Thursday, September 30, 2010

One of those days

So we had one of those days yesterday. It's the kind of day that if it was to be repeated many times would wear you down – emotionally, spiritually, and physically. But in the end, it really was no big deal at all. First, Lucas is practicing defiance. He's trying it out. When asked questions he's likely to shout “NO!” regardless of what you ask. And he's been waking up around 5:30 in the morning. Add these two together and you have very long days with lots of consequences, time-outs, and temper tantrums (for Lucas too). Meanwhile we're praying that God would open doors for adoption (PLEASE pray with us about this!). Add Luke's general attitude and behavior to our nanny not showing up to work, having to have our language tutor meet at our house, having Luke go nuts and meltdown in a major way. It's 92 degrees – I know, I know, it's gonna get hotter blah blah, but 92 is still HOT.

Tricia was excited to test her driving skills by taking us downtown to the Freedom Way post office. If you've been in a vehicle with her, you know that she likes to drive... SLOW. Add her usual desire to cruise at or below the speed limit to driving in a city of 2+million and you'd be right to guess that she never gets close to going the speed limit. As a car passed us on the left a policeman stepped out in front of us and flagged us over the side of the road. I should have been paying better attention but I was on the phone and saw the speed trap too late. I did all the things that people have recommended when pulled over. I argued the truth – we were not speeding, checked the radar gun, insisted I did not have the kwacha to pay immediately. To no avail; they wrote up our license plate and Tricia's license number and told us to pay the k67,500 ($13) ticket at central police in 7 days. We'll see what comes of that!

We made it downtown and parked in front of the post office and went to pick up a box from my folks and mail a box for some friends. When I came back out to the truck, all the doors were unlocked. Hmmm. I was certain I had locked them. I looked around inside and saw that nothing important was missing – except about k8,000($2) from the ashtray. I went to the police post about 50m from where the truck was broken into, and of course, no cops. They were busy giving tickets to “speeders.” The lock was jammed from the instrument they used to break in and the door would not shut. Faced with having to drive around town holding my door shut with one hand, I took a deep breath and tried one more time to shut the door. It worked! A much needed moment of mercy from the Lord. With our box of goodies from my folks (Tricia handed out rice crispy treats to the postal workers) in had, we made it back home.

So here's the big deal – days like this can make a person tired, angry, and bitter. I mean, an unfair ticket (extortion) and a theft – from the people we are here to serve!! But we live in a city of 2 million – of course there is crime and corruption. Instead of feeling angry or bitter, we thanked the Lord! Even if we have to pay the ticket, it's only $13. The thieves only stole $2 and we were never in danger or afraid. Pray that we can maintain this level of grace when things happen that are much worse. Missionary friends in Mexico were robbed at gunpoint by masked men wielding machine guns!! Pray for all our brothers and sisters in the really scary places who are trying to serve, heal, help, and love their neighbors and even their enemies. Our day was frustrating – but we give thanks to God for His mercy and provision. Pray with us.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Ciyanjano Update!

Muli bwanji friends and family! Things are developing out at Ciyanjano over the last few weeks. We've been busy building buck beds and getting all the chalets ready for an Oct. 1 completion! Our water supply and piping/irrigation system is in the process of being planned and laid-out!! We still need to raise money for our house out there but we know God's gonna make it happen! Check out the new Ciyanjano pics!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Americans are Friendly and Enthusiastic

So today Kelly went out to Ciyanjano to work for the day which left me to run errands without the car. I needed to go buy units of electricity as well as talk time... everything here is pre-paid so that you can only use things you can actually afford to pay for. It's kind of a neat system I think.

But anyway, luckily I can walk to both of these offices so after Kathrine arrived at our house I set off to take care of my bills. Walking down the street is kind of a mixed bag, especially for me. All the Zambians stare at you because the fact is, they are shocked to see a white person walking anywhere. The only place you see any white people walking is around the two fancier shopping areas. I actually haven't seen any white people walking on the street either so I can see why it might be surprising.

Also it is difficult to know who to greet as you walk along. I've noticed that many men will greet me but most women will not unless I greet them first. Etiquette is difficult for me because my friendly nature could get me into trouble. If someone looks me in the eye as they pass me, it is almost impossible for me not to greet them. It feels rude to walk by someone without greeting them. But at the same time you have to watch out because there are a few swindlers and thieves around that may take advantage of a friendly and enthusiastic white woman who is just thrilled to have people with whom to practice her Nyanja. I must admit too that there is a tiny voice in my head that keeps asking, are you being too forward? Are you going to end up getting yourself stabbed for the money in your wallet? Even though really I am probably just fine.

As I first walked along a man started walking with me and asking me what I was doing here? He asked where is my vehicle? Why would I not take a taxi? It felt like just a friendly conversation but I thought to myself that I was probably being too free with information and said good-bye and shuffled off down the road. In some of the materials from the Peace Corp that we have read it says that Americans are known for being friendly and enthusiastic. I couldn't help thinking of that as I walked along the road mulling over how I should behave as I walk along... Friendly and enthusiastic sounds like a fair description of me, for better or worse.

Anyway on my way home a very nice young man came up to me and shook my hand. Zambians greet with very cool handshakes and will even hold hands for a long time so I shook his hand but then let go of it trying to think of how to be appropriate. This man asked me my name and I said, why do you want to know my name? (By this point in my walk I had decided it best to keep my guard up a bit more because I don't want to be the kind of dumb foreigner that has no common sense.) He replied that he lived in the area and had been seeing me around and so he wanted to introduce himself. I told him that if he had seen me around then he had probably also seen my husband. My husband would not like me talking to men on the street.

What to do, what to do? I told him that next time he sees me and my husband walking along together he should come up and introduce himself. I felt like such a meany especially after chatting with that other dude who had seemed even less shady than this guy! But this kind man replied, "Okay, thank you for your encouragement." Huh? Okay. So I figure maybe that is a good response to friendly young men on the street?! I don't know. But I just thought I'd share the kinds of mental struggles I deal with each day as a friendly and enthusiastic American!