Sunday, February 28, 2010

Laura - 27 February 2010

Sorry for the delay in posting. We have no internet access to update, and can send updates only when Arnau travels here and then back to his home in South Africa.  This week has been one of traveling to see people of the Shiselweni region of Southern Swaziland. Jeanet, a wonderful young pharmacist serving a one year missionary commitment with the Home Based Care project, and I have visited some of the more difficult clients. We have a 2 wheel drive Nissan Pickup, referred to here as a “Baakie”, to reach clients further out. With Jeanet’s careful driving, we have gone mud bogging on clay roads, driven over roads with grass growing several feet high and no longer visible, and up hills with no roads to park, climb through barbed wire and then hike on foot to the homesteads of clients. I don’t know how, but only by the grace of God we have not become stuck and stranded in the mud! One very precious man we visited, John, is single, in his seventies, and living on his own far out of town. He has a serious leg ulcer that has been in various stages of healing for several years. Jeanet, since she arrived in January has been going out to visit and do dressing changes twice a week. I have been able to visit him twice, and will see him again on Monday before I leave. He has a very small homestead but a beautiful garden that he is out in and tending to each time we arrive. He does this while on crutches, due to his wound and previously having his toes on that foot amputated as a result of his injury. Bamboo grows dense around his yard to serve as a hedge, and he as woven a fence with the reeds to direct the path in. He grows his own fruit, squash, corn and chickens so that he is self sustaining, but this also puts him in danger as neighbors know of his gardening skills and want to steal from him. On Thursday I took my Polaroid camera with me, and took a picture of my teammate Patti and I with John as a gift to him. The look on his face, of pure amazement, as he watched the picture develop was priceless. He had never seen a picture of himself, much less one that magically appeared before his eyes. The last two days we have had a good bit of rain, but it falls hard for a short period of time. The paths become quite muddy, so I pray they will be passable on Monday, and we will reach John one last time before I leave.
Half our team departed for South Africa yesterday, and Jeanet went home to South Africa for the weekend to see her mom for her birthday. Kristen and I stayed on and went out on “local” visits with 2 caregivers, Jabu and Maria. We used local transportation, a small van called a Combie. They are much narrower that a 9 passenger van in America, and are marked for 16 passengers. The one we travelled in had 18 passengers. The combies only travel on the tar roads, which are limited in the country. We had to walk quite a bit and wait quite a while before one stopped to pick us up. It cost 4 rand (about .60 US) each way. When we got off, we walked several more miles on clay roads and paths to see our clients. The Caregivers are a generous and dedicated bunch. It requires a great commitment to their neighbors to continually and joyfully serve. As we walked the paths, they sang with such beautiful voices.  On our return to the church, Maria gave Jabu a 25kg bag of beans to take with us. She effortlessly placed it upon her head to carry. Kristen and I tried. I could hold it for maybe 3 seconds, without using my hands to hold it, and had a sore neck to show for it.
Missing eveyone at home. Give Camden a kiss for me! Love you all,


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