Friday, 17 June 2016

What a difference a tiny year makes....

Where do I even begin? It has been… almost a year since I’ve written. Last time I wrote it was about the loss of my child. This time, it's about the birth of my child. What a difference a tiny year makes..... Life took over, and I wasn’t going to write but since people have been asking (so annoying when people write that, right? Humble brag alert!) Here goes. (I added pictures so the faint of heart don't get bored.

A lot will be missing, because time is gone and life has pushed on. I’ll compartmentalize and focus on the big stuff. First and foremost, and ultimately most interesting and most important- the birth of the sweetest girl in the world.  (Warning. Some parts are gross. Not my fault- childbirth’s fault)


Pregnancy was a confusing time for me. I felt like… I felt unmentionably bad a lot of the time. The first trimester was hard- I vomited daily pretty much throughout, I was dizzy a lot, I lost appetite and then lost weight,  and couldn’t stand the smell of anything.  Really. Anything that exsisted.

I also somehow loved the way I felt. Just to be pregnant. The bigger I got the better I felt I looked (so weird). Never felt prettier than in my 500 pound (not really) 9th month of pregnancy. The middle trimester gave me a bit of a break- I had TONS of energy and wanted to just do- everything. That was around the time my husband and the ladies at church stopped allowing me to do anything and so that was also a confusing time because I felt a bit helpless. Third trimester was. Well it was about 5 years long, I couldn’t sleep. I lost weight, I puked everything, I only wanted potatoes,  I had perpetual inferno heartburn and swelled up like the Michelin tires marshmallow guy. Still felt like I looked awesome. I literally stared at myself in the mirror all the time. So weird. I struggled a lot with feeling like I was letting everyone down because my husband was doing… well everything. I wasn’t making it to church, or literacy class or ladies meetings. I was feeling like I was missing out on everything and nothing was going to run without me (yea, gross. Got humbled real fast when everything just moved right along without my presence).  I also felt like with Sydneys focus on me, he was neglecting the church and that I would ultimately be the downfall of his ministry. Irrational? Yes. But that’s how I felt.


After the 436th day of my 9th month of pregnancy, on a Saturday, I wrote a letter to mom to let her know that water was leaking for a few days and was this normal or am I in labor or what (not cute waiting for facebook messages when you are clueless about having a baby and just want your mother there). She informed me that noooope that’s not ok when you are weeks overdue and to go to the hospital. We did, that afternoon. We had a family from LBC, the Dubekas, who have become friends and gave us the name of their friend who works at our “nice” hospital here in Mpika. We called her, she is a nun, and she said we should come in. She met us at the door and I was checked. I had started the labor process but was told that it was early, and could be 2 hours or 2 days depending on my body and how I deal with labor. I was given a choice to stay or leave as long as we were ready to come back any time.

Now, lemme ‘splain something here. The hospitals here, (if they are not private and in a major city) don’t have nice little one bed rooms like they have in the states. We made the big mistake of watching tons of baby and childbirth shows on TLC through the whole pregnancy depicting a doctor and a team of nurses and clean hospital beds with a bathroom in your room and where your family is there and you are hooked up to monitors and given epidurals. HA. No dice. Here there are big rooms with rows and rows of beds, all of them always full, of course. That’s the “pre labor” room. Then there is a big gymnasium sized room with mattresses on the floor. While I was there there were 70 women from all villages from miles and miles who were anywhere from 6-9 months along. They come here to wait. They live at the hospital for the last few months because where they come from there are no hospitals. They just live there and sleep on the floor and wait. You bring your own everything. And I mean everything. E.G.  you bring a bucket to go to the bathroom in that sits under the bed. You just use it. Right there.  A lady comes by to empty it every once in a while. It’s the stuff of nightmares, people. Also men can’t go in said rooms so I’d be by myself in a room full of people speaking Bemba and staring at me wondering why the white lady was here giving birth and hadn’t just used her bags of dollars to go back to the states. Then there’s the active labor room where the babies are born (the same room where I saw my first baby’s tiny body and said goodbye to him when I miscarried), at least there, there are curtains.

We opted to go home.

Saturday night and Sunday passed with no baby. Monday we walked in circles around the house every hour 6 times. I was ready to just cut her out myself. Monday night the power went out. We were both exhausted so I ate a bowl of cornflakes and we laid In bed watching  tv shows on the laptop. Suddenly I felt sick. I was back and forth to the bathroom til I realized it wasn’t passing. Again we called the nun who helped us the last time and she said to come in for a check.

We got there with our bags (full of things like chitenges/sheets for the bed, gloves for the nurses, disinfectant and bleach… all required for YOU to bring, not the hospital to provide….) and buckets in tow and there was one midwife on duty. Not a midwife and a doctor, not a midwife and a team of nurses…. For the 70 some women in the big room, the 20 some women in the “waiting” labor room and me and the other lady in labor- there was ONE midwife to care for us. She checked me and when she measured my stomach her eyes bulged out. She checked again. And again… then she said she was going to call the doctor. She could feel baby’s head but she measured my stomach at 49 cm. It’s supposed to match the amount of weeks you are (for example a 36 week pregnancy measures 36cm). A full term pregnancy is 40 weeks. An overdue pregnancy is 42 or 43. I was measuring 49. She called the doctor from the “other room” aka behind the curtain and she asked him to come and check me. Mind you, he was at home snoozing. It was after 1 AM. He agreed.

When he got there I was, by then, pretty miserable. I still had not had what I thought was any contraction (I suppose now that what I was feeling for the past 5 hours was contractions, they were just not anything like what anyone told me they would be. It was just waves of nausea and pain, basically- not “contractions” or tightening  or anything like that. Never felt one.) He checked me and immediately said I needed a c section.

Now, I want to explain. It is not common practice for men to be any part of the labor/delivery process. We did everything in our power to MAKE SURE that Sydney would be there with me throughout because the one thing we both wanted more than anything was to meet our child together, as a family.. They complied, and he was there thus far but we knew c section was A. dangerous. B. dangerous. C. surgery- dangerous. And D. he wouldn’t be there. We begged but the doc said from what he could feel there was no way her body, at the size it was, was coming out of my body, the size I was, naturally. He gave us 5 hours to make progression, and if there wasn’t any then I was going in for c section. So I got to lie there for 5 hours and wait. Oh I forgot to mention. The bed Is just this awkward downward tilting plastic thing, and they make you bring black plastic garbage bag material to lay on so you don’t mess up there bed so you are sliding and sticking and its painful and awkward AND the bed is, for some reason, 500 feet off the floor so you have to CLIMB STEPS to get in it then balance yourself so you don’t slide off because you are downward tilting plastic on plastic. The worst.

Halfway through the lady in the “stall” next to me started going into full on “pushing time” labor so the midwife (still the only person there- the doctor went back home to finish sleeping) CALLED THE JANITOR to assist. The janitor came and set up the baby bed thing and the towels and clothes the mom brought and then went and assisted. They made Sydney leave so that he “wouldn’t get scared” hearing her give birth so I was alone. Around that time either the pain, the horror of listening to that woman give birth or just the irony of it all, I started to throw up so I had to climb up and down off the plastic, in searing pain, on steps, no hospital gown, husband, nurse, or dignity in sight and puke in a bucket on the floor.


So that was the next hour or so of my life. I was actually thinking in my head. “This is happening. This is actually happening in your life right now.” Those were my thoughts. Not “You’re gonna have a baby! A little bundle of joy! Praise God!” No. No. I was thinking “There’s a garbage back stuck to my back, I’m puking in a bucket in my bare feet on a dirty floor in a hospital where BY THE WAY I haven’t been hooked up to a single machine or monitor. Two people have poked around at my belly and said I need surgery. I have no husband, I’ll likely die. Will my family come here or will they send my body there or….”


Finally Sydney came back. He was reading his kindle and I wanted to shove it down his throat. He touched my leg and I just told him that I really really didn’t want to murder him so he just sat back in the corner and did nothing for the rest of the time. I love him for that. The doc came back, my progress was minimal so I needed to go for Csection. They then had to call the team, who was all still at home!! Surprise!

The midwife came to prep me for surgery and started hooking me to IV’s and giving me injections. I asked what she was giving at some point and she said “antibiotics and blah blah blah…” I said well…. I am deathly allergic to amoxicillins so….”  At that point she put DOWN the needle full of amoxin in her hand and got me something else. Awesome. I was barely able to move from the pain but I had to get out of that bed and onto a wheely bed. That was a process- trying to maintain some dignity by wrapping a cloth around myself, hooked to an iv and climbing up and down steps to get in beds (WHAT IS WITH the jack and the beanstalk beds). They wheeled me away from my husband and I suddenly got so angry. So so angry that he was just left there. He wanted so badly to be a part of his childs birth and in an instant he was told to go sit somewhere and miss everything. Angry that this was how I was bringing my baby into the world.

The bed I was on didn’t fit through the door to the surgery so I had to swap beds again (ready to give up on life at this point). They got me into the surgery room FINALLY and…. I had to swap to the operating bed. I just looked at the surgeon and he finally told everyone to help me and they complied, all the while saying “she’s way too fat” “she’s so huge and heavy”. There were sharp objects everywhere but somehow they all survived….

Around the time they got me on the bed and lying comfortably they remembered I needed a spinal anesthetic so I had to sit up. It took three tries, people. He jabbed me three times and finally got it in and said “It’s just that you are so fat, it’s hard to find the right spot”. I GET IT. IM HUGE. IM A COW. CALL A VET ALREADY IF YOU CANT MANAGE.

Anyway. From there all the pain stopped. It swept away like dust in the wind and I was so thankful for that I didn’t care if he accidentally chopped off my leg. And then I started puking. Yep. I was a machine from day one to the last day apparently. He had to stop surgery twice because I was moving internally. Gross.

After what seemed like forever, He held my baby up by the foot and said “here’s your daughter”. I had a girl. A baby girl. I didn’t actually get to see her because he held her upside down and the curtain was up so I saw a purple thigh and foot. I became overwhelmed by the fact that Sydney wasn’t there and broke down crying hysterically. It was then that I realized the room was quiet. Wasn’t I supposed to hear a baby crying? Nothing. No noise from anyone. I asked “Is she ok.” Silence. Louder. “Is she ok??” The doctor said “Yes, she’s fine the nurse is just… working on her.” All of a sudden I heard a WHACK and the most beautiful sound I’ve ever heard. Crying. Immediately, they showed me her face for about 3 seconds  and then took her to Sydney. I felt strange. She didn’t look like what I imagined, and I didn’t feel what I thought I was supposed to feel. I just wanted to sleep. No immediate connection, no “give me my baby” reaction. Nothin.  Finishing my surgery took for. e. ver.  Apparently Sydney even thought something went wrong because they said it would take no time and hours were passing.

When they wheeled me into the recovery room (providentially, the c section patients don’t stay with the other ladies, there is a separate 5 bed “post op” room AND only one other girl had a csection the whole time we were there AND there was a bathroom!  There was no toilet seat or toilet paper or soap  or light, actually- but it had a door. Hallelujah. The nurses were great. They checked her blood sugar for two days because they thought with her size she might be diabetic. Strangely they never checked mine, despite calling me a baby beluga 900 times.

I think the worst part of the whole experience was that day. That first day. I could see my baby. She was in a plastic cot a few feet from my bed. Ladies had come to help but remained outside chatting at first. Sydney went out to visit people who came to congratulate us but weren’t allowed in. I laid in the bed alone and stared at my child through plastic. I couldn’t really see her. I was still paralyzed from the drugs and couldn’t move. I hadn’t eaten or drank since Monday at 5pm and it was Tuesday at 9 and I had 1000 drugs flowing through my veins…. I just felt so alone. I have never felt more alone than I felt right themn.

In my head, I had imagined this day for months and months. Sydney and I would be sitting on the bed cradling our little bundle taking about who’s nose she had…. But instead I was alone and I couldn’t move and I couldnt see her. I hadn’t smelled her or kissed her. Little did I know the worst was yet to come. I essentially did not touch her for the next 3 days. I was not prepared for the culture shock of having a baby in Zambia. I don’t really think I experienced culture shock like “what Zambian women do when a baby is born” culture shock. In the US you have a baby shower and your mom comes to help at the hospital and then people drop off meals at your house.

 Here everybody is all up in your business. And I mean in your business. I have no shame anymore, by the way. None. I won’t even go into the details because there is just no describing it. All the books say that breastfeeding is such a bond. Not when people are grabbing you and pushing the babies head into you repeatedly and screaming SUCK BABY! And telling you you aren’t producing milk and your baby is going to die, and by the way the clothes you brought were “wrong” (they were sent from the US and different to the ones here). And the diapers were wrong and no matter what I was supposed to be breastfeeding 24/7 and why handn’t I done this or brought that and … oh my goodness I don’t know how I managed. I was always doing something worng and ironically- I wasn’t doing anything except lay in a bed. I am actually cringing typing this. Hardest 4 days of my life. It may be what people are used to here- women are very opinionated and offer a lot of advice and basically- to put it bluntly- tell you what to do. I am used to it for the most part but coming down of pregnancy hormones and in that much pain, I was not having it. They were also telling Sydney what to do and shooed him away every time he came in the room so I saw neither my husband nor my baby for days.


The pain. Was horrifying. They kept changing shifts and sometimes forgetting painkillers and some of the student nurses were afraid to treat me I guess because I was white. Add on top of that that ALL the ladies/patients in the ward kept filing in to see the white baby. They were touching her and looking at her when I couldn’t and I wanted to just curl up and die.

I held it together til the day they gave her a bath. I was told one of the ladies from church would do it, but it turned out she told the nurses they could use El’Lyana as a demonstration for the class (it’s a training hospital). I managed to walk to the room to watch. They put methalated spirits in her eyes, she screamed, they told me I brought the wrong soap and the wrong towel and the wrong clothes. I was so upset I felt like puking and when we got back to the room I finally told Sydney I was at the verge of a complete and total meltdown.

It saddens me The memory of that week is horrifying to me.

The second to last day the doctor finally came to check on me. He asked what I had eaten and I said nothing- because the nurses told me I couldn’t eat. Yes. 3 days of heavy pain killers, antibiotics, reeling off of a spinal anesthesia and zero food for four days…. And trying to get milk to feed my baby.  He said I should have been eating the whole time. All I wanted was water. Sydney  got me some stale bread from a shop across the street, I wasn’t ready for Nshima and cold beans from the hospital. Sydney ate lollipops for 4 days.

The nurses favorite things to say was “you whites like to do this, but here in Zambia we do it this way”. Annoying. So annoying. At one point I actually just turned and faced the wall while someone was telling me something. Like a little child in a huff. I’m kinda ashamed of that, but it had to be done. I literally bit my tounge a lot, til it bled. And repeated “you’re the pastors wife” over and over in my head.

Supposed to be the best day of your life and everything that could have gone wrong did, and then some. We were finally released (after they prescribed me amoxin again and then the pharmacy closed for lunch and we had to sit and wait for a new prescription)…. Then was the nightmare of driving home holding her on bumpy pothole roads terrified we were going to crash and having her bounce on my fresh incision (we were told it was not safe to put her in her carseat- I had to hold her in my lap. Not in Kansas anymore, Toto.)

(That’s not even the half of it but it’s a taste. )

BABAY in the house

I finally got to change my babies diaper. I got to undress her and see her toes and find her birthmarks and touch her hair and kiss her everywhere. Bringing a baby home is so weird cause you really don’t know what to do with it. You’re not yet aware that you don’t have to do anything with it except feed it and change it’s diaper and you live in this perpetual anxiety. We brought her inside and I sat on the couch and cried. And cried and cried and cried. I was in so much pain. I couldn’t get up in the night to feed her because I couldn’t sit up. I still felt lost. My body looked shockingly different  than it had the last time I looked in the bedroom mirror. Life was just. Different. The exhaustion you feel is like nothing you’ve ever felt before. I loved it and hated it. Both me and Sydney agreed we were never going through that again. Ever. No more kids. (It was yesterday- almost 4 months later, that Sydney finally mentioned having another kid one day. Up til then we’ve both pretty much been confused as to how anyone does this more than once.) We both still have our doubts.

She is the most awesome creature. She is off the charts for weight and height- like--- WAY off. Shes at 6 month or higher levels at 3 months old. Shes wearing 6-12 month size clothes. She laughs all the time. ALL the time. Shes just so cool. And so pretty. She is the best. She slept through the night for a while but she bait and switched on us and the past two weeks has been waking up at 1AM again. Not loving that so much. Sydney loves her with every fiber of his being and it makes me love him more, if that’s even possible.

Commisioning/fist visit from mom and dad

Birth of baby FINALLY brought family to Zambia! 6 years later! It was hard for me because I have been imagining having family come visit since- well since I moved here. I’ve been seeing Zambia through their eyes and imagining what I’d cook and where we’d go and how we’d spend our time, and how I’d play the lion king soundtrack when they got off the plane. Cause ya know. Africa.

 As usual- it was nothing. Nothing like what I imagined. I was still reeling from childbirth, our bank account was empty and we had the commissioning to plan/prepare for which meant we spent the whole time sweeping and baking 1000 cookies and running errands and changing diapers. I am struggling not to feel disappointed. I feel sometimes that I let them down. They came all the way here to scrape paint off windows and eat ham and cheese sandwiches (if we had cheese). The lodges weren’t what I expected, the power kept going out, the game drive was disappointing and it turns out everything we own is broken. We haven’t really noticed because it’s our life but when family comes to visit and all day every day you are explaining how to open doors and use switches and wash clothes and turn on faucets because everything is broken or breaking. There were also things I wanted them to experience, to see. The stuff I’ve lived through and done and seen- The real Africa- not our living room and the mall in Lusaka.

Then my incision came open. I started having some pain right after the church commissioning. A little spot opened and it was clear immediately that it was infected. We rushed to the hospital where Sydney waited outside with the baby and mom came in with me. The doctor told mom to put down my purse and put on gloves. He needed a nurse (not kidding people!) So that’s how my mom assisted in a medical procedure in a rural hospital in Zambia. (there was no pain killer by the way in sight) During the procedure, the baby started to cry so while I was being worked on Sydney had to hold the baby sideways to nurse awkwardly. I have learned that here, babies cant cry. Even if you are being operated on, if the baby wimpers you better breastfeed right then and there. Regardless of how unhygenic and just… not normal that is.

Apparently the dissolvable stitches are not so dissolvable. He cut some of it out, packed the wound and we went home. The next day we went back and he removed the packing and sent me on my way… 8 hours to Lusaka. When we got back I realized the rest of the wound was opening up and bleeding so back we went. This time he removed ALL the remaining stitching (coulda done that the first time? Maybe? No? ok.) and again, sent me on my way. No antibiotic. No pain killer, no bandage even. We went and got antibiotics from a roadside chemist and I bandaged it up using then first aid kits sent by the ladies at GCBC. That was a fun added disappointment to their trip!

Otherwise, it was awesome to have them here. It felt surreal after waiting to have them here for so long, and no seeing them since our wedding. It was the first time for me to host them in my home too, Like as a grown up. And adult. A real person, not in a dorm or whatever but in my house. With my husband. And kid.  To see them meeting people I’ve talked about for years now and even people they’ve connected with on facebook was awesome.

The commissioning was also great- Tiring as it was it was something we’ve waited for for so long and we just watched it unfold before our eyes in complete disbelief (seriously- we have NO idea how that got done… it was only by God’s grace because by our own means we would have maybbbbe put in a door or something.) It was awesome to have people from our sending church in Lusaka come, some led worship, Pr. Kalifungwa preached, some even came a day early and pitched in helping to finish up! We had the honour of feeding some of them twice in our home (it was like the feeding of the five thousand because between the pain and the work for the commissioning and mom and dad visiting I was like a chicken with my head cut off. I have no idea where the food came from or how it got prepared. It just was there.)

I now finally feel back in my routine and wish they were coming now- but it was so important to everyone to have them here for that event. They are still talking about weekly, and people are already asking when they are coming back and who’s coming next. (I’ll make more than sandwiches this time!)


House/Building the new house

Life’s been hectic. Everything’s broken in the house and we’ve got so much on our plate we haven’t managed to do anything about it. The rabbit cage is too small for 6 rabbits, the front door wont lock and is chained shut with a dog chain, the sitting room light switches are both broken so every day we put bulbs in and take them out respectively, the washing machine has to be manually filled with buckets of water for each cycle, the vacuums broken, the tires and battery in the car had to be replaced and now its making a weird clicking sound and shuttering when you turn the wheel… the outlet in the sitting rooms broken, the light in the entryway is broken and I twisted my ankle in the hole on the bedroom floor yesterday. I also set a pot of oil on fire in the kitchen and burn a ring on the floor and destroyed the pot. Also Sydneys 3 month old phone fell and shattered and the REASON it fell was because our car got broken into and the window was smashed so while we were having it replaced the guy lost a bolt and Sydney leaned over to help him look and el-smasho. Screen shattered. Also the kitchen sink has to be pushed and turned at the exact angle to turn on and off. And it leaks. Water doesn’t come in the master bathroom so we have to use the guest bathroom. All of our curtains are shredded so some of them now have to be closed all the time just so people cant see in. Its cold season and some of the windows don’t shut which wasn’t such an issue for us but with a baby now it’s a problem and lets mosquitoes and cold drafts in.


That’s a list of the negatives to get that out of the way. On the OTHER HAND. I have a beautiful daughter and an amazing husband and we do nothing but laugh and talk all day, and I am so, so happy. I have realized that pushing a sink 37 degrees to the right to get water is not the end of the world. Do I wish we could go to home depot and fix it all in one fell swoop. Yea. Yea I do. Am I going to let myself be unhappy because of earthy annoyances? No. I live better than A LOT of people. I am way more blessed than I should be. We are so well taken care of by our mother church and we feel loved and babied by them and it gives us even more motivation to work hard here.

We are also working on building our own house, to avoid these renting issues and also take the burden off the church for paying our rent so that those moneys can go elsewhere. It will take time. We’ve set goals we probably wont reach but right now we take Sydneys paycheck and cut it right down the middle. Half is for us, half is for the building. Right now we are on a break while we save up for bricks and cement but we are almost to the roof level. It takes some people years to get that far. It should have taken us years to get that far. These are the mysteries of God.

I have a leaky sink but a loving husband. I have a beat up failing car but a beautiful healthy daughter. I had a hard experience in childbirth but I have my life. Not everyone can say the same. What I have far outways the annoyance of what I don’t. I wouldn’t trade our holey socks and hand me downs for a two story house in the US next to TJ Maxx and Micheals and the beach and Ruth’s Chris and a closet full of fashionable clothes. I wouldn’t. We have that choice. We could go to the states if we wanted. Sydney could leave ministry for a more financially profitable profession. But that would be for us. And when I became a Christian, and when we became missionaries, we vowed to live for Him. Life is so short- it’s so so short, and I am doing this for the glory of God. He has brought us this far by his Grace. He’ll get us to the end.
I will attempt to get better at blogging. At least, ya know,  when a baby is born or whatever :)

PS Here's how she looks now. A little browner, a whole lot bigger and so, so full of life.

Monday, 24 August 2015

They're no longer a story to tell....

It has been a long, long time since I have blogged, almost a year. That has been mostly by choice. I have gotten to a point where I feel that my blog is either a “woe is me” blog (which, let’s face it, are the worst kinds of blogs!) where I talk about how strange and awful life is in a third world country (when I chose to live here- and love it actually- after all)… OR a description of the mundane things in my life and how we are living here which can lean toward the boring- I mean, I don’t know what you do at your church and how your personal walk with Christ is, do I? So why should you need all our details. I just have felt a bit of this sort of self importance-ishness of it all. I have started numerous entries and always end up deleting them for one reason or another. Some people have asked if I still blog and why it’s been long and I never have a good answer. I guess I am still thinking it all through.

I think the other weird thing is that I used to blog as a sort of “outsider looking in” to the life and culture and weird food and power cuts and water shortage and being the odd white lady. When I would tell stories I was separate from it. The people I wrote about were acquaintances and the “strange” and new things they did or said were humorous or noteworthy to an American audience and I was an American telling stories about a strange world I was visiting. But now I live this life. The food is no longer odd. The power cuts and water shortages are a nuisance, but there a nuisance to my neighbors too… it’s just part of life and we all laugh about it, complain about it and live with it together.

Now the same people I used to talk about are my friends. The same houses that brought tears to my eyes 4 years ago and shocked me- the houses I tried to sneakily get photos of and show people back home how crazy the poverty here is- are houses of my sisters and brothers who I go and visit with, barely noticing that we are on a bucket and not a couch. Most of the time when something happens and I think- a year or two I would have blogged this- I now feel like it would be a violation somehow. These are the people I live with, I shop with in the market, I wait in the line with at the clinic, I worship with at church. They’re no longer a story to tell.


On the flip side, I know people want to hear stories. It is interesting to hear the funny and crazy and shocking stories, especially if you’ve never been here or done missions overseas. It’s definately much more interesting to hear about our next door neighbor coming out of her house into the middle of the road and screaming in front of the whole neighborhood “PASTOR, PASTOR. Get out here!!! Don’t you know people are poor. You have a white wife and you can’t have mercy on your poor neighbors. In Jesus’ name, get out here.” (Yea, that happened on Wednesday. It went on for a good 10 minutes and made my blood boil- Knowing we make a miniscule salary and give all our time and a substantial amount of our already small amount of money to whoever we can help, and because my skin is white- it’s not enough) Those kinds of stories and ones like me waiting 2 hours to have a scan done at the hospital because the power was out (But that was kinda fun cause Sydney bought me these killer chocolate biscuits from this tiny shop and we just sat in the sun and talked for two hours about how many things were not happening at the hospital due to the “load shedding” (organized power outages), and both of us having a two hour excuse to not do anything). Even those things are so normal to me now that they don’t seem noteworthy or blog worthy.

Sydney bought me a new purse, which is a luxury we don’t do often. Neither of us have gotten new clothes since we were in the US for our wedding, and I wanted to write about it and how crazy it what that I used to do weekly trips to Walmart for purses and jewelry and clothes and workout tapes and underwear and decorations and candles… and It has been 2 years since we’ve done that. Then I felt like it would sound both braggy and  “poor us”-y. See the struggle? I don’t know why my conscience has opened up to all this. Sydney keeps telling me to just write a book which may suit me better than the whole ‘read my blog once a month’ shtick.

I don’t know if I will keep blogging or if I’ll stick with just facebook. Sydney writes a bimonthly update about our ministry as far as the church goes, so I know people hear about our ministry life through that. O thought at least I would write this, explaining why I haven’t blogged in almost a year and just get that off my chest. Right now though, it’s Monday night. Monday night is our date night and we have a jar with 52 “dates” in it, and yesterday we picked “stargazing”. The sun is setting fast and the power is out so it looks like I am about to be late for a very important date…. J

Monday, 6 October 2014

The night it rained.

On Friday night, we started having complications with our pregnancy. Saturday morning we went to the clinic here in town and he found that my cervix was dilating in preparation for labor. I was just approaching my 4th month, so obviously this was a bad sign. He gave me medication to stop preterm labor and then sent me home to be on complete bed rest for 3 weeks. By around 4pm, I starting having cramping. At around 5:30, we started to eat dinner, and the cramps got bad enough that I couldn't breathe. I found out afterward that those were contractions. I knew something was wrong and just then I felt a large amount of blood and I told Sydney to call the doctor. He called the doctor and one of our deacons, and the doctor told us to rush to the big hospital in Chilonga, around 30 minutes away. The deacon and his wife came at that time and we left for the hospital.

By that time I knew I had lost a large amount of blood. The deacons wife was concerned because I was ice cold. As we were driving I felt myself losing my grip and the last thing I remember is seeing rain start pouring down. It hasn't rained yet this year, and I remember asking “Is it raining?”. They told me it was, and then I told them I was going to pass out- and from there things were a bit fuzzy. When we arrived at the hospital they brought out a wheelchair and rushed me to the delivery ward, where they left Sydney, the deacon and his wife in the hallway and pulled me into a room with about 4 beds but luckily only one was occupied, a lady waiting to have a c-section. The doctor tried to get my history. I can't explain the amount of pain I was in or the dizziness I felt- and he asked me to spell my name and I got K and A but after that I failed to remember. He asked me the name of our church and I couldn't remember it no matter how hard I tried.I just remember repeating over and over "I am passing out, I am passing out."

At that point, none of the five nurses in the room had even stood up off their chairs so he called over and said “Hello- we have a patient, someone come get her vitals.” So a girl stood and got my BP, told the doctor and started walking away. He said “and her temperature?” So the girl took my temperature- shouted it out loud and sat down. He then got furious and said “What about her pulse? I said her vitals! This is a patient get up!” So she took my pulse as I sagged lower in the chair unable now to hold myself up. Sorry for the gore, but blood had soaked through a towel, slip, my skirt and two chitenges. The fact that I couldn't spell my name had me in terror that I was dying. The doctor had now got his tools out and gloves on and he turned around to see the bed with no linens. He asked another nurse to put linens on the bed and she turned to me and said told me- 'just give me one of your chitenges, Ill lay it down"  (a chitenge is a piece of cloth wrapped around the waist for modesty). 

The doctor looked like he might actually slap her. He said “This is a hospital we have procedure- put linens on the bed” At that point I think I must have blacked out because next thing I knew I was being put on the bed and the nurse was being told to put on gloves. I will spare you most of the details except to say that I felt very alone, very scared, very tired, very angry, and completely out of control. At a point, the baby became stuck because I hadn't dilated enough.. The nurses couldn’t find the tools he needed, so he had to “improvise” and he removed it himself. Then he showed my baby to me.

That was the worst moment of my life, and I will never be able to forget it.

At that point I kind of lost it and started trying to pull iv's and instruments out. I can't explain it except that in my mind I felt that if he had just left the baby inside it would have made it. I was convinced at that moment that he had just ruined everything. Like our child just needed more time but now it was out and it was over and I just wanted everyone to stop touching me. They had to call our deacons wife in to calm me down so they could complete the procedure. At that point they also let Sydney come to the door, so that they also show him our child.

We had not come prepared, so I had no change of clothes, no food, no soap, no blankets, no nothing. I had to put my blood soaked clothes back on, and they wheeled me to the female ward. There was only one empty bed in an open room of about 40 women. There was a flat sheet draped over the plastic mattress, and a wool blanket on the bed. Men are not allowed in the ward, so the deacons wife came with me, Sydney gave her his sweatshirt to wear to keep warm overnight. I was hooked to an IV so she helped me use the toilet, made sure I was covered and warm and drinking water. I used one of my dirty chitenges as a pillow. The deacons wife was on the bed with me.

They gave me drug after drug, some injections, some orally, some through the IV. I was too dazed to even ask but Sydney had told the doctors about my allergies. One of the injections in my thigh made me almost scream in pain (and I have a VERY high pain tolerance) and I even lost feeling in the leg for at least 20 minutes. Sydney wanted to sleep in the car at the hospital but I sent him home, there was nothing he could do. They let him come in and say goodbye, and bring us toilet paper and water (you bring your own supplies, there are just two toilets for all 40 patients to share and you must have your own toilet paper, soap and food).

Our first night apart as husband and wife was the night we went though the most trying moment of our marriage thus far.

He left, with the intention of coming Sunday morning with clean clothes, soap, supplies. We are so thankful that without being asked, a brother from church called to tell Sydney that he was preaching tomorrow so not to worry. Sydney called one of our Bemba brethren who also prepared for the Bemba service so that instead of trying to come before services to the hospital then go back and try to manage preaching with his mind elsewhere, he could just be with me. People pitched in and really supported us in a way only brothers and sisters in Christ can.
Mrs Kapesa the deacons wife who stayed with me spent part of the night sitting on the end of the bed with me, and then when I slept she and the lady next to us shared a plastic garbage bag laid on the floor, and she used a chitenge for a blanket. On the floor with a stranger. Multiple times in the night I woke to feel her adjusting my blankets and making sure my IV was working. Selfless love that I couldn’t repay if I tried. In the night, one of our other deacons daughters came to visit, she is a nurse in training there. She brought us water, and medication for Mrs. Kapesa's BP which she didn’t have time to bring from home. 

At some point in the night, the power went out and we were being medicated and checked on by the nurses by candle light.

I just remember thinking that it couldn't be real. I thought it was one of the nightmares I'd been having. When I woke up still there it still somehow couldn't sink in. The girl in the bed next to me was just 18. She also had a miscarriage in June but had complications, so she had surgery at a village clinic where they damaged he urinary tract and since then she has had to have a bag attached. She has moved from hospital to hospital since. She had been at Chilonga hospital for over a month, just living there with her mom. Many others were miscarriages, malaria, infections after labor, car accidents....

Laying in bed, I woke up many times in the night to see cockroaches even on the bed. They didn’t even phase me. The windows were open to let fresh air in, you can imagine the smells, and mosquitoes also freely roamed. All around me was a language I didn't understand, in a place I've never been with people I didn’t know and a situation I couldn’t comprehend. If our deacons wife hadn’t been there I wouldn’t have managed. I just wouldn’t.

In the morning at 4am, When getting up to go to the toilet I nearly dropped to the floor. They checked my blood pressure and it was only 82/53. Mrs. Kapesa gave me a soda to give me a little blood sugar rush, and a little while later Sydney came with supplies, tea, coffee, fruit and clothes so I was able to clean myself a bit, put on fresh clothes finally, brush my teeth, eat some bananas and feel a little better. They even allowed Sydney to just be with me. Not sure if that was laziness on their part, or preferential treatment because of skin colour or just God's providence. The IV had fallen out in the night and clotted, so they just decided to remove it but I received some more drugs , took bloodwork and malaria bloodslide (which she took without gloves, and put down haphazardly on the wooly blanket while she did other things...). I ended up with 8 or 9 holes with bruising from those iv's and injections, plus the mistakes the nurses made. They claimed it was hard to see my veins....

By 9 the doctor came. He explained that due to the malaria, the baby must have developed an abnormality or deformity, maybe deafness or something worse so the body rejected it. All I could think of was- I still want a deaf baby. I just want my baby back.

He said due to the conditions of the place he was sure I'd be more comfortable at home, so without discharging me they gave me oral drugs to take at home but we were to come back Monday morning for an ultrasound. When we got home, ladies from church came to visit and encourage me, some of whom have gone through the same. The love and support has been overwhelming here, and they have stood in for my family during such a hard time.

We went back to the hospital Monday morning at around 6:30. We got my charts from the ward and went to the x-ray/ultrasound ward. It was around 7:15, and I was told to drink tons of water before the ultrasound. I did, and by 8 there was still noone working in the ultrasound room... then 8;15, then 8:30. At 8:45 I almost started crying because I was now in pain from my full bladder but finally a woman came strolling in. She sent Sydney to go pay the bill for the scan, and then did the ultrasound. She was just silent- never said a word to me except “im done” when she finished then she got up and walked away. As she was walking away with me just lying there not knowing what to do she said “I said Im done, you can come wait for your husband.” We waited, it took him about 30 minutes because of the crowd of people. The whole time she wasn't saying anything so after some minutes I finally just asked- “What is the scan showing? is everything OK?” And she giggled, yes, giggled- for an unknown reason and then said “No, It's not OK There is still something there. It was an incomplete abortion.” (The thing I hate the MOST is that in Zambia, miscarriages and abortions are both called abortions.)

Once Sydney came back we had to find a doctor to review and give us advice, the Congolese doctor who had treated me Saturday and Sunday has gone on leave so the lady just said “find a doctor”. Very helpful woman. We called our doctor in Mpika that we use, and he then started calling to find doctors who were on duty. The doctor who is on duty is a white German woman but she never showed up for work. Another guy who had providentially seen us with our doctor on Saturday saw Sydney and called him over. We showed him our charts and he gave us some recommendations but also gave us our doctors number. We called him and explained and he rushed over to the hospital (we really like him) to see us. He borrowed a room from another doctor and performed an exam and check for infection. There is no infection and the bleeding is not as much but I am still having a bit of cramping. He believes whatever is there is small enough to come out on it's own, but if it can't within 24 hours then I will have to go for a procedure tomorrow. He has given us antibiotics and sent us home again so I can at least rest from home, but tomorrow morning we will go back. If the uterus hasn't cleaned itself out, I will be put under anesthesia and they will perform a vacuum procedure to clear it.

Needless to say, I don't want to have any sort of operation, major or minor. I was told how to prepare for going into theatre tomorrow “just in case”. Our plea for prayer now is that whatever is there will pass on it's own and I will be well enough to finally be officially discharged tomorrow, without a procedure done.

Every once in a while, reality sets in. I had these hopes before the ultrasound this morning- maybe I had twins and only one miscarried, maybe it was a mistake and the ultrasound will miraculously have a heartbeat.
I will have thoughts: We should have gone to the US next year with a 7 month old. We should have spent the money we are saving on a crib. We should have, we would have, we could have. I go through times of feeling a strange relief- and then guilt. “Maybe I wasn’t ready to be a mom, and besides- I have been absolutely terrified to deliver a baby in Zambia. All I know are American hospitals and giving birth overseas was giving me so much anxiety." I feel guilt over feeling that, and then I feel guilt about the malaria. If we had just hung the net sooner. If I had just used bug spray. I know this is probably normal but it's just... so hard. I just want my child back.
Sydney has dried my tears, comforted me and been a rock of support but I know he is also broken. This was his baby. He was already such a proud Daddy. Now he is holding his world and my world on his shoulders, cooking meals and checking my temperature and getting me water and helping be move around but I wonder how he's holding up deep down?

We have been blessed by the doctor, who is a Christian. He has pointed us to Christ every step of the way. Times when I feel like screaming he reminds us of God's providence and His love for us. Sydney has been ceaselessly praying and comforting me. It has brought a peace in my heart.

This has surely been the hardest thing we have gone through, and we can only take it a day at a time. We know that God is watching over us and whatever happens, His reasoning is better than anything we could have hoped for or imagined. One day, I will ask Him why he took our baby before I ever got to kiss their little mouth. Then I will understand. For now, I trust Him and his reasons which are beyond all comprehension.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Answered prayers- tons of them!!

It has been far too long since I have updated my blog, but I finally have a moment to rest so I thought I'd dedicate it to this! So much has gone on since I last wrote, and it would be pretty boring to go back and comment on everything, so I'll just highlight the major stuff as I get back into the blogging swing of things!

The most major piece of news is that we MOVED! It became very clear to us that the house we were waiting for was going to take at least another year to be completed- and to prevent a complete and total meltdown we decided to start looking for something new. It is VERY difficult to find accommodation here, as it's an area that is still developing- so if a house is vacant it stays that way only for a night or two!

In God's providence, Sydney was called to be the speaker at a youth camp in Samfya, which is about 4 hours or so from Mpika. We took the drive up there with our deacon and his wife, who were attending a separate couples conference in the same town. The camp went very well, it was a “pilot” camp and there were about 60 or so kids there from all different denominations, and the word was well received. (Not to mention it was at the beach :) ) As we were driving home and dropping of our deacon, we passed a very large house on his street and noticed there were no curtains in the windows- a signal that a home is vacant. Again providentially, our deacon is an old friend of the landlord to the house, so he said he'd call for us that very day.

The next morning, he called and she confirmed it was vacant but she had already told someone they could go look at it. We decided to go and peek in the windows to see the inside, and from what we could see we loved it. That evening, we met the agent there, but at the same time the other lady came to also view the inside. She, however, wanted them to lower the (already low) price, so favor was given to us!

The house needs a lot of work, as the previous tenants completely trashed/vandalized the place- but its nothing we can't handle with some patience. Every single tap on the sinks and tubs needs to be replaced (we actually have a brick keeping one of then=m off or else it just pours out water.) They are expensive, so we are pacing ourselves. The landlord gave us about 100 bucks to start doing repairs, but there’s about 1,000 dollars worth of work to be done, so it will be slow going, to say the least. Boxes are slowly being unpacked (after YEARS) and we are making purchases of door handles, taps, toilet seats etc one at a time. It's frustrating to want shelves in the pantry and a dining room table and paint on the walls and tile on the floors and want it NOW, but since we can only swing about one purchase a month- we are still being taught that lovely lesson of patience!!! But we have room, and space, and peace of mind, and security and a fence is being put up- privacy!!!

The other major thing we'd love to do is have a water tank put up. We get water every other day, and looking at the time it takes to collect and fill up buckets to last us through the “off” days, it seems like a very good investment- and worth the money to have water 24/7! We've got our hearts set on that so it's save time!

Another reason why we need to save... and why unpacking is a bit slow going, is because I can't do any heavy lifting! We are having a baby!!!!! We are very excited and truth be told I am terrified, but I think that's all part of the adventure. I am trying not to think about delivery- the how and the where of it, cause that's where the “terrified” comes in- but instead I am enjoying the excitement! (Any fully qualified midwives or doctors want to come live in Mpika in April?? :) ) We are due in April, but we are NOT finding out the sex (although I have all my fingers and toes crossed for a girl) and probably wont have as many ultra sounds as I would if I was in the states, but we did have one in Lusaka last week and all was well.

Last month, in the midst of finding out we were pregnant and moving houses, we had an intern from LBC staying with us as part of his internship. We were not at the top of our “hospitality game” in the midst of a move and my exhaustion (and discovering that the power level in this part of town during dinner time is too low to run the stove- and turn on half the lights in the house, another adventure all together!) but we enjoyed our time with him and we believe he was also blessed by his time with the saints here at church.

Last week, we attended the Annual Reformed Baptist Conference in Lusaka at LBC. It was very refreshing, and although it completely wiped me out- it was worth it! It was the 25th anniversary of the Conference and we were fed by Voddie Baucham and Ken Jones (from Florida). We were so busy getting to meet people, catch up with people, celebrate my birthday (I was spoiled all day- breakfast at our favorite blue moon cafe where we had our first date, lunch and shopping at Manda Hill Mall (although I almost had a complete pregnancy meltdown- I got so tired and overwhelmed walking through shop rite that I almost started crying from sheer exhaustion and came VERY close to needing to lie down on the floor right in the dog food aisle!), and also doing some shopping both for the house (curtain rails, but no curtains on this trip- I may have to send Sydney alone next time to pick out curtains.... not thrilled about that prospect....) and for church- the ladies ministry collected money all year to raise enough for curtains for church, and we were finally able to get them!

So much more has happened but it would be impossible to put it all here. Church programs have been going well- we are on “holiday” for literacy class and will start up in a few weeks. Two of the teachers are pregnant and will need significant “time off” eventually and we are in desperate need of more so please pray in that respect!!! We also had Holiday Bible Week for all the Sunday School Kids which went very well, I was only able to attend one of the days but I had a blast- wish I could have been there all week!

Bemba service is steadily growing, we have anywhere between 10-20 people each Sunday. We also have a large number of people attending the Baptismal class, and have baptisms and new members to add soon! We are amazed by God's faithfulness and are humbled that He has allowed us to be here at such a time to witness what he is doing in Mpika! Please continue also to pray about the mosque- the doors are open, and the people from Pakistan have arrived to run it. They have already started handing out jobs and food and we pray that people will not be blinded by their false message. (Apparently they held a rally in town a month or so back where they were explaining why their God and the Christian God is really the same thing, and you are not abandoning your faith to go to the mosque. I am glad I wasn’t there to witness it.

Please continue to pray for us, especially my health and the anxiety we are facing at the prospect of being parents, for patience as we slowly get settled in the new house, and especially for the church. God is doing wonderful things here and we never want to take that for granted or overlook the mercy and grace he is showing us as a little group of sheep. Thank you for all your love and prayers!

Monday, 14 April 2014

Get behind me.

I haven't taken a bath, or a shower, since we moved here.

Good now that I have your attention I can assure you my hygiene is up to scratch just not how I thought it would be when I was growing up with multiple hot showers a day freely available.

I decided to make this blog more like a “picture diary”. As a disclaimer, I'd say this blog is much more geared toward my American/British/(and most parts of Lusaka). I often get messages and encouraging notes from people and some of the most often asked questions by those more curious followers of our ministry are “What's it like living there?”, “Is it that different in day to day life- how exactly?” Not an easy question to answer. In some ways not really, in other ways- entirely.

Some people also dislike the fact that I complain (which I wish I didn't, and I'm working on it) or talk about things that irritate me or I find difficult because “I chose the missions life”. You're right. I did chose the missions life, and I love it and I could never in good conscience go back to the life I lived before I gave up many of my worldly comforts for Christ. That is true BUT that doesn't change the fact that I am a human being and I struggle. I didn't grow up here, and life is just plain harder. Not only do I get questions from people in the US but also Zambians. Some of them do not understand why washing clothes by hand is so tiring and foreign to me. Some of them have lived without a hot shower just fine and don't understand why I crave it. Sometimes people don't understand why not having a single countertop in the kitchen makes me want to tear my hair out and scream (You hear me, 'western world' ladies. I know you do. Try. Try one day to prepare your meal without using a single countertop. You'll punch a wall too.) “I even had one Zambian teen here ask me- “You dont work? What on earth do you DO all day?” Oh my dear girl- read on.


I just wrote an entire blog post- pages and pages long- describing the house and the issues with it and my frustrations. I even took photos of all those issues to include and really get my point across. I then got convicted. I am sinning. I don't want to be a complaining missionary. I read a lot of missionary blogs- being one myself they interest me. I always hate the "complainy" ones. I usually don't even finish reading them. I don't want to be that 'woe is me' person. I don't need people to "know the struggle" so that they sympathize or send notes, comments or even money. That's not why I'm here- and I am abundantly blessed.

 I will save that blog post I wrote and whenever I am tempted to complain in the new house, whenever we get there, I'll read it. I'll fight sin. I'll beat it.

*the end* (I'll post about what's going on with life and church soon. Not today. Today I need to pray.)

Friday, 14 February 2014

What a day!

Well. That was horrifying.

Rewind one hour- I had just driven out of the church parking lot headed onto the main road when I heard a loud car horn honking frantically. I saw a van coming at a high speed so I stopped- and he started waving his hands. I realized he obviously had no brakes and he was careening toward a bar with about 20 people outside and/or walking on the road next to it.

One man realized only too late that he was directly in the line of fire and he was hit. Hard.
Hard enough that I watched him fly about 10 feet. I almost vomited... but my "deal with this crisis" mode kicked in and I got out of the car and ran across the street. Amazingly, I have been reading these books a woman from my church in the U.S. sent me on how to deal with any medical emergency when there's no doctor around. Providence.

I found about 30 people crowded around him and everyone was just shouting. He was clearly drunk- and probably didn't feel as much as he would have sober which was good for him because his calf was snapped in two. Two. I saw where the bone was and his foot and ankle were no longer attached to his body by anything but skin. He also had severe cuts and dents in the back of his head and was bleeding at an alarming rate. I watch all these medical shows but real blood, actually flowing, is a frightening colour.

Everyone was shouting and of course- this was Chitulika village so they were speaking Bemba and I was panicking- so I said, multiple times, he needs to go to the hospital- he is badly hurt- he needs to go to the hospital... but no one was listening. Hospital is the same in English and Bemba so they probably thought I was just commenting. Finally I shouted, really loudly, "I AM TAKING HIM TO THE HOSPITAL". The crazy screaming white lady got peoples attention. They got the hint because I was wagging my car keys around and pointing at my car across the road.

The driver of the vehicle who hit him grabbed my arm and said "Get the car." He was the only person who spoke English. Providence. I ran and got the car, calling Sydney to meet us at the hospital. I got my chitenge and put it on the man's head trying to explain to put pressure on the wound but he was wasted drunk and not understanding a thing. 5 men tried to get him in the car on top of my tray of eggs and bottles of water, so I had to rearrange things and help them gently put him in the car. Blood everywhere. His wife and mother both came shouting and screaming and pushing into the car, pushing the man out of the way so they could ride too. I couldn't even tell them to stop jolting his body around it was a lost cause. I made the driver come with us (thanks to Sydney who warned me not to leave the scene without him) and off we went. We pulled into the hospital, but they then decided they wanted to go to the police station. I argued the best I could... but to no avail. We LEFT the hospital with a badly injured man and went to the police station to file a report, while this guy bled out in the back seat of my car.

20 minutes later... we went to the hospital. It took another 10 minutes for someone to find him a wheelchair. Finally Sydney went in and got the chair, and wheeled the guy in, while his wife tried to support his dangling foot.  A nurse was waiting for us (watching everyone struggle to get him inside) and came out reprimanding us saying with an attitude "The person you've chosen to support his leg is just... ugh" as if she was disgusted by our medical skills. It took everything in my power not to ask why she, who is a medical practitioner, stood and watched instead of doing her JOB.

Anyway, we left him there- he was being stitched up then sent into surgery for his leg. It wasn't til we were leaving that I felt like throwing up or crying, or both.... it was also at that point I thought about disease, the car has his blood in it, I had checked his wounds bare handed and Sydney actually carried him at the hospital.

Lessons learned:
I never ever want to have to be treated for a major injury here. It will be part of my prayers daily.
You never know when someone is going to be in need- act. It could save a life.
Life... is so fragile. This man was drinking his day away celebrating Friday not realizing those wasted breaths could have been his last.
I NEED to learn BEMBA. All I could think about while we drove to the hospital was how I wanted to witness to these people and I couldn't. I can only pray my actions spoke of Christ's love. I saw where is wife came from, their house faces the church. so no doubt they know who we are... maybe they will stop in when they've had time to think.

What a day.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Finished Roof!

It is amazing how busy we have become and how fast time is flying! I find it hard to believe we are already in February.

The church building project is progressing well. We encountered some setbacks, as is usual in projects like these. There were some hidden costs to finish the roof, both with needing more roofing sheets than we thought but also with needing to buy cement and cinder blocks, which we didn't account for, to raise the walls higher to meet the roof. Over all, God has been gracious and we have been able to meet these costs but it means that we will now NOT have the money to do the floor as we originally had included.

God seems to have opened the hearts of the people at church and at the Annual General Meeting for the members, the deacon in charge of finances reported that our tithes and offerings have basically skyrocketed, and therefore we should hopefully be able to complete the building sooner (aka, not have it continue to drag on for years). The floor should cost us 2,000 USD, which we hope to be able to raise in a few months. After that is less major items such as doors, windows, security bars for the windows and doors, plastering and paint. However we do have to think about chairs, a new pulpit (ours is barely standing!) curtains &curtain rods, hymnals, tables and chairs for Sunday school and literacy class and those other things. We also have a long standing issue of having NOTHING in the kitchen. We need dishes, cups, silverware, pots and pans, shelves,cabinets, a sink, (a stove and fridge is LONG long term, unfortunately). We'd also like to get a copy machine for the church office. 


                        FINISHED ROOF!!!!

These things seem to be so many but God has not ceased to shower us with blessings, and we believe he has a plan for us here and he will provide what we need in His way and His perfect timing.

The building project of our house is moving, slowly but surely. The owner was here to sort out a few issues. It turns out the house is too far from the main water line, therefore they will need to put in a tank underground and have the water pumped into the house from that reservoir. Although it means taking more time, this is actually a blessing in disguise! Insead of having water only during designated hours like the rest of the area, we will have water flowing 24/7. Most likely pressure will also be better. Praising God for that! (And profusely seeking forgiveness for my impatience.) We are told power should be put in by next week- they had to apply for a permit to put up another power pole because the other power lines were to far from the house. Also, the carpenter currently finishing the church roof will immediately be going to the new house to install ceilings and shelving and cabinets(I hope) in the kitchen. The owner is scheduled to come next week to put security bars on the windows and doors.

We will move in as soon as there are security bars, water and power. After that he will be painting, putting tile down and installing the water heaters while we are there. Keep praying!

Many of you read on facebook that we had a member who was struck with malaria- and a very bad case at that. He was rushed to the hospital in the night by a church member, and after “seemingly” recovering, he took another turn for the worse. He was experiencing inability to move his legs and hands, and severe temperature changes and body pains.

His wife lives hours away due to her job, and rushed to be with him (about 6 hours- by taxi!) in the hospital. We are thankful to God to announce that he is back home and back to work! He is still suffering from extreme exhaustion (malaria depletes/destroys red blood cells) and he is also suffering from memory loss and confusion. The doctors told him it was spreading to the brain, which inevitably causes coma and death- so he got to the hospital just in time. We are so thankful for God's providence in his life.

The church has not had a functioning ladies ministry for over a year. We have been doing the book study in the interim waiting for elections to be held. We finally did hold those elections in January. I was elected as chairwoman, Mrs. Sichone as secretary and Mrs. Mulenga (a deacons wife) as treasurer. Please pray for us as we seek to bring this ministry back to life! I have been working on a year calander and hope to have a planning meeting next Friday where we finalize plans. Among the many events planned so far are practical demonstrations of skills (gardening, baking, sewing etc), an Evangelistic Tea Party for the community, and a home management/ budgeting seminar which I will lead. Pray for all these endeavors!

Literacy class is going well, we see more pupils each week. The kids are REALLY enjoying the new materials, and they are a great help to us! We are so grateful to Grace Covenant Baptist Church and especially Holly Teale for organizing and spending hours preparing these materials for us. Your efforts as a church are not in vain- we are eternally grateful! 

                                                                 Jane Sichone teaching
                                                              Lonear Mwaba teaching

We are seeing a need for more teachers as the numbers grow, and most especially as the kids are on so many different levels ( In a class of four 5th graders, you will have kids at grade one level, grade 2 level etc.... ) We will be separating them by ability rather than grade and seeking to catch them up with their peers at school. 


I have also “volunteered” or at least mentioned that I'd be willing to teach the Youth Bible Class on Sunday morning. Our Sunday school program only takes kids through grade 8, and then after that they just automatically go to Adult Bible Class, which is most of the times way above their heads. Because of this, some of the kids from the community leave church after grade 8. We don't want to lose them at this critical time. We have about 10-12 “youths” in that age category who we want to cater to. Sydney will bring the idea before the leadership and we will go from there. The issues will still be materials for that class.

Last week I created a facebook page as well as a website for the church so that we can get the word out about our congregation way out here in Mpika, and also so that people all over Zambia, in the US and UK who have supported us and pray for us can be more fully involved in our work here. The links are

We have been waiting for two of our packages for over two months (our Christmas presents from family) and we've never had anything take more than 4 weeks so you can imagine the worry! We are so thankful one arrived two days ago!! The other was sent first and seems to have never been scanned in at Lusaka (holiday rush) so we are praying that God will intervene and we will receive that one as well. We are praying it doesn't get "lost in the system"- Please pray with us!


Reading a letter from my neice

 The cat's ultimately got a little present too!

  Handing notes for Sydney to read.

  Showing off some of my treats!

I must admit today was one of those days where I pretty much felt like if we lived out of boxes in this house for ONE more day I was going to just lose it. We are now in month 6 in a house we were never supposed to have been in in the first place... and I don't want to count te months our belongings have been in boxes. I went digging for a sweatshirt yesterday and it had that musty "I've been in storage for a year" smell. I'll have a lot of laundry to do when we move that's for sure. I have prayed, and I am content with what God sees fit to give us day by day... patiently waiting on Him! (That's not to say that I wont cry tears of absolute overwhelming joy the day we move out of here :) )