Living, Learning & Loving La Vida Nueva

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas Eve in Mokhotlong

My next door neighbor is feisty and fun.  She's 80 years old and spends all day on her front porch.  She is in better health now than she was five years ago, and she manages to get around pretty well with her walker.  Occasionally I see her walking to other neighbors' houses and it still surprises me.  The first couple of years we lived here, I never saw her leave her yard.  Her property is quite the thoroughfare and she enjoys watching lots of foot traffic go by her porch.  Everyone knows her and stops to visit for a while.  That's something I love about Africa.  No one misses an opportunity to visit.  No one is in that big of a hurry.

Her children don't live nearby so she has a live-in helper.  The son of her helper is Kyle and Ellee's best pal, Detay.  I often go over there and sit to chat with her.  She's a retired school teacher and she speaks fluent English.  Sometimes it seems she doesn't totally understand me.  She completely understands what I am saying.  But there is no doubt her 80 years in Africa and my 26 years, well, all over the place have been very different.  Our perspectives are different, but we find common ground to talk about.  She loves to talk politics and farming.  I know very little about either.

It isn't uncommon for me to bake a big batch of goodies and take them to her and our other neighbors.  Around Thanksgiving, I baked a huge spread of muffins and took a variety for her to try.  It was then that she asked me if she could gather the ingredients for me to bake muffins for her relatives who were coming into town for Christmas.  Of course I agreed, but then totally forgot about it.  

Yesterday a boy who rents a room from her came in my yard to ask what ingredients I needed.  After a few seconds of hunting through my memory to figure out what he was talking about, I remembered our agreement.  So I gathered up my favorite cookbooks and went to her front porch to see which kind of muffins she was wanting.  We decided on one of my favorite recipes.  I wrote out a list of ingredients, all of which you can now get in Mokhotlong thanks to our new grocery store!  

This morning Detay brought the ingredients to my door and I whipped up four and a half dozen to take back to her.  She was really excited to see them, especially since the recipe made more than I thought it would.  So she's got a whole pile of muffins to give to family and friends.  

It truly is better to give than to receive.  Even in the small things.

Tomorrow we will enjoy Christmas dinner with the World Race team who are here on outreach, along with our neighbors, Ntsimane and his family (Joy's family).  Ntsimane was adamant that we have traditional American turkey.  He found one while he was in South Africa a couple weeks ago and brought it home for me to cook.  The mission guys are grilling a sheep and the lot of us are bringing various side dishes.  It won't be quite the same as a candlelit Christmas dinner by the fire.... unless the electricity goes out.  But it'll be fun anyhow and I'm glad we have friends who are like family we can celebrate with tomorrow.  

Wishing our friends and family all over the world a very Merry Christmas! 


Saturday, December 17, 2016

MaMopeli's Sweet Shop

Many thanks to all of you who expressed such interest in MaMopeli's business venture.  She received quite a few donations and we were able to put together a nice sweet shop which opened this week!

Last weekend was a total whirlwind.  After running around all over the place in and around Durban, we managed to put together the supplies she wanted with the exception of a glass fridge.  Although we did find a few, they were just cost prohibitive.  Nevertheless, she came up with another plan.  She contacted a young guy locally who builds glass displays and we walked all over Mokhotlong gathering the supplies -- metal poles, glass glue, etc.  We found her a cabinet with a sink which she can use to store her supplies as well as wash her dishes.  That was such an exciting find!  We bought her a nice table and six chairs for the sitting area.  And over the weekend, the guy built her the display case.  Her borrowed fridge is in place and her new stove should be connected to the electricity by the end of this weekend.  For now, she's using my small but functional toaster oven.

All day Monday, she and I worked in my kitchen preparing loads of goodies to stock her shelves.  We made over 200 cookies, 50 muffins, 15 cupcakes and 3 cakes.  She opened for business on Tuesday.   So far business has been good and she is encouraged.  Also she received news that the rent for the shop went down by 25% so she was thrilled about that!  We have been battling colds all week, so I haven't been able to do some of the things I want to do for her.  I'm planning to print up flyers she can hand out and/or post around town to raise awareness about what she is selling.  Once her oven is connected, she also plans to start selling pizzas.  I know, that doesn't exactly fall into the sweet category, but she's convinced they will sell because there is only one other place in town selling pizzas.

A sign for her store is still a necessity.  She is looking into that.  And she wants to try more recipes and see what else might be quick sellers.  Currently she is selling chocolate cake by the slice, chocolate cupcakes, ginger cookies, oatmeal cookies, chocolate chip cookies and vanilla muffins.  To drink she is offering homemade ginger soda because it is summer.  In the winter she plans to offer tea and coffee.  If you have any other fabulous recipes which are inexpensive to make, feel free to share them with me!