Monday, May 19, 2008

Kingsburg cont...


Just a few shots from the day!!
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Kingsburg Swedish Festival 2008


Herewith some photos from our day!! All I can say is that it was HOT and LONG! It was still fun, but the heat took some of the joy out of the trip! The food however was delicious as usual, (except the sausages, which I don't eat) but the pancakes were SO perfect!! The Dala Horse makes them and they are a fun way to start the day at the festival. Of course, thats only at 9:30 am, and our day really starts at 5am (first picture) and doesn't quite begin until our Starbucks stop!!
Anyway, it was fun to go again and spend 9 hours in the car with Mom H! By the ride home we were recycling stories!! haha..J/K..we actually ALWAYS have something to talk about. This trip there was about 1/2 hr on what kind of sweater she wore ONE year at the festival...when it was not too hot and not too cold...all she needed was a LIGHT sweater!! Not a thick one, just a light one!!
Good times!!!!
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Zimbabwe - A Cry for Help

From The Daily Mail (UK), 15 May

How one woman's extraordinary bravery is a haunting rebuke to a world that is ignoring Mugabe's genocide

By Peter Oborne in Zimbabwe

Robert Mugabe's paid assassins came hunting for 22-year-old Memory, a married mother-of-two. They burst into her home, seized her and her children, and took them to their temporary headquarters in the local village school. Four men held down her arms and legs, while a fifth gripped her head, placing his hands over her mouth to prevent her screams being heard. Two others, wielding heavy wooden poles, then took turns to thrash her on the buttocks in a beating that lasted half an hour. I saw Memory in her hospital bed after she had been brought in from the bush more dead than alive a week ago last Monday, several days after her beating. She was lying on her front: it was obvious why. Where her buttocks should have been was just a mess of raw flesh. I watched as a blue-suited nurse removed one of the bandages. Memory whimpered and moaned with pain. With me was a hardened welfare worker who had witnessed many terrible things. She broke down in sobs. I must tell you that tears poured down my cheeks, too. Memory was in far too much pain and shock to answer any questions. I pressed her hand gently and left her.

The following day, I returned to the hospital and saw Memory's beautiful face and, since her pain was beginning to subside, heard her sweet, low voice for the first time. She told me how on arrival at the school (which she had attended as a child), she had been ordered to sit in the playground with a group of supporters of Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) - the opposition party led by Morgan Tsvangirai. On the dot of 8am, the beatings started. Groups of eight people at a time were ordered out for treatment at the hands of a band of around 200 members of Robert Mugabe's militia, each wearing Zanu PF T-shirts and green, red and yellow bandanas signifying the national flag. Many of them were high on drink or drugs. She watched as four of her close friends were beaten and kicked to death. A fifth friend later died, and others remain unaccounted for. The militiamen chanted songs and spat insults at Morgan Tsvangirai as they did their work. They told Memory, whose farmer husband was away: "You and your husband are MDC members so we must beat you.' They said that she belonged 'to a party of animals". Memory told me how she could hear her children screaming "Mamma, Mamma, Mamma!" during her beating. They were held back by female members of Zanu PF.

Later, Memory was ordered to sit for two hours on her wounds. Mugabe's thugs told her she would be thrashed again if she moved a muscle. "We spent the day without eating or water in the hot sun," she told me. "If we asked for water, they said: 'Get your water from Tsvangirai'." Believe it or not, just by being alive, Memory is one of the lucky ones. She is just one of tens of thousands of victims of the campaign of violence launched by Robert Mugabe after he comprehensively lost the presidential elections on March 29. Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has agreed to contest a new runoff against Mugabe, even though he knows he won outright in the first round and accuses Zanu PF of blatant vote-rigging. A stand-off over the MDC's demand for international observers and media to be given full access to ensure the vote is free and fair has brought matters to a standstill. The decision last night to delay the poll until the end of July raised the terrifying spectre of Mugabe's Green Bomber youth militia carrying on their reign of terror for ten more weeks. An MDC spokesman said last night the law change was "illegal and unfair". Shamefully, as a result of the standoff, the world's attention has shifted away. Now, with the focus no longer on him, Mugabe is free to continue this unprecedented campaign of electoral cleansing. For the past week, having slipped into Zimbabwe as a businessman, I have seen the relentless increase in intimidation from government forces. I can report that every day it is reaching a new level of intensity, sweeping like a killer virus through the country.

Even by Mugabe's standards, the scale and brutality is horrifying. It's the worst seen since he ordered genocide in the west of Zimbabwe 25 years ago, when some 20,000 people were killed in an attempt to eradicate all political opposition. The world turned a blind eye then. Tragically, it is doing so again now. And make no mistake: there is nothing spontaneous about these attacks. They have all been carefully and deliberately planned by Mugabe, his loathsome deputy Emerson Mnangagwa and the 15 or so senior military police and intelligence officers in the Joint Operation Command (JOC) which now runs Zimbabwe. Their intention is to intimidate the supporters of the opposition so that they either cannot, or are too afraid, to vote in the run-off elections. Mugabe has made it plain that he will never hand over power after 30 years as ruler - even if he loses the vote again. According to senior security sources, government officials have been told that he intends to win the election by use of intimidation, backed up by ballot-rigging on a massive scale. And if that does not work, the result will simply not be published. Shockingly, the strategy of murder and retribution has the support of Mugabe's close friend, the despicable President Thabo Mbeki in neighbouring South Africa.

Through illegal methods, including the torture and blackmail of abducted opposition activists, Zanu PF has obtained a list of all the polling agents and leading activists who work on behalf of Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC. Now, village by village, town by town, it is embarking on a savage campaign to eradicate them all. The attacks happen at night or in the early morning. Typically, MDC supporters such as Memory are seized and subjected to terrible tortures. For example, boiling plastic is poured on their backs, their extremities are burnt, or they are nearly drowned in water tubs. The aim is to force victims to betray the identities of those on their own side - thus providing human fodder for more attacks. "We can trust nobody now, not even our friends," an MDC activist called John told me. "You do not know if they have been turned." Today, everyone in this tragic country lives in a state of permanent fear and suspicion. They believe that their phone lines are tapped, and that they are being watched by police informers and betrayed by their own friends. Above all, they live in terror of the early morning knock on the door. Mugabe's thugs are nothing if not imaginative in their methods. One MDC organiser, Moses Bashitiyawo, was beaten by Zanu PF activists and then forced to climb a tree with a rope round his neck before being told to jump to the ground, hanging himself. Others are driven down mineshafts - as happened in the genocide of the 1980s.

I experienced a small element in this campaign of terror in the rural areas when, shortly after my arrival in Zimbabwe, I hired a guide to take me to his home village some 50 miles from Victoria Falls. The village head man told me there had been two Zanu PF meetings there during the past 24 hours in which suspected MDC supporters had been driven away. He also revealed that those who survive Mugabe's murderous purges are then subjected to food deprivation. The village elder produced a ration card entitling each Zimbabwe family to 10kg of Mealie Meal (a kind of maize that is the national staple diet in a country plagued by food shortages) from a local relief organisation every month. The months of February and March had been ticked off, showing that the food had been handed over. But there were no ticks for April and May, revealing how hand-outs were stopped as a way of punishing Mugabe's political opponents. The elder told me his children were away in the forest looking for wild fruits. "We are so hungry," he said. "People are dying." My guide took me to see his mother - a frightened woman who told me: "We don't sleep any more at night for fear of being caught in our beds."

The worst atrocities are concentrated in Mugabe's Mashona heartlands in the east of the country, where he is wreaking horrific revenge on the voters who opposed him during the March presidential election. Here, the stories of burnt villages, casual massacres and roving statesponsored militia bands are all too reminiscent of the ethnic cleansing in Darfur, Western Sudan. Indeed, Mugabe's government is even using the language of ethnic cleansing. Augustine Chihuri, the country's hated police chief, says: "We must clean the country of the crawling maggots bent on destroying the economy." Grotesque language such as this is widespread. The violence, originally confined to rural areas, has been spreading into towns. Details are beginning to emerge of a police operation to close down Anglican churches in Harare, Zimbabwe's capital. On Sunday, churchgoers were met by riot police barring the doors. At Christchurch, in Harare's northern suburb of Borrowdale, parishioners found the church doors locked and groups of police waiting outside. Laymen who attempted to protest were beaten up, while the brave churchwarden was arrested. Riot police also arrived at St Francis Church in the Waterfalls district, where Communion had already started. Police charged to the altar and seized women worshippers, pulling them from the Communion rail and beating them senseless.

The reason? Mugabe's henchmen accuse the Anglican church of being in league with the MDC opposition. It is all part of a cynical attempt to break the spirit of the Zimbabwean people. In some cases, inevitably, the campaign of terror is working. And I am ashamed to say the world's seeming indifference since its attention turned away from Zimbabwe is leaving Mugabe emboldened. In one hospital, I spoke at length to a 35-year-old farmer called Felix. He described how he and his wife had spent a week on the run from Zanu PF thugs after they invaded his village. They managed to walk 70 kilometres to Harare, where they found refuge. Friends have since told him that his home has been burnt down and his 15 cattle slaughtered. Worst of all, his mother and his children have disappeared. Despairingly, he says: "It would have been much better if they had killed me. My mother was always telling me to stop working for the MDC. She was always telling me I was putting our lives at risk. But I refused to comply with her." Now, in a state of collapse, he is consumed with bitter regrets about joining the MDC. A party activist, who was accompanying me, tried to comfort the farmer, telling him: "You did the right thing. There are a lot of brave people like you, and we're going to succeed. We are in a war where we are not allowed to fight and have guns. But we will win - because we have God on our side."

Again and again, during my visit to this country, I met ordinary Zimbabweans who shared this optimism, despite all the horror they are suffering. As I stood up to leave the bedside of Memory, I asked if, despite all she had been through, she would still vote for Morgan Tsvangirai in the presidential run-off. Her face lit up with a wonderful, radiant, artless smile. "Oh, yes!" she said. "I would. I will vote with confidence." While this amazing spirit of courage and optimism remains, there is still hope this wonderful country could soon rid itself of its appalling despot Robert Mugabe - if only the world would stop averting its eyes and finally take the moral responsibility to help end this tragedy.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Mother's Day


We spent a wonderful Mother's Day with Steve's folks and my sister's family. The only ones missing were my folks, which Lord willing they'll be here by NEXT Mother's day!!! We hosted the brunch and if I say so myself, it was quite a delicious spread!!! I might even post the recipe of the coffee cake I made which was a HIT!
It was a great day and we're so blessed by the mom's in our lives!!! Thank you MOMS!!!
Oh, the picture of my niece is of her singing happy birthday to Steve's dad! Such a shy child!! hahaha-not!!
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Friday, May 09, 2008

Letter from Zimbabwe

I feel so helpless, it makes me ache...all I can do is pray and try to get the word out there...hence my latest posts!

Letter from Zimbabwe sent in by John W

I reckon that these are the last days of TKM and ZPF. The darkest hour is always before dawn.

We are all terrified at what they are going to destroy next........I mean they are actually ploughing down brick and mortar houses and one white family with twin boys of 10 had no chance of salvaging anything when100 riot police came in with AK47's and bulldozers and demolished their beautiful house - 5 bedrooms and pine ceilings - because it was "too close to the airport", so we are feeling extremely insecure right now.

You know - I am aware that this does not help you sleep at night, but if you do not know - how can you help? Even if you put us in your own mental ring of light and send your guardian angels to be with us - that is a help - but I feel so cut off from you all knowing I cannot tell you what's going on here simply because you will feel uncomfortable. There is no ways we can leave here so that is not an option.

I ask that you all pray for us in the way that you know how, and let me know that you are thinking of us and sending out positive vibes... that's all. You can't just be in denial and pretend/believe it's not going on.

To be frank with you, it's genocide in the making and if you do not believe me, read the Genocide Report by Amnesty International which says we are - IN level 7 - (level 8 is after it's happened and everyone is indenial).

If you don't want me to tell you these things-how bad it is—then it means you have not dealt with your own fear, but it does not help me to think you are turning your back on our situation. We need you, please, to get the news OUT that we are all in a fearfully dangerous situation here. Too many people turn their backs and say - oh well, that's what happens in Africa. This Government has GONE MAD and you need to help us publicize our plight--- or how can we be rescued? It's a reality! The petrol queues are a reality, the pall of smoke all around our city is a reality, the thousands of homeless people sleeping outside in 0 Celsius with no food, water, shelter and bedding are a reality. Today a family approached me, brother of the gardener's wife with two small children. Their home was trashed and they will have to sleep outside. We already support 8 adult people and a child on this property, and electricity is going up next month by 250% as is water.

How can I take on another family of 4 -----and yet how can I turn them away to sleep out in the open?

I am not asking you for money or a ticket out of here - I am asking you to FACE the fact that we are in deep and terrible danger and want you please to pass on our news and pictures. So PLEASE don't just press the delete button! Help best in the way that you know how.

Do face the reality of what is going on here and help us SEND OUT THE WORD.. The more people who know about it, the more chance we have of the United Nations coming to our aid. Please don't ignore or deny what's happening. Some would like to be protected from the truth BUT then, if we are eliminated, how would you feel? "If only we knew how bad it really was we could have helped in some way".

[I know we chose to stay here and that some feel we deserve what's coming to us]

For now,--- we ourselves have food, shelter, a little fuel and a bit of money for the next meal - but what is going to happen next? Will they start on our houses? All property is going to belong to the State now. I want to send out my Title Deeds to one of you because if they get a hold of those, I can't fight for my rights.

Censorship!----We no longer have SW radio [which told us everything that was happening] because the Government jammed it out of existence – we don't have any reporters, and no one is allowed to photograph. If we had reporters here, they would have an absolute field day. Even the pro-Government Herald has written that people are shocked, stunned, bewildered and blown mindless by the wanton destruction of many folks homes, which are supposed to be 'illegal' but for which a huge percentage actually do have licenses.

Please! - do have some compassion and HELP by sending out the articles and personal reports so that something can/may be done. "I am one. I cannot do everything, ---but I can do something.. And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do. What I can do, I should do. And what I should do, by the grace of God, I will do." - Edward Everett Hale