Friday, March 20, 2009

From Zimbabwe

Hi, Friday morning here about 10:30 - 8 hrs. ahead now that you are on daylight saving time. We met with a couple of different pastors this a.m. that LDS charities helps. (orphanages, etc.) We will go next Fri. and Sat, and see their places and meet the children. One helps about 200 children - most just come for school in the daytime and go home at night - they feed them 1 meal. The other one sounds like there are 12 children that live with them that they support as well as people in the community. They all have their gardens and rely heavily on that for food - corn and vegetables.

Yesterday we spent the afternoon with Pres. Neilds, who works with Deseret International and Unicef. He has done that for 20 years and is quite an expert at all that goes on here. A container has arrived full of medical supplies from the church. He showed us the process of taking delivery of it - papers to be stamped etc. We learned that it takes a lot of patience as nothing happens quickly here. He hoped to have the container here at our property yesterday but that didn't happen yet -- it was to be here at 9:00 this morning but we haven't seen it yet. It is a large railway container. He has 25 more coming in over the next little while. When we were at one place yesterday (for the 2nd time) the guy wanted him to pay $800 for using the container. Pres. Neild ask why, as it is Pres. Neild's container. The guy didn't quite no what to say about that. He said sorry and went back to his desk. After a while he came back and wanted him to pay $138 for storage. Pres. Neild ask why since they hadn't stored anything. Finally Pres. Neild went down the hall and talked to the head guy and he came out and told them to stamp the papers and that we didn't need to pay anything. The supervisor (lady) over the guy who was originally helping us was quite visibly not happy about that - but they gave us our stamped paperwork FINALLY!!

We will have 3 containers coming soon with wheelchairs - one for Zambia, 1 for Malawi and 1 for Zimbabwe. Each carries 250 wheelchairs. We are also getting a few other things as well - some
clothes, hygiene kits etc. I think we will request Pres. Neild's help when they arrive.

We order and buy the soap here in Harare. Also school scribblers etc. Whatever we can get here is good as it saves shipping costs (which are a lot).

Yesterday a young mother and her baby (with aids) came to talk to us. She wanted food. We don't have food to give. We did refer her to a place down the way that will give food to aids people. Bro. Neild was here when she came and we ask him to talk to her with us as we didn't really know what to do. He talked to her and told her that he could tell she was lying because her story wasn't adding up. I'm glad he was here to help us. We feel really bad for these people but he explained that they are very good liars and with time we will be able to tell who is genuine and who is not. She did have aids and looked thin etc. however he determined after talking with her that she is in medication for aids and is getting some help.

Monday two women came in and wanted to know if we could help them with something to keep the rain out of their residence. We talked and gave them each 2 blankets, water purification pills, soap and a little corn maize that the gardener had. We arranged for 1 to come back and weed and work in the garden for a while (we try not to give something for nothing, if possible). She did come back and then after her work we took her home so that we could see if there is anything we can do for their problem. What we saw was quite heart wrenching - I wanted to cry. Their homes consisted of a pole frame with some metal on the roof and plastic tarp wrapped around the outside. The plastic has deteriorated in places and when it rains they get water in. The floor was cement. It was about 10' x 10'. She has 2 teenage daughters and 3 boys. The other lady has 6 living in her place - a small baby as well. They cook outside on a bonfire. There was a whole village - all the same but most of their plastic walls were a little better. There are also some cinder block row houses there too about the same size - some had two rooms - some had roofs some did not. With 95% unemployment rate here, Pres. Neild says that there are quite of few of those areas. They do have their gardens though - thank goodness for that. Last year was bad for them because a lot of crops did not do well. This year the crops are better.

I think I told you before that all they eat is corn maize and a vegetable mix that they make. They eat that everyday and are happy with it.

We don't have any plastic we can give these ladies. We will keep our eyes open and ask around - luckily the dry season is coming shortly. It has rained quite a bit the past 3 days. The clouds roll through and it rains hard for a bit and then stops and the sun shines and then it rains hard again, etc.

The children at the Village

I wanted to tell you about the traffic signals here!! They are called 'robots'. Most of them do not work or sometimes one works going one way but nothing the other way. We have to be very careful driving through them. It is really quite a mix-up at most intersections. You just put your nose out and go when you can. Most people do not have cars so there is never a rush hour like at home but there is a fairly steady flow. Also the potholes are really a problem - we constantly try to miss them if possible. We saw a huge one yesterday.

When we got home last night the electricity was off (electricity is called Zesta here). We have a generator for our flat so we used that to cook supper and then we played a game by candlelight and went to bed early. It was still off this a.m. so we used the generator to cook our eggs and let it run for an hour to cool the fridge off a bit. It lasts pretty good if we don't open it. There was some frozen milk in the freezer that we thawed for breakfast but it was curdled. Yuck. There are several more packets of milk in the freezer so we will check them out. We may have to toss them.

The Turners that we replaced left quite a bit of food in the flat. They had stocked up when they had been to Joberg and up to Zambia last year when there was no food on the shelves here. (really! there was nothing to be had). They had to take vehicles and make food runs so that the 70 missionaries in Zimbabwe could have some food. It is much better now.

We spent our first night at the flat cleaning out the fridge and cupboards and organizing. She had the fridge packed full but must have forgotten about the stuff at the back because it was gross. We
threw a lot out and defrosted it. We also threw some stuff out of the cupboards too - however, Beauty, the house cleaner, was happy to go through it and took some. I was happy to have her do that. At least what was useable didn't go to waste. We still need to finish off some cupboards and see exactly what we have there.

We will go to the store today and buy some milk (UHT milk in cartons), oatmeal, eggs, and potatoes. We can buy the potatoes on the street if we want. They are okay.

I better get this sent off. Jim is helping do an audit for a branch that we help out at on Sundays (every other Sunday) as we have two. I will go check to see if the container has arrived yet.

Here are a few more pictures:

The Besters and Us

A bus system of sorts

Nancy under the Avacado Tree in our backyard

Love to all, Elder & Sis. Bullock

(see below for a letter they wrote on March 15 that I just posted. Kim)

1 comment:

  1. I am really enjoying your letters. They are full of details of what the life is like there. I find it so fascinating and I see that you and Jim really are getting to know the "routines" and best way to handle things very quickly. Going by the spirit is awesome!

    I look at your pictures and see the light through your faces. You both look SO happy.

    Thanks for sharing the pictures. I am in AWE of that Avocado tree! WHat I wouldn't give to have one of those in our back yard. : D