Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas 2008


There were 48 of us who gathered for Christmas dinner on the veranda at the Calder's house. Rod and Sue Calder operate an orphanage on a farm adjoining Namwianga. We feasted on turkey, grilled chicken, fried chicken, lamb curry, and lots and lots of side dishes. Our multinational group included people from Canada, USA, Zambia, and South Africa.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Teacher Training


Last Saturday David and I did a leadership workshop at Mutala. Five congregations were represented. David taught classes on servant leadership and conflict resolution to the men, and I did teacher training for the women (shown above).

Iris Elder, daughter of early missionary Dow Merritt, grew up in Zambia and returned with her husband to work here for most of her adult life. Iris and Ken are now living in the US, but Iris still has a heart for the Zambian work. She translated my teacher training materials into Tonga, so now each congregation gets a complete set of instructions they can read and understand in their native language. I know Iris would love to see how excited the women are to see their Tonga materials!

I couldn't help but think about the timing of this event. In the United States, the Saturday before Christmas would not be considered an appropriate date for a workshop, but our Zambian friends were delighted to attend. Most of them walked long distances to get there, and several of the women carried babies on their backs. When the workshop ended, there was no rush to get home. The women stayed an extra 45 minutes for singing and fellowship. It was much more enjoyable than fighting the crowds at the mall . . .

Monday, December 22, 2008

Eggs Anyone?



The tiny one-inch egg came from our chicken pen. The first explanation we got from our Zambian friends was that a young rooster laid it! They told us that a young rooster will lay one egg as he arrives at maturity and then never lays another one. We were a bit incredulous, but we asked several other Zambians and they all agreed it was possible. We finally consulted an expert, our neighbor Mr. Moono who raises chickens and teaches agricultural science. He assured us that it is not possible for a rooster to lay an egg. The tiny egg is the product of one of our adolescent hens instead.

Mystery solved. Now I'm just debating boiled or fried.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Holiday Spirit



I'll admit it has been hard to work up much holiday cheer here in the bush. No crisp, frosty air to fill our lungs. No lawn displays of holiday lights, no evergreen trees, no Santas. Instead, we're having spring--muggy, warm days with rain showers almost every afternoon. We're slipping and sliding on mud, not ice. The zinnias, day lilies, and vincas are in full bloom, and it's the smell of orange blossoms instead of pine wafting through the open windows. Instead of Christmas baking, we've been freezing fresh vegetables from the garden.

But all that changed this week. We took a three-day jaunt to the capital city of Lusaka to get some work done on one of the Mission's vehicles. And as always on our trips to Lusaka, we hung out at the shopping centers Manda Hill and Arcades. There we had our fill of lights, decorations, Santas, nativity scenes, Christmas music, crowds, and horrendous traffic! In fact, after three days I was ready to leave the holiday hype and get back to the calmer, quieter life of the country.

We do have a few decorations up, as you can see in the photos above. And we're looking forward to a big Christmas dinner with friends. Happy Holidays!

The Grinch

You may remember that we have special friends at Mumena Mission in northwestern Zambia. Bryson and Noah Davis, the young sons of Brian and Sondra, have a special place in our hearts because of their great personalities and sweet dispositions. Brian sent this account of their recent Christmas challenge:

Last Sunday we had a break-in and several things stolen in our storage area. Of all things, our Christmas tree lights were taken. Noah, who gets particularly excited about decorating for Christmas, proclaimed that it would be a good Christmas anyway. Last night as we sat looking at the dark tree, Noah and Bryson began coming up with ideas. A power strip with 5 lights, a transformer with a light, two gift sacks with little blinking LED lights, a radio with 2 lights, a miniature fiber optic Christmas tree left with us by Troy McNatt, a former apprentice, and several glow in the dark stars tied to the tree, and voila… we had Christmas tree lights. Noah and Bryson sat with smiles of satisfaction while listening to Christmas carols with a twinkling glow in their eyes! Not bad for the bush… Jesus had to go all the way outside to see the Christmas lights…

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Sunday Outreach - December 15

The roads dried up enough this week that we were able to head out for Njabalombe on Sunday morning. The students have all gone home for the holidays, so we took some of our local Zambian friends along with us. We dropped two at each of three congregations along the Kabanga Road: Lubombo, Katungu, and Shangu. Then Rodwell Sianzoolo went on with us to Njabalombe.

We had a wonderful surprise when we stopped to drop off the Lubombo pair. We found Chrispine Moono and his cousin on bikes just about to head north on the road. Chrispine is one of the sponsored students who recently graduated from Namwianga Christian Secondary School. On his own initiative, he and his cousin were on their way to do an outreach at Katakula.

David had asked me if I was going to teach the children at Njabalombe. I told him that I wouldn’t need to, because I had just done a teacher training session there a few weeks ago. Sure enough, when the time came for Sunday School, a young man carrying the Beginner’s Bible I had given the congregation took all the children outside. At the end of the service, he had his class stand up in front of the congregation and recite memory verses for us.

Sometimes we wonder if our efforts are making a difference. Chrispine and the young man who taught the Sunday School class give us encouragement to keep on trying.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

New Dorm


The new women's dorm at the college is quickly nearing completion. The construction crew is working from dawn until dusk six days a week to make sure that the dorm will be ready when the college opens again on January 12. Forty-four women will be housed here. Many of them spent this past year living in a converted classroom.

Sunday at Kasibi


On Sunday we were supposed to head up the Kabanga Road to Njabalombe. Saturday night Thomas Siafwiyo came by to warn us that three vehicles had turned over on the Kabanga Road on Saturday due to the muddy surface and construction debris. We changed our plans and headed for nearby Kasibi instead. Kasibi is one of our favorite places (reminds us of scenes from "The Lion King"), and we took along some of our favorite students--four of the guys who had just finished at George Benson Christian College.

I hadn't taught a Sunday School class for six months--the longest I've gone in 24 years! I'm working myself out of a job by teaching women in the village congregations how to teach and by providing the college women with training and supplies so they can teach on outreaches. But on Sunday Humphrey (above) and I gathered 47 excited kids and did the story of the lost sheep.

The girl on the right is showing off her sheep and shepherd stick puppets made with craft materials left over from Zambia Medical Mission.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

The Dinner Party That Almost Wasn't

I should have known that I was pushing my luck to schedule another dinner party. I have hosted many large dinners on our veranda, always managing to have electricity at the right times to get everything cooked. There have been a few close calls, like last month when the power failed just as we finished cooking, so I guess I should have known that eventually my luck would run out.

Thursday night we had invited all of the graduating college students for a final farewell dinner. With administrators and wives, the expected guest list swelled to forty. I had hired help: Harold, the assistant cook for Harding In Zambia, and Obrien, who was home from boarding school. They had started early in the day making cole slaw, cutting up eight chickens, and setting up tables.

The power often goes out around 5:00, so Harold and I planned to get the chicken in the oven at 2:30 so it would be done early just in case. Harold had rolled the chicken pieces in butter and cornflake crumbs and put the first two trays in around 2:40. About that time the sky darkened and a distant roll of thunder sounded. David, ever the pessimist, warned, “You’d better get the brick oven going in case the power goes out in the storm.” I ignored him—we had no time for building fires right now. The second set of pans went into the oven at the Hamby guesthouse at 3:00. At 3:20 I put the last two trays into the oven at the Mann guesthouse and headed back to my own kitchen just as the first raindrops fell.

I made it to my house without getting too wet, hoping against hope that for once we could have a rain shower without losing electricity. I should have known better. At 3:30 the fans stopped, the lights blinked off, and my dinner party took a decided turn toward disaster. Sometimes the power comes back on quickly, so we waited and hoped. The rain lasted only about 10 minutes, and as the skies cleared I stared at the ceiling fan, as if I could will the blades to start spinning again.

At 3:55 it was time for Plan B. Harold and I headed for the backyard of the Hamby guesthouse where there is a homemade brick oven. It hadn’t been used for several weeks, so the first step was to pull out a rake, several huge logs, an axe, and some bags of food and trash stashed there by a temporary worker. Then we had to cart a bag of charcoal from my house and get the fire going. By 4:30 the fire was just getting started and I was approaching panic.


Harold(shown here on the left) is the epitome of calm. I needed someone to share my sense of impending doom, so I tried to explain the finer points of food poisoning to him and Obrien. The chicken in the oven, I told them, was just warm enough for germs to start multiplying. We must, I warned, get the chicken cooking as soon as possible or risk all of our guests getting sick from eating tainted food.

Harold gave me the look he often gives me, the “I feel sorry for this poor, crazy American woman who doesn’t understand Zambians” look. He sighed, saying, “Madam, we Zambians will not die from food poisoning. We could leave our chicken out all night and not get sick. It will be okay.” I resigned myself to panicking alone.


It was approaching 5:00 and the dinner party was supposed to start at 6:00. We still had rice and a tomato/onion sauce to cook. Obrien went to work starting a fire in the outdoor grill for those pots, and I went to my house and brought all the ingredients down to the Hamby backyard so all the cooking would be happening in the same place.



The fire in the brick oven was finally ready at 5:00, so I retrieved all six pans of chicken from the three different ovens/houses and we got them all into the oven at once. The rice and sauce were soon bubbling on the grill fire. Obrien set off on his bike to pick up the rolls from Mrs. Phiri’s house across campus, and I got everything set up to serve the meal on the veranda.

The chicken wasn’t ready by 6:00, but then none of our guests arrived at 6:00 either. They began trickling in by 6:15, and by 6:45 we had a critical mass. The chicken still wasn’t quite ready, so I made opening remarks about how special this group was to me, how much we would miss them, and how much we expected of them. And, as we often do in Zambia, we sang.

Meanwhile, David drove our truck to the Hamby house and loaded up the trays of now-cooked (I hoped) chicken and the huge pot of rice. Harold hand-delivered the sauce. Meagan arrived to help, and we served dinner at 7:00 by the light of lanterns and flashlights.

Everyone declared the food delicious, there were no leftovers to worry about, and I crashed into bed at 8:45 wondering if I’d ever have the desire to entertain again. And for those of you who are wondering, Harold was right—no one got sick!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Oldenburg Update

You may remember that our coworker Don Oldenburg had battled cancer for several months in the US. He and I were going through radiation at the same time in July and August. Don finished his treatments and follow-up tests in September, and he and Laura returned to Namwianga in October.

Last week Don and Laura flew to Johannesburg, South Africa, for a routine PET scan as part of additional required follow-up. The scan showed a suspicious area at the base of his tongue, and the doctor in South Africa recommended a biopsy. Don and Laura decided to go back to the United States to have this done. Yesterday David and I took them to Livingstone to catch a flight back to Texas.

Please keep them in your prayers. We need them here with us, and they hope they can return quickly.

The Heavens Declare the Glory of God



This was the scene from our front yard on Tuesday night as the moon passed between Venus and Mars. It was an incredible sight!

Monday, December 01, 2008

Namwianga Calendar

Henry and Mary Ann Melton were our guests at Namwianga in September, 2007. Mary Ann spent several days with the toddlers at Eric's House and took some great photos of them. She has put together a calendar for 2009 featuring the children of Namwianga. You can purchase it online for $15.00 by clicking on the title above. This calendar will make a wonderful Christmas gift for anyone whose heart has been touched by "the least of these."

Saturday, November 29, 2008

College Reunion



We were delighted to have three alumni of Oklahoma Christian College/University at our Thanksgiving meal. David graduated from OCC in 1975. Brittany (center) graduated in December of 2007 from OCU and is now a Peace Corps volunteer working in a village not far from us. Meagan Hawley, our co-worker here at Namwianga, is a graduate from the class of 2003. So what are the chances of three alumni of a small college in Oklahoma having Thanksgiving dinner together in the African bush?

Thanksgiving 2008


Our Thanksgiving table was surrounded by a wonderful mix of people. Six Peace Corps volunteers from all over the United States joined us, plus Canadian and American missionaries and a Zambian co-worker. After last year's Christmas turkey adventure, we settled for mesquite marinaded grilled chicken. We managed to have lots of Thanksgiving traditional side dishes, including cranberry sauce, green bean casserole (with homemade onion rings!), fruit salad, and lots of pies.

The electric company cooperated and we even had power all day--a rare blessing that we greatly appreciate. Thursday evening David pulled out the multimedia projector and screen and we watched a movie on DVD.

As always, we love visits from the Peace Corps Volunteers. The stories of their adventures living in the bush leave us laughing and full of admiration for the work they do. And I could not ask for a more appreciative group to cook for!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Update - November 23

Another busy week has flown by! We enjoyed a visit from Dr. Dick Bedell, a representative of Project CURE, who was here for several days evaluating the clinic's needs. He managed to time his visit just right to be here for invasion of the flying termites, so I'm sure he had stories to tell when he returned home.

The rains have made the days here nearly perfect. The mornings are cool and the daytimes just right. It's a welcome relief from the heat of October.

Almost overnight the dry, brown bush has transformed into lush, verdant green. We have beautiful day lilies blooming in our back yard and several other kinds of flowers blooming in the front.

The rains bring cooler temperatures, but they also bring out the bugs. Besides the flying ants, we're battling huge crickets, beetles, spiders, and centipedes. And of course the mosquitoes are always an issue. Yesterday the drain outside the kitchen overflowed--it was completely clogged with wings and bodies of the dead flying termites.

Classes are over for the term, and now we are giving final exams. Our veranda is a favorite study spot, and we have anywhere from one to ten students buried in books there any time of the day.

Sunday we are off to Livingstone to take Louisa and the Oldenburgs to the airport. Louisa is flying home for the holidays, and the Oldenburgs are headed to Johannesburg for Don's PET scan and checkup. We're praying for a good report on Don.

On Tuesday we'll welcome five Peace Corps volunteers who will be here for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Jason Update



Sunday we took Jason and Kathi with us on an outreach to Tara. Tara is where Bernard now lives with his father and stepmother, so we were hoping to see Bernard and let him have some time with his buddies from the Haven. We did get to see Bernard's father, but Bernard was spending the weekend in Choma with his aunt.

We still had a great time with Jason and Kathi. These two love to talk, and they chattered non-stop--in Tonga of course. I managed to communicate with them because they understand English even if they don't choose to speak it.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Termites, Anyone?



Tonight was the invasion of the flying termites! We had our first big rain last night, so we were expecting the hordes of winged critters, and they came just as we expected. The brown swarms are drawn to the light, so our electrified verandas were full of them. There were so many that we could hear a buzz from the beating of their wings!

The Zambians love to eat these "nswa", so we soon had guys outside the house gathering up buckets and tubs of the delicacies to cook tomorrow. They fry the bodies--which resemble brown jelly beans--in a skillet. The insects make their own oil, or so I've heard. These students promised to bring me some tomorrow. Yum! Yum!

Mavis


We had another graduation on Friday. The George Benson Christian College students who finished in December of 2007 had to wait until 2008 to find out whether or not they had passed all their coursework. It was a pleasure to see so many of them back on campus after almost a year away. Shown here is Mavis, a young woman who is on my most-admired list. Mavis lost her mother in 2005 during her first year of college. Then the next year her father became ill. When Mavis was ready to do her student teaching last year, she found that her father had lost the family's house because he could not work and had no income. Mavis's four younger brothers had been sent to live with friends and relatives, and Mavis had no house to go home to. A friend of Mavis's mother invited Mavis to live with her in return for helping with child care, and Mavis did that in order to complete her student teaching.

Mavis finished her courses successfully and left GBCC last December. She accepted a teaching position in Lusaka and found a place to live for herself and her two youngest brothers, both of whom have health problems. She got them started in school again and got them the medical treatment they need. Sadly, her father died earlier this year, and two brothers are still separated from the family.

Mavis proudly told me all of this when she came last week for graduation, adding that as soon as she can afford larger living quarters, she will bring the other two brothers to live with her and get them back in school. What an amazing 22-year old woman!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Miller


Miller is another outstanding NCSS graduate. Three years ago Miller received his acceptance letter for sponsorship and RAN the 10 miles or so from his village to my house to thank me. He is a multi-talented young man who was the head boy (top leadership role) for the school this year in addition to leading one of the choirs AND making excellent grades.

Prize



This is Prize, one of the students who graduated from high school on Saturday. He is an orphan and had no family to attend the ceremony, so he asked me to be his "mum" for the day. I was honored to do so, especially when Prize was announced as the recipient of the Bible award for outstanding spiritual leadership.

I was glad that I could be there for Prize on his special day, but I grieve for the mother who didn't live to share this with him.

Graduation Day



Although there are still several weeks left in this school term, the graduation ceremony for Namwianga Christian Secondary School was held on Saturday. Shown above are the 23 sponsored students in this year's class. I feel especially close to this group because they were the first high school group selected for sponsorship after I became sponsorship coordinator. I remember poring over their applications and praying about the decisions of the selection committee, and I remember meeting each one of them at the beginning of grade 10 in 2006. They have been a delightful and talented group, and I hate to see them leave.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Goodbye



Tuesday morning we said goodbye to the HIZ group. Shown in the top picture are Janice Bingham and Donna and Shawn Daggett. Shawn teaches missions at Harding and was the fearless and capable leader this term. His wife Donna was a tremendous help to all of the activities and was especially appreciated for her skills as a cook. She made many wonderful meals on Chef Leonard's days off. Janice Bingham spent ten years working as a nurse in a hospital in Tanzania and has a true heart for training those who are interested in medical missions.

The lower photo shows the HIZ students gathered with some of their Zambian friends for a final photo before taking off. There were many tearful goodbyes as the yellow bus drove away for Livingstone. The HIZzers are now spending a couple of weeks visiting mission points in Uganda and Rwanda before returning to the United States on November 21.

The campus is quiet and empty without them. They left with an Africa-shaped hole in their hearts, and we have a HIZ shaped hole in ours.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

HIZ Update - November 2

The Harding students are winding up their stay at Namwianga and will leave early on Tuesday morning. On Saturday the HIZ group hosted a lunch for all the workers and those of us who have helped them during their stay. Last night there was a farewell party for the Heavenly Echoes choir which included six of the HIZ students. Today Shawn Daggett took 10 of the students on an outreach with a group from Namwianga Christian Basic School.

In the midst of saying goodbyes and packing to leave, the students are also studying for finals and finishing research papers and projects.

We have grown to love them dearly and can already tell that we will have an empty place in our hearts when they leave.

New Zambian President Sworn In

Rupiah Banda ended up with 40% of the vote to Michael Sata's 38%. Banda was sworn in as president Sunday afternoon. Sata insists that the vote was rigged and his Patriotic Front party is demanding a recount. There has been some rioting in Lusaka neighborhoods where Sata was popular. Our area of the country was not in support of Sata, so we don't expect any trouble. Click on the title to get the full story.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Zambia Elections Information

The election results are still too close to call. Michael Sata has a slight lead so far, but Rupiah Banda's campaign manager is predicting a win by 62,000 votes. You can click on the title to visit an unofficial web site that is tracking the vote counts as they come in. The candidates and party affiliations are:
PF (Patriotic Front) - Michael Sata
MMD (Movement for Multiparty Democracy) - Rupiah Banda (currently the acting president)
UPND - (United Party for National Development) - H. Hachilema

IT'S HOT


In Zambia October is called the Suicide Month because of the intense heat. How hot is it? It’s so hot I had to get out the thesaurus just to describe it. It’s not just hot-- it’s searing, scorching, broiling, blistering, roasting, and baking!

Air conditioning is a distant memory from another lifetime in a galaxy far, far away.

Classrooms are stifling and oppressive, stuffed with wall-to-wall bodies folded into chair desks. It’s an endurance test to make it through an hour-long session.

So the other day I offered my students the option of meeting for class on the open verandah at our house, and they jumped at the opportunity. The occasional breezes brought some welcome relief.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Election Fever

Election Fever rages in Zambia. There is talk of little else. Posters plaster billboards and outside walls. I haven’t seen campaign T-shirts, but there are colorful chitenges (2-meter lengths of cloth worn as skirts) printed with the smiling images of presidential candidates.

On Thursday Zambians will choose the successor to President Levy Mwanawasa who died in August. The acting president Rupia Banda is faced off against Hakainde Hichilema and Michael Sata.

Banda served as vice president under Mwanawasa and is a member of the party currently in control of Parliament. His campaign stresses stability and unity. Hachilema, or “HH” as he is called, is from the Southern Province where we live. He is independently wealthy and promises to encourage economic growth. Michael Sata came in second to Mwanawasa in the 2006 election. He rails against foreign influence in Zambia, especially the Chinese. During the 2006 campaign he voiced his admiration for Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe.

Sata made a campaign appearance in Kalomo on Sunday, arriving in a black helicopter. Hachilema gathered a Kalomo crowd on Tuesday, including many of our students who cut classes to hear him speak. A couple of the HIZ students managed make it to the event as well.

Yesterday there were reports of riots in Livingstone over suspected ballot rigging. Late yesterday we received a warning from the American Embassy, advising Americans to stay clear of all campaign gatherings, polling places, and election events for the next few days.

Zambians have no option except to vote in their home districts, so students who live far away are excused from classes the rest of this week so that they have time to travel home for voting. Election Day on Thursday is a school holiday everywhere in Zambia.

We mailed in our absentee ballots for the US elections. Now we watch and wait and pray for elections on two continents.

David found a thought-provoking article by John Piper that provides a faith perspective on the election process. You might want to take a look at it.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

HIZ Photo


Here's a shot of our wonderful Harding In Zambia group.

It's been great to have them back on campus this week. We missed them during their travels.

Yesterday was Independence Day as Zambia celebrated the end of British colonial rule in 1964. There were no classes, so students took advantage of local gatherings in Kalomo and at Namwianga Basic School. There were some sports match-ups here on campus as well.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Peace in the Chicken Pen

No more guineas have yet been fried, roasted, or stewed. In a last-ditch effort to thwart the bullies, we stretched chicken wire over the top half of the pen where the rooster and hens make their home. Now the guineas are isolated on their own side of the pen and can no longer fly over and harass the chickens.

A few hours after this new development I realized how quiet the back yard was. No squawking hens running to hide in the corners. No guineas honking in mocking glee. I decided to check things out and found the guineas running frantically back and forth on their side of the wire trying to get to the chickens. The hens, however, were peacefully enjoying their new freedom and completely ignoring the guineas. In a few minutes one of the guineas flew up and landed on the chicken wire over the hens. He walked around a bit, but when he found no way to get in, he flew back to join his guinea friends.

Peace reigns in the pen. The hens are laying, and all's right with the chicken world. I love a happy ending.

HIZ Update - October 21

The Harding students returned from their week-long trip on Saturday night. They reported having a wonderful time seeing northern Zambia but were glad to get back to Namwianga.

On Sunday three of the girls went along with the Heavenly Echoes choir on an outreach. Shawn Daggett and Daniel and Jonathan joined David for an outreach to Kasukwe. This is a new congregation that was planted in April/May by George Benson Christian College students who were doing their student teaching practice at the Kasukwe school. It was a long day for this outreach group-- they left at 7:00 a.m. and didn't get back until 5:30 in the afternoon. Their lunch menu was not your usual Sunday fare: samp (like hominy) in sour milk, mpongo (goat) and nshima.

On Sunday afternoon several of the HIZ students went to the Haven and brought back babies to spend the afternoon. There was plenty of love and attention lavished on those lucky little ones.

It seems impossible that there are only two more weeks left for this Harding group. They have been such a blessing to everyone here at Namwianga, and we will miss them.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Trouble in the Chicken Pen



Long-time readers may remember that back in March we had seven baby guineas (shown in the top photo) who were being raised by one of our red hens. We left for the States at the end of March and returned five months later to find that the guineas were all grown up (lower photo). I think these birds are strangely beautiful with their tiny necks and turquoise heads in contrast to their large and dotted bodies. They are also a good security force; they make a horrible racket when anyone new comes around.

The guineas and chickens had apparently co-existed quite well during our absence. But guineas will be guineas, and as ours grew into adulthood, the troubles began. Guineas can accurately be described as hyperactive (their nickname here is Turbo Chicks), and their frenetic darting around the pen is unsettling to the more staid hens. Worse yet, the guineas have become obnoxious bullies. They chase the chickens and peck at them mercilessly. The guineas bloodied one of the young roosters so badly that I gave the little guy away to one of the workers to save the rooster's life (at least until he went in the cooking pot). Several times a day I hear the hens squawking in terror as one of the guineas goes on a rampage. A guinea will choose one of the hens to pick on and chase her until she runs to a corner and hides her head. It's painful to watch!

We tried separating the guineas from the chickens with a wire fence. The guineas fly up and over the fence right back in. We tried reducing the number of guineas and butchered three of them last week, leaving just four of them in the chicken pen. The abuse continues.

Unique beauty is not enough of a reason for these bullies to be kept around to harass my hens! I think our guineas are headed for the dinner table.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

More Scenes from Sunday's Outreach


Messiah and Orleen taught the children's classes. These wonderful young women love to teach and described their experience on Sunday morning as "exciting!"


We drove the six miles to the farm. When we arrived, we found that the choir of eighth and ninth graders from Namwianga Basic School had walked the entire distance so that they could present a beautiful program in song after the morning service. They're shown here as they started their walk toward home under the canopy of the gorgeous jacaranda trees that line the drive at Seven Fountains Farm.

Sunday Outreach

I love Sunday mornings at the Mission, especially when there are outreach groups heading out to minister in other places. Last Sunday morning the yellow bus revved its engine as the Heavenly Echoes college choir climbed on. Soon they were joined by a high school boys' singing group. The bus driver dropped the boys at the Kalomo High School church and then took the Heavenly Echoes to Mawaya.

Four college students rode with college English teacher Kenneth Siaziyu to the Kalomo prison for their weekly Bible study and worship service with the prisoners. This Sunday they took along bars of soap donated by college students to share with the prisoners.

And I finally got to go on my first outreach in six months. David and I took a group of six college students to visit the congregation at Seven Fountains Farm.


Bagley and Humphrey are two sponsored students who represent the best we have to offer at George Benson Christian College. Both are excellent students, spiritually minded, and capable leaders. And both were orphaned in their teens. Without sponsorship, they would not be getting a college education. This Sunday Bagley led the meditation at the Lord's Supper and Humphrey served as his translator.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

HIZ Update

The Harding students left Saturday morning for a week-long trip into northern Zambia. Roy Merritt is directing this tour and plans to have them visit some of the congregations in the area as well as see some of the interesting sites. I heard that they have a stop planned at Kapishya Hot Springs so I assume they will also see the Africa House. Click on the link and check entries before and after to read up on what they will be seeing

Studying at the Gregersens

This was a familiar scene on our veranda this weekend. My students are writing research papers--a daunting task for most of them.

Our veranda makes a great study area where they can use my resource books to gather information and also get some extra help from me when they need it.

New Construction

Construction has begun on a new addition to the college women's dorm. This new housing is badly needed. Currently our first year ladies are living in a converted classroom and have a long walk to the nearest restroom/shower facility. If the construction proceeds as planned, the dorm will be ready in January.

Report from Student Teachers

Shown here are some of the sponsored students who did their student teaching May - August of this year. We invited them to come over on Sunday afternoon for cake and punch so we could hear about their experiences. What stories they shared! Some of them were sent to northern Zambia where they had to learn a new language in order to communicate with their pupils and other church members. Many of them faced opposition to their evangelistic efforts. One couple had to move from their first assignment because there was no place for them to stay at the original post. In spite of the difficulties, three new congregations were planted by members of this group, and many other congregations were blessed by their energy, enthusiasm, and love for the Lord.

Friday, October 10, 2008

We're Back

We left for Africa on Monday after spending the weekend in Austin with our friends and family at Brentwood Oaks. We landed in Livingstone Wednesday afternoon after an uneventful two-day trip. Then we bumped and jolted over and around innumerable and unbelievable potholes for the three-hour journey back to Namwianga.

Students and co-workers seemed glad to see us back, and we enjoyed a time of reunion with the Harding group as well.

We knew we were REALLY back when the electricity went off 45 minutes later. We managed to unpack all four suitcases by the light of our flashlights and went to bed early. The power came back on at 11:00 that night, and of course we had left light switches on, so the house flooded with light. We got up, turned everything off, and went back to bed—until 4 a.m. when the rooster decided it was time to start the day.

While we were gone the AfriConnect technicians finally got the Harding internet system up and running. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the electricity has been going off for several hours every day. The high school and college students have had their study time slashed by having no lights in the evenings. Leonard, the Harding chef, has to have a backup plan for cooking every meal because he never knows whether or not he’ll have the electric stove available. Every day is an adventure . . .

Even with all of the inconveniences, we are delighted to be back at Namwianga. When we asked some of the Harding students if anything exciting had happened while we were gone, one of them said, “Something awesome happens every single day here!”

It's good to be home.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Update - October 2

The funeral for David’s father, Jacob (Jake) Gregersen, was held last Thursday. The service was led by Jake’s two sons, his two sons-in-law, and eight grandsons. It was a wonderful celebration of Jake’s life as a faithful Christian servant. The psalmist’s statement that “the memory of the righteous is a blessing” certainly rang true for our family. David's mother is a woman of great strength and faith and is doing well. We are blessed by a close and warm relationship with David’s two sisters and brother and their families, so spending time with them was a blessing even under the burden of our sorrow and loss.

Today we traveled to Austin to spend the weekend with our sponsoring congregation at Brentwood Oaks. We leave for Africa on Monday, October 6, and will be back at Namwianga on the 8th.

We appreciate the many prayers and expressions of concern from our blog readers.

Monday, September 22, 2008

David's Father

We received word that David's father passed away gently at 8:00 Sunday evening (CDT).  He was surrounded by David's brother, his two sisters, and his mother.  As we grieve we rejoice in a life well lived.  

When we were with Jake and Margaret late in August before we returned to Africa, we agreed to begin reading the Psalms together, one per day, knowing that we would be sharing the same words of the Lord even thousands of miles away.  Today's reading is Psalm 26 and seems especially appropriate.  From verses 1,  8 and 12:  " . . . I have trusted in the Lord without wavering . . .  I love the house where you live, O Lord, the place where your glory dwells. . .  My feet stand on level ground; in the great assembly I will praise the Lord."

David's sister Debbie had a double blow on Sunday.  Her mother-in-law passed away early Sunday morning in Kerrville.  She too had been very ill.  Debbie's husband and sons had been keeping vigil in Texas as Debbie ministered to Jake in Searcy.  

Our bags are packed and we will be on our way to the airport in Livingstone soon.  We should arrive in Little Rock Tuesday afternoon.  

Your prayers are appreciated.  

  

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Heading for the USA

It's 11:30 p.m. and we just finished packing for another trip to the US.  David's father, Jake, is very ill in the final stage of leukemia, and we are leaving in the morning to fly to Searcy and be with the family.  We plan to stay until October 8.  

Harding parents, I talked to Shawn Daggett today.  The HIZ group is in Livingstone and is headed back to Namwianga Monday morning.  Shawn reports that the trip to Chobe Game Park was incredible.  They saw every animal you could see except leopards.  

As I receive news from Namwianga I'll try to post it, but I doubt that I will have much to blog this week.  



Thursday, September 18, 2008

HIZ Update - September 19

David and I found out from Roy Merritt that one of Zambia's major power generators broke down last week. That explains our three-times-a-day power outages and doesn't bode well for any improvement in the very near future.

Thursday afternoon Shawn Daggett took four HIZ students to the Kalomo Hospital to accompany Rodgers Namuswa on his weekly round of visits. Rodgers is a member of Namwianga's Church Development Team, and his ministry includes Kalomo Hospital. The HIZ group visited each of the wards (children's, women's, and men's), stopping to meet and talk with each patient and offer words of encouragement and prayer. Then they went to the Family Shelter and held a devotional service for the loved ones of the patients.

Friday morning at 4:00 a.m. the group is packing up and heading off to Livingstone for a weekend of sightseeing. They'll spend Friday in Livingstone. Then on Saturday they are off to Botswana for game viewing at Chobe Game Park. They'll spend Saturday night camping in the park and return to Livingstone on Sunday. Monday morning the group will tour Victoria Falls and then head back to Namwianga on Monday afternoon. I don't expect to hear from them while they're gone, so the next HIZ update will be late Monday (if the power is on).

Update - September 18

I apologize (especially to HIZ parents) for not getting a blog published yesterday. There was no time when there was a convergence of electricity flowing, my brain in gear, and the computer available for use.

The power outages are making our already crazy life even crazier! Yesterday the power was off in the morning while we were trying to get dressed and cook breakfast. It came on for a few hours in the late morning and then went off again all afternoon. We had electricity again for a couple of hours in the early evening, and then off it went again. Some time after I went to bed the power came back on, but it was off by this morning when we were once again trying to get dressed and make breakfast. This uncertainty keeps life interesting!

Monday night the HIZ students hosted their new language tutors. Each HIZ student is assigned a George Benson Christian College student as a tutor. The GBCC student is to help the HIZ student learn the Tonga language and culture.

The HIZ students were in charge of chapel at the college on Wednesday. Josh was the announcer, Jonathan led singing, and Lucas gave the message. They all did a wonderful job, and the GBCC students were very impressed at the way Josh made all of the announcements just like the Zambians do.

Three students went out with Louisa Duke on Tuesday. Louisa is a physician's assistant who coordinates an HIV/AIDS program in four villages. She and a team of Zambians go out to two villages each week to provide medicines, counseling, and testing to HIV positive patients.

I walked by the secondary school on Tuesday and heard a very American voice coming out of one of the classrooms. Lucas was teaching the twelfth grade English class a lesson on writing. Natalie and others have gone to the Basic School (grades 1-9) for teaching experiences there. Others are busy visiting babies at the orphanage and working at the clinic.

I'm off to chapel now. I'll try to write more later is the power stays on . . .

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

More Weekend Photos


Top: Thomas entertained the village children with his digital camera.
Lower: Sunday morning worship

A reader asked why we have internet access and the HIZ students do not. Good question! We have a satellite dish and pay an exorbitant monthly fee for 1G of bandwidth. If we go over that amount, we are bumped up into an even more exorbitant fee schedule. Last year we let the HIZ students use our system briefly, and in one day they used up one-third of our monthly bandwidth. SO we have to monitor carefully, and we typically use up our 1G with our own personal internet tasks.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Note to Concerned Mom

A mom sent me a comment and included an e-mail address that apparently is incorrect because it has come back twice now. Because I know what it's like to have a child far away, this note is for her:

Your daughter wasn't quite 100% on Saturday and decided not to go on the outreach. By Sunday she was fine.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Maambo Outreach Photos



Top photo: David and Laura Beth try out a dugout canoe. Note the "For Sale" sign on the side.
Lower photo: Getting ready for the day. Cooking fire on the left. Church building where the group slept is on the right. The rooster may become Sunday lunch . . .

Other HIZ News

Some random HIZ news and stories:

Apparently Brandon ended up in Kalomo with some HIZ girls who were shopping for chitenges, the brightly printed, 2-meter lengths of cloth worn as wrap skirts. The girls said that they dragged Brandon into the shop where they spread chitenges out all over the floor so they could make their choices. Poor Brandon was asked to offer his opinions on which of the fabric prints he liked best. I guess this wasn't his favorite Zambian experience, because he later announced, "I'm never going chitenge shopping again!"

There is a pretty serious spades tournament going on.

We made it for eight days without anyone getting sick! Now there are some sore throats and stomach upsets, but nothing too serious. Janice Bingham is great at handling all of the nursing care for the sick ones.

Donna Daggett loves to cook. Chef Leonard takes Sundays off, so Donna does the cooking on Sundays. Her specialty is pasta, and our Sunday lunches are wonderful, authentic Italian dishes.

Lindsay Turk and Cassie spent Saturday afternoon at our house just hanging out. I asked them to share their favorite experience with me. Cassie has loved getting some medical experience taking care of the babies. She went out with the clinic staff on the day when they visited villages for mother/baby care and really loved that. Lindsay reported that Ashley, the baby assigned to her at the orphanage, has made tremendous progress in the short time Lindsay has been working with her. There was some speculation that Ashley was developmentally delayed, but with Lindsay's extra attention Ashley is now pulling up in her crib and trying to babble. Wow! what experiences these girls are having! I hope I have a chance to hear more stories and share them with you.

HIZ Weekend Outreach

I'm sorry that I didn't post on the blog yesterday. The power went off in the morning and was off until 1:30 in the afternoon. At that point I was helping a Zambian apply online for a visa and was tied up until late afternoon. The power went off again at 7:00 and was off until 9:30. David left for the weekend, so I went to stay with Meagan and Louisa who do not have internet service at their house. The good news is the power has been on all day today--a first for this week.

Shawn Daggett and David took a group of eight HIZ students on an outreach Saturday and Sunday. All the students wanted to go, but since space was limited, the missions majors and some of the missions minors were the ones who went on this trip. The others will get their chance eventually! Five Zambians joined the 10 Americans, so a total of 15 headed out Saturday afternoon in the Harding Land Cruiser and our vehicle.

The purpose of the trip was to follow up on medical mission contacts in the area around Maamba, about 100 kilometers away from Namwianga. David had estimated that the trip would take about three hours, but in typical Zambian style it was five hours from the time they left here until they arrived. David and two George Benson Christian College female students cooked supper, and then the community gathered for a preaching service late that night. The HIZ group camped inside the church building, which David described as having a dirt floor, holes in the roof, and a hobbled rooster destined to be Sunday's lunch.

Sunday morning the group split up into three teams and visited three different congregations. There were three baptisms at one congregation, one at another, and six responses for prayers at the third. The Harding students taught the children's classes and gave the homilies for the Lord's Supper.

They arrived back at Namwianga around 6:00 this evening, tired, dusty, and brimming with stories of the adventure.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Power Issues

The power is on and has been on for almost four hours. That's pretty amazing after the day we've had. The power was on early this morning and then went off. Chef Leonard changed the menu for lunch so that he could cook spaghetti outside on the propane burner rather than bake chicken. The power came on, but went off again right before 1:00. It came on again during the afternoon and went off right before supper. Now it's on, but who knows how long it will last this time? We lead an unpredictable life and keep our flashlights handy.

AfriConnect technicians came and worked this morning. They have discovered several parts of the internet set-up are non-functioning and will have to be replaced. It will be several days and possibly a couple of weeks before the system is ready.

Chapel on Fridays is one of my favorite events of the week because the program always features a singing group. Today's male quartet sang four beautiful songs. Another unique feature of Friday chapel is the entire student body singing the Zambian national anthem at the start of chapel.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

HIZ Update - September 11

The HIZ students have settled into schedules and routines of morning classes and special activities in the afternoons. Some went to Kalomo Hospital with Meagan Hawley when she took six babies for checkups and injections. Two of the girls went to Zimba Hospital in the afternoon to check on baby Alex who had surgery this week. They said he was doing well and should get to go home tomorrow.

The power was out most of the day, so no AfriConnect personnel came. Maybe tomorrow?

David and I took Shawn and Donna Daggett with us to Choma this afternoon. Choma is about 45 minutes away from Kalomo and has a large grocery store where the HIZ program buys most of the food for the students. The store had been without power all day and was operating on backup generators. At first the manager didn't think that the meat department could package our 28 pounds of ground beef without electricity, but they diverted one of the generators long enough to work the packaging equipment and got our order ready.

Here's today's grocery list so you'll have an idea of what we needed for the coming week:
28 pounds of ground beef
8 pounds of sausage
30 5-lb. sacks of sugar
12 liters of milk
90 eggs
12 cans of diced tomatoes
20 pounds of cheese
35 packets of ramen noodles
3 pounds of baking powder
5 pounds of carrots
6 heads of lettuce (we had to settle for just 3--that's all they had)
1 box of apples
1 box of oranges
3 gallons of cooking oil

A couple of students have had minor ailments, but no one has been really sick yet. We are blessed.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

HIZ Update - September 10

We ALMOST have the new AfriConnect system up and running. The technicians came this morning and worked on it--until the power went out. They decided to go on to another job site in Zimba--and a few minutes later the power came on again. Oh well, maybe tomorrow. . .

A typical day for the HIZ students begins at 6:30 in the morning with a class taught by one of the Zambian lecturers from George Benson Christian College. Today the group had their first Tonga lesson from Kenneth Siaziyu. Kenneth also began a study of African literature with them.

Breakfast is at 8:00 followed by chapel with the GBCC students at 9:o0. Harding curriculum classes taught by Dr. Daggett and Janice Bingham fill the rest of the morning.

Lunch is at 1:00, and this is the biggest meal of the day. After lunch, students head out all over the mission to work or observe at the Basic School (grades 1-9), the Haven (orphanage), or the clinic. On some days there are additional afternoon classes in Harding subjects. Athletic practice with the GBCC students is in the late afternoons on Tuesday and Thursday.

Supper is at 5:30. Evening activities may include free time, a devotional, or rehearsals for choir members. (Tonight is the first choir practice for those who are joining the Heavenly Echoes group.)

Another Missionary Story

Brian and Sondra Davis are fellow missionaries at Mumena in northwestern Zambia. We love spending time with them and their two adorable little boys, Noah and Bryson. Brian sent us this story and agree to let me share it on our blog. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

This past Sunday we were finally able to meet with our newest church plant, Kyangozhi. They have been meeting together for the past two months (since our campaign medical clinic in July) with some help by a local evangelist in Solwezi town. We had only been able to come for a mid-week Bible study so far, so it was really good to be able to be with them on the Lord’s Day. There were three men and three women present, and we had a wonderful time of worship together. Sondra and I are planning to alternate our time between this new group and our other church plant in Kananga.

Kyangozhi is 17 kilometers into the bush off of the main paved road. When the rains come, we will have to have 4 wheel drive to get there for the road is pretty rough. This past Sunday after departing the church, we began to accelerate on the paved road towards home. Suddenly, I saw one of my back tires rolling out in front of me as it proceeded home faster than the rest of us in the vehicle. After giving Sondra a quizzical look, we came in for a landing on the Mumena tarmac with clear skies and a sunny 80 degrees. I thanked all for flying Mumena airways with us and warned them to take caution while retrieving their hand luggage as some luggage may have shifted during landing.

Becoming paranoid about going to church,
Brian, Sondra, Noah, and Bryson

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

HIZ Update - September 9

AfriConnect did not come to work on the internet system today.  It's just as well, because they couldn't have done much without electricity.  The power went off four different times today.  Our much-loved HIZ cook, Chef Leonard, had a terrible time getting meals on the table.  The power was off at breakfast time, so he cooked pancakes outside over the propane burner.  The power came on again for part of the morning, so he started the fried chicken and potatoes for lunch on the electric stove and then had to move them to propane burners when the power went off again.  Thankfully, the power was on in the afternoon long enough to get the taco soup cooked for supper--and then went off at 5:00 and stayed off until 9:00.  Whew!  Poor Leonard told me he had a bad headache trying to keep up with all this.  

Some of the HIZ students went out with Louisa Duke on the HIV/AIDS outreach today.  Others went with Meagan Hawley and Kathi Merrit and took some of the babies to the Kalomo Hospital for checkups and treatment this morning.  In the afternoon, students took off in several directions.  A few were at Namwianga Basic School to meet with the headmaster about tutoring, some went to Zimba Hospital to check on one of the babies who had surgery yesterday, and some worked at the clinic.  It is a blessing to hear all their stories when they come in at the end of the day! 

This morning was the first time that the HIZ students went to chapel at George Benson Christian College.  The GBCC student leader gave them a warm welcome and told them to feel at home.  Beginning next week, the HIZ program will be in charge of the chapel service each Wednesday.   

Everyone is still healthy and happy.  And maybe tomorrow the AfriConnect internet system will be up and running.   

Monday, September 08, 2008

HIZ Update - September 8

AfriConnect says they are on their way and should be at Namwianga on Tuesday to get the big internet system up and working.  We shall see. . .

This morning the students met briefly in their different classes to go over the course expectations and outlines.  At 10:00 Louisa Duke called from the clinic saying that a woman was about to give birth.  Kaitlyn, Kinsey, and Sarah headed up there and witnessed the arrival of a healthy baby girl!

Shawn met with the GBCC administrators and got approval for the HIZ students to join the college sports teams.  Those who were interested will start practice sessions tomorrow afternoon.   

I forgot to mention the close encounter with a snake!  Saturday night Alex and Lindsay were walking with me to our house when one of them calmly asked, "Was that a snake?"  Sure enough, our flashlights caught a two-foot black snake slithering just to our right.  Our Zambian friend Austin Siabeenzu stoned it to death before it could get any closer to the houses.  While the girls were hoping that it was a black mamba, Austin assured them it wasn't.  But it was black, and it was a snake, and the girls were remarkably calm through the whole incident.  And the mother in me used the teachable moment:  "Now aren't you glad you had your flashlight so you could see that snake and didn't step on it?"  (We've warned the students not to go out at night without their flashlights!)

Janice Bingham and I are rejoicing that after five days in Zambia, no one has gotten sick yet.  I've seen nothing but great attitudes and happy faces so far.   

Sunday, September 07, 2008

HIZ Update - September 7

AfriConnect still has not come out to get Harding's internet system up and running, so I'll be posting frequent updates of the HIZ student activities to keep parents and others informed.

Everyone is still healthy, and everyone seems to be adjusting quite well to African life.  Saturday was another busy day.  In the morning the students volunteered to move the radio station equipment out of storage to the new building. Then they went to The Haven where Meagan Hawley assigned a baby to each student.  Meagan plans for the students to help some of the babies who need extra attention in order to develop properly.  It was fun to hear the students talk about their babies at lunchtime.  They've already fallen in love with those little ones.

Saturday afternoon the HIZ students played sports and games with the young people on the mission and had a great time.  

Saturday night Meagan Hawley and Louisa Duke invited everyone to come to their house for a singing devotional.  It was a wonderful experience for David and me to be part of this and to hear their gorgeous voices.  

This morning (Sunday) we attended the worship service here on campus.  In the afternoon some students went back to the Haven and others spent time with young people on the mission.  Tonight the Namwianga community hosted a gathering to welcome the Harding group.  After greetings and congregational singing, the master of ceremonies invited the HIZ group to sing and jokingly announced that they would sing a Tonga song.  Our capable students took the challenge and sang a great version of "Wabota Munzi Waba Jesu" for the very impressed Zambian audience!

We are thoroughly enjoying this new group and look forward to the rest of their time here.  

Friday, September 05, 2008

Harding in Zambia

The 21 Harding In Zambia students arrived with us yesterday.  They all seem excited about this adventure.  This morning Louisa, Meagan, and I held an orientation session  to help them learn a few things about living here.  Then they got to tour the mission, including a stop at The Haven to fall in love with the babies.  This afternoon David and some others took them into Kalomo where they had a stop at the market and other sites.  I heard there was at least one marriage proposal at the market, but no cows were offered for a dowry, so it couldn't have been too serious.  Tonight they are attending a Bible study at the Mutala congregation about four miles from here.  They're getting their first live experience of congregational singing in Tonga, and I can guess that they'll remember this for a long time.

One piece of advice I gave them this morning was to keep in touch with their parents!  So HIZ moms out there, I'm doing my best.  For now, be reassured that everyone is healthy and happy so far.  You're welcome to send me questions or ask me to check on your student if you haven't heard anything for a while.  Just write a comment with the instructions "Do not post" in the title or subject line and leave me your e-mail address.  I'll be glad to respond.  

Thursday, September 04, 2008

We're Back!

We are back at Namwianga again!  The journey was easier than many of our past trips, especially since we had an overnight stop in Johannesburg, South Africa, and were able to get some rest.  Today we made the last flight into Livingstone with the new Harding In Zambia group.  We have enjoyed getting to know them and are looking forward to their stay here at Namwianga. 

The welcome from our friends and co-workers has been overwhelming!  Beatrice, my neighbor, picked me up off the ground and swung me around a few times in her greeting.  Others have been less physical but just as warm in their welcoming.  It's great to be back!

Now I'm off to sleep in my own bed for the first time in five months.  Chicken updates will follow soon . . .

Friday, August 29, 2008

Goodbyes

We are packing and preparing to leave for Zambia on Tuesday.  I think the goodbyes this time are harder than ever.  

We found out two weeks ago that David's father, Jake Gregersen, has acute leukemia.  Because of other health conditions he is not able to take any chemotherapy or other treatment.  We spent the first part of this week in Searcy with David's parents.  Jake and Margaret are people of incredible faith, and our time with them was a blessing.  Jake shared this with us about his condition:  "I have my ticket; I just don't know the departure date."  Margaret is loving and tender in her care of him, and it was a joy to watch them.  David asked his dad to name one thing he was really glad he had done.  Jake answered without hesitation, "I'm glad I married your mother."  

We laughed, we cried, we prayed, we read scriptures, we told stories.  And we said goodbye. 

It was harder this time.  


Friday, August 22, 2008

A Little Chicken Humor

If you are seriously missing my chicken stories, here are some video clips for you.   Enjoy a good laugh knowing that the star of these clips looks remarkably like the one who rules the roost in our back yard at Namwianga.  

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Sad News from Zambia

We received the following news in an e-mail from Malia Heroux, Consul at the US Embassy in Lusaka:

It is with great sadness that we learned of the passing of President
Mwanawasa.

Dr. Levy Patrick Mwanawasa, S.C. was a great man and a great leader. We
will all feel his loss, but most especially the Zambian people and the
other peoples of southern Africa whom he served so courageously and
admirably.

Our deepest sympathies go to the family, to close friends, confidents,
and colleagues of the President and to the Zambian people.

President Mwanawasa was highly regarded for the many improvements his leadership had brought to Zambia. He had worked hard to curb corruption, and his economic policies reduced inflation to single digits for the first time in 20 years. He was a professing Christian.

New elections will be held within the next 90 days. Please pray for the Zambian people as they mourn and as they elect a new leader.

Cancer Free!

I had my last radiation treatment yesterday (Monday).  This morning I had a follow-up mammogram at the Women's Imaging Center.  I left there and headed down the street to my family doctor's office to get a routine TB test.  I had just taken my seat in the waiting room when the office nurse came out with a huge smile and announced that they had just received a fax from the radiologist stating that my mammogram was fine and showed no signs of cancer.  We are rejoicing and praising the Lord.  As my Zambian student reminded me in a note last week:  Doctors treat, but God heals.   More later . . .

Friday, August 15, 2008

Reality Check

Sometimes it is easy to forget that much of the world doesn't have the things we take for granted. I received the following information from Ellie Hamby who is still in Zambia. She writes:

Church leader and ZMM translator Dominic Moonga reports that over 600 people arrived in Kanchindu the day after the medical mission left. Some caught up with the medical team in Mbole, then some in Simpweze, and a few even made it to Zyangale. It is our understanding that those who made it to Zyangale had stopped at Mbole after we left, then Simpweze after we left, and then finally to Zyangale where they got there in time to be seen. It is estimated they traveled around 140 miles to try to get medical care.

(Note: Some people who came to be served on the medical mission were referred for further treatment to the Zimba eye clinic about 40 miles from Namwianga.) Ellie continues: A family (elderly man, his wife, and daughter) arrived a few days ago from the Simpweze area. They had enough money to get to Namwianga but not enough to go on to Zimba. It was after dark, so I put them up in the Hamby Bunkhouse. Justin (our security guard) told me that when he showed them the room they had never seen a light switch and did not know how to turn the electricity on and off, and they had no idea how a key worked to lock a door. Sometimes we forget that so many of the patients we see lead an extremely basic life. We did take the three to Zimba the next day as we were going to Livingstone. The man told me that as soon as he could see he was going to read the Bible. They were very appreciative of the care we gave them.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Update - August 12


It doesn't seem possible, but my radiation treatments are almost over!  August 18 is the last one.  I am still feeling great and having no side effects.  

Mark and Michele Broadway arrived back in Austin on Friday after spending a month in our house at Namwianga.  They have had stories to tell, and we have loved hearing all of them.  Here are just a few:

Dr. Richard Prather, the stateside superintendent of Namwianga and also a veterinarian, neutered our cat.  The operation apparently caused a feline personality transformation.  According to Mark and Michele, our once ornery and aloof cat is now warm and cuddly.  They think he was also very lonely without us and was ready to have some human companionship.  

The chickens are fine.  The guinea fowl are now all grown up.  According to the Broadways, the guineas fly out in the mornings and roam at large.  Then at night they fly back into the coop.  

The garden is producing well.  The people staying at our house had salad fresh from the garden almost every day.  

The beds are now out of the dining room and the dining table back in its rightful place.  

Michele taught my classes for me the last week she was there--one of the classes is pictured above.  The students wrote notes to me, and reading these truly warmed my heart.  Here are excerpts from some of my favorites.

Dear Madam,
We are really missing you in the college.  You have a heart of a mother to us.  May the good Lord be with you till we meet next term.

Beloved Madam,
Let the beauty that is in God recharge your spirit, purify your mind, touch your soul, and give you eternal joy and happiness.  I really miss you!

Madam,
We miss you and we know that by his grace nothing is impossible.  Doctors treat but God heals.  God be with you till we meet again.

Dear Madam,
I was really grieved when I received the message that you have breast cancer.  I opened the Bible and read from the book of Psalm 121.  From the word of God I realized that God is there for you.

Dear Mum,
You are so dear to me and your absence has really made a big difference in my lectures and spiritual life.  You're an inspiration to me.  I know we worship the true God who will show us the right way.  It is my prayer and hope that you will become well and back.  I miss you so much Mum.

Dear Auntie,
If I was an angel I would look after you 24 hours, but since I am only human I will always pray for your recovery.  You are greatly missed by me.  

Dear Mother,
Your absence physically has created a huge empty space both in my spiritual and physical life. . .  Get well soon Mother.  Africa and Namwianga need you!

What wonderful encouragement and motivation to get back to African soil and the work there!





  

Monday, August 11, 2008

Jason Update

Meagan also sent this video of Jason singing in both English and Tonga.  He and Bernard both call me Nana.  

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Bernard's Goodbye

Mark and Michele Broadway returned from Namwianga this week and brought us photos and videos of Bernard and Jason.  Meagan made this video of Bernard way back in April when he was leaving with his new step-mom.  For new readers, Bernard is one of the Haven orphans that David and I fell in love with and kept at our house several times.  He has now gone home to his village.  

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Update - August 6

Only ten more radiation treatments to go!  Last week my oncologist ordered heavier doses of targeted radiation and warned me that I should expect side effects.   So far nothing has happened.  I'm actually experiencing less fatigue than in the last week or two.  God is good all the time.

We have been having some Africa experiences here in Austin.  During a Bible study last week the electricity suddenly went off for about five minutes.  Then the internet connection went dead on Sunday at the Broadway's house where we are living.  It came back on briefly yesterday and then went out again.  We had it repaired today, but it requires a password that we have forgotten.  We've e-mailed the Broadways (who are in our house in Zambia) and asked them to send it to us, but they're having their own issues with electricity and internet service in our house, so who knows when we'll be able to connect?  In the meantime we are using the wireless connection at the church building.  

We had a great weekend with fellow missionaries Don and Laura Oldenburg who came from Abilene to see us.  Don is almost finished with his radiation treatments.  Although he will finish ahead of me, he has more follow-up tests to get through, so David and I will be back in Zambia a few weeks before Don and Laura can get there.  It is always a joy to share our love for Zambia and our ideas for the future of the work with them.  

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Update - July 29

Today was my 19th radiation treatment--just 14 more to go.  Still no real side effects, and I've actually had more energy this week than I did last week.  Dr. Nuesch assures me that the side effects will happen . . .

Another blessing of our extended stay is that David was able to go to the Global Missions Conference in Arlington last week.  He saw many of our friends from years past and made some new connections.

The medical mission ended on Tuesday last week.  I haven't heard the totals on the number of patients served during the six clinics, but Rodgers Namuswa e-mailed us that there were 137 baptisms.  

Most of the team came home last weekend, but Mark and Michele Broadway are staying an extra 10 days.  Michele is teaching my English classes at GBCC.  She and Mark are also helping with some teacher training workshops at area schools.  

We discovered some slide shows on the Namwianga mission website that we hadn't seen before.  You might want to take a look.  


Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Kitchen is Where It's At

The dining room furniture was moved into the kitchen during the medical mission.   My kitchen is pretty small, but that didn't stop it from being well used.  

Here's the report from Michele Broadway:

When we got back from the first set of bush clinics, Mrs. Jope had given Richard Prather 30 eggs.  So Friday morning we had scrambled eggs!  Someone went down to the Hamby house and got buns and butter to go with the eggs, and it was delicious.

By the way, we (actually we're not sure who did it) broke the French Press (filter press coffee maker), we used up all your Crystal Lite lemonade mix for the reception, and we've eaten three bags of blueberry muffins.  We would have made cookies, but the mixes require eggs and a stick of butter.  We had the eggs, but we ate them all.  We're starting a grocery list for our Livingstone trip.  We've totally rearranged all your furniture and the house is a mess!  We've also been slipping and sliding on your concrete floors--on purpose!

Imagine your kitchen (see photo) with the dining room table in it and 10 or so people either sitting at the table or standing around it trying to cook eggs, wash plates, pour coffee out of the hole in the side of the French Press, make and pour tea, and feast!  There is a really great group of people staying here, and it has been really fun.

I'm so glad that our house has been used for such great fellowship, ministry, and fun!  

Rearranging the Furniture





Michele Broadway sent this picture of our DINING ROOM at Namwianga.  Our whole house was used by medical mission team members--18 in all!  

Last Friday (the 18th) the team was at the Mission in between two sets of clinics in the bush.  It was the day to do some projects around the mission, get laundry done, and repack for the second set of clinics.  

Michele writes: 
Then the power went out.  The laundry for the people staying at our house was still not ironed, and some was still on the line and didn't get dry.  

We went to eat dinner at Roy and Kathi Merritt's in the dark (but still delicious).  We got back to the dark house and tried to sort out laundry.  I couldn't find any of my socks, and other people were missing various laundry pieces, so we did a mass search for socks, etc., with flashlights.  Mine were found on top of a bunk bed in another bedroom.  Everyone packed for the next outing in the dark and then went to bed.  


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Update - July 22

Radiation treatments continue to go well with minimal side effects.  I've now completed more than a third of the required 33 sessions.  

We made arrangements for our return flights to Zambia.  God willing, we will leave from DFW on September 2 and arrive in Livingstone on September 4.  On our flight from Johannesburg into Livingstone we will be with the new Harding In Zambia group, and we are looking forward to meeting the students as they begin their time at Namwianga.  

We are keeping up with Zambia Medical Mission through their blog site.  It sounds like the work is going well.  They are now in the second set of clinics out in the bush.  I know from experience how much they are looking forward to hot showers and a soft bed!    


Monday, July 14, 2008

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Update - July 12

We're in Abilene this weekend and just attended the Saturday afternoon wedding of Nathan Driskell and Jesiree Guerrero.  Nathan grew up with our kids at Brentwood Oaks, and we were so pleased to be at this celebration.  Nathan's mother, Tammy, gave me a hug at the reception and said, "I'm sorry for the reason that you have had to stay in the US longer, but I'm so glad that you were able to come to the wedding."  

I agree.  We have had many other unexpected and blessed experiences during our extended stay.  We have been able to spend relaxed times with John and Leah--having them over for meals, sitting by them in church, and just being with them.  And Sara is coming to spend the next week with us, so we'll have additional time with her.  I've also gotten to spend time with old friends, visit shut-ins, and be part of an intensive small-group Bible study.  I thought I would be miserable without a job or a major project running my life, but I'm finding that I can stay quite busy and happy just being.  I guess it's all part of having this blest cancer.

My radiation treatments are going fine--8 down and 25 to go.  I still have no side effects.  In fact, I'm walking four miles a day and feeling great--no fatigue yet!  God is good all the time.  

Thanks for your prayers.  

Friday, July 11, 2008

Another Lesson from Feathered Friends

Following is an excerpt from Anne Graham Lotz's book Why? Trusting God When You Don't Understand (Thomas Nelson publishers, 2004).

A Tale of Two Birds
A turkey and an eagle react differently to the threat of a storm. A turkey reacts by running under the barn, hoping the storm won't come near. On the other hand, an eagle leaves the security of its nest and spreads its wings to ride the air currents of the approaching storm, knowing they will carry it higher in the sky than it could soar on its own. Based on your reaction to the storms of life, which are you? A turkey or an eagle?


It's natural for me to be a turkey in my emotions, but I have chosen to be an eagle in my spirit. And as I have spread my wings of faith to embrace the "Wind," placing my trust in Jesus and Jesus alone, I have experienced quiet, "everyday" miracles:


His joy has balanced my pain.

His power has lifted my burden.

His peace has calmed my worries.

His grace has been more than adequate to cover me.

His strength has been sufficient to carry me through.

His love has bathed my wounds like a healing balm.

Soaring has become an adventure of discovering just how faithful He can be when I am way out of my comfort zone in the stratosphere over the storm. Soaring is an adventure of discovering by experience His answer to my pain. . .

Soaring is so exhilarating, I find increasingly that I am no longer content to live in the barnyard of familiar comfort just for the relative security that seems to be there. I want to live by faith.

The book is available from www.christianbook.com.