Thursday, December 2, 2010

My First Rainy Season

Boy, I'm getting behind on these updates. Here's a picture of a storm cloud rolling into Tete. It's already rained three times! This place has transformed overnight and everything is coming alive now. Even the lonely baobab trees are full of new leaves. I wish you were here to see this.

Your brother,

P.s. the lychees and pineapples are delicious!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

My Work, Part Three

Here's a picture of some of my friends at the First Mennonite Church of San Francisco making a sand dam. Great job guys! You know, MCC is always recruiting...

Speaking of sand dams, I haven't written about work in a long time. Here's some info that my good friend Sara gave me. Sara is a genius. She is getting her phd at Stanford University, studying community involvement in water and sanitation in the developing world. She says:
In general, the four major principles contributing to sustainable development of water projects are as follows:

1) Communities should initiate the water project
2) Water users are given control over the type of project to be pursued
a. Wells, sand dams, public taps, private taps, etc.
3) Communities agree to invest something into construction
a. Labor
b. Money
4) After installation, administration of the system is supported by an external agency that regularly follows up on the project.

Ok, so here's what I've been wrestling with in my head for about three months now. We work here with MCC and CCM specifically on sand dams. We initiate the projects by rolling into a community with our Hilux and asking around (so strike number 1). Sand dams are kind of this fixed thing, and there is really only a few ways you can design them to be safe (strike number 2). So what we are left with, are points 3) and 4). And I don't even know for how long we will continue to do 4). It's just the nature of the project.

I can't help but wonder if we are doing something fundamentally wrong here. Don't get me wrong, the results in many of these dams we've built are amazing. People do grow gardens in the communities where we've worked where once was only desert. People do get water and food which last them well into the dry season. I just don't know.

Your brother,

Sunday, November 28, 2010

My New Friends the Penners

I met Nathan and Adrianne Penner this week in Beira. They told me their wedding story. They met two years ago at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, where they are both doing graduate work.

Last year around Thanksgiving, Adrianne had been diagnosed with a brain tumor which needed to be operated on within ten days. They decided to move their marriage up to five days before the operation. Nathan thought it was the only right thing to do, Adrianne thought Nathan was crazy. They told their church and school communities the situation and asked for help (they go to the Pasadena Mennonite Church). They said they were scared out of their minds and that they wanted to have a small wedding in their backyard if possible. Adrianne couldn't do much of the planning because she needed to avoid stress before the operation.

Immediately, everyone in their community jumped at the chance to bless them. The community planned the wedding and donated everything. The huge chapel, the flowers and decorations, the tables and chairs, the potluck reception, even the honeymoon in a beach house in Malibu were donated. Strangers gave up days of their time simply because they couldn't get the story out of their heads. The result was their wedding was bigger and more beautiful than they could have ever expected or afforded alone. People said that it wasn't so much a wedding as it was a chance to thank and praise God. Everyone present wept for joy.

Five days later, Adrianne underwent brain surgery. A year later, I met them in Mozambique.

I'm really not doing justice to this story. You can find their actual story here.

Your brother,