Today we got busy with working on the Epiphany House. There are three things that we want to try and get done or at the very least started. The brush has grown all around the house. In order to keep bugs and snakes away it is important to clear the brush from a house at least 6-8 feet away all around the house. Also, we want to paint the outside of the Epiphany House but we are still waiting on the paint which needed to be special ordered. And finally, the original septic tank is not working right since the flood so Uncle Lenard wants to install a new one which means we will need to dig a 6 foot deep hole to get him started. So for today, we got pick-axes and rakes and attacked all of the brush. It wasn’t a difficult job but it took a lot of sweat to get it all out of the sand. It was one of those jobs where you can’t help but to think, “If I had my lawnmower and weed-wacker with me this would be done in 5 minutes.” But we used the tools that were given us and we worked hard to remove the tall grass. Malinga came over to help us for a while and worked like a superhero. His ability to do hard work is amazing. And he does it with a smile! We cleared the brush away several feet away from the house. Uncle Lenard and the other workers were building a mud hut right next to us so it was very interesting to watch their method and progress of building that structure. Uncle Lenard and I also marked out the area that the septic tank with go so that we can start digging that up. We ended up with a giant pile of brush in the back and front of the house. The pile in the front was the smaller of the two so we took pleasure in setting it on fire. We thought we would save the bigger pile for our next work day. Travis is still feeling really sick. Natalie is starting to feel better but she is still physically spent. She came out to the worksite to hang out with us for a while but was to wasted to do work.
Later in the afternoon we took the team to go visit the Cheshire Home. This is the mission that we invited to the talent show. So now we get to see their place! It was surprisingly and exceptionally nice. It is a Catholic mission for handicapped and special needs kids. I was amazed at all they had on their sight: the mission area for the kids, a church, a convent, and a pool for therapy. We got to meet the head nun of the mission who was an older woman originally from Poland. She has been working at this mission for over 23 years now. We also got to see Abby and Sarah again. These are the two college age girls who came to serve there for the Summer. They were both going to be leaving back to the USA the very next day. So the kids were sad to see them go. Lisa brought a bunch of crafts so we sat down the kids outside in their play area and did crafts. I found out that the boarding school that Dorothy attends is right next to the Cheshire Home. So Lorna, Jimmy and I went over to her school to say hi. Unfortunately Dorothy was not there when we stop but we did get to see one of the other COZV teens, Annina! She is doing really, really well at the school and has already received a scholarship to attend the local university once she is done with high school. We told her how proud we are of her! It was so good to see her! I felt bad we missed Dorothy though. So then we walked back to the Cheshire Home and wrapped things up to headed back to the COZV.
When we got back, Jimmy and I made a French toast dinner for everyone. It was great. The syrup was different over here though. I couldn’t figure it out until I read the ingredients. Instead of using maple it was made out of a toffee flavor. It tasted great.
To give you an update on things to pray for I should let you know that Natalie is starting to come around but Travis is still very sick. He can’t seem to shake whatever he has that has him down. Also, pray that this paint comes in. I really, really, really want to get everything done with the Epiphany House. Painting the outside is going to take some time and so the sooner we get it, the better. Also our last bag of luggage has yet to arrive. I am beginning to suspect that it just got sent back to Cincinnati. Or at least I hope so. Pray that we discover the mystery of where it is at.
Wednesday morning began with a special session at 7AM to say goodbye to one of their long term volunteers, Leena. She has been here for 6 months. She has been very important in helping the Curry’s get established. There were a lot of emotions in having to say goodbye.
We woke up on Wednesday looking forward to getting out and going on a safari! We thought we would try something a little different on Travis and Lorna’s suggestion and we decided to try a boat safari! Before we left though, Lorna asked me to drive her down to the motor vehicle registration office. She needed to get their trailer registered. As what seems to be typical for such places, she thought she had all the right paperwork but there were others that she needed as well. So back we go! We picked up one of the workers of the village, Simba, who was walking down the road and he came back with us. He ended up taking Lorna back as I needed to get the others for our Safari trip.
Once we finally left we traveled down the road for a while and then noticed guys on the side of the road selling handmade wood-carved elephants. We pulled over at one and the teens and Lisa bought some stuff. But wouldn’t you know, as soon as we got back in the van, it would not start. A little bit of panic set in with me. But then I got the guys out to push the van and eventually I popped the clutch, it started up, and off we went. We also found some gift shops that were closer to the place we were going so we stopped there too. There was a lot of cool stuff.
Then we headed off to our final destination. The guy who owns the business met us on the main road and then led us down a dirt path in the middle of nowhere until we came out to his little boat business area along the water. It was beautiful. He had a beautiful hut facing the water with a large table and chairs for us to sit and eat our lunch. Then we headed off on the boat. The boat was very much like a pontoon boat. We were cutting through very narrow tunnel-like paths through the tall brush in the water. At a certain point he stopped the boat at a shallow part of the river and told us if we wanted to we could go swimming here. We all looked at each other for a second because none of us brought bathing suits and we weren’t sure if this was such a good idea. I, on the other hand, was not going to pass up this opportunity so I stripped down to my shorts and jumped right in! Most of the teens and our guide joined us and we had fun getting wet.
Then we got in the boat and headed off to see animals. At one point we saw a giant crocodile. He slipped into the water right beside our boat. We were tracking him with the trail of little bubbles that were coming to the surface. Our guide said, “Now if you fall in, you will die!” So we dangled Natalie over the edge to try and get the croc to resurface but no luck. Just kidding!!! We all respectfully staid within the confines of our boat. We continued to travel along and throughout the day we saw a lot of birds, a cheetah, an impala that for a moment we thought was being tracked by an animal. I was REALLY hoping to see a take down from a cheetah or tiger. We saw a lot of deer like animals and many, many birds and hippos. The cool thing about the hippos was that they were in the water with us. Their heads would pop up and they would watch us. Then their heads would go down and then pop up somewhere else, sometimes closer to us. There were also times that there were a heard of hippos blocking our path so our guide had to quietly and skillfully try and get around them without being attacked by one of them. We had some exciting moments.
The only bummer about the boat safari was that for whatever reason, we surprisingly did not see any elephants, giraffes or zebras. I thought for sure we would see a lot of elephants because last time at Chobe we saw most of them down by the water. But we looked, and looked, and looked until the sun practically set and we did not see them. At one point Lisa attempted to do an “elephant” call. We have it on video. We laughed and laughed and laughed watching it back at our cabin that night. Just wait. I will make it on YouTube. In fact, we may just do a whole “Lisa Kerwin Tribute” video. And now that I am thinking about it, Lisa’s “elephant call” just may have been the noise that scared all the animals away from us! It did not sound like an elephant. It was more like a cat caught in a lawnmower. Other than that, the boat ride was a really neat experience. Our boat guide said that he was a civic engineer but got sick of his boring job and decided to do something he liked. So he started this little business and for the most part lives on the boat and knows that whole area like we know the streets of Loveland.
On our way back, it was DARK! All of the teens fell asleep and the driving was up to me. I began to get a little freaked out. I did not like to be on the roads of Africa at night. Instead of a “Duck Xing” or “Beware of deer” sign, I saw beware of elephants signs. That was troubling because I knew if we ran into one of those, the elephant would win. Plus, along the side of the road all you would see are random fires. There were brush fires and camp fires. And then I would see the random persons walking along the side of the road in pitch black darkness coming and going to who knows were. And then just to change it up, there would be a random dog in the middle of the road that would casually get out of our way after staring at our headlights coming towards him. There were no markings on the road, no street lights, no fences or walls or sidewalks. No corner stores or gas stations along the way. Just pitch black darkness. I was so relieved to get back to COZV when we finally arrived. And I think that I pretty much swore to myself to never be on the road again after dark here in Namibia. Also, if I ever bring another group of teens again, I definitely would want to go back to Chobe National Park for our safari. Lisa was really bummed about not seeing as many animals but I thought that since the teens are already telling me how they are coming back again I figured they will get to go to Chobe then. That’s right. The “I am coming back” talk is happening. And I know what you parents are thinking. Once in a lifetime experience will NOT be a repeat! But this is normal and natural for them to say this especially on the weeks after the trip. Some may actually return. That is a possibility. But others may not. Life has a way of having one experience fade a little as new experiences take priority. So I would encourage you to not get caught up in a “You wanna bet?!?” argument. Just let you teen talk all about the trip, show you their pictures, and let them enjoy and soak up their experience over the rest of the Summer.
The exciting thing that happened at COZV while we were gone was the fire! Apparently one of the workers noticed our rather large pile of dried grass that we leveled all around the Epiphany House. I believe very strongly that he knew we boys like fire and we wanted the joy of setting it ablaze. But being a guy himself, he stole our glory and lit it himself! Well apparently the brush wasn’t cleared around the pile and the brush caught on fire while no one was paying attention. All the brush that lead up to the line we cleared around the Epiphany House burned. Had we not done the job that we just did the day before, this fire probably would have ruined all the plumbing and electrical around the building. It may have done even more damage. But thank God for his perfect timing that we did the job we did and cleared a good 6-12 feet all around the house the day before. The fire was put out but the concern was that it could have gotten a lot worse. Thank God it didn’t. The tree with the electrical lines going into the village was somewhat caught up in the blaze but it was put out before any significant damage was done. If that tree would have gone up, that would have fried all the electrical lines going in the village also. But all is well now!
Sickness update: Natalie is feeling better but Travis is still really out of it. They were going to come on the boat safari with us but because he was still not feeling well they stayed back. So keep him in your prayers and thank God that the fire was contained and actually helped to finish our job without doing any damage to the transition house or the rest of the camp for that fact!