In Mozambique the school year lines up with the calendar as school ends in November and starts up again at the beginning of February. December and January are months when people travel and visit family. New Years is usually the one time of year when our kids can leave the orfanato and visit the villages where they came from. This year over 30 kids left. On Tuesday the children washed their clothes and packed their things. Early Wednesday morning they all set off down the road with their little backpacks. I am always astounded at how little people can travel with – most of their backpacks for a week-long trip are smaller than my purse. The kids were full of energy and excitement as they left and the ones staying behind walked with them to the chapas. Please pray for the kids safety, health, emotional, and spiritual well-beings while they’re away from us. Some will only be gone one or two days while others may be gone up to two weeks.
Simba follows the last kid down the road
New Years Eve
For New Years Eve we had rice and beans with curried potatoes that were so good. By midnight most of the little ones had gone to bed but all the teenagers and staff were still up and were playing music and celebrating and cheering when the New Year came in. Then we were all quiet and laughing, trying to identify the cheers of specific neighbors and yell out to them. After midnight each person talked about how grateful they were that everyone has made it into the next year. Life expectancy in Mozambique is 40 or 41-years-old. If you think about it, this means that 50% of the people you know will die when they’re a child, as a teenager, in their 20s or in their 30s. I can think about this, but the reality of it has not yet sunk in. For everyone here – New Years is a REALLY big deal as it is a time to be thankful that you and your loved ones made it into another year.
One person we are especially thankful for right now is Marta. Marta is our young staff member who became sick with an intestinal infection a few months ago and had to be operated on. There were complications that led to two more surgeries, the last being an emergency procedure this week. On New Years Eve Marta returned to the orphanage after several days recovering in the hospital. I think everyone feels pretty emotional when they look at Marta as we have all watched what she and her family have been through this past year. Last April her teenage sister was sick in the hospital and then died (nobody knows what sickness she had) and the whole orphanage was closely involved with Marta’s family during that time. Her parents go to our little church and her mom is one of the most-involved ladies in the community. Please pray that the procedure Marta had this week will have taken care of the problem completely and that she will not have any more complications.
Simba’s Bath, Eating Habbits, and Need for a Wife
Earlier in the day Simba had mashed his face in dog-doo (don’t be alarmed – yes, I know this sounds disgusting, but it is a “normal” thing for a dog to do. I don’t remember what it means but I did learn about it when Jane, my dog back in Seattle, used to do it and it apparently has a meaning). Anyway – after mashing his face in it he was running around the orphanage scaring everyone. Immediately a little group of kids got a rope, tied Simba to a tree, hosed him down, and then scrubbed his cheeks with soap.
Everyone loved watching the bath. The funny thing is that Simba loves baths in mud holes but was not happy about one with clean water coming out of a hose. At one point he broke free from the bath but was quickly chased and brought back. (See photo.) When the bath was over he immediately tried to mash his face in dirt from the trash heap! Everyone wanted Simba to stay clean so they tied him to a little tree near where we were all sitting and he had to stay there for a while.
A few hours later it was time to eat and the kids gave Simba some left-over food at the same time that we all got ours. But once Simba saw everyone else in another place, he started screaming out (the same dog scream like when he got his rabbies shot). Even though he had food he was crying out because he wanted to be with the kids. That is when Victor announced that Simba had “won his heart” for caring about being with people more than food. No sooner had he said this than Simba chewed through his rope, broke free, raced full-speed to the group, and (in Victor’s words) “flew” onto a plate! The plate was my plate because I was the only person who didn’t swoop it up out of his way, but luckily I was done eating. Simba devoured the chicken bones and skin left on the plate in seconds. Then he ran to each person and all the kids threw him their left over bones. This started getting a little out of hand and finally ended with Jeremias and Simba eating a spaghetti noodle together like on the cover of the movie Lady and the Tramp. I’m sorry I failed to get a picture - please just imagine it.
The kids tried to feed Simba a few other things but he wasn’t interested. We have actually discovered that Simba is a very “picky eater.” This is pretty astounding considering that he one – lives in Africa, and two – is a dog. We have noticed that he chooses what he eats very carefully. One time we gave him a little bowl of left-overs all mixed together and then watched him use his snout to meticulously separate out all the black beans and then NOT eat them. When he was finished the beans were actually licked clean but still left behind! We often hear the kids declaring, “he doesn’t like chima,” about Simba. Simba is pretty clueless about what his life is like here in the orfanato compared with other dogs.
Another big topic concerning Simba . . . almost every day some child asks when we are going to buy Simba a mulher (the use of the word mulher is always really funny to me in this context because it means both “woman” and “wife”). Also – no matter what Simba does, somebody will say, “it’s because he doesn’t have a wife!” Why is there a little group of flies pursuing Simba? Because he didn’t take a bath because he doesn’t have a wife! Why does Simba misbehave so much when he plays? Because he doesn’t have a wife! And the most persuasive argument for why we should buy him a “woman” . . . Why does Simba escape from the orfanato at night and where does he go? He goes looking for a wife. If we would buy him one already he wouldn’t ever have to leave his night guard job here again.
Back to New Years - the day finally ended with fish and rice for dinner and three little cakes - lemon, chocolate, and carrot. Today was a great day!
The ant hill outside the orfanato. There are no street signs here but you can say, "take a right at the ant hill."