Tuesday, August 10, 2010

First Week in Zimbabwe

Dear Family and Friends:

We have been in Zimbabwe for almost a week. We left early Saturday morning on July 31st from the MTC and arrived in Harare, Zimbabwe Monday, August 2. It was a 24 hour travel endurance test. We changed planes five different times. We were very tired when we finally arrived. We were met by President Dube, the mission president. He is the first African to be called as mission president in this mission. He is very nice and wanted to make us feel welcome and comfortable. He drove us to the mission office where we met the people we are replacing, the mission office couple and the CES couple. We had hoped to look a little better when meeting the group, but guess they had all gone through the travel endurance test and understood. The mission office and meeting house are next to one another and are quite nice. They both have a great security system with guards and gates. We were then taken to our apartment/duplex to get briefed on how things work and to finally get some sleep.

Our new residence is a duplex with a very pretty fenced in yard. The grounds are very nice and well maintained. It turns out that we pay for that well maintained look. There is one man who mows and another who weeds. We also have a housekeeper, who not only cleans on Wednesday, but washes and irons or whatever you want her to do. Her name is Beauty. The apartment is nice enough, but does not have any heating system. The power has been off each day since we have been here for at least 8 hours or so, so even the small stand alone heater does not provide much warmth. We were surprised at how cold it still is here. We have been told that summer will be coming soon and then it will be very warm. We also have a wood burning fireplace, which we haven’t used yet, but it is nice to know it is there. We have two bathrooms, two bedrooms, a large front room and a kitchen. The other side of the duplex is occupied by the CES couple, who are originally from SLC.

Zimbabwe is not as tropical as Uganda, and it is still quite dry on the sides of the roads and the fields. We are told when the rains come that it will green up and we will see a lot of beautiful flowering trees and bushes. Harare, the capital, is a little more modern than Kampala with paved streets, stop lights, two way traffic and quite a few cars on the road. However, when the power is out, the traffic lights do not work and you proceed at your own risk. As in Uganda, they drive on the left side of the road, with the steering wheel on the right. We will have to get used to that again. Elder Bean is handling it quite well though.
We have hit the road running. We haven’t had time to recover from jet lag, so we are trying to ignore it.

The humanitarian couple we are replacing are Elder and Sister Bullock from Calgary, Canada. They have lined up many things for us to do before they leave. On Tuesday we did project reviews in their/our office at the mission office, met people, had lunch at a place called Blue Banana, did some grocery shopping and were treated to dinner by the Mission president, his wife and the Bullocks that evening at a restaurant called Leonardo’s. We were pretty tired upon arrival at our place and found that the power was out.

We went to a handover on Wednesday at a school called Danangwe, outside the village of Chegutu. This project consisted of providing the school and the village with a grinding mill. One of the chief crops here is maize and in order to turn it into flour they need to grind it. They have been walking great distances to have their maize ground and paying a big sum of money as well. We enjoyed seeing the people and the children and also watching the first sack of maize ground. We were introduced as the replacements for the Bullocks, and as is the custom, given a gift, of two giraffes eating on the top of an acacia tree. This is a statue made out of some sort of soapstone. It is so generous of them. We heard all the speeches, witnessed African dancing by the school children and heard poems of thanks and gratitude from them. We then enjoyed a meal of squash, chicken, greens, sudza, which is like porridge made from corn and a soft drink. The little children are wonderful and Brother Bullock is wonderful with the kids. He played all kinds of games with them and they loved it.

We are planning on doing a large water project on the border of Mozambique, so on Thursday we went to the office and interviewed people to help with the drilling of the boreholes, the site monitors and people to head up sanitation committees. We have met so many interesting and great people. We are driving next Thursday to the area these boreholes will be located in to check out the potential sites. We understand it is quite desolate and very poor. We are taking two men from this area with us and are considering them for our site monitors.

We spent some time on Friday finding out where the market is, the bank, and other necessary things and we have again shopped for a few things we forgot to get and have spent the rest of the day at the office. Our next door neighbors came for a short visit on Friday night and it was great to get better acquainted.
We attended church on Sunday. It was a two and a half hour drive from our apartment, and we will be responsible for helping out there, along with another branch in the opposite direction. The church building was very nice and quite large. There were about 120 people in attendance and the teachers that taught were very well prepared. We were asked to say a few words and give the opening and closing prayer, and Elder Bean spoke again in Priesthood meeting. That evening we had a nice Sunday meal at our neighbor’s apartment and the four couples that are serving here got together and found out about each other. We really enjoyed it.

A fun thing happened today in front of the mission office. We were returning from lunch and there was a young African woman sitting on the grass. As we got closer we could see that it was a girl that had been in our branch in Uganda. Her name is Faith and she led the singing while I played the keyboard. She is now serving a mission in Zimbabwe. We hugged and chatted and Sister Bean noticed that she was wearing one of her skirts that she had left in Uganda. That made her so happy that it again was on a mission, but this time on a pretty African woman. Small world.

We miss everyone and were so happy to hear that Kami and Brent’s little daughter, Sarah Kate, at long last legally belongs to them. It has been a 13 month wait and worry, but it is finally done. There have been a lot of prayers and fasting regarding this event. We feel so blessed, relieved and thankful that it had the desired conclusion. We miss all of our children and pray for them always. We thank all of you for the prayers on our behalf and ask that you continue to remember us in your prayers.

Love, Elder and Sister Bean

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