Friday, August 31, 2012

Celebrating 5 Years of Lucas

Well, it's almost impossible to believe that our little baby boy is five years old today! His grandpa and grandma put in some funds and helped us to buy a very lovely red bicycle! His mimi and papa sent lots of cars, books, and games. For his birthday Lucas wanted to go get pizza and play with his first friend in Zambia - Christopher. We had a very fun, hot and tiring day that ended with cake and faux-ice cream. Happy Birthday Lucas!!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Ciyanjano Ablution Block

Well the busy month is starting to wind down here at Ciyanjano. The schools go back into session next week and things will be pretty quiet here until the Independence week in October. Since the beginning of July we've hosted a lot of groups at Ciyanjano. One of things that really hit home is the need for an appropriate toilet and shower block to help meet the needs of the churches we serve. This was especially true this last week when we hosted an AWANA camp with over 150 kids. Our four pit latrines and our grass, village-style bathing rooms were crowded with large lines and long waits. For a group this large they spend a good deal of the day coordinating bucket showers and toilet use. In order to host groups this size we really need a bigger and more hygienic toilet facility. Pit latrines and messy, smelly, and without sinks and lots of soap we are at risk of children passing infections to each other after and during use of our current facilities. Our fearless director has jumped through a dozen hoops to get through the various red tape and we approved to build a ten toilet, ten shower ablution block with a bank of sinks for the men's and women's rooms. We also have a very generous grant to get started. What we need is the rest of the money to complete this project. We are planning on breaking ground in September and God willing, we will be finished before the next busiest month - December. If you like to make a donation towards this project please click here!
Also, find us on Facebook here - to keep up with our events, projects and teams!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Kitchen Party

In Lusaka, bridal showers or "kitchen parties" are a big deal. This is probably true in other parts of the US also but not really in Bellingham. I've heard a lot about kitchen parties since living here, and every Saturday if you are driving around Lusaka you can see signs hanging for different parties - they are painted letters on a large white sheet and you see them flapping in the breeze all over the place.
But in over two years of living here, I had never actually been invited to a kitchen party before. I think the crowd of Zambians I've gotten to know just aren't doing them so much. That's why I was pretty nervous when my friend Martha not only invited me to her sister's kitchen party, but asked me to be a speaker! Wow, was I in for a party!
Kitchen parties here are as elaborate as any wedding I've ever been to, except only the women are invited. It was catered and had a band as well as an MC and a gospel message. In the picture above you can see the stage in the middle and the bride sat there the whole time with her mentors. Even though it is a huge celebration and you can see that everyone is really enjoying themselves, it is also very serious as a transition for the bride into marriage.

I'm sure it was a day that Evelyn, the bride-to-be will always remember. I was amazed at the generosity of all the guests - her kitchen is going to be totally set up as she begins her life as a wife. Hopefully she learned a couple things from the speakers. The first speaker gave some very good advice about relying on God daily for strength. My topic was just a quick note about managing your household - I spoke on being deliberate about making your home a loving and welcoming place.

Here I am above with Martha Kangwa and her daughter Twapalwa, and Peggy Mlewa. We are all wearing traditional citenge dresses. And don't they look fabulous!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Reflections on Our Two-Years in Zambia

Well it's amazing to think that the past year has gone by so fast. The last two years are like a blur. The days and weeks in Zambia go by fast. It seems like we barely get anything done and then we look up and it's time to pick up Ethel from school, bathe the kids, fix dinner, read books, put the kids to bed and try to stay up past 8. Things have been over-the-top busy lately, with lots of different projects, events, and guests descending on Ciyanjano en masse. It's been a great chance to get a lot of ministry done in a short period of time. But it is tiring. Especially when there is still so much happening.  While the time seems to be going by fast - it also feels as if we've always been here. I can't remember what it was really like to live a "normal" life back in America. What it would be like to even be in the States.

The other day I was looking at people's pictures on facebook. A friend had taken a picture of their two kids in a double stroller, walking the dog on a typical Bellingham sidewalk. I was completely blown away by the picture. It was such a stark contrast to what we see everyday. Basically, it was green, clean, neat, you could eat off the street, the grass is full and thick and about 1/2'' tall, the kids were in a stroller and the dog was on a leash.

In other words, it was the absolute opposite of almost every street in Lusaka. The dust, dirt, litter, crowds, smoldering piles of garbage, potholes, deep and dirty drainages on the sides of the roads, the smells. I miss living somewhere that littering is not only illegal but most people find it morally reprehensible. Here it's standard and never considered. So what I really miss is having clean and safe places to walk, run, play with the kids. The only playground in a city of 2 million that is not connected to a restaurant or lodge is right next to a police station where we watched the cops beat a guy who was handcuffed the last time we went there. In Bellingham I couldn't even begin to count all the public parks and green spaces.

I also miss the ocean. Leaving near water all my life has made it hard to live somewhere that is so landlocked. It's a 24hr drive to the nearest beach or a $1000 plane ticket. I was watching a BBC program about killer whales with the kids the other day and I got choked up, a lump in my throat. Not because I loved "Free Willie" as a kid. The scenes of the oceans and beaches was like a slap - it shook me. There are places this beautiful in the real world!

Now don't get me wrong, I do love living here and there is a lot of beauty here and just last week, Tricia and I snuck away to Lake Kariba for two days to get our heads straight and there is nowhere prettier in Zambia as far as I can tell. To sit and listen to the waves, there's nothing better. Here's the veranda at Eagles Rest where we stayed. Amazing right!?

I guess here's what I miss the most. Friends. Family. Security. I know that the economy is bad and that adds a sense of insecurity for folks back home. But we mostly live paycheck to paycheck, no savings, no retirement, no home (that we own), and we're not going to see that change. We're taking Jesus at his word when he said, "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven.... for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." He also commands us not to be anxious about anything!! That God will take care of us. (Just read all of Matthew 6 right now!) I'm not saying this is easy, that it's not a struggle. But we're working and seeing Ciyanjano grow to serve the church and the poor and the lost. That's where I want my heart to be and to stay. Pray for endurance for us that we move forward in faith and not spend our time looking back in sorrow or lusting for the "normal life" we sometimes feel we deserve or need. What we need is more grace.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Rough Night

The weather is changing here. The cold season is winding down and it feels like spring - a little warmer in the mornings and evenings. The sun feels hotter and there's even a tiny bit of humidity which is so nice when you're feeling so dried out after 4 months of cool dry nights and warm dry days. We still have another 2 and half months until it rains and the weather's just gonna get hotter and hotter. What's strange though is that the mpashi never really went away this year - I thought these army ants were rainy season only but the ones at Ciyanjano have not gone away and are still causing a lot of trouble. Here's what happened last night. First of all I've got to say that I've had a bit of a cold thanks to the children and spent almost all day in bed. I've also been having some suspicious pains in my pelvis, hernia, bladder infection, I wasn't sure but I was avoiding the possibility that my kidney stones were back...

So we went to sleep a little after 9pm (also known as missionary midnight) but I never fell asleep. I was miserable from my cold and feeling some serious pressure and pain from my pelvic region. I'll spare you the details but it became clear around 11pm that I passed a kidney stone. Feeling a deep relief I took a handful of ibuprofen and climbed back into bed and fell asleep. Until about 12:30 or so when the fence alarm went off. I got up and looked around, didn't see anything and went to get a flashlight and big stick. I could hear the fence cracking over by the chigayo gate and so went over to check it out. Sure enough there were a million mpashi attacking the electric fence with all their might, dying in the hundreds to attack their enemy. There were so many that they sent the alarm off. I went to wake up our fellow Ciyanjano missionary Tyler to have him bring a can of bug spray. He was still awake and we quickly sprayed the fence and whacked the dead ones off and the fence was fine again. When I got back in my house I started feeling a bit itchy and thought maybe I had an ant or two in my trousers. Turns out there were LOTS and they were biting like crazy by the time I started striping off my clothes. They had even got up into my shirt and on my arms. I thought I had been standing far enough away but they were really everywhere and all the foot stomping can't keep 'em off. Finally in a new set of PJs I climbed back in bed and laid wide awake for an hour or so. I think I'll spend the day in bed...

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Goodbye to Little Uncle Pete

This week we said goodbye to Little Uncle Pete our cat. You might have his sweet little face on your refrigerator because he is featured on our last prayer card. He wasn't with us long but he was definitely part of the family. I never really understood people who cried over their dead dogs and cats and birds and such because I was never an animal person. But now I understand. Pete was a real gift to me and was a good friend a lot of days when I really needed a friend around here.

Yesterday I was talking with the kids about it. It's hard to tell how much they are affected by this. Ethel said that she thought we would see Pete in heaven one day. Lucas said, "Of course we will see Pete in heaven because he was obeying the Lord. I mean, how can a cat NOT praise the Lord and obey the Lord. He was praising the Lord every day just by being a cat!"

I think Lucas is on to something there. So, thank you, God, for Little Uncle Pete and the good times we had. Petey, I'll see you when I see you.