Saturday, March 31, 2007

Henhouse Update

Petronella, our first hen, has now been sitting on her eggs for two weeks. Citronella, another hen, took over the adjacent nest and has been faithfully sitting on eggs as well. Both have been faithful to their task and seldom leave their nests. Petronella, though, apparently needed a break and spent most of Saturday running around the yard with the rooster and two other younger hens. Citronella for some reason moved from her own nest and sat on Petronella's eggs all day, leaving her own to grow cold. Petronella decided to come back late in the afternoon. I'm not sure what happened, but for some time Citronella refused to move and the two hens were sitting in the same nest. By evening Citronella had returned to her own nest and the two hens were back in their rightful places. I'd love to know the chicken psychology of what's happening with these two. Any experienced chicken farmers who are out there, please enlighten us!

Everyday Hero

One of the everyday heroes here at Namwianga is Sheri Sears. Sheri has been teaching at Namwianga since 1979. Currently she is the head of the English department at George Benson Christian College, so she and I work closely together. Sheri has two adopted Zambian daughters, now ages 18 and 21. Highly regarded by her students as an excellent teacher, Sheri is devoted to her work with the Zambians. Recently Sheri was asked to reflect upon the blessings she receives by being at Namwianga. This is the article she wrote.

For me, being at Namwianga has meant living in the warmth of my Zambian brothers and sisters. It has meant watching Mrs. Syanzalu, a Proverbs 31 woman, toiling in her garden at daybreak. It has meant hearing her son, Jacob, say, “Madam, I want to be a preacher when I finish secondary school” and then watching him become a preacher as well as one the best teachers G.B.C.C. has produced. It has meant that I have been the one taught by such people as Martha Moomba or Thomas Siafwiyo or by the inner strength of Precious Hakoma, one of my third year students.

Being at Namwianga has meant being able to love, name, and cuddle babies when their mothers were no longer alive to do so. It has meant watching my daughters, Sarah and Lois, grow up among their own people so that they could learn from them how to speak Tonga, how to respect their elders, how to sing, and, even how to grieve.

Being here has often meant the heartbreak of watching babies, young children, and adults die when they probably would have lived had they been in America. It has meant living daily with the reality of H.I.V./A.I.D.S. and the horrible stigma against those who have it. It has meant searching the Bible, praying, beseeching God with my “Whys?” - wanting desperately to better know him and gradually learning to do so.

It has meant having to learn how to encourage my college students to have more integrity and a greater trust of God when their families are still immersed in animism and belief in witchcraft or when they no longer have relatives who will support them physically, emotionally, or spiritually.

Therefore, being at Namwianga has meant opportunities – opportunities to teach, to love, and to grow.
By Sheri Sears, March, 2007

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Saturday Storm

Saturday afternoon a thunderstorm pounded Namwianga with gale force winds and torrential rains. From our window I watched the smaller trees bend over so far that their top leaves touched the ground. The rain came in horizontal sheets, turning footpaths and roads into streams and rivers. The deluge was too much for our metal roof—the ridge cap along the peak came loose and let the water in. We set out a row of bowls down the hallway to catch the drips. The power went off soon after the storm began, so I cooked dinner on the propane burner.

The storm finally cleared after two hours. The winds blew down about a third of the grass fence that encloses our yard. Two trees lost large limbs, and the rain and wind flattened some of the flowerbeds. The maize fields of our neighbors had some damage as well. The three inches of rain filled up our rainwater cisterns quickly, though, and that proved to be a blessing because . . .

On Monday night we ran out of water in the house. I turned the tap and nothing happened. Tuesday morning brought more bad news. The main pump that sends the water to the entire mission had been struck by lightning and burned up. The entire mission had no well water and wouldn’t have any until a new pump could be purchased and installed. Rainwater to the rescue! Our cisterns supplied us with rainwater for the next two days, and we were able to share with our neighbors and many of the students.

All is back to normal now. The new pump is working. We have water flowing in our pipes and only the water stains on the hallway ceiling to remind us of Saturday’s storm.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Madam, I have nothing

The boy arrived at mid-morning, just as the rains were ending. Webby had been here just a few days ago seeking sponsorship for grade nine at a village school about 10 miles away. He didn't qualify for the US Sponsorship program since we begin with tenth graders, but he found someone else on the Mission who agreed to provide the funds he would need.

Now he was back. He had walked in the rain with no jacket or umbrella, and the envelope he pulled out of his pocket was soaked on the edges. Inside I found the money and the letter I had sent to the village school last week.

He dropped his head down and said quietly, "There were no more openings at the school, Madam. Could you see if I can go to Namwianga Basic?"

I asked, "Did you walk all the way from your village today?" He nodded. "In the rain?" He nodded again. I decided anyone who would walk that far in the rain to get a chance to go to school deserved a chance. I phoned the sponsor and asked if she was willing to pay a little more since he would have to be in boarding at Namwianga. She agreed to the extra funds. I wrote out a request to the headmaster at Namwianga Basic and sent Webby to walk another mile to deliver the letter and wait for a reply.

An hour or so later he was back. Good-hearted Mr. Simoongwe at the Basic was willing to let him in. I told Webby the good news. Then I asked him, "Do you have a uniform? You can't start classes without a uniform."

"Madam, I have nothing." He was very matter-of-fact as he spoke. No emotion. No tears. Just the truth. I looked at him in his wet, ragged clothing and fought back my own tears.

"Let me see what I can do," I told him. I went inside and scrounged through a box of donated clothing from last year's container shipment. I found some outdated navy polyester pants that were too big and an oversized blue shirt. He had a belt, so he could cinch up the trousers, and he could roll up the sleeves of the shirt. At least he could get started going to class for now, and I would find him something more suitable later. I grabbed some pens and notebooks from another closet and stuck them in a bag. And then I him off to start school--with nothing but some donated castoff clothing and a burning desire to learn. I hope it's enough.

Beginner's Bibles

We've had the opportunity to go out to three village churches recently. In all three we found women of the congregation teaching Sunday School classes using the Beginner's Bibles that were given out last October and November. It is exciting to see the enthusiasm in both teachers and children. I would provide a photo, but I still can't get the blog site to load pictures!

Friday, March 16, 2007


They were waiting for me as I headed out of town. The old lady and her young companion waved wildly beside the mound of belongings on the side of the road.
"We need a ride to Namwianga," the woman explained. "I'm bringing my granddaughter to start school at the Basic."
We stashed the box, suitcase, plastic bags, and mealie meal in the back and the two of them climbed in the cab with me. The woman then began a delightful tale (in excellent English) of her long connection to Namwianga Mission. She was one of the first students of Myrtle Roe in the 40s and 50s. She remembered the Shorts, the Shewmakers, and the Hobbys, and named other missionaries I'd never heard of. She told of the excellent education she received, of the caring teachers, of the wonderful Christian influence the Mission had on her. Now, she explained, she was bringing her orphaned granddaughter to the same school that had meant so much to her.
As we arrived at the school, she pointed to the buildings where her teachers had lived long ago. She shook her head in wonder at all the new structures in the complex.
I left them to get the girl settled in the dorm. I smiled all the way home, hoping that some day in the far off future one of my students will bring a granddaughter to school and tell glowing tales of her days at Namwianga Mission.

Work Projects

The Nazilongo congregation is constructing a new building and asked for some manpower to help them with the foundation. I put out the word that we needed ten guys for a Saturday work project. As usual, I had more than enough volunteers. These guys worked extra hard and got the job done two hours early.

Other student workers have spent several weekends this term preparing and pouring foundations for new houses at Simakakata, the village for the blind. The government threatened to take away the village's land unless permanent housing structures were built in a specified period of time. Again, George Benson Christian College students got the job done with time to spare.

Henhouse News

You may remember Petronella, our hen of thatch-skiing fame. She started us in the chicken farming adventure, and now we have added three other hens and a rooster. We have a small chicken house in the back yard where Petronella literally rules the roost. I have a new understanding of the term "pecking order" after watching her in action.

The chicken house has five nesting boxes, but all the hens were laying their eggs in just one particular nest. Our Zambian friends explained that we must leave a couple of eggs in that nest each day to encourage the hens to keep laying, and we were following those instructions--until last week. That's when Petronella decided that she was going to sit on the eggs and hatch them. She steadfastly took over that nest. The other hens managed to continue laying their eggs when she got off to feed, but we knew something had to give when we found Petronella and one of the other hens both sitting in the nest, and neither one was happy.

We got Petronella off long enough to take four of the ten eggs and place them in the next nesting box. We're hoping that the other hens will get the message and move to that box to lay their eggs so Petronella can continue her nesting vigil. We'll keep you posted.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

News and Notes - March 10

If you missed seeing photos lately, it's because we couldn't get any to load on the blog site. David finally found a way to post them yesterday. We'll include some from our trip to Cape Town in the future.

Our house is strangely quiet. We have had three nights this week with no one extra staying here. We think that it was way back in June when we last had empty guest bedrooms.

Last Sunday David and I took Don and Laura Oldenburg with us to visit the Kalomo High School church. This is the congregation that is made up entirely of high school students who board at Kalomo High. They welcomed us and invited David to preach and do the Lord's Supper. After the service concluded, they had planned a time for singing groups. The young man in charge announced the groups that were to sing and then added that the "visitors" would "give us two songs." We had a moment of panic, but rose to the occasion and did a surprisingly good job of "We Will Glorify" and "Thank You, Lord," much to the delight of the young crowd. As always, they begged us to come back. (Two of our sponsored GBCC students plan to do their student teaching at Kalomo High during the second term and will work with this congregation)

On Wednesday in chapel the assistant principal announced that there would be no classes on Thursday because an official in the government had just that morning declared a national holiday in celebration of International Women's Day. We thought that was very strange, especially since next Monday is a national holiday called Youth Day and we will be missing classes for that as well. But we enjoyed having an unexpected day off, and the students kept busy with intramural sporting games all day. Later we found out that the same government official clarified his announcement later on Wednesday saying that Women's Day would become a national holiday NEXT YEAR. By then, of course, it was too late, and most of Zambia took the day off from work and school.

Bart and Staci Bruington and their children arrived back at Namwianga on Wednesday. They have spent the last six months in the US and will be here for just a few days before heading northwest to join the Davises and Boyds in the work at Mumena.

Two female college students came by on Wednesday afternoon and asked to be baptized. We studied with them and then celebrated with them after their new births into Christ.

Yesterday's chapel program featured songs presented by the business/computer class. Their singing was so beautiful that I had to hold back the tears. Later they asked if we could take them for an outreach, and we agreed. We'll be taking nine of them to Zyangale on Sunday.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Signs of Africa

"Be Aware of Dog," "No Solicition," "Slow, Children Playing," "Warning! High Voltage," or "Deer Crossing" are the warning signs we are accustomed to reading in the USA. The warning signs of Africa are much different than those in the USA. We have come across some interesting signs in our African travels. "Beware of Elephants," "Watch for Hippos," and "No Swimming. Crocodiles" are some we see from time to time. The one pictured at left posted on a door at a tourist attraction in Cape Town is one you are not likely to see in America.