Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Afrikan Adventure: Team Time

The past three weeks held my first experience hosting a team here in Zambia and oh, the times we shared. There were 10 people here from California, most in their late teens or early twenties so it was great getting to know them and work with them. They were a great team and a huge encouragement to me personally, as times of late have been a bit on the discouraging side.

This past week we were able to meet with a local Rural Health Committee in our area consisting of five of the cutest old Zambian ladies ever. They do home visits to the many sick and vulnerable in our area. So I along with two girls from the team, one being a nurse, were able to come alongside them and join them. So on Thursday we had them select 8 homes that they thought were in the most need and we were able to go visit them and bring them a bag of Meali Meal (what they make the staple food out of) and a blanket. We had a blast with the ladies. I killed the battery on the truck midway through and so these five ladies and Alisha and Esther (from the team) had to the push the car as I attempted to start it. A feat I had never taken on nor conquered before. But after four tries the unthinkable happened and we actually got it started. I can’t believe I made five old ladies push start a land cruiser! But we were all quite proud of ourselves none the less!

It was challenging experience to see such heartbreaking need. Most of the families were widows who had taken in several orphans and the widows didn’t work or have much means to support their expanding families. One elderly woman was paralyzed from the waist down and has taken in several children. She would get herself around by dragging herself along the ground. The whole experience just seemed to reveal just the hopelessness that exists in this country and it’s hard to feel like there is nothing you can do to “fix” it. It just drives home that this country’s only hope is God and His salvation through Christ.

We were also able to visit an elderly woman several times in her home who was suffering from some severe back pain. The nurse from the team, Alisha, was able to teach her some stretches and give her several massages to help temporarily alleviate the pain. This was another situation were you just feel so helpless because you see someone in such pain and there is so little that can be done for them here.

On a lighter and perhaps more disturbing note…I ate a whole mouse! That’s right fur and all…it was cooked, don’t worry. It was actually not too bad, tasted like chicken. Although, lately I’ve found myself foaming at the mouth and have taken a craving to cheese and making holes in walls. I also managed to slip some dried caterpillars into the taco meet for dinner one night…I’m not sure if my shenanigans were appreciated by all. I suppose I should have warned them the dinner may contain traces of caterpillar for all those with severe insect allergies.

Then on Friday we invited a bunch of the people in our area over for an open house. So for the occasion we slaughtered a pig and two chickens and I had the privilege of slaughtering one of the chickens (as is the woman’s role here). It was a first for me…I’m thinking of opening a new business called: “Shannon’s Slaughter Shack!”

This Saturday is a sad day as I have to say goodbye to Stephanie and Susan who will be moving six hours south to work with another organization doing medical and midwifery work. I have lived with them for the last six months (and shared a humble hut with Steph) so it’s hard to see them go…and that leaves me as the lone single person here, but I’m excited for this opportunity they have. I will be traveling down with them this weekend to help them move and see where they will be living.

Our team is still going through some struggles and we are still very much in transition, topped with seeing two close friends leaving makes things a little discouraging for me personally at the moment. But there is still much to thankful for and with and for God I will press on.

So thanks for reading another verbose letter…I hope it finds you well. Check out my blog for pictures of events gone by, such as mouse eating and alike!



Friday, July 13, 2007

Mary Phiri Hupp

“Your ways, O God, are holy. What god is so great as our God? You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples.”~ Psalm 77:13-14

A journey that started many months ago came to fruition this past week. I first met Steve and Patti Hupp in April when they came to Zambia for the first time to meet the little girl they were going to adopt, a two-year old heart breaker named Mary. In June Patti returned to Zambia to complete the adoption and bring Mary home, a process that should have taken no longer than three weeks…so here we are six weeks later to tell of the miracle of Mary. Trouble was a brewin’ when the courts went on strike the first week Patti and Megan (our missionary who helps facilitate adoption) were here, essentially putting a halt on any progress to be made. Working with the Zambian government is difficult at the best of times, it makes it even more difficult to work with when they refuse to work. The strike ended about a week later but the effects of the strike lingered delaying the getting into court to get things finalized on the Zambian side. Then a four day Zambian holiday put another obstacle into it all compiled with a stubborn passport guy (I believe Passport Guy is indeed his official title!) who has the ability to bring forth adult tears in his office, helped delay progress even more.

Finally, with things finished with the Zambian side it was off to the American embassy to get documentation and a visa so that Mary could go home. This has always been the smoothest part of the process…until this time. A new hard nosed lady in the embassy decided to make things difficult and was requiring that they provide the embassy with a death certificate of Mary’s mother to prove she was in fact an orphan and Patti was not abducting her. I don’t know if any of you have ever tried to find official documentation in Zambia but to give you an idea…the filing systems in government and official offices is comprised of stacks and stacks of papers on the floor with little rhyme or reason to it. So trying to find a death certificate from a woman who lived and died in a compound is nearly impossible. To complicate things further their flights were continually having to be pushed back and changed in the busy season of flying where little was available and the cost of changing was substantial, compounded by the fact that Patti had left her two young children and husband behind in Indiana for well over a month now. With this new requirement hope suddenly looked very bleak that realistically they could get what they needed and fly out mid Thursday. Suddenly the horrible reality set in that this adoption may not work and Patti would have to leave Mary behind because what the embassy required was impossible to find. Tuesday and Wednesday things did not go well again with working with the embassy and there was only Thursday morning left before there flight. There was only one hope of left of trying to submit a letter from the nuns and the orphan home where Mary was first dropped off to try and satisfy the requirements of the embassy. So under the cover of darkness on Wednesday we set off with a letter to be signed by the sister at the home which didn’t say what the embassy wanted but short of making things up it was the best we could do. We had the Sister sign it and raced to the embassy. I stayed in the car with Mary. On the way in Megan suddenly realized that they had the wrong paper and the one they needed we had left with the sister. So back to the nunnery! We got the right paper and raced back, not without a Chinese fire drill in front of the embassy so I could go park the car with Mary. Now this was a long shot by far but God is a God of miracles and on July 12, 2007 a miracle occurred. With hours until their flight was supposed to leave the embassy accepted the letter and granted Mary her visa to go home Indiana. To God be the glory because there was no way this should have worked in the situation we were in. So on Thursday Patti and Mary Hupp took to the air to go home. I think God taught us all a lot through this situation. Of the many things onne being the power and necessity of prayer. Another, that our plans are not God’s plans but he alone is God and is in control.

So that’s the story of Mary. We are so excited for the Hupp family. You can check out pictures on my blog and flickr site: (go to the photographs link in the sidebar for more pictures). Take care!


I will tell of Your miracles, I will sing of Your deeds

You did not keep silent, You did not hide your power from us

Though our hearts grew faint and we could not see

Your remained faithful to an undeserving people

Your grace and mercy abounded

Christ has conquered our enemy

You made a way where we could not go alone

You led us despite our unbelief and have humbled us

Your work sings of your power and glory

You are the Living God, our life, our hope, our victory

May we live all our days for You, for You are good, Your love endures forever.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Afrikan Adventure: Adventures of the Mini Bus

Have you ever had that sudden panicked yet sinking feeling while sitting on a mini bus in Zambia as you desperately search to find your wallet only to find the great abyss of nothingness in your bag and come to the realization you have lost your wallet? While neither had I until that fateful day we call yesterday, June 29, 2007. Amber and I had ventured into town on our old friend the mini bus. On the way in we had 22 people in a 12 seater! At the bus stations you usually wait until the bus is full before you go. So on the way home we got to the bus to find it empty which meant a nice wait for us. The beauty of this wait is that people come to your window trying to sell you such things as biscuits, candy, and men's underwear! So for our wait we purchased some biscuits which we shared with our new friends on the bus. To the man who tried to sell me the underwear I just looked at him and said in a confused tone: "I am not a man!". He left. So on this afternoon I took out my wallet to buy the oiliest samosa in the world and between that time and the time we left something happened and it was taken from my possession. It contained not only money but my credit cards, birth certificate, drivers license, care card, I had grown quite attached to that wallet. So now it is gone. Even though it is very frustrating to have to go through the hassle of replacing documents and loosing money it is a good reminder of what is really important to me and that I find my peace and joy in Christ and not in possessions and money. God is continually teaching me lessons, and usually I'm not sure what they are when the event occur but I know there has to be a purpose.

This last week has been good. Amber and I have had some adventures on mini buses and exploring the town. The other day we went to this market place called Soweto which is extremely crowded and crazy. We had our friend Sam show us where to it was a cool cultural experience. Then we men some new young friends at a pond near the farm where we chucked rocks into the water. I'll post pictures on the blog soon.

This week I also started a choir with the grade nines from the local school. The other day I went to the school to tell them about it and the headmaster introduced me and I will tell you that no joke of mine has ever gone over as well as the day I told the grade 9 class my full name. For some reason they found it hilarious. Then the headmaster told them that if they joined the choir with this "foreign talent" they could make millions and millions of Kwatcha (the currency here). Great! So we had about 18 show up on Thursday and we had a blast! We started learning a couple songs...they got quite into it and didn't want to leave, which was a nice sign. Then at the end I taught them how to do the wave. So I am looking forward to working with them more.

We have a team of 11 people coming today for three weeks so that should a fun yet busy time for us. Well, I need to get going...we have a hungry two year old here (and a twenty five year old). So I bid you adieu once more and wish you well back in the homeland. I miss you all.

God Bless,


"If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up."

~ Daniel 3:17-18

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Afrikan Adventure: The Mid Bleak Winter

It is official that I have become a big baby when it comes to cold as this past week I found myself dawning my long johns thrice times and wearing layer upon layer to bed. It is winter here in Zambia and my Canadian blood seems to have failed me...although I do come from the lower mainland, the "Africa of Canada" in terms of winter temperatures as I like to call it (actually, I've never called it that before...but I think it will catch on, just give it some time). This past week has been some of the coldest days I've experienced here in Zambia. Please don't be ashamed of me my Canadian brother/sisterhood, I'm doing all I can!

This past week Amber and I celebrated Canada day in style. I wore my Tim Horton's shirt all day long, Stephanie (my roommate) made us Canada Day Cupcakes, we handed out Canada pencils to kids, sung our anthem proudly to the netball girls, then had a maple syrup drinking contest...okay no maple syrup in Zambia but we would have if we could have. Speaking of Amber, it was a sad day on Wednesday when we bid her farewell as she made the trek back to Canada after 9 months in Malaysia and taking Zambia by storm. It was great to have her here, good times had by all. God really blessed me with the encouragement she was to me. And there may or may not be some video that I sent back with keep get ready...or don't cause I said maybe not...but really keep more towards the former!

Right now we have a group of 10 people from California with us so it has been a busy but good time of getting to know them and show them around Zambia and working with them in different ministries. There is a dentist on the team so this past week we had two dental clinics for the community and many, many teeth were "extracted". So that was awesome because it is nearly impossible for the poorer Zambians to ever get any kind of dental care. They didn't let me near the drugs or instruments so I sat with the people as they waited and chatted with them.

I met again with my new high school choir this past week...they came back which is always a good sign! And I continue to ride the mini bus...a little theft won't stop me! I've started lifting weights instead in preparation for another incident! Still no sign of the wallet. I meet some very interesting people on the bus and it's a good time to talk to people and learn more about the culture which is why I like it. Plus the thrill of wondering if the door will fall off or who's lap you'll be sitting on next adds to the experience. The other day I sat next to this sweet 80 year old man who offered to buy me an ice cream from the vendor outside the window.

Today we visited a compound church where one of the guys on the team preached. It was pretty fun...very lively. They had that keyboard a rockin' and the feet a movin'! There were 5 of us who went and they made us all sit at the very front. Then at the end of the service they brought us all up to stand on the platform and presented each of us with a medium sized plastic fish as a gift. That fish is so cool! I'll have to take a picture with us and our gift.

So that has been another week in and learning. God continues to be faithful. Thanks for your support and encouragement. I miss you all.

God Bless,