This Is Africa. I thought I’d share just a bit of my day with you.
I slept really well last night and woke up a bit late (just before 7:00). To give you a bit of perspective, sleeping well is a miracle for me and sleeping in until almost 7:00 is almost unheard of. So as I laid there, knowing I was a bit late, I was trying to decide if I should get up and hurry eat breakfast and get downtown early, or if I should try to get some exercise in before attempting a shower and breakfast or if I should just soak up the feeling of a good night’s sleep. The decision was actually made for me because the phone rang at 7:00 sharp. My new builder at Lomngeletjane, Sipho, needed to speak with me. When I returned from Switzerland I heard through the head teacher at Lomngeletjane that his daughter was sick and in the hospital. I was going to call him over the weekend but just didn’t get around to it. I told Sipho I would go by the hospital around 9:30 this morning. I still pursued the self-discipline to start exercising. I was at it for about 2 minutes when the phone rang again. This time it was Thoko. OK. Exercising wasn’t meant to be on my list of things to do today.
Thoko and I had a lot to discuss. We were probably on the phone for 20 – 30 minutes while she updated me on things that happened while I was gone and I updated her on things I learned or did once I got back. Tomorrow (Tuesday) is the “Methodist Day” (the second Tuesday of each month) at Baylor Clinic at the RFM hospital in Manzini. We made our plans for tomorrow and vowed to stay in touch to see if anything new unfolded throughout the day.
After Thoko, a friend of mine here in Swaziland – a fellow missionary from the States, gave me a call to see how my trip to Switzerland was and what the Lord had revealed to me during that time. Although we had a lot to talk about, we couldn’t talk long. The environment and circumstances beyond our control don’t make for long telephone conversations most of the time. (TIA.) Someone came to her gate so she had to hang up to go see what they wanted.
So I quickly got ready to leave. Walked up to the church to get my car, and the Superintendent had pulled part way out but was blocking my way. So I had no option but to sit and patiently wait. (TIA) This being Monday morning, I needed to take my dirty laundry to the only place in Manzini that does laundry early in the morning. Most people have someone come into their home to do their washing, but that just didn’t work out so well for me. If I can get it in early enough in the day I can usually get it back the same day. I’d already missed “early.” I maneuvered through traffic without an issue and the parking guy didn’t even come to collect his R2.50 (about .40 cents US). Things were looking good!
From the laundry I drove about a block away and parked again and this time the parking guy (not the same one) did come to collect! I went to the post office to collect the mail for the church. Someone was stealing all of the mail until the Postmaster and I finally figured it out around the beginning of May. Since then the box is locked and I have to collect the mail in person, which is fine with me. We’re getting mail which is all I care about. But they have been promising since they locked the box that a new lock would be coming in by the end of the week. This morning he told me the new locks were in so I need to bring the old keys in so they can change it out – like “now-now”. While I am glad to hear it, my mind is already trying to figure out how I can make this happen without spending hours waiting.
From the Post Office it was a lovely walk about a half a block to the bank. I’m actually going in a big circle around Manzini at this point. This bank is where the funds are deposited for a project I help with, Lutsandvo Lwa Krestu. I am a signer on that account. I went to write a check for petty cash before going to Switzerland and discovered that we needed to transfer some money from savings to checking. Sounds easy. Right? Not. You have to go to the bank to pick up a “special” form (nothing more than a copy of a simple form done on something like Word) to fill out and since our account requires two signatures, I have to get two signatures on the transfer form. While there, I ask what our savings account balance is, and also told her we don’t get bank statements for the savings account. Amazingly she gave me the balance without a problem. And then she proceeded to tell me that our type of savings account doesn’t get statements. Account holders must come in and ask for one. Great. I asked her about on-line banking which they do have. But our savings account wouldn’t be accessible via on-line banking. Wonderful. At least I now have the transfer form and know the drill. Or I think I do. We’ll see as time goes by. The good news is it was a beautiful morning and I actually got to walk a few blocks! Yeabo!
From that bank I went to another’ bank’s ATM. It’s the one I always use to pull out money because you can pull out more money at one time from this ATM, thereby cutting the ATM fees down a bit. I couldn’t get any money from my US account. I tried these ATM’s last week using a different US account’s ATM card and it didn’t work then either. Great. I tried to ask the people inside the bank if there was a problem with the ATM machines. They couldn’t understand what I wanted to know. The woman just kept telling me to go to the foreign exchange desk inside the main branch in Manzini. I told her thank you, but it wouldn’t help me because I’m not trying to exchange American money for Swazi Emalangeni. She couldn’t comprehend what I was asking. Oh well, I can’t understand what most Swazi’s say or how they think either, so we are even. I left vowing not to let it bother me. TIA.
So, feeling a bit discouraged, I headed to the hospital. It was too early for visiting hours, so I called Sipho to come out and meet me. About a week before I left, Sipho’s father-in-law passed away so he took several days off from work to go help prepare for the funeral and then he needed some time off for the actual funeral. Now he is telling me that his daughter became ill not long after the father-in-law’s funeral. She is ill with Meningitis. She is also HIV+, which I knew. Meningitis is or may also be considered to be one of those “opportunistic” diseases associated with being HIV+. I could see the worry and hurt in his eyes and he sweetly referred to her as his baby girl. (I’m guessing she’s around 7 – 10 years old.) Wow. That puts all things into perspective. I remember how scared I was when my oldest son got Meningitis when he was almost 3, and other than ear infections he was a healthy little boy, we had the best medical facilities available to us and we caught it early. Bless Sipho’s heart, he still wanted to talk to me about some concerning things that are or may affect progress at Lomngeletjane. You see, Sipho can’t work while his daughter is in the hospital because there is no one to stay there and take care of her. His wife took all of the time off of work she is allowed when her father passed away. Sipho’s sister came and stayed with his daughter last week, but she can’t take any more time off either. So, his wife is staying with the girl during the night (sleeping on the floor or in a hard, probably broken plastic chair by her bedside) and until they can find another solution, Sipho must stay with her during the day. I told Sipho not to worry about the progress on the new classroom block right now because there were other things going on that need to be resolved. So in reality, his absence is a bit of a blessing in disguise for Lomngeletjane. I’ll tell you about those things another day.
While talking to Sipho, my phone rang a couple of times, but I couldn’t hear what the caller was saying. So the caller sent me a text message. The caller was Nonjabulo’s mom saying she needed more formula for Nonjabulo who is recovering from the measles. A lot of kids get measles in this country. They say it also easily attacks kids with weakened immune systems.
So I left Sipho, went back into town to get the formula for Nonjabulo. While I’m at it I get oranges, bread, peanut butter, jelly and juice to make sandwiches tonight so the kids coming to Baylor at RFM tomorrow will have something to eat.
I headed home and though it was only 12:45, but I was emotionally drained. By now, I’ve eaten some lunch, called Thoko and gave her the news about Sipho’s daughter, made plans to go pray with them tomorrow and decided to write a blog about my morning. Now I will probably drive to Matspha, which really isn’t far, so I can give Nonjabulo’s mom the formula and maybe even go by the hospital to visit Sipho and his daughter and pray with them for a few minutes. I know that this is more important than anything else I need to do right now. I also need to chase down one of the other signers on the Lutsandvo Lwa Krestu account so we will have the money to pay for the transport for the kids that are coming to Baylor at RFM tomorrow.
So, welcome to my day in Africa. I’ll deal with the issues and what is going on at Lomngeletjane tomorrow because “tomorrow is another day.”
Please keep praying for Swaziland. Pray for the country, the government, the people, the church, and the missionaries in this country including me.