Every Friday we give out food packs for each child and their caretakers to eat over the weekend. We started our day by picking up all the mealie, beans, soya mince, milk, and cookies for the packs.
The construction on Khohlo-Ntso Care Center’s “big house” is almost finished. All they need now are the doors to be installed and to have glass put in the last two windows. We went over this morning to prime the walls. Tyler, Ashton, Beth, and I spent almost five hours painting the newly finished cement walls. You could tell we had been working hard just by looking at us, the rollers splattered paint all over our hands, clothes, and faces!
We got about a coat and a half painted before we ran out of primer. We will have to pick up some more when we are down in Johannesburg before we can continue the project. That’s one negative of living so far away from civilization, when something runs out, you have to wait until the next planned trip to restock.
All morning the sky was ominous and we could tell it was going to storm. Throughout the morning it had rained and hailed. Then the sun came out briefly, just before it rained and hailed some more.
By early afternoon (right as the paint ran out), we began packing things up and noticed the sky above the nearby valley. Dark, dark, dark. We picked up the pace and said our goodbyes to the women and the few children that had arrived from school. As the four of us carried everything back to the car, we turned around and saw white coming from the black clouds. We put the two Care Center doors (Tyler needs to trim them with a power saw at home because there’s no power at this Care Center), paint cans, and all our other supplies in the car. We felt the coldest wind imaginable, and the anticipation of what was coming was very exciting!
As Ashton got in her side of the car, Releboghile, a young man from the church who was working with us (and speaks great English), jumped in as well, forcing Ashton into the middle seat and under the doors. He wanted a ride to a nearby village and we were all in such a hurry to get to the car that we probably didn’t hear him ask for a lift. Ashton now couldn’t sit up; she was hunched over with her head leaning on Beth’s shoulder. Mind you, Beth and I were both hugging the windows on our side because the door was on top of all the head rests. Tyler was hunched over with his head just above the steering wheel.
As we got to the road, it began sleeting! We had made it to the car in just enough time. We laughed as we realized how uncomfortable the 20-30 minute ride would be for all of us. Then, we all had the same thought at the same time – our kids! Only a few kiddos were at Khohlo-Ntso when we left, which meant that more were either in route or decided to go straight home. We passed one child heading towards the Center and told her to run (mata)!
We made it past the school where we thought we would see many of our Khokhoba kids, but no one was there. Mind you, the freezing rain was coming down harder and harder each minute. We kept going, and found Tsepo (11 year old girl) walking by herself. She jumped into Beth’s lap and said two of our boys were just ahead of her. We found them further on the road and they got into the back (barely). We had a suitcase of donated clothes, two boxes of car parts, the food packs for Khokhoba Care Center, and don’t forget about the two doors overhead. Knowing there are many more kids who would need a lift, we kept looking all around for them. Each time we drove around a turn we would see someone else and cram them in!
In the end, we had fourteen people stuffed in our car. Honestly, that isn’t abnormal for us, but add in the two doors and the trunk full of stuff it was quite comical. Beth, Tyler (the driver who was already hunched over because of the door), Releboghile, and I all had a child in our laps and there were five in the back!
Tsepo, who was sitting in Beth’s lap, wouldn’t let Beth put down the window to call for kids because it was letting sleet in. The girls in the back made the boys sit on top of the tools as they hovered over the suitcase. They had put their backpacks on top of the door; it reminded me of the overhead compartments on buses or planes. And Thabang, one of the last ones to be picked up, got in Tyler’s lap. One of the kids in the back yelled something in Sesotho and Thabang (who was already grinning from ear to ear) just chuckled. Releboghile told us they were asking if Thabang was driving. I so wish I could understand Sesotho so I could know what these kids are saying all the time
We got all of them to the Center where the women were huddled around the propane heater. We made a plan for them to eat quickly so we could take everyone home before it got worse. The four of us ran home for a quick, very late, lunch and then I went out to take the kids from MeMookho’s village home (4 kids) while the interns took the kids from MeMaselebeli’s village home (5 kids). The rest of the kids live in the village the Center is in and don’t need rides (although they asked if we could drive them up to their homes today).
Next, MeMatumisang and I waited at the high school for one of our girls. He grandfather passed away and she wanted to be home this weekend for the funeral. We had planned to drive her home (25 minute drive) even though the teacher said she could walk. I told the teacher I wanted to spoil her and that God has blessed us with this car, so the least we can do is drive our children where they need to go.
We got on the road headed back to Khohlo-Ntso and we started to see snow! Today is the first snow of winter in Lesotho. I dropped MeMatumisang off and then kept going to the house where our high school girl’s grandmother lives. When I was at her turn, I saw one of our little boys walking with his food pack on his head, wearing thin, torn up capris and sandals. He jumped in our car and we brushed all the snow off his coat. By the looks of the sky this morning when he was going to school, maybe he didn’t realize it was going to snow. I know he has warmer shoes and pants. Kids.
I got both of these kiddos home and got back on the main road to find MeMabataung (another Care Center worker from Khohlo-Ntso) waving her hands for me to stop. She needed a ride to a village that I would pass on my way home and I was happy to have the company. The snow had picked up and the roads were getting a nice covering. Her and I spoke in broken English about how cold it was and how beautiful it was to see the snow. In just about 20 minutes, I was amazed at how bad the roads had gotten. I was thankful this was my trip home, and not my trip out. And, I was especially thankful that all our kids were home and hopefully warm and dry.
Pulling onto our street, I was feeling many emotions:
Joy like a child out of school on a snow day.
Thankfulness for the vehicle, home, job, and husband the Lord has blessed me with.
Worry for our kids on this cold, wet night.
And sadness that walking miles in the snow are normal for many Basotho.
Please pray for our kids tonight to stay warm, dry, and healthy.
Tyler & Rachel