Thursday, April 19, 2012

Progress Report

Things are starting to look a little different around here, beginning with the maintenance shop project. The first photo below shows how things looked when I arrived a couple of weeks ago; the second shows where we are at today.
and now.
Fani learning how to use a transit level
Peter cutting a block to size
Tomorrow the work crews will start backfilling the foundation and compacting it (by hand) in preparation for pouring the floor.
African Bush Compacting Machines.
There has also been few changes in the tool storage area, requiring Tome to clear out a few odds and ends to make room for the new tool boxes.
Out with the old...
and in with the new.
Out on the airstrip, work continues as the high spots are leveled out and the low spots filled in.
Ron Wayner of Mercy Air operating the backhoe
The heavy equipment pieces being used to finish the runway (when they're not broken down...)
Throw in a few fairly intensive automotive training sessions, and that's where things stand at the moment. It's time to go, so I'll let my little friends from the primary school say goodbye.
The little changes we make today will bring about big changes for children like these. Thanks for checking in!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Making It Work

Well, it's been a busy week.

After arriving at the ASAM farm at the end of last week, I used the Easter weekend to get some things organized and then it was straight to work on Monday morning. The first order of business was to have the guys dig out all the soil that had washed into the foundations since they were poured last year (before the rainy season...)
Shop foundations covered with dirt
Then on Wednesday I began the mechanics training sessions, or rather, we tried to. The morning teaching went well, but the afternoon practical training time had to be cancelled in order to go out to the primary school and bring back the maize mill for some repairs. The only problem was that once we arrived at the school (via bush roads and burned out bridges), Tome discovered that he'd left the keys back at the farm.

Fortunately for us, we found a 10mm wrench in the truck the we could use to take off the door lock.
Breaking into the storage room
Of course, this was great fun for the school kids. What better place than at school for a practical lesson on Break & Enter?
Jacobo dismantling the mill so that we could put it into the back of the truck.
By Thursday, the building crew were ready to start the brick laying back at the shop site. Below is the official photo of the very first blocks being laid. Well done, Peter!
So we're making good progress. But the reality is, we will need a lot more blocks and steel than you see piled in the background here.

Each block costs about $2 delivered, each bag of cement is around $10. A worker's wage runs about $6 - $8 per day. We have enough funds at this point to keep things going for about another couple of weeks. But if you would like to help keep this project moving forward while I am here (to the end of May), please follow this link:

In the meantime, the teaching sessions are progressing well, and the students (Tome, Jacobo, Joao, and Castro) have already made some necessary repairs on the mission vehicles.

Bye for now...gotta get back to work!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Déjà Vu

Touching down in Johannesburg, South Africa after 20 and a half hours of flying time, I was struck with the feeling of how familiar this was becoming.

I actually knew where to go in the airport, how to navigate customs and immigration, and most importantly, where to catch the shuttle to my hotel room and bed! I suppose that since this is my fourth trip in just over two years, that shouldn't surprise me.

The 4 ½ hour drive to Nelspruit the next morning was done to the soothing (?) tones of classical music on the rental car radio – I’d forgotten to bring my CDs.
A golden sunrise at Mercy Air, South Africa
Again, arriving at the Mercy Air base in White River almost felt like coming home. Pilot Paul Middleton (known as having the driest wit south of the Sahara desert) and his wife Cathy entertained me with some amazing Shepherd’s Pie and a “Soccer” game on the telly – a real British welcome.
Cathy and Paul Middleton - Mercy Air SA
After a day and a half of shopping for supplies and tools, it was into the Cessna 310 and off to Mozambique.

Tool boxes and tools for the Mechanics Training Program
I am very fortunate to be staying in one of the cottages at the ASAM farm this trip. It’s a great spot to spread out my building plans and prepare for the next two months of work.

A survey of the maintenance shop building site revealed piles of sand and stone ready to go, plus stacks of cement blocks for the walls. Hopefully work will begin towards the end of this coming week once the work crews have finished pouring the floor on the Women’s Centre elsewhere on the property.
Maintenance shop building site
600 of the over 4000 blocks needed for the project
My teaching time with the mechanics students will also begin on Wednesday of next week. I’m looking forward to seeing the guys again and picking up where Todd Green and Ed Hyslip left off last August. (sure wish you guys were here!)

I also got a look at the mahogany wood blanks that have been cut and stacked in anticipation of the woodturning project that John Topham will be initiating when he arrives here for the month of May. Can’t wait to see these “turn” into wooden bowls and other projects.
Mahogany wood blanks
So thanks for your continued prayers and support for Mercy Tech Mission.  You know what we say – together we are changing lives, one skill at a time.