Sunday, April 11, 2010

Checked your Halo recently??

Hey all, This week we were visited by Angels... these ones weren't of the heavenly variety (as far as I know!), but they are definitely angels in my book.  Take a look and see what you think....
This truck belongs to the "Halo Trust" an international organization whose goal is to eradicate the many millions of landmines left over as a result of civil wars, around the globe. Mozambique was HEAVILY mined during the civil war which ended nearly two decades ago. Although great strides have been made (Northern Mozambique has been declared "clear") much of the country still has small mine fields that have not yet been cleared. To read about their work in Mozambique, click here. One of the larger minefields they are clearing is only a short one hour drive from our home.
To be honest with you, we were somewhat blissfully unaware that our area of Mozambique had not yet been fully cleared. I remember assuring folks back home that OUR area of Moz was safe (after the show Amazing Race aired an episode with mine detecting RATS in Mozambique) and no one needed to worry about that. Imagine our shock when we realised about a month ago that the tented camp set up just a few km's from our home (about 5) was for the Halo Trust De-Miner's! Not only that, but we were told they were demining on a large section of the "old farm"! (where the mission used to be located, where Dwight and Lynn lived in tents with their children IN THE BUSH and where many of our staff walk thru the bush regularly!) YIKES!
These workers have already found FIVE (at least this crew of them had- the others may have found more) LIVE Mines in the bush on the old farm. I know they dont look like angels.. no halo's, no wings, and definetly no long white robes, but honestly, these guys who are willing to risk their OWN lives, so the no more local people LOSE theirs- are angels, or heroes!
This blast vest, and a face shield are all the protective equipment they have as they use a metal detector to ever so slowly creep across thousands of acres of bush in search of Landmines. I asked the guys what range the landmines had, when they were exploding- the SMALL ones have a blast range of up to 100M (thats the "kill zone")- the large anti-tank ones can go up to 300M! Its hard to imagine why anyone would plant these ridiculous killing weapons during a war and just leave them there for decades afterwards- innocent men, women and children being killed and maimed by them for no reason whatsoever!
So why were the angels paying us a visit? Well, it turns out with the presence of de-miners so close by, everyone is rather paranoid- and one of our orphan grannies found a patch of ground near the farms boundary line that seemed suspicious. Rather than take any chances, we asked the "angels" to come over and see whether it was just a unnusual pile of dirt, or in fact, a underground weapons cache leftover from the war (perhaps mined to keep away robbers).  In the photo above the Halo Trust "angels" crawl thru our farms fence with all their gear. (notice us crazy missionaries in flip flops and shorts).
We had to walk about 30 M into the bush - Jose Joao, our guard is leading the way.
Once we arrived at the "suspicious" area, the guys donned their full "gear" (vest, sheild, radio,metal detector, gardening shears for cutting grass, trowel for careful digging, and hoe for not so careful digging)

After checking the area with the detector he removed a bit of the dirt with the hoe and  then (in the photo below) checked it again. The metal detector can read up to 1M under ground, but as we were concerned about buried weapons, they took off the top layer of dirt to get a deeper reading.
Every few feet the metal detector let out a horrible high pitched screeching noise that indicates the presence of metal- usually just a sliver of something, but every once and awhile it was loud enough that it warranted some further  investigation.
Rick, Francois and I were standing about ten metres from the guy when I asked how large the blast zone was- when he said 100 M I thought to myself.. "why on earth are we standing this close then!!!!????"
I think they were fairly confident there was nothing there as apparently our farm had already been cleared. It was very interesting to see how the Halo Trust "angels" worked, and to talk with them about the mines, how they work and how they are destroyed. Thankfully they discovered NOTHING of the dangerous sort in this little investigation- which we are very happy about, although we did feel rather silly having made them come out and search so diligently to find :
one sliver of metal, one metal cap, three foil lined individual coffee "fresh-packs" and one sardine can.
 (I guess better safe than sorry right?)
Although we did not find anything- we know many in our community who have been hurt and or maimed, even those whose families members have died from landmine explosions! One of these is Mae Marosa. 

She lives just down the road from us in Pina community and is a widowed granny taking care of her two children and one orphaned grandchild. She is a wonderful caring woman, she works hard, and is incredibly proud of the beautiful brick and plaster home the mission provided for her family last year.
She also happens to have lost a leg from a landmine years ago. Life here is hard for everyone, carrying water, collecting firewood and working in machamba's (fields) requires a LOT of energy and effort, but for a widow with only ONE leg.... its immeasurably harder. We as a mission are very happy that we are able to help Mae Marosa and her kids by giving food assistance, school supplies, medical care when needed, and a safe new home for them to live in. 
This is the home they used to live in- All four of them! 
We are very thankful to the Halo Trust workers for working to ensure that there wont be any more legs and or lives lost to landmines in our area! After our mini adventure with the guys from Halo Trust, we returned to the farm and played some games at our Friday Afternoon Orphan Care meeting. 

Recently we introduced them to Frisbees... they love it. We play a frisbee version of "500" that they love and Im quite sure they would  play it  for hours if we let them!
Gina wasnt about to let the boys beat her to the frisbee (she may be just a "tad" competitive!)
Even our friends Marc and Andrea's boys Nate and Micah got in on the fun - (who says white guys cant jump?!)

Once we pried the frisbees away, we sang a few worship songs with them. This was the first time we have tried to get them to sing as a group, and as we dont speak shona, they have to lead THEMSELVES in worship. It was great to see them play the drums, sing, and dance!
Lastly- the following are a few pictures of  my personal angels.. Rick and Tendai- Rick built a absolutely gorgeous storage unit, for our back porch clutter.
As you can see in the picture below, its really beautiful, made from river mahogany  thats right, MAHOGANY- cus believe it or not, PINE is too expensive here!
And lastly.. our littlest angel.. Tendai! She finally got to paint some easter eggs this past friday- a week late, but oh well. These were candy covered chocolate eggs with edible paint, so it was a fun and yummy craft to do!
We head into town hopefully on Monday to take in the rest of our paperwork to the judge (we hope). Then we will start waiting for a court date, and praying it will come soon! We have one week left before Mike , Marie-Eve and baby Raph come, so we are praying that the rivers up north will start going down so that we can take the Orphan Care Pack christmas gifts up to their recipients, as well as have TWO Children's Ministry Training Seminars.
Thanks so much for your prayers and support! We love to hear from you!
God Bless, Rick, Heather & Tendai


Russell said...

Hey Heather, interesting read. I do remember us finding some weapons on the old farm. Found an un-exploded bomb once, a couple rocket propelled grenades, and an AK-47 magazine. I guess it stands to reason there would also be mines. Thank God we never stepped on one I guess.

Anonymous said...

My cousin recommended this blog and she was totally right keep up the fantastic work!

Heather, Rick, and Tendai! said...

if you check back here.. is your cousin someone I know? I love finding out who is actually reading my rambling thoughts!!

Heather, Rick, and Tendai! said...

if you check back here.. is your cousin someone I know? I love finding out who is actually reading my rambling thoughts!!