Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Weekend Away!

Two weekends ago we were able to get away as a family. Knowing that building at the property will be beginning soon, we thought it best to get away now while we have the opportunity. Once building begins there will be no stopping. We spent the weekend in Pretoria just hanging out at the mall, looking at dirt bikes and visiting the zoo.

Welkom is rather small and has very little to do as any form of entertainment so even a big mall is thrilling. Most of Friday was spent traveling and going to the chiropracter, something we also don't have in Welkom. Saturday was a fun day filled with looking at dirt bikes and quad bikes. Liam LOVED going into the dealers and seeing all the fun. He would walk in and say "Wow" and "Cool". This was definitely the highlight of the weekend for him and for Brian. Liam gets his love for the outdoors and motorbikes from him dad.

We visited the Pretoria Zoo in the afternoon and had a great time. Liam and Lindie both seemed to enjoy the animals. We had fun watching the animals and seeing many animals that you often don't see at a zoo in the States. A few animals include hippos, river hogs, big elephants, baby kola bear ect. But the most interesting looking animal was the okapi. The Okapi resembles the zebra but are most closely related to the giraffe.

The kids were pretty tired after the zoo, so we went back and took a short nap before heading out for supper. Sunday morning we had a late breakfast and then the kids enjoyed an outdoors play area. As you can see the possibilities of making children's play equipment out of old oil barrels and metal are endless! This was a great way of getting out their energy before heading back home with a 4 hour drive.

We had a wonderful time away and are now back to life as usual and loving that also.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

What A Day!?!?

Brian always has the best stories and since he won't blog tonight about his day, I am going to share his story. Disclaimer: We have learned that all the plans we make are plans that will be changed by something unplanned.

The day began like this: Brian met Louie to unmold the bricks. They quickly saw that the bricks were not yet ready so they left to come back later in the day.

Brian goes to Phillip V. office to get his signature on a bank paper so he can make a change on one of RHI's accounts.

Brian then went to the bank to give the letter to RHI's business banker only to be informed that the letter doesn't have a key phrase that it should have. So, Brian decided to take care of some additional business at the bank and goes to the teller to get two bank guaranteed checks for the municipality to start the rezoning process for our property. The teller informs Brian that he must have 2 signatures for bank guaranteed checks. So, Brian calls Louie and gets him to come and sign a slip. Finally with the bank checks he leaves the bank.

Brian then goes to get another letter signed by Phillip with the additional phrase included. No time to go back to the bank at this point however.

Brian is now at the property and the city workers are there to install our water meter. Hooray-they dug the hole like 2 weeks ago.

(video of the hole being dug)

The delay has occurred because the city doesn't have all the materials needed to install the water meter. The city can't go out and purchase the necessary materials because they haven't paid their bill to the supplier. The city workers arrived with what they thought were the right materials. When Brian arrived he saw the materials they were using and told them that was not going to work. The head guy came to look at the progress and also said, as soon as the water is turned back on the water pressure will blow that pipe. So the workers left to find something different. They came back with a new water meter. We were required to purchase a 50mm (2 inch) water meter. However, because they are short on the correct piping they decided to give us an 80mm water meter because they had the correct materials. When Brian came back to check on their progress he saw how they were going to install the water meter and he said, no no that will not work. They had decided to go right through the fence and then leave it there. They said we could notch out the cement fence around the meter. No no this will not work. Then the workers demanded Coke and Chips (french fries) and took a break. ((Brian bought them a Coke, no chips))

(this is how they wanted to install the meter. What were they thinking?)

During this time Brian also had a side converstaion with one of the city workers. This guy told Brian that he was 37 yrs old but looks really young, Brian agreed with that statement. This guy continued to say that he can tell 13 yr old girls that he is 17 yrs old and the girls believe him and sleep with him. He said he has to be careful and not get caught or he could go to jail for statutory rape. ((What a crazy conversation. And why tell this to a person you don't know? And how sad and disgusting is this? But this is reality in South Africa))

Back to the water meter. Because Brian won't let them go through the fence they had to leave to find different materials. They finally came back with a different water meter again. The water meter size is now 100mm (big enough to hook up a fire hydrant) all because they don't have 50mm piping for the water meter we purchased. So the city is giving us a water meter that has a capacity of putting out fires for the same price as a regular residential meter.

Brian said the materials they came up with are still not completely correct but he thinks it will work. The new pipe is being held together with wire and rocks. The workers quickly did it like that and covered it up with dirt. So time will tell if it holds or if we have leaks but we now have a water meter! If it leaks it will be on the city side of the meter and not ours.

In the mean time, Brian had to make two more visits to the bank to get the changes to the account complete. The bank is never an easy place to get things done. By the end of the day he did accomplish that task also.

Just another day in Africa...

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Hospice Outreach in Thabong

We are at a time of transition in our lives. Returning to South Africa to establish Restoring Hope Village has been an awesome adventure, and its only begun! As we wade through the construction phase of The Village, I find myself desiring to remain connected with the community. The need around us is unmeasurable and we can't wait until the first house at The Village is filled with children. Until that day comes we are reaching out to those around us.

One place we have started helping is the local hospice association. On Tuesdays and Thursdays the hospice in Thabong cares for 10 preschool aged children. These children come from the homes of patients being cared for by the hospice. To clarify a few things-if you are in the States reading this- the type of hospice care you are envisioning is completely different then here. The hospice program here offers end of life comfort but is very limited. They have no doctor working directly with them. The majority of services they offer include in home visits with very basic care for those who can't walk to the center, support group for those who can walk to their center, counseling, food parcels to those in the greatest need, daycare for a few children and a few other resources. Most of the caregivers are trained volunteers who have no transportation, they walk to the houses of the patients. I will share more about the hospices services as I learn more.

One reason we desired to get involved with hospice is because of their staff, they are so kind, helpful and sincere. They desire to help so many people with limited resources. Since returning, I been thinking about different avenues of how Amber and I could get more involved. Another reasons this is going to hopefully work out well is because our own children can be part of it with us.

We have committed to helping on Tuesday mornings--we share a Bible Story on flannel graph or other pictures, sing songs, plan and provide a craft and play games. Their retired, volunteer preschool teacher translates for us, which is a HUGE help. She is very funny and personable.

Last week we took each child a hat, scarf and mitten set that was hand made by a group of ladies in Iowa. We are in the middle of winter, so it was a perfect time to give these kids something warm. As you can see they sure loved receiving a gift.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Liam and His Dirt Bike!

Shortly before Liam's first birthday, Brian sold my dirt bike because I rarely used it and he bought a small quad bike and this little dirt bike to replace it. At the time he was teaching the kids at The Pines how to ride a dirt bike-so it was the perfect teaching size. It was also the perfect size for Liam's first dirt bike, for when he is a little bigger. Since Liam was about 10 months old he had been riding with Brian and he has always LOVED it. His love for dirt bikes and fun naturally comes from his father!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Christmas in July!

We have had a fantastic week. On Monday, the container we shipped from Iowa in March arrived! Hip Hip Hooray is all that needs to be said, but I will say a little more.

The container was schedule to arrive much earlier than July, like May 29. But because of the South Africa transport strike in May the harbors were back logged. Last Friday we received word that the container would be arriving to us in Welkom on Monday. We were told we would be receiving the truck company's phone number so we could stay in touch as to the time it would arriving. Well, this is Africa and that call never came. The call that did come rang at 4:45AM on Monday morning. The truck driver was at a gas station waiting to be escorted to the location. So, Brian got up, dressed and escorted the driver to the property. The crane wasn't able to get to the property until 10AM, which actually turned into 11.

(Lindie and Pops)

(Kids playing on the rock pile)

To help celebrate this joyous occasion and to give some little people an educational experience, we had a small crowd cheering on the crew as they unloaded the container. Nana and Pops (Trish and Lawrence) brought their three grandchildren, Dannie-a close friend, the O'Tool gang and our family gathered to wait and watch the BIG moment. Because the crane was almost an hour late and the property only consists of dirt, a pile of rock and a pile of sand the kids found great entertainment on the rock pile. They also received a bath as soon as we got home.

(Guys hooking up the chains)

The container was safely unloaded. From there we headed to The Pines to move the O'Tool's container and then our container. Now all three containers reside at the property. On Tuesday, we spent the day repacking our personal containers to make room for the items coming out of the container that just arrived. More to come on that later...

(moving our containers from The Pines)

Just know that we are enjoying Christmas in July. It is winter here so it is rather fitting with the weather.

Sunday, July 4, 2010


We celebrated the 4th of July yesterday with the O'Tools. The guys made blocks in the morning because they ran out of time on Friday to get them made. For lunch time we gathered at Louie & Amber's to grill. We enjoyed lunch and had a good game of croquet afterwards. I started out doing a terrible job & was in last place most of the game. Louie was in the lead most of the game. Before the game started Louie said he would buy the winner a Coke. Most of the time he only offers a shiny nickel, so this is a big step up for rewards. As it happened, Louie ended up being the first looser and I ended up winning. He still owes me that Coke!

After our game of croquet we played botchi ball but we had to play with croquet balls and a golf ball because we don't own a botchi ball set. It worked just fine. The O'Tools yard is a little small for this game so we ended up playing in the street & just outside the fences of their neighbor's yards as well.

Today we went to church and then out for coffee and pancakes. We enjoy going to Alma Nursery as a family and we often take Nana and Pops with us (Trish and Lawrence are our adoptive South African grandparents).

South African pancakes are really more like crepes and American pancakes are called flap jacks here. We enjoy having cinnamon and sugar inside ours with a side of cream or ice cream. You can get them made either sweet or savory. If you like savory you can choose a wide variety of fillings like chicken, tuna, mayo or tomatoes.

Alma Nursery is a garden nursery with lots of nice plants, trees, and fish ponds. Liam and Lindie both love looking at the fish ponds. They also have a nice playground area for the kids to play while we sit and enjoy our pancakes.

Brian almost bought Liam a gold fish today but the guy working their said the kind of fish they have right now need more then a fish bowl, like an oxygen pump or an outside pond. So no gold fish today but I see one coming our way in the near future.

Happy 4th of July to all our friends and family. Miss you all and love you!

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Little Things...part 1

The Little Things...That Remind Us that We Live in South Africa. After 4 years of living in South Africa we've become accustom to random, bizarre, strange, and peculiar things in life. Most of the time we don't even think twice about things anymore but we still have those times when we say "you wouldn't see that in America".

Today happened to be one of those days. Amber and I took the kids to Clear Water, a play place, this morning and enjoyed a cappuccino while the kids were playing. While we were away for 6 months the owners have expanded the play area by adding more play equipment, petting area of baby animals, kids train, ect. Before we left, before they expanded it cost R20 {$2.63} for each child to play. Since they have expanded the cost has decreased, it now only cost R5 {$.65} per child. Hmm, one would think if you make the place nicer it would cost more to play now. Anyways, that is a good change.

The play area is definitely not up to the US standards for safety but we aren't in the US. Most of the play equipment is made of metal with a hard cement or dirt surface underneath. Part of the new "child friendly equipment" includes an old speed boat, Dune Buggy and Taxi to play in. The doors have been removed and carpet added to the floors for safe playing. (I didn't take pictures of this grand play equipment, I will have to do that next time)

They also added a nice train for the kids to ride on. The train is great & the kids love it. It is made out of old barrels, scrap metal and it has a pull start engine. The train cars are made to look like soda pop cans. I totally see ones of these becoming part of The Village someday. Brian could easily rig something like this up only better.

Seat belts aren't necessary because you cram as many kids onto the seat as possible so there is no wiggle room for falling out!

Don't worry about the rust, just make sure you have an up to date tetnus shot to ride ;-P

Compared to some of things Liam has played in, crawled on and been exposed to since living in South Africa this is really nice.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Germany vs England

On Sunday we had the opportunity to go to Bloemfontein with Louie, Amber, & Ben to see the Germany vs England game.
When we bought the tickets we were thinking/hoping that the US would be playing in this game. We were expecting the US to be second in their category not #1 but the US ended up being first which left us watching this match. It was an excellent game to see!

We were able to leave all the kids back in Welkom with babysitters, so we had a fantastic day all around. We arrived plenty early to allow us to get good parking (so we could get out quickly, because we didn't want our babysitters to get stuck all night), eat lunch, take in all the soccer festivities of watching crazy fans & just to enjoy ourselves. Hey you only go to a World Cup game once in your life.

Brian & I weren't exactly sure who we wanted to cheer for, but we decided to go for Germany. Our decision was based on three very scientific reasons 1. We've both have been to Germany 2. We have friends that live in Germany & 3. We have 2 German vehicles. It was a good thing we decided to cheer for them because they ended up winning.