Thursday, October 25, 2012

Home Mission Assignment

As many of you know, our Home Assignment for 2016 did not turn out the way any of our family expected. Again. Considering some of the issues we had this last year and with Kelly's knee injury and Ethel's seizures we felt like it was time to get some R & R in the US and get some much needed time with family and friends and time a our sending church.

Our goal is to return to Lusaka, Zambia ready to dive back into ministry. Our director is asking us to be 100% funded by that time. Due to support lagging off and due to the rising cost of living in Zambia, we welcome monthly supporters and also one-time gifts. Home Assignment is a great time for us to connect with current donors and those interested in becoming donors. If you are wanting to connect with us during these last months of home assignment to find out more about ACTION Zambia and/or our work at Ciyanjano, please feel free to contact us at thehuckabyfamily@gmail.com.

What is Home Mission Assignment? 
First of all, Home Mission Assignment (HMA) is a period of time spent back in the United States between terms in the field. For ACTION International missionaries who spend three full years in country, we are supposed to take six months HMA. It gives missionaries the opportunity to report to their home church, other supporting churches, supporters, partners and donors, and also ACTION International's home office in Washington. During this time missionaries share about their work in the field, raise financial and prayer support for upcoming terms, raise money for special projects, recruit potential missionaries, and call on the Church in the U.S. to join us in the field by sharing vision.

Second of all, HMA provides a time for missionaries to rest and renew from the cultural fatigue of living and working abroad. It gives them the chance to spend extended time with family and friends who they may not see for years while serving oversees. It gives them a chance to process their time in the field with pastors and family members and friends. It provides important time especially for grandparents to see their grandchildren!

Do you continue to get support? 
Yes. Please! While on HMA we continue with the same group of supporters the whole time while we debrief, share and prepare for returning to the field. It is also an expensive time for us to be traveling, buying new clothes and shoes and replacing electronics and other needs for our next term. We continue to have medical expenses, travel expenses and living expenses. So we need our regular supports to continue their giving during HMA.

How can I help?
You can help by continuing giving if you are a regular donor. You can ask your pastor or mission's pastor about giving us time to share about Zambia and Ciyanjano. You can have your small group/bible study/life group/cell group meet for dessert and invite us to share our hearts about Africa. You can make special donations to provide the cash for our HMA or to help us to come visit you if you're out of the way.

PRAY. Pray for safe travels. Pray that all the time on the road would not be too hard on the children (or the parents). Pray for new supporters and additional financial partners to see what God is doing in Zambia. Pray for new recruits. Pray that we get some rest and peace and encouragement and renewal and joy and that we're ready to return to Zambia when it's all over. Woo hoo!


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

EDUCATION S.O.S.

If there is one thing that really weighs heavy on our hearts here in Zambia, it's education. Or lack of education puts it better. Generally there are three types of schools here in Zambia, government basic schools, private community schools, and private exclusive schools.

At the bottom of the barrel is usually the rural government basic schools. While the teachers are well-paid compared to their peers at the community schools, the classrooms are over-crowded (40-60 kids for one teacher) and undersupplied. As far as we can see, unless the student is very bright, dedicated and self motivated or has major help at home, they have little chance of getting anything from their education. We know 5th graders who can's speak english (although it's really the primary language in Zambia and is taught every day in class.) We know 3rd graders who can't write their own names. And the students need to pay to go to these schools - they pay school fees of around $40-60 a year, uniforms and school shoes are another $15-20, plus pencils and paper and exam fees and special fees. So a government school can cost around $100 a year per student. Now when you take into account that $100 is the average monthly wage of a full-time contract worker, a single parent with 6 kids (not unusual) would spend half a year's salary for this education for her kids. Which is why we have kids at our gate day and night asking for money for school fees or school shoes (many teachers don't allow children without appropriate school shoes to come to class). Deciding who we help and how we can help them is an almost daily quandary. If you want to specifically give money for one of the many kids we regularly help then email me for more info!

Next we have the private community schools, the prices vary greatly as do their educational standards and mission. Many are church-run schools that see the basic mathematical fact that parents in the compounds can't afford to send their kids to government schools, so churches open small schools with lower fees, no uniform requirements, etc. One of our favorite APC pastor graduates has a school that follows this model. His desire is to make sure kids can read and write so that they can understand the Bible. He's awesome! The next tier are private community schools with higher school fees, expensive uniforms, smaller class sizes and better teaching. This is the type of school where we currently send Ethel. The class size is about 22. And they seem to be trying to provide something much better than government schools. But here's the breakdown... School fees run about $500 a year, add exam fees, uniforms and supplies and it's easily $800 a year per child. So what do you get? Ethel's second grade class is packed into a closet sized space. Right now in October, it's about 95 inside by 10am. For computer science they draw a picture of a computer on the chalk board! The teaching is random at best, skipping from basic addition to long division and back to subtraction in a week - never finishing a single idea, never making sure everyone gets it before moving on, but always moving ahead and around. Most of her homework is unexplained and requires us to figure it out, teach it and then help her through it. Which might not be so bad except class goes from 7:30-3:30 leaving little extra time for tutoring between dinner and baths and bedtimes. At least twice a week we decide to take her out of that school but then decide that we just don't really have a better option right now. And she LOVES it. But I don't think we could ever send Lucas there since he'd be the only mzungu and would struggle with the attention and trouble he'd get into because of it. 

Even if we liked Ethel's school enough to send all three kids there, the price per year would require a bump in our budget to pay the $200 a month. But if we wanted them to get a real education at one of the three real college-prep type of schools here, the costs are astounding, actually so astounding that it takes my breath away. If we wanted them to go to the British International School here, it would be about $2,000 a month for all three kids (not including the $3000 enrollment fee) Baobab College is similar in pricing and quality. To send one kid to the American School of Lusaka costs $13,600 a year. So for our three kids it would be $3,400 a month. Or $40,800 a year! A year! That's more than twice our salary!! 

So what can we do? Homeschool or noschool? This is not a pity party, these are just the facts. Folks are always asking us about our intentions for the kids, both Americans and Zambians. We know families that have simply left the field for lack of options and it's our biggest concern in looking ahead to the future here. Trying to raise an additional $2000-$3000 a month for school seems ridiculous, and improbable. Unfortunately, we're really just not confident that we can homeschool all three kids after they finish these early years. So what can we do? 

Since this is one of our major concerns in staying on the field, would you please pray with us for wisdom in this area? Also, we have considered recruiting another missionary to serve as a teacher here. We will soon be posting another blog about this possibility. But in the meantime, will you also be praying specifically that if it is God's will that he would bring forward possible missionary teachers to serve here with ACTION Zambia?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Sing with me, How Great is Our God!!!

Hi! This is Tricia! This morning at church I was just completely overwhelmed with how much the Lord has done for us. I was thinking of a couple teammates who are in the support-raising phase of their journey to Zambia right now and thinking about how hard that is and how far we Huckabys have come with the help of our mighty God!!!

So I decided I just need to take a little time to praise and thank Jesus today. For those of you who read our blog who do not love and follow Jesus, can I just please ask you to really consider that again. I know that he loves you so much, and even died so that you can find forgiveness of sins. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son!!! Giving my life over to Christ was and is the best choice I ever made. So whether you are a Christian or not would you just praise God with me today for all that he has done!!!

1.  God sustained Kelly and I through around 18 months of support raising while we lived in our friends' basement. (And he sustained them somehow through that time too, which is saying a lot)

2. He provided all the money we needed to move to Lusaka, Zambia. He provided us with enough monthly donors and regular donors to cover our monthly needs well enough to live here as volunteers. Did you know that we have around 75 families/donors that give some each month for us to be here? It's amazing!

3.  God protected us through our travel here, settling into a whole new culture, moving to and living in a little hut for a year with our three crazy kids, and then raising the money for and building a $60,000 coordinators' house for Ciyanjano which we are now living in. Praise the Lord!!!!!!!!! Thank you, God, for your great mercy toward us!!!

4. He has already given us many, many, many wonderful opportunities to encourage pastors and their wives who are ministering to people in the slums here in Lusaka. And he has made Ciyanjano to grow and thrive despite glitches and hold-ups.

5. God has made my garden grow and has given me plenty of food to share with workers, neighbors and friends. Because of God's generosity and the generosity of our brothers and sisters back home, Kelly and I are able to be generous to the people around us... helping people with food, school fees, clothing and more. I just thank God that he has given us an abundance of ways to help people out.

6. We have three wonderful kids!!!! One has done an incredible job, by the grace of God, getting through transition after transition and being a wonderful brother. Two of them were added to our family just simply because of the love of God. God sustained us all through the adoption process, which was not easy, and the process of becoming a family. Again, He is amazing. And somehow he is helping Kelly and I each day to parent these kids.

7. People, can you just sing with me... How great is our God??!!! He has done all of these things and so much more in just a few years.

8. Nobody on this property has been bitten by a snake or spit on by a snake since we've been here. No really giant bugs have crawled in our beds or under our skin or in our ears.

9. So far, we haven't gotten malaria or anything super bad. Even the very rotten staph infection I had, well, it could have been a lot worse. And we've even seen a friend of ours healed miraculously just this week. God is the great physician.

10. We've had hard times and we've been afraid. We've had days where we wanted to go back to the States. We've had to say many times, "Without your help God, there's no way we can go on." But during those times, we've cried out to the Lord and he has heard us. He picked us up again and put our feet on the Rock. I lift my eyes up to the hills. Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.

11.  God has given us amazing teammates who have been faithful in teaching us, encouraging us, and praying for us. He's also given us brothers and sisters who are local and also who are from all around the world to work with us and encourage us and pray for us when we needed it. Sure we miss family and friends from home, but we are so thankful for each person that God has brought into our lives here. God really can give you family wherever you go and whatever you are going through.

12. God has given us his Word. I can't tell you how often I'm amazed at the way that God's word answers the questions on my mind or helps me in figuring out a problem. Again and again God has used his Word to show Kelly and I how we should live each day.

13. We have eyes to see God's creation with, we have ears to enjoy the music of the world with, we have legs to run with and hands to work with. And most of all we have voices to praise God with!!!!! And even blogs to praise God with, so here I am praising you with this blog, God!!!!

14. God has given us his Spirit. I don't know exactly how the Holy Spirit works and the Bible says "The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” I want to praise God for his mysterious and wonderful Spirit and the way his Holy Spirit guides us and comforts us, brings us to repentance and teaches us how we should go.

15. I could go on and on because our Lord has been so good to us. But I want to say that we love and praise the Lord Jesus Christ and the Father that sent him, not because he gives us cash or clothes or food, not because of the good gifts he gives us, not because of the good health we've had or the children he gives us. Of course we are thankful but that is not why we love the Lord. We love the Lord because he first loved us, he made us, the Father sent the Son to die for us, he redeemed us so that we could find forgiveness for our sins and spend eternity with God. We love God and follow God because he is GOD. Thank you God for who you are. We worship you for who you are. Only a God like you would be worthy of our praise, and all our hope and faith.


Friday, October 12, 2012

HAPPY (belated) 7th to ETHEL!

Well, I'm a little behind on this photo montage of our "first-born" but here is is to celebrate our big girl.
this one is from the week she came to live with us

first family outing to Sandy's

at our flat in Lusaka

uh oh

6th birthday

bathing beauty


spring 2012


7th BIRTHDAY!

bike from Grandma and Grandpa


Lucas is as excited for presents as she is!

She grew six inches this year!









Monday, October 8, 2012

Color Wars

Around the Huck-a-home there has been a serious color war, but not what you might expect. It's between Kelly and I. We'll call it the Flamboyant Controversy. A particularly lovely tree blooms this time of year around Lusaka. Without a doubt, the flowers on this tree are a gorgeous dark orange color. Kelly persists in saying the blooms are red. After going back and forth about this for a second year, we began asking a few of the people around us what they thought. Based on feedback I developed the theory that women would say the blooms were orange, while most men would say they were red... the reason being that most men will just pick the primary color that the color is closest to! After posing my theory we didn't discuss it again.

Fast forward a few days when I went online and got on Kelly's facebook. Occasionally people will send me messages there which I will never receive if I don't just go snoop in his messages myself. (Seriously, I am not spying on him, it's just the only way for me to make sure I'm not missing correspondence, for reals!!!!) And what do I see on his facebook but his very own casual survey of his friends about what color the blooms are.

For the most part, my theory seems to hold true and I was even very pleased to see a comment from our  super friend, Jordan Levien, that basically re-stated my own theory. Thank you, Jordan. I believe you have brought the Flamboyant Controversy to a close. You may agree with Kelly about the color, but ultimately... I was still right.




Monday, October 1, 2012

Immigration Sichimication

Every couple years all of us on the AZ team have to get our work permits renewed. This might seem as straightforward and as fun as sitting at the DOL in the States to try and renew your drivers' license... and you'd be half right. It's definitely as fun as that but not so straightforward. In the morning we found out that Kelly's work permit was ready after months of waiting and checking. We spent the day at the immigration office in order to find out that actually they lost my file and also forgot to add our girls to Kelly's permit so now we have to start all over. Luckily they are generous with extensions, otherwise we'd probably be getting kicked out of Zambia!

But I'm not writing this blog to complain. I just want to share my continual amazement at the "filing" systems that I see in Zambian government offices. I went upstairs to use the toilet and saw an entire hallway lined with piles and piles of files. I can't possibly believe these are in any particular order. I wish I could give you a picture but I didn't have my camera and I'm always a bit paranoid anyway about getting in trouble. At the end of the hallway people had actually just started dumping small piles of garbage right on top of these files... So are the files garbage too? This could certainly be fuel for a huge immigration conflagration if you ask me...

Anyway, had to be there I guess...