Sunday, October 10, 2010

Water Project Approved and Chapel Fire

Looking for Frangos
Dear Family and Friends

Last week we went to Chegutu, a small village south of Harare, to participate in a handover of school supplies for 400 students ranging in age from primary to grade 8.  The Church had provided them with a grinding mill for grinding maize into flour and so far they have earned $700.00, which is a considerable amount of money for them.  With this money they bought school supplies for the children in the nearby school.  They asked us to come and help them pass out the supplies.  It was so much fun.  

Delivering School Tablets
When we arrived they greeted us with African dancing, singing and drumming  The kids were all sitting either on the ground or behind  small tables outside.  It is always very colorful, cattle wandering by, chickens walking around, mud huts in the background. plus a beautiful bright pink blossomed tree adding to the picture...We spoke for a few minutes, enjoyed some more dancing and then the kids lined up to receive their school supplies.  The young ones received one pencil and four small writing tablets.  The older ones received one pen and four writing tablets.  This was really exciting for them. It is still a cause of wonderment to us on how relatively small things mean so much to the children here.  We hand out sweets that we carry in our car or balloons along the way and the children love it.

We then checked out the grinding mill and when we got back to Harare we bought some ear plugs and a mouth and nose shield for the miller.  The sound of a motor and maize being ground was very loud in the mill, and we are sure the miller will be deaf within a month, and breathing in the maize chaff and dust was also a health concern.  It was a fun and rewarding day.  The African people are such great hosts and always provide us with a drink or a biscuit or something to eat where ever we go.  We then met with the headmaster and school teachers and looked at their accounting books to see how they are keeping track of their money and expenses from the mill.  Elder Bean gave them some good advice on how to account for the money received and how to figure their expenses and what to charge per bucket of maize. They are charging 50 cents a bucket and he thinks they should charge a dollar.  If the people cannot pay in money, then the mill should take a portion of their maize to sell.  This money will then can go to feed the kids. They listened very intently and really appreciated the help and asked many questions on running a business. It is always fun to actually hand over the merchandise that has been purchased with the proceeds from a fairly successful project.

We had a few problems getting the final approval from South Africa for the water project in Muzarabani.  But HOORAY! We finally received approval on Friday, Sept. 10, 2010.  We have most everything in place ready to go, just waiting for the go ahead.  We wanted to get started before the rainy season sets in.  This is an area that has major flooding problems when the rain comes the roads and areas where the boreholes will be drilled, would be made impossible to get the drilling rig in.  It would also make the hygiene and sanitation training impossible, because the training is done outside under trees. We also have arranged to provide, with the villagers help, two latrines per borehole.  We just want to get started and beat the rain.

Children at Water Project Site
Did you get those at The Bon?
Last week we traveled up north to Muzaribani to work on final arrangement for the water project.  It has taken much organization to get it going.  We are sending four woman trainers to stay there for 13 weeks to teach sanitation and hygiene classes in the villages where the boreholes will be located.  We bought (humanitarian funds bought) three small paraffin stoves, three electric stoves (in case they have electricity - doubtful) mosquito nets, malaria pills, water purifier pills, mattresses, money for food, hired a car and driver for transportation so they can move around to different borehole sites to train people,. Also secured their lodging, provided money for their needs, made thousands of copies of training material to be handed out during training sessions and had cloth bags made to carry this material. We provided humanitarian kits for basic personal needs, bought mosquito repellant and first aid kits, and tried to think of a million other things. They will receive a salary for their efforts, which they are so grateful and need so desperately.  The list goes on and on, plus Elder Bean drew up contracts for the drillers, water specialists and site supervisor, as well as visited the potential water sites.

We hired a very capable man to supervise all of the work and training at the sites.  He is our (church’s) eyes on the ground.  We bought him a motorcycle so he can visit each site daily and make sure they are using the best pipe, and installing things correctly, etc.  He is to report weekly to us or more often as needed.  All transactions are in cash, so we visit the bank regularly.  It is a big job to organize a large water project and Elder Bean is amazing at this.  It is a lot of running and driving around, and meeting with the local community and political authorities to obtain permission to be and work in their areas.  This is one of the areas that is very sensitive politically and requires being very careful on what you say and do. One misstep by one of us and all could be asked to leave. It is interesting that most politicians want the boreholes located by their houses, but of course they are informed very carefully, that the water is for all the community, not for individuals and will be located in central areas and where there is water. 

The community will also be very involved in this project and are expected to provide some labor and materials for the latrines, boreholes and will also be responsible to send volunteers for training, who in turn will return to their villages and train others.  As an incentive to come to the 13 weeks of training, at the conclusion those who have attended will be given a mosquito net, a hygiene kit and some washing soap.  Also they will be given a certificate of completion with their name of it.

Watch out for Elephants!
I really enjoy the three hour drive from Harare to Muzarabani.  It is very picturesque.  You drive through a mountain range that has many wild animals, including lions and elephants living there. I love the sign as you start climbing into the mountains -- it warns you of an elephant crossing. I was so wishing we would see an elephant crossing, but all we saw were some baboons.  We will be going there often to check on the project - so maybe someday. You don’t see many signs like this in Mukilteo.

Petros and the Beans
We have a very nice returned missionary that we are using to help us in this project.  He is an all around helper and he is getting credit at the university for this experience. He is so excited and a hard worker, so we are helping him with his internship and he is helping us. His name is Petros and he is a delight to have around. He thinks Elder Bean is very funny and loves to be around him. He knows a lot of funny jokes, and I love to hear him tell them with his wonderful British/Zimbabwean accent.

We met with our next door neighbors last night for a movie night.  They are the CES couple and are very nice. Usually the office couple also comes, but they were gone for the evening. We are the only couple in the compound that has a DVD player, so we have a lot of power.  Our power ends though if we don’t have electricity. We all bring something to munch on, like popcorn, punch and cookies.  It is amazing how important watching an American movie on a very small screen can be when you are far away from home.

We had a visit again from the Dutch water diviner. His name is Barend Van der Westhuizen.  We had met him before, and he tells fascinating stories. He has divined water all over Africa and he is very knowledgeable about where to find water.  He should write a book on his experiences.  It is always fun to visit with him.  People insist this method works, but I want to actually see it done.  He left us a thick book called “Groundwater & Wells,” and he is such an expert on water and boreholes that we always get a lot of very good information from him. His book, however, is one you read when you want to go to sleep.

We attended a wedding ceremony at one of the branches. It was fun to witness one of the wedding traditions here.  When the bride arrived, women placed blue sheets of cloth along her path; all the while they were trilling (making high pitched sounds).  She walked to the Church door stepping on blue cloth all the way.  One of the counselors in the stake presidency married them.  He is the only one in the Church that has the authority from the government to marry people.  Even the mission president can’t marry anyone.  He did a great job.  They then left in a public van/taxi to travel the 24 hours or so to Johannesburg to go to the temple.  Zimbabweans get stopped at the border and sometimes spend hours trying to cross.  South Africans are not very kind to people from Zimbabwe.

Monday, Sept. 20, 2010

Hygiene Trainders
The women trainers left today to get ready for their assignments and settle in at their training sites.  Elder Bean and I got up at 5:00 am to see them off and help them load the van, and give them a few more things and a few more instructions. The van was so loaded down with parcels, luggage, etc., you were sure they were going to be gone for a year or so. They were so excited to be taking a trip.  None of them have ever been out of the Harare area, so this was a new experience for them.  They were all dressed up and had on their identification badges.  We made some great badges that hang around their necks, have their pictures on them and identify them as trainers working for LDS Charities.  This will help them while working in the area and will also help them if the van is stopped by the police and questions are asked.

Road Trip!!!
We received an invitation from the U.S Ambassador and Consul in Zimbabwe inviting us to attend a town hall meeting at the Ambassador’s residence.  There will be dinner and several interesting talks.  I imagine they will inform us of what is going on here.  All American citizens living in Zimbabwe are invited.  It will be fun to meet other Americans and find out why they are here. We have sent our RSVP and are eagerly awaiting the event.

Goromonzi Chapel
One sad event, the branch that we are assigned to visit in Goromonzi, caught on fire and the chapel burned to the ground.  We were scheduled to go there on Sunday and it was very sad.  Evidently it was caused by faulty wiring in the attic and thankfully burned down in the night and no one got hurt.  It looks to be a total loss.  This is really a loss for the people in the area; it was a very nice chapel with beautiful wood trim and was not very old. It was probably the nicest building in the area. The class rooms on the other side were untouched, but because there was no electricity or water on Sunday, we just held Sacrament meeting and then left for home. We understand it will take at least three years to replace, so in the meantime tents will be set up on the lawn.  Since a fire department leaves a lot to be desired here and they haven’t had rain since last January, water is scarce, so there was not much hope in saving it.

We are busy, having fun, and always feel so blessed to be members of the Church and live in the U.S.  I heard someone say once, that you are not really aware of or appreciate your own culture until you have experienced another one.  We are so aware of our own wonderful culture and the blessings of freedom and opportunity that growing up in America and being members of the Church has provided for us.  Every day we count our blessing.  Everyone here wants to go to America, especially the church members.  We love and miss our family and friends and love hearing from them and really appreciate pictures.  We have a large bulletin board in our office with pictures of family and friends and want to add more. OK?

Love to all, Elder and Sister Bean


  1. What a great post! We can imagine being at your projects, and can almost "hear" Elder Bean leading everyone in "I Am A Child of God"!!! Hope you're having a great tour with the Huskys!

    Love, B&K

  2. Love seeing the pictures of people we know and see the projects that we were able to be part of. Keep up the good work. We miss Zimbabwe! Love, The Bullocks