Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thanksgiving 2009

Reflections on Thanksgiving 2009:  We had been having major issues with the electricity and did not expect to have power all day.  This was our last Thanksgiving in Zambia and our largest as well.  

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.  Our youngest guest was baby Lennie who came from the Haven orphanage with Meagan Hawley.  

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 the photo: Peace Corps Volunteers Krista, Brittany, and Tim; Missionaries Sheri Sears and Rod Calder.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thanksgiving 2008

Part four of a series of re-posts of Thanksgivings in Zambia

Guests in 2008:  Richard Krogsgaard, Kimberly Burns, Deb Rakowski, Meagan Hawley, Kapree Harrell, Robby Banda, Karen Johnson, Sheri Sears, Angela Glenn, Brittany Freitas, Sue Krogsgaard

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!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving 2007

2007 was the first year we had Peace Corps Volunteers with us for Thanksgiving.  These incredible women made the holiday extra special:  Deb Rakowski, Jalle Gibesa, Angela Glenn, Jennifer Dyson, Heidi Joseph, and Karen Johnson.  

We had a fun and interesting Thanksgiving gathering at our house this year. Five Peace Corps volunteers arrived at Namwianga on Wednesday to spend the holiday with us. They stayed at the large guesthouse but ate most of their meals with us. They came prepared to cook and bake dishes for our feast, and on Thursday morning we had three kitchens in use—the guesthouse where the PC women were staying, the Hamby guesthouse kitchen, and mine. We had a short power outage around 10 a.m. that gave us a bit of panic, but the power came on again after about 30 minutes and the baking continued without any major disasters. 

Don Oldenburg had contacted the manager of the Spar grocery store in Choma weeks ago and asked him if he could get us two turkeys for Thanksgiving. We had high hopes that this manager could pull it off, but alas, it was not to be. When Don and Laura went to pick up the turkeys on Wednesday, the manager informed them that the turkeys had come in, but they were of such poor quality that he wouldn’t sell them to us. David grilled chicken instead.

We had two more Peace Corps workers who came in on Thursday—one made it in time for dinner and another arrived in the evening. Our other guests were Don and Laura Oldenburg, Sheri Sears, and Richard and Sue Krogsgaard. Richard and Sue are Canadians who arrived at Namwianga in August. They missed the Canadian Thanksgiving Day in October, so we thought it was appropriate that they share in our feast.

And feast we did! We managed to have many traditional American Thanksgiving dishes: stuffing, pumpkin pie, apple pie, rolls, mashed potatoes, green beans, and even jellied cranberry sauce that some recent visitors brought with them in their luggage. There were no Macy’s parades or football games to watch, but we did have lots of laughter, sharing, and fellowship.

Sara and John were in Searcy with David’s sister and family. We were able to talk to them via Skype and even saw them through the web cam. Later we talked with David’s parents and watched the last minute dinner preparations going on in the background. When they announced that dinner was ready, David’s dad had all of the family hold hands in a circle and then asked David to lead the prayer for the meal. From 10,000 miles away we shared in the Thanksgiving gathering with our family. God is good, and we are thankful.
David's father died in September of the following year, making our memories of the Thanksgiving Skype session especially sweet.  

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Remembering Thanksgiving 2006

This is my second post from the Thanksgiving archives.  It is from 2006, our smallest Thanksgiving of the five we celebrated in Zambia.  I can still hear the echoes of the laughter from around this table.  Meagan Hawley is back in Zambia this year and may have a very different kind of Thanksgiving Day.  Keep her in your prayers!

From left:  Linda, Meagan, David, Louisa, Lauren

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving feast on Thursday night. Shown in the top photo with us are Meagan Hawley, Louisa Duke, and Lauren Hickmon. These three young women have become near and dear to our hearts as we have shared the Zambian experience with them. This was the first time Meagan and Lauren had ever been away from home on Thanksgiving, but for all of us it was a memorable time.

We invited Robby Banda (lower photo--in front of our buffet) to enjoy his first American-style Thanksgiving with us. Robby is a widower who eats many meals at our table. His quick wit and ready laugh always add a special touch to our times together.

Roger and Mary Beth McCown (had been with us for a visit) returned to the US on Monday, but they left behind the decorations, along with the ingredients for sweet potato casserole and green bean casserole. Meagan and Louisa made pecan, apple, and pumpkin pies for the occasion. There was no turkey to be found in Livingstone or Lusaka stores, so we substituted Lauren's favorite, cornflake chicken. The chicken was extremely fresh, since our neighbor Mrs. Moono selected it and dressed it for us on Thursday afternoon. We also had dressing, mashed potatoes, salad, and rolls.

We had a bounty of food, something that we no longer take for granted in a land where many go hungry. Our dinner conversation was sprinkled with joyous laughter as we enjoyed each other's company. I told our gathering that we are friends who have become like family in many ways, so we can call ourselves "frimily." This produced a spontaneous chorus of the tune "We are frimily" and even more laughter.

Over dessert we each shared some of the things we are thankful for. Our blessings are many, and we can say with the Zambians: "Leza mubotu ciindi coonse. Ciindi coonse Leza Mubotu." God is good all the time. All the time, God is good.

Giving Thanks

This time of year I am flooded with memories of the five Thanksgiving feasts we celebrated 10,000 miles away in Zambia.  Each one was unique, each one was spent with a different group of friends, and each is a treasured memory.  To remind me again of the blessings God showered on us in a foreign land, I will re-post them this week.

As our first Thanksgiving in Zambia approached, I posted this on November 23, 2005:

 A few things I am thankful for:

In a land where people go hungry, we have plenty to eat.

In a land where many people are sick and dying, we are in good health (David is still having headaches from his bout with malaria, but we hope those will end soon)

I miss my children more than I can say, but I am thankful that others are ministering to them and caring for their needs.

In a land where many do not know about Jesus, I give thanks for the heritage of faith passed on to me through my parents.

In a land where education is available only to some, I am thankful for the opportunities I have had to go to school.

In a land far from my home, I give thanks for the many ways that the Brentwood Oaks Church of Christ family and our friends minister to us.

In a land where many have only the clothes on their backs, I give thanks for what I have to wear.

In a land where many are needy, I am thankful to be able to share what I have.

Happy Thanksgiving!

And a few days later I described our Thanksgiving spent with other missionaries in Lusaka:

I’ll be honest. As Thanksgiving approached, I dreaded the thought of our first holiday away from our children, our friends, and our former house in Austin. We had so many great memories of Thanksgivings in the past.

This year, however, God provided us with opportunities to make wonderful new memories in our new land. We scheduled a retreat for all the Americans associated with Namwianga Mission and met in Lusaka, the capital city. Brian and Sondra Davis drove down from Solwezi where they are beginning a new work. The rest of us (Sheri and Lois Sears, the Bruingtons, Roy and Kathi Merritt) drove up from Kalomo on Thursday. We stayed in three cottages at a missionary guest house run by the Evangelical Church of Zambia, so we had our own cooking facilities and even television! On Thursday we shopped for groceries and on Friday we cooked our almost authentic American Thanksgiving dinner. We ended up with two small turkeys (both delicious), dressing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole (with homemade onion rings), jello salad, green salad, corn casserole, rolls, pecan pie, and lots of other yummy desserts. No nshima for Thanksgiving, thank you!

Besides feasting together we also had times for sharing views on missions and for devotionals, prayer sessions, and lots of singing. On Saturday we all went into the main shopping center in Lusaka and did more shopping, especially for Christmas. We had five little ones under nine in the group, so the Bruingtons took all the kids for go-cart rides and a movie. David and I also managed to see the new Zorro movie that afternoon. Ah, civilization again, if only for a few days!

We ended our retreat with a special Sunday morning service together and then headed back to Namwianga rested, refreshed, and ready to take on the challenges that are waiting for us.

I did miss our children terribly. Sara went to Arkansas to be with David’s parents for the weekend. Our wonderful Brentwood Oaks church family made sure John was taken care of. God provided for our needs, and we made new memories. We are blessed.

GBCC Graduate Ministers in Northern Zambia

One of the first sponsored students I worked with at George Benson Christian College was Steward Chiradza.  He was quiet and reserved in class, but his grades were always high and his work was always excellent.  

            Steward finished his classes in 2008 and volunteered for Northreach, a program that places GBCC graduates in areas of Zambia where the church is weak. He was sent alone to Nakonde, a border town with all of the challenges and turmoil associated with border towns.  He did a very effective work with the congregation there before being posted to Luwingu in northern Zambia. 

            Recently Steward contacted me by e-mail.   He teaches high school English and religious education at Luwingu High School.  He is married and has twin daughters.  Steward works with a local congregation in preaching, teaching, and evangelism.  Under his leadership, the congregation now has 40 members and is in the process of building a brick building to replace the thatch enclosure they meet in now.

            Steward says that GBCC prepared him for his roles of teacher and evangelist by giving him courage, Bible knowledge, and leadership training. He is another success story who demonstrates the effectiveness of preparing self-supporting church planters.    

            Steward would not be teaching and serving today without the US Sponsorship program.  Both of his parents had died, and without sponsorship Steward could not have attended George Benson Christian College.   Many other orphans and needy students are waiting right now to hear whether or not they will have a place at Namwianga when the new school year begins in January.  If you would like to make a difference in someone's life, consider sponsoring a student or making a one-time donation to the sponsorship program.  

Sponsorship payments may be made by check, automatic debit, debit/credit card, or PayPal.  Checks should be made payable to Zambia Mission Fund and mailed to Zambia Mission Fund, Box 3393, Abilene, TX  79604.  PayPal or credit/debit card payments may be made on the Zambia Mission website: .  Click on Donate and be sure to specify that your donation is for student sponsorship.  If you have questions, please contact me at