Sunday, August 26, 2007

Afrikan Adventure: On the Move

As usual I will update you with the latest weather report here in Lusaka, Zambia. Things are starting to heat up as I have once again employed the use of the squeaky ceiling fan. The winds continue to blow creating clouds of dust that give me the illusion that I am getting a tan, only to come to the sad realization as I see my “tan” in a puddle on the shower floor.

This past week has been busy but good. I was involved with leading a workshop/Bible study on HIV/Aids at Chisomo drop-centre for street kids. You may recall me mentioning doing this back in May as well. So I was there every day and we had a group of 13 youth between the ages of 11 and 17 attending. It went really well. On Friday morning we took 10 of them to be tested for HIV. This is always a nerve racking experience. You can see the anxiety and fear on the kids faces as they wait in the waiting room to be called for the counseling, then get their blood tested, and nervously wait for the results. And it’s not only the kids who are nervous, I was pretty much a wreck. But the results came back and all 10 were negative! The look of relief and joy on their faces was priceless as they would walk out of the room after receiving their results. Although we did have one girl in the group who is 15 and already knew she is HIV positive. So hopefully the things that we learned and talked about in the workshop we stick with them and help them to make right choices and rely on God to face the struggles and temptations before them.

My favorite moment was when Mary, age 11, just found out she was negative and was talking to me a mile a minute, telling me she wanted to be a news reporter, her favorite, colour, her favorite food, etc. She went on non-stop for about five minutes straight. I couldn’t get a word in. She told me that when she became a news reporter she would buy me a big house and a nice car. I told her she didn’t need to. She insisted. Then was my favorite line. She takes my hand and looks and at me and says: “I will never forget you, Sheila! Hmmm, seems like you already did!

So I will be working more regularly with Chisomo which I am excited about. I will be doing a weekly Bible study with them and hopefully going and teaching them some music. I also hope to go along with another guy to do outreach on a weekly basis where we go visit the kids still on the street, bringing the ones most in need to the centre, and also trying to reconnect kids with their families. Don’t worry, Mary, “Sheila” will be back!

This past week there was also a camp happening near the farm for about 40 orphans put on by a guy from my church who runs an organization called “In Community Care for Orphans,” the goal being getting sponsors to help these orphans continue to live in their community, rather than taking them out of it. So this was their yearly camp and on Thursday night I was invited to their campfire time to teach them some songs. We had a good time. The kids ranged in age from about 10-18. It was their last campfire so they were handing out prizes for different things like the “most helpful”, “the best example”, “most improved behavior”, etc. Coming from the West I was expecting the prizes to be some cool gadget or toy like we would give out at home, but was given a bit of a reality check when the prizes were actually things like soap, toilet paper, and toothbrushes. Things these kids needed desperately and were so happy to receive.

Then there were my usual activities at the farm such as youth Bible study, choir, and guitar teaching. And then of course there is my new nightly routine of thoroughly inspecting my mosquito net to make sure no pestly mosquitoes have infiltrated my defenses. There is nothing like waking up in the middle of the night to the gentle hum of a mosquito trapped inside the net with you, buzzing around your ear while you slap your head in vain trying to rectify the situation. Few things are more annoying…except maybe having a lion trapped inside your net with you. I’ve yet to experience it but I imagine it to be unpleasant…they are big, they purr loudly, and there mane would be all up in your face. It’s one thing to be eating my a mosquito…that itches. But being eaten by a lion…that hurts.

One more thing and then I must let you go. I will be moving come the middle of September into town. There is a small, small house on the property of one of our families which I will be soon occupying. This will mean that I won’t be so isolated from the rest of the team, especially as we have two new families joining us, and it will be more convenient as it will be a lot closer to everything. I will continue to keep up my ministry here in Kasupe but it will mean less driving as right now I am pretty much having to make the trek into town at least once a day and this way will only have to come this way a couple times a week.

So all in all I’m excited about this new chapter in my time here with moving and involvement with street kids. I hope you all are well and thanks you once again for what you mean to me.

Love from Zambia,


“But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because

of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.” ~Titus 3:4-5a

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Afrikan Adventure: The Windy City

The weather patterns in Zambia seem to work like clockwork. I mean you wouldn’t want to set your standard wrist watch to it, it’s not the atomic clock or anything, it just seems very predictable. Stable in a sense. You always no what’s coming. I like that. Because it seems like nothing else about this country works in this fashion, nor has anything about this trip followed this road called “expectancy.” So at least the weather can. They said it would get windy in August. So coming from BC where the only thing predictable about the weather is that it will probably rain when you really don’t want it too, I didn’t think too much about it. I was thinking maybe a gentle northeasterly wind to come passing through now and again. But no, they actually meant it gets windy. It’s like Chicago out here, the Windy City (which I recently learned bears political meaning rather than barometrical significance, but I still choose to think of it meaning the latter). In the mornings I sometimes lie in bed and listen to it. Sometimes it sounds angry. Like it wants to blow my humble abode clear over, sending my thatch roof a sail. Other times it sounds calming, like it is bringing forth something new or just letting you know it’s there. I like the wind. I like the way you can feel the wind even though you can’t see it, you know it is there…surrounding you, pushing you, holding you. It is real. The wind reminds me of God, of His Holy Spirit who is with us. And even though I know God is real, sometimes it’s nice just to feel Him, like the wind.

There hasn’t been a whole lot new to report going on this past week. It was yet again another goodbye as we saw the Stein family go back home to Minnesota after a year here. They were working with the community schools and Steve was serving as our interim director and with him leaving we currently have no one leading us here on the field. Tim Hilty is standing in as our “Officer in Charge” and I am thinking of making him a badge, vest, and beret to wear to all our meetings. But at least this week with another goodbye we got to say “Hello” to a new family joining our team, the Melville family, who I’m happy to say have greatly increased our non-American contingency as they are from the UK although were living in California. The common-wealth contingency is rising up here in Action Zambia! We and the Queen will eventually take over.

My weekly activities continue on as normal, although numbers seem to have dwindled this past week at the different events. Perhaps it has something to do with the schools being on break…or it’s me. I have started teaching one of the youth how to play guitar. So we’ve been meeting three times a week which is fun.

Finally, here is the latest rat report: I have not eaten any this week but as I sit in my hut there is the distinct aroma that is neither sweet nor pleasing, but rather the something dead. Now if you recall I mentioned previously about my rash outpouring of poison in a moment of intolerance and I’m sure all you animal rights activists are singing I’ve gotten my just dessert. I’ve searched everywhere, can’t find it. I think it may be in the thatch of the roof. I’ve noticed several fly larva showing up this morning…a sure sign of something dead Mr.Gondwe tells me. I guess I’ve learned my lesson. Just because something wakes you up every night doesn’t mean you should bombard it with poison. A lesson probably best learned before I have children.

And that concludes another long-“winded” August letter. I am so blessed to have people like you, who support, encourage, love, and pray for me…and put up with my nonsensical ramblings (because if you got this far, you indeed do!), it blows me away! I’m so thankful for you. Have a great week and eat something weird for me.



“The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” John 3:8

Monday, August 6, 2007

Afrikan Adventure: And then there was one…

Hither, I bring forth to you another account of the events of days gone by. And it came to pass that it was week bitter sweet in nature…I ate a mouse Sweet & Sour style! Actually, that is a falsehood. It was for the fact that I had to say goodbye to my two good friends, Susan and Stephanie, with whom I have lodged with for my entire say here so far, Stephanie being my esteemed “hut-mate.” They have moved 6 hours south to a bush area called Sinazongwe to do medical ministry there with another organization. So this past week I, along with Tim, Andrea, and their daughter Irene Hilty, were able to go down with them to help them move and get settled in. It is beautiful down there and they are on a lake inhabited by many crocs and hippos…swimming is not encouraged! While there we unpacked their oodles of medical supplies for their clinics, painted the clinic, spilled the paint all over the floor, had to scrape it off the floor until it was completely gone, organized and inventoried all the meds (I think Andrea and I butchered every single name except for maybe Tylenol…and we barely pulled that one off…but we had a good time doing it). It was nice to be able to help them transition a bit. The directors are a South African family and I learned that every meal must have some type of gravy, and exorbitant amount of salt, and of course followed by a dessert, which no matter what it is they call “pudding” which must include a thick custard. So I took a little trip down heart attack lane…but I wasn’t complaining!

It was hard to see them go as that leaves me the lone single ranger here…although I through a mean “Solitaire Party” on Friday nights. But I’m excited for this opportunity that they have to use their gifts for God’s glory down there. And they are only a hop, skip, and a 6 hour bus ride away!

I returned to Lusaka to some sobering news. The elderly woman, whom I believe I mentioned in my last letter, who was suffering from a lot of pain in her back passed away while I was gone. I was shocked to hear the news. I still don’t know what she died from, and probably won’t, but was taken into hospital and then the doctors and nurses went of strike. That’s Zambian health care for you. It’s heartbreaking but a good reminder of the urgency this country needs to hear the hope of Christ for their salvation.

The youth choir continues to go well. I think close to thirty youth are showing up on a weekly basis…although it usually takes a good hour for them all to trickle in. We have a lot of fun, they aren’t the best singers in the world but they’ve got heart and enjoy swaying to the beat! We’re working on the singing part. I usually do a short devotional with them and this next week have invited those who want to do a Bible study to come on Wednesday afternoon.

Saturday kids club is also going well. This past week I led it by myself. Usually Chalo, one of our Zambian team members, helps out and does a bunch in Nyanja so they can understand more. So we sang a lot. I taught them a bunch of new songs. We learned about Noah and I showed them how to do three legged races (symbolizing how the animals went on the ark two by two!). We had a blast. It’s those times with the youth and the kids that make the struggles and challenges here easier to bare and remember why I’m here.

As for this weeks peak into the life that is Africa…several local kids killed a big spitting cobra right outside our property this morning. A couple weeks ago one of our guys found a dead one and brought it home and then put in on my doorstep, knocked on the door, ran away, leaving me with the nasty surprise. I was not amused. Although I was slightly amused when he did the same to Susan on her doorstep and she screamed.

Also, my hut, of which I am now solitude in, has rats. There is a small ceiling above the shower and bathroom of which the rats seem to make their nocturnal home. So often I hear them scurrying around and making a ruckus up their. They have yet to jump off down to where I am. So a couple days ago a put a big ol’ box of rat poison up there, box and all as it instructed me to and sure enough in the middle of the night I hear them going to town on that box…it was so loud couldn’t sleep. My only comfort lay in the cruel yet satisfying knowledge that their obnoxious little lives should soon be through.

Well, on that uplifting note I will draw to a close. I thank you again for all your support, prayers and encouragement. Words don’t seem enough to convey how much it means to me. I wish you well this week.

God Bless,


“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” ~2 Corinthians 4:17-18