Editor’s note: Jessica Witer, of Anna, returned Friday, Aug. 10, from a summer in Namibia, Africa, on a mission trip.
The 22-year-old, self-employed massage therapist traveled with Experience Mission, of Fort Wayne, Indiana. As she was able and had access to the Internet, she sent tales of her experiences, which the Sidney Daily News will continue to publish weekly until her story is fully told.
WALVIS BAY, Namibia — Our month in the desert: We’d spent three days in Fort Wayne, two on a plane, five in Swakomund, two weeks in Milanda and two weeks in Okahandja. This brought us to July 1. We’d already passed our one-month anniversary with each other, which we celebrated with pudding and cookies, and somehow had already reached the end of our second community.
Our last week there was spent daily at a preschool as teacher’s aides. I absolutely fell in love with my class, who greeted me every morning with a giant group hug. I also fell in love with our host parents, and saying goodbye to them was harder than saying goodbye to my actual parents had been. I at least knew I’d see my real parents again.
Our first day in the desert, we drove to the home of the family we were partnered with. It was the typical assortment of shacks connected with pathway stones, each structure serving a different purpose. We were shown behind the estate where we’d be pitching our tents. After raising the three tents the nine of us would be sharing, they sent us on the half-mile walk to the water pump with four wheelbarrows and more plastic jugs than I could count, which we filled to the brim before making the half-mile trek back.
Then some of our team made dinner, we ate, we had a group devotion, and then we went to bed. I could tell 100 stories about what we did here, but I’ll just give the daily schedule.
Wake at 7 a.m., eat breakfast. Devotion at 8 a.m., then the group splits into four. Every day, 9 a.m. to noon, the boys do labor while the three groups of girls rotate between cooking lunch in the kitchen with the woman of the house, teaching in the home’s preschool with their volunteer teacher and doing labor with the boys.
Noon to 3 p.m. is private time for journaling, reading, devotions or spending time with the family. 3 to 5 p.m., one group makes dinner, and we eat together at quarter after. At 6 or 6:30 p.m., Martin will lead the family devotion, and at 8 p.m., they go to bed. We say up for awhile talking, singing, praying and playing games.
Sleeping: Three of us share a tent pitched behind the home of Martin and Gertrude.
Eating: Meals take upwards of an hour to prepare, because the stove is heated by fire. The boys collect the firewood used to make dinner.
Drinking: Water is fetched from a pump a half-mile from the house. A group of us go every other day to refill our jugs.
Hygiene: We clean our bodies with wet wipes and damp rags. We only shower at our host family’s home, which we went to twice in July.
Weather: Reaches 100 degrees, give or take, in the height of the day; gets around 30 degrees F. in the middle of the night. Mornings and evenings are freezing cold. No rain ever.
Schedule: Our days begin whenever the sun comes up and end whenever it goes down. Don’t know the hours.
Chores: Kitchen: Spend three hours in a small structure with a wood-burning stove and a thousand flies preparing lunch for the students. Usually something like mince and pap.
Teaching: Aid the volunteer teacher with the preschoolers. Kids work out of paper packets daily. Host mom beats them with sticks when they misbehave.
Labor: Different every day. Usually involves building or maintenance of structures around the home. Spent today painting aluminum or steel sheets and attaching them as the roof of a new room.