Thursday, September 26, 2013

Shekinah House Thank You Festa

Its tradition here on the farm to host a small party for all the workers who helped build your home, we extended it to include all the permanent employees bc nearly everyone on this farm helped in some way or another, directly or indirectly.  We were also able to provide a full meal, as we had some LOVELY meat donated by a friend.  The guys were excited to come, as they knew it would be a good good festa! 
 So on Thursday morning we started preparing for lunch- first some of the meat went into the pot for "stew".
me and Suzanah (Raymundo's daughter) waiting for the Maheu.

 I went with Lovemore to pick up the Maheu (local traditional drink made with cornflour , sugar, and water, left to "ripen" in clay jars for a few days until its "good". If you leave it too long it becomes alchoholic and there are few people who enjoy it then.. very few... but when its just "good" EVERYONE loves it. Except for us foreigners. I can hardly stand to smell the stuff let alone drink it!) You can see our Maheu was made in buckets not clay pots, since we needed a lot. We had about 35 guys for lunch. And 90 Litres of Maheu. By the time everyone enjoyed and took some for home it was all GONE. I think its one of those things that requires a lifetime of "getting used to" before you truly appreciate it. Im not there yet. :)
 One of the workers wives made the Maheu- she is known for her excellent maheu making skills. Here she is with two of her children.
 We got back to find the beans were now being cooked as well.
 Me and Gladys worked on the sauce inside- tomatoes, onions, spices, garlic... mmmm.
 Sauce in the back pot, beans in front.
 Tendai wanted to help too, so Maganesu let her measure and wash the rice.
 Rick of course manned the Braai with a whole lot of meat on it!
 Everyone being served lunch and enjoying it!
 Ryan was the only one from our family who actually enjoyed the Maheu. 
 Lovemore, Maganesu and Armando all recieved a gift as a thank you for working on our home with dedication for the last two years. Lovemore recieved a battery he has been asking about for a long time, and Armando and Maganesu each recieved a solar light and cell phone charging kit for their homes.
After we gave the gifts and everyone had eaten until they could not possibly eat any more, there was music and laughter and dancing and it truly was a great festa! So thankful for the many wonderful staff we have here at the farm.
Enjoying a great meal together!

We are so glad to be in this house. It feels like HOME. I find it hard to even remember how I  felt in the other cottage, as it was so small, with no shelves or storage, and no room for Tendai to play. Our lives have changed so much since moving over here. I feel like this is where we belong, it is safe and fits our family in so many ways. It has room for our family- which has already grown to include Ryan, only a month after moving into this house! I have fallen in love with baking and cooking meals for my family, now that I have a kitchen with space to store things and countertop to work with and an oven that actually works. Oh.. and a fridge that keeps things cold!!! We have been so blessed. Please continue to pray for us- we have a small amount of work remaining to be done, some of the floors are not finished, window latches etc need to be put in so they can be locked, and our guest room is nowhere near finished. (But we promise if you come to visit we will get it ready in no time... just need the motivation!! :) ) 

Thank you to everyone who has given so much to make this place of rest and refreshing a possibility. We cannot express enough how thankful we are for the prayers and financial support of so many, because without those prayers and sacrificial donations there is NO WAY we could have done this on our own. We look forward to being able to focus on ministry for the next year without the added stress of a building project! We hope to do at least one more children's ministry training seminar this year, and several next year before we head home on furlough (Lord willing, in August next year). We also have DVBS coming up at the school in November, and a seperate DVBS for the orphan children in January, Intensive seminars in the end of Nov, Christmas Festa with the Amigo orphans in December and are looking at planning some exciting outings for them as well. We are so glad that God has called us to work that we love, even on the tough days!!

God Bless, Rick, Heather, Tendai & Ryan

Monday, September 23, 2013


 Every year around this time, we have fires all around. There are many reasons why the local people light fires, some dealing with traditional farming beliefs- if we burn everything then the green will come (since when you burn things the green does tend to sprout quickly afterwards, though its mostly weeds and grass and you have burned alot of of the good stuff out!) some do it because they want to chase out the small animals- cane rats, etc to hunt, some do it for traditional/ cultural beliefs- if we burn the ancestors/gods/spirits/earth will be appeased and will send the rain in time for our crops to grow this year. Whichever way you look at it, they have a "good reason" for wanting to burn. The only problem is it is not only illegal here to light wildfires, but it is even more illegal (if that is an actual thing), to light them ON someone elses property (ie our farm) or to fail to keep it from crossing onto someone elses property (ie our farm!) 
 These are some pictures from the first weekend when we had fire on the farm, it was a raging blaze that in the end managed to burn nearly half of the forest within our farm boundary lines. 
 These pictures are taken near where the fire started, at the far end of our airstrip.  The only fire fighting equipment we have is green branches broken off of trees. Obviously this is not ideal, but Lynn and I decided to demonstrate how they are used on a few of the smaller fire areas.

 Obviously, once a fire gets this big, there is little our guys with branches can do. But they do what they can, try for as long and as hard as they can, but often we must resort to lighting a backburn and managing that, as it is safer for the guys.
One of our night guards, silhouetted against the fire.
 The next day the fire was still raging, but had now moved towards the front half of the farm, moving closer to the community. We had parked our truck and walked up this little road so we could investigate where and how big the fire had gotten at this point, but by the time we got close, we realized it was racing towards us, and the wind was changing direction, blowing it in the direction of the truck. We could see that the flames were HUGE and there was no way the guys could continue to fight, so we quickly made our way back to the truck. Fire scares me. It is like a LIVING thing. It is unpredictable and changes its mind on a whim (or on the wind's whim i guess), and it is destructive beyond what we can imagine. I am so grateful for the men who helped to fight the fire and man the back burn so the community homes were saved, and so our gardens (for the school and orphan kids), litchi plantation, animals (cows and sheep), farm buildings (carpentry shop etc) and homes were safe as well. 
 We decided to light a back burn, using our entry road, and the training centre as the firebreak.
 Backburn raging towards the fire. Rick and the guys manned this road for quite some time to ensure no sparks flew over and lit on the other side, the wind was strong and we had to be very careful.

 Of course the many small lizards, frogs, insects and creatures like this lovely little chameleon are the unintended victims of these fires. We saw this little guy trying to escape, but if you have ever seen a chameleon try to run its not a very quick process. ;) Rick picked him up so we could bring him home and put him in our garden where he would be safe. Here Ryan isnt quite sure what to do with him, he kept doing this half cry/half laugh kinda noise.. his mouth would smile but his eyes looked terrified. It was very cute. Eventually he decided the chameleon wasn't to scary after all.
I think this is his "thanks for saving me mr. rick" hug.

Fire season has not yet ended, we had another fire approaching the farm this weekend but it was contained before it crossed our boundary. 

Thank you so much for your prayers we appreciate them greatly!
Rick, Heather, Tendai and Ryan!