Sunday, March 30, 2008

Update - March 30

We are in Lusaka at Mapepe Bible College where we have been attending a retreat for missionaries who serve in central and southern Africa. It has been an incredible time of fellowship and spiritual feeding for all of us. We have discovered an instant bond with those who understand all the challenges and joys of living and working over here.

Eddie and Carol Hendricks from Richmond, Virginia, and Grady King from Irving, Texas, have been the presenters for the retreat. Grady is a dear friend from David's college days at OCC, so we have delighted in getting caught up with him.

This afternoon we will head back to Namwianga and frantically finish our last minute preparations to leave for our furlough. We plan to go to Livingstone on Monday afternoon and spend the night before we fly out on Tuesday afternoon.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Sunday with the Boys

I picked up Jason and Bernard Sunday morning so they could spend the day with us. We took them on an outreach to Nazilongo, and this time they both did great—no meltdowns like the first time we tried it. They were worn out from all the excitement and took three-hour naps Sunday afternoon. While they were sleeping, we had our own excitement when I found a cobra on the back veranda. I caught a glimpse of it as I was going in the back door—the snake was hooded and flicking its tongue at me. David kept an eye on it while I went next door and got our neighbor’s son to come kill it. This one was only two feet long. (The last one we killed by the veranda steps was almost six feet in length.)

Meagan, Louisa, and newcomer Diedre Hulvey came over at 4:00 for our second annual egg dyeing event. Jason and Bernard helped us decorate the chocolate bunny cake, although as you can tell from the picture they were a bit overwhelmed. We dyed the eggs using our homemade dye, candle wax, and the ever-handy duct tape to create designs.

It was hard to take Jason and Bernard home after dinner. We are leaving to go back to the US on furlough, so this was the last time I will see them for a while. I managed an extra hug and kiss at the Haven before they ran off to join their buddies, and then I had a lonely ride home thinking about how much I will miss my little guys.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Training to Teach

These 20 ladies are all second and third year students at George Benson Christian College. In the second term of this year (May - August), they will be doing their student teaching. Many of them will be part of the Northreach effort and will be placed at schools in Luapula and Northern Provinces where they will work with new congregations or help to plant new churches. Several of the ladies will be working with new churches planted in Southern Province. All of them will have opportunities to work with local congregations while they are student teaching.

On Saturday I held a training session with them and showed them how to use the Beginner's Bible to teach children's Bible classes. We discussed ways to use children's classes as an outreach to the community through Saturday Bible School or after school Bible clubs. Each of them received a copy of the Beginner's Bible to take with her, as well as curriculum plans and instructions for activities. Won't it be exciting to see how God works through these talented women?

Bernard and Jason

Bernard and Jason came over for a few hours last week. After dinner I stuck them in the bathtub and watched the fun. Since they usually share bath time with 20 other toddlers, they don't have the luxury of playing in the tub at the orphanage. There were many giggles and splashes and smiles as they enjoyed themselves at my house.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

HIZ Chicks Update

You may remember that Harding University students Courtney and Kelsey took care of three orphan chicks during their stay at Namwianga. Little Autumn, Larry, and Harold then came back to us when Courtney and Kelsey returned to the US.

Autumn died suddenly a month later, and Harold had an eye problem and lost sight in one eye. The good news is that Harold and Larry are both doing great now, although they are really Harriet (top) and Laurie. It’s easy to spot these two—they are always together and tend to stay a little apart from the other chickens in the pen.

Courtney and Kelsey, your babies are all grown up!


I haven’t written about the henhouse lately, and I’m sure many of you are hungry for a fowl update. (“Many” may be a stretch, but my niece did mention that I hadn’t blogged any chicken news for a while.)

David decided we needed some guineas. They are unique looking birds that are reported to be good protection because they make noise when possible intruders are around. Besides that, he likes dark meat, and guineas are supposedly all dark meat.

So he bought ten guinea eggs for a whopping $1.50 and put them under one of our setting hens. Sure enough, a month later, we had little guinea chicks. At first the mother hen would have nothing to do with them, so we gathered them up and put the tiny fluff balls in our well-used “orphan box” under a lamp. I was not happy about this development, because we are headed back to the US for a furlough soon and I really didn’t have time to take care of them and didn’t want to leave them behind for someone else to have to deal with.

David consulted with our next-door neighbor who advised us to put the hen into the box with the chicks for three days and let them bond. Hmmm. Great idea, but we weren’t observant enough to know which of the five red hens in our coop was the mother. And the hen certainly wasn’t rushing over to claim these little aliens. The chicks spent the night in the box.

Monday morning the gardener rescued us. He knew exactly which hen had been sitting on the eggs, and he dropped her into the box with them. For the first few minutes she stayed on her side and the babies watched her from the far corner. Remembering our bad experience with Cruella, I was ready to pounce at the first sign of any murderous intent from the hen, but she seemed content to just sit and cluck. Then David reached in to put a container of water in the box, and Mother Hen flew into action. She swooped those babies under her wings and sat on them, her beady eyes just daring David to try to touch those chicks!

From then on, Mother Hen was a natural. She took over her maternal duties without complaint, and at the end of three days of bonding proudly joined her fowl friends in the coop, guineas in tow. The rest of the chickens don’t seem to care that these babies are a little different in color and run a little faster than their young ones. I love happy endings!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Update - March 15

The Harding Academy group headed for Livingstone on Thursday morning. They were a wonderful addition to our campus, and we were privileged to host them.

I said in an earlier blog that the Harding students would leave a bit of themselves here at the Mission. That proved to be true in a very literal sense, because many of them left behind clothes and other items to be given away! Yesterday I gathered up all the donated items and spread them out on my veranda. The sponsored students at the high school came over and selected six items each to keep. They had a great time sorting through blue jeans, skirts, T-shirts, towels, and shoes to find what they wanted.

The Harding students also left us some of their snack foods. True confession: I ate three packages of Pop-Tarts on Thursday. (I didn't even really like Pop-Tarts when we lived in the US!) We also received granola bars, trail mix, and sugar coated cereals. Yes, the Harding Academy left fond memories in our household.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Update for March 12

Today was Youth Day in Zambia, so there were no classes at the schools. Namwianga Secondary scheduled sports and games all day and invited the Harding group to participate. The Academy fielded teams in volleyball, basketball, netball, and soccer. The girls managed to win their netball game, even though it was their first time to play!

This afternoon most of the students went to the orphanage to say goodbye to the babies and caregivers. Tonight after dinner we had the Merritts and their Eric's House children come over for a devotional and S'mores. A good time was had by all.

On a sad note, baby Whitney died at the orphanage this morning. She was premature at birth and had struggled throughout her two-month life. Last week Meagan had asked the Harding students to give her extra attention, so for her last few days on earth Whitney had been held and loved tenderly. Her short life will leave a lasting impression on the students who came to know her and care for her.

Thursday morning the Harding group leaves for Livingstone. They will see Victoria Falls on Thursday and then go to Chobe Game Park on Friday. Saturday they will head back to America, leaving behind a bit of themselves and taking along memories and changed hearts.

Prayer Request

Don and Laura Oldenburg have been our co-workers here since February, 2007, and have become our dear friends. They have been tremendous assets to the Mission as Don worked with the Finance Office and Laura worked to get our hospital ready to open. They left in late February of this year to return to the states so that Don could have surgery. We were devastated to learn yesterday that Don has been diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma of the tonsils, and the cancer has already spread into his lymph nodes. Don will begin chemotherapy on Wednesday, March 12, in Abilene. Please pray for Don and Laura during this difficult time.

The Day After The Babies Spent The Night

I heard that the babies did pretty well during their overnight stay on Monday night. I'm guessing that there was some lost sleep, though. These are scenes from the guesthouse after lunch on Tuesday.

Update for March 11

On Tuesday the team had another day of working at the orphanage and tutoring at the nearby school. Tuesday night a singing group from Mutala came and presented a program of their songs.

Wednesday is a Zambian national holiday called Youth Day. The Harding students will be joining the Namwianga Secondary students for sports and games.

No illnesses yet. Mr Harrell, the pharmacist on the team who came along to take care of medical problems, has been blissfully unoccupied with that area and has been busy doing other things.

Parents, you can be very proud of the way your children are pitching in to help with whatever needs done. As we get ready for meals, the two questions we hear are, "What are we having?" and "Can I help with anything?"

They are not complaining about the food, the heat, the work, the frequent power outages, or anything else. We are blessed to have them here.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Shown here are some of the babies who spent the night with the Harding Academy girls. It will be interesting to find out how much actual sleep occurred in the guesthouse!

To Harding Academy Parents

You can send a message to your child by posting a comment on the blog. I will receive it as an e-mail before it is posted and can print it out and give it to him/her. Please specify if you do NOT want the comment to also appear on the blog.

We are seven hours ahead of you, so the last message I can deliver will be Thursday morning our time/Wednesday night your time.

Harding Academy Update - March 10

I'm posting the blog late today because we had no electricity for several hours Monday evening. Dinner was already cooked by then, so the only real challenge was washing the dishes by flashlight.

This morning the Harding students worked at the orphanage with the babies and toddlers. In the afternoon they went to Namwianga Basic School and tutored pupils there.

Tonight the guesthouse where the female students are staying has a few extra guests. The girls brought babies from the orphanage to spend the night. It was such a delight to watch them holding and loving the babies this evening. The youngest baby is a tiny one-month-old, and the oldest is Sally, a busy toddler. There are bottles, blankets, and diapers everywhere in the house. The guys have pitched in to help by bringing food to the girls at dinner time, cleaning up the kitchen and dishes, and I even saw one brave guy who will remain nameless carrying a big pink diaper bag back from the orphanage this afternoon.

There may not be much sleeping in that house tonight, but there will be lots of love given and received, and there will be memories made that will last a lifetime.

We continue to give thanks that everyone is healthy and doing well.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Sunday at Kasibi

What a day we have had! This morning we combined the 12 Canadians who are here with the 24 students and leaders from Harding for a trip out to the beautiful village of Kasibi. We took the Land Cruiser, two double cab pickups, and a flatbed truck. Most of the students and some of the adults ended up on the flatbed truck--outfitted in style with chairs. The road to Kasibi is pretty bad; however, none of the vehicles had any major problems navigating the potholes and ravines.

We had to park the vehicles about a quarter of a mile away from the church building and walk the rest of the way. The bridge over the creek consisted of about six logs fastened together. We all managed to make it across without incident, cheered on by a warm welcome from the women of the congregation as they sang and clapped for us.

We tried to squeeze into the Kasibi building, but when it became apparent we weren't all going to fit, we moved outside under the trees and enjoyed a wonderful time of worship with the Kasibi congregation.

Afterward we gathered in the yard in front of Leonard Sichimwa's house for a traditional Zambian meal of chicken, nshima, and goat. Leonard was kind enough to add non-traditional chocolate cake and Kool-Aid for us.

Then the Kasibi Village Band arrived with their homemade instruments and performed. I told one of our Canadian visitors that afternoons like these are called "National Geographic Moments" when you feel like you have stepped into the pages of National Geographic!

The rain came just as we were leaving Kasibi--a gentle shower that pretty well drenched the riders on the back of the truck. Their enthusiasm wasn't dampened, however!

Back at Namwianga, the gang headed for the Merritt's house and spent a couple of hours putting together "Baby Packs" that will be given to caregivers who receive formula from the Mission. In cases where a baby's mother has died, an aunt or grandmother will often volunteer to take care of the child. The orphanage provides formula for the first year or two of the baby's life. A Baby Pack containing a diaper, plastic pants, diaper pins, bottle, clothing item, and blanket is given to each caregiver to help her meet the baby's needs.

Some of the Harding students volunteered to take babies home for the evening. The lucky babies were held, cuddled, and cooed over during dinner and the evening church service. I heard at least one student saying sadly about her new little one, "I don't want to take her back to the orphanage." What an experience the students have had--they will never hear about orphans in Africa without a tug on their hearts from the time they spent here.

Other happenings throughout the weekend: the Harding students have made friends with Namwianga students through working together and interactions on campus. Some attended a movie together in the auditorium on Saturday night. There were some soccer games today as well, and more are sure to come.

I've already fallen asleep at my keyboard once while I was typing this blog, so please forgive any typos and errors. Everyone is still healthy, and I can't think of a time when any other group of this size managed to avoid illness this long. As we recited in church today, "God is good all the time."

Work Crew

Here is our Harding/Namwianga Secondary crew right before they headed off to work on the roads Saturday morning.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Another Day, More Adventures

It’s not even 10:00 as I write this, and the Harding crew at our house is getting ready for bed after a day filled with activities. This morning each Harding student was paired with one of the sponsored students at Namwianga Secondary. We all ate breakfast together and then divided into three groups to work on sections of the road that were damaged by the recent rains. Students dug dirt, shoveled gravel, and filled potholes all morning.

Then this afternoon we had a Vacation Bible School for children who live in or near the Mission. We had planned to have this event out on the soccer field, but the threat of rain moved us indoors to the church auditorium. The excitement of 306 children singing at the top of their lungs was incredible! The Harding students used flip charts, role plays, puppets, games, and crafts to teach the children about God’s love. We ended the afternoon with a craft project in which the kids made visors lettered with “Jesu Ulandiyanda” (“Jesus loves me” in Tonga).

Tomorrow we’re going out with a group of Canadians who are also here working at the Mission. We’ll visit the church at Kasibi, a beautiful village that is home to our beloved Zambia Medical Mission cook Leonard Sichimwa. He’s promised us chicken, goat, and nshima after the worship service. We’ll also get to hear the Kasibi Village Band.

Everyone in the Harding group is still healthy and happy as far as I can tell.

Friday, March 07, 2008

The Adventures Just Keep on Happening!

This morning the Harding Academy students walked up to the Haven 1 (baby orphanage) and Haven 2 (toddlers) to give special attention to the little ones there. The students were divided into two groups, and the groups rotated their time at each house. Meagan had planned all this and had made the assignments of students to babies. She said she almost cried just seeing all the babies being held and loved!

This afternoon the Harding group went to the nearby village of Wasawange and observed daily activities there. They also held an impromptu VBS with about 30 or 40 of the children in the village and had a wonderful time with them.

Tonight we loaded into the Land Cruiser and two pickups and traveled over some typically rough bush roads to Mutala to attend the Friday night Bible study there. We gathered in the local schoolroom with candles and a lantern for lighting. Mark Benton spoke with Rodgers as his translator. The singing was incredible, both when we sang as a congregation and when singing groups (including the Harding students) presented their gifts of songs afterward.

The riders in my vehicle got an extra adventure on the way home. I was following David and got behind a little bit and lost sight of him in the dark. I went the wrong way at a fork in the road. We ended up parallel to the right road, but couldn't quite make it back to that road because of one narrow place between a tree and a stump. Mark helped out by taking the wheel and backing up the truck to turn it around, and then I managed to backtrack and get onto the right road. No mission trip is complete without at least one "lost in the bush" story, so I guess I've done my part!

Tomorrow the students will be paired with high school students from Namwianga Secondary to work on the roads in the morning. Then in the afternoon we've invited all the children on the mission to a Vacation Bible School.

Everyone is still healthy and everyone seems to have a wonderful attitude. They are a blessing to us!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Harding Academy, Day 2

The Harding Academy students have had a busy and exciting day. We had originally scheduled them to be at secondary chapel this morning at 6:30, but after seeing how bleary-eyed they were last night, we let them sleep in a little longer. After an 8:00 breakfast, they loaded onto a flatbed truck for a tour of Namwianga. They saw the clinic, the schools, the college, and then they spent some time with the orphans.

This afternoon Louisa had arranged for them to visit Kalomo Hospital. For this trip we had reserved the school's blue lorry (truck). They grabbed the chairs from our front veranda and put them on the flatbed so they could travel in style and comfort.

The students visited two wards in the hospital and sang for the patients who were there. Then they went to the Family Shelter and sang. Next it was off to the market for an introduction to shopping and bargaining Kalomo style.

So far everyone is still healthy--an unusual occurrence for a group of this size. Tomorrow they will spend the morning working with the babies and toddlers at the orphanage. In the afternoon they will visit Wasawange village to get a glimpse of village life.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Harding Academy Arrives!

A group of high school seniors and chaperones arrived today from Harding Academy in Searcy. We are thrilled to have them here, especially since David's nephew Wil is one of them. They had a relatively uneventful flight and--miraculously--arrived with all of their personal luggage! The only bag missing is one that was full of goodies for Louisa and Meagan. We'll share some of the good stuff we received until it gets here.

Tomorrow morning they'll be going on a tour of Namwianga and get a look at the places where they'll be working during the week they are here. Then tomorrow afternoon we've planned a trip to the market in Kalomo and a visit to Kalomo Hospital where they'll sing for the patients.

One of their ministries will be to play with and love on the babies and toddlers at the orphanage. Meagan has assigned each Harding student two infants and two toddlers to give special attention to. I made sure Wil has my little Jason as one of his!

I will try to post a little bit every day to keep the Harding parents informed about their kids.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Sunday Morning Outreaches

On Sunday mornings the vehicles start up and the students climb in to head for village churches and other ministry points. Here are some of the groups.

This singing group went with David to Sinazongwe. David reported that they sang all the way there and all the way back. He loved it.

The Helping Hands Club has a secondary group and a college group. Both groups went out on the yellow bus to encourage two different congregations in the Kalomo area. The driver of the bus is shown here--he preached for one of the services.

The newest outreach group is the prison ministry. Kenneth Siaziyu (third from left) is a teacher at the college. He recruited several of the college men to go with him to the Kalomo prison and minister to the inmates. There have already been 14 baptisms. Kenneth also challenged the entire student body to donate soap and clothing for the prisoners, and the students responded generously


David is showing off our first crop of bananas. We planted the banana trees right after we moved into our house in September of 2005. These are the typical Zambian bananas--tiny but very tasty.

Saturday, March 01, 2008


Sunday's outreach brought some pleasant surprises. Don and Laura Oldenburg and I took a group of high school boys on an outreach to the Tara congregation about an hour away. (David ended up having to drive on another outreach at the last minute.)

We arrived a few minutes before the worship service began. Laura and I sat down on the women's side of the building and were greeted by two ladies in the row ahead of us. One lady had a four-year-old son who couldn't seem to keep his eyes off of us. He looked like a healthy, happy child, and we enjoyed watching him as much as he enjoyed watching us. The mother sang with obvious enthusiasm during the worship and gave me the overall impression that she was a committed member of the congregation. Later one of the students we had brought with us introduced me to the woman, and I found out that she is my special little Bernard's new stepmother! (Bernard's biological mother died in childbirth; Bernard's father has since remarried.) Bernard's father was in Choma on Sunday, so I didn't get to meet him, but I did assure the stepmother that Bernard is old enough now for them to come get him from the orphanage and take him to live with them. I was thrilled to meet her and find out that Bernard will be going to a home with Christian parents and a sweet big brother. I'm also thankful that Bernard will be living close enough that I can visit him every now and then to see how he's doing.

When the sermon started, the thirty or so children in the congregation got up and went outside for Sunday School. The other lady who was sitting in front of us left with them to be their teacher. After the service ended, she led the children back in and took them up to the front of the building where they sang a song and acted out the story of Naaman. The teacher carried with her one of the Beginner's Bibles that I had given out during teacher training classes in 2006! It was a joy for me to see that teachers are continuing to use the Bibles and doing the activities that I taught them.

Once again I am reminded of the Zambian saying: God is good all the time. All the time God is good.