Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Hurrying to Process

I never know quite what to expect when I go teach my three days a week Bible class. Sometimes, I go, I teach, I go home and its pretty normal. Other times, memories happen.  Like, today, for example. I got there a bit early and we were talking about homework. My pastors aren’t super faithful about doing homework and I get frustrated about it at times. But, today I got a little perspective of the kind  of “excuses” a pastor might have.  Patson told me a story about what happened Monday night. Around 11pm, a women across the street from him starting yelling for help. Her nine year old son was not feeling well.  Sadly, as Patson hurried over there and tried to get a taxi for her son, he died.  Seriously.  Patson thinks it may have been a double dose of medicine, one from the pharmacy and  then one from the clinic, a lack of communication, and a lack of life, just like that. He wasn’t feeling well during the day. He dies at night.  Patson, at midnight, took the body to the mortuary at the hospital, via taxi, with a few other guys. He gave some money to the taxi driver who was going to wait for them. The taxi driver didn’t wait. So, at 2:00 am, Patson and a few guys walked from the hospital back  home.  Probably a good 25 minute drive during the day turned out to be a two hour walk in the middle of the night.  He told me that at the beginning of class. O.K., now teach.  We talked about the book of Hebrews. I think it went o.k.

 

So, I gave Patson a ride home today.  It is always such a significant time. Every time with Patson is significant.  He starts telling me about his pastor’s fellowship meeting he goes to on Monday nights.  The pastors switch off in preaching and the pastor who preached went way long and went here and there and didn’t have a point, according to Patson.  Every since Patson took the preaching class I taught, he said, “I understand better how to preach  and when people are not explaining the Bible right and how they should preach.   I went up to him  after and  said that you need to put you in the message.”  One of the five points of preaching that I taught is making sure that the message you preach affects you first.  But I like how Patson put it: “You need to put you in the message.”   Anyway, we talked about doing a preaching seminar for a few pastors in his compound as we drove through his compound.  .  And then I get to his street and there are huge puddles covering the entire road, and people waiting at the community water station and  then I see a crowd of women near Patson’s house gathering for the child who died.  And, I am just overwhelmed, trying to smile for the 20 kids that are in the road yelling “Mzungu” and waving to me. Everything was a bit in slow motion. I drove home, slowly, through the poorest place you’ll never visit, listening to some slow, somber worship music, taking it all in.  It is a different world, here. And, my processing is this blog, so please forgive if the grammar isn’t right and it doesn’t quite make sense. I’m not sure what does make sense these days. And then tomorrow, I start again. I need to hurry up and process because another day is coming.

 

Steve Allen

ACTION Zambia

www.aliveinafrica.com

 

 

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Hope you are rested...

After a recent flurry of blogging, I decided to give you a break last week.  Hope you are rested because we have a lot coming up the next few weeks. Enjoy the ladies in their new Easter dresses...

 

 

Steve Allen

ACTION Zambia

www.aliveinafrica.com

 

 

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Happy St. Patrick Day

We had a great day of eating last Thursday. Daddy made some green eggs and
pancakes, and we read the St. Patricks story... Amazing missionary reading
for a family of missionaries.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Pastors Advancing through Retreating



We enjoyed a great day with the pastors at our Ciyanjano day retreat. It was encouraging in so many ways. I had purchased a football for the day from an organization called Alive and Kicking but I didn't have a needle to pump it up. So, since the organization is on the way, we stopped by, got it pumped up and got a tour of the company. Click on the alive and kicking link to see their mission, It is just as impressive to see the people working, many disabled, getting a paycheck, and lunch everday. Really cool.

We then proceeded to Ciyanjano where we had a worship time led by Nathan Ngoma, our Anglican father/pastor in our group. It was great for our pastors to learn a different type of worship. He spoke about Ash Wednesday and the history behind the worship. We sang lots of hymns, which is very unusual for our pastors.

We had some time of sharing and prayer, a great football game where I redeemed myself after getting picked last (last? I never got picked last at the playground:), shutting out the famed Zulu brothers as a goalkeeper. We also had a blast throwing the football around. So funny watching good athletes struggle with throwing and especially catching since all of their athletic experience is with their feet. We also roasted some hotdogs and S'mores over a fire, which felt really nice in 80 degree heat:) We sent Pete off with a cool prayer time, too. He leaves Thursday, but this would be the last time these pastors saw him during this trip. Pete has done another significant job here in Zambia. He is a great question asker, understands the importance of dissecting the culture to minister effectively and is wonderful at building relationships... A huge thanks to Pete and to Oikos Church for letting us borrow your pastor!

We ended with a sweet prayer and worship time. It was a much needed time of rest and fellowship with these hard working pastors.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Pastor's Conference

We had a great pastor's conference in Ngombe this morning. Despite the
pounding rain which literally stopped the conference, we were able to
preach and teach the gospel. Pete spoke twice, Patson once and I
spoke at the end and led the pastors and leaders in communion. It was
a great time to see Patson preach and lead the conference. Two years
ago, he was unfairly let go of by his beloved church in Ngombe. It
was a very difficult and humbling time. But, out of that experience,
he has grown so much and now he has started a community school and
planted a church and is preaching at conferences! But, of course, he
is so gracious, he isn't out to show up his church like I probably
would have been:) (Ha! What do you think of me now? In your face!) He
rejoices in the sovereingty of God and is so thankful for where he is
now because of the difficult things he has faced. Just one more thing
to admire in my friend Patson.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

I'm sorry

I want to apologize that you weren't me this morning. Seriously, what an amazing morning. We had a great pancake with the pastors breakfast. Daddy mixes the pancake batter and Bradyn flips! We make a good team.

So the pastors, Pete and I were talking this morning and Peter Zulu shared about the Neighborhood watch they are organizing in their compound. The past month, the police post was burned to the ground because of some injustice that went on, and so with no police post and very little police presence, Peter decided to organize a neighborhood group to walk the streets at night and provide protection for the community if someone sees or hears a thief. He has over 70 people on his phone list, and just last night 24 people walked through the compound patrolling. He was elected the chairman of this watch committee. He said that he got the idea of how to help the community by the sessions with Bruce on community development a couple of weeks ago. I was really encouraged by this. First of all, it is free. Second, he is now helping and befriending many non-Christians. Third, he is helping the community. And lastly, he is building a relationship with the police department as a partnership of protection. Peter said he is using scripture to help guide the meetings. He is always the first one out in the streets as well, which is a big deal. Once he is out, the others will come out of the house. For a community that struggles with fear in every dimension, Peter is showing how faith in God can help overcome fears. Anyways, amazing.

Then, Pete and I went with Peter and Joseph to visit Peter Zulu's church/school.

It is amazing the progress they are making at the school. The building is done. The kids are learning, 40 or so in the morning and another handful in the afternoon. Amazing. I have watched this building go up, bit by bit, and now to watch this building being used every day of the week by some of the neediest kids in the community to make a life-changing difference is impossible to even explain. There was a little girl with orange hair which means that she is malnourished. Three classrooms in one room. Three teachers, volunteering. On a river where no one ever dared to build. And the bridge. It is almost done. They are waiting on some rail lines. The water was so high, we couldn't even pass that way. The bridge will bless the whole community.


These kids sang some songs, and posed for the camera happy Mzungus.


And then we went to Joseph's house. I am pretty embarrassed that for as good of friends as we are, I haven't been there yet. No excuses, especially in a Zambian culture where visiting one's houses is near the top in importance. Thankfully he is very gracious. Anyway, it was so good to finally visit. I met his week old daughter, Hope. What a beautiful little girl. And I was able to snuggle with Joseph Jr. a bit as well.

He seems so aloof and disinterested when I am there. But Joseph told me that after I leave, he will run around the community telling everyone that a Mzungu came to his house and hugged him. Pretty funny. The other funny thing was the other day, Kelly and Pete were giving Joseph a ride home and gave him an extra Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich. He liked it so much he went and bought some Peanut Butter and Jelly and now his son Joseph Jr. doesn't want Nshima anymore, just a PB and J sandwiches. Ahh, the lure of America! After praying for their family, we went to Peter's house.

It was there that little Steve and I were reunited, yet, once again. He is a chubby little guy, super cute and pretty chill with Mzungus. It was great to see him again, and spend time in Peter's house with his family. Peter told me this week that Steve's brothers call him Professor (since I am Peter's professor). I thought that was pretty funny!

We then went from there to Patson's house where we were able to see his community school. Incredible. I was chatting with Patson afterwards. He was very encouraged by our visit and support and encouragement. We had arrived at lunch time and so I asked them if the kids brought their own food. He said, "No. We have started a feeding program." The feeding program cost about 1.2 million Kwacha a month (around $250 and he doesn't make even that amount for himself in a month, I don't think) and so every day, these kids get some porridge for lunch. “They are very poor.” He said.


Later he mentioned about the feeding program, "We started it by faith. You have to start by taking a step. Some days, we don't have the food and we just hold up our hands to God waiting for him to feed us." Hello, Mr. George Mueller of Africa, nice to meet you. I am going to go eat some dirt around people less holy than you:) Oh my goodness, seriously? Who does that? Who seriously lives by that kind of faith? I have read books about people like you, but how is it that you are my student? How does he do it? He doesn't. God does. He said, "God is the one doing this. He cares." Later, he said, "Sometimes I just like to go and watch the kids. I love these kids. My heart is for these kids."

So, like I said, sorry you were not me this morning. That makes me sad. But hopefully I made it up to you a little bit by letting you know what God is doing in and through the pastors here in Zambia.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Slow down for Pete's Sake

Well, we have been on the move over here in Zambia and Pete has barely any
time to be jet lagged. We enjoyed a nice dinner with Patson before going to
the Ngombe Pastor's Fellowship where Pete preached on Romans 12:1-2 on
Monday, after he spoke to the Pastors at our Bible college. (At the
fellowship, I saw a pastor named Efram who was wearing a Godfather's Pizza
shirt. Brought back memories of my Sunday afternoon All-You-Can-Eat fests!)
He then spoke to our ACTION Zambia staff on Tuesday and spent the day with
the Huckabys. We went to the clinics on Wednesday morning to pray for the
Zambians at Ngombe. It is almost midnight here, and my poor little Jo-Jo is
coughing away in my bed as I type by computer light. Steph is in Jo's bed
and I am tempted to feel a bit sorry for myself until I remember all the
little babies whom I prayed for today, who are also suffering from a similar
cough thing that is going around. You know, it is difficult to get upset
about Obamacare or anything else after you have spent a morning at a
government clinic in Zambia. I think Pete might just agree. Words fail to
describe the chaos and lack of hope these Zambians have there. Anyway, a
great morning praying for people, sharing Christ and bringing hope,
hopefully, to the hopeless. He taught the pastors again this afternoon,
bringing a refreshing message and leading a passionate dialogue on the Great
Commission.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Saturday, March 05, 2011

A visit to Kalimba Farms




The Huckabys and the Allens took Pete to Kalimba Farms today... We had a great time seeing Crocodiles and snakes and swimming and then eating Crocodile (burgers) but thankfully no snakes for lunch. Thought you would like to see a view of the pics of our day and then click on the video below of python peeing on Kamryn and Lucas!

CLASSIC!

Friday, March 04, 2011

Happy Birthday Mirriam

Welcome "home" Pete

We have the privilege of welcoming Pete Williamson back for his fourth time
in two years (I think he likes Zambia.) It worked out well that we needed a
guest speaker with my partner, Tracy, home for a family situation. He
pastors Oikos Fellowship in Bellingham where I spoke when I was home two
years ago, and as a result of sharing about the needs we had in Zambia, the
Huckabys therein moved to Zambia as well. So his visit is not only for the
pastors but also for his former church members who have been here just about
8 months. Pretty cool! He knows the pastors, our family, the Huckafamily and
it is a win-win for everyone. He will be teaching at our Pastor's College,
a couple conferences, and a day long retreat as well as a couple of
churches. We have him busy! We started off his visit with a breakfast
with four of our pastors and it was a great four hour time of breakfast,
praying and talking. The most significant time in my mind was at the end
when they laid their hands on Pete and prayed for the next couple weeks that
God would use Pete in Zambia and Zambia in Pete for much good! The one
fuzzy picture is Jo-Jo giving Joseph a dress and blanky for his new little
girl, Joy, that is less than a week old! Great times!

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Not today, thanks...

Sorry, I don't think I'll be eating the uncleaned Ox meat today, thanks.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Remember - Part III



Here is part III of my blook (blog book:)) You know I just might have made that one up... I like this blook idea because I can write to learn and learn to write. I appreciated very much Ben’s comment/question (scroll down after the entry) as the questions helped me in a very significant way to bring together what I am further hoping to say. (I didn’t answer him because I think the answer will ruin the journey.)
So, if you love me, please be inclined to comment, both good, bad, and anything in between. Your love for me doesn’t mean comments all the time, but as you feel inclined, as it would help. I am even good with pondering questions. I think there is something here. Would love if you walked with me through it in case there isn’t, or better yet, there is... I will strive to keep the entries time manageable.
If you want to read part I, go here:
If you want to read part II, go here:
If you want to read part III, just read below...
I remember listening to a question and answer time online with Mark Driscoll, a pastor at Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington. He was responding to questions about his study habits and work schedule. He was commenting about his writing day, and, as a side note, mentioned that while he is writing, he has the ability to recall quotes in books that he has read. Despite having read countless thousands of books, he can remember exactly where the quote came from, down to the page and even the location of the passage, top, middle or bottom on that page. So, in his notes, he makes comments of the book, chapter, page and approximate location of the quote for his writing assistant, who then does the work of tracking down the book, page and exact quote for the book or article that Pastor Driscoll is working on.
I remember when I heard that, I was just stunned. I think my first reaction was something of envy. And, my second reaction was a less than holy mix of complaining and cry of injustice. It is what great athletes must feel when have the talent to play division I college athletics, but weren’t born with the genetics that would enable them to be able to compete at that level. After I “holifed “ myself, I appreciated the gift that God has given Pastor Mark and have since prayed for him that he would continue his significant ministry.
I can hardly remember a book a few days after I have read it. I remember reading in seminary, thinking as I was reading the book, that in a few hours I would never remember anything I just read. I was reading to check off the honor code sheet in my seminary class. I am a bit more like C.J. Mahaney. C.J. is a pastor and oversees the Sovereign Grace Ministry that has churches all over the world.. A while back, he wrote a blog that blessed me. He wrote about how he used to get discouraged that he would read a book and only remember a single quote. He wondered aloud, “What’s the use of reading a book if all you remember is a single quote?” He went on to explain how he has learned to accept his inability to remember and come to the conclusion that it was still worth reading a whole book to discover that pearl of a quote that could blessed him, a quote that could change his life. Judging by the amount of comments that followed the article, it seems that blog struck a chord with more than just me.
My lack of ability to remember has caused me to ask the following question: if I can’t remember very much, then what should I focus on remembering? What is the bottom line? What does God want me to remember? How can I boil it down so that I can remember what to do, and do what I am supposed to remember?
Abraham Lincoln grew up a poor man. He only had a few books. The books he had, he read over and over again. Instead of reading a lot of books and remembering a little, he read a few books and remembered a lot. What do you want to remember? What do you need to remember? What is imperative for us to remember to walk this Christian journey? What can we do without? Unless you are like Mark Driscoll, who can remember everything he reads, you must know what it is you need to remember. What do you need to read, re-read, and remember over and over again so you won’t forget?
Now, I think I have the answer. It is the basis of this book and I think it is significant enough to write a book about. And, yet, therein lies the irony. To write a book, you need to believe that what you have to write about is unique enough to warrant a new voice, and yet, important enough to warrant someone’s greatest asset, his or her time. You have to feel more than just a passing interest, more than just a hobby type of curiosity. It has to grip you and compel you to spend the lonely hours wrestling with what it is that is wrestling in you. I feel a bit like the man who G.K. Chesteron was writing about in his introduction to his book Orthodoxy who discovered England. It was a novel that he knew he would never write, so he used the plot as an example. This man set out to discover a new land, but through an error of his navigational equipment, he ended up on the shore of England thinking he was discovering a new land. However, he was actually just appreciating, for the first time, what had been discovered many times before.
So, I offer nothing new. And, instead of this idea being born out of my intellectual strength, it is out of weakness that I approach this subject. I can’t remember at best and at worse, I forget. And I am writing this book not because I have it all down. I need to continually remind myself to remember.
So, what do need to remember? How do we remember? Why should we remember?
Well, we will get there. But I can’t give it away that easy. It is like the time when my friend wanted me to pay him $1 for some advice. He said I wouldn’t appreciate it if he just gave it to me. It worked. I paid my $1 and I still remember the advice. The joy is in the journey. I have to build my case, give you a foundation, and so lead you to the (re)discovered island. I am pretty sure you know the island, but hopefully you can rediscover it in a new way so that you can name the island as your own, as well.

leading worship

The picture isn't the best, but I thought I would try to capture my family
leading worship at the local bible study.

Preaching the God I trust

Well, you missed out. Seriously. Patson came for breakfast this morning
and then to share his story during our family devotions. His story is
incredible. Incredible. He grew up in war-torn Mozambique, his
brother-in-law smuggled a bible from Zambia and he used to sneak in and read
it. It was there he first learned about the creator God. For many years,
he would pray to this God, this God he couldn't talk about for fear of being
killed, this God who he didn't know, but believed. He would pray and ask
for protection and God heard him. They escaped to Zambia many years later
as people were being betrayed and killed in his village. He once saw a
group of people burned in house just down from his. He met a pastor in
Zambia who gave him a job and mentored him. Now, he is a pastor and runs a
community school. What an incredible man disguised in normal human flesh.
And I get to hang out with him. The quote of the day: "I must preach this
God I trust." And, I am his teacher?