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March 26, 2011 – The Pen; The yard project and the boys next door – by Carol

Posted by on March 27, 2012
The desired pen
The desired pen

The Pen:  A nice girl (Vice-President of Study Groups in PACT) borrowed my pen, and I knew it would never be returned, but there are some people you will let keep your pen without resentment.  She is an orphan.

That night she showed up at my house.  She said she would never take anything that was not hers, so she was returning the pen.  BUT, she LOVED the pen!  She said it is the best pen she ever saw or used in her life.  She was asking if she could have it.

The desired pen had been shipped from America (from dad) and was better than a Bic – a slightly above average pen.  I told her she could keep the pen.  She squealed and hugged me and told me she loved me as if I had just given her a Blackberry cell phone.  So little makes so many happy here.

3 Feet Tall Grass - Before

3 Feet Tall Grass - Before

The Yard and the Boys: John told the 6 boys next door that if they cleared our yard of the 3 feet tall grass he would give them 100 Pula ($15), which is the going price. Everyone does this to keep the snakes and other creepy crawleys away from your house.  This is done by scraping the top soil with a shovel and then raking up the grass.

If we would have hired a “piece job” worker it would have taken about 15 hours to clear the yard. Mostly older women with no education do this work. We thought the boys (Ages, 16, 15, 12, 11, 6 and 2) would take 15 or 20 hours too. It would be a nice weekend job for a bunch of boys who normally sit in the yard all day.

The boys immediately ban the 6 and 2 year-old from work, which made them cry and/or whine for hours. They also followed the standard work ethic of most construction workers here, which is to have one or two guys work while everyone else gets to watch. The construction crews rotate so everyone gets about an hour of work a day. It took the boys 4 weekends to finish, and they ended up letting the 6-year-old do hours of work by himself. They somehow made it last that long despite John’s fairly constant attempts to keep them focused.

Phase 1 -This is the first patch completed - now with three weeks growth

Phase 1 -This is the first patch completed - now with three weeks growth

Maybe one of the reasons for the delay was the lunches. John made them P&J sandwiches, carrots, peanuts, and apple slices. They had never had jelly on their sandwiches and were absolutely delighted with that and everything else. Apparently they eat a lot of rice at home. They consumed the lunch in about 3 minute and raved about it for two hours. When we saw how much they enjoyed the mundane lunch – we decided to make them a nice lunch each day they worked, which I think may have led to a work slow down.

They always love chocolate cakes (also sent from America) and to offset the lunch incentive I promised to bake a double batch of chocolate cake the day they got done. Every Saturday and Sunday for a month they would get up and tell me they would be done today and I should bake the cake – then they would get another 8th of the yard done. Finally, when they only had a small amount of grass left I made the two batches of cake. We cut it up and put it on a couple of plates and gave it to them. I told them it would be nice to save their mother a piece and they all agreed it would be. I also suggested they save some for later – they didn’t have to eat it all now. But they did eat it all without ever leaving the porch. They saved nothing! Except the 2-year old who offered me his last smashed up bite in his hand which had slobber on it.

Phase 8 - what it looks like when they are done.  (And John feeding the chickens)

Phase 8 - what it looks like when they are done. (And John feeding the chickens)

 

We gave them 115 Pula. We asked what they were going to do with the money. The older brother said he was going to buy something for his little brother and the others said they were going to give it to the church. What they lack in work ethic they make up for in appetite and human goodness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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