Friday, September 28, 2007

Update - September 27, 2007

We are barely squeaking by on our internet bandwidth for the month, so I’ve been staying off the internet as much as possible. We’ve also been incredibly busy. I laugh when I remember that before we moved here, we thought our life would slow down! It hasn’t happened yet.

Henry and Mary Ann Melton were here until Monday. Henry did several small group sessions with students and Mary Ann kept busy teaching women’s classes. We took them to Choma on Saturday and then visited the Kalomo High School church on Sunday. I think they made some great memories here and will want to return some day.

We tell all our guests what David Broom told me on the medical mission years ago: Africa is like poison ivy on the brain, and the only way to scratch it is to go back.

Tomorrow we are heading off to Lusaka for the weekend. The American Embassy is hosting a braii (cookout) for ex-patriots on Saturday night. The invitation says we’ll get to meet the Ambassador and new members of the Embassy community, discuss ongoing security concerns, and get information about voting in the 2008 elections. It should be an interesting experience!

News from the Coop

One of our first chicks (born Easter weekend) grew up to be a beautiful rooster. Last week Justafella (his dad) decided the coop wasn’t big enough for two roosters and forced Junior out. Poor Junior wandered around the yard desperately trying to crow, but the adolescent-style crack in his cock-a-doodle-do was pretty pitiful. Our friend Martin Mwiimbili claimed him over the weekend and took Junior to Livingstone where he is now the ONLY rooster in the henhouse. Martin reports that Junior is quite happy.

Just after Junior left us, one of our younger hens hatched out five new baby chicks. These new additions bring the henhouse total to 28.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Visitors' Views

Henry and Mary Ann Melton both have blogs and have been writing about their experiences here. Click on the links to read their views of life at Namwianga.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

So Far, So Good

Last night Henry Melton managed to hook up one of our laptops to the landline at Hamby House and utilize it as the router for wireless service on the internet. Now the Harding students have at least some access to the internet--slow, to be sure, and only a few at a time can be online, but at least it is there.

The good news gets even better: we have had water and electricity all day!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

It Started Out as a Good Day

At 5:37 this morning it looked like we were going to have a good day in Africa. At 10:00 the electricity went off. That meant no internet, no cooking, no powerpoint presentations in class. The AfriConnect engineer came all the way from Livingstone to work on the new internet system--only to find the power off, so he couldn't do what he needed to do. No power also meant that the electric pumps for the water system couldn't work, so there was no water coming in. We had filled our tanks the night before, so we were okay and were able to share with students who needed water. The power came back on this evening just as we finished cooking dinner on the propane burner and the charcoal grill--and just in time to keep us from having to light candles. Just another day in Africa!

A Good Day

Definition of a good day in Africa: the water is flowing, the internet is working, and the electricity is on. As I write this at 5:37 on Wednesday morning, it's starting out to be a good day at the Gregersen house. We were without well water for several days, but the problem was finally solved yesterday and the water filled the lines last night. In the meantime we have been using drinking water we had stored in containers for emergencies. We have had lake water available through a separate system of taps, and we have used that for batheing and have boiled it to use for washing dishes.

The full internet system is still not on, but we reconnected to our old system and are using that for now. We opened it up to the Harding students for a few days, but that used up so much bandwidth that we had to shut it off again. The engineer for the new system (AfriConnect) was supposed to be here yesterday, but when David called, the engineer gave him a "Maybe today or tomorrow" kind of answer. The Harding students tried using the internet cafe in Kalomo on Saturday, but it was extremely slow and limited. We are now attempting to hook up a landline account at the Hamby House as a last resort.

Henry and Mary Ann Melton, our guests from Austin, have been great sports about all of this. They keep reassuring us that they have years of camping experience and can take a few inconveniences. Still, I imagine that their first real shower at our house will be welcome.

Write Stuff

Henry Melton from Austin, Texas, has been teaching writing to my English students. He has also held small group sessions to talk about writing for publication. These informal gatherings are held on our veranda in the evenings.

Henry's latest science fiction book Emperor Dad is available at

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Meltons

Once again we are blessed to have visitors from the US. Henry and Mary Ann Melton are long-time friends from Brentwood Oaks in Austin. They have already spent three weeks in Africa and are now spending a week with us at Namwianga. Veteran campers and travelers, Henry and Mary Ann have been adapting nicely to the inconveniences of our current situation (more on that later).

On Saturday, Henry and Mary Ann went with me to Siasompela for an area-wide meeting. Mary Ann and I had been invited to speak to the women. As the church leader told me, "We are asking four old women from each congregation to come. You will teach them, and then they will go home and teach the young women in their churches." So that's what we did. We took turns speaking for most of the day. We brought along four of the Harding young women, and they joined in by singing for the ladies. Henry listened in on the men's sessions during the day. We all enjoyed eating the nshima and chicken lunch that our hosts provided.

Sunday we headed for Kasibi to the congregation where Leonard Sichimwa is an elder. Mary Ann and I taught the children's class there. Most of the Harding students came along on this outreach and sang for the congregation after the morning service. Leonard is doing all the cooking for the Harding students, and we were touched when he stood up at the end and called them all his "sons and daughters."

Henry Melton is a science fiction writer and volunteered to teach while he is here. He is presenting lessons on writing to my English classes and is also leading small group sessions on writing for publication. Mary Ann will be going out to villages and teaching ladies' classes Wednesday through Friday. Yesterday she spent her morning with the toddlers at Eric's House. Like me, she has fallen in love with these little guys.

As always, we enjoy sharing our world with our visitors.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Update - September 12

I haven't posted anything lately because the new internet service that was installed last month has been down since Saturday. The engineer for the installation company came out on Monday and said there are some major problems to be repaired. He was supposed to come again on Tuesday but didn't make it. Maybe today . . .

The HIZ (Harding In Zambia) students are a joy to have here on our campus. We took most of them out on Friday night to a village Bible study at Mutala. After the lesson, the HIZ group sang several songs and did a wonderful job. David took a smaller group with him on Sunday for an outreach. They got the full initiation on bad roads, but also got to enjoy village chicken and nshima. Another small group went with the Oldenburgs back to Mutala for Sunday morning services.

The bicycle evangelists are attending a leadership training seminar here at the mission this week. Look for more news on that later.

The GBCC students began arriving this week to begin the third term, so we are back in the classroom.

Henry and Mary Ann Melton, friends from Brentwood Oaks in Austin, will arrive on Friday to spend a week with us at Namwianga. We're taking them to an area-wide meeting at Siasompela on Saturday where Mary Ann and I will teach women's classes.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

News and Notes - September 6, 2007

We have been incredibly busy the last two weeks. Today is the first day I have had a chance to really catch my breath.

Last week we spent three days in Lusaka getting the new Land Cruiser for the Church Development Program. As usual, there were complications and nothing happened exactly as it was supposed to, but we did get the vehicle.

On Saturday and Sunday we were busy with last minute preparations for the arrival of a group of Harding University students. Harding has opened its first African study abroad program right here at Namwianga. On Sunday 24 students arrived, ready for adventure (we hope). So far they have been a delightful group and we have enjoyed meeting and talking with them. Janice Bingham and Vann Rackley are here as their instructors, and Vann's wife Connie and their two children are also here.

They had a realistic introduction to life in Africa their first two days. They had trouble getting through customs and had to hire a clearing agent. Seven of their bags didn't make it to Livingstone. On Monday the internet was down and there were two lengthy power outages. Since there was no electricity, there was no water pumped into the shower house. Then on Monday evening the girls who are staying at the Hamby House were locked out because there was no key for the padlocked metal grill gate. We did eventually locate a key without too much trouble, and so far everyone seems to take the inconveniences in stride.

The daily schedule for the students starts with their first class at 6:30 in the morning. They finish their classes at 12:30 and then spend the afternoon in rotations at Eric's House, The Haven, Namwianga Rural Health Centre, or working with pupils at Namwianga Basic School.

One other blog-worthy event happened on Tuesday. David was driving our Toyota Raider to the Namwianga Clinic when a herd of cattle crossed the road in front of him. He waited for them to get by and then started to drive past. Just then two steers got into a fight. One of them pushed the other backwards toward the road and shoved his rump right into the left side of our vehicle. Their little scuffle snapped off the side mirror and left a nice dent in the fender. Just another day at Namwianga!

Saturday, September 01, 2007

On the Road

We were in Lusaka Wednesday through Friday to pick up this new Toyota Land Cruiser. It will be used by the Church Development Team for evangelistic outreach efforts.

This new set of wheels was badly needed. Thomas Siafwiyo, the head of the CDT, says that in the past he would notify the mechanics at the motor pool when he set off in the CDT's old, worn out Land Rover. He made sure they knew when to expect him back so that if he didn't arrive they would know he had had a breakdown and come looking for him.

This new vehicle will hold up to 13 people and can go anywhere in Zambia to spread the good news.