Cliche as it might sound, the days, weeks and unexpectedly the months have all merged together. Is it Tuesday or Wednesday? Who knows? Honestly does it even matter? It doesn't really change our plans for the day now does it? Essentially everything from the previous update regarding Co-vid 19 is still very applicable. For me, my days have started to look more and more like this:
Its wonderful right?! Obviously these pictures just represent fleeting moments, but the peaceful, joyful nuance they create are a very accurate representation of my days. To be honest, lately the idea of lock-down has been getting to me. However, sitting here, writing this update and looking at these melted-together days from a birds-eye perspective, makes me realise how incredibly fortunate and blessed I am. I get to to spend my days surrounded by, playing with or observing the play of these beautiful, potential filled children. As you can seeing building forts and making mud cakes has become a big favourite!
I often find myself marvelling at the power and value of play. I am astounded at the amount I have seen these children develop in terms of social skills, friendships, confidence, language, concentration, creativity and even emotional resilience. Most of the younger children have been assessed by me and I have occupational therapy goals for them. Naturally, I try to make play suggestions or play materials available that would allow the children to practice skills I know would benefit them. However, it is difficult to consider each child individually. I do catch myself wondering if I am doing enough. Then I am reminded that playing is the most important job for a child. The young children spend hours playing outdoors, most times with natural materials, and often with open ended-toys. The pre-teens are transitioning between this type of free play and more social games with rules or crafts with end products. The teenagers are playing social games or spending time developing their music or photography skills. All these things are so important!
What we have started doing to 'embrace the new normal' is to have weekly prayer meetings on Wednesdays, when we would usually have prayer meetings at church. Amongst others we have made a prayer wall that includes different countries and we also spent time praying for the children in the village of hope school.
And that's about it, playing and praying. That is what our weeks consist of.
Less Important Updates
Seasons have changed! Fun fact: Zambia does not have four seasons, they have three. Rainy season, cool dry season, and hot dry season. We are currently in cool dry season. So I wear a jacket in the morning and in the evening after the sun has set. During the day, it is still short-sleeves and bare feet. This change of season has brought the most beautiful sunsets! Here are a few winners. Beautiful right?
Insects (and other pests)
I thought we were done with insect updates. ALAS! I spoke to soon. Just as I started to have peace of mind about cockroaches, I started seeing two small creatures running around my kitchen floor. Yip! I had new-found rodent housemates. The first night I saw them we played a game of human with broom versus mouse. It wasn't much fun but I sort of won. I chased one of them out the house. The other managed to find shelter behind the stove. I have to paraphrase a amusing conversation I had with someone regarding these creature:
Me: I have a rodent in my house. Do you have poison for me?
Them: Yes I do, we have them too. Is it a rat or a mouse?
Me: It's either a mouse or a small, young rat. I am going with field mouse because they seem less threatening.
Them: You should just take a closer look at them. If they have rounded ears they are mice.
Me:.... um.... I don't know about you, but I don't really have that type of relationship with my rodents. Usually, I chase them with a broom and they run away.
Them: ..... valid point
Eventually, I sorted out my rodent problem. It wasn't two weeks before the next problem showed up. There are often colonies of big biting ants that make there way around Motoya and sometimes invade peoples houses. I was rather grateful because it seemed that they only targeted the people who live up the hill for some reason. Deep down inside I was a bit smug about this. Until one night at 21:30, it was my turn. Out of nowhere about two HUNDERED ants had invaded my house and there were stacks more outside, all moving very determinedly around my house, under the doors and into the windows.
I messaged for help and started attacking them with my trusty bottles of doom. My heart was pounding! I dealt with the ones inside easily, however outside was a different story. It was a tough war. You have to read the rest with mental dramatic music. They would climb up my pants and bite my legs, they would attack my feet. I couldn't decide if closed shoes or open shoes were wiser to wear. With closed shoes you had more protection, but if they got inside the shoe you had a real problem. With open shoes you are more vulnerable but you can swat them off your feet a whole lot easier. I messaged for help, and three people came, all armed with two bottles of doom each. Just as well - my supplies were empty. About 30min and four empty doom bottles later most of the ants were dead and the rest had seen that this wasn't a great place to be. Needless to say I had doom next to my bed that night. Although I didn't sleep very well. The whole night my imagination told me that ants were biting my legs.
Coping with lock-down
I don't know what it is, but not being able to do certain things makes me crave doing them so badly! I can relate strongly with strong-willed toddlers.
One example is groceries. I have had to have other people do them for me. I love grocery shops. Back in South Africa, I would often stop at Checkers after work, just to see what there is. I love the experience of buying groceries. Looking at the options, deciding if something is a good deal, finding things in the store you never know you needed. I miss having to do my own groceries an incredible amount. A friend pointed out to me that this is probably what many elderly people with impaired mobility experience when kind-hearted people offer to do their grocery shopping for them (because it'll be a lot quicker than going with them). I never realised that groceries is about so much more than the items on the list but about the whole outing. Fortunately, I had to leave the base to renew my work permit. I worked a Shoprite outing into that trip and my craving for grocery shopping is temporarily satisfied.
Also I have been wanting to travel. Anywhere. Of course that is impossible. Instead I have been exploring the world with David Attenborough (the narrator of National Geographic). Antarctica caught my special attention. It is a fascinating continent. The only one without permanent human inhabitants. And the waters around it act as a pump that play a huge role in ocean waters circulating. I made the children watch these nature documentaries it with me. It struck the interest of the older boys especially. Soon our planet wasn't enough and they asked for space documentaries. The first one that came to mind was "Indescribable' by Louise Giglio. Between that and being newly fascinated by our incredible planet, a renewed humility, awestruckedness, and peace has come to rest in a very deep place in my heart. I am so aware that God is much bigger than we will ever comprehend, yet His attention to the smallest detail in the design of the world is amazing.
Closing thoughts and prayers
Despite the uncertain times that the world is facing the team here has had testimony after testimony of God's provision. All of the children in the homes now have a sponsor and many unsponsored children in the school now have a sponsor. Personally, God has also been so faithful in providing for me. Further, many of the village churches are able to use this time to build and repair their church buildings. Also, the church services being broadcasted on the radio are effectively reaching many new people. Like I said before God is much bigger than we will ever comprehend, but he pays attention to the smallest details of our lives.
The Lord's prayer is often prayed by the children who are shy to pray spontaneously. Abel, the youngest (5 years old), prays a shortened version. "Our Father who art in heaven... they kingdom come, thy will be done, forever and ever. Amen." For me this simple prayer has been summarising what I feel I should pray. In praying for these times and for the project, I encourage you to pray the same.
We have continued to memorise scripture with the children in the homes. One passage that we memorised is from Lamentations 3: 19-26. It is written in the middle of a time of God's judgement when His people were experiencing uncertain, difficult times. I hope the passage encourages you as much as what it has been encouraging me the past few weeks.
(19) I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. (20) I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. (21) Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:
(22) Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. (23) They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (24) I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”
(25) The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; (26) it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.
Until next month! Much love and prayers :).