Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The week of Sept 15 thru 24

On Tuesday, Sept 15th I drove to Johannesburg, SA to say good-bye to Jeri and Gary before they boarded their plane to return to the US. On Wednesday evening my dear friend, Deb, arrived and on Thursday morning we took off for Kruger National Park. We were there for 3 nights before coming on to Swaziland on Sunday. We had an awesome trip to Kruger. We saw what they call the Big 5 on Friday. The Big 5 are the 5 animals that were considered the most dangerous to hunt on foot: Cape Buffalo, Elephant, Rhino, Lion and Leopard. It is rare to see all Big 5 animals on one day. But we not only saw them on one day, we had great sightings! One of the lion sightings was a lioness eating a recent kill (giraffe). We saw the Leopard come up the brush along the road then then it crossed the road right in front of our vehicle definitely on a mission. And we were charged by a herd of about 30 elephants. They started to cross the road in front of us. We were a good, safe distance away. There was one vehicle ahead of us and none behind us (Thank God). All of a sudden they changed their direction, clearly deciding they didn't like us where we were and started charging us. We started backing our vehicles up as fast as we could. By then cars started piling up behind us so we backed up around them while Deb leaned out her window motioning them to back up and get off the road. When the elephants felt we were all a safe distance away they went back into the bush continuing on to the watering hole they were headed to. As they walked past us (as a distance) we could see that there were several young elephants in the herd including one very tiny elephant that they were trying to hide. That is why they didn't want us anywhere near them. Elephants have a very strong family unit and they are very protective of their young. In a breeding herd such as this the elephants all team together to protect the young. I've been trying since Sept 20 to upload pictures to my blog but there is a problem and I can't upload them. But if you are on facebook, you can check my wall out for a few pictures.

We returned from SA on Sunday afternoon. On Monday I had a meeting to update the sponsor for the Lustandvo Lwa Krestu program. He was visiting from the UK and the woman who is in charge of HIV-AIDs from the mission unit of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa was with him. I found out about 3 hours before he arrived when he was arriving and that we would be meeting with him as soon as he arrived. This lack of communication wasn't their fault, but typical Swazi communication at it's worst. Because of the late notice I was only able to get Thoko to the meeting. The meeting went well and it is always so good to see them. Their visit is more a source of encouragement sprinkled with suggestions rather than stress or a message that we aren't doing well. Our program is small, and we will have to work hard to find other sources of income once this grant is finished, but we can definitely see how some of the children's life has improved, including one child who I am sure would not be alive today if we hadn't sent her to the Doctor to be tested and started on ARVs.

On Tuesday, I drove our visitors to the Mahamba circuit so they could meet with the people to get an update on their program. The Mahamba circuit is about and hour or so away so we had more time to visit. I volunteered to drive them to Mahamba because I wanted to see the circuit Superintendent and see how their project is progressing but it was also a good opportunity for Deb to see that part of the country and what another circuit was doing.

On Wednesday, Thoko, Thini, Gladys, Thembi (the Rural Health Motivator) and I tried to start homestead visits for children who attend Lomngeletjane as we expand Lutsandvo Lwa Krestu to that school. It was very cold, foggy and drizzly. We were only able to meet with one family. Ish. The child whose name was given to us by the head teacher and the Rural Health Motivator is 13 years old. She was raped when she was 12 and received very little care after the incident. She has a younger sister by the same mother and father. Both girls are living with the step mother who has 4 children by their father and is expecting her 5th baby any day now. The father passed away a few months ago. They live in a mud, stick and stone tiny hut that is so small I can't imagine how they fit in their. There is no income, no nothing. Our volunteers will put our heads together and with a lot of prayer make a plan to do what little we can to help this family. Our first priority is to get them medical care. The father passed away from TB which is an opportunistic disease to HIV. By the sound of the mother's cough, I would guess she also has TB. They all need to be tested to know their HIV status, but we can't insist on this. Pray we come up with a way.

Today is still cloudy, which Deb loves but the rest of us are cold! We are heading out in another direction of Swaziland to visit a few gogos with the Manyano.

Please pray for continued strength and guidance as we continue to visit homesteads and help those that we can.

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