Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Today I gave a first typing lesson to someone who has hardly used anything electronic (or electric) in his entire life. He is not accustomed to cell phones and touch screens. His hands are calloused from swinging a hoe and an axe for subsistence survival--the norm in these parts. Teaching him to set his fingers nimbly on the keyboard seemed counter intuitive to all his life's experiences to date. His touch on the keys was too clumsy for the set "repeat" rate, and there were several runaway "D"'s and "S"'s. His spaces and returns were half intentional, half accidental. But he is excited to learn. And it's a start.

We are down an office member these days and need lots of help. Primarily, this young man is earmarked for the health program as a health worker. He has come up through our school and sponsorship program and completed 11th grade, which is more than most of our current staff have. He is sharp, knows the local area and its people well, and seems to have a good heart. Those are essential ingredients. Typing and further skills can be learned.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Church and Massa

We attended and shared in a church today just up the highway from us. Last time we were here, they were still meeting in a mud hut but busy making bricks by hand for this building. Now their building is up and even has a tin roof. It's wonderful to see progress! 

When we arrived, the song service was already well underway. There is no such thing in Africa as a "dead" worship service. They're all loud and vibrant with beating drums, moving bodies, clapping hands, and shaking shakers. The shakers used in this church were made of tin cans, filled with seeds, then placed end to end on a stick (you can see the very end of one just beyond the song leader's white gown). They also had shakers made from gourds. All in all, it's was loud. No one got bored or fell asleep. It also took awhile after the singing was done for my hearing to key down enough to hear normal sounds again. Sort of like after a noisy concert.

This is the building. Every brick, individually made by hand from mud, patted into a form, dried in the sun, then baked in a fire. Every brick carefully brought to the site and set in its place and cemented there with precious cement that was brought all the way from town. There seems to be no part of life here that is easy or convenient. Everything comes at a high cost in one way or another, and this building certainly testifies to the commitment and hard work done by this congregation.

 As is the custom, we were fed after the service. This is a year of poor crops, and hunger, but still they prepared a delicious meal for us. The meal was massa (cooked, ground maize) and chicken done in a tomato, onion, and oil sauce. The massa is prepared as a stiff porridge that is dipped into the sauce and  eaten with the fingers. We north americans aren't entirely adept at this type of eating. I'm pretty clumsy at it though I do manage to get the food into my mouth (all over my hands, some on my skirt, etc.).

Lunch at the Pastor's house with Dwight, Cara Bob and Sharon, Jackson, Carlito and his brother, Kyra, and Joao. 

 Dwight shared that what makes us "rich" in Christ is that we have Faith, a Father, Family, and an eternal Future. We felt so honored and blessed by the time spent with this part of our Family today. We are rich, indeed.

Friday, April 26, 2013

When ordinary becomes delightful

The days have been simply packed and tonight I'm tired and very tempted once again to skip blogging in favor of just showering and crawling bed. But I managed to negotiate a deal with myself: keep it short. Capture one highlight of the many over the past 2 days. That was a tough choice, but here it is.

This afternoon, Cara, Bob Guzak, Ernesto and I visited the home of one of our students. First, we had to contend with the horribly eroded road to the school (shoot, no photo of that yet). Then, we walked the "short" distance of about 1.5 km to the home. The kids were SO excited!

When we got to the home, we were welcomed warmly and a grass mat was brought for us to sit on. This is the Mozambican bush home's equivalent to a living room with a comfy sofa. It was a great time for Cara to connect with a sponsored student. It was also a great video/photo op which always delights the kids immensely when you show them the playbacks.

We all enjoy seeing moving images of ourselves, but it's especially fascinating when it's the first time ever.

Gifts were presented and the moment was enjoyed by all, but note the two boys still stuck on video replays on the iphone.

The momentum really picked up when Bob videoed the whole scene and replayed it on his ipad. I don't think any two apple screens have ever been touched by such wondering fingers as these were today, repeatedly. 

Photo fever reached an all-time high as I snapped a few more shots and kids squealed with delight at the playbacks. "The dog! Take a picture of the dog!!" they cried.

That seemed a rather boring subject to me but since it's what they REALLY wanted, I took the shot.

When I showed them this playback, they doubled over and screamed with laughter. It's delightful to see a replay of yourself, but apparently it's hilarious to see them of your plain, ol' dog laying around in the dirt!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Quick trip to Pungue

Got a call at the end of the day to saying someone down the highway had been (badly) bitten by a dog and needed to be taken to hospital for shots. I wasn't sure what shots were even available locally, but we went to see the person and at least dress the wounds.

We pulled off the highway several km's from here where the family stood in a huddle waiting for us. A man held a child, about 5 or 6 years old, who was crying. The mom was nearly hysterical. Turns out the "someone" bitten was this child. As we examined the wound and discussed what to do, we discovered the child's older brother was also bitten, though not as badly. And apparently a 3rd person was also attacked. We decided to all pile into the vehicle and head to the Pungue Health Center. At least they had Tetanus immunization.

We arrived at the health center after dark, and the place has no power.

The nurse emerged from his house nearby to greet us in shorts and flip-flops. He quickly ushered us into the room labeled "Triagem" and set about cleaning and dressing the boys' wounds. The youngest boy cried from the moment we arrived until the moment we walked out, but especially when he got his shot. Everything about the place was so very humble and simple. He used a flashlight to work by that he obviously was used to positioning "just so" while doing this sort of thing. Since there were quite a few of us in the room with idle hands, Dwight held the flashlight from a better angle. I had brought one as well that was quite bright and I couldn't help but think that was the brightest that little triage room had ever been after dark. He worked quickly and efficiently. Thankfully he had the basic supplies for dressing the wounds and immunizations were kept in a battery operated cooler.

When he was done, we made small talk. He asked Dwight if he recalled giving him and his laboring pregnant wife a ride to Vanduzi awhile back. Dwight said, "Yes, I remember you." The nurse said, "Well, that baby is born and at home now. Won't you come meet my family and see our baby? It's our firstborn." So we took the extra few minutes to visit his home, meet the family and neighbor kids who were there for supper (spaghetti...a delicacy out here) and some TV viewing, and then we left.

By the time we stopped to drop our passengers and little patients off, the little boy had stopped crying and the whole family was settled and happier.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

At 3:30 a.m.

At 3:30 a.m. got a call that a woman in the community who had given birth to twins had lost a lot of blood and needed to be taken to hospital. The babies were 2.4 kg and 2.6 kg and wrapped in a capulana and towel each. Two teeny tiny, perfectly formed little girls. When we pulled into Vanduzi Hospital Maternity ward, they took the twins into the birthing room, where the only scale is, to weigh them. It was a busy night for the one nurse on duty and the small birthing room was packed. One mom was on all 4's on one stretcher, laboring I imagine. Another woman was lying on the only other stretcher. And a third woman was lying on the floor (on a mat, I presume) and had just given birth. The twins were placed in a large, square receiving bassinette along with the other newborn, and carefully unwrapped and placed on the scale one at a time and then in turn, wrapped up again. I couldn't help thinking about stories of inadvertent baby-swaps. I saw no I.D. bracelets on moms or babies last night, but this nurse seemed pretty on top of things and kindly handed the correct infants back to us to take in to their mom.

I was thankful it was still dark when we arrived back home again at about 5 a.m.. I was all too happy to crawl back into bed and steal a few more winks before the sun and busy day ahead leapt up to greet me.

Monday, April 22, 2013

The day's highlights

Today was a full one. After devo's, I had to rush out to see a man at home who was very ill. Possible pneumonia, as it turned out. He was sick enough that I felt he needed to go to hospital  for evaluation and possibly rehydration with IV fluids. His wife told us about his condition, and she did so amid moments of tearfulness. We don't see this everyday. Most people are concerned, or sad, when they share of a loved one in need, but they tend to be quite self controlled. This woman was moved to tears. It was unique, and touching. The man was assessed and treated at home, then referred to hospital with a letter. He has been seen there and further testing will be done (for possible TB).

We took a trip up to Honde to visit  pastor there who received an ox cart. It was an adventure, just the ride itself. We had biting ants galore, cars that quit, and calves that didn't want to be loaded. Children chased us through town and up the hill to pastor Paulo's place, they played on the cow cart, and hammed it up in front of our cameras. Lots of fun, in a different sort of way.

At the end of the day, we were all hot and sweaty but the day was full of beautiful faces and touching times. And pastor Paulo had his new oxcart. Looking forward to similar adventures tomorrow!

Sunday, April 21, 2013


Twenty years ago we had no internet. Today, we can hardly live without it and we wonder, how on earth did we used to communicate anyway?

Even though we have internet now, which out in the bush is nothing short of a miracle, it is quite the effort to get and keep. For years we depended on a satellite dish that was hard-wired to a modem that was plugged into several other machines with a ridiculous number of cords that are wound and twisted around each other. No one really wants to risk unplugging and detangling the mess because it's such a mission to get hooked up and receiving signal properly again. 

Actually, this doesn't look bad. This was awhile ago. Now it's worse. Maybe I can get an updated photo...
One time during a thunderstorm, lightning struck the office and burnt out a few machines. It took us a month to replace the machines and get things reprogrammed and hooked up and in working order again. Like I said, when it's working, no one wants to mess with it.

Capturing signal. This took an entire day. :/
Recently though, we've been using more of Movitel's service. This is a company that uses fibre-optic cable and they've taken internet into regions of Mozambique no one would have dreamed would have internet a year ago.

Our movitel signal is ok from here, but not great which means that we get internet, but it's slow and comes in bursts. It doesn't take anyone out here long to figure out where the signal is best and we've discovered ours is no place less convenient that outside on the edge of the veranda. So when I really need to get something done and signal fades in and out and in again, I lug my computer, modem, and extension wire out onto the veranda. If it still isn't cooperative, I've found that standing on your tippy toes at the very edge gives a distinct advantage and ups transmission speeds. Or maybe I just think it's faster. Either way, it's not a strange sight to find me standing on the veranda at night holding a wired modem above my head.

One solution to this is to get Movitel to bring a line straight here to us rather than the closest tower which is down the river, around the bend, and across the valley from us. So Dwight has been settling contract details with a Mr. T. who sort of runs Movitel in this area. It's been interesting because Mr. T. is fluent in Vietnamese but not so much in English, and Dwight is fluent in English but speaks no Vietnamese. Let's just say there's a lot of repetition in their conversations, kind of like mine with Mr. B. (see previous post). So it's become a bit of a joke around here when we know Dwight is on the phone with Mr. T. and they're trying to understand each other. We hear lots of "Sorry, say again?" and "Sorry, I didn't understand." The other day apparently Dwight spent 2 hours at the Movitel office trying to finalize paperwork for our new system. When we wondered why it had taken so long there, he said, "Well, first, it took Mr. T. and I quite awhile trying to understand each other..." He didn't have to say another word. He couldn't anyway, we were all so busy laughing we couldn't hear him anymore.

Despite the difficulties though, it seems things got settled and signed. The line is cleared and the posts are in and ready for the cable to be strung. Hopefully, soon enough, my days of teetering on the edge of the veranda to get internet will be over.

Saturday, April 20, 2013


This morning turned into ENT day-- staff member with swimmer's ear and infection further inside, another one with welding induced conjunctivitis (pink-eye). It's become a joke now because when he comes to have eye salve put in, he has to go sit for 5 minutes until his vision clears. The joke is that this is his "time-out". It's always good to find humor in things :)  A young mom came to seek help for her 3 kids at home who have "asthma". She had the baby with her and when I examined the baby I discovered she in fact had pneumonia. Baby's now on treatment and I did some asthma teaching with the mom.

A different kind of challenge came awhile later when I was trying to communicate with an older staff member. He had mentioned the previous day that he had 10 children, so I was curious to know their ages. But his command of English and Portuguese is limited (his home language is an African dialect).  My home language is English and I speak Portuguese, but don't speak his dialect. So having a discussion gets interesting...

"Mr. B., I would like to know more about your family. You have 10 children?"

"Yes, 10. The oldest one is about 40 years old. They're all big."

"How old is the youngest?" This draws a puzzled look. So I clarify, "How old is the smallest one? Your baby?"

"No, I have no babies. They're all big."

So I make a height-measuring motion with my hands, "Your first-born is about 40. How big is the last-born?" Another quizzical look so I resort to, "Do you still have children at home?"

"Yes, four. And two wives."

He mentioned his kids were "big" so I'm assuming maybe these 4 kids at home are grandchildren in his care, so I ask, "These four, are they grandchildren?" Another puzzled look, so I try again to clarify, "Are they YOUR children? Or grandchildren?"

He shakes his head and laughs, "I'm not understand."

I hold up 4 fingers, and ask, "These 4 at your home, are they your children's children?"

He clicks his tongue, shakes his head more emphatically, and laughs again, "Ahhh, I'm not understand."

This was getting us nowhere, so I grabbed a pen and some paper to draw a family diagram. I'm no artist, so we're going with stick people. I got as far as 1 stick man and 2 stick women side by side, and 4 stick children on the bottom line when we both started laughing. I could tell from the look on his face that my picture was as clear as mud. I decided it was time to call Raimundo to come translate.

In short order I learned that the four children at home still were his own, one in grade 4 and three in Grade 5. He has also lost 5 children. Not uncommon for these parts.

Communication is much quicker and smoother when there's good understanding! :) 

Friday, April 19, 2013


One of the first things I do each morning, time permitting, is check facebook and my email inbox. I like to know what's happening with my family and friends. Several days ago, I read snippets about the Boston terror bombings while getting ready to head up to organize my day after devotions. There weren't a lot of details at the time, and my daughter and I were trying to chat. We don't get to connect very often, so when we do other things get put on hold. Just about the time we got chatting, our internet line "dropped" but it was also time to head out the door.

While the health workers and I were organizing our day, a woman approached us. She had a malnourished child slung to her back. An older daughter (about 10 years old) accompanied her and had a baby slung around her back as well. The child on the girl's back was about a year old and both were healthy. The child slung to the mom was 3 years old and only weighed 6 kg. She said it was the surviving child of a set of twins. Here, where twins are involved, survival is always dicey. There is too much hunger and struggle, so the odds are against survival of both, sadly. In this mom's case, the twins were already competing for adequate food supply when she got pregnant with the child on the little girl's back. This is just a bit of background info though, her real concern for the malnourished child was that it was struggling with a thrush infection as well as an eye infection. Thankfully we had something for the thrush infection at the health post. Unfortunately, our antibiotic eye salve is gone as all health posts are experiencing a serious cut back in govt supplied meds. We have helped this mom with infant formula to improve the child's nutrition, but we've encouraged her to have the child further evaluated at Vanduzi Hospital.  And we will help her get there however we can. She is currently participating in our work-for-food program to help provide for her family.

This afternoon, Ernesto (one of the health workers) popped in since we had a few matters to discuss. When we were done, I asked how his family was. Kids? Wife? Everyone was fine, and his wife just had a baby. For him, this is #9. That's quite a few kids to keep track of since I feel I barely managed with 2 myself! We got talking about numbers of children when Mr. B., who was working nearby, said, "Well, white people generally have fewer children. One, two, maybe three. We have more. I have ten children myself." Of course, much more than race factors in to how many children people have so I couldn't help but share that my own grandmother had 15 children. And she was white. I smiled smugly as that information sank in. Both guys seemed duly impressed. We then went on to discuss how life is changing everywhere. Kids are going further in school and have higher expectations to earn an income. How there were many years of war here, not long ago, and how at the time it was really hard to focus on anything more than just survival during those years. Now things are different.

Things need to continue to be different in order to not see malnourished children here, but I'm thankful that things have changed as much as they have for us all. I feel for this mom who lives on the edge of survival, and I hope to see less of this as Mozambique changes. 

My thoughts are also for those grieving in Boston right now.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Firewood on my walls

After having an African scene batik for about 4 years, I finally got it hung (well, my husband hung it with help from me saying "A bit to the left. Whoa! Ok, no, no. Back to the right again. Now down lower. Ok back to the left again? Yeah, hold it right there...etc).

The main point is that I got to use some old, burnt wood I found in the bush quite a few years ago--remnants of an old hut that I rescued and varnished--to hang the batik from. I don't know why it took so long to get this stuff on my walls. Partly it's busyness I guess. Partly, it's trying to envision my many rescued and varnished pieces of "firewood" (as the guys here see it and believe me, I have quite the collection awaiting placement) as taking part in my interior decore which has been fairly non-existent since we moved to this house because I just haven't gotten around to doing it. I've had blank, white walls for far too long.

Anyway, I'm now kind of in the mode even though time is limited. The hanging of the batik motivated me to dig out some hand-made pottery items, bells and tea candle holders that haven't hung in our home since our last move in 2007. I enjoy this kind of thing and can lose myself to it. If I really get going it's hard to stop, even to eat. But getting that stuck into decorating or crafting around the clock would be a luxury. There are so many pressing needs here and things that MUST get done that it can be hard to pull myself out of work mode. I have to admit though, when I do, it sure is fun.

Now if you'll excuse me, I really should decide to do with my +/- 20 other pieces of rescued, varnished wood. Hopefully no one has used them to stoke the fire.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Health and Traditional Healers

Photo credit: Royden Lepp
Toward the end of last week, our chief health worker told me that plans were being set in place to meet with the local area curandeiros (traditional healers, witchdoctors...choose your term) to discuss community health concerns that we and they face. This may seem like an odd plan since we often have to deal with the fall out of people who have spent too many days at the curandeiros awaiting their cure and who by the time we see them are too far gone to help anymore. But this is precisely why it is so important for us to establish dialogue and discussion with them. In terms of our beliefs, training, and practices, we're worlds apart. I don't condone their methods of treatment, but consulting a curandeiro is an integral part of life and the culture here. It's what you do when things go wrong, just as naturally as it is for us to pray or consult our family doctor.

I have met and dealt with several curandeiros over the years (probably even more than I know). I have treated and prayed for them too, both of which they are very open to. Although their beliefs and rituals are of concern, ultimately they also want to see improvement in those they "treat". That's our aim too, and on this common ground we hope to establish a relationship and atmosphere where we can talk and teach about health issues they come across that are of concern to both them and us. There have been many cases where the person in their care was very ill, and getting worse, and we have been able to reach agreement to take the sick person to hospital. As a result, lives have been saved. So we do have credibility with them, and on that success, we are moving into a closer circle where we can impact them and their practices for a healthier community and even more lives saved.

I must just say that I have never attempted this before, but I (we) are compelled by the desperate health needs we see. We desire to reach out not only for the sake of the community at large, but to the curandeiros individually as well. We've thought about this opportunity and talked about it for quite awhile, and now the door is open and our next steps will be taken both carefully and prayerfully.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


Last week, one day, Daniel and his mom came to see me. She wasn't feeling so well. Daniel, on the other hand, was bouncy, smiling, cooing and full of life and happiness.

Daniel and his twin brother joined our milk program several months ago in order to provide supplemental feeds when their mom was struggling to breastfeed them both. Sadly, Daniel's twin brother died several weeks ago. His mom just didn't show up at the health post for over a week and then we heard about Josefa's passing. Apparently she was away on a trip somewhere and he got very sick. We were so sad over this news and sent a special message asking her to please come in as soon as she was back. So she did, and it as a joy to see Daniel thriving even though mommy wasn't feeling  well.

While I listened to Daniel's mom's chest and checked her for fever, Daniel smiled and gurgled at me. When I was done and was talking with his mom, he was still smiling and gurgling at me so I reached out, picked him up, and held him for awhile. He immediately reached toward my face to grab it. Maybe he was checking to make sure flesh so pink/white was actually real. He laughed at me and I laughed at him. I loved holding him for a short while, but had to give him back so we could all carry on with our day. His mom had a ways to walk to get home and I had a day full of work ahead of me. Thankfully, his mom wasn't too sick and I think she'll feel better again soon. I hope Daniel remains healthy and grows up to be a smart man with a good heart who loves God. And I'm so thankful we can be part of that potential journey.

(Thank you to all who have given, and especially those gifts designated to the SAM Ministries Emergency Feeding program!)

Monday, April 15, 2013

The soft spot

At the beginning of last week, one of the health workers presented a critical health topic in a culturally relevant way during our morning devotional time. It was primarily planned for the large group of women currently participating in our work-for-food program.

So what was the topic? Malaria? HIV/AIDS? TB? Nope. The critical topic of choice was--the baby's "soft spot" (fontanel). The question was, "What changes in a baby's soft spot do we worry about? What affects it?" There is quite a bit of preoccupation with the baby's soft spot and whether or not it bounces, and if it does, how quickly it does, and to what depth, etc.

The first, bold person to answer was a lady who said, "Vomiting or diarrhea." A few others nodded.
Then an older woman said that when the soft spot goes down, that's dangerous and the child could die but a traditional healer can help. Many more nodded their heads this time. Someone else suggested that that in this event, mom should have being taking "preventive measures" by massaging the roof of the baby's mouth with oil. "If she doesn't do this and the child becomes sick, the traditional healer will administer a mixture of oils and herbs or salts to then rub into the roof of the mouth, and administer an infusion of roots and herbs for the child to drink, to heal and control movement of the soft spot." There was much nodding of heads after this comment.

After several others also contributed their ideas, the health worker went on to explain that a sunken soft spot indicates dehydration, and the danger that results from vomiting, diarrhea, and even fever. And that while the parents run quickly to the traditional healer to identify what evil spirit has caused this and how to appease it, the evil itself is the very diarrhea that is dehydrating the child. He went on to explain the critical importance of re-hydration, especially in infants. Everyone sat in rapt attention--surprised that there would be such frank discussion on the cultural practice of seeking help from traditional healers whose main purpose is identifying evil spirits during illness. Everyone sitting there in rapt attention also heard the message about dehydration and life-saving re-hydration. They have also joined us for several weeks of devotions so far, and prayer, as always followed the morning's discussion.

A mom, examining an image related to the lesson.
After our prayer time, I was swamped with quite a few immediate needs but couldn't help but catch out of the corner of my eye how, as everyone dispersed, one woman with a baby on her back came to the center of the circle and knelt down to be prayed for. A man, I didn't even notice just who it was at the time, saw her and came immediately to talk to her. Then he laid hands on her and prayed for her while everyone else milled busily around coordinating the day's and week's work. There was a certain sense of wholeness in that instant, but it was brief because I also was absorbed with milling around trying to tend to sick people and coordinate the health workers for the day's and week's activities.

As that day unfolded, it held its fair share of challenges. But this was one of the high points.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Beautiful School

Last week I wrote a note at the end of each day. This week, I'll try to post one of those entries each day, just for a change.

Wednesday. April 10, 2013.

This morning I had to head back to the school. I was just there yesterday but when I left had forgotten to bring the infant formula from that health post to the main health post (it's not needed at the school health post right now). Anyway, the main post is nearly out of infant milk, and no one was going to town, so our only recourse was to fetch the formula that was at the school health post. That was how the day started. After devo's that addressed rehydration mix. After I woke at 5 a.m. and couldn't get back to sleep again even though it was so pitch dark I had to push the Indiglo button on my Timex to see what time it was when I first woke up. And btw, I hate early mornings as long as I'm able to sleep, but when my mind starts racing at 5 a.m. and I get up at that crazy time, I really do love the solitude, silence, and the soft and gradual lightening of the sky as the sun slowly rises.

Anyway, back to having to drive for over an hour in order to obtain enough cans of baby milk to see us through another day or so. When I mentioned that I needed to go to the school, Dwight mentioned that maybe he and Tome needed to come along to do some work on the badly deteriorated road and whatnot. Then he disappeared and I had to get antimalarials for Simon to take to Sede health post, had to get laundry going (no power this morning cause something happened to our generator last night) and organize a few other things first-off. When I was ready to head out, Dwight was goodness knows where so I had to head out to find him to see if he and Tome were in fact coming along or if I could carry on by myself. It took a bit of hunting until I found him looking for someone else who wasn't at their house (so he could make progress on the power-outage thing). Anyway, long story short, he and Tome had their hands full with electricity woes so I was to go on my own. So off I went.

The school is always a busy place. As I approach on the BAD road by vehicle, kids always run out to greet me, waving with great enthusiasm. I pull in at the health post and as I climb out of the vehicle am instantly swarmed by my preschool, Grade 1 and 2 fans who are on free-time. They jabber to me in dialect, grab any hand/finger available that is not busy carting my bag/camera/glasses/pen/keys. Whatever it is I'm carrying, they want to relieve me of which is always very sweet and humbling to me. So in short order, my camera and miscellaneous bag are whisked ahead of me. My pen, glasses and keys I hold tight.

When I reach the health post, Ernesto is busy doing a student's health evaluation which makes me happy. I find the 6 cans of precious formula I've come for, go down to greet the school's cook and check that things are ok with him, greet the teachers, recover my camera and misc. bag and crawl back into the vehicle to head home. All this while attached to at least 5 kids/arm who are drilling me with words/questions in dialect which I don't understand. I answer them in Portuguese which they're too young to really understand, the whole time we're smiling at each other and enjoying the contact. They love adult attention and my own kids are grown up and pursuing their lives/careers far, far away. So this kid-adult-time works for us all.

Anyway, once I peel myself away from the hands were holding every available finger and probing buttons on my vehicle's remote control and smudging my reading glasses from all the grabbing, I climb in, wave frantically back at them in farewell, and drive off. As I climb up the hill away from the school yard, I discover that about 8 of the young boys have hurried ahead of me, broken off the branches of some nearby shrubs, and are are waving them "Palm-Sunday" style in front of my vehicle as I drive past, and they're smiling big as can be and singing as loudly as they can, "Beeeooootiful schoooooolooooo, schooooloooo! I shall never, never forget, beautiful schoolooooo!"

That song is their most rehearsed expression of appreciation and it really does touch my heart. I came to get powdered milk but I certainly received much more than that. The rest of the day can bring what it may :)

PS: On a separate note, April 10th is also my little brother's birthday. He passed away awhile back when he was 17 from complications from a ruptured appendix. The years have passed but I sure still miss him. We have a lot of catching up to do one day. When we were little, on Saturdays I used to make him play school. I was the teacher, he was the student. I know for a fact he didn't enjoy that particular "fun", but he cooperated for my sake. I need to remember to sing him "Beeeeooootiful schooloooo, schooloooo!"

Monday, April 08, 2013

Flying Charlie Nine and all

I'll start by explaining Charlie Nine. Charlie Nine is the mission's Cessna 182 whose call sign was recently changed from Charlie Golf (Canadian registration) to Charlie Nine (Mozambican registration). Recent changes in the Mozambican aviation dept. required that the Cessna be imported. After a fairly lengthy process with lots of paperwork, flight tests, etc., the aircraft now sports the new call sign that starts with C9!

The importation process included a flight between Chimoio and Maputo so Andy and Dwight could get their Mozambican pilot's license validations. I went along because I'm my husband's personal nurse and at the time, he needed me with him. :)

Vilanculos Airport, note the C9-CBK (barely visible but still, noteworthy) on the aircraft's tail.
Me in the back seat while Andy and Dwight fly pilot/co-pilot. 
Approaching Maputo. The place has sure changed since we lived there in 1993.

Now for the "and all" part--a series of photos that captures our lives since February.

ASAM (Love Mozambique = SAM Ministries' agent in Mozambique) held its Annual General Meeting in February in the Conference Room above Selva Restaurant. The reports on all the programs were AWESOME. I will try to put a PDF on the SAM Ministries website in case you're interested. The highway traffic outside was sure noisy though. Perhaps next year we'll host the day ourselves. Still, it was a good day.
We had a few interesting visitors during the rainy season. I believe this was an Eastern Tiger Snake. Very pretty. Dwight turned him lose in a tree in our yard to hunt. Sure hope we were right about the species...
This little guy we found right there at the top of the door when Dwight opened his office door one day. I don't think we ever did identify what species he was but Dwight, who is kind to all things living, managed to capture him in a bucket then turn him lose as well some place in our yard.
The health posts have had to deal with some interesting/challenging things as usual.  This particular gentleman had a close encounter with the pavement, thankfully not with high-speed traffic which is the norm and which we initially feared. He went home the same day and recovered quickly from his superficial wounds. Our medication supply has been very restricted of late as policies in the country's Health Dept. change with the times. A roll or two of gauze and 1000 Tylenol/Paracetamol doesn't go very far when you're serving several communities of several thousand people. 
Our monthly socorrista (health worker) meeting where we discuss and trouble shoot everything from pigs wallowing in mud near the community pump to malaria, anemia, stroke, convulsions, etc. and what to do when you come across them in the rural setting. Such interesting times. (Left to right: Paulina, Celestino, me, Ernesto, Simon).
I've spent a fair amount of time at the mission's school and health post for the last few months, both assisting with the literacy/library program and helping Ernesto at the health post. This is his son, dressed up as "See-pee-dah-mahn". At least we have the basics down pat :)
Eric and Elizabeth Benner were here from Ft. McMurray and were such a blessing helping wherever/whatever we plugged them into. This photo was taken the day of the parent/teacher meeting at the school when it rained cats and dogs and then we got stuck in the river on the way home because the bridge had washed away. After that, Eric had his work cut out for him...thanks for all your hard work Eric and Elizabeth!
A group from Switzerland was so kind as to come work with us and pour the hangar floor. It was amazing to watch the transformation over less than a week from dirt ground to level concrete.
Then there is the work that happened on the Maintenance Facility. Here, one of the iron i-beams gets ready to be set in place, rural Mozambique style, by sheer brawn and muscle.
The Canadian team from Summerland, B.C., who invested their blood, sweat and tears to make such great progress on the Maintenance Facility. Seems I was either sick or traveling for a good part of the time they were here, but they're of tough stock and took care of themselves pretty well!
Eric working on the new bridge with the guys, rural Mozambique style, more brawn and muscle.
Joao's (far right) house takes shape. After years of living in a tent, he gets to move into a building with solid walls (soon as it's done). Yay!!
With the coming and going of people, we had several "bring-'n-braai's" together. Good food, good fellowship. Here I am with Leila in the camp kitchen doing last minute prep before we eat.

That's just the surface but with that I'll wrap it up there for this time. Thanks to my husband who got so many amazing photos that I missed. :)


Check out samministries.org for more news.