Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Afrikan Adventure: These flip-flops were made for walking

These flip-flops were made for walking and that’s just what they’ll do. One of these days these flip-flops are gonna…disintegrate right into the ground. So this week marked my first week without any sort of vehicle to use. For the past several months a team mate who was back in the states graciously let me use her vehicle while she was away. A humongous help. But those days are behind me now and it’s back to the world of public transportation. I prefer to walk when I can, I quite enjoy it really. It may not be the most efficient of methods of transportation, although, as a I found today, neither is the public transport system.

Today I spent approximately five hours in transport time to get to the farm and back for an hour and a half program. Here’s how it works. I had to get downtown to get on another bus to take me to the farm. However, at the bus station you wait until your bus is jam packed before you commence. Meaning if you get on and it’s not very full, you wait. The bus I got on was fitted for about 30. I was number 3. So after well over an hour the bus was finally full. Then of course we had to stop at the gas station. Two hours from the time I left home I had arrived at the farm (a trek that normally took me about 35 minutes by car). I had a lovely time teaching guitar and tutoring another youth in math (luckily it is grade 7 math). Then it was time to head home. The buses don’t frequent that area very often so I waited about an hour and a half for a bus to finally come my way. By the time we got back to downtown with all the stops another hour had gone by. By this time nightfall was fast approaching and not desiring to be traveling in a bus for another hour under the cover of darkness I opted to hire a cab to take me the rest of the way home. Perhaps walking isn’t as inefficient after all. But I was entertained by watching the events around me. Such as at the station men come around and try to sell you random things. I witnessed one trying to sell a man on my bus a pair of nail clippers. My busmate took the clippers, proceeded to clip his nails, and then decided not to purchase them and gave them back to the man at the window. Note to self: don’t purchase nail clippers at the bus station.

This past week there was another baby shower! This time it was for the wife of one of our Zambian team mate who works with the HIV/AID ministry. So Andrea and I did all this preparation and baking and it turned out to be one of the most awkward events ever! I think this was a little unusual for a shower to be had before the baby is born but the whole time the woman looked like she wanted to be anywhere but at this shower. I pretty sure it was just a cultural thing because at weddings and bridal showers the bride always looks like she wants to be dead too, when I’m pretty sure that’s not what’s really going on. We didn’t make them eat chocolate out of a diaper…maybe we should have, it may have been the kick start that party needed.

Today on the 24th of October, the year of our Lord, Zambia celebrated 43 years of independence. I had a stunning sweater vest made displaying the Zambian flag colours and name which I proudly sported along with my Zambia toque. If you recall, I once mentioned that everyone told me that on this day is when the rains would come. Anticipation was high for me on this day and although at one point there were several clouds in the sky…no rain. I did see several people carrying umbrellas. And why wouldn’t they because they were probably thinking “it’s October 24th…it’s gonna rain!” There are still a couple hours of October 24th left. I will not loose hope until the strike of midnight.

Living here in Zambia over these last through months has begun to paint a picture of humanity. I’ve seen the beauty of the people here, the preciousness of their souls, the forgotten and overlooked and shared glimpses of what God must see in his unfathomable love for those he created. But then the picture is tainted with strokes of deep sadness and the broken souls that each of us are. I think I used to see things to be more separate, like Zambia was very “other” from myself and my country. And superficially it is, we look different, the culture is different, the language is different, the economic conditions are different, our countries are separated by a vast space, and the surface problems may be different. But deeper at the souls of people we are really all the same. We all have this emptiness inside of us that aches for a relationship with Jesus. And we can try and fill it with stuff, or other people, or empty religion and trying to be “good.” But when it comes down to it none of that satisfies the void. Our hearts still ache for the restoration of that perfect relationship with our Creator that was broken long ago whether we realize it or not. It’s encouraging for me to think that whatever “programs” or “ministries” we have here aren’t in and of themselves going to make a difference, because sometimes I feel like I screw up everything I touch here. But it’s this relationship with Christ, no matter how cliché it sounds, that changes our lives and fills us with purpose and meaning and love. And it’s for everyone, no matter poor and overlooked or wealthy and noteworthy, free for the taking.

And with that I will bid you “adieu, adieu, to you and you and you” for the evening as I wait for the rain on this 43rd Independence Day. I hope this electronic message finds you well. A reminder…you only have about three more months to come visit, so book your tickets now. Take care my friends!



“All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” ~ 2 Corinthians 5: 18-20

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Afrikan Adventure: The Guests

I am pleased to report that in the days gone by since I last wrote I have managed to keep all my digits and limbs intact and securely in place. My stitches are gone leaving me with only a memory of past events…and a nasty scar. I’ll be back to “Thumb War Champion” material in no time.

It’s been a hectic week with what seems not a whole lot to show for it but it’s been good. My friends Susan and Mike came up from Sinazongwe (Susan is the nurse who I used to live at the farm with who now works with an organization called Missionary Ventures International, and Mike is the also a member of MVI and the trusted team mechanic) on Monday…just in time to help me celebrate Thanksgiving: Canadian style with Americans! Nothing like forcing Americans to celebrate your holidays. I made a little makeshift feast and it was nice to have friends there to share it with. It’s just not the same if you have to eat a whole pumpkin pie by yourself. I even wore a “harvest sweater” even though it was 30 degrees Celsius outside.

So Susan stayed with me this past week and on Thursday our friend Stephanie (who I used to share a hut with!) returned from a short trip to the states. So there were three of us in this itsy bitsy house but it was fun. So I spent most of my spare time running around with them trying to help them get everything done and all the supplies they needed before heading back down to the bush and generally hanging out and catching up. We threw a baby shower for two of our pregnant team member (Andrea and Elise). It was a good time. I insisted that we incorporate a game that involved eating a mashed up chocolate bar and green jello out of a diaper with no hands. I hope that it sticks as a Zambian tradition and can be passed down from generation to generation.

This afternoon I invited my church choir over to my place for our practice followed by a little BBQ. It was fun to have them all over here. They brought all the sound equipment and seem to think that every song we sing should have a drum loop from the electric keyboard and so they pumped one out of the speakers. I’m sure the neighbours thoroughly enjoyed our time as well!

And so it goes here in Zambia. It’s been eight months and it seems the more time goes by the less I understand about why God put me here. God doesn’t really need me here, I mean, He’s God…he doesn’t need a broken human like me to do anything for Him. But I’ve been thinking that it’s like parents and children (I’m around a lot of children and wondering if I really ever want to embark on drudgery of parenthood:). Like when a parent lets their kid “help” them do something even though by doing it themselves said parent could complete the task immensely faster. They let their child “help” because they love them and that is how one learns and grows, even though the kid usually makes a bigger mess than to begin with and the parent ends up cleaning up the aftermath of the “helpful deed,” but the parent still loves them and is even proud of what would normally be thought of as aesthetically displeasing…or something of that matter. I think this is the way it is with I and God. I want to help Him. He lets me. I make a mess. He cleans it up and still loves me anyway.

Thanks to all of you who are here with me even though not physically. I miss you greatly. I end with the classic words of Stevie Wonder, adapted by Shannon Storey. “I just wrote to say I love you, I just wrote to say how much I care, I just wrote to say I love you and I mean it from the bottom of my heart!” Ahh, Stevie. Until next time...



“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grown tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not grow faint.” ~ Isaiah 40:28-31

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Afrikan Adventure: All Up In Stitches…

Although there may occasionally be a dull moment here in Zambia, apparently not a dull knife. Opposable thumbs help to make us some of the most dexterous creatures on earth, but not so when said thumb is severed with a sharp metal object such as a knife. Perhaps severed is too harsh of a word…it makes me think like it is hanging by a thread. Not so in this case. It was a day just like any other, the sun was up, so was I, and there was a cabbage to be cored. But one slip of the hand and bam…blood everywhere. I kind of just stood there for a while wondering what to do next. This seemed like no match for my Dora the Explorer Band-Aids. So I wrapped the “opposable” in many paper towels and napkins and headed to the neighbours. Stephanie was kind enough to drive me to the clinic where my new good friend, Dr. Joseph from Egypt, kindly stitched me up; three in total. It was a gory scene but I watched every second of it. It even squirted out blood everywhere just like one of those fine television medical drama shows. But now I’m back home and admiring my new battle scars. Sadly, it was at the hand of a knife and cabbage rather than a crocodile. Check it out on the blog:

Until next time…stay safe and have fun!