Sunday, June 29, 2008

Kabulonga Market

Yesterday (on Saturday) I had the most wonderful experience. We shipped all of the Americans home yesterday, not counting the summer staff, so I finally had an afternoon to myself. Afternoons to myself is definitely a coveted idea in Zambia. I slept in late (till 9am) and then woke up and spent some beautiful time with the Lord on our front porch.

The mornings are so beautiful here. They are very cold, but I like to sit on the front porch with my blanket and my coffee. You can watch the sun rise, and as it does the temperature warms from about 34-40 degrees to about 60 degree (layering here is definitely necessary).

I had made some preparations to spend Sunday with my friends, the Kaunda family. Two of the Kaunda girls have been in my small group for the last 4 years, and I have come to know and love the rest of the family as well. Peter and his wife, Beatrice have five girls...can you imagine? Peter is a pastor, also the director of the school my kids go to. He also happens to work here in Mulungushi as an electrician, but his calling is definitely pastoral.

So, after that time in the morning I decided to head over to Kabulonga (an area of town) to the Dutch Reform Church. Another friend that I have met here, Megan informed me that there is a Saturday market there at the end of every month. I knew I needed to pick up a few things in preparation for my visit on Sunday. I have come to find that in Zambia, gifts are a huge deal. They don't have to be expensive gifts, it is just a representation of honor. So I first jumped over to Spar (the supermarket) to pick up some mealie meal. This is the corn based substance that Zambians use to make Nshima, their staple dish. After purchasing the bag of mealie meal, I went to Kabulonga.

What I found there was a divine treasure. It was basically like a farmer's market, but with African crafts. There were vendors cooking sausage, samoosas, spring rolls, chicken...all kinds of yummilicious delights. There were also vendors selling fresh produce, and I picked up some avocados (yes, I did bring guacamole mix from the states...I'm desperate for some tex mex). I walked around for a while until I found three beautiful shitenges (the brightly colored material that the women use for dresses, skirts, bags, and blankets). I chose one for each of my girls, and for their mom. I knew they would be surprised, and excited by this small token of my love. I found two stuffed animals for the smaller girls. I picked up some lunch on my way out, and was very satisfied with my afternoon.

I didn't even mind going all by myself, and I had some great discussions with the vendors over the upcoming American presidential election and the election going on in Zimbabwe. Those are the two most popular topics of conversation around here, and everyone is very interested.

Overall, a very satisfying day. I hope to do it again next month, when they have the market again. I wish you all could be here. Malita, I thought of you. I know you would have loved this!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Paul Update

So, this week we changed the location of camp due to a double booking at Dunamis, our current location. This created quite a distressing situation for our friend Paul, whom I wrote about last week.

He arrived to camp on Friday afternoon, very cranky and upset. I greeted him and he started yelling at me in Nyanja, and I therefore could not understand what he was saying. One of the Zambians approached and informed me that Paul was saying he was feeling very sick, he was very tired.

You see, what Paul had done on Friday was this: he arrived at Dunamis and found that we were not there, so he then proceeded to walk on foot to every previous location of camp. This is no small task, as we have had camps all over Lusaka and he must have walked 30 miles (hours and hours) only to find that we weren't at any of the previous locations.

He finally arrived to our new location, GO Centre, late in the afternoon on Friday just before the kids were dismissing. He was quite personally upset with me, as he thought it was my doing that camp had been moved. I quickly apologized to let him know that I did not decide where camp happened, but that we had missed him tremendously (which was true) and that I was sorry. He complained of a headache, so I quickly obtained some lunch for him, and wet a bandana for his head. He felt quite warm. He didn't seem very interested in talking to me during his lunch, but we sat quietly outside on the front porch of GO Centre. I finally walked him outside (still not talking) and he fell asleep on the floor while I scratched his back and made him drink lots of water for rehydration. It's quite cold at night (around 30 or 40 degrees) but during the day it is quite warm. The sun beating down on Paul's poor body all day had exhausted him.

In the end, all was well but I went through tremendous pains to explain to Paul that camp would not be happening next week, so he need not show up or he would be disappointed to find no one.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Sai's Celebration

Yesterday I had the pleasure of being invited to attend a function at Destiny. There is a Japanese teacher there who has been teaching at Destiny for one year, his name is Sai. He was sent to Destiny by the Chinese government. So, there was a big ceremony to celebrate Sai's one year anniversary.

There were some very big attenders to the event, including members of the Zambian Social Welfare department, a member of the Japanese government who is in charge of Sai, and several other Japanese volunteers who work in the area. It was quite exciting, and an honor for me to be invited.

The best part was how simple the celebration was, but how it meant so much. The "streamers" that hung in the school were actually pieces of toilet paper, pink and green. Peter's wife made a delicious cake, and the family member of the kids prepared a meal of rice and chicken. Overall, it was a beautiful time and I really enjoyed myself.

I was able to spend several hours with my kids, which is always a blessing. I was able to be a part of celebrating Sai's volunteering in Zambia for one year. Although I've only had a few brief conversations with Sai, I know that he loves the kids and has a huge heart for them. He is a buddist, and has frequently talked about worshiping the sun. But the greatest thing for me, is to see the joy in his eyes when he is talking to the kids. I heard a report that he was actually ministering the Word to the kids one day when they were in the middle of a quarrel. He told the kids, "Jesus said to do unto one another as you would have them do unto you." Great I tell you, great! Through several Zambians, he has been powerfully moved by the Word of God, even though he doesn't confess Jesus as his Saviour. I am looking quite forward to being able to minster to him, and I know the kids have already been doing some of the same. I believe that God is after Sai's heart, and he still has one year left in his volunteer contract! Imagine what will happen in another year.

It was quite a good time, I again had a glimpse of what it would be like when I get to heaven and all the nations are worshiping before him. During this time, it was Japan, America, and Zambia. I was so filled with joy. God has truly give men a heart to see his name glorified within all peoples!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

New Favorite Things

My new favorite Zambian-English word is "cycling." For those of you that are a little slow, that's another term for "riding a bike." Whenever I have to call the maintenance men, they tell me they will meet me at our destination and they always ask, "Are you cycling?" They ask me this because they want to know whether I will arrive quickly or slowly.

Another thing that I have termed "affectionately Zambia" is the fact that everyday the power turns off from 12pm-2pm. It's super awesome, because that's right about the time I feel myself getting hungry for lunch. So, I have had to retrain my body to eat earlier because once the power goes off I can't make anything (except dreaded peanut butter and jelly). It's great.

Zambia doesn't have enough energy for the country, so they have scheduled downtimes in order to share power with the rest of the city. They are having to buy energy from other countries, mainly China I think. Because I have been staying at the villas to take care of maintenance issues, I have had the pleasure to spend a considerable amount of time with the maintenance workers. They're great. I've also learned alot about electrical work and plumbing in Zambia! One thing is that Zambia doesn't manufacture anything of it's own, so they import all of their electrical components from China. But what I've found is that China is exporting their most cheaply made products (of inferior quality, according to the Zambians) so things break around here quite frequently.

Seriously, we replaced an element in the geiser (hot water heater) and the next day it broke again. It makes me a little angry because I know that the Zambians are getting taken advantage of. They have no other product options, so they are forced to buy Chinese products that aren't worth a dime (literally).

But I have had quite a good time with the maintenance men here. So far, I have counseled my friend Nonde on his smoking habit (40 years running) and we've discussed what behaviors would bring about the most success for him to quit smoking. I've also learned that he LOVES crossword puzzles. I've also had to have multiple conversations with them about a biblical view of marriage because they all want to know why I am not married. I've discovered that here in Zambia, people don't necessarily marry for love, and they get married at an early age because the life span is so much shorter. So, all of the Zambians a)can't believe I don't have a boyfriend and b)that Americans don't just find someone their age and get married. It's been quite the debacle. We have these conversations just about everyday, and they think I should be miserable because I'm not married. It's humorous. And then, I've gotten several marriage proposals. Life is certainly quite different here. Don't worry, mom and dad...I haven' accepted any. I've also counseled another one of the plumbers about starting his own ministry, and then my friend Peter Kaunda (the electrician) has actually been encouraging and counseling me. It's great.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Professional Wrestling

This is Paul. Cute, isn't he? Let me tell you about him. Paul is a camp life alumni of several years now. I don't know much about his home background, but in the last few years of camp demons have supposedly been cast out of him on multiple occasions (not implying this is true or not true, simply that I don't know). Last year, I did witness him having a seizure, again supposedly in the middle of a demonic attack. The physical and the spiritual are so inseparable here that it's almost hard to distinguish between the two sometimes, which I think is Paul's case.

Anyhow, Paul attends a community school called Mapodi Boys. Mapodi Boys is scheduled to come for Camp Life week 5 (that's sometime around July 6-12). Except that Paul spotted my friend Alissa (the photographer)on her first day here. He kept asking her, "When does camp life start?", "Where is camp life?", " Is uncle Greer here?" Needless to say, these kids never see Americans so Paul was smart enough to know that if he had seen one, there must be others around, which must mean camp life is coming. Alissa gave no concrete answers, so Paul decided to show up the very first day of camp. And everyday after that.

The first couple of days we tried to send him home. We explained to him that it wasn't yet his time to come to camp. Well, Paul is sort of the definition of persistent. He showed up the next day, and we tried to send him home. Then he showed up the next day and we told him he could stay around for a while but then he had to go home. But being the definition of persistent as he is, he showed up everyday after that. And stayed the entire day. And threw a fit when we wouldn't give him all of the things the other kids were getting. Titus actually had to carry him out of Dunamis because his tantrum was so horrific.

The thing about Paul is, he just wants to be loved. He's very bright and understands perfect English. Everyday he runs up to me and gives me a huge hug with this same adorable smile. And he says, "Auntie Stephanie, I love you." Now before you are very impressed by this, just know that he says this to every American he meets. It's still cute, nonetheless. Everyday during Greer's teaching session he sits in my lap for maybe 15 minutes while he asks me if I know any professional wrestlers. We go through the list of professional wrestlers After we determine that I don't know any professional wrestlers he gets up and wades through the crowd of kids (while Greer is still talking). He disappears for another 10 minutes and then wades back through the crowd of kids to find me. Then he sits back down in my lap and strokes my hair and tells me I'm beautiful for another 10 minutes. The entire scene is quite hilarious.

The terrible thing about Paul is that he is horrifically awful to the other kids. But he's so cute, isn't he?

Friday, June 13, 2008

A Visit to the Clinic

I wish that I would have had a camera with me today. Alissa, Dr. Ellis and I visited a clinic in Kalingalinga today. The clinic also had an inpatient ward, and I was appalled at what I saw. There are four wards, separated by curtains. They literally have TB patients breathing the same air as immuno-compromised sickly patients. They were all so sickly and thin. Alissa took it upon herself to filter through the patient log book (and no one stopped us) and almost every admission was due to malaria.

On the bulletin board, there was a hand drawn graph of the 5 leading causes of death among Zambians. In order:

1) Malaria
3) Pneumonia
4) Tuberculosis
5) Diarrhea

The second thing that I saw which I found striking, a poster that talked about the benefits of circumcision. I repeat, verbatim:

1) It decreases the risk of STD’s
2) It decreases your risk of getting AIDS
3) It decreases the chance of your partner getting cervical cancer.

I couldn’t make this up. It made me so angry. This is a clinic that is funded by the government, and they are massively misinforming people. Alissa also told me that she went to a clinic downtown and there was another poster that was informing people that AIDS was created by Americans in a lab in New York City in order to kill off all of the black people. Amazing. Amazing, I tell you how much education is needed here.

Mulpa Wa Yesu

I am blessed by my children most days, even through difficult situations. But today was pure joy. Let me tell you about it.

All the girls were anticipating being very sad on Friday, because they all knew it was the last day of camp. But this was not just any Friday. This year, in addition to new shoes, a new bandana and a new t-shirt, they also received a new green fleece jacket, a cup, and two bags-one for them and one for their caretaker. I am going to try to post a video I took of their response to the news.

They were so incredibly excited. For them to have not only a bag for themselves, but one to give to their caretakers is a big deal. Because they are so poor, and because they are certainly not in a position to give their caretakers anything. But the giving wasn’t the most beautiful part. It was how they received it. They rejoiced with a beautiful song that I had never heard before. You can’t catch this in the video, but probably about half of the group started crying midway through the song.

The words to the song are simple, uncomplicated…but the name of Jesus is powerful. The words to the song translate to…”I am covered in the blood of Jesus, covered in the blood of Jesus.”

My sweet Rabecca led the girls in song, she has a beautiful acapella voice. She is definitely one of my leaders, and I was so proud to watch her. As she started to cry, so did the other girls…and then I followed because it was just so beautiful I couldn’t help myself. I know I can never duplicate that day, but it will forever be in my memory as one of the greatest moments of my life.

The day ended, and the girls were all in tears. I assured them that they didn’t need to cry because I was going to visit them next Friday. Their response? “But auntie Stephan, we won’t see you every, every day.” How could I respond to that? I couldn’t. But it made me so happy.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Back in Matero

Thursday was another successful shoe day! It's amazing that these kids have now received new shoes four years in a row and every year, they are needed. Every year, their shoes from the previous years are destroyed because of all of the walking and dancing the Zambians do.

But the best part of the entire day was not giving away the shoes, the best part was watching my girls share the gospel in Matero, the compound where they live. Matero is a rough neighborhood. The major problems their are crime and witchcraft. There are also alot of pubs, so there are a large amount of people walking around drunk even in the middle of the afternoon. We encountered a few of those and one man was yelling at me, "You, young English woman, I want you" over and over again. Although the man was quite offensive, I never felt frightened because my girls were always protecting me and telling me, "auntie stephan let's just go, let's just go." Of course Paul was also with me and nicely explained to the man that we were there to do the work of God. We finally walked away and he went in the other direction.

The smell of sewage in Matero is wretched, and I had forgotten how bad it was. The school has been repainted and has a new roof that was made possible through the Father's Heart Program. So everyone that has sponsored one of my kids, thank you. One child told me, "I used to be embarrassed to go to school, but now I am very proud." All because of a new roof. This isn't even a nice building, it's a few cement bricks. But this boy was so happy.

But the girls amazed me. Where once they were shy and never wanted to leave my side, now they immediately begin running down the street to share the love of Christ with their neighbors, not at all worried if I am in eyesight. Dorothy surprised me most of all, which I will write about in a separate post. We encountered some very tough people, who asked my kids very difficult questions. But they all responded wisely and accurately. I am so amazed that my girls have learned so much, most of which has not come from me. They truly have grown in their faith, and they are excited about it!

We encountered a man, Simba, who was a Jehovah's Witness who we sat with for quite a long time, about 45 minutes in all. I sat on the ground, and my girls gathered around me and they shared the gospel with him. He was doubtful, but told us that he was asking questions because He really wanted to know about this God we were discussing. It was good, even for me to be challenged by Simba. The girls explained to him that we know God through His word. He kept telling us that he needed someone to come and teach him about the Bible so that He could know God. He repeatedly asked, who is going to come and teach me? They were a little stumped at this, but I encouraged him in two things:

1) That the Bible is sufficient in and of itself to reveal God through the power of the Holy Spirt, which we receive when we accept Christ.
2) The importance of being part of a community that seeks God together, and how we can learn and teach each other.

Precious can pray like nobody's business, Rabecca and Karen have the courage to walk up to anyone. All the girls have really grown remarkably in their faith and that is a testament to ME of what God does when we plant the seeds of faith.

The Universal Woes of Teenage Girls

Wednesday of last week all of my girls arrived at camp in a sour mood. None of them were smiling, some were crying, some would just remain silent.

We sat down early in the morning to talk about what was bothering them. They all kept telling me, “karibe,” which means “nothing” in Nyanja. It kept on this way for quite a while until finally they all began to answer at one time. It turns out that a few of my girls were making fun of Dorothy before school and Dorothy was crying and upset.

As you can imagine, instead of talking about the subject for the day-though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil…we talked about love and forgiveness instead. I encouraged them not to be each other’s enemies. There are too many enemies in the world for your friends to become one also. I encouraged them to talk to their friends about how their feelings were hurt. Afterwards, we talked about the importance of forgiveness, and how to forgive…both in yourself and in another person. There was a lot of talking, done mostly by me. When I didn’t think they were listening anymore I suggested that we stop the teaching for the day and a play game.

To my surprise, they told me that they did not want to play a game that day…that they would rather learn and understand the teachings of Jesus. At this point, I didn’t know how to continue because I was so shocked! We then changed gears and had a very difficult discussion about purity. All in all, it turned out to be a great day! I hope and pray that these girls will continue to learn about how to love each other as women.

Some issues are the same, no matter where you go, and one of them is that teenage girls can be just plain nasty to each other. I am praying that God would continue to grow them in community, that they may lean on and trust and depend on one another together in their walk of faith.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Camp Life-Day 2

*I have written several blogs throughout the week but have just now been able to post them. So, this is a week old now but I still wanted to share with you.*

As you know, yesterday was the first day of camp…and it was a great one! I have been feeling a little uneasy about being here over the last week, but today when my kids stepped off the bus and flashed their beautiful smiles my way, I had at once forgotten all about it.

There are definitely lots of changes in my sweet girls. When they got off the bus, they didn’t run to me immediately. Not because they weren’t excited but because they have lost a little of that child-like excitement. I have enjoyed watching them grow and change. They bring me so much joy and I find it hard to believe that anyone could love them more than I do.

Many of the girls have much improved their English, and I have improved some in Nyanja so that it is easier for us to communicate. My sweet Rabecca is even able to read in English now and I can’t wait to give her the Bible that my Aunt Shirley bought for her. I know Rabecca’s mother is not very good to her and sometimes refuses to feed her so I have been giving her my extra food every day. Sara, my easily distracted quiet one has been attached to me for the last two days, and when I look at her, the corners of her mouth turn up and she flashes me the greatest smile ever. She constantly wants to hold my hand and play with my hair…and I let her. Dianess, my other quiet one is able to understand me almost entirely in English and she has also become quite vocal. I credit this to the discipleship leaders, who have been in the schools all year long. Alice Phiri is the woman who is at Destiny (my school). Alice might be the only consistent person that is in the life of any of these children who is loving them everyday. When the girls share with me about what is going on in their lives and they ask me questions, it indicates to me an increase in their self confidence. It has been such a blessing for me to see them come alive.

They all want to come home with me, or for me to come and stay with them. And a big part of me would like that too! At lunch today we played games together and it was so much fun. I was, as usual, on the winning team. J

The one thing I have been challenged by is trying to explain the concept of peace, our theme for this year. Their idea of peace is basically, lack of war. They haven’t quite gotten the idea of an inner peace that comes from trusting God but I assured them that it’s ok if they don’t understand it right away. We are now asking God to reveal His peace to us. Also many of the children feel discouraged because they have been praying for their situations to change and no change has come about. So we had to read through John 16:33 while I explained that knowing Jesus does not mean we won’t experience tough situations. God uses those situations to grow our faith and give Him glory. This is also quite difficult for them. I have to continually teach them that the Lord DOES answer prayers, we just need to persevere.

Overall, it has already been quite a challenging week….but a REALLY great one. These girls are the reason I am here. I am sorry to say that I have disappointed them severely by not sending them any pictures over the last year. They let me know about it and I profusely asked for their forgiveness. I know this is quite long already and I just have so much to say. I truly am so blessed to be able to be here in this place, with these people I love so much.

This is Dorothy Choongo

This is Dorothy Choongo. I first wrote about Dorothy last year when I met her at camp. She was reclusive, she wouldn’t talk to me. She never smiled, she often wandered off alone away from the group. She has a pretty severe stuttering problem.

She lives with her grandmother who is a witch doctor, and who Dorothy fears to no end. Dorothy believes that her grandmother’s magic is responsible for killing many of her family members. She lives in constant fear of the woman. Although she did accept Christ last year, sanctification is a process and her faith is not quite strong yet. I’ve tried to reinforce that Jesus is the perfect love and He casts out all fear, and that because she is a child of God nothing can separate her from the love of God. We’ve talked about how Jesus is all-powerful and how He created everything and has the power to conquer evil, but I’m not quite sure she understands it. Dorothy has been praying, but grandmother tells her that her praying will do no good because she already belongs to Satan. The grandmother chases her out of the house and tells Dorothy that she needs to find somewhere else to live because she doesn’t want her anymore. She has been told the same by both her mom and dad. Can you imagine?

She says all of the kids at school make fun of her because of the stuttering. They tell her she is stupid and was born to be stupid because she can’t even talk. It seems that no matter how much I encourage her, I fail. She says that she would just rather die. At the end of our discussion today she told me that she was finished talking to me and she wanted me to leave her alone, and so I honored her in that. I am praying for a changed heart, mind and soul. I am encouraged by the changes I’ve seen, but I know that the pit she is in is quite deep, and only the love of a Savior can help her out of it.

When I see her laugh, I thank God for the joy I see in her and know that it is a little blessing for me in a lesson of perseverance. Today while we were coloring, she just started singing, singing praises to God and that was a small miracle for me to see. It’s times such as these that I think God is revealing small changes for me to see His glory in Dorothy. She said she would want me to come and be with her always because I have helped her so much. What she doesn’t know is that I really had nothing to do with it, for it is the love of a King and a Great Rescuer that has encouraged her in such a way.

Please continue praying for her. She lives in a place of darkness and witchcraft, with no one to love her, but I know because Zephaniah 3:17 says that we have a God who is mighty to save, and I trust that He will do this too, for Dorothy.

Affectionately Zambia

There are a few things about life in Zambia that I have come to love affectionately. Here is a short list of things:

1) It takes three times as long to get anything done here. This can include anything from buying bread at the store to getting hot water, to having keys duplicated. For example, we are now on day 12 here in Zambia, and we might have hot water tomorrow. Don’t get me wrong, the cold euro-baths have been AWESOME, but seriously…hot water is possible. Also, I went to have some keys made for our house so that no one would be locked out. It took three trips to the keymaker to get a working set. No, I couldn’t make this up. When I took the keys back, the guy just put them on the grinder and handed them back. No key machine, just a grinder. Incredible.

2) Zambian English. Let me give you some examples:
American English: I’ll be right back
Zambian English: I’ll be coming
American English: She has moved away.
Zambian English: She has shifted.
American English: Can I have a ziplock?
Zambian English: Me, I’m asking for a plastic.
American English: What is your schedule for the day?
Zambian English: What is your program today?
American English: Jenny and Becky are twins.
Zambian English: They are duplicates.

There are so many more, I could go on. It’s great.
3) I needed to do laundry today and the closest laundry is only about 3 blocks walking distance. As I was carrying my basket, I was inhaling loads of dust from the clothes stacked inside. Awesome, I tell you…awesome.
4) Chronically black feet…this is probably one of my favorite things about Zambia. There is something to be said for having really dirty feet. You feel as if you have accomplished something for the day. For someone who loves her feet so much, I’m not sure how I can appreciate this, but I do.
5) Being the fat lazy American…and anyone who sleeps past 5:30 am is considered one of these. The Zambians are astonished that we can sleep until 8 (or later if I was allowed).

6) Washing my hair and washing the water turn into red dirt as it covers my head...good times.

7) Week one and already our villa is discussing what we can add to Ramen to improve it's quality.
These are only a few items, but I am sure the list will grow longer as time goes on.

Sunday, June 1, 2008


There is one thing in Zambia that reminds me of Austin, even though I have never actually done this in Austin. Bats. Lots of bats....everywhere. At night when I walk through the village I hear them sqeaking. And then they swoop down and fly in front of you.

Well later today we will have a meeting with our Zambian friends, and I will find out who will be partner for this week. Tomorrow I will see my kids again, and that makes me very excited. I can't wait to give them all of their Bibles and start talking to them about what they have learned in my absence. I really hope to get them to open up and find out if they really know Jesus. This year I am going to stress the importance of living a life knowing him. Not just paying lip service but to really love Jesus with all their heart, mind and soul.

I am so thankful to be here for this time, to have fellowship with fellow believers in Zambia, with the children, and with other Americans. Please pray that the presence of God, His Holy Spirit will be heavy upon camp, and in each of the volunteers. I ask for changed hearts, changed minds, changed bodies, changed souls. Isaiah says the spirit of the sovereign Lord is upon me and He has anointed me to preach the good news to the poor and the oppressed. I pray that I might me used by my king to share the love of Christ, the joy of knowing my Savior wherever I go.

I feel such a kinship with these people. I am grateful that the Lord has brought me here. I can't wait to share the stories of kids this week, and I look forward to throwing my arms around my kids and embracing them in the arms of Safety. PLease pray that I would be a woman who walks in integrity and breathes grace through the power of the Holy Spirit, every where I place my foot.

I hope to be writing you stories soon. I am sending much love to you!