Friday, June 22, 2007

African Adventure: Winter Time

As I’m sure you all are dawning your socks, sandals, and Bermuda shorts right now, we here in Zambia are layering up like we are preparing to cross the Arctic Circle. The days grow shorter, the nights grow longer, the winds blow harder, and it seems my Canadian blood has grown weaker. I need some good ol’ Tim Hortons to thicken it up again. It seems that with the cold season the rats have come in full force. We hear and see them in our hut, in our kitchen, in our laundry room, and on our plates at night for dinner. Just kiddin’…not on our plates.

This past week I had the opportunity to speak for a couple of sessions at this inter-school weeklong convention on relationships and sexual purity. So when I was asked to do it I was not given too much information about it. I was told there could be anywhere from 3-100 teenagers, that I would just be speaking to the girls, and I had no idea how their English would be, and no idea what kind of venue we would be in our the resources it would provide. So I enlisted the assistance of my friend Amber, who is here visiting me, and we set off to the great unknown. We arrived to find out that there would be a few more than three teens…in fact that it would be more like 150 teenagers between the ages of 13-19 and that the boys and girls would be all together in this huge hall where you had to pretty much scream on the top of you lungs to be heard. Plus a short DVD we had hoped to play could not work. So we did a little improvising and dove in. It actually went really quite well considering we walked in cold to a group of teenage boys and girls to talk about a subject that usually would set the uncomfortable jokes and giggling ablaze. We did some interactive game type activities, had some good discussion, and all in all I think it went really well. There was quite a positive response. So I give all the credit to God because I definitely did not feel qualified to pull it off.

Since Amber is here visiting and we have Patti Hupp here to complete an adoption we took the bus down to Livingstone so they could see Victoria Falls. It was quite an adventure. The 6 hour bus trip turned into 11 as the bus broke down half way in. The bus also blared this Don Williams country CD at a ridiculous decibel level on speakers that could not handle old Don’s stylings at that volume. Then there was this very intoxicated man in the seat right behind us who eventually caused such a scene he had to be dropped off at the police post and then people on the bus got all upset that we were leaving him there saying, “We cannot leave our brother here!”. But we were fine with it as he had tried to grab Patti’s little girl. Then the next day we got pulled over by the police because we were unknowingly in an illegal taxi and were taken to the police station and still had to pay the fair. The police were very nice and understanding to us though.

So that’s another week ‘round here. Life in Africa continues to be an adventure and a lesson in patience. I have made fast friends with little Mary who is being adopted and lives with us right now. She has caught on to my “Cut the Pickle” game very quickly and I am very proud of her progress! So on that note I bid you adieu and wish you well. Your love and support continues to be a huge blessing to me.

God Bless,


“Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls” ~ 1 Peter 1:8-9

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Afrikan Adventure: Come and Go

The week has been a week of the airport. Tuesday saw the arrival of Megan and Patti…who are these people you might ask? I shall reveal it. Megan is one of the missionaries with ACTION Zambia who was home for three months who is involved with helping with adoptions here in Zambia. Patti is here adopting a very cute two year old girl named Mary. The adoption process can be an adventure into the uncertain as you are dealing with the government who seem to make decisions on a whim with no real consistency which can lead to much frustration. But so far the process is going very well which is awesome and Mary has been allowed to come stay with us at the farm.

On Thursday we bid farewell to “Lil’ Shannon” who went back to California after her three months here. I shall miss her and the connection we shared in name, although I will not so much miss being referred to as “Big Shannon”…although here in Zambia the bigger you are the better. People will often “compliment” someone with calling them fat.

We also said “Welcome on back” to Glenn Ripley, part of our team her who has also been in the states the last couple months, and his daughter Grace to complete their adoption process.

And then it was an exciting day this past Monday when I received my first visitor! My friend Amber Balzer, who has been home schooling her cousins in Malaysia for the last 9 months, has come to spend three weeks visiting on her way back to Canada. Because if I remember my geography right, Zambia is on the direct route back to Vancouver. So the farm is much more populated than it has been in weeks past, which I quite enjoy. Having a friend here and new faces who enjoy a good laugh and will participate with my in some good clean shenanigans with me has been like water for my soul…or chicken soup, if you will.

My afternoons with the netball girls are going well. They continue to find comedic value in my playing and spend much time saying things in Nyanja and laughing that I don’t understand. I usually just laugh along with them and play on. We have never played by the official Netball rules until one day last week when all of the sudden the rules went into effect so when I continued the way I had come to know they thought it hilarious and couldn’t understand why I didn’t know what I was doing.

There is a woman who injured leg about two weeks ago and the result has been a very swollen and painful ankle/lower leg so I have gone to visit her most days after playing. We are still not sure what is wrong, our nurse thought it was a blood clot but the measures we took to help the healing process seem to not be working. So I think I will try and get her to a clinic very soon if our nurse can’t help her. It has been a good opportunity to get to know the women in the area and even though I’m pretty much useless in the medical realm it’s been good to just be able to visit with her. It has also been an eye opener in how we from the west and Zambians, or Africans in general, tend to differ in the way they view the spiritual realm. The women think that the foot is a result of witchcraft, while we tend to view in strictly in the sense of a physical medical issue that has no spiritual influences. So it’s a good opportunity to really evaluate and think through some of these issues.

It was a sad day today as we buried a baby from the orphanage that we work with. Dalitso died very suddenly and unexpectedly last week which was very hard on the house mothers who took care of him. It has been my first real experience with a funeral and death since I’ve been here and really makes it hit home.

I continue to love the people of the church I’ve found here and getting involved. On Sunday we butchered the song “Power of Your Love” like I’ve never experienced before. After stopping and starting again half way through, the woman who sang the solo for the second verse took us into a completely new and unexpected key resulting in some very unpleasant sounding accompaniment coming from the keyboard and my guitar as we continued in the key that was planned for. But what can you do…I kind of like the bad music…it makes the worship more about God than the music itself.

And in my cultural experience of the week…I hate a whole chicken head, brains, eyeballs, beak, some sort of feather/furry exterior, the whole kitten caboodle. And I really didn’t even mind it…it tasted like chicken…hmmm, strange as that is.

So that’s been another week in Zambia. God continues to work in unexpected ways and teach me and stretch me. I thank you once again for your love and support.

God Bless,


“All who are thirsty, all who are weak, come to the fountain, dip your heart in the stream of life. Let the pain and the sorrow be washed away, by the waves of his mercy, as deep cries out to deep…”

Monday, June 4, 2007

Afrikan Adventure: Malawi Edition

Guess who’s back, back again…you guessed it, me. That’s what I like about you, you’re quick! I successfully diverted being eaten by lions and made it home safely from a two week adventure to Malawi. It was a fortnight ago that I and the Whitfield family, comprised of Luke and Elise and their three children, Macey, Emma, and Payton (ages:6,4, and 2) set out on a 12 hour car ride to Malawi. If that’s not good enough to make me never want to bear and raise children, I don’t know what is! Our mission was to visit the Burn’s family who are serving with ACTION in a small rural area called Ntcheu and see what was happening over their and be able to be a part of some of their ministries there. Setting out at 4:30am and with only one child becoming car sick, we successfully made it to Ntcheu.

Malawi is a beautiful country with lots of mountainous terrain, reminiscent of my homeland. The twisting mountain roads made me feel right at home. The Ntcheu area is in the midst of the mountains comprised of many small villages with the “boma” (city centre or the hub) being where we stayed where there was a couple small stores and a market areas. It was awesome to be able to be in a more rural environment. I think I much prefer it to the big city such as Lusaka.

The Burns family is made up of Chet and Leanne and five of their nine children that are living with them right now. There is Jeffrey and Eric (17 and 16) and then three adopted children: Peter and Silas (age 7, adopted from Ethiopia) and Elsie (age 4, adopted from Zambia). Elise and I became fast friends as she had finally found someone to play “Uno” with her and she taught me a new game called “Sherlock.” “D-d-do you wanna play Sherlock?” was a phrase I heard about 3-5 times a day. Although seemingly young and innocent, this girl didn’t mess around when it came to games…she was a tough competitor. If I lost concentration for one second she would capitalize on it and take me down.

I had the opportunity to spend some time in a village called Madzanje. God is doing some really cool things in the hearts of the youth there which as awesome to see. They have a group of youth (ages 14-25) from several churches in the area who have really stepped up as leaders and the light of Christ in their village. They have voluntarily started a kids Bible club on Wednesday afternoons as well as serving wherever they can in the community. For example, this week they constructed an outhouse and shower area for a widow in the village. And they do these kind of service projects every week all initiated by the youth themselves out of their love for God and desire to serve Him. It is pretty amazing to see the youth stepping up in this way and really being leaders in their village, especially as youth here are definitely not seen as the powerful or influential people of society.

I was able to attend the kids Bible club on Wednesday and bring my guitar and play a little diddy that we sing with the kids here in Zambia. There were about 250 kids which is pretty average and when those kids sing the decibel level is through the roof, it was awesome! After the club I attended the youth meeting which also good.

On Friday we went with the youth to help with the building project on the widow’s property. Elise, the kids and I sat with the her and many of the surrounding neighbours as the men constructed the structures. Not much was able to be said but we sang some songs and just seeing the deep gratitude the elderly woman had was a beautiful thing.

I was also able to attend a youth meeting at another church and was able to share my testimony with them through the help of a translator. Getting up and playing and singing in front of a group is way easier for me than speaking so this was a good stretch for me. We focused on how just going to church and doing good things doesn’t save you but it’s a decision to follow and be changed by the power of Christ only through whom that emptiness can be filled. And it’s because of this love that we desire to do good to everyone, not because it in and of itself saves us. This was a good reminder for me of why I’m here.

We attended two different churches on Sunday morning witnessing one young woman give her life to Christ. Then in the afternoon Luke joined the soccer team in Madzanje to play in a match in a neighboring village. I went to watch and hung out with a bunch of the youth girls from Madzanje. Here I really felt like was in Africa. The setting was beautiful, there were hundreds of people cheering and singing on the sidelines, a couple of the Madzanje youth where shouting out their own play by play commentary both in Chewa and English which was pretty hilarious, and there I was sitting on the sidelines gnawing on a piece of sugar cane with the girls. At half-time Luke shared and three young men made the decision to follow Christ that afternoon. So the real need they have right now in Ntcheu is for people to come alongside these people and offer follow up and mentoring/discipleship.

So we had a great time in Malawi. I was even able to hike on of the nearby mountains, although slightly more challenging in a skirt. It was great to be able to spend time with the Burns and see all the amazing things that are happening in Malawi.

But now it’s back to life in Zambia and cold season is upon us. It’s a good thing a brought my toque, gloves, and long-johns (I only wish I was referring to the doughnut here!), remnants from my time in Ontario. It’s strange to see leaves changing and falling, short brisk days and it being June.

I hope this dissertation finds you well. I am working on getting some pictures up on the blog hopefully this week. Thanks again for all your prayers and encouragement. I miss you all greatly! Take care.

From a computer in Africa,