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.


Oh Kelly I can relate on so many levels! Know you are not alone. We'll be 2 years in our "mission" to Sunnyside, Wa in November. Keep up your strength and keep taking those little moments away for yourselves. The last time I came bracket from a vacation I felt really bad that I took a vacation from God and ministry as well. I asked him why it felt so good to have a break away from Him. You know what he said? "because you don't take those breaks for yourself on a regular basis". I too miss the ocean, friends, family, security, grass, trees. But I would do it all over again in a heart beat. God is good!