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.