Monday, December 29, 2008

New Neighbor, Part 2

Oh my, I didn't realize this snail is Melvin! I've heard so much about him; I mean, he's practically legendary. Melvin is well known around these parts. (Thanks, Lacey, for the heads up!)

Sunday, December 28, 2008

New Neighbor

For those of you that don't know we have officially moved. We are no longer staying up the road at the "Farm," but instead we are staying down the road on the ASM campus where our offices are located. We completed the move after staying at Bernard and Julia's house for a week. We had a wonderful time swimming and relaxing, and now we are getting settled into our new home, "Westmont." No one is really sure where the name Westmont came from, but it is painted just above the door when you walk in. It is considerably bigger than our last place with three bedrooms and two bathrooms. We won't be alone however, our friend Levy from Zambia will be sharing the house with us. Levy as it turns out will be gone for the first three months of the year though. He is going to Zambia to help out with the projects there and help start a new community based organization (CBO) in Eastern Zambia.

Since we have moved in on Friday it has pretty much not stopped raining. I know it is the "rainy season" here and I shouldn't be surprised, but 36 straight hours of rain is quite a lot. Okay 36 straight hours might be an exaggeration, it might have stopped for an hour or two somewhere in there. Rain here is so loud on our tin roof. The drops sound like hailstones sound when hitting cars back in Minnesota. Since it is raining we haven't gone out much and with the constant pounding it is like we are in some sort of torture cell where the noise just won't go away!! It really isn't as bad as I am making it sound and because of all the rain it is getting incredibly green outside.

The rain also brought something else I thought was fairly interesting. The biggest snail I have ever seen in my life!!! Okay, so I know I am from Minnesota and we probably don't have very big snails there, but I have been in Africa for 17 months now and I have seen some, what I thought were, big snails. They would be about the size of a half dollar, or for you Canadians a "loony." But the snail I saw today was about 2/3 the size of my foot! I found him climbing up the exterior wall of the house. I'm sure that with all the rain wherever this guy usually stays is getting extremely wet, so I think he might have been looking for a new home. Let's just hope the rain stops soon. I'm not sure what other huge creatures are looking for a new home.
Our new neighbor

Our friend next to Brooke's shoe
(he shrunk up a little bit when I put the shoe next to him)

Here he is full size
(if you look at the picture above he can even retract his antennae)

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Sports Santa, the bane of my existence

By request, I'm posting a photo of the infamous stocking. I will fill you in on the background of this stocking fiasco...Three years ago today, Kim presented Mike with a beautiful felt stocking she had embroidered and appliqued. It was beautiful, with birds, which is perfect, because Mike is a bird nut. Kim and I also have really nice handmade felt stockings that our mom appliqued for us years ago. Of course, when I purchased the kit to make Jed a stocking (called "Sports Santa" perfect for Jed) two years ago, I wasn't feeling any pressure at all. Ha! Well, the stocking didn't get made two years ago, because it didn't come in the mail until just before Christmas. I packed it to come to South Africa (seriously) and worked on it last year for months, off and on. (I can only work on it for an estimated 64 hours before I get so sick of it I have to put it away for a few months.) Anyway, it's finally finished!

Maybe you really have to see it to appreciate it. There are 172 pieces of felt involved, many of which were stuffed, embroidered, sequined and/or appliqued. The bowling pins hang, the soccer ball and the tennis racket come out of Santa's bag, and the three golf clubs (one driver and two irons) can be taken out of the golf bag. (What was I thinking? I'm not sure it was worth it.) Anyway, I'm so happy it's done. Now poor Jed has to guard this thing with his life for the rest of my life. Merry Christmas, honey!

Christmas in South Africa

Merry Christmas Everyone!

We wish we were back in Minnesota with our families today. This Christmas was tougher to be away than last year probably because it has been another whole year since we have seen most of you. We are dreaming of a white Christmas but have a 'wet' Christmas instead. We got in a little bit of swimming before it started raining yesterday. We had Emily, a co-worker from Zimbabwe, and her niece (Faith) and nephew (Divine) over for Christmas eve. Watched a movie, played Yahtzee and Twister and had a great barbecue for dinner.

Divine and Faith playing Twister

Divine and Emily enjoying the pool

Last night we went to Christmas eve service last night at the Catholic church in White River. It was really nice, but nothing like church back home. There were only like 30 people there. Probably will be much busier on Christmas Day.

Today we are going to George and Carolyn's house for a Christmas barbecue, we are bringing bacon wrapped weenies! We will probably get a call from our parents today as well, looking forward to hearing how their Christmas is going. Tonight we will probably go to bed early; Brooke was complaining about not getting enough sleep last night. Something about midnight mass and somebody waking her up early to open presents? Not really sure what she means, I let her sleep until 6:45!

Anyway we wish you all a merry Christmas and a happy new year! We miss you all.


Jed and Brooke

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Gift for U

The heart of Hands at Work is to mobilize the African church to reach the continent's most vulnerable children, to reach 100,000 orphaned and vulnerable children that would otherwise not be reached. And we are striving to reach them by the end of 2010 by caring for the basic health, education and food security of each child at just $15 per month.

Click here to learn more about our Christmas campaign.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Where is Jessie?

The other night, around 10pm, I got a strange text message from Busie, a Hands volunteer who lives on campus. This is Busie -->

I was at home at the farm, trying to get through some emails; Jed was sleeping (and probably had been for like 2 hours by the way). Busie's message said "Is jessie up there?" I thought that was really weird. Jessie lives near campus, just up the hill a bit, with a bunch of other international volunteers. This is Jessie -->

Jessie is a very sweet girl who happens to be a UNC alum. (Go Tarheels!) She's been volunteering here since August. Anyway, I couldn't imagine why Busie would think she would be up at the farm so late on a weeknight. I called Busie and told her I was worried about Jessie. I asked her to call Lacey, Jessie's roommate, and then call me back.

Busie sent another text message 20 minutes later. It said, "She not up there [with Lacey]...Trust she'll come home wheneva. She does this sumtyms...I'll keep checking the balcony b4 I sleep cause thats where she sleeps when she comes late."


What!? She must be kidding. And is Jessie staying with Busie? I'm confused! So I called Busie again and asked her if Jessie was staying with her. Yes, she said. Busie then said that the Brooke-Smith kid had been over later, and she thought maybe Jessie followed him home. I thought that was really weird, but I asked her if this was something Jessie had done before, staying out late like this. Busie didn't seem to think it was that big a deal. "And she just sleeps on the veranda? Huh?" I asked. Then there was a long pause...

Oh, wait a second...

Jessie the DOG! Oh my goodness it all makes sense now. Busie is staying at Myburgh's, and they have a dog named Jessie! Whew! This is Jessie the dog -->

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Snakes on a plane...I mean at the farm

So we had some excitement around the farm yesterday...a scary snake. It was awesome! We've heard stories about snakes at the farm this past year, but this is the first we've seen with our own eyes. I should tell you a story about how it came at us and Jed smashed it's head, but it went more like this:

1. Jed heard something in the bushes and thought it was a lizard (because it usually is).
2. He saw it slither (not a lizard!) and ran in the house to get me.
3. We went outside and found it hiding, all coiled-up.
4. According to Jed, the snake spit at him. That report is, however, unconfirmed.
5. I ran across the yard to get our friend Westen, a large Zimbabwean man who luckily happened to be visiting.
6. Westen crushed the snake with a scary weapon (the one Marc's uncle bought), and threw it over the electric fence.

I hate to even venture a guess at what kind of snake it was. Westen thought it looked like a Mozambiquan spitting cobra. We tried to find a picture online, and it pretty much looked exactly like this black mamba. ..

Yes, it's poisonous either way. But just to reassure our mothers, (despite the report about spitting) the thing was generally petrified of us. Also, if it makes you feel any better, we're moving to campus in about a week.

Whew! That was enough excitement for our Saturday.

Friday, December 5, 2008

What have we always said is the most important thing?

Today was a hard day…a sad day. Today we said goodbye to two of our favorite people in the whole world…


and Marc...

Joey is a Peace Corps Volunteer from New York. Joey is funny. In fact, he’ll do almost anything for a laugh. He’s an incredibly loyal friend. He’s hairy and a little smelly, but he’s also a magician, and that makes up for it. He’s also an awesome photographer and a musician. Joey loves us, and we love him.

Marc is a Hands at Work volunteer from Canada. He is a big Flames fan, but he plays hockey with Jed, so that makes up for it. Marc loves God, deeply and quietly. We like to watch Arrested Development with Marc, because he laughs SO hard. (Ta da!) He also likes politics and economics, and his ping pong game is much improved. Marc loves us, and we love him.

We’re going to miss these guys SO much! But we’re excited to see what’s in store for both of them in 2009.

Joey on Kristy on Jed at In-service Training (IST)

Buhle and her favorite pillow

Three hockey-teers: Dan, Marc, and Jed