Tying up Loose Ends
Life, and the experience of living, is full of “Firsts” - Your first day of school, your first job, your first date – After living in Zimbabwe for nearly 6 months, Kate and I have experienced plenty of firsts. But now, as the calendar has worked its way into June, we are beginning to experience “Lasts”. Just today, we went to immigration to renew our visas for the last time. In a little more than three weeks, Kate and I will watch the African sun fall beneath a dusty horizon for the last time before we head home to friends and family. The experience will be the exact definition of bittersweet.
With 27 days until that sunset, we are working hard to tie up all the projects we have begun. A week ago, I finalized the design of my rocket stove, and have subsequently installed the final product in Morning Star’s outdoor kitchen. It is built with 21 locally made bricks and costs less that 3 dollars to make. In the next three weeks, we have scheduled installation of two more stoves within the community. I have also finished the “Living System”. Since its previous blog post (A Living System Coming to Life), water is now flowing through all five filters and is being collected in two clean water drums. In order to make the most of the system, I’ve been busy plumbing in as many water sources as possible. Morning Star is now saving and filtering gray water from three showers, three sinks, and a recently installed washing machine. Before we head out, I will install a 12-volt circulation pump on a solar panel, and write a technical manual on how to service and clean the system. It has by far been the biggest project I have undertaken on this trip, and I’m happy to report it is working beautifully.
Kate here! While Chris has quite literally been in the trenches, I have had the pleasure of getting out into the community on a number of occasions. We had a week-long visit from the Witherow family, long time friends of Chris and Norma who are American missionaries based in Johannesburg. Heather, a teacher by trade, is beloved in the community for the teacher’s workshops she runs periodically. I tagged along to one of her workshops this time, and got to learn all about the meaning of “Phonemic Awareness”. For those who don’t know, “Phonemes” are the smallest units of sound that exist in a given language. Heather went through many games and exercises the teachers can use to help preschoolers develop a distinct sense of the sounds that exist in English. We all enjoyed a delicious lunch of sadza, fried cabbage and onion, and chicken.
A few days later, we visited the Siloti preschool while it was in session so Heather could take some much needed supplies to the darling teacher, Vie. While we were there I hosted a makeshift “picture day” to take photos of the children to hang up in their classroom. Between their minimal English and my minimal Ndebele I was somehow able to coax enough smiles to get the job done.
In our spare moments, we have continued to hone our climbing skills on the plentiful granite “dwalas”. One Saturday, we were joined at the climbing wall by Ndilewe and her nephews, who each took turns being belayed by Chris. Though they have been raised among these massive outcroppings of granite, never before had they experienced a harness or rope and were thrilled by the prospect of climbing higher. Another weekend, we took on the role of climbing guides for a group of 20 young men on an international gap year program. With this sudden inundation of climbing, we took it upon ourselves to create a design for a climbers chalk bag, with the idea that the local sewing group will be able to continue to make and sell these in our absence. With our prototypes complete, we plan to spend the next few weeks making as many as we can with the sewing ladies to bring back to the States with us. If anyone is interested in purchasing one, we are selling them for $20 each and all the proceeds go directly to this group of local women. For pictures of these chalk bags, see below.
It’s hard to believe that our time here in Zimbabwe is coming to a close. It seems like it was just yesterday that we arrived to Morning Star. We want to thank everyone for their support along the way. It is not lost on us that when two twenty-somethings put their lives (in the “real world”) on hold, to travel in Africa for six months, that our friends, family, and co-workers inevitably have to pick up the slack. As our final days in Africa come closer, we will experience more “Lasts” but we know that it’s not really the end. The memory of these “lasts” will last a lifetime.