Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Brown paper packages tied up with strings...

These are a few of my favorite things... hint, hint :-)


- starbucks

- CHOCOLATE esp anything dark, almond joy, midnight milkyway, or chocolate covered espresso beans

- peanut butter M&Ms

- luzianne tea or Twinnings Decaf Irish breakfast tea

- drink mix "singles"packets

- daisies

- cheddar cheese pretzel combos

- new recipes

- new pictures of you and your family

- books

- epis of bro & sis (lindy: this one's for you)

you can contact angie, mary, sara or my mom (my cellphone is still active) for my mailing address if the mood so strikes you.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

A day in my life…

Many of you have asked what my typical daily activities are.  That's a bit hard to explain because I'm under the assumption there are very few typical days, but here's a snapshot of what this week has been like.  

A typical week day sort of looks like this:

7am   wake up and shower

8          staff/volunteer devotions

8:30    I leave for Mafuta

9          Mafuta preschool begins

9:45    serve meal to orphans

10:15 preschool resumes

11        head back to COZV

Til 1pm I do various task: office work, spending time with the babies or preschoolers, whatever needs to be done.

1pm   lunch & rest time

2:30    back to the office or wherever I'm needed until chores or dinner

4:30    choretime (I admit I don't typically head out to the barn)

7:30    dinner & rest time

Between 9-11pm I'm in bed, reading, writing, etc. 


One word to describe Monday: flexibility!  I woke up thinking I was going to Mafuta.   I was dressed in long cargo pants with my pockets stuffed with what I normally need when I'm there.   I went to devotions and then was helping Gary pack the pickup truck with the provisions I was bringing to Mafuta.   I was just about to leave when I found out that my day was going to look very different.   A volunteer who had been waiting to hear about getting a flight to the states needed to be rushed to the airport in Livingstone Zambia.   So I rushed back to the bungalow, changed into much lighter cloths and jumped in the van with another brand new volunteer.   We arrived there by noon, got them through airport security and then began the trip back.   I was driving the Quantum, a very large van.  I'm glad I've been getting used to driving on the left side of the road.   Fortunately there was little traffic.  It's basically one turn and then 2-3 hrs straight on a tar road.  It was pretty easy drive, though I did have to dodge a bunch of piglets in the road, not the typical African road hazard.   We were able to stop for lunch and I ate a huge bacon cheeseburger. I was famished and it was very good.  We reached the border posts by 4:30 and surprisingly navigated them like pros for two newbies. All in all it turned into a fun adventure.  

Tuesday was a pretty typical day. After rest time, I took 6 kids into town for various errands: some needed sneakers & pata pata (flip flops), some needed paperwork, one got to go as a reward for good behavior.   Our first stop was the most critical, paperwork for 2 of the kids.  In my ignorance, I apparently showed up on the wrong day and at the wrong time.   So that was a bust.  But fortunately we were able to accomplish what we needed to during the rest of our stops except to find pata patas that were large enough for one of the girls.   Overall, it was a successful trip. 

Wednesday was a fairly typical day with little to report. I spent some quality time in the office learning my tasks to help with the bookkeeping here.

Thursday was also a fairly typical day except for the meal at Mafuta.  There are an amazing bunch of female volunteers at Mafuta that are dedicated to preparing the food for the children.   They have tried to teach me to cook their way, but for the most part, I am too weak.  They cook in these huge black metal pots with long wooden paddles.   They say if I try a bit each day I will get stronger which is probably true.   So normally they cook and then I help serve the food to give them a little bit of a break.   On this particular day, they prepared mackerel and cabbage "soup" served with shima (a stiff cornmeal porridge, a staple here.)   Wow was that an interesting aroma.   To have my head over a pot of that for 30-45 minutes just about did me in.  Before I left the states, my family and I had a pretty disgusting episode with rotten sauerkraut (don't ask).   This was pretty similar. But the kids gobbled it up. They really seem to love fish, bones, eyes, skin and all.  I spent the rest of the day trying to get the fishy cabbage smell off my hands.    

Friday started like any other day… I left devotions and walked down the path to get the truck I drive to Mafuta.   I hadn't taken more than 4 steps out of the gate and right in my path was a snake!   My first sighting since I've been here. EEK! It was bright green, about the length of my arm, very narrow and you could barely make out its head.  I don't know whether to say praise God, I've made it 14 days without seeing a snake or to say I've only made it 14 days…   Either way, I promptly turned around and yelled for the African staff.   Leonard, an absolute gentleman and a VERY hard worker, came running with a big stick… my new hero!!  He told me it was just a little water snake (fairly harmless from what I understand) but either way he apparently clubbed it.   I got out of there.   I was running late as it was and didn't want to find out if he was wrong.   Phew… I've lived through what I'm sure is just the first of many sightings.   The funny thing was that right before devotions I was reading in Genesis about Eve and the serpent in the Garden.

Addendum:  on my way to the main house to post this blog, I got roped into helping stitch up a horse's forehead.   By the time we were done, it was dinner time.   During dinner the power went off and then after dinner, I was helping comfort a girl that wasn't feeling well.   Needless to say I never got to post my blog. All part of the adventure…

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Moving… Again!

So I know that will make some of my friends laugh given my Guinness Record worthy history of moving around Rochester, but I've moved again! Yesterday some volunteers left, leaving some open beds in the staff bungalow. So I moved inside the compound with all the other female staff. It's a thatched roof house near the river that I share with 4 other girls. It's nice to feel a little more settled and I actually unpacked some things now.

I should probably report that I have made a few successful trips to Mafuta on my own. Driving here isn't as difficult to get used to as I expected once I figured out a way to be able to touch the pedals. Though I thought I'd get away from the bad winter driving conditions in NY. Well I have to say driving on sand roads after there has been a downpour isn't much different. Sand seems like it can be as slick as ice when it is wet. But fortunately all of my wintertime experience seems to be helping me navigate without too much trouble… so far anyway. The rainy season has just begun.

Speaking of rain… we've seen a few big storms in our first week, mostly overnight. There were some pretty impressive downpours and HUGE claps of thunder. I'm sure there was lightening too, but I couldn't see that with my head buried under a pillow.

Not much else to report… just trying to get acclimated to the schedule here at the children's home as well as my tasks at Mafuta. I *do* have internet access on a more regular basis than I expected so you can use my gmail account to contact me. I can't promise I'll be prompt about returning your emails, but it is nice to hear from you all.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Traveling mercies….

Sorry for the delay in letting you all know I arrived safe and sound.  I kind of jumped right in with some projects that have kept me busy.
I arrived at the children's home late Friday afternoon after relatively little hassle or delay and all luggage intact (praise God!).  For the first week I am living in the staff house slightly off the children's home compound.  (Jocelyn/Cassie/Bethany, Pernicious says hello.)
Saturday morning I helped out in the kitchen and made 18 batches of chocolate goat milk pudding from scratch with the help of one of the older girls.  Apparently everyone thought it turned out well. 
Saturday night some of the girls went camping a short walk from the children's home.  I didn't  sleepover but stayed for the hot dogs and marshmallows over the campfire.  One of the other volunteers pointed out a very bright star and said, "Hey, I bet that really bright star is a planet."  I laughed out loud and they all looked at me strangely because they didn't really think it was funny.  It made me slightly homesick for Sara.
On and off I've been helping a volunteer who is here for one week with her digital photography class for some of the older children.  It's kept me quite busy and the kids are doing a great job. 
Today (Monday) I took my first trip to Mafuta where I will be working every day with their feeding program.  It is going to be very challenging but I am excited to begin working.  Pretty soon I'll be driving there on my own on the left hand side of the road driving stick shift also with my left hand.  Pray for me and everyone else on the road. :-)  Fortunately it isn't far.   
Note to my RWC team: many of the kids have asked about each of you, wanting to know where you are and if you are every coming back especially Justin because they want to play soccer.