A little update from the mountain kingdom…

Life is pretty hectic here in Lesotho, so updating my blog and emails and everything can be more interesting than expected.  I thought that  I would note the high points for you all.

Three or four weeks ago, I took my first school trip with the Maphutseng Primary School, which is where I work.  We travelled to the Mohale Dam, which is one of the 5 dams that Lesotho uses to harness hydroelectric power for South Africa.  South Africa and Lesotho have an agreement in which South Africa pays a certain amount per month to Lesotho.  We were told that the bus would be leaving at 2 am.  On that wonderful Friday morning, I arrived at the school just before 2 am to find out that we actually were not leaving until 3 am, which was only the first interesting part of the day.  We actually did not leave from the school until 3:30 am.  It was a day trip, in which we packed all of our food and drinks for the trip on the bus with us.  Not only did we have food, but we packed 115 people onto a bus that was only supposed to fit 91 passengers (62 sitting and 29 standing).  Kendelle and I stood on the bus with several other students and teachers for most of the 5 hour trip there and the 5 hour trip back.  On the way there, I was wondering if anyone had planned stops on the trip for students who needed to use the restroom.   I was surprised to find out that stopping to use the bathroom involved finding a remote spot on the side of the road where the bus would pull over and everyone would get out to go to the restroom in the field, which had no standing vegetation.  It was probably the most interesting restroom stop that I have ever been a part of.  We arrived at the dam at 9:30 am.  The tour guide did some teaching in a large classroom for all of the students and teachers.  Then we got back on the bus and drove across the dam to the building that is a part of the dam.  We took pictures there and listened to a little more teaching from the tour guide.  The teachers got to go inside the building and see how the dam worked.  After we finished there we returned to the other building that was on top of a plateau in front of the dam and higher than the dam.  We had lunch there and then got back on the bus for the 5 hour trek home.  I did not think about the fact that the students got on the bus with a full stomach until a student threw up all over Kendelle’s bookbag just after she set it on the floor.  Several students had vomited on the way to the dam, and I should have thought about this prior to getting on the bus, but inexperienced as I am, I did not.  We spend several minutes trying to clean up Kendelle’s bag and the floor with toilet paper, which happened to be the only thing that we had with us for clean-up.  Needless to say, Kendelle and I spent the rest of the trip standing as we had done on the way, but I had thought about sitting on the floor several times then.  Sitting on the ground was no longer appealing as I thought of the vomit that we could not get to because it was under children’s feet.  It would be flowing back and forth across the bus as we drove through the mountains.  We returned to Maphutseng around 8 pm just after the sun went down.  The day had been long, and I needed to get away from children.  I was thankful that it was the weekend.

Three weeks ago, we joined in the annual Farming God’s Way (FGW) training, which was a wonderful way of getting a crash course into the conservation agriculture that we were using in Maphutseng.  It’s a week-long intensive training for people who want to learn more about Farming God’s Way and who want to take the knowledge back to their perspective ministry points.  We had people from Uganda, Tanzania, South Africa, and Lesotho.  Most of them were missionaries to their areas, while some were native people interested in conservation agriculture.  August and the ag interns here had led us through the most important points of FGW, but we had, as of yet, to hear the full training as would be presented to a local farmer in Lesotho.  In the midst of agriculture was also a theology that I had not had an in-depth look into since we had been here, so that week was a fantastic opportunity to ask questions and challenge assumptions that farmers and trainers made about God.  Of course, my concerns and questions came in personal conversations, not in the midst of training during the day.  One of the biggest blessings of the week was that all of the people who attended were English-speaking (not necessarily as their first language, but definitely capable of having a theological conversation).  Not only were most English-speaking and white, but there were several young adults who came along, which was very refreshing.  I had several late night conversations, which I might blog about at a later time.  In all, the week was a great break from school.  The children did not have school that week because of Independence holidays.

This past week, Kendelle and I took a journey to Maseru to submit our applications for our work permits, which will allow us to stay in the country until July.  We left on Wednesday evening and arrived in Maseru around 8 pm.  We went to the mall when we got there so that we could eat dinner.  At the mall, we had pizza and I saw my first movie theater in Lesotho, where movies are only 20 rand (which is less than 3 American dollars).  After dinner, we had ice cream from KFC (and I do mean Kentucky Fried Chicken, which is kind of like Mcdonalds in America).  Then we went to William’s home, met his sisters, and slept for the evening.  The next morning, we ate a wonderful breakfast made by one of William’s sisters.  We went to the internal affairs office, submitted our applications with no problems, and prayed that they would be accepted quickly.  It takes three to four weeks for the applications to be reviewed and decided.  We then went back to the mall to do some downloading at a local internet cafe on William’s computer.  Unlike in the US where internet time is free at most any coffee shop, you have to pay for internet time at local electronics stores here in Lesotho.  Its about $1.50 an hour.  After a half hour at the electronics store, we had lunch and got back on the taxi (which is more like a mini-bus) for Mohale’s Hoek.  We arrived in Maphutseng around 6 pm on Thursday evening.  I was ready to go to sleep.  I needed to be ready for another day by myself with my students.

Finally, my first shopping trip in Mafeteng, which is about half-way between Mohale’s Hoek and Maseru, was a wonderful experience.  My host mom, brother, and I did our shopping together so that she could show us where we could buy groceries in the future. It would be our responsibility from now on, which was kind of intimidating.  I was not so confident in my ability to communicate with people in stores or at the taxi rink.  The day ended with some very heavy and full bags of groceries that Rorisang (my host brother) and I brought back from Mafeteng, while my host mom went to Maseru from Mafeteng.

In the midst of these events, we have been preparing for the planting season, which is moving closer all the time.  Today it was 85 degrees, and the low for the evening will be around 58 degrees.  I have the students for the next two weeks as my colleague has some other things going on.  The standard 7 students are taking exams this week.  Beyond those things, the usual craziness of doing my laundry, going to church, updating emails and facebook messages, and sleeping is keeping me pretty busy.  Hope you don’t get too bored reading this very long post.  I’ll try and get some more pictures up on facebook soon.  🙂

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~ by randallkoehler on October 25, 2011.

3 Responses to “A little update from the mountain kingdom…”

  1. Randall, that was really interesting and GROSS. I can tell you that when that child puked, I would have puked too. I can’t imagine riding in that smell for several more hours! So glad that you got a little vacation and some English contact. I am praying for you everyday – trusting that God is growing you in ways you can’t imagine. I know that this will be a life changing experience for you. Love, Aunt Jill

  2. Randall, thanks for sharing! Wow, you are able to do things you probably never dreamed you could do…stand for 10 hours on a bus, half of that time, standing in puke! Being alone teaching 60 students! Only God can make this all possible, right? But, we think you are pretty amazing, too.
    Glad you could have conversations in English during the agricultural meetings about God’s Word with those in attendance.
    Steve and I are remembering you in prayer!
    The Stewarts

  3. I smiled as I read this. Although much of what you are going through is challenging and taxing on you physically and mentally, I know that it is good spiritually. I also know that I’m not alone in being inspired by your experiences. Stand firm in God’s faithfulness, and He will get you through each hard day. I wish you many blessings, my friend, and a constant hope in each day that comes your way. 🙂

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