Saturday, September 30, 2006


Watching the elections in Zambia as an observer has been fascinating. Almost half of our students were absent from class on Wednesday afternoon because they had to travel to their homes to vote in their home districts. There were no classes on Thursday because it was election day.

It looks like the opposition party has swept into power. As the results trickle in, Michael Sata appears to be winning. Sata is a man the news media labels a "firebrand." His other nickname is "King Cobra." We were concerned about news reports in which he praises Mugabe of Zimbabwe for getting rid of Western influence. However, we were in Livingstone over the weekend and heard from a man who knew Sata when Sata was mayor of Lusaka. He says Sata is hard-working and did a good job in his other government roles. We will hope and pray for the best.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Tiny Visitor

Here is baby Sarah stretched out on the mosquito net for a little nap. Lauren brought Sarah home to spend the night on Wednesday because Sarah was not doing well. She had a fever, cough, and labored breathing. It was painful to watch her struggle, and we were all worried about her. Lauren was up with her off and on all night trying to keep her fever down and make sure that Sarah got enough fluids. At 5:00 this morning her fever broke, and she has perked up today. She's back at The Haven now in her own bed. Sarah's life has been marked with close calls like this one. Please keep her in your prayers.

Lauren's blog has some great pictures that show Sarah's tiny hands and feet. You can click on the title above and visit her site.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Elections Zambia: Upcoming Elections
Thursday is election day in Zambia. There are political rallies everywhere. Candidates have given out campaign chitenges (women's skirts), and posters plaster the fences and the outside walls of public buildings.

Some of the campaign activities have been rowdy. The American Embassy sent a warning to all Americans living in Zambia to stay out of certain parts of the capital city of Lusaka. Traffic has been stopped at major intersections by unruly mobs, and parts of the main city market have been burned.

There will be no school on Election Day, and most businesses will be closed. We are watching all this with great interest.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Sarah's Story Continued

The trip to Livingstone exhausted both Lauren and Sarah, so both needed a nap on the way home in the bus. Sweet Sarah is one of the most beautiful babies I've ever seen, and she is definitely the smallest I've ever handled. Her features are delicate, her eyes wide, her expressions sweet. Her tiny hands are the size of quarters.

Sarah has struggled to survive since her birth four months ago. There have been times when Lauren and the other workers at The Haven thought she wouldn't live to see another day. Miraculously, she hangs on and is showing some improvement.

Sarah has some things going for her. First of all, she's a fighter. She seems to have the will to live. She balls up her tiny fists in pain but hangs in there. Second, Sarah has people praying for her. The Haven's housemother Cecelia has spent hours on her knees pleading for God to spare this baby. Lauren's blog readers and some of you who read this blog are praying for her. Third, as of today, Sarah has some new medicine to help her fight off infections. But one of Sarah's most important assets is Lauren. It was love at first sight for these two, and Lauren has tenaciously adored and cared for this baby from day one. For a time, Sarah refused to eat unless Lauren gave her the bottle. Lauren cuddles, kisses, and coos with Sarah every chance she gets. It was Lauren who began the search for doctors or programs that might help Sarah, and that search paid off in today's visit to the doctor and the new medicine she's getting. It's obvious that Lauren and Sarah have a special bond, and it is a joy to watch them together. It takes courage to love someone like Sarah when she may not live to return that love. It takes courage to risk a broken heart.

Shopping with Sarah

Tiny Sarah is one of the babies from the Haven. She's four months old and weighs only 5.2 pounds! She is tiny, frail, and absolutely gorgeous. Today Lauren and I drove to Livingstone with Kathi Merritt and Cecilia Siafwiyo (The Haven's housemother) to take Sarah and another baby to the doctor. Afterward we made a stop at the brand new, modern Spar supermarket. Tiny Sarah fit quite nicely in the basket and seemed to enjoy all the attention she got from the other customers. You'll notice that the box of cornflakes is bigger than she is!

Study Hall

My college English students have a term paper due on October 4. I allow them to use my personal books as long as they do their research on our veranda. This has been a typical scene at our house lately.

Sign of the Times

Lauren had a craftsman in Livingstone carve this sign for us. We have it hung above the computer desk in our hallway.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Mukaziwa Outreach Group

Here are photos of our Mukaziwa outreach group from GBCC. In the lower photo, Lauren is teaching the children's class with Kelvin and Shadreck. These two young men are extremely talented with children. It is a joy to watch their animation and excitement. Shadreck is also the director of the college choir.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Mukaziwa Outreach

Last Sunday Lauren and I went on an outreach with the Heavenly Echoes choir from the college. (David and Rodgers were doing medical mission follow up somewhere else.) I had arranged for the group to take the Coaster bus which has seating for 24 people in addition to the driver. I explained to the person who was in charge that Lauren and I were going as well as two Zambian evangelists who had just planted the congregation, and that he should recruit up to 20 others who would go along. In typical Zambian fashion, we managed to cram a few more than the 24 seats were made for, but no one seemed to mind doubling up.

Our destination was Mukaziwa, a commercial farm a few kilometers away from Sandy Hill. A church had been started there in the 90's, but it died out until just last week when one of the Zambian bicycle evangelists planted a new congregation there. Our outreach group was there to encourage the new group on its second meeting date.

Lauren and I got two of the college guys to help us translate for the children's class, and we did the children's class before the regular service began. The college students conducted the entire morning worship assembly. Then the special singing began. The Heavenly Echoes were first with five of their songs. Next came "Fishers of Men," a group of six college guys who are also in the Heavenly Echoes. Finally, the Mukaziwa women shared their own gift of song.

The church leaders insisted that we stay for chibwantu, "the brew you chew" made from maize and "certain roots of the forest." The Zambians love this drink that looks like milk with clumps of cornmeal. I've tried it many times but still haven't developed a real taste for it. Lauren and I had our water bottles anyway, and no one seemed to mind.

It was 2:30 before we arrived home--tired, dusty, and starving, but renewed in spirit by the fellowship we shared with the college students and our fellow Christians at Mukaziwa.

Saturday, September 16, 2006


Emmanuel is one of the church leaders at Chiili and was the organizer of the sessions during our outreach last weekend. When we arrived on Friday afternoon, Emmanuel told David that a baby boy had been born to one of Emmanuel's relatives on the day that David was at Chiili in June. The baby, Emmanuel reported, was given the name David Gregersen!

At 3:00 on Saturday morning there was a loud knocking on the door of the men's dorm room. It was Emmanuel waking them up to report on his wife. She had just delivered a baby girl, he said, and already they had named it Linda Gregersen.

We didn't get to meet either of these two little ones, but I'm sure we will when we visit Chiili again. I can hardly wait!

Life in Chiili

Shown here is Jane, the headmistress of Chiili Middle Basic School. Jane was the driving force in getting a new congregation planted in the Chiili community. The school where the church meets was started in 1996, and Jane has been its only headmistress. When the school opened, she lived 17 kilometers away. She walked to school most days, although when she could afford fuel she rode her motorbike. On days when she walked, she left before sunrise and returned after the sun had set. Five years ago a house was built for her next to the school so she no longer has to commute.

On our outreach last weekend, Jane scheduled a meeting with us to discuss the challenges that the Chiili community faces. In her student body of 430 children in grades 1-8, there are 90 children who have lost at least one parent. Sixty of these are double orphans--both of their parents have died. Many of these are being raised by elderly grandparents who can barely manage to provide basic necessities. After grade 8, students from Chiili who want to continue learning must attend boarding school in Zimba or Kalomo. This is an expense that few from this poor community can afford.

There is no health facility within 20 kilometers of Chiili. Women who are in labor sometimes deliver on the way to Nyawa, the nearest clinic. Sick children must be carried the entire distance. The Chiili community desperately wants the medical mission to use their school as a site for a two-day clinic, but the roads are so rugged that the vehicles could never make it.

In spite of these challenges, Jane is accomplishing good things. She has a positive attitude and works tirelessly to get resources for her school and community. In a land of constant challenges, Jane is doing what she can. God asks no more from any of us.

Thursday, September 14, 2006


Meet Cliff Meninga, or Cowboy George, as we nicknamed him on our outreach last weekend. Cliff is a young single man who teaches in the remote village of Chiili. Lauren, Dena, and I taught children's classes there on Saturday and Sunday, and Cliff served as our translator. The children obviously adore him--everywhere he goes, one of them comes up to take his hand or sit on his lap.

There are just six teachers at Chiili, and Cliff is the only single teacher. He leads a lonely life, living far away from his family and girlfriend. His "apartment" consists of one room sandwiched between the dorm rooms for boys and girls. He has no electricity or running water and cooks all his meals over an open fire next to the dorm. I asked him how he spends his evenings. His reply was, "I read and study my Bible, and I pray."

Our weekend outreach was a welcome time for Cliff to enjoy some fun and fellowship. As you can see in the photo above, we introduced him to s'mores. Dena Moore had read on our blog about making s'mores for Obrien and Victor, so she thoughtfully stuck the needed ingredients in her luggage. Cliff had never roasted a marshmallow--or even eaten one--and he seemed to enjoy the experience.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Springtime on the Savanna

Our drives into the bush allow plenty of time to enjoy the scenery--we seldom get out of first gear on the rough roads. Lately we've been fascinated by the spring flowers that are sprouting up everywhere. Their fresh beauty is even more remarkable because there has not been a drop of rain since mid-April. We can't stop wondering how the dry, parched earth can suddenly burst into bloom.

Cooking Nshima

Our meals this weekend were prepared and served by Hilda, shown here with Dena Moore. Hilda cooked outside in her outdoor kitchen and then brought the food inside to serve us in her living room.

Dena and Lauren wanted to learn how to cook nshima, so Hilda let them help her on Sunday. They discovered that cooking a big pot of nshima over an open fire is not easy!

In addition to taking care of her husband and four children, Hilda is now going back to school to complete grade eight. Her husband is one of her teachers, she told us. Jane, the headmistress of the school, showed me Hilda's most recent report card and bragged on Hilda's academic progress.

Chiili Group

Here is the group that worked this weekend at Chiili. Back row: Rodgers Namuswa from Namwianga; Jane, the headmistress for the school at Chiili; Lauren; Dena Moore from Russellville, Arkansas; David. Front row: Cliff Meninga, teacher at Chiili and our translator for children's classes; Daniel Mweemba, church planter; and Pastor (Pastor is his first name and I don't know his last name), church leader from a village near Nyawa.

All of us except Jane stayed in the school's dormitory. Since the village serves a large area, even the young students board at the school during the week and go home for the weekends. There are two large rooms (about 15 ft. x 15), one for boys and one for girls. Cliff, who teaches at the school, lives in a small room between the larger rooms. There was no electricity or running water, but we did have metal beds with mattresses.

The Road to Chiili

We thought you might like to see the kind of roads we drove on to get to Chiili (pronounced Chee-lee) this weekend.

Remote is an appropriate word to describe Chiili. The village consists of a handful of tiny shops and a school that goes up to grade 8. It is only 5 kilometers from the southern edge of Kafue Game Park, one of the largest in Africa. Nyawa, the nearest town of any size, is 20 kilometers away. There are no motorized vehicles in Chiili, so the villagers must walk, ride a bike, or rely on the trucks that come in twice a week. One truck arrives on Sunday and leaves again on Monday; another comes in on Wednesday and leaves on Thursday.

Since the school only goes up to eighth grade, the students in the area must go to Zimba (70 kilometers) or Kalomo (120 kilometers) for boarding school in grades nine and up.

Roads like the one shown here are nearly impassable during the rainy season. We were told that the trucks do continue to come during the rainy season, but they often require an entire day just to get to Nyawa.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Campfire Bible Study Photo

David is shown here teaching the campfire Bible study at Sandy Hill Farm on Thursday night. Rodgers, shown in the lower right corner, served as translator.

Bush Tales

Here is a brief description of trips we’ve taken this week and one we’re headed out for:

Last Sunday we went to Mumbuyu to participate in the ordination of elders and deacons at that congregation. The trip was three hours one way over some really awful roads. Lauren and I joked about wearing hard hats or football helmets as protection against the jolting and bumping we were enduring in the back seat. That was BEFORE we hit a really bad pothole and my head slammed against the side window. I saw stars for several minutes and had a headache for an hour or so. The worship service was worth the trip, however, and we were glad to be there for it.

On Wednesday I did another teacher training class for 47 women from four congregations who gathered at the Mulala church. I asked Rodgers how far the ladies might have walked to come to these sessions. His estimate was that those who came the farthest had walked five miles. That’s especially impressive since most of them were carrying babies on their backs.

Thursday night David did a campfire Bible study at Sandy Hill. The highlight of that trip was sighting a civet cat on the road to the farm.

On Friday we are headed for Chiili to camp for the weekend and encourage the new congregation that was planted there in June. Our group will include Lauren, three of our Zambian co-workers, and Dena Moore, a visitor from Russellville, Arkansas. Dena will only be here for a couple of weeks, so we thought this would be a good way to introduce her to the real Zambian bush. It’s a grueling five-hour trip to Chiili, so she may get more of an experience than she wants! Keep us in your prayers.

Everyday Hero

Bernard Mweenda came by yesterday to get an outreach bike. Now that he has wheels, he will be visiting the Kalomo Prison and holding Bible studies with the inmates there. Bernard and others like him are spreading the gospel all over this area.

Monday, September 04, 2006

More Teacher Training

Last Thursday Rodgers and I went out again to do teacher training. This time 77 women from six different congregations filled the church building at Kauwe. Again the response was enthusiastic as we challenged them to teach children the Word of God.

On Sunday afternoon we visited a leader of one of the participating churches. He and his wife proudly told us that their daughter-in-law had taught the Sunday School class that morning.

Of Snow Cones and Missionary's Kids

Lauren and I were preparing ice the other day using our usual zamgenuity. We never have enough ice cube trays, so we freeze ice in cardboard milk containers and then crush it (or pulverize it) using a meat tenderizer. Lauren commented that the result looked like snow cone ice. Later that day I found a recipe in Southern Living for snow cone syrup—one of the few recipes that we actually had the correct ingredients to make. I even had some cone-shaped cups left from a previous medical mission. All we needed were two little boys. . .

Noah and Bryson Davis came a day or two later with parents Brian and Sondra Davis. These Missionary’s Kids from Northwestern Zambia have won our hearts with their good manners and delightful personalities. We were glad to be able to introduce them to their very first snow cones!

On a more serious note, I have the greatest respect for the missionaries who raise their children in the mission field, especially in a developing nation. There are parenting challenges that we never even thought about in the US. Education is a big hurdle, as most missionaries must either home school or send their kids off to boarding school. Medical care is another huge issue. A major medical crisis would require air evacuation to Johannesburg, South Africa, and that would take at least 24 hours. Brian and Sondra and other missionaries here take these challenges in stride with great commitment to the work and faith in God’s promise to provide for the needs of their children. They are a blessing.