Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Home again.

Just spent a weekend down at Livingstone with Pete and Tyler. We have a debrief meeting on the conference tomorrow and then Pete heads back to good 'ole Bellingham on Thursday. It has been a great couple of weeks, so thanks for your prayers. The time in Livingstone was great. The Victoria Falls were crazy full of water, I saw a giraffe on the side of the road, and we got some much needed rest from a busy week. We took the bus down and so it was really great being able to just sit back and take it all in. Even after a year and some of living in Africa, it still hits me all the time, especially during this drive, that"Wow, I live in Africa!" As far as what is next for us... We are having the orphans from the orphanage we are working with over this Sunday for a brunch and I start teaching again on May 10, so I'll have a week and half to get ready. The girls will start up school again this next week. The Roberts, our teammates are coming back May 4! Looking forward to that. Thanks for walking with us on this journey called Africa.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Pastors Conference Video Recap

It has been a full week and we are pretty tired. But it was great week, and I wanted to show you the video recap of our week... Thanks for your prayers!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Day One - Action Zambia Pastors Conference

We have just started our ACTION Zambia Pastors Conference. We very much desire your prayers that we would be able to encourage our pastors in the area of being good stewards of God's time, money and talents that He has given for His glory and help them teach their own churches. We put the first day together on a little highlight video so check it out, including my first ever duet with Stephanie :) Yep, you read it right. Thanks for supporting us in prayer! (I preach on Wednesday)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

ARP

Well, you may wonder what ARP means. Let me start by saying that we have these little sayings in Zambia that help us just kind of deal with life here. You may have heard of TIA which means This is Africa. It is a great little thing to say when you have nothing and everything to say about why you were late, why your plumbing broke for the 43rd time, why the plumber who says he was going to be there four-three days ago is not there or why it takes all day to get one errand done. I have recently learned about other little three letter beauties, like AAW which means, Africa Always Wins and then there is AWA Africa Wins Again. Stephanie and I made up a few recently. ARY - Africa Ruins You and AHY - Africa Humbles you. And then one that made us laugh: ACD - Africa Causes Diarrhea. Not very pleasant but very true. So, ARP - What do you think it means? Africa Requires Patience...

So, Friday, I had a few errands to run. Should just take a few minutes. :)

I had to pick up a banner that I had made for the pastors conference starting Monday. I gave them a computer printed copy of what I wanted on it... Welcome to the ACTION Zambia Pastors Conference. I told them I wanted the "Welcome to the" in cursive. They didn't seem to understand cursive. So, Pete said script and they got script. So we agreed, it would be in script. I explained the rest and boom, we are good to go. So, I don't know why I was a bit nervous to pick it up. TIA. This is Africa. I mean, misspelled word, something, I had low expectations. So, I picked it up and this is the banner.




I couldn't believe it. They added what they thought was cursive, made it culsive and added it to my banner. I did right cursive on the sheet right below the word script, but well, it was my fault. I wasn't clear enough. Being Friday and all, I just said, I'll take it, and we are going to white over it and add 2009:)

(We thought of making up a new word Culsive which means, "Hearing something right but doing it wrong or" "the art of not doing what is supposed to be done" - Any other good definitions?)

I am still laughing about it.

Then, I went to pick up a refund check for our director for his car, to find out that the machine that does this is broken and they are doing it by hand, so it will be awhile.

And then I went to get some money out and the machine ate my card.

And then I had to go the other bank (which I didn't want to go in the first place because the traffic is always awful) and wait in line because my card was eaten by the machine at the other place.

And then on the way home, I got pulled over for going 15 under the speed limit. Seriously. I mean, they said I was over the speed limit, but I was under by 15. I always drive slow because the speed trap machine thing doesn't work and they like to pull over Mzungus. And after a bit of arguing, (they didn't so confident in their machine) they let me go.

But, you know, APT - Africa Produces Thankfulness. It is hard to complain here. I had a car to drive back and forth. I have money in the bank. I am healthy. I have a healthy family. I have a home to go home to. I know Jesus. I love Jesus. I mean, how can I begin to complain, especially when complaining is a sin. I think I was actually thankful, and was able to redeem the day and laugh about it and be thankful. I think I was.

And, you know, I think I saved the best for last. Though it is hard at times, frustrating and vexing, in reality, there are lots of days like today, after a great safari, like this this evening of sitting in the sun holding my baby, a morning which started with a wonderful bible study at my church and some touring later with one of my pastors in poor slum showing us his plot to build a church, there is a welling up of joy and gratitude to God that he has allowed us to be here. It is these moments and a lot more moments, where this other acronym must be used to desribe my feelings: ILA - I love Africa.

TFP - Thanks for praying.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Term Review

The Ephesian class ended last week. It was a great quarter. I did a term review with five questions to learn what they learned as well as to see how I could improve.

Here were the five questions:

1. In a short paragraph, describe Paul’s purpose in writing the book of Ephesians. Why did he write this letter? How was he trying to help the church in Ephesus and Asia Minor?

2. What are three key words that Paul focuses on in the book of Ephesians and why does he uses these words?


3. What passage of scripture from the book of Ephesians was most impactful and encouraging/convicting to you and why?

4. Share three things you learned in the book of Ephesians that you didn’t know before.


5. What comments/suggestions/encouragements would/could you give to the instructor about studying a book of the Bible during ABI and how could we do it better?

It was great to see that without notes, they were able to explain the purpose of the book, discuss key words used in the book of Ephesians and also share what they learned personally.

As far as what the students learned that they didn't know before, I was encouraged. Some of them shared about what it means to love their wives. Others talked about how they learned they were chosen before the creation of the world. A few shared about learning through the word studies and how Paul uses key words to teach themes.

As a teacher, I was encouraged by the students that we should continue to teach books of the Bible. It is cultural in Zambia to learn topically and not allow the book of the Bibles to teach... It was cool to see how they were encouraged and really were inspired to teach expositionally. One pastor started preaching through Ephesians last month and another plans to start next month. I was encouraged to not hurry during challenging passages. I was also asked to prepare notes. One pastor wrote, "Steve, you are a good teacher. I am very encouraged throughout the lessons. Please keep it up. Don't be discouraged, sometimes we get up to class we are already tired with our personal business. God bless you." One pastor also encouraged me to use group projects to encourage unity in the class..

So, it has been a great quarter and the next quarter begins next month. I have learned so much and I am so thankful for the opportunity. Before then, though, we have a Pastors conference next week. Pete Williamson, a friend from Bellingham, arrived to day and will be teaching at the conference. So far we have 300+ signed up!!! Please be praying for us!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Clicking the small rat




Day 1 of the computer training, complete! Tyler kicked off his first day of computer training for the pastors and church leaders in the Navigators 2:7 class. There were eight students. It is hard to even begin to describe the complexity of teaching these pastors how to use a computer. I guess the best way to describe it would be to pretend you went into the jungle and you tried to teach the people there how to use a computer. They not only had no idea how to use a mouse, but what a mouse was. (I said it was like a very small rat!) They didn't know when to click, double-click or move the cursor with the mouse. They got the back space and the front space confused. It was just crazy to see grown men who had no idea how to use a computer. Yet, there was something just really cool about helping these pastors in the basics of the computer with the ultimate goal to teach them how to use the Logos Bible Software. Tyler did really great and yet I know he felt overwhelmed by how many things in the computer process that you just seem to intuitively know, like when and how to double-click your left mouse button. They loved learning how to use the computer, as evidenced when they clapped after successfully opening a program or turning off the computer. During the training, one of the pastors showed me an advertisement for a company that trained people how to use the computer. It cost k25,000 kwacha for an intro to computer class and 35,000 kwacha for an intro to Microsoft word. In total, it would have cost them 60,000 kwacha or $12.00 dollars to get this training which would have been too much for the average pastor. Tomorrow, Tyler will teach the Action Bible Institute pastors for their first day on the computers. We can't wait.

Friday, April 10, 2009

A milestone of sorts for us

Well, April 11 is a milestone of sorts. It sort of marks the day when we completed our first year in Zambia. We have been in Zambia three months now, and we were just about here for nine months the first time. Close enough:)

It feels a bit like cramming 6 years into 4 years of college:) But, God has proved over and over that though we plan, he directs our steps and we are so thankful for that. There is more to share there but we have it all on our up and outcoming newsletter, so we 'll save that for ya'll to read (we have to save something to keep you reading our newsletters, right?) It has been an amazing year for sure, and each day continues to keep up on our toes in gratitude and awe and brokenheartedness.

Last night, I spent Good Friday evening in the middle of a poor compound showing the Passion of Christ to about 200-300 Zambians. It was simply amazing. We partnered with one of our pastors from our Bible School, Bruce Kaumba. From a speaker blowing up to an incredible makeshift electrical working, to people clapping at the resurrection morning to just the rawness of where we watched it and who we were with. I think Jesus would have been there had he been alive today. He was the friend of the poor. Amazing.

This week, we attended our first funeral. It was Mirriam's nephew who was 19 months old. I felt such anger knowing that it was all too preventable and I felt this rise in my heart to do what I can to prevent such senseless deaths. It was a very emotional experience for both Stephanie and I. Please be praying for the Zimba family.

Thank you for your prayers in the good and the hard here in Zambia.

(if you are wondering where the video which we had previously posted, we decided after the fact to not post it... Just a little to personal and private. I am sure you understand.)

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Our Zambian family needs your prayers

I don't know what it is but our Zambia family has been suffering quite a bit lately. From the last blog a bit ago, where Mwape's field got cut down and Mirriam's brother was really sick, Daka just recovered from a real bad sickness of Malaria and then this morning we found out that Mirriam's brother Robson, the same one who was sick, had a 17 month son who died last night. He had been sick but the diagnosis is diarrhea. Brutal, huh? Tomorrow we are going to the grave site to attend the burial. I saw Robson today and I prayed with him. What do you say? They couldn't have a memorial service for him because he wasn't baptized as a child. That blew me away. Heartbreaking. Thanks for remembering us over here as we try to encourage and support during this difficult time.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Our 11th Anniversary Gettaway


Well, we had a great time in Siavonga... Thanks for all your congratulation emails!!! But, if you want more details about this adventure and a half, you'll have to go to the Allen ladies family website which is just a hop, skip and a click away!

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Surprise!


Well, Stephanie did it. She totally surprised me... Every year we switch who plans the anniversary. This year was her turn. She totally surprised me and we are heading off in a few minutes to go somewhere north. The girls are taken care of, she organized and reorganized my whole schedule. And now it is just her and I and baby Johanna for a whole weekend... We are celebrating 11 years on April 4!!!!! My wife is amazing and I sure love her...

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

We are moving.

Well, actually we moved. From the office and teaching room we were in to an available next door room which gave us a bigger office, pastor resource library, our own bathrooms (a huge plus:) and an amazing teaching room. The room we were in before was a huge improvement from our first office (huge doesn't do it justice), but truth be told, it was loud, noisy and a continue walking thoroughfare.

But, this one is at the end of the hallway, it is an old radio room so the sound dynamics are amazing, it has air conditioning and it is a lot bigger. We can lock it down so we can mount the projector and I can use it regularly. So, today during our class, we decided to dedicate this new office to the Lord, and we as pastors and teachers spent some time praying, about 45 minutes or more, just thanking God for the room. Listening to the pastors pray was a bit like walking on holy ground. It was a really special moment for me listening to them cry out to God for their country and for their communities. And then to hear them pray for Tracy and I, expressing their gratitude and praying for our families... I was really moved. So, we just wanted to share a few pictures with you about this move. And, if you are so moved to sponsor a pastor for the rest of the year at $55 dollars a month, we (and they) would love it... We need nine more sponsors for our Action Bible Institute.