Saturday, October 31, 2009

Visiting With E/S Goff In The Cabo Verde Islands

In mid-October we flew to Mindelo, Cape Verde to visit and train the new humanitarian couple, Elder Larry & Sister Pat Goff.

Elder Goff served an earlier mission as a young man in Brazil, and has bravely returned with a rusty knowledge of Portuguese. Sister Goff is even braver. She is relying totally on her husband's rusty memory of Portuguese. Now that's faith. They're a great couple, ready for the work.

Cape Verde (Cabo Verde) is a group of 10 islands off the North-West coast of Africa, with a usually hot, dry climate, smiling people and plenty of ocean-front property.

After two days in Mindelo, we flew with James Travas to the island of Sao Nicolau for a wheelchair distribution. Sao Nicolau's main--and perhaps only--industry is fishing--the main dish on the menu in every restaurant. And, everyone's a fisherman on this island.

Ummmmm sun-dried fish. No exactly our thought of a delicacy.

When we arrived on the island Sao Nicolau, we were welcomed by the results of an overnight flood. A new road system had just been completed. Obviously not with the idea of rain in mind. Ever few miles we found the roads flooded out or washed away.

There's suppose to be a road here somewhere.

...and a bridge here somewhere...

During another rain a week earlier, a mother and two children died on the island when flood waters brought large rocks down on their home during the night. The man above is the husband and father of this family, and though injured, managed to survive the flood.

Sao Nicolau is a beautiful, green island full of rocky mountains and narrow canyons. The same elements that makes it so beautiful, also make it a dangerous place to live. Though these homes are just above the village below, they are completely cut off from the rest of the island. There are no roads to reach them, and their donkey paths are washed away. All supplies must be hand carried for nearly 7 miles uphill.

While in the village of Tarrafall, we visited a home for the elderly that had been established by Rumis, a gentleman interested in the needs of single mothers, the elderly and disabled. One of the major problems in third world and developing nations is the care of the disabled and elderly. These people are often the last on the priority list for government aid. When there is no family to help, these people rely on the generousity and concern of people like Rumis.

It is gratifying to know that simple things, and little money can help offer a giant step towards advanced sustainability for organizations who serve these the disabled and elderly. On our first glance at this particular facility, it would be easy to start adding furniture and comfort items--perhaps a chair or sofa. But that would be our Western view of the necessities of life. Though it is sparse of furniture, it is clean and neat, and has provides home and comfort for the four blind men who live here.

The men in this home are cared for by a single mother and her 12 year old son, who live in the facility with them. This creates another aspect to the facility. While meeting the needs of the disabled men, it provides a home and livelihood for the mother and her son. We thought this was an ingenious way to meet the needs of both groups of people.

While visiting the home for the elderly, we learned that Rumis' organization also cooks and serves 2 meals a day for these men and 30 other disabled in the village of Tarrafall at a small community center.

Rumis was proud--and should be--of the service that two other women, offer the community. As Rumis showed us the kitchen where the food is prepared, Sister Goff and I quickly noticed that all the cooking was being done on a two burner unit sitting on a table top, and that the handles of the large pots were broken off. We asked Rumis if that was all they used to cook with. What about the stove? "It's broken." He told us. "And has been for a long time." They've tried for three years to get the municipal office to replace it. We also noticed that there was no refrigerator for storaging food. A small freezer nearby was the only storage space in the kitchen.

Since food is something people cannot live without, we asked E/S Goff if they would consider a project with the organization to help furnish their kitchen. During the day, they shopped the village for a new stove, refrigerator and pots and pans to help the organization meet the needs of the elderly and disabled in their village. Now they can more efficiently serve two meals a day for 30 disabled people and their caregivers--including the blind men at the home.

Though there was still much more to do in Tarrafall, Sao Nicolau, we found time to....

...chill with some friends.

...Find time alone...

...envy the natives who can easily find a place to nap....

...and staying in practice for ....

...our own little grands.....

Friday, October 30, 2009

A Short Stop-Off In Spain

On our way to Cape Verde, we took a detour to Spain. Initially we had intended to meet with an organization to develop a wheelchair project for refugees and those who do not qualify for a wheelchair under the government program. As our meeting plans fizzled, we found ourselves with a couple of days sightseeing before our scheduled flight to Cape Verde. We visited Madrid, Toledo and Segovia before traveling on to Cape Verde.

Of course, we had our camera with us and took more pictures than we could possibly share.
Here's just a few.




We had the opportunity to visit the Madrid Temple. The Spain MTC, a meeting house and visiting center are also located on the Temple grounds.

The next day, we returned for Sacrament Meeting.

Here we were, a missionary couple from America serving in Germany, attending church in Spain, watching a father from Nigeria bless his baby--in English, in a Spanish speaking Ward.

This truly is a world-wide Church.

That afternoon....we jumped on the plane for Cape Verde with a connection in Lisbon, where we met the Guinness Book of World Records' tallest man in the world--8 ft. 1 inch.
We had just read about him on the Internet a few days before, so Joe recognized him at first glance.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

A Week In Bucharest, Romania

We spent the first week in October in and around Bucharest, Romania training the new humanitarian couple, Elder & Sister (Denny & Gloria) Linerud. They are a neat couple--ready to start work. During the first few days of training we took them to meet Mary Veal and Ana at the HIV/AIDS clinic for children and young adults. We can't take pictures at the clinic, so there are none to share, but Mary's story is one of our favorites. She is American and came to Romania to spend a year helping in the orphanages working with babies infected with HIV through mandatory blood injections during the communist regime. The practice of blood injections was meant to improve the health of ill babies--though the World Health Organization warned against the practice. 16 years later, Mary is still in Bucharest. She has helped to raise many of these children and has become their surrogate mother. There are still 7000 young adults in Bucharest infected with HIV. Some of them are passing the virus on to a new generation as they try to live like the rest of the world--marrying and have children of their own. Their story is a sad one that really touches our hearts. Though we have no pictures of these young people to paste in a book, we will always cherish their faces in our memories.

During our visit with E/S Linerud, we .......
...visited a model village of the Romanian past.

Walked through the park.....

Saw the Arch of Triumph. Wait a minute. I thought that was in Paris.

Got lost in the grand city of Bucharest.....again! "Which way to the A-line?"

Tried to order KFC crispy-chicken breast in Romanian. Ummmmmmm?

Were serenaded on the train by a young Roma-gypsy boy. He was really good too!

Counted the number of stray dogs in town. No leash laws here.

And visited one of our wheelchair partner organizations....

18 months ago we didn't know a thing about wheelchairs except the mobility they offer for the physically impaired. Now we can tell you a thing-or-two about different kinds of wheelchairs, and the advantages and disadvantages to the wheelchair user. What we will do with this vass knowledge of information after our mission, we're not sure. But, we truly enjoy knowing that many physically impaired people are blessed with better mobility, can find employment and are more self-reliant because of the nearly 6000 wheelchairs donated in the Europe Area during our mission. We visited with Christian at Motivation Romania, who is showing us the new WorldMade wheelchair assembled by the gentleman sitting in a wheelchair. The WorldMade chair is personally fitted and assembled for the wheelchair user--often by the physically impaired. We really like this program for this and many more reasons. It helps provide some work for the handicapped, while meeting the needs of the disabled.

We loved every minute and day of our visit with E/S Linerud in Romania. They are great, and have already done a project with Mary's clinic. They bought protective gloves, mattress covers, sheets, pillow cases, and bed clothing for kids.
Now off to Cape Verde to train the new couple there, Elder & Sister Goff.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

A Quick & Productive Trip To Cyprus

A land anciently taught by the Apostle Paul, Cyprus is covered in history. Full of ancient Greek ruins, it is also believed to be the final distination and burial place of Lazarus.

Ancient ruins are easy to find in and around the villiages of Cyprus. This section of ruins reveals an almost perfectly preserved, 1600 year old floor in the House of Theseus.

This is an actual photo of the 1-inch square marble, mosaic-tile floor. Though the walls no longer stand, the floor has survived for more than 1000 years.

Joe plays golf....with a stick, a small stone, and a dirt green. Actually, we were driving back from Nicosia when we spotted a golf course, with black-dirt greens. Joe just had to practice his swing.

Since Cyprus is mostly a desert of ancient ruins, surrounded by beaches, we had many opportunities during our three day visit to see the seaside.
We were in Cyprus to evaluate the humanitarian needs of the country. We visited with the Nicosia Red Cross, and learned of their service to physically impaired Cyprians, and refugees brought to Cyprus from other countries. Cyprus has become a relocation site for refugees leaving Africa, the Middle East, and Palestine. Refugees stay for weeks and months as new homes are found for them in other lands. Though the Red Cross has successfully aided the thousands of refugees who have come to their shores, the economic crisis has severely affected funding from the government and other sources. The items of greatest need are wheelchairs for the disabled, and hygiene kits for refugee camps. From our visit with the Red Cross, we have developed a 250 wheelchair project, and a container project with hygiene kits, school kits, newborn kits, blankets, quilts, and medical supplies.

Nicosia, once the capital city, is now a city cut in half. One side is occupied by Turks--the other by Cyprians.
Evidence of Turkish invasion and NATO forces still remain in Nicosia, Cyprus after ten years of occupation. The country still remains divided as Turks and Cyprians learn to live together.

In the colorful city of Nicosia, I demonstrate a woman's favorite passtime. And no. I did not buy a skirt. I'll have plenty of time for that after our mission.