Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year 2011

We had a good week before the end of the year although the hospital was busy after Monday was a holiday here. We did get electricity for less than 24 hours from Christmas Eve night at 8 p.m. until Christmas Day at 6:15 p.m. (only 1 hour off in the morning) and then a big storm hit and we were off again! the whole week we struggled with no electricity for X-rays and computer work, etc.

NY Eve we broke off work at 2 p.m. and got a few hours to relax (take down Christmas decorations) at home before the start of our NY Eve celebrations at 7:30 p.m. We had a packed church with some of our local churches coming and the community. We sang, dance, had a video, prayed the NY in and then at midnight went outside the church for fireworks. We bought some Chinese ones at the flea market in Harare and we were unsure what they would do but they were fun--one rocket went into the sky and then head back into the crowd! They scattered and asked for more!

After the fireworks we went back into the church and had some question and answers for prizes and gave out new T-shirts to the winners. Then the youth group band turned all their amplifiers on and went to town with more music, singing and dancing! I gave up and went home at 1:30 a.m. when the broke for tea and bread. They continued until 6 a.m.!

ZESA finally came on this morning about 7:45 for 10 minutes and off and then 8:15 for 45 minutes and off so there is hope we might get more? I am sure we are on load shedding after 14 days on none except for Christmas!

My field is growing well and the maize is about 2 feet high and very green! the youth group went to do the weeding on Thursday. For those of you who only come to Chidamoyo in our winter (June-Sept) when things are very brown and dry I am showing you a picture from my gate of how green it is this time of the year and how tall the grass is! You can't believe it I am sure.
Just to rub it in a bit, yesterday low was 68F and high of 86F. what a way to welcome in 2011! Hope you kept warm!

We pray that 2011 will be a year of peace and calm in Zimbabwe. continue to pray for the country and people of Zimbabwe! All the best to all of you for a great 2011!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Happy Boxing Day

Our Christmas dinner theme was Hawaiian Retro Christmas--so we had dress 1950's Hawaii. Michael, Major's son decided to add some tummy to his costume to look like his Dad! Enjoy these pictures!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

We had a great Christmas!

We had a great Christmas and hope you did too. I am sharing some of the highlights through pictures I am posting.

We started the week by finding out that we made the NY times front page on Sunday the 19th of December. Wow--this was a surprise to be on the front page. Then we were reprinted in other newspapers and on the front page of my hometown newspaper on Monday the 20th. So if you haven't read it or seen the video (you must be in cave) here are the websites:

Thank you for all the kind words and some donations that have rolled in. We are in desperate need for a new generator and we think we might have the money soon! This week we spent 6 days without electricity as we had big storms last weekend which burnt up a power pole. ZESA had no pole to replace it with and so it took several days to find one. What a nice surprise to have it come back at 8 p.m. on Christmas Eve night--just as we finished our candlelight service! It was on until 6 p.m. and now am in the dark writing this before heading off to bed! And it continued through today (the 26th). Another fault? How many days this time?

We had caroling on Wed night and Friday we had our staff party where we killed a pig and 20 chickens to feed our staff. Over 70 people came and we had fun playing a game, eating and handing out a goodie bag of rice, sugar, flour, oil and soap and Mazoe (drink) to each of our staff members. they really look forward to this each year! We played a game where we asked questions and then they were given a gift. Some of the highlights of the game were "Who was Jesus' father?" answer was "Mary!" Then "how many wisemen were there? Answer: 12!" We laughed a lot!

We had Christmas present opening with Mereki family and Dr. Zimudzi, Lori and Chris and I on Christmas eve after the candlelight service. Chrstmas morning we had church and then at 3 p.m. we had dinner for 10 of us--ham and all the trimmings. We enjoying swimming before and after dinner as it was in high 90's today. Christmas night we are enjoying a big thunder and lightening storm with some rain--enjoyable to see in the dark!

today (26th) we had church at 7 a.m. since today is a holiday. the highlight of church was my visitor Chris being baptized in my pool at the end! Then Lori, Chris and the Mereki family joined me for a brunch and games and then a big storm hit with lightening near by! We got 2 inches in about 30 minutes! the wind knocked alot of branches down in my yard.

Will share some pictures of our events and hope all of you have a great Christmas too. Thanks to all of you for helping and supporting our work here.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Happy Christmas from Zimbabwe

Well it is December and even though there is no snow on the ground—there are crops growing in the field, rain falling and days up to 90 degrees—sounds like Christmas for me!
Major is back but he has spent the last 2 weeks in school in Harare to upgrade his ministry degree. So even though he is in the country, we still communicate by email and look anxiously to his return this weekend. Of course during the past 2 weeks the peanut butter machine needs new blades, the boreholes have broken 3 times and need new belts, rubbers and a pump, and the grinding mill needs a new circuit breaker, the chickens have some kind of skin disease and we need to pick a pig to kill for Christmas. Wow I can’t wait for Major to get back and take over those issues! Somehow I missed those classes in Nursing school on how to handle these hospital crisis issues! Now it must be my turn for holiday!
Stacy, our visitor from TN left for Harare yesterday to spend a few days before she heads for Joburg on Monday and on to US on Wed. She had been with us since October and was a big help, so we are missing her already. We are wishing her well in her applications for medical school this next year.
Since Major is gone, his wife went away for a workshop this week and so their two kids, Michael (17) and Carolyn (13) have been staying with me. It is always fun to have teenagers at the table. When you ask if they want dessert, the answer is “bring it on!” Major also got a box of chocolate bars he sent from the US when he was there that arrived this week and Chris and I have been trying to convince them to bring the box over here so we can just “look” at it—but they don’t trust us and they said “mom has counted how many there are and that we better not eat any!” We immediately told them that did not include us—only them!
We have started the Christmas activities of Chidamoyo. Instead of crowded malls and shopping and no parking places and packed freeways—we have movie night, carol singing, candlelight service and a Christmas party for our staff! We did get the 12 foot tree up and decorated—in the dark with flashlights—as no ZESA! The presents are wrapped and today is cookie making day—Carolyn and Chris (my other visitor) have that job. Almost as easy as buying them at the store!
We showed a movie on Wed and last night (Fri) and there is one more scheduled for Tues night. Our staff party is a luncheon on Friday (24th) and we have a pig and goat to kill—along with rice, Cole slaw and cake! Last year people ate until they got sick they ate so much! We have a gift bag of soap, oil, flour, rice, sugar, toothbrush and paste and drink mix for each employee. They always look forward to this each year.
Christmas Eve we have a candlelight service of Scripture reading and Christmas carols (all in Shona) at the hospital courtyard. We usually don’t have to worry about turning off the lights as there is usually no ZESA in the evenings. After that Dr. Zimudzi, Mereki family and Lori will join Chris and I in cookies, tea and coffee and opening our gifts.
Christmas morning is breakfast with Mereki family (French toast) and then church at 9 a.m. and then after that rounds on the patients and home to a ham dinner with all the trimmings. Our theme this year is “Retro Hawaiian Christmas.” That means dress in 50’s Hawaiian outfits. Should be interesting—stay tuned for pictures!
This past week at the hospital it has been busy and on Wednesday we had to do an emergency operation for a ruptured uterus during labor. ZESA was on when we started and went off about an hour into the surgery, all vehicles were gone and so we couldn’t find a battery to get the generator started—so worked for 30 minutes with 2 torches (flashlights) being held by the Nurse Aide and then ZESA came back! Wow that was exciting! Patient did well and survived. We used a lot of lap sponges since we had no suction for the part with no ZESA! God was good and at least it was during the day when there was some outside light! Trying to hang and push in units of blood in the dark is interesting!
Just in case we didn’t have enough work they also threw in a week of Immunization clinics last week, so Lori and her crew were out until late each evening trying to vaccinate children and give Vitamin A. So much for work slowly down during the holidays!
Both of the doctors here have offered their resignation (one will leave end of Jan and one end of Feb) and so please join us in prayer as we look for 2 new doctors. We need the right ones to help the hospital continue to give the good service we are known for and proud of.
Three weeks ago I had a reporter from NY Times and a photographer here following me around for a couple of days. The story should be coming out shortly and I will let you know when we know when it is published.
Merry Christmas to all of you and slow down and enjoy the Reason for the Season—Christ our Savior is born and live on even today! Share this light in all that you do!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Happy thanksgiving to you!

This week has been a busy week. We have already received 150 mls+ of rain in November, so people are busy in their fields plowing and planting. Mondays all day and Thursday mornings are days people can not work in their fields in our area in order to honor their ancestors—so that is when the patients flock to the hospital. Many wait until they are very ill because the family member who may need to bring them doesn’t want to miss days in the field. So we get some breaks in between when people are busy plowing and planting. The rivers aren’t full yet, but soon the rivers will prevent many people being able to get the hospital until the river goes down a day or so after the rain.
This week we said goodbye to Liz Able who has been with us since August. She flew on to spend Christmas with her family in Shanghai, China and then will be enrolling in college in January in Portland, OR. We wish her well and thank her for her help!
This past Saturday (Nov 13th) we decided to celebrate Thanksgiving and cook up a feast. We couldn’t find another Sat between now and December when all of us would be here, so we had it early. We don’t get Thanksgiving Day off here, so we need a Saturday when we have time to cook and prepare. So we started on Friday when Chris killed the turkey (one of our bartered ones at the hospital) and Saturday we spent all day cooking. We each choose a part to help with and 3 of us were busy cooking and went to the hospital to work in the morning too! We also decided to add to the entertainment by dressing up—3 of us were pilgrims and 3 were Indians—we had to use what we had here and it was a challenge, but we managed—look at those pictures! The best part was having Chris put on white panty hose for his outfit—we all had to help him, with him complaining the whole time! We told him he now had a big appreciation for what girls go through to impress men!
We had turkey, chicken, mashed potatoes, dressing, cranberry salad, broccoli with cranberry salad, carrot soufflé, green beans, cranberry sauce, biscuits, gravy and pecan and butternut squash pie for dessert. We invited some of our neighbors to share with us and 9 of us ate this huge feast on Saturday night! Of course we have been without electricity since Wed. night due to power poles fallen down in a storm, so we met the challenge to get everything cooked in a gas stove and kept warm! What fun we had and all fell into bed exhausted and stuffed like the turkey!
Today 3 of our visitors took off for a visit for Victoria Falls before 2 of them—Kial and Lauren leave us for the states (and another Thanksgiving)! Soon the Christmas decorations come out and the Christmas dishes—yeah!
Now we have been 6 days without electricity and counting. We had to postpone a scheduled C/Section and another surgery in hopes it might come back anytime! They can’t seem to find the fault so our guys are out and walking the lines looking for fallen poles today. We have one of their ZESA employees in our hospital bed, and he has been waiting for an X-ray for 5 days. We are threatening to hold him hostage until it is fixed! With the electricity off for 6 nights now we tend to go bed earlier and get up with the sun!
Happy Thanksgiving to all of you as you celebrate on the 25th!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

More pictures

Thought I would add some more pictures for all of you. Stacy is a visitor from TN and she is applying for Med School in the Fall 2011 so she is learning by assisting in surgery and sewing up lacerations.
Some more pictures of our visitors and our animals we saw on safari in Kariba. Notice how close the elephants were to our room!
Liz and Lauren sitting next to me on the boat over to the safari camp!
The group with Dr. Zimudzi.

Finally an update!

In mid-October the visitors (Chris, Amber, Lauren, Liz, Stacy and Kial) and I were able to spend 3 nights and 3 days at a wonderful safari camp called Rhino Camp. We actually got to see Rhino—there are only 14 in the whole National Park—so it was special! We had many elephants around our cabins and looked out on Kariba Lake which made us feel we were on a tropical island with African elephants! We also say lions with cubs and lots of other animals and enjoyed walking, riding and boating to see the many different animals. Amber's birthday was the day we arrived so made her wear the famous birthday hat (the picture with her and Kial on boat to elephant point). We had a special dinner with chocolate cake--too windy for candles! It was a relaxing and fun time by all.
Amber left us on October 28th and returned to Lincoln, Nebraska. Her welcome home party turned into her engagement party when her boyfriend popped the questions—Makorokoto (Congrats) Amber!
Our rains have started and people are busy plowing and planting. There is always excitement in the air when people get back into their fields after several months waiting for the rains! Already the dusty brown all around is starting to green up.
Talked with Major by Skype this week and he certainly must be enjoying America as he has put on a lot of weight! The Pillsbury Boy of Zimbabwe has been created! Thank you to all who are keeping him so well fed and drunk (with Root Beer)! He will be back to the reality of sadza and veges soon enough! He is complaining about the cold and it was down to low 30’s at night in Kansas when I talked to him. He will be home in 4 weeks and we will be so happy to see him here!
The hospital has decreased a bit with people busy in their fields. Only the very sick come and Monday and Thursday are days people cannot plow in our area in honor of their ancestors and so those days are very busy. Since a week ago we have already received 100 mls of rains—so we are happy! It has cooled us down too. Our visitors now know why October is called suicide month—it was a hot one! They were sleeping out on the platform every night in my yard—now they have to guess if it will rain during the night or make a run for it from the platform when it starts to rain.
Dr. Zimudzi went on leave this past week for 6 weeks and Dr. Murenje and I are trying to hold down the fort while he is away. So far so good!
One more visitor leaves this week—Liz flies on to be with her mother and siblings in Shanghai this Friday. She has been here since then end of August and has been a good gopher (go for this, go for that) for me—so we will miss her and wish her well in college in Portland, OR in January. Lauren and Kial leave on 21st so everyone is getting excited about home. In fact, In and Out Burger has been the topic of many of the conversations lately!
The house is decorated for Thanksgiving and we are trying to figure out when we will have this big day. We don’t get the holiday off here so we can celebrate whenever we want! Lori, Chris, Stacy and I will be here and we will invite some local friends too. It may be chicken with all the trimmings. The turkeys are pretty old and tough around here.
Thanks for all of you who pray for us and financially support us so much! You are the ones who make this work possible!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

More visitors

We were happy to have Kial from San Francisco and Amber from Lincoln, Nebraska arrive on Friday the 10th of September to join our other two young women here, Liz and Lauren. We put them to work right away. Kial is working on putting all our financial records on computers and Amber, who is a Nurse Aide is busy helping at outreach clinics and around the hospital.

On Saturday night we had a C/Section for our after dinner experience. Only Liz wanted to observe the others bowed out! We got home for dessert at 10 p.m.!

Major left for the US on Tuesday and he has arrived safely and is busy enjoying food as he tells me and Root Beer! He was met at the airport with 8 litres of Root Beer and he really believe that he was in the land of wonderful! he is busy going out for dinner and catching up with people. He had 100+ voice messages on his cellphone he is using in the US when he arrived--so be patient he will get back to you!

The doctors were both gone for meetings from Thursday afternoon until Saturday afternoon so we kept the hospital running and kept busy doing everyone's job!

Summer is definitely here and it is 111 outside as i write this. Most nights it is getting down into mid-70's--so winter clothes have been put away until next year.

We are planning to get in the pool and cool off this weekend so hope you have a cool weekend too!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

What a week!

We have two new visitors that arrived this week and started working with us. Liz graduated from high school in May and is starting college in Portland, OR in January. She is a missionary kid born in Zimbabwe—her name is also Tariro and she left when she was 3 years old for Cambodia and eventually Viet Nam and IN. Lauren is from my home church in Sebastopol and is taking a semester off from college in Chico, CA to help us out. It has been a busy week—I hope they don’t think it always like this—if it is I quit now!
We had gone into Harare last Friday afternoon (27th August) after work (Dr. Zimudzi, Carolyn Mereki and I). We got there in time to meet up with Major, Lori and the 2 girls who had arrived Thursday afternoon. We enjoyed some peri-peri chicken and ice cream!
Saturday morning we were all off for the wedding of one of our doctors, Vernon Murenje and his bride Christine. It was held in a beautiful location on the waterfront of a lake. The wedding was to start at 9 a.m. and in typical “Zimbabwean tradition” we arrived at 10:45 a.m. and we were early! It started at 11:30 a.m.! We enjoyed food and dancing and present giving and the girls were a big hit with strangers coming up to have their picture taken with them using their cell phones. They were using the backdrop of a boat and when I finally saw the name of the boat it was “White Mischief!” It is this the prediction for these 2 girls and their time here?
Sunday morning we were up early and did grocery shopping, and then packed what we could in my car and left with our friends from the UK out for a short visit following behind in their own truck. Nikki, Justin and Tom are involved in Zimbabwe Rural School s Development Program, a UK non-profit. They have helped us in building on to schools in our area and helping with desks and furniture for school as well as helping build our new school at Mukowe.
About 50 kms out of Harare we began to see some wild fires burning the bush close to the road. These are very common this time of the year when we haven’t had rain for 5 months. We were just telling the girls “you know in the States they would have the National Guard out to fight this, here we just let it burn, no big deal!” Famous last words…soon we were completely surrounded by fire on both sides of the road with flames leaping into the road and throwing flames across the road. A van traveling the opposite way was suddenly coming towards us in the smoke and we couldn’t get over because of flames, but he saw us and moved at the last moment. The car in front of me stops! It’s a petrol car and the fire is surrounding it! I am yelling and telling them to keep going so it doesn’t explode right in front of us and finally they do and we were all able to drive out. When we got to where we could pull off we waited for the other car and went on. Soon their open truck which had bags and mattresses in the back started smoldering and open flames started! They quickly came out with their drinking water and put the flames out! 1 mattress burnt up! One suitcase a bit melted on one side but no major damage. Boy we gave those visitors a show to remember on the way home! Remember we said no big deal!
We came home from Harare on Sunday and I had 1 hour to cook dinner for 9 people—oh and by the way no electricity when we arrived-ha! I had Carolyn Mereki with me so she quickly made the cake (I have been teaching her to bake and she thinks it is fun!). I put the pot of rice and mince on to brown. Lori cut up peaches and pineapple and Carolyn cut up onions and tomatoes. In 1 hour—walla—we had curry and rice for 9 people and cake for desert!
We went off for church at the hospital at 5 p.m. and came home by 6:15 p.m. to heat up dinner and it was on the table by 7:30 p.m. and guess what? The lights come on for us to eat—go figure! We finally all went to bed about 9:30 p.m. exhausted after quite a start to Liz and Lauren’s African Adventure.
Monday the girls went off with Lori to do 2 well baby clinics. Nikki and Justin and Tom went with Major to see Mukowe school which was now completed. Nikki and Justin were with us in February 2009 and helped to feed many people who were literally starving from lack of food at the time. I went to the hospital and had a long day there. We all got home and had a nice dinner about 7:45 p.m.
Tues the UK guests left us and the girls and I started in on month end reports. About half way through the morning I left them as fevers hit from a bad UTI. I woke up to hear them at lunch with a new visitor who just popped in—Zebedee Togarepi. Zebedee is a good friend who is a minister down in Chiredzi, runs a children’s home and is working with all our Christian schools in Zimbabwe. He had come by to visit our schools. So we quickly made up my guest rondoval for him and went back to work. The same day we received word that the Deputy Minister of Health would be arriving on Thursday to present us with a Lab machine and could we have lunch for 100 dignitaries ready! Major was in Harare and I Skyped him to say help! He bought 25 chickens and hurried home!
Wed major got home at 2 a.m. and we got busy in the morning scrubbing wards, getting menu’s planned and everyone working hard for the next day. Again I had to go home from work for a few hours to rest, leaving the visitors taking blood pressures and weights on 200+ pregnant women who came for their Antenatal Care. By evening I was feeling better and led Bible Study and by Thursday morning my fevers were gone and I was much better.
Thursday we worked hard to rush through all the patients. The minister was to arrive by 12 but luckily he was 2 hours late as we did our theater cases, started new people on ART, saw new out-patients, never stopping for tea or lunch until he arrived at 2 p.m. We (Dr. Zimudzi, Major and I) as the Administration met with the Minister to say thanks for what he did for us and also to throw in a few needs we had. He politely answered how he could possibly help and then we went to meet the public which was about a group of 400+ people that had gathered for the occasion. Finally about 4 p.m. we went to eat a wonderful lunch that our staff had prepared—chicken, beef, veges, sadza and rice! We were starving and tired and ate it with gusto!
By 6 I was home and had a few minutes to get ready for our Area church conference which started with dinner at 5 p.m. and services. Once a year in September we meet from Thurs night until Sunday morning. We have 42 churches in our area that we are responsible for and we have this conference each year to teach and enjoy fellowship with one another. This year we helped 40 people from our further churches in the Tonga areas to come and be with us. They live 5 hours by car one way from here and by bus over 15 hours. They walked together to one spot over 40 kms some of them to be picked up by our cars. They speak Tonga which is a totally different language than Shona and so it is exciting for the people here to learn new songs in a new language and meet fellow Christians who are so different but still worship the same God!
Each day we filled the church with more sitting on the porch outside, so we had over 600 people attend. We killed 1 cow, 2 pigs, 10 goats and 15 chickens to cook with veges and sadza! We enjoyed the singing, dancing and preaching.
For the next 3 days we went between work and church. We went to bed hearing singing from the church late into the night, there is no more beautiful sound then that.
This morning, Sunday, we started with coffee and muffins with the girls and the Mereki family before we headed for church at 7:30 a.m. to end the conference. Many had left walking at sunrise, but still there were over 400 left. This afternoon we are relaxing! What a week for the girls! We hope it calms down more this week—but don’t count on it.