Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Update - December 26

On Sunday we made a presentation at Brentwood Oaks, our sponsoring congregation. As we talked about the things we are doing, we mentioned repeatedly the many ways that BOCC supports the efforts at Namwianga. We are so blessed to have such a generous and caring church family.

On the 17th we shared our work with the church at Salado, a town about an hour north of Austin. This congregation has a heart for children at Namwianga. Their members now support six babies at The Haven orphanage and seven high school and college students.

The meals, parties, and gatherings continue as we meet with individuals and small groups to talk about our work. On the 27th we are heading for Missouri to spend a few days with my family. David is scheduled to speak at the Mt. Vernon church on Sunday the 31st. Then we'll go to Searcy for another visit with David's parents before coming back to Austin the first weekend in January. We return to Zambia on January 9.


Here's our family photo taken on Christmas Eve. For those of you who don't know us, here's some information on Sara and John. Sara graduated from Harding University in 2004. She now teaches math at a middle school in Tulsa, Oklahoma. John lives in Austin and works for an electrical supply company.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Update - December 16

We enjoyed a quiet two days with David's parents in Searcy and then returned to Austin on Wednesday. We both managed to come down with head colds and have been miserable. I ended up having to back out on a couple of events Thursday so I could stay in and recuperate. The irony is that I spent 18 months in Africa without ever having to miss a day of work, and then came back to the US and got sick! We're both doing better now and hopefully have revived our immunity to American viruses.

Here are a few more things I am appreciating about American life:
Organization and efficiency -- I'm amazed at how quickly I can get things done here.
Medical care -- I've had three medical appointments this week. I would have taken that for granted before, but now I realize what an incredible blessing it is to have so much knowledge, skill, and technology available just a few minutes away. At Namwianga I would have had to fly to Johannesburg, South Africa, to get comparable medical care.
The highways -- I know I've mentioned this before, but I still can't take for granted the smooth, wide roads. And driving at night! In Zambia we try to stay off the roads after dark because of the narrow roads, ubiquitous pedestrians, and straying wild animals. Here we can drive at night, opening up a whole new world of possibilities.

And yet I miss my life at Namwianga.
I miss the sunrises and sunsets--God's artwork on daily display. David and I usually watch the sunrise on our morning walk and then enjoy the sunset from our veranda. Here I've been too preoccupied to notice them.
I miss the simplicity of having fewer choices to make.
I miss our co-workers, both Zambian and American. I wonder how they are doing and long to catch up on the news from the Mission.

I realized yesterday that I have changed from my time in Africa. God has used the many experiences, frustrations, and faith experiences of the past year and a half to do some needed work on my attitudes. I was having some tests done at a lab yesterday and ended up waiting for the better part of two hours because of a scheduling problem and a computer failure. Part of that time I was lying in a darkened room and couldn't even enjoy the novel I'd brought along. The lab tech came in at one point to apologize, and I assured her that I was just fine. I meant what I said. I wasn't impatient, angry, or irritated. In fact, I just enjoyed the quiet and the rest as a good time to pray and meditate. My pre-Africa attitude would have been total frustration as I would have mentally listed all the things I could have and should have been doing during that time. Thank you, Lord, for teaching me the joy of waiting patiently. I still have a long way to go in that area, but I'm very grateful for small steps.

I am constantly reminded of the Zambian saying "Ciindi Coonse Leza Mubotu." All the time, God is good.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Update on Activities - December 9

One week now in the USA and we are still reveling in long, hot showers, delicious food, and smooth roads. We’ve managed to readjust to American culture quite well so far. I won’t even mention how many times I’ve already been to Wal-Mart . . .

The members at our sponsoring congregation, Brentwood Oaks, have been wonderful in welcoming us back and treating us like royalty. We have been hosted for breakfast, lunch, and dinner almost every day this week--and have the extra pounds to show for it. We returned to Brentwood Christian School to do chapel presentations on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday. Wednesday I spoke for Ladies’ Bible Class and enjoyed their monthly potluck dinner with them. We’ve met with World Bible School teachers, the elders, and the mission committee. Thursday night was the BCS Partnership Dinner, and we were able to enjoy that with our son John and other dear friends.

John has been with us for at least a short time every day and it has been a joy to get caught up with him and once again appreciate his wonderful sense of humor. I reserved one night this week to prepare a home-cooked meal for him including his favorites: fried chicken strips, mashed potatoes and gravy, and chocolate oatmeal no-bake cookies.

Now we’re taking a breather from all the hectic activity and visiting Sara in Tulsa. We arrived Friday afternoon and met her at Foster Middle School where she teaches pre-algebra. She introduced us to her principal who made us extremely proud by telling us what a fantastic teacher Sara is. Then we visited her classroom and saw the incredible technology she has at her fingertips—a Smart Board that projects directly from her computer or from a slate she can carry around the room and write on. We tried not to be jealous!

Sunday after church we’re heading for Searcy, Arkansas, to spend a couple of days with David’s parents.

We received one piece of very sad news from Namwianga. Our friend and co-worker, John Kambulu, died on Wednesday morning. He worked with us for years on the medical mission and always impressed us with his great smile, gorgeous singing voice, and kind spirit. John leaves behind a wife and three children. We grieve from afar, wishing we could be there to share this time with John’s family and with our other friends who grieve for him. Please keep the Kambulu family in your prayers.

Monday, December 04, 2006

You Know You're Back in Texas When

One of our favorite moments on the trip back to America occurred in the Dallas airport. We were in the Passport Control area waiting to go through Immigration. The employees were wearing cowboy hats with their official vests-- a welcome sight for us. As we approached the row of booths wondering where we should go next, a white-haired lady in a hat and vest called out, "Now just move on down there 'til they holler atcha!" Ah, it's good to be back in Texas!

Here are some other "new" sights and experiences we've had in the last three days:
Paved roads
Paved roads without potholes
Roads with more than two lanes
Beautiful homes that are not surrounded by concrete walls topped with barbed wire or broken glass
Parking lots--lots and lots of parking lots! (We are accustomed to having the ONLY vehicle parked outside the church building--when there is a church building.)
Hugs, hugs, and more hugs--Zambians do not customarily hug, so we've gotten more hugs in these few days than we had in the previous year and a half.
Padded church pews (ahhhhhh)
Clean public restrooms with toilet paper
Sleeping without a mosquito net (another ahhhhh)
A nice, thick Sunday newspaper

Back in the USA

I apologize for not updating the blog sooner! We have been on three continents in the last week and have been incredibly busy.

Lauren, David, and I left last Monday and drove to Lusaka. We spent the night in Lusaka and caught a flight to London on Tuesday. We stayed with my niece and her husband in London while we saw the sights of London on Wednesday and Thursday. Our whirlwind tour included Westminster Abbey, the London Eye, Shakespeare's Globe Theater, the Tower of London, National Gallery, and the British Museum.

On Friday we flew from London to Dallas where Lauren left us to head for Arkansas. David and Karan Bridgwater, dear friends from Zambia Medical Mission, met us at the airport and took us straight to David Bridgwater's dental office. David (Gregersen) went from a cramped airliner seat to the dentist's chair. He had broken off a tooth last summer, and David Bridgwater volunteered to work on it when we came back to the states. David got his tooth pulled and then the Bridgwaters took us out for real American-style hamburgers.

Michele Broadway came from Austin and picked us up. We'll be staying with Michele and her husband Mark during our time in Austin.

We spent Saturday afternoon with our son John. Saturday night we met several couples in Salado for dinner at the Stagecoach Inn. It was a wonderful time of getting caught up on family events and news as we enjoyed our meal together.

Today (Sunday) was a joyful time of reunion with our church family at Brentwood Oaks. We were reminded once again of how blessed we are to have such a loving, caring, and prayerful supporting congregation.

That's the best I can do in my bleary-eyed state of jet lag. More to come!