Wednesday, March 31, 2010

It took a boat, a car, then two planes, but I made it home!

Yes, David got the boat working on Sunday night, just in time to take the staff home. I left the children's home at 6:30am Monday morning by boat (see picture on right), made it to the car at 7:00am and then to Livinstone at 9:30am. Before we got to Livingstone I FINALLY got to see some giraffes! We got out of the car, crossed the street and stood about 15 feet away from them while snapping pictures. They didn't stay around very long, so we continued on to Livingstone. Once there, Becca and I spent some time in the markets, bargining with people until we got the Zambian rate on souveniers, then headed for some lunch. I very surprised to see that they had a Subway there! Mcdonald's, I would've expected, but Subway?! We ended up splitting a footlong since it cost 12,500...Kwacha that is :) With our thousand dollar sub, a coke and a water, we only spent just under 5 American dollars!

The flight from Jo'burg to Dulles was a bumpy one and I only slept about four hours, which was no good. Since I was in a fog still yesterday, I waited until today let everyone know that I returned safely and post some pictures on previous posts- so check them out!
Saying goodbye to the children was hard, although not as hard as last time. Maybe it's because I still plan on seeing these kids again- I'm not sure when, but I will! :)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Quick Updates

Well, my time is up. I leave tomorrow morning at 6:00am, provided that I have transportation, that is. Our boat decided that it doesn't want to run any more, but there are some people next to us who have a boat and we're hoping that they can take me to where our cars are parked tomorrow morning so I can make it to the airport!

Since I've written last, the water has gone down a significant amount! Every morning we are surprised that we can now walk on places that were covered in water the previous day. Some of the children are sad that we won't be moving- that they will miss out on an adventure like the one last year to Hippo Lodge, but as for the staff and volunteers, we couldn't be happier!

I also wanted to share with you all that two of our children, one boy and one girl, qualified to go and compete in Windhoek (the capital of Namibia) for running that they did the weekend before I arrived here. They left by bus on Thursday and will return tomorrow (Monday). We heard yesterday that the boy received third place in one of his races already, but we haven't heard anything about the girl yet. Everyone here is very excited and proud of them. There are also two boys, who play soccer for a team in town, who will be going to Windhoek next week to compete in the Coca-Cola Cup, which will be televised! I am definitely very excited for these two- they have worked really hard for this.

I'll definitely have to put pictures and videos up when I get back because words don't do justice to the treatments Margaret and I receive when we go to read to the little girls at night. We get massages, globs and globs of lotion rubbed on our legs and arms, and our hair brushed and braided (or knotted!). Friday night I brought over some nail polish, and we all took turns painting each others nails. The little four year old who painted my toenails also suceeded in painting half of my toes! Once they little girls were finished, I gave the nail polish to the older girls to keep- I knew it would be in safer hands there.
(The top picture is Marsela rubbing lotion on my leg, left picture is Maria with her pretty nails, and the last picture is Efa, Esther, Hilda and Maria. I had a really cute video, but for some reason it's not working)

Yesterday they had Independence Day celebrations in town since the previous weekend all of the Officials celebrated in Windhoek. A small group of us only went for the afternoon so we could watch the two boys who are on the soccer team in town play their game against Zambia. The boys were actually starting players and stayed in the whole game (even though the team is made up of 20-30 something year olds and our boys are teenagers!) The boys team ended up winning the game, which made the Independence celebration that much sweeter! My favorite part of the day had to be when Becca and I went looking for some really nice Independence Day t-shirts that we saw on people who had performed or on people who were working there, and were refused and then sent to look somewhere else by a man with a big box full of them (we think he sent us on a wild goose chase for them!) but when we came back to confront him, another man told him to give us a shirt. They also gave us a visor with the same print as the t-shirt on it! We definitely wore those proudly for the rest of the day, and then decided to have the children sign them this morning after Church.

Well I am going to go and enjoy the last of the short hours that I have left. Thanks to everyone who has supported me throughout this whole process- I am SO THANKFUL that I was able to return and spend more time with these lovely 57 children!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Just when you think the water won't stop rising....

it does. Praise God that it hasn't risen much, if at all, in that past couple of days! Friday night we had it all worked out that we would be moving (or shifting as they say here) Sunday, or Monday at the latest, until further notice. Luckily, since the water hasn't risen, we have been able to postpone the move- hopefully for good! I don't think that I have ever mentioned the poles that David put in the ground when it was dry and way before I even arrived, but they are 2 meters high (you'd think by now I'd know how to convert all of this stuff, but I don't. All I know is that 2 meters is pretty high!) When I came in the beginning of March, the water was to the 0.5 mark. It is now over 2 meters; the poles are completely covered! All of the volunteers here can't believe that the water has come that high, but since between this year and last I've only known the water to be high, I can't believe that David could once stand where he did to put the poles in! The picture here is courtesy of the Curry's while on a boat the far left you can see the poles that we used to measure the water and where the water stood at the beginning of this month!

Saturday I spent some a couple of hours in the boat fishing with David, Margaret and two teenage boys. It was a nice sunny afternoon and the weather was wonderful- so nice that I got to work on my tan :) Unfortunately, we didn't catch anything but grass, as we were fishing in a spot that is a dry road during the dry season. One of the boys got a huge tiger fish hooked, and reeled all the way to the boat, but the hook was too small, so right as he was about to pull in the fish it got away. Either way, we all had fun!

Today (Monday) the kids didn't have school, because of Independence Day, so this morning I spent some time playing soccer with a few of the older girls and the little kids- who never really get a chance to go to the field and play. It was the four older girls vs. the little kids and I was surprised at how good these kids were! Some of them were really fast, and others could dribble the ball much better than any other little kids that I've seen! Then there were the two 4 year old boys, who just spent the whole time picking the flowers from the side of the field, running onto the field, handing them to me and saying, "Here you go Auntie!" and then running to get more. I think they all had fun on the big kid field today!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Happy Independence Day, Namibia!

Known as "West South Africa" in the past, this country suffered through years of fighting and the apartheid, but this Sunday will mark 20 years since Namibia became an independent country. Today, the children had an assembly full of dancing, singing, and speeches about what their country went through in the past. Full of pride for their country, the assembly ended with (most of) the children standing up straight and proudly singing their national anthem. It was great to be here again to celebrate their independence day with them- and to see all of the talent!

There isn't much new with the flood situation...the water is still coming, slowly, but surely. We now have to walk through an ankle deep puddle of water to get from the mission home to the children's home- but that's the worst of it (except right outside of the front gate, but since we are going by boat, that doesn't really matter anymore). Yesterday I spent half the day in town with Becca, running errands and getting food to last us until Tuesday (since everything will be closed on Monday). The boat ride back was a slow one with all of the groceries and five people sqeezed into it! I was happy, though, that the big gray clouds above us didn't lead to rain until after we had gotten back. Being caught in a thunderstorm while in a boat is bad enough, but being caught in a thunderstorm in an all metal boat (ours) would be worse....

Sunday, March 14, 2010

A hard days work

Yesterday, we spent a good portion of the day filling and placing sandbags around the doors of Becca's/my house and the children's home. Even though the water is just now coming on to land, we want to be prepared! After expecting to wake up and see water out of my front door this morning, I have to say that I was a little disappointed that it looked like it hadn't moved much- only because I wanted all of our hard work yesterday to be worth while! We are hoping that this means it is slowing down and will stop rising within the next couple of days, but we aren't holding our breath for that! (Pictured are the sandbags outside of my door..)

It doesn't seem like we need to be too concerned about moving, for now at least. We met with someone yesterday who basically told us not to worry until the water is everywhere and we have to get from the main house to the children's home by boat. So it seems like we might have a week or so before we have to move if the water keeps rising....

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Cwani (How are you)

Weather today: Sunny and 82 degress- not a cloud in the sky.
River today: Up 6 inches (and counting) since yesterday evening.
I can now see the river, almost parallel to my front door of the house I am staying in, which means it's maybe less than 10ft away from my doorstep!  The small bridge that we have to cross to get between the children's home and the town has water running over one part of it, which some people were trying to fix this morning.  By fix I mean pile more sand and bricks and stone onto this rock and sand-made bridge.  Yesterday, we moved the vehicles out (again) to a drier place and now only have a small pick-up truck.  Dave took three of the volunteers, who were leaving today, into town to get the other car so they could drive to Zambia.  Margaret and I were supposed to ride with them to town to take a couple kids to the doctor today, but we stayed behind since we weren't sure there would be a bridge to cross later this afternoon.  So since we have one car getting fixed in town, one in Zambia until tomorrow and one that is here, with no bridge to cross, we are stuck!  Once we get both of the cars back tomorrow, all of our trips to town from now on will be made by boat.  We still don't have a firm evacuation plan, but luckily, we don't need it right now- maybe this weekend or early next week.
As I mentioned earlier, Ray, Travis and Lorna left to go back to the States today.  It was sad to see them go, but at least Travis and Lorna will be back soon!  We spent their last night here having a Silozi (native language here) lesson after dinner, which was fun, and I definitely learned a lot!
Well, that's all I have for now...need to see how much the river has gone up since I started this post ;)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The latest from Namibia...

I spent the majority of the day in the kitchen (Billy, you would be so proud! Even some of the children wanted to take pictures and record some videos of me cooking to show you!) Auntie Margaret, another long term volunteer, and I were making dinner for the children, some of the staff and the rest of the volunteers. She decided to make grinded pumpkin leaves, mince (beef) cooked with lots of veggies and curry sauce, and pap (the staple food here, similar to grits but with the consistency of mashed potatoes that you are supposed to eat with your hands). We got all of the vegetables from the garden here, so they were nice and fresh! It was really nice eating with the children- we don't do that anymore on Saturday's, which I know some of them miss, so tonight was a treat for everyone.

We have had really nice weather here (sunny and in the high 70's, low 80's) but the water is continuing to rise. Still no word on whether we will be evacuating, but we aren't in any danger-yet! Tomorrow I will go for a "girls day" in town with Margaret and Lorna (soon to be the new permanent missionary here) to run some errands and then some shopping for ourselves since Lorna will be leaving on Thursday. Well, that's all I have for now! Please pray that the water will not come up much more!!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Flood Time

So I was all excited Friday night and early Saturday morning because we were going to be taking some of the children to see their families in the Western Caprivi for the day.  Well, it started raining Friday around 9pm and didn't stop until Saturday around 10am, so sadly, at 6am Saturday morning I found out that we would not be going on the trip.  After checking the dirt road that leads out of here, it was decided that we should stay and try to work on getting the vehicles to drier land, incase the flooding got worse.  There wasn't a lot of activity around here the rest of the day, as it rained on and off. 
Today is a much sunnier and brighter day- with no rain on the horizon!  We pray that it will stay like this and that the water continues to slow down so we won't have to move!  We should find out sometime this week if we will have to move and this time, it looks like we will be in a field with a bunch of tents!

Thursday, March 4, 2010


Between last night and this morning we received a steady amount of rain.  The river is still rising very quickly and we are praying that we won't have to move again.  The only good thing about the water is that the hippos seem closer to us, which means that we can hear them every evening.  Becca, the long term volunteer who I am staying with, and I went outside the gate last night and down near the water, which is creeping closer and closer to our house, in search of some hippos.  They were so loud after dinner that we definitly thought they were close by!  We don't want to come across any because they can be very dangerous; Becca told me that one guy was actually killed by one recently!  All we wanted was to get a few good pictures.  Unfortunately, I didn't see any....Becca saw one in the distance going into the water but all I captured on my camera was them making noise.  It was a fun adventure and now I have a video of what hippos sound like :)
**Oh yeah, if you want to email me, the address is please put my name in the subject line!

One soccer ball equals lots of smiles

So some of you may remember from last time my post about some of the older boys not sharing a soccer ball with the girls the first time I went to play soccer with them. When we finally received a ball, it was a little on the flat side, and all of a sudden the boys "couldn't find the pump". I decided then that I would bring the girls back their very own ball and pump, so this would not happen again! I picked out the girliest ball I could find (not that it matters- the boys will play with whatever!) and a nice looking pump and packed it in my bag with me. Yesterday I called all of the soccer girls over to the house where I am staying...there are a lot more this year than last! I asked them if they remembered what happened last year when I came and they said yes. Then I showed them the ball and pump and said, "This is for you girls, BUT if the boys don't have one or the little kids want to play, you have to share! You know what it's like for someone not to share with you, so don't be like that to them." They had the biggest smiles on their faces! I had even wrote "To my soccer girls, love auntie sarah" on it and they loved it! Of course later some of the boys came to me and asked why I didn't bring them a ball and when I reminded them of what had happened, they laughed and understood right away. That afternoon the boys AND the girls (and myself) enjoyed a long game of soccer with a brand new ball!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

"Thanks for coming back!" and "Why do you always come when it's flood time?"

Hello from Namibia! I made it here safely and with little trouble (our trouble being the 5 gate changes in Johannesburg before leaving to Livingstone). I was traveling with Travis and Lorna, the couple who will be the new permanent missionaries starting this fall. They are a very nice couple and it was great to have someone to travel with this time! This was their first time in Africa, so they relied on me, since I'm the veteran, to show them the way :)

I want to go back to the first flight over here. We had to stop in Dakar, Senegal, which is usually only a 1 hour stop, but we were a bit early because of the winds, so our 1 hour stop became 2. Now this was right around midnight U.S. time so even though I was tired, it was nice to get up and stretch. I also got to see the sunrise there- a beautiful, bright orange sun rising over sand. I noticed that the houses there look alot like ones you would see in the middle east, which was pretty interesting. Taking off, we flew right on the coastline and could see more houses and little canoe type boats right off shore, fishing. I also saw some bigger, pirate ship looking boats. Last time I flew over here, I didn't have this stop in Senegal, and even though it was 1 hour too long, I really enjoyed being able to see a different part of Africa.

The Lilypad, the bed and breakfast that we stay at in Jo-burg, was just as nice as last time. It was nice and cool outside so Travis, Lorna and I took our Indian Food that we had ordered out to the patio, and enjoyed the evening swapping mission stories. The next morning, we arrived at the airport and had plenty of time to look around the shops there. There is a large shop there called "Out of Africa" which really has a lot of neat African things. After shopping awhile, as I already said before, we had to walk all over the airport because they couldn't seem to decide where we were supposed to be boarding from. Once we were finally on the plane, everything went smoothly. I even got to see Victoria Falls from the plane again! Once we landed in Livingstone, we met up with two people from the Children's Home and made our way there. On our way, the smells of Africa brought back memories and I kept thinking that it was great to be back! (And in some ways I felt like it was great to be home haha)

The closer we got to the Children's Home, the more nervous and excited I became- I was hoping that they would remember me!! I was greeted by some of the older girls with lots of hugs and excitement! (They had remembered!!!) The girls were first of many to ask "Auntie, why do you always come when it's flood time? Maybe you like the water?" I assured them that I did not and that I was hoping for no Hippo Lodge again this year! :) The rest of the afternoon was spent with hellos, hugs, handshakes, old nicknames, thank you's (for returning) and that question, "Why do you always come when it's flood time?!" It was really great to see everyone again, and I was happy that everyone remembered me...except for my three little pre-schoolers, who have since warmed up to me.

This has been a lot longer than I thought it would be and I need to go, but I will try to update more tomorrow!