Sunday, November 28, 2010

"M" is for...

“M” stood for an amazing number of things this past, rather chaotic week.

1. “M” is for Monday Morning at Mercy Air. And Male Elephant, too.

On Monday morning, Dwight and Alan Luus (Mercy Air South Africa Director) finished the huge job of packing the trailer with rolls of donated irrigation tubing, repaired tents (6 of our big tents needed their zippers replaced—we depend on these for accommodations for the bulk of our guests), 12 boxes of monitor/pastor training books, roofing supplies, paint, and some used tires.
The back of our pick up was pretty full too.

All together, we weighed about as much as an average Male African Elephant. :o

2. “M” is for Muggy Maputo, Importation Muddle, and Amazing Moments.

The first and smallest hurdle in our journey was the exportation documents for the goods out of South Africa. The next and slightly bigger hurdle was getting through the border with our single exit/entry permission letter (necessary while we await our “permanent” ID cards), then getting the import documents cleared through border customs.

We were thankful it only took several hours.

Vodacom's welcome message to those entering the country, and Maputo.

Once we had the okay from the customs officials, we proceeded to “frigo” in Maputo where all import goods must be left for inspection and document processing. That's our trailer in front of the white truck. It looked a little forlorn in there.

Our expected day or two for processing paperwork in Maputo stretched into 5 days. First you need this release, then that stamp, then a clearance, then payment, then inspection, etc…and so goes the importation muddle.

Well, the added time gave us more time to get to know our new friends and kind hosts, Tony and Leila Frank. We also took a bit of time to drive past some of our old haunts since we lived in Maputo from 1993 to 1996.

We "apartment sat" here for a month for some friends.

A clinic I worked in for awhile. That was quite the era. It looks much nicer now!

Sometimes, when we least expect it, we get amazing moments. One of those happened while we were driving along Avenida Da Marginal toward Maputo’s port. It is a relatively un-amazing drive, then we came upon this beautiful sun-through-the-clouds scene.

On Friday, and only after a fair bit of urging and insisting with the import/export agency, we got the required paperwork, temporary trailer registration, and the “ok” to leave for home. Yipee!!

3. “M” is for Mud.

We made pretty good time on our homeward trip considering we weighed about as much as a bull elephant. ☺ And then…

We hit mud.

Part of the main highway going north is under construction and although the finished product is pretty good, the detours leave much to be desired. Especially when they get poured on!

Everyone was slipping and sliding in the mud/sludge, which is a dangerous game considering the mud reduced the detour’s two lanes to a single one. And especially when much of the traffic was made up of huge semi trucks

that weigh about as much as 5 Male African Elephants.

We had a Christmas CD on, and while we slipped and slid in the mud, “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas…” played.

4. “M” is for Move Stuff Around.

Once we made it through mud alley, we stopped to rearrange our load.

"Baptism by Mud" for the trailer.

We could see more rain was on its way, and those 12 boxes of training books needed to be in the pick-up’s canopy. This meant that some stuff in the canopy had to be moved onto the trailer. And so the shuffle of stuff began.

What a job!

5. “M” is for Manica (our home province).

It was a wonderful feeling to come home after 3 weeks away. We’re a few days behind schedule now, so the intensive seminar is pretty much upon us. Monitors and pastors, whose week’s accommodations consist of the tents we had repaired and were late bringing back, had to sleep in our open bush school for one night. As I write, the tents are being set up. I bet those tents never looked better!

These shots are for my kids who love Africa and the African sky.

Rain's aftermath, and fore math, in the Manica sky.

5. “M” is for Monday. Tomorrow, already. The beginning of the intensive seminar.

There’s a lot to do and I have a health exam to prepare, so I’d better run!


PS: You can check these team member blog updates:

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Missing the Point

So, we had a great time at the coast last week. No doorbell, no internet, none of the usual daily hassles. Just ocean sounds and eating and sleeping when we wanted to. But when you’ve been going full steam ahead for quite some time, it’s a little hard to suddenly go “no-steam”. So yes, I did do a little work while on holiday. But just for the first few days.

I know, you’re not supposed to work on a holiday. But if you think that in order to REALLY enjoy a holiday you must only eat, sleep and do nothing, you’re missing the point. The point of a holiday is to do the things that you enjoy…things that leave you feeling recharged afterwards. And this is where you have to know yourself fairly well.

The place we stayed at had a small veranda that faced the beach, so on the first morning we sat there, binoculars in hand, and sipped our coffee. The tide was particularly low and we watched as local residents streamed past toward the reef. This is usually a fairly quiet place at this time of year, so we wondered what was up. Once on the reef, they started hacking at it with huge knives. (I didn't get a zoomed in shot, but Dwight counted almost 200 people out there.)

I guess the low tide exposed more of the delicious sea life that lives on the reef, and this was a free for all! My scuba diving family has educated me on how a reef is a living and fragile treasure, so watching the hacking was a bit difficult for us. But, these people were likely hungry. How do you weigh preservation against human hunger? Thankfully, it was just the one day. For the remainder of the time, the beach was almost entirely abandoned and peaceful.

Here are a few photos:

This is Spot. (We nicknamed him this for obvious reasons.)

Spot was a very friendly doggie who came to visit, play, and beg a little every day. He was also a very good guard dog and he barked at the guards regularly.

This is Fluffy. (Also our nickname.)
He was at the beach one day with his family and he was very friendly. He was also a tireless shore bird chaser.

Oh yes, then there was the rat who was a bit too bold for his britches. The first night, he snuck in and ate a nice, ripe tomato. The second night, I caught him sneaking in and yelled at him and chased him out. But I guess he missed the point. The third night, he came back WHILE we were eating supper. So sad--your "bad", buddy.

This was our kitchen, lit up by candle light, gas burner light and a flashlight, during the customary power outage.

But that was all last week. This week, we picked up a trailer to take back to Moz with us.

It’s a robust farm trailer that will be used for transporting everything from soil to cattle to fruit to goodness knows what else. Here it is loaded up and ready to head north with building and irrigation supplies. (I see many hours ahead at "customs and immigration"...)

We had to pick it up in Johannesburg, and on the trip, we stopped at a new roadside place for lunch. We were pleasantly surprised to find that the restaurant has huge windows that face an open plain where some wildlife range, including rhino’s.

Recently, there has been a serious spate of rhino poaching as their horns are used for "medicine". These rhino’s however, had been de-horned in an effort to save their lives from poachers.

Turns out that sometimes, missing the point can be a good thing.


Friday, November 05, 2010

7 (or so) Great Ways To Spend The Day

In case you’re looking for some input on Great Ways To Spend The Day, I'll share a few of the ideas I picked up this past week.

1a. DON'T be in school!

Lucky for kids on this side of the globe, school is officially done for 2010 and summer holidays have begun. Woohoo!

1b. BE at school!

Ok, that’s a little contradictory. But I know from personal experience that there’s no better time to plan a week of fun-filled activities and character-building lessons at school than when kids are on summer holidays and bored. As you likely already know, kids + school holidays = bored kids. The favorite bored-kid "plea" at our home when I was growing up was , “Let’s GO somewhere, let’s DO something!!!”

So fun times are planned, at the school no less.

The day starts off with one of the MOST favorite of all activities in these parts: singing and dancing.

Then, there's more singing and dancing.

I think the teachers and helpers enjoy it as much as the kids!

Below: the drummer boy and his "drum"

A very large ring around the rosie

And then a few stretches. As if little kids need them!

Above: Francois, school director (among other jobs)
Fernando (cook, amazing man, soon to retire)
Pastor Tome, assistant/taking over from Fernando

Kids captivated as Francois tells the day's story/lesson.

Anyway, onto other ideas for a great way to spend the day:

2a. NOT be stuck in your office doing paperwork. (At least I'm pretty sure that's what Dwight would say about now.)

2b. "BE in the office, all day, lazing around on the mound of papers on your owner’s desk." Ebony, the cat.

(Added tip: the nearer you are to your owner, the more pats and strokes you’ll get. Stress relief for humans, apparently.)

2c. Alternative plan: lay in surplus health teaching supplies box all day.

3a. Do NOT dig a hole for the latrine in the hot, hot sun all day.

3b. Oh, it’s for that pretty new clinic just over there?

The one with the nice red floor?

Oh! Well then it’s ok. ☺

4. Sit looking at the shell of your former self/life, thinking about how much more wonderful, free, and full life has been since re-birth.

It was grace that brought you here, and you know it, because only grace could have kept you through that!

5. Sit on a screen and get your photo taken by someone (who probably has better things to do but who can’t resist the moment…).

6. Lay on the shower's smooth pebble-stone mosaic very quietly (all day, if possible) until your owner comes to “shoo” you outside to “go jump rocks and eat succulent plants like any other normal buck would do!”

7. Go the coast. One of those beautiful ones in Mozambique with the lovely white sand on the beach that squeaks when you walk on it, and the clear, turquoise water that sparkles like a jewel in the sun at low tide. Go spend the day there.

Then spend another day there. Then maybe several more.

Ok, gotta go pack. :) I’ll be back to blogging as soon as I can pull myself away from #7.

Enjoy your day!