Thursday, November 29, 2007

Afrikan Adventure: Empty Space

I write you from a seemingly very empty space…and I’m speaking quite literally, not referring to my mental capacity. The house that I live in was furnished almost exclusively by another couple on the team that had moved into a place where they did not need much of their belongings, working out quite perfectly for the both of us. But oh, how the tides have changed. Said couple is now moving into an unfurnished home requiring said belongings and thus bringing us to the current state as I listen to the reverb of my typing, sounding much like the typewriters of old. So now I currently have a hot plate and blender to my name. It’s all one really needs really. Blending can be very cathartic while creating delicious treats that are easily accessible through a straw. And with all concrete walls and tile floors I’ve found entertainment in singing Latin words loudly and listening to it bounce of the walls. Plus, this pillaging has provided a much better space to practice my gymnastic floor routines.

Moving on…with such a transitional time in the life of Action Zambia there has been need for assistance in the administrative area so I have been working in our office at least one day a week to help out. So if in the near future this mission suddenly disintegrates you’ll know why.

This past week marked a significant national holiday for our American friends and seeing as this is a predominantly American team I stuck a feather in my cap and joined the festivities. There was no turkey but there was pie for which was something to be truly thankful for.

Last week I was able to finally visit a dear woman who is on the Rural Health Committee that I work with who just lost her husband. Mr. and Mrs. Sakala had been married 43 years this November. They had been living on a farm out near where I used to live but now she will have to move into town with relatives. She shared how here in Zambia widows are often treated very poorly…it was shocking to hear what families will do these poor women. Luckily, Mrs. Sakala’s family has been very supportive but that is not the norm. Often, families will blame the widow for the death and make her walk around on her elbows and knees and they will take almost everything from her home and leave her with nothing. And when she goes to stay with other family she must be in seclusion while the man of the house is there. I hope to be able to visit with her at the new place she is staying at here in town. It was shocking and heart breaking to hear that is how these women are treated here.

I was also able to participate in a seminar put on by our CROSS team (the HIV/AIDS ministry). For the last five months the team has been training individuals and leaders in several churches to better deal with the HIV/AIDS pandemic and equip them with some counselling skills. So on Friday all the people from the different churches worked with got together for a seminar. In typical Zambian fashion I was asked to lead the music last minute and completely unprepared but it all turned out in the end.

And those are the highlights of days gone by. Some days are good, others present ample opportunity for “character building” but it’s encouraging to know I’m not in it alone. I think having an empty home could be a good thing. All I really need is Jesus anyway. Thank you to you all for your love and support over these months and your prayers which I’m sure have done more than we could possibly know. Take care and stay warm…or don’t bother with a heater, just come here. We could blend and sing Latin words together!


“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
~Jeremiah 29:13

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Afrikan Adventure: I scream, you scream, let’s all scream…ICE CREAM!

Have you even gone say 9 months without tasting the sweet, sweetness of real ice cream? And then one day, in a seemingly miraculous act, your dormant taste buds are reawakened to said sweet, sweetness, like manna rained down from heaven? And you think this is THE best thing that could have ever happened to you? And then half an hour later you remember that you are borderline lactose intolerant? But that first half hour was magical. This may or may not be a factual life story that happened recently. Dairy products are often very expensive and of poor quality here in Zambia. Therefore, when this mysterious “Sonia” and her “Italian Delicatessen” presents itself in the local grocer’s freezer, one must pounce, no matter the consequence.

Time seems to have quickened it’s step the longer I am here. I remember when I first got here it seemed like time crept by, everything was new and exciting and the days and weeks seemed to last longer. But now in the routines of life here, even though the pace of life is usually at a steady crawl, the days and weeks hasten by.

As I believe I mentioned last time I was preparing to embark into the world of sex education, helping lead two Saturday seminars for youth from a local church. And once again things did not happen as planned. The first Saturday we had put all this planning and preparation in. Including a somewhat awkward visit to the local photocopy place where the only male employee there was the one to help me make photocopies of female anatomy diagrams. We arose way to early to get to the farm, to be the location of the festivities only to have to eventually cancel because an hour and a half after we were to start only four youth had shown up, the rest at least another hour from coming. It was pretty disappointing. But it wasn’t all for not. We had an impromptu water balloon fight with the four that were there with the balloons I had prepared for a relay we were going to do. And we did a half day of discussion and teaching which I think went really well. The best laid plans…

For this past Saturday we decided to just keep it to a half day and have it at the church itself. Two hours after the planned starting time we began! I led some music to begin with and taught them some new songs which was fun. All in all the day went well. Most of the teaching and discussion was done in the vernacular which I think was good so they could really understand and discuss. It is such an important topic to tackle here, especially with the way it is handled traditionally and frequency of abuse and myths.

Last Sunday the women of our team sang at a church. I was playing guitar and when we broke into harmony suddenly loud noise erupted from congregation and I thought someone had passed out around me or something but I guess it was because they liked it, but I totally lost my concentration. It was a fun experience. Then today in church this massive millipede crawled right past my feet. As it moved past this elderly woman next to me turned to me with this terrified-like smile and sat with her legs straight out until it past. This is Africa!

It seems the rains have come. There is a wild lightening storm taking place right now. Although the combination of the heat and the rain often make for a less than pleasant environment, unless you’re a big fan of sweating. The other day I was walking and got caught in a downpour. I was in jeans which immediately changed states form being cloth to lead. Then the rain stopped and the sun came out again and it was like an instant sauna, except I don’t usually walk in lead “trousers” in a sauna (pants here means underwear…which has got us North Americans into some pretty funny situations). Really cleans out he pours. But I know here in Lusaka we have it pretty good compared to what it could be, like in other places in the world. So I will embrace it.

And that’s another lengthy snapshot into this adventure that is my life. Apparently it’s the middle of November, how did that happen? I can’t wrap my head around it and the climate here. It’s about time for those Christmas portraits! Book now, ask me how! You should all book your appointments with the Abbotsford Sears Portrait Studio now. Tell them Shannon sent you and I’m sure you’ll be in for a treat!

Take care of yourself now. Love and peace from Zambia!


“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is a gift from God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Afrikan Adventure: Trimester Four

As I left you last I believe I was still holding out hope that the highly anticipated rains would make their traditions Independence day debut…but alas, my waiting was to no avail. They did not come. I went to bed with a heavy heart knowing something was a miss. I got over the devastation pretty quick. But never fear, today the rains came! It was a nice hiatus from the November heat…there are two words I've never put together before…except at home when my sister and I would insist on keeping the heat off in the house as late in the year as possible, until appendages went numb with cold, just to be obstinate, yet frugal children. I took advantage of running in the rain. It felt like the good ol' days in the motherland…and I don't mean Russia…I've never run there. But then it got dark and lightening came, and since I usually run holding a long conductor rod I decided it probably best to get indoors.

As you can tell, this past week hasn't really held all that much in terms of captivating action. I've gone about my business as usual: choir, teaching guitar, Bible studies, visiting people out in Kasupe, riding on mini buses and waiting for hours, the usual. Although this past week my patience seemed to hit an all time low with the unwanted attention I seem to attract from the men here for the fact that I am white, female, and out in the open. So of course why wouldn't you yell degrading comments at me! When I stayed in Mexico several years ago guys used to think that they could impress us by squealing their tires as they drove by…and let me tell you it worked. I was impressed every time. Not so here. But I feel my patience tank is topped up and I'm ready to take on another week.

It was also a hard week in that I received news of two deaths. That stuff never seems to gets any easier. One was the mother of a youth named Edmond leaving him now an orphan who can't afford to go to school and forced to live with difficult relatives. The other the husband of one of the dear ladies on the Rural Health Committee that I've been working with.

There are these ladies who sit on the corner of my street and sell produce and whatnot everyday. So one day last week I sat down with them and they invited me to eat nshima with them (the corn meal like staple here). It is usually eaten with some kind of "relish" or sauce. This day they had something I had never heard of before. I couldn't understand what it was but it looked like little green leafs in a bed of oil. I delved in (you eat it with your hands) which caused them great amusement as apparently my nshima technique could use a little work. With every bite they would be on the edge of their seat to watch me try and eat it and then would break out into laughter. I'm thinking of coming out with my own Zambian comedy special that just involves me eating nshima and saying my full name.

This coming week is panning out to be a busy one, which I'm all for. Among the delicacies mounted on my plate is this Saturday I will be joining with the CROSS team (our HIV/AIDS ministry team) to do a day long seminar for 20 youth on sex education with a Biblical perspective. This Saturday we will be meeting with the girls and then the next Saturday it will be with the boys. This is a topic that is not really addressed here in Zambia, at least not properly. So this a pilot project to see where youth here are at and get feedback and info on how we could structure a longer program for youth. So there is a lot of preparation still to be done for this.

I am entering my fourth trimester here in Zambia. Don't worry, I am not a pregnant sea lion nor alpaca. Rest assured I am not a pregnant anything but nine months have gone by since I set out from that blustery Toronto airport. My time here has been anything but what I expected it to be. It's been hard and challenging on a whole but I'm learning to count it all as a privilege. It's a privilege to be here, to learn the things that I am, to know these people, to get a glimpse at the things that break God's heart every day, to gain a new perspective on just how much I need a Savior, and to see just how great a Savior we have. So these last nine months have seen a lot of development in my thinking and in my spiritual growth…even though I spent a lot of time kicking, wanting to get out of here at times…going back to the pregnant sea lion analogy…or just a the pregnancy analogy. Looks like I'm all prepared for this Saturday!

Well, that's about it for this week. I should stop procrastinating further and get back to the tasks at hand. I hope November is treating you all well and you are enjoying your saved daylight. Thanks for all being part of this adventure. I can't seem to express my gratitude sufficiently. Take care.


"Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, 'The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.' The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord." ~Lamentations 3: 22-26