Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Snake Hunt. (and some prayer requests)

So on Tuesday morning Gabriel came running down to tell us he had found this snake right on the edge of the Litchi orchard. ACK. But of course, knowing i could stay pretty far back, and wanting to get pics of the thing I ran up with Tendai and Rick to see it.  Here are my instructions on how to find, hunt, and kill  (and of course photograph) a very dangerous, poisonous snake. In this case, a Green Mamba.

 Step One
the original snake finder and another local staff member should try to relocate the snake. this might take awhile.

Step two
after awhile, call in a missionary to help you look. He probably wont be much help since us "muzungus" dont seem to have eye's to see these well hidden snakes, but it will make the missionary fell good if you ask him to help. :)

Step Three

Ask a second missionary to join in the hunt since the first one wasn't really helping that much. (Thanks for Helping Andy!)

Step Four

Since both missionaries have failed to help much at all, call in a few more locals who will look for about thirty seconds and then find it, right where everyone else had been looking! Tada!!!

Step Five

Use a slingshot and pebbles to try and knock the snake either A) out of the tree or B) dead. (I recomend not standing in a large group directly under the tree you are trying to knock him out of but what do I know?)

Step Six

While all this is happening it is very important to make sure children are well looked after and not in any danger by asking a staff member to watch them while you take a bazillion pictures. I think I actually took 143 pictures of the whole event. not quite a bazillion, but close.

Step Seven

The photographer should at least know what they are taking pictures of. This is a picture of the snake. REALLY. See the big blue spot in the middle of the tree. Right at the bottom of that blue spot is a solid line kinda angling up towards the right. Thats the snake. I promise. 

Step Eight

After having attempted numerous times to hit the snake with a pebble you should give up and grab a BIG STICK and whack the tree and the area where you saw the snake until it falls to the ground. This of course is only neccesary if you dont hit the snake with the pebble. :)

Step Nine

Now you can commence with the ACTUAL picture taking!

except... hes kinda dirty sooo....

Step Ten

you should give the snake a bath so he looks nice in the pictures. 

swish the water back and forth in a big pail with the snake

remove the snake.
 (using a stick of course, snakes can continue to have nervous system reactions LONG after they are dead and can even bite you if you are not careful)

Step Eleven. (aka... the last step)

 Ahh... now its time to take a whole whackload of pictures before using a stick or machete to sever the head making sure the snake is "really dead".  (Im not posting pics of that part) 

As I mentioned, snakes can continue to move, twitch, even open their mouths, after they are dead for quite a while. You have to be very careful around them. Very. This particular snake is not responsible for very  many deaths, simply because its neurotoxic venom is not as strong and it doesnt inject as much when it bites. However it can cause a lot of pain, lung and heart problems, partial paralyses and a host of other issues.  It's cousin the Black Mamba injects a larger dose and stronger venom and is often fatal.

In Other News

someone tried to sell me this monkey the other day. I feel kinda bad that I couldnt buy it to set it free. argh.

work has been progressing on our house's foundation walls, under the watchful eye of Supervisor Tendai.

 You can see here how much has to be backfilled (by hand most of it) Where Tendai is standing will be all filled with dirt to make the house level. Rick is standing where our floor level will eventually be. 

Again, thanks for all your prayers. We head down to South Africa this weekend for a few weeks to get a bunch of supplies for our house (wires, plumbing doohickys, tools, etc). We will also spend a few days as a family away at a fame farm to celebrate our Tenth Anniversary and Tendai's second anniversary of "Gotcha Day" (we will celebrate the one a few months late and the other a few days early).

we know of three robberies recently in the town we are going to, and that is just amongst people we know! One home was broken into (thankfully they scared them off) and its on the same yard we will be staying on while in SA,  Lynn and Dwight's truck was broken into and some items stolen today, and another missionary friend had their car broken into yesterday! Please pray for safety while we travel and that we wont be stopped by police on our trip thru Mozambique.  Another continued prayer request is that the funds we need for our house will continue to come in. 

Thank you so much! God Bless,
Rick, Heather & Tendai Neufeld

Friday, June 17, 2011


sometimes things happen i just forget to blog about them.. so im just gonna write up a bunch of little snippets i remember from the last week or so... here goes!

Snippet # 1: Yesterday we were driving out of the shoprite entry and just look at what caught our eye....

can you believe it?? We were pretty pumped to find a little outpost of a ministry that brings Bibles into all sorts of African Countries, right here in Chimoio- and the Bibles were in the local languages.. and the Portuguese one was in the equivalent of NIV.. not the portuguese equivalent of King James.. YEY!! (nothing against King James.. but for folks just leaning to read and write it is rather difficult!)

While we were there, a gentleman came running from across the street with his wife, he quickly asked if he could please purchase a Bible, when he turned around holding his very own Bible in his own hands, purchased with his own money.... the look on his face brought tears to my eyes. He was so excited, so happy, as he carressed it with his hands and hugged it close I asked him " Its beautiful isnt it?"  "Yes!" he replied! I just cant express to you the look on his face, but it was amazing... So happy I got to see that moment.

Snippet #2: Today for a brief period of time I was the only staff person available on the farm. Andy was in Town. Barb was in town. Rick has left to go up north. Ron was working somewhere and unavailable. Dwight and Lynn have gone on a much needed break. Francois and Alta were going to Zimbabwe quickly. Even Matthew and Joao are gone. With this sort of situation I just KNOW something is gonna happen. ... and yep. it did.  Minutes after Rick left the shepherd shows up and tells me the missions "Big Bull" (the "nice" one) is sick... ahhhhhhhh! So i quickly makes some calls and arrange for some meds. Two hours later her returns with the guard, to tell me that the Bull has died. ARGH!!! And to top it off, becuase it died from an unknown and untreated sickness and was not butchered we cant even sell or give  the meat to the local people!! WHAT A WASTE!

On the other hand Im very grateful for staff who can deal with the investigating the insides of the cow, digging the hole and burying it for us!
Also grateful that I did not have to go down there since Domingo (the shepherd) had also just informed me that a Rock Python as thick as his leg (and im sure much longer than his leg) had been spotted this morning too! ACK!!! ( i have since seen the actual snake... its dead now.. not quite as large as he said but still way to big for my liking!)

Snippet #3: Last night there was a Lunar Eclipse in our parts, (unfortunatly i forgot to go look) When the guard came this afternoon to fill me in on the progress of burying of the bull- he spent several minutes explaining for me with great detail and hand gestures what the insides of the cow looked like (from what i could understand it was not pretty and most likely Bovine TB), then went on to have an indepth discussion on the leg meat they kept to entice the crocodile out of the water so it can be hunted (the crocodile hunting has been going of for a very long time now).  After all that he stopped and then said "Senhora, can you answer a question for me? What happened to the moon last night?"

I decided to first find out what he thought had happened, and pretty much he said, they think a cover or curtain is pulled over the moon, so that bandits or bad men can do things at night. In the time of the war, he said people would run into the bush to hide during Eclipses, convinced that bandits were coming to kill them. He was very interested to find out what I had to say, so I explained that the moon is like a mirror, it only reflects light, and if something gets between it and the sun, even if just for a few minutes, It can make it go dark for that time. I drew a few solar system-y type sand diagrams and did a whole hand motion thingy that I think he understood! Anyhew,,, all this to say.. that at the end he looked at me and said.. "Senhora, is this like science?" Yes, Jose, it is just "like" science! I love moments like this when someone suddenly understands or at least is exposed to a concept that was previously shrouded in mystery and fear!

Snippet #4: totally random and I wish I had a pic to prove it... but the other day in town we saw a guy biking with at least fifty chickens tied to his handbars.. upside down.. and they were live. sheesh. thats nuts!

Snippet #5: This week Tendai and I got to spend a whole afternoon with our new friends Sarah and Tabita! Sarah and her husband Aaron, run a technical training school here in Moz, where they train local young people in skills like mechanics, carpentry, metalworking, etc. Several young men we know thru our mission and who work for the mission are training with them at Tariro School. Sarah and Aaron, were just blessed to pass court and become the official legal parents of little Tabita- who is almost the exact same age as Tendai! I cannot express to you how amazing it was to meet up with them and be able to spend a whole afternoon just sharing our common experiences. My prayer is that Tabita and Tendai will grow up being good friends, and that having a buddy whose family "looks like theirs" will be a source of encouragement and peace for them!
 (tendai taking a pic of her new friend Tabita.. not sure if she actually took one or not lol)

Although at this point the girls mainly play beside each other and not neccesarily with each other, it was still awesome to see them interact. I look forward to getting to know Sarah, Aaron, and all their kids much better!  Meeting them has been an answer to prayer for me, as I knew Tendai NEEDED a friend.. someone who would understand the unique issues that she will face! Praise the Lord for adoption buddies!
Rick and Joao  inspecting the footings of our house.

Snippet #6: The foundations for our house were poured this week (woohoo), Rick is now gone up north and the layout of the walls makes it a little difficult for them to start laying Bricks without direct supervision of a skilled kind (ie.. not mine), so they are taking this week to get absolutely EVERYTHING prepped for when Rick gets back so we can lay those bricks.. "chop chop" as they say here! ("quick quick")
  Rick needed to make sure everything was level (that is key when building a house! )  :)
Once the footings/foundations were all poured, and Rick had to leave for the seminars up North, the guys turned to organizing and preparing for laying bricks once he gets back!
That Meant:
making stacks of bricks all around the inside of the house, so that the bricklayer will not have to wait while his helpers run around and find bricks (I know this seems like something obvious to do, but trust me, this is not the normal way of doing things here!)
 and getting more pit sand so we can make the cement mixture.
Tendai and I took a moment to go survey the progress this morning.

 Thanks so much for your prayers as we continue with this work. It is a long road ahead, but we know our God is able to bring in the supplies, funds, skilled workers, etc that we need!
Please pray for Rick's health, safety, and for the seminar participants as he is up north this week. It seems that during seminar times is when we get the most sick, and we know it is because Satan has no interest in us teaching others how to reach children with the love of Christ!
Thanks again! Hope you enjoyed my "snippets"! :)
Rick, Heather & Tendai

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Building Blocks

we treated the four workers who came to town with us to load the bricks to their first ever ice creams.... they were impressed. (I really wanted ice cream for my birthday so figured i should share)

Wednesday June 8th, was my 31st birthday, and we celebrated in style by buying 1600 bricks to construct the foundation walls of our house. Most women would not be particularly pleased with hunks of concrete for their birthday, but to be honest... Im THRILLED! It has been a long time coming, but these bricks and the foundations that are being poured this week signal the REAL beginning of our house... there is an actual structure over there that will one day be where I live!!! ( ok... its more of a long skinny cement pad right now than a structure, but its still PART of the structure!) 
The guys we have hired to work on our house...loading 30 TONNES of bricks... literally.
my attempt at taking an "artistic" picture of bricks
just one of the many stacks of bricks being "organized" under the watchful eye of Supervisor Tendai.
The first section of foundation to be poured... looks a tad bit different than at home!
As a teen I spent several summers with Teen Missions Int'l on work and evangelism teams. Each summer we were trained in construction methods (rebar tieing, bricklaying, cement mixing, etc) and here is my attempt to convince Rick and the guys that I actually did know what I was doing! 
The snazzy cement mixer, that, although a far cry from the pumper trucks we have back home in Canada is a HUGE leap forward from mixing the cement entirely by hand!
Just one of the challenges we face on our lot is that it is smack dab in the middle of a bunch of Rocks... some of which, as you can see are directly in the path of our foundation walls! This particular bunch of rocks will be a hopefully solid part of the walls supporting our verandah.

In other news, June 1st, was Day of the Child, and I being the leader of the Orphan Program that works with children ..... COMPLETELY FORGOT to get the kids anything or plan anything special. GAH! I cant believe I didnt do ANYTHING for them! I was in town, sharing my shame of forgetting with a local shopkeeper who I've developed a friendship with, when she reached into her bag and gave me 1200 Mets to go purchase sweets for the children on behalf of her! (thats about 40$) This lady has been a continual challenge to me, and my perceptions. You see she is Muslim, and even though she knows I am a christian, and a missionary here, she continually shows me kindness,  and we have developed a friendship based on our shared desire to adopt children here. On the day we welcomed Tendai to our home, she suprised me with a generous gift of one of the nicest baby items in their store. All this to say, I sure hope that I am being as much of an example of Christ's love to her as she is an example of kindness to me! We plan on making  a very nice thank you card from the kids, thanking her for her generous gift of sweets... each child recieved chips, sweets, cookies, juice... needless to say they were THRILLED.
Tendai loves helping hand out stuff.

Thanks so much for all your prayers, we know folks have been praying since Rick's guardian angels have been working overtime! He fell off the top of a brick wall onto a hanging truss the other day, and managed to ONLY get a nasty bruise on his side! Praise the Lord for that! 

We have also experienced the power of prayer this week when we called on those we know to pray for the safe return of three abducted children, the son and nieces of one of the house staff of a friend here. Child trafficking happens so much, and it is a horrible horrible reality of life in many third world countries. We were so excited to hear that All three children were found, safe, even though one had  been transported to the nearest port city and was in a Shipping Container already! We praise the Lord for their safe return, but we also are saddened that this is happening so close to where we live and work. Please continue to pray that those responsible will be brought to justice!

This coming week Rick will be travelling up north to lead several Children's Ministry Training Seminars, so we are asking for prayer for safety, health and a good time of ministry with the leaders. You can also join with us in praying that funds will continue to come in for our house fund. Now that we are at the stage where we are actually building... it is important that the funds come in so we dont have to stop and delay the construction! The lineup of people hoping to use our "short term cottage" seems to be continually growing!

and last but not least....
this strange looking frog that lives on the rocks behind our new house- i dont like frogs.. at all.. but this guy kinda intrigues me!

God Bless,
Rick, Heather & Tendai