The morning began with staff devotions and our teens lead it. They did a great job. Noah opened with pray, of which he got a lot of praise from the adults afterwards.
We sang songs and then Josie, Natalie and Olivia did the devotion on Philippians 4:4-7. Finally Tyler took prayer requests and closed in prayer. I was impressed. They all did a great job.
Today was a very big work day. I wasn’t sure how much we would get done but our team tore it up. We also had the random help here and there that gave us the second wind to keep going. Uncle Leonard wanted us to dig out a 6x6x6 hole for the new septic tank to the Epiphany House. We also needed to dig out one of the existing pipes and a trench that went from the house all the way back to the new hole. Today we were able to get 2 out of 3 done. We got the septic tank hole completed and we also dug up one of the old pipes to the existing septic tank. I must have drank at least 4 liters of water during our dig. Josie was not feeling well so she stayed in her cabin and rested. Natalie and Olivia helped out a lot then after lunch they went to do a Bible lesson with the younger kids. Tyler, Noah and I kept on digging. We got a lot of help from Malinga. That boy can work hard and fast. He made us all look sad. Although he is unable to speak, he would often make gestures that once again seemed to be mocking my work in contrast to him. We had fun. Even though we were just about dead after digging that hole, I got some of the other teens to help us dig out the pipe. It was a pretty easy job with about 5 of us working on it. After that we called it a day.
One of the fascinating things about where we were working was that Uncle Leonard was building a mud hut right next to us. It was very interesting to watch the process of how they put it together. There is a family whose mud hut deteriorated so they are temporarily in the Epiphany House until the new mud house is completed.
Later that afternoon after I got cleaned up, I ended up taking some of the teens to a basketball practice down at the Sports Complex. This was the second time I did this. It was hard to watch the practice. The team only had one basketball post to work with and there must have been about 25 teens total. So they would all line up and one-by-one do layups then jump shots and so on. So of the other teens there seemed like they have never touched a basketball in their lives. Some of them did not understand dsome of the basic drills or how to do a layup. Everything in me wanted to go out and help but I did not want the coaches to be upset with me. Nico and Mateo were the best ones out there. What was funny was that the boys were making their shots until the coach made the rule that if you miss, then you have to do so many pushups. At that point, Mateo starting missing his shots. So I teased him all the way back to COZV about it.
When we got back, our team had a cookout that night. I grilled hamburgers and hot dogs along with help from our teens and Anna who appeared out of the darkness and got my fire going after I spent about 15 minutes on it myself. Of course she got it going very easily and quickly. After out meal our debrief time was run by Travis and Lorna. Travis showed the teens the video called “The Chisel” by the Skit Guys. It was an excellent video of how God shapes us into Christ’s image, and at times, the process can be painful. Then the Curry’s told us their story of how they met and the journey that ended up bringing them here to the Children of Zion Village. It was awesome.
Everyone seems to be feeling better. Travis is finally coming around and Josie is back to normal, so that is good.
On Friday there were many of us going different directions. Tyler, Josie, Natalie and Noah were in charge of digging out the big, long trench that went from the Epiphany House to the 6 foot hole for the septic tank. They eventually recruited Malinga and got the job done in about 2 hours.
Olivia had the experience of helping to take one of the dogs to the local vet. Keep in mind that any type of medical care here is much different than what we are used to in the States. Olivia said it was very interesting.
Lisa, for all of the week, has been helping with teaching over at the school. It has been interesting hearing her talk about the curriculum as it is hard core conservative and heavy on missionaries. She has really enjoyed being with the kids.
I got to go with Travis to go pick up log poles for a mud house. Uncle Leonard came with us and took us at least 45 minutes down a sand path out in the brush. We came up to one village where there were two older guys sitting in chairs under a tree. Travis explained to me that one of the guys was one of the main tribal chiefs of this region. The 2 guys had a very “Godfather” appearance about them more so than what you would think of a tribal chief. Then another older guy came up on a nice bike. Travis was surprised to see him and told me that this was the big, big boss man of the whole area. So it felt like we were in the presence of the President and some Senators. We were very respectful and kind. I just followed Travis’s lead and did what he did. Once we left there we continued down the dirt path, found another guy that was helping us, and eventually came into a clearing that had two trees holding up about 20 log poles. I am always amazed that these guys have any clue where we are at. Everything looks the same but yet we made it to the poles. We loaded them up, headed over to one of Uncle Leonard’s properties, and unloaded the poles there.
As we began to head back, the truck got stuck in the sand really bad. We tried to get it going many times but it just made the situation worse. Uncle Leonard eventually headed off to find help while Travis and I had about 30-45 minutes to kill time. We had a lot of great conversation. Leonard came back with about 10 high school aged boys all dressed up nice for school. They all helped us get out quickly then we gave them a lift back to their school. It is very interesting that although many of these people live in mud hut villages, their schools and churches are nice solid cinderblock buildings that would pass for any of our churches or smaller schools. It shows that they place a high importance on education and faith. We thanked the school administrator and he told us anytime you need help in proximity to the school, he is more than willing to give us students to help. Everyone was very well dressed and very friendly.
We eventually made it back to the main road and headed into town. We checked on the paint. It is there but they still need to do inventory and mix the paint so it will be ready tomorrow. Yeah, I am already placing my bets on that one. At least if we do get the paint on Saturday, we can get a lot of the teenagers to help and make the job go faster.
When we got back to COZV we enjoyed an afternoon of play! I have been feeling guilty because the kids and teens want to do things together (sports and games) but I just haven’t had an extended period of time in the past few days. I have been really focused on our team getting a lot of work done around the village. So this was a much needed break for the work. We played volleyball for a while. Then Tyler took it upon himself to try and teach these guys American football. It was actually quite funny. They kept on turning it into rugby. If someone was about to be tackled they would throw the ball. They had a hard time understanding all the stopping and starting of football, and when the ball is down. But they were eventually catching on. It was fun to eventually watch Tyler get brutally tackled by Malinga. Once some of them got frustrated enough with football, we switched over to their style of football – soccer. Their whole soccer field is covered in a very fine sand. So when you play sports in there you have to deal with a large cloud of sand. My lungs have most likely sucked in about a pound of this sand. After that we played some table games until dinner time. We played this new game called Farkle. It is a game that my family has played for years that we called 5000. Of course someone else marketed it off and is reaping the rewards. Yet another idea I failed to capitalize on!
We ate dinner over at the Curry’s. Lisa made one of her famous pasta dinners. It was very good. I am getting to the point that my appetite is not what it usually is. I’m not sure why. I’m not sick or anything, just not hungry. I think my body is needing food I am used to back home. Also, I have never slept as much as I have than on this trip. We all have such a busy day constantly working or entertaining kids that we just crash almost immediately when we get back to our cabins around 9 or 10.
After dinner we had some German South African group stop in to do a puppet show. When I got over to the meeting house the show was wrapping up. The kids seemed to like it but our teens were kind of surprised by the lack of quality and the shortness of the program. So to bring things up a notch it was time for “India Love Story!” Jimmy and I tried to make adlib comments through the show but we were told “Be serious!” by many of the kids. After the TV show we played music and did a little dancing. Lisa bought some really nice, warm pajamas for the little kids. So we handed those out, watched then change very fast and then show off their new clothes! A lot of SpongeBob and Transformers pj’s. It was awesome. The little boys asked me to read them stories before they went to sleep. We did the David and Goliath story and then “If a Mouse Asks You For A Cookie”. When we made it back to the cabins, we all crashed hard.