Friday, September 30, 2011

Happy Birthday Ethel!



What a happy day! We celebrated Ethel's birthday on September 30! This is the birthday we gave her to celebrate that God made Ethel, and also to honor Kelly's brother, Casey, who also has his birthday on that day. Happy Birthday, Casey!!

This was Ethel's very first time celebrating her birthday and of course she was very excited. Grandma and Grandpa and Mimi and Papa and Uncle Casey and Auntie Michelle made it extra special by sending some fun gifts for her. She was also especially excited about the cake and getting to blow out the candles. She is now 6 years old! And somehow, even though just a month ago Lucas was taller than her, she had a growth spurt and is now taller than Lucas, which is quite an achievement.

We love you Ethel! Thank you, God, for Ethel!

Monday, September 26, 2011

I need you more, more than yesterday.

I need you more, more than words can say.

I need you more, I need you more.


More than the air I breathe.

More than the song I sing.

More than the next hot thing.

More than anything.


And Lord as time goes by,

I'll be by your side.

Because I never want to go back

to my old life.


We give you the highest place.

We give you the highest place.

We give you the highest place.

We give you the highest place.


-------


This is a song that we sang at church this morning. Honestly, it takes me awhile even to learn some of the songs in English because the choir's accent can be pretty thick. When I finally realized they were singing "the next hot thing" I got excited because that seemed kind of a unique lyric. When I think of "the next hot thing" I can feel a little superior inside like I don't give into hot trends and stuff like that. But then the Holy Spirit really spoke to me today as we were singing that song. He asked me, what's the next hot thing for you, Tricia?


And I realized that I fall prey to "the next hot thing" in my life all the time. It occurred to me that the way that I pray is an easy way to see what the next hot thing is for me. Right now? The next hot thing is our house project, the fatty garden we're working on, fundraising, preparing for a big personnel meeting… I mean, "the next hot thing" is whatever is occupying my thoughts and really taking over as a priority. The list can get quite long, especially when I contrast my priorities with the last part of the song. "We give you the highest place." Really? Am I really giving Jesus the highest place? No, I confess, most of the time I am not giving Jesus the highest place but a host of other things reign in his place.


All these other things are just fine but they never deserve the highest place.

Please pray that we'll be faithful in giving the Lord the highest place everyday.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Election Day (Don't Kubeba)

PF presidential candidate Michael (King Cobra) Sata

Well today is election day in Zambia. The embassy has advised that we have a week's worth of food, water, and cell phone time and that we stay in unless we have an emergency. We're praying for peace but also being prepared. Elections in the past have led to some riots, mob violence and looting. Please Pray for Peace!! Here's the scoop on the elections as far as I can tell.
The ruling party - Movement for Multi-party Democracy (MMD) is presided over by President Ruphia Banda. The opposition party is the Patriotic Front led by Sata (see above). As far as I can tell Sata is a more liberal (think Democrat) candidate; he talks a lot about serving the poor and about making sure that extractive industries like copper mining which is non-sustainable, have long term positive impacts for all Zambians, not just extracting companies and countries. These things sound good to me but talk like this worries me in light of Mugabe's rule of Zimbabwe (same party) which has terrorized and murdered foreigners and especially white farmers while not actually improving the situation for the majority of Zimbabweans. The other disconcerting thing about the PF is that they seem to be mostly comprised of rowdy drunken youths hanging out of speeding Hilux pickups shouting "Don't Kubeba!" and inciting violence. Regardless, the PF's "Don't Kubeba" campaign is brilliant. It basically means "Don't Tell." Hense the finger over the mouth pic -shhhhh. The idea is that the MMD is going to be handing out money and gifts like hats, tshirts and chitenges in return for votes and that you should take their money and gifts and then not tell them that your are still secretly voting for the PF. It creates a sense of secret unity among PF voters while stabbing at the MMD. Genius.
Most Zambians I know are voting for Banda (unless they're just not "Kubeba"ing me). They see him as stable and that his policies have kept Zambia out of any major trouble during his years in office and they feel like they can trust things to at least stay as good as they are and not get worse with him continuing in office. They're also impressed by the way the MMD is allowing PF to run an open and popular opposition campaign without terrorizing or disappearing opposition leaders as has happened in the past.
Polls have put PF in the lead but most people I've talked to have said that MMD will win in a landslide. Either way there is sure to be violence. The cadres will certainly be fighting and rioting in town. But there is the possibility of serious instability for a while - if PF wins they might go nuts like when teams win championships and their home town goes burns the city in joy. Or something. If they lose they're gonna cry foul and do the same thing. So pray for peace and that the elections would be clearly fair and that the people of Zambia will accept the results.

Ciyanjano Development Video

My boss asked me to put together a short video of the development work done at Ciyanjano over the las couple of years. Check it out on YouTube! Click here.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Dedication!

Ok, so this is three weeks late. I've got no excuse except that I was just not in the mood to write about the Ciyanjano Dedication. It was amazing and I really feel like it could not have gone better. Our team was just that - a real team working together to pull off a very complicated and large event. Our guests were a great encouragement and I think they had a great time. I was sick with a very sore throat for most of the weekend and the week after but we were able to push through. I really felt God's presence and grace during the whole two day event.

For a great narrative and some pics check here:
http://thesingletonstory.blogspot.com/2011/08/dedicating-ciyanjano.html

for lots more pics, check here

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Warped Pistons, Walking Tours and Tired Feet


Our mechanic lit another cigarette and took a long drag. He tapped the ash off into an ashtray with his oil-stained fingers. He exhaled, "Twelve million; maybe less. And it's gonna take two, three weeks." That was the week before the Ciyanjano dedication. We had a number of guests coming in from the States and about thousand errands to run and our truck had started making a loud knocking sound when I stepped on the gas. How could be be carless for the busiest week of the year? But we changed the oil and drove slowly around town for the next ten days and on the Tuesday after se dropped our last guests back at the airport, I dropped the truck at Baldy's and said goodbye to our freedom for the next three weeks. We learned some things about ourselves during this time.

First, Lusaka is huge, sprawling, traffic infested wasteland. I spend a lot of time sitting behind the wheel. Barely moving, vendors selling car chargers, CDs, faux leather belts, single pairs of high heel shoes, a wrinkled dress shirt move from car to car. It's boring and lonely. I did not miss this at all.

Taking the bus can be a pain. You can wait for an hour for a bus only to have it run out of diesel before you can get a block away. Buses to and from Kasupe can be unpredictable. But there is freedom in not having the responsibility of driving, paying attention to the masses of pedestrians, people pushing wheelbarrows, bikes, and trucks.

Lastly, being broke down gave us permission to stop running around town and really get settled at Ciyanjano. We've been taking long walks around Kasupe, into the bush, out to the huge farming/irrigation project called "SCEME", out to the village. Rural Africa is beautiful. If anything our time stuck at Ciyanjano made me wish that we were even further out in the bush. I don't think Tricia or the kids felt the same way - they got pretty stir-crazy after the first week or so. But I love it out here completely. And it really feels like we're going through a second orientation - diving back into language and cultural learning and building relationships. It's been great being stuck.