Monday, April 6, 2009

Trees and a language lesson

I went up to Lomngeletjane this morning to work with the trees that were planted as a windbreak for the school and a future orchard. They were planted in November or December. Watering wasn't an issue then because we got so much rain this summer. Thembie said she would water them for us, but then slipped in the mud the first week of February and has been laid up ever since. It just dawned on me this weekend that we haven't had any rain in close to a month now. So I got the great idea to go up and check on them, cut the tall weeds and grass around them and water them. Great idea. Unfortunately, today was a very hot (only 80, but it seemed much hotter), windless, sunny day. And as always, plans change so I wasn't able to get up there until about 11:00.

But, the good news is, the trees are still surviving. Most are actually about waist high. A few have either died or were never planted, but I was pleasantly surprised. On my way across the field that has grass, weeds & miscellaneous plants about waste high, I started to freak out about the possibility of snakes slithering around in there. Did I ever pray hard for God to keep those serpents away! I worked
for about 1 1/2 hours and was just about ready to collapse because of the heat and quit when about 20 kids came swarming down upon me. One was carrying an old paint bucket full of water. So I showed him where to dump it and told him I needed more water. I speak very little Siswati, but do know the word for water (emanti). So between me pointing, holding up fingers to indicate two, and talking, the kids brought down enough water for about a half a dozen of the trees to get two buckets full each. And the best part is they all learned the English word for tree, water and even came to understand when I told them to back up away from the little trees. (I kept saying "hamba back" and gesturing to them to scoot back. Hamba means go). The sad part is, I couldn't figure out how to communicate to them that I wanted to know what the Siswati word for tree is. At one point I went to the car to get my camera with most of the kids following close behind. As I was getting the camera some of the girls started pointing to the sleeve of my t-shirt and saying something. Then they started picking the very sharp stickers off of it. I later learned they were telling me the name of those stickers. It was very cute.

It is now evening and I'm still sitting here with a heat headache, but it was worth it.

Look hard in this first picture. There is actually a tree in front of the children. I promise. I'm not making it up.

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