Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A freezing summer

I was once in San Francisco and I saw a quote that went something like this: "The coldest winter I ever spent was the summer in San Francisco." I think it was Mark Twain who said that?!!?!? Anyway, it is obvious that Mark never visited Zambia in the summer because it is FREEZING. With no central heating and windows that are merely there for cosmetics, the house is like an icicle early in the morning and late at night. Try living in 46 degrees temperatures and staying motivated to get out of bed:) True, it does warm up during the day. But, wow, coldness exemplified. And try as I might to complain about how cold it is, I just need to look outside my house and I see people who are literally, freezing. Crazy to think in two months I'll be begging for a little of this 46 degree coldness at night.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Miracles still happen

Cool story about God's goodness here in Zambia from our friends and teammates the Whitfields. See below:


Dear Friends

Just wanted to share a huge opportunity for us to
corporately praise God for His goodness.

Last Sunday as we were going to home church with our missionary friends for father's day Luke saw a man utilizing a crutch outside our friend's gate. He felt that God was telling him to go and ask what had happened to this man and to pray for him. As he inquired he found out that Daniel had a bad infection in his leg that made it almost impossible for him to walk without the aid of a crutch. Luke prayed for him and then sent Daniel on his way.

This weekend Daniel showed up at our friend's gate and asked for the big Muzungu (Luke has put on some weight if you have not seen him lately). Our friends the Allens directed Daniel to our gate and he informed us that his leg had been completely healed. Luke was gone the first time that Daniel stopped by and so was a little skeptical at the report. Today, Daniel stopped by again and Luke was amazed to see that this man's leg,that had been bandaged and extrememlely swollen, showed no sign of infection at all.

We are writing this to encourage you all that if God can work through sinners like us, then He can work through anyone. Praise God with us as we rejoice at His goodness and mercy. What a great God we serve and may all glory and honor be unto Him. It is amazing what He is doing through our partnership here in Zambia.

We love you all and so appreciate your love and support.

(We have included a picture of Daniel, his wife, and their child Emmanuel)

His Servants

The Whitfields <><

Sunday, June 28, 2009

An excuse as good as any

Well, you might be wondering why we haven't been blogging much this past week. Gasp! A week without a blog. Well, we have a good excuse. Our little Brady got really sick last Tuesday. We took her to the clinic, and then later that evening, we took her to a private hospital. The fear was that she had meningitis. She had all the classic symptoms. It turned out to be Pneumonia in her lung. She was given some strong antibiotics through an IV. We stayed in the hospital for four days and three nights. It has been an exhausting week, but we have been strengthened by the prayers of many. Thank you! (This picture is a thumbs up as she finished up her last dose of antibiotics!)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Excuse this Interruption...

I try to keep this blog strictly business. I share stories about Africa and classes and pastors and the like. But, I couldn't resist. This picture is too cute, and if you haven't made it a practice to look at our "non-business" family blog, you would have missed out on this up and coming book worm. Yep, she is making messes and is so cute doing it. So, enjoy this pic and don't forget about cuteness defined located a click away at the Allen family memoirs!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Watch our Tree grow

I was thinking the other day. I was thinking about this blog and how I wanted to write about the ministry things that were interesting. In some ways, there is so much to write about in Africa. I mean, if I just blogged the things I see and heard that are so different from America, I would be able to keep it full for weeks and months to come. There are little things and big things that happen daily, conversations and heartbreaking stories and cultural things that blow my mind. But, I really want to keep you up on all that God is doing in the ministry here as well. And I was thinking about the irony of it all. Many ministries come to Africa ready to build this or program that, take lots of pictures and then mail them home for their supporters to see. You could compare it to bringing in mature fruit trees and dropping them into these nice little rows in the middle of the desert. They look good for awhile, but because they are not trained to prune and care for trees, because they were not the national's idea in the first place, the treegivers go and so does the farm.

I believe and hope that ACTION Zambia is a bit different. Not that we haven't done some of these things. But, hopefully we are making some progress. We truly believe that healthy trees take time to grow and bear fruit. Our hearts desire is come alongside nationals that are already growing, who have a desire to grow, who need some help learning to prune and water and fertilize, and with some time and training and patience and perseverance, watch them become mature, fruitful disciples. And yet, that kind of ministry isn't too sexy.

It would be like me writing a blog about a growing tree.

Day 4: I watered the tree and it looks well watered.
Day 5: I watered the tree again. It looks the same as it did yesterday.
Day 25: The tree looks pretty much the same.

And so on. The daily reporting may not be so exciting at times, but when you look at the big picture, when you think about long term change that happens at the core and works its way out, when you are able to address some key issues and they get it, well, let me tell you, it is pretty sweet. In the mean time, we just press on, digging and pruning and teaching and training with all our might. We press on, po'ngono, po'ngono, bit by bit...

Thanks for walking with us.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Bring on some more memories...

Big O. OT. O-Tizzle. O! Owen Thompson, all 6'6" of the gentle giant of a man has arrived. He flew in last week and will be taking on the position as Intern #2! Tyler is heading out on Thursday and is hoping that his place in the hearts of the Allen ladies isn't surmounted by this enthusiastic, talented and funny young man. We'll see what happens when Tyler arrives back in August after traveling throughout East Africa. Will they remember him or will the be mesmerized by this tall man, or has Tyler completely won them over? Tyler isn't worried, but Owen is good with kids:) I will update soon.

Until then, Owen will be spending a couple weeks out at Ciyanjano helping work with a short term team from California and then spending a month living in the house on our property and working with PLD and Admin. Owen and I go way, way, way back. I have known him, literally, half of his life and the priviledge is all mine! In fact, he turned 24 last Friday and we celebrated with some friends of ours and Owen, eating cake and pizza and bunch of kids helping him blow out his one very large candle. Please be praying for Owen as he embarks on an adventure of a lifetime!!!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Welcome back to the Whifields...

Our friends and teammates, the Whitfield's have arrived back from their furlough... We are so glad to have them back. What is even better is that they are moving just down the street. I just wanted to post their first blog after they arrived. It's a bit of doozy and good reminder to keep praying.

Dear Friends and Family

Wanted to touch base and give you a brief look at how our first week back in Zambia has been. We have felt so blessed to have such a wonderful team and many Zambian friends who have made our adjustment a bit more endurable. Life here in Lusaka has been just as we left it some months ago and we have already had many laughs and some tears during this past week.

Let start with the trying aspects of our return (not complaining just sharing):

--Getting over the loss of our laptop and all our files (we think it was stolen from the plane in London)
--Found out that the repairs to our vehicle were not completed per our agreement with the local garage (surprise, surprise)
--Found that we have inherited a family of rats and also some cockroaches who have made our vehicle their home during our absence
--Had to deal without hot water for some time as our water heater broke shortly after our arrival

Now let me share the blessings:

--Seeing all the bright smiles of those Zambians who have missed us dearly during our furlough
--The kids being re-united with their dog spud
--Receiving a roster as a welcoming present from our dear friend Pastor Chipaya
--The wonderful smell of diesel everywhere you go
--Getting back into ministry little by little

The bottom line is that while our return may have not been picture perfect or full of convenience it has been a vehicle to remind us where our peace and comfort truly come from.

Sorry this is so short (this is Luke writing) but I promise to get Elise to the Internet cafe in the near future so you can have a much more detail report. We love each of you dearly and so appreciate the sacrifice you make to partner with in prayer and support. You are such as blessing and an essential part of what we do every day for the Kingdom of God here in Zambia.

God bless and PRESS ON & INTO HIM

His Servants

The Whitfields <><

Friday, June 12, 2009

Treasure Christ

Prayers would be appreciated....

Our director, Tim Hilty, and his family are currently in the States on furlough. They desire to return soon, but are trying to sort out things with U.S. immigration concerning the adoption and citizenship of their daughter Ireen. We thought it was important to request your prayers for their family. Please pray for them. Pray that the process with immigration would go smoothly and that Ireen would be granted U.S. citizenship soon so that they can return to Zambia and continue to serve this field and the people of Zambia.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

African bees

I have a friend who keeps bees as a hobby. I think they do it to get honey and well, they love it. But, I prefer my honey without the sting. Well, actually, I don't even like honey, so my life without bees is fine and dandy. Well, the other day, I asked my daughter Kamryn to go get something near the tree. She came back yelling, there is a bee hive over there. Now, over there is their favorite climbing tree. Some people pity me when I tell them I have four daughters. Well, if they pity me they don't know my daughters. My girls are awesome. They dress up and snuggle and dance like like the beautiful girls that they are. But, they also climb trees, capture frogs and play with mud that would make the most manly of boy feel proud.

And so in this tree, they have outfitted it nicely with books and a stool to read and purses and everything else you might need. So, saying all this, I thought I would include a little video of these bees. They came and they went, leaving nothing at all but video that they were there. Really weird, a bit freaky and amazingly cool all in one. Enjoy!

Monday, June 08, 2009

The CROSS and the Pastors

About a month ago, I was asked to temporarily lead the CROSS project, our HIV/AIDS ministry that helps equip local churches on how to teach about HIV/AIDS but also to care for people who are suffering under the pain and struggle that this disease brings. This four month teaching program is done in poor, compound churches around Lusaka. The acronym CROSS stands for Churches Ready to Overcome the Silence and Stigma of HIV/AIDS. For more information about this vital ministry that I am helping coordinate, please click this link!

The reason I wanted to share this with you is because I was able to combine ministries last week when I invited John and Eta in to speak to my Pastor's class. I am currently teaching on the wisdom literature (the poetic books in the Old Testament) and so I decided to teach Psalm 42 and then have John and Eta lead a discussion on how to as pastor help people talk and process death and grieving. The grief here that people face is immense and really impossible to fully understand or describe. Just to give you a taste of it, check out our intern, Tyler Dingman's blog. So, it was great to John and Eta in, and it was insightful to hear the pastor's dialogue about the challenges that come with pastoring to a hurting country. I will share more about the CROSS project soon.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

A broken heart

It is always difficult to fully express the brokeness and the guilt we face working in Zambia. I mean, it isn't always so dark. We have fun days and go on safari's and laugh around the table. We try to keep on with life as usual. But, most days, it feels a bit like being put through a meat tenderizer. We are refined through the heat of poverty. It is like all things. The process hurts but the result is beautiful. I am not sure when or if we will ever get to the beautiful part, but we are learning to endure the painful part and let it change us and mold us. I read my intern's blog the other day and it made me smile. I am not sick, I promise. I smiled because I realized that I am not alone and that his blog lends credibility to my emotions. I also smile because though I asked him to come over and help us with computers and blogs and help with admin (and he has done a great job), this broken heart for the poor was what I really wanted him to have. I told him early on that you don't come to change Africa, but Africa changes you. And this blog is exactly what I meant. So I include it here so you can read and gain insight into our lives with the pastors.

Thursday, May 28, 2009


Tonight was very a tough night. Maybe the hardest since I've been here. I interviewed 2 pastors for their support blogs and one of the questions was "What are some challenges you face?" I knew this could be a difficult one but I had no idea how hard it would hit me.

One of the pastors, Alfred, who I have gotten to know a bit more than the others, shared the challenges he faces. He talked about how tough it is trying to reach out to the community and share the gospel with people here when they are starving, homeless and jobless. He said "but at the end of the day, they are physical beings, they need food to eat, but due to financial constraints we are unable to meet their physical needs." As he was talking I could see the pain in his eyes about not being able to help the people in his community. It was as if he felt he was failing as a pastor for not being able to help those in need.

I felt the pain he had. I watched as his normally happy face fill with sadness and despair and it tore me apart.

It is in moments like these that I feel guilty for living the life I have had.
Guilty for have never gone to bed hungry when people around me are starving.
Guilty for spending more money on things that people here couldn't even begin to comprehend why I'd spend money on.
Guilty for having a wonderful family while kids here get abandoned everyday.
Guilty for having the means to walk away from this place while pretty much everyone here is trapped in poverty.
Guilty for never knowing how hard life really is.

Guilty for being me.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Book Review: Giving Wisely

(Well, I am bit behind on my book reviewing. I have been reading a ton of books, but just not getting them reviewed... So, here is the one for March:)

“We’re all called to be generous (in our giving), but we’re also all called to be wise in our giving - not ignorant or misguided. When it comes to understanding the impact of our generosity upon others, choosing to remain ignorant isn’t just slothful and hurtful; it is simply wrong.” -- Jonathan Martin

When I came to Zambia almost two years ago, I was a man on a mission ready to save the world. I had energy, friends in the states that were ready to give and lots of ideas on what I could do to help Zambia. I am so thankful that I had experienced missionaries overseeing me at the time that restrained me and limited my vision. At the time, I was frustrated and angry, not understanding why they wouldn’t let me help these people. I grudgingly submitted. And, now with a couple years of experience and a bit more wisdom, I am humbled and deeply grateful for these leaders in my life. I couldn’t see what they knew, but I am thankful I trusted them. If I would have been free to do whatever I wanted to do, I would have hurt these nationals even as I thought I was helping them and decimated my ministry even as I thought I was ministering. They were to me what this book I am reviewing will be for you.

This book titled, “Giving Wisely? – Killing with Kindness or Empowering Lasting Transformation?” has been circulating among some of ACTION Zambia missionaries and friends here in Zambia. This is a book that is both earth-shaking and confirming. It is true that there are a lot of books out there. Even Solomon said this when he wrote in Ecclesiastes 12:11 – “Of making many books, there is no end.” And there is a lot in the Bible on how we are called to be generous and share our money. Jesus said, “Store up your treasures in Heaven where moth and rust will not destroy.” And there are a lot of great books written about how we should give money for the sake of the poor and for eternity. My favorite is the “The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn.”

This book is the only book among the many books that I know on giving that focuses not on WHY we should give (it assumes that) but helps us know HOW to give. Jonathan Martin teaches us how to be wise and strategic and helpful in our generosity and how not to be ignorant, na├»ve and foolish in our generosity. After all, what good is storing up treasures in Heaven when the money causes harm here on earth? And you might wonder, “What harm can come from my giving?” Read this book and your heart will break as you read examples and stories from generous givers that destroyed churches, ruined pastors and divided villages. You will no doubt see yourself in some of these stories. I gave this book to a mom of one of my friends who read it twice in a week. I asked if it was a good book. She said it was great, and then she said, “And I learned how I have been doing everything wrong for the last fifty years.” You will learn how not to be generous and it might hurt a bit like it did her. But, she later expressed how encouraged and hopeful she was after reading. I believe it will also give you hope because you will not only be helped to know how you should give, but it will also stir you with passion to want to give.

Jonathan uses experience from his missionary years as well as a mission’s pastor of a large church to give principles in an acronym RAISE that is both practical and biblical. He charges the readers and in essence us as a mission to measure the wisdom of our giving through Relationships by ensuring Accountable structures are in place as well as leading us create Indigenous Sustainability in our programs and projects so that we maintain Equity in our giving. As a mission, we have learned the hard way more than we care to admit. I am confident that we are moving in the right direction. I think I love this book so much because it not only continues to shape how do we ministry here in Zambia, but it also confirms to us that we are doing the right thing. We are making decisions that will honor God as we store our treasures in Heaven but also help people. Whether you are here or there, this book is a must read so you, too, can store up treasures in heaven while helping God’s treasures (his people) on earth.