Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Women's Meeting, Last One

Here is the final installment of Roy Merritt's report on the women's meeting.
Top Photo:  Women formed prayer groups on the lawn while waiting for meals.
Middle photo:  The men worked 18 hours a day to feed the crowd.  It took three hours to serve each meal, with supper often ending after 9:00 p.m.
Lower photo:  Food at last!  

More Photos of the Women's Meeting

I can only imagine how wonderful the singing was when all these ladies praised the Lord together!  

Women's Meeting, Part 2

Roy Merritt continues:
Numbers eventually reached 4000 women and uncounted numbers of children.  Men hauled all the benches from the auditorium, all the classroom chairs, and all the benches from the dining halls and packed them in the high school quadrangle.  

The photographer could not get high enough to picture everyone in one frame.  

Report of the Women's Meeting

Roy Merritt sent out a report of the national women's meeting that was held at Namwianga last week.   He writes:

Women of the Zambian church gather once a year.  This year we were the hosts.  We expected 2,000 to 2,500.  Men of the Namwianga congregation prepared the campus and braced themselves to cook for such a crowd.  Our high school dormitories handle about 300, and our college looks after about 200.  We knew our facilities would be on overload.  And so they came . . .

and they came . . .

and they CAME!

Bernard Goes Home

Meagan sent me this picture of Bernard showing off for the camera.  It's the last picture I'll have of him for a few weeks, because Bernard has now gone home to live with his father and stepmother.  They followed the required procedure by coming to the orphanage and living there for a week to bond with Bernard.  Meagan reports that Bernard seemed to readily bond with the stepmother, and that she was very kind and caring.  She's already told Meagan that we are welcome to come visit and will even meet us in Choma if we give her a call ahead of time.  I'm so happy for Bernard, but I'm going to miss this little guy!  

Friday, April 25, 2008

Update - April 25

We have spent the past week traveling to Missouri and Arkansas.  My family gathered in Mt. Vernon, Missouri, for the weekend, so we were able to visit with my brother and sisters and their families.  David preached at the Mt. Vernon congregation on Sunday morning.  I grew up with the good people there, and it is always a joy to be reunited with them and to see how the Lord is blessing their work.  

Monday through Wednesday we were in Searcy with David's family.  We also got to spend some time on the Harding campus and spoke to the Harding in Zambia group that will be coming in September.  We found some of last year's HIZ students as well and had fun getting caught up on Namwianga news with them.   Shawn and Donna Daggett will be joining Janice Bingham in leading the 2008 group, and we had a chance to meet and talk about upcoming plans. We also enjoyed seeing the Rackleys who led the 2007 group.   

This weekend we are off to HEB Foundation Camp for the Brentwood Oaks family retreat.  

Mother's Day Gift Suggestion

We would like to suggest a mother's day gift that can make a difference for mothers and children in Zambia.  A donation of $10 will purchase two Clean Delivery Kits (CDKs).  These will be given to expectant mothers during Zambia Medical Mission this summer and throughout the year at Namwianga Rural Health Center.  We will be targeting mothers who will not have access to a hospital or other health facility for delivery.

Each year about 60 million women in developing countries give birth with only the help of an untrained attendant or family member or with no help at all.  Many of these deliveries take place at home and often in a small hut in a remote village.  The infection rate is high, with some 1600 women per day dying from complications associated with pregnancy or childbirth, according to the World Health Organization.  Many of these infections can be avoided when Clean Delivery Kits (CDKs) are used.  Each kit includes the following supplies:  bar of soap, square yard of plastic sheeting, razor blade and string for the umbilical cord, cotton cloth to wrap baby, candle and matches, pain relievers, vitamins, disposable gloves, and sealed bag for packaging.  

We are making a special drive for Mother's Day by encouraging family and friends to donate to Zambia Mission in honor of their mother or special friend.  A personal note will be sent to inform each recipient of her gift.  If you are interested, please make checks to Zambia Mission and send them to the following address:  Zambia Mission, 658 E. N. 21st Street, Abilene, TX  79601.  Mother's Day is May 11, so please send in your requests as soon as possible.  

Sunday, April 20, 2008

News from Namwianga

While we are in the United States, Namwianga is hosting the national women's meeting. The mission has been preparing for this event for many months, knowing that women from all over Zambia would be coming.  The turnout is far beyond expectations--the largest women's meeting ever.  Here are excerpts from a report sent by Kathi Merritt:

At last count there were 3,640.  They haven't finished registering.  The count will go well over 4,000.  All the dorms, both in the college and secondary school, are full.  All the classrooms, both in the  college and secondary, are full.  Verandas are full.  The auditorium is full. And tents have been put up.  All the benches and chairs have been moved to the quad.  All the sound equipment has been moved to the quad.  Tonight additional lights were put up there.  

The men are tired of cooking.  It takes about three hours to feed the group, and then the cooking starts immediately for the next meal.  

Church on Sunday will be in the quad. I asked Shadreck to get some pictures from the roof.  It should look like a flower garden with all the brightly coloured headscarves. 

Saturday, April 19, 2008

And More Visitors

Steve and Joan Mann (center) have been involved in Zambia missions since the 80s. I consider them our kindred spirits as they share our passion for the work and have willingly opened their lives and their resources to us. They spend part of every year in Zambia, most recently coming in February and staying through early April. This year they hosted several other friends who came to work and minister with them. Lynn Anderson (see previous blog entry) is Steve’s cousin, and the Manns were instrumental in getting Lynn and Carolyn to come to Namwianga. Sam and Paulette Hawkins (shown at left) from Regina, Canada, made their first trip to Africa in March and jumped right in to all the work. They were willing to try any new experience and were great sports about it all. Bob and Kathy (right) were returning to Namwianga for a second time and proved once again that their many talents can make a difference. Bob is a fix-it person and was constantly busy with repair jobs. He also borrowed some heavy equipment and worked on the roads, endearing himself to us in a big way! Kathy made curtains, cooked, and did anything else that needed done, showcasing her servant heart.

Albert and MaryAnn French (not pictured), also from Cananda, spent six weeks in Zambia. They took over the Seven Fountains orphanage so that Rod and Sue Calder could enjoy a three-month furlough in the US.


We were blessed to have many wonderful visitors at Namwianga in March. There were so many things happening that I didn’t get a chance to write about them at the time. Lynn and Carolyn Anderson came in early March. Lynn led a spiritual emphasis week on campus, preaching Sunday through Wednesday nights, giving chapel talks, and teaching Bible classes. The students responded enthusiastically to his lessons and his interactions with them. David and I benefited greatly from the time we spent with Lynn and Carolyn.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Family News

Here’s the most recent photo of our family, and those who know us will notice a new face. We are thrilled to announce that John is engaged to Leah Vickers and will be getting married June 14!

We have known Leah’s extended family for many years and have watched her grow up with our kids at Camp Blue Haven through the years. She is a wonderfully talented, beautiful, and sweet person, and we know she is a blessing from God for John and our family.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Pleasures of the Unreal World

Two weeks into our American stay, I can list at least ten things we enjoy about being back

1. Clean public restrooms with soap, warm water, and paper towels
2. Long, hot showers (but I still feel guilty. . .)
3. WATER FOUNTAINS--I had forgotten about these wonderful conveniences until we got to the Atlanta airport
4. No roadblocks manned by guards with AK-47s.
5. Padded church pews and individual communion cups
6. Dr. Pepper
7. No potholes (although we did find one in a parking lot recently)
8. Unlimited Internet access - guilt-free
9. No one is knocking at our door!
10. Electricity all the time

Friday, April 11, 2008

Water Pump and Playground

Water is scarce in southern Africa. Most communities struggle to provide an adequate supply of clean water for the residents. Mazabbuka, a town about 150 miles north of us, has found a creative solution. The pump for the community well is a merry-go-round. As children spin the metal wheel, they pump water to supply individual needs and to fill the nearby storage tank. We have driven past this well many times, and we always see a happy crowd of children playing as they pump the well. Mothers watch in the background while water flows into their buckets.

Update - April 11

David has quickly recovered from his bout with malaria.  We have been SO thankful for the counsel of fellow missionaries Sheri Sears and Brian and Sondra Davis.  They advised us to take malaria drugs with us just in case and told us of other missionaries who spent their furloughs trying to get diagnosed and treated in the US--a difficult situation since most American doctors know little about malaria, and the drugs are not readily available.   Our last stop in Zambia before the airport was at the pharmacy, and we are glad we did!

We flew into DFW on Wednesday and are now in Fort Worth visiting our friends the Branscums for a couple of days before going to Austin on Saturday.  

For the rest of our furlough (through mid-June), I will post occasional updates on our activities and blog the stories and photos of Zambia that I didn't have the time or bandwidth to cover while we were there.  

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Missionary Retreat

This is the group of missionaries that gathered March 28 - 30 at Mapepe Bible College for a retreat.  Included are Fielden and Janet Allison from Tanzania; Diedre Hulvey, Meagan Hawley, Louisa Duke, and Sheri Sears from Namwianga; Brian and Sondra Davis with Bryson and Noah from Mumena Mission in Solwezi, Zambia;  Mark and Era Thiesen with Eric and Dana from Namikonga Mission in Malawi; and David and Lorie French with Natasha and Susan from Mapepe.  Also shown are the retreat presenters Eddie and Carol Hendricks from Richmond, Virginia, and Grady King from Irving, Texas.  We had a wonderful time together and are already looking forward to our next gathering. 

Monday, April 07, 2008

Update - April 7

The last post seems like months ago rather than just one week.  We have packed many miles into the past eight days.
We planned to leave Namwianga on Monday, March 31, at noon to head for Livingstone.  Getting packed and ready to leave was quite a challenge.   By 6:40 on Monday morning we had already said goodbye to five overnight guests and answered the door three times!  Then  our original transportation plan for getting to Livingstone fell through and we had to come up with a quick Plan B.  We were on our way at 2:00 Monday afternoon.  
We spent Monday night in Livingstone and flew out on Tuesday.  Fifty-one hours later we finally landed in another world--Honolulu!  David's cousin Paul lives in Kailua and invited us to spend a few days in his guesthouse on our way home to Texas.  Our travel agent in Livingstone managed to get us extremely cheap tickets if we were willing to spend enough time in a plane, and here we are!  
So far we have enjoyed seeing the Waikiki beach area and the Kailua beach near the guesthouse where we are staying.  Over the weekend we made a two-day jaunt to the big island and hiked across the Kilauea Iki crater.  We also watched lava flow into the ocean.  On Sunday after church we took a trip up to the northern shore of Oahu island with Paul and two of his children.  
By the time we returned from that excursion, David was miserable with symptoms of malaria. He went straight to bed and hasn't been up much in the last 24 hours.  Thankfully, we heeded the advice of seasoned missionaries and brought a round of malaria treatment with us. He started taking the medication this morning, and hopefully he will be back up and around in time for our Tuesday night flight back to the mainland.  
Our plan is to spend a couple of days with our friends the Branscums in Fort Worth and then arrive in Austin on Saturday.