Hello all! Thank you for your thoughts and prayers.
I first wrote this almost three weeks ago, but we had a 7-day block without any internet and then very poor signal since then. Also, the humidity and a sneaky ant colony have both upset my keyboard and rendered a third of my laptop keys useless. I was tempted to write this missing a third of the letters as a Lockdown entertained test for you all, but I decided against it as I confused myself while writing it! So I've waited till I could fix my laptop and here we are.
The multifaceted work Scott is doing is overflowing with progress and tangible benefits for the community here. The proposals he has prepared and submitted for funding were successful with donors in the Netherlands. From this, a project trialling ten toilets and tanks for the two neighbouring villages will be able to start.
Funding for the building of a Grade 9/10 - equivalent to NZ’s year 10 and 11 - classroom has also been secured. Kapuna Life School has recently been approved to offer these grades which will help keep kids at school longer. If these were not offered here, kids would either not finish their schooling at all or, if the families have the resources and family connections, would have to be sent to education centres far away.
A plan to build some new staff housing to support the recruitment of quality staff was also part of the funding proposal which will also begin in time. It is so satisfying to see these things happen because of Scott's work. This also means that many of the building team who were trained for the hospital rebuild will be able to offer work after the first project has reached completion at the end of this year. Thank you to our supporters for getting us here. It is because of you that these things are happening!
I, Nikki, have started taking over more of the Shop Manager role here and am learning how to order supplies for the community. All packaged food, household goods and building supplies come on the barge once a month and are ordered through the shop. Of course the 'shop front' is more of a window and grate you look through while paying for your goods.
There has been less of a need for my expertise as a Physiotherapist at the Hospital. It comes in waves, and fortunately so, as I've just recently been asked to take over teaching the Grade 2 class for an undetermined amount of time. The teacher suddenly became ill and may not be able to return, so scanning around, it appeared I am the best option available! It's funny how things work out because I had a conversation that same morning with our new Dutch neighbours about homeschooling. I was saying that as much as I enjoyed spending time with the kids and knowing what they’re learning, I'm not sure I'm cut out to be a teacher. And then I go and commit to 3, 4, 5 weeks or more of teaching a real class! God must've been having a good chuckle that day. But then I'm sure he'll equip me with the patience and stamina I need. The children will be studying roughly in the equivalent of a New Zealand Year 3 class and are aged between 8-13 years old.
A big relief came the day we received our first Covid-19 vaccination. Unfortunately, there has been a lot of resistance here to vaccines that has come from the West, but education is spreading, and free choice is still a priority. We haven't had any known Covid-19 cases in Kapuna for a month now, so hopefully, that continues, and the Delta variant stays away. Otherwise, the effect could be devastating in this poor, isolated and TB-ridden region.
Recently we just received our second jab. A box arrived one day and with two minutes notice, Scott and I were ushered into a room to get them! We’re very happy to have received the full dose, especially with news of a potential Delta outbreak starting in the Capital.
The kids are doing well although they did recently have head lice. Levi also had a nasty bout of tonsilitis. Abby's infected mosquito bites turned into Tropical Ulcers, which were pretty gross and scary looking. You'll see the scars from those when we get home! Scott is still battling several weeks of Amoebic Dysentry and has just started another round of medication. Prayers for health and protection are much appreciated.
The kids continue to enjoy time outside with their new friends. Abby has a group of girls she plays card games with each afternoon while the boys tend to dart around amongst the trees and sugar cane, catching grasshoppers or throwing mud balls. We bought some simple slingshots in the Highlands and have joined the fight against the fruit bats who eat our pawpaw and banana. Scott hit one the other night and our neighbours were very happy. We decided not to eat it and blessed them with an after-dinner snack.
So, life here is full of adventures and challenges. We’ve come to recognise how much the heat and lack of food options have taken a toll on us, but we can see the fruit of the labourers who are committed to this place and community. We’re grateful for the longstanding commitment of the Calvert family who are still here in parts, and for the other volunteers who come and go. We’re so grateful for the support, both financially and prayerfully, of all of you in New Zealand and our Whanau and friends around the world. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Amid the internet challenges, we’ve set up an Instagram Page and Facebook page to document and share our adventures. We will update as the internet allows. If you'd like to follow these updates search for “wheelers.on.a.mission” on Instagram and “Wheeler's_on_a_mission” on Facebook.
Nikki, Scott, Isaac, Abby and Levi
- Fun in the mud
- Our first pineapple!
- Coconut break
- Unloading the barge
- Levi's new toy
- Jab number 2
- Too many distractions!
- Kapuna Hospital
- That's a big boat!