Monday, January 28, 2008

Afrikan Adventure: The 12 Days of Zambia

And so it has come to pass that time has held to its steady rhythm and I find myself with but twelve days left in this country. There were certainly times when it felt like I would never see this day (that made it sound like I live some kind of glorified Indiana Jones type lifestyle, don’t be fooled…although I do ride the minibuses on a consistent basis). This time feels somewhat surreal as I get ready to depart and reflect on the year gone by. There are a lot of things (people mostly) that I don’t want to have to leave behind here but at the same time am jubilant about seeing those I left behind a year ago. I leave Zambia on February 5th and will spend five days in London visiting a friend and then return to Vancouver on the evening of February 10th!

It is pouring here. I guess they don’t call it “Rainy Season” for nothing. Although this year there seems to be an excess of rain which is causing much problem. There has been a lot of flooding, houses are being destroyed, and roads are taking quite a licking. The orphan home that we work with is on the brink of flooding as right now the water is clear up to the doorstep. With all the water comes the increased risk of disease quickly spreading within the compounds (the poorest areas).

I had a good trip down south to Sinazongwe to spend time with friends who run a medical ministry down there, the highlight being Susan pulling a bug out of a child’s ear. I did not witness it but I trust her testimony of the event to be factual.

I am currently honoured to have my friend Anna Maria Enfield visiting me. She was part of the team I first came to Zambia with four years ago and has been in Uganda for the past two weeks and now here! There is also a team from California here so it’s a busy time but good. Today I took them to Chisomo Drop-In Centre, whom I’ve been working with, to show them around there. We had a fun time with the kids as usual. Each time I am with them I get sadder about having to say goodbye to them. It’s awful!

So I am attempting to wrap things up here and begin saying goodbyes. What strange things our hearts do to us. This year has been nothing that I expected it to be and many a time I have wondered what I was doing here and why God brought me here. It has held confusion, frustration and discouragement like I have never really known before but at the same time God has revealed Himself and worked in my life in ways that couldn’t have happened without this time. I’m at a loss with what to do with all that this past year was and has meant but I suppose it’s time to start processing it!

And so much like that beloved festive song “The 12 Days of Christmas” I have revised it for “The 12 Days of Zambia”…and yet I still have no true love to give me a partridge in a pear tree…or even a monkey in a mango tree. But then again, who gives away wild animals in fruit trees. That’s weird. I’ll leave you with that thought.

Love shannon

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” ~James 1:2-3

“… we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. You see at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly” ~Romans 5:3-6

Monday, January 7, 2008

Afrikan Adventure: Auld Lang Syne

Well, it looks like it’s another year over and a new one just begun. I trust we have all made lofty and unattainable resolutions for this year of 2008. I personally have resolved to swim across the Atlantic using only the butterfly stroke for the entire voyage. Moving on…my time in South Africa was grand. It was great to be able to spend Christmas with the Armes/Hilty family and see some of the beautiful country. South Africa is like a whole new world, a dazzling place I never knew! I arrived back in Lusaka on New Years Day after ringing in the New Year by going to bed at 11:55pm…I got up 20 minutes later to finish packing.

I arrived back in Lusaka to a climate that seems all too familiar. It has been raining like crazy here, in an unseasonably heavy fashion in fact. It seems that it is preparing me to arrive back in BC. So with the new year brings the task of beginning to wrap up here in Zambia. On Thursday night I had an “All-nighter” with Chisomo drop-in centre as somewhat of a farewell. Many of the youth will be going back to boarding school this coming week and since I will be leaving soon as well we decided to have one final shebang all together. The kids prepared songs, skits, and testimonies which were awesome. We had a nice meal of chicken and rice and then had popcorn and watched movies all night. It was a good time but a saddening realization of all the goodbyes that are looming.

This coming week I am headed down to Sinazongwe, which is in the southern part of Zambia, to visit Susan and Stephanie, former team mates who now work as a nurse and midwife down there.

And so I leave you with my new motto for 2008, but first how I came upon it. While in South Africa I stayed about 6km from my friends so they lent me a bicycle so I could get around and cycle to and from their house. I was pretty excited about all of this until I realized that the route to their house was almost entirely uphill. To top it off Port Elizabeth is a seaside city and for some reason the winds seemed to have it out for me. Every time I made the uphill trek it seemed like I would be cycling into gale force winds. You know its trouble when you have to pedal to go down hill. So on my final cycle, December 31st, I was reflecting on the year gone by and thinking that this was a good depiction of what the past year has felt like at times. So if 2007 was “an uphill cycle into the wind,” then my new motto for 2008 is: “It’s all downhill from here!” I don’t know, call me an optimist!

Looking back on auld lang syne (times gone by) I can begin to see glimpses of how God has been at work in my life and those around me and that is just the tip of the iceberg as I try and begin to process this year gone by. I hope you had a happy and festive Christmas season. I thank you again for all your support and encouragement over this past year. I am so grateful and can’t even begin to tell you. Well, I guess that’s a lie because it seems I just attempted to. Anyway, take care and I look forward to seeing you soon!



“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