My 23rd Birthday and Beyond

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Africa » South Africa » Eastern Cape » East London
September 6th 2012
Published: September 6th 2012EDIT THIS ENTRY

Hello everyone,

It has been a while since my birthday but there is rarely time in the day to have access to a computer unless I stay up late (which for me is past about 10 pm now).

First of all I had a fantastic 23rd birthday! Thanks to everyone who sent me emails or cards in the mail! I will hopefully be able to respond to everyone's emails by the end of this weekend. The day started off normal as I made sure all of my kids got to school. After which I went to East London for the day. Driving to East London from Komga is said to be the most dangerous highway in South Africa which is saying a lot. I will soon be driving there on my own now that I have almost mastered using a manual car while driving on the left side of the road. You always have to be extremely cautious while driving the "N2" to East London as I have already seen some pretty bad wrecks and from actually seeing how many people drive I am shocked there are not more casualties. Maybe there are and I just don’t hear of them.

On the car ride there I saw my first ostrage which was enormous. Its legs were thick like tree trunks and appeared almost dinosaur like. Its body was extremely wide and I quickly decided that an ostrage is something I would never want to fight. Soon after I saw the second monkey of my journey. Just a little guy the sized of a stuffed animal - he scurried across the highway right in front of our car. Watching him made me want to snatch him up, bring him back to Open Arms and train him to by my little servant. For lunch, Uncle Jeff and Auntie Suzanne treated me to a place similar to a Buffalo Wild Wings at a mall that is comparable or nicer than many American malls. I found this extremely surprising as right near by this glistening, new mall are shacks where some people can barely survive. While I believed the income gap in America to be bad, here it is on a different level.

Upon my arrival back to Open Arms, I decided I would take some of the kids fishing. So I grabbed a large stick and made a fishing pole by tying on some fishing line and creating a hook out of a sharpened paperclip. I spent the afternoon with about 10 kids sitting next to a little pond using some left over fried chicken from lunch as bait. Needless to say we the fish did not seem too keen on eating fried chicken but I convinced all of the kids that the fish were constantly nibbling on the line.

At dinner time, Auntie Anne & Auntie Margaret presented me with a huge "Texas Sheet Cake" which was delicious and we had a little birthday celebration as everyone got a piece of cake except me who had about 10 pieces over 2 days. The kids sang happy birthday to me along with an African song. That night I celebrated and had a great time chatting away with Auntie Anne and Margaret.

The next morning was not the easiest to wake up but I was working right away on rerouting some electrical wires for some light switches. While it took me quite a while I finally was able to sync all of the wires in the proper order and make the electricity in one of our little houses work properly again. Right after that I began stripping and scrubbing the walls of another house's shower that desperately needed repainting. Since, I have finished repainting the shower and am now working on repainting the whole bathroom which like the shower needed a lot of work.

I have also spent time cementing our water reservoir as we hope that in the next month all of the water utilized at Open Arms will be obtained from rain water. This will be an awesome, cheap, and renewable resource for us as well as no doubt cleaner that the water that is presently supplied from the public utilities.

After dinners I have been spending much time tutoring our children. I really believe that with the arrival of us three volunteers the children will really begin to excel academically as now we can spend quality time going through homework and studying for tests.

On a different note - we recently had a new addition to our family here, Imange. He is a beautiful 16 month old boy and is very healthy. He has already been embraced here by everyone as the Mammas wrap him up in blankets and carry him on their backs while they work. Even the other little babies show love to our new brother as they all hug and kiss him.

Imange's arrival was perfect timing as the next day Open Arm's founder - Bob Solis - arrived to visit for the Labor Day weekend. The kids go absolutely crazy for "Bobo." I would compare Bobo's visits to being similar to Christmas combined with the 4th of July and your birthday. The weekend while he was here was packed with activities and games. On Friday, I played American football with Uncle Jeff, Bobo and about 12 of the kids on our soccer field. Needless to say my team was championed but it took about half the game to teach the kids the difference from American football and rugby.

On Saturday morning Bobo gave every child a new pair of shoes. Kids were running all around showing off their new, sparkling sneakers not even thinking that in three months they will be all worn out again and be needing a new pair. After which we took the older kids to Butterworth to had out some food, blankets and fruit to those that lived near some slums. Quite quickly all of our supplies were given out but it made me realize how lucky I am, as well as the children to have a special, safe home like Open Arms.

On Sunday we went to Church as always then wandered off to see Brave with all of the kids in East London. While I do not consider the movie scary many of our children were nearly jumping out of their seats at the sight of the bears. We did not get back until after 9 upon which all of the kids promptly collapsed into their beds.

The only other eventful thing that has occurred is that I got to be a part of manure day which occurs once every month. I drove to a local farm and filled up the pick up truck with about 250-300 pounds of chicken poop. It was rancid smelling. When I first stepped out of the car I got woozy and almost puked. I'm pretty sure even after rinsing out the pickup truck, my clothes, my body and my shoes that the stench still lingers in my nostrils from time to time.

Lastly, I am going to start planning to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro as a fund raiser for Open Arms. I will keep everyone updated as I begin planning it out and how to donate to my cause. It is about 20,000 feet tall to my understanding so it will not be an easy undertaking especially since my fellow volunteers do not seem to thrilled to join me on the endeavor. However, Margaret and Anne are thrilled to start planning some traveling throughout South Africa so I will let them plan our trips and see where they take me.

Email me soon and if you have the "WhatsApp" application on your phone add my South African number since then we can text message for free. My number is +072-948-8765. I hope everyone is well and please send my well wishes to your families.



P.S. Go onto Google Earth and check out "Komga, Eastern Cape, South Africa." Google has actually visually mapped out the whole town and you can see everything that I see.

P.P.S. I am ready to crush Fantasy Football for those in my league - if I can get access to it


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