Saturday, April 28, 2007

Update - April 28

Our trip to Lusaka went well. We spread two days of errands over three days so we didn't have to rush like we usually do. As always, the traffic was harrowing. Although I try really, really hard, I cannot keep from a sharp intake of breath, sometimes accompanied by an audible gasp, when another vehicle is headed straight at my side of the vehicle. This frustrates David (who is driving) no end, since he seems to know exactly how far he can nose our vehicle out into the swirling mass of vehicles without a collision. I've decided the only way to avoid gasping is to close my eyes--which seems quite appropriate considering all the praying I do when we're driving around Lusaka.

We stayed a few miles outside of Lusaka at Mapepe Bible College. Our dear friends David and Lorie French direct this school. The goal of Mapepe is to train church leaders and evangelists who will be self-supporting. This philosophy is a great match for what we try to do at Namwianga, and this year Mapepe designed a set of courses to suit our secondary and GBCC graduates. We were able to visit with the dozen or so students from Namwianga who are enrolled in the January - September program. They all agreed that their time at Mapepe is giving them valuable knowledge and experience. We enjoyed touring the new buildings on campus and hearing about the classes and activities the students engage in.

Back at Namwianga, the campus is deserted. The students have all gone home for the break, including those who had stayed longer for special classes. Most of the women on campus are away attending the church's national women's meeting in Mazabuka. The quiet won't last too long, however. Tomorrow there will be 51 college students back for two days of intensive training before they head for northern Zambia. They are part of the Northreach evangelism effort which places teachers and student teachers in remote areas where there is no church or a newly planted church. In addition to their practice teaching duties, these students will be involved in evangelism and leadership development. The work goes on!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

News and Notes - April 22

Once again we're having technical difficulties and can't load photos on the blog. Here's what's been happening in our world lately.

Three great guys from Arkansas have been here for the past two weeks. They are helping to build a new house for Louisa Duke and Meagan Hawley to live in. Brent Ruple, Lee Henson, and Ed Daughety joined the Zambian construction crew as they laid bricks. The team managed to get the walls up to window level during their time here. They also made some furniture to be used in the new house. The guys had many truly African experiences. Most of their luggage never made it here, so they had to buy, borrow and share clothes. They jumped into language learning and can spout several Tonga phrases now. Louisa arranged for them to preach in village churches on the two Sundays they were here, and they learned the joys of being crammed into the back of a pickup for a long, bumpy ride over our infamous potholed roads. We enjoyed having them over here for dinner and getting to know them. Besides getting some great work done on the construction project, the guys have learned to love this part of the world. We hope they'll be back again soon!

On Tuesday Richard Prather and Allen Neese from the American Zambia Mission Board arrived for a series of meetings and planning sessions with Namwianga leaders. They stayed with us and blessed us with great conversations and encouragement. We are thankful for their dedication and leadership. Their visist was a short one--we took them to Livingstone for their return flight today.

Tomorrow we are taking Brent, Lee, and Ed to Lusaka to catch their flight out. We'll have some routine maintenance work done on our vehicle and pick up our work visas as well. Another highlight of this three-day trip will be visiting our friends David and Lorie French at Mapepe Bible College. There are about ten former Namwianga students who are doing Bible training at Mapepe and we will be checking up on them.

Thursday, April 19, 2007


Harper Hawley, Meagan Hawley’s nine-month-old niece, died on April 7 after several months of illness. Meagan had just returned to Zambia on April 6 after spending two months with Harper and her parents (Meagan’s brother Zach and wife Haley) helping to care for her. Although Harper’s death was not unexpected, the timing made it impractical for Meagan to return to the US. Meagan was devastated to hear the news, as were all of us. Grieving is difficult enough, but grieving 10,000 miles away from family and close friends is hard to even imagine.

Harper’s funeral was scheduled for April 12 at 11:00 a.m. in Edmond, Okalahoma. At the same time (6:00 p.m. here), several of us gathered at the home of Sheri Sears to have our own memorial service to share our sadness at this loss and our support for Meagan. We sang some of the the songs that were being sung in Oklahoma, plus some that Meagan had sung to Harper when she was caring for her. We read scriptures of encouragement and prayed together. Meagan let us watch a slide show of photos of Harper so we could appreciate what a beautiful and special baby she was. Most of all, we just grieved with Meagan.

The days ahead will be hard for Meagan and for the family that she is away from. Please keep all of them in your prayers.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


Here is Citronella's beady-eyed stare that accompanies her growl when I visit her nest every day. She has now been sitting faithfully on the nest for almost month. I am amazed at her patience and steadfastness. She's sitting on guinea fowl eggs that we substituted for her own, and guinea fowl eggs have an incubation period of 27 days. Something should be happening soon, or both Citronella and I are going to be very disappointed!

Chicks on the Loose

The chicks are growing quickly and giving their mother Petronella all kinds of grief. A couple of the naughty ones can crawl under the chicken wire to get out of the coop, but they can’t seem to find their way back in. Poor Petronella paces the sides of the pen, watching them and fretting (at least I think that’s what she’s doing). About once a day I go out and grab the little runaways and stick them back inside the enclosure. You would think that Petronella would thank me for this act of kindness, but instead she fluffs her feathers, spreads her wings, and runs at me squawking with all her might. I’m safely separated by the chicken wire, though, so I just smile and chalk it up to the antics of an overwrought mother. My years of conferences with parents of second graders prepared me to deal with the Petronellas of this world. She just can’t understand that I’m really on her side.

I wonder, though, if I have some of Petronella in me when I talk to God. How often I have been the one squawking, running at God, feathers fluffed, complaining about something has happened or should have happened. I wonder if he smiles, knowing that I just can’t understand that he’s really on my side. Perhaps I am just as limited in my knowledge of my world as Petronella is of her chicken coop world. I guess that’s what Isaiah 55: 8 means: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. I hope I’ll remember that when I’m tempted to squawk at God’s work in my world.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Easter Frimily

We gathered with our "frimily" (friends who become like family) for Easter. Pictured are Don and Laura Oldenburg in the back, with Meagan Hawley and Louisa Duke in front with the bunny cake.

Our egg decorating was quite a feat. All the eggs had brown shells, and we used neon food coloring for the dye, so our colors were quite interesting. Duct tape and candle wax helped make the designs.

Easter Chicks

Louisa Duke (left) and Meagan Hawley enjoyed our new baby chicks this Easter.

Harper's Rainbow

Meagan Hawley, our wonderful fellow missionary, just returned on Friday from the US. She had been there since January helping to care for her critically ill baby niece, Harper Hawley. Harper’s condition had not changed in quite some time, so Meagan made the difficult and heart-wrenching decision to come back to her work here in Zambia.

Louisa Duke was with us as we picked Meagan up from the airport on Friday afternoon and spent the night in Livingstone. Saturday afternoon we were driving back to Namwianga when this amazing rainbow appeared. At first the colors were horizontal bands, and then gradually an arc formed. We could distinguish every color, and all of us agreed it was the most vivid rainbow we had ever seen. We were on a deserted country road, so we stopped and let Meagan take pictures.

A few hours later Meagan received word that Harper had passed away Saturday morning. Meagan was devastated, not only at the terrible loss of Harper, but at the seemingly cruel timing. As we prayed together that night, Louisa thanked God for the rainbow and its reminder of His eternal promises. Then we realized that because of the time difference, Saturday morning in America was Saturday afternoon here. We were watching that beautiful rainbow just at the time Harper was finding her new home in the loving arms of the Lord.

Nothing can remove the terrible pain of this loss, but God once again reminds us that He keeps his promises, and the promise of a new home—a place without tears and suffering—is a promise to hold onto.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Power Issues

Friday we took Louisa Duke with us and drove to Livingstone to pick up Meagan Hawley. Meagan had returned to the US in January when she learned that her baby niece had a terminal illness. She stayed in Oklahoma City with her brother and sister-in-law and helped with the care of baby Harper until this week. She was due to arrive on Friday afternoon. We had decided that we would spend Friday night in Livingstone to help her ease back into African life (and give ourselves a little break, too). I had managed to find a lodge with rooms available, even though we were booking at the last minute on a holiday weekend, so we thought we were set.

We drove into town around noon and found the lodge, thinking we would check in before we went to the airport. Then the first of many surprises hit us. The lodge had no record of our reservations, and they did not have rooms for us. We explained that we had our reservations confirmed on Wednesday, but there were no rooms and we had to give up. Our first thought was that since it was a holiday weekend we would not be able to find any other place and we would just have to return to Namwianga that afternoon. I suggested that we try one place—one that I had not been able to find an e-mail address for and had not checked earlier.

At that lodge, I explained our plight to one of the two desk clerks while the other one talked on the phone. The first clerk said flatly that they had no rooms, so I turned to leave. Just then the other clerk hung up her phone and called for me to come back. It seems that someone who had reserved two rooms for the night had had car trouble and wouldn’t be coming. We could have the rooms—at a price slightly less than we were to have paid at the first lodge.

Now that we had lodging arranged, we headed for the airport to get Meagan. Her flight was due in at 12:50 but finally arrived an hour later. Just as she came through the terminal, the electricity went off. The electricity stayed off in most of the city for the next eight hours. We did some grocery shopping at the new grocery store in town that managed to stay open with generators for power. We found a restaurant with power on for dinner and then returned to our darkened lodge and sat by candlelight as we got caught up on Meagan’s news and activities. As we got ready to go to bed at 10:30 the electricity came on again!

On Saturday we had made appointments for haircuts at 11:00. We showed up at 11:00—just as the power went off again. The hairdresser said the salon was too dark and she couldn’t help us. We headed for another grocery store to try to get the items we couldn’t find in the other one, and arrived to find it closed due to the power outage. By now we were ready to get some lunch and head back to Namwianga. Subway was the only place open and they were only serving salads since they couldn’t bake their bread. We got our salads, choosing cheese instead of risking meat that had spent several hours without adequate refrigeration.

We made it back to Namwianga and were thrilled to find the electricity on. However, we had received an e-mail from the American ambassador’s office that the entire country of Zambia should prepare for power outages from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Sunday while the main power station at Kariba Dam was being inspected. I stayed up late Saturday night and got up early on Sunday to make sure I had Easter dinner prepared so that we could eat without electricity. As I write this on Sunday evening, we have had power all day. We never know what will happen next over here. It keeps our life interesting.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Bicycle Ministry

These four men received their new bicycles last week as part of the bicycle evangelism ministry. They are already leaders in their local congegations and have been traveling on foot to "preaching points" in the bush to plant churches. They work individually, visiting a total of 20 congregations, including six newly planted churches. Imagine what they can do now with their new wheels!


Petronella's eggs hatched this week! We now have five fluffy yellow chicks peeping and scratching their way around the chicken coop. Petronella is fiercely protective of her little charges and is quick to gather them under her wings at the first sign of danger.

Citronella is still faithfully sitting on her eggs. One of our Zambian friends had an explanation for why she was spending time on Petronella's nest last weekend. He explained that some of the eggs in Petronella's nest were Citronella's, and she wanted to make sure they were taken care of. I guess that makes sense.

I didn't know that chickens could growl, but Citronella definitely growls at me any time I come near her nest. She puffs up her feathers and gives me a fierce, beady-eyed stare along with a growl that says quite clearly, "Leave me and my eggs alone or you'll be sorry!" She's sitting on a combination of chicken eggs and guinea fowl eggs that we put in her nest. Won't it be fun when all of them hatch!