photos of this week are. Some aren’t, so I waged war on them. But we’ll leave that topic for the last paragraph.

Pictured above: Fernando (left) the mission school cook, and his son, Matthew (right), the mission office administrator. For the last few weeks Matthew and Glenn (our short termer, below) have been working on updating school files and doing vision screening with the school children. At lunch-time, they pitch in and help Fernando dish up food for +/- 200 kids!

Mom and daughter

This is Tendai and Heather. They are in the process of becoming family (they along with Heather’s husband, Rick, of course). Isn’t she cute?

Here are some of the other families who came our way recently.

These widowed moms and grannies (and the children in their care) are facing hungry times as they’ve run out of their year’s food supply and are still months away from a new crop. They have received some help from their local churches and now also receive mission help to feed their families.

This new family came for help this week. Here, Dwight, Rick and Charles (and Heather and I—not in photo) find out more about the family’s situation.

The kids pose for a shot.

Cute! The little boy showed us his scar from a crocodile bite that apparently happened earlier this year.

What a brave little soul!

And last but not least in the “Great Family” category, is my own family. This week we happily welcomed my cousin, Murray, from Canada. According to local culture, cousins are considered sisters and brothers, so here he’s referred to as my “mano” or brother. I can live with that ☺

He’s come to spend some time with us and get stuck into any work we send his way. Here, he and Dwight move a bathroom cupboard (that Dwight built) into the house. Yayyy!

So, now for the week’s family that was "not-great”. Big, yes, but not great at all!

These are stink bugs.

This is huge family of stink bugs figured they’d just move into my house. At first they clustered in doorway corners, 30-50 of them at a time. I lost no time at all with my handy can of RAID but they just kept coming back from goodness knows where. So I did a thorough search outside our house and discovered, to my immense displeasure, that hundreds of them had taken up residence (or hatched) in our rafters and between the mud bricks of our home!

(They would be the light dots all over the place.)

So I panicked and went crazy alternating spraying them with that trusty can of RAID, followed by a dousing them to wash them away with the water hose.

When stink bugs feel threatened, they…stink. So it was quite the smelly, drawn-out battle indeed as I kept spraying and they kept pouring out through the cracks of our house. At one point I decided I should do a Google search about the problem to see if I could get some ideas.

You know, any unpleasant experience in life can be a lesson of some sort. And even though this one didn’t have any kind of profound element (maybe one will occur to me yet...), I did learn something new. I had always thought that we had two types of stink bugs (and I think other people have also thought the same): big ones like this:

And small round ones like this:

But apparently they are one in the same, just adult and juvenile (nymph) forms. Aha. I felt both stupid and enlightened at the same time. And I'm now more diligent about killing the big ones whenever I see them.

Stink bugs (again, the dots) dropping onto the front step.

I’m not quite rid of this family yet, but I’m workin’ on it!

I’ll close with a few bug/frog shots for those of you who enjoy this kind of stuff. It is bug season, after all, so they present the best photo ops right now.

Praying mantises in the house:

By the kitchen window

And on top of the cupboard.

They eat bugs but I'm guessing probably not stink bugs.

A tree frog who hangs out on our veranda catching bugs, here on top of the dart board. #2 brave soul of this blog post! He's just lucky I wasn't throwing darts.

And, later, “window shopping”.

It's also cicada time again.

Cicadas are noisy, rather ugly, and clumsy in flight, but they're a rather likable “bug” in our family’s opinion.

Well, maybe not in ALL the family’s opinion. Here, Murray smiles wide as he catches one in the house with the full intent to turf him out the door.

Good job! Now let's see if those stink bugs are gone too.