Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009

It was what some might call a minor miracle--the electricity stayed on all day while we did our cooking and baking! I held my breath every time I put a dish into the oven, hoping that the power would stay on long enough to cook it. I breathed a sigh of relief when everything was hot and ready.

Our Thanksgiving guests began arriving at 6:00 just as the sun was going down. We were about to gather at the table when the seemingly inevitable happened-- the power went off. We ate our feast by candlelight. Just as we finished dessert, the power came back on at 8:50 p.m. David called it another TIA (This Is Africa) experience.

We ended up with 21 for dinner with an interesting mix of ages, stages, and cultures. We had five Peace Corps volunteers from our area plus American missionaries, Zambians, a Peruvian, and a South African family.

Once again we give thanks for the blessing of friends and fellowship in a foreign land. God is good all the time, and God is good everywhere.

Shown in top photo: Peace Corps Volunteers Krista, Britni, and Tim; Missionaries Sheri Sears and Rod Calder.
Below: David with Shepherd, Manuel, and Ruhttt Mbumwae, Jana Miller. Ruhtt is holding Haven baby Lennie--our youngest guest.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Eve, 2009

The pumpkin pie (made from those huge pumpkins we grew in our garden) is cooling and the pecan pie is about ready to come out of the oven. The can of cranberry sauce is ready, thanks to some thoughtful visitors who brought it from the US last year. I brought back some canned sweet potatoes and marshmallows from my trip, so we'll have that traditional dish as well. Mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, corn, and carrot salad are also on the menu. What we won't have is turkey. The electricity has gone off several times a day for the past two weeks, so there is little chance of having power long enough to cook a turkey. Instead, David is grilling chicken and Harold Sichimwa is frying some.

We are expecting at least six Peace Corps volunteers from our area to join us. Some we have met, but some will be new friends. Then we'll have a mixture of Americans, South Africans, and Zambians to round out our guest list.

My own children have friends and extended family to share the holidays with, and we are blessed to be substitute family for other young people who are far from home. We have much to be grateful for as we look forward to Thanksgiving Day. And we will be extremely thankful if the electricity stays on while we do rest of the cooking!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Fuel Shortage

During the recent fuel shortage we saw this scene in Lusaka. As soon as the rare shipments of fuel arrived, lines of cars snaked down the major streets as people waited for their turns at the pumps.

Jason and George

Jason and George are showing off their new basketball uniforms and cool sunglasses that Sara sent for them.

Too Quiet

We enjoyed a visit from Harding University's president Dr. David Burks and his wife Leah last weekend. The Burks spent a busy three days at Namwianga seeing many facets of the Mission and the Harding in Zambia program.

On Tuesday morning the Harding In Zambia group left for a week of travel in Kenya and Uganda before they return to the United States. We have grown very close to this special group, and their leaving was a tearful time. The campus is now much quieter and our lives much emptier. We told them that we wanted them to leave with an Africa-shaped hole in their hearts, and I think we are left behind with a HIZ-shaped hole in our hearts.

Our house is especially quiet. Since late September the HIZ faculty sponsor Ross Cochran had lived with us. Then in late October Ross's wife Nita, their daughter Hannah, and David's niece Anna Britton had joined us. Anna and Hannah, both Harding Academy students, have been friends since childhood. We had a blessed time sharing our home with these dear, fun-loving and thoughtful people. We will treasure our memories of their stay with us.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Visit from David Burks, President of Harding University

This is a guest post from Roy Merritt, longtime missionary at Namwianga.

David Burks, President of Harding University, is visiting here in Zambia. He is spending time with his HIZ (Harding in Zambia) students, and also with some of the “local wildlife”.

Here he is bonding with Peter, one of our HIV positive babies.

David and Leah Burks with Peter.  David is the third Harding President to visit Namwianga Mission.

Harding and mission work in Zambia have links reaching back to Odessa Missouri and Harper Kansas, where Bensons, Sears, Shorts and Merritts all attended school and built friendships that stretched across oceans.

Today we moved 21 HIV positive and TB babies from Eleanor’s House to Marjorie’s House.  The Burks, Harding students and teachers came to share the moment and bless the new house.

Quietly presiding, teary-eyed, Cecelia Siafwiyo was sad/glad to see so many of “her” kids move out!

21 new residents of Marjorie’s House, and friends.

Obrien's Graduation

Obrien is an orphan we have sponsored ever since we arrived in Zambia. He recently graduated from Mwaata Day High School in Kalomo, and we were there to help him celebrate. High school graduations in Zambia are quite exciting events. There is no "Pomp and Circumstance" as they come down the aisle. Instead, they dance their way into the ceremony with some pretty elaborate footwork. Enjoy the video!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Yikes! Snakes!

Shown above is Patrick, the night watchman for Meagan Hawley's house. While I was in the US, Patrick killed an eight-foot long black mamba--with his slingshot!!! He saw the snake up in a tree on his farm a few miles away from Namwianga. He brought the mamba--one of the deadliest snakes in the world--to Namwianga and David couldn't resist getting his picture made lying beside the snake carcass.
A few nights later, the night watchman at the Mann Guesthouse (two doors away from us) killed a puff adder, another very dangerous snake. We're thankful for these diligent guys who watch out for us!

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Invasion of the Flying Ants

When I talked to David right after the storm on Saturday (see previous blog), I told him that I thought the flying ants would arrive that night. Sure enough, the invasion began at dusk.

The winged creatures come flying in huge formations that look like brown clouds. They are drawn to the light and will crawl into the house through every tiny opening they can find.

Many of our Zambian friends eat the ants. They cook them in a skillet--the ants make their own "oil" for frying--and I've heard they taste like popcorn. I'll take their word for it.

Storm Damage

A storm with straight-line winds roared through Namwianga on Saturday. The roofs were torn off the secondary girls dorm and one of the secondary classroom buildings. Several trees were uprooted or blown over. Thankfully, no one was hurt. The strangest thing is that the electricity stayed on through the entire storm. On a typical day the first drops of rain and hint of wind cause a blackout!

One section of the secondary girls dorm lost a roof
Roofing sheets from the girls dorm ended up in a nearby tree.
A section of secondary classrooms also lost a roof.
A fallen tree missed the buses by a few feet.

Update - 7 November

I'm blogging from Texas. I flew in last week to have some medical tests done. I had surgery on Wednesday--two biopsies-- and got the pathology report yesterday showing no signs of malignancy.

In between numerous appointments with a variety of doctors, I have had a great visit with family and friends. I am very thankful that I was able to come back here for the tests. We looked into the possibility of going to South Africa, but the timing wouldn't work for both of us to go, and it turned out to be about the same cost for me to travel by myself to Austin. I have been blessed by the prayers and support of so many here, and it was a great relief to be seen and advised by the same doctors who treated me last year.

This is a quick trip; I'm headed back to Zambia on Tuesday. I've missed lots of excitement at Namwianga, so I'll blog some of that as I have time.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Mumena Trip - Zambikes

Our last stop on the Mumena trip was a visit to Zambikes in Lusaka. Dustin McBride, one of the founders of this unique development project, showed us around and explained the history. Dustin and his friend Vaughn came to Zambia for a summer mission trip in 2004 when they were in college. They went back to Azusa Pacific University and dreamed up a project for their international business class. Their idea was to provide sturdy bicycles that would stand up to the rigors of the African bush and to provide jobs for Zambians who would build the bikes.

Lots of prayer and hard work produced Zambikes in 2007. The bicycle parts are shipped to Zambia where local workers assemble the bikes. We met the enthusiastic employees who proudly showed us around their workshop and introduced us to their newest product, the Zambulance. The Zambulance is a lightweight two-wheeled cart that can be pulled by a bicycle and used as an ambulance in rural areas too remote for cars and trucks. Some of the Harding students tried it out both as “patients” and drivers,

I had planned just a quick, one-hour tour at Zambikes, but Zambian hospitality overwhelmed us once again. The Zambikes staff invited us to stay for lunch and shared their nshima, beans, and cabbage with us. We closed our time by singing to them and listening as they sang to us. We reluctantly said goodbye to our new friends and headed back to Namwianga, and the end of our wonderful trip.
Sheralee rode as the patient in the Zambulance.
Daniel joined the Zambikes crew and learned to put bike wheels together.
Lunch with the Zambikes staff