Monday, March 29, 2010

Just Like That

I really should post more prayer requests on this blog because thus far almost every single one of them has been answered within a day or two of me finally posting them. God's just cool like that...just like this rainbow that just popped up over the river on our way home tonight...but much more so ;-) But anyway, I'll start this one with a couple of praises before I get to the irony and thus another prayer post. Sarah and I got out safely this morning (#1), and even in our own boat (#1.5) since it had to be taken to town to get fixed...and it did! The boat was fixed today (#2)! BUT the vehicle I didn't take (#3.7) to Zambia today broke (next prayer up to bat); right after the boat got fixed, of course. So that's next up on the list of prayers for whoever is the prayer warrior responsible for all these next-day air to Africa prayer answers ;-)

ok so I just spent a halfhour trying to upload this crazy (but beautiful) picture of the rainbow over the river that appeared today, but African internet has decided to take a vacation to Cuba...sorry.
this just in...the internet has returned from Cuba...

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Party Animals

Katima continued to celebrate its national birthday even this weekend. Yesterday there was a large festival in town commemorating their 20th birthday with traditional dances and such in the morning (so i hear, and so i saw being cleaned up) and then in the afternoon there was a soccer game by some of our boys. Sarah and I took Mona in for her own birthday festivities and we were even able to convince/conn an official to give the 2 white representatives free tshirts and super cool visors that were meant only for performers. Two of our boys, Goty and Petro, have been selected from among the regional club teams to represent the Caprivi region in the Coca-Cola Cup coming up next weekend in Windhoek and they played a pre-game against Zambia at the festival yesterday and won. This will be a nationally televised event and a great honor for our boys to be a part of--and of course they are both only a little more than stoked.

Speaking of competing, the Namibian national track and field event was held this weekend also. Unfortunately Goty found out at the last minute that he didn't actually qualify to compete and only by seconds, but at least this way he was around to qualify for the Coca-Cola Cup. But also at the last minute, literally 15 minutes before closing time the night before she was to leave, Lisedi got all the paperwork she needed and was able to go! But the biggest news lies with Djolo. He received the bronze medal in his national competition. He is officially the 3rd fastest runner of the 200 m race in all of Namibia (for the Under 15 age category)!! We are still waiting to hear if his time will qualify him to go any further, but this excitment is enough for now.

In other news, there is a big prayer need from Gilligan's Island. The boat broke this morning. It is running only on 1 cylinder and stalls whenever you go to put it in gear and thus is 92 % nonfunctional. Dave has spent all day trying to fix it, but to no avail thus far. He was able to arrange for some boat fixers to come tomorrow, but please pray that it can be fixed quickly. He was also able to arrange a ride to town in a neighbor's boat for Sarah and I since I have to take her to the airport early tomorrow, but we have had to cancel school since we can't get the teachers here. Even things like food can only get picked up by boat.
Pictured here is Margaret (Dave's wife), Lorna (newcoming director), and myself bailing out the boat after too much rain a few weeks ago. Dogbowls have many uses here along the Zambezi ;-)

Friday, March 26, 2010

Phone Outage

This announcement is only a few days late, but better late than never. As of now, we will NOT be evacuating this year!!!! (knock on wood). And its all due to a phone outage...and answered prayers of course. Last Friday we were mandated by the regional counciler to evacuate, but Friday night the phones went out and were out until Saturday night. We thus didn't have a way to finalize our evacuation location. But also starting Friday night, the rising water levels slowed drastically to the point that by the end of the weekend it had even stopped rising! At this point we decided to use the phone outage as a nice excuse to delay the orders to evacuate. When he was talked to again on Tuesday, he agreed that we did not have to evacuate immediately. And since the waters have continued to not rise--and even went down just a little--I dont think we will be evacuating. We are of course still having to function as an island and go everywhere by boat, but at least we are still here...all thanks to a phone outage (and answered prayers!) :-)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Fish are Friends, Not Food...

The waters have slowed (answered prayers!!), but have not yet stopped. Now it is rising maybe only an inch or 2 per day at most and the majority of the effects now are seen as the water is filling in the little valleys throughout the compound. There is not yet water in any of the buildings (except for the one staff house just outside the compound, pictured below), but it is less than 20 feet from my front door. The river/puddles/ponds/water (whichever you prefer) is currently knee-deep and full of fish in some of the common walking paths are there is no way around it. The garden is now full of water and creeping up from the back, non-river, side of the children's home, which is flooding our septic systems (another prayer request).

We have officially been mandated by the regional counciler to evacuate the property and weer going to do so today, but, due to an opportune phone outage from Friday night till Saturday night, we were unable to finalize an evacuation point and thus have not yet evacuated. We weren't mandated to leave beacuse of immediate danger, but rather so we don't get caught at that point. But now with the waters slowing, we are hoping to maybe reconvince him otherwise. Please keep praying for this. There are alot of logistics and extra expenses involved in evacuation and, as excited as the kids are and as much adventure as we dont already have, it wouldn't be ideal.

Until then, this compound continues to operate as an island. The only way to get anywhere is by boat. Even our neighboring villages are completely blocked by water.

Happy Birthday Namibia!

Namibia is offically no longer a teenager; she turns 20 today! Long dwelled by its nautural inhabitants, it became a German colony in the late 1880's and then later came under South African rule during WWI and became known as South West Africa. After much German genocide and apartheid, SWAPO (South West Africa People's Organization) was formed in the 1960's and decided to organize independance. 22 years of war later, it sucessfully became an independant republic and is now a free, developing, sucessful nation.

The kids commemorated their independence day this past Friday with a big celebration in school. The older ones all took turns giving presentations on Namibia's history. Furthermore, there was lots of hip action as everyone from the young to the old performed several traditional dances. And, of course, no celebration is complete with out snacks :-)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Swallow First

For the past 6 months, 2 of our kids have been on full TB treatment while another 20 have been on prophylactic TB meds for contact and high risk. That boosted the number of kids getting daily meds up drastically as for the last 6 months over 30 of our kids have been getting meds daily for everything from HIV to epilepsy to anemia to of course, TB. It got a little chaotic at times…especially when I forgot to tell the 4 year olds to swallow before telling them to open their mouths to show me they’d finished. But now all of our kids are officially TB free and no longer being treated. Giving meds has just gotten a whole lot easier (only twenty-some now) just in time for a possible evacuation sometime soon. We even had a little celebration with my new friends at the TB clinic today. The nurses will no longer cringe when I show up with huge stacks of medical books to collect medication!!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Runnin' Wild

After many weeks of training and competing, 3 of our kids have done it…they have qualified for the Namibian national running competition in Swakopmund, Namibia. If they win there, they will move on to an internationally hosted competition!

About a month ago, many of our kids competed in a large junior and secondary school track and field competition for all of the Katima area. Being one of the smallest schools in the area, we did exceptionally well. We came home with seven 1st places, eight 3rd places, and four 3rd places. Goty (top photo) got first place in the 1500 m and the 100 m, Lisedi (middle photo, maroon jersey) got first place in the 400 m, the 200 m, and the 100 m, and Djolo (bottom photo, green jersey) got first in the 200 m. These were the 3 that qualified to move onto the regional competition, held yesterday.

At the regional competition both Goty and Djolo won 1st place again in their respective races. Lisedi competed only in the 200m and 400m, but also still won 1st place. They are all 3 very excited to be able to continue on to the national level in Swakopmund, but please pray for some lost paperwork issues with Lisedi. If they are not able to be obtained soon, it may keep her from competing. It has already kept her from competing at the national level in soccer this past June.

Speaking of which, I never got around to blogging about it, but there were similar regional to national level competitions held for both basketball and soccer this past June and July. Ten of our kids qualified for each at the national level and traveled to Windhoek to compete. There were a couple that even came very close to qualifying for the international level in soccer. Since it was only their first time in this type of competition, many have high hopes of doing much better this year since they know more of what to expect.


So, what good is a blog about a flood with no pictures of water?? Sorry bout that. The first two pics were taken right outside my house. The top one was taken this afternoon while the second shows what the same place looked like just a month and a half ago.

This last picture is of the trees, or what’s left of them, on Hippo Island located just across from the children’s home.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Just Keep Swimming, Just Keep Swimming...

I apologize for no real update on the flood yet, but it is most certainly upon us. You may remember me posting a few blogs this time last year about the flood. That was the first time the flooding was bad enough for evacuation of COZV. Well, this past year’s hot season needed to be very hot to get the water tables even close to where they needed to be and that didn’t happen. We also didn’t get anywhere near the rain we should have in the so called “rainy season,” but with the water tables not going down combined with continuous rain in Angola equals flood time yet again.

Last Saturday we began stage one of evacuation…all vehicles that couldn’t drive through wheel-deep water exited stage left. There is a 4 km dirt road back to the children’s home in which the puddles have now become ponds and the small rickety bridge is now under water. When I left to take Ray and the Curry’s to the airport on Thursday morning we had to take the pickup truck out to the other vehicles and got out just shortly before the bridge covered over. By the time I returned on Friday, I had to be brought back by boat.

Today has started stage 2.37…the packing and laying of sandbags. We went in this morning and bought 500 bags (we hope to not use them all) from the mill and everyone has been packing and laying all day. The water is quite close to my house now. There used to be a very large dry area between my house and the river, but the river is now just a few meters from my front door. The water has already crossed the fence in one spot and in another is rushing towards the staff housing just outside the compound.
The mighty Zambezi has been rising at a rate of at least 3 inches per day and sometimes up to 8 for a total of more than 8.5 feet in just 3 and a half weeks. (If) and when evacuation time comes, we will be camping in a plot of 6 ft high grass graciously lent to us by the Catholic priest unless we can find a better accommodations last minute. We will have to supply our own food, water, housing, septic, etc. Talk about a chaotic camping trip…never fear, adventure is near.

Please pray for wisdom in the evacuation timing (never would be fantastic) and procedures as well as safety for everyone in the area. It is of course not just us being flooded out, but many, many villages as well. Some in the western Caprivi have already been evacuated. Please pray for their health, safety, and for God’s provisions of the relief needs all along the Zambezi this year.

Changing of the Guard

Ever since the Minks retired from COZV this past August, the stateside board of directors has been fervishly praying and seeking out new full-time directors. And as God’s perfect will and timing would have it, Travis and Lorna Curry magically crossed their radar screen. They had just recently finished their missionary training and were seeking out God’s placement for them when the two paths crossed. And now there are only a few minor steps (ok, really major—like quitting their jobs, selling everything they own, and raising support) to go before they will be here full-time in September.

But these past 2 weeks were extra special as they were both able to get time off work for a honeymoon preview of their new lives to come. It was really a privilege and honor to be able to meet them in person and see first hand the love and heart they already have for these kids, the staff, and the surrounding community here. They both have a great job ahead of them (who doesn’t raising 57 kids) but I can’t think of 2 more spiritually prepared and equipped people to tackle it. Plus they both have a great sense of humor…that, God, and patience are the magic keys to survival here. You can check out their blog at to follow their own dialogue.

So that’s the long-term change of the guard, but there has been a short-term exchange as well. Ray Mastnjak, a member of the COZ Board, has been the interim director here for the last 6 months and has done a wonderful job at stabilizing a frenzied world, implementing a new management system, and building productive relationships with the community. Dave Walker is next in line to return to director duty, but until then Jenny and I are up to bat. For the next 6 weeks Jenny will be the director here and I will be the business manager. I’m already walking crooked by the weight of the extra keys on my belt and we are less of a few cows after my first ever payroll last month. Its fun learning to do new things, but please also pray we survive ; ) Things are already a little more than insane with the imminent flood.