Sunday, October 24, 2010


“Actions speak louder than words.”

Some of the kids at school made mini-posters this week as a special project. I had to smile at the oxymoron (an unwitting one, I'm sure) contained in this one. But to appreciate it, you have to live in Mozambique and depend on MCEL (a cellular service provider). You’ve heard of “bad hair days”? Well, MCEL has many “bad-to-absolutely-no-service days” where there is no cellular action whatsoever. It gets very frustrating.

But that’s not what this poster is about, of course. It’s about how you can’t accomplish something (love people, bring change, etc.) simply by talking about it, we have to do it. Our actions speak for us--and about us--all the time. That’s disturbing, in a good sort of way, and it gave me a lot of food for thought this week.

So let’s jump into some of the week’s action.

The Chitundo Health Post is having final touches done to it while the socorristas finish up their training at Vanduzi Hospital. We think it makes quite the impression, especially against the very red dirt backdrop of the surrounding landscape.

Here the kids perform just a bit for the camera. The health post is an exciting development for this community and it’s opening will happen none too soon either!

There’s been action at the Zuze (mission school) health post as well as roof installation got underway.

First, you measure the building...

Then, you cut your wood and put it on top

And you walk up there, verrrry carefully lest you fall.

(Dwight’s tip of the week: If the edge you step on gives way and you DO fall, land on all fours like a cat. And yes, that’s what happened as described to me by Jorge. “How could you let him fall, Jorge?! You’re supposed to look after each other when I’m not around.” I had to tease him a bit. He smiled and responded with, “I knew you would say that, Senhora, so I’ve been racking my brain thinking of a good answer all afternoon. But I don’t know how it happened, just that he landed very nicely. Just like a cat.”)

Jorge and Charles

When the wood is all in place, you put the tin roof sheets on top.

Voila! Lovely.

That wasn’t the only roof work done this week. The Mercy Air house also got its roof underway.

Ron, Bernie and Dwight sizing up the truss design and measurements.

Trusses and reflective foil going up.

Unfortunately, the sun decided to crank up the heat these past few weeks (up to 41 C), so the guys working up on the roofs got well basted and roasted. So sorry guys, but we sure do appreciate those roofs once they’re up!

There was a different kind of action on another front as well as we applied for “permanent residence” visas (aka 5-year work visas) in lieu of the 1-year renewable ones we’ve had up until now, and which have gone up horribly in price. There’s quite a bit of paperwork involved which is normal with immigration-related matters anywhere. You have to fill out the right forms, have them photocopied, stamped and authenticated, get photos, submit letters, do up requests, and the list goes on. So we did it all, and then some, and submitted our bulging paper file to the immigration office.

After 5 days’ deliberation, we were granted the new visas. After 17 years in Mozambique, we're finally on something other than a renewable annual visa. So off we went to town (for the 3rd or 4th time in 7 days), and sat in the immigration place for nearly 2 hours waiting for the next step: collection of our Biometric data. First, we waited for people ahead of us to get done. Then, just when it was our turn, the fluorescent light bulb stopped working and needed to be repaired.

Judging from the amount of effort that went into its repair, it must have been in bad shape. First, the repairman got up on his bench, then down off his bench, then up on his bench again, then the bulb was twisted this way, then that way, then the starter was slid in, then slid back out again, then he was down off his bench. When that sequence had been completed, he'd start over again with new, different parts.

While we waited, Dwight and I had a mini-staff meeting (to discuss business we hadn’t been able to during the busy week), played games on my cell phone, had conversations with immigration officials we knew, and so on. As our waiting time extended beyond the 45-minute mark, and because of all the steps involved in trying to get that fluorescent bulb to work, the Hokey Pokey song came to mind, "You put your right foot in, you take your right foot out, you put your right foot in and you shake it all about…" I’m sure the repairman felt like he was doing the hokey pokey right about then.

In the end, he had to dismount the ENTIRE light fixture and left just the wires hanging down from the ceiling. We were relieved that our wait was about to end, but what a shame to end such noble effort in defeat. After the repairman left, the housekeeping staff came in and feather-dusted the place clean and then, finally, we got to go inside the special Biometrics room and proceed with having more photos taken, being finger printed, etc. And now, we wait for our new visas to arrive.

And with that, I'll wrap up this post. But before I go, here's a few photos on some bug action for you bug/reptile/icky-thing enthusiasts out there.

Dwight happened to leave his book "Good To Great" on our veranda for a few days recently. When I noticed a rather large looking bee come buzzing under the cover repeatedly my suspicions were aroused. We opened the cover to find she had been smuggling a gazillion green larva inside, probably to feed her young who were to be deposited in there as well.

(Poor focus, sorry, but you get the idea.)

Yeah. Noble attempt there too, lady. But--no. Actions may speak louder than words, but that doesn’t mean words are totally useless either. The book is not yours for the taking.

Thank you very much.


Russell said...

Those roofs are lookin' good. TELL DAD TO BE CAREFUL UP THERE! As much as he might believe it, he's not a cat and sooner or later he won't be landing on all fours!

Karen said...

What a nice-looking health post. Its cheery exterior might help people feel better before they even get inside!