Thursday, December 31, 2009
The end goal here is to get all the kids in school with uniforms, shoes, back packs, pencils, notebooks, and so on. This was made possible because Brooksiders donated enough money to cover school fees and supplies for all the children of the Hope Center through Basic School, which is grades 1 through 7.
When I finally made it here (3 ½ days, 2 delays, and a 17 hour flight in the middle seat), it was easy to jump right back in. It felt almost as if I had never left, like maybe I was just away for a little while on vacation or in a coma. It’s been good to see some old friends, and I still have a lot more I want to visit (hopefully I’ll have some time for that). Working with Navice again feels good too. The only thing that didn’t feel natural right away was the driving (not only is it the opposite side of the road, but it can be pretty crazy). Anyways, so I’m really enjoying my time here. I hope it doesn’t end too soon!
Sunday, December 27, 2009
Anyways, so as you know, the weather has been kind of crazy in the Midwest, so I've run into a few problems. All seems to be in order now though, so I should arrive in Lusaka, Zambia Tuesday afternoon. Check back here soon and I'll keep you updated on my arrival and details with my progress in getting the orphans that Brookside is supporting back in school. Also, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for questions, comments, suggestions, etc. Thanks!
Monday, December 7, 2009
Friday, October 16, 2009
We're excited to update you on the Hope Center Back to School project. As you may know, many of the orphans ministered to through the HCC cannot afford to go to school. Brookside has established a fund designed to help pay for books, uniforms, fees, etc for those unable to do so. The plan is to raise $1,050 for each of the 50 children to attend school 1st-7th grade.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
The people were so thankful when we presented the new soccer goals, nets, and balls at three area schools, and they came out in droves. The Gospel was presented in each location, then we (Team Zambia/USA) played the local team.
Here's a picture of 33 of the smiling orphans in Serenje that the Hope Center is serving. Many of them have been given not just food and exposure to the Gospel, but the opportunity to go back to school through generous donations to cover their uniforms, books, etc.
Thanks to everyone who has prayed for and supported this worthy cause.
"Whatever you did for the least of these, you did for me" Matt. 25:40
-written by Aaron Shaul
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Upon arriving on Tues June 9, we gathered up some supplies in Lusaka and traveled up to Serenje. Wednesday was spent doing some work around HCC, then on Thursday we set off on our church planting expedition. The group of Zambian pastors/church leaders and Americans were broken up into 5 groups with 5-7 Zambians and 1 or 2 Americans on each team. Each group was sent to an area with no Bible believing church in close proximity. The team I was blessed to be on was sent to a small village area called Njelele about 1 hour from Serenje. Interestingly, we had to get permission from the area chief before commencing our evangelism. After that, we broke into groups of 2-3 and walked through the bush paths to small groups of mud brick/grass roof huts and began striking up conversations. The people were very friendly and open to discussion, although sadly many had been led astray by the Jehovah Witness, New Apostolic, or Seventh Day Adventist. It was such a priviledge to work alongside Pastor Navice Kalunga (our leader here who has started hundreds of churches), and we saw a number of people trust Christ, demon posessed individuals prayed for, and the Gospel go forth in a dark place. On Sunday morning, we held a church service in the school building. About 35 people attended, and 9 more stepped forward in committment to Christ. Following the example of Paul in Acts 14, the Zamian pastors appointed leadership; we also left them 12 Bibles in the local language and gave them instruction for future meeting and follow-up. Although I was exhausted from the rigorous days and lack of sleep due to the cold at night, my spirit rejoiced at so many people trusting the Lord. Upon our return to the Hope Center, on Monday our entire group met and shared what had happened in the 5 locations. It was a joyful time of sharing and praising the Lord for what He had done.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Vacation Bible School has drawn to a close. We have had the delightful opportunity to work with about fifty orphans, some of the pastors' children as well as some of the children from the village. The transformation from last fall to now was incredible. Their smiles were huge and came so very quickly. They remembered the songs that we sang in October and laughed whenever we were silly. The numbers grew from Monday to Thursday and when we attempted to share fun fruits today we had to have the kids share as our numbers exceeded eighty.
We found them waiting for us each afternoon as we traveled the road to our meeting place and we've had them following us at the end of each day. We have been aided in our venture by Pastor Navice's son, John. John will be a great teacher in the near future as he works so well with the children.
It truly is challenging to say, "Good-bye". We wonder if we will have the opportunity to see them again and how their world will have changed because of the Hope Center. We left them with Numbers 6:24-26 as that is our prayer for them as well.
I have been struggling with the words to express what I have experienced in teaching the pastors' wives this week. It has been my complete privilege to teach parts of 1 Corinthians to them. I cannot imagine a more gracious group of ladies. I believe I could stand before them and recite "Mary Had a Little Lamb," and they would be appreciative. They have been an enormous blessing to me, and they have such a deep hunger for God's Word. On the first day, we gave them Bibles in their native tongue (Bemba), and there were shouts of joy like I have never heard before. We took a tea break halfway through our time together. While we were on our break, I looked in to find every woman hunched over her new Bible, reading it! What a blessing they have been!
I also have made a new best friend in Mirriam Musonga, Pastor Navice's daughter. She has been my translator this week, but she is so much more. She is also my sister in Christ and my dear friend. She has taken what I have said and made it come alive for the women of Zambia. She has been able to expound on and apply God's Word for them in ways I could not have imagined. It is my prayer that our lives will cross again, for I have come to love her dearly. It was the pictures of the orphaned children that drew my heart to Zambia, but now Mirriam and these dear pastors' wives have captured my heart, as well.
Thank you for you partnership with us in prayer. We have felt all of those prayers.
It's very hard to describe in a few words, or even many, an experience like we've all had these days in Serenje and the impact a time like this has on a person's life. Perhaps the best I can say is that as different as our lives are from the people we've been serving this week, there are profound similarities. The greatest similarity being our need for Jesus Christ and the love He brings into our lives. As I've taught the pastors from I Corinthians and listened to them describe their needs and the needs of the people in their churches, I have been impressed with how important the truth of God's Word is in all of our lives. We live in very different cultures, but our need for God's truth to live purposeful and joy filled lives is exactly the same.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Monday, April 20, 2009
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Saturday, April 18, 2009
We then flew non-stop and overnight from London to Lusaka, the capital of Zambia, arriving around 6:30 AM Zambian time. After some shopping in Lusaka, we headed out on our overland trek to Serenje in a van loaded with seven people, 14 bags of checked luggage, and various pieces of carry-on luggage! Six hours later, we arrived - tired but so grateful to God to be here at last.
Yesterday, which was Friday, we toured the Hope Center - the orphan care center that Brookside is building in partnership with Cornerstone Church in Ames, Iowa. We had seen pictures, but nothing could prepare us for the overwhelming experience of seeing the nearly completed campus. There is an all-purpose building, a bathhouse, a storage shed, and a guest house. There is a large area dedicated to farming a number of different plants: corn, watermelon, peanuts, sweet potatoes, and more. Eventually these plants will feed the orphans and there may even be enough to sell locally. We met Pastor Novice, whose vision began this whole endeavor, and it was truly a privilege to meet a man so humble and fully devoted to the cause of Christ.
In the afternoon, we visited a nearby waterfall called Kundalilla Falls...a beautiful sight. Some hiked farther than others. (O.k., I didn't make it all the way down the canyon!) But we all greatly enjoyed the trip.
This morning we participated in a food distribution for about 50 orphans. Each child was given a 25 kilo bag of "mealy meal" (ground corn) and a plastic shopping bag of dried minnows. It was an emotional experience watching these precious children be so grateful for so little. The girls curtsied, and they were all smiling and laughing.
We met the twenty or so children that our church has sent back to school. I may have mentioned this before, but it costs about $100 a year for tuition, books and uniforms to send a child to school for a year. We also learned that there are still ten more orphans whose school year has not been funded. It is my prayer that they, too, will be able to go to school very soon.
This afternoon we are going to do some door-to-door evangelism, which will stretch all of us, I think, but we are looking forward to it. And tonight we will have the treat of eating at the house of Pastor Novice and his wife Ketty.
Would you please pray for us? Pray that we would continue to be healthy and sleep well, as we adjust to the time and altitude difference. Pray that our work here would be fruitful and that God would be glorified in all we do. Thank you.
Hopefully tomorrow, Molly Loneman will update the blog with pictures of our work (and play) here so far.
God Bless you,
Sunday, April 12, 2009
You may be wondering who the "we" are. A new group from Brookside Church is heading to Zambia on Monday, April 13th. "We" are Pastor Steve Moltumyr, Pastor Tim Wiebe, Pastor John Alford, Michelle Asay, Molly Loneman, Tracy Gratopp, and Amy Kieser (that last one is me :)
We're going to Serenje, Zambia with several purposes in mind. The pastors will be conducting pastoral training for local Zambian pastors. The women will be leading a VBS program for about 50 orphans, and I will have the privilege of teaching a group of pastors' wives. All of this will take place at the Hope Center, a facility we are building in partnership with Cornerstone Church in Ames, Iowa.
Will you be partners with us in prayer? Please pray for our travel, our ministry time, for the children, the pastors and their wives. Please pray that God would use us to minister to them and more importantly to bring glory and honor to His Name.
I grew up in an Air Force family and whenever we would be uprooted from one place to fly off to another (often on short notice), my mother would attempt to bolster our spirits by saying, "We're off on another one of life's great adventures!" It became a family motto...mostly because it's really hard to get four little girls to be happy about moving to places like Korea and New Jersey! But as I think of it, it's a really good motto for our trip. We are off on another one of life's great adventures. And, by God's grace, I think I might just be ready!
P.S. The next post will probably not be written until Thursday, as we will be in "travel mode" until then.
P.P.S. Earlier posts on this blogspot were written by Jack Archer during his three month stay in Serenje.
Monday, March 23, 2009
Monday, March 16, 2009
I got to hang out with the orphans one last time on Saturday, they aren't any less cute than when I got here. I think this last time was the most fun we've had together. There was a lot of laughing, which can never be a bad thing. I literally was swarmed by them...we played this game where they all jump on me and pull my arms and legs, trying to make me fall over. I seriously wanted to steal them all and bring them home with me. I hope that I was able to show them God, and to show them love.
Construction is still moving along nicely. I keep thinking about how different it is than when I got there. The roof is being put on the last building and we're getting closer to the finish line. Now the main tasks are to finish plastering, to paint, and to do electrical and plumbing work. I hope I was of good help in doing the construction.
I did the Bible Study with the workers every day for my last week (I usually only shared twice a week). I also visited some at their homes, which was a very big deal to them. I also spent a lot of time with Sunday my last 2 weeks here. We hung out almost every day...that was a hard goodbye. I hope I was able to impact his life and the lives of the other workers.
I also got to preach in Church one last time yesterday. I've come to know more people in Serenje than I ever thought I would. At this point I never crossed town with out greeting several different friends. In my time here I was able to share the Gospel with literally hundreds of people directly and indirectly, I hope it made it into their hearts.
I also felt that I accomplished all the other objectives I had here, and I hope I did good work for Cornerstone and Brookside churches. But more than all of this, I truly experienced God. I'm so thankful for this experience and everything He's done in my life. I'm just in awe of how phenomenal He is. I love Him and I want everyone to know Him...I don't know what else to say.
Please check back, I'll be posting one more time before I fly out tomorrow.
Monday, March 9, 2009
I reminded our construction workers this morning that I'm leaving in about a week...I'll miss them a lot, and I could tell they'll miss me too. I've also been trying to hang out with my good friend Sunday almost every day since I'm leaving soon. He keeps telling me how I can't leave and he's going to steal me and keep me here. He tells me every day that the time is going too fast and he'll miss me when I leave. I feel the same, we've become very good friends...it'll be hard to leave. Navice keeps telling me I need to stay longer too, I told Him that my mom doesn't like that idea.
So this is my last week in Serenje. As I've said so many times recently, I can't believe it's time to go back already. This may seem weird, but I've decided that I won't be using internet the rest of this week. So I'm cutting off my contact through the blog and email with your side of the planet. Feel free to continue emailing me, but I won't be reading and replying until I'm in Lusaka getting ready to come back to Omaha. God made it very clear to me that I need to do this...I want to focus on Him and my time left here. Thank you everyone for all your prayers and all of your support. For those who have been asking, I'm due to arrive in Omaha on Wednesday, March 18th at 12:49 PM.
Monday, March 2, 2009
My brother Graham made a good suggestion for the blog, so I now introduce to you…
Jack’s Top Ten Favorite things about Serenje, Zambia…
10) The Rainy Season. A lot of sun and a lot of rain…to me, it’s a perfect balance.
9) The landscape…amazing views…enough said.
8) There’s a Chess Club, I bet you didn’t expect that! And yes, of course I played.
7) The extremely bumpy dirt roads that my Hyundai Elantra would never be able to pass…driving in America will always seem dull.
6) The market…you never know just what you’re going to find.
5) Learning Bemba…Kulumbanya Lesa Yesu Kristu mulubushi wandi!
5b) Listening to the Zambians praise and worship God in their own music and language.
4) Navice and his heart for wanting to help people and follow God.
3) All my friends here…especially my good friend Sunday.
2) The kids…what’s the word for too much cuteness?
1) God’s presence…He’s just as active here as He is anywhere…and He’s amazing!
PRAYER REQUESTS: I just can’t seem to stop that clock from ticking, pray that I will be focused and intentional as my time here winds down…this week I’ll be doing a lot of meeting with school officials and exploring the way the system works here, pray that I would be able to work well with the school’s leaders and make progress, and that I understand what it will take to hopefully get some of the orphans into school soon…pray for my family, cause I love them and can’t wait to see them again and share with them. Thanks.
Special Note to Tribe: Hey guys! So I was trying to fall asleep last night, and I felt like a little kid on Christmas Eve…I was too excited about being back at Tribe and seeing you all again. I’m jealous that I’ve missed so much of what’s been going on in Tribe for 2009. I promise I’ll share all of my experiences from over here if you share your experiences from over there with me. Deal? The only problem is that I’ve been trying so hard to learn Bemba that I might forget how to use English. I think my grammar and writing skills are already fading…anyways, me miss you lots, see you fast. Love you guys!
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Two nights ago the District Commissioner had us all over for dinner. Comparatively, he's similar to a Mayor or a Governor, or somewhere in between. At the end of the night he was thanking us before we left, and he said, "because of you I have seen what is possible, I have seen hope." Hope has taken on a whole new meaning to me over here. I've seen people here who really need hope, and I've been seeing God inspiring hope in Serenje, and I know it will only grow from here.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
For those of you that didn't know, I was able to talk to the Brookside congregation over the phone during their Sunday morning services, so that was really cool. I could hear you guys worshipping just before I was on to talk, and it made me miss Brookside. But, I’m certainly not saying I’m ready to leave Zambia. Actually, I’m worried about how soon my time will be up here! I do miss my friends and family back home though, but I feel like I’ll always be torn…no matter where I am I’ll miss my friends on the other side of the planet.
Anyways, so my prayer request is that I’ll use my time to it’s fullest potential, that I make the most impact I can in what little time I have left, and that I would fully let God lead me in these last few weeks. Thanks!
P.S. Questions? If you have any questions about anything and everything, email them to me at email@example.com. That way, I can get an answer before I leave to things that I never would have thought of to ask. So email your questions about construction, orphans, churches, government, culture, life, or whatever’s on your mind.
Monday, February 16, 2009
This week Navice and I will be visiting the homes of the orphans we have registered within Serenje. There are others in the surrounding areas of Teta and Kamena, but for now we're just visiting here in town. One purpose is to survey their living situation. All orphans are living with a caretaker who may or may not be in a good position to watch over them. We want to make sure that each child is safe and being provided with basic needs. We are also gathering information on their education: are they in school, what grade are they in, or should they be in, do they need supplies, etc. Chris Ihle from Brookside has put together a plan to hopefully put all the orphans into school, so I hope to make some progress to get the ball rolling with that program in my last month.
Also, as many of you know, Dr. Brian Finley from Brookside has come for a couple weeks with another doctor and nurse (Abbie and Karin). They've only been here a short time, but they are already making an impact. I took Brian to a few of our workers' houses to check them out. One was Clint and his wife (they are the ones I wrote about who lost their child). We also visited a worker and his wife who just successfully had a baby. She delivered from home, which is not uncommon here, and they also let me name the baby...crazy! It was really encouraging to watch Brian, to see his gift at work. It amazed me to see him be able to understand the situation and give them answers and comfort. It also reminded me once again of our amazing privilege in America to have such a high quality of medical attention.
I've gathered our medical visitors' thoughts on the hospital here. It's severely understaffed and limited in its capabilities, but the staff is doing a great job for what they have. It's probably not what a lot of people think of...a grass hut with no medical knowledge. But it is a decently functioning hospital with intelligent staff. The unfortunate part is that they are very limited and crippled by circumstances. They've seen quite a bit of death in their short time here. I hate to share this...but one of the orphans passed away last week, cause unknown. That's hard to think about, but it's simply just the reality here, and you can't ignore reality.
Well, I can't end on such a depressing note. There are many amazing things happening here too. Abbie typed up something to share with you all, I hope you like it:
Journey to Serenje
My name is Abigail Ihrke. I am Family Practice Doctor and I am currently working with Dr. Brian Finley and Karin Ashley (a nurse) here in Serenje Zambia. Jack has graciously allowed me to tell you a bit of my story on his blog!
My journey to Serenje started many years ago. I have wanted to be a missionary ever since I was very young but it wasn’t until I was freshman in high school that I went with John Alford and Brookside Church to Tampico Mexico. I still remember very clearly my first glimpse of true poverty. I don’t even have to close my eyes to see the look on the little girls face as she looked at me through the broken walls of her house. I could feel her asking for something…for food, for clothing, for hope that her future would be better. And my heart was broken. I cried out to the Lord asking what my role would be. I wanted to give something to make the gospel a reality. I could hear her say “yes, Jesus loves you- you are a rich white American, how do I know that he loves me?” At that point in time I had no answer to her question.
Through out high school this question was forever in the back of my mind. What would my role on the mission field be? In AP biology I started to think that I could be a doctor- this would be a concrete way to show Gods love to a hurting and dying world. Through college I pursued a degree that would prepare me for medical school and traveled to different mission stations to see if I liked missionary medicine- I loved it!
Fourteen years and many long hours of study later I am a doctor and spending three short weeks in Serenje, Zambia. I am continually impressed with the beauty of the African people and the vastness of the medical and spiritual need. Serenje has a thriving body of Christ, but the church is still dyeing of malaria, HIV and anemia. It is not an easy thing to do medicine here. As much as I know that many babies will not survive and that childbirth is a dangerous thing, the reality is still heart breaking. Regardless of the emotional cost, I am blessed to serve here. I look forward to the time when I can be full time in Africa!
Thank you to Brookside for allowing me to go on a mission trip as a high school student. I have no words to express the impact that trip had on my life! Blessings to you as you continue to support Pastor Navice and his work here. If you want to hear more medical news, I am also blogging at daktariihrke.blogspot.com. I look forward to sharing more of my experience with you!
That's cool to hear...and God is doing plenty of amazing things over here too. Sorry this is such a long post and it's with no pictures, but I promise you pictures galore coming soon. Thanks for your love and support!
Monday, February 9, 2009
Some of you know that I had been hoping to start a friendship with a young man named Sunday. On one of my first few days in Serenje, Navice asked me to disciple him. My brother reminded me that I hadn’t really given any updates on our friendship since I first arrived, so here goes.
The first few weeks I didn’t have much time to get to know Sunday, but in the last month we’ve become very good friends. He’s our farm manager for the Hope Center, and he’s about a year older than I am. We meet many times a week for a Bible study time, but also just to hang out. Usually we discuss a verse that we assigned ourselves to read, then we talk about other God and faith topics. We also talk about life, and of course we’ve been getting to know each other more and more. Our friendship is really just getting better and better as the time goes on. Every time we get together we are more comfortable with each other and we have more fun. I think I’ve been able to be a great voice of truth to him and to help him with his spiritual growth too. It’s crazy how I know I’m going to miss many people I’ve come to know here when I go back to the States, just like I miss many of you now. I have a feeling Sunday and I will have a life long friendship, at least I hope so.
Other things are going well here. Construction is coming along well, we’re working very hard. I hung out with a bunch of the orphans the other day too. We played soccer, which they call football. I’ll summarize how that went…they’re amazing and I was gasping for air. It was tons of fun. I really enjoyed playing with them and loving on them…it was great. Thanks everyone for keeping up with me and for your prayers!
Prayer Requests: Navice is holding pastor training this week for about 35 pastors from the surrounding areas, pray for details to go smoothly, and that they would not only be able to learn a lot in a short amount of time, but that the outcome would go beyond knowledge and into action…I’ll be sharing with the pastors tomorrow morning too, what will I say? I guess we’ll see…the Bible Study with the workers, we do it Tuesday and Thursday mornings and we cover many topics and questions...my great friendship with Sunday…and last, my family who I miss and love…a lot!
Sunday, February 1, 2009
Second is the Bath House. There is a boys’ side and a girls’ side, each side having three sinks, three toilets, and three showers. Although it may seem very simple to us, it is very high quality, especially when compared to the rest of Serenje. It is spacious, and it will have running water and lighting. The fact that the children will be able to bathe properly is very significant, considering that hygiene can be very poor here.
Third is the Storage Building. Equipment and supplies will be stored in there, and probably food as well. It will also be used like a garage, for working on anything necessary. We will be using it as a base of operation for completing the rest of the construction. We have been using a storage building across town, but this will be a much better place to store supplies and work from once it is finished.
The fourth building is the Guest House, which will be used for short term teams that come over from Brookside and Cornerstone. The three buildings that Brookside is funding have been given priority, so progress on the Guest House has just recently begun. The buildings are much different than what we’re used to at home. They are built with cement blocks from the ground up, with steel window and door frames. Then the roofs are put up with wood trusses and rafters, and steel roof tiles. Wood is not used in building often here, because termites pose a serious threat, so all wood must be painted completely and carefully with a preservative and termite repellent. The inside and outside walls are then covered with plaster (similar to concrete or mortar) before being painted. All the buildings will also have plumbing, running water, and electricity, so those are installed along the way. Then there are finishing things such as installing the ceilings, lights, switches, sockets, sinks, toilets, breakers, etc. There are many more details, so all of you construction guys can feel free to email me questions and comments. Because we are in Africa, the processes of construction are much more limited, so it takes plenty of time. Almost everything is done by hand, from filling in and compacting the foundations with dirt, to mixing, pouring, and leveling concrete for the floors. It can also be difficult to get supplies, so we have to be thinking ahead and ready for what’s next. Zack, from Cornerstone, is in charge of the overall construction. It’s obvious that he is well qualified for overseeing that everything is done well. So that’s a quick summary of the construction details. Here is a link that I posted at the beginning of the month of some pictures I had taken so far. I will be posting more recent ones soon, so be sure to check back for those. http://www.flickr.com/photos/33961491@N06/
Thursday, January 29, 2009
At the end of last week Novice and I distributed food to a total of about 150 orphans. The biggest group was out in Kamena, about 2 hours on a bumpy dirt road from Serenje. It was overwhelming to see so many children who had lost their parents. Novice has worked hard to try to get all the orphans with a good “caretaker,” so they can at least have a place to live. When we distribute the food, all the orphans come with their caretakers to collect it, so it was quite a big crowd. Before we distributed the food, I gave a brief message, so it was pretty crazy to stand on top of a truck and talk to over 200 people. I threw in a few Bemba words that I’ve learned along the way, so they really liked that. I think they liked the message I shared, and they were all very, very grateful for the help they were getting. The cuteness of the kids hasn’t faded at all.
I’m continuing to see the harsh realities of life here. I now know several workers who have lost parents, siblings, and their own children…with three more deaths this week. It’s difficult to watch, I’m definitely being challenged through it. I regularly have people ask me for assistance…I regularly have people ask me for a job…I regularly have people ask me for food. It can seem very hopeless at times…but there is hope. That’s why God brought me here, and why we’re building an orphanage, and why many of you gave to the cause…because there is hope.
Prayer Requests: My time is about half up here, there is a lot I want to do, pray for me to maximize my efforts and use my time wisely…for the Bible Study we have two mornings a week with the workers…for the parentless children, that they would be loved…for my growing friendship and discipleship with Sunday.
Friday, January 23, 2009
Tomorrow, Novice and I will be distributing food to over 100 orphans, and I'll be speaking on Grace, so please pray for us.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Sunday, January 18, 2009
The next morning I was driving the van to the site with Zack and James, and as we passed the hospital we saw Clint standing out front. I pulled over thinking that maybe they were being released now and said, "Good morning Clint, how's it goin'?" His response caught me off guard, "Umm...well sir, my baby has passed away." Wow...I absolutely did not see that coming. My first words to Clint were somewhere along the lines of "I'm so sorry." His response was almost even more shocking, just two words... "It happens." It wasn't as if he didn't care or was emotionally unaffected, but it was that he fully knew that this was a real possibility of how the pregnancy would end. It was almost as if they had accepted it before it happened.
We asked if there was anything we could do. "Yes," he said, "could I borrow a shovel, and perhaps get a ride to the mountain to burry my child?" I went with Clint, his wife, and a few family members to the Children's Cemetery on the side of a small mountain later that morning. It was such a weird feeling…I didn't really know what to say. I helped Clint dig the very small grave, it was very quiet. After finishing, they let me pray.
Those two words... "It happens"...have been following me around ever since. It's hard to imagine how normal it is to them that this happened. Can you imagine living in a place where that is common enough that people aren't surprised by it? Can you imagine having to ask to borrow a shovel, 'cause you don't have one but you want to burry your child? Sorry to have such a depressing entry, but it’s a harsh reality here that I thought I would share.
Saturday, January 10, 2009
Working with all the guys is going really well, I’ve now learned all their names. I would go around the site trying to say every one’s name, and I finally got them all right. I’ve been continuing to get to know each of them more and more, so it’s been great. Next week I’m going home with my friend Goshen after work and he’s teaching me how to make Nshima, which is the staple food around here, they eat it every day. I’m also planning on starting either a Bible study or a morning devotional a couple times a week at the job site with anyone who wants to participate. I plan on starting this week, but I still need to think it through a little first.
The progress on construction was a little slower this week because we’ve been getting too much rain. But although we don’t want rain, there are many people here who need it for their crops… so I’d rather be slowed down a little while they get the rain they need. We still need to fill in some of the foundations in order to lay the concrete in some parts. In other parts the concrete is laid and it’s pretty cool to see the walls going up. We’re also going to start on the roof for one of the buildings this week.
This weekend we came to Lusaka to pick up two more guys from Cornerstone Church. I’m really excited about it because with the extra help on construction, I’ll be freed up to do some more ministry stuff with Novice, local churches, orphans, etc. Plus, I always enjoy meeting new people. Thanks for your prayers and support! I hope all is going well in Omaha, I miss you all.
Special Tribe Note: Hey guys! I was so jealous that you got to start Tribe up again the other day without me. Tribe is honestly one of the things I miss the most! The other day I wasn’t feeling well, so I went and sat in the van by myself and read all your “Tribe Heart’s Jack” cards to cheer myself up. That was the second time I’ve read through them all, and they were just as great, so thanks again for those. Anyways, I’m really excited about Experience Night next week, it sounds like its ganna be awesome, I hope you get a lot out of it (you should take notes!). Miss you!
PRAYER REQUESTS: For me as I start up this Bible study with the workers, that I would know how to lead it well, and they would engage in it…for the progress of construction to keep moving forward efficiently…for my attitude, that I would be positive, compassionate, and humble…for all the relationships I’ve been making, that we would impact each other’s lives. (Never prayed before? It doesn’t hurt to just try).
Sunday, January 4, 2009
We went to Lusaka this weekend to get some more supplies for the construction. On the way there, we took Novice's son, Festus, with us. He's starting his next semester of college next week at the University in Lusaka. The drive is about 5 hours or so, so we talked about all kinds of things (as I've said before, I'm a talker).
Festus is my age, and he's very smart. He knows a lot about the world and Zambia's place in it. Basically, it’s not as if he is isolated and knows nothing beyond Zambia. (I say that because I think often times we might think that everyone in Africa is very isolated and uneducated). He has heard a lot about America, but he wasn't sure if the things he's heard were true or not, so we spent a lot of time talking about it. By the end of our conversation, he was amazed at the great potential America has...he was laughing in near disbelief at some of the things I told him.
He loved hearing about our enormous network of multi-lane roads and highways, where we can pass through a city without stopping and potholes get fixed immediately (here it takes literally years and years, even on the most major of roads)...he was shocked to hear that we had high quality free education up to the age of 18, and that a bus would pick us up if we lived too far away, yet children don't like to go to school and some even drop out! (read that one again Tribers)...he also thought it was so great that you could take out a loan to pay for college or a house, and you didn't even have to pay it back immediately (loans are few and far between here, we told him how badly Americans abuse that concept too)...we told him that a majority of people have a car, and everyone learns to drive when they're a teenager (many people never learn to drive here, and certainly most don’t ever have a car)...he asked what our staple food was, and it was difficult to answer, because in America we eat different kinds of food all the time, usually whatever we feel like having is available...perhaps most fascinating to him was that most Americans can get a job very quickly and easily, but often times we won't settle for something we think is below us (here it can take months and years to find a job, even for someone that has a college degree, literally...years! Daily, we have people coming to our door to ask for a job)...also, most Americans never have to worry about electricity or running water, for the most part if you live in a home it has electricity, not the case here...we talked for hours and the list goes on.
I think Zack and I were both thinking the same thing...how incredibly blessed Americans are, despite our incredible abuse of these privileges. Festus asked if there was anything wrong with America too. We told him that many of us Americans have come to think that all these amazing privileges we have are our rights. We think it's our right to own a car, it’s our right to have a house, it’s our right to have amazing infrastructure, it's our right to get a loan, etc. Our economic crises in America is caused because we all try to live outside our means (even though living within our means would still put us above most of the world in terms of wealth)…the economic crisis here is that there are simply less jobs and opportunities than there are people. Even in our "economic crisis", Americans are amazingly well off...this was a definite reminder to that. (My point isn't that we should feel bad about how blessed we are, but maybe that we should keep a healthy perspective, not that I'm innocent either).
It was also a reminder of something else. I recently listened to a sermon by Ed Noble where he said that advertising is built on the idea that we think we could be happier, and that there are things we need to make us happier. It’s even clearer to me over here that no material possession or form of entertainment is truly fulfilling, those aren’t ever going to be the source of our happiness…ever! There are many many people here who have very little, but they are so truly happy. What do you think they’re happy about? I feel like sometimes in America we think it is impossible to be fulfilled without full security in our wealth and comfort. Are you truly fulfilled? Anyways, I’m starting to ramble, sorry.
Our trip to Lusaka went well, we had no delays and we got most of the things we needed, thanks for the prayers. We hope to accomplish a lot on the site this week, so pray for that please! Pray for our obstacles in making progress, that we would overcome them quickly and easily. Thanks all! Email: firstname.lastname@example.org