Friday, June 29, 2012

New Addition to Our Family

 Knox David Anderson was born at 2:03 this afternoon (June 28).  He weighed 7 pounds 13 ounces and is 21 1/2 inches long.  Our daughter Sara and her husband David are ecstatic, and all of us are in awe of this little miracle.

Knox was blessed to be born in College Station, Texas, in a modern hospital with the equipment and personnel to ensure a healthy beginning.  It was a far cry from one of our early experiences in Zambia.  Read about David's close call with a birthing mother here.

Friday, June 22, 2012


I really wanted to be in Zambia this June!  We had made plans to make the trip with two couples from our congregation and were looking forward to being at Namwianga and also doing some touristy things with them.  Then one couple found out their daughter was expecting a baby in late June. . . and we found out our daughter was expecting a baby in late June, and that ended our plans for a trip this year.  Of course we are thrilled about having more grandchildren and look forward to spending the rest of the summer loving on them.  

So now I am planning Namwianga events via e-mail and phone calls.  One of those events is the sponsorship reception.  There will be over 100 Americans at Namwianga in July for the annual Zambia Medical Mission.  Many of them sponsor students at the high school and college, so there is an afternoon reception planned for the sponsors to meet and interact with their sponsored students.  

Most sponsors want to give a gift at this reception, so Rajiv and I came up with a list of suggested gifts that sponsors can present to their students.  I thought you might be interested in what Zambian students like to receive.

Here's the list.

  1. NIV Bible (Whenever I have offered gifts to students, this is the first thing to be selected!)  
  2. T-shirt - Any color or logo is fine (You can often get freebies left over from an event) 
  3. ball cap  for guys - gimme caps are great
  4. Tote bag (for carrying books)
  5. Socks, especially for high school students.  The boys have to wear gray dress socks with their uniforms, and they can also use other kinds of socks.  Girls wear white knee socks with their  uniforms, but they also like other kinds of socks (consider colorful, fun patterns or solid color knee socks).  College guys can use dress or athletic socks.  
  6. For high schoolers, scientific calculators are a BIG help.  They need to have sine, cosine, and tangent functions, but do not need to be graphing calculators.  
  7. Zipper pencil pouch and ink pens
  8. Composition notebooks  
  9. Sheet set for twin bed
  10. Bath towel and washcloth
  11. Sunglasses  
We are also offering to purchase pre-paid phone cards ($5.00) or blankets ($20.00) in Zambia for sponsors to give so that they do not have to make extra room in their luggage.  

Students love to get school supplies.  

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Decision Overload

Deciding on paint colors was a daunting challenge for me

A missionary family from Zambia recently moved back to the US.  I got an e-mail from the wife saying that they had bought a house and were having new paint, carpet, and flooring installed.  I groaned inwardly, knowing that the process of selecting those items had likely been a nightmare.  Sure enough, when I talked to her later, she confided that it had been very difficult. 

            I knew because I have been through it.  In fact, I still struggle with what I call “Decision Overload.”   Here’s why.  When we built our house in Zambia, the man in charge of construction told me to go into Kalomo and pick out the color of paint I wanted on the walls.  So I trekked into ChiChi Hardware and asked for paint samples.  I was given a faded, worn-out card featuring a grand total of five colors:  kelly green, royal blue, white, black, and “honeysuckle” which looked like a khaki tan.  I chose the honeysuckle—and it turned out to be a light golden yellow that I loved. 

            Choosing something like toothpaste was equally simple.  You could buy Colgate in a small tube or a large tube.  That’s it.  Soda?  Coke, Fanta Orange, Fanta Grape, or Sprite.   Deciding was easy.  And for many other items, the choice was to buy the one brand featured at the store or do without because there was no other choice. 

            Now imagine what happened when we returned to the US and I went to Lowe’s to pick out the paint for the house we were moving into.  Not five choices but FIVE HUNDRED choices gleamed at me in the Valspar display.  The Eddie Bauer display nearby offered another hundred or so choices.  I didn’t even venture down the aisle to the Olympic rack. 

I am embarrassed to admit that I drove the 16 miles one way to the nearest Lowe’s THREE DAYS in a row to get those little sample cans to try out various colors.  Finally David insisted that we make a decision and get the paint.  Halfway there I panicked and told him to turn the car around and go back.  “I can’t do it!  I can’t choose from all those colors!”  I told him. 

            He patiently insisted that we could and we must choose the colors and get the painting done.  And I did choose a color  (I tried to match my honeysuckle walls in Zambia) and panicked as it went on the walls and wished I had chosen white.   (Of course white is not an easy choice either, since there are at least 20 different shades of white to choose from.)

            So when you deal with a returning missionary, be patient.  Dinner at the Golden Corral buffet is not the best idea during the first few weeks.  Even a trip to Walmart can overwhelm a newbie who needs a tube of toothpaste.   Decision Overload takes time to overcome. 

            We’ve been back in the US for two years now.  The top photo shows the collection of sample cans from my latest kitchen-painting project.  The good news is that I ended up with a great color that I love—and no meltdowns this time. 
My new kitchen colors

Saturday, June 09, 2012


It has been a year since my last trip to Africa, and I am homesick.  I long to hear the incomparable harmony of African singing, to be bathed in the glow of an African sunset, to laugh heartily with dear Zambian friends, and to walk once again on the dusty paths of Namwianga.

I am not alone in my homesickness.  All of us who have an Africa-shaped hole in our hearts know this deep longing.  Vic Guhrs wrote a delightful book called The Trouble with Africa:  Stories from a Safari Camp.  German by birth, Vic married the daughter of Norman Carr, a well-known safari guide.  Vic and his wife spent many years running a safari camp in northern Zambia.  Eventually Vic migrated to the US to continue his profession as a wildlife artist.  His book chronicles the hair-raising and hilarious adventures he had in Africa.  In the epilogue, Vic writes about his return to Zambia:

And so I cam back.  Because the simple fact is that I'm in Africa's spell.  Africa, of course, doesn't care.  Like a beautiful but dangerous woman who turns a cold shoulder to my attentions, her indifference is an added incentive, goading me.  Her aloofness only adds to my eagerness to follow her to the edge of the whirlpool. 

I know that any day I may be stomped by a marauding elephant, wiped out by an unlicensed car in Lusaka's chaotic traffic, or hit by a bullet from a robber's gun.  I may incur the displeasure of a zealous bureaucrat who can change the course of my future with the stroke of his pen.  

I have had malaria more times than I can remember.  I have seen friends die from it.  I've seen others die from recklessness, from getting too close to an elephant, or from that senseless random violence that seems part of the African landscape.  

I have also experienced more joy here than the human heart has any right to expect.  The joy of being awake and alive and out on a vast open plain when the sun's first light floods over the horizon.  The joy of hearing the cry of the soaring fish eagle, its voice like liquid honey.  The beauty of the blood-red sunsets that seem to hint at some great truth just beyond our grasp.  Of watching a herd of elephants crossing the Luangwa River at dust and shuffling slowly up the bank to mingle with the dark trees, speechless at how something so big can be so ghostlike, so ethereal and so delicate.  

I have been awestruck by the raw fury of an African thunderstorm.

And by the African people who, with their stoical acceptance of life's hardships, can teach us all some basic truths about life.  

The trouble with Africa is that once it is in your blood, like malaria, it is almost impossible to get rid of, and I know that I can never leave.  I feel like a prisoner.  A prisoner of freedom.  p. 235
Guhrs, Vic.  The Trouble with Africa:  Stories from a Safari Camp.  Johannesburg, South Africa:  Penguin Books, 2004.     Order it here.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

It's Been SOOOO Long - A Personal Update

Two different people last week told me that they still look at my blog occasionally to see if I've written anything.  That motivated me to at least see how long it's been since I posted, and I'm embarrassed to see that my last post was April 19.

I don't have much Zambia news to write about, but here is a personal update.  David and I bought a house three miles outside of Mount Vernon on a 2-acre lot with hills and trees.  We moved in on Memorial Day weekend--just five days after I finished the school year.  We did a lot of painting and are slowly unpacking and getting settled.  We love being out in the country and have enjoyed having our morning coffee on the back deck as we listen to the birds and watch the deer in the woods behind the house.

As I mentioned, I finished my school year.  I taught second grade in Carthage, about 30 miles away.  It was a wonderful year for me professionally.  Most of my students came from non-English speaking families, so there were many challenges, but they made tremendous progress.  The families were extremely supportive, my co-workers were fantastic, and my principal supportive and inspiring.  I'm already looking forward to next year.

Our second grandson Thaine Gregersen was born to John and Leah in February.  He is named after my father.  He is a sweet little guy, and I was thrilled to spend a week at the end of May in Austin taking care of him and big brother Jacob while Leah returned to her job.

Daughter Sara is expecting grandson number three any day now!  I have my bags packed ready to head for College Station, Texas, as soon as we hear that Baby Knox has arrived.

The birth of a new grandbaby is keeping us at home this summer, but we are already looking forward to June, 2013, when we plan to make a trip back to Zambia.  In the meantime, I am keeping busy with the sponsorship program and occasionally talking to our Zambian friends online or by phone.

Summer is always a busy time at Namwianga as the medical team comes for Zambia Medical Mission.  I'll keep you updated as I get news.