Monthly Archives: September 2009

Windhoek Prison

I have written a little about Amor in previous posts, but for those who don’t know she is our house helper.  Over the years when I would visit South Africa I would vow to Paul that if I ever moved to Africa I would NEVER have house help.  Well, I am officially eating my words.  The unemployment in Namibia is 40% so it is looked down on if you won’t offer someone employment if you can afford it.  Amor had worked for Paul’s sister, Lise, but when they moved to southern Namibia, Amor agreed to work for us.  We are thrilled to have her.  She is trustworthy and such a hard worker.  She comes 3 days a week and our house is all the better because of her.  Since there are no screens on the windows and lots of dirt and sand swirling around outside, our house is in constant need of dusting and mopping.  We don’t have a clothes dryer or dishwasher so some household chores take a little longer to accomplish than they did in the states.

Awhile ago Amor told me that she had a sister in prison.  She was transferred to the central prison here in Windhoek because she was dying with TB and who knows what else.  Amor would faithfully go and visit her and care for her but  was apprehensive about visiting too much since she is pregnant and didn’t want to get exposed to viruses etc. that might endanger her pregnancy. 

A man called me on Amor’s cellphone and told me that Regina had died and that he wanted someone who was with her to tell her instead of him over the phone.  He also asked me to bring her right away to the prison so that all the arrangements could be made to have Regina’s body released.  My mom and Erika were still in Namibia when all this happened so they went with me and waited with the kids in the car while Amor and I went in.  Amor refused to go by herself.  I think she was still in shock from the news and wanted a companion.

To get into the prison you have to present ID and then turn over any cellphones, etc. go through a number of metal detectors and then walk a long way to get to the actual prison itself.  Once there a very nice man helped us find the chaplain who was the man who had called with the news.  I was impressed with how kind all the men who met with us were.  They were very compassionate to Amor and tried their best to make the process as easy on her as possible. 

As we walked up to it I did have thoughts of maybe I should have called Paul and let him know where I was going but truly the Lord was walking with us there.  I felt such a calm as Amor and I walked and the whole time we were inside.  After all the necessary paperwork was signed we were led out again and had to pass through a room full of prisoners, all men.  I remember thinking that things might get ugly.  Instead, all the men greeted us and were so courteous saying–good morning lady.

The atmosphere of that prison truly is something.  I sensed no hatred or defiance.  The men all seemed obedient and even cheerful.  They are there for all number of offenses.  The men who run the prison are gentle but firm and seem to have the respect of the prisoners.  I have talked to a few people who have also gone to the prison and their experience was similar to mine.  I of course took no pictures as that is strictly forbidden but while I am so sorry for Amor’s loss I am grateful for the experience.  Here poverty so often leads to a life of crime and the prison was a good reminder of the quote–“Therefore but by the grace of God go I.”

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School Pictures

Last Thursday was school picture day.  It is officially Spring here in Namibia so the boys are not wearing shoes to school EXCEPT for pictures.  All the teachers made sure the boys would have on the correct socks–grey with 2 white stripes–and shoes for the class photos.  Chapman looks so much like Paul at this age, especially when he has his uniform on. 

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Annelise and Chapman started tennis lessons with their school today.  I like any sport that makes them run, run, run!  Hopefully they will fall into bed early tonight.

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Audrey Turns 6!

This week has been a busy one!  I have so much to blog about but when the kids are finally all in bed I am brain dead and can’t seem to put 2 words together!  Hopefully next week will be calmer so I can catch you up on all the news. 

Audrey is officially  6!  Charlie is still in denial because he hates for anyone to have a birthday but him.  Her birthday festivities began on Thursday with 70 cupcakes for her school.  I had to get a recipe for cake that would work in Windhoek since the altitude is about the same as Denver and cakes don’t always cooperate so high in the sky!  My sweet friend, Hilda, translated the recipe for me but in my hurry to make 70 cupcakes I misread the recipe and added 1 and 1/4 tsp. of salt to the batter instead of 1/4 tsp.  I knew something tasted funny and had Susan come and taste.  We kept adding sugar and finally decided this is how African cake tastes and baked on!  Fast forward 2 days to when I am making the birthday cakes–I am rereading the recipe and discover to my horror that I added WAY too much salt.  Those poor kids ate those salty cupcakes and didn’t say a word!  The birthday cakes tasted delicious!

Looks are deceiving!

Looks are deceiving!

Audrey’s teacher, Miss Ester, made her a huge birthday crown which she wore for 3 days straight!  Anywhere we would go she was sure to have it on so people would know it was her day–or in her case “3 days.” 

The Birthday Crown

The Birthday Crown

Saturday was her party.  We had planned on it being a swimming party but when I woke up Saturday it was freezing outside.  The party was at 2pm so it was a bit warmer when all the girls arrived.  They braved the cold water and swam away and then would lie out on the rocks like little lizards to get warm and then jump in again.  The theme was butterflies so the cakes were in the shape of butterflies, we made tissue paper butterflies and had a butterfly scavenger hunt.

Audrey posing with her cakes

Audrey posing with her cakes

Audrey and her friends

Audrey and her friends

I think Audrey’s birthday was a success although I still feel a bit dead after all the festivities.  All of the kids have their birthdays in the Fall so once the birthday season is over, I will have another 9 months to recover and forget all about icing and goodie bags and have enthusiasm once again for parties, parties and more parties.

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The State Hospital in Katatura

Since the kids keep hijacking my blog, I guess it’s time for me to write a bit.  When my mom and Erika were in Namibia for a visit Erika and I had the opportunity to visit the state hospital. Amor, the lady who works for us, has a relative who is dying of AIDS.  This woman has a year old little girl named Zelda.  Amor will become her guardian when her mom dies and Amor really wanted/needed to know if Zelda had HIV/AIDS so she could get her on the proper medications (anti-virals, etc.).  Amor had taken Zelda to the hospital a couple of times (and as you will understand as you read further, these visits take HOURS) and no one would help her.

I met a doctor who is also an Aggie here in Namibia and gave him a call.  He is the ONLY pediatrician in that part of Windhoek.  He was having a clinic at the state hospital and told me to bring Amor and Zelda and he would get us the tests we needed.  Erika and I picked Amor and Zelda up at Amor’s house.  We didn’t take pictures because both Erika and I felt it might hurt Amor’s feelings.  She lives in a concrete block house that is dilapidated and she would be considered better off than many others who live in corrugated metal houses! 

Once at the hospital it is a game of wait and wait some more.  Everyone has a yellow notebook that is their medical record.  You stand in a line to get is stamped that you have paid to get to be seen (it costs about $2 USD for us to have Zelda seen).  The lines are LONG and were even longer that day since they were also conducting a Polio clinic.  No, polio is not eradicated in the world.  Once you have your stamp you go the correct office.  Erika and I were the only white people we saw all day except Dr. Brown.  Once we are at his clinic I explain that he and I are friends and he has asked me to come and bring this baby.  Because I know him, we are put about 7th in line.  There are long benches and I would say there were about 50-60 people crammed in that room waiting to see nurses, doctors, etc.  It was so smooshed that Erika went outside to wait until a drunk guy decided he really wanted to talk to her and then she rejoined us! 

One thing that really amazed us was how well behaved the kids were.  I didn’t hear anyone cry, whine, etc.  The kids are used to waiting and accept sitting quietly without a thought.  I’m talking babies and toddlers–I need these moms to give my kids some training in patience!  After about 2 hours we got to see Dr. Brown and he gave us the stamp we needed to get the test. 

Then we needed to go to another office.  This hospital is about 10 stories high so Erika (who is afraid of elevators since our dad one time had to be lowered into one to perform CPR on a lady who was having a heart attack and the elevator was stuck between floors) was trying to decided if she was more afraid of being alone while I took Amor and Zelda for the test or the elevator.  Fortunately for her, the testing clinic was on the ground floor too so all her worrying was for nothing.  Once we got there we sat and waited some more.  By the time Zelda had the test we had been there almost 4 1/2 hours! 

There is a lot more to the story but I will spare you anymore details but the good news is that Zelda does NOT have HIV.  She will have to be retested in a year since HIV can mask itself/hide in small children but we are very encouraged that so far things look good.  Amor was very relieved since she is pregnant with her 6th child that is due in November so Zelda will make 7!  Going to the state hospital was  very convicting for me.  We have always been blessed with excellent health insurance and highly competent doctors.  I definitely took that for granted.  Here Amor has nothing.  She is reliant on a system that is limited in what it can provide.  Amor’s mom had breast cancer and was sent home to die–no trying to eradicate the cancer.  There is no MD Anderson for the poor here in Namibia.  I will tell you more about Amor later!  We love her so and praise the Lord that He provided her for us.

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Audreys Turn

Buddy is a cutty!!!!!!!   Annelise taught Buddy how to swim in our pool…   Jock is so sweet!!!!!!  Jock hates when Annelise splashes him…  The End

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Internet Blackout

In Namibia you have 2 addresses–a physical one and a post office box.  Mail is only delivered to your post office box.  Paul and I are neither one used to checking the mail since we would always just walk out to our mailbox in the states and voila–there it was.  As the kids got older they would fight over who got to get the mail so I didn’t even have to walk anywhere but to the trashcan to throw away the junkmail.  So this going to the post office box is a bit problematic for us and has resulted in our phone and internet being turned off for the 3rd straight month in a row.  In our defense we didn’t receive a bill the first 2 times so that was the telephone companies fault but this last month was definitely our responsibility! 

Internet blackout is a horrible thing especially when you rely on it to stay in touch with home!  I called on Monday to inquire when they would get it back running and they kept telling me it was a very complicated process.  Fast forward to Thursday and many phone calls and 2 visits to the local telephone company and finally a guy came out to our house.  All of our internet configurations had somehow been erased.  He is our new best friend because he had us up and running in no time flat!

Well the Lord does work all things for good and uses all things–as I was standing in the line at the telephone office I was observing a lady with 5 kids who definitely talked like an American.  Since I am pretty shy about introducing myself to complete strangers I left the office, got my mail and then went back in and decided to say hi.  Long story short this lady and her kids had been in Namibia 2 days and had just moved from Niwot, Colorado which is just a bit away from where Paul and I lived in Colorado.  Her husband works for some wildlife conservation organization.  So I have another American “friend.”

And to end on a funny note–overheard this morning at breakfast.  Chapman was explaining to Audrey what opposites were.  Chapman explained that “Barbie is the opposite of Star Wars.”

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Weekend at the Farm

We are headed to Paul’s parents farm for the weekend.  We are excited to show Susan the rugged African outdoors.  She is convinced she will see a Black Mamba but I assured her I don’t think she will ever be that “fortunate” because they are shy.  I have been meaning to write a lot of blog posts and catch you all up on all that has happened lately but my days slip away from me and I am brain dead by 8pm!  I have given up drinking Cokes and I think that is part of my problem–no caffine!  I miss it but am feeling much healthier!  I will update as soon as we get back from the farm–it is in the middle of no where so there is no electricity and therefore no internet! Enjoy your weekend!

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