Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Building Update

Lots has happened towards our permanent quarters recently. Lots of BIG things, helped along by a lot of sacrificial sweat on Kiwi brows by teams that have been here recently.

One team member remarked when he saw the job at hand, "Why don't you just bulldoze and start over?" Actually that didn't sound like a bad idea! The problem would be years of getting permit approvals, etc, and we'd never be allowed to build the size of building that FS has on this property again. Plus, this building does have character with it's age!

What's been done? The holes where the interior staircase used to be have been replaced on both levels. The ceiling was so high on the first level that we didn't want to waste the space so we poured a mezzanine over where the bathroom will be. This creates another small room with a low ceiling that will be good for extra play space for the kids or for someone extra to sleep.

We'll enter our flat by the spiral staircase in the picture on the 2nd floor (1st for non-Americans!) and we will have the storey above that as well. The staircase spirals all the way to the roof as an exterior fire escape for the T-shirt unit that is on the top floor to the right. The need for this was proven last week in the major business area of the city where fire escapes hadn't been provided, there was a fire on the top floors of a building, and quite a few people died.

We are currently living right below the T-shirt unit.

The roof on our part of the building was crumbling so that has been nearly re-cemented. Only one more backbreaking 'pouring day' necessary for that! That will end the major renovations needed. Plumbing is still to be done as well as quite a bit of finishing work including floors, plastering and painting.

The photo of the guys boxing in the roof to be re-poured is where our kitchen will be.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Old Lady

There's an elderly couple who live across the main street nearby. They're like a lot of older couples; moving a bit slower than they used to, bent at the shoulders, and clearly devoted to each other. But they live on the sidewalk under a bus stop.

I get the idea that they haven't been homeless for years. They still have a some pride and the look of their clothes isn't absolutely destitute. But somehow now they've ended up on the streets.

I walked past them the other day and the old lady was slowly counting the few coins in her hand. She dropped one and without thinking I bent to pick it up for her. She was instantly frantic and stamped her foot down protectively on the coin. She did let me pick it up after realizing that I wanted to help not steal but her dignity was ruffled and my heart was pricked by her sad situation.

It's not right that an old women would be so destitute that she would need to vigorously protect a coin worth 2 cents US. Or that she should be sleeping on the street day by day vigilant to protect the few bags of possessions she still has.

She makes me wonder if phrases like these apply to her:

"Look at the birds. They don't plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your h_____ly Father feeds them. And aren't you far more valuable to him than they are?"
"Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don't work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed at beautifully as they are.......he will certainly care for you."

But I'm sure that our Father Himself is more heartbroken at the injustices of the world than I am! Until the time comes when things are made right, I want to be His hands and feet to people like her.
Squatter settlement by the river

Taking a break

Looking out of what will be our living room window into the lane beside us

Outside of New Market where you can get most of what's available in the city!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Hello, Hello?

(I've been waxing philosophical a lot lately so I hope no one minds!)

It's quite cute here the way people walk along the street yelling into their cell phones. Every few sentences or so they yell, "Hello, hello, hello?" in English. I wondered at this unusual habit until someone explained to me that the phone lines which are now quite good used to be very bad. Because of this people are worried that they're talking to thin air and now needlessly yell, "Hello?" to make sure that the person they're talking to is still on the line.

This can be the attitude that we have towards our Father. We wonder if He's listening and offer up little, anxious pr*yers as if we're reminding Him that we exist. But He's always there patiently listening on the other end of the crystal clear line. I wonder if at times He wishes we would stop trying to make sure that we have His attention and just be quiet so He can say something back.

The other day I read one of my favorite passages:

"When you go through deep waters I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression you will not be burned up." (Is. 43:2-3)

We never need to doubt that He's there or that He's listening!

Where do I shop?

It's hard to take photos of people and places that I see every day here but a team member who was just here from New Zealand kindly shared some of hers with me! These are a few photos of the bazaar where I buy most of our food and visit almost every day since I can only take home what I can carry.

My bread man.

The stall to the left is where I get milk, cereal, sugar, rice, flour, soap, etc.

To the right is my veggie stall. Don't know who this man is though!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Crows, crows, and more crows!

A crow left me a little gift right on the top of my head again tonight. I'm starting to think that from above my red head looks like a target in a crowd! Crows are everywhere here. Literally hundreds on any given block. They are big, loud, ugly, and a little like flying rats.

There's one crow that is giving me a new perspective on his species, however. In fact, I've found myself going out of my way to watch him. He's probably not unusual, but he's giving me a cameo glimpse into a different side of these creatures.

There's a large mango tree right outside the window of what will be our living room eventually. And there's a nest in view from that perch that's not available from below. A mother crow and three or four little blue eggs rest in it. The crow that impresses me, however, is the male who is an excellent example of the word 'devotion.' He is absolutely vigilant and aggressive in his efforts to protect the nest and his mate. He's is on guard every time I see him, his head turning and his black eyes constantly scanning the area. He goes to battle with other crows who come too near at the drop of a hat (or flap of a wing?) and will even fly up and sit within arms reach from where I stand to watch him if he sees me as a threat, fluffing his feathers and cawing a warning. He only leaves his post briefly to quickly provide some food to his mate's waiting beak. It's a heart warming display.

How often, I wonder, do I pass by other things thinking they're unattractive, not useful, or not worthy of notice, and miss the beauty that their Creator put there just beneath the surface? And what a wonderful mental picture of how He watches over His creation!