Hello from Zimbabwe,
We have been here in Harare for one week. It was a grueling three day trip. We started in Salt Lake City, then to Chicago (in the airport for 5 hours), then on to London (in the airport for 7 hours), then on to Johannasburg (in the airport for 3 hours). With flight time, believe us when we say, it all adds up to three long days. We were met at the airport by the office couple and our director for self-reliance, President Paradzai. They took us to our flat. We got unpacked, then they took us to dinner. During dinner it started a pouring rain, buckets and sheets like we have never seen before. It causes rivers to run in the streets, down the sidewalks (where there are some). There is also loud thunder and lightning like we have never seen. It is the rainy season and has rained every day at least once, twice or three times per day. The electricity went out during dinner and everyone laughs and says "Welcome to Zimbabwe".
The next day we went to the mission office and took a driving test. The young elders ride with us while we drove, not that we knew where we were going. Driving on the left and the steering wheel on the right is quite an adventure. We past our test, although I think most American do. The natives do not have driver's licenses. There is going to be a problem with drivers when the Elders start going home early next year. There will not be enough Elders who can drive the cars. The traffic here is "crazy". There are vans they call "combis" which transport the locals to their work or wherever they are going. We didn't know you could jam that many people in one vehicle. Anyway they pull right out in front of you after picking up people on the side of the road. There are no bus stops, they just stop wherever there are people waiting, waving them down. Many people just walk. They cross the roads wherever they want. Vehicles do not yield to them as you would never get anywhere. The streets are horrible. It is impossible to dodge the huge potholes.
We met with our director on Thursday. He trained us in the morning and in the afternoon he took us to a stake center where they are planning to set up a self-reliance center. The church buildings are beautiful. In the afternoon he took us to an outlying neighborhood to meet Stake President Makaza. He was rich to Zimbabwe standards, but the neighborhood was the poorest we have ever seen or could imagine.
We met the mission president and his wife, the Cooks, on Friday. They held Zone Conference. We helped set up the tables and chairs for the lunch. There about 50 missionaries, 20 of then were sisters.
We experienced our first trip to the grocery store. Everything in the store is different. Prices are very high. Fruits and vegetables are not so high. The stores are very busy with very slow checkouts. We will need to figure out the metric system if we want to know how much something costs.
Our electricity was off again Saturday night and Sunday morning. Miles started the generator so we could take a shower for church. We went to church about 30 minutes away with the office and humanitarian couples. The people are so friendly and they held an excellent church service. Sunday night we were invited to the mission president's home for dinner.