Tuesday, June 16, 2009
1. A tree planting team - they are planting approximately 70 wind-break trees. Lomngeletjane can get a lot of high wind, so these will help protect the future orchard, the teacher's houses, and the other buildings.
2. A team to work with the children - they are doing crafts with the children and teaching them songs and games. The children are so happy and are having a great time. When the kids go home around 1:00, this team then helps out on the other teams.
3. Dirt moving team - unfortunately, I don't have a good picture of this team at work. They are moving the dirt that came out of the pits for the toilets away from the structures to an area that will need dirt when the next classroom block is built. (I'm hoping this can happen later this year or early next year.)
4. A weed-eating team. We rented two "brush cutters" yesterday (Tuesday) to try and get rid of some of the weeds and reduce the fire danger. This was hard, dirty work and unfortunately probably didn't accomplish much. We're re-thinking how to reduce the fire danger at the school. I've been trying to convince the community to tie up some goats to eat the grass, but they don't think such a crazy idea would work. I haven't given up yet.
5. The foundation team. The team is doing an amazing job on the foundation. They have poured the layer of concrete that will support the blocks for the foundation. They are even ahead of schedule! John, the builder, anticipated that IF they were hard workers, they would be ready to start laying blocks on top of this cement on Thursday. They are going to start today (Wednesday)!
And finally, an update on Tiphelele. She is doing much better. She is still on oxygen and is receiving antibiotics. Rev. Nyameka, Jeri and I went to visit her in the hospital yesterday (Tuesday). On Monday the Dr. recommended she be put on formula instead of breast milk because he is concerned that the mother doesn't have enough breast milk to feed both babies. He also recommended a stronger anti-biotic that he said was expensive and not in stock at the hospital. The antibiotic was hard to find in the pharmacies in Manzini, but I finally found it and it only cost about $20 USD. I also bought formula and nappies (diapers) for them. On Tuesday, Rev. Nyameka reminded me that there was a baby at home that wasn't being fed milk so I bought more formula and more nappies and took the mother home to visit with her baby and other children at home. Please continue to pray for Tiphelele and this family. I pray that Thipelele and her family will all grow in their strength, health and faith in Jesus Christ.
Monday, June 15, 2009
On Friday, I drove to Jo'burg and about 5:00 PM Richard and I decided we would go to the airport to try and find out about their luggage. That was a very frustrating experience, but perseverance and faith paid off. It was nothing short of a miracle that their luggage arrived on Friday night's flight and that the airport officials finally allowed us in to see if it was all there. The even bigger miracle was that they let Richard and I take it with us. It saved us time and also allowed us to have the luggage packed before we went back to the airport on Saturday morning, and because we had the luggage we realized that we didn't have to bring the travel which is another huge blessing.
On Saturday, we met the team and then took over the Whimpys in the airport to get them a "quick" lunch before driving to Swaziland. Two of the women went to fill out the required forms to get reimbursed from the airlines. Over two hours later we finally left the airport. We were supposed to be at St. Paul's at 6:00 for a welcoming dinner with youth leaders from the Methodist Church of South Africa who had come to St. Paul's for a meeting over the weekend. We didn't arrive at St. Paul's until after 7:30. But the team ate, and I think they really enjoyed meeting the few people who were still at St. Paul's. We left St. Paul's around 8:30 for the drive back up the hill towards Mbabane to the Emafeni Christian Conference Center where they are staying. Thank God they gave me keys for the rooms on Friday because there wasn't anyone there except the security guards when we finally arrived. It was after 11:00 that night when I finally made it back home to Manzini.
Sunday was worship up at Lomngletjane. We filled the classroom. After worship they shared a meal with the community. The meal was cooked once again by Zitsile and her mom Maggie. They got up at 2:00 am to start cooking the meal. After the meal the group split into four groups and visited 5 different homesteads. We had bought food parcels for them to deliver to each family. Jeri and I went back to Maggies house to help her wash the dishes while the teams were visiting the homesteads, but the little bit I heard tells me it was a once of a life time experience. Praise God!
While visiting one of the homesteads, they found a baby very sick. The mom of the baby helped us when the team from Louisiana was here. She has twins. One is developing normally and seems quite rambunctious. The second one is quite a bit smaller and didn't seem to be doing real well two weeks ago. The woman came to church with only one of the babies. When the team took food parcels to the home they discovered the baby, Thepelele, was very sick. So I went to the homestead to have a look. The baby had been sick since Thursday and had turned worse. I took the mom (Bongiwe) and the baby to the hospital in Manzini. Since it was Sunday late afternoon, we had to go through the Emergency. Although I pray I never have to be a patient there, the wait wasn't much longer than we would have had to endure in the US. It brought back many memories of taking Christopher (my oldest) to emergency for high fevers, ear infections, etc. Scott's claim to fame was stitches. There were a few moments I thought I was going to break down and cry, but God gave me strength. The mom didn't know what was going on and was very concerned about her daughter. I was a little help in carrying things for her and just being there. The Doctors immediately put her on oxygen and they did their intake process. I kept trying to read over his shoulders to see what he was writing, but all that got me was being kicked out to wait with everyone else outside. After a while I was able to sneak into the treatment room and could talk to Thepelele, and helped hold her into a sitting position so the mom could put a little water into her mouth. She actually drank about 4 ounces of water over the hour or so which is a good sign. They admitted the baby. I still don't know what the diagnosis is. She is 9 months old but especially last night she seemed more like a child that was just a couple months old. She could barely squeak out a cry. I left the mom around 7:30 last night and am headed back this morning to check on them and see if they need funds to pay for anything.
Please pray for Thepelele (pictured below) and her mom.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
The woman lives in the mud house on the left of the picture below. Her granddaughter who lives on the homestead with her said that she wasn't feeling well, but that we could go into her house to visit with her. We walked into the house and it was so smokey we could barely see or breathe. There was a little fire going inside a wheel rim off of an old automobile that was sitting by her bed. The house is made out of rocks and sticks and then covered with mud. The floor is mud and the roof is thatched. There are no windows or any ventilation to the house.
She was glad to see us again. She is such a kick. She would say anything that was on her mind. She told us she had a son and a daughter but both have passed away. She has her granddaughter and great grand daughter who is about 18 months and a grandson that is 12. When we first arrived she said to us in English "many thanks." She also told us she was hungry and hoped we had brought her food, which we did. We gave her an orange to eat and she was so happy and gummed that orange pretty fast. (I don't think she has any teeth left.) Then I put a warm, soft blanket around her. She kept saying it was so soft and then she started praying. She was thanking God for our visit, the items we brought and asking God to keep us safe as we traveled home. Then she said "When I was hungry, you gave me something to eat, when I was thirsty, you gave me something to drink, when I needed clothes you gave me clothes and when I was cold you gave me a blanket to keep me warm." That humbled me so much and went straight to my heart. I've read that verse in Matthew many times and have wondered how many times I didn't do those things. This is the first time that I actually tied in what we were doing with that verse. We bring food and clothes to people and we help them get to the Doctor for medication, but somehow I never really thought of myself doing what the scripture commands us to do. I just knew it was what was in my heart and that it needed to be done. We left shortly after and she kept saying in English to us "many thanks." Bless her heart.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Yesterday was one of those 12-hour days in the mission field. It was full of highs and lows, but what’s new? And of course winter decided to hit yesterday so it was very cold, cloudy and drizzling part of the day.
The day started with a visit to Mthokozise’s school to get a report on how he is doing. Imagine three Swazi women and I going into the office to have a meeting with our “son’s” teacher? He had no idea that Mthokozise was being supported by the
From there we went to check up on a few of our kids that are part of the Lutsandvo Lwa Krestu project that are ill and leave money at the school for them to see a Doctor. The CCS (Christian Community Service) Manyano (Methodist) woman from that society (congregation) has been actively working with these children and their families on behalf of this project. She said she went around begging with people to give her blankets for one family that had none. She also talked about Mthokozise’ and his sisters needs at church on Sunday. As a result the members of that small society took up a collection of 75 rand to help feed the children. That isn’t a lot by our standards, but for people who are mainly unemployed with little cash, it is a tremendous amount. Our hearts were bursting with joy at how much our sister in Christ has learned and is growing in her role as the society’s CCS.
Then we drove over the river and through the hills to
As I drove away, I heard something on my tire. When I looked to see what it was I saw that I had run over a branch from a big thorn bush that is so common in
Just as we are leaving the tire place, Thoko says the others are wondering if we can go get something to eat because we have a meeting of this committee at 5:00 and they only had bread and boloney for lunch. I knew I needed to get something for these ladies to eat, but I was feeling tired and overloaded at that moment. But, of course I begrudgedly said yes, we could drive to the grocery store around the corner. As we start to go to the store, Thini says “We haven’t decided on a name for Christine yet and we must do it today.” For a foreigner to receive a Swazi name is an honor. It’s not something that is done readily. When I heard this from other missionaries when I first came to
We had our meeting in the evening with the executive committee of Lutsandvo Lwa Krestu. The first part of our meeting was with Mthokozise’s father. The team is trying to understand his side of the stories we’ve heard and push him to care for his children. What we would really like is for him to let the children go live with the mother on his parent’s homestead. When our meeting ended, I drove Thoko and Thini home. That took about an hour and a half or so. So by the time I got home, it was 9:00 PM. It was the end of a long day. I had a bowl of cereal and went to bed tired, stressed and yet very thankful and aware of God’s presence in my life.
Sunday, June 7, 2009
Before we walked up, I went to use the newly painted latrine. I noticed the kids were picking up trash. I also noticed that the older, retired teacher who has been teaching the third graders was burning the trash. I thought of saying something, and then thought I would be rude so I kept quiet. BIG MISTAKE. When Jeri, Gary and I turned the corner of the preschool heading back down to the primary school I could see over the roof of the primary school that the fire had spread. Indeed it was out of control. The other teachers and most of the kids were gone. The old man and two small boys where trying to beat out the fire with branches. One of the young men who are helping to build the teacher's house saw the fire and was running to pull the water line they had just laid going to the teacher's house down to the fire. He ran right into the middle of the fire with the water hose. There were several other guys down in the pit they were digging for the septic tank for the house. I went to them and told them there was a fire. They just looked at me and kind of laughed. I then kind of hollered at them in a panic "Come help put out the fire. I don't want our school to burn." That got their attention. They poked their head up to see, saw the smoke and started running to help put it out.
There was only one container that would hold water and one empty 2 liter pop bottle. With all of us helping, the fire was put out. If the young man, Wandile, hadn't rushed into the fire with the hose, we would not have been able to contain it. I burned about a 1/3 of the field. After the fire was over, Wandile was having a hard time breathing and was having a lot of pain when he breathed so we took him to the clinic in Manzini where he received some medication.
Thank God Gary, Jeri and I were still there or the fire would have burned out of control possibly burning our buildings and the surrounding homesteads. I have had the pit in my stomach for the last three weeks about the fire danger at that school. It is approaching winter so the fields are very dry and more and more fires are starting all over Swaziland. They will just get worse. The first thing Rev. Nyameka and Bethuel said when I told them about the fire was: "You have been worried about that." I HATE it when I am right!!!
Praise God that no one was hurt, that the buildings didn't burn and that Gary, Jeri and I were still there to mobilize the workers to help put the fire out.
The pictures below are of:
1. The food they provided for us. It is the custom in Swaziland to always offer food and drink to visitors so they will feel good and want to come back. It is also to thank them for travelling so far to see them.
2. Bethuel on left explaining to the group about the church and it's dream. Some of the women and men of the society (congregation) are also in the picture.
3. Elter (Bethuel's wife) explaining to our group the meaning of the Manyano uniform. Manyano means unity. Manyano is also the name of the women's organization of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa.
4. A final picture of the society with a few of our team members.
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
I returned to Swaziland on Monday afternoon after having a mechanic look at my car because it is overheating again. Tuesday morning I saw Rev. Kanana Nyameka in the office of St. Paul's. He told me that he got word while I was gone that Lomngeletjane has finally received a registration number from the government! Yeabo! This registration number allows us to get funding from the government to hire a head teacher, teachers for grade one through grade four, desks, chairs and the curriculum. Rev. Nyameka is anticipating that by July first we should have the teachers in place. He has already started interviewing people for the head teacher's position. It has been a long, long process requiring a lot of patience, perseverance and prayer. But our prayers have finally been answered.