Monthly Archives: June 2012

O Happy Day

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On Sunday, I taught the children’s bible class. One of the points of my lesson was to be putting God’s word in our hearts. I "taught" the children a memory verse and told them to practice it and when they were able to say it all by themselves to come to my house and say it for me. I also told them I had a treat for them.

Late this afternoon as I was making dinner, my girls came running into the house saying that I had some visitors. I was a little confussed at first, but as I saw almost all the campus children pouring into my kitchen I knew why they were coming to visit me.

As we all stood around the kitchen, we listened to the oldest two in the bunch say the memory verse. One had come with it all written down on a piece of paper. I could tell she had been studying. All the children wanted to give it a try, but the oldest two are the only ones that "mastered" it today. I was so very proud of them! As we were listening to all the children, ranging in ages from about 3 to around 12 years old, I’m pretty sure everything in my kitchen, including our dinner was touched by all! But I didn’t care!

After everyone had a chance to say the verses I brought out a few little prizes to give to the kids that said them all without any help. Of course all the chidren wanted a prize. I’m not sure they all quite understood why they did not all go home with something, but I assured them as soon as they learned it they would get one too. I’m pretty sure one little boy asked me for a balloon no less than 100 times. Here is how the conversation went:

"Auntie Rachael, I’m asking for a balloon."

"I know Kipchirchir. You want a balloon. When you can tell me your memory verse you can have a balloon."

Then he would proceed to tell me the verse. He was trying, but was really only picking out some words…mother, father…then adding boys, girls, brothers which were not even a part.

Then it would begin again.

"Auntie Rachael, I’m asking for a balloon (with both hands cupped and held out to me)."

"I know Kipchirchir. You want a balloon. Have your mommy and daddy help you learn your memory verse and come back to see Auntie Rachael"

"Auntie Rachael. I’m asking for a balloon."

You get the idea.

I LOVED having all those children in my home and I loved standing around my kitchen hearing them say the words of God….and touching all my food! They were pretty excited because I was making pizza and one happened to need to come out of the oven while they were all standing around.

I will keep giving the children verses to learn as long as they will keep learning them.

As the older children were leaving my house today after I had given them a new verse to memorize, one boy said to another girl, "Come on Flora. We are going to have to work too hard on this."

It will be fun to see how they all do. I’m sure they will all do great!

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Update on the Tooth Drama

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I’m sure many of you are anxiously waiting to find out if we found the missing tooth and if the tooth fairy came or not!!!

Well, here is how it all turned out. The night that Caroline actually lost her tooth we did not have a visit from the tooth fairy. The next morning, bright and early, Caroline went back out to the playground to look for it…without success.

After the girls had breakfast, Ellianna joined Caroline and they went to search the playground again. Just a short time later, they came rushing through the door with the tooth in hand. I have no idea how they found a tooth on the playground. (Maybe the same way Ellianna found a dead bird on the playground today and burried it…under the slide. But, that’s another story.)

That evening, Caroline put her tooth in the tooth pillow with a note that read: Dear Tooth Fairy, I want American money. 3 tooth to lose since I’ve been in Africa. Love you Mom tooth fairy.

The next morning she woke up with a quarter. I’m pretty sure we are really confussing the tooth fairy.

Tooth Fairy Part 2

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Sometimes I write a blog post and want to put a picture with it, but don’t always have it downloaded yet so I have it waiting to send until I can get it all together.  Okay, what really happens is I ask Brad to help me put a picture on the blog and then he just does it for me.
I wrote the post about the African Tooth Fairy and was working on getting the picture attached (I was actually getting a lesson on how to do it) when I got inturrupted and had to stop.  As it turns out, Caroline has lost another tooth.  This time it was an accident.
We have been having to get on the children here on campus (including our own girls) about playing with sticks.  We keep telling them someone is going to get hurt and tonight was the night!  After church the children all run to the playground (in the dark) and play while the adults visit.  Tonight just as we were heading to a friends house for popcorn, Caroline came crying and saying that a certain friend hit her in the mouth with a stick and she was bleeding.
Since there is no light I told her we would go and look at her mouth when we got to our friend’s house.  As I stood on the front porch and looked at her mouth, through the blood, I noticed she was missing another tooth.  Yep, that’s right.  She got hit so hard it knocked her tooth out.  It is one on the top right next to the two that are missing.  As far as I know, it was not very loose.
Now she is missing three in a row on the top and two on the bottom.  I hope they will grow back in soon.  I guess tomorrow we will have to go look for her tooth at the playground.  Do tooth fairies come if there is no tooth to get???  I don’t know either.  I guess we will see.

The African Tooth Fairy

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Did you know the tooth fairy can find you even when you move far away? It’s true! Our sweet Caroline has now lost two teeth since we have been in Swaziland.

She put the first tooth in a special tooth pillow that Brad had when he was a child. Instead of putting their teeth under their pillow, our girls have just put the tooth pillow beside their beds, which I think is a might fine idea! Well, in the morning there was no evidence that the tooth fairy came to visit us. Caroline came bursting into our bedroom with her little pillow and the tooth was still there. Can you believe it? After trying to "figure out" why the tooth fairy did not come yet, we went about doing some of our morning chores.

The next thing we all knew there was a note and some American money left behind. You see, Caroline actually went over to Brad’s parents house and his mom pulled her tooth out. We think the tooth fairy must have been looking for the tooth in the Roundhouse (where they live).

But, what is a girl to do with American money is Swaziland? This was one confused fairy! Caroline decided if she just took her money to Papa he would trade it in and give her Emalengeni. It worked! How could you refuse a sweet girl who came knocking on your door early in the morning just the day before asking for a coffee filter so someone could pull her tooth?

Not long after she lost the first tooth a second tooth became really wiggly. While she was running and playing with some other children at the playground it just fell out. She was super excited, as was her friend Benjamin who actually took her tooth from her and ran to tell us the exciting news along with Caroline.

This time the tooth fairy seemed to be all straightened out. Caroline put the tooth in the little tooth pillow and the next morning she had more Emalengeni waiting for her.

At some point between our trips to Swaziland, we checked out a book from the library called, I Lost My Tooth in Africa. In that book when the child lost a tooth they got a chicken. We were a little worried we might wind up with a chicken. However, I guess the tooth fairy did not read that book or something.

Now Caroline has a nice window in her mouth. We are still waiting for the tooth she lost before we came to Africa the first time to come in. She is pretty cute!

Paying the electric bill

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Paying the electric bill
Electric meter

The electric meter

Many things work different in Swaziland than Texas. I keep thinking about sharing some of these differences. As I was trying to post last night (internet not working) I decided to take a picture of our electric meter — because it was 10 p.m. and it started loudly beeping at me.

Don’t let the smiley face on the screen fool you– that just means there is electricity right now.

The 31 units of electricity remaining is very low. Depending on whether we’re doing laundry, it might last 24 hours. It started beeping to let me know it was getting low. Because when the units run out, the electricity goes off until I put in more “tokens”.

No warning letters. No “late fees”. No built-in tardiness about checks in the mail. No bills. You buy your electricity (at almost any place — I bought mine at the grocery store), you enter your “tokens” (a series of numbers on your receipt that will only work on your electric meter), and you have electricity. They run out; you it’s gone (if it’s not gone for other reasons).

Rather splendid idea, really. We pay as we go– as do all Swazis. If you don’t have money for electricity, you don’t use it unless you have to. We turn off the water heater most of the day (our biggest energy consumer — we don’t have heating or air). We have lots of windows and we open the curtains for light (we usually don’t know if the electricity is off). We save energy more efficiently in this way. This is all made much easier by the fact that this is right on our main room wall and next to it are the breakers (rather than outside in high, hard to open box in the side yard through the fence and surrounded by all those vines like home).

Different doesn’t always mean bad, right?

 

 

Picnic at Mlilwane

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Spinach

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Yesterday I decided I should actually get my camera out and just take pictures of different parts of our life here. Some things that are just part of our regular day are so different than what we are accustomed to at home. You may find some random pictures on this blog from time to time, but they will be things that we remember. And hopefully give a little glimpse of our life here.

So, here is the first ramdom pic from when I was washing spinach yesterday. I do admit, I miss my already washed baby spinach! The spinach here is so big it will hardly fit in my fridge. It takes up a whole shelf!

We are all doing well. Enjoy your day!

The Drive

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In many ways I am spoiled to how close I once lived to the grocery store. I would try to make a list, but if I forgot something or ran out of something it would be no big deal to just go to the grocery and pick something up.

I am learning a new way of doing things these days. Going to the grocery store is not that simple anymore. Sometimes the only time I leave campus is on Sunday. I really have to think ahead about what we might need so I can be prepared.

I have been doing about a once a week grocery shopping trip. The past several times I have needed to go I have had to ask someone to take me…which is a pain for everyone. Either my whole family has to go or someone has to stay with the girls. I just haven’t been quite brave enough to drive alone.

However, on Sunday I turned over a new leaf. I drove alone to the grocery store. I cheated a bit because I was able to drive an automatic car, but you have to start somewhere, right? The actual driving isn’t really the problem it is all the things you have to look out for and such. There are people walking everywhere. And many times herds of cows in the road. And, people drive on the "wrong" side of the road here. I mean, they don’t drive on the side I am use to…which makes turning and stuff weird.

I only had one herd of cows in the road including a baby cow that was nursing from its mother. No, I did not hit them or anything else.

So, mark that down in the history books! Rachael drove alone. Now we will see about me driving the standard alone another day!

Slaughtering Day

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Today [when I wrote this on June 4] was the day to slaughter the chickens. Early this morning someone came to our door to ask how many chickens we wanted. A little later in the morning I asked the girls to carry something down to the campus center and put it on the table. They came back and said there were only a few tables out and they were cooking the chickens in big pots. I knew they were not "cooking" the chickens so I decided to go down to take a look, and of course the girls wanted to go with me.

The students had big buckets of dead chickens…feathers, blood and all…(except a head) in big buckets. Next they were putting them in hot water and then taking the feathers off. After that I think they were going into cold water in another bucket. I had them explain it to me and the girls and told them it was like school for us.

The students also told me next time they were going to have me help them with the process. I told them I would come and take pictures.

So, how many chickens do I want?

Bits and Pieces

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It seems like when I am not on the computer and am inspired to write something and then when I sit down at the computer I can’t remember what I was thinking. It is kinda like the story of my life. Like when you walk into a room and can’t remember why you went in there in the first place. However, I am going to try to remember some of the stuff I was thinking. I like that people want to read our blog, but I also want to keep it like a journal for our family and our girls so we can remember these times. So, if at any point you are not interested, you certainly don’t have to read it…and I won’t even know anyway.

One of the biggest and most challenging things for me since we have been here has been meal planning and grocery shopping. Not only have I had to come up with stuff, but I have been starting from scratch…like nothing in my pantry to pull from. So, I have to make sure I have all the ingredients. At home I would think about it and know I have flour or salt or something like that, but I am having to build everything. It has turned out okay, but I have to be very intentional about it all.

The first time I went to the grocery store I was a bit overwhelmed. At home if I was running low on food even if I did not have a menu, I could run in and grab a few things I knew we would eat…like our stand-bys. Here I have to read everything on every aisle to even know what it is. I don’t just recognize a package. And even if I know we like a certain thing, I have to "test out" that particular one to know which one we all eat the easiest.

About half way through my first shopping trip I had to stop and take several deep breaths and psyche myself up to keep going. I decided I should do my grocery shopping in sessions. I did survive and have had several other shopping trips…and they get better each time.

And, the first thing I saw when leaving the store the first time was a man using the bathroom right on the side of the road. Yep, we are back in Swaziland.

On my last trip to the store this week, Brad went with me while the girls stayed and played on the playground, supervised of course. I drove on the way there, but made Brad drive on the way home because it was dark by then. I did not run over anyone! Success!

Today we re-arranged the girls rooms. We have 3 bedrooms and I thought I wanted to have them all in their own room, but since we have been here, Caroline and Annie have been sharing a room. We have had a little trouble at bedtime with Annie wanting a night light and Caroline not…and so forth, but Caroline decided she would lke her own room too. So, today was the big day. We moved beds and dressers and got everything all fixed up. We will see how it all goes. They are all excited about the way it is now.

We had a little earthquake about a week ago. I have always wanted to be in an earthquake. However, I did not know that was what it was. It shook our windows like a big plane was going by, but there was no plane. It happened just as we were putting the girls in bed. Annie was telling me she was scared (which she says often…I think it’s a ploy) and I was telling her there was nothing to be scared of and at that moment the windows started shaking. It lasted about 20 seconds.

We have also been having some rolling blackouts. They have both happened about dinner time and thankfully we have already had our food at least mostly done. When it is dark here, it is VERY dark. And that is why everyone is always prepared with candles. And why you always put it where you know right where it is.

The weather here has been great. It is fall/winter but very nice. It gets cool in the mornings and evenings, but is really perfect during the day. It gets dark about 5:30pm. We keep our windows/doors open all day and I love it. It is so bright and open in our house. I love the feeling of not being cooped up in our house even though I am inside. It is refreshing. Although we are not cold, others here on campus dress in winter coats and scarves and such. They will tell us how cold it is when we are wearing our short-sleeves. We do not have heat or air so it does get a little cold taking a shower, but it really isn’t that bad. We do have hot water. Hey, we have water period so that is really nice!

We are loving Swaziland so far. I wish everyone could know what it is like here. On one side of our house we can look out and see the orchards and the mountains. On the other side we can see across campus where we see people coming and going all the time. It really is a great place!

We pray all of our friends and family are doing well. We would always love to hear from you. Sometimes I forget we are so far away, but it always makes our day to get a friendly hello.