Monday, April 27, 2009

just some quick news:
everyone is happy to be back at the children's home!  we are finally settled and back into the normal routine of things.  today, after doing the grocery shopping in town, jessica decided to try to drive the car back here and made it!  she said it was a pretty smooth ride.  the front gate on the property couldn't open very far because of all the dirt, but the boys shoveled enough so the car could pass through.  part of the road after the gate is now a ditch, so that will have to be fixed, but for today they were able to get around that and take the groceries to the children's home.  so now, as much as everyone enjoyed a good boat ride, i think we will just stick to driving the cars in town and save time!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

so we found out today that we are allowed to move back home- praise God!  tomorrow morning we will be going up to hippo lodge and start moving some of the kitchen stuff and our cook and then start the long process of moving kids, their stuff, and matresses back home.  it will be a long and tiring day, but since everyone is so excited to be going back, i think the process will go fairly fast.  i am so thankful that during our (almost) four week stay, no one got bitten by a snake, especially the python that the children CLAIM to have seen, crocodile, or fallen into the water!  now we are finally able to return to the safety of the children's home!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Last Tuesday the social workers came to look at the children’s home and Hippo Lodge and decided that it was drying fairly quickly, but that we still would not be able to move back for another couple of weeks. They talked about all of the bacteria and diseases that are in the mud and that people can get worms from it! They told us that they would come back in two weeks, unless everything was completely dry, then we could give them a call in a week to come check it out. Last Friday was supposedly the day of the second wave, but we never saw it. The water has continue to recede and we are now even able to walk across the bridge from the Minks house to the children’s home, which has been under water for over a month now! Apparently today the social workers were having another meeting to discuss moving us back sometime this week. At this time, we are waiting for the phone call to let us know what the answer is.

Life at Hippo Lodge has been pretty much the same, although it seems like everyday different children come up to ask when we are returning home. We set up a t.v. and DVD player over there last week, so that has been keeping them occupied at nights. A few of the boys are still fishing and have caught some pretty good sized tiger fish. I think regardless of the fishing and the special privilege of t.v. watching every night, everyone will be happy if we are able to move back tomorrow!

Saturday I took three of the boys to their soccer game in town and one to watch it with me. All three of the boys were able to play and one even scored a goal! After the game, I took them to the store with me to get a few groceries then we headed back to Hippo Lodge and made popcorn for their Saturday night treat. We had a huge tub full of popcorn, which was empty in no time! Sunday afternoon I went with Jessica to watch eight of our boys play soccer in the village. They used to play every Sunday before the flood started, so it was nice for them to be able to make it there this week. Unfortunately, they lost 1-0.

Well, less than three weeks until I arrive back in America and each day I get a little more excited. It will be sad to leave and I dread saying goodbye, but hopefully I’ll be back! Thank you for all of the emails, prayers and donations, and please pray that we will be able to move back to Zion Village sometime soon!!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Hello! Here’s the latest from the island of the Caprivi :) --

We are still at Hippo Lodge and finally seem to be settled in and finding a routine that works for everyone. Luckily, it has not rained at all, so the children spent a lot of time last weekend fishing off of the two docks that we have there (they only caught little fish, but it kept them busy!). Bringing food and staff to and from the lodge seems to be going a lot more smoothly than last week, but we still have had a few times when something goes wrong, or someone is late, and that puts everyone behind schedule. But, like I said, it seems to be going a lot better this week than last.

I was at the children’s home yesterday and saw that the water has gone down a lot; it seems to be almost completely gone from there! There is still a fair amount of water in front of Gary and Rebecca’s house, which is the reason why we are not allowed to move back yet and there’s no telling how long that will take to go down. There are still predictions of a second wave coming on April 17th, but everyone is hoping and praying that it won’t happen. It also seems like the social workers might want us to move again because there are some concerns about the place we are staying now (snakes, holes in a couple roofs, etc.), but we are going to fight to stay where we are now.

Today I got up at 5 am to start the long journey into town with six of the boys who are playing soccer for teams in this area. This weekend is the competition between all of the teams; all teams played today and will play again tomorrow, and then the teams that win those games will go on to play in the finals on Sunday. The boys are on two different teams, three on each, and had to play against each other today! They were the first game of the day, scheduled to play at 7, but they didn’t kick-off until 8:30. Unfortunately, only one of the six boys got to play at all, and he was on the losing team! The coach for the winning team said that the three boys on his team will be able to play tomorrow, so hopefully that will happen. Today they were lucky to be the first game so they could go back to school afterwards, but tomorrow will be a longer day because the first three boys play at 7am again and the second three won’t play until 12:30.

Tomorrow the Minks are leaving for the States for a month, so we will definitely need prayers while they are gone! I will be leaving a few days before they get back so it’s sad to say goodbye to them so soon; it almost makes me want to stay until they get back! The last thing I wanted to say is that I am still asking for donations for the extra two weeks that I will be here; I have received some, so thank you to those who have sent extra money!!!! If money is not a possibility, then please send your prayers! :)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

This past week has been a busy one!!  Last Thursday, we were visited by the health inspector and social workers and were told that we needed to evacuate the children by 5:00 the next day.  Now, it's hard enough trying to evacuate a family- trying to decide what to take and what to leave behind, but imagine trying to evacuate 60 children, one bag for each of them, mattresses to sleep on, food for that day, and filtered water, all by boat, and all by 5:00 the next day!  To keep the children occupied Friday morning, we still had school.  Meanwhile, some of the staff was over at the lodge we were going to be staying at, cleaning the rooms and mending the thatch roofs.  I went over to the lodge with Rebecca and tried to figure out how many rooms we needed and the sleeping arrangements for all of the children.  I couldn't believe the condition of the place; it was very messy and rundown (it does look much better now having been cleaned and with children living there).  By Friday afternoon the stress level was high for everyone, and it was around 4:00 when they decided that there was no way we could get everyone and everything moved down the river by the time the sun set, so we took our chances and waited until Saturday.
Everyone was up early Saturday; bags were waiting by the door and children were anxious for the adventure to start.  We loaded up the refridgerator, a few matresses, a couple of the older children, and headed down to the lodge.  Even though we had a lot of stuff to move, we had a lot of kids to help make the process easier.  Everyone seemed to get settled in quickly and within a few days, we had things back as close as we could to the normal routine.  I stayed in one of the rooms with the older girls for the first fews nights and even though it has made my days longer, it's been really nice being able to hang out with the kids more and get to know some of them better.  Usually at nights I would be back at Gary and Rebecca house, but staying at the lodge with them gave me more time with them.  There was a group of older girls who asked me to read a chapter book to them the first night, so I started reading "Sam, The Boy Behind The Mask", a true story about a boy who was born with a facial deformation.  By the next night, some of the boys had come to listen too.  After school I just hang out with them and try to keep them all occupied; like yesterday when they asked me to play something with them I suggested capture the flag, which they played until dinner time.
We have been pretty lucky staying at that lodge so far- I don't think there have been any sitings of snakes, crocodiles or scorpions!  The mosquitoes do get pretty bad there at night, my legs and feet look pretty gross!  It hasn't rained yet, but we did have been hearing thunder this afternoon.  I'm not sure how the roofs in the rooms will hold up, but in the main dining area there are a few spots with holes in the roof, which is bad because not only do the children eat there, but the older children have their class there during the day.  So hopefully we won't get rained on anytime soon. 
The water has been going down, slowly, but surely.  Even though the kids seem to like staying there, I know that they can't wait to get back to their own rooms and have more of their clothes, cd players, books, etc. but we aren't sure how long we are going to have to be there.  Seeing the water go down makes everyone excited, but we've heard that there is another wave of this coming in mid-April, and apparently, flooding this early is unusual; it doesn't happen until April and it never is this bad.  So please pray that there isn't another wave coming and that we will be able to move back within the next couple of weeks!