Friday, December 30, 2005

Christmas 2005

Our Christmas was certainly different this year. We were up early, as usual, and were able to talk to both our children on the internet (Skype). They were spending Christmas Eve with my brother’s family in Monett, Missouri. (Zambia is eight hours ahead of CDT.)

At 8:00 we left for our outreach, taking eight Zambians along with us. We arrived at Gowell (pronounced go well) and found Patson Syula just finishing up preparations for the day. The congregation at Gowell has only a handful of members, but they had invited the entire community for an all-day Christmas gathering. Patson, a member of Namwianga’s Church Development Team, had organized the event. He had spent the weekend at Gowell helping them get a thatched roof shelter made and arranging the food for the guests he hoped would come. He had just finished work on the shelter that morning and had added posters and balloons as decorations.

People trickled in all morning as we had singing, preaching, teaching, and communion. My translator, Sylvester, helped me teach the 38 children who came for Bible class. David preached the morning sermon, and others took their turns to teach and preach as well. The meal was to be the last event of the day, and we could see some young men doing the preparations nearby. During a break we went over and helped stir the nshima as it cooked in a huge iron pot over the open fire. The afternoon continued with some special singing groups as well as congregational singing and more preaching. The people kept coming, adding more to the 93 who were present for the morning service. Finally at 4:00 the food was ready. We feasted on nshima, chicken, and goat meat.

We arrived back home at 6:00. We pulled out the Dr. Pepper and the new DVDs that we had been saving for the occasion. Our congregation at Brentwood Oaks had sent us a wonderful care package of goodies with the Americans who came in early December. It is amazing how good a Dr. Pepper tastes when you haven’t had one for six months! We enjoyed a nice, quiet evening of watching movies and drinking Dr. Pepper.

There are all kinds of ways to celebrate Christmas. We consider ourselves blessed to have shared this one in Africa as we serve our Lord.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Cows Gone Bad

At 4:00 this morning I heard cows mooing. The sound kept getting closer and closer. Finally I woke David up and said, “That sounds like the cow is right outside our window!” We quickly got out of bed and headed for the back door. I switched on the porch light as David peered out the kitchen window. I knew we were in trouble when I heard him say, “Good grief!”

We opened the back door to find about 50 cattle milling around in our back yard. They were mooing and munching their way over our flower beds and around the in-ground cistern. We started making noises and waving our arms to shoo them away. They obliged, loudly mooing their objections to leaving this new corral.

David worried that they had eaten up the flowers in his new nursery bed, but it was too dark to check it out just then. At daylight we went out to survey the damage. Apparently we caught the bovine marauders before they had time to chow down on our flowers. They did leave us plenty of muddy hoof prints and cow patties to remind us of their visit. The herd apparently had quite a party in the field across the road from us. The maize plants were about two feet high at bedtime. By daylight there was nothing taller than six inches. The entire field will have to be replanted.

The farm manager was not happy to hear about the cows gone bad. He pays a worker to watch them and prevent such outings. I wonder if the worker’s name is Blue—you know, Little Boy Blue?

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Christmas Eve in Zambia

It’s Christmas Eve as I write this. The temperature outside is in the 70’s and we’ve just had a rain shower pass through. The grass is green, the garden is growing, and you couldn’t find a holly berry or sprig of mistletoe anywhere in southern Zambia. Zambians don’t really celebrate Christmas other than to have a meal together, and many are too poor to afford even that.

We enjoyed an American-style Christmas gathering last night at the home of Rod and Sue Calder. They live at Seven Fountains, a farm adjoining Namwianga. Rod runs the farm and Sue takes care of orphans, especially babies. I think they have fifteen infants now, plus five older children that they are raising in addition to their three birth children. Sue is a fantastic cook and prepared a delicious feast of turkey, ham, and lots of side dishes. She had invited the American missionaries and some African families as well, so it was an interesting group. We sang Christmas carols to end the evening, and that helped me get into the holiday spirit, at least a little bit.

Our children, Sara and John, are together for the weekend. John flew to Tulsa where Sara lives, and then the two of them are going to Springfield, Missouri today to spend Christmas with my family there. They called us on our Skype internet program this morning (our time) and we got to talk to both of them at once. It was such a joy to hear their good-natured teasing and bantering back and forth with each other. I didn’t realize how much I miss that! We are very proud of the way they have handled life on their own these last few months.

Tomorrow on Christmas Day we will go for a village outreach as usual. This time we are taking a high school boys’ quartet with us, as well as a teacher and a college student to serve as translators. When we get back from the outreach, we plan to watch some new DVDs that were sent to us by friends in our home congregation at BOCC. We don’t have a television, but we can use our computer. Since the electricity has been very unpredictable lately, we’ve got two computer batteries charged up and ready in case the power goes out. AND a six-pack of Dr. Pepper sent from the US is also waiting in the refrigerator, plus some Christmas blend Starbucks coffee in the cupboard. As if that weren’t enough to look forward to, we’ve been invited to sample the goat meat at Rodgers Namuswa’s house tomorrow evening (see “Goat Ride” for the background on this).

Merry Christmas from Zambia!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Goat Ride

After the baptisms, we loaded up in the Land Rover. The vehicle was full on the trip out to Simwanda, but we managed to add one more passenger for the return trip. It seems someone always needs a ride back to Kalomo or Namwianga. A few minutes down the road we stopped under a shade tree to eat a snack of buns (heavy yeast rolls) and water. Some cattle grazed nearby, their cowbells tinkling as they wandered.

Our next stop was at a small village. Rodgers Namuswa, our Zambian co-worker, is having a big Christmas dinner for his extended family, and his brother had offered to send a goat for the occasion. We had agreed to pick up the goat and bring it back to Namwianga. At the village, Rodgers’s brother offered us places to sit in the shade while he took off on his bicycle to find the goat. In about 30 minutes he returned with the goat strapped behind the seat of the bike. The goat objected to this situation with loud bleating.

Since Sylvester was the youngest of our crew, he willingly climbed up on top of the Land Rover. The goat was hoisted up to the roof where Sylvester tied him down with long strips of black rubber cut from an old inner tube. We climbed back in and took off for home with our newest passenger. The goat made the trip nicely, although he did bleat about every 20 minutes to let us know that he wasn’t happy about his seat.

We delivered the goat and wished the Namuswas a happy holiday.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Simwanda Bible Class

Sylvester is a student at George Benson Christian College. He is an orphan who lives in a village near Namwianga with five other siblings and cousins ranging in age from 24 to 11. He would not be able to afford college without sponsorship from the US. The sponsored students are expected to be active in outreach activities, and Sylvester volunteered to work with children. He did an excellent job teaching this group at Simwanda.

Down to the River

This is part 2 of an account of our Sunday outreach to Simwanda.

We arrived at Simwanda and found people gathering in the shade of a huge tree. This congregation was started as a result of medical mission follow-up and has only been meeting for six weeks. Their numerical growth is remarkable. The group started with around 20 the first week, and had grown to 77 on the Sunday before we came. The attendance was 112 on the day of our visit.

Sylvester, a college student who is sponsored by Christians in the US, had come along to work with me in the children’s classes. He had prepared part of a lesson and then translated for me as I completed the class. We had 42 little ones in our class.

There were five baptisms after the worship assembly. A water hole was nearby, so the entire congregation walked there, singing the entire way. Most of the group gathered on the far bank, while I found a spot with a few others on a higher bank where we could look down on the scene. By the time I arrived, Rodwell was already waist deep in chocolate brown water waiting to perform the rites. The singing continued as the first person stepped through tall green reeds to join him. The singing stopped just long enough for Rodwell to speak a few words and plunge the man under the muddy waters. The ceremony was repeated for the four ladies who followed. Each baptism brought a chorus of “Amens” from the crowd and a verse of “Great Day When I Was Born Again.”

I watched all this, thinking, “I can’t believe that I am standing here in the African bush watching the Lord’s church grow right in front of me.” Tears welled up in my eyes and I prayed a prayer of gratitude. “Thank you, Lord, for putting me in this place at this exciting time in the kingdom.”

Monday, December 19, 2005

Run Away! Run Away!

On Sunday our outreach took us to the village of Simwanda where we visited a new congregation that has only been meeting for the past six weeks. The day was quite eventful, so I’m going to blog it in installments for the next two or three days.

We set out with nine people in our Land Rover. Peter was to translate and guide us to find the way. Rodwell would do the Lord’s Supper. Sylvester, a sponsored college student, was to help me with the children’s class. Four other women were going along to help with the singing.

I took our camera along, hoping to find some photo opportunities. We had been traveling about an hour when I saw two boys, each using a set of oxen to cultivate a maize field. I asked David to stop and I jumped out with my camera and headed toward the field. Suddenly one of the boys dropped the reins he was holding and bolted away, running as fast as he could away from me. Peter saw what was happening and shot out of the Land Rover and across the field to grab the reins before the oxen could run away. The boy, meanwhile, had run to hide behind a termite mound (a small hill). Peter said a few things to him in Chitonga while I snapped pictures. We headed back to the vehicle and the boy timidly came out and resumed his position behind the oxen.

Back in the Land Rover I quizzed Peter about what had happened. “Oh, he thought we were Satanists who were coming to cast a spell on him,” Peter explained. It seems that many rumors about Satanic acts are flying around this area. Peter assured him that we were Christians and not Satanists, and we assume he wasn’t too traumatized to continue.

On the way home, we stopped at a village to pick up a goat (watch for that blog in a couple of days). The runaway boy was there, seemingly unharmed, and he got a chance to see that we were not Satanic monsters to be feared. We all had a good laugh.

Saturday, December 17, 2005


Many things that happen here in rural Zambia remind me of Bible times. For instance, today two men came to the door and asked for David. They had walked from Simalundu, a very remote village at least 40 miles from here. The men had been chosen by the church in Simalundu to visit Mrs. Hamby and convey their sympathy at the death of Dr. Hamby. They arrived to find Mrs. Hamby had already returned to the US, so they went to Mr. Moonga, a teacher here at Namwianga, and asked him to send her the letter they had brought from the church. Mr. Moonga translated the letter into English and then suggested that they bring it to us to e-mail to Mrs. Hamby so that she would get it more quickly. Except for the e-mail part, I can imagine that events like this happened in the days of Jesus when communication and transportation were difficult. Letters were one of the few ways to send and receive messages, and walking long distances to deliver them by hand was a common practice.

Here is the letter:
Simalundu Church of Christ
Box 363
4 December 05

From Simalundu and other village churches in the Simlundu area
To the Hamby family

The church at Simalundu and all the village churches in Simalundu area were greatly shocked and grieved by the death of Ba Hamby. On Sunday before last, all Christians from many different churches, the headmen in those villages, and many other people who are not Christians walked to Simalundu church where they met and worshipped God together in this great sorrow. The congregations and the headmen pray that God will put the Hamby famly into his mighty hands and care for them always, through the name of Jesus Christ.

Note at the bottom reads: This letter was translated by Dominic Moonga into English from Tonga. The congregation chose Milias Chimanine and Altert Siankompe who are church leaders in Simalundu church to write it before the churches and bring it to Namwianga Mission and give it to Mr. Moonga for Mrs. Hamby.

Catching the Vision

Ruhtt Mbomwae is an incredible asset here at Namwianga Mission. Ruhtt was an Olympic runner in her home country of Peru. Years ago Abilene Christian University recruited her for their track team. During her time at ACU Ruhtt learned English, ran track, and became a Christian. She also met and married Shepherd Mbomwae, a Zambian. Ruhtt and Shepherd came here to Namwianga for Shepherd to teach computer science and business. Since then Ruhtt has been a tireless worker in a variety of ministries. Ruhtt was instrumental in upgrading the college library. She has started women’s ministries in some villages where she gathers the women to crochet or sew as a way to earn extra money, and then she conducts Bible studies. Shepherd and Ruhtt have planted at least thirteen new congregations, including one in a blind community where they have organized college students to serve the needs of the disabled members.

Most recently Ruhtt teamed up with Canadian donors to open six Christian Community Schools in remote villages. These schools serve students who do not live within walking distance of the nearest government school. The community members provide labor to build buildings and pay some expenses, but the majority of the funding comes from the group in Canada. Ruhtt hires teachers, gets the buildings built, gets uniforms made, obtains supplies, and does whatever else needs done to keep the schools in operation. These schools even provide one meal a day for their students, since most of the children who attend are extremely poor.

Ruhtt invited me to do a training session with her teachers on the subject of teaching from a Christian perspective. Doing workshops on this topic is one of my passions, so I readily agreed. She told me to expect 10-12 teachers, but we ended up with 15. They were a joy to work with. Many of these teachers are untrained, and those who have training have no experience. As I talked about ways to teach all subjects from a Christian worldview, I could see by the expressions on their faces that some of them were really “getting it” and becoming excited about the possibilities of teaching in this way. Most enthusiastic of all was Ruhtt. She has now caught the vision of how faith can be integrated into the curriculum, and I expect that the schools under her care will be working to become distinctly Christian in their teaching practices. She’s already planned for another session with the six new teachers she will hire in the next few weeks.

It is exciting to be in this place at this time and see how God is at work!

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Cell Phones in Africa

Click on the above title to read an article on cell phone usage in Africa. We were amazed when we came for the medical mission in 2004 and found cell phones in use all over Namwianga. Communication has improved dramatically! The villages, however, still do not have access. We take a satellite phone with us when we go for outreaches so that we will have some way to get help if there is an emergency.

Sunday at Siamonkuli

Today we made our third visit to Siamonkuli, a new congregation that started in September as a result of the medical mission. Our first visit was in October when we met with a handful of people gathered in a schoolroom. In November, we visited again and saw a few more people attending. I had 14 children in Bible class that day. Today we were pleased to find that the numbers have doubled. I had 30 children in class and there was a corresponding increase in the number of adults. Two women requested prayers after the sermon.

Even the trip to Siamonkuli was different today. Since our last visit the rains have been plentiful and the countryside that was dry and brown is now a lush green. The roads were even more jolting than last time due to new potholes formed by erosion from the rains. David had to use four-wheel drive through some of the huge mud puddles. Another bit of excitement occurred when a four-foot long monitor lizard ran across the road in front of us.

We took six of our Zambian friends from Namiwanga with us to serve as translators and to encourage the members at Siamonkuli. We made the circuit of houses picking them up early this morning. As soon as the vehicle was headed down the main road they started singing, and they sang non-stop for the next hour and a half as we traveled. After two hours of the worship service, I was sure they would be too tired to sing on the way home, but I was wrong. They sang all the way back to Namwianga. What a blessing it is to work with people who joyfully live out the scriptural command in Ephesians 5:19 as they “speak to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. “

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Economics 101

I really wish I had paid more attention in my economics courses at Harding. I managed to memorize the material required on tests, but I didn’t take it in well enough to understand the international monetary system and how that system would someday affect my life! Now we are learning economics the hard way.

Reuters news service reports that the Zambian kwacha has appreciated 37% against the US dollar since the International Monetary Fund awarded the country a debt relief package. The IMF gave Zambia a $3.95 debt relief package and the G8 conference resulted in another write-off plan that will cut Zambia’s foreign debt to $300 million by May. That’s down from $7.1 BILLION in May of this year.

That means there is more money in the Zambian economy to be spent, and it also means that the amount of dollars the government is buying has come down. Those factors affect the value of the dollar in relation to the Zambian kwacha. When we arrived in Zambia, the exchange rate was around 4,800 kwacha to one US dollar. The Reuters report said that Wednesday’s rate was 3,500/dollar and predicted to go even lower.

In practical terms, when we got here in June we could get 1 million kwacha for $210. Now it takes $285 to get that same 1 million in kwacha. It’s hard enough on a personal budget, but the mission has taken a hard hit as well, since US dollars support a portion of the work here. Many students are sponsored in school by generous donors in the US, and those students have watched their tuition bills climb as the value of their US support declines.

Export sectors of the economy, especially agriculture, are also feeling the effects. The Reuters report says the president of the national farmer’s union predicts job losses in the agricultural sector. That will “cause higher levels of poverty in a country where 69 percent of the people live way below the World Bank poverty threshold of $1 per day. “

Optimistic economists think that the devaluation is an overreaction and that the rates will improve in coming months. We shall see. In the meantime, we are counting our kwacha carefully.

Friday, December 02, 2005

"Honey, we've got to get screens on the windows"

That's what I said when David shook this critter out of his pants leg. At least the cat gets his entertainment and snack food from big bugs like this!

Welcome Visitors

Our visitors from America arrived Thursday. David and I drove to Livingstone to pick them up at the airport. Five Zambians from Namwianga went with us, and the Central Church in Livingstone sent a delegation of eight to the airport as well. The Hamby’s long-time friends from Zimbabwe, Jay and Shaku Gopal, came all the way from Victoria Falls to be there too. It was a tearful time for all of us as we greeted Ellie on Zambian soil without Kelly by her side. As I told Star Ferguson, seeing Ellie alone finally made Kelly’s death seem real, and not just a terrible dream.

From the airport we drove to the Central Church building for a short memorial service with a crowd that had gathered there. Then we made the two-hour trip back to Namwianga, arriving just after dark.

There another gathering was waiting for Ellie at Johnson Auditorium. The electricity was off, so candles lit up all the windows as we drove up. Ellie got out of the car and was greeted by about 20 of the Zambian women who were weeping and singing as they embraced her.

The auditorium was packed. When we stepped through the doorway, the chorus of 500 voices singing a beautiful Chitonga hymn was indescribably beautiful. My first thought was, “This must be what Kelly heard as he stepped into heaven.” The singing continued while we made our way down the candlelit aisle to seats at the front. There was a short program of songs, prayers, and statements about Kelly. Then the students were asked to sing and everyone was invited to file by Mrs. Hamby and our group to shake hands in the Zambian tradition.

The line seemed to stretch on forever as teachers, friends, church leaders, and students came by to greet and grieve with Ellie and with us. The many young faces in the stream of people reminded me once again that Kelly is leaving an important legacy that will influence the kingdom of God for eternity.

The day was emotionally draining for all of us, especially Ellie, but we all agreed that this was an important step in our healing process. There will be many more hard days to come, but God's gracious comfort and our wonderful memories of Kelly will carry us through. Please keep Ellie in your prayers.

Unwelcome Visitor

We’ve been busy this week preparing for a group of four Americans to arrive. Ellie Hamby is coming, and along with her will be Star Ferguson, Charles Small, and Richard Prather. Wednesday night we decided to get our house ready for company by hanging some wall decorations.

We were in the middle of that job when George Phiri, The Zambian superintendent, stopped by to finalize plans for picking up the group at the airport. As we sat and talked with him, he suddenly stopped in mid-sentence. His eyes widened as he pointed to the floor behind David.

“You have a small snake there,” he said. Sure enough, a black snake about 16 inches long was slithering across the concrete.

David ran outside to find the hoe while I backed off at a safe distance to watch. I wanted to know exactly where the snake went if it was loose in the house! George meanwhile removed his sandal and took aim. He threw once and hit just to the right of the snake. The second blow landed on the left. The third throw was high. The snake was up against the wall by now, coiling and recoiling from each “whop” of a shoe nearby. Finally George’s fourth blow scored a direct hit and the snake coiled for the last time. George retrieved his sandal as David arrived with a shovel. He scooped up the dead snake and took it outside for a hasty burial.

Our guess is that the snake made its entrance by squeezing under the back door. We’ll be figuring out a way to close up that space! George also told us that there are certain bushes that act as snake repellants, so we’re looking to do some snake-proof landscaping. Life in the bush is never dull!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Reflections on Thanksgiving

I’ll be honest. As Thanksgiving approached, I dreaded the thought of our first holiday away from our children, our friends, and our former house in Austin. We had so many great memories of Thanksgivings in the past.

This year, however, God provided us with opportunities to make wonderful new memories in our new land. We scheduled a retreat for all the Americans associated with Namwianga Mission and met in Lusaka, the capital city. Brian and Sondra Davis drove down from Solwezi where they are beginning a new work. The rest of us (Sheri and Lois Sears, the Bruingtons, Roy and Kathi Merritt) drove up from Kalomo on Thursday. We stayed in three cottages at a missionary guest house run by the Evangelical Church of Zambia, so we had our own cooking facilities and even television! On Thursday we shopped for groceries and on Friday we cooked our almost authentic American Thanksgiving dinner. We ended up with two small turkeys (both delicious), dressing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole (with homemade onion rings), jello salad, green salad, corn casserole, rolls, pecan pie, and lots of other yummy desserts. No nshima for Thanksgiving, thank you!

Besides feasting together we also had times for sharing views on missions and for devotionals, prayer sessions, and lots of singing. On Saturday we all went into the main shopping center in Lusaka and did more shopping, especially for Christmas. We had five little ones under nine in the group, so the Bruingtons took all the kids for go-cart rides and a movie. David and I also managed to see the new Zorro movie that afternoon. Ah, civilization again, if only for a few days!

We ended our retreat with a special Sunday morning service together and then headed back to Namwianga rested, refreshed, and ready to take on the challenges that are waiting for us.

I did miss our children terribly. Sara went to Arkansas to be with David’s parents for the weekend. Our wonderful Brentwood Oaks church family made sure John was taken care of. God provided for our needs, and we made new memories. We are blessed.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


The missionaries associated with Namwianga are getting together in Lusaka for a retreat Thursday through Sunday. We’ll be sharing this time with Roy and Kathi Merritt, Sheri Sears and daughter Lois, Bart and Stacy Bruington and their three children, and Brian and Sondra Davis and their two boys. We are staying at a missionary guesthouse with kitchen facilities, so we are attempting an American-style Thanksgiving dinner on Friday. This project is quite a challenge! Brian and Sondra Davis found a turkey farmer and purchased a turkey. The last I heard the turkey was still strutting around in his feathers, but by now he may be closer to the roasting stage. We’re all trying to think of traditional dishes that we can find the ingredients for. So far the menu includes turkey and dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, jello salad, green salad, green bean casserole (made with REAL onion rings), cranberry sauce, and pecan pie.

In addition to the feasting, we’ll be having devotional and singing times, study and reflection times, and sessions of prayer. One member of the group is fitting in a doctor’s appointment, and we all will spend time shopping for those items we can only find in Lusaka. The children in our group will enjoy the guesthouse swimming pool. I’m bringing along the dominoes for some serious Mexican Train marathons. It should be a great time of relaxing and recharging ourselves for the tasks we face.

This is always a good time to reflect and give thanks for the bountiful blessings provided by the Father above. Here is my list of a few things I am thankful for:

In a land where people go hungry, we have plenty to eat.

In a land where many people are sick and dying, we are in good health (David is still having headaches from his bout with malaria, but we hope those will end soon)

I miss my children more than I can say, but I am thankful that others are ministering to them and caring for their needs.

In a land where many do not know about Jesus, I give thanks for the heritage of faith passed on to me through my parents.

In a land where education is available only to some, I am thankful for the opportunities I have had to go to school.

In a land far from my home, I give thanks for the many ways that the Brentwood Oaks Church of Christ family and our friends minister to us.

In a land where many have only the clothes on their backs, I give thanks for what I have to wear.

In a land where many are needy, I am thankful to be able to share what I have.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Going Batty

This lovely guy was flying around the room during chapel one day. We watched him grab onto the brick wall and climb straight up using his thumbs. After chapel he decided to hang out near the cafeteria. His body is about the size of a pigeon, and his wingspan is about two feet. Notice his claws hanging on to the bricks. Isn't God's creation amazing?

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Reflections on Our Week

To say we’ve had a tough week would be an understatement. In addition to the shock and grief of Kelly Hamby’s death, David has been sick. He started running a high fever on Wednesday night. He also had achy joints, headache, and a dry cough. Thursday he felt better, but the fever shot back up that night. All the Zambians said, “It’s malaria!” So Friday he went to the clinic and had a blood test. It showed no signs of malaria, so he just came home and went to bed. That afternoon we had a Skype (internet telephony) conversation with Dr. Richard Prather, the interim director of the mission, and I mentioned that David was sick. Less than fifteen minutes later we had a call from Dr. Sid Tate of Searcy, Arkansas. Dr. Tate worked here for three years before returning to the states last February. Dr. Prather had called him and told him about David. Dr. Tate listened to the symptoms and suggested that David start on doxycycline for malaria. He noted that the malaria test is not that reliable unless you are running fever when you have your blood drawn. David started on the medication, and within a few hours started to feel better. He’s now back to good health. We have both been taking a malaria preventative, but obviously it’s not 100% effective. The irony is that I’m the one who gets bitten by mosquitoes all the time!

There were some happier experiences this week as well. On Friday and again on Saturday I took a small group of George Benson Christian College students with me to do Children’s Bible School outreaches. We traveled with Ruhtt Mbomwae to Kitundu on Friday and Simikakata on Saturday. The college students did a great job of teaching, and the children were receptive and delighted to participate. I found the experience of going to the villages and teaching to be very healing for me. I looked out on that sea of children’s faces and thought about Kelly Hamby. He and Ellie are the ones who taught me how to teach the Bible to large groups of children when we worked with them for two years in Hillcrest’s Bible Hour. The curriculum that we use for the children’s program is based on the format that they taught me years ago. I thought, “This is part of Kelly’s legacy in Zambia, and it will live on.”

Today (Sunday) we took a different group of students with us as we traveled north to Siamakuli, a brand-new congregation that started as a result of the medical mission. One student translated for me in the children’s class while others led singing and presided at the communion service. There were two men who wanted to be baptized, so after the worship time was over, David loaded them and others from the congregation into the Land Rover for a three-mile drive to the nearest water hole. Later David reported what happened on the trip. There were six little boys already swimming in the water hole. When they heard the vehicle coming, they jumped out of the water and ran away as fast as they could. Some had been skinnydipping, so they just grabbed their clothes and took off to hide behind a giant anthill until the baptisms were over. David and the Zambians had a great laugh at this!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Kelly's Funeral

Kelly’s Funeral

We have moved through this week in a daze of unbelief, our minds not quite able to comprehend the loss of our mentor, friend, brother, and leader. We have wept with our Zambian friends, and we have wondered how we will move on without Kelly’s patient and competent leadership. In our grief we have found comfort in sharing our memories of his life, and we have rejoiced in the confidence that he is now in a much better place.

On Sunday evening the church that meets on campus hosted a time of sharing in honor of Kelly. Several groups presented songs, and individuals were invited to share memories of Kelly and tell of his impact on their lives. On Monday evening we heard a group of people singing as they walked down the road. We joined them as they went to the Hamby’s veranda for a two-hour session of song, prayer, and short speeches. This gathering ended at seven. Then at nine o’clock the traditional all-night vigil began. A huge fire was built in the back yard of the Hamby’s house, and a group of around 200 spent the night singing, praying, sharing testimonials, and encouraging each other. Leonard Sichimwa, the Hamby’s long-time employee and friend, came by our house the next morning to tell us about the vigil. He was at peace, he said. The vigil, in his words, had “smoothed” him.

Ellie had asked that we use our Skype (internet telephony) system to share the funeral service with the Zambians. We agreed and invited the entire mission to gather at our house to hear and participate in Kelly’s memorial via the Internet. Ray Ferguson had his laptop in the sound room at the Hillcrest church in Abilene, and we had ours set up in our hallway. We connected external speakers to our laptop to amplify the sound, and our wide hallway with its concrete walls and floor provided good acoustics. We opened up all our windows and doors so that those who could not fit inside the house could hear from the veranda and yard. Our other preparation for the service was to pray fervently that the electricity would not go off and that we could maintain a good Internet connection during the time of the funeral.

The Zambians began coming an hour and a half before the funeral was set to begin. The house and the veranda filled quickly. Others who came gathered just outside windows or sat on tarps we had spread out on the yard. I sighed with relief when the sound of K.B. Massingill’s voice boomed clearly through the speakers as the service began in Abilene. The Zambians listened intently to the loving testimonies of Kelly’s life. There were “amens” all around when one speaker stated that even though Kelly’s body was in America, his heart would always be in Zambia.

At Mrs. Hamby’s request, the Zambians sang a Chitonga song that was broadcast to the mourners gathered in the Hillcrest auditorium. Over 450 voices sang in tribute to the man who had meant so much to them. Ten thousand miles away other hearts heard their message of love and support. George Phiri, Zambian superintendent at Namwianga, led the closing prayer.

We feel so blessed that we were able to share in Kelly’s memorial service. The Zambians were thankful, too. As Robby Banda told me, “It meant so much to know that the things we said and felt about Dr. Hamby were the same things that the Americans said and felt.” On two continents both Zambians and Americans shared in celebrating and remembering a life well lived.

Sunday, November 13, 2005


We received word at 9 p.m.our time on Saturday that Dr. Kelly Hamby, the stateside mission superintendent for Namwianga, had suffered a heart attack. We gathered Zambian leaders and friends in our living room to pray. Later that night Ray Ferguson and Cleddy Varner from Abilene notified us that Kelly had taken a turn for the worse and was on artificial life support until his children could arrive. We continued our prayer vigil late into the night.

Early this morning the Zambians began arriving again at our house as we waited for news. Just after 7:15 Ray Ferguson called to let us know that Kelly had passed away. All of us at Namwianga are in shock and deep grief. Kelly had been the leader of this mission in one capacity or another for 25 years. His influence is beyond description.

David and I feel a deep personal loss. We first met Kelly in 1977 when David was in one of Kelly’s classes at ACU. David would come home and tell me what an excellent teacher Dr. Hamby was, and that he wanted me to meet him. Then Kelly invited David to help him with a teacher training workshop. In a few months we were attending the Hillcrest church and became involved with Children’s Bible Hour under the leadership of Kelly and Ellie. For the next two years we spent time together in ministry learning from Kelly and being shaped by him. David considered Kelly to be his first mentor.

We moved to Grand Prairie in full-time ministry in 1979. The following summer Kelly and Ellie made their first summer trip to Zambia. While they were in Africa our infant son became very ill, and we spent our summer in and out of Parkland Children’s Hospital in Dallas. Kelly and Ellie arrived home from Africa on the Saturday our son died. They found out at church on Sunday about his death and immediately traveled from Abilene to Grand Prairie to be with us at the funeral. We will never forget how much that meant to us. It means even more now that we have had first-hand experience with jet lag.

Through the years we heard about their work in Zambia and saw the Hambys in Abilene occasionally. It was at their urging that we first participated in the 1999 Zambia Medical Mission. We brought our children on what we thought would be a once in a lifetime trip to Africa. But Zambia and Namwianga Mission captured our hearts, and we kept coming back. Then in 2002 Kelly told us that our skills could be used in full-time work here. He and Ellie had long talks with us that following year and helped us make the decision to follow God’s call to Zambia.

This summer we were privileged to spend most of June, July, and August with Kelly and Ellie in the work here. We admired again and again the patience, the leadership, and the servant attitude that characterized Kelly’s ministry to the Zambians. All of us here at Namwianga are wondering how we will go on without him. Yet we know that Kelly’s example of following Christ will be our model for the days ahead.

We covet your prayers for the Hamby family, for us, and for the work at Namwianga.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Prayer Request

We just received word this evening that Kelly Hamby, the stateside superintendent of Namwianga Mission, had a heart attack this morning in Abilene. He had a stent placed in his heart late this morning and is now in CCU for a few hours before going to his room. Please join us in praying for a speedy and complete recovery.

Friday, November 11, 2005


The rains came and brought the insects with them. We spent the day in Livingstone on Monday. When we arrived home that night at 7:00, the back veranda resembled a scene from a B-grade horror movie. There were swarms of flying termites as thick as clouds around our back window. David went bravely through them swinging his arms to get the windows closed. Many of the critters managed to get in the house before we could stop them and were crawling all over on the floor. The cat considers all insects to be dinner with wings and was having a field day pouncing and eating. We killed as many as we could but were fighting a losing battle. We figured out that they were attracted by light, so we gave up and went to bed.

The next morning we found a half-inch layer of separated bodies and wings on the veranda floor. Later that day a friend explained that after the first rains the termites engage in these mating flights. They swarm, they mate, and then they die.

Obrien, a young man who works for us, scooped up the bodies and fried them in a coffee can over an open fire. He was eating them like popcorn. David believes in trying things at least once, so he ate a handful, too, and announced that they tasted a lot like smoke-flavored Bacon Bits. He didn’t go back for seconds, however.

The Zambians compare this delicacy to manna, because on the morning after the rain the insects are all over on the ground and porches. This “manna” disappeared after the first day, though, and for that we are grateful!

Evening Surprise

David and I were sitting on the veranda the other night so that some of our friends could have a private conversation inside. We were enjoying the cool night air that came after the rains. We heard beautiful singing coming our way. In a few minutes, Oscar, a young graduate, came into view followed by a group of secondary students.

“Did you come to sing to us?” we asked hopefully.

“No,” Oscar replied, “we came to baptize.”

They sang as they walked around the house to our backyard tank. We watched as Oscar baptized a ninth grade girl. There were hugs and smiles all around, a closing prayer, and then more singing as they went on their way rejoicing.

Sunday, November 06, 2005


Rain! At last! We had scanned the skies daily looking for signs that the seven months of the dry season might finally end. Friday we heard rolling thunder at 2 a.m. and ran to the window to see if the rain was coming. A few flashes of lightning, a sprinkle, and that was all. Then, on Saturday afternoon, the first drops fell, sounding like bullets as they hit our corrugated metal roof. We waited to make sure that this was the real thing and not just another tease. The drops fell harder and harder as the unmistakable smell of rain filled the air. The downpour continued and the noise grew louder with it. We sat out on the veranda to watch the dust become mud and rivulets begin to run through the yard. Two hours later the skies cleared. The air is crisper and cleaner, the heat is lessened, and our spirits are refreshed. We have experienced our first African rain.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Life Without Walmart

In Austin we lived a mile away from a Walmart Superstore. We were quite used to hopping in the car and driving to Walmart for everything from rotisserie chicken to gasoline.

As you can imagine, shopping in rural Zambia is a bit more challenging. A trip to Kalomo for weekly grocery shopping goes something like this. We start out in the Land Rover. Before we get off the mission property, we begin picking up passengers along the road. By the time we've gone a mile, the Land Rover is full. The four-mile trip into Kalomo is on a road that was last maintained during the Reagan presidency, so we bump and jolt along in the dust. We drop our riders off and make our first stop at the post office to pick up our mail. Then it's on to Standard Sales, the Kalomo equivalent of Sam's. That's where we buy our cooking oil, sugar, soap, and boxes of milk in bulk. The checkout process involves one clerk writing out each item and its price in a sales book complete with carbon paper. Then I take the slip to the other end of the counter and pay. The clerk there stamps the sales slip and I take it back down the counter to the first clerk and pick up my goods. Next stop is Choma Milling Company to buy mealie meal in a 50-pound bag. Sometimes there is another stop to find whatever Standard Sales was out of. Then we head to ChiChi hardware for things like nails, twine, and, yes, greeting cards! The produce stand is next, and there I select fresh vegetables, fruit, and eggs when they're available. There are two produce stands across the street from each other, so I usually visit both to get the best selection and price. Last stop is the filling station for the rest of the groceries we need. This store goes by various names, but we tend to call it the BP because it once was a BP station. It's the closest thing Kalomo has to a super market, and it is the size of a very small convenience store in the US. They carry frozen meats, some fresh produce, a few canned goods, and other basic groceries. The prices are outrageous, as one expects in a convenience store, but there is no other place to get most of the items, so I gulp and pay. I can also have them charge to my account. The account book is a school type notebook with Big Chief tablet paper in it. Our name is at the top of a page near the back of the book. The clerk will add up what I've bought and write the total amount of the purchase in the book. Every few weeks I make sure the account is paid up.

Groceries bought, we head for home. We pick up riders along the way and again end up with a full vehicle for the trip back to Namwianga. Sometimes we have their purchases loaded on top of the Land Rover to make room inside for the passengers. We drop off the riders at various spots and then unload our things at home. The process has taken at least two hours and involved stopping at four or five different stores, plus all the stops along the way to pick up and let off passengers. It's not much like Walmart, but it's a whole lot more interesting!

Monday, October 31, 2005

Schlitterbahn, Zambian Style

The afternoon was still and dry with no breeze to cool the stifling heat. I answered a knock on the door and found four little boys ranging from five years to thirteen.

"Please, madam, may we swim in your backyard?"

This was a new thought. The cistern has been used many times for baptisms. We have even brought in a metal stock tank and filled it with water as an additional baptistery. Our young friends saw the opportunity to cool off and have a good time. We agreed to let them swim.

For the next hour we listened to splashing and shrieking as the boys enjoyed the cistern and tank.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Kulenga Outreach

Kulenga is one of the new congregations planted as a result of this summer’s medical mission. During the clinic days at Singwamba, the Kulenga headman came for treatment. He needed hospitalization, so Dr. Hamby provided money and transportation for the headman to be taken to the hospital in Livingstone. Unfortunately, the headman later died, but the village was touched by the kindness shown to him and asked for someone to start a church at Kulenga. Daniel Mweemba, the tireless church leader at Singwamba, took on the challenge, and the Kulenga congregation has been meeting for six weeks now.

We visited this new group last Sunday. Peter Mufwafwa, a teacher at the secondary school, joined us as David’s translator, and Peter’s wife, Mary, also came with us. I asked Vera, one of the secondary pupils, to come along as my translator.

Vera is one of the 38 needy orphans who are able to attend Namwianga Christian Secondary School because a sponsor in the USA pays her tuition. She is the top student in grade 12 and the top math student in the entire school. As if that weren’t enough, her poise and beauty would make her a shoe-in for the Miss Zambia competition. Vera is an outstanding young woman, and I looked forward to getting to know her on this trip.

The jolting, dusty ride into the bush ended at a spot where the congregation was meeting in the shade of a huge tree. Makeshift seating was made of poles laid across v-shaped sticks. A gentle breeze kept the temperature pleasant for the forty or so worshipers.

Since it was a new congregation, we had brought the communion supplies with us. I fixed a cup of watered down wine, tore a chipate (Indian equivalent of a tortilla) into pieces, and communion was ready. Daniel led the meditation at the Lord’s Supper and another young man led the singing.

When David got ready to preach, Vera and I took the 14 children to the shade of another tree for our Bible lesson. As soon as we began, I knew we faced a challenge. Vera, I found out, is from the Lozi tribe, not Tonga, and speaks Nyange as her first language. She only learned Chitonga two years ago. Well, Nyange and Chitonga are similar, so with a little extra time and lots of pointing at the pictures I was using we were able to communicate with the little ones. The children who were school age could understand my English, so they helped the younger ones as well. The hour flew by, and we finished by giving the children a coloring sheet and crayons. This always produces some excitement, especially when I tell them that they can keep the three crayons in the zip lock bag they were given!

After the service and our customary meal of nshima and chicken, we went around one last time to shake hands and say our farewells. When I came to Daniel, I asked him, “How many congregations have you planted since the medical mission?”

He looked apologetic as he answered, “Only five.” This is a man who goes from village to village on his bicycle, who has no telephone, no copy machine, no secretary, no budget, and is paid no salary. Yet he is disappointed that he has only planted five congregations in two months! Praise God for the Daniel Mweembas in the kingdom, and may God raise up many more like him.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Old Man

The first time it happened, I couldn’t believe my ears. Yes, we are in our fifties (EARLY fifties!) and we’ve been married almost thirty years. And, yes, David does have that gray--almost white--hair and beard. But we don’t think of ourselves as being OLD. So I was caught by surprise when I answered the door one morning.
“I want to talk to the old man,” the guy at the door insisted.
My first thought was, “There isn’t an old man here.”
“Who?” I asked him.
“The old man. Your husband.”
My husband? The old man? I laughed out loud. “David, you’re not going to believe this,” I called down the hallway. “This guy wants to talk to the old man, and he means you.”
David took it in stride. It’s happened several times since then. The Zambians respect old age, so it’s actually a compliment to be called old. David’s white hair and beard place him in the aged category, I guess. The average life expectancy in Zambia is around 36, so 50-something is approaching elderly.
Let’s not even think about what will happen when someone comes to the door and asks for “the old woman.”

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Got Diesel

A friend sent us an e-mail suggesting that we have T-shirts printed up with "Got Diesel?" as the slogan. Well, we have got diesel! On Friday a shipment came in to Kalomo. We are filled up and hoping that this time the supply will last.

Even before we knew about the diesel, we had found a way for the college student to get his wife and baby home from Livingstone (see Diesel Blues). Bart Bruington, another missionary, and his family asked if they could borrow our vehicle for a trip to Livingstone on Friday. Bart had found an individual in town that had diesel for sale. So the student rode to Livingstone with them and brought home his wife, mother-in-law, and baby. I love happy endings!

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Anonymous No More

We had only been in Zambia a few weeks when I realized something very startling: I cannot be anonymous over here. In America I had lived in major metropolitan areas my entire adult life, so I had become accustomed to being a nameless face when I drove around or shopped. I was one of a multitude, and my actions were scarcely noticed unless I was in familiar company.

Now, however, by virtue of my skin color I am noticed wherever I go. My vehicle has a Namwianga Mission logo on the side, so when I drive I am further identified. I am the White Lady From Namwianga Mission, and it is impossible for me to blend into the crowd. Someone is always watching my every move.

The scripture in Ephesians 5:15 that warns us to “Be very careful, then, how you live” has a whole new meaning now that I am anonymous no more.


We FINALLY have our own internet connection! The company was supposed to come from Lusaka two weeks ago, but they had no diesel for their truck and couldn't come. On Thursday two guys showed up at 8:30 and had the dish and everything installed by noon. We are thrilled to be back online!

That's the good news. The bad news is that the ONLY place suitable for the satellite dish is in front of the house. Yes, the satellite dish is our newest yard art. I did insist that they move it a little to the side of the house. David assures me that he will landscape around it and hide it from view. I whined for a while, but after getting to talk to our daughter Sara online that night, I decided that a satellite dish in the front yard was a small price to pay for the chance to communicate with my children!

Now we promise to post more regularly and get some pictures put on the blog.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Diesel Blues

There is still no diesel for sale to the general public in Zambia. Many stations are also out of gasoline as well. We were running out of cash, so we used one of our jerry cans of diesel yesterday to make a trip to Choma, the nearest town with an ATM. As we were getting ready to go, I told David, "I'm really looking forward to getting a COKE!" We also hoped that one of the stations in Choma might have some diesel for sale. Well, we did get cash at the ATM and made a visit to the bank. But no stations had diesel. AND, because no trucks have been able to get through, the entire town was out of COKE! I settled for an orange Fanta.

On a more serious note, one of the college students came to us today for help. His wife delivered twins on the 12th in Livingstone. One of the twins was stillborn. The husband came back by bus on Monday, and his wife is staying with friends. She wants to come home, but has no way of getting here. We can't help him because there is no diesel.

We'll keep you posted.

Unique Happenings

I spend time each evening washing dishes by hand. After years of being spoiled by an automatic dishwasher, I expected to find this drudgery. Instead, I discovered that washing dishes and looking out my window is a great time for reflecting on my day and on life in general. On Friday night as I washed the dishes I thought about the many unique things that happen here.

For instance, one of my students missed two days of school this week because she was recovering from the bite of a cobra. How many American teachers had that experience this week?

On Tuesday morning as I walked to class I noticed a steer tied to a tree near the boys’ dorm. At midday I saw a cluster of people under the trees near the cafeteria. That afternoon I looked out my classroom window onto that area and saw that the group was busy carving up a beef carcass. One of the college students paid for her tuition with the steer, and the meat will be used in the cafeteria.

Tuesday evening five male students came to our house to get David. They had found an insane man in a classroom and needed David to help them take him to the police station in Kalomo. They managed to coax and push the man into the back of the Land Rover and got him to the police station. The police refused to accept him, saying that he had been brought in from a village two weeks earlier. The villagers had been unable to control him, so they had chained him to a tree until they could manage to bring him into town. The police told David and the guys to take him to the hospital. There was no one at the hospital with the authority to admit the man, so they took him back to the police station. The police agreed to let the man spend the night and take him to the hospital in the morning. David and the guys bought some food to leave with him before they returned to the campus.

Last week as I taught my evening women’s class, a bat came flying into the classroom. He swooped over our heads for ten minutes or so and then flew back out into the night. The ladies hardly seemed to notice, but I’ll admit that I had to work to concentrate on my lesson.

Turning a water faucet or light switch on is always a bit suspenseful, because we never know if we’ll have water or electricity. We had outages of one or the other or both every day this week.

We invited a friend to dinner Friday night. As we visited over our after dinner tea, we heard a group of people walking past the window. It was Richwell, one of our college students, and his eighth grade Bible class. Four of the young men in the class had decided to be baptized in our backyard cistern. We grabbed flashlights and towels and joined the group to witness this happy event. If you’re keeping track, we’ve now had nine baptisms.

I guess as long as these unique happenings continue, I’ll have plenty to reflect on as I wash the dishes. Think of me when you load your dishwasher next time!

Monday, October 10, 2005

News and Notes - October 10

Still no diesel!!!! The secretary of energy for the country of Zambia was fired last week, we hear. The story on the street is that he planned a trip to Paris in the middle of this fuel crisis. That must have been the last straw, and now he’s out. The government has finally given permission for the fuel companies to import diesel from other countries. Estimates are that diesel will be flowing by the 15th. We shall see! In the meantime, we are staying home. There were no outreaches this weekend except to places that the students could get to on foot or by bicycle.

We have now had five baptisms in our backyard cistern. Two of them were students that David has been studying with. One of the young men was over six feet tall, and the cistern was barely big enough! We built the cistern to catch water for use in the garden, but it has turned out to be very useful as a baptistery.

Long-time residents tell us that October is the worst month to be in this part of Zambia. The temperatures are hot and everything is dry and dusty. It hasn’t rained here since April, and the rains won’t start until late October. The amazing thing is that many of the trees and plants are turning bright green! Somehow they are drawing on deep reserves of moisture. People tell us that by the time the rains come, the countryside will already be green. There’s got to be a sermon in that somewhere!

The jacarandas are another beautiful sight. These very tall trees are covered with bright purple blossoms. The road to Roy Merritt’s house (where we go to send e-mails) is lined with these trees. They form a purple archway, and as the blossoms drop, the dusty road begins to look like it is strewn with jewels.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Eating Customs

Our visits to the villages have taught us the basics of Zambian eating customs. Here are some observations based on our experiences—we don’t claim to be experts yet!

Traditionally men and women do not eat together. Women cook the meal and serve it to the men. Then the women eat in another place. We have seen exceptions to this tradition when large groups are eating together or when I’ve been the only woman in the group of diners.

Dishes of food are placed on a mat or table. A pitcher of water and a bowl are provided for hand washing. The host pours water from the pitcher over the hands of each guest. If there is no specified host, one person pours water from the pitcher over another’s hands into the bowl. Then the pitcher and bowl are passed to the next person.

In our experience, all foods are finger foods. Food is eaten only with one hand—the other is kept clean for passing dishes or serving. Nshima is usually picked up first. Nshima, the staple of the Zambian diet, is made by boiling white cornmeal and water until the mixture very thick. It is eaten by scooping up a handful out of the communal dish and kneading it with fingers into a ball. The nshima then serves as a form of eating utensil as well as food: it can scoop up some foods and can soak up any liquids.

Any food that is not nshima is called “relish.” Common relishes are chicken, goat, beef, cabbage, greens, and kapenta fish (dried minnows similar to anchovies). Usually there is some sort of “soup,” the liquid that the meat was cooked in. Often this soup is a tomato onion mixture, although we have also had delicious soup of chicken broth flavored with curry.

The free-range chicken is usually very flavorful but tough. The common cooking method is to boil the pieces in water for a time to tenderize them and then to fry the chicken in sunflower oil for flavor. The cabbage is fried, usually with added onions. Kapenta fish are a favorite of the Zambians, but most Americans have to acquire a taste. The smell of cooking kapenta is enough to spoil the average person’s appetite, especially if the cooking is done inside. We found that we can eat kapenta (and like it) if it has been cooked outside (so we didn’t smell it) and if it has been cooked with tomato and curry. I think the taste is similar to sardines.

Zambians are a warm and gracious people. Although we are quite comfortable eating nshima with our hands, our hosts sometimes provide us with spoons. Another concession for western guests is to prepare rice instead of or in addition to the nshima, but rice is too expensive for most Zambians to eat on a regular basis.

After the meal, a pitcher of fresh water and a bowl are passed around for hand washing. Sometimes hot tea with milk and sugar is served to conclude the mealtime.

Still No Diesel

Life without diesel seems to be our fate. We are down to our last reserves, and there is no word of hope from the refinery that there will be any diesel available soon. We were supposed to get our internet hookup this week, but the company e-mailed us that they are unable to go anywhere because they have no diesel for their vehicles. Now there is no gasoline available either. I guess we'll be staying close to home for a while!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Just Another Tuesday

I have been thinking about writing a blog entry describing a typical day in Zambia. The difficulty is finding any day that is typical. Instead I’ll just describe last Tuesday.

I was up at 5:00 for quiet time and study. I teach a college women’s class on Tuesday nights, so I spent some time preparing for that. At around 7:00 I was in the kitchen to fix hot water for tea. I opened the kitchen curtains and waved at Bernard, one of the workers who is finishing the water tower in the back yard. We’ve learned to be up and dressed early here! Other men who are working on the fence and water tower began coming in.

At 8:00 I gathered some paperwork for sponsored students and started the rounds of the campus to try to locate the people I needed to talk to. The finance office was still locked, so I went across to the opposite end of the campus to the secondary school and had a meeting with the headmaster and one of the teachers. We finished our meeting in time for me to catch two of the secondary students who need sponsors as they were leaving chapel. I took their pictures and got their information for an upcoming issue of the Kalomo Reporter.

Chapel for the college students was at 9:00. When it ended at 9:30 David and I headed back to the house. We were expecting guests that night, so I spent some time getting the guest bedroom organized and in order. At 10:30 I gathered up more paperwork and met with the principal of the college about sponsored students.

The power went off around noon, so one of the workers built a fire in the backyard to cook nshima and cabbage for lunch. We joined the five workers and ate outside on the veranda.

The afternoon was filled with a steady stream of college students coming to the door and asking what to do about paying the balances due on their accounts. I gave whatever advice I could and promised to try to find help for them to pay for this term if they could work on paying off what they owed for the last two terms. In between students, David and I hung mosquito nets in the guest room and got rid of the last of the packing boxes.

At 4:00 one of the students in David’s Bible class came by. I had meetings scheduled with sponsored students, so David took him back to one of the bedrooms and had a Bible study with him while I met with individual students in the living room and others waited on our veranda. At 5:00 there was a break. The power was still off, so I looked through the refrigerator to find something we could eat that wouldn’t require cooking. We started gathering candles and flashlights. At 5:30 another group of students came by and we talked to them. At 6:00 Patson came by to pick up some papers and luggage for his trip to the US.

The power came on briefly, so we thought we would still be able to have our Bible studies that evening. After my 7:00 class at the college, David was planning to host a Bible study for faculty and staff at our house at 8:00. Around 6:45 the power started to fade again and by 7:00 we were in total darkness. There would be no Bible studies.

We took our flashlights and sat outside on the veranda and watched what little we could see of the darkened campus. A few minutes later the Andrew, the maintenance supervisor, rode up on his motorcycle. There was an electrical line down in Kalomo, he said, and no one in town had flashlights so that they could see to work on it. Could we help? We rounded up our biggest and brightest flashlights to give him and he headed back into town. One of the clinic workers arrived a few minutes later. The power was on at his house, so he thought we would be having our Bible study. He stayed to visit with us for a few minutes.

At 8:30 Brian and Sondra Davis arrived with their two little boys. Brian and Sondra are in the process of moving from Cape Town, South Africa, to northern Zambia to open a new mission work there. We showed them around our darkened house by candlelight and helped them bring in their luggage and start getting settled for the night.

At 9:00 there was a knock on the door. The student David studied with had come to be baptized and had brought seven of his friends with him. We grabbed flashlights and candles and headed out to the backyard. Our brick and concrete in-ground water cistern had just been filled with water. It was big enough for David and his student to climb down into for the baptism. We sang and prayed together after the baptism, and the guys went back to their dorm.

At 10:00 the maintenance supervisor called. The flashlights had worked great, he reported, and the power should be back on in five minutes. We had just climbed into bed when the house flooded with light. Best of all, the electric fans came on again to cool off the hot night. We gave thanks for another day. If we ever have a typical day, I’ll write about that one, too.

News and Notes - September 28

I'm sorry that I ever bragged on our nice weather here. It's over now. The days are hot, still, and dry. It does cool off at night, however. We enjoy sitting out on our veranda to catch whatever breezes we can.

Yesterday we had no power and no water from noon until 10:00 p.m. During that time we had at least twenty people in and out of the house, overnight guests who arrived in the dark, and a baptism in our backyard cistern. I'll write more details later.

I'm hearing from friends and family in Austin about your gas shortage. We've been out of diesel at the stations for over two weeks. We're getting our last reserves from the barrel now. When that's gone, life will get really complicated!

Saturday at Kalundu

“Communication and transportation. Those are the hurdles to face.” A former missionary told me this several years ago. His words rang true all weekend.

Christopher Siatwiko and Jerrie Sichimwa work with several small congregations in the area. They came to us over a month ago and asked David and me to come to Kalundu to conduct an area-wide workshop for Bible school teachers. David was already booked to do medical mission follow-up for the next few weekends, but I offered to come out on Saturday, September 24, and do a two-hour session from 10:00 to 12:00 if I could arrange transportation. Jerrie assured me that Kalundu was not far from where we had done an earlier meeting at Sianongombe, an hour’s drive from Namwianga.

I talked with Bart Bruington who agreed that he would either take me there or let me use his Land Rover for that day. Christopher asked to borrow our bicycle so that he could “organize” the meeting by contacting all the congregations in the area and inviting them. Transportation and communication seemed to be handled.

I should have known better. I knew Christopher’s English was not great, but I thought Jerrie had gotten the message. Christopher and Jerrie showed up on Tuesday before the workshop and presented a letter from the Kalundu church leader. The letter was addressed to Brother Gregersen and Linda and stated that they were looking forward to both of us being with them for Saturday AND Sunday, September 24 and 25. Apparently as Christopher “organized,” he had expanded a two-hour teacher workshop into a two-day meeting with a teacher workshop as one part. I carefully tried to explain that David would NOT be going at all, and that I had only planned to teach on Saturday for two hours. Christopher smiled blankly. Jerrie and Christopher were committed for the two days and I was their transportation out there and back. Couldn’t I help?

I crumbled. I agreed to do the teacher workshop and one women’s class on Saturday. I would come back again on Sunday to teach the children IF I could arrange for a vehicle. I also offered to bring a singing group from the college for Sunday’s service.

In the meantime, Bart’s Land Rover had broken down and couldn’t be repaired until some parts were located. David was taking our Land Rover north to Sicikwalula for a three-day meeting there. I went to Mr. Limba at the Namwianga motor pool and asked if there was a school vehicle and driver available. He assured me that there was a “small van” available and that Donald could drive. The only problem was that the van had no shock absorbers. I asked him how many the van would hold, and he recommended “not more than 10 or 11 since it doesn’t have shocks.” I calculated the numbers I’d have for each trip and thought I was okay.

On Friday morning, things began to get complicated. David was sick in bed with a high fever from strep throat. Donald couldn’t drive, it seems, because he was officiating at a soccer tournament, and no other drivers were available. Mr. Limba said, “No problem, Linda. I’ve seen you drive the Land Rover. You can drive the van.” Hmm. I’d be okay going out there, because Christopher and Jerrie would know the way. But they were staying overnight, so coming back on Saturday afternoon I’d be by myself. I had visions of being lost in the bush, and I remembered the hours by the roadside when we were stranded at Munali Hill with a breakdown. David from his sickbed said absolutely not. I’d have to find someone to go out there and back with me on Saturday.

I was headed into Kalomo about that time when I met Donald on the road. We stopped to visit. He was sorry he couldn’t go, he said, and he offered to contact Mr. Limba about getting someone to accompany me. “How bad is it to drive the vehicle without shocks?” I asked him.

“Oh, it’s not too bad. It’s this one I’m driving here,” he said, and he patted the side of a SINGLE CAB pickup with a camper shell. It seems that Mr. Limba’s idea of a “van” and my idea of a “van” were very different! Most of the “10 or 11” people that Mr. Limba referred to would be riding in the back bed of the pickup.

Soon after I got back from town, Mr. Kunda, a college student, and Maria, a primary teacher, appeared at my door. They would be happy to accompany me on Saturday. Mr. Kunda assured me that he could change a flat tire if necessary, and that he would be able to help me find the way back. Maria just wanted to go along. We were set.

Since David was sick, he wasn’t going to Sicikwalula after all. Bart Bruington would be taking our Land Rover there on Sunday to speak in David’s place, but I could have the Rover for Saturday. At least one of the two trips to Kalundu would be with shock absorbers and real seats!

Jerrie had assured me the trip wouldn’t take more than two hours. Mr. Kunda, Maria, and I set out at 7:30 on Saturday morning. We stopped in Kalomo to pick up Christopher. His wife and aunt, he said, would be joining us “along the way.” We stopped for Jerrie at another village and then turned onto the Kabanga Road.

The Kabanga Road is miles and miles of bone-jarring, teeth-chattering, conversation-stopping washboard. It is the road by which all other roads around Namwianga are evaluated. “Is it as bad as the Kabanga Road?” is the question to ask about any unfamiliar roadway. My hands vibrated on the steering wheel as we jolted along for the first seventeen miles.

Then we turned off the “main” road onto another dirt road. This one was not too bad, but we did have to watch for huge potholes. A few miles later we turned onto an even smaller dirt road and slowed to a crawl. Eventually we crested a hill and headed down into a steep ravine. I held my breath as we approached the bottom and faced the 45-degree slope of the road leading out. “Mr, Kunda, do you know how to set the vehicle for four-wheel drive?” I gasped. He looked down at the knob tentatively and advised, “Just try it in first gear.” I shifted down, gripped the steering wheel, and gunned the accelerator. The Rover lurched up the side of the ravine. My white knuckles relaxed, and I began to breathe normally again.

We stopped to pick up Christopher’s wife, his aunt, and his baby (another surprise). The rest of the almost THREE-hour trip was more of the same: bad roads, potholes, and ravines. For the final mile we drove on a single-lane cow path. Mr. Kunda and I agreed: the school “van” would never have made it.

We climbed out of the Land Rover at Kalundu and were greeted by the church leaders who asked, “Where is Mr. Gregersen?” I looked at Christopher, and again he smiled blankly. The leaders held some whispered conferences to rearrange their plans. They decided to wait for a few more people to arrive before we began the teacher training. I would go ahead and teach the women’s class while Mr. Kunda taught the men. Maria was assigned to take the children and teach them.

We did those classes and then gathered back together for singing. The day wore on. At 1:15 I finally told Jerrie that I had to go ahead and do the teachers’ workshop so I could get home before dark. The men left for a leadership class with Mr. Kunda, and I did the teacher training. The women were excited and responsive about the ideas I shared. They willingly pretended to be children as we did some sample lessons together. When I finished and sat down, several of them took turns thanking me and begging me to come back again.

We ate the customary meal of nshima, chicken, and greens. I tried not to rush, but the minutes were ticking away. At last we said our goodbyes. I warned Jerrie and Christopher that I didn’t know whether or not I could come back on Sunday. It would all depend on whether I could find another vehicle for Bart to take to Sicikwalula. If I couldn’t, then Christopher and Jerrie would have to stay over on Sunday night and I would come back for them on Monday morning. I left extra food for them, and the rest of us set off for another bone-jarring ride back to Namwianga.

We made it home before dark with time to spare. I was relieved to find David feeling better. Bart tried to borrow a vehicle for his trip so I could use the Land Rover on Sunday, but there was none to be had. As I write this on Saturday night, Jerrie and Christopher are stuck at Kalundu until David and I can get back out there. I can’t tell them that, since Kalundu is far out of cell phone range. They’ll figure it out when I don’t show up on Sunday.

It’s all about transportation and communication.

Friday, September 23, 2005

News and Notes - September 23

We have been plagued with inter-net problems. The e-mail account that we use has suddenly decided to do all kinds of crazy things. Our usual procedure had been to go online for just a few minutes every few days and then read and write our e-mails offline. Now we haven’t been able to read anything offline, even the things we opened when we were online. To complicate things even more, the electricity was off at the Merritts where we go to do our e-mails, so we couldn’t even get online for a while. We are trying hard to get our own inter-net service set up, but it is a complicated process that may require another two weeks or so.

We are now teaching at the college. In addition to our regular classes, I am teaching a college women’s Bible study every Tuesday night. David is also teaching a faculty/staff evening Bible study on the book of Nehemiah.

The diesel shortage is keeping life interesting. There is some diesel available in the area, but knowing where and when to find it is a challenge. Our basic method is to fill up at any station that has diesel so we can keep the tank full.

Last week our house was without water for almost three days. Some villagers along the water line had broken the pipe to get water for themselves. Then they let the water pool up around the broken pipe so they could water their animals. We are now prepared in case we have to go without water again. We have a 55-gallon barrel in the corner of our bathroom that we have filled with water for emergencies. Eventually we will have a water tower and tank, but the construction is proceeding slowly.

Last Sunday we attended the grand opening of the newest orphanage in the area. This one is called Seven Fountains and is run by Rod and Sue Calder. Sue loves taking in the youngest babies, so her nursery rooms are full of tiny ones. In addition to orphan care, the Calders also run a large farm, including a dairy herd. We often buy our milk there.

This weekend David and I will be going on outreaches in different directions. David is heading up north to Sicikwalula for a weekend meeting. I am doing a teacher training workshop for an area-wide gathering about an hour east of Namwianga. David gets the Land Rover since he’s going much farther. My transport will be a small van from the school’s motor pool. I’ve already been warned that it has no shock absorbers, so it should be quite a trip. Who needs a Six Flags ride when you can have a real adventure on African bush roads?

Thursday, September 15, 2005


In our August newsletter I described a typical outreach Sunday. For those of you who aren’t on that list, I am repeating the article here. I am also adding news of our most recent outreaches.

Namwianga Mission sends workers out each weekend for outreaches to village congregations in the area. These trips usually involve an early morning start as we drive the Land Rover around the mission and collect Zambian co-workers to go with us. Then we set out on a (usually) long drive over rough roads. When we arrive at the village we are greeted warmly and invited to sit on rough-hewn plank benches inside a mud-brick and thatch church building.

Usually one of the Zambians who came with us gives the communion message and then David preaches. I often take the children outside for a Bible lesson during the preaching. Sometimes the church requests a class after the worship assembly, so David teaches the men and I teach the ladies. A few of the ladies cook all morning over an open fire, and they then serve us a dinner of nshima, chicken or goat meat, and greens.

By three in the afternoon we say our goodbyes and load up again to leave. It’s not uncommon for us to take on a new passenger or two (or TEN) for the return trip, and we often have luggage, bags of groundnuts (peanuts), or a bicycle strapped onto the top rack of the Land Rover.

When we arrive back at the mission our bodies are tired and dusty, but our spirits are refreshed from the fellowship we enjoyed.

On August 27 our outreach was at an area-wide gathering in Dengezu. The five-hour journey was on some of the worst roads we have encountered in Zambia. We were very thankful for four-wheel drive on the Rover. David preached the morning sermon and I did the children’s program. The congregation had built a huge brush arbor to accommodate the 700 plus adults who attended. I had about 180 children in my class. The numbers are astounding when you consider that there were only two motorized vehicles there, both from Namwianga. Everyone else had come on foot, bicycle, or in an ox cart. When we got ready to leave, a group from Zimbabwe asked to ride with us to the main road. We filled the inside of the Land Rover, piled luggage on top, and then four of the young men climbed up on top and held on tight as we bounced and jolted for the next hour. When we dropped them off they still had a long walk to the point where they would catch a bus across the border.

On September 4 we visited another area-wide meeting, this time at Sianombe near Kalomo. David spoke and I did the children’s program. We had 125 adults and 40 children at this gathering.

Last weekend we went to Siomopele for yet another area-wide meeting. This one started on Saturday, so we were there bright and early Saturday morning. David spoke while I taught the children for three hours. That afternoon we taught a class on marriage. We returned to Namwianga for the night and went out again on Sunday morning. David delivered the morning sermon while I had the children. There were nine baptisms.

There are always some surprises at these gatherings. At Dengezu we learned to take our own plates to an area-wide meeting. When there are so many people to feed, dishes are scarce. We ate out of communal bowls there. At Siomopele the church leader came to the children’s program to tell us that the adults were walking to the river for the baptisms and the children would be staying with me. I had already been teaching for three hours that morning, and the baptisms added another hour. Thankfully, the children love to sing, so my translator and I filled most of the time leading songs in both Tonga and English.

When you worship on Sunday morning in America, remember your brothers and sisters in Africa who are also praising and serving the Lord.


At long last we have moved into our new house! It has been so much fun opening boxes that were packed last January. We still have much to do before we’ll be completely settled, but we are thrilled to be here. As soon as we can get out own internet connection we’ll be sending pictures.

From David - Church Planting

I have already had the privilege of helping start a new congregation. The first weekend in September my Zambian co-worker, Rogers Namuswa, and I went out to follow up on some people who were baptized at Singwamba during the medical mission. We left on Friday at noon and drove north into the bush. It was so far back I thought that if the Land Rover broke down I would be wearing a loincloth, eating roots, and talking fluent Chitonga before we made it back. We found a village headman and his wife that we baptized back in July. He was staying at his uncle's village and preparing to move his family farther north into Kafue Game Park to start another village. We met with his family and his uncle's family (thirty people) around the campfire that night. We told them how to start a church. I told the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000. I encouraged them to offer up their knowledge, efforts, and talents to Jesus and watch Him multiply them. We asked Obed, a Christian from a nearby village, to come that Sunday and help them hold their first service out in the bush under the trees. (Both Rogers and I had previous commitments and couldn’t be there.)

That Friday night I tied one end of my hammock to a tree and the other end to the back of the Land Rover and went to sleep with the sounds of hyenas laughing out in the bush. On Saturday morning we did some more teaching and headed back to Namwianga. We distributed Chitonga bibles to four different village congregations as we went along.

This week we learned what happened. The first Sunday the new congregation started with 31 present. There were also some requests for baptism. The next week Rogers and another missionary went for the Sunday gathering. (Again, I had already been asked to speak at an area-wide meeting, so I couldn’t go). There were 54 people for this second Sunday. Thirteen responded to the preaching, and seven were baptized. Rogers had strapped a 6-foot galvanized water trough to the top of the Land Rover to use for the baptisms. Water is scarce this time of the year, so at the water source the Zambians used buckets to fill the trough with enough water for the baptisms.

This new congregation is inside Kafue Game Park, one of the largest game refuges in southern Africa. The kingdom continues to grow in Zambia as God continues to multiply what we offer in time, talents, and effort.

Monday, September 12, 2005

No Diesel Again

We have been able to buy diesel for the past three weeks. Now the news is out that Zambia’s ONE diesel refinery is closing down again for two weeks. We’ve filled all the tanks, jerry cans, and barrels we can find, and we’ll be staying close to home for a while.

Moving? Not Yet!

Well, it’s Sunday and we haven’t spent the night in our new house yet! Life has been one interruption after another for the past week. We spent Monday and Tuesday getting the floors done. Wednesday we moved in all our bigger pieces of furniture (and there aren’t very many). We also spent several hours dealing with people who came by wanting money, piecework, or food. Then on Wednesday afternoon we got word that the president of the Zambian Board was coming into town and wanted to stay with us at the Hamby house Wednesday and Thursday nights. So we put the move on hold. We did go ahead and move in almost all our things on Thursday and I got curtains hung in some of the windows in between dealing with people coming by with messages and requests for help. The man who was to finish the kitchen cabinets had still not come, so we couldn’t unpack the kitchen items. We said we’d try to move on Friday afternoon!
On Friday we had our first staff meeting at the college. It lasted from 9:00 to 1:00. As I returned to the house I received word from the Secondary School that I was to meet with the U. S. sponsored students at 2:00. I’ll write more on this later, but I was interviewing the students who receive money for school from individuals and churches in the U. S. I started at 2:00 and finished a little before 6:00. David came to meet me with the news that one of our Zambian friends was bringing his family to spend the weekend. We weren’t ready for company in the new house, so the move was put on hold again. Our friends arrived at 11:00 Friday night with two of their children and a nephew in tow. Their vehicle was having problems that just got fixed today, so they will be here until Monday.
On Saturday and on Sunday morning we were speaking and teaching at an area-wide meeting out in the bush, so we couldn’t do anything on the house. Sunday afternoon we got home around 2:00 and went down to the new house to do a little more work. We are promising ourselves that we will sleep in the new house Monday night no matter what it takes!

Tuesday, September 06, 2005


We THINK we will move into our house on Wednesday. We've spent the past two days working on the floors. You wouldn't think that waxed concrete should be that difficult, but this is Zambia. Some workers were hired to go in and wax the floors last week. They did. In fact, they waxed right over all the paint drops and spills that were still on the concrete. So we have had anywhere from two to six guys working for two days to remove the wax and remove the paint spills (sandpaper and paint thinner and lots of exertion) and then rewax the floors. I have vague unpleasant memories of waxing floors in my childhood, so this has been quite an education. The wax is put on the floors using a rag or just bare hands. When the wax is dry, the floor has to be polished with a brush and then wiped again with a polishing cloth.

Now that the floors are done, there are just a few more details to be finished. We'll keep you posted.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

God At Work

We arrived in Zambia on June 23 and quickly discovered that God had placed us in the right place at the right time to help World Bible School students.

Ruth Orr, a WBS correspondence teacher from Lewisburg, Tennessee contacted the WBS office in Austin seeking help. She had several students in the prison at Kabwe, Zambia who had requested baptism. Ruth had been unable to find a contact person who could follow up with her students.

Kevin Rhodes of WBS knew we were in Zambia, so he e-mailed us with Ruth’s request for help. We looked up Kabwe on a map of Zambia and found that it was about a seven-hour trip away. We wrote back to Ruth and Kevin, telling them that we would ask our Zambian co-workers for help in getting to the prison. At the time, however, there was no diesel for sale in Zambia, so we didn’t think we’d be able to go there any time soon.

The day after we sent the e-mail to Ruth Orr, I met Louis Seemani, a member of Namwianga Mission’s Zambian board of directors who was here for the board meeting. I asked him where he was from and I was thrilled to hear him say, ‘Kabwe!’ I told him about the need for someone to visit the prison, and he willingly agreed to follow up on the WBS students.

We e-mailed Ruth Orr with the good news, but warned her that things move slowly in Zambia, so it might be some time before Mr. Seemani would be able to contact her students. The following Monday I received a call from Mr. Seemani. He had gone to the Kabwe prison on Sunday and visited four of the units, including Death Row and the maximum security areas. He had found over 100 prisoners who were already baptized believers, and he had made arrangements to go back the following week with a list of Ruth’s students. We are amazed at how God worked through us to help Mrs. Orr and these prisoners! We believe this is another affirmation he has placed us here for His work.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Stranded on Munali Hill

We knew it would happen sooner or later. It was only a matter of time. Our time to be stranded by a vehicle breakdown happened Wednesday. We had taken Patson, one of the Zambian evangelists, into Lusaka to apply for a visa at the American Embassy. We had spent the Tuesday night in Lusaka so that we could be at the embassy before 8:00 a.m. The application and interview took two hours, and then there was grocery shopping to be done. We were ahead of schedule when we left Lusaka at 2:00 in the afternoon, confident that we had plenty of time to complete the five-hour trip before dark.

At 3:30 the battery light came on and the engine started overheating. We were on a narrow two-lane road in the hills of Kafue by then and began looking desperately for a place to pull off where we would also have cell phone service. We finally located a “lay-by” or additional lane added for passing and stopping. As soon as the Land Rover stopped, the unmistakable sound of steam hissing from the radiator hit our ears. Boiling water spewed onto the pavement and ran down the hill. Diagnosis: broken fan belt.

We called Kelly Hamby back at Namwianga. Just an hour earlier, two big yellow school buses from the Mission had passed us on their way into Lusaka, taking women to a three-day meeting. Kelly called the drivers and asked them to bring one of the buses and tow us back to Namwianga. That seemed like a good enough plan, so we settled down to wait for our rescue.

Patson pointed out that we were on Munali Hill and there was a monument just across the road. We walked over and climbed up some steps to the top of a small hill. The marker noted that from this spot David Livingstone had first sighted the Kafue River. The local natives named the spot Munali Hill in honor of Livingstone. Munali means “The Red One.”

Sightseeing completed, we looked for other ways to fill the afternoon. I finished reading the biography of Albert Schweitzer and worked crossword puzzles until the sky began to darken. When the light faded, David, Patson, and I decided to get out of the vehicle and sit on the hillside. We enjoyed long conversations about our families and work at the mission. Patson taught us some Tonga hymns, and the night kept getting darker.

David had bought a newspaper in Lusaka and had read us an article about the night sky. It seems that Mars was going to be more visible this night than it had been in years. We were to look for it on the lower right of the moon. The only catch was that the sighting wouldn’t occur until 10:45. In the meantime there was no moon at all.

A moonless night in Zambia can be described by words like inky, black, and even . . . spooky. We have heard lots of stories about bush animals like lions and leopards. Our rational minds knew that those animals are found only in game parks, but I’ll admit that more than once we jumped up and shone the flashlight into the brush behind us when we heard a noise. We began to scan the road for vehicles coming our way, hoping each time that the lights were those of the big yellow bus coming to get us.

Four hours after we broke down, the bus finally pulled up. Jeremiah, Donald, and Zimba jumped out with the tow bar and (gulp) nothing to use to fasten the tow bar to the vehicles. They’d been searching the stores in Kafue for rope or chain and had no luck. No problem, we say, because we have these great tie-down straps for the Land Rover! The guys set to work fastening the tow bar to the Land Rover, but what’s this? The bus had no towing hitch! There are two yellow buses, you see, and only one has a hitch. I didn’t even want to ask why they chose to bring this one. There was some sort of hook under the bus, so they fastened the tow bar to the hook. This entire process took about an hour, but finally we slowly pulled out and headed up and over Munali Hill.

Donald and Zimba were in the Land Rover. Jeremiah was driving the bus with David, Patson, and I in it. We’d gone less than a mile when Donald started honking the horn. We stopped immediately, and this time there was no shoulder on the road, so were in the roadway. The hook on the bus faced the wrong direction, so the tow bar had already slipped off. The guys got busy trying to work on the situation, and I got busy with the flashlight directing traffic around our vehicles. Let’s just summarize the next hour by saying that I know a lot more about the size of 18-wheeler rigs than I really ever wanted to know. I utilized my favorite coping technique by singing all the verses of “Anywhere with Jesus” a few times.

(Side note to any of my former students who are reading this: I always taught that song to my classes so you would have it in your head when you were out in some dark, scary place and needed to remember some comforting words. It certainly worked for me!)

Once we were moving again, we decided to try a Plan B. We would stop at a village and leave the Land Rover to be picked up in the morning. We stopped at a roadside village. Again the road had no shoulder, so again we were right in the roadway and I was out directing traffic. By this time it was so late at night that there were very few vehicles moving. The dogs in the village announced our arrival, but no one came to greet us. The guys yelled a few times, but decided the villagers were too scared to come out, so we moved on.

Kelly called us at this point and gave us Plan C. John and Shadrach were on their way from Namwianga with a truck. We would find a safe place to leave the Land Rover with Donald in it, and John and Shadrach would come tow it in while the rest of us came on in the bus. By this time the guys had done a good job of getting the tow bar attached to the bus, so on we went. An hour later we limped into Mazabuka and found a deserted filling station. We unhitched the Land Rover and pushed it into a lighted area. Now we had to unload all the groceries from the Land Rover onto the bus. As we were doing this task, we discovered the station wasn’t deserted. It seems there was a night watchman, and he didn’t want us to leave the vehicle there, at least not without some rental fee. Some negotiations ensued, some kwacha went from David’s pocket into the watchman’s pocket, and Donald, Zimba, and the Land Rover stayed while the bus pulled out.

By the way, the moon did eventually come up and we had a spectacular view of Mars.

It was 2:00 a.m. when we arrived back at the mission. Again the groceries were unloaded. We collapsed into bed at 2:30 and slept as only those who have been stranded for hours by the side of a road in rural Zambia can sleep.

John and Shadrach, meanwhile, had taken a fan belt off another Land Rover at the mission before they set out. When they got to Mazabuka, they put that belt on our Land Rover and one of the guys drove the Land Rover home. All of them got in at 6:00 a.m.

The next day David and I marveled at how calmly we had handled the whole situation. Neither one of us had gotten upset or overly worried. We hadn’t snapped at each other or someone else in anger. We decided that this kind of situation is an expected happening when you live where we do and go where we go.

Just another day in Zambia.