Friday, April 28, 2006

Tons of Fun

It's snack time for Billy, and she insists on having her two bottles of WARM milk every day. (Billy won't drink cold milk.) Sheila Siddle is happy to oblige; after all, she's been taking care of Billy since the baby hippo was just five days old. Hunters shot Billy's mother. Some wildlife rangers found Billy all alone and brought her to Sheila at the Chimfunshi Wildlife Refuge. Sheila bottle fed Billy, and the hippo decided that Sheila would do just fine as her mother. Billy soon became good friends with the dogs on the farm and began following them into the house at night where she liked sleeping on the leather sofa and chewing the cushions if she got hungry. Eventually Billy grew too big to be in the house, and now she lives on her own out in the wild. But she still comes back every day for her two bottles of milk and a big tub of fruits and vegetables. During our visit Billy also jumped in the pool and enjoyed a a long soak.

Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage

DeeDee is an adorable nine-month-old chimp who played with us during our visit to Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage. Like the other 110 chimpanzees at Chimfunshi, DeeDee was rescued by Sheila and David Siddle, the owners of a farm that has become a refuge for animals that are sick or lost. DeeDee lives with the Siddle's daughter and is treated very much like a human baby. She drinks from a bottle, wears diapers, and sleeps in the same bed with her human caregiver! As you can see, DeeDee makes friends easily and seemed to enjoy showing off for us by swinging from my hands or cuddling on David's shoulder.

DeeDee needed to be rescued because the alpha male in her group rejected her. Many of the other rescued chimps have sadder stories. Two chimps were deserted in a zoo that closed. They were found locked in their cage, wading around in two feet of filth. Another large male, Toto, was part of a Chilean circus. He wore an earring and had been taught to smoke and drink beer as part of a sideshow. The Siddles have a world-renowned facility that provides loving and appropriate care for these fascinating creatures.

On the day we stopped at Chimfunshi, we were the only visitors, so we were treated to a very personalized tour that included playing with DeeDee, watching the afternoon "milk break" at the chimp enclosure, and having our lunch in the Siddles' backyard.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Our Zambia Missionaries

These are the missionary families who met in Solwezi last week.
Front row: Lorie French, Vicki (foster child of the Bruingtons), Savanna Bruington, Natasha French, Noah Davis, Lane Bruington, and Ruth Siachobe. Back row: David French, Brian Davis, Bryson Davis, Don Boyd, Rita Boyd, True Bruington, Stacy Bruington, David Gregersen, Bart Bruington, and Sondra Davis.

Now here is a little about each family.
David and Lorie French have been in Zambia since October of 2004. They have opened Mapepe Bible College in Lusaka, a school that trains Zambian church leaders. The school operates only a few months a year during the dry season so that the students can continue their farming activities the rest of the year. Mapepe's aim is to prepare the men to be effective church leaders and church planters who do not have to rely on American financial support. David and Lorie have four children. Natasha was with them on this trip while Karen stayed in Lusaka. Their grown sons are in the US.

Brian and Sondra Davis have been missionaries in Africa for over ten years. Sondra was already working in Benin when they married, and Brian joined her there. Next they worked in Cape Town, South Africa, for several years before deciding to begin the new work at Mumena near Solwezi. Their two sons are Noah, age 6, and Bryson, age 3. All of us except the Bruingtons stayed in the Davis home for four days. They were gracious hosts who made us all feel welcome. Brian and Sondra are supported by Hillcrest in Abilene.

Don and Rita Boyd are Sondra's parents. Don retired from the military, and then they came to Africa in the early 90's. Their first stint was here at Namwianga where Don taught at the secondary and also served as education secretary. Next they went to Cape Town and worked with Brian and Sondra there. Two years ago they returned to the states and built a new house in their home town of Cape Girardeau, Missouri. But when the opportunity to help Brian and Sondra (and be with their adorable grandsons) came up, Don and Rita came back to Africa. Their sponsoring congregation is Cedar Hill.

Bart and Stacy Bruington have been working with us at Namwianga while they considered moving to Mumena and the new project there. We hoped they would stay at Namwianga, but we know they are needed in Solwezi as well. Bart and Stacy have been preparing to be self-suppporting missionaries for several years. They arrived in August with their three children. Stacy is a nurse and Bart is one of those MacGuyver types who can fix anything. We will miss them! Ruth Siachobe began working for them at Namwianga and is now helping them in Solwezi as well.

Others who are part of the team but could not be with us are Roy and Kathi Merritt and Sheri Sears.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Solwezi Gathering

We are in Solwezi, a boomtown in the Northwestern Province of Zambia near the borders of Angola and the Congo. Brian and Sondra Davis are hosting our missionary gathering/retreat here. They are beginning a new work at Mumena, about 45 minutes from Solwezi, and are living in town until their house at Mumena is ready.

Also here are Sondra's parents, Don and Rita Boyd, who are working with them here, Bart and Stacy Bruington from Namwianga, and David and Lorie French who work with Mapepe Bible School in Lusaka. We are enjoying long talks, devotionals, planning and analyzing our work here, and just hanging out with other missionaries.

I really thought I had seen the worst roads Zambia had to offer, but Solwezi wins the prize. The unpaved streets leading to the Davis home would provide inspiration for a Six Flags ride! They even have to use four-wheel drive during the rainy season.

Thursday we drove out to Mumena and looked at the construction going on there. The new work is very exciting. I took lots of pictures and will do a blog on it when we get home.

Today we visited Chimfunshi Animal Orphanage where a family has devoted their farm to rescuing chimpanzees. We spent a fascinating two hours learning about these creatures and the work being done with them.

We will be heading for Lusaka on Monday and on home to Namwianga on Tuesday.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Oh Baby!

John Simuuba is the assistant principal at the secondary school here. He and I have been working on the CD project together. Thursday night at 6:10 I was in the middle of cooking dinner for our weekly meal with Dr. Tate when John dropped off the demo CDs at our house. We chatted a few minutes about which songs should be included on the final work. Then he casually said, "I'm also asking for transport for my wife."

"Oh, where would she like to go?" I asked.

"To the clinic," he replied. I let this sink in a minute and then it hit me.

"She's having the baby?" I asked. He nodded, and I yelled down the hall, "David, go get the truck. Mr. Simuuba's wife is having her baby!" Mr. Simuuba rode home on his bike as David headed out the door to go to their house. The time was 6:15.

Dr. Tate arrived for dinner 6:30 and I explained David's trip to the clinic. He assured me that David Kalimanshila, the clinic officer, was on call. He and I sat down to wait for David to get back so we could have dinner.

Meanwhile, David and the Simuubas had gone first to find Fortune Masiya, the midwife that usually delivers babies at the clinic. Fortune wasn't home, so they stopped at David Kalimanshila's house and asked for him. David, we found out later, was still taking nurses home after a day of bush clinics. Dr. Tate was a long shot, but they tried his house anyway. He, of course, was now at our house. At this point, David pulled out his cell phone and looked for phone numbers to call. He found John Kambulu's number and called him to see if his wife, Tebbia, a nurse at the clinic, could help. John assured him that Tebbia could come, and David, with a sigh of relief, pulled the vehicle up to the front of the clinic.

By this time, Ruth was obviously in hard labor. David remembered those Lemaze classes from many years ago and gave her some coaching on her breathing. When Tebbia didn't arrive right away, David left the truck and started walking around the clinic trying to find somebody who might be available to at least open the doors. He finally found Tebbia, and the two of them went back to the vehicle. There they found that Ruth had moved from the front seat to the back seat, had her back up against the side door and was in position to deliver! David began to panic at this point, but Tebbia assured them that Ruth could walk to the delivery room, and that's what happened.

It was 6:45 when David handed his cell phone over to John Simuuba and headed back to our house. He had just walked in the door at 6:50 and started to tell Dr. Tate and me about his adventure when the phone rang. It was John reporting that Ruth had just delivered a baby girl. We all sighed with relief.

At 8:15 John called again and asked us to come pick them up at the clinic. We did, marveling at the gorgeous new baby in Tebbia's arms.

At church this morning it was announced that the new baby's name is Hope. David thinks that her name is quite appropriate because he was certainly hoping that she would not be born in the back seat of our vehicle!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Bringing in the Sheaves

I thought of the old song title above when I saw these ladies pass in front of our house one evening. They are carrying grass that will be used for thatching roofs or building fences.

Memories of Zambia

Meg Jack is one of the Vanderbilt University doctors who stayed with us in March while doing a rotation at the Namwianga Clinic. She reflected on her experiences in a recent e-mail and agreed to let me share her thoughts on the blog. Meg writes:

Our trip was an emotional roller coaster, challenging our views of what is important in life, how we view money, our roles as physicians, and much more. I am most struck by how gracious the Zambians are and the true beauty that emanates from their faces in the midst of poverty and death. Though I will never be able to walk in their shoes and fully know how they feel, it boggles my mind that they seem much happier and content with their daily lives than many American--despite their daily struggles of facing illness, a lack of food and sanitation, and death. They don't complain, few tears are shed, and they continue to smile, put their best foot forward, and praise God for all that they have. How can that be? Maybe it is because they don't know any better, maybe it's due to the fact that they live each day to its fullest because they truly don't know if it's going to be their last, maybe it's because God knows their situation and gives them the gift of unconditional love and happiness. Whatever the reason, I will always be in awe with a permanent place in my heart for the Zambian people. I will continue to strive for that type of peace in my heart and a daily appreciation for being so incredibly fortunate.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Sandy Hill Farm

A blog entry from David this time.

Sunday afternoon I returned to the Sandy Hill Commercial Farm for a visit with the young church established only six weeks ago. With me were six young men and two young women, all students at the college or secondary. We arrived around three p.m. after slowly driving the truck through the maze of mud and thatch huts belonging to the five hundred workers and their families. We were welcomed by smiles and waves. When we arrived at the far end of the village where a clearing has been made for the church gatherings, 50 children were singing the Chitonga song "He Will Lead Us," a beautiful melody that Linda and I have come to love. No adult had arrived yet, but the children were there and waiting. They were "wearing" the crafts that Linda and her helpers had done with them on previous visits: "Jesus Loves Me" visors and fish necklaces. The children wore them proudly and it is a given that they will take care of them. It touched my heart that they were waiting for us and singing as we arrived. Jesus' command, "Let the little children come to me," pierced my heart at that moment, and I said to Him, "They're here, Lord."

A combination of village men and students led the worship. I was asked to preach and encouraged them from Paul's prayer in Ephesians 1:18-21.

The church had organized a singing group, their first one, and they wanted to sing to the Lord and the church after the service. They came to the front of the clearing and with the sun setting behind them made a joyful noise to the Lord.

Before the church dispersed for the day, it was announced that two sisters were sick and could not join us for worship. One of the leaders said, "We are going to walk to their huts and pray for them." Singing as we went, we found the women and prayed for their healing.

As the congregation escorted us back to the truck, I gazed on the many huts in this village and longed for all our friends and supporters to see what I was seeing. And then I thanked the Father above and our Savior for all those who partner with us as we minister at the "edges of the kingdom."

Friday, April 07, 2006

How Many Zambians?

This was the group of guys who rode with me to Siabalumbi. There were four in the cab with me and these TEN in the back. I thought that we were completely full, but when we arrived back at Namwianga in the afternoon and unloaded, I found that another lady had also come along as a passenger for the return trip. This led me to do an anecdotal study to answer the burning question: How many Zambians can fit into one vehicle?

You guessed it! ONE MORE!

Siabalumbi Outreach

Last Saturday Ruhtt Mbomwae and I took this group of college guys with us to do an outreach at Siabalumbi. I've seen many beautiful places in Zambia, but none more beautiful than Siabalumbi. The school and church are set on a ridge overlooking a lush green valley that resembles a scene from a National Geographic documentary. (Even after nine months here, I still have to pinch myself sometimes to believe that I'm actually in AFRICA seeing places like this!)

The church and school building are brand new and were built with donated funds and community labor. Ruhtt is the administrator for this school as well as five other community schools in the area around Namwianga.

As usual when I go out with Ruhtt, the day was packed with activities. I did teacher training and then taught two ladies' classes back to back. The college guys taught adult and youth classes. Later in the day they organized some games and activities for the young people. After the final sermon, we trekked a mile down into the valley to the river for four baptisms. Ruhtt closed the day by distributing clothing to the community. I estimated the attendance at around 500.