Archives for the month of: October, 2012

Wow and did it ever rain! We have entered into the rainy season in earnest. It is almost as if God threw a switch and it turned from dry dry dry to more humid with thunderstorms. The transition seemed to take only a few days. And we have had rain for three days in a row now. Before that it had not rained for maybe 6 months. The storms are pretty intense too. Last night we could hear the thunder in the south and not long after, the rains started and the lightning was incredible. It reminded me of the intensity of the storms in East Texas when we lived there many years ago.

Since the soil is so hard packed and because it rained so hard and so fast the water tends to stay on the surface and then naturally seek the lowest point. The Vision Support Group community garden that we have worked so hard on over the past months is in a low section of the property so it got hit hard last night..

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Here you can see the garden in the distance and the tracks the rain made as it washed directly into the garden. Thankfully the method of gardening used here where “berms” are built around the vegetable patches protected all our vegetables. However, if we had even an hour more of rain it probably would have destroyed everything. Right now this garden is the sole source of income for Vision Support Group. For 5 pula (about 70 cents) you can get a plastic shopping bag full of “moroho” (spinach) or beets greens. Elsa and I had the privilege of tasting the first harvest of carrots from this garden late last week – delicious! They reminded us of Grampy Innis’s (Elsa’s Dad) carrots from his garden in Nova Scotia.

To help direct the water away from the garden I dug a trench. It has been named “Rra Dana’s Ditch” Here is a closer look….

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It’s about 8 to 12 inches deep and around 100 feet long. Thankfully it was not sunny today and the temperatures were much cooler. Not bad for an old guy huh?  I’ll let you know how it works after the next rain.

Jeff

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Outside the HIV testing trailer the African wind swirls high clouds of dust so that it can be heard against the glass like rain – only it is a rain of dust. This morning as I made my 3 k walk from the bus rank I could feel it stinging the backs of my legs as it gusted. The path follows the railroad track for the most part, where endless cars of potash pass. It is a donkey, cow and horse path. Most mornings I share it with some or all of these, or rather they share it with me! It is so dry it seems unlikely there is anything tasty or nutritious for man or beast here. There is a curious yellow fruit the size of cherry tomatoes that nothing eats and it litters the path in abundance. It grows on a very inhospitable shrub whose thorns are at least 3-4 inches long. Goats eat the leaves but not the fruit, but how they navigate the thorns is a mystery and how do they know the attractive yellow fruit is poisonous? I often stop along the way to observe a floating butterfly. It’s a good chance to drink some water. Summer is just getting started and already the full on sun is murderous! Back in the trailer I’ve been talking to Beauty about my dad because today is his birthday. Suddenly I find myself thinking of my Uncle Herb. During our stay hear I’ve  picked up on some negative feelings about the missionary era. Like how Africans were to be given “Christian “ names at the bidding of some missionaries. “Most of the time, Mma Dana, they were names we could not even pronounce and  yet we felt obliged to participate”. I decide to test the waters of this subject with Beauty. Once established that she felt mostly favorable I began “My great Uncle was the first protestant missionary to Kenya. It was a huge undertaking in those days and upon his arrival he was immediately conscripted as a Chaplin into the British army. After completing his obligation to the British he served the remainder of his life as a missionary. He died in Africa and is buried here.” I heard myself for the first time say:” he is buried “here” not “there” and it caught in my throat a little. Quickly on the heels of this thought Beauty asked  “was it worth it? The sacrifice to your family; was it worth it?” It became a bit surreal at that point and I felt the weight of those family gatherings holding their collective breath for my response. I thought of my dad and how his family had once before counted the cost and decided that Africa then and now was definitely worth it, what ever the world might see as loss. “Yes “ I replied  after, the few seconds it took to recover from the poignancy of the moment. “If for no other reason than the rich heritage and legacy that my family posses because of this amazing man, my uncle Herb. A man I never knew, but who may have more to do with my being here than I am likely to know in this life time. Let us jump ahead to my great nieces, nephews and grandchildren. Someday this question may come to them regarding myself and Jeff. Was it worth it? Was Africa worth it to your family ? Yes,a thousand times yes!

Let me add a clarifier at this point. In only a very few ways does my experience compare with my Uncle Herbs’. It is not in any way my intent to compare my brief  two year all expense paid time in Africa to the life long sacrifice  of my missionary uncle and aunt and that of countless others.