Thursday, July 30, 2009

Update on the Nhlengetfwa family

The plan for yesterday (Wednesday) was for Thoko and I to go to Salukazi Methodist Primary School and talk to the head teacher about the children who were put on the list of children that needed to be included in Lutsandvo Lwa Krestu. After home visits we are concerned that although the children were extremely poor and many were single or double orphans, none appeared to be sickly and there wasn’t any mention of tablets or going to the Doctor, etc. (Most people don’t openly say HIV or AIDS, they say one is taking the tablets or has to go to the Doctor monthly and even less say that someone in the family died of complications due to AIDS.) The purpose of this project is to identify and help children with HIV or who are at risk of being HIV+. I called the head teacher on Monday to set the appointment for Wednesday, but surprise, the head teacher wasn’t at Salukazi when we got there. The Deputy Head teacher said the head teacher had been called to the REO (Regional Education Office). We chatted with the Deputy teacher about our findings, concerns and suspicion that the community does not know their HIV status and isn’t as educated on the importance of knowing that status. The Deputy agreed with us but nothing could be decided without the head teacher. So Thoko and I decided to go to La-Mawandla High School to see if we could talk to Mthokozisi. It has been a long time since Thoko and I have seen him and we both had that pressing feeling that mothers get that we needed to see him. In addition, we wanted to talk to him about the plan to move the children to his father’s parents homestead.

To refresh your memory, this is the family of four children who have basically been deserted by their mother and father. The mother left a couple of years ago because of the father’s violent nature. She is afraid to go back. The father lives and works around Swaziland and periodically comes home but does not do anything to support the children. In fact, it has been our suspicion that when he comes home he actually takes things that we have given the children including food. The neighbors also steal from the children in part because they are jealous of our help (especially mine as the white “rich American”.) Last December their father’s hut which the children slept in when the father was not at home collapsed because of the rain. This has been one of the most frustrating situations because I can’t solve the problem. Well I could, but it wouldn’t be the right thing to do and the children would have probably been hurt more than helped. So I have tried to encourage the others to continue to work this issue and have tried to be patient because this process moves so SLOW. Thoko especially wants this issue resolved. She actually has done the most to resolve this situation even though she is a woman and it isn’t really her place. That’s a lot of where I come in. I encourage and advise her and then if necessary I speak up as the arrogant American that wants things done “now now.” (In Africa, now means when I get around to in sometime in the relatively near future. “Now, now” means right now. Well maybe not drop everything and do it now, but almost right now.) So the result of Thoko’s effort is that there have been discussions and meetings with the children’s father and mother. Even more important is the fact that there have also been meetings with the Chief’s inner council, members of the local Methodist society and members of the school committee where the three girls go to school (Lutfotja) about what would be best for the children. Last week a small delegation went to the father’s parents’ homestead to talk with them about the children going to live with them. The children indicated they would like this, the father said he would allow it and the word was the grandparents would like this as well. The meeting was set for last week. Mthokozisi did not show for the meeting which is very unusual for him not to keep an appointment. So they took Nozipho who is in 7th grade. She said she would like for them to move to the grandparents’ house. The grandmother was not home and had been away since the day before they went to visit. The grandfather who is partially blind was there and said he would like for the children to come and that they would be given land for a garden and to build a house of their own. This is VERY encouraging. But Thoko and I were concerned because Mthokozisi wasn’t involved in that meeting. We trust his judgment and know he would be truthful with Thoko.

When we saw Mthokozisi yesterday at school, he looked so good. He is such a nice looking, responsible and well behaved young man. He gave Thoko a hug and then came and gave me one. Thoko asked why he wasn’t available last week for the meeting and he said he had to take his father’s cows to the dip tank and one of the cows had been naughty and run off so he had to go round him up. By law, once a month on a certain day all cows have to be taken to their assigned dip tank which is basically a small pond that contains water mixed with pesticides to prevent parasites on the cows. Most of the time young boys who don’t go to school are sort of hired to do this job. Or one of the boys in the family who doesn’t go to school does this. In the Nhlengetfwa’s situation it means Mthokozisi usually has to miss school to take care of these cows for his father. Mthokozisi told us they would like to go live with their grandparents and though he wouldn’t be so bold to say it, I got the feeling that they would like to go sooner than later. He also told us that his father came home last weekend and bought them 20kgs of mealy meal but other than what was left of the mealy meal they had no food. No beans, soup mix, soap, candles, etc. In other words, the father came home there was no food so he bought a bag of mealy so the kids could cook for him. Plus he ate what was left of whatever food, tea and sugar they had. Thoko and I sent Mthokozisi back to class but told him to look for us on his lunch break. We then went to the little store in the community and bought the children some beans, peanut butter, bread, sugar, candles, soap, matches and I gave them a half a dozen oranges I had brought along. The little community stores are as expensive as our 7-11’s. We then went and gave the local CCS 5 rand so that on Saturday the children could come get one of the bags of maize that have been donated by the church and community and get it ground into mealy meal. We left saying to each other that we knew we had to go out to see the children for a reason.

We also drove to where the grandparent’s homestead is. It has two houses built out of blocks and then a smaller house for cooking. We couldn’t drive right up to the homestead because of the road and I didn’t want the grandparents to see me. The plan, if the father really agrees, is for the children to live in one of the two houses, which actually belongs to the father until the church can build a small house for the children. The children are going to have to walk maybe 2 or 3 kms to get to the highway and then take a bus for about 6-8 kms to the town of Luve and then walk another 2 or 3 kms to actually get to their schools. We are now in the process of determining the cost of the bus and working out a way get the cash to the kids in small amounts rather than by the month. Our rough estimate is that it will probably cost 3rand one way times that by 4 children. We could move the children to schools closer to where their grandparents live, but we want to keep the children in the schools they are in so that we can keep a closer eye on them and because there is now a support system for the children at school and with the Church. They know there are people who love them and care for them.

Our hearts soared and we praised God when Mthokozisi said he went to a retreat one Saturday with the “SU” (Scripture Union – a kind of bible club that meets at high school during lunch time.) He said he enjoyed it very much. He said they are also continuing to attend the local Methodist Church.

I came home exhausted, as usual. It’s not that we “did” much. All I did was drive and then sit and talk. But it is the emotional and mental stress of trying to look objectively at the situation, letting others deal with it in their way and mostly making choices. And they look to me for advice and the answers. Which child or family do we help? Do we spend the money for this situation or for another one? Do we support only one of the children in the family or do we give them all a chance? How will the funding continue so that they aren’t abandoned before they can at least get a high school education? It’s all a balancing act on a very fine line and it’s one that I pray continually for God’s wisdom, strength and for Him to show me the way.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

From Utopia to Harsh Reality

Jeri, Gary and I went on a little road trip last week. On Wednesday we drove to the Mpumalanga Province of South Africa to see some of the natural sites in that area that I have heard so much about. The area we went to was west of Kruger National Park about 4 hours drive from Manzini. What I had heard about this area didn’t prepare me for the awesome beauty we found. Once again, we found ourselves saying over and over “This isn’t anything like I would expect Africa to be like.” The area looked more like California, Utah, Colorado or Idaho than Africa. We marveled at the beauty and kept trying to remind ourselves that we were in Africa, not the US. We stayed at a small old mining town in the mountains (about 4200’). It was a quaint little village with excellent accommodations in renovated houses from the late 1800’s to early 1900’s. They all have that English touch and the look from that time period. The food was great and very reasonably priced. We even had a huge claw foot bath tub in our rooms! For me that was such a treat because I haven’t been able to take a relaxing hot bath since coming to Swaziland. I truly thought I was in heaven. The only thing that reminded us that we were in Africa was the people constantly wanting to wash my car or asking us to buy nuts and the row of stalls selling handicrafts every place we stopped. There was so much to see and it was such a wonderful respite that we ended up staying two nights instead of one.

On Friday morning we headed back to Swaziland planning a stop over in Nelsprit to shop for some things we can’t get in Swaziland. We slowly meandered through the hills taking our time enjoying every last second of the beautiful country side. Our first stop in Nelsprit was at Builder’s Warehouse. It is a new store in the newer, modern part of Nelsprit. When we pulled into the parking lot I reminded Jeri and Gary that we were back in the real South Africa and therefore we had to take our cameras, phones, etc. with us when we went inside the store and we had to keep all of our valuables out of sight. Even though we did that we still felt like we were back in the US. The store looked just like a Lowe’s’ or Home Depot. We even remarked that the only clue that we weren’t in the US was the type and name of the heaters they were selling.

From Builder’s Warehouse we drove to the old downtown area to go to a material store I knew about which sells a lot of great African print material for very reasonable prices. As we drove into the downtown area, 2 or 3 guys started running towards my car waving us down. I don’t remember if they got in front of my car or if I stopped to hear what they were saying but they kept pointing to my car saying there was something wrong with my tire. I know I didn’t open the door and waved them off and kept going. But since tire issues have been such a problem for me, I pulled into an empty parking spot about a half a block up the street. I debated shortly because I would have turned right at the next street and found a place to park because the material store was on that corner. The parking/”security” guy tried to tell me I was parked to far from the curb. I told him I was only going to be there a second. I remember pulling my keys out of the ignition when I turned off the car and opened my door. (Thankfully, that is one habit I followed.) The next thing I knew the guys that originally tried to stop me were running towards my car. I told them there wasn’t anything wrong with the tire, and was irritated. Then they started pointing to what they thought was wrong with the car. I started to get back in my car and all of a sudden there were 4 or 5 guys around the car and one had opened the back door and was reaching inside. Jeri, Gary and I didn’t know what was happening because it was all happening so quickly. I was fumbling trying to put my keys back in the ignition to pull up the window thinking for some reason that they were reaching through the back window. Then we realized what they were doing and we were all screaming “”Stop, get out, don’t do that, give it back to me, etc.” They had grabbed Jeri’s purse which was actually under our coats and were running away with it. Gary took off after them and then so did Jeri, I was screaming at the parking/”security” guard to do something and stop them, and he just stood there looking at me shrugging his shoulders. I got out, locked the doors, and started to go after Gary and Jeri but they were walking back to the car because Gary had lost them. But we decided to try and find them where Gary thought he had last seen them. Gary almost got hit by a speeding car as he ran across the street and I was thinking I shouldn’t have left the car because they may steal it. So I returned to the car. Jeri and Gary came back just a few seconds after I got back to the car. They had no idea where the guys went and they realized they shouldn’t be chasing after a bunch of thugs.

So I pulled out of the parking spot where we were and drove into the next block where we saw a couple of police men walking. We told the two policemen that we were robbed and asked where the Police Station was so we could report the crime and get an affidavit of the theft so Jeri and Gary could get back across the border. He told us how to get there, when I asked if we should drive, he said “no, walk” and pointed to a security/parking guy who would watch my car. We then discovered that we were less than a block away from the Police Station! We weren’t too sure about walking to the police station or leaving my car but they kept insisting it was ok. The security/parking guy walked us to the police station and even took us inside and made sure we were in the right spot and that someone was going to take care of us quickly. When we left to go to the Police Station I took my purse and the backpack with my laptop in it with me. I’m sure I looked like a scared tourist walking down the street with the look of panic, fear and anger on my face, my purse on my shoulder and my laptop bag over my purse. And for good measure I was clutching my purse to me. Actually the Police took our statements pretty quick. It only took us about an hour or so. When we finished we walked back to my car distrusting everyone we saw on the streets. We were pretty shook up and in shock. We immediately drove to a store similar to a Target to get a new cell phone for Jeri and Gary. A new law was put into place on July 1st which required proof of residency in South Africa to buy a cell phone. I was actually keeping things under control pretty well until then. And unfortunately I went ballistic with the poor saleswoman. Luckily Jeri had calmed down by this time and asked to speak to the manager. We explained the situation to him and luckily I had my passport with the temporary resident permit for Swaziland, my Swazi ID as well as my US drivers license. They finally allowed me to buy the phone. We all calmed down, apologized for being so irritable and then went to get a bite to eat before heading back to Swaziland. I realized after that little blow up that I had to just ask God to help me let go of the anger and fear and for Him to deal with the thugs. I couldn’t take out my troubles on the people around me and needed God’s help to get me through this. The rest of the trip back to Swaziland was uneventful – thank God.

As we have relived those few minutes several times, I keep reminding myself that things could have been much worse. We could have been hurt and they could have taken both of our purses, my laptop and even my car. And luckily Gary had most of the cash in his pocket. It gave us just a glimpse into what people who are victims of physical assaults and robberies much worse than ours must feel like. Today we heard about a family in Mbabane that were robbed at knife point outside their home yesterday and I heard about one of our pastors that was driving to Johannesburg last week and was stopped by thugs and robbed of 13,000 rand. I think God was reminding us that we need to be more careful and be on alert at all times. I know I have become much too complacent and have let my guard down. It’s a fine line between being open, accepting and loving versus being on guard and watchful for potential harm. I pray the Lord will give me wisdom in this area. I want to be vigilant, but I also want others to know I’m a Christian by the way I talk, look and behave.

The following are a few pictures of our few days away in God’s spectacular creation.

The following three pictures are from a viewpoint called God's Window. It isn't what we expected, but it was breath taking. The most amazing thing is that at the top of this area was a small rain forest. Walking through this area was the first time since coming to Africa that I felt like I was actually in terrain what I thought Africa was supposed to look like!

This is the Blyde River. After checking into our Hotel at Pilgrims Rest, we took a dirt road to what is known as the Potholes. We crossed this river several times as we drove along the dirt road. This is one of two rivers that flows down into the Potholes.

These are called the potholes. This reminded me more of Utah than anything I expected to see in Africa.

The Pinnacle. The second picture is of the waterfall at the start of the gorge leading to the Pinnacle.

Berlyn Falls. From here the water goes down a beautiful gorge full of trees and big boulders. Unfortunately because of the time of the day and the resulting position of the sun I couldn't get a good picture of it.

Lisbon Falls. There were a couple of sets of falls here that make up Lisbon falls. The first one is the longest drop and the second picture shows the second stream that comes down another path and then eventually dropping all the way down. Both were beautiful.

Mac Mac Falls. These were named after a Scottish mining camp. Everyone's name was Mac something so the camp and the river became known as the Mac camp. Then they tried to divert the river to make mining easier and what happened is that the water was only partially diverted the result being two falls instead of one. Hence Mac Mac Falls!

The following are pictures of the cottage in Pilgrims Rest. Check out the bath tub! I haven't seen one like that in ages.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

New Uniforms and New Shoes

On Friday, we went out to Nkambeni Carepoint/preschool which is in the northern part of Swaziland, 80 km from St. Paul's in an area known as the low veld. Our mission was to take uniforms to the children. Preschool uniforms aren't required, but one of the ladies from St. Paul's donated some material and so Thoko, Thini and Thembi thought it would be a wonderful thing to sew uniforms for the girls so they would look more like a preschool and also because many children may not have much to wear. So they lovingly sewed the 22 uniforms for the girls and I purchased uniforms for the boys. I also purchased two pairs of underwear for each child many of whom have never had a pair. It's my thing. I can't give a new uniform without underwear or a new pair of shoes without socks.

We were surprised when we arrived to find the Member of Parliament for that area present as well as some members of the church and the Young Men's Guild also from the church. I was even more surprised and very touched when I discovered that the children were in the classrooms sitting at their tables and the teachers were instructing them. These two teachers came to a preschool workshop we put on in Sept, 2007. Of all the people who attended, I think these two women have done the most to try and implement what they learned in that workshop and neither one of them can speak very much English. It brought tears to my eyes to realize how much good those few days were for these women and children. It also made me sad that because this carepoint/preschool is so far away, the women don't speak much English and I have so many other projects on my plate that I can't come out and work with them more.

After a few songs from the children we handed out the uniforms which always results in pandemonium and it always amazes me that somehow all of the uniforms always seem to find their way to the right child so that they all fit. We also took several pairs of shoes that were donated thanks to the mistake of the airlines. There was a team of United Methodist Volunteers from the States that came through Johannesburg where Richard Bosart picked them up and then drove them to the Mozambique border where they were met and taken into Mozambique for their mission project. One of the teams 36 suitcases (I couldn't believe it) didn't arrive on time so they told Richard to put it to good use. He gave it to me and it was full of new children's shoes of various types and sizes. YEBO! Many children received new shoes thanks to the team from the States. At the bottom of this post you will find a story of another child from Lomngeletjane that also benefited from this gift.

The girls in their uniforms. Aren't they just adorable?

This little boy received one of the new donated shoes in addition to his uniform. He was very happy and isn't he cute?

The children in their uniforms. They're holding their underpants in their hands!

The children eating their porridge for their lunch. I was very impressed that out here in this very rural area where there is no water nearby, the children were eating with spoons. Usually the children eat with their hands which is the local custom, especially in rural areas. When these children eat, there is hardly a word spoken and there isn't any pushing, shoving or squabbling.

After their lunch of porridge, we handed out oranges to the children and then brought them into the classroom for a dessert of peanut butter and Jelly sandwiches and juice. Thini brought small plastic bags for the children to put what they couldn't finish eating in to take home. Thini always has the right thing. You can sure tell she is a gogo!

Meet Innocent. He's Tiphele's older brother. He's about 4 years old but looks about 2. When we took some more formula (I forgot how much babies drink!) and some food to the family last Thursday he was standing in the door leading into their "kitchen." He was home from pre-school that day because he wasn't feeling well. It was cold, he had a runny nose and sounded congested and didn't have shoes on his feet. When I asked Bongiwe (his mom) why he didn't have on shoes she said they were too small.

So yesterday (Monday) I took him a pair of shoes from the donations left behind by the team headed to Mozambique. At first when I tried to put them on his feet, he cried and moved away so no one, not even his mom could put them on. Then I pulled out a pair of socks to put on him first and he was very intrigued. She managed to get them on his feet and they fit perfectly. Then it was so cute watching him try to put on the other sock by himself and then another small child from the neighborhood helped him put on the second shoe. And then he was quite happy with his new shoes! See the pics below.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Tiphelele and update on the Teacher's House

Yesterday late morning, after checking on the progress at Lomngeletjane, we went over to see how Tiphelele was doing. Being gone for over a week was just too long! Her mom must have seen my car because she brought Tiphelele right out to see me before I could even get my car parked! Tiphelele is doing much better. She even felt like she had gained weight. Bongiwe (her mom) said she is eating so well she is catching up to her twin sister, Tiphotakhe. Tiphelele is starting to crawl. She let me hold her right away and was listening to my voice. She's probably wondering what strange language I am speaking. Her mother and I joked that she may learn English before Siswati. It was such a blessed time made all the sweeter as I thought of how Gogo Mamba left this world after a long life and this small one is just starting what I pray will be a long life full of many blessings.

As I look at these pictures and remember how happy Tiphelele's mother is, I realize that we are all experiencing what "one heart at a time and one child at a time" is all about. Tiphelele is doing well and growing, her mom is so grateful and happy and my heart is so touched and full of joy to be a part of this miracle of life.

Tiphelele was fascinated with my necklace especially the replica of the cross in our sanctuary back home in Round Rock.

Great progress is being made one the teacher's house at Lomngeletjane. The teachers are getting excited and are hoping to move in after winter break which ends the beginning of the second week of September. I'm still praying my funds will be enough to complete the house.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Gogo Mamba has passed away

I just found out this morning that the sweet "thousands and thousands" year old granny passed away and was buried sometime during this last week. I wrote about her on my June 11th blog when we took a blanket and some food out to her. We knew she wasn't well then and I obviously knew she was quite old, even if she wasn't thousands and thousands of years old. But I am saddened this morning to hear of her passing. It was such a blessing to meet her and to visit her twice. I am so glad that I listened to the Lord's voice to take her a blanket and took her one when I did so that at least in her last days she could be warm and comfortable wrapped in the big, soft, furry blanket. She blessed us much more than we blessed her.

A light has gone out in Swaziland, but I pray that another light will shine in her place to spread the love of Jesus. I thank God for the opportunity and honor to meet her and serve her. I pray that those who knew her and loved her are comforted by the love of Jesus during this time of mourning.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Such a wonderful gift

While I was off having a wonderful time playing and loving on children, Jeri and Gary were working themselves to the bone doing projects for me. The team from New Orleans brought me some screening material and a couple of kits to custom make frames for window screens. Jeri and Gary made screens for my front and rear doors, my bedroom and the living room windows. Gary said his fingers up to his knuckles were scratched from the metal screening material. They are great (both the screens and Jeri and Gary)! Right now they are anchored to the metal window frames with duct tape, but we're hoping we can find some magnetic tape, velcro and weather stripping somewhere so they will be better and be easier to take off and on so that I can open and close the window.

After that trying task, they tackled laying cement to patch up the area that was taken out when there was a sewage leak outside my place last March. The maintenance guys fixed the sewer but didn't replace the cement they dug up. Rev. Nyameka said the guys who do the yard maintenance couldn't understand what I wanted. As if it was so difficult...just put back what you tore up. It sounds like it was quite a task, between having to dig up some of the hard, compacted dirt and then making several trips to so called hardware stores to find what they needed to complete the job. Gary said he was amazed that there were so many stores in Manzini that claimed to be hardware stores. He said they weren't anything like a hardware store in the US and I reminded him that we aren't in Kansas anymor (toto).

Jeri and Gary said that my neighbors couldn't figure out what they were doing to the doors. They had never heard of or seen window and door screens and couldn't figure out why I need them. Jeri said one neighbor did say they had heard that some mosquitos carry some sort of disease. All of the neighbors were so thrilled that the sidewalk was finally fixed so that the water will drain properly and they won't have to walk through the mud.

I am so blessed to have two such wonderful people who are so giving become a part of my life.

The screen for my back door, which is the one I use all the time.

It is hard to see, but this is the screen for my living room window.

This may not seem like a big deal, but trust me, it is HUGE! Now when it rains, the water won't pool outside my door it can drain down and around the side of the house. And I can stand at my laundry tub again without standing in dirt and mud.

Isn't this sweet? There will be a reminder forever of the the wonderful gift Jeri and Gary gave me.

Siyabonga nKosi!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Thursday July 9th - the team's last day in Bulembu

On Thursday, we went in several different directions. Some delivered clothes and other donations to the ABC House, others went back to the Child Care Center for one last time, and others tried to get onto the Internet and I kind of drove back and forth shuttling people, donations and laundry around. At 11:00 we met the Manyano at the Methodist Church in Bulembu. There were around 20 or so ladies that came from congregations in the surrounding communities to worship with us at Bulembu. It was a wonderful prayer service with lots of songs and testimonies. We thought it would be done by 12:30, but keeping in true form, it didn't end until around 2:00. After the Manyano meeting several people went to tour the clinic in Bulembu.

This is the living room of the house I stayed in. We had two houses. Each house had a kitchen, two bathrooms and 4 or 5 bedrooms. One house had a stove and the other house had the table and chairs. So we moved the table and chairs to the house with the stove and consequently we ate breakfast and lunch at that house. We ate delicious dinners at the lodge and then used their sitting room for our nightly devotions. In the picture below we were sitting around the fireplace one evening. Unfortunately, I couldn't get everyone in the picture. We were very thankful for the fireplace and all of the wood they provided us because it was very cold until Thursday and Thursday night. The fireplace was the only heat source in the house.

Pictured left to right: Mary, Becky, Donna, Mary Jane.

Jane was my roomie for the week. It was so great to get to know Jane and the others. They welcomed me into the group as if we had known each other for years and I had been a part of the planning process all along. She was the leader for VBS and did an excellent job.

The team left at 6:30 Friday morning to go to Kruger National Park and after one last great hot shower, I packed up and returned to Manzini. I will truly miss this wonderful group of women and everyone in Bulembu, especially the children.

Pics from Wednesday July 8th

Wednesday's art project was sponge painting followed by coloring. The sponge painting didn't exactly work out as planned. Trying this with two year olds that don't speak our language was a bit over energetic. They didn't really understand what we were trying to do and it got messy real fast. We were the first group to try it. The art project was changed to making butterflies for the other two groups.

After telling the story of Noah's ark again, we put these wonderful animal masks on them so they could pretend they were the animals in the ark. I thought they might be afraid of the masks but they had a great time. These little kids never ceased to amaze me with their eagerness to learn.

The kids were give "rainbow" glasses. When they put the glasses up to their eyes, they could see a prism effect. I was amazed that these little ones put them on and had such fun with this activity. These glasses were reinforcing the rainbow God gave Noah after the rains stopped and things began to clear up. I doubt they got the concept, but it was fun to watch them and they loved the glasses.

Callie, a volunteer from Connecticut, and Hallie getting the hand print of one of our 2 year olds. We made rainbows out of the children's hand prints.

The finished "rainbow." Didn't they turn out great???

The children eat lunch on mats on the ground on the play area because it is too cold in the building. Most of our team is along the back. (l to r: Zandy (from the Child Care Center) Christian, Heather, Donna, Hallie, Mary Jane, Becky, Ruth, Farida, Rosemary, me, Jane) After they finished eating their lunch, we gave each of them a package of zoo crackers to wrap up the theme of VBS.

After lunch, we toured the Bulembu Ministries Homes. They have a half a dozen or so homes that are already in use, and then they have 6 newly refurbished homes. This is one of the new homes. They took some of the existing homes, put on a new roof and redid the inside. They are quite nice. Each house can hold six children (either girls or boys) and a house mum. A dining hall structure is being built near these houses where the children will go for meals.

One of the "Persimmon" houses which is the name of the first group of houses that children ages 4 to 18 live in. Each house can hold up to 8 children and a house mum. Girls and boys are mixed in these houses. Each house has a live-in house mum.

Pictures from July 6th and 7th

As promised, here are the pictures from the post for Monday, July 6th and Tuesday July 7th.

Monday's craft time. We made Noah's ark and then put stickers of animals in the ark - or anywhere we could get them on the paper or paper plate. The kids had fun. They are so precious.

Snack Time! By the way, the building is a huge barn like building that used to be a bar. It has a corragated iron roof with the top part open for air flow which is great in the summer, but horrible during the winter. There is no heat. There is a fireplace but you have to almost stand in the fire to feel the heat. It was actually warmer outside than it was inside.

Children brushing their teeth. The water was freezing cold and just about as much water went down the front of their clothes as went in the mouth, but the kids took tooth brushing very seriously.

Aunty Mavis (the preschool teacher for the 2 year olds) and Mary Jane using the wonderful story board made by the women from FUMC Pacific Grove. The kids really enjoyed it.

Art project for Tuesday, July 7th. Hand puppets out of paper sacks.

Bulembu Christian Academy. What an amazing school.