Sunday, February 26, 2006

More Outreach News

Today we took the visiting Americans to worship with the Tumango congregation near Namwianga. I had asked three different people if the road to the church building was passable, and all three assured me it was. Well, passable is a relative term. On our way to the church an energetic lady we picked up volunteered to jump out and lead the way through the eight-feet tall grass that hid the path. The trip back out was even more exciting. We got to try out the four-wheel drive when we made a wrong turn and ended up in a creek bed instead of the road.

The worship service itself was worth the trip, however. David preached and had 15 people who responded after the sermon asking for prayers. Sharon, Valerie, and I taught 67 children in the Sunday School class.

Two college groups also went on outreaches today. Richard, one of the college students, stopped David on campus to tell him about his experience. Richard is a new Christian himself and this was one of his first outreaches. He excitedly reported that he had preached this morning and that there had been two baptisms after his sermon. The other outreach group also had four responses. Invariably, the students end their reports with the question, "Where are we going next week?" Such is the contagious nature of Outreach Fever.

News and Notes - February 26

We are enjoying a visit by some members of Zambia Mission's American Board this week. Charles and Sharon Small from Abilene and Allan and Valerie England from Oklahoma City have been on campus since last Sunday.

Tuesday evening I invited the secondary school choir to come to the guest house and sing for the visitors. As usual, the choir was fantastic and I had chill bumps and tears in my eyes. I sometimes wonder if I am the only one so touched by such beautiful music. The Smalls and Englands, however, shared my delight. Sharon is a retired music teacher, and her comment to the students was, "I have heard many groups through the years, but none any better than this one."

The students were thrilled to hear such high praise. Just for fun, I asked them for a show of hands to answer two questions: "How many of you have ever had a music or voice lesson?" and "How many of you can read music?" Not a single hand went up in answer to either question.

I did get many more hands when I asked how many of them were sponsored students. The majority of the choir members are at Namwianga because someone in the US or Canada pays for their tuition and fees. I think the sponsors are making a great investment in the future of the church in Zambia.

Outreach News

I apologize for not getting more written on the blog this week. I tried earlier but couldn't get the internet to cooperate. We have a satellite dish, but in reality our service is barely any better than dial-up in the US. It can take 30 minutes for a blog article to load. Or, as I found yesterday, sometimes we can't get it to load at all.

At any rate, the news from last week's outreaches is worth waiting for. David and I went on the big yellow bus to Zimba. We dropped off a group at Mayoba and another group at the main Zimba congregation. Then we went with about 25 secondary students to the Zimba High School Church. This is another congregation composed entirely of high school students. Our Namwianga students conducted the worship services at all three of these sites.

A smaller bus took another group of secondary students in the opposite direction. They did a double outreach by conducting the worship service in the morning at one congregation and then traveling to a second congregation in the afternoon. This latter group is on a tobacco farm and can't assemble until their work in the fields is done.

Two groups of college students went on walking outreaches last Sunday. Namwianga Christian Basic School also sent a group out on foot, making a total of EIGHT outreaches last Sunday! What a blessing to see so many young people excited about sharing the Word!

Saturday, February 18, 2006

News and Notes - February 18

If you're waiting for news on the pumpkin, you'll have to wait a little longer. My plans for a Valentine's Day jack-o-lantern had to be scrapped. I had invited some of the missionary's kids over on Monday night for a carving party. Then their vehicle broke down. We still didn't have a vehicle, either, so we weren't able to get together. I thought I'd carve the pumpkin on my own on Tuesday, but the power went out at 2 p.m. and was off until the next morning. After cooking dinner outside over an open fire, I was too tired to carve a pumpkin by candlelight. I didn't feel well on Wednesday and Thursday, and David was gone to Lusaka, so the pumpkin survived a few more days. Now I'm out of the mood, so I think I'll wait until I can have some of the kids over to enjoy carving with me. Today we harvested eight more pumpkins, so we have quite a display on our veranda.

The good news of the week is that after months of delays we FINALLY have our new vehicle. David went to Lusaka on Wednesday and spent the obligatory hours of waiting in line at government offices for paperwork to be done. The lines and paperwork continued through Thursday, but finally at 6 p.m. Thursday night the license plates were on and he was able to head home. We now have a Toyota quad-cab pickup. Unlike the Land Rover, the pickup's doors will close and stay shut! We may eventually miss the excitement of the Rover's leaky roof and rattling windows, but for now we are reveling in the dry, quiet interior.

Some day when I'm ready to write a very LONG blog article, I'll explain the details about ordering the vehicle on September 4 with a promised delivery date of mid-October. Here's a tease: Every time we asked the Toyota dealership when the vehicle would be in, they told us, "Two weeks!"

We still don't have the camper shell. The dealership sold it to someone else, even though we paid for it in December. They tell us they'll have another one for us in--two weeks!

Outreach Fever Heats Up!

As I write this on Saturday night, there are FIVE outreach groups preparing to leave tomorrow morning. I had to reserve two buses. The large bus will take three groups and drop them off at congregations along the Zimba road. The small bus is taking a group to another congregation in the opposite direction. Two college groups are walking to their destinations.

Another college group did a door-knocking outreach today to encourage Christians in a nearby village.

Students and teachers keep stopping me on the campus and asking how they can get involved in leading or going on outreaches. This fever may become an epidemic! Praise God for servants who are excited about sharing His Word.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Swinging College Students
Humphrey (left) and Sam are demonstrating the fine art of lawn mowing in Zambia. Here the job is called "slashing" and each young man is wielding a "slasher." Keeping the grass cut is a constant task here at Namwianga. Each group of students spends one class period per week doing grounds duty: slashing, tending the flower beds, or raking. The school supply list at some of the secondary schools includes pens, notebooks, a ruler, and--a slasher!

Just in Time for Valentine's Day

David picked the first pumpkin from our pumpkin patch yesterday. We displayed it on our veranda, and it has become the talk of Namwianga Mission. The Zambians have never seen a pumpkin like this! Their pumpkins are peach colored and much smaller. Our friends are asking us to save some seeds for them to plant. We have big plans for this pumpkin--watch the blog to see what happens to it.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Hanging Out at the High School

Where do 1200 high school students hang their laundry to dry? Anywhere they can find a place! This was one scene at Kalomo High School when we visited last Sunday morning. Every inch of fence surrounding the dorms was covered with laundry.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Nighttime Visitor

These are two shots of our lovely nighttime visitor described in last week's entry called "Things That Go Bump in the Night." This critter is called a dung beetle. It is also nicknamed the SUV bug because of its tendency to roll over easily and get stuck on its back. We find one or two of these on our veranda every morning.

High School Church

We discovered a very unique congregation on Sunday. We took a group of 32 college students into town to meet with the congregation at Kalomo High School. Kalomo High is a government school that serves over 1200 students, and most of them board at the school. The church that meets in the high school is composed ENTIRELY of high school students in grades 10 - 12.

I gathered everyone from the congregation after the service for a photograph (top). Then I asked for a photo of the church leaders. A group of 20 or so quickly posed for me (lower photo). As soon as I took the picture, I asked them, "Are you all students?" They answered, "Yes." I wanted to make sure I understood them. "Do you have ANYONE who works with you who is a teacher or another adult?" "No, we are all students, madam." I was amazed.

The numbers are also amazing. Besides the 32 of us from Namwianga, there were 83 high school students at the morning service. The George Benson college student who organized this outreach proudly told me that he and another student had started this church when they were students at Kalomo High School several years ago.

We talk about young people being the church of tomorrow. At Kalomo High, they are the church—right now.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Things That Go Bump in the Night

Our bike and some garden hoses were stolen during the night a few weeks ago. The bike was chained to a pipe right under our bathroom window, and the hoses were only a few feet away from our open bedroom window. We did hear a little noise at one point, but we thought it was the cat and went back to sleep. We've been more cautious since then and try to check out any unusual sounds we hear during the night.

Last week we both woke up to the sound of footsteps on the rough concrete floor of the carport. We snapped on the lights and looked out the window, expecting to see someone running away. We saw nothing. We turned the lights off and got back in bed.

A few minutes later the footsteps sounded again. This time David yelled, "Go away!" The steps continued at the same slow rate. He yelled again, "What are you doing?" The sound continued. We both looked out the window again, and again we saw nothing. But we could still hear the sound of the slow footsteps on the concrete.

After yelling a few more times with no change in the sounds, David got his robe on and took the big flashlight with him to go outside and have a look. He walked out into the yard--and saw nothing. He shined the flashlight onto the carport--nothing. Both of us could still hear the crunching sound of steps on a rough surface. Then David noticed that there was a huge barrel full of wood shavings near our window. Perhaps some animal had gotten down inside the wood shavings and couldn't get out. We both decided that must be what we were hearing. I had visions of a big snake or rat thrashing around in there. Surely whatever it is will find its way out by morning, we thought, so we climbed back in bed. We set the fan on high to block out the noise and went back to sleep.

The next morning we woke up to the same scratching, crunching sound. David stepped outside to do a daylight investigation, although we had both decided that we would wait for reinforcements before tipping over the barrel. "Linda, come look," he yelled. I wasn't sure I really wanted to look, but I gingerly stepped outside onto the carport. "Here's our intruder," he said as he motioned me over. He pointed down to a cardboard box that was sitting next to the barrel.

The "footsteps" we heard were the scratching and clawing motions of a huge dung beetle as it tried to climb up the wall of the box! The box and the carport amplified the sound sufficiently to make us think we had a serious nighttime visitor.

We released the dung beetle from his cardboard prison and had a good laugh at ourselves.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Outreach Fever

Our Sunday outreaches have taken a different turn the past two weeks. In the fall our focus was to follow up on the congregations that were planted as a result of the medical mission. Now that the rainy season is upon us, we can’t get to those villages because of the road conditions. Even if the roads were okay, our vehicle isn’t. The Land Rover has shaken and rattled over those washboard roads so much that now it needs expensive repairs. We’re waiting on a new vehicle (another LONG story), and we’re not going to sink any more funds into the Rover just now.

We’ve also shifted our focus for this term and are trying to involve more students in the outreach efforts. So, for the last two Sundays we have been “footing,” as the Zambians say. Two weeks ago we took 11 college students with us and walked about an hour to visit the Tumango congregation. Last Sunday I went on another walking outreach with a group of 22 to Mutala, an even farther distance. At both congregations our students conducted the entire service: preaching, teaching, leading the songs, and teaching the children.

It is a joy to see the willingness, enthusiasm, and abilities of these students. They did an excellent job in both places and were invited to come back any time.

The group that formed to go to Mutala was the result of a single chapel announcement and word of mouth. Now more and more people are spreading the word around campus, and others want to join in the outreach effort. When I got back to Namwianga on Sunday afternoon, several students asked, “How was the outreach? Where are you going next week? Can we go with you?”

I’m calling this a case of “Outreach Fever” and hoping that it spreads to many more.