Saturday, August 25, 2007

News and Notes - August 25

Whew! It’s been quite a week. Ellie Hamby left to go back to the US on Tuesday. She left behind a wonderfully organized plan for the Harding University group that is due to arrive in early September. Unfortunately, there was no way for her to get it all done before she left, so I inherited the to-do list. It’s been a whirlwind of activity to get keys, locks, paint, outlets, and other details taken care of.

Robby Banda also left on Tuesday to spend the fall semester at ACU. Robby, a single dad, has three children and one nephew that he is responsible for. His two daughters are staying with Sheri Sears, and we are now substitute parents for Nathan, age 11, and John, age 18. It’s been a challenge—a fun one—to get back into parenting mode, and Nathan and John are easy to deal with. I just have to remember to keep tabs on them, feed them, and make sure they’re busy doing the right things. I think I can handle it!

Harding University is having a new internet system installed, and that took place this week. We had two engineers here working Tuesday and Wednesday to get the new system up and running. In fact, when the GLOW campers (see previous post) arrived for dinner Wednesday night, we still had some of the internet equipment on the veranda and the engineers working inside. Everything worked out fine, and the engineers even got to enjoy dinner when their work was done.

The good news is that now we have a much faster system with increased bandwidth. The bad news is that it won’t let me get to Blogger to post any more. I’m sure we’ll get that worked out next week, but in the meantime I am e-mailing everything to Sara for her to post from that side of the world.

Another good news/bad news event is that two of the Eric’s House toddlers we love are going home to live with family members. Cynthia and Adrian both spent a couple of nights with us while Sara was here, and we will miss them even though we are happy that they will now have a permanent home.

Visit from the Peace Corp

On Wednesday we had a delightful evening with a group of Peace Corps volunteers who were holding a leadership camp at Namwianga. GLOW Camp stands for Girls Leading Our World, and the purpose of the event is to encourage young women to develop their leadership skills. Each Peace Corps volunteer in Southern Province was invited to bring one outstanding girl from his/her village for three days of classes, group sessions, team building, and fun.

We were part of the fun element as we hosted the group of 11 volunteers (10 women and one brave guy) and 14 girls for dinner and a movie on our veranda. The Peace Corps workers were thrilled to enjoy American niceties like salad with Hidden Valley Ranch dressing, canned peas, and chocolate cake. In our conversations with them, we learned why this was such a treat.

Their regular routine in the villages is pretty rugged. They live in thatched huts, carry water in jerry cans from a well, and walk or ride bicycles for transport. Some live hours from the nearest town of any size at all. One woman told of having to have a new house built because her first site had so many snakes. Another described carrying water in a 20-liter can on her head from the well.

As you can imagine, the volunteers found their housing at Namwianga luxurious by comparison. The girls stayed in the school dorm, while the Peace Corps workers stayed in the guesthouses where they had hot water, flush toilets, and real beds.

The girls and the Peace Corps workers had a good time watching the movie “Rudy” after dinner, a fitting tie-in with their day’s discussion of short- and long-term goals. It was a joy to host this group, and we hope they will be back again.

Monday, August 20, 2007


Bridget Mayer visited us recently when she came to see two of her nieces here at Namwianga Christian Secondary School. Bridget, originally from a village near Livingstone, now lives in the US where she and her husband have a business selling African imports. In the photo she is displaying Kuba cloth, a beautiful textile woven from palm leaves and decorated with stitching, beads,and shells. The Mayers' company purchases the Kuba cloth from craftsmen in the Congo.

African wedding baskets are their other specialty. These are made in the Western Province of Zambia. Most of the weavers are refugees from Angola who brought their skill with them when they fled their war-torn homeland. There are now 1200 women in this remote area who support themselves by making baskets. Bridget described the journey that is required to find these workers. The final leg is a six-hour river ride in a dugout canoe!

Bridget still has many ties to southern Zambia. In addition to supporting her nieces and nephews, Bridget sponsors young people from her village who show academic promise. She reports that she currently has 13 who depend on her for their school fees.

The Toka website has a complete description of the African crafts the Mayers have in their line. The African wedding baskets are also sold at Pottery Barn.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Important Things

The Important Things

I will admit that there are days when I get really frustrated with life here. Those are the days when I long for organization, efficiency, and punctuality, the days when I dream of being able to accomplish tasks quickly and simply. I wistfully remember the procedures, schedules, and checklists that ruled my former life in America.

And then I go out into the bush and God helps me see what really matters.

Last weekend we were invited to speak at a leadership training seminar in Mabuyu. While David and the men met inside the church building, the women and I gathered in a grass enclosure in a cornfield behind the building. The women sat on mats made of mealie meal sacks sewn together. In true Zambian fashion, they sat with their legs straight out in front of them, their backs erect. At first I was determined to join them in this, and I lasted through the first hour before excruciating pain convinced me to accept the offer of a chair.

Laura Oldenburg was also a speaker on Friday, and the two of us took turns addressing the ladies on topics related to leadership. I used the story of Nehemiah for my lessons, discussing ways that Nehemiah modeled the characteristics of a good leader. The ladies were quite interested in the story, and most seemed to be hearing it for the first time.

I love teaching Zambian women because they are not shy about expressing their reactions to the lesson. When I described how the enemies of Nehemiah opposed him, there were murmurs of shock and disbelief. Later one of the older women spoke up, “This is the same thing we face here! Nehemiah had enemies who tried to stop his work, and we have enemies who are trying to stop the work of our churches!” There were vigorous nods all around. They listened intently as we discussed ways to deal with challenges and difficulties.

On Saturday I returned to continue the program and taught all morning. The leader told me that they would eat lunch at 12:30, so I stopped then and we made our way to the cooking area where goat meat and nshima were being prepared over open fires. We stood there awhile as the women visited in Tonga. A few minutes later, my translator came to me. “The nshima is not ready. The women are saying that they do not want to stand around here. We want to hear more of your lessons. Come teach us. We will eat later.” And that’s exactly what we did. We sat down again in the grass enclosure and studied more of the Word of God. It was 2:00 before we finally ate.

Times like these remind me that there are many things that are more important than organization, efficiency, and schedules. Zambian women who would rather study the Bible than visit or eat know what is really important.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Toddlers at Eric's House

Meagan Hawley's parents, Sally and Dave, have been visiting at Namwianga, along with their friends Gary and Kathi Lawrence. They brought new outfits for all the toddlers at Eric's House. Monday afternoon all the kids put on their new clothes and posed (sort of) for this photo.

Bernard and Brandon

Bernard (top) and Brandon are two of the Eric's House gang that we have grown fond of.

A Lap Full of Love

Since Sara went home I haven't had as much contact with the toddlers at Eric's House. This afternoon I grabbed my camera and headed up there to see how the kids are doing.

I arrived as the little ones were getting dressed after bath time. I stepped into the changing room and immediately had little arms reaching up to me. I plopped down on the floor and filled my lap with Brandon, Bernard, Carol, Adrian, and Glory. A few minutes later Itone, one of my co-teachers at the college, dropped by. As he came in and saw me, he exclaimed, "Ah, you are rich!"

Yes, with a lap full of precious little ones, I am rich.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Bicycle Evangelists

(David wrote this blog entry)
It’s the first of the month as I write this. I know what to expect this week. Men on bicycles will ride up to our house. They’ll come up on veranda bearing papers. Those papers will tell of churches planted, people baptized, and brethren restored. The papers will also list brothers and sisters in need of Bibles, songbooks, wheelchairs, crutches, food, and clothing. Those hand-written reports chronicle the work of dedicated bicycle evangelists working on the edges of the Kingdom in some of the most remote places in Zambia. It is the power of the gospel that takes them there. Their reports testify to the gospel’s enduring power to save and change lives.

Before these ten men had bicycles, they were walking distances of 10 to 20 kilometers (6 to 12 miles) from their homes to evangelize and plant churches in Southern Province. None of these men asked for bicycles. When we heard about their zeal and love for spreading the Good News, we decided to see what more they could do when equipped with bicycles. Church Development Team members Thomas Siafwiyo, Rogers Namuswa, Patson Siyula, and I invited them to come to Namwianga. We commended them for their work, and then each was presented with a new bicycle and commissioned to go even farther into the bush with the Good News. These evangelists are asked to proclaim the word, plant churches, baptize, teach, encourage, and give a written report each month.

We are on the lookout for more men who have established reputations for evangelizing and planting churches. More are out there waiting to be discovered. Whether walking or pedaling, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news" (Romans 10:15).

Friday, August 10, 2007

A Hostel Environment?

Here's how our guest room usually looks.

And here is how the guest room looked when eight guys were staying in it during the medical mission.

Now that everyone has gone home, we are having to adjust to a calm and quiet house--at least until the next round of company arrives. The welcome mat is always out.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Numbers for Medical Mission

Here are the numbers for the 2007 medical mission.
Medical 10,325
Dental 1,957
Optometry 3,295
Total number of people treated in ZMM clinics 15,577
Baptisms 143

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


Our first trip to Zambia was in 1999. We met Roy and Kathi Merritt then, and we heard about one of the new babies they had just taken in. Moses was a tiny, sick weakling who almost died during the time we were at Namwianga. A few months later we learned that Moses had been adopted by Mr. and Mrs. Hunter Siangandu. The Siangandus were undaunted by Moses' many health problems and were anxious to add him to their already large family of five birth children. Hunter traveled on his bike to Namwianga. Kathi gave him some last minute instructions about how to care for Moses' special needs, and then Hunter tied Moses into a chitenge on his back and cycled the 10 miles or so back to the village of Simpweze.

I visited Simpweze in 2001 and was delighted to find that Moses was thriving in the Siangandu family. This year I saw Moses again when he accompanied his parents to the annual Namwianga Lectureship. Now eight years old, Moses is happy, healthy, and enjoying primary school.

The Siangandus later adopted more children, including another boy named Moses. They also took in some orphaned nieces and nephews. The total count of children they have raised is somewhere around 15. Hunter teaches Bible at Simpweze Basic School and is one of the bicycle evangelists in his area. Humble workers like the Siangandus are making a difference in the lives of many--including little Moses.

Monday, August 06, 2007

More Photos from South Luangwa

The photo above shows just how close the lioness came to the vehicles during our game drive in South Luangwa. Our guide assured us that as long as we were in our vehicle we would not be considered prey.

This zebra colt seemed to pose for the camera.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Scorched Earth

Burned fields are a common sight this time of year in our region. The last rains were in April, so the vegetation is dry and brown. Some fires are accidental; others are set to clear the land or to force small game out into the open for hunting. The fires do not usually rage out of control or reach extremely high temperatures because there is very little undergrowth.

A fascinating phenomenon occurs when green shoots of grass spring up from the charred earth. Where do they get enough moisture to sprout? I'd love to know the answer!

Have GPS, Will Navigate the Bush

I neglected one very important piece of information about our trip to Chiili on Saturday. We did it by ourselves! On our past forays we have had Rodgers Namuswa with us to show the way. When we made the trip in June, we entered the way points on our GPS as we traveled, and this time we did it on our own. The people at Chiili were surprised and impressed when we arrived without Rodgers (our Bio-GPS as we call him).

Malaria Article Online

Faithful blog reader Mary Ann Melton found the National Geographic article about malaria online. Click on the above title to read it.

A scholarly but readable account of malaria's effect on history is found in Fiammetta Rocco's book Quinine: Malaria and the Quest for a Cure That Changed the World (Perennial Books, 2003).

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Chiili Farewell

Today we made another grueling drive to Chiili to pick up Brian Siakuba, a GBCC student teacher who had been there since May. The community came to say goodbye and gathered for this final photo. Brian is on the left side in the front row wearing a white shirt.

The community leaders were sad to see him go. He had proven himself to be an excellent teacher and a great worker in the local congregation. The woman who serves as head of the village begged us to send more teachers from GBCC. We hope to do just that!

On the way home, I asked Brian to describe the greatest challenge he encountered. He told us about facing the start of the term alone. We had taken him to Chiili on the first Saturday in May before the term was to begin on Monday. No other teachers were there, but we assumed they would be arriving on Sunday. As it turns out, Brian was the only teacher at the school for the first two weeks of the term. One teacher arrived after two weeks, and the head teacher arrived three weeks after the term began. Poor Brian had to figure out what to teach without any guidance! He seemed to have taken it all in stride and recommended that we send more student teachers there next year.

We are proud of students like Brian and look forward to hearing more of their stories as they return from their first experiences in the field.


The July 2007 issue of National Geographic features an article on the current status of malaria in the world, with specific attention given to Zambia.

It is hard for Americans to imagine the toll that malaria takes on the Zambians. Almost every day someone we know is sick with it. The National Geographic article points out the difficulties of dealing with this dreaded disease and the current efforts to eradicate it. I think you will find it a fascinating read.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Bernard at His Best

Sara brought Bernard home one night while she was here, and we quickly fell in love with this little guy. He loves wearing sunglasses, and he loves to be held. He and David became good buddies.

The Path of Pills

When we are doing the bush clinics, one of the big yellow buses becomes the pharmacy, or Pills on Wheels as it is affectionately known. Here is how it works.

The patient turns in a prescription at the front door of the bus. A pharmacy worker places the prescription in a blue bowl. Liz McClellan is shown here at her post.

Next, another worker takes the blue bowl down the aisle of the bus, stopping to select the medications out of red trunks placed on the seats. Sara had this job during the medical mission.

Then the prescription goes out the back of the bus to one of the Zambian nurses or pharmacists. The patient is called over and is given the prescription along with instructions on how to take or use the drug.

It's an efficient system that works very well. The bus keeps the wind and dust out of the pharmacy, and using the bus frees up other rooms for the medical and dental teams.

I don't have a good photo of Star Ferguson, but no description of the pharmacy is complete without mentioning her. Star works year round to collect, organize, and run the ZMM pharmacy. Her tireless and enthusiastic efforts have relieved the suffering of tens of thousands of Zambians. She's one of my heroes.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Home Again

We are home again and settling back into some sort of routine after a month of medical mission and traveling. Last week we did a trip to South Luangwa game park in eastern Zambia with Mark and Michele Broadway and nine others from the medical mission team. We spent four days on the road--two days to get there and two days coming back. Grueling is the word I would use to describe the journey. The scenery was gorgeous in several places, but stretches of the road were very bad, and the last four hours of the drive into Luangwa were on a rough dirt road. We did enjoy an overnight stop both ways at Mapepe Bible College to see our friends David and Lorie French.

South Luangwa Game Park was incredible and made the travel worthwhile. The game viewing has to be some of the best in Africa. We saw elephants, all kinds of antelope, zebras, cape buffalo, giraffes, bushbabies, civets, hippos, a leopard, and lions. We stayed right on the river and listened to the hippos bellowing to each other at night. An elephant strolled right by our chalet, and monkeys jumped in the trees over the roof. The giraffe and lioness above were within a few feet of our vehicle during a game drive.

Mark and Michele are finishing up all kinds of last minute projects for us before they leave on Thursday. I'm preparing myself for a letdown when the house is empty again after having so much activity in June and July. We won't have much time to think about it, however, as the follow up on medical mission contacts begins in August.