Of this I am convinced: I am incapable of writing a SHORT blogpost. Today's won't be the exception (sorry!)... but I'm going to be writing about one of my absolute FAVORITE days in the village so it will be worth the long post. After this, I've only got 1 more post on the return trip and life since Africa. Then, blogging freedom!
Thursday May 27th ~ Gardening and Going Away Celebration in Chikudzulire.
Thursday morning started out the same as all other mornings ~ up at 5:45, got ready for the day, packed a lunch and ate some breakfast. There were 2 odd breakfast foods on the menu, and ever since the first morning I had really wanted to try them! But, being the practical person that I am (ha) I mapped this out... Say that I ate these two foods and got sick, would I want to get sick early on in the trip, or more towards the end? Also, would it be better to have the runs on the airplane? Or in the village? I opted for the village and towards the end of the trip; thus, this morning was my morning for trying Green Mealie Pie and sadly, I decided not to try the Chakalaka.
(View from the truck-bed)
After being picked up at the lodge, we attended morning devotions at the Somebody Cares Headquarters, before leaving for our final day in Chikudzulire. Even though we had only been there 2 weeks, it felt like we had been there for months! Driving down to the village for the last time was sad. Knowing that your work here was quickly coming to a close and that you would have to say your final goodbyes was sad too. But the villiagers made a celebration out of it!
(Us white girls trying our hardest!)
We pulled into the village and were greeted by the Welcoming Committee. We sang and we danced (for a long time) and all were merry. Shortly after we had finished, out team piled onto a flatbed truck, as did 25+ village people. We piled in and drove a few miles down the road to a little brick house. We parked next to the road and everyone carried supplies 1/4 mile down a path, towards the river. After dodging banana trees (the branches were so low we could have done the limbo!), and crawling through bushes and other vegetation, we finally made it! Where you might ask? To a piece of land the size of (I can't quite think of something to compare it to...) our side-yard. If you don't know how big that is, well then you should just come over, now! :)
(Here she comes -- note the baby! She was the HARDEST worker ever! She put us to shame)
(Example of a berm with 3 rows on top)
Once there, us ladies picked up the hoes and began plowing up the portion of land. It was hard work! And on top of that, we were definitely using barbaric looking tools! After a while of doing this, and having a village woman (WITH a baby on her back) smoke me out of the water -- she was SO good at plowing! -- I retired my tool and passed it onto a fellow. Ha! Before we knew it, the garden was taking shape! After plowing up all of the large pieces of dirt, they began to form berms, and on top of every (1) berm, there would be 3 rows (hopefully the picture will make more sense). The funny thing was that the final project looked so straight, that any American would have thought that there was 21st Century equipment involved! Moving on, In every row (on top of the berm), they would make a little pocket, place in a seed or two, cover it in manure and then water it. Before long, the pails of manure ran out and more manure was needed. A handful of ladies from the village invited Kelly, Kelsey and I to join them in collecting more. This was a great honor (for them to include us) and so the fun began...
(Note the brick house...)
(Note the puddle...)
While walking up the path towards the truck, I was mentally preparing myself for having to touch cow waste. I was grossed out by the thought AND I was nervous because I knew that they don't have soap in the village, so rinsing our hands with water before we ate wasn't going to be good... As this is all running through my mind, and as I am carrying this empty pail, we walk past the truck and -to my surprise- past the field of cows. As we keep walking, I realize (UH OH!) that we're walking towards the back of the brick building. A few blogposts back, I mention that grass huts = pee and brick huts = poo. Pull that information forward! We were heading for the remnants of human manure and I was FREAKING out. All of us girls quickly started spouting off our concerns (just with each other), and when we arrived to the building, we all realized why we were told to avoid the produce... It's grown with HUMAN FECES! Inside the holes, in the brick structure, there are small pipes that drain the juice from the solids. This juice then runs onto the other side of the wall and comes out in a puddle on the other side (I hope the pictures make more sense for you!). The ladies began scooping dirt into this juice, mix it around and then scooping this sludge-like-substance into the pails that us girls were carrying. I quickly got over it, and realized that this was all a part of the experience!
Let's just say I laughed ALL the way back (over a 1/4 mile now) to the plot of land, while carrying 30lbs of human manure on my head! Oh I will likely NEVER forget that experience :) After the planting was finished in the garden (it was beautiful when it was done!), we all piled back into the van and it was time for lunch! The Chief's sister invited us to her hut for lunch this day, and was so gracious to host us all! We dined on nsima, stinky fish (I was struggling through this!) and greens. She also provided Fanta, which comes in more than 50 flavors in Malawi! We laughed and reminisced from the morning, we (Kelsey and I) also watched as Kelly chose a seat RIGHT below a massive spider. The spider had been still almost the entire meal, when all of a sudden, it decided that it wanted to go onto Kelly's headpiece! Kels and I freaked out and then urged that Kelly should move. She didn't understand why, but then quickly turned around and saw the spider that wanted to eat her! ha!
(Stinky fish close up!)
(Massive spider threatening Kelly's existence!)
After lunch was the celebration. What a special time! We were seated beneath the shady structure, and we were honored. Choirs (yes, multiple!) came and sang for us, the zone leader spoke of his gratitude (to both our team, and Mother Theresea), Ramsy from the Somebody Cares staff spoke of his appreciation for Mother Theresea and our staff, and the singing and dancing continued. Finally, the head chief (of 70+ villages within Chikudzulire) stood and thanked us. She then welcomed the gifts. People from the village began pouring out their peanuts, bananas, corn, pumpkins, maize, and even a goat! I got a picture of half of the gifts we were given, but in total, the gifts that these villagers offered up to us was the equivalent of being given a new car in the US! It was amazing and so, so generous! We then were given some time to say our goodbyes (which was sad), but it was great. I sought out Margaret, a lady I had bonded with earlier in the week. Her son was VERY ill with Malaria and she allowed me to pray over his body (petition for healing). As I was saying goodbye to her, she told me that her son was better, healed, not a portion of disease remained in him! What a sweet way to end our time with the people of Chikudzulire!
(Mr. Makina joining in on the celebration :)
(The first gifts we were given... no, the little girl was not for us to keep :( I would have too! She liked to dance :)
(This was about 2/3 of the total gifts they gave to us! So generous I tell you!)
On the hour drive back to the lodge, we sang the songs we learned (my 2 favorites too!) and I couldn't help but reminisce of God's goodness in my life. Once we made it back to the lodge, we all quickly showered and went right back out to Theresea's house. She had prepared a special meal for the Somebody Cares staff, and our team. It was our final supper and it was special. From dancing with Kathryn (my favorite lady!) to discussing my passion for prayer with Fatimayta, a mighty prayer warrior, the evening was beautiful. It was the sweetest way to end our stay and the bonds that were made surely cannot be broken. Packing that night was bittersweet. We were sad to pack up all of our memories, but excited to unpack them and share them with our families! Sleep was difficult.