If you remember, we told you about a widow named Margaret, whose house was in deplorable conditions - an understatement (see blog dated September 25). We had spent nearly all of the money we had been given for houses for two other widows. This was before any of us had become aware of Margaret's plight. Upon finding out about her dilema some good friends got in touch with us wanting to provide a roof for a new house for Margaret, and within a week and a half work began on the house because the things that required finances - the roof, a door, nails and experienced carpenters - became available.
We went to Korwenje - the village where she lives - to watch the building process. The whole cell came out. In fact two cells came out – one from several kilometers away. The women fixed the local staple (beans and maize) and chai (tea mixed with milk) and mandazi (a fried dough - very tasty). There were about 5 men who were hired as carpenters - they are part of a group that provides this service for people. The rest were members from the two cells. It was a big party - a great celebration. What a neat thing it was! We got there as about 3/4 of the frame was up. Some of the uprights were provided by the cells, the sapplings came from the trees from the uprights and also trees on Margaret's land. We watched them put up the trusses and the saplings, which go horizontally so that the mud can be put in, and then put the roof on. The men dug up the ground near the new house - they dug and dug with something like a pick (called a kwer). Then suddenly onto the site came half a dozen donkeys, each laden with several 20 litre containers of water. These were dumped into barrels while the donkeys grazed. Then off they went to fetch more water. The water source is a great distance away and the place is up in the hills, so the only way to get the water there was by donkey! You could hear them braying as they came near the site. Then the men mixed the mud – stomping in it and stirring it with their feet. They really seemed to enjoy it. (Marty thinks this is in the DNA of all boys/men – stomping in puddles and mud.) The women began singing and the men deposited the mud at the base of the walls and everyone began making big mud balls and putting them into the spaces in the walls. Marty could hardly wait to get her hands into the mud and slap some of it into the walls. What great fun! (Hers is the big blue backside on the right in the photo! We ladies were all wearing our lesos.)
The house is so much bigger than what Margaret had "lived" in and has 2 rooms - the other only had one. This old widow was rather beside herself. She told the pastor that if God could take her out of the house she was in and give her a brand new house she surely wanted to worship him and wanted to come to church (she had not been before). Now, we hadn't seen her smile - yet! Then Hesbone, Violet, John and Marty went to the car to get the mattress, and sugar and bread we had bought her for a gift. (The bed she was sleeping on was indescribable). We got her photo and she was really smiling. We found out that she kept asking one of the cell group members (the only other person in the church with a vehicle) if that mattress was hers. He said it was. She asked again if it was her mattress. He assured her it was. She then told him that if he didn't take her to church on Sunday, when he got home she would beat him. As we were leaving they were all singing, clapping and dancing in celebration of the erection of the house. This is a very rural, rather remote place, but all of the people in the area became aware of what was going on! Real evangelism!! We are over the moon!
We went back the next week and saw the finished product; finished, that is, in terms of the house being up and mud in all the orifices. The mud must now cure – it has to be thoroughly dry before the “plaster” coating can be applied. That is usually the woman’s job, but due to her age and frailty someone will do it for her – perhaps some cell members. She was a changed woman when we returned. She kept giving out little yelps and praising God and thanking us over and over. Wow! Once again we reap the benefits of sharing the joy of the blessings that so many other people have made possible by their contributions.
Above: Margaret's bed & "wall" behind it! Yes - that is the outdoors that you see! She lived in this!
Left: Margaret in front of house with mattress, and food.
Below: One week later inside living room. This house is, for Margaret, a palace. She never dreamed of a home like this!
We are told that this woman probably wouldn't have lived much longer; life was without hope. Not only that, but she was exposed to the elements - rain and cold in the hills. This new house has literally made the difference between life and death. Thank you all so very much!
Left: The floors will be finished after the walls are made smooth with another mud mixture - like plaster. The floors will be packed and then combed with aloe-vera leaves to make a design.