Friday, May 18, 2007

Perspective from the field

Below is a letter from Elise Whitfield who is in Zambia with Action International. Though her experiences may be different from ours, it is neat for us to read what they are doing, especially from the mommy side of things, and it is encouraging to see how God might us in the ministry. Please note that you can see the other blogs of our teammates on the sidebar to the bottom right...

Hello Family and Friends!

We pray that each of you are healthy and are enjoying the new spring weather. The weather here in Zambia is slowly changing also! It is getting cooler every couple weeks and we love the breezes and more fall-like weather. Many Zambians have brought out their coats while we are still in short-sleeves. Well we are trying to update and keep in touch weekly instead of monthly. I have loved hearing all the news from all of you so thank you for keeping us in the loop! We miss and love you all.
For many of you this might come as a shock or either you will get a good laugh out of it……I started a cooking class with my Bible study ladies! The last two Wednesdays there were 10 of us and I taught the ladies how to make biscuits and banana bread from scratch. Many of you know my cooking abilities and yes God can perform miracles! I am learning to cook from scratch and loving it. (I made pizza for dinner last night and it turned out great and was fun to make!) The ladies and I are feeling more comfortable and getting to know each other better in the last 4 weeks! It has been a blessing to me to make new friends and has also been stretching for me to come up with my own Bible studies. God is so good and He has been teaching me a lot about my self, things I need to lie at His feet and my need for Him in every area of my life. Pretty basic concepts, but it has been more evident to me of how much I try to do things my own before giving them to God. Rather, I initially need to give it to God and not even attempt to figure it out!!!

Every Tuesday we go to Kanyama and visit the Emmanuel Family Home (orphanage). Last Tuesday we had a wonderful visit and the girls especially love hugging and kissing on the babies. Emma and Macie keep asking me, “When are we going to bring a baby home?” Not a week goes by without that question being asked. The tender concern in their voices for a little one-month-old baby boy called Blessing is so sweet and touching. We sit on the floor with the toddlers and sing, play toys, and color. The kids fight over who gets to sit on my lap and Payton gets very jealous as he watches all this competition! The house mothers love our company and extra hands to

help feed the three little babies, who usually are awake and hungry all at the same time. It has been a blessing to all of us to literally be the helping hands in a very practical way.
Home schooling Macie and Emma has also been another blessing in disguise. I am spending so much time with them one-on-one and we have really been having a lot of fun together. I can honestly say I was dreading the transition from private school to home schooling but God has given me many mothers here on our team that have encouraged me and help me in our transition. We have a great schedule and Payton is doing better and becoming less of a “disturbance” during our school time. Thank you to all who have been praying for us in this area and for all those who have gave me such great advice and encouragement before we got on the field!

I am hoping by e-mailing weekly that you all can practically hear and see the things we are doing and feel more connected to us. So imagine with me a very white and very buff Football player running down the field, sweating, panting and yelling along side a whole team of skinny Zambians. Also imagine his very loud, white family standing on the field cheering for Him and the team. You can image that we might stand out just a little bit!

This is a picture of our Sunday afternoons, out here at the farm. Trying to engage in our new culture has been uncomfortable at times but always rewarding. I have been invited by my house helper, Maureen to a wedding shower this Saturday afternoon. In Zambia such parties are called Kitchen Parties. I am looking forward to the cultural experience and time with Maureen. Last weekend we attended out first Zambian wedding. Our accountant that has worked for ACTION for several years got married and invited the whole team. We were asked not to bring kids so Maureen brought her kids to our house and they all played together. The wedding was very western, but the dancing was one of the major differences. At the reception the bridesmaids and groomsmen danced down the aisle by themselves. When the cake was presented, the bridesmaids held each layer as they danced down the aisle once more. Each family also did a group dance, where all members of the families participated. It was a joyful time and a very neat African experience. We all had a good laugh imaging our families dancing down the aisle and carrying the cake!!!

We are also excited that we have found a church and a new group of believers to be a part of. Evangel Baptist Church is the name of the church that we have been attending regularly this last month or so. I am planning on joining the choir next in June and will participate in the weekly practices.

We have been welcomed so graciously and we are excited to soon join a small group. Luke has connected with Pastor Grave who just returned home from a year in the states and we are hoping to have his family for dinner sometime soon. We are excited to see where God can use us within this church and all that He is going to teach us through this body!
We also have a trip planned next week to visit our fellow ACTION team members who live in Malawi. The Burns have lived in a small town called Ntcheu for 18months and are the only family out there. They have started a new ACTION ministry there and are looking for new families to join them. We have always been open to where God would lead us once we got here, so we are taking a 2 week trip to visit them and see the ministry opportunities there.

It is a more remote area in the mountains and about 2 hours from Lake Malawi. We will be taking some time to visit the lake and enjoy the beach with the Burns also. We are looking forward to this visit and to see if andhow God can use us in Malawi. We are not sure how available e-mail will be but we will update you as soon as we return home. We are leaving Monday May 21st and will return Monday June 4th and Luke and I will have our cell phones if you would like to keep in touch that way. Please keep us in your prayers for our patience during the 10hour car ride! Our fellow missionary and friend Shannon Storey is also joining us so that will be fun and good for her to see possible opportunities for ministry.

Thank you all for all your love, support and prayers. We think of you all often and remember you in our prayers. Please continue to keep in touch we love hearing from you. God bless and keep you!

Love The Whitfield’s,
Luke, Elise,
Macie, Emma and Payton

James 1:27 “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress ad refusing to let the world

corrupt you.”

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