We reached the Imire game park at sundown yesterday. What a treat! We stay here while visiting the Wedza area because it is a safe place for us. There was no electricity when we arrived, but we were provided candles for our rooms. A generator lights the main lodge. We enjoyed dinner outside on a patio by candlelight with a fire in the pit. Edmore, one of our hosts, sat talking with Brian, Jerry, Adrian, and me at the fire pit long after the Leveretts retired for the evening. At last the generator was shut off, along with the outside lights, leaving us gasping at the star-filled sky. Edmore pointed out the Southern Cross constellation before we scooted off to our thatched-roof rondavels. I was delighted to find only one small spider in my bed this year, which I quickly had words with. Words, and an interlude with a WalMart fly-swatter I brought for that very purpose. :)
No electricity this morning either, but awoke to a fine day with wildebeasts just beyond the fence outside my window. We breakfasted by the pond before heading into Wedza to pick up Godwin, his wife Kuda, and several others meeting us there before going to meet the town authorities. Once that necessary task was complete, we drove on to Mukondwa school where we saw several old acquaintances. I was so glad to see Tendai, dear Pamela's husband, and to give him my condolences in person. Brian preached twice and some young women sang for us including a mother/daughter duet which was incredibly beautiful. We ate granola bars and crackers from home, leaving the church to enjoy their sadza together while we drove more than an hour into the bush to Chigondo. A baboon crossed the narrow dirt road ahead of us on our way.
We met that church last year, though this time they were meeting 2 km farther on under the trees outside a school. There were many, many AIDS orphans and widows in that place. The people asked us to provide food, school fees, and clothing for the children. That is a huge task that I'm unsure can be addressed. Adrian and I snapped several photos of the children, who laughed when they saw their faces on our cameras then waved their hands and asked us to do it again and again. The school headmaster had joined us, and so he took my school mailing address when I asked that his students write to mine. He said he would do so, so perhaps we may get a correspondence going. I was also happy to recognize a young man I'd photographed last year next to the nearly life-sized statue he'd carved of himself. He recognized me also, so we embraced as he told me he was still carving. We exchanged addresses.
The road to the school was so rough and rocky the last kilometer that Brian had to ferry Godwin's carload down in the Land Rover. Afterward, some of the men decided to walk back to Godwin's borrowed vehicle. I did likewise, and Isnot, who'd traveled with us from the game park, joined me along with another woman and three young girls walking our way. The girls were precious, and one of them held hands with me all the way back. When we arrived at the truck, I fished out a nutri-grain bar and split it between them to receive the sweetest bend of the knee and hugs in return.
Again, no electricity at Imire, though I'm typing on the office computer run by the generator. We just finished a good dinner that we were certainly hungry for. We're very tired, but looking forward to our rest and another day. We love and miss you all. Please keep praying for us. The requests for assistance and the greatness of the needs are overwhelming. We need wisdom, patience, and continued sensitivity, which is sometimes hard to maintain amid the numbing desperation. We remain healthy, though admittedly stiff from the bumpy, crowded ride today. Eleven of us in a six-seater today because we take on passengers as we can. It's after nine here, so I need to brave the very dark bathtub, where I hope to find hot water and no creepy crawlies. Love and hugs!