Friday, August 31, 2012

Twenty Miles Wide, One Inch Deep

We recently went on something of a prayer walk around Mpulungu.  Christopher, one of the team leaders, took us up to a 100-year-old church that was built just a few years after David Livingstone died.  Livingstone was instrumental in opening up Africa for the cause of missions, and it’s in his footsteps that we’re following now.  Seeing the church where people gathered for prayer and worship was a pretty powerful experience. 
Chris told us a lot about the current state of missions in Zambia and throughout Africa.  There are many efforts to evangelize unreached groups, but proportionally less effort in discipleship.  He described it as the message going 20 miles wide but only 1inch deep.  When you think about it, it’s a lot easier to go tell something to someone once and leave than to invest so much of yourself and your time into their lives.  But which method is more effective?  I believe that real transformation and life change happens when we dig into the trenches with the lost and live life with them, being a constant example of the power of the gospel.  That’s what discipleship is all about.
What we’re seeing among the missionaries here is real discipleship, and it’s so encouraging to see the fruit of their labors!  Rather than spending time preaching to thousands of people, the team here is invested in the lives of a few families and individuals.  Though the numbers might not be huge, the effect is incredible, and they are seeing yet again just how awesome our God really is!  We are so blessed to be a small part of this ministry over the next three months.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Blessing the Teachers

This afternoon was really exciting!  I mentioned in an earlier post about all the school supplies that we brought from the US.  Well, today we got to give it all to the teachers, and they were very excited to receive it all.  I was once again just so thankful for all the teachers at Beaufort Elementary, who so generously donated so many wonderful things for the orphan school here.  On the whole there aren’t very many materials for the teachers and students, so having all these incredible teaching materials is such a blessing!

We had a meeting with the head teacher yesterday to figure out exactly what Susanna and I will be doing over the next three months.  We decided that I will teach English in the 2nd and 3rd grade classes and she’ll teach math.  Due to a cholera outbreak in our region, the start date for school is pushed back till September 10, but then we’ll be off and running!  We will have one week to observe the teachers and get to know the students, the language, and a bit more of the culture before we dive into teaching ourselves. 
Susanna and me with all the clocks!  If nothing else these kids are going to be able to tell time before we leave!
One thing I learned today is that twice a month the teachers go out to the town and surrounding villages to visit the children in their homes.  While all of the students are orphans, they still live with extended families.  What a ministry this is in itself that the teachers would take the time to visit and pray for these kids and their relatives!  Susanna and I will get to go out with everyone on Saturday to meet some of the children, and I’m really looking forward to it!  I’m sure I will have lots to post about when we get back!

Adventures in the Kitchen

Sometimes ministry isn’t big and flashy.  Sometimes ministry means serving in whatever ways are needed, even ways you might not anticipate.  In our case that means cooking.  Among other things, cooking in Zambia can be difficult.  Of course, it’s all a matter of perspective.  We are blessed to have a kitchen here at all as well as a stocked pantry.  Many people in this area can’t say that, so we are certainly grateful for what we have!

Our team shares the cooking responsibilities, and we trade off who prepares each meal.  In case you’re wondering, we eat mostly bread, peanut butter, and bananas for breakfast and lunch, and dinner is anything from whole fish to rice and vegetables.  There’s nothing quite as disconcerting as having your dinner stare up at you from your plate.

Last night Susanna and I tackled dinner together, and oh my, was it an experience.  Our task was pretty simple since someone else has done quite a bit of prep work earlier in the day.  We needed to boil the pasta, and we knew we had to do it quickly because the power would go out at any minute.  (The power goes out every day or so for a few hours at a time.)  While we do have a stove in the communal kitchen, it’s a rather finicky one.  What we learned too late was that, for the particular burner we were using, when it’s off it’s on and vice versa.  Despite trying to boil water in the electric kettle and pouring it in the already hot pot, that water refused to boil.  We had no idea the stove was basically off the whole time.  After trying desperately for 45 minutes, the pasta, which had been sitting in the warm water the whole time, was getting soggy.  After awhile even the most adventurous cooks give up, so that’s exactly what we did.  And wouldn’t you know, if you put enough cheese on anything it still tastes good! 

Just minutes after we had all the food on the outdoor table, the power went out, not to come back on for several hours.  (It actually just came on as I’m writing this.)  Doing dishes in the dark is a whole other adventure of its own!  

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Christmas in August

During my last two weeks working at Beaufort Elementary School I asked teachers to donate materials that they were willing to part with, and I was absolutely blown away by everyone’s generosity.  I received boxes and boxes filled with wonderful materials, many of which were basically new!  Over the last few weeks Holly had also been sending us lists of things to bring with us, so by the time we started packing we had a lot to load into our one suitcase and 3 sea bags.

So, Patrick and I not only brought ourselves to Africa, but also about 150 pounds worth of things for Holly and the orphan school as well.  Our first night here we celebrated “Christmas” as we opened up the bags to show everyone what we’d brought.  It was so fun to see how excited the team was about all the new things! 

Holly surrounded by just a fraction of the things we brought.
It put into perspective for me how much we take for granted in the US just because things are easily accessible there.  It is easy to forget to be thankful for even the little things we have since we have never had to live without them.  It’s funny, but even without all the luxuries of home, we always seem to have what we need to get by.  I’m sure that over the next three months I will continue to see more of this type of gratitude for the little things, and I’m hoping that I can take that mindset back to the US with me when we return.   

Part of the team that was there to watch us unpack everything.

A View of Mpulungu

Yesterday afternoon we ventured into town for the first time to do some shopping and to drop someone off at the bus station.  Though we were just there Monday morning, we didn’t get to take any pictures, and we were so tired that we didn’t really absorb much of the atmosphere anyway. 

The town of Mpulungu is just as I expected it would be.  It is very hot (though not as hot as it will be in a few weeks!) and dusty.  People are always milling about no matter what time it is.  We got off the bus the other day at 6AM, and you would have though it was the middle of the afternoon based on the number of people out and about. 

One somewhat exciting thing here is that there are many of the same cars we had in Okinawa.  I see Spacios driving all over the place, which is the car I had in Japan.  Patrick laughs at me because I’m always talking about the cars here.  I guess they make me nostalgic. 

The market was pretty exciting, and it seems like you can buy pretty much anything you want, though items look rather used when you buy them.  Because everything is hot and dusty, things always seem a bit dirty.  It will be hard for me to get used to that since I’m normally such a neat freak!
See the Spacio in the background?

I do love a good bit of irony...
And this is just funny...