Note: The Blogmaster received this e-mail and pictures a couple of weeks ago, but I am only posting it today due to the technical difficulties. Look for a follow up blog soon!
Dear Family and Friends:
We are so excited, it took a lot of planning, organization and thought and talking to many people, but we just sent our first large water project to South Africa for approval, This project is located in the northeast district of Zimbabwe where we will drill 24 boreholes, construct 48 latrines and train 2,400 families in sanitation and hygiene and reward them with mosquito nets, hygiene kits, and washing soap for attending the classes. We will hire a water monitor, a sanitation supervisor, and three trainers to train 48 volunteer trainers from the villages for this project. It will really financially benefit those we hire and help them in future employment opportunities. We have a wonderful group of people to work with. To show how much the Church is willing to spend to on water and sanitation, we have budgeted about $229, 175 for this one project.
Last week we visited the Goromonzi District, with a man called Pastor Wonder, to assess the water needs of 30 villages in that area. This district is about 20 miles north of Harare. The Pastor had visited us earlier in our office and asked us to accompany him to visit this area. He said they desperately needed clean water, latrines and sanitation/hygiene training. This is another extensive project involving many villages and many people this will be our second water project if we decide to do it. We met with four different groups representing about thirty villages.
The first village we visited is called Tafirenyika. The people are so very poor and there is a lot of sickness in this area. There are approximately 1,500 people in this village. About 400 of them were waiting for us to come and talk with them. They were sitting in the dirt under a tree; men sitting on one side and women and children on the other. Men and women do not sit together, even at Church, and that is something the Church is trying to change. We had brought an interpreter, but they also supplied one of their own.
They opened the meeting with prayer and then introduced us in Shona (the local language) and then again in English. I spoke for a few minutes and then Elder Bean explained the project and the training sessions. He also explained the incentives offered to attend the hygiene training. If their representatives would come to all or most of the training sessions, they would receive hygiene kits, and soap, as well as a special certificate of completion with their name of it. The plan is to train a few people from their village and then they will go back to their villages and train the people in what they have learned. The villagers liked the plan and clapped their approval. We are always a little worried, about what is being said, since we don’t speak the language, and their interpreter is promising them more than we are willing to provide.
We then left to meet with the next village – where we explained the project again We are also asking each village to organize a committee that will take charge and maintain the boreholes, plus build the latrines or “squat holes” as they are called here. We provide the cement and wire for the latrines and they supply the labor and some sort of a structure.
As we traveled to the next village, we saw women and children washing clothes in the small rivers/streams along the way. These are the same small streams where they get their drinking water and their animals come to drink and do other things. This is the dry season so the water is very scarce and only small streams exist. These are also areas that just a few months ago were hit hard with an epidemic of cholera and diarrhea. It is a prime area to start helping with some water projects and sanitation training. We also intend to monitor how many illnesses and deaths occurred before we drilled boreholes and started the water and sanitation project and if there is less sickness and deaths after the project is put in place. The roads were terrible and you have to be careful not to hit your head on the roof of the car, because some of the pot holes are so deep.
After we visited all of the villages, we were told we should, as a courtesy, pay a visit to the “Headman” or chief in that area. He is not a political leader and does not really have any power or authority, but is a traditional chief, over all the people in this area, and it is a sign of respect to ask his permission to work in his area. This is part of the culture of the old ways. We drove to his hut and it was a very interesting experience. He was not in attendance, but his number one wife was in the hut cooking sudza which is flour and maize boiled like porridge and is the staple food in Zimbabwe. This headman is a polygamist and has two or three other wives, and many many children. The hut we were ushered into was the typical cone shaped hut with a thatched roof. It had an opening in the roof for the smoke to go out. The hut was very smoky as the No. one wife had a large fire built in the middle of the hut and was stirring the sudza with a wooden spoon. She was traditionally built, had bare feet and just a few teeth. She was sitting on the floor, and was very friendly and offered us a dish of sudza. We declined very respectfully. There were various pans and containers setting around and a few wooden benches to sit on, actually the hut was larger inside than I expected, but so filled with smoke that I kept coughing and wiping my eyes. There was another hut close by for the second wife – interesting. We still will have to go back and inform him of our plans and receive his blessing to work in his area.
We then visited the head of the government water district whose permission really matters. He was delighted to have us provide water in his area and even offered to have some of his people assist us, which we are happy to have their support. There are many layers of political people that have to be consulted before starting any projects.
Friday evening we met with the stake presidents, counselors, and mission president for the Zimbabwe Coordinating Council – three flew in from Zambia to attend. I think they also wanted to meet us and also find out what projects we might be doing in their areas. That is why we were invited. . We spoke about some of the projects we had done in Uganda and then talked about projects we have already sent in and are awaiting approval. We answered some questions and then we were dismissed to go home.
The presidents from Zambia were particularly interested. In what projects they wanted us to do. We will be going shortly to their area to do some investigative work. They will be invaluable to us. The area president from South Africa conducted the meeting. His name is Elder Colin H. Bricknell.
We were also informed that there will be a Priesthood Leadership Conference with Elder Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve and Elder Steven E. Snow of the Presidency of the Seventy on October 22 thru the 24th. They will also be accompanied by Elder Paul H Koelliker of the Seventy held in Harare, Zimbabwe. We are all very excited. The senior couples are invited to meet with them and their wives at a special dinner at the mission home on the 22nd. . While the men are in their priesthood meeting on Saturday, the mission president’s wife will take the wives to visit craft markets. That will be a lot of fun.
Sunday – August 29, 2010 – Drove to Kadoma for church at our branch – it is about a 2 hour drive. It was a beautiful drive. We attended church and only had one person ask us for assistance. This is very unusual because usually there are quite a few that ask. It is always difficult to refuse, as everyone needs help. The Church is well organized there and all the meetings were excellent. They do a very unique thing. In between Sacrament and Gospel Doctrine classes, they take a break and everyone goes outside to visit and stretch their legs for about 10 minutes, then a cowbell is rung many times and that means to go to class. When class is finished the cowbell is rung again and people go outside for a small break, then the cowbell is rung again and we all go back for Relief Society and Priesthood, then they ring it again, which means class is over. It actually is quite funny and we liked it. On the way back we took a picture of a small hut along the roadside with sacks of oranges hanging outside and a woman with a baby on her back selling them. When we arrived home we had power, which is so nice and appreciated.
|These entrepreneurs had a VERY good day.|
Yesterday we visited our assigned second branch. This is the branch that takes four plus hours to drive to. We always go on Saturday, spend the night and then go to Church at 9:00 the next morning. When we arrived on Saturday afternoon, we asked the people at the Inn if there was something interesting we could do for the afternoon. They suggested we drive to the Lake in the area and cross the dam and see the black rock cliffs on the other side. We drove to the dam and had to stop before crossing because there is only one narrow lane across this very high dam and two cars cannot cross at the same time. It is a perfect spot for little local kids to storm your truck and try to sell you necklaces and baskets. So while we waited to cross the dam, about 7 or 8 young boys with necklaces and baskets threaded all up their arms ran to our truck to try and sell us something. I said to Elder Bean, we should buy a few necklaces from them and help them out. I rolled the window down, which was a mistake, and about 8 to ten little black arms thrust themselves into my open window. They were dropping necklaces inside our truck, in my lap and everywhere. in their frenzy to get me to buy from them. I kept saying wait, wait I can’t even see them. How much? They said $2.00 each and were fighting each other to make a sale. I only had four one dollar bills and so I said I will take two. I hardly knew who I gave the money to. I finally had to roll up the window and it was our turn to cross the dam.
On the other side we parked and hiked down the overlook to see the Lake, two of the young boys had followed us across the dam and were standing on the rocks waiting for us with necklaces to sell. We actually thought it was pretty cute that they were such little relentless salesmen. I told them I did not have any more dollar bills. I asked Elder Bean to check his wallet again and the boys saw a ten dollar bill in his wallet. They talked among themselves in Shona, and then came up with the plan that they would sell us 10 necklaces for $10.00. How could we refuse? We told them they had a deal, gave them $10.00 and they threw in an extra necklace and a pick for my hair. We then invited them to come to our truck and gave them some sweets (candy). We were impressed, what little smart business men. The necklaces are made of local seeds that they gather and string, but pretty cute. It was at the end of the day and they had sold all their necklaces for the day, I think to us. They then said, thank you now we have money so we can eat, that made us feel very sad.
We feel so sorry that we could not attend Torri and Rex’s wedding day last Saturday. I felt sad all day on Saturday. The sad thing about being so far away is that you miss wonderful important things that happen back home and wonderful family events. . We are so proud of them and so happy for them and we would love to have been at their ceremony in the Seattle temple. The whole family on both sides attended the temple as well as a very nice luncheon at the Palisades restaurant in Seattle after the ceremony. We love them both very much and if thoughts could be conveyed from so far away, they knew that we were thinking of them all day on Saturday. We are anxiously awaiting pictures and information.
Thanks for your prayers on our behalf. Love to all of you. Elder and Sister Bean.
PS. I am typing this blog in our office and the biggest spider I have ever seen came walking down the hall. It is huge and very tall with very long legs. Elder Bean sprayed bug spray on it and it didn’t even phase it. It just keeps coming. I was ready to stand on a desk. Finally, he swept it outside. This is the first one I have seen since being here. Yuk!!!!