Friday, April 17, 2015

Another work party - Carole's Post

One of the most satisfying things we do is participate in service projects with the missionaries.  It gets us doing something physical along with helping others in a fun way.  
Having a change of pace is rejuvenating and especially, after the office work that we do, it is "most welcome" (Malawian popular phrase as I've said many times).
So it was most welcome when an opportunity came up to help, once again, the Chikapa family with building their new home.  We had done this in the first month of our mission and now, about five months later, the home is much closer to being completed.  
 This is the home last November and 
 here it the home today.
What you can't see are the additional rooms that have been added on in the back.

President and Sister Chikapa have worked very hard to build their home, with Sister Chikapa probably going  over daily to either work or supervise some hired help.  President Chikapa, when not doing branch president's responsibilities (which seem to be all the time), is there checking out the quality and working himself since he is very skilled and knowlegable.

First of all, to reach the house, it is a difficult climb on a different side of Mount Soche.  In fact, the neighborhood area is called Chimakhunda but the house is high, high above the market.  George dropped the five of us (two elders, two sisters) off at the bottom and he went off for a meeting concerning a possible piece of property for building a new Zingwangwa branch meetinghouse (yes!).  I'm just glad I have finally been getting out to do some early morning walks to build up my stamina and since it was a lovely morning, the climb felt good as long as I watched my footing. 

Our task today was to gather rocks to fill in the top of the newly built retaining wall at the front of the house.  If we could find enough rocks above the house and bring them down to fill in, there would be more stability and less cement needed, cement being a high cost item in the building of any structure. Since being here, I have been impressed with how much the Malawians make do with what is at hand.  For instance, bricks are made and fired close to the site because the cost of transport is exorbitant.  So whereas at home, if rocks are needed, we would order a truckful;  here when rocks are needed, we go out and gather!  And that is with no work gloves or wheelbarrows.  We had a couple of plastic buckets among the six of us, since Sister Chikapa was with us all the way.



Sister Chikapa with Sister Browning.

Along with Elder Hiltbrand and Sister Griffus

Unfortunately, you can't see all of Elder Ngendabanka (from Burundi) in the background.  He provided the real muscle, carrying the bucket loads down to the workers who poured them onto the top of the retaining wall.  He is wearing a football (soccer) jersey because he was a serious player in his country.

It's obvious who the hardest worker is..and this doesn't even show the khasu (sort-handled Malawian hoe) that she wielded in digging the rocks out of the hillside.
Sister Browning would like us to believe she is as strong as the Malawians!  (don't think so!)

As it was getting late in the morning, George showed up to see our work and to check on the latest improvements to the house.  Being all dressed up is one way of getting out of the work, but actually it isn't that easy getting up the hill in dress shoes.  
Soon after he arrived, it began to rain and we huddled underneath the roof on the porch.
Nimrod joined us to add to the fun and Sister Chikapa offered bananas to everyone for their hard work.  Notice how the water is beginning to flow in the newly built drainage ditches surrounding the house.

This was not a light rainfall because within minutes we could see the small riverlets forming where we had just worked.  It poured ferociously for an hour until the streams going down the hill were filled.

As soon as we thought the rain was letting up, we headed down the hill.  It was a far cry from the climb on the way up, with streams to jump and lots of slippery red mud - the kind I had vowed to never try to walk in again!

I'm looking happier than I feel.

George is at least trying to protect his silk tie.
Trying to convince Sister Griffus to jump...  Hey, this stream wasn't here a few hours ago!

More wet feet..more soaked shoes...just another morning in Blantyre!