Thursday, December 27, 2007


Well Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone!

I've had a blog typed up for over a week now, but due to no internet, I have had no chance to send it out! Jessi, Sunda and I had a wonderful Christmas this year (even in spite of having electricity go out for Christmas eve and Christmas morning)! First and foremost we want to thank EVERYONE who sent a card, letter or e-mail our way. It was amazing! One day we went to our post office box to find nearly 25 letters from people all over Brooke County. We even got a whole packet of Christmas letters from a class at Wellsburg Middle School. You all helped make our Christmas very special.
We spent Christmas morning together and then went to a big gathering at our friends, the Colmbrinks. We had a nice dinner and lots of fun running around with Sunda as she chased around every animal in sight (cows, cats, dogs, etc.) The best part was that we obtained full custody of our little girl nearly two weeks ago so we were able to spend the holiday together as a family. We have a few meetings early in January and a final court date until the adoption is totally final! Praise the Lord!
We're working on getting a family pic up, but even now the internet is giving us problems so we'll continue trying...keep a lookout!
We hope and pray that you all had a wonderful time celebrating our Saviors birth and that you all have a great new year. Heiko, a friend of mine here in Zambia, told me about a question that hit him hard a few days back and I'm going to pose that same question to you. The three wisemen each longed for the day they would see their King and when that day finally arrived they each brought him the most precious thing possible: gold, frankenscence and myrhh (probably spelled wrong). So the question we have for all of you followers of Jesus Christ is this...What have you brought your King? Is it your best?
We love you all!
Jake, Jessi and Sunda

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Christmas and Adoption

I don’t know who started the Christmas Card campaign in Wellsburg, WV…but we are extremely grateful! The last three times that Jake and I have been to the post office, we have been flooded with 10+ Christmas cards! We’ve received Christmas cards from people we don’t know very well, from family friends, from community church members, and from a 5th grade class at Wellsburg middle school! We can’t express our gratefulness to those of you who have taken the time to think of us at this time of year. And the pure multitude of those that are thinking of us have us completely overwhelmed and full of appreciation. The farm director, Jeff, joked yesterday that if we keep getting this much mail, we’re going to have to rent our own post office box, because everyone else’s mail won’t fit! So, if you are reading this, thank you very much for your thoughts and wishes…if feels so good to get mail in Africa!

On another exciting note, Jacob is in Lusaka right now meeting with the Social Services Department. If all goes according to plan, he will walk out of the office with a form stating that we have permission to foster Mukansunda (meaning that we have responsibility for her and that she can stay with us full-time) until the adoption proceeding goes through. This is a great thing, and what we have been waiting for. Because as soon as we have permission to take her with us, we can really start embarking on the full-scale bush ministry that we are excited about doing. It’s just crazy the way that God’s perfect timing is not always our idea of perfection.

Two weeks ago, we were feeling in a rut because our tent was stuck in the airport awaiting duty fees, our apartment was still empty because of small problems that kept us from moving in, and we had heard nothing from the States about our homestudy adoption papers. All of a sudden, we received our tent, the apartment was livable, and we got word that our papers had gone through. All at about the same time! And really, we couldn’t have had Sunda stay with us until we had an apartment, and we couldn’t do outreach ministry with Sunda without a tent. So, once again…it’s a good thing He’s God and I’m not. Who knows where my impatience and independence would have ended us up?

Christmas is fastly approaching, but somehow it feels more Christmasy than last year. I want to decorate and bake cookies and watch Christmas movies. Last year, I wanted to go to bed and be woken up when Dec. 25 had past. It will be my first Christmas with an understanding of what work and commitment moms of all ages and races put into the holiday. I guess I’d better start planning ahead! Sugar cookies, here I come!

Just wanted to kick out a short update and let everyone know how grateful we are for the Christmas greetings. And how excited we are about how quickly the adoption process is moving! I will humbly, but boldly, ask you to pray that the process would actually move smoothly without red tape and hoop jumping. And for Sunda, that she would be seamlessly transitioned into our home.

Happy Tuesday, and Happy Christmas Shopping.


I wrote this on Tuesday...couldn't post until Thursday so as of now we have custody of Sunda!!! Praise God! She spent her first night with us last night. :o)

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Come....and Stay!

How incredible to be asked to "come" by the King of kings. This thought has come to my mind several times in the past week. Scriptures where Christ beckons us to approach Him and receive all that we need are hard to fathom. That the Almighty, Uncreated One would allow me to even enter His divine presence is a wonder to begin with; however, I've been reminded that He has called us to an even deeper, more intimate place.
A few years ago I felt a great pull in my spirit to go and spend some alone time with the Lord. I was at my parents home in West Virginia and so I went down to the basement and lay down on the carpet. I really had nothing to say, no prayer requests came to mind, but only a simple desire to be with God. I laid there on my face for maybe ten minutes in silence. The only communication taking place was my heart and God's...His love and my love being exchanged. After some time I decided that I was simply wasting my time and could be doing far better things for God's kingdom than laying on my face on the floor. As I went to get up I had one of the most distinct times of hearing the voice of God in my life. His words were, "Don't leave yet..." Now immediately the reality of God hit me and I spent quite a bit more time on my face thanking God for His love and nearness. This moment has not left me in the past few years and it is not until recently that I've understood it's importance.
The highest aim of God is for union with His people. This union begins when God says come to each and every heart and by His grace we are drawn to Him. However, this is simply the BEGINNING place for that union. The EVEN GREATER call is that God tells us to STAY! How wonderful when someone you love and desire asks you to come and speak with them, but to be constrained to stay is a far greater pleasure. John 15 speaks of this great desire in the heart of God to have His people "abide". To abide is to stay or remain. I'm tired of my "amens" at the end of a prayer translating to "see you later God". There is far more to life than "time with God". There is abiding with God. Never leaving. A constant, life-giving flow of relationship that can be maintained through every daily chore, work activity, and conversation.
The beauty is that it is by God's grace that we can stay. He has made the way for us to come and given us the ability to stay. All we are called to do is admit that we are weak and unable and receive His fresh mercy each morning to believe that His power is enough to conquer our minds and wills and keep us in that Holy of Holies. In that place where the only thing that matters is loving God with all of our being. Loving him with every action, every gesture, every thought, every movement and knowing that we do this because we have received indescribable love from Him! Let me ruin all of your comfort zones right now by saying that there is far more to this life than we are experiencing. We have been created to abide. I may be abiding for one hour a day (on a good day). But I want unbroken fellowship. I'm sure if it becomes our aim and pure goal that God will give us more and more as we humble ourselves before Him. For any of you who are hungry for this, let me give you two books that will truly set you on a good path: Practicing His Presence by Brother Lawrence and Andrew Murray on Prayer by Andrew Murray. Try them in the order I have suggested and you will not be dissapointed (of course use these in conjunction with the greatest book of all...the Bible). I love you all and am praying for God to give you a desire for unbroken fellowship with Him.


Monday, November 26, 2007

A Spot on the Food Network?

In light of the recent Thanksgiving holiday, which we celebrated here with two huge turkeys, I thought I’d tell you about my recent weeks of intense Zambian cooking experiences. I’m not sure if you’re as much of a Food Network fan as I am (when I can get it). But I’m convinced that I’m marketable for a spot. Maybe Rachel Ray can interview me on her talk show about exotic cooking techniques. I’m not sure that power outages are a problem facing the general American public, or if cooking maize meal over the fire is considered exotic. But, hey, it’s different, right?

Last week, I decided that the time had come for me to learn how to make the traditional beverage that is very popular in the Zambian village. Chibwantu,or sweet beer to your average mzungu (white person), is a non-alcoholic maize-based beverage that is especially drunk during rainy season. The men and women carry it with them to the fields to give them a pick me up in the middle of a hot morning. It’s very different from anything that you’ve probably ever tasted. And, as far as my own limited knowledge permits me to say, it doesn’t taste anything like beer.

The pastor’s wife and I embarked on making a huge batch (I mean, if you’re gonna make sweet beer, make sweet beer, right?) We built a big fire and began to cook a porridge of “maize rice” which is just maize pounded into smaller pieces (a bit smaller than rice). The porridge cooks quickly, expands, and binds together. When it finished boiling violently and popping all over the arms of anyone who dared get too close, we removed the huge iron pot from the fire to allow the porridge to cool.

While the porridge cooled, we soaked a root called munkoyo in cool water. The root is dug from the ground and is what gives sweet beer its distinctive flavor. When the porridge cooled, we added the munkoyo water and stirred. After multiple tastings to determine whether the munkoyo had “taken”(never did figure out how you can tell), we added brown sugar for sweetness. I have to say, it was some mighty fine sweet beer. The batch made enough to fit inside an (unused) garbage can and was then distributed among all of my helpers and their families. It was a good experience. And I thought that I had effectively learned how to reproduce the recipe. Unfortunately, I was wrong. I tried to make a smaller batch just this week (without any help) just to see if I could do it. I couldn’t. It tasted terrible. Like rice soaked in fish water. Blech. Janice informed me that I had soaked the munkoyo too long. When we made the sweet beer together, the women looked like they were doing everything so haphazardly. But no, they have a precise method to their madness, one that I didn’t pick up on. So, it’s back to school for me and sweet beer making. Jacob loves sweet beer and was intensely disappointed that my 2nd batch didn’t turn out. I can’t say the same for rest of the missionary crew, who pretty much looks at us like we’re crazy when we say that we enjoy it. We can’t help it, Zambia has gotten into our blood!

Onto other Food Network worthy cooking experiences…

When we stayed in Chabboboma last weekend, I was excited to finally get some real experience cooking Zambian style food out on the fire. Well, the church women had other ideas. They considered it a full and complete insult for us to cook for ourselves, so they took my chicken and cabbages and prepared it for us while we sat waiting. I did convince them that I was capable enough to cook breakfast on my own, and they reluctantly agreed. Little did I realize why…

I should have realized why. I mean, logically, the timing just doesn’t work out. Church starts at nine. I woke up at 6:30. At home, with my running water and stove and shower, I could easily cook a big breakfast, clean up, and shower and dress for church in that amount of time. It wasn’t that I hadn’t cooked on the fire before, it was just that I was never pressed for time before. So, I started the fire at the nearest fire spot (about 30 yards from the house we stayed in) with wet firewood, blowing desperately to get it going. I hauled water to wash out the pots and start the rice. Then, I started the rice while trying to cut onions in my hand (no cutting board). When the rice was finally finished, I set it aside and started to make the tomato/onion gravy to put over it (common Zambian breakfast, and really tasty!) I had brought canned tomatoes to avoid all the chopping. Smart, right? Yep, except for I didn’t bring a can opener. So, I tracked Jake down and had him perform surgery with his knife on our tomato cans. I fried the onions while stirring constantly, praying that they wouldn’t burn on the now blazing fire. Added the tomatoes and some salt, and with a few more minutes of boiling, my gravy was ready! Now all I needed to do was carry the scalding hot pots all the way back to the house. Shoot! I forgot to make tea! Okay, haul the water for tea, set the pot boiling. Carry the food back to the house and set the table. Make the tea, carry it back. Call the men for breakfast. They mosey into the house slowly, chatting about the service from the night before. It’s 8:30 am. I still have to eat, clean up, haul water for a bath, take a bucket bath, and walk to church before 9 o ‘clock. Man, that hauling water and cooking on the fire thing takes a lot of time! No wonder it seems like the Zambians are always running late!

So, after that, I served the food, swallowed some rice and tea, and took a (much needed) bath from a small bucket. I wasn’t on time for church, but no one seemed too concerned. I have a feeling they understood perfectly! So, now I know. Things take much longer out of your own environment and even longer when the firewood is wet. I’ll get up earlier next time. Or, we’ll eat bread. End of story.

Just in case you ever get a hankering for tomato/onion gravy, I’ll give you the recipe. I made it for lunch here at the guest house, and everyone loved it.

1 medium onion (thinly sliced)
1 can diced tomatoes or 3 fresh tomatoes finely chopped
2-3 Tbl. Cooking oil
1 tsp. flour

Fry onions in cooking oil until tender. Add tomatoes. If canned, they will need a short time to cook. If fresh, they’ll need a bit longer. Make a paste with the flour in a bit of water. Add to the gravy mixture and stir constantly until it boils. Boil for a minute so that you don’t a raw flour taste. Add salt (quite a bit). Serve over hot rice. Yum!

Okay, so now you know my struggling cooking experiences…would you like to hear about my one victory? A Zambian friend from the other orphanage on the hill taught me to make “fire bread.” Fire bread is a sweet bread that can be cooked in a pot, whether on a fire or on a brazier. A brazier is a tiny circular metal grill just big enough for one pot. You build a charcoal fire in the top of it and then set the pot on to cook. Most Zambians use braziers when it’s raining and the firewood is wet, or if they just need to cook a one-pot meal.

Here is the recipe for fire bread, which will come in handy for me in the bush when I don’t have an oven! I made it for dinner the other night, and the visitors couldn’t believe that it was cooked over the fire. It comes out beautifully moist and sweet.

Start a charcoal fire and let it get very hot and burn down.

5 heaping handfuls flour
1 heaping Tbl. Baking powder
1 tsp. salt
5 Tbl. Sugar
3 Tbl. Cooking oil

2 cups water or 2 eggs and 11/2 cups water

Mix the first 4 ingredients. Add oil. Mix well. Add water or eggs and water and mix again. Wipe a big pot with oil on the inside and a bit of dishsoap on the outside. Put the bread batter in the pot. Cover the pot with a large, flat lid. The lid must be able to hold coals on the top. Empty most of the hot coals from the brazier and put them on the lid. Place the pot on the hot brazier and make sure the coal-covered lid fits with no gaps. Let bake for 30-40 minutes. The bread is finished when it is golden brown on the tops and sides. (Carefully) take the lid off of the pot and remove the pot from the brazier to cool. After cooling 10 minutes remove the bread from the pot. Cut like a pie. There you go…fire bread!

So, I have had quite a time learning to cook like a Zambian. It’s really quite an art even though their “cuisine” isn’t very extensive. The trick is to learn from a Tonga woman, and then sneak away and do it by yourself. Because as long as there is a Tonga woman around, she will take the spoon right out of your hand and tell you, “No! Not like that!”

As all those Food Network stars say: “Happy cooking!” Let me know if you talk to Rachel Ray, I think I could really boost her ratings. Ha! ;)

Monday, November 19, 2007


Greetings again in the name of Jesus! Jess and I just returned yesterday from our first contact in Chabbobboma (i realize it was spelled wrong before). We had an unbelievable time! The place was absolutely beautiful, full of baobab trees and rolling hills. We stayed at a Pilgrim Wesleyan Church guest house for the night and were blessed to meet many strong believers in that area. We had the opportunity to visit with the head chief of the area and share the vision we have for Chabbobboma. He was very receptive and welcomed us to come back and visit him any time we pleased. Having the blessing of the chief is very important. After this we went to Lake Karibe and were taken out by boat to see how vast this lake really is. They called it the "blue sky that extends forever". In the evening we held a worship service for many of the school children who stayed on site and it was full of dancing, singing and words of encouragement from our anointed Zambian brother, Tom. We discussed with the pastor and district superintendent about whe areas that really needed the gospel and he told us of a few places that were heavy into demon worship (satanists). We will be praying about setting up camp in one of those areas on our next trip to see how God's light can break through! Our sleep at night would have been nice except for the extreme heat and a huge storm that came for a couple hours. We woke up to find a scorpion the size of my fist right outside of our door (they warned us that the snakes and scorpions are bad in this area...that was a bit unnerving). We had some very well prepared nshima for dinner along with chicken and cabbage that we provided. In the morning our church service went really well. I spoke from John 10:10 "The thief comes to kill, steal and destroy. But I (Jesus) have come that you may have life and life abundantly." They were told about how we are all in a war whether we like it or not. There is a being, Satan, who is hates us and is out to kill us and another greater being, God, who love us and desires to save us. We discussed how you cannot serve two masters. You must choose who you will serve with the understanding that one has already won the battle! (tough choice right!?) We discussed how our flesh or sinful nature is in rebellion to what we really are called to do with our lives and nothing short of the life of Christ in us can set us free. We had people come up and confess their sin and commit their lives to Jesus Christ that very morning. Many of them confessed to being "tatooed" by witch doctors for "protection from evil spirits". Little did they know that those tatooes were opening them up to more evil! We taught them the word and led them through a time of repenting of those things and trusting in Jesus Christ for protection. One woman approached us afterwards and told us how her husband had died a few years ago. Since that time there was an old man who was a relative that was supposed to take care of her. Instead of doing so, he came and beat her with a club one morning and ever since then she had been having dreams of her husband and this old man coming and doing terrible things to her. She believed that the old man had "witched" her because everytime he came around there is something that would crawl inside of her skin. We prayed over her, shared with her about the love and power of Jesus Christ and told her that no witch doctor will help her from these things. She spoke with the pastor and he agreed to accompany her to her home and pray over her home and children as well. We also prayed that God would allow justice to be done with the terrible things this old man was doing (she already took him to court and he bribed his way out of getting into trouble). So you can see, we are dealing with some very serious stuff. It is utterly essential that we have your prayers plowing the ground as we enter into these places. Praise God for the body of Christ. That we NEED each other and that no one has a greater ministry than the other. We love you all and ask that your prayers would continue with us as ours continue with you. Until all have heard the gospel of Jesus and seen it lived among them...Grace and Peace to you!


Sunday, November 4, 2007

The need for outreach in the bush!

This past Sunday we made our second outreach trip into a place called Nyawa. It is roughly two and a half hours from our farm and the only reason it takes that long is because of the road (if you want to call it that) you have to use. We had a warm greeting from the Pilgrim Wesleyan church in the area and after sharing with them our vision they were begging us to come back next week! These people had a hunger for God's word and were literally begging us to not delay on our return. We took Tom and Lena again and they did a wonderful job. Tom, as always, got them up singing and praising the Lord and shared some encouraging words with them while Lena took the children aside and made scripture memory cards for them to read while we are gone. I spoke a message on building a house for the Lord and talked about how the first process is always "digging" when you build a house. You must go down if you want to go up. Before laying a foundation you have to dig into the earth to lay the footer. This digging is represented by us exposing our lives to God and asking him to "till the ground" in our hearts until we are ready to receive His life and His nature in us. Pray that God breaks this people of Nyawa so that their hearts are prepared to receive Jesus Christ.
On the way home I was discussing with Tom about several different deep areas of the bush. Our next trip will be to Chapa Boma and this place is about as deep as you get in Zambia. Tom was telling me that the people there still break their teeth in order to resemble cattle, men still shove bones and wood through their noses and lips, and witchcraft is far more regular than in most places. People who want to travel but have no money will go to the witch doctor who will in turn perform a spell and lay a coat on the ground. The person wanting to travel will then step on the coat and "teleport to the destination". Now let me remind you that we are dealing with the physical realm here. This is spiritual warfare at a height we aren't accustomed to. You can't come here ready to fight with flesh and blood, but you must come against the authorities and principalities in the heavenly realms. (Read Ephesians 6 and 2 Cor. 10:3-6). Places like Chapa Boma follow practices where the way to determine who killed a man is to set the deceased against a tree and wait until he turns to look at the murderer. I say all of this to let you know that the light of Christ is greater than all the darkness in the world! Place after place has held these traditions and the truth of God has penetrated areas all over Zambia and led people to put their faith and hope in Jesus Christ. Please be praying for us even now as we prepare for our first trip to Chapa Boma. Pray for protection in the spiritual realm, pray for the hearts of the people to be prepared, pray that the rain hasn't completely washed out the road yet so that we can get into the area we are going. We will keep you updated as to how things are coming along. Your prayers are enabling us to make the difference. Thank you. (I've attached a picture of Sunda so you can all see how she is doing...she's enjoying her new drum!)


I haven’t experienced a whole lot of true tragedy in my life. Even being here, in a 3rd world country, with lots of exposure to life and death, I continue to remain fairly untouched by true heartache. True heartache, of course, being the kind of heartache that makes your heart ache, not just people around you.

The hardest death I’d every experienced up to this point was my Grandma Cain (my mom’s mom) this summer. I wasn’t angry or bitter, but just so, so, so sad. My mom and I decided at my grandma’s funeral that we really didn’t like the idea of the glossy American memorial event. It all seemed so fake and surreal. I mean, instead of grieving and spending time rehashing memories with our closest family, we were making funeral arrangements and receiving guests. Yet, to us, that’s what’s considered normal. You make things pretty. You play nice music. You rush around cleaning and making casseroles. Don’t get me wrong. My grandma was honored in her death and it was absolutely wonderful to see my family together and spend time with them. It just somehow felt a little…off. The best part was that my mom, my brothers Sam and Henry, my sister Jayne, and I got to hang out for a whole 4 days.

Last year, here in Zambia, I experienced the death of a young child (13 months). He died after I had cared for him consistently for 3 weeks. He had failure-to-thrive syndrome and just didn’t get any better. I never saw him smile or laugh, and he rarely reached for me or cried when I left the room. It was a sad day when he passed away. But somehow, it was comforting that he didn’t have to suffer anymore.

This week, a tragedy of a whole new sort hit my heart, and the heart of the entire community here. The head housekeeper, Janice, lost her youngest son, Caleb. Janice has been a close friend of mine and Jacob’s since she came to live and work here over a year ago. She is in her early 40’s, speaks perfect English, and is my “go-to” lady for all the questions I have about living and ministering in Zambia. She is an unbelievably strong Christian, daughter to the famous Zambian evangelist Rev. Mwiikisa, whom Jake and I have mentioned often. Her husband Albert is also an amazing man, and up to this week they had 5 beautiful, strong children. Caleb was just about a year old when he came here, and I used to carry him on my back when Janice needed someone to take him off her hands for awhile. Caleb’s first real word was, “Jacobo” (Jacob), and he would squirm from anyone’s arms to run to Jacob’s, and Jake would fling him high in the air. Just this past weekend, on our outreach, we traveled with Janice and Caleb to Siachitema, which is Janice’s home village. Caleb fell asleep in my lap on the way there, and slept next to me that night. I dressed him the next morning and swatted the flies away from him in church. Me and Janice and the rest of the team had an awesome time in Siachitema.

Monday night, Caleb got ahold of some mouthwash with Bedadine (??? not sure if this is right). He sent it flinging over his shoulder, which is when Janice realized that he had gotten the top off and at least taken a taste. Sal was rushed to the scene, pronounced him healthy as long as nothing got into his lungs, and we went back to our Monday night meeting. Monday at midnight, Sal got a knock on the door. Caleb was expelling massive amounts of mucus. That’s when we realized that Caleb had swallowed much more of the liquid than we had originally thought, and that it had also aspirated into his lungs. Without a PICU (Pedatric Intensive Care Unit), there was nothing that could be done. And even with one, there may have been little help. He died at 3 am on the way to Zimba hospital.

Lisa woke me at 6am to tell me the news. I wailed like an African woman. I had never been so shocked. Never had someone so close, so young, so quickly…been gone.

Needless to say, it’s been a tough week. I was so worried about Janice that I could barely keep from seeing her. We went to the funeral yesterday, or should I say, the burial. It was an experience. My first African funeral. And oddly enough, it seemed to make a lot more sense than the ones I’ve been to at home.

I made my way into the women’s hut, where everyone was wailing and crying. I greeted each woman in the family and stopped to cry with each one before sitting straight-legged on the floor and crying for a long time. As people arrived, they passed through the women’s hut, and they also stopped to cry and sit with Janice. Then, the relatives brought food into the hut. We ate. We spoke quietly and talked about Caleb’s antics and the best memories we had of him. Janice recounted his death countless times. They brought the casket into the women’s hut. The women wailed loudly as his belongings were placed inside and he was wrapped in a blanket. Janice gave an old blanket. “His soul is not there anyway,” she said. We stumbled out into the light and the pastor gave a short message. It made sense. We prayed. They called for the people to come and pass by the half-open casket. I wasn’t going to go. But Janice said, “Come, Jess, let’s go for the body-viewing.” So I went. Janice led the whole funeral in a song. I didn’t understand all the words, but I know she changed the verses to say, “my baby, Caleb.” We processed to the gravesite.

Caleb’s two older sisters were devasted. They wailed on the way to the gravesite. The women around them comforted them and carried them so that they didn’t have to bear their own full weight. We arrived at the gravesite. The coffin was placed in the grave. A member of the family spoke. The pastor spoke. Then, the women started to sing, and the men started to fill the grave. There were only 3 shovels, but when one man would start to shovel, another would interrupt silently within 30 seconds or so, taking over where he left off. Taking the burden from each other. When the grave was completely filled, the women moved forward in song and together got on their knees. They patted the mounded grave to the beat of their singing so that the dirt became smooth. The pastor called families forward to place flowers on the grave. When Janice and Albert came forward, Janice sang declaringly, “It is well, It is well, with my soul.” The siblings cried. When it was finished, the women sang joyfully. We walked back to the village together. The women gathered again to pray. We said goodbye to Janice, and went home, leaving her there with her family for a few more days.

The Bible says that Jesus came to give everlasting life to those who believe in Him. The Bible also says that the kingdom of God belongs to the children. I know that Caleb is in heaven. His mom and dad know that too.

There are a lot of things that Zambians are uneducated about or don’t understand. However, after yesterday, I’m pretty convinced that they understand death and the grieving process a little better than I do. When my mom and I were going through the process of my grandma’s funeral, we came up with a mantra. We said, “When we die, cremate us, then have a party. Die, burn, party.” I may have changed my mind. (Sorry mom.) I would want my family to be together for as long as possible. To grieve together. To not have to worry about fancy caskets or song selections. But to weep and to sing and to be encouraged. To take the burden from each other. To take turns shoveling.

I think I mentioned before that things are a lot more “real” here. A lot grittier and sometimes harder to swallow. I hope this wasn’t too morbid, but sometimes a terrible tragedy makes you think that way. I am grateful for life today. And I pray that I can continue to be this thankful every day that I take breath, for as long as I do.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Siachatema Outreach

Jessi and I just returned this past weekend from our first overnight outreach in Siachetema. Siachatema is located two and a half hours from our farm and it is a very strategic point for us because it has deep foundations in Christianity. In the early 1900’s, a young woman named Ms. Peyton, packed up her belongings in the States and made way for Africa to be a witness for Jesus Christ. She planted herself in the Siachetema community and immediately began taking care of orphans and raising them up in the Lord. Many of you have heard of Reverend Mwikissa, the 87 year old evangelist who taught at our Bible school. He was one of Ms. Peyton’s orphans. She seemed to leave quite a mark on this community, which has put out many strong leaders and gifted men and women. Our reason for making Siachetema our first area of focus is because we believe God has anointed leaders there who will be catalysts for revival in Zambia.
Our two days were well spent as we met with some key leaders (District Superintendents of churches, clinic officers, pastors, etc.) We brought two wonderful Zambians with us on the journey who will continue to accompany us on these trips. Lena is a widow that lives on our farm with 2 children and she has a big heart for discipling children and women. She was one of our discipleship students last year and will be acting as a teacher and translator on our outreaches. Tom is a 21 year old young man with a big heart for evangelism. He has been traveling on his own throughout Zambia after graduating from grade 12 and preaching the gospel wherever he can. He has a huge passion for seeing youth stand strong in the Lord and he believes very strongly in the vision to establish leaders in the rural areas.
Jessi and Lena stayed in an extra room in Rev. Mwikissa’s home and Tom and I tried out a new 2-man canvas tent I purchased . It is much smaller than the one we are bringing in from South Africa, but it was perfect for a two-day trip. We enjoyed some good traditional food and were even invited to attend a traditional wedding involving some friends we know. One interesting part of the wedding was when it came time to present the gifts. Instead of having a table everyone set them on they set a table up in the middle of all the attendees and asked each person to individually come up and present their gift. If it was 4,000 kwacha (one dollar) then they announced, “4,000 kwacha has been given by…” or if it was three new pots then they announced “three new pots have been given by…!” I could just imagine us doing something like that for a wedding at home…yea right!
Sunday morning I preached on God’s plan for building leaders in Siachatema using scriptures in Isaiah 37:30-32 and John 12:23-28. We spoke of how God desires to raise up men with “deep roots and good fruits” and that the way to becoming a leader is by dying to self and coming alive to the heart of God. Several men and women stayed after the service to share how they were impacted by the message and they felt they were called to be leaders in this thing. That was a huge blessing and confirmation. I also got to visit with a lady who I had prayed for about 10 months ago. She was the one who was not able to walk and after prayer she was totally healed and joined the dance team. She told me that from that day she has walked with no problem and no pain! Hallelujah, we serve a miracle working God!
By the end of it Jessi and I felt like we could have stayed forever (with the exception of missing Mukansunda like crazy) which brings us to our next topic! As most of you know God has led us to adopt a beautiful 20 month old Zambian orphan named Sunda. We are waiting for the final paper to arrive from our home study the States and then we will be going ahead full force with the adoption in Zambia. For all of you who have been asking about our little girl, she is doing very well. She is a non-stop talker who seems to pick up new words every minute (she has now mastered water, mama, daddy, kitty, cheetah, bee, bird, mmmm, yummy, and many others). She loves to dance and sing especially with songs in tonga (the language here in this area of Zambia) although her favorite song is the hamster song on a musical card my parents sent. The first hundred times she listened and danced to it was cute, but Jessi and I are now praying that she figures out a way to break the thing!
We just want to let you all know that we appreciate the prayers and love you send us through e-mail, letters and finances! God is doing awesome things in this place and we love having you all as a team to correspond with and co-labor with in God’s kingdom.

Our prayer is that God would give you all a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Jesus Christ!
Peace and Love,
Jacob and Jessi

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Weather (among other things)

Don't get confused, because of lack of internet access, blog was written on Thursday, Oct. 11. Posted on Monday, Oct. 15

The weather has broken today. I woke this morning to a cool breeze blowing through the window and a cloud covering the piercing sun. Usually, in this season, you are awakened at sunrise becomes it becomes too hot to stay in bed. But today, I slept past my alarm and didn’t even hear Jacob stir when he got up to start the day. I thought it was still night, because I was still comfortable. The breeze feels nice. Days like this make me think of home. Why, I wonder? Maybe because so often, West Virginia days are gray just like this one. Everything feels quieter and more manageable when there’s a breeze blowing through the leaves and the smell of citrus trees waft through the window screens. But, the breaking weather brings about another season…rainy season.

The good thing about rainy season is that we have occasional gray, cool days. The bad thing about rainy season is that between rains, the weather becomes so stifling hot and humid it feels like your own personal sauna, here just to sap your energy. The rainy season also brings bugs like you’ve never seen before. Winged termites who arrive by the thousand, huge dung beetles, moths the size of small birds, and more ants than you can count.

Okay, that was just a warm-up. Onto the real story.

Yesterday, Lisa (on-field director Jeff’s wife), Jaime (new orphanage director), and I went to a ladies breakfast in town. The hostess had invited a Zambian woman named Milas to talk with us about some cultural issues that we may or may not be aware of. What a fascinating breakfast! One of the women at the breakfast has been living in Zambia for 43 years. Some have been ministering with the same organization for 15 years. And some, like Jaime, had been in Zambia a whole 2 weeks. Regardless of our individual knowledge and understanding of Zambian culture, all of us were surprised at some of the things that Milas explained to us. I would like to explain some of these traditional customs to you. But they are explicit, be warned.
When a baby is born, he/she is confined to the house for the first month of its life. This is because a popular Zambian belief states that the air outside the house is polluted (for a newborn). All clothes and cloth diapers must be washed and dried inside the house. Remember, Zambian houses are mud huts about the size of your master bathroom, with a lower ceiling.

The baby must be bathed in water that has been infused with various roots and tree bark. Often, this dirty water and lack of ventilation can cause an infection in the umbilical cord area. Babies sometimes contract tetanus and die because of this method.

The mother and father of the baby must not engage in sexual intercourse for the first 3 months of the baby’s life. The first time that the couple comes together after the birth of the baby, the semen must be spilled upon the baby. The ceremony is called giving the baby its “second birth.” This time of second birth is when the child is finally considered a human being. If the child dies before that time, the death will be accounted to the fault of the father, who will be assumed to have had an adulterous affair. He will often have to pay retribution to his wife’s family because he was “responsible” for the child’s death. Also, if the child dies before this time of “second birth” the women will be the only ones to attend the funeral because the child was not yet considered a human being.

If the child is a girl, she will begin to be taught about being a woman at age 10. At this age, the young girls will be gathered into one home and taught how to stretch their labia to an appropriate length so that they will be more desirable to their future husbands. They will work on this stretching for many years, causing cracks and tears in the sensitive skin that often leaves them more susceptible to contracting the HIV virus.

When the girl starts menstruating, her mother will hire another woman (sometimes a family member, sometimes not) to instruct her daughter in the ways of being a woman. She will be confined to a home for up to 3 months and taught how to serve a man and how to please her husband. If she is not a good student, she will be beaten by the women who are teaching her. Her mother plays no part in this teaching process, it is considered inappropriate for a mother to teach her daughter anything about sex. The daughter is not even supposed to tell her mother when she has started her menstruation, but instead is to go to another woman in the village who will inform her mother for her.

After this time of confinement, the girl is brought out into the world to dance and show off to the whole village. She is scantily clad and the men from the village come to watch and admire her. Premarital sex is not generally discouraged, so after being taught about all of these sexual methods and areas of responsibility, the girl is curious to experience the things taught her by her grandmothers. The men of the village are also interested to see what she has learned. The girl is taught to use herbs to make herself very dry [during sex]. This is supposed to allow for more pleasure on the man’s part. This also allows for more wounding, which, in addition to the torn labia, allows for extra easy HIV infection. Often, because of the taboos that do not permit a father to show interest in or affection toward his daughter, women are especially desperate for male companionship to fill the need for a male protector in their lives.

These traditions vary from tribe to tribe. The methods are not all the same. But, across the board, educated or uneducated, churched or un-churched, there are Africans who are continuing in these dangerous and painful methods. Maybe you are “disgusted” or “shocked” at these facts. I may have been at first, but it only takes switching on a TV in the U.S. to confirm that we suffer from the same barbaric methods-we just put lipstick on it and call it a Playboy bunny. Our 13-year-olds run around scantily clad, attracting the attention of whoever will look. Our women pay thousands and thousands of dollars to surgically augment every part of their body. In my hometown the strip clubs on Main St. outnumber the grocery stores, flower shops, and banks combined.

Milas said that she discovered that the traditional methods were a lie by asking the white woman who came to speak at her church about it. She was really interested to see how, if the white people didn’t follow these same methods, their babies lived and prospered and their children married and lived happily. She encouraged us to use our own testimonies, and hers, as proof that witchcraft and traditional medicine do not improve quality of life, but only plunge the user further into fears and bondage.

Is this relevant to our American culture? Could it be true that our culture’s manic frenzy toward “sexual freedom” is actually more related to barbaric African customs than it is to a modern, educated society? What kind of truth are we seeking by telling women to “be comfortable enough with their bodies” to display them on the internet or for a video camera? Often, our living rooms serve as the same kind of classroom the Zambian mud huts do, but our teachers come in the form of vulgar TV shows that openly display sexual techniques and make light of extra-marital affairs. Are we finding the truth, the improvement that we’re looking for, in the form of this “it’s all relative” view of morality?

Just asking…

Because here, in Zambia, the only way that people are being set free from witchcraft is to hear and believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When the truth of God is planted deep in their hearts, the Holy Spirit gives them the power to stand up against the fear of man. They are given the courage to say to their grandparents, “You won’t bathe my child in herbs and roots.” “You won’t teach my daughter about sex.” “You won’t tie charms on my son or on me.” And I won’t die [because of rejecting these methods], but will live, and live to the fullest. And they find that their children don’t die. And they find that they don’t have to live under a burden of fear and worry. But instead, they can live with joy and with purpose.

Are we living under the restrictions that our culture places upon us? Are we [as Christians] dressing, talking, acting, or working a certain way in order to make the people around us comfortable? Are we trying to make a gray area between right and wrong instead of just declaring that it is black and white? The Bible says that God would rather us be hot or cold, but not lukewarm. We are not the judgment makers, that job falls to God. However, I’m willing to stand up in a culture that is not my own and declare to those people that they don’t have to do what everyone else is doing. Am I willing to do it in my own country, in my own state, in my own hometown? Are you?

My heart is breaking for women. And children. And people who are living under a system that they think is giving life. A system that they think is the only way. But it’s not. There is another way. Zambian, American, Indian, European. We must turn from our ways and see the peace, freedom, joy (and trials) that come with serving Jesus Christ.

What a blessing it is to be truly free.

And what a blessing it is to you that I am finally done with this blog. Thanks for sticking with me.


Now, I Live...not i, but Christ who lives in me

I’m sitting here right now thinking about what it is to be alive. To really live. I’m not talking about having a pulse. I’m talking about that feeling you get on Christmas morning - that “I can’t wait to live this day” feeling. I’m making a resolve this year in Africa to wake up every day with that same knowing – that each day, no, each moment is the greatest moment of my life. And why can I wake up this way? Because I have been redeemed and grafted into the family of God – my Father, King Jesus! His thoughts for us each moment are greater than the sand on the seashore. God is always up for conversation – always waiting with anticipation for His kids to draw near to Him just to love Him and be loved on. I’m done looking at every difficult situation as wasted time – God set me in this place, to be involved in this story and to effect my surroundings for His glory. I praise God for my wife. I thank God that He gave me such an unbelievable woman to share my story with. I don’t thank Him enough or let her know enough how much she is appreciated. I love sharing this journey with her. And how awesome that God’s greatest desire is love!!! That He wells up with joy when two of His kids are joined together as one in marriage because it is a foreshadowing of our ultimate union with Jesus. I feel like God is showing me how to let my heart live. Showing me how to experience that life that only those who have committed their lives to Christ can have – ABUNDANT LIFE. Satan has stolen enough of my moments and convinced me they were wasted. He is a thief and a liar.

Did you know that the heart is the most addressed subject in all of scripture? No wonder there is a great battle for who gets control of it…God or the devil. One is out to destroy our hearts and the other has gone to hell and back in order to rescue our hearts. I’m glad my God is a warrior. He fights for our hearts. He wars for us. I just want to say to all of you. WAKE UP. LIVE. LISTEN TO JESUS. He is the desire of your heart. You get right with Him and your heart comes alive. There is no other way. It’s not in a new job. Not in an affair with that beautiful woman or handsome man. It’s not around the corner after this financial problem passes. It’s in the moment you choose to acknowledge God as Sovereign and let Him have control. He has not given up on you! Read Hosea…even when we have prostituted ourselves to the world He comes to us and rescues us from the filth and says “Be mine again!” Live your life in such a way that the world has nothing to say but “I want what you have…” That’s what Jesus did. That’s what we are called to do.

I love you all and am praying for you with tears,

Saturday, October 6, 2007

"Ja-cob and Jes-si! Ja-cob and Jes-si!"

Well, we’re here! Jake and I arrived in Zambia on Friday, Sept. 28th. We got such a wonderful welcome from the people on the farm and from the kids in the orphanage. There’s nothing better than arriving back to Meshack jumping in your arms screaming, “Jessi! Jessi! JESSSSSIIIII!!!

The kids greeted Jacob by saying, “Jacob! You’re back! Mukansunda! She’s here!” We would have preferred to ease into scooping ‘Sunda up into our arms (for her sake), but the kids would have none of that. The older ones immediately ran off to “get ‘Sunda,”so Jacob had ahold of her within 5 minutes. Needless to say, it has been quite a process to get her to open up again. Yesterday she smiled for the first time in our presence. Today she has been talking and repeating what we say. This afternoon she even kissed me voluntarily (a rare occasion). As much as you try to prepare yourself for it, you’re never quite ready for a child to cry at the sight of you when she used to run into your arms giggling. It has been as much of an adjustment for Jake and I as it has been for her, I think. Actually, Mukansunda is not staying with us at the time being. Jake and I are in the process of working on our apartment in the tobacco barn. Until that’s finished, we are staying with Jeff and Lisa in the guest house. We want to have our own space and schedule before we bring her into the mix. Also, we are trying to do everything under the law and in good order. So, we decided not to have her stay with us full-time until we have Zambian social service permission, which requires the U.S. home study papers to go through. We are hoping that this is a healthy way to go about everything, trying to keep her life simple and loving. She is familiar with the orphanage and feels safe there, so the fact that she is still eating and sleeping there is okay right now. Hopefully, by the time we are able to have her stay with us full-time we will have everything ready in our apartment and she will be ready to make the move, without too much of a schedule or life change. That’s the plan. We’ll see. And hope. And pray.

Things are running beautifully on the farm and it has been a pleasure to get to know Jeff and Lisa better. There is also a woman here running the orphanage for the year. Her name is Jaime and she is a couple of years older than Jacob and I. She is doing a great job of identifying needs in the orphanage and it’s good to have her here. What a job! She seems up for the challenge.

I mentioned above that we will be living in the tobacco barn this year. We lived in a tobacco barn apartment for a short time last year, before things shifted and we were able to use the bigger, nicer clinic apartment. Well, the last work team that was here worked really hard to convert two apartments in the tobacco barn into a big apartment, just for us! We have some things to finish up (an understatement; really, the electric, the plumbing, the floors, the windows…). But it’ll be really exciting to have our own place to decorate, that’s what I’ve been longing for. Plus, it’s something for us to concentrate on and work toward while we’re waiting for things to come together for our bush ministry and the adoption.

As far as ministry, we just need to get a tent before we can head out into the bush. The good tents come from South Africa and are too heavy to come with us on a plane, so Jacob will have to make a road trip to pick it up. After that trip, we should be on our way to getting out into the villages, and we’re excited about that. It has been good to reconnect with our Zambian friends and hear, “Yes! That is just what Zambia needs!” (referring to the work that we want to do).

It’s hot here. Comparable to West Virginia in August. But, even West Virginia in August is nothing compared to what we’re in for! It’s still comfortable in the mornings and evenings. Not to fear, the temperature will reach miserable heights soon enough! For right now, we’re just enjoying the rare cool breeze.

Forgive me for such a non-innovative, informative blog. I thought an informational update was in order, and hope that you enjoy it! Enjoy the changing of the leaves and the cool autumn breeze!

Monday, September 24, 2007


Hey Folks,

Tomorrow we head out for the D.C. (Dulles) airport. We'll spend tomorrow night there and then fly out Wednesday afternoon. We'll arrive in Jo-burg (South Africa) on Thursday afternoon, spend the night with missionary friends, and then fly to Livingstone on Friday. Please pray that the plane has some extra space (for my jumpy legs!) and that our luggage arrives in one piece and in a timely manner (as in, while we're standing at the baggage carousol.)

What a bittersweet goodbye this day has been. Last year was so exciting that it hardly hurt to say goodbye. We were so excited for the adventure before us that we didn't stop to think of the things (namely, people) that we would miss during the 10 months we spent away from home. This year, however, the stakes are much higher. Jacob and I fully and completely understand the depths that true homesickness can reach. I remember saying last year that for the first time I understood why they call it "homesickness." That's no joke. There were days I felt like I couldn't speak for missing my family and friends. It feels like you're being cheated when you arrive home to a baby brother that's 7 inches taller and has grown facial hair (which happened to both me and Jake this year! Slow down Hank and Cody!)
The worst part is that you have to hold up a front that makes your family and friends think that you're really very excited to leave them. Because if you don't, they worry about you the whole time that you're there. And the only thing worse than being homesick on a foreign continent is letting your loved ones know about it.

But the stakes are higher this year for other reasons. We're going back to a new and exciting vision that we're both thrilled to execute. And we go back to someone that we've been dreaming about since we left. I can't wait to hold 'Sunda. I long for the day that the 3 of us forget that we ever spent a day apart. But for goodness sake, we're going to be parents! Am I ready for this? Absolutely not. I was also not ready to get married. And I was not ready to move to Zambia. I was not ready to direct an orphanage. And I was not ready to say goodbye to my dad twice in a year. But isn't it good that God equips the called instead of calling the equipped?

Writing this blog was a good idea. I don't really feel any better about leaving. And I'm not positive that I've found the cure for desperate homesickness. But I've reminded myself of all the reasons I'm homesick for Zambia. And being homesick for open spaces, good friends, unbelievable freedom, and a certain chocolate-skinned little girl is going to be what gets me on that plane. Not to mention the peace that comes from being in the center of God's will.

We'll miss you. Please write. Call often. Send sweets. Lovelovelove.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Phase Two!

Hello everyone,

I know it's been quite some time since we last blogged, but we will begin to be more consistent from here on out. We have a game plan now for the next year of our lives and we wanted to catch everyone up as to what is going on!

First, we are in the process right now of traveling to churches and speaking to individuals about financially supporting this mission. In order to live in Zambia as missionaries we have to be supported by a team of people who are committed to this vision and desire to spiritually and physically feed Africa. God has opened some awesome doors for us and He has been so faithful to begin bringing in the funds that we need. We still have some Sundays open in September so if anyone reads this that would like us to visit your home or church please get ahold of us at or call at 304-479-1632.

Secondly, Jessi and I will be heading back to Zambia, Africa under Sons of Thunder in late September. We will be focusing completely on ministry in the bush so we are very excited to get moving with this vision. As we said before, we will be living with the Zambians in their villages for a month at a time in order to disciple them through relationship. It's our heart that we can best minister to them by coming alongside of them and teach them the ways of Christ through everyday life. We will be living in a tent and teaching them not only the word of God, but also irrigation techniques, hygiene, how to take care of finances, etc. We are believing God for complete community transformation because we serve a God who is involved in EVERY aspect of our lives and wants to influence every aspect.

Third, we have moved forward with adopting Mukansunda (the little girl we took care of during our first year in Zambia). We are going through the home study here in the States right now and when we arrive in Zambia we will begin the adoption process. God willing, it will be finished sometime during the first part of January. Please keep this in your prayers as the adoption process can be very difficult in Zambia. We are very excited about beginning our family!

Last, we are looking at the best possible time to apply for an Advanced Missions Training that takes place just an hour from the farm in Zambia. It entails training in bible courses, diesel mechanics, welding, GPS systems, off-road driving, cultural anthropology, and many other things. The training is 3 months long and so we just have to decide on the best time to move forward with that as well.

Please keep these things in prayer and please know that we thank God daily for the team of people He has brought together for us. You ALL are an integral part of this thing and we covet your prayers, encouragement, financial gifts, and attention that you have given and continue to give.

God bless you all and we will keep you posted!

Jake and Jessi

Saturday, June 2, 2007

We're Home!!!

It's good to be home! Praise God for McDonalds, Drovers wings, fast internet connections, and most of all, incredible friends and family. We've been in the United States for about 24 hours now, and it has been so good.

We landed on time, got through immigration, customs, and baggage claim with no problems...incredible! We showered and ate at the hotel that the Schwertfeger's had stayed at the night before, and set off for the 4 hour drive home. We arrived home to Doug and Jenn sitting on the porch swing. Oh, it was so good to see them after all this time. My dad, Sam, my stepbrother Chris, Jeannie, Norm, Cody, Doug, Courtney, and Jenn all went out to Drovers for dinner. After which I promptly collapsed into a twin size bed and was dead to the world until 7 o'clock this morning. Jake and I will do some visiting today. There are still questions. What should we do for a cell phone? Will a vehicle situation work out? But at this point, anything seems easier than 50 kids, so we're pretty chill about it all!

I can't tell you how wonderful it is to be home with family and friends. I can't wait to be at all the weddings that are going on this month and visit the people we haven't seen. However, I find myself saying, "Oh, back at my house in Zambia"...or, "Home, in Zambia." Kinda freaky. I will account it to this: Regardless of being a hopeless sinner set aside by grace, regardless of being selfish and self-centered and self-concerned much of the time, regardless of really loving McDonalds and Kool-aid, regardless of all of that, I really am committed to being in the center of God's will. And if God's will for me is in the center of Zambia, than that's where I'll be. It could only be for Him, because I could never do this on my own. Being with my family and friends is just too sweet a thing to leave voluntarily. But after all of that, I am still grateful that He sees fit to give us all a break sometimes. By that I mean that He has sent us home for this time for a reason and purpose, and I mean to enjoy every minute of it! Love you all and can't wait to see you!


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

"A few cards and letters and some long distance calls..."

Dear Friends and Supporters,

*Warning: This blog may be cheesy and sentimental.*

I warned you. The reason for this blog is not a revelation on the status of poverty in Africa, or the report of a medical miracle, or even an update on what’s happening here. In fact, it is being written because as I sit here at our computer, I am completely overwhelmed with emotion. Let me tell you why:

This afternoon, I mentioned to my loving husband that I would be cleaning out our office area this week (which, believe it or not, has accumulated a TON of stuff in a 10 month period.) We need to distribute random donations that never got distributed, file farm receipts that haven’t been filed, type up handwritten lists of policies and procedures and make a handbook, and other things of that nature. Besides all of that, we just needed to organize and downsize so that everything could be stored while we are in the States. After mentioning all of this to my loving husband (did I mention he was loving?) I realized that I may have just made the biggest mistake of the day. My reasoning said, “Tell Jacob what your plans are for this week so that he can be prewarned that he will soon have a pile of STUFF to sort through.” Good reasoning, right? Wrong. My hardworking and industrious husband decided that RIGHT NOW was a good time to completely destruct the office and clean it out and distribute all donations. So we did. Actually, we are. I’m sitting in post-office destruction now. He is distributing. Think someone is a little excited to come home? This marriage thing…I tell ya. Just when you think you have it all figured out (I was really proud of myself for communicating my plan and my need) they turn it around on you and hit the fast forward button. I will probably be praising my hyperactive husband’s smart thinking when I don’t have to do this job later in the week. But right now, I’m a little overwhelmed with the mess. Onto the real story.

Every card that we received this year was put into our bottom desk drawer. I would get it at the post office, rip it open, read it immediately, display it on the table, dresser, bookcase, etc. for a long time (reading it often) and then put it into the bottom desk drawer for safe keeping. I started to clean out this desk drawer, and lo and behold, treasures beyond measure! I had forgotten about so many of those cards that were sent in August, or the Christmas cards from December, and the ones from Valentines Day, or just anytime that you decided to send cards, letters, pictures, and recipes. It was like Christmas all over again as I sat and read through the letters, picked out pictures to leave here with the kids, and marveled at the beautiful cards. I have never been so touched or affected by all of these cards as I was today, the fiftieth time I had read many of them. I hope that I thanked you individually every time that I got a card or letter from you, but I fear that I may have missed quite a few. You might’ve wondered if it got lost in the Africa Triangle (a few probably did!) But usually they didn’t! They came all the way to Zambia and brightened my day and sometimes my week, and they just did it again. Thank you so much! I am so thankful in fact, that I have decided to give out E-awards to those faithful card senders who make the mission field so much brighter and easier to handle!

To The Momma and Papa Schwertfeger: By far, you are awarded the Cutest Card Award, and The Best Pictures Award. I believe you also sent the Most Useful Packages (with contents including air freshener, Big Red Gum, and the only foot cream that works.) Thank you so much.

To my Momma: You are awarded the Most Creative Package Award. Your packages have kept my home interiorly decorated for every holiday except Zambian Independence Day (we’ll work on that next year.) However, you are also awarded Best Caller Award, which I’m sure you wish came with a cash prize for all the money you’ve spent on phone cards!

To my Daddy: You are awarded the Sweetest Package Award. Your packages have kept me properly balanced. Before your packages at Christmas Jake and I’s bodily sugar stores were starting to get really low. You are also the most popular package sender by the kids, when I was generous enough to share.

To Beth and Jenn: The Most Indulgent Package Award. Who else sends you sweet smelling soap and pedicures in a box? None other than the best girlfriends in the universe. Beth, you are also awarded Most Beautiful Homemade Card Award. I have to keep your cards because they are works of art!

To Jennifer: I have to say, my beautiful friend, that out of all parents, grandparents, and friends, you are awarded the Most Cards and Letters Award. I couldn’t count all the envelopes that I pulled out of my drawer with your return address. And you’re not just a card signer, oh no, you wrote full 5 page letters for most of your mailings. Jake and I fought over who got to read your letters first. What would we do without you? Thank you so much.

To Gramma Moninger: You are awarded the most “newsy”letters award (which was very much appreciated!) And, the Most Recipes Award. I get requests for your Texas Sheet Cake once a week! Also, your first letter was the very first one we received in Zambia. Way to be on the ball!

To Gramma Cain: You are awarded the Most Homesick Card Award. Something about your cards always made me want to come to your house and eat chicken soup and watch the Steelers on TV. See you soon!

In all seriousness, I just can’t think of a way to express how deeply thankful we are, how thankful I am. You may have thought it was “just a card.” But really, your cards, letters, and packages made all the difference in the world to us. Thanks for taking the time, giving the effort, and spending the money to keep in touch with us by sending stuff and by calling. We are very spoiled missionaries. Even those that emailed and left comments on our blog are so very appreciated. I can’t express to you how important it has been for us to know how much you care about what God has us up to. I am thinking of the 10 or 15 people that sent just one letter, which is still enough to bring tears to the eyes of someone far from home!

We are getting pretty excited to come home. Still trying to focus on Africa and finish well, though. Mostly, I can’t wait to tell so many of you a hundred stories about Africa and hear a hundred stories about how your year has been. (Can we talk at Starbucks though? ‘Cause I could really use a Chai Tea.)

Love you guys! See you soon!


Monday, May 14, 2007

Palaces, Tents, and Chief Musokotwane

Last week, Jake and I had the opportunity to do a favor for some friends of ours. We babysat their kids for a day and night so that they could get some much needed “Mommy and Daddy time” in a nearby lodge. The school system in Zambia runs on a year-round schedule, so the kids have off the month of April, the month of August, and the month of December. Well, their three very active kids had been hanging out at home for the whole month of April, and as April drew to an end, mom and dad decided they needed to (understandably) get away for awhile. These friends are a couple in their 30’s from Kentucky who pastor a church in town. They are missionaries too, but their life is a little different from ours. They live in a very beautiful house in town, and their schedule is much like you would expect from a pastoring couple at home (if you know what that looks like.) It was nice to spend some time in their home and with their children. The kids are 6, 8, and 10. Two girls and a boy. Adorable, smart and hilarious. We had a blast playing hide and seek when it got dark and going for a ride to the big baobab tree in the safari truck. I had a really good time cooking in her wonderfully large and well organized kitchen and bathing in their large porcelain tub that has a seemingly never ending flow of hot water. As Jake and I fell asleep that night, I thought, “I could do this. I could take care of 3 kids and live in a house like this. Hmmmm…”

Fast forward a couple of days. Jake and I also got the opportunity to visit a mission on the other side of town called Overland Missions (look it up online, they have a great website). They are a mission organization committed to training up pastors and discipling people in seldom reached places. Just now they have brought in a whole load of American, Canadian, and South African young adults for a school called “AMT: Advanced Mission Training.” The school runs for 3 months and its participants take a slew of classes. A lot of them are Bible training and leadership courses with a few doses of cultural anthropology. But some of them are entitled: Diesel Mechanics and Repair, 4x4 Driving, Bush Living, GPRS systems, and Welding. Scary and fascinating all at the same time. The mission is set right on the Victoria Falls gorge and the view is something a fancy lodge would pay millions for. The land, however, was given to the director by a friendly chief (refer to sidenote) who believed in what they were trying to accomplish in Zambia. The mission is based quite far out in the bush, with no electricity. They sleep in tents, have a generator for the darkest hours, and pump water for washing from the gorge. Drinking water gets hauled in from the nearest borehole well. It’s a well-run and refreshing organization, and Jake and I had a blast hanging out with tons of folks our age who have the same heart for throwing all the plans away and just going for Jesus. That brings me to the irony I wanted to illustrate. That night, as I was falling asleep next to Jake in a tiny two man tent, wrapped in a load of blankets and trying to find a place on the ground that was not quite as hard as where I was, I thought, “I could do this. I could live in the bush and cook on the fire and fall asleep in the fresh air every night. I could definitely do this.”

So, the question remains, which one? Should we build ourselves a nice house with shiny appliances and pictures on the walls? Or should we find a sweet tent that keeps out the bugs and the rain and make our home there? The problem is, I’m an adventurer about 6 ½ days out of every week. And that last part is when I just want a hot bath and a real mattress. If anyone finds a tent with a Jacuzzi attached…let me know…I’d be very interested.

*Sidenote: Okay. For anyone that’s interested, I wasn’t kidding about the chief giving away this million dollar plot of land to the directors of Overland Missions. In fact, it’s not at all uncommon for chiefs to give away land or anything else to people that they like. And it’s their prerogative to do it if they want to. In the rural areas of Zambia, all of the land technically belongs to the government. But, according to custom, it belongs to the village chief of whatever village has claimed that land. Each small village has a headman who reports to the chief, who is in charge of all the villages in his district. The chief lives in a proper house made of blocks that they call “the Palace.” This is the case for most rural chiefdoms in Zambia. For example: The land next to our farm is entitled “Musokotwane.” Each village in the area has a headman, but “Chief Musokotwane” is in charge of the whole district of villages. He decides who gets what land. He decides what projects are important to his people, and he petitions the government and the aid organizations of their behalf. In our case, Chief Musokotwane is a regular patient at our clinic. He gets to come in when the clinic is usually closed and gets special treatment from everyone. If he would fall ill enough to have to stay overnight, he would get a private room. I’m not kidding. He’s a big deal. He wears a gold chain, a watch, and a tipped hat. The only thing that gives him away are the faded rainbow flip-flops on his feet and the holes in his trousers. He has the power to give us whatever he owns. At this moment, that includes allowing us access into his private lumber supply to select wood for the new orphanage furniture. Isn’t that wild? I was on my best behavior in front of the chief, pronounced the correct Tonga words very carefully, and made sure to bow a little bit and clap when thanking him for visiting. So, it’s a very big compliment to Overland Missions that their chief gave them his best piece of land for their projects. And it’s a big compliment to us that our chief comes to our clinic and invites us to his home. Who knows what can happen when a chief likes you!*

Friday, May 11, 2007


Wow! I can't believe it's been almost a year ago that Jessi and I landed here in Africa and began this journey. So many things have changed in our lives - God has shown us so much and has truly been our Great Enabler! I was just thinking about how many simple things have changed for our vocabulary. Being exposed to soo many different cultures and people forces you to take on new words in your vocab. Here are a few I can think of off hand.

cheers mate - a term that means "thanks friend" or "good seeing you buddy"
"See you later." "Cheers mate."

lemon - a term used for someone who has a habit of doing unintelligent things
"Did you see that guy wrestling the gator...he's a complete lemon man!"

just now - a term that means you want something in a couple minutes, but can do without it for now
"Do you want some mashed potatoes?" "I'll have some just now."

now now - a term that means in a few minutes, hours or days (very descriptive, huh?)
"Is the food coming soon?" "'s coming now now."

oaks - a term describing a group of people you either don't know well or don't like
"Ah, you can get those tires from the oaks at AutoWorld."

a bit ok - a response to "how are you?" that usually means your are doing very well, but sometimes can mean you are recovering from an accident

chips - the name for french fries

cozies - bathing suits

mozi spray - mosquito spray

buggard - something that is completely and utterly messed up
"That raditor is buggard mate."

That takes care of just a few of the new phrases we have picked up if you don't understand us when we return just look to this list and it should help you! haha...

On another note we just want to take some time to thank all of you who have been taking this journey with us. We've loved reading the posts on the blogs, the e-mails, receiving mail and getting phone calls. We treasure all of you so much and we thank God that we have such an amazing support group at home. We really do love you and we're looking forward to continuing this journey as God leads us.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Fun with the Sun

Okay, okay, please don't be mad at me. I know I haven't updated in a long time. I'm sorry.

Anyway, this is what's going on in the orphanage!

Do you remember my exciting update about the bigshots from the bigshot hotel chain saying that they were going to donate formula to us? That was in February, and I heard from them last week. They said, "We're going to come out to the farm on Saturday and bring the formula we ordered in for you and some food for the kids." Great! The last time they made a visit to the farm, I was beautiful from spending the morning cleaning the house in Jake's sleeveless work shirt. They showed up with well-dressed South Africans and white people with video cameras. Needeless to say, I was pretty well mortified. This time, I was prepared!

They said that they would be there by 10 o'clock on Saturday morning. So, I got up early, showered, dressed up, and even put on some mascara for the occasion. My clothes matched, my hair was brushed, it was a day to be remembered. I seem to also recall thinking, "Maybe I should do the dishes." No, no. No time for that. I had to rush over to the orphanage to make sure the kids were clean and in their finest for their national debute. I pulled out new clothes and shoes and things and after all the kids had had bathes, they got to put on shining new outfits without mango stains, bleach stains, dirt stains, and stains from who knows what else. Even the babies got to dress up. Now, dressing up and keeping 53 kids clean is more of an obstacle than I'm willing to admit at this moment. And doing it with Mukansunda screaming my back because she's in an attachment stage was another thing all together. However, it was a joyful day! I didn't care about anything but the kids having a good time and getting that donated formula. I was singing the "I won't blow my budget this month" tune.

Once the kids were all dressed up, they were kept inside (for obvious reasons). The women swept off the new back porch. Jacob started up the grill (the manager who called suggested we have "braii" ready for cooking.) When they rolled in on their big tour bus, the kids were singing and I was calmly prepared to greet them.

The South African HEAD CHEF of the Royal Livingstone (the $600 a night hotel in town that sits practically ON TOP of Victoria Falls) came off of the bus and informed me that he had roasted chicken, fresh bread, fruit, and vegetables for the kid's lunch (along with 10 cases of formula). Great! "Let me just show you to the braii." He said, "Oh, it would be much better if we had a stove and an oven." Okayyyyyy. "Let me just show you to my hallway that is my kitchen. The dishes aren't done and I'm pretty sure the stove has crusty stuff on it. But, Mr. Very Rich and Famous Head are welcome to it!" Before I knew it I had the head chef and 5 line chefs in my kitchen. They had to improvise and enlarge my stove with aluminum foil and duct tape. I tried to explain lack of counter space and the chef said, "We're not going to blow a circuit or anything are we?" No, I assure him, (lying through my teeth).

To make my unbearably long stories short: The kids had a great time. They all got to eat chicken legs and Italian bread to their little heart's content. They stayed clean for about 5 minutes, but I don't think the Head Chef noticed. A great time was had by all. Except for the manager that came out with the group. She said, "I don't like to come to this orphanage cause there are just so many kids and they are just so young, and it's just so sad." No, I assured her, it's not. It's sad that they would have died in the bush. It's not sad that they don't have a billion personal toys or 10 pairs of shoes. It's sad that you have ignored it for so long because it hurts your heart to come. (Okay, so I left out the last part, but I was thinking it.) I am grateful to the Sun International for their donations and to the Head Chef for ignoring my dirty dishes!

Have a great week!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

We're Back!

We are so sorry that it has taken so long to post a blog; however, we have just gone through nearly one full week without Zesco (electricity) and of course it happened during Easter weekend. You can tell Jessi and I have been here for nearly a year now because without hesitation we grab our pots and head out to the fire pit as soon as Zesco goes off. One night Jessi made a nice traditional Zambian meal of nshima, rape, and sausage. Another night i decided i was going to learn how to kill, de-feather, cut up and cook a chicken. That morning a man was walking by our farm entrance with two chickens on sale for 30,000 kwacha (roughly $7.50) so i bought them both and that night we feasted on chicken, nshima and green beans with some of our Zambian friends. I must say that it's going to take some getting used to slaughtering chickens, but i'm managing.
With Zesco being out every night, Jessi and I have gotten used to eating "candle-lit dinners" though the romance of it all seems to go away when you know you can't switch on the lights! I do want to say though that we praise God for it all! When it all comes down to it - we can survive without electricity, air con's, carpeted floor, etc. God really can become your all in all at a place like this. It's almost forced upon you at times, but praise God that we've had a chance to grab ahold of Him and say "i don't know what i'm doing or how i'm going to get through this, but i'm not letting go..." He NEVER fails us! He's always there. Always helping us up when we fall and leading us on that "straight and narrow road."
Jessi and I are so excited to get back home and begin to share the vision God has put on our hearts. We will be returning May 31st and probably remaining in the States for 4-5 months as we prepare for this next phase of ministry. We will be remaining with Sons of Thunder, but entering into a whole new facet of ministry. Upon returning to Zambia we will begin pitching a tent and living for one month at a time out in different areas of the bush in Zambia. The burden of our heart is that many Zambians have been "evangelized", but so few have been discipled. We believe that it is essential for us to live with them in order to truly reveal Jesus Christ to them. We will also be trained in bucket drip irrigation so that we can teach the people better ways of gardening so that they can have year-round gardens. A ministry in Florida called ECHO will be equipping us with the proper training, irrigation kits and drought resistant seed so that we can really start feeding Africa. We will also be placing good, clean water (wells with hand pumps) at each of these bush villages so that they can have good drinking water and a way to properly irrigate. Rotary International has shown a big interest in sponsoring the cost of the wells. Paul says that he so loved the people he was with that he not only shared the gospel with them, but his very life. That is what Jess and I feel God has called us to do. Through walking alongside these people; working with them, eating with them, playing with them and loving them - we believe that God is going to change not only their outward circumstances, but the inward condition of their hearts (which is what TRULY matters). On returning to Zambia we will be building a home for us to live in and purchasing a ministry vehicle that will be adequate for all of our travels across Zambia so we have some very large tasks ahead of us. We ask for your prayers that God would open doors no man can shut and shut doors no man can open so that we are led just as He would have us to be. We love you all so much and we feel so priveledged that all of you have partnered with our heart and God's heart in this vision to spiritually and physically feed Africa! We'll keep you posted as best we can! God bless...

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Thoughts from Africa

We took a trip out to Siachetema Mission on Saturday. You’ve heard Jake mention it before, and it’s where our former Bible School professor, Rev. Mwikisa lives.

I felt so at home there. Their lives are just a bit differently from most Zambians in that they live in a simple brick home (as opposed to a tiny grass hut). They have a blocked in latrine and thatched kitchen (as opposed to using the “toilet”in the bush and cooking on an open fire out in the elements). They are good farmers, and since it’s harvest season right now, the food is abundant. I dug up sweet potatoes, ate fresh maize, and chewed on a sugar cane. Then we sat and sang and chatted. It felt so incredibly real. The reason I even attempt to express it through my inadequate words is that that realness is the very thing that I’m always trying to express to others. To you, at home. What is this realness? What does it mean? What does it consist of?

I can’t explain it, really. And it sounds insensitive when I try. It’s the reason I have a hard time carting around a camcorder or snapping pictures all the time. I mean, this is someone’s life. I can’t bear to walk around treating people like a tourist attraction when they carry water on their head and squat cooking at the fire. I know that you disagree with me. But can you imagine if an African man came and filmed you while you were heating up your TV dinner in the microwave and then running the water to take a bath? If they said, in an indistinguishable accent, “So, what’s this you’re cooking? Is it La-Sag-Na?” “Oh Look,” he would then say to his friend, “They’re cooking La-Sag-Na.” (Lasagna….get it?) First of all, you would think they were pretty stupid. Especially if you didn’t have the Discovery Channel that not everyone on the planet was not just like you and that not everyone eats lasagna. You would also wonder why they couldn’t just act like a normal person and put down the camcorder (which you’ve never really seen before, by the way). Then you could have a conversation, and they could taste the lasagna, and you would tell them about your life, and your job, and your kids.

Okay, really? I understand the fascination with different cultures. I myself am fascinated with different cultures…all of them. I just think we miss out when we spend so much time defining our differences instead of reveling in our sameness. If you ever come here to visit, I will encourage you to capture life on camera and take it back home. But you have to see beyond the experience and try to enter into life. You have to not worry about understanding every little thing (I am guilty of this). Just sit and listen to the old ladies talk. You might learn something. Remember, this is someone’s life. Not just some people, but most other people. Most other people on the planet live in a developing country and do not have access to electricity or running water. We’re really the oddity here. It’s just that they don’t have access to video cameras to run around capturing us while we do the strange things that we do.

By the way, I really admire the “white Zambians” who love Jesus and who have lived here practically their whole lives, except for no one walks around handing freebies out to them or congratulating them for their work on the mission field. Whenever I get a martyr complex, or when I miss home too much, I think, “This is their life.” I will always have another home. But this is their life. And obviously, they live here because they feel a connection to that realness that I was describing to you. They love the lack of pretense and serving the people and working the land that they live on. And they’re probably not really sure why we’re snapping pictures all the time either.

My point? Oh Lord, help me to still have one after all of that. It’s really good sometimes when I wake up and realize that the world is bigger than me. Bigger than my problems and my thoughts and opinions (the opinions, by the way, are increasing by the day…have you noticed?) There are a TON of people who don’t live like I do. Most don’t, actually. But I’m tired of feeling sympathy ‘cause they can’t live like me. I want to start understanding their culture so well that I understand what they want, not what I want for them. And I don’t want to understand it so that I can get what they want for them, but so that they can be educated to the point of being able to get what they want for themselves. This is easier said than done. I’m not claiming that the Lord would even use little ol’ me for such a monumental task.. I don’t know if me taking a day to dig sweet potatoes has anything to do with the huge work that it would take to straighten out this whole continent, this whole world. I don’t know what I think half the time. But I know that it’s really freeing to realize that you’re not responsible for saving the world. But, we are responsible for not becoming so entrenched in our own little lives that we forget that there is a world outside of us. There is a world where whole families live on a dollar a day. There is a world where people die of treatable diseases. And sometimes those things happen right in our own “rich” country! Let’s promise ourselves not to become so obsessed with ourselves that we forget that.

Sorry about all that, sometimes it all just gets to be a little too much not to let you know about. Please don’t feel condemned, I’m preaching to myself. Really, I just want you to come and eat a mango under a shade tree and try to learn Tonga so that everyone could smile and laugh when you make a mistake. And we could hang out and talk about all of this poverty stuff more.

Oh Lord,
I know so little. Please teach me Your ways and how to minister to Your people.

P.S. Speaking of thinking about yourself, can someone please figure out a way to overnight me a McDonald’s Quarter Pounder and a Dr. Pepper? That would be great.

(It’s really gross what you start to crave when you can’t get it!)

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Eyes on the Prize

It's amazing how life works. It seems that we can go through months of peace and the usual hum-drum of activity and then other times it seems that the phrase "when it pours" could be quoted as scripture because of its truth! Lately it has been pouring on the farm. We've had struggles, trials, and frustrations that continue to pile onto each other. Nearly 40 elephants have made our fields their playground each evening, destroying the maize that our Zambian friends have worked so hard to maintain. Bush pigs (big, dangerous animals) have added to the chaos and ate what remains in several areas of the farm. There have been friends who let us down on the farm, drunks who have threatened us at night, vehicles that have broken down in very inconvenient places, and some who have betrayed our trust. The funny things is that this isn't at all peculiar to Africa. I'm sure many people are nodding right now saying, "i know exactly how you feel!" We had a very rough night two nights ago that involved discovering our driver was drunk AND driving...let's just say that his response wasn't very humble to my accusation at him being drunk and it turned into a long night. All that to say, Jess and I were feeling very down until a 22 year old Zambian friend of mine named Chanda approached me as everything was settling down. "Don't let any of this disturb the pursuit of your vision. The devil is always trying to distract us and he uses many ways to do this. The truth is that there is a great vision before us and all of this is happening to keep our eyes off of Christ." In that moment it made so much sense. There is an enemy who "prowls around like a lion, looking for someone to devour..." Yet we serve a God who has in all ways defeated and destroyed the works of the evil one. Scripture says that is why Christ came! I just want to encourage everyone right now who is going through a difficult trial...everyone who may feel they have been wronged or that injustice has been dealt to you...There is a vision before you that is great. The author and perfector of that vision is the Man Christ Jesus and the only way to fulfill that vision is wholehearted abandonment and commitment to our Lord. Many things will come against us, but it has already been dealt with, for "If God is for us, who can be against us?" I just want to say "Awake, Awake! Put on your strength, O Zion; Put on your beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city...Shake yourself from the dust, arise...Loose yourself from the bonds of your neck, O captive of Zion!" (Isa. 51) There is a great Redeemer Who stands before us, beckoning us to continue on and fulfill the vision before us. It is a tiring journey and we will be put through difficulties, but don't get caught up in the chaos, get caught up in Christ! I love you all and pray that God would give you refreshing and a new zeal to take up your cross and follow Him hard today...

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Happy Birthday Brothers!

Happy Birthday to Zak and Henry! Turning 21 and 14, respectively. So sorry we can't be there to celebrate with you-we love you and miss you so much.

Age is a funny thing. In the U.S., it seems like 22 is still desperately young. It seems like it's a bit too young to be married, definitely too young to have children ("But you have so much tiimmeee."), and possibly to young to be making major decisions on an African farm. In Zambia, however, the average life expectancy is 40 years of age, and so 22 is middle-aged. Betcha never thought of it that way, huh? Needless to say, the Tonga people are surprised that Jacob and I have been married for less than a year ("What were you waiting for all that time?") The women are almost violently disappointed that I am not pregnant and touch my belly weekly to check and see if I am gaining weight (You think I'm kidding-by their standards I am a disaster, a woman is supposed to bear a child by the one year anniversary of her wedding). And most of the residents of this farm never stop to question whether we have any clue what I'm talking about as Jacob and I walk around making major decisions about the orphanage and farm life. They are great respectors of age and wisdom, there just aren't a ton of elder folks to go around respecting. The Zambian director of the farm is younger than Jacob and I, has been married twice (he found out the first wife wasn't a Christian), and his wife is about to give birth to their 1st child. The village supervisor has three children, has been married for 10 years, and is less than 30. These men bear the responsibility of much that happens on the farm, and yet they are young enough to be considered "rookies", if not "kids" in the "Western world".

So, Happy Birthday Zak and Henry. Zak, if you were a village Zambian, you would most assuredly be married with a child on the way. You would have built your own hut by now and be a farming expert. Henry, you would be trying to test out of 8th grade to see if you could go on to secondary school. If the tests were good, you would move away from your family and try to get someone to fund you for your secondary school education. If you could pass all of your tests, you would have a good chance of a higher paying job in town. If not, you would return to your village, get married, and start farming.

I don't walk around saying, "Praise God, I'm AMERICAN!" very much. But it is times like now that I remember to thank the Lord for the opportunity granted me just by growing up in a developed country. I am so thankful now for enough nutrition to grow up healthy and strong, for a good basic and higher education, and for parents who cared enough to talk to me, show me the world, and force me to think. It made all the difference in the world. I hate how cliche that sounds, but I am forced to admit that it's true even as I learn to integrate and accept the Zambian way of life. So, today marks me truly thankful to be born in a great country, and proud to be American...just don't tell anyone. ;)

Sometimes you just have to laugh...

I need to give everyone a little history on our neighbor, Mr. Mwahili, who owns a farm with hundreds of cattle. For the past ten years the former management of Sons of Thunder fought and argued with this man because his cattle would storm onto our farm (getting through an open gate that connects our farms) and eat a lot of the maize that is growing in our residents fields. Now this is no small problem. This maize is each families source of food for the entire year so they bank on this with their lives. Now when the previous management tried to deal with this and talk to Mwahila it always turned out very bad. Mwahila would storm off into town and bring back police officers who would threaten to fine Sons of Thunder for "lying and making trouble." (This is just a peek into the governmental corruption of Africa).
All of the Zambians on our farm have lived in fear of this guy for years because he pays of the police officers so that he can get away with whatever he wants. Well in the past few weeks his cattle have done a significant amount of damage and I decided that enough is enough. By the grace of God, I have made friends with one of the highest ranking police officials in this area. Her daughter is one of the patients at our clinice and her boy is my "right and man" for ministry. I gave her a call explaining the entire situation and she assured me it would be taken care of. Next i sat down our head men (7 men who represent the seven villages on our farm) and spoke to them about the power of God and how He brings justice to his children. They feared Mwahila because he has also hired witch doctors to put curses on people and I told them the gospel was clear that there is no higher power than Jesus Christ. We went through scripture and after all was said and done it seemed the head men were ready to act. Abson, one of our supervisors, decided to take initiative and approach Mwahila's supervisor about the issues and needing to be payed back for the damage done. To his amazement, the man was completely apologetic and agreed with all of the terms. Soon after we found that Mwahila was paying several workers to put up a very nice cattle pen to hold his animals at night - God came through - or so i thought it was one of those definite "God moments." It wasn't until this morning that i found the truth of the matter. Our driver, Christopher (one of the victims on the farm), happened to run into Mwahila a few days ago and upon seeing him he yelled out, "Mwahila, if we see one more of your cattle come onto our property, we're going to call your cattle herders to come and get them and when they cross onto our farm we will beat them until they quit working for you..." Mwahila instantly apologized for all past occurences and vowed that it wouldn't happen again.
Now I haven't seen Christopher yet today and at this point I'm not sure whether or not to rebuke him or congratulate him because this is the first time in 10 years that this serious problem has been dealt with. It gave me a good laugh this morning and I figured it would give you a good chuckle as well. Continue praying that God brings justice to all of the corruption happening in Africa and pray that our farm in Zambia is continually protected by our Great and Glorious King, Jesus Christ!

Here is a good scripture to leave you all with: "Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid. For the Lord your God has gone ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor forsake you." Deut. 31:6