Greetings to Family and Friends
It is again time to send our monthly blog. So many events have occurred this past month it is hard to pick out just a few to report on.
In May, we held a handover for our bee project in Bulawayo. This is the project where we are helping young people who are heads of family. These young people are between the ages of 14 and 17 and have complete responsibility for their younger siblings due to the death of both parents and do not have any relatives to help. Among other donations, the Church provided wood, wire, screens and paint and the kids constructed 20 beehives. They also constructed tables and benches for their classrooms and built platforms to hold the beehives. Along with the building of the hives and physical aspects of the project, they attend training classes on the care and nature of bee keeping as well as training in starting and managing a business. The leaders in the community were invited to the handover and several people from America were in attendance. The completed hives were all placed in rows for the handover and when we lifted the lids, they had baited the interior wood slats and screens with honey and sweets, so as to entice the bees to select their hives. The next step is to take the hives and place them in several fields to start the process of luring bees to their hives. They are hoping that the bees will like the look of their hives and select them for their homes and manufacturing plant. If a queen bee doesn’t select their hives within a few weeks, then there are places to purchase bees. Who knew?
Along with the bee keeping project, the kids planted a very large garden with all kinds of vegetable and fruit plants. We contacted the nearby LDS church and asked the bishop if they would share some vegetable and fruit plants from their substantial garden with these kids. Not only did the ward share, but the members also helped in weeding, preparing the soil and planting them. Hopefully this will help them to support themselves and their families in the future. We understand there is 90% unemployment in this country and very few people have jobs.
We had a wonderful Handover. The kids were dressed in their beekeeping outfits and gum boots, and they sang, danced and thanked the Church for all it had done to help them and their siblings. They wrote a thank you note and presented it to us. It made us very grateful that we could represent the Church and provide the extra help they need.
We returned recently from a mission couples conference in a place called Mana Pools. We stayed there two days and then traveled to a place called Kariba and took a boat over to an island for two more days. Both of these places are located on the northwest border of Zimbabwe, and are very close to the border of Zambia. The Zambezi River separates the two countries and our lodging in Mana Pools overlooked the river on the Zimbabwe side. It was so beautiful and so much fun.
Before we left on our trip, our driller told us that the Tsetse fly was in abundance at Mana Pools and that made me pretty nervous because they love me. As soon as we arrived, I immediately was bitten on the ear, which became big, swollen, red, and puffy and was very painful for the rest of the trip, not to mention it looked terrible. I was the only person who received a bite and I can’t understand why I attract them. This makes the fifth time I have been bitten, four times in Uganda and now once here. The camp personnel had some medicine and it seemed to help a bit, not much, but a bit. We were told not to wear anything black or even a shirt with a black stripe on it, because the fly goes directly to dark colors. Since my ear was not black, I am not sure that warning was valid. I was also told if I should get bitten, to wash the bite with the green bar soap that the natives use to wash their clothes, but I couldn’t find any natives washing their clothes at that moment. We have a saying in our family “it is not how you feel, but how you look” - in this case I looked awful and didn’t feel so good either.
Before we left, our driller also supplied us with a pump to let some air out of tires, as we will be driving for miles in a dry sandy riverbed and having less air in your tires helps you to not sink in the sand. However this may have helped somewhat, but every mile or so one or more of our trucks were bogged down in deep sand. We had five trucks following each other through this wide dry sandy river bed and we spent many hours digging and pulling trucks out of the sand. Elder Bean and I had another missionary couple riding with us and Elder Bean and Elder Eyres were always involved in the rescue and digging service. This is a very wild remote area and animals roam free without any sort of fence, barrier of whatever, so some worked on the stuck trucks and some kept a look out for wild beasts. I chose to be a lookout.
At our lodging, we were escorted to and from our rooms at dusk by a guard carrying a rifle. We were staying in a very remote part of the country and we were told that Mana Pools has the highest concentration of wild animals in all of Zimbabwe. We stayed in very nice tents, which were built on solid foundations, but the whole front of the tent was completely open to the outdoors and river, except for a thin mesh fabric that you could see through. At night we could hear hippos, elephants, lions, hyenas and other things calling out and tramping past our tent, leaving their calling card as they passed. We really felt exposed, but we were told the animals would honor the thin piece of mesh fabric separating us from them and perceive it as a barrier, and they did. It was a little unnerving, but exciting just the same. You could brush your teeth or lie in bed and look over the river. It was fun to awaken in the morning and feel like you were sleeping outdoors. We did see lions, hippos, elephants, hyenas and various other creatures during our day game drives. We also did not have a lock for the door, so anyone or anything could barge in. There were wooden walkways that we were told to stay on, but during the daylight hours, we were allowed to walk to the lodge and other areas without a guard. The interior of the room was very pretty, wonderfully decorated in African décor and was really quite charming. We stayed there two days and then drove to an area called Kariba
We again had to drive through the dry sandy river bed back to the road and this time we all let some air out of our tires, which helped, but not completely. We still had several trucks stuck in sand on our way back. It took many hours to return to the paved road and then we drove caravan style to Kariba. In Kariba, a boat was chartered and we sailed to a very beautiful island, and again stayed in safari tents, held a mission conference and spent the night. It was beautiful. In the morning we sailed back to the mainland and then all hit the road back to Harare. It was dark when we got to our apartment in Harare, and we were glad to be back. It is very hard to drive in the dark here with so many cars and trucks that do not have head lights or tail lights, and there are many bicycles along the way. We were glad to get back safely, but had a very fun time on our mission outing. . It was also fun to get to know the other missionary couples better. We have one couple who are by themselves in Zambia and one couple alone in Malawi, so they were happy to be around other couples and we all became better acquainted. Both couples have very nice accommodations in their assigned countries, but it is still hard to be by yourself. We have such a nice time with the three couples here. We hold Family Home Evening together and try to have a movie night during the week, if possible.
We recently received approval for another large water project. We sent it in for approval just before we left for our missionary conference – it will consist of drilling 35 new boreholes and rehabilitating 21 more. We will be training 3,100 families in sanitation and hygiene and it will be supplying clean water to 22,800 people. It is the largest water project done in Zimbabwe and we are excited. There is a lot of work to be done before we even start drilling, and so this little trip to Kariba/Mana Pools was a fun thing to do before the start of this project.
We also flew to Malawi to observe the wheelchair distribution there. The Church sent 365 wheelchairs to that country and we are supposed to monitor their distribution. We were there for five days and checked on and visited with six different people who had received a chair. The organization that is distributing the wheelchairs arranged for a car and driver for us and we were accompanied by two of their people. They are giving the wheelchairs out just a few at a time and have many more to distribute. Malawi was having a fuel crisis and it was very hard to find fuel, so we were lucky to be able to visit six people. Several of them lived far out in the villages and we had to hold our breath that the fuel would last. We visited a young disabled father with two children who lived almost to the border of Mozambique. He was so happy with his chair and so were his wife and family. We also visited a brother and sister who both had polio when they were young. The boy had been given a three wheeler wheelchair, which is a very stable chair. Their house was at the bottom of a very steep, rocky dirt hill and we asked him to take his chair up and down the hill to see if it was adequate for where he lived. The sister had a four wheeler, which is not so stable, so she wanted to exchange it and after seeing their home conditions, we will exchange it for her. The brother handled the hill like a pro. We worried that he might tip over, but was pretty sure of himself.
We saw many interesting sights along the road as we traveled to our wheelchair people. When we saw the woman carrying a big load of wood on her head walking down a steep mountain road, we stopped and I asked if I could take a picture. I had to run behind and in front of her to get the picture, as she could not stop with that load on her head and walking downhill. We estimated the wood weighed about 200 pounds or so. These African women are so very strong. Elder Bean and our driver both admitted they would not have been able to even pick up the wood, let alone carry it for miles to get to her home. We saw woman carrying water in large jugs on their head and they are also very heavy. I am impressed by the women, not only are they strong, but they work very hard. Their tasks are the hard physical ones, hoeing the fields, planting the crops, carrying the heavy water containers, hauling wood and a million other things. A lot of them do this while carrying a baby on their back with a lot of little toddlers by their side.
At one point we stopped to ask directions to a village where a disabled man had received a wheelchair and we wanted to see how he was doing. While our driver was asking directions, I also got out of the truck to stretch my legs. There were kids across the roads who were very interested in me and they came from all directions just to see a white woman standing by a car way out in the rurals. I aimed my camera at them and they took off in all directions, yelling and shouting. I think that I scared them and they were not sure what I was holding in my hand and aiming at them. It was pretty funny. I don’t think these children have seen many white people way out there, if any.
One of the highlights of our trip to Malawi was the kids selling Mice on a Stick by the side of the road. We asked our driver if that was something the people out in the rurals ate. He said “absolutely”. We asked if they ate it whole or do they clean it. He said “They eat it whole, tail and all. UGH! I didn’t ask him if they ate it raw or cooked it, I was afraid he would say raw. Needless to say we didn’t stop and buy one, and we used to think goat on a stick seemed unusual.
Zambia and Malawi will split off from the Zimbabwe Harare mission in July and form the new Zambia Lusaka Mission. We will continue to be the country directors for all three countries as far as we know. They will have a new mission president, President Padovich. He is from Santa Clarita, California and was an executive for Warner Bros. Studio. We think both missions will benefit from this new mission and will really start to grow now.
We also held a handover for an orphanage during May. It was a poultry project and they were supplied with chickens, heating units, repair of the chicken coop, food, immunizations for the chickens. This is a very nice orphanage and we had a wonderful time at the handover. The children sang many sweet songs, some in Shona and some in English. We especially enjoyed them singing Baa Baa Black Sheep in their very cute accents. The woman cooked sudza and greens for our dinner and served it to us before we left. These are very rewarding projects and you just love the cute kids. The helpers gave us a nice hand painted bowl as a thank you present.
We have been assisting the mission president with Branch conferences during May. We first went to Masvingo (the branch we are responsible for).and held a Saturday and Sunday conference. I trained the Relief Society presidency on Saturday and gave the lesson on Sunday. I put a table cloth on the table and a basket of flowers and they loved it. I ended up giving them both the tablecloth and the flowers. Elder Bean trained the priesthood executive committee on Saturday and taught the Aaronic priesthood on Sunday. These leadership meetings really are a big help to those who have not been in the Church very long and really helps them with organizational and leadership skills, as well as teaching classes. They are always fun and enjoyable and they even formed a choir to sing for us. The African voices are very pretty.
We also did a conference in a branch called Marondera where we repeated what we did in Masvino, plus Elder Bean taught Sunday school. They meet in a very humble building and they only have one small table in the whole church, which was in use as the sacrament table. So in Relief Society, I put a table cloth on a box, which I set on a chair and then put the basket of flowers on that. Elder Bean used the same box when he taught Sunday school to display his visual aids. I loved seeing the little boys in white shirts, ties, they looked like little missionaries.
It has been a very busy month and it will become even busier the next two or three. We are scheduled to visit Zambia in August to help with a neo natal training program. We will have been on our mission one year the 24th of July and I am sure the next six months will fly by.
News from home: Our grandson Ryan Carreon, who is Torri’s son, has announced his engagement and will be getting married in August. He met her at BYU-I, she will be graduating this year with a degree in Communication Computer Information Tech & Theatre Arts. Ryan is also almost ready to graduate a few months later. Her name is Brenna Kate and she is from Orlando, Florida. They will be married in the Orlando, Florida temple in August.
This is wonderful news, but we hope they will not make their home in Orlando, since it is as far away from Seattle as you can get and still be in the U.S. We are so happy for them and are looking forward to meeting her. More info in the next blog
We miss home, family and friends, but all is well here. Love the Beans