Thursday, December 25, 2008

Saturday, December 20, 2008

dear friends and family,

sorry for the delay in my updates, but after over 3 months of training in south africa, i’m finally in mozambique!

flying through fields of cotton candy. 'twas beautiful.

finally arrived! beira airport.

beautiful view from the seafood restaurant along the coast.

driving westward towards chimoio.
if you haven't noticed yet, i love the sky :)

although i’ve heard much and seen much of the people, projects, and surroundings through pictures and stories, mozambique is definitely not what i had expected it to be. i was imagining a more lush, tropical-forest type of environment, but this place has generally been… flat and brown (?). maybe it’s because of all the mud and rain. the rainy season has just begun a few days ago, actually. it was supposed to have begun over two months ago, so this delay has caused a drought and famine in this place. people are literally starving.

the poverty is so blatantly visible here, much more so than in south africa. driving along the main road, you can see run-down huts made of mud and tree branches, children with tattered clothing and no shoes walking miles at end, people physically struggling to ride their bicycles as they're hauling loads of home-made coal to sell in town all for $3.

it has been less than one week, but there is already so much to say.

but all in all,

it is good to be here :)

thank you for all who’ve been supporting and praying for me. these past three months have been the longest but shortest three months in my life as of yet, and every moment has been amazing. the stresses of “the airport incident” are still fresh in my mind, and i thought i could never redeem myself from it (hehe). but that’s what’s so amazing about it all: it’s not about me or what i do, because at the end, God’s grace is enough, and it’s more than enough to get me through.

more than anything, though, these past three months have been such a time of peace. people here have been saying that God meets people in africa like no other place; i didn't really understand what they meant, but i think it's somewhat true. and it's not necessarily because of what i've been physically seeing or experiencing. the words in Scripture have never been so clear in my life; they're alive, and they're truth, and i think i've only begun to understand that.

so thank you,

for sharing this experience with me.


Come and see what God has done: he is awesome in his deeds toward the children of man.
-Psalm 66:5

Thursday, December 11, 2008

silly thieves

last night, hands village got broken into. none of us noticed until we entered the bathroom and kitchen and realized the following items were missing:

- 2 bottles of 2l coke
- all of the frozen and refrigerated packages of meat (they didn't take my box of frozen fish patties. what's wrong with my fish patties?)
- microwave
- bathroom towels
- lacey's board shorts she left hanging in the bathroom
- darryl's underwear he left hanging on the laundry line

most of the other kitchen appliances were still in the kitchen, and none of the rooms got broken into.

meat and coke. and a microwave. and underwear.

picky thieves.

silly thieves.

Saturday, December 6, 2008


leaving for mozambique in less than 10 days!

December 15, 2008

Depart Nelspruit 07:40am
Arrive at Johannesburg 08:35am

Depart Johannesburg 11:00am
Arrive at Beira 12:40pm

Sunday, November 30, 2008

the silliness, the randomness, and the pecularities of it all

having almost reached my three-month mark in south africa, i've been noticing interesting things and assimilating/developing new habits and mannerisms into my lifestyle.

- i love the names of some people here: Confidence, Pretty, Precious, Sunnyboy, Forgiven, Given, Mine, Enough.

- just as we have american slang and habitual speech that are idiomatic of the states, afrikaaner english is distinct. many north americans, including me, find it peculiar and amusing :p

  • "just now" = anytime in the near or distant future
    e.g. "we're going to the store just now" may mean 2-3 hours later... or tomorrow.
  • "now now" = now
    e.g. "we're going to the store now now" means Now.
  • "how is it?" = hey! or what's up? (a rhetorical question)
    i.e. "how is it?" elicits no response.
  • "is it?" = really?
    e.g. "there's a monkey in my bathroom." "is it?"
  • "hectic" = intense
    e.g. "that wasabi is hectic."
  • "what what what" = etcetera
    e.g. "as he goes out to meet people, fill out forms,and what what what..."

- except for the occasional phone conversations i have with my parents and the random words i spontaneously blurt out to myself, i haven't spoken korean since i've arrived. but i feel my spoken and perhaps written english are getting worse. it may be the afrikaaner english throwing me off or the portuguese i'm currently learning, but english grammar and phrase structure that seemed almost innate to me are not so obvious anymore. gerunds, past participles, contractions, appositives, comma splices -- should've payed more attention in class.

- i've developed an addiction for... chocolate milk! not coffee, not tea, not hot chocolate; chocolate milk. 3.5 teaspoons of nesquick chocolate powder + mug of cold 2% fat milk = perfect.

- i'm learning how to cut my own hair. trimming bangs = no problem.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

shell shock

i entered a meeting with george and carly yesterday believing it to be simply a "catch-up/how-are-you-doing" meeting. but as george spoke his first words, it occurred to me that things were going to change again.

"i'm just going to lay it on the table."

'lay What on the table??'

and sure enough!

i'm still going to mozambique.


without jessie.

i'll also be leaving sooner than expected!

there's a german family here that is planning to visit mozambique for about a month; they are leaving early december. i'll be leaving for mozambique with them, and so it looks like i only have 2.5 - 3 weeks left in south africa!! o_o

as for jessie..

it's been a process for her. she'll be staying in south africa, but there is a possibility for her to join me in mozambique next year.

and so it's a bit sad and scary at the same time. after the meeting, jessie and i were saying, "it's funny when you're with someone else to share all the cultural embarrassing situations with you, but it's scary when you're alone." of course, i'll be staying in a type of commune where there's plenty of people to meet and interact with, but i guess it's just not the same.

i'll be living with the current moz footprinters -- laura and dara -- until mid-ish january. this will be a kind of testing period on how well i manage and adjust. if i'm completely fine, i can stay in mozambique until july. if things are too overwhelming, i have the choice to return to south africa. if i do decide to stay, there'll be a period of 4-6 weeks living in the house by myself after dara and laura leave. then i'll be spending the next 4-6 weeks with the mozambique country rep (also a nurse) from south africa. we'll be going to the international conference together in march to see where i'm at and if everything's ok.

haa. so much to do now since time is running out!

the entire situation is a bit daunting,

but as much as i am scared,

i feel good about the decision :)

the right decision is never an easy one.

No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.
- Romans 4:20-21

Friday, November 14, 2008

children, children

don't know what to say, don't know what to do, don't know how to entertain them, don't know how to interact with them, don't know how to gently chide them, don't know how to keep them under control.

doesn't help that we don't speak the same language either.

haa, kind of stressful :p

but hey, how can you not love 'em?

threatening? dancing? :D

magnolia! the baby of babies :)

nap time at k2.

too cute.

the cutest.

children in transit.

princess and magnolia.

he has the saddest eyes.

magnolia and friend walking back home.

daycare center in bushbuckridge.

playing another game after my failed attempt to explain and initiate duck-duck goose :p

all the kids brought out their "animals" to show marj.

and this is what they did with their stuffed animals,

copying the mothers and gogos (grandmothers) here. too cute!

all eyes and smiles.

i love this :)

all photos, photo courtesy of steph and marj

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

relay with chariots

i went to sleep last night knowing that something will have changed back at home by the time i woke up.

and sure enough,

barack obama...!

one of the US volunteers here casted her vote via an absentee ballot. i could've voted also, but i was torn between the two candidates that i decided not to. i'm still a little torn by the result, not knowing what to think of it. i'm just glad this race is over!

the beginning of bible study this morning involved a brief discussion of our feelings/opinions on the result, our personal stances on certain issues. it's funny how south africans on this campus found out sooner than the americans here, but it goes to show that the entire world was following this presidential election. it seems everyone, not only americans, is expecting something to come out of this election and the newly elected president, especially at times like these: a new direction, a new plan, a new image for the nation that seems to impact so many others. "he has a lot of work to do. i wouldn't want to be in his shoes," someone said.

but really,

as much as we should care about the president's character, his policies on issues, and how these things will impact us and how we live,

all it really comes down to is,

God's will will be done

no matter whose hands the baton gets pass onto.

i am not a democrat or a republican;

i am a Christian.

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
- Psalm 20:7

Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.
- Hebrews 12:28-29

Sunday, October 26, 2008

the challenge

with almost two months into the year, i can almost call this place home.

two of the four footprint volunteers -- alisha and emily -- have already left for zambia last week. although it's been such a short period of time getting to know them, i think i've grown quite attached to them. i miss them.

in preparation for mozambique, jessie and i've been assigned to participate/observe/learn a lot what might be called new skills. a lot of what we'll be doing in mozambique will be related to communications, especially that with the donors. and so we're learning how to write project proposals and reports. despite my overall excitement about the projects in mozambique, i can't help but feel a little uneasy about this assignment. not only am i inexperienced in this field, but i was just not expecting to be doing the things that i will be doing.

i guess i was supposed to expect that, though, ey?

ironically enough :)

this past monday and tuesday, i had the opportunity to follow the south african country representative to mbonisweni, another local community in this area. the two days comprised of training sessions for the home-based care volunteers in the area. hands at work has recently partnered with this community, and so the structural framework of how to support this community is still in the process of being established.

in addition to giving practical guidelines and strategies when going out to do home-based care, the training sessions also incorporated time for discussion on the challenges that the volunteers are currently facing. and it seems one of the most difficult challenge to tackle is one that pervades not only mbonisweni or masoyi, but probably all of the local communities that hands at work supports:

care for the caregivers.

it's actually an extremely foreign idea. when you think of a volunteer in the most north-american, westernized sense, you probably imagine a volunteer who already has a regular- and relatively well-paying job taking out a couple of hours a week to provide his services to the local community. he is in the position to give because he probably has something to give.

that is rarely the case in this country or anywhere else in africa for that matter.

volunteers here are poor. they are the poor helping out the poorest. most volunteers do not have regular jobs. this is what they do; caring for the orphaned, widowed, and dying is what they do because nobody else in the community will. many volunteers have said that they have taken food from their own house and paid for transportation from their own pockets in order to provide food on the plates of their neighbors, in order to take their sick neighbors to the local clinics. it's not an altruistic way of saying things nor is it a conscious way to invite sympathy from others because it's a real issue.

hands has tried to address this issue by providing volunteers with income-generating activities or sustainable items such as gardens or chicken coops with chicken. in most cases, though, especially in south africa, hands has been meeting volunteers' needs with small monthly incentives. although the monetary incentives are very small (and i mean extremely small), hands has been trying to steer away from that direction because of the obvious issues that come into play.

victoria, who is essentially mbonisweni hbc's leader/coordinator, mentioned that once word spreads out that monetary incentives are being given out, people actually come and knock on her door saying that he/she wants to be involved in this work. clearly, the motivation and heart for the work may not be there. when incentives are given out, the volunteers and hbc system may also become too dependent on their financial donors. donors can easily draw out their support from the communities. the impact of that would be even greater if the donor happened to be a large funder of the community. what then? furthermore, how would hands communicate with the donors on how the money is being spent? we currently have a donor for mbonisweni, but it isn't quite clear how the money should be spent. donors often have their own agenda on how distribute the money, and they may not understand why monetary incentives are being given out to those who they think of as volunteers.

money always makes things sticky.

it's a little tricky when trying to think of how one should write project proposals for donors, especially if the money is going to be spent on operational costs, not on physical building or item costs.

where do we start, and how can i help in this process?

on the other side of things,

i've just heard that the projects in mozambique will have no financial donors after december of this year.


with the hands' expansion plan for mozambique, i wonder what's going to happen, how things are going to happen.

i wonder what's going through carlos' mind.

anxiety? fear? doubt?

as much as it is a reality, i was so encouraged to hear from others of carlos' vision and attitude.

God is holding my right hand. I just keep on moving forward.

My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
- Psalm 121:2

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

zooming in

after climbing legogote, i thought i might give you a better picture of where everything's located when i speak of nelspruit, asm, hands village, or masoyi.
to start off, this is south africa.

330 km east of johannesburg (~3-hour drive) is nelspruit, the capital of mpumalanga province. asm is located near white river which is just north of nelspruit.

this is a panoramic view from legogote. on the left, you can see the general area of asm and hands village, while on the right, you can see the masoyi community.

taking a closer look, there's hands and asm.

closer still, you can see that asm, hands, and acts clinic are all in the vicinity of each other. westmont is the cottage at asm in which my housemates and i lived during my first month's stay in south africa. now i'm living up at the dorms at hands across the road.

tour of hands village (still under construction) and asm:

above is the building where the main lounge, kitchen, and dining area are located. to its right and left are the dormitories accommodating long-term and short-term volunteers.

this is one of the two hallways leading to dorm rooms.

the room i share with alisha right now. i'll be moving again next week! (into another room with another roommate.)

the path leading out of hands village.

the road down to asm which is located on the left in the above photo.

beautiful trees on the way :)

entrance to asm. he wanted his photo taken :)

as you can see, acts clinic is right across the main gate of asm.

the building where offices are located. payphones are found at the balcony above the offices with which people can make international phone calls.

a closer look.

inside view of one of the offices. this is the only place where i can use the internet. internet access is becoming more difficult as it isn't allowed to walk across alone on the road at night from hands to asm.

soccer field below the hill where the offices are located. soccer games are held every sunday. you can see mount legogote behind.

swimming pool which is utilized by many on hot days.

path leading away from the soccer field towards westmont.

area where the girls and i lived and where lynn and jamye (missionaries from canada) currently live.

westmont cottage!

random tractor and hand-made concrete table outside the cottage. george was telling us how he had to roll the round concrete table top down the hill.

random flower that was growing outside the cottage. all the girls were fascinated by it; we wondered if it was real.

clothes being dried behind the cottage.

entrance to the cottage.

view inside. to your right is the kitchen; to the left through the door would be my room (photos were taken just before moving out).

kitchen... and alisha's chocolate wheat crisps on the counter :d

my room that i shared with emily. you can also see alisha and jessie's room through the door above the stairs.

view of my side of the room. you could often see monkeys outside the window climbing trees or munching on things.

another view walking out of the door.

walking across asm.