Saturday, December 8, 2007

more about Mafuta

As I’ve mentioned, almost every morning after devotions, I head to Mafuta, a local village where we support an orphan feeding program and preschool. I have been typically arriving at 9am. As I drive down the dirt road nearing the facility, a bunch of my preschoolers start running from every direction behind the truck and many of them are already there waiting for me. When I pull in I am greeted by them all chanting “mikuwa” which means European or white person. As I step out of the truck they start fist fighting over which of them gets to hold my hand as I walk into the building. It is a welcoming gesture and it makes me wish I had octopus arms to hold each of their hands.

If I arrive earlier, which seems to rarely happen, I can help the women prepare the food that is fed to the orphans around 10am, their one meal of the day. They use these huge black cast iron pots to cook over an open fire. In one pot they usually prepare shima or pap which is a very stiff cornmeal porridge, a staple here. It’s made by adding cornmeal to boiling water. They add more and more cornmeal until it is so thick it is nearly impossible to stir. Two women face each other and stir with these long-handled wooden paddles in opposite directions with amazing force and rhythm like the churning of a washing machine. I am convinced these women have the biceps of Hercules to do this on a daily basis. The shima is eaten by rolling it in your hand and then dipping it into some sort of fish stew or soy meat soup or whatever type of “soup” is available.

In order to cook everyday, the men that volunteer at Mafuta have to bring in the firewood from outside the compound. A week or two ago, they convinced me to help them go into the bush to collect firewood so they could have enough when the rains come and the roads become impassable. I drove the pickup 2.5 km into the bush on a sand road. I parked in the shade and then watched in awe as these men went running into the bush in various directions. They each returned with a huge tree trunk slung over their shoulder and dropped them next to the truck. They did this over and over again for about 45 minutes. To me it seemed to be a competition to see who could carry the heaviest log at the fastest speed. It was like watching the African version of the caber toss at the Scottish games.

Most days I assist teaching preschool for about 2 hrs. We have an average of 15 students and they are fairly attentive. They unfortunate thing for me is the language barrier. Most of these little ones at Mafuta don’t speak much English so most of my lessons or story times require translation. Their favorite book that I brought from America is “Buster Has the Hiccups,” a story about a lion with a bad case of the hiccups (Thanks Moscinski Family!!). Whenever we get to the part in the book where it says “hiccup” they all make the sound. It’s quite hilarious. It also has a little squeaky lion on the front that they all have to take turns squeezing when story time is over. I think we’ve read the book nearly every day I’ve been here so far. The new school year starts in January and as I understand it we’ll be having a class of 40 kids. I think it will definitely keep me on my toes.

As far as my prayer requests for Mafuta go… It is quite a challenging situation. Not only are many of the children there in great need, but there are some additional situations I am dealing with made even more complicated by the language barrier. I need prayer for wisdom and discernment how to best come alongside the staff that already volunteer there as well as to assist in solidifying the program. And if God would bless me with a divine understanding of Lozi my life would be a lot easier.


Anonymous said...

jealousy ensues.

Alberta said...

Jessica, just found your blog (thanks to Sherry Stiles). I have been thinking of you and so happy to read up on what is happening. Just remember........He will never leave you nor will he forsake you.


Anonymous said...

I read your entries and started crying. i miss africa so much, and i am so glad that you are there to help! please tell all of the children hello, especially mwinda. i am praying for you, and can't wait to hear more stories. i know God is using you in big ways over there, i am SO proud of you!
Maegan Neal :)