Saturday, July 31, 2010

Picture This

In case you haven’t figured this out from this blog yet…I love pictures.

(A disconcerted male lion, at Gorongosa. Photo by Matthew F.)

Give me any book and the first thing I want to do is see the pictures or illustrations. THEN I’ll read it, if I must, in hopes that what’s written has good mental image potential as well. J

So I had a ton of fun this week as I searched Google Images for visual aids for the health sessions I had to teach. Sanitation was one of the topics I presented and I discovered an amazing wealth of close-up fly pictures. They fit in quite nicely with the sanitation theme.

Fly face

Fly foot (magnified a gazillion times). Cool, huh?

My objective in using these photos was to help make the microscopic world come more alive to my students in order to make my point about the importance of sanitation. Hopefully it had the desired effect. I know I was scared.

The Intensive Seminar for church leaders/monitors is held every 6 months at the mission. This time it was held at the "old farm", where we used to live and where the mission school is, because the school offers the best in terms of classroom space. It does make for a lot of driving back and forth for the entire week though.

Scenes like this kept the drives a bit more exciting.

A bushbaby scampers along the road ahead of us.

Out here in the bush we don't have electricity, so we have to generate our own. When we arrived in the evening for the first health class, the place was dead dark.

Oops, no flash.

That's better. (Keren and socorristas Celestino and Simon)

As soon as Dwight got the small generator up and running, the place flooded with light and we got started. This is the mission's health course kick-off: first class of the first health course using the first print run of the new health manual :) The course was offered to the monitors who have completed the rest of the courses in the leader's training program. These men were teaching classes to new students during the day, so our classes had to be held each evening.

Keren teaching with me translating.

Me using pictures (many of them drawn by Keren)

More pictures.

And then we had a learning activity with a soccer ball on the last night. That was fun!

Opportunities were given for sharing ideas.

We had some good discussion times too. And at the end, a group photo. Yay!

That's about all the photos I took this week, but Matthew took these great photos of some of the week's activities.

Dwight teaching the 35 monitors who will return to their areas and provide the same teaching to more than 600 other pastors. It's very exciting to think that the health manual will taken that far afield too.

Alta and Eunice presenting the session on women's ministry.

Students taking notes.

A quick pose for the camera.

The monitors stay in tents during intensive seminar week. And it's very cold at night. They're very committed!

Sponsored grade school students, now on winter holidays, do volunteer work. Here they help the cook prepare veggies from the mission garden for lunch.

Sponsored highschool boys having some fun while doing dishes.

Sponsored girls help out with carrying water and other chores, but here they take a bit of time with Keren to learn how to make cute stuffed cloth animals, like this giraffe...

He's mine and I've named him 'Gerry the Contemplative Giraffe'. I didn't make him, Keren gave him to me. Apparently the turned neck wasn't really intentional and she has jokingly suggested that he may have chiropractic trouble. Personally I just think he's contemplative, picturing many things with his mind!

Sunday, July 25, 2010


No, we haven’t been sick, just very busy. The last few months (or, year?) have whisked by and we’re playing a bit of catch-up.

Between April and July this year, we travelled first to Brazil, then to Canada for about 6 weeks, then back to South Africa, then to Mozambique, then within Mozambique, then to South Africa again, then finally back to Mozambique. Sandwiched between the travel, have been all the prescribed appointments, small crises and ongoing tasks that keep life from getting too boring ☺ It’s wonderful now to finally be back home again. But we have some catching up to do!

It’s funny how you can become oblivious to the unfinished state things until you leave them for a while and then come back to them later. That’s how we felt coming back to our house recently. As we returned, we realized that there are still many unfinished projects—basic things like finishing up the electrics, hanging curtains on the windows, and putting in more shelves and cupboards.

I was very thankful when last weekend, Dwight pushed his mound of paperwork, etc. aside and took a few hours to hang curtains on our bedroom windows.

Finally, no more dodging behind doors! And now that finishing the electrics is underway, I have a properly mounted light in my office too. Next is the front room and veranda. Yay for light!

For those who have followed progress on the house, here’s a shot of the kitchen.

No curtains here either, but who cares? It has cupboards! Ron Wayner did a splendid job of putting them in during our absence, and I am eternally grateful! Now, the cupboards just need doors. Next task: shelves and cupboards in all the other rooms!

While work carries on in the house, I’m trying to catch up on my own work, like planning socorrista meeting/training times, getting through my current online course on health teaching, preparing my sessions for health teaching in the intensive seminar (this week), sorting through the wonderful donated health supplies

(it's like gold, this stuff)

And then there is other work, like making order in my home.

A few weeks ago, my washing machine needed some major repair work. Basically, it meant "gutting" the entire thing. It was pretty pathetic with its tubs, fins, and sundry important parts out there on the front lawn getting washed for all the world to see. Even though progress has been made, my trusty Speed Queen has not completely recovered yet. (Maybe she just needed a break?)
And so the piles of laundry--our own, plus campsite linen and donated items--await.

The last few weeks have been a tough recovery time for some little tikes around here too. We’ve seen some nasty cases of pneumonia (always so bad at this time of year), and some malaria too.
One child lost her life as she was already so very ill when she arrived. We are so sad for the family. Thankfully, the others have recovered well.

This little one, who was brought here recently very underweight, is receiving milk, cereal and clothes while her mommy helps out in the mission garden. They're both so sweet.

So, as we try hard to catch up with our work, we will trust for her recovery too.


PS: Check out Dwight's latest post for a few more of the week's stories.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Things change. Things stay the same.

I had a few déjà vu type moments this past week and it made me think about time and change. Bear with me while I share a few related thoughts.

1. Time goes by. (Shocking, I know.)
2. Things change over time.
3. The more things change, the more they stay the same. (This saying was apparently coined by Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr. In French, of course).

Day 1
On Monday, we had the privilege to travel yet again. But this time, we had two special travel who, for many years, were our neighbors in the bush.

The family helping load the plane.

They essentially grew up with our kids and, for the most part, the four were inseparable. If our kids weren’t at their place, they were at our place. And if they all were at neither home, they were off camping or hiking and “roughing it” in the bush somewhere. We often referred to these kids as our 2nd set of kids ☺

This week, they needed to get back to school and we were going their direction so we went together. Watching the plane get loaded made me think of how much things have changed. And in some ways, how much they haven’t. That’s good too.

Below: 2004/2005. Our own family packs the same plane for a flight.

Anyway, in no time, we were loaded and off the ground. Here, Francois gets a few pointers from Dwight on flying.

Day 2
After a full day’s travel, we slept at Mercy Air, then headed for Joburg the following morning. But first we had some business to do so while we ran here and there sourcing supplies and parts, the kids waited in the car. Just like our kids used to do. And they were patient and entertained themselves, just like our kids used to do.

While we were on the highway, we came across a truck hauling 2 huge wooden crates.

Inside the back crate, was a rhino. If you look closely at the picture you can see his horn.

Ok, so use your imagination a bit :)

Day 3

One of the items on our agenda was to pick up the Portuguese Health Manuals that had been printed. It was an exciting moment for me to see the book we’d worked on so hard, for so long, finally printed in book form complete with a table of contents, cover, and all! This book will be introduced to monitors next week during the intensive seminar, and hopefully it will help bring about health changes--for the better--for many.

Printing the covers

Putting the covers on the books. The health manuals are stacked to the right.

Joburg was co-o-o-old as usual for this time of year, and once we were done our business there, we were anxious to return to lower altitudes and warmer climates.

Sunset by Nelspruit with World Cup Soccer flags still hanging from light poles.

Day 4
We rushed around and wrapped up business in Nelspruit/White River. One of the “to do” items was to reproduce the set of visual aids Keren has prepared for the school health curriculum she’s been working on very hard over the past few months. We trust that this too will bring some much needed changes to health for many!

At the end of that day, we packed the plane.

Day 5
We were up early in the “warmer-than-Joburg-cold” and were ready to leave by 7 a.m.. Mercy Air had a flight then too, so here are the 2 planes queued up by the Mercy Air hangars, ready to leave.

Our flight home went well, which is good since the engine is nearing its “TBO” (To Be Overhauled) time. I was concerned about a few black puffs I saw coming out of the exhaust the other day, but those who know more than I do about such things have assured me the Cessna is still good to go. And sure enough, it made the trip just fine.

As we flew north, the weather got warmer, and we shedded our sweaters and jackets and threw them in the back seat.

Much of the time, Mozambique is very hot and muggy. But sometimes, it’s just right. This was one such time and we were happy to be back.

Approaching the Chimoio airport area.
Sporadic winter brush fires are so characteristic at this time of year (again, look closely, and you'll see the smoke spires on the horizon).

Closer shot of fields alight.

Below: 2005 shot of the area with smoke spires rising.

Ah yes. Some things change and some stay the same.

It's good to be home again.


Saturday, July 10, 2010

A wild kind of week

Yes, it’s sort of been on of those weeks. But then, they’re not too uncommon here.

For one thing, our group of guests wrapped up their final few days here. This meant doing the farewell rounds, packing the campsite up and clearing our veranda of boxes of donated stuff for the time when we’d be gone (for security purposes), then hitting the road for a night each in Gorongosa National Park then Beira.

As we entered Gorongosa, we hoped for some amazing wildlife sightings. And although we all generally hoped to see the same basic thing, the hopes of some our visitors differed somewhat from those of others. Some (ok, one) was excited by the very, very remote possibility that lions or elephants would attack the vehicle. (!) And another one still wanted desperately to see a snake before leaving for home.

I’m happy to say that we were not attacked by lions or elephants. I guess they just weren't in attack mode...

Pretty far from it actually.

They were the highlight. But there was other wildlife as well.

A blurry shot of a porcupine (sorry)

And a variety of buck and birds on the Gorongosa Plain.

Then there was the small stuff...

A nasty biting fly catches a ride on my window

A whole "herd" of ants. I don't know where they were going, but it sure seemed important that they get there all at the same time.

The next stop was Beira which was the team's departure point for their trip home. The flight was slated to leave at 7:30 a.m. Now, usually for international flights you're supposed to arrive at the airport at least 2 hours ahead of time, so we were up REAL early and arrived at the airport just after 5:00 a.m.

It was still dark outside. And very quiet. And...the airport was locked. We weren't about to go back to the hotel, and there were no other places open at that hour to grab a coffee, so we decided to just wait around until someone came and let us inside.

At 6:00 a.m. the man with the keys arrived. Yay!

Group shot of the Prairie team plus Matthew (who works at the mission). Pretty good looking bunch considering the hour!

Dwight and I are back home now and trying to catch up on some things before we head out on our next trip on Monday. I'm excited because on this next trip we'll be picking up the printed health manuals. These will be introduced to pastors and monitors at the upcoming intensive seminar at the end of the month.

And while we're gone, we'll be taking care of other business as well. Business like looking for a new washing machine part for "Old Faithful"--my 10+ year old washing machine which has served us well and washed clothes for many, many people. When Old Faithful started to sound like a Boeing 747 during the spin cycle, we knew something was wrong.

Marc, with the help of his sons, takes on the not-very-fun task of dismantling the machine to see what's ailing. (I am so very grateful for their work. Thanks again guys.)

(A very serious toolkit.)

And last, but certainly not least in terms of noteworthy events this past week, was the day we delivered this young man's crutches which Jeff had resized and newly engineered to actually fit him. It was smiles all around.