Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Jessi's Farm Update

This has been a week (or 3 days) of African extremes. Let me give you a breakdown of the last few days, as ya’ll seem to enjoy knowing about the daily happenings of a Zambian farm.

On Sunday, Jake and I visited a neighboring farm and had church in an old cattle pen with haystacks for seats. The people there haven’t been to church in awhile, so they didn’t know very many songs. I ended up being the worship leader (in Tonga!) We shared a good meal of nshima and beans with them. Then, Jake decided we should go fishing in the large dam right beside our “church building.” Since we are friends with the owners of the farm, we hopped into their leaking row boat, borrowed a fishing pole (or, more accurately, fishing stick) and set on our way. To get into the boat, I had to wade through the marshes in my flip flops and long skirt (hiked up a little too high for a Zambian Sunday) holding a can of worms. Probably would’ve been a Kodak moment for my dad, who hasn’t seen me hold a can of worms since he taught me how to bait a hook back in 2nd grade. We got settled on the wobbly, water-filled row boat, and Jake set about catchin’a fish, while I just tried to keep us from “blowing out to sea” by sticking the oar firmly in the mud (we only had one paddle, which would’ve made for difficult return had we drifted too far out.) What we didn’t know until afterwards is that there had been several crocodile sightings in that particular part of the dam lately, and that, as we fished, one happened to stick his head out of water and stare at us for awhile. Fortunately, the Lord blinded our eyes and blessed our endeavors, because Jake caught one big fish quickly and was satisfied. We hiked out of the boat and I posed for a picture holding the fish (GROSS). Fishing adventure finished, let’s move onto Monday.

Monday was not only normal, crazy shopping Monday for the orphanage here on the farm, it was 1st of the month crazy shopping Monday…which is 10 times worse. So, I spent all day in town haggling over cabbage and buying nappies and rubber pants. I always feel stronger after Mondays in town because of the amount of stuff that has to be lifted to the top of the Land Rover and tied down. I judge how much stronger I’ve gotten by what kind of food I can lift. 5 Liters of milk up above my head? Much easier now. A bag full of 15 cabbages? I can at least help. A 25 kg of Mealie-meal? I’ve almost got it! A huge feed sack full of beans? NO CHANCE! My best judge is when we refill the cases of soda. Coke here comes in cases of 24 glass bottles. The cases are heavy when they’re empty, but much more so when they’re full. I couldn’t carry a full one when I got here, but the other day I was forced to as the car was far away with no chance of a better parking space. Royce (orphanage supervisor and very STRONG woman) and I carried one case each through the muddy streets of Livingstone, about 1 block to the car. I was dying by the end of it, but I kept looking at her so that I could keep my facial expression the same. I even waited while Christopher (the driver) lifted hers to the top of the vehicle before mine. By the time he got mine, I thought my arms were going to fall off. But, it was all worth it when I asked Royce, “Was that heavy for you?” “Yes!” She said. “You are getting very strong…you will be a Zambian woman in no time now!” Now if I could just get that five gallon bucket of water on top of my head…

Monday evening was normal. Sal, Renee, Alissa (our visitor), Jacob and I had a quiet dinner of fish (of course). Then Pastor Jerry called for our weekly meeting. In the middle of the phone call, someone came to the front door and gestured for Sal. He pushed back from the table and was up like a shot. He yelled on his way out the door, “I KNEW she was going to deliver today!” So, Monday night found Alissa and I playing nurse as Bessie, an orphanage worker, delivered her 2nd baby. She (Bessie) was a champ. It only took an hour and a half, and I missed the actual birth because I left for one minute to pee. Her water hadn’t even broken when I left! Two pushes later and there was a baby! The baby boy (or musanqua) was beautiful and a healthy 7.5 pounds. I got to be the official time declarer and weigher. Newborn babies are REALLY scary to handle because they are so slippery and tiny. It really feels like you’re going to drop them. We were glad to get him cleaned up and confined within a blanket. I then acted as the town heralder, running all over the farm proper yelling…”Bessie, Musanqua, 3.4 kg…” Everyone was so excited! The women came out from the orphanage clapping and singing, and the men at the dairy were congratulating the dad and slapping him on the back. His first baby boy! After cleaning up the clinic (the not so fun part), I retired to bed…EXHAUSTED.

Let’s see, Tuesday was a completely different experience. Last week, a formal letter was sent, inviting me to a meeting at the Sun International (the chain of large, expensive hotels in Livingstone). The Sun donated lots of stuff to the orphanage over Christmas. But then, they did a write up in the paper claiming that they oversaw the financial support for this and other orphanages, which is absolutely NOT true. Some people in town got pretty fired up and demanded a meeting. So, a meeting we had. The Manager of the Sun International flew in from South Africa to hear the concerns and how he could help the Zambian community. I was the only American, one of 5 white people, and the youngest by 15 years at the meeting. But, when he asked what the orphanages needs were, I didn’t hesitate to speak up, “FORMULA!” I explained my problem with searching for the understocked formula and paying outrageously for it. He nodded at his assistant and said, “No problem, we’ll ship it in from South Africa and cover all of your formula costs…next item.” The Hallelujah Chorus played through my head for a few minutes before I could focus on the meeting again. This is a huge blessing! The Lord finds some mysterious ways to provide (which sometimes involve missionaries dressing up and sipping tea in fancy board rooms), but He ALWAYS provides. I got to mention some other things about our ministry and farming projects, and the manager also offered to buy any vegetables that we can produce on the farm (for the hotel) at a profit for our people. This could really catapult the people living here into really successful farming, and they would be doing it themselves!

Tuesday evening, Alissa and I got the makings for a cake together and hiked off toward Alexander’s house. His wife has a wood burning oven that they found in farm storage, but doesn’t know how to use it. So, we taught her how to mix a cake together, wrote out a picture recipe, and got baking! The cake turned out great and the family was really excited to know how to make special occasions special now that they know how to bake a cake!

Today I need to do some administrative stuff but am hoping to teach the kids how to have a puppet show a little later. Bible study is at 14 hours (2 o ‘clock) and then Jake, Alissa and I are headed off to Abson’s village for dinner and fellowship. Not every week is this exciting or packed full of so much stuff. And I don’t always feel like such a missionary… a lot of times I feel a lot like you probably do. Just living, trying to follow the Lord and serve the people around me. The Lord is good to give us times of productivity and refreshing. I love you all and hope that I haven’t bored you with such an account. Have a wonderful week!