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!


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 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.


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


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


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.