Friday, June 29, 2007

News and Notes - June 29

We have been limited in our internet usage this week. We managed to use up almost all of our monthly bandwidth by the 18th, so we've had to be very careful these last few days. Tonight I'm using Ellie Hamby's wireless connection. If you've e-mailed and not heard back from us, just wait until July 1 when we get our new monthly allotment.

On Tuesday and Wednesday we were in Lusaka. Sara had never been there and wanted to see the capital city. We also needed to buy formula for The Haven and wanted to get a luggage rack put on our vehicle. Sara got to see Lusaka, but in true Zambian style we didn't get the other errands accomplished. The warehouse was out of formula, and the place that was making the luggage rack had a power outage and couldn't finish the job. We did get to do some shopping and enjoyed being with some of the Americans who flew in to Lusaka for early work on the medical mission.

Sara has been bringing home a toddler or two at lunch time and occasionally has one spend the night. I have fallen in love with every one of them, and both Sara and I missed the babies when we were in Lusaka.

The annual lectureship starts at Namwianga tonight and Christians from all over southern Zambia will be gathering for fellowship and teaching. David is speaking at tomorrow's morning session and I'll be speaking to the women tomorrow afternoon.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Sara's Kids

We have new excitement in our lives now that Sara is with us. She’s working at the toddler orphanage and brings home a different child each day at lunchtime. We’ve fallen in love with every one of them. The one pictured here is Adrian. He loves to be held and was quite content to sit in my lap while I graded papers.

We love to hear the stories Sara tells us about the kids' antics. She never has a dull moment keeping up with 12 toddlers!

Friday, June 22, 2007

News from the Coop

“You are a REAL chicken farmer,” my neighbor told me the other day. I was showing her the newest additions to our flock. The Red Hen sat on a nest of 12 eggs and had 11 chicks hatch on Sunday. That same day a man who works for us had seven chicks hatch, but then his hen was stolen. We found out about the theft on Monday morning and decided to try to merge his new chicks with ours. David drove into Kalomo to get the chicks and we put them in with Red Hen and her new flock. Alas, she did not turn out to be the nurturing kind and began to peck the little ones that were not hers. One died, and another was badly injured before we rescued him.

All those years of living on a farm in Missouri taught me a few things that linger in the recesses of my memory. I got a cardboard box, attached a lamp over it, and set up a mini-hatchery in the pantry. We worked to try to save the hurt chick. David rubbed antibiotic ointment on his wounds, and I figured out ways to get him to drink a few drops of water now and then. He perked up after the third day, giving us hope he might pull through. At that point we dubbed him T.C. for “tough chick.” He took a turn for the worse on Thursday, however, and died. We also lost four of Red Hen’s chicks the first night—probably from the cold. (It’s the middle of our winter here with temps in the 40s and 50s at night.) Now we have seven little fluff balls with Red Hen in the chicken pen and five little peepers in the cardboard box.

The Big White Hen is once again sitting on a nest, but this time it has six eggs in it. I have decided that she may not be the sharpest hen in the coop. She had been in the nest next to Red Hen for a week or so. After Red Hen and her chicks moved out of that nest, Big White Hen decided that’s where she wanted to be and settled in there. I guess she forgot about the eggs she left behind in her old nest. David saw the eggs in one nest and Big White Hen in the next one and put them together again. The saga continues!

Monday, June 18, 2007


The top photo shows where we worshipped with the newly-formed Kalenga congregation in 2005. We sat on logs under this shade tree. The middle photo shows the building they have now. It was filled completely on Sunday. The building also houses a Christian community school for grades one and two.

Photo Magnetism

Sara drew quite a crowd at Kalenga on Sunday with her camera. She began taking photos--or "snaps" as they call them here--and the children immediately ran from all over to be in the picture. They were amazed when she showed them the digital images on her camera. I'm sure some of them had never seen a photo of themselves before!


Two of the Bible class students at Saturday's Kalweza outreach are shown here. They are busily coloring visors lettered with "Jesu Ulandiyanda," which is Tonga for "Jesus Loves Me."

The little guy in the bottom photo was easy to keep up with. His shoes played the faint strains of "Twinkle, Twinkle," "Happy Birthday," "London Bridges," and "My Darling Clementine."

Jason and Sara

When Sara came home for lunch today, she brought Jason with her. He is adorable! Jason loved looking at our chickens and saying both the Tonga and English words for chicken. He is known for his very serious approach to eating--Sara says he tries to be the first one to the table at lunch time. At our house he was content to snack on a cracker and take a nap before heading back to be with his buddies at Eric's House.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

News and Notes - June 17

Our life has been a whirlwind of activity this week! The Northreach Medical Mission leaves tomorrow and the Merritt household has been busily preparing for that. Ellie Hamby and crew are getting things geared up for the Zambia Medical Mission in July. Sara started working at Eric's House orphanage with the toddlers and quickly fell in love with all of them. See her blog for some great pictures.

We did two outreaches this weekend. On Saturday afternoon Cindy Robinson, Sara, and I went with Rodgers and a group of college students to Kalweza. Cindy taught the women and the rest of us taught the children. It was a large group of 89 children of all ages. They were involved and enthusiastic, so we had a great time teaching them.

On Sunday we took a different group of college students and traveled to Kalenga, a two-hour trip that bumped and jolted us over some really bad roads. We had visited Kalenga in 2005 when the newly planted congregation had just begun meeting under a large shade tree. Today they filled their new church building with 139 people. After the church service the ladies served us the traditional Zambian meal of chicken, nshima, and greens. This was Sara's first experience with "village" chicken and eating with her hands, and she loved it.

I'll try to post pictures tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

How Are We Getting There?

Cindy Robinson has been a wonderful blessing during her stay here at Namwianga. She has taken advantage of every opportunity to teach the Bible. Last week Rodgers Namuswa invited her to go with him to Kalomo Hospital and teach a class for family members of the patients. She hesitated just a little when she found out that her transportation into Kalomo would be on Rodgers's motorcycle, but her desire to teach overcame her trepidation about the vehicle and off she went.

Cindy taught a very appreciative group of women who are staying at the Family Shelter while their loved ones are in the hospital. The ride must not have been too bad--she's going again this week.

Dinner Guests

Last week we had an interesting dinner with several of our short-term workers on the mission. Rachelle, Alana, Olivia, and Amy are spending some time here at Namwianga before going on the Northreach medical mission. They were our guests for dinner, along with Cindy Robinson, who is doing some teaching here before she goes to Mumena for a medical mission, Meagan Hawley, and the Oldenburgs. Rachelle, Alana, and Olivia are shown in the picture holding Adrian, Brandon, and Lola, the toddlers they brought from Eric's House. In the back are Amy, Meagan, Cindy, and Don Oldenburg.

One of the greatest blessings of our work here is getting to meet so many wonderful Christians who share our love for the Lord and His people in Zambia.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Sara in Africa

Our daughter Sara arrived on Friday after two LONG days of travel. She had arranged her flight months ago using her frequent flier miles. As it turned out, she ended up flying from Paris to Livingstone on the same flights as Ellie Hamby, who was also flying on frequest flier miles.

Sara went with us on the Saturday afternoon outreach. She plans to start working with the toddlers at Eric's House next week. Click the link on the left if you'd like to read her Africa blog.

As you can imagine, we are thrilled to have her with us in Africa again. Our son John arrives with the medical mission group in less than a month!


Last Saturday and this Saturday Rodgers Namuswa arranged afternoon outreaches. Cindy Robinson taught the ladies and I organized a children's Bible school class. Last Saturday I took three girls from the secondary school along to help me. One of the girls is Misozi Muyumbwa, shown in the top photo on the right and in the bottom photo on the left. Misozi is following in the footsteps of her mother who attended Namwianga in the eighties. Misozi's mother often served as a translator for Ellie Hamby on outreaches.

Last Sunday the Oldenburgs helped us transport a group of high school and college students (middle photo) on an outreach to Najinka. We jolted over rough roads for two hours to find this congregation. The members were delighted that we had come so far to visit them. We had quite a long day, though, with four hours traveling and almost three hours in the morning worship assembly!

Today Rodgers, Cindy, Misozi and I took some visiting American college students with us for an outreach to Kanyaya. Shown above are Rachelle Martindale and Alana Smith with Misozi.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Shared Shoes

Students at all high schools in Zambia are required to wear uniforms, including solid black shoes. Students who don’t have the correct uniform can be sent home. In my role as sponsorship coordinator I am often asked to help students get uniforms, especially shoes. Thankfully, there are generous friends in the US who occasionally send me money for things like this, and usually I can help the students who are truly needy.

Chester came on Saturday asking to do some extra work to earn money for school shoes. I had just received word that a dear friend had deposited money in our work fund to use for student needs, so I decided to get Chester the shoes.

Tuesday morning I dropped by his school and asked the head teacher if I could buy some shoes and leave them in the office for Chester. The head teacher said, “Why don’t you just take him with you to buy them so they will be sure to fit?” He sent another student to get Chester out of class.

Chester ambled over to where I was standing. As usual, he wore a beaming smile. I looked down at his feet and saw a nice pair of black dress shoes. “Chester, those shoes look fine. Are you sure you need new shoes?” I asked.

“These shoes are my young brother’s,” Chester replied.

“Doesn’t he need them?” I prodded.

Chester’s quick reply left me speechless. “Madam, his classes are in the afternoon.”

I swallowed the lump in my throat as we headed for the vehicle. Thirty minutes later Chester had his own pair of school shoes.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Have Bicycle, Will Teach

Liston is a sponsored student at George Benson Christian College. This term he is doing his student teaching practice and volunteered to be placed at Mukwela Basic School so that he could work with the nearby congregations at Mukaziwa and Sandy Hill. We provided him with a bike so that he can cycle the 12 kilometers from Mukwela to each location.

Liston joined the GBCC group for last week's outreach at Mukaziwa. He reports that his student teaching is going well and that he is also helping the Mukwela congregation mold bricks for their new building.

We are proud of students like Liston who are training to be self-supporting church planters. They will be making a difference in Zambia for many years to come.

Mukaziwa Outreach

Last weekend the Helping Hands Choir from the college conducted a weekend outreach at Mukaziwa Farm. These 22 energetic students slept on the cold concrete floors of school buildings and cooked their meals over open fires for the three-day meeting. They held teaching and preaching sessions on Friday and Saturday nights and spent the daytime hours on Saturday visiting nearby villages and inviting residents to come to the Saturday night meeting and the Sunday morning worship.

We drove out on Friday night to deliver some of the students and the gear that wouldn't fit in the bus. We found Mr. Dominic Moonga there with the young people. Mr. Moonga is in his mid-seventies and still is full of evangelistic zeal. He hates to miss any opportunity to share the gospel and won't let sleeping on the ground keep him from joining the efforts.

On Sunday morning there were 236 in attendance for worship. The college students led the worship, taught the children's class, and shared their singing talents. As always, we are blessed to witness their faith and enthusiasm.

World Bible School

Rodgers Namuswa stopped on his way to the post office to show us the newest set of correspondence courses received from World Bible School teachers in Austin. Rodgers recruits students from our area who want to complete a Bible corresondence course. The students give their lessons to Rodgers who then mails them in bulk to Austin. WBS teachers at Brentwood Oaks grade the completed lessons and send out new ones. The partnership seems to be working beautifully. We've already had one request for baptism as a result of the WBS course.