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

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Hi to all our Family and Friends:

It is past time to send our August blog and to report on some of the events that have taken place.

We held three graduation ceremonies and two water handovers this month. It was a very busy month full of celebration and travel.

We held a borehole commissioning in Muzarabani the first part of August. This is the area where we drilled and fitted 24 new boreholes and constructed 48 Blair type latrines. 2,400 family members were taught a total of 8 hygiene/sanitation lessons by 46 volunteer trainers, assisted by the LDS Charities team of trainers. We provided fencing material to the communities and donated one pump-minder kit to the project to be used if repairs are needed in the future. Graduates of the sanitation course received a certificate, a hygiene kit and two bars of green bar soap, as well as a mosquito net. This water project was supposed to take us two and at the most three months to complete, but ended up taking nearly a year because of all sorts of problems and set-backs. We can now take it off of our “to do list”, and we are so happy that it is finished. We have struggled with it almost the whole time we have been here. It has been a cause for much discouragement, second guessing our decision to drill there when we encountered several dry holes, and other problems. We felt like it would never be finished.

If anything could go wrong with this project, it did. It is a three to almost a four hour trip driving there from Harare, so the distance created a problem. We had a drilling rig tip over and had to haul it back to Harare for repairs. There is no phone communication in this remote area and so our site monitor had to ride a motorcycle to the top of a mountain to be able to call us and keep us informed on what is going on. The rainy season interrupted many days of drilling, and we had one of the driller’s cannibalize an old non-working borehole drilled by UNICEF a few years ago, and remove some old parts from it. He then put the old parts in one of our new boreholes and sold the new LDS parts for his personal gain. We hire a site monitor to avoid things like that, but somehow the monitor found out after the deed was done. All this had to be dealt with and finally we are finished and feel good about the completed water project and the much needed help it will be to the people in this very hot dry area.

We invited our mission president and his wife to join us for the big handover celebration. It took almost four hours to get to the site area, so we left our apartment at 5:00 am to make the appointed start time. The program started with the Zimbabwe national anthem, then a prayer, several speakers, which included the mission president and his wife, dignitaries from the community and the Beans. This was followed by singing, dancing, skits and poems all about clean water and thanking LDS Charities for the clean water. My favorite part of the program is cutting the blue ribbon wrapped around the borehole and pumping clean water for the cheering, singing, excited crowd. This officially turns the boreholes over to the villages. It was very hot and windy in the area of the celebration and the hot wind, coupled with the dry sand and dirt, made us even happier that we persevered through it all and made the decision that we would try again to supply water there. The river beds were all dry and cracked and this area is quite barren of green bushes and trees. The people living there do not have gardens or crops growing in their fields, because of the lack of water. We asked what the people ate and we were told they grow sorghum and a kind of a drought resistant grain that they grind to make sudza, the food staple all over Zimbabwe. They raise chickens, goats and some cattle, but they have a limited diet and it is a very hard life just to get enough food and water to survive. The people suffer from all kinds of water borne diseases like cholera, diarrhea, malaria and other terrible things. So hopefully this clean water will make a difference for them and the worry, discouragement and discomfort we experienced in drilling there is such a small thing in the big picture.

We enjoyed watching a very colorful program. All went well until we noticed a small whirlwind start to form in the distance and it got bigger and closer and bigger and closer and then it hit us full on. It tore the tarp off the shelter that had been shielding us from the sun. The tarp was held up by slender tree poles pounded into the ground with a notch cut out on the top of each pole and the roof consisted of another pole that fit horizontally into the notch. The poles were tied together with long strong grass and it was very sturdy, but the whirlwind broke it apart in a matter of seconds. It also threw dirt and sand in our faces, tipped over chairs and after it messed us all up, it went on its way to do more mischief. The program stopped while the shelter was put back together and we dusted ourselves off, then the program went on as if nothing had happened.

Clean Water Skits
A clean water skit was performed, which was very funny and also very impressive. It depicted what not to do and then depicted what to do. Dirty dishes were left on the ground for animals, insects and dirt to get into and then they used them unwashed for the next meal. They diapered a baby and didn’t wash their hands before handling food. They acted out all kinds of unsanitary situations and then they portrayed a man having an attack of diarrhea, and people running behind him trying to clean up. It was funny and the crowd loved it. Then they showed the correct way to do things, washing hands, washing dishes, putting the dishes on a tall drying rack out of the reach of animals, insects and dirt. They showed going to the borehole for clean water with a clean container, all the things they had been taught in the sanitation training. It was nice to know that they really understood the things that contribute to making one sick and what needs to be done to keep one healthy. What has been interesting to us in providing sanitation training is that we thought knowledge of good sanitation/hygiene comes naturally to people, but it does not. So much of this sanitation information, like washing hands before preparing food was new to them. We feel the sanitation training was almost as important as bringing people clean water.
More Skits!

All the important people in the area attended and the biggest surprise was that a Zimbabwe senator also came to our event. A senator is a very high position in this government and the people stood when she arrived and clapped and shouted and gave her a big welcome. She was the “Big Drum” at our event and we all treated her accordingly. When she spoke she was very complimentary to the Church and the people listened attentively to her and clapped often

The entertainment was wonderful and the dancing was incredible. The dancers jumped so high that their knees almost touched under their chins. While they were dancing a little girl about five or six years old with bare feet and a dirty dress stepped out of the crowd. She was watching the dancers very closely and was dancing with them on the sidelines. She was really good. She finally got enough courage to step out and join the dancers and then I noticed that her little foot and leg had been badly burned and her left foot was just a stump. She danced even better then the adult dancers and her little knees were brought up almost under her chin. The crowd cheered and clapped and the Senator gave her a dollar and Sister Dube gave her a package of biscuits. She stole the show and then disappeared into the crowd. The thought crossed my mind if she were in the United States; she would have that little leg and foot fixed up. So many children here are badly burned because most of the cooking in the villages is done on an open charcoal fire.

Dancing at Handover

Star of the Show!

At the end of the program, the Senator, President and Sister Dube, Elder and Sister Bean and a few headmen cut the ribbon on the borehole, pumped the handle and when clean water came out, there was much noise and cheering. The Senator cupped her hands and drank some of it and then threw water on the bystanders. We furnished a package of biscuits (cookies) and a bottle of orange soda to all in attendance.

Ribbon Cutting!
 At the end of the day, the Senator, the mission president, a few dignitaries and the Beans were served a dinner of sudza, chicken and spinach. It was a fun way to end this water project.

The next week we assisted with a Church training program called “Helping Babies Breathe. Dr. and Sister Bentley from SLC were the short term specialists for this program. They were in Zimbabwe last spring and we assisted them in setting up this training program and they returned to actually do the training. We partnered with UNICEF and the Zimbabwe Ministry of Health. Their responsibility was to invite the appropriate people to be trained. Two different groups of fifty nurses, doctors, midwives and other medical people attended a two day eight hour training sessions back to back. They used the equipment the Church donated to help them practice and become skilled at reviving non-breathing babies. Written tests were given at the beginning and end of each session. They were taught about the importance of the “Golden Minute”, the crucial first minute after the non-breathing baby is born. The procedure is to clear the airway and to stimulate breathing. This procedure was new to the medical people attending this training, although they had delivered hundreds of babies in their lifetime. At the end of the course they received Certificates of Achievement, stethoscopes, booklets, masks, resuscitation bags and “neo-Natalie’s”(training dolls) donated by the Church. Their responsibility is to return to their hospitals, clinics, villages and home facilities and train others in this procedure. We will assist with planning another neo-natal/ helping babies breathe program in Zambia the end of this month. We are anxious to visit this country. We have a small budget to do some projects there, but have been too busy to go.

We have completed the first part of our two part water project in the District of Goromonzi. We are finished with the drilling and with the sanitation lessons. Our first maturation project in this area is completed and it appears so successful that we are very excited about the continuation of it in other schools. We will add this training permanently to our future sanitation training course. Women and girls from all over the district are coming to help sew pads and attend these classes. There is such a big need for training in this area, since the culture here does not address female issues. Our trainer tells us that it is exciting to see that girls and women issues are being openly discussed, questions are being asked and ideas and experiences are being traded, something they have never done before .We have great hopes that this project will get stronger and stronger and will spread to other areas. We ordered 1,000 pairs of panties, two pairs to be given to each girl attending this class. They will be enclosed in a cloth purse along with three pads, a pad holder and a recipe for soap.

Distribution Team

To celebrate the completion of the sanitation and hygiene training, we held three graduation ceremonies. We asked the mission president if we could use four young missionaries to help with loading, unloading and distribution of soap, hygiene kits, soda, biscuits and certificates to the people that had finished the training. He assigned four missionaries to help us and they were delighted. It was fun for them to go into the villages and see what life is like in the rural areas. They loved seeing African dancing, singing and other fun things involved in these graduations. These nice young missionaries worked so hard and were such a big help. They really stood out in the crowd with their beautiful white shirts and polished shoes, which didn’t stay that way very long. They were lifting dirty boxes and hoisting them in and out of trucks and moving them into rooms for distribution, which they also helped with. We also used them as guards to watch over the distribution items, for some reason these nice things, grow legs and walk away if they are not closely watched.

Efficient Movers!

We told them that they could not proselyte, but to wear their white shirts, ties, and missionary badges and be friendly and socialize with the people. If someone asked a question about the Church they could answer, but could not actively proselyte. We knew they would like to tell everyone there about the Church, but they respected the reasons that humanitarian missionaries are instructed not to proselyte. We are sure their presence and their manner was noticed and they were very much identified with the Church and LDS Charities. It was a wonderful experience for all of us. Their help and their fun spirits were much appreciated. We had approximately 400 – 450 people at each of the three ceremonies.

We invited the mission office couple Elder and Sister Heck from Caldwell, Idaho, to attend one of our graduation ceremonies. They have been here about four month and it was great to have them with us. They also helped distribute and hand out certificates. It was a fun day for all. We also invited Elder and Sister Bowen to help us on another day. They are also from Idaho; in fact we have four couples in Zimbabwe from Idaho. I asked Elder Bowen how come so many couples are here from Idaho and he said “because Idaho people don’t know any better, they just go where people send them”. They have now left to go back home to Idaho and we all ready miss them.

Hecks and the Beans
We did get the opportunity to go to Zambia to help set up the Neo Natal/Helping Babies Breathe program there. Gary and Janet Flake from SLC are the short term specialists in charge of this program. They had been in Zambia the previous year helping with the measles campaign, and were acquainted with the area. They met us at the airport and suggested we attend an outdoor African market, which is only held once a month and sponsored by the Dutch Reformed Church. It was great and it had all kinds of food, crafts, and things for sale. Right away I liked brother and Sister Flake. Brother Flake has been a mission president and is asked by the brethren to fulfill many difficult assignments all over the world. They are leaving for Ethiopia in a few short weeks to carry out an assignment regarding the humanitarian crisis in Somalia. They are very interesting to talk with. He also acted as our personal banker, until we could get our money changed to Kwacha, which is the Zambia money.

Flakes and Beans

Shopping in Zambia

Kennedy and the Beans


We accompanied them to hospitals, UNICEF offices, and other places to set up the Helping Babies Breathe program for next year. We spent three days with them and when they left us contacted people that they suggested and we thought would be a help to us in finding and setting up projects in Zambia. We had an especially interesting and wonderful time when we contacted Kathy Headlee Miner, the founder and CEO of Mothers Without Borders. Their main office is in American Fork, Utah, but they have some land and an orphanage in Zambia. We first met Innocent, the manager of this orphanage. He met us at the hotel and drove us some distance out of Lusaka to the orphanage. It was very nice and consisted of dorm rooms for the children, a school, an outdoor kitchen and construction was underway for offices and storage. The most wonderful part was that we got to meet the little boy, named Kennedy, who is the little boy you see in the beautiful painting called “The Worth of a Soul” by Liz Lemon Swindle this is the picture where Jesus is holding the little African boy. Kennedy lives at that orphanage with his older brother and sister and is now about 8 years old. Both of his parents have died from AIDS. He was found living alone a few years ago with his six year old brother and ten year old sister and taken to the orphanage. He was around four at the time. We have that wonderful picture in the entry way of our home in Mukilteo, so it was a real treat to meet the real little boy. We took pictures, gave him candy and I just wanted to take him home with us. The next day Kathy Miner arrived in Zambia and she called and made an appointment with us to talk about what we might do to help her organization. We had a meeting with her and her husband, who is the man in the picture who portrays Jesus holding the child. It was really great to meet them both. They do such good work and their life is devoted to helping the kids in the orphanage in Zambia as well as other things. Different agencies, or the police, or concerned people call them and tell them about abandoned orphans and they try to take them in. It is really heartbreaking to see these darling children, alone in the world, but thank goodness for people like Kathy and her organization that provide shelter and food and education for the few lucky ones. We are awaiting her official request for assistance.

If anyone wants to contribute to a wonderful project or cause, contact “Mothers Without Borders” organization. We have seen it first hand and it is doing wonderful things for abandoned kids in Africa.

With Kathy Keadlee Minor - CEO of "Mothers Without Borders"

A very nice family event happened in August. Our grandson Ryan Carreon and his fiancĂ©, Brenna Richardson were married in the Orlando, Florida temple Most of Ryan’s family flew to Orlando to accompany them in the temple. His grandparents, Ron and Sandra Bean were also with them, if only in thought and spirit. The newlyweds are now back at BYUI where Ryan is currently the news editor for “The Scroll” and has one semester left before graduating. Brenna has graduated and has a full time job as a copy editor with a local newspaper. Congratulations to you both.

Our time is growing very short here and we have mixed emotions about coming to the end of this mission. It is exciting, rewarding, frustrating at times, tiring and wonderful!! We miss our family, our friends and our home, but we love this humanitarian work and will also miss it. Our replacement couple has already been called and we have our going home date. Wow! The time has just flown by; we can’t believe we have been here this long. We will also miss the sweetness of the people and the colors of this lovely country.

Spring is just starting here and the trees and bushes are in full bloom. They are beautiful.

Love to all, The Beans

Friday, August 19, 2011

Independence Day in Africa!

Editor's Note:  It has been a crazy summer so I am about 1 month behind on this post.  Sorry about that!  I'll try to keep up from now on!  MDL


Dear Family and Friends:

Time to again share a few experiences from Zimbabwe. On July 4th the six missionary couples drove to Imire Safari Park to celebrate Independence Day. It is a nice game park and very close to Harare. It is winter here and quite cold, so the park was offering a good discount to lure people there. We pay our own way on these outings, so a discount is good. We left early Monday morning and came home Tuesday morning. We went on safari, had dinner, and sang every patriotic song we could think of around a big fire in the lodge that evening. There was only one other couple staying there and she was an American and he was French. She was pleased to see fellow Americans and to be part of our celebration. We said the Pledge of Allegiance with our hands on our hearts out on the lawn that morning, with the little guest huts all around us. It was very emotional. We all felt very close to our country and have deep appreciation and love for it. Living away, makes you really aware of the wonderful country that we call home. We all had tears in our eyes when we sang The National Anthem, God Bless America and America. This is a 4th of July to remember, no fireworks, parades or other celebrations, but very wonderful just the same.

Elder Bean had written a letter previously addressed to all American missionary couples serving in Zimbabwe and to the mission president and sent it via e-mail. The letterhead read: “State Department – United States of America” – Informing all of us that we would be excused from our mission responsibilities on Monday to celebrate Independence Day. It was very well written and looked very official and he signed it, Uncle Sam. It really did look authentic and I am not sure our mission president, who is Zimbabwean, wasn’t sure it wasn’t. Elder Bean then told him he wrote it and the president gave us permission to take the day off and celebrate.

We rented two safari vans and all enjoyed a game drive and were fortunate to see a black and also a white rhinoceros. They are the first we have seen in this country. The rhinos were carefully guarded by a man with a rifle. A few years ago they had a breeding program at this park and had approximately 15 pairs of rhinos, when poachers came in the night and killed them all, The rhinoceros is being depleted all over Africa because poachers can get a lot of money for their ivory horn. In some countries they are also used as an aphrodisiac, so rhinos are always in danger and there are very few left. The African rhino will one day be totally extinct, unless things change drastically. The park now has two breeding pairs and we were especially interested in seeing and taking pictures of them.

As our vans entered the entrance to the park, we saw a family of elephants standing by the gate. There was a small baby elephant in the group and they came very close to the van for a picture taking session. It is always a treat to see the elephants, but you don’t want them too close, we thought they were going to put their trunks in the van. The park also has an elephant that thinks he is a water buffalo and hangs out with the herd of water buffalos. He fights off any male buffalo that tries to take over his herd. So far he is the dominant male buffalo (elephant) and takes care of and protects the herd. The park rangers have tried several times to put him by the elephants, but he is convinced he is a buffalo and always goes back to his herd. The next day we loaded up the two vans again, and went out to an area where they had three elephants waiting for us to ride. Elder Bean rode one again, but I stayed behind and just took pictures. Previously I had ridden an elephant and the blanket under me kept slipping to the side and a few times I thought I was going to fall off. Elephants are very tall and the ground was very far down - so once is enough. An elephant carrying one missionary couple stopped and rose up to feed on branches in a tree and the couple nearly slipped off the backend. Elephants are too big to boss around, so even though there are rangers watching out for you, elephants do what they want.

It was very cold that morning and last week the whole area had frost. We had gotten up early before the sun came up and it was very cold in the safari vans. It still was very beautiful to see the elephants walking towards us in the tall golden colored grass with the sun just coming up over the horizon, there are certain moments here that seem unreal, and you feel like you are in a movie. This was one of them. We went back to the lodge, had a wonderful breakfast and then drove back to Harare to change our clothes and go to the office. It was a wonderful time for all of us Americans to be together and celebrate our country’s independence and one we will remember forever.

We have checked out an area called Mutoko, to see if a new water project and training in sanitation would be feasible there. We met with the district administrator in charge of the water in that area. He said they do not need any new boreholes drilled, but asked if we could rehabilitate the boreholes that now exist and are not working. They were drilled in the 1980’s, so are now broken down, rusted, parts have been stolen and are now useless. He asked us to rehabilitate 124 of them, but we are probably going to do around fifty or sixty. Rehabilitation means that everything will be taken out of them – all parts, pumps, rods, etc. and everything new will be put in. They also need new cement aprons and most of them require fences, so essentially they will have fifty to sixty new working boreholes. This area is very dry and quite a long distance from Harare, so our sanitation training team will be required to stay overnight during the week and will go home on weekends. We haven’t made a firm decision yet, but we think this might be our next water project. Villagers are again using the river and other polluted places for water.

We have started our newest water project and sanitation training in the Pote (po tay) ward, a ward is like a county in America. We have also introduced a maturation project in the three schools located there. This project is intended to help the girl child as she matures and starts her monthly cycle. Most of the girls in this age group stay home from school four or five days a month. They usually do not have much information about what is happening with their bodies and what to do at this time. This is something that is not talked about in their culture. The Church will provide two treadle sewing machines to the high school and one to each of the primary schools, as well as all items and materials needed to sew sanitary pads and pad holders. They will also provide two pair of panties for each girl that will be used to attach the pad holders. The material will be provided for the sewing of small purses to hold the completed pads which can then be carried to school. We will be training six women from the community, hopefully some mothers that have girls at the school, and two or three of the girls in sewing the pads, pad holders and the purses. We will provide the patterns, scissors, thread, Velcro, pins, needles and other needed material. We also have a recipe for making very effective soap for washing that will be given to each girl. Our goal is to have this program sustain itself through the years and will encourage the girls and the women to sell the pads to the community and use the money to buy more material for making more pads. We think this is a much needed program and the schools are very excited about it. We also will provide a training class not only on how to make these items, but a little bit of sanitation, hygiene and basic information to all the girls in the school. The culture here does not permit talking openly about personal matters, but from what we have seen and heard it is a welcome subject for both women and girls. Our hope is that they will use the sewing machines to make other items to sell and to help with financing this project in the future.

It is very cold this time of year and I feel so very sorry when we see people walking along the road in very skimpy clothing. I especially feel bad when you see the children. We had a private voluntary non-profit organization request a donation towards their educational “halfway” learning centre. This organization has a database of more than 500 orphans and vulnerable children. At the present time they are helping 50 children at their centre. Most of them are street kids who survive anyway they can They attend the learning centre and have never accessed formal education owing to not having birth certificates, financial instability, illness and orphan-hood Their parents have died of AIDS and they have no relatives to take care of them. Most of the children at the centre are HIV and AIDS infected and are very vulnerable to everything from hunger, cold, sickness as well as not having anyone to protect them on the street.

We were very impressed with this organization’s work. We had the lady in charge come to our office and we discussed how we might help out. The next day we loaded our truck with 50 blankets, sweaters, hats, gloves, toys, toothbrushes, school supplies and other things we thought would help. We drove to a very poor crime-ridden and scary part of Harare where the centre is located. The Catholic Church is donating some rooms in their church for educational and other help for the kids. This organization also assists the community in child protection and awareness programs that promote the rights and welfare of children in Zimbabwe.

The children arrive in the morning without breakfast and stay most of the day. The organization feeds them something called Mahewu for lunch, which is served from a bucket with the children each drinking a cup full and, of course, there is only one cup to drink from. We think we should buy 50 cups and take them to the Church, so each will have their own cup. Mahewu is a very thin, watery looking gruel, but we were told that it had a lot of good nourishment in it. It didn’t look very good, but it is at least something for them to eat. They leave the school at about 3:00 pm and they are on their own and hopefully can find food at the soup kitchen up the street from the Church. It is very heart wrenching. What is also amazing is how polite and well mannered they are. They all stood when we entered the room and welcomed us and when we left they all stood again and thanked us and wished us safe journey.

While there, we opened a sack of wooden blocks we brought and dumped them on the floor, along with some soft cloth balls and some home-made wooden trucks. It was amazing, the kids dropped to their knees and immediately started playing with the blocks, the wooden trucks, and throwing the fabric balls. They were as excited and happy as if we had brought them a million dollars worth of toys Elder Bean started throwing a ball to them and the kids were so excited to have someone play ball with them. We had them queue up and gave them each a warm blanket, a tooth brush, a pencil and other various items. It was wonderful and sad at the same time. Elder Bean walked into their small class room, where some of the older kids were studying Shona, he pretended that he spoke Shona and took the chalk and started writing crazy letters on the black board and they loved it. We can’t do much, but at least there are a few kids in Zimbabwe that have warm blankets. Thank you LDS Charities and the people who contribute to the humanitarian fund.

We also gave some warm blankets and a few beautiful Relief Society quilts, to our house keeper to give to some of the families in her neighborhood. She asked us if we had anything warm that could be given to the kids. We do have a used clothing container at our office and we found some warm sweaters and pants for them and then we decided to also give them some blankets and quilts. She told us that her next door neighbor had two very small children who were almost naked and bare foot and were shaking and shivering that morning when she left to come to our apartment to clean. We couldn’t stand hearing that, so we immediately got into our quilt container and gave her some blankets and quilts to distribute to some of the other families in her neighborhood. I asked her to display two of the quilts so the Relief Society woman could see where some of the quilts are going and how much good they are doing. They are going directly to families who desperately need them. The next day she told us that the people who received them were all so very grateful and told her that they had not slept for several nights because of the cold, but they are sleeping very well now. They also said not only were the quilts warm, but very beautiful, and they could not believe that someone so far away who did not know them, would give them such a beautiful gift. I am including a picture of her in front of our apartment showing off the beautiful Relief quilts.

We also handed out several more blankets and quilts to an orphanage that houses 30 small children. The kids at this orphanage also have parents that have died with AIDS or their fathers or relatives are in prison. The people running the orphanage came to us wanting help for a poultry project, which we had to turn down, because they are so risky and the Church has stopped approving them We had previously visited this orphanage and saw the need, so we decided we could at least donate some blankets, scarves, hats, laundry detergent and other things to help them. We took our new office couple from Caldwell, Idaho, with us and we played “Ring around the Rosy, London Bridge is Falling Down and Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes”. The kids loved it and so did we. We also brought them several of the beautiful Relief Society quilts. The quilts are not only extra warm, but are also appreciated for their beautiful patterns, color and hand work. One woman at the orphanage looked one of the quilts over very carefully and said; maybe I can make a quilt like this too. So they not only provide warmth, but inspiration to the creative women here.

We checked on our water project in Muzaribani to see if everything was completed to our satisfaction. We plan on doing the water handover the first of August. This has been our problem water project and at last it is finished; 48 latrines are now completed in the area and our contractor threw in five bonus ones. Elder Bean loves to give the contractor and our site monitor a bad time, so when we checked to make sure the latrines were completed to our satisfaction. Elder Bean told them the latrines were way too small. He proved this by putting our monitor in the doorway of one and then pretended he was stuck. The poor man was not sure he was kidding, but when he realized it was a joke, we all got a big laugh. You can see in the picture how dry the ground is and how hard it was to drill and find water in that area, it is very expensive to drill a dry hole and we had to recommit and change water siters and finally all the holes yielded water and the people are very happy. Evidently we are one of the few NGO’s that stuck it out and finished what we had promised to do.

We held a branch conference this month at the Kadoma branch, which is the branch we are responsible for. Their chapel burned to the ground about six or seven months ago and it is a real eye sore. We were delighted to hear that the work on the new chapel would be starting very soon. We had complained to everyone we could think of and wondered why someone had not done something about it. We were also told that missionaries will be sent there in the near future. They are a strong branch and have a large attendance on Sundays, but have never had any young missionaries serving there to motivate and help them. I taught Relief Society training on Saturday and taught the Relief Society lesson on Sunday. It was fun to put a table cloth and a basket of flowers on the small table in Relief Society room.the women loved it. We left the table cloth for them to keep and they will have no problem finding flowers outside to decorate it each Sunday. It was great to see how happy it made them to look at something pretty while they are listening to the lesson. Elder Bean taught the “He is Risen” lesson to the adult Sunday school and taught 19 young Aaronic priesthood holders in a tiny room for their priesthood meeting.

It is hard to believe that we have been on our mission for one year on July 24th and we are on the downward side. Time is going very quickly and we have a lot of things to accomplish in the next six months. We are anxious to see our families, but we are still enjoying the challenge and satisfaction that this mission provides. It is a hard mission in the respect that we miss some of the modern conveniences that we take for granted at home. It is amazing that we no longer are surprised when we turn on the water tap and nothing comes out and how excited we are when the water does come out. We are delighted when we flip the light switch and the light turns on. Things like, clean water, or even just water, electricity, heat, paved roads, not having to put bleach in our water to wash dishes, eggs, fruit and vegetables, the list goes on and on, but the rewards and blessings are worth it.

Elder Bean’s two sons, Roger and Brett, will be visiting us in September and we are excited to show them around Zimbabwe and spend a day in Botswana. We plan on taking them in our truck to visit projects and maybe even have them participate a little. We will also see if we can convince them to ride an elephant and walk with the lions. I am sure they will do that.

We love the beauty of this country.

Love to all

Elder and Sister Bean