Friday, November 4, 2011

Hi to Family and Friends:

September was another busy month for us, but we took some time off to enjoy a very fun visit from two of Ron’s sons, Roger and Brett. We wanted them to enjoy their visit, so we planned a busy schedule. They hardly had time to recover from jet lag when we took them out to check on our latest water project in Goromonzi. When we arrived, a volunteer trainer from the local village was training a cluster of 25 people in sanitation and hygiene matters. They were sitting under a big tree and were happy to have us visit and take pictures. The rehabilitation team was working on a borehole close by the training, and a short distance from the borehole was a family hut with people busy working outside, so there was a lot going on and a lot to see. We met the family and asked if we could take their picture. People here are always happy to have their picture taken and so people kept coming to be in the picture. It was a lot of fun and we stayed and observed the work for a while and then moved to another training site.

The people at that site were meeting inside a hut because the wind was so strong and blowing dirt around. They invited us inside and it was filled with the village people attending the training. The hut was very interesting as it was very clean, orderly and comfortable and was bigger than it appeared to be on the outside. Again we asked if we could take a picture and they were happy to have us do so. As we left to go back to the car, a group of school children were returning home from school and we gave them candy, took their picture and had fun talking with them. It was a fun day for us and a chance for Roger and Brett to see what their dad is doing here.

The next day we drove to Hwange Safari Lodge to go on a safari. Hwange is the largest game park in Zimbabwe and we hoped we would see a lot of the wonderful animals that are in Africa. As we turned off the road to go into the park, just inside the gate, was a large giraffe, I guess it had come to welcome us. We stopped and took pictures and it just stood there posing for us. We drove to the lodge and signed up for a game drive. It was very hot, so the animals were all heading for water holes. We saw all kinds of animals and a great number of elephants and a tiny one day old elephant. The most exciting part was seeing three lions, two male and one female. They had killed a baby elephant the day before and were resting under a tree, not far from what was left of the elephant. They were very close to the road and to us. We stopped and took pictures and they just watched us, very unconcerned. We were in an open sided van, so we were glad they had already eaten and were quite sleepy.

Croc got your hand?
We stayed the night, went for another game drive in the morning and then drove to Victoria Falls which was one of the highlights of the trip. The Falls are one of the Seven Wonders of the World and are unbelievably beautiful and large. We took many pictures and the next day crossed the border to Botswana and went on a boat cruise on the Zambezi River and a game drive in Chobe National Park. We were especially lucky because the woman who works for the cruise and safari company in Botswana is a member of the Church and a good friend of ours. She arranged for us to get the VIP treatment. We had a private boat tour on the Chobe River and a wonderful lunch at the lodge and a private game drive. This was the best game drive we have every been on. We saw everything and a lot of it. We spent a day in Botswana and then returned to Zimbabwe and back to Victoria Falls where we had a reservation to attend a Boma (African dinner) The Boma served all kinds of wild game, warthog, kudu, crocodile tail, antelope and Roger, Brett and Elder Bean even ate a worm, UGH! They were given a diploma for doing so. I on the other hand did not eat one, but stood strong even against a lot of peer pressure. We take worm medicine twice a year to prevent worms, why would I intentionally eat one? In spite of this it was a fun evening.

Love eatin' them worms!

Other fun things we did was to tour the Great Zimbabwe (ancient ruins), go on another Safari at Antelope Park, where the guys walked with lions, rode elephants and took lots of pictures. We then returned to Harare where we went on a hike to see the ancient rock paintings, and then back to the apartment for them to pack and get ready to leave the next morning for Cape Town. We really enjoyed their visit, they are good traveling companions. It is worth mentioning that all the while they were here, we were without electricity and water in our apartment. They really got the whole impact of being in Africa.

The Great Zimbawe

Ride 'em Cowboy Ron!
 The family trip was a wonderful break from our hectic schedule. On returning to our office, we paid the price for some fun relaxation. There were a million things waiting for us to do and us spent long days and weekends getting caught up.

Late October is when the rains usually start, so we are hurrying to get our last big water project finished before they arrive. We are now fitting the pumps and pouring the concrete aprons. Last week the rains came for a few days, but have stopped for the time being. The rain doesn’t just fall softly from the sky, but thunder, lightning and buckets of water announce their arrival. This had put a stop to the concrete pouring and the outside sanitation training. We are hoping that the rain will stay away for a few more weeks so we can finish our project. We have set the first week in November for the sanitation graduation ceremonies and for the borehole commissioning party; that is if the rains holds back long enough for us to complete everything.

The Jacaranda trees are in full bloom now and we are so happy that we get to see them one last time before leaving for home in December. They are a beautiful tree and there are hundreds of them everywhere, in the city, in the rurals, on the side of the road as you drive along. Everywhere you look there are purple blossomed trees. They are very tall, leafy, and spread out very wide. It is hard to describe the color – they range from dark purple to a soft lilac/lavender color. Now that the rain and wind has started, some of the blossoms have fallen to the ground and they form a thick purple carpet under the tree, which is as pretty as on the tree itself.

We are looking at a new project that is quite unique. We had five people representing a handicapped organization with 300 plus members, come visit us in our office. They presented a peanut butter project for our consideration. They want to make and sell jars of peanut butter. The name they have selected is “Lickmore Peanut Butter”. They were so excited to show us their plan. It was pretty elementary and there were many things they hadn’t considered, so Elder Bean went over it with them and pointed out some things They will resubmit it with some of the kinks worked out. It was a start for them and they were eager to listen and take advice on what they need to consider in their next submission to us. We are expecting a new and improved plan in a few weeks. It was fun to discuss this project with them. We really liked the head of the organization and his enthusiasm and positive attitude, and certainly this organization needs help. Elder Bean suggested they visit a peanut butter manufacturing company and observe how it works; see what equipment they are using and what is needed to get started. Most people bring their projects to us and want to start at L (the middle) instead of A (the beginning) and they haven’t really thought through from A to Z. Having been in business, Elder Bean is a good one to give counsel and help with the concept of starting at the beginning and following through to the end.

Since time is growing short for us, our plan is to finish this last big water project and then consecrate on one or two individual boreholes. We have so many schools, churches, etc that have contacted us and just want one borehole at their school or building. We feel like we will have the time now to do one or two small water projects, as well as finishing up some miscellaneous projects that have been setting on our desk. We do want to visit some tentative projects and organizations that have been put on the back burner, before we leave. We are in the process of winding down and it is strange to feel like we are running out of time and can’t do all that we want to.

A funny or not so funny story: four of our missionaries were robbed last week. In the middle of the night while they were sleeping, robbers broke in and stole their refrigerator (full of food), their stove, their microwave and their back packs, without waking them. When they awoke in the morning, their whole kitchen was gone. One of the missionaries is a very big guy and everyone is giving him a bad time for sleeping through what must have been a fairly noisy robbery. The mission president is still scratching his head on how someone can steal a whole kitchen without waking the residents. Stealing is rampant here and you have to really protect yourselves and your property at all times.

The electricity (ZESA) outages, have been terrible this month, it is the worst we have experienced since we have been here. Last week, we were without electricity every day for about 14 hours or so at a time and we only had access to it for a few short hours in the middle of the night. The problem also is the water, when the electricity is off, the borehole does not pump water into our tank. So we have been without electricity and water. I needed to wash out necessary clothing by hand, which would be fine except we don’t have water to wash them in. We will never complain again when we have temporary power outages in Mukilteo.

We have a small shed on the mission office property where previous directors have stored used clothing to hand out to people in our wards and branches. We finally had the time to go through all these clothes, which have been here for probably years and sort and put them in bags. We are sending them with the couples to the branches they are in charge of, for distribution to those in need. We also located 12 BYU football bench parkas. They were made by NIKE and were in excellent condition, in fact they looked new. We wondered who contributed them to the humanitarian cause. Elder Bean put one on and walked into the office and really made a statement. Most of the couples here are Boise State fans and they really gave him a hard time. President Reginald Nield, a counselor in the Stake presidency, was the Captain of the Rugby team for Zimbabwe and is still very active in the Rugby program here. We called him and asked him to come to our office and see if he could use them. He was delighted and thrilled to take them for the Zimbabwe rugby program. He said he wished he had gotten them a few days earlier because a Zimbabwe team was playing South Africa in South Africa and it was very cold. Rugby players are certainly not dressed for cold weather. So we feel like they have found a good home and a are a good advertisement for BYU. So if you happen to watch rugby and Zimbabwe is playing and you wonder why the bench is clothed in blue and white parkas, that is the reason.

We are awaiting approval of a request we made to provide a very needy school and community with a dehuller machine that takes the husk off of the corn before it is finely milled. We hope we can complete this project in the next few weeks. We also have a couple of piggery projects to work through the approval process – one for an orphanage and one for another large handicapped organization, to name a few. We know our time here will just fly by.

As we are winding down we are looking back at all we have accomplished and at all we wished we could have accomplished and know we will miss the adventure and work we have accomplished here. I told Elder Bean, I just want to leave in the middle of the night because saying goodbye will be very hard. We love the people, the work and the place.

Love from Sister and Elder Bean
Victoria Falls