We have been busy so far this week. We get phone calls from the Pastors and others than are running facilities for children and they want us to come and see their places of operation. It is good for us to go so that we can see exactly what their needs are and decide how we may be able to help.
Tuesday we went to "Trust in the Lord Orphan's Care" where Lettie has 10 children that live with her and they have about 150 children that come after school and they feed them a meal. It was a small house that is very old but it was clean and the surrounding yard (mostly cemented) was swept clean. They do their cooking outside over a fire, as do most people here. Bro. Spencer, who owns a grocery store here supplies them with a lot of their food, at no charge. (maize, cabbage,
The children started arriving and are very polite. Jim entertained them with a finger game (Tommy, Tommy....) and tried to teach them to whistle with their hands. They liked that. He played a song-game that he used to do with the kids at school patrol camp and that got a lot of smiles.
Then the kids sang to us and danced some. Their songs are always about God and Jesus Christ and how wonderful They are and how blessed they are. They are happy -- they don't know any different. Most of these children have lost parents but live with grandmas or aunts/uncles or single moms.
Wednesday we went with Evelyn to visit "Just Joy" (a bridging organization). They are a big organization that help about 2000 children. They try to have sports and other things that keep the kids occupied. They pay the school fees and cost of uniforms for some children (through donations) so that they can go to school. Lots of the children are not in school and have nothing to do. They try and give each a toy at Christmas. Often then are left home alone while the parents go to sell veggies/fruit of whatever they can get on the street corners to try and make a little money. The area was high density and extremely poor. (I will try and send a picture or two). There were people everywhere and the homes were horrible with 3 and 4 families in a small apt.
She took us to one home where a grandmother is taking care of 6 grandchildren as the parents have all died (probably of aids). The grandmother is very sick (they said she has cervical cancer) and so 3 of the children are with neighbors (one is a baby) and will eventally end up in an orphanage, I'm sure. The grandmother was laying outside on the cement with a blanket - she couldn't get up. Apparently someone else has taken over the house and she sleeps in a corner with the 3 grandchildren or outside. I'm not sure who feeds them - perhaps this organization or neighbors. I didn't have the heart to take a picture as I didn't want the grandma to feel any worse than she already does.
Now for some good news: two of Pres. Nield's daughters and some of his workers -- he employs about 25 people on his property so he can take care of them - he feeds them and gives them and their families the basic essentials -- anyway, they were sorting out boxes from the container that he received from the U.S. There was some food, blankets, hygiene kits, etc, etc. There were boxes and boxes of clothes and shoes donated by someone (not Deseret Industries). We went out and helped them for about 3 hrs. We sorted clothes into boys/girls/men/women/babies etc. We didn't get finished and had to put the boxes back into the container before it got dark. When I saw all those wonderful things that people had sent it brought tears to my eyes. There was so much but never enough for the needs here. It will help many though. We have a container due next week from DI with more of the same.
Just an example of how desperate these people are - and keep in mind that these are people that Pres. Nield brought to help because he trusts them for the most part. They all know that when they are done they will be given a set of clothes for each member of their family. However, after they had been sorting for a little while someone took a walk around and there were clothes hidden in the corn patch, under the container, along the fence and anywhere they could hide them so they could retrieve them later. Rachael, Pres. Nield's daughter really got after them and told them - that is theft, and we don't do that in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The items were gathered up and put back. The people were all moved to the other side of the container where they could be watched more closely. They want anything they can get -- they can sell them on the street for money.
About driving in Zimbabwe: what an experience. I told Jim yesterday that this is a good way to get over noticing everyone's illegal turns, stops, etc. etc. There really are no rules or if there are everyone breaks them. Pedestrians do not have the right-of-way. If they did the cars would never move. Like I said before the traffic lights (robots) hardly ever work so intersections are a 'take your best chance' crossing. On top of that people are everywhere - crossing streets anywhere and everywhere. Our first impulse is to stop for a pedestrian but they do watch and stop for the cars. Often they are standing right in the middle of two lanes waiting for their chance to run across - at home you might think this would be rather dangerous, but not here. When we were in the high density neighborhood yesterday people were really everywhere - it is amazing that cars can even drive through and that no one gets hit.
We have no water pressure again so we are heating our water on the stove. At least we has Zesa (electricity) for now. The phone bills here have been about $10 a month but last month apparently they went to ridiculous prices of about $200 - 400 (as much as $2000) and people refused to pay them. They paid a little bit so that they couldn't disconnect them. Now the Internet isn't working a lot because they say people refused to pay their bills and they needed the money. Crazy methods.
One other thing I wanted to tell you was that there are little bonfires all over (yards, side of the road, etc.) because that is how they cook their Sadza (corn maize) or their field corn on a cob. There are patches of corn growing everywhere and wherever they can. That started because of the shortage of food grown on the farms here. That is why we have the `Prophet's Garden´ (as it has been named) here on the church property. People have plots here and are suppose to keep them up - some do better than others. Mostly they grow corn and a green vegetable that they make a relish type sauce out of. That is pretty much all they eat and they like it just fine - usually one, maybe two meals a day.
Jim went to Marondera today with Elder Taylor, to do the branch audit. They will be back about noonish. I am sorting through some information hoping that it will all make sense one day soon. Last night we joined the Taylor's in their flat next door and we watched the first `Love Comes Softly´ movie. They enjoyed that and so did we - we haven't seen it for a long time. They had a stressful day and wanted to relax - it worked.
Must get back to my paperwork. Love to all.