Monday, August 30, 2010

Infrastructure Whoas.

So in case you haven't been driving in Zambia lately, here's a little rundown on the roads. They're sketch. We live in a pretty fancy area and the roads are horrendous. On major roads deep potholes, cyclists, psychopathic minibus drivers, pedestrians, and car-to-car salesmen keep things exciting around here. On the not so major roads – many of these distractions and dangers apply, but there is also a serious lack of concrete. I'm a good Northwesterner (I always wanted one of those “Pavement is Forever” bumper stickers) who loves natural beauty and sees unnecessary development and paving as harmful for many communities. But Zambia is in need of some major paving. But infrastructure in general is really lacking. At Kanyama Clinic, people suffering from TB, HIV, other infectious diseases, and malaria sleep in ward with open windows, no screens, and no mosquito bed nets. So I can only imagine that they get eaten alive during hot season. So spending a night in clinic for TB might mean getting malaria too. In many underdeveloped countries, infrastructure is lacking but military and police spending is enormous. But here in Zambia – if you get in an accident at night, you may need to check in at the police station, because they only have one police car and it gets driven home at night by the senior officer. After our fender bender the other night we sat it the most run-down police station I have ever seen , broken window and doors, few lights, holes in the walls and floors, rebar laying around everywhere, a broken clock hanging above the empty desks, and mosquitos everywhere. This is all right next door to a multi-million dollar project to expand the local mall, Manda Hill (Someone could have done a better job naming this place! Manda means graveyard in Nyanja). So I guess I don't feel that bad about our 33% income tax that comes out of our “salary” here – I just hope they use the money to buy a couple of bags of concrete.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Meet Our Carpenter, Mr. C

We came to Zambia with no furniture and so it was necessary to buy beds and bookshelves, tables and chairs. So your choices are – sit and sleep on the floor (which would be fine for a number of the younger, more Bohemian folks I know), buy INSANELY-priced, pre-made stuff imported from China and sold in the department stores, or hire yourself a good carpenter to build it for you. Now Mr. C's stuff is not quite IKEA quality, but it's solid and will last for our tenure here in Zambia. His story is pretty normal for many Zambians, born in the village and moved into Lusaka during the 80's. His first wife died 7 years ago (most likely from AIDS), he has a 8 year old son with HIV who need to live at an orphanage (House of Moses) for five years while Mr. C got back on his feet. He is remarried and lives in Kalingalinga, running a small carpentry shop behind the city council building.
While I'm under the impression that he might be over charging us, he delivers (by official taxis, unofficial taxis, and beat-up pickups driven by Rastafarians who need a push start after the furniture is unloaded)! This is important when you have no vehicle and your carpenter lives across town. And while he is often very late in delivering – stuff that will be “finished and delivered on Wednesday ” is delivered with wet paint on Sunday and is ready to be used by Tuesday, Mr. C is always willing to go the extra mile – Lucas' bed needed to be chopped down by a good 6” to get into his room. Our handy carpenter broke out his saw and went to work, reassembling the bed back together in about an hour (and since he shortened that bed, he had to shorten the trundle bed that goes beneath it). He did all this without complaining or fussing, even though our narrow doorways and hall was clearly not his fault. SO if you need a carpenter in Zambia – I know a good one – he might not be the best carpenter in town, but he's reasonable, personable, and he delivers.

Meet our Househelpers!

One of the questions we get a lot from friends and family back home is, “What's the deal with having hired help?” So here's a little context and some basic info on what house-help is all about. To many Americans the idea of having this type of help seems strange and even uncomfortable - to hire someone to clean your house or care for your children. After all those are things we are supposed to do for ourselves. America is decidedly DIY. Add that to our squeamishness about acknowledging issues of class, our claims about valuing equality, and our faux-Christian view that “God helps those who help themselves” and we get deep into the paradoxes of the American psyche. Of course lots of middle class folks would love to pay someone to do their chores but they'd probably feel guilty enough to pick up a little before the housecleaner came.

Hiring house-help is a cultural norm in Zambia. While in the U.S. only the very wealthy can afford to have people working in their home, nearly everyone, even relatively poor people, has some sort of household help in Lusaka. It is considered stingy not to provide a job for someone when you have the money to do so, and strange if someone relatively rich (which we are compared to most Zambians!) did her own housework. So culturally, it is expected and desirable that we hire people to help around the house.

In our orientation packet the section on house-help suggests “to think of your workers as extended family, though still employees. You are responsible for them and to some extent for their families, and they are responsible for taking care of you.Workers take pride in being your workers. Treat them with respect and generosity, sharing what you receive.” A household helper is a real bonus in terms of cultural “acquisition” (learning the culture) and helping with decisions regarding guards, drop-ins, requests for help, and so on. And Zambian culture is all about relationships, and relationships are a very real investment. Knowing Zambians who will be honest with you if you are being culturally inappropriate in some way is very precious.

ACTION Zambia has a standard contracted rate for paying house-helpers – it's above the average rate and includes extra money for housing and transportation. However, the rate is not so high as to be exceptional in Lusaka. Zambians have told us that one of the misfortunes of house-helpers working for foreigners is that (if they are payed exceptional rates) they become accustomed to a higher standard of living and rarely save any money. Then when the foreigners return home and the worker is left to find another comparable job in Lusaka, they are “spoiled” and “unemployable” because their expectations have become skewed. Because of all of these complex factors, AZ has carefully considered what fair rates are for house-helpers.

So meet our house-help: Estreeda is a young, Christian, single mom cleaning and washing clothes for our neighbors in the mornings. She was looking for more hours and we were looking for some extra hands. She cleans and dusts our place twice a week. If she finishes up she might also help with laundry or chopping vegetables for dinner. So while it costs us very little to give her 8 hours a week, it's a big help for her family and she is a joy to have around.

We also have a new nanny, Auntie Kathrine, who is coming twice a week to watch Lucas so that Tricia can go to the office, sit in on ministry activities, or run errands around town. Once Lucas is used to her coming and she has finished her orientation around the Huckahome, it will give Tricia the freedom to do ministry part time with ACTION. Kathrine came highly recommended by folks on our team – she used to be a house mother at the Kanyama orphanage and cared for many children. So far so good! If all goes well, we are hoping she will stay on with us when we make the move out to Ciyanjano.

So that's the deal with our house-help. Already these ladies have endeared themselves to us and have helped us with language and cultural learning. It's obvious that house-helpers can be invaluable and we've seen the way other families have developed deep and caring relationships with their employees. One last note, we have also hired a language helper that came highly recommended. He works with new Peace Corps volunteers and seems to really know his stuff. He also gives discounted rates to missionaries. Yes! We will begin meeting with him twice a week in three weeks for some more intense language learning. We are so excited about that!

Please pray for these new relationships to grow with compassion and understanding and patience as we all learn from each other.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

First (real) Day in Lusaka

So I know that we've been in Zambia for almost 7 weeks, but today I had my first real day in Zambia. I went out this afternoon w/Luke Whitfield from our team to visit people at Kanyama Clinic and then to pray with a family in Chibolya. The afternoon started with a trip to Garden compound to pick up pastor Joseph Zulu. While waiting along the main road into Garden, a group of men started yelling at us. At first I would have guessed their posture was hostile. But Luke has a real gift with turning situations around with people. His tools – local Nyanja slang and being able to greet people from different tribes in their language. It's amazing to see how a couple of well-used phrases will open up opportunities to talk with people.
From Garden we headed into Kanyama to visit and pray with people suffering of TB, malaria, various infections. Even though we have done various forms of ministry and outreach, this was far past my experience and I was heartbroken praying with parents over their sick children, and wives over their sick (and probably dying) husbands. The people received us with grace and thanks. A gentleman prayed to receive Christ and got information from one of pastors we were with to attend his church! (A detailed description of hospitals/clinics will be the subject of an upcoming blog on infrastructure in Zambia. But believe me when I say that it was lacking much of what we would consider necessary for the treatment of patients with serious, deadly, and infectious disease.)
After that we rolled in to the Chibolya compound. I was a bit nervous, as most Zambians in Lusaka avoid this slum like the plague. There's way too many stories about what happens in the areas that even the police fear to tread. The story I heard most recently was that a minibus headed to City Market/Soweto Market, just kept going right past the marketplace and turned into Chibolya where a group of men were waiting and the pulled everyone out of the bus, robbing and beating everyone on the bus. SO... If you're going to go somewhere like this, go with someone with a gift to talk to anyone. Driving into the compound all the kids start yelling and pointing at you, “Mzungu!” Here we stopped and prayed with a young husband and wife who were pregnant again after two miscarriages. Again she was experiencing complications and there seemed to be some witchcraft stuff happening with her uncle who was visiting her in her dreams and causing fear and suffering. We prayed with them for about an hour and then spent another hour talking to a group of men sitting outside the barbershop drinking shake-shake. Before we left, Luke was praying with them too. Overall, it was a great day – but soooo much to process! I wish I could just bring my camera everywhere and take pictures for you so we can see what we see, so pray for my language skills, otherwise whipping out a camera is not a smart move!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Life is a Highway

Top Zambian Transportation Laws

I am currently studying Zambian Highway Code in preparation for my driver’s test. As soon as we actually have our vehicle from customs, I need to practice driving more and then go in and take a verbal and driving test. Here are a handful of my favorites:

#52 Do not carry animals on vehicle roof-tops, steps, running board, or any other place on top of a vehicle while the vehicle is in motion.

#63 (for bicyclists) Make sure your cycle is in good condition – particularly the brakes, tyres, lamps, rear reflector and bell – before you ride it. (This one would be humorous for you if you could see many of the bikes people are riding.)

#76 (for animal drawn carts) You must keep your animals under control.

Three from my favorite section, about wheelbarrows:

#78 You must not overload a wheelbarrow.

#79 Ensure that your load does not obstruct others, nor inconvenience others including yourself. (If I am pushing a wheelbarrow down the highway, trust me, I’m inconvenienced no matter what my “load” looks like.)

#80 You must be courteous as you move about.

I’m convinced that nobody driving on the highways has read the highway codes. There are entire sections on pedestrians and cyclists that I’m sure every Zambian would be surprised to know about. Particularly at night, Zambian pedestrians are at a real disadvantage. I’m not kidding when I say they are practically invisible. It’s like everyone purposefully wears dark colors to make their chances of survival even less.

This week I was with two of my female teammates driving one of them home at night on Kafue road. Kafue is a big sketchy road and I’m not sure how fast we were going, maybe 45-50 miles an hour along with the traffic. All of a sudden Andrea yells STOP STOP and Megan slams on the brakes as we realize that a beer truck ahead is actually parked in the middle of this main road. Megan and Andrea of course rolled their windows down to yell and shake a couple fists at the driver as we passed. If Megan had reacted just a bit slower I think the three of us would have been mashed.

The next night we were driving with our teammates Brent and Kerri to have a bite to eat. Brent slowed down with traffic and began to turn right into the restaurant parking lot when this big fat car slammed right into us on our right side taking Brent’s brush guard and right signal light off. That accident put a damper on our evening, but thank the Lord that nobody was harmed!

Needless to say, driving at night seems a little hairy to me. The Zambian Highway Code is well-intentioned and speaks a lot about being courteous. Let’s pray that more Zambian drivers would take this to heart 

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Uli Chey?

“Uli che?” (pronounced oolee chay) is the first bit of Zambian slang I have learned; it means “What’s up?” The usual response is “Nizi” (pronounced neezee); it means “I’m cool.”

Uli che you ask? Sometimes nizi sometimes not so nizi! Everybody is asking how we are doing. Muli bwanji? (You are how?) And everybody is asking us, how are you really? So I am going to write a little bit about how we are, really.

Today I woke up to my almost 3-year-old yelling at 6am. It is what it is (this is something Kelly and I have been saying a lot lately). My comfort every morning is a couple brief morning cuddles with Lucas and my walk to the kitchen where I pull out our giant ziplock bag full of Starbucks Via packets. (Thank you Starbucks friends!!!) We bought a water kettle instead of a coffee pot. You press a button and as long as you have power your kettle gives you boiling hot water in just minutes. This quick and efficient item is my new favorite thing along with the yummy cup of coffee that follows. (I take it with a bit of sweetened condensed milk).

I decided to make granola because a couple days ago I finally came across rolled oats in a store. You can find “Jungle Oats” all over the place which are quick oats but for some reason “Tiger Oats” which are regular old rolled oats are very difficult to find. So I made a big batch of granola and stuck it into my tiny stove which takes a long time to heat up and then quickly burns things. I read Lucas a story and got distracted just long enough for my granola to go from not done to charcoal. Opened up the door for some fresh air and flies and bees poured in attracted to the sweet burned honey smell.

Today I called a friend who lives down the road and asked if her Saturday maid could come by our place for the afternoon to hand-wash a couple loads of laundry for me for 10,000 kwatcha. This is a decent wage in Zambia for the afternoon and is only about 2 USD. I know, right?! Anyway, we have to hand-wash our laundry because the washing machine we bought from Game was broken and we think maybe not new. Now we have to wait 2 weeks or more for a new one to come in. My hands are dry and cracking and I am happy to have the help with the laundry.

This sweet young lady named Loveness who I suspect barely speaks a word of English came to the house and worked very hard washing a couple loads of laundry and hanging them on our line. I was cooking dinner in the kitchen and looking out the window as I watched the three laundry lines sway right over from the weight of the laundry (pulling the large concrete block that was supposed to weigh down the pole with it). All of the laundry down in the dirt. At the very same time I hear a picture fall off the wall in the other room because it is very difficult to hang things on the cinderblock walls.

Uli che? This is what’s up with the Huckabys… just dealing with all the little things every day. There is no one thing that is a major problem (except maybe our vehicle situation which is another long story) but it is all the little things that annoy and build up. Just feeling like you never quite know what the heck is going on.

So really, nizi, I’m cool. Everything is fine and none of this is unexpected. But at the same time, everything is a little topsy-turvy and we are still getting used to our new surroundings. But what I can say is that God is so good. I know that he has good plans, whatever they hold. This transition is difficult, but we have already made many wonderful and understanding friends both Americans and Zambians. People here are so willing to help if they can. Our new Zambian landlords and our new neighbors have been so welcoming. We are so grateful. Our teammates have been keeping an eye on us.

Please pray that we would have more patience with each other as we deal with these small stressors every day. And please pray that we would make time with Jesus in prayer and in the Bible our first priority every day, not getting caught up with our to-do list, so that we would put on the full armor of God. God bless you!!! Tricia

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Big Boy Bed!

So without much fanfare, Lucas made the switch from his crib/pack-n-play to a real bed!! He slept though the night and didn't even fall out! Our boy is getting so big. He's been a real champ, playing with new kids and meeting so many “aunties and uncles.” In our new place there is a little boy named Christopher (Lucas calls him Christopher Robin) who is about 4 who Lucas has been playing cars with everyday. He only speaks Nyanja, so we're hoping Luke starts picking up the language quickly!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

AZ Board Braii

AZ had a braai (barbeque) out at Ciyanjano on Monday – it was great day for all the board members, national workers, and missionaries to get meet each other over a huge meal. After the lunch, Tim led the group around Ciyanjano to explain the ministry and facilities there. It was super fun day and perfect opportunity to get to know each other better.

A Few Observations from Our Home Stay and Beyond

Pictured: Chris and Martha Kangwa with their kids, Tapalewa and Chengelo

Here's a few observations in no particular order or importance:

The days' meals follow a schedule with an addition to our usual schedule. Breakfast in the morning, lunch in the early afternoon, “16-hours” which is a sort of like a second small lunch (at 4pm), and supper at night much later than we are used to.

It seems common for people to bathe in the morning and then also before suppertime.

Meals are typically nshima, sometimes rice, sauteed greens, beans or meat with “soup” or gravy. If you ask kids what their favorite foods are they will say nshima, beans, or maybe kapenta (little dried fish).

Maids, nannies, gardeners may or may not speak any English or very little.

Greeting people in a respectful way is important. For instance one of the house-workers at our home-stay will get down on his knees to speak with us. It is common for people to approach someone that way and children especially will approach you this way to show respect.

Upper-class neighborhoods do not have paved roads necessarily and will still experience the same power failures that other areas do. These neighborhoods were paved when the houses were first built (maybe 20-30 years ago) but are now completely lacking pavement.

This lack of pavement accompanied by blowing wind means that dust and dirt are everywhere. Lusaka is the type of town where you can wear shoes all day and when you take your shoes off, your socks are dirty. Or, when you pull clean plates and cups out of the kitchen cabinets, you're likely to find them dirty already.

Our hosts recommended that we use cab drivers they would recommend and not just hail a cab. Folks have recommended that we not use the mini-buses with Lucas because they are notorious for accidents.

There are not emergency medical services here so if there is a bad car accident citizens stop and will take a person to the hospital but that can be risky. It can be especially risky if you are responsible for an accident where there are injuries. We were advised never to stop at the scene of a car accident whatever the case but to proceed directly to the closest police station.

The church we attended with our hosts, Lusaka Baptist Church, was much like a church at home in the States in many respects. Folks sat in rows of chairs, sang hymns, had announcements. There was a room in the back for parents with their kids so that you could still hear the sermon. There were Sunday school classes for adults and children. The preaching was solid Biblical preaching. It was very Western feeling and not what I had pictured after seeing footage from small churches in the compounds. We felt very welcome and encouraged.

People will often say “Yes I understand” even if they don't really understand what you are saying. I found myself saying I understood someone and then finding out I really didn't.

Many Zambians are very funny – they laugh and smile easily, crack jokes, high-five and gently make fun of each other – especially friends from differing tribes. When Zambians get up to speak at a gathering they do so with humor.

When shaking hands (the three-part shake is a standard greeting) Zambians may not let go! They might continue to hold your hand after the shaking part is over for another minute or two. It's not uncommon to see two men holding hands as they wait to cross the street or when talking to each other.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Moving Day!

After our week with the Hilty's and our two week stay with Chris and Martha Kangwa, we're finally moving in to our new place!! We started out at about 7:30am and after filling the Hilty's truck and we headed across town. Tricia and Luke went to the new place with some of our AZ team to unload and unpack while Steve and I went to the carpenter's shop in Kalingalinga. While he put the finishing touches on some of the furniture, we picked up some wicker chairs and a couch. Back at the flat we unloaded and discovered that the front door was quite narrow, not to mention the tight squeeze from the living room into the hall to the bedrooms. Tim procured a saw and chopped the back legs off our chairs to get them through the door – this quick fix proved to make the chairs more comfortable! While the girls unpacked and organized, the boys kicked the football around waiting for the heavy lifting stuff to arrive. Our new appliances – stove, fridge, washer and dryer showed up in a timely way and our new landlord had an electrician on site to put in new outlets and set up our stove. By 14 hours (2pm) we started wondering about our mattress – I had called that morning and they assured me it would be delivered by 13 hours. So I called, and called, and called. “Oh yes, they will be there in 20 minutes.”
Around 18 hours, Tim saw the Carnival delivery truck – he ran them off the road and questioned them about our mattress. They had no idea what he was talking about. So after calling the manager and chewing him out the delivery truck ran back to the store to get our mattress and delivered finally delivered it. Our carpenter was also a little challenged – to be fair, we had pushed our delivery date forward by two days, however - Lucas' new single bed would simply not fit through the hall (not the carpenter's fault), the single trundle that went under his bed was a little too small to fit a single mattress, our queen bed was substantially larger than our mattress, the table we ordered in mukwa (a nice dark hardwood) was made of pine, our benches and bookshelves were a no show. But everything is being sorted out in typical Zambian style... slowly. The carpenter had to come back the next day and chop Lucas' bed in to pieces to get it in his room and we still have multiple items we're waiting for. So much shopping to do. But it's amazing to have our own home after one and half years of communal living. Praise the Lord – no complications or troubles can match the joy of setting up a new home!