Saturday, September 29, 2007
Friday, September 28, 2007
We celebrated Julia's birthday going to Adventure City, a waterslide park just outside of town. I have to be honest when I say I didn't have high expectations going into the day, but wow, was I blown out of the water (no pun intended). It was beautiful. It was fun. It was only $5 for adults and $2.5o for kids. It was a great morning of playing, and because we were the only white people there, we were stared at a lot. It was almost as much fun watching my kids go crazy in exhilration as it was to watch these different school children that came. They were splashing, running, yelling and having the TIME OF THEIR LIVES!!!! It was really cool. We came home, relaxed and then had a team birthday party/worship time with gluten-free Banana Cake. I mentioned in a previous blog that it was amazing, well, time to testify!!! One team member said they were going to become gluten-free so they could have cake that good:) Go Steph!!! We got our first package from Boggie and Bumpa (Steph's parents) and Julia got her princess dress!! So cute! All in all, a good day celebrating our baby turning 4!!!
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Yeahaww, the bananas are ready!!! Our guard/gardener Daka (pictured) cut down the bananas last week and they are now ripe for eating. Bananas here look a bit different than those in the states, but they taste better!!!! And what is even better, Mommy took the bananas and just baked a gluten-free banana cake for Julia's birthday tomorrow and for our GF girls to eat at Emma's birthday party today. I had a taste and I am not going to lie, it was unbelievable!!!! Yeah Mommy!!!! She will not be overcome!!!
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
I walk a fine line here, feeling the effects of everything that was dear to me stripped away, and yet walking and living and being watched by people who have nothing and yet are still content. When I think of the word content, I think of peace, joy, patience, and self-control. I also think of thankfulness. When all that was is now no more (or is not as much, ) what is purged away reveals what are my affections. And if I am no longer at peace, have joy, living patience and self-control, when gratitude does not flow freely from my lips, whatever my circumstances, than my affections are on something other than the fulfiller of all satisfactions, Jesus. And so with this life we are living in Africa, we are learning something of the idols of our hearts and it is painful, depressing and freeing. It is one thing to have them taken from you and another to give them up freely. I am not sure which one is easier. But, it may give some insight into the secret of which Paul talks about in Philippians when he says he has learned the secret of being content. It is a secret that very few know about, and yet promises such reward as the one which lives content can say, "I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength." The reason Paul can do everything is because one, he doesn't need anything, and two, when these things that are usually our strength (or at least what substitutes for Christ) are removed, it is truly through Christ and Christ alone is our strength is derived and His strength revealed. When we are content in Christ alone, there is nothing else needed. It is a simple as that. He is the fullness of God, he is our mediator, he knows our troubles, he intercedes for us, he is the beginning and the end, and he is our joy and our delight. Our hearts are restless until we find our rest in Him. So, when these things that we cherish are taken from us, we like Job, the end all example of someone whose contentment shielded him from taking his wife's advice to curse God and die, must say with him, the Lord gives and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord. I think of John the Baptist, wearing camel hair that was neither comfortable nor fashionable, and eating locusts and honey which left a lot to be desired and not much to look forward to. What did he have to look forward to, and yet he is proof that you take everything away and Jesus is enough. I think of Paul, whether well fed or hungry, he had learned to be content. And I think that is the key word, learned. It is a process of learning and failing and giving away and God taking away so that there is purity in our following of Jesus. I remember my pastor once saying, "Say no to yourself once a day." Such great advice. And so whether God takes away or we give away, may we all learn to be content in Jesus alone, knowing that he fills all in all, and that there is nothing created that eternally fills the heart like the Savior. May we rest in the sovereignty and the gentleness and the detail of Jesus when our hearts are left gaping, that He knows us, that he is in control, that He is good and that you can do everything through Him who gives us strength. May we then enjoy with our hands open those things that God gives us for it says, that we are to, according to Paul in 1 Timothy 6:17, and we are the riches one, "As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy." May everything we enjoy be Jesus and that which he provides for us… And this is enough!
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Tuesday, September 25, 2007
was thinking today as I was driving to my destination, Kanyama Church and the Lusaka Bible College, that life is not just about the destination, but also about the journey. And so I thought I would show you first my journey to get to the church and then share some amazing stuff regarding the destination. It took about 30 minutes to get to the Kanyama compound where this church was located... On the way there, I experienced an Africa which may be easily taken for granted in its everydayness, but hopefully will not be as I strive to savor and observe all the beauty and the variety of life in Zambia. I love the advertisement for the internet. Don't get me wrong... I love having internet access, but the man being propelled back because of the speed of the internet, well, it is a bit of an overstatement. The Worldvision building is located on the main highway for all who sponsor a child. Cool to see that. The next pic is entering the downtown (notice that I am managing to drive on the left side of the road). As we head out to the compound, I drove though what is called suetto and the city market. This where things get interesting!!! You may have noticed the Dr. Nyombo. This is a witchdoctor. People go to him when they feel a curse has been put on them, or if they need some healing... This needs to be a whole other blog entry. The top pictures are of the compound. You may notice one that has brick structure. This is the local water well where residents come to get water. Don't miss the pictures with the women carrying everything from water bins to boxes to lettuce to just about anything. There is one where their are some fruit on a table by a house. There are many fruit stands like that around Lusaka. There is one just down the street where we have bought some tomatoes. Every day but Sunday they are on the side of the street, three ladies, selling tomatoes. Everyday, camera worthy stuff comes into view as we drive the streets of Lusaka. I just wanted to make sure you had a little idea of my days journey!
Sunday, September 23, 2007
So, I preached today. And it went well. I enjoyed the service, the singing and dancing was amazing. It was pure Africa and I loved it! But, to say just that would not be giving you the full picture. And I want to tell you about it. It was quite the story, actually. It started off when we met Pastor Mwale at his church at Chaisa Church of God. I thought I was just going to meet Pastor Sakala, the pastor at the church where I would be preaching at. But, instead we went into Pastor Mwale's house where he proceeded to give each of us Coke and a big bottle of water. Now, mind you I already had to go to the bathroom, and so I refused, because I knew that where I was going had no toilet. But, the girls didn't seem to reason the same, and their eyes lit up when the saw the coke. We don't usually give our kids soda beverages, let alone caffeinated beverages, but our girls certainly did not want to refuse the hospitality of this kind pastor. Julia downed hers like it was going out of style, with Kamryn and Julia close on her heels. I looked at Stephanie and just smiled. She smiled back. We finished our beverages and onto the church we went. I couldn't wait to see what would happen about 20 minutes into a 2+ hours church service where they had one outhouse, or at least I assumed. I was bit out of sorts having a whole bunch of black little kids watching our every move as we were leaving this house. The walk from the house to the car was about 5 minutes, and I felt very self-conscious getting into this big land cruiser to take our family, this pastor and another man to this church. On the way to the car, we had to cross a little steam. I am not sure it was a stream of water. Well, it was water and a lot more as the stench was unbelievable and I saw these two little boys. One was holding a bag and the other was scooping water out of the stream into this bag. So we are more or less being paraded to our car, and yet the sensory overwhelmingness was well, overwhelming. So, being out of it, I got into my car, turned left and I started to drive on the right side of the street and quickly realized it when another car started coming right at me. I corrected myself, chuckled awkwardly and drove to the church. We got to this church, after driving through this dirt road compound, turning through tight roads, through brush and into the area where I was supposed to park, which had this clothes line hanging right through it. So they quickly got the clothes line down, and I parked in this little area. I just can't quite describe to you what it feels like to be the only white person driving up as the only person who has a car into this tiny little area, as the entire village seems to be watching... We were escorted into this church, this tiny enclosure really, held together literally by plastic. The entire church of all Africans were already there as we walked through the front to sit down on these couches. Yep. Here we are. They started to worship and it was amazing. They dance and sing, and yell and whistle and pray and sing a loud song to the Lord. The choir sang and it was so good. It was Africa through and through. About 30 minutes in, yep, you guessed it, Kamryn had to go to the bathroom. So, I took her to the outhouse, moved aside the black plastic tarp and she literally shrieked and fell back as if a cobra were standing there waiting to bite her. The other option was to use the little potty in our car, but there were two boys standing watch over our car. Hmmm... I pulled Kamryn aside and told her the options. One, go in the outhouse or go in the car where people can see you. She chose the car, and so in the 150 degrees car, she well, goes to the bathroom. What do you do? We went back into the church after finishing, and more singing and more worship and testimonies. There was a few minutes where I wrote Stephanie a note saying now would be a good time to take the other girls who are still just in this shell shock experiencing this church. She begins to get up when the pastor leans over to me and asks if Stephanie would like to sing. I said yes, and it was the weird moment where she was getting up to go to the bathroom when I lean over and say they want you to sing, and so she was like uh sure, I'll sing. So, she did. She got up and sang Amazing Grace and it was beautiful. And then she went to the bathroom. The sermon went good, I think. It is crazy trying to use a translator. But he was good and it went well. They gave us a gift, some amazing paintings and some note cards. During the pastors announcements, Julia began to melt down. Bradyn had a hard time, being hot and all, fighting over the frozen juice bottle with Julia. Kamryn did great. So Stephanie took Julia outside. While outside, Stephanie saw this man in a blue shirt with some African kids. Apparently, whenever a kid was getting out of line, he would grab the kid and take them outside and give them a little whack on the leg and give them a time out... No Sunday school here... Just learn to sit with the big people. So, we get our gift, and we are supposed to go out and be greeted but Stephanie is with a falling apart Julia. She comes in and we walk out, and the entire church comes out to greet us, one by one. The church was about 70, so it really wasn't that big of a deal, and it was really cool. By now Julia is in this sugar/caffeine crash hysterically crying "I miss Bobo!" over and over again. I think it is supposed to be a time of greeting and what not, but we really need to get Julia out of there and the kids for that matter, as it is around 95 degrees. But, our car is right smack in the middle of the greeting area. So, I feel horrible having to leave so suddenly, our car, the only ones in that group who has a car, trying to back out in a car that is 100 degrees and drive over bumpy roads with potty, well, in the potty. Aughhh! It was about as uncomfortable as one can get. I got back on the main road only to, well you guessed it, drive again, on the right side. The pastor corrected me this time... We made it back, where we were supposed to go back to the church and go up front and get another gift. With Julia in the back crying, "I miss Bobo! I miss Bobo!" we decided to just not go back down there, and the pastor came running back up to us, crossing the stream to give us this gift. We said thank you and goodbye and we were on our way. We enjoyed "I miss Bobo" all the way home. We actually got it on video just so we could remember the moment. I think from now church will just be boring without all these adventures...
Saturday, September 22, 2007
The place of our safari today was pretty cool. I put anasterik because it wasn't what most think of a safari. It wasn't all day, we didn't have to camp out and it wasn't a ton of money ($5 dollars). That is why it was perfect. Perfect for little kids, perfect for big kids. Perfect. The Safari was really cool. You felt like you were out there. It was a lodge that has acreage and has some wild, caged and tame animals. The safari was about 45 minutes from our house and it took an hour to drive around. We saw zebras, puku, antelopes, baboons (from a distance), Lions, and an elephant. I can't describe how cool it was to drive out there... Within 5 minutes after leaving the outskirts of the city, it was bush country. Just like what you see in pictures. Oxes pulling carts, people standing by the side of the road selling tomatoes, and little villages along the way. You felt like you were out there. The first stop were the lions. They were the caged ones, a big cage, like the six football fields, but you could walk right up to them and be literally be within 6 inches of this massive creature. It was incredible. Lions are HUGE and intimidating and beautiful. The guard waved his hand in the air and the lion who was laying right along the fence roared. Another lion was tracking Irene and when she started to walk, chased after and leapt up near the fence. We then went into the cages where they sleep at night, and saw a lion, like a HUGE MAINED LION, again, within 6 inches, in a cage. He was there because he, the son, and the father lion, fight. So they have to separate them out. We then went and saw the Elephant. Huge. He came right up to the car and it was tremendous just sitting there touching this huge creature. As you can see we got on the back of the animal and wow, really just a cool experience. We then went for a drive and saw all kinds of wild animals. They were like the cherry on top of this huge ice cream sundae - baboons running across the field, zebras, crazy horned antelopes and pukus and these beautiful deer type animals. We then went over to this large cement hole and actually held a baby python. Kamryn was the first and she gave the rest of us courage to hold this snake. It was so crazy, feeling the stomach move and to feel it twist around your arm. All in all, a great adventure appreciating God's amazing creation.
Friday, September 21, 2007
Stephanie and I have this little thing we do, or I guess, I should say, I do, where I ask her if she could do it all over again, would she still marry me. She usually says yes. Sometimes I make weird faces and I say, "if I looked like this would you still marry me" and so on. Well, two days ago we found out that Kamryn is gluten-intolerant like me, and that not only am I still gluten-intolerant, but we are both lactose intolerant as well. So, in short, Dad, Kamryn and Bradyn (Julia will be determined next week) all have celiac disease and this allergy to milk. Well, it is hard enough trying to do that in America, but in Africa, it is really hard. And where did these precious daughters get this disease? 100% from me... So, today, when we got home from a long morning, and it is lunch time and we need to make lunch and it is really difficult, I just felt for my wife. She had to make a big thing of spaghetti and corn and it was, well, kind of a pain I am sure (being thankful that we have water and an oven and food to eat and all that stuff). And so I asked her during lunch, "If you had to do it all over again knowing what you know now, would you marry me?" She said, "Right now, No..." She said it with love and a bit of humor, but I thought I would just ask ya'll to remember my wife right now who sacrifices much and it is the true kind of sacrifice where she doesn't have it, but all her kids and husband does...(This picture is of our house helper Miriam and her two children.)
This blogging thing in Zambia is hard because there is so much to share and yet I know that I share a lot and have a long blog, then you will not read it. But if I do a short blog, then I leave out important parts. And, if I space it out and do it over multiple days, then I forget what it is that I experienced. So, I don't know what to do.
I think I will just start and see where it goes. In no order, here goes me:
- This morning I took one of my guards home, Daka. He has a wife, two kids and he rents a small house in the Garden compound. He works from 5pm to 7 am, goes home, sleeps, wakes up at 12:00pm and eats. He goes to construction school from 1pm-4pm and then works again from 5pm to 7am... He works two weeks of nights and then gets a weeks off from work. I met his two kids and wife in their little two room house.
- On the way there, I saw a person carrying two water jugs, one in each arm. And then I saw a woman, waiting for cars to pass before she carried her water jug. I saw different ladies with water jugs on their heads. And my appreciation and contentment in our water situation hit an all-time high. Most of the houses (I want to say all) in the compound do not have running water or a toilet. They share water and they share toilets. And so to get your water you need to wait in line, carry it a long distance, and then build a fire to boil it, if you actually do boil it. Yesterday in the school, we watched as a teacher taught her fourth grade class about water-borne diseases in the water. Please, do me a favor. Go to your faucet, turn it on and drink some water. You are among one of the precious few in the whole world that can do it.
- I am preaching on Sunday and so because time is busy, I took a previous sermon and used it. But looking at a sermon in the context of the culture of Africa destroyed my sermon. Words, illustrations, thoughts, assumptions - goodbye. I asked a Zambian friend yesterday about how to preach to Zambians. He gave me some good thoughts, but especially in using the native tongue... Whenever you speak a word of Nyanga, they always follow what is next. So, here are a few words... Mwauka Bwanji is "good morning". (I am opening with this one:) Then Dzikomo Kutilandila! -(thank you for welcoming us.) I am teaching on the parable of the sower, and so I got a few more key words... Mau a Mulungu (the word of God)... Since fruit is a bit important in this parable from Mark 4, I have two phrases:
No dzipatso is chaipa! (no fruit is bad)Lots of dzipatso is chabwino! )(Lots of fruit is good!) I appreciate your prayers for my first Zambian sermon. It is supposed to be 95 degrees on Sunday in a small, hot, ventilation free enclave... Please also pray for my kids!
- We went to a grand opening of a new library. It was for a street kids drop in centre, but apparently it was a bigger deal than I thought it would be. The first Republican president of Zambia was there, the US ambassador, and many high government officials. They read a letter from Barbara Bush. We got there at 9:00am but it started at 10:30am.... Zambian Time!!!
- We went to the home of our House Helper, Miriam, yesterday. She lives in a two room house with her two kids and brother. Her husband died four years ago. I just can't really put it into words what it is like to consider walking in her shoes. She had no table, no chairs, no refrigerator, but she was so proud of her home.
- We went to the four community schools that ACTION Zambia helps support and encourage. We have two national workers who work with the schools full time. ACTION provides a feeding program for the schools and helps train the teachers. It is an amazing thing to visit these schools, to see the difference these schools are making in the community and in families whose kids would not be able to go to school otherwise. These students are learning about Jesus and the ABC's, health and the dangers of the world they live in. Awesome! We also visited an orphanage which has three kids as of now. On of the pictures above is of Stephanie holding the little baby "Chi-Chi". He has water on the brain. He was a sweetheart. They will get more when some social service scandals work themselves out.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
This was a day I wish you could have been with me on. I wish everyone could have experienced my day. I was thinking of you as I was experiencing it all, sad though, because I knew that I was not going to be able to remember all that I saw. Words don't even begin to paint the picture of all the little indescribables I just wish every mom and dad, son and daughter, grandpa and grandma, aunt, uncle, pastor could have experienced my day. I am tired. But it was good day. I went with Vosco and Graham to see Lusaka and the ministries that are already in action. We went first to Chisomo Drop-In Centre. They are a residential house for orphans and vulnerable children. They have 18 Zambians, more boys than girls. They are a school, a mom and dad, a place to eat and play and be safe. They are loving kids who normally wouldn't have a chance at life. Many were street kids and many have left the house to go to boarding school. Isn't that great? Some of the kids have recently gotten them into dancing... I included a dance they did for Graham and I. It has brought them together and they have been doing some competitions. The next place we went was Jesus Cares ministries. They are a residential house of 18 Zambian boys and girls, and they also have a community school for 2o0!!! Maureen, a teacher, house mother and an all around incredible woman, showed us around and shared how they go at night down to the streets to rescue street children. It is a humbling ministry to see how these people really give their lives for the least of these... We went to Chilenga Transient house for orphans and vulnerable children. They had 10 kids from age 4 to infants in their house. One of our team members adopted a child from there about four years ago. Amazing to see these little infant babies, their lives dependent on these faithful workers. That was my day. Then, as a family, later, we went to the house of Paulina, a house helper for a few weeks, who helped train our house helper, Miriam. She lives in a two bedroom house, made of brick. It was in the compound, a good 15 minutes over bumpy dirt roads. The little boys and girls were watching us drive by and yelling "Mzungu, Mzungu! (which means white person). The Allen girls squealed with laughter at the reaction of the Zambians seeing blonde haired girls. We also took one of our guards home to his house. He didn't have electricity in his house which was the size of our girls bedroom. He lives in this house with his wife and four kids. Our girls didn't quite know what to do with the dirt roads, small houses and no electricity. They were so naive and innocent in the things they would say... "Your house only has 2 bedrooms? Where are the lights? Wow these roads are really bumpy!" Paulina had walked 2 hours each way to our house for her job. She shifted to a team members house that was only an hour each way, away. Mwape or as Julia calls him "Moppee" lives only an hour a way. Mwape is an amazing worker. He inspires me because he works hard even when he doesn't know I am watching, watering the yard, gardening and doing it enthusiastically. He is an amazing man. I feel humbled by him. So, after my day, I just realized how so little can change so much. Like for example, Jesus Cares ministry can't use their office because their roof leaks and they can't afford a few tiles to cover it up. The Chilenga House had wood floor tiles donated a year ago but can't find someone to install them. The Chisomo house had pictures of a youth group that had written them years ago. It takes so little to affect so much.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
A cobra! Yep, right on the back patio. Yesterday I was in the house teaching the girls when Miriam came in and asked me if I would like to see the snake they just killed. I went out to see this snake with a HUGE frog in its mouth. The guard had already killed it but the snake was still trying to eat the frog. Its mouth was trying to move. His dinner was brought to a very abrupt end. I asked what kind of snake it was and they told me it was a Cobra. But, I didn't really believe them because I had been told that the Zambians call every snake a Cobra. I took the picture to show Steve when he got home. Today, Steve brought a friend of our mission agency by (he was a white Zimbabwean farmer who was booted out of the country and now runs a mission agency a few hours south of Lusaka) and he looked at the picture and confirmed that it was actually a cobra. Crazy huh!!! You may ask why we are telling you these things if we ever hope to have visitors. I'm not exactly sure, I just thought it was such a cool story. God is watching over all of us! Please still come visit!
On a more positive note, I made my own corn tortillas on Sunday. This is a staple item for Steve (and Brady) since they can't eat bread. But, the grocery stores don't sell them. So, in the Wycliffe Cookbook they had a recipe and I tried it using the Zambian staple "Mealie Meal" and Bob's Red Mill gluten free flour. I thought they turned out pretty good. I'm sure as I do it more often they will get better. I need to figure out how to roll them thinner. If anyone has a good recipe for corn tortillas let me know. Next time I will double the recipe when I do it so the mess I make will at least produce more tortillas in the end.
It is quite a learning curve learning to prepare a meal in Zambia. I'm finding that it is taking me several hours to make our dinner every night...even if it's just leftovers. Like the other night I was making a taco soup recipe that one of the other ladies had made that we liked. I had everything in the pot and then needed to add the tomatoes. But, I forgot that first the tomatoes have to be soaked in bleach water for 20 minutes. Things just take longer. I'm sure this will get better as I go along. They also don't sell prepared spaghetti sauce and I didn't bring a recipe. I've tried to make a few but they haven't been that great! If you have a good homemade sauce recipe please send it to me.
Today, my house helper Miriam went to the market for me with my veggie list and some money. (Apparently they can get much better prices than us mzungus). She came back with a bunch of wonderful looking veggies which we then had to soak. I guess our insides are probably pretty bleached out too.