Wednesday, May 19, 2010

preggy ladies

today we went on a tour of the hospital where our baby will be born. they give 2 tours a month so it is important to be there one of those two days and be there on time so you don't miss anything. i didn't expect to be on a tour with 20 other ladies. i'm pretty sure it was the largest crowd of pregnant ladies i have ever seen. we were cute- all at different stages.
the tour was nice. a few funny things about it:
- only one person can be in the delivery room with you. some ladies found this difficult saying they didn't know how they could choose between their mother or their husbands.
- we got to go into the delivery room. we didn't even wash our hands first, just went in and touched anything we wanted.
- after the baby is born and before i go downstairs to my recovery room the following things happen: the baby is cleaned and weight and given to my birthing partner (dan), i am stitched up if necessary, if i am able to stand up i can take a shower, otherwise they will freshen me up, and (my favorite) give me a cup of tea. i haven't ever talked about how important tea is here. maybe i will have to make a whole post about it. but it is important and why i was surprised that a cup of tea will be given to me, i'm not sure but i was. and it made me laugh.
- for an extra $250 i can have my own room instead of sharing (as long as there is room). otherwise my delivery and 2 -3-day-stay will be $405 ($5 is the booking fee).

it is strange to think about this baby actually coming out of me and then having to take care of it. everyone tells me that you never really feel ready and even afterwards you never really feel like you are qualified but the Lord gets you through each day. :) i'll just rest in that truth.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010


being pregnant far from friends, family, and the familiar has had it's challenges. one of these is trying to find things for me or this coming baby. maternity clothes have proven quite difficult to find. but lately God, being perfect, has supplied for my needs just in time. until last week i was still able to fit into my normal trousers (pants- but i am training myself in this new vocabulary because pants mean something else here and it is awkward to talk about in public). my friend misty had sent me two pairs of trousers but since it is getting warm in the states all she could find to send me were short or thin and short-sleeved tops. and God knew that while these were helpful it is getting cooler and cooler here and i would need something to keep me a bit warmer. so a lady from my bible study showed up with two bags of maternity clothes from her daughters- thankfully mostly long trousers and long sleeved tops! wow. i hadn't even shared my need and God was providing for me.
last week we also received news that we were receiving a cloth diaper grant from Cotton Babies. they are providing us with half of the cloth diapers we will need! it is such a gift from the Lord to have things supplied and we just praise Him for His generosity towards us.


Monday, May 10, 2010

sneezing my head off

Today turned out nothing like we expected. First, some background: this month we’ll be demonstrating how to make high-quality thermal compost as a sustainable alternative to chemical fertilizer. We tasked all of our trainees with gathering the needed materials, which are (for the most part) green plant matter, dry plant matter and manure. The manure was proving difficult/costly for most churches, so we thought of a way to help without continuing the long legacy of handouts. We (us and Joseph and Vivian) decided last-minute to go to a chicken farm, buy manure in bulk, and sell it to the participating churches at cost. Well, actually a little bit above cost to cover fuel, but still way below the price on the street. We left the demo farm at 11:30 and headed toward the farm. First, of course, we had to find a place to leave Joseph's motorbike that is on the way to the farm but also on the way from the farm to our first dropoff spot. Not a problem, really, it's just that stopping anywhere entails greetings, small talk, and goodbyes. So it chewed up 30 minutes. But again, not a problem--this is Africa.

We "pitched up" at the farm (as they say) at 12:30, which we thought was a reasonable time to expect service, since lunch time here is a strict 1pm. But it turns out these workers take lunch at 12, meaning there was no one there to shovel manure into our truck. Oh, and there also wasn't any high quality manure left, just the low quality stuff. Hmm. As is often the case here, if you stand around and talk and insist long enough, somebody thinks of another idea. So we eventually hopped in the truck with a guy from accounting who took us to this manure pile, then another, then another, and finally to an enormous pile of decent manure. Somehow this pile didn't make it into the original calculation. Rather than wait for the manure-shovelers (and have to pay them), we thought it reasonable to do it ourselves. With one shovel between us. You know how some things seem way easier before you do them? I forgot to mention that the manure was dry and dusty.

Anyway, we shovel and scoop by hand for 30 minutes, after which we, and our truck, are covered in manure dust. I wasn't sneezing that much at the time, but after a few hours, after the dust had worked its way in....I was a mess, which only claritin and tylenol PM could solve. I wasn't that worried, because I've gotten loads of dust in my lungs before, wheezed for a night, and been better the next day. This time, I wouldn't say I was all better the next day, but certainly by day #3. But back to the truck....we drove to three churches to unload the manure (again by shovel/hand). Home by 6pm isn't so bad, I figure. But I have no regrets--we rescued three compost demos, the pastors were grateful for a good deal, and we experienced the delightful bewilderment of a day in Africa that went nothing like planned.

And we get to do it again next week...this time with an extra shovel.

loading up a sack by hand!
unloading at a church


Thursday, May 6, 2010

the wedding of the year

Weddings (Christian weddings, or "church weddings," as opposed to "traditional" marriages) are a big deal here. More people go into debt, it seems, to throw an extravagant wedding celebration than for any other reason. Weddings here are an interesting blend of Shona and western culture, and no two are alike. We've been to three weddings so far and the one last weekend was definitely my favorite (our pastor's only son, Tendai, was the lucky guy).

So, as with weddings in the states, they require a lot of coordination. But, unlike the States, transportation is scarce here, so offering to help with transportation is a big deal...and that's what we did. Honestly, I thought I would just be carrying chairs and people from the ceremony at the church to the reception a few miles away. But the night before the wedding I got a call from Tendai's "transportation manager" asking me to drive to the mother-in-law's house (about 30 miles away) to pick up people and gifts at 6:30am. Not so bad, really, but there's more. So I drove first to the "tm's" house and then in a caravan to the mining village where mom-in-law lives. All in all, we were two pick-ups, two cars, and two minibuses...and by the time we left they were all packed. So back to Harare we go.

Zimbabweans have this great tradition of honking their horns incessantly as they approach the site of the wedding, to let everyone in the neighborhood know that he and she will soon be off the market. Actually we did the same thing as we were leaving the wife's village as well. It's kind of obnoxious when you're an innocent bystander but behind the wheel it was kind of fun. :) Every moment, from the donning of the dress to the after-party, is caught on video. To that end, I had a video man standing in the bed of my truck so he could capture the caravan as we drove through town. When the bride finally reaches church and disembarks, she is not allowed to step on the ground. Instead, women take turns laying their "zambias"--cloths which are usually wrapped around their waists as an extra layer--down in front of her. This energetic game of leapfrog continues all the way to the front of the church!

The ceremony itself is pretty standard--vows, rings, sermon, pronouncement. [As a side note, this was the only wedding of the three we've been to that was done in Shona (the others in English), which I was so pleased with. I know, English is the cool, modern, cosmopolitan way to go here, but vows in a second language?] Then, strangely, the cakes come out (well, they were there all along). Instead of the wedding cake(s) being a much-anticipated dessert for the guests, it is conscripted into service of the Shona custom of honoring your in-laws. So, everyone watches while the groom gets on his knees in front of all his in-laws and offers them a tasty morsel, and then the bride does the same. Finally, the rest of the cake is cut up into marble-sized pieces and distributed to the guests right there in the church. After three weddings, I still find myself saying, "that's all I get??" But then again the Shona aren't really dessert people :) So after much ululating, dancing, arm-waving and whistling, we all leave the church and go to the reception. Food, and lots of it, flows freely. The Shona are not shy about saying (from the pulpit even) that a celebration isn't a celebration unless everybody is fed. Now, of course there is music and a DJ. I'm sure that every wedding I go to boasts larger loudspeakers than the one before. I mean, these were size of small house. And loud. If there's one thing I really don't like about the culture here, it's that bigger is always better, no questions asked. We sat as far away from the speakers as culturally acceptable, and with any luck our baby will have working eardrums. So after speeches, dances, presentation of gifts (which are announced and celebrated, one by one), it was time to take the mother-in-law back to the village. So off we go, with a truck bed full of gifts. Some people were worried about theft of the gifts at stoplights, so I tried not to stop at them. We unloaded the truck in the dark, said our goodbyes, and I got home around 7:30... So weddings are a big deal here...and being a part of the madness made for a good day :)