Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A busy Monday

Yesterday didn't start out so well.  I didn't get enough sleep the  night before so I got a little later start than I had planned.  So I must admit, I was a bit cranky.  Every where I went - to the post office, to the hardware store, to the bank, it seemed like I was faced with the difficulties that come with doing business in Swaziland.  This included being almost run off the road a few times by kombies (vans used as mini-buses/taxi's).  I had to pray often to ask the Lord to remind me that my behavior is all that I can control and that I need to react as a Christian not a frustrated American.  I thank God that he never lets me down.

The day also ended up being a day of driving.  First I drove to downtown Manzini to get 5 bags of cement to take up to Lomngeletjane.  But when I got to the hardware store I realized I didn't have enough cash and the charge for the debit card for just a few items is more than if I withdrew the cash from the bank.  So I left the hardware store and went to the bank.  I thought I was so organized and had tallied up what it would cost to finish the teacher's house.  Yes, I said "FINISH the house!"  Our goal is to have it finished by Nov. 13th.  After waiting in a fairly long line to get up to the teller, she told me I couldn't cash a check for the amount I wanted to without going to my home branch which is in Matsapha.  I didn't respond as Jesus would have.  So it was time to take a deep breath, say a prayer and go to plan B:  withdraw some cash from the ATM. But guess what?  The ATM machine must have been running low on cash because it wouldn't let me withdraw the amount I usually do.  This is Swaziland.  Bank ATMs run out of cash, hospitals run out of oxygen.  Oh well.  (Chris, get over it.)  I finally got the cement and headed up to Lomngeletjane.  John and a couple of his guys unload it and then I picked up the kitchen sink and geyser (hot water heater) that I bought last week and headed to the hardware store in Matsapha to exchange them for the correct ones.  (The hardware store had given us a 100L geyser instead of the 150L geyser, which was on special for the same price and the sink was made to be mounted a different way than we had planned to do.)  So down the hill to Matsapha I go.  I was driving right past my bank so I cashed the check and then headed to the hardware store.  It took awhile but I got everything exchanged without a hassle, bought a few more bags of cement and headed back up to Lomngeletjane.  (I'm beginning to think that John eats cement for breakfast, lunch and dinner, it goes so fast!)

The head teacher and I had a good talk about a couple of kids we are taking to get medical care as part of our Lutsandvo Lwa Krestu project and talked about my plans in the last few remaining weeks before I leave for the holidays.  I drove her down the hill to the point she would have changed kombies on her way home.  From there I had to drive out to Luve to the High School where Mthokozisi attends.  I drove out there on Sunday to deliver some food to them and Mthokozisi asked me about hiring a tractor to plow the field so they could plant maize.  I wanted to talk to Thoko first, we agreed on a plan, but I needed to get the money back to him and I wouldn't have time the rest of the week so I made another trip out there.  It takes about 30 to drive there one way.  By the time I got back to St. Paul's, I was tired.

In case you haven't figured it out, banking is extremely difficult and expensive in Swaziland.  I do most of my dealings in cash because it is so expensive to use checks.  In addition, you can't just go into a store and write a check.  Most places won't accept them unless you have done a lot of business with them and they know you.  I give Bethuel checks to use when he purchases materials because he has done so much business with various places that they usually accept a check from him.   You have no idea how lucky we are to have the banking system that we have in the US.  It may have problems, but nothing like here.  And there aren't banks in the rural areas.  It would be so handy if I could just put some money in an account for Mthokozisi in Luve so he could pull it out as needed for transport or food.  But there are not banks in Luve so that isn't an option.

Today I am headed back to the hardware store to buy more cement for John and a couple of small items and then head to the RFM (hospital/clinic) to sit with a couple of kids from Lomngeletjane so I can talk to the Doctor about them.  Both the the kids have a handicap.  I don't think there is anything we are going to be able to do for them, but the place to start is with the pediatrician to see if there is anything medical that can be done or where he suggests we take the kids.  One child has a severe hearing problem and the other appears to have cerebral palsy.  If he was in the states, he would receive some speech therapy and some physical therapy and would probably be able to attend regular classes in school.  Those services aren't available here. I am looking for a course of action to help these kids.

The pictures below are of John finishing the floor in the living room of the teacher's house, and then a picture of a finished floor in one of the bedrooms.  The last picture is of Mthokozisi and his sisters carrying the food I gave them on Sunday to their house.  Just the thought of carrying one of those sacks of maize on my head makes my head, neck and back hurt!

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