Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Day 10-An Accomplishment!

Okay, this is honest. And open. Even for me. And I'm feeling a little venerable and exposed. But still really wanting to share. Please don't judge...


I feel like I should have something earth-shattering to tell you on my tenth day of blogging/journaling about the adjustment that I felt in coming back to Zambia this year. But I really don't. I do know that today, my self-proclaimed day of being "fully adjusted", I had a harder day than many of the past ten. It wasn't because of bugs or water shortages, but rather due to simple "job stress" that tends to occur when you take on more than you're sure you can complete effectively. Does it sound silly and far-fetched to you that someone who is living in a foreign country and ministering the Gospel as a career has job stress? I think that, three years ago, it would have sounded far-fetched to me. After all, we begin our days with worship music and start and end every meeting with prayer. We trust God for money and don't have to worry about a raise or much job competition. This should be a cake walk, filled with people speaking encouraging words to each other and making decisions effortlessly. There should be a feeling of satisfaction at the end of the day. "Today, I have HELPED people." Right? Riiigggghhhtttt.

My mom had a phrase she always used when I was young. (Have I shared this before? Sorry for repetition.) Anyway, being an ER nurse, my mom tends to deal with emergencies quite well. And every time I would come home from school, work, voice lessons, play practice...etc. with a DRAMA that I just couldn't see the way out of, my mom would look at me and be all like, "Jessi, you're not saving lives at Brooke High School." Or, "Jessi, you're not saving lives at Krogers." Get it? Meaning...chill out. Forgetting to load a bag of groceries into someone's car did not prevent them from taking in oxygen and surviving. It just wasn't that big a deal.

Sometimes this is hard for me to keep in perspective. Because I feel like it's one thing to give money to an organization doing good things for the under-privelaged people of the world, and to feel a sense of satisfaction. And it's one thing to come here on a short trip and proclaim that "the beauty of the African people changed me way more than I ever could have changed them." And to really feel like you did make an impact. But I feel like there's such a responsibility when you're the one here making the promises to follow through to completion the things that we say we're gonna do, when we're gonna do them. And when we don't, we don't just disappoint ourselves, we let down people who have been let down by people and circumstances for their entire lives. It's just difficult to comfort myself with my mom's standard phrase, "You're not saving lives..." Because, what if I am? Not to mention the saving of souls, what if I could have saved the lives of the 10 kids in Mukuni who died from malaria this rainy season? What if it was as simple as going around with malaria tablets and showing people how to use them? What if...a million times over. Every project is not mine to complete. And nothing is mine to complete anyway. Especially if I'm gonna do them using the "footpumps of Egypt." Meaning that we'll get nothing done laboring in the flesh...

So, believe it or not, it is a stressful job. A rewarding job? Yes. Many times not like work at all? Yes. And no, I do not for one second feel like I'm making some sort of unfair or unneccesary sacrifice. And I never forget the fact that there are people working jobs they DON'T enjoy and sending money to Jake and I to be here. We live in appreciation of that. In the Kingdom, no job is more important than the other. It's not like the missionaries get up to heaven and are told, "Hey, you get first bid for the master suite since you slept with bugs for 20 years." Other people experience way more stress in their jobs and don't get to experience any thanks at all. But there's a lot of responsibility that comes along with privilage. And just when I think I'm hits me.

I woke up yesterday and looked at myself in the mirror. It took me 4 months in the States, as well as lots of lotion and hot showers, to reverse the effects that Africa had on my face last year. It took 10 days to undo it. I look like I'm 24 going on 44 again.

I feel like in some ways I spent 10 days complaining about Africa. You know those old women who complain about their husbands with a gleam in their eye? That's how my heart feels about Zambia. I love these people so much it brings me to tears. I LOVE the culture, the music, the dancing, the food, the language. I am so blessed to be a steward of this cause. How did this ever happen to me...this opportunity? Why is it that I get the privelage of being the one worrying about how to feed the widow instead of how to make my house payment? I will never be able to express how much I feel that we are truly living the dream...

And after living this dream, I'll never be the same again.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Bush Beginnings

We are finally back out into the beautiful Zambian bush! I took off Monday morning at 9 a.m. on the dirt bike and drove out to Nyawa which is roughly a 3 hour drive covering 150 kilometers (in a vehicle this drive takes nearly 6 hours because of the extremely difficult terrain.)

I wasn't sure what to expect for this first trip after spending a significant amount of time in Nyawa last year, specifically with a pastor named Sweyn. I arrived around lunch time to find Sweyn and his family sitting down for a meal. As is customary to wonderful Zambian hospitality, they cheerfully asked me to join them and we sat down to a nice meal of nshima and rape. After eating we began to discuss how things were going over the past four months that we had been gone and I was left absolutely amazed at what Sweyn has accomplished.

I selected Sweyn to be a CLL "Community Life Leader" last year under the LIFE Project which is one of our initiatives that targets widows, orphans and the neglected. Our goal through the LIFE Project is to see every widow, orphan and elderly individual taken care of through their communities by empowering them with education, training and above all, the gospel of Jesus Christ. Sweyn is a crucial component in that he has been chosen to oversee all of the work taking place in a 5 village spread. Not only does his work involve seeing that no one is neglected, but he also carries the important task of seeing that the word of God is proclaimed through these villages and that those who have a desire to be disciples of Jesus Christ get the opportunity to do so.

Sweyn presented me with a comprehensive list of every member (man, woman and child) of the five villages including which ones were widows, single orphans and double orphans (which helps us to determine which initiatives need to take place in each community). He also was pleased to tell me that he has been discipling 10 individuals (2 from each village) and that those individuals were leading 2 Bible Studies a week in their villages. Within an hour of arriving at his home, word had spread and there were 20 adults waiting outside to hear if I was going to share the word of God with them. As we were getting ready to start the service, a man passed through that Sweyn flagged down and after a short conversation we found that the man was headed to a "professional witch doctor" in Zimba. This man had been sick for three years and said that he had been to clinics, hospitals, and witch doctors with no change. We asked him to stay with us and began to share God's word with him about God's authority over sickness and also about God's plans for this man to have a future full of hope. The man,Charles, literally broke down in tears because he was so tired of this physical ailment and he pleaded with us to pray over him. Sweyn and I spent some time praying and afterwards he looked up with a smile and said that all the pain had gone except some pain in his shoulder. We prayed again and Charles testified that all the pain had gone. He immediately grabbed his wife and said that he wanted his family to commit their lives wholly to God. We prayed with them and then headed straight to the church to meet with the eager villagers.

The meeting turned out great as they all showed a lot of excitement that I would be coming every Monday, spending the night and departing on Tuesday afternoons. We decided that each Monday we will hold two meetings where we will be teaching the word of God and then on Tuesdays we will go out in teams to the different villages and visit homes, pray for the sick and preach the word of God.

Now I understand that this may sound like a bunch of numbers and hodge podge, but it is thrilling to see the effects of empowering faithful men and women in our sector to carry the light of the gospel. Our vision is to see this very thing happen over a spread of roughly 800 villages (Masokatwane and Nyawa). I believe with all of my heart that this is the ONLY way to impact a nation. It's more than putting just food in a person's stomach, which we will be's ushering them into an unbreakable hope. No drought, famine or disaster can take this fact from them...they are loved by God and have been chosen before time began to glorify God and enjoy Him forever! This is our portion in life.

This Scripture hit me the other day and has totally transformed the confidence I have day to day:

But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. (2Cor. 2:14)

I love this Scripture because it is a promise. I don't have to doubt whether or not I will spread the fragrance of the knowledge of Christ...this passage tells me that in Christ I am ALWAYS led in triumphal procession and I am ALWAYS spreading the knowledge of Christ to the earth.

We MUST live with faith. We must live with a confidence that is rooted in the word of God. Let me ask you. Do you expect to always be lead in triumphal procession in your day to day activities? You cannot lose with Jesus. Do you realize that you are spreading the fragrance of the knowledge of Christ in your work place, at the grocery store, around your family, at your school? Let us thank God this day for giving us promises that cannot be thwarted by any thing on, above or below this earth. The only thing that can keep us from these promises is unbelief. Let us stir up our faith today and build the kingdom of God on this earth.

Please be praying for Sweyn and the ministry taking place in Nyawa. I am going to begin a series on "Bush Survival" and take you guys through some of the "survival skills and tools" that I've learned to use over the last couple of years here in Zambia. (i promise lots of pics on the next blog...)

We love you all. Keep praying for us. Please let us know how we can be praying for you.


Monday, February 16, 2009 pictures! Day 8

I am LOVING the internet speed!

Jake is in Nyawa for the next couple of days (tear). But, we had a great day today. Worked in the office this morning, went to town with Sunda for base shopping in the afternoon, and helped lead a youth meeting in the evening.

Sunda and one of the three kittens that are currently living in the office. She's afraid to hold him from underneath because he, "cratches me, Mommy."

Sunda and Auntie having a coke in town. This place may look like Mickey D's. But believe me, there's no comparison. Coke, however, is better in Zambia. I'm convinced.

That's me in the Texas hat (what?!) I've lost my 30th pair of sunglasses, and this was the only hat I could find to keep me from going blind in this sun.

This was a youth meeting called "Youth On Fire," led by our friend Jack. The kids were so much fun. They're always so surprised when I greet them and sing songs that they know in Tonga, Bemba, etc. Little do they know...I don't know much else!

I drove today for the first time since being back. Oh, these roads. I have to show you a picture of the road that we drive on everyday. Getting behind the wheel of a vehicle is always a challenge for me. But, I made it today!

See you tomorrow!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Spiritual Ponderings-Day 7

Since being in Africa, there are a lot of things in Scripture that just make a whole lot more sense:

The Plagues in Exodus 8, 9.

Flies and Gnats feel like a daily plague. It just depends on what time of year it is. In the dry season, the flies are out in full force and with a vengeance. We joke that you can tell an African fly versus a non-African fly because African flies just DON’T GIVE UP. In rainy season, the gnats come in droves. Leave any body of water in the open for any amount of time, and it becomes a breeding ground. This includes cups of water, the leftovers in the kitchen sink, and the puddles you make with your feet when you get out of the shower.

Jesus washing the disciples’ feet. [John 13:12]

I would LOVE IT if someone would come and wash my feet at the end of the day. It’s a process that takes work. What a humble and beautiful Lord we serve.

The cool of the morning.
[Gen. 3:8]

Okay, so this is a stretch because this verse speaks of God walking with Adam and Eve in the cool of the DAY. But, there really is a cool of the morning, at around 4 or 5am, right before the sun rises. Sometimes, it’s the only time in a restless night when you can feel the cool breeze coming through the windows. (By the way, what are you doing with your windows open? This is Malaria Country! Yeah well. It’s either get sick with malaria or die of suffocation. I haven’t had malaria yet (thank you Jesus), but I’ve come close to the suffocation part. So, I open the windows. Settle down. We sleep under mosquito nets. 

Esther: The year of beautification before she went before the king.
[Esther 2:12]

This always seemed so ridiculous to me. How can you spend a YEAR in the spa? But Esther was a hard-working Jewish woman: Washing the clothes, scrubbing the house, de-feathering the chickens. I’ve seen these unbelievable Zambian women scrub a pot with dirt (it works!) until their hands are bleeding. They could definitely use a year at the spa (and I wish I could give it to them!)

In the Song of Solomon, when the woman says to her beloved, “I’ve already taken off my robe and washed my feet. Do you want me to come back out [and answer the door]?
[Song of Sol. 5:3]

I feel your pain! Once you’re in bed, appropriately dressed in the coolest attire you can manage, with clean feet, and the mosquito net hung nicely down, you don’t want to get up for ANYTHING.

The innumerable stars.
[Jer. 33:22]

I’m talking STARS. Like you’re never seen them before in your life. Like you’re going to get swallowed up in the Milky Way. Unbelievable.

Speaking of stars, why am I staring at my computer screen when the Milky Way is calling my name? Goodnight, and Happy Sunday!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

10 Easy Steps-Day 6

How to go about killing a spitting cobra: (most information acquired courtesy of the “snake hunter”, Jake Schwertfeger)

#1) Train your 3-year-old to tell you when she sees snakes by saying, “Daddy, there’s a snake there. Go kill it.”

#2) Tell Paul, who is about to walk into the snake’s path, to go the other way.

#3) Run the 3-year-old to safety with mom, who continues making the bed, but stops to say, “If you’re gonna kill a cobra, at least wear something over your eyes.”

#4) put on plastic Nerf goggles from Sunda’s new toy guns to avoid painful and unnecessary trauma when the spitting cobra aims for your eyes.

#5) Find the biggest rock in the near vicinity.

#6) Back the now angry snake into one of the outdoor bathroom stalls and prepare for the kill.

#7) Use your Little League skills to beam the snake (preferably near the head).

#8) Once the snake is appropriately injured gets close enough to hack off its head with a machete.

#9) Come and show your wife and daughter the headless, still moving, snake.

#10) Get pictures (for the blog, of course).


#11) Don’t let the dogs eat the snake. It just doesn’t seem like a good idea.

I have one more thing to add to the “I Can’t Promise” post:
Sunda, I can’t promise that we won’t see a snake or two. But, I CAN promise that I will absolutely BELIEVE you when you say that you see one.

Thanks Sunda-girl, it would have been no fun nursing your dad through a cobra bite. And I’m glad we remembered to give him those Nerf sunglasses of yours. Putting a grown man in a headlock and flushing his eyes out with milk while he shrieks in pain would not have been my idea of a Valentine’s Day date.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Sunny, Breezy, and 80 = Perfect

It’s perfectly mild and beautiful outside right now. How funny that I am such a fan of the heat during the day, but absolutely hate it at night. It’s just so hard to sleep when it’s STILL 80 degrees outside. I’m not sleeping well yet. It takes me forever to fall asleep and then I wake up restless. I know for sanity’s sake I should just lay down with Sunda when she sleeps in the afternoon. But, even in the middle of Africa I’m too American to nap in the middle of a work day. So, maybe I’ll get so exhausted my body will forget that it has trouble sleeping in the heat and I’ll just collapse at 7 o’clock one night.

Tonight Jake and I are leaving Sunda with Auntie for a couple of hours to go (literally) next door, to the neighboring lodge for dinner (our Valentine’s Day, a day early.) It’s about 5 miles away, and takes about 15 minutes with both of us on the motorbike. I can’t wait. The lodge is right on the gorge like we are and the sunset will be gorgeous. And the batteries on my camera are dead. Figures, right?

Tomorrow is a day off! Jake and I have decided that we are going to take Saturdays as a family day. It’s really easy here to run around without getting much done, but hard to really take a day off. I really feel like not having a day to do something fun as a family makes us all irritable. Sunday never works because if we’re not traveling into the bush, we’re often leading worship or Jake is preaching. And when we have church here on the base there is always massive cooking to be done ( In the kitchen. All day.) We’ll see how Saturdays work out. It’s just so nice to be able to work hard on Friday knowing that tomorrow is a free day!

On one of our Saturdays off, we might end up going to the movies, because…


According to rumor, the Livingstone Cinemas have Saturday morning movies for kids (for REALLY cheap). They show fairly old flicks. Tomorrow is Shrek 2 and Happy Feet. Apparently, there is also a Wednesday night showing which you have to “dress up” to go to. A consideration for date night!
It doesn’t really take much to entertain us. In fact, if they have air conditioning and popcorn, I would pretty much sit through anything. I miss going to the movies, but how can anyone afford it in America anymore? Jake and I ran over one evening after we put Sunda in bed (Nene stayed with her), and they had raised the prices drastically since we’d been to the movies last. The Livingstone Cinemas might be my only chance to see it on the big screen.

It’s true that there’s not always a lot to do in the entertainment department here in L/Stone. But, somehow, we end up with plans almost every weekend. Why? People here actually entertain in their homes (like, informally, and without reason.) It’s not something we do all that much of in America anymore. But here, there is always a barbecue or a dinner party going on. I love that hanging out with people is just not always centered around an activity or a function. But rather, just because. You don’t have to do anything together. Isn’t the company enough? It is such a cool way to get to know people.

Happy Friday everyone!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A couple of pictures

I haven't been able to post pictures at night. So here they are, in the morning!

Sunda eating "offals" and nshima for lunch. Offals are the insides of a cow. She loves them. WHAT?!

Sunda with Churchley, Carl and Megan's dog. Churchley is the world's most gentle, patient dog. Yet he still runs from Sunda after awhile. I used to call her the "Dog Whisperer." I think it's more like the "Dog Torturer."

Selfish Generousity

Jake left at the crack of dawn to head out to Nyawa for the day. That's a 7-hour roundtrip on the motorbike. He swaggered in at 6:30pm, filled with mud and sand and looking like he was going to fall over. And then he sat down with his spaghetti and tried not to fall asleep into it.

I just have to say, I think my husband is really cool for biking all the way out to a little reached area through the mud and the muck and almost impassable roads. He said he took 3 falls today. That's something he wouldn't generally admit to or be proud of except for the fact that there were mud puddles the size of swimming pools covering entire sections of the road. He rode out, met with and encouraged local pastors and leaders, and came back to me in time for dinner. What a champ. I definitely would have burst into tears and pushed the dirtbike home after the first fall. That's why we take a Land Rover when I go.

Anyway, Sunda and I had a great day here. One of the things that we did today was go through a lot of the stuff that we left here last year. I am almost obsessive about not keeping more things than we need. It was awful going through everything that generous people gave us while we were home. I gave away and threw away SO many things that we just couldn't afford to transport or store. Plus, my life is difficult enough in Africa without having to deal with clutter. So, I compulsively give things away. These shoes a bit too tight? Give them away. This shirt look a little goofy? Give it away. We don't this cereal? Give it away.

I am convinced that if people in America had people to give stuff to, they wouldn't have so much stuff. I mean, really, how absolutely ridiculous is it that we live in a country where people fill their houses with stuff and then rent storage spaces to house the stuff that they can't fit in their two car garages? One of the best things about Zambia is that I can give away anything and it is completely appreciated and put to good use. However, I'm realizing that I often only give away the things that I don't want or don't think that we can use. The things that are no longer pretty enough or good enough for me. It's really no sacrifice to give these things away. In fact, it's convenient. In a land where no one comes with a big truck to pick up the garbage, giving it away saves me having to start a fire.

So, I'm not really giving at all. I'm letting someone else be my garbage service. And they appreciate it. But I often feel like a shmuck. Because I have to actually think, STILL, before I just automatically throw things in the garbage. Sock that's stained brown beyond recognition? Pitch it. Doll that is missing half it's hair? Pitch it. But then I catch people that I love, respect, and work with everyday going through my garbage pile. Dying to get ahold of the stuff that is trash to me. One day I picked broccoli from the garden to make for dinner. Broccoli (just in case you don't know) comes in a head attached to lots of leaves on the outside. Like cabbage. I trimmed off the leaves and washed the broccoli, then cut off the big part of the stalk before I started chopping it for cooking. The housekeeper stopped me and said, "You mean, that is the only part that you eat?" I said, "Of course! You can't eat the other parts, can you?" She then proceeded to chop up all of the leaves AND the stalk that I had put in the compost and make a delicious, spinach-like dish with them.

I digress. You really don't want me to try and post everyday. I'll just ramble.

My point is that as nice as it is to be able to take something that you don't want anymore and see it be put to good use, it's really difficult to stop and think before you throw anything away. And it's even more difficult to figure out how to give it away fairly and without causing a fight. And it's even more difficult when I remember that I live in a third world country and I still think it's okay to have 10 pairs of shoes and 6 pairs of jeans. Let's not talk about the 8 kinds of lotion/perfume. And I give away shirts that I don't really like. I think I could manage to actually GIVE something every once in awhile. Instead of just using people as my trash service.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Things I Can't Promise-Day 4

The time that we spent in America was really good for me as a mom. It was so reassuring to be able to do things for Sunda that I secretly feel like I should be doing for her but am not able to do here because of circumstances. These things are not usually important or earth-shattering: Dinner with family on Sundays. Attending Uncle Cody's soccer games and Uncle Henry's football games. Going to the children's museum. Playing in the balls at McDonalds. (Although, you know that we just recently went to a Chuck-E-Cheese and there were no ball pits to be had? What has this world come to?)

That stuff isn't really that big a deal. But the big stuff does come up. I think about schooling and what it will take to provide her with a good education. What about activities? There isn't anywhere to take a dance class or get piano lessons. And there aren't any rec soccer leagues where they get to wear those cute little size 3T Umbro shorts.

I think about social issues. Once she gets older, will she have a hard time being in America while we're there? Judging people who don't understand the things that she understands? Will she misunderstand the things that kids her age take for granted and feel left out because she hasn't been given the opportunity to be in the "mainstream?"

I mean, I give myself perfectly good answers to the silly questions and fairly good arguments to my shallow points. But sometimes I think about the things that I'm not able to promise Sunda.

I can't promise that I'll make cupcakes to take to her soccer game.
I can't promise that we'll go to DQ after her first spelling test.
I can't promise that she'll have violin lessons and ballet class.
I can't promise that she'll be able to "fit in." everywhere that she feels like she should.

But, then I start thinking about the things that I can promise.

I can promise that her parents will always do the will of God and will do it with joy.
I can promise that she will always be involved in our ministry and will never be considered a burden, but always a pleasure.
I can promise that we will have friends of all cultures and backgrounds, and that when she doesn't fit in with anyone else, she'll fit in with them.
I can promise that she will understand how most of the world lives, and how blessed and fortunate she is to have enough food in her belly.

I can't promise that we won't have to run from a snake or two. But I can promise that she'll probably make a good baseball player from all the rocks we fling at them!

I can't promise that we'll always have cold Cokes. But I can promise that we'll never be thirsty (for very long at least.)

I can't promise that we'll always be comfortable. But I can promise that we'll always be with each other!

See, that made me feel better just writing it out. Sometimes you just gotta do that to remember how good you really have it. Count your blessings tonight that your belly is full and you are warm and healthy. I mean, I'm counting all three of those things as blessings tonight, except I might ask to just be a little cooler. ;)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Day 3- It's a shame....

...because I really thought that I would have 10 days worth of adjustment to blog about. But for the life of me, I can't think of anything that's been weird or different about today. Can't think of anything that's been exceptionally hard. In fact, I am actually loving the base in it's near-empty state. Enjoying the lack of chaos and even the lack of socialization. Besides us, Jack and Paul are the only ones on the base right now...and it's been really nice. Paul is in the kitchen right now cooking us up some barbecued chicken for dinner. Can it get more normal than that?

Today we started off with morning worship, which was wonderful because I really missed getting to start every day off making a joyful noise to the Lord! (Name that Scripture, Bethie...Psalm 34:7? ;) ) I think the others did too, since they haven't had a guitar player since before Thanksgiving. Then, it was onto meetings with Arthur (our base director, immediate boss, and all around good guy.) It was great to catch up on the happenings of the base and the different projects while we were gone.

After meeting with Arthur, Paul got me up to speed with the finances so that I could take them over, and my afternoons of fighting with Microsoft Excel began again...

In the afternoon, while Sunda slept, I got a lot of unpacking and organizing done. We're now officially unpacked as much as we can be considering that we're moving into our chalet as soon as possible. But it still feels nice to have an organized room for now.

Sunda and I played "princess" when she woke up and showed Auntie Fridah pictures of the family and the snow. And tomorrow someone is coming to plait Sunda's hair...and Momma's on vacation!)

So, like I said....normal and uneventful. I'm going to try REALLY hard tomorrow to be freaked out about something so that I can share it with you. The most exciting thing that happened today was watching Paul's pet scorpion (I don't even want to talk about it) eat the spider that I mentioned last night. That was awful.

Off to enjoy a relaxing evening!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Morning Peace-Day 2

“Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way…” 2 Thess. 3:16

There is absolutely nothing like the peace of a morning here on the Rapid 14 Base. How did I go for so long without soaking in the sun first thing in the morning?

The entire time that we spent at home in the States, I struggled in the morning. I had to drag myself out of my warm bed and into the cold and often dark. It was a battle to get up with Sunda (even when she slept until 7:30 or 8 o’clock.) This morning, however, despite not falling asleep until 1am or later, it was easy to get up by 7am. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not always easy to get out of bed in the morning in Zambia. But it’s definitely a whole lot easier than getting out of bed when it’s blowing snow and -5 degrees outside. When the sun is already hot, and people are walking past your bedroom window on the way to staff devotions, it’s easier to convince yourself that the day has started.

Back to the peaceful part: It’s still cool in the shade at 7:30 in the morning. Sunda is playing already, and I can hear the water from the rapids rushing below me as I sit with my Bible and coffee. There is a lot to be done today. But, no one minds if it’s not all finished today. In Zambia, as opposed to in America, I feel like I can work diligently for the day and then “knock-off”, satisfied that tomorrow is a new day with new opportunities to get stuff done. In America, I always feel rushed to complete the next thing…there never seems like there is enough time!
Amidst the difficulty of transition, I am remembering why I love it here so much. Also, I am reminded of why the transition is so difficult. While I enjoy not being rushed, being here means that I actually have to give up control of my plans. My schedule. My comfort. My home’s cleanliness. But that’s exactly what makes this morning so peaceful. Knowing that while I can try and plan today down to the minute, it probably won’t work. And that’s okay.

On a sidenote: When people first come to Zambia, the smell really bothers them. After a while, you don’t notice it anymore. But, when I first got here in 2006, I definitely noticed. It was hard for me to be amongst lots of people, especially in church. Strong body odor mixed with harsh lye soap mixed with cooking fire and the sweet smell of wet thatch. Now, that combination of smells just smells like…home. When I opened my suitcases today and got out some of the candles and potpourri I’d packed, they almost smelled too strong. Too sterile. Very weird. So, even though the bugs still bother me…the smell doesn’t.

(On that thought, our friend Jack just killed a spider the size of my palm. Okay, so, the bugs still REALLY bother me. But, don’t worry, the Lord is “giving me peace at all times.” Also, don’t let that spider be the reason you don’t come to visit me.)

Sunday, February 8, 2009

10 Day Journal

Today is definitely a new day in terms of my perspective and attitude. 10 hours of sleep last night and a nap this afternoon probably helped quite a bit. After re-reading what I wrote last night, I decided that I am going to try and journal for the next 10 day about how we are re-adjusting to Zambia. (We'll see if we can even get the husband in on the blogging action.) It'll be as much for my own records as anything else, and should be interesting to see what the next 10 days holds.

So, like I said, it's a new day. There are still bugs in my bed. (This is due to the fact that in the rainy season, the damp thatch roofing attracts little tiny bugs that love any moisture, including sweat.) But, church was great. Jake and I sang our favorite praise song, "Ta Kwabaoowabanga Jesu" at almost every church we visited back hin the States. But today, we finally heard it the way it's supposed to sound. It felt like home to be in a tiny, dark church singing loud enough for the cows to hear.

How's Sunda adjusting? Does Sunda actually have to adjust to anything? She dove right in yesterday, rolling in the grass, taking off her long sleeve shirt, and cruising around on her little tricycle. "Look at da gorge, Mommy!" "There's da doggie, Mommy!" "Where's Auntie, Mommy?" I think we can safely say that Sunda is a true missionary kid, she goes everywhere happily with little adjustment period. Now if she can just get her Momma to catch up!

The internet is fast enough for me to post a picture (how cool is that!) So, here you have Jake and Sunda on their moto-cross mud adventure today. This was the first thing she wanted to do when we got back, can you blame her?

See you tomorrow!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Warning: It's dangerous to articulate feelings when you haven't slept in 48 hours

Okay, so...we're here! We arrived this afternoon with all persons and luggage (and minds) intact. Praise God! Our little chalet isn't quite finished yet, so we're stay in the guest room of the "big" chalet until it is. (Also a huge blessing).

So, like I said...we're here. But, if I tried to articulate my feelings right now, they wouldn't necessarily be positive. I hate to admit that I actually tend to have quite a difficult time transitioning from America back to Africa (not so much the other way...imagine...) It's so funny, because once I get my groove goin' I love it and am absolutely comfortable and at home. But after 4 months in the States, the heat and the bugs are making me crazy already! However, I haven't slept more than 7 or 8 hours in the last three days. SO, I suppose tonight isn't exactly the time to analyze my calling in Africa.

This post has no lesson or value or even information. It's only a slow sigh and whine from this American girl who just got thrown back into a country/continent that she loves, but always has a little bit of trouble adjusting to. Just want you to know. In case any of you have any sort of delusion that I'm really tough and faithful or that this is always a piece of cake for me (I won't speak for Jake, it pretty much is a piece of cake for him, but he doesn't really count, there's not much that ever bothers him). Besides the hardships that make for good stories, sometimes Africa is just plain hard because it makes you doubt the reason you even tell those stories...

However, tonight promises sleep (hopefully!) And tomorrow will consist of church in the bush (one of my favorite things to come back to). So, chat with me later. I might have a totally different attitude. Like I said, I don't know if it's safe to judge feelings when you're this sleep deprived.


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

48 Hours to Go....

...and I've already lost my mind (that, or it's going, really fast!)

Monday, February 2, 2009

Down to the Wire

I have to admit, the next few days will be some of my least favorite this year. We're leavin' on a jet plane from D.C. on Thursday evening. Which means that we are renting a car from Pittsburgh on Wednesday night, and leaving Thursday morning to make the 4-hour drive to D.C. We fly for South Africa on Thursday at 5:40pm. We'll be on the plane for 18 hours, and then spend the night in South Africa. On Saturday, we'll arrive in Zambia at about 1:30 in the afternoon. Just in time for church on Sunday.

However, the reason these days are not my favorite is not only because of leaving friends and family. That part is really hard too. But the part that is REALLY stressful is trying to get everything together, packed into the appropriate number of 50-pound bags, and out the door so as not to miss our flight to Zambia. It's really hard to get motivated to do this. At least for me. "Will I want this?" "Will I need that?" "Do I need anything else from Walmart?" And then, the whole time I'm in Zambia, I think things like, "Would it have been so hard for me to bring some more Ziploc bags?"

On that note, I MUST get started. This is ridiculous. I'm stressing myself out just thinking about it.