Sunday, January 30, 2011

When It Rains A Lot

1. Things collapse. Oops.

While we were gone last week our carport decided to buckle under the weight of the heavy rains. But we can’t blame its collapse entirely on the rain. Termites also had a hand in its undoing.

(Main support pole eaten by termites.)

Termites will eat everything out from under you that you hold dear if you aren’t careful!

The bridge we depend on to get to the mission school and one of the health posts collapsed under recent heavy rainfall as well. Thankfully through a cooperative effort by the mission and others who use the bridge, it has been rebuilt. I’ll post photos of it soon.

2. Seasonal, dry riverbeds fill with water.

Sluggish rivers turns into white water rapids.

And riverbanks flood into places they shouldn' our garden.

This is where veggies and fruit for school and orphan feeding programs is grown. As you can see, it is currently under water. Our irrigation pump usually rests on a rock below the end of that pipe.

3. Moss and strange mushrooms thrive.

(These are just plain creepy.)

4. Pesky rodents thrive too and get creative in their nest building.

Mariano and I were sorting through a box of used clothing for babies the other day and I came across this curious sight.

A mouse (or something similar) had eaten its way through the bottom of the baby bottle then set about pulling the sweater through the open top to make a nice, soft nest for its young. I was a bit apprehensive about what else I may come across (Mommy mouse, Daddy mouse, and wee little pink "mouses") as we pulled the remaining items out of the box.

But that was it. No further messes or “mouses” at all. They must have moved. Very considerate of them, wouldn’t you say? ☺

5. Boredom Sets In

While it was raining hard the other day, a certain someone had the great idea to oust the cat from the couch then jump up there himself to bunt the pillows.

One day I’ll have to dedicate an entire blog post to “10 Fun Things To Do If You’re A Bored Klipspringer”. All I need is a few more photos of him up to his antics.

Other youngsters got bored too.

Due to rain, we cancelled this Friday’s lesson and game-time at the mission for orphans in our program. Usually we go pick them up at their homes where they live with a granny or relative. But this week, the rain was just too much.

Half way through Friday afternoon, I heard squeals of delight and the cheers of children playing games. A bit later, Mariano brought some of them to the house to see me.

“Even though the program was cancelled, these kids wanted to come anyway to have some fun. They walked all the way here. They’re finished playing now but wanted to come see you because these two have tummy aches, those two have headaches, and this one lost his appetite (for vegetables).” He said.

The kids stood smiling at me, still breathing hard from all their running.

After a short chat, a quick look-over, fever checks, head pats and some dishing out of chewable Tylenol (parecetamol) and Flinstone vitamins, they were ready to leave for home again. We were all smiling.

(Joao joins in the interaction.)

Sometimes, bad weather is no fun. But sometimes it brings good things our way ☺

PS: This week, we celebrated Andy's arrival to join our team! Click here to check his blog for his first impressions.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Long Way Home

It's two full days of driving for us to get home. It's not our favorite trip in the whole world because it's long, the road has some very bad patches, and sometimes other vehicles (animals, pedestrians, etc.) do crazy things! It is a scenic trip though, and that goes a long way to making the trip more enjoyable.

Somewhere around half the way home, we cross the Rio Save. (In my mind it's the halfway point anyway, whether it really is or not. To me, once we've crossed the Rio Save, we're on the homeward stretch).

Save River facing west (inland)

It seems that no matter where you live in the world, recently you've either had tons of snow or tons of rain. Here where it's hot, we've had the latter :)

Save River facing east, where it empties into the Indian Ocean

We've seen this river fuller than this in flood years, but this is pretty engorged. Flood warnings have been issued for Mozambique and we're only half way through our rainy season, so we wait to see what will unfold still in the month(s) to come. As I write this, the rain pours down outside with thunder that threatens to shake the very foundations of our house :o

While in South Africa last week, Dwight came down with malaria/the flu. His recovery hasn't been very brisk so with the long trip and busy times ahead, we stopped for a few days to catch our breath. Our stop coincided with full moon which gave me some splendid moments of trying to capture it with my camera. I took over 100 sky shots on this trip--no word of a lie.

Moonrise with man on beach

Moonrise next evening

Then, it was time to carry on with our trip. Another long day, and when we were about 2-3 hours from home we came over a hill to discover traffic lined up for several kilometers. There had been an accident and a big truck had jack-knifed right across the highway cutting off the flow of traffic in either direction. Thankfully, smaller vehicles like ours could sniggle their way through the wreckage. Otherwise a long trip home would have been a lot longer.

"It's safer and a whole lot quicker in a plane."
(One of Dwight's ready comments whenever we face the dangers of ground travel here.
And I agree.)

The sun and sky were doing some fabulous things on the horizon on the way home so I tried to capture it through the car window. Arg...

A few more tries...

Whatever. My ready comment to my fly-by shots was: "A serious photographer would have stopped the vehicle, got out, trudged through the field, climbed up the power pole and got the shot..."

But it didn't matter that much right then. We were nearly home afterall.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Looking Back, Looking Forward

Rain in January: hope for good harvests in 2011.

It’s already half way through January and I find myself feeling like somewhere along the way I blinked, and Christmas was gone. Maybe it was a combination of the busyness of work and the fact that our families weren’t around to celebrate with. Either way, it went by far too quickly. So in an effort (maybe a semi-conscious one on my part) to extend the “Christmas feeling”, I have extended my personal time allowance for listening to Christmas music for as long as I want until I have decided I’ve had enough. But that's not any Christmas music—only Handel’s Messiah--which when you think of it really is appropriate all year round.

Despite my hanging onto my bit of extended Christmas, time marches on and with it, all the scheduled activities of the New Year.

Students in Mozambique are busy registering for school and helping get school-yards tidied up so classes can begin.

Here is a peep at some of the facilities a local school uses as a classroom. We hope to be able to help this school build proper classrooms one day.

Ray showing how school benches are put together.
Dwight and I, hmm, I think we were sitting carefully trying not to topple off!

There is a serious shortage of classroom space in many rural schools, so we are very thankful for the beautiful building we have!

Getting ready for school also means meeting with "external students" (those boarding at other schools to attend higher grades) to coordinate their housing needs as well as do some forward planning with them.

Some of the external students.

This year, we are preparing materials and launching a new module for our adolescent students that deals with planning their futures and making wise personal decisions for their lives. Having been a homeschool mom, I'm very excited to see this coming together. Last week, Joao launched the first introductory session of “Preparing for Your Future” with these students.

Joao, the mission school's teachers (preschool - Gr. 5), and me.

Work on the mission school’s health clinic has made progress, thanks to Pindurai, Simon, and Ray and Julie who took a day to tackle it together.

All it needs now is glass in the windows and shelves and doors--which are being prepared in the woodshop (below).

Last photo: the Klipspringer (aka "Buddy") doing a bit of looking-forward of his own by practicing his bunting skills on my pillow. Whatever. Those future plans had just better not involve using those sharp new horns on my legs...buddy!

I better run for now. Got "to do" things waiting for me, people to see, and at the end of the day, some great Christmas music to listen to :)


PS: Date stamped photos: photo credit to Julie.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


On Sunday, I should have been blogging, but I wasn't. I was "otherwise engaged". More specifically, Dwight and I were at the Mozambique/South Africa border post lined up for 6 hours along with a throng of thousands of others also trying to get across.

Line-ups that barely inch forward are bad enough, but they're worse when the line up is outside and the rain-heavy-heavens decide they can't possibly hold their gazillions of litres of water a moment longer and to the sound and light show of flashes of lightning and claps of thunder, they send their contents downward in torrents on us, the helpless.

As luck would have it, we'd forgotten to bring an umbrella. You can't very well stand in line while remaining seated in the dry comfort of your car, so out we paid our dues out in the rain along with many others who had no option. At least we had a folding windshield sun visor (the big foil kind) plus a foil thermo blanket which I stole from the Cessna's emergency pack. These served as our umbrellas...more or less.

Me under the foil sheet.

Generally speaking, everyone was more than patient with the whole process. But there were a few who got rowdy (I think they'd had a bit too much holiday cheer) and started demanding their "right" to cut in ahead of the rest. A border policeman maintained order with a sjambock (like a whip, but shorter and thicker). I was thankful for that because no one wanted to quarrel with a policeman and his sjambock!

We finally cleared the border, rather wet and weary, after 11 p.m. We were very thankful we had a hot shower and bed waiting for us at Mercy Air.

Next Sunday should be better :)

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Ringing in 2011. Bush style.

No, we didn’t stay up til the clock struck midnight on December 31st. We didn’t set off fire-crackers. And we didn’t sing Auld Lang Syne either! But we have had a memorable entry to our 2011 adventure anyway.

Life is an adventure in general, but even more so when life is lived in the African bush. And we were pleased when long-time friends (Ray and Julie) from our home church in Canada came to share some time with us. If you consider that it’s -32 where they come from, and +32 here, that’s almost adventure enough. Never mind the bugs, language, new food, and slightly behind-the-times bush living conditions. But they have been game for it all, plus some work too.

We spent the first few days taking them around, introducing them to the place.

"Buck & Co." checking out the Litchi orchard.
(I think our little klipspringer thinks he's a person, or a dog. Mushu, our real dog, is just ahead of him in the picture.)

The training center taking shape

A foundation only really serves its purpose when you start building on it :)
And I love how when the walls go up, things start to take on the look of things to come.

Making iron rod structures for pillars.

The airstrip as it currently stands:

Getting to the airstrip was one of Ray and Julie's first Mozambique adventures. Recent rain had created quite a muddy mess on the little bush bridge where other vehicles had gotten stuck. Here, Dwight checks how close to the edge we can get in order to not sink into the quagmire but also in order to not slip off the side...but don't worry. We made it just fine.

Then, they met some of the people.

Neighborhood and orphan kids at one of the orphan homes.

At the community water pump. Taking and showing pictures is sooo fun!

Ray took some video of one of the ladies who is crippled. She loved seeing herself played back in action.

Then, they jumped into some of the week's work here which included putting finishing touches on the Chitundo Health Post:

Julie, making a stencil of the heart part of the mission's logo

Ray and Gabriel putting up shelving

Painting the red cross on top and the name on the front.

The Consultation room:

Marco, cleaning paint drips off the floor.

The stencil I spent painstaking hours cutting out--a recognition of those who contributed to make this health post possible.


No job is ever done 'til the prescribed number of photos have been taken...

On New Year's Day, we made a home visit to Jose, a staff member, whose son had been ill. Finding the home--a hut on a hillside--was sort of like finding a needle in a hay stack since there are many huts around here. First, we took a wrong turn or two. Then we stopped to ask for directions from someone, but he didn't know where the home was. Finally we found someone who knew, and he ventured to give us verbal instructions that went like this:

"First, you go back down this road you came up on. Then, at the turn, you go right, straight, down by the river. Then you turn again...."

We decided that drawing a map would be best. A bush style map, that is, in the dirt.

When we felt fairly certain that we knew where we were headed, we turned around and headed the right direction. Two teams of cows with plows happened to get onto our return road just ahead of us, so we followed them for part of the way. The guy directly in front of us let go of his team's reins and started singing and dancing and snapping his whip.

Nice to have some entertainment when one is in a traffic jam! :)

Finally, we found Jose's house. It is in the most beautiful setting.

Jose, welcoming his guests.

A dish rack with a view.

Dwight trying to make friends with a young family member.

Jose showed us around and we had a nice visit. And thankfully his son seems to be on the mend.

Today, we visited a church in a community about 1/2 hour's drive north. The pastor received his training through the mission, and the church runs an orphan program.

Ray shares a greeting from Canada with the Mozambican congregation.

This little guy was trying to figure out what to do with his very wet, wadded up sleeve!

The drummer boy and his friends wanted their photo taken.
Photo taking is a popular thing to do here.

At the end of our time there, we were given a gift of green mealies (white field corn) and bananas.

So far, we have had good rains here and spirits are high since it looks like there should be good crop production this year. For that, and for many other blessings, we are so very thankful.

Welcome 2011!