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 . . .