Saturday, February 27, 2010

Timing Is Everything

A Flap Necked chameleon catches a bug on the wall of our house. (Yes, that's his tongue.)

I have tried to get this shot many times over the years, with many other chameleons, but have never managed to. Until now. They say the acceleration of a chameleon’s tongue is 50 g’s…5 times that of an F16 fighter jet. So what chance did I have of getting a shot just as that ballistic tongue flashed out? Probably almost nil. But sometimes, the timing is just right.

Speaking of chance and probability, this is a photo of my office wall plastered with statistics formulas on recipe cards and note sheets.
I'm doing a course in statistics and my completion deadline is April 1st (which is also the deadline for having the health manual done so it can go to press—yikes!), so I better get my timing right for finishing everything up by then!

We've had some long, dry spells this "rainy" season. But last week, it rained and rained. We’re very thankful for the rain. But last week also, between us all, we had many piles of laundry to do. Washing wasn’t a problem, but drying it all while it rained, was. So I strung what seemed like miles of clothesline on my veranda so we could get it all dry.

This photo is only the front veranda. The side veranda also sported several crisscrossing lines loaded with wet laundry which hung limply and watched the rain come down outside. Even after 3 days some of the clothes were still damp, so that wasn’t the best timing. At all.

Timing last week was pretty good for Bero though, who had to make a trip to South Africa for surgery on his arm. There happened to be room on the return flights with the U.S. (Hardwyk) team that had been with us the previous week, so he hopped on board with them. This means that on his flight down, he was surrounded by some pretty cool people! When he arrived at Mercy Air, Rick and Heather were still here (from seeing Rick’s folks off after their visit here), so they helped make him feel at home. They took a day drive to Kruger Park so Bero could see some animals.

What a great day for him! Then they took him to hospital for his surgery on Feb. 24th. (Thanks for the great shots of Bero, Heather!)

Meanwhile, Dwight and Andy were on a flight further north in Mozambique to assess the desperate hunger situation.

Below: Pastor Ricardo and Andy with local pastors in Tambara.
They met up with Mattias Reuter, of Mercy Air, who flew them to remote sites in the chopper.

Also last week, Carey and Jeff wrapped up their 3 months with us. (They look FAR too happy to be headed back home :P) On our way to South Africa to care for Bero after his surgery and bring him home, we dropped the guys off at the Beira airport to catch their flight out. So that was pretty good timing too. ☺

So we now have a few days in South Africa before we head back home again with Bero. He is keeping himself busy with reading (really likes his Bible), watching his favorite DVD: The Story of David, and making friends. Here, he and a new friend chat via online Google Translate (he types Portuguese, she types English, internet translates). Cool, huh?

Over the next few days, there will be appointments to keep and things to pick up and do, as per usual. I’m also really hoping to cover some ground on my stats course and on the health manual. Here’s to hoping I can time it right and meet that April 1st deadline!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

How to Move a Mountain

1. First, believe it's possible (have faith)
2. Grab your tool(s)
3. Go to mountain
4. Start digging. One shovel-full at a time.
Note* Steps 1-4 repeated many times multiplied by many people who simply WON’T quit = change to the seemingly immovable.

Now, I’m not talking about moving Chitundo “Mountain” (pictured above). Who would want to do that? It’s much too beautiful where it is, although that could be done using the above formula. Ok, so we’d have to add some extra steps like: use dynamite. My son would be here in a flash!

No, I’m referring to mountains that can seem equally (very, very) large and permanent, like poverty, hunger, inadequate health care and education, etc. Oddly enough, the steps for moving these mountains are the same as for moving the rock-type, although you’d have to add different extra steps here like (instead of dynamite): use love

This week, we here at the mission received some great help from others who arrived, tools in hand, to help with the digging and moving, so to speak.

First, a group from the U.S. (through Mercy Air) came to work on several projects like roofing a few important buildings like a community clinic at Chitundo:

Glad to see Tome wearing eye protection. :)

Day 2, I believe?, and nearly done.

Dwight and I (behind camera) with community leaders, discussing staffing of the clinic.

It's ALWAYS fun to watch people work :P

At the same time, another crew worked on roofing the garage:

Beautiful! And cool in this heat. AND, if you ever run out of tin foil,
you know where to go grab a piece.

Somewhere amid roofing projects, there was some helping to dish up food during lunchtime at the mission school

Handing out soccer of balls...yay!

A few games with short termers:

Much needed orphan home painting took place with the ladies (and helpers):

You can't help but love little helpers.

Joao, caught by surprise, watching as inside his home turns bright with white paint.

Craft/activity/lesson time with the orphans:

Keren’s uncle and cousin arrived as well this week and soon got to work. Rick (her uncle, not the other Rick here :P) had barely arrived before being called on to tackle repairing a small generator.

Then there were all those mission vehicles at various stages of disrepair...

The old Isuzu is definitely a faith (+hard work) project!

She sort of got gutted.

After some TLC by these guys, the doors were soon opening and shutting, automatic locks were working, and the windows were working again! (Rick is also an author and blogger so click here to check his sites out.)

Below: This week Mateus (a student who is blind) received a talking watch so he could keep track of time. Matthew and Carey took some time teaching him how to use it and teaching him his numbers in English!

Thus wraps up a week of mountain moving. Phew! Thanks everyone--both big and small--for believing, grabbing a tool, digging, and of course, loving.

PS: The team flies back to South Africa on Sunday and will take Bero with them. His surgery is booked for Wednesday.

PPS: Thanks Barb, Rick and Carey for most of the photos on here!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Brace Yourself

It’s been quite the week and I have LOTS of photos to show for it, thanks to a cooperative effort by all the budding photographers around here (Carey, Heather, Matthew, and others)

I’ll start off with this photo of supper at our place

with Ron and Barb Wayner (left) who are just back from the U.S. and ready to continue work on the house

plus the air strip, hangar and other buildings and infrastructure at the mission. They’re currently staying at our old place, which is pretty bare, so it’s quasi camp-style living. We’re doing what we can to help them get settled and they help us remember to laugh. ☺

Others in dinner table photo: Jeff (far end of table) who is here to help them prepare for a visiting team (due to arrive on Monday); Andy, who just arrived this week from Switzerland; and Joao (beside Dwight) a sponsored university student who is just finishing up another volunteer term with us.

Below: Carey, Joao and Jeff at the campsite which is getting fuller by the day

We had to deal with a few urgent situations this week. One was an evening call from the mission’s sponsored kids who are boarding at and attending Chitundo school. Apparently, there were a few thugs in the community trying to abduct children (link). The community and the kids were terrified so we sent the mission’s guards to spend the night there to help bring a sense of security and calm.
One of the perpetrators was caught although a lynch mob had already formed by the time the police arrived.

After that incident, we had another call from Chitundo saying that one of the sponsored students was very ill. Carey and Keren took him to Vanduzi Hospital and while they were there, an angry mob came screaming past the vehicle pursuing yet another of the same group of child abductors. This problem has existed for quite awhile, but it has intensified recently.

Meanwhile, back home “at the ranch” (it was a crazy week so my chronology may be a bit off…)

A new, big and much more capable generator was finally hooked up and the old, tired one (foreground) will be used for back-up and weekends when the load is light.

Work on existing projects carried on. Here's Gabriel, busy in the woodshop.

Progress was also made on the structure for wood storage for the training centre.

And the training center’s water tank got installed, yay! This will make it MUCH easier to do construction there rather than haul a smallish tank, which is what we have been doing. We don’t have big machines for big jobs here so it’s all grunt work.

(Ok everybody, just roll the tank up the ladder :P)

Jeff, Dave and Charles

Out in the field, holdin' 'er steady.

Hooking up a portable generator to the borehole to fill the tank.

We also heard that one of the elderly widows in our Mercy Ministry program has not been coping well recently. She is quite debilitated from years of leprosy and although she manages fairly well on her own, she has the occasional fall. Since her last fall, she's had a very sore hip. When I mentioned going to hospital to her she flatly refused and said she’d be better off right where she is: at home.
Here, Simon (Socorrista/preschool teacher) talks to her.

Problem is, the only way she can get around is by shuffling along the ground using her hands (specifically to use the latrine). She has help by some very supportive neighbors and family for her activities of daily living, but we clearly had to invent some sort of “en suite” bathroom facility. So that became Friday’s project for our head bricklayer.

Peter and Dwight make a plan.

Somewhere, amid the week’s emergency calls, home visits and other work, a few snakes came by. Too close by for comfort, according to the litchi orchard workers who are particularly vulnerable since birds and frogs love the orchard and snakes LOVE hunting birds and frogs. And there is no antivenin nearby.

Orchard Snake Hunter (left), Helper (right), with a (dead) spitting cobra

Obviously this snake became a very popular photo subject :)

"Hi Mom"

Then there was the puff adder:

A puff adder packs a nasty bite but I still think they’re beautiful.

Keren had her hands full not only of snake, but with a few challenges of her own. She’s working on legal paperwork like her visa and passport renewal—never easy when you live at the end of the world far from major centres and with only a select few spots within cell phone range. Here she had to sit under the trees and write notes in the dirt while talking to the Canadian Consulate in Maputo.
"Nobody walk here...k?"

Challenges aside, she’s pretty excited about her family who are due to arrive next week.

Then, the orphans in our program came out for a fun time this Friday with Rick, Heather and others who joined and participated.

Rick’s parents have been here visiting since last week too. Here they have a chance to do what they do so well even back in Canada…love kids!

No photo for this development, but Bero is now booked for his first burn contracture surgery on February 24th in South Africa. What a big step for him!

And that I believe wraps up the bulk of this enormous post. Oh, hold on, bugs! Can’t forget the bugs! A bat too.

This guy decided our closet was a great place to sleep for the night. Uh, no mister!

Dragon Fly (not sure the red abd and blue outline show up very well here)

And this beetle is about the prettiest I've ever seen. This green on his ?head was like an iridescent green marble. Actually, it looks like an eye :)

His back is just as intriguing:

(Yep, just for you Royden)

With that, all we who have had a hectic week here at the mission in the Moz bush, do bid you a restful weekend. Hopefully we’ll have one too!