Friday, November 23, 2007

The Day After

Pumpkin Pie

Well, Thanksgiving was a huge success. Although the Pumpkin Pie left something to be desired. It was amazing to see everyone together and the food was great. Jean Aimee, from Texas, headed up the whole feast and I must say she did a fantastic job. The Turkey was incredible. We had everything, mashed potatoes, squash, green bean casserole, turkey, ham, rolls, stuffing (homemade because stove-top doesn't exist here), salad, and pies (apple, lemon meringue, chocolate, and pumpkin, with ice cream too)! I'm not sure what it is about stove-top stuffing. With how easy it is to make and how good it tastes I have no idea why it wouldn't sell everywhere. But, I guess if your country doesn't celebrate Thanksgiving the market gets limited. They must do half of their business for the year on that day alone. The pumpkin pie was decent, but not anywhere near anything you could get at a bakery in the states. So two items that we will have shipped from home next year for Turkey Day are stove-top and a can of pumpkin pie filling.
The spread

Ruth carving the Turkey
We stayed up late sharing stories of Thanksgiving's past and talking to our families. It was so great to hear some of your voices again. Side note to Jake and Sandy (brother and sister-in-law) if you guys are trying to get us to come home and visit before our two years are up you might have just convinced us. Congratulations! We will continue to pray for you two! Back to last night. So I mentioned it was over 100 yesterday, so last night sleeping was very uncomfortable. It must have been about 90 in the room I slept in. Then came the storm. Massive thunderstorm last night. I am thankful that I stayed up at the farm with a bunch of other people, but it was still scary. At about 4 in the morning the whole place shook with a flash of light and a crack a split second later. We woke up this morning with no power. After going outside we saw two trees that had been struck by lightning just feet from the house. Luckily neither tree fell. It could have been much worse, but needless to say I am extremely tired today. I am looking forward to Brooke coming home. She was pretty disappointed she didn't get to celebrate Thanksgiving on the farm. I did get to talk with her, and I'm pretty sure her family got through to her as well. And that is what makes Thanksgiving important, family! Although football and food are pretty high up there too j/k.
Tree One

Tree Two
Well as promised it is now time for the question of the week. Thanks to all who contributed to last week's question. I am not going to say I won't allow people to go back and still answer it, but if you go back and answer last week's question you must also answer this weeks question. We had already thought about what else we would like our blog to become, and we felt introducing you to some of the people we meet here would be a good way for you to connect with us. So we want to put together a list of interview questions to ask. So this week's question is:

What do you want to ask a South African? Do you want to know what their daily life is like? What is their favorite food? Be creative, and in the coming weeks we will introduce you to some of the amazing people we work with.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving Day!

Well here it is, Thanksgiving Day. Just a couple of things about Thanksgiving in South Africa. It is 100 degrees out today. Stores don't sell pumpkin pie or pumpkin pie filling. One of the American volunteers with Hands at Work went to a local bakery and asked if they could make a pumpkin pie, and they had no idea what to do. They got a recipe off the internet and made it though. We picked it up today and it was 5 times as expensive as any other pie they had. We haven't tasted it yet, but I'll let you know how that goes. It should be interesting. It looks right, but looks can be deceiving. Brooke is away today. She left yesterday and gets back on Friday. She is in Mafikeng for a conference on Monitoring and Evaluation. For those of you who don't know where Mafikeng is scroll down to the bottom and look at the map. I feel sad that we will be apart. I feel especially bad for her because there are many American volunteers with Hands at Work and we are having a Thanksgiving Dinner. I hope everyone is having a fun time eating turkey and sharing the day with friends and family. We miss you all. Thanks for the participation in the question of the week. Next week's question comes tomorrow, so get your last minute entries in for last week's question today. Remember let's try to keep up to date. Thanks.
Sorry this post is short. I'll make up for it tomorrow with pictures to boot.

Friday, November 16, 2007

No News is Good News?

Hello Everyone,

I know it has been over a week since our last post. We are trying to post at least once a week to keep people coming back. Brooke was in Joburg all last week for a conference on M&E (Monitoring and Evaluation) and I was extremely sick. I came down with a bit of a flu. It started Tuesday night and finally subsided on Friday. It was extremely difficult, but at least it is over. I think Brooke felt disappointed she was gone when I was sick, but I also think she might have secretly been happy. I later found out she told a co-worker she was on the trip with how she was happy she wasn't there. I know it would have been sleepless nights for her as well as me if she would have been there and there really wasn't anything she could have done had she been there. This week I am suffering with a cold, and it seems as though I might have passed it on to Brooke as this morning she told me her throat is starting to hurt and she feels physically drained. We haven't done much traveling around the area for the past two weeks. I know it seems as though our blog has become more of a travel brochure than what we have been doing here. We will try to do a better job of letting people know what we are up to not just where we have gone.

Brooke has been working extremely hard on the M&E side of things. They really are lucky to have her here. She is doing some amazing work. Right now she is helping set up a program that will help document some of the 2,000 or so orphans our organization is caring for in Masoyi. I am starting to get moving on an Income Generating Activities Center (IGA) for the orphans and vulnerable children we serve. We are trying to create a vehicle for them to start their own businesses as well as looking for local business partners that would be willing to hire them. The IGA center will provide business and entrepreneurial skills as well as develop customer service skills and other training local businesses want. Hopefully this will allow the children who are getting to an age where they no longer qualify for child grants opportunities to earn an income. I am really excited about starting this task and can already see it will keep me busy over the upcoming year.

Other than the occasional illness things are starting to come together. It's hard to believe in 5 days we will have been in South Africa for four months already. The time is really flying by. We will have our IST (in-service training) coming up in early December (2-8), and we are looking forward to seeing so many of the other volunteers we haven't seen since coming to site, as well as receiving more training on what is expected of us over the next two years. We also will be moving soon. We are moving on to campus on November 26th for about two months while we apartment sit for a couple who will be in New Zealand until mid January. Their place isn't huge, but it does have indoor plumbing, shower, and kitchen. And although it isn't huge I did some measuring during my time home sick and found where we are staying now is only 100 sq. ft. Hard to believe that Brooke and I are still getting along so well. It is really amazing how much we have already grown as a couple. I really don't have much else to say except thanks for the mail we have been getting. Uncle Greg, you have been fantastic at providing me updates with newspaper clippings and all. Sometimes I wish you were sending me better news, gopher football, the T-Wolves, the Vikings, and Twins have all kind of disappointed this year. I guess there is always hope for the wild, and we'll see if Tubby can crack open the Big Ten for Gopher B-ball, good luck with that! We also want to thank all of those who are praying for us. It means a lot to know we are being supported. We miss you all.

Finally I am going to close with a question. Our blog has not been very interactive up to this point as you can see we aren't getting many comments. So I am going to start a new feature, whether it stays or not will depend on how successful it is. I am going to start, "The question of the WEEK!?" This week's question has two parts -- What do you want to see/read more about from our blog? and/or What do you want to see/read on our blog that you haven't seen yet? Take your time and think about it, but please let us know what you want. But remember you only have a week to answer, although I guess you can always respond to previous posts, but let's try to stay up to date.


Sunday, November 4, 2007

Is 7:30 too early to go to bed on a Friday night?

Brooke and Jed enjoying the views

Here we are at Blyde River Canyon. Ma Flo, again, was our wonderful tour guide. We spent all day going to different viewing sites along the canyon. It was magnificent. Every time we were amazed with the view. The most amazing things we saw were Bourke's Luck Pot Holes. It is a rock formation created by the river. Here is a little clip of what it looks like. Hope you enjoy! We will try to post more videos, but posting them takes....a....long.....time. While this video was loading we: went swimming in the pool at work (very refreshing it is about 95 today), dried off, checked out a couple of other websites, got a drink from the fountain, read a book, just kidding on that last one. But it takes a while, about an hour and a half for this video. Luckily it is Sunday today and we don't have much else to do.

Blyde River Canyon

Bourke's Luck Potholes

Blyde River Canyon

Another view of Blyde River Canyon

Simply amazing...looks like the edge of the world

Three Rondevals