Saturday, November 24, 2007

Thanksgiving 2007

We had a fun and interesting Thanksgiving gathering at our house this year. Five Peace Corps volunteers arrived at Namwianga on Wednesday to spend the holiday with us. They stayed at the large guesthouse but ate most of their meals with us. They came prepared to cook and bake dishes for our feast, and on Thursday morning we had three kitchens in use—the guesthouse where the PC women were staying, the Hamby guesthouse kitchen, and mine. We had a short power outage around 10 a.m. that gave us a bit of panic, but the power came on again after about 30 minutes and the baking continued without any major disasters.

Don Oldenburg had contacted the manager of the Spar grocery store in Choma weeks ago and asked him if he could get us two turkeys for Thanksgiving. We had high hopes that this manager could pull it off, but alas, it was not to be. When Don and Laura went to pick up the turkeys on Wednesday, the manager informed them that the turkeys had come in, but they were of such poor quality that he wouldn’t sell them to us. David grilled chicken instead.

We had two more Peace Corps workers who came in on Thursday—one made it in time for dinner and another arrived in the evening. Our other guests were Don and Laura Oldenburg, Sheri Sears, and Richard and Sue Krogsgaard. Richard and Sue are Canadians who arrived at Namwianga in August. They missed the Canadian Thanksgiving Day in October, so we thought it was appropriate that they share in our feast.

And feast we did! We managed to have many traditional American Thanksgiving dishes: stuffing, pumpkin pie, apple pie, rolls, mashed potatoes, green beans, and even jellied cranberry sauce that some recent visitors brought with them in their luggage. There were no Macy’s parades or football games to watch, but we did have lots of laughter, sharing, and fellowship.

Sara and John were in Searcy with David’s sister and family. We were able to talk to them via Skype and even saw them through the web cam. Later we talked with David’s parents and watched the last minute dinner preparations going on in the background. When they announced that dinner was ready, David’s dad had all of the family hold hands in a circle and then asked David to lead the prayer for the meal. From 10,000 miles away we shared in the Thanksgiving gathering with our family. God is good, and we are thankful.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Just Another Day

Saturday was one of those days. I knew it would be busy, because the secondary school had a PTA meeting in the morning and graduation scheduled for the afternoon. The unplanned events were just extras.

I was ready to leave for the PTA meeting at 9:30 when I decided to take a loaf of bread out of the freezer for lunch. I opened the freezer and picked up the loaf -- and it wasn't frozen! My freezer had stopped working—the victim of one too many power surges, I suppose. David and I quickly emptied it out and surveyed the damage. Most of the things in the bottom were still frozen, so we took those over to the Hamby guesthouse freezer. One chicken, some sausages, and some steaks that were in the top rack had thawed. I put the chicken on the stove to cook, gave the sausages to my neighbor, and put the steaks in the refrigerator to cook Saturday night.

Finally at 11:00 I headed for the PTA meeting. The lively discussions were still going strong at 12:45 when the sky grew dark with ominous clouds. A storm was on the way. I also had a chicken cooking on the stove and hadn't told David to turn off the burner, so I left the meeting and went home. A huge storm hit about 10 minutes later with torrential rains, violent winds, and pea-size hail. David and I watched limbs break off and fall from our back yard trees and wondered if we were going to lose another fence as we did last year. The power went out as it usually does in a storm.

We had just finished eating lunch when Justin, the security guard, called to say the roof had blown off his house. David suggested someone for him to call.

The storm abated, and I began to plan to return for the 2:00 graduation ceremony. There were four sponsored students who had no family coming, and I was to be their “Mom" for the day. At 1:45 we got a call that the shipping container of donated food relief was in Kalomo and we needed to send an escort to show the truck driver how to get to Namwianga. We also had to arrange for workers to unload the contents of the container so the driver could get back on the road.

Thomas Siafwiyo was supposed to be in charge of the container, so we tried to call him and found out that he was at his farm and out of cell phone range. (We found out later that he was trying to get back to Namwianga, but the storm flooded the usually dry creek bed and he was stranded until late afternoon.) We drove up to the school and found Andrew, the maintenance supervisor, just as he left the graduation luncheon. Although he knew nothing about this container coming and was planning to go to graduation, he agreed to help us out. He drove off to recruit workers for the unloading while David went into Kalomo and to find the truck and escort it to Namwianga.

I went on to graduation. There was still no power, so the packed auditorium had no lights and no sound system. I could barely see the front of the auditorium and couldn’t hear much of anything. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to tell when my students were awarded their diplomas, so I ended up standing near the front with my camera ready to catch the moment.

Graduation ended at 5:00, and the container was unloaded by 5:15. The power was still off at our house, but we found out that Don and Laura Oldenburg had electricity at their house near the clinic. I volunteered to cook the thawed steaks at their house, and we invited Louisa and Ashley to join us for dinner. We enjoyed our time together and managed to have a very pleasant ending to a chaotic and eventful day. By the time we got home at 9:30, the power was back on at our house.

David and I have a saying about days like this. When spoken with just the right drawl and a smile, it pretty well sums things up: “Just another day in paradise.”

Thursday, November 15, 2007

HIZ Final Photo

On Saturday the Harding In Zambia group hosted a lunch for all the workers and missionaries who have helped them this semester. The Harding students served the meal, presented us with gifts, and blessed us with their incredible singing. Then we set up the multimedia projector on our veranda, and the students showed us the powerpoint program that the group will present in chapel when they return to Harding. We were touched by their thoughtfulness.

We managed to gather all of them together for a final and official photo. We will treasure this parting shot of a talented, caring, and unique group who blessed us richly during their time at Namwianga.

Graduates' Tea

These lovely ladies are sponsored students who are graduating from Namwianga Christian Secondary School this month. I had a tea for them on Saturday and enjoyed hearing them tell about happenings in their lives and plans for the future. Most of them will be attending Mapepe Bible College in Lusaka next year. Mapepe has a nine-month program designed to equip recent high school and college graduates for leadership and service in the church. I know these young women will be blessed by their time there and will in turn be a blessing to others.


We had hoped that the annual invasion of the flying ants would occur while the Harding students were still here. Just a few days before they left, we had two huge thunderstorms. Right on schedule, the ants invaded the following night. The swarms of winged critters clouded the air with their buzzing wings. They followed every light source and crawled through every crack to get into our house. We did as we have done in years past--gave up, turned out the lights, and went to bed. I tried to sneak in a little bit of reading by taking a flashlight and a book under the covers, but a couple of the stubborn ants kept bugging me until I surrendered and went to sleep.

The next morning there were the dead bodies of the ants an inch deep on both front and back verandas. This year we had a good use for them and dumped pails full of the creatures into the chicken pen. The fowls had a feeding frenzy! It was an all-you-can-eat smorgasbord for an hour or two.

We threw more ant carcasses over the fence a couple of times later in the day. By mid-afternoon the chickens had had enough. They turned up their beaks and walked away from the final buffet.

What's Cooking

Jonathan Strickland, one of the Harding students, made a Cobb Lorena stove in our back yard kitchen. The stove is made of clay mud mixed with elephant grass. You can see in the photo below how the mixing part is done.

The firebox and "pipes" inside the stove are made of banana tree trunks. A very small fire will cook a pot or two of food efficiently and effectively without having to use a large quantity of firewood or charcoal.

Jonathan taught two of the Zambian college students how to make and use the stove. They have already used it to cook a meal or two, and they plan to make another Cobb Lorena stove near the guys' dorm for other students to cook on.

This project was just one of the many ways that the Harding students got involved with Namwianga's residents and made a difference.

Monday, November 12, 2007

News and Notes - November 12

I apologize for not posting more blog entries later. We were extremely busy last week and have also had continued problems with our internet service. The AfriConnect system installed for Harding stopped working at our house a week ago, although thankfully it continued to work at the houses where Harding students were staying. We reconnected to our old Coppernet system, but for some reason we cannot post any photos. I tried several times but finally decided to give up on pictures and at least get something on the blog.

The Harding In Zambia students left this morning. We have been dreading this event, all of us feeling surprised by the depth of the attachments we have made. The Harding students and the George Benson college students have shared their lives in big and small ways for 10 weeks. We missionaries have known the blessing of the Harding students' cheerful spirits, their great attitudes, and their fantastic devotional times with us. Saying goodbye was difficult for all of us. We know that they are taking many wonderful memories with them and that they have left us with many wonderful memories of their time here. The campus will be too quiet for the next few days and weeks as we adjust to life without them.

I finally finished grading the 85 term papers. It is a relief to have time at last to do the things I enjoy and not just mark papers! I brought my special toddler friend Bernard home from the orphanage to spend an afternoon playing. I also had the other missionaries over for dinner so we could get caught up on the news in each others' lives. I'm slowly getting caught up on all the other projects that had to be deserted for the term papers.

Former Namwianga missionaries Sam and Nancy Shewmaker are here visiting for a few days. Sam grew up here and has been involved in African missions in one way or another for most of his life. A few weeks ago he and Nancy moved to Rwanda and are beginning a new work there. They have blessed us by sharing stories of their mission experiences and have given us valuable insights that will help us in our ministry at Namwianga.

There will be more news to come when I can post some photos!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

More Fowl Play

It wasn't enough just to teach the chickens how to jump. Now David has them doing other tricks as well. He takes his laser pointer out to the chicken pen. When he points it on the ground in front of them, the chickens think it's something to eat and try to peck it. Then he points the light on their feathers and they contort themselves trying to get it off. The grand finale is when he targets their feet and gets them dancing. Stay tuned . . .

Kalomo High School Church

We took the Harding In Zambia students to visit the Kalomo High School church this morning. As always, we enjoyed our time with this congregation composed of over 150 high school students. Vann Rackley taught the Bible class, David preached, and Harding student Matt Leroy did the Lord's supper. Shown above is the Kalomo singing group presenting a story in song after the worship service. The Harding students also sang and delighted their Zambian audience.

Bicycle Evangelists

Some of the bicycle evangelists are pictured at their training seminar that was held in September. Ten of the evangelists recently spent a week at Mbabala evangelizing and planting a church there. David and members of the Church Development Program team joined them for the first Sunday that the new church met. Dyson and Military, two of the bicycle evangelists, decided to stay an extra week to provide some additional training and encouragement for the new group. David saw Dyson a few days ago and found out that they also planted ANOTHER new congregation during their extended stay.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

A Story You Need to Read

Please click on the title above to read a gripping article about suffering and hope in Zambia. We see the Rodericks and Kenneths every day in our acquaintances and students here at Namwianga. I hope we are making a difference for some.

Today was the deadline for applying for sponsorship for the 2008 school year. The stack of applications is six inches high. Many of the applicants come from families like Roderick's. They long for an education and the luxury of three meals a day and a bunk in the dormitory.

I am torn between the joy of helping the thirty or so who will be selected and the agony of saying no to the others.

Suffering and hope in Zambia.