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.