Sunday, February 24, 2013

Tu Swi... Listen Carefully

Today at church our pastor shared a story from the Tonga tribe that I thought you might like:

One day a great Tonga hunter was out in the bush and he brought down an enormous elephant. It was so massive that it would surely provide much meat for many, many days. The man ran toward the village until he found many of his relatives and friends to come with him to retrieve the elephant. All the men returned with him to the elephant and exclaimed with great joy when they saw his kill. They hooted and hollered and then began organizing themselves to lift the great elephant and bring it back to the village.

As they all lifted together, they began to sing a song, as was their custom. They began singing, "We have killed an elephant, and we will share it all together amongst ourselves." The men managed to lift the elephant and began carrying it toward home, singing all the while. After a ways, however, one of the men noticed something about the hunter who had brought down the elephant and this man said, "Tu swi" to the others which means "Let's listen carefully." All the men stopped singing, except for that lone hunter who continued singing, "I have killed an elephant, and I will share it all together amongst ourselves."

All the relatives and friends turned to the hunter and said, "Friend, you are singing your own song. If it is you that has killed this elephant alone; then it is you who can carry him home." And they all left him there to enjoy his kill by himself.

Tu swi... this story is a beautiful story that captures the rhythm of African life, I think, in so many ways. Our pastor was preaching about making disciples and sharing the gospel and he used this story to illustrate how within the body of Christ we must work together to share the gospel and do ministry. We cannot become full of ourselves thinking we are each something so very special on our own.

For all my dear American friends, please don't be offended when I say that often I think we are like that hunter. We always think credit belongs where credit is due. We are so easily offended if we are not thanked enough or honored enough for our gifts. It is unfortunate to see the Western influence here in Zambia causing many urban Zambians to have this look-out-for-number-one kind of attitude. Let the Church Tu swi, and always stand apart as holy and humble, working together in unity for the glory of Jesus Christ!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Zambia's Education Situation

The numbers I'm going to use here are old. Nothing newer than 2008. That puts these facts squarely in the middle of the previous administration. So I can't speak about the current numbers in the last 5 years, but I can't imagine they've changed. In 2008 Zambia spent 1.3% of its GDP in education expenditures. That's 1.3% for all education from preschool to university. They did better than Equatorial Guinea. Angola spent twice as much. Rwanda spent three times as much. Ghana spent more than four times as much as Zambia. And it shows.

Maybe I've mentioned this before in another post but the school systems here is seriously troubled. In a semi-rural area about 14k from town center most kids speak little to no english except for, "How are you?" and "Fine." The classrooms are overcrowded and teachers can have from 60-90 kids in a single class. Kids in 4th grade can't write their names. And they get passed on to fifth grade anyway. And these are the kids who are actually in school. I'd guess as many as 20% of kids aren't in any sort of school at all for a majority of the year. They're lacking school fees, uniforms, school shoes, examination fees, exam result fees, or school materials like pencils and exercise books.  Even the public schools have a wide variety of costs that children need to pay so that they can attend. What this means is that we have an endless parade of school children at our gate asking for money and materials to keep them in class. Many children manage to stay in school by collecting cash and clothes from various aunties and uncles, making the rounds with their exam results to prove they've been working hard. We regularly look at kids grades grades at the beginning of each term. What is so sad and scary for the future of this country where the median age is 16 is that the students who are second or third or even first in their class have grades that would be a failing grade in the States. The kid with the number two position in class has a 61% in Maths and 64% in English. And he's the kid with a chance of going on to highschool if only he could scrape up all the money needed. Pray for us as we try to be wise and discerning yet generous with flood of children!!

Now I know that Americans place a high value on education. They often don't need children to earn income or help with harvesting just for a family to survive. But if Zambia wants to have a future for a generation of millions of uneducated, lost, and unemployable people they need to seriously reform the educational system here. From a missions standpoint - it's one more reason why Christians don't know the gospel. They can't understand a book like Ephesians even if they can read it. Preachers shy away from scripture and from exegesis because they lack education to teach it and their congregations lack education to understand it. So churches focus heavily on "prophesies" and 'miracles" because its easier than doing the hard work of training a church to read, think, and understand scripture. SO pray for Zambian kids to get educated!! And maybe consider doing something about it. Go to http://www.ariseafrica.org/ and sponsor a kid! Or email us and help us sponsor a kid from Kasupe!



Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Sorry, I have a poetry degree

Yes, it's true. I, Tricia Huckaby, got my degree in poetry. But you have to admit, rarely do I force any of you to check out what I write. Mostly because I don't write anything, har har har. Today you have the unfortunate luck of reading our blog on the one day when inspiration has struck and I've decided to try to write a poem. What??! I know. It's crazy. Gee Dad, all those thousands of dollars on college weren't a waste after all.


At Our House

Our metal roof cracks its knuckles
as shadows pull from the kids' windows
to the opposite side
It's 13:30 and the clouds begin
their afternoon meeting for prayers
Power's out and I'm spread out
Heat pulses from my sky blue cement
sometimes pleasant, sometimes too pushy
And I'm tired of this today
I feel the tink of dehydration
in my temples and at the top of my neck

Nothing is really wrong
but nothing works
You are still you and I am still me
and everything is the same
and everything is fine
and you are the same yesterday, today, and forever
But I'm tired, Lord, I'm tired
Tight and hot and lonely
sometimes altogether and it makes me
tired, Lord, I'm tired

Almost twelve months but not
twelve months and the cracks get bigger
and cement chunks and paint chips and toilet seats
and birds are scratching
and building a nest in the mats in the ceiling
They're stealing my quiet time
with their squawking and cheeping
Almost, but not even that much time, not even 
a year here in this house
And building feels like breaking
and rising seems like falling
and I have to remember that your wisdom often seems foolishness
in this world, and in this house

Time does his work perfectly well here
The over-achiever, and no one keeps him
and no one tips him
Gray gets grayer
White gets tanner
and termites trail their trails
and I'm getting thinner and fatter at the same time
But you are still you and I am still me and everything is fine
Sometimes a nap is best at nap time

Monday, February 4, 2013

What Can I Do For You?

Mark 10:42-45
Jesus called them together and said, "You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

Here in Zambia there is a special word in Cinyanja that we hear all the time:  BWANA. Bwana means something like "boss man" and Zambians use it all the time to talk about people who are rich or powerful. If they are trying to get in good with you, or sell you something, you'll often be called Bwana or Boss.

There is nothing that is so contrary to what Jesus taught us to be than this word Bwana. And it is a reminder to me of what is wrong in the Zambian church, in the American church, in my own heart. As God's people, we are supposed to have the heart of the servant, even of a slave. Our Lord came to serve us by living a sinless life devoted to his Father and others; and then to voluntarily die on the cross as our redeemer. While being the most perfect and powerful man that ever lived; Jesus was not a BWANA. He was the very opposite. We are supposed to follow that example.

But instead of being ready and willing to ask, What can I do for you? Most often my heart is asking, What can you do for me? Instead of asking, What can I give you? I'm asking, What can I get from you? Maybe you think that because I am a fancy-pants missionary in Africa that I'm just ready to serve others every day with a big McDonald's customer service type smile on my face... but unfortunately that is not true. I have to struggle every day to remind myself that I am a servant and not a Bwana.

This morning I read a prayer from St. Francis of Assisi. This is my prayer today for my own heart and for the heart of the church here in Zambia and for those of you around the world:

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much to seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood, as to understand;
To be loved, as to love...