Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Happy Birthday Lucas!

Happy Birthday to our son, Lucas, who turned 4 years old on August 31st. We love you!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


One of the coolest things about living in Zambia is that we learn about and sometimes even experience unique traditions. Recently I (Tricia) was invited to our teacher, Violet’s, “Matebeto” event. Violet is getting married in October and the Matebeto is part of the families’ marriage traditions. (Violet is in the red shirt on the far left in the group picture.) Now, please remember that there are something like 76 different languages and peoples represented in Zambia and many of these people groups have their own very specific traditions. So not every Zambian will celebrate a Matebeto. Also, I’ve noticed some confusion about this event in Lusaka. Some people say that Matebeto is a Bemba tradition that happens years after a woman has been married and that what Violet was actually celebrating is another event called something like Chilanga Mulilo. I don’t know what is accurate but I am just reporting on my own experience.

I asked Violet about it and here is how she explained it:
"Matebeto is where the bride's family and friends prepare different kinds of dishes for the groom's family; Cilanga Mulilo is where only the bride's family prepare just a few dishes for the groom's family. These ceremonies are performed to show the groom and family what the bride can cook and the kind of food they expect to find or eat when they visit the home. During the ceremony, the bride is kept inside where the elders teach her things about her new home and what is expected of her. These include taking care of her house, looking after her husband, her attitude towards her husband and in-laws, and even her movements (have to change)."

So what was this event all about?! Well, to sum up, this event is a chance for the bride’s family to cook, cook, and cook some more. The women spend all day cooking up their favorite dishes and then they carry the food over to the groom’s family’s house (on their heads) where the food is presented and all of the dishes are explained. From a foreigner’s perspective a Matebeto is a lot of fun though I didn’t understand a lot of the symbolism behind different aspects of the ceremony. The cooking was all taking place in the Sakala family’s backyard which is right on Ciyanjano property; so I just wandered over there around 8:30 in the morning. Many women were already busy cooking on braziers, which are like little outdoor grills that use hot coals. Braziers are what most Zambians cook on.

Anyway, I spent the morning peeling carrots and cassava just trying not to get in the way. I asked questions about the dishes the ladies were preparing; many are different varieties of cooked greens with ground nut (peanut) powder mixed in. Zambians use a lot of tomato and onion to create “soups” which they eat with rice or the main staple food which is “nshima” made from maize porridge into large lumps. They also eat dried fish, a lot of chicken if they can afford it, and other vegetables. The most interesting dish in my eyes was made from roasted pumpkin seeds that were pounded into a paste and then made into little balls which were then boiled in water for a long, long time.

Female relatives and friends came in and out all throughout the morning and early afternoon and the women would take breaks to play drums and perform traditional dances. Zambian ladies love to dance. I resisted for as long as I could but the ladies really will not tolerate a guest just standing by and watching, so I had to give it a shot. Of course it was to the GREAT amusement of all the Zambian women there and the ladies were very encouraging. If you want to make friends with Zambian women, well you’ve just got to shake that booty.
Strangely enough, Violet herself was not outside cooking any of the food. She only came out of the house at specific times to take part in different parts of the ceremony. When I asked what Violet was doing all day people said she was “resting” but I don’t buy it. It sounds like she was learning all the secrets of Zambian womanhood.

At one point she came out of the house on her hands and knees with a woman in front of her and a woman behind, both on their hands and knees. They were all covered in a long piece of citenge fabric, giving them the appearance of a large caterpillar I would say. They crawled along and people threw down money on the ground. They crawled over to a large wood fire where a big nshima pot waited. Violet knelt before the pot and had to add water using a cup that she held with her teeth and then added mealie meal to the pot also using her teeth to hold a plate. I must say it was a bit odd.

One of my favorite parts of the day was when the big pot of nshima was cooking and all the ladies there took turns stirring the nshima. They gave me a turn and I honestly felt very honored. My turn lasted literally three seconds but then everyone congratulated me on doing a fine job. Zambians are very polite!

There were a couple different times during the day where things were done with the mouth instead of with the hands. Especially by one woman who was the family’s representative. She holds a special title and gave a lengthy presentation of the foods as well as marriage advice when finally at the groom’s family’s house.

So let’s get to the main event. After walking down the dusty Kasupe road a bit in our citenge dresses and suits (with all the food!) our group of around 30 ladies turned down to the family’s house and stopped at their gate. The representative from Violet’s family put down a citenge on the ground and then the groom’s family threw money down on the citenge. Our group only moved forward when a satisfactory amount was thrown down. We moved a little further and stopped again waiting for more cash and this continued for quite some time until we were all in the home. Relatives in the groom’s party continued to throw down a little cash as all the dishes were presented and they looked forward to the feast that awaited them.

Then what? Then all of us walked back to the house while the groom and his family enjoyed the banquet that was prepared for them. Some of Violet’s friends and relatives had stayed behind to cook even a little bit more food to feed all of the women who had worked hard all day cooking. Unfortunately I missed out on that celebration because I was hot and tired and had to go check on my own family. All in all it was a very educational day and a nice chance to support Violet and meet some of the ladies that live around Kasupe. I can't help but wonder if I am going to have to throw a Matebeto for one of my own little Bemba girls someday!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Short Term Team, Long Term Commitment

In July we had the pleasure of hosting a short-term missions team from Twin Lakes Church in California. This was a pretty big deal for us because this was the first team visit that Kelly and I were helping to plan and host. As I’m sure many of our readers appreciate, there are a lot of ups and downs to short-term missions but this team in particular is a great example and so we wanted to share a bit with you about it.
The team was made up of four ladies, three of whom had been to Zambia before and two of those worked with ACTION Zambia last year. Kim B., the team leader, has worked with AZ a lot and was able to give her team a lot of guidance before and during the trip.
The Twin Lakes ladies had two primary ministries to work with while here in Lusaka. First, they visited a community school in Kanyama to provide some training and encouragement to the teachers there. Rhonda, one of the team members, is a long-time teacher and prepared a lot of materials and activities. Because she had been part of the same team a year before, she had an idea of what to expect. The team spent two days with these teachers and they were a real encouragement to them. From a ministry perspective there were some pros and cons to this set-up. The big plus is that by returning a second time to work with these teachers, the TL team showed these teachers that they are really valued and respected and they continued to build up these relationships. The big down side of the ministry time was that it was short. The TL team was left feeling that to really make an impact, a team would need to invest a lot more time.
The second ministry area the team participated in was women’s ministry with all of the wives of the pastors with whom ACTION Zambia works in our pastor college. We call them APC wives. Again, this is a ministry area that Kim’s team worked with last year. The TL team spent time visiting some of the APC wives at their homes. Then they came out to Ciyanjano to prepare and present a retreat for all the wives. The retreat was a few days and Kim and her team did all the teaching on topics ranging from Bible study to nutrition.
Because these APC wives had participated in the retreat last year, seeing Kim and Rhonda again was a sweet reunion. I can’t stress enough how much it means to Zambian believers to have short-term missionaries come back again and again. It really convinces them of the love and commitment their brothers and sisters feel.
Of course I can go on and on about how important these ministry areas are and what the TL team experienced here in Lusaka. But I think that what Kelly and I both felt was most memorable about seeing this team do ministry is the love given and returned by the teachers and APC wives with whom the team worked. Especially seeing Kim and Rhonda come back obviously made a big impression on the Zambians they served.
So we just wanted to thank this team and Twin Lakes for sending them and encourage you readers. Perhaps God has not called you into career missions but what about career short-term missions? Over the years we’ve seen many “ordinary” people make a powerful commitment to a particular mission field and then contribute their time, prayer, and resources over many shorter trips. Just one of the many ways that God’s people can help spread the gospel and encourage the Church. If you would like to read more about missions, one book that comes to mind is When Helping Hurts. If you are a John Piper fan you could also check out Don’t Waste Your Life.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Housework (part 1)

So a few months ago we had a bulldozer come through and clear a bunch of brush and move a lot of dirt in varions locations on the property. Best of all, we had them clear the spot for where we'll be building our house. This week our builder and his crew brought in sand, stones, and cement and marked out the dimensions for our slab foundation!! Please be praying that a) we'll see our new plans created and approved by the various authorities b) we'll be able to get a permit that will allow us to begin building without a final approved plan, and c) that we'll see the money we need to actually build the whole thing! We have about $22,000 and that's about 50% of of the total cost.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Good Hair (Again?)

I don't know, maybe Tricia has already written about this but I have to post a little something here. There are a few places that a mzungu (white foreigner) can go in Lusaka with out getting stared at or talked about our have one hundred children chasing you screaming "AZUNGU! HOW ARE YOU?" One of these places is the South African chain grocery store Pick-n-Pay. It's in a nice part of town and while I'm still a minority shopping there is usually stress free. Today Tricia was home with a sick Lucas and took the girls to church and then grocery shopping. Wow. People were watching my every move and I could almost hear their thoughts, "What is that mzungu doing with those little girls?" A lady walking down the aisle pulled on Ethel's hair and said in Nyanja, "Hey, these children look good." I think many Zambians are surprised that we can keep our Zambian girls looking nice and shiny looking. And they're right in a way - when it came to black women's hair I was as ignorant as can be. The only thing that prepared me was watching the Chris Rock documentary "Good Hair." So I don't want to give it away but most Zambian women are walking around with a half a pound of shiny acrylic hair sewn onto their heads. And it's a hundred degrees. The number of women I see in a day with natural hair (even konked, straightened hair) is less that I can't count on one hand. Wigs, weaves, braids, and extensions are IT! So when it came to our girls there was a steep learning curve. But after seeing the insane expense of fake hair and braids, we wanted a natural look. But they cry and fuss when it's time to have their hair brushed. So. Dreadlocks! They are all natural, look great and once they are taking well to the hair, there is not too much maintenance (ie. time & money). So here's their new look.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Party Time! Excellent! Woo Woo Woo!

On Friday we threw a great big celebration party. We have a lot to celebrate out here at Ciyanjano, but in particular we Huckabys wanted to spend the day praising the Lord and thanking him for our completed adoption of Ethel and Mutale. So, we rented a bouncy castle, bought a lot of hotdogs, planned some crafts, recruited some musicians, and brought a bus-full of kids out from House of Martha, the orphanage where Ethel was adopted from. We had probably around 60 kids out here along with a bunch of our friends. It was a beautiful day and full of fun and worship. We serve an awesome God!