Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Neighbourly love

It's been an interesting month here in Mpika. We have been so blessed and encouraged on many different levels and had some setbacks as well that are quite a challenge.

One of the major setbacks is this house. I am personally finding contentment here to be my biggest struggle. The walls seem to be closing in on me and every time I pray and resolve to be joyful and find content something else happens. I am cooking in a kitchen without a single counter top- which means I use the stove as a counter and a cook space, which means I burn and melt bowls, spoons, and hands on a daily basis. It has also sucked every desire to even cook out of me because I am searching through bags and boxes for ingredients and once I find them, and wash the cockroach droppings off of them, there's nowhere to PUT them so that I can use them. My favourite thing is hospitality. I love cooking and having people over and having people come and stay so that we can host. We haven't had a single church family for a meal since we moved here and that makes me so sad. I feel like that's the one gift I have to offer, and I'm not able to offer it. I wouldn't even be able to find enough plates in my boxes to host a family for supper. Our spare room is full of boxes- and has no electricity- so we can't have anyone who comes to town stay with us.

The wiring in the entire house was not done properly and there are only 2 outlets IN THE HOUSE, one of which Sydney fixed when we moved in but it has to be “coaxed” when you use it. I have electrocuted myself twice and we trip on a daily basis because we have extension cords running through the hallway into the bedroom and the study. We have no water. There's nothing more really to be said about that, but pretty much everything I have to do every day depends on water (cooking, cleaning, laundry... even ironing.) Since it's collected for us we have to ration it and when we run low or it comes to us already dirty- it's a struggle to bathe or decide whether to flush. Recently the sewage system, which is inconveniently immediately out the main door, is full and very shortly going to overflow. We have giant black flies and huge cockroaches now, not just they myriads of the regular sized ones, because of the raw sewage. I wont mention the smell. The worst part is that some of our stuff still isn't here from Lusaka, which includes all of the furniture for Sydney's office. He has no desk so he's using boxes to study on, no bookshelf so hes got books all over the floor- and worst of all no chair to sit in. He uses one of the plastic chairs from church and he's been having bad back pain.

Probably the most major issue is the location, in the middle of town with no.... NO privacy. People walk through our yard all day every day and can clearly see in every window- and make no issue of staring in either. When I go outside the neighbour's kids (who I constantly see tormenting the dogs and throwing things at them). Scream at me “Iwe muzungu, hey! Iwe muzungu how are you?” Literally “You white”. Now this word has gotten under my nerves for some time now because I don't like being called “white” as a name when I can easily be called “ma'am, miss, auntie or madam” which is what Zambian women are called for respect. I don't mind being referred to as muzungu in conversation, that I can understand, because I am white- like being refered to as a blond or brunette, but being called muzungu as a name is a different story.  For some reason when a CHILD screams across 100 yards to get my attention repeatedly calling me, simply' “white”, irks me. I know that here- a child wouldn't DARE scream across the yard to a strange Zambian woman to ask her how she is because that would be utterly and mortifying disrespectful... so it tends to grate on me that these kids repeatedly do it and their families sit and laugh- like because I am white I don't need to be respected as an adult. Our other neighbour has repeatedly offended me and laughs when I hang laundry or she finds me cooking because it shocks her that a white woman can do those things.Because of that, I don't even want to go outside. I always hope no ones out there when I go out to hang laundry (which never happens). That's not me, and I don't like it.

Our neighbour across the street is a whole other ball game. About 2 weeks ago at 4:45 AM we heard a chicken squawking in our yard. Our dog are chained during the day- they grew up being fenced in and with the entire neighbourhood walking through our yard and the neighbours kids on both sides tormenting and harassing them we knew they would bite them if they got the chance, but we had let them out at night as security since we are out in the open. We knew that chicken noise because when we first moved in, Jayte our dog had killed someones chicken. We paid her back for it, disciplined the dog and life went on. When we realised this, Sydney ran outside to save the chicken. As he went out, the neighbour across the street came following Jayte with an IRON ROD, chasing after the dog to kill him.

Sydney caught Jayte and started to discipline him and told the man we would repay him for the chicken only to see the man take a swing and miss. Mind you- Sydney was holding Jaytes collar. He had to jump back not to be hit. In a fit of rage, the man swung AGAIN and this time Sydney had to let the dog go to not be smashed. The dog ran and the iron bar came down hard------ ON OUR CAR. He completely smashed the side mirror. Without missing a beat after damaging our car- he ran after Jayte to kill him but Jayte outran him- so he turned to our small puppy, Davy, and HIT him as hard as he could with that iron bar right across the spine. He also ran away so he turned to us and told us to be rest assured he was going to kill our dogs. His wife came over- undressed, basically just wrapped in a cloth and picked up the chicken in a rage and threw it at us. I am not sure what kid of anger is in that house but I was scared to death of both of them. Sydney tried to reason with him asking him why on earth he just damaged a car and tried to kill two dogs over one chicken that we already said we would pay for and he just told us he would pay for the car, but also kill our dogs.

In God's providence, we have a law enforcement officer who has been regularly attending our church. Sydney called him for advice and he said to get a written statement. Sydney went over with the money to repay him for the chicken but they wouldn't come out of the house. He refused to leave so eventually the man came out and Sydney paid him, and told him we want to settle this outside of court as neighbours, and asked him to write a statement saying he would pay to fix the car but he refused. We had no choice but to go to the police. They gave us a “call out” for him to come in in the afternoon so we both give our statements. We did, although he lied and said that we never said we'd pay for the chicken til after he said we'd pay for the car. Sydney (and sometimes I) ended up having to be at the police station every day that week because they don't have any computers or printers, so if you want a statement you have to type it up and print it yourself, which we did but he didn't like the first draft so we had to keep paying to do it over.... Finally we got a written stamped statement of the incident- but they didn't make the guy write anything out.

It has been 2 weeks and he is dodging every phone call, won't answer texts, and seems to be hoping if he drags it out we might forget about it. We employed someone in Lusaka to find the mirror- and it took him until now to find the actual part- we almost had to order it from Japan. It's going to cost the guy over $120 (NOT including labour to put it on the car- since its an electric side mirror, not a manual) over a $7 chicken. Our dogs are also under strict orders to be chained- 24/7. I almost feel it would be better to give them away because I am hurt every day feeling like we are abusing our pets- Jayte has been with me since he was born and now I've turned on him. He isn't eating properly and is all mopey and depressed. We really do not want to take this to court. If I am 100 percent honest I don't trust the police or the courts here- and who knows what they would say or what outcome there would be.

Welcome to the neighbourhood! Doesn't exactly make me feel any safer I can say that.

On top of all of this, after being promised the new house would be done in August, then November, then being assured by 1st December we could move in.... we just got news that it will not be ready by then. It's crushing news and I am very very tired. There are no other houses available- people are clamouring for THIS house when we move out. So we wait.

Like I said, as you can tell- I am struggling with contentment. I am struggling with patience. I am so thankful for the fact that we have someone to fetch water for us. I am thankful for the electricity. I am thankful that we have been kept safe here. I am thankful for our sending church making sure we have a home. I am thankful for the deacons and families here who bring us vegetables and make sure we are ok. I am aware that this blog, thus far, has just been complaining. I am writing it because we need prayer. I need prayer. I can't write and say everything is cool and I am doing cartwheels in the back yard because that's not true. I love Mpika, I love the church. I love what's happening here with the ministry but I am struggling to be happy at home and I need prayer. 

It's no ones fault. We are in a remote area and there simply aren't houses available- thus us waiting for one that's still being built. I chose this life- I married Sydney, we became one and we came to Mpika. I also love missions life. I love the adventure, I love the hardships, I love the challenges and most of all I love the God I serve, whom we are doing all of this for and to glorify. I am not really sure why this house in particular has been such a struggle for me. I've lived in small places. I've struggled with water. I think this is just another level and I am still adjusting. It's a heart issue I am still wrestling with.  

All of that being said, there are many amazing things going on with the church. We seem to grow in numbers weekly- we've had a number of visitors. There are also multiple people who have recently relocated to Mpika who are eager to be a part of the church. We have re-en stated the home fellowship groups- which are also growing. Ours is in Bemba since it is the one which caters to Chitulika Village, but I am following well and it's actually helping me to learn. Our main attendee was a member of the church already when we came but clearly had a lot of questions and didn't understand simple gospel truths. She is HUNGRY for it, though and spends the whole study asking questions and clarifying things... she's also been faithful to start bringing her kids and neighbours. On Friday, she was at our house and wanted to ask more questions- we sat with her for some time and discussed various verses and cleared up questions she had- she was so joyful and excited- laughing and clapping our hands. She already made a standing appointment with us for this week.

We gave two soccer balls to the youth group and they seem to be growing also. Ladies are meeting biweekly to go through the book “Respectable Sins”. Almost all of them have specifically come to me to tell me they are so encouraged by the book and the meetings are drawing us closer together so we are more free with each other.

Two of the kids who come to Sunday school we often drive home because they live near our house. Last week they asked us to come visit them at home. Their guardian is a Roman Catholic. We went and spent time with her and she too made a standing appointment with us for Saturday afternoons. We have visited many people and heard so many stories and it's been quite a blessing. The woman who was near death has since started medication and is back on her feet- an answer to prayer. The other woman who was pregnant but told her baby might not make it because of complications has delivered a healthy baby girl. The ladies all pooled together for a gift and we went to go present it to her last week. It was so interesting to see and hear the different advice and stories the women were telling. I can see that when I start to have kids there will be some clashes between how I was raised to do things and how they are done here. Her husband- who was a drunk and a wife beater- has quit drinking, sobered up, regularly attends church and has counselling with Sydney on Fridays, going through the book “Manly Dominion.” He even got a notebook and now takes notes in church. We are encouraged!

The most major encouragement has been the building. It has been standing as just a “skeleton” for a long time. The church has been putting away money and people have given and we were almost at the target to be able to put the roof on. Grace Covenant Baptist Church in NJ took it upon themselves to do a special offering and with their selfless givings, and those of the Rodgers family, Emmasdale Baptist Church in Lusaka and tithes, gifts and offerings from our church here- we have not only raised enough to do the roof but also the floor and plastering the walls!!!! It is so great and when it was announced in church there was so much joy and happiness. They've been waiting a long time for this- and it is going to help the work here IMMENSELY! We plan to start physical work December 1st, right now we are finding the labourers and materials.

Also, in my own little world of joy, our cat finally gave birth! She had 6 kittens, but two of them died the day they were born. The other 4 are doing well and growing by the day!

It's a tough time of year. Thanksgiving and Christmas are a BIG deal in my family and to me personally. and I always struggle with my emotions in November and December since moving here. Two of my sisters have gone through rough times the past month or two- and I feel disconnected. Thanksgiving will come and go without being able to do the whole meal shebang- since I can't get the ingredients and it would take me a week to dig for a pie plate in our boxes. As Christmas approaches, I had visions of being in the new house and putting up my little tree and lights. Now it seems they will still be in their boxes. It's hard to sit in a house that's well over 100 degrees inside and imagine the smells of sugar cookies and autumn leaves and pumpkin pie- or know that it will snow soon and my family is together bundles up telling stories and I'm here unable to relate those stories to anyone or really explain why I am feeling down.

Like I said, right now I need prayer. One day I am up and chipper and feel like I could get through anything and the next day the slightest thing makes me want to scream! Sydney has a lot on his plate- and he is in his prime. God has gifted him with a genuine love for the people here and they are responding in turn. His ministry has been strong and he is working hard (too hard, in my opinion). We are enjoying each other and I am thankful that since he has no office anywhere- he's home so if I need a hug he's around and always willing :)

It's been long since I last wrote and I know I haven't remembered everything but that's what's on my heart right now. I am thankful but I'm also sinful- and God is working in me in very specific ways.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

General monthly UPDATE (written by Sydney)

RELOCATION – Lusaka to Mpika
Despite the delays we encountered in Lusaka before our departure, nonetheless; we travelled well despite the tire burst we experienced within Lusaka, which delayed us further.
When on our way, after driving for over 5hours; we had a near accident. The scenario was; there were about 3 Trucks in front of us; and since our viewing range was quite limited due to the trucks, there was a big stone right in the middle of the road which we couldn’t see. Thus we drove on it. We lost a bit of control on the vehicle, but finally managed to stop. The Car’s tire developed a bump as a result of the impact. Inspite of that, we managed to drive till Mpika. We arrived a little bit late in the night, by 10:30Pm. Upon arrival, we were received by one of the active member of our Church, and he took us to our lodging.
Our sending Church – LBC arranged our temporal accommodation at a lodge were we were supposed to live for 3months. This was done, to buy time for the house under construction to get completed. And since the lodge was expensive yet very small chalet was not spacious enough to contain our property once it came. We therefore resolved to move into the temporal house I showed or mentioned of during the time I gave a report on Mpika and accommodation @ GCBC as well as GBC in Indiana (I am sure Katryn has sent or uploaded some picture of Facebook Or check Kat’s blog for details).
Despite all these eventualities, we are settling in well. Though the water challenges still lingers, although the need is being met twice per-week, because the Church member is fetching water for us on Wednesdays & Fridays.
Besides that; the work of ministry is up and running. Though there is much to work on and organize. There are many dysfunctional ministries, uncommitted members needing encouraging, the sick needing consolation and many other Church related challenges needing my attention. But nonetheless, we are excited to be a part of what God is doing and is going to do thru our feeble efforts.
On the Lord’s day; I am preaching thru the beatitudes morning services. I am doing a series I have called: – “The necessary attitudes for Kingdom citizenship” – from Matt. 5:3-12. Then the afternoon services, we have continued our study thru Acts. 2:42-47 – on “Orthodox Christianity”. Over and above, the response has so far been quite encouraging.
I held the first meeting with the deacons the other Saturday. I had an encouraging time with these precious brothers – Mr. Laket Mulenga & Mr. Kenneth Kapesa. Unfortunately, we could not finish going thru the agenda, thus we had meet on Tuesday last week at 6:20pm to finish up the remaining pointers. Of which we did. Besides that, I have commenced a mentorship corner for the deacons. In that, I have assigned books to each deacon to read about the Church and Leadership. And every time we have staff meetings the last Saturday of every month, we will be discussing each book’s chapter in response. The books are: “The Trellis and the Vine” – by Tony Payne & “Exemplary leadership” – by Jerry Wragg. I am also studying along thru Don Fortner’s book called – ‘The Church of God”. My aim is to develop and sustain the culture of reading with the leadership.
Last week Friday, Katryn met with the ladies with a view of getting to know the ladies of the church, and if possible plan for a ladies book study (Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges) for the days to come. Of which the ladies have welcomed Kat’s proposal. Therefore she has already prepared and given them (ladies) the hand-outs, and they are going to be meeting next coming Friday [more updates from Kat concerning this]
Last Saturday, I also met the leaders of various Church ministries. This was so essentially, with the purpose of getting to know them, to encourage them for their faithful services they rendered over the past years. As part of the agenda, I hopped to assess if there are certain functional ministries which can be resuscitated before this year ends. If not, then our objective plan were to have all the ministries commenced by next year January, and therefore, devote the time between now and December to training up ministry leaders. But secondly, because the ministries can only run properly once scheduled for, we want to come up with a year calendar, since currently there hasn’t been none.
I also wanted to inquire of the causes that have made the Church ministries to crumble to the ground, the state of lifelessness; devoid of vitality (within the Church and the community. I desired to establish the ultimate reason/s that has led the Church on the path of downgrade. And by identifying the deficiencies and concertedly as a Church, to look at finding the way forward in establishing a health Church, though not perfect. Thus to accomplish this agenda, I proposed to start doing a book study on leadership by Al Mohler – ‘The Conviction to lead’ – with the ministry leaders. And we later on resolved that if we were to do a book study with not only the ministry leaders but the Church membership at large, then; why not resume the Home Fellowship Groups? And the idea was widely and hastily welcomed.
Thus, on Sunday I met with men that have led the HFG before in their respectable homes. I inquired of them if recommencing the HFG in their areas was such a fine idea; and it was affirmative. And that is something my wife and I are thankful to the Lord for.
So, the HFGs are resuming next week Wednesday @ 5:30pm. We will be doing a series study on – The Doctrine of God. The reason for this study, is to help the Church awaken a sense of awe concerning God in the hearts, so that we may be taken back to the first love, by developing a deeper knowledge of Him; the knowledge that will find its expression by building a well-founded Christian worldview around God; leading to effective evangelism as well as improving our private and corporate worship. This also is something you can be praying with us for.
There other exciting thing again is; I will also be conducting a somewhat leadership Mutual-mentorship with the HFG leaders, yet we will all be participating in teaching/mentoring one another. This is purported for the equipping of the leaders as well as creating a platform for developing a culture of reading just as– “Iron sharpens Iron, so a man sharpens another…” – Prov. 27:17. This mutual-mentorship program begins on the 12th of October, 2013; where I will give a somewhat keynote study of the book. This program will be running middle-week of every month.
To accomplish this task, we will each be taking turns, by reading a chapter or two. And then whenever we meet, the leader for the apportioned day would have read the portion of the book beforehand; glean some lessons and study questions from the book to share with the group. Therefore, for us to ensure the smooth running of this program, I will draw up a schedule and a basic study guide for each chapter for the leaders to use.
On the other flip side of the coin, week before last Saturday morning, after our Church morning prayer meeting; Katryn attended the literacy class. And there she took noted some challenging needs the ministry is going thru, in terms of staff and material for both the kids and the teachers. We are trying thus to organize the necessary materials for the 1st thru the 5th graders as the Lord leads.
Therefore, after all these, where we are currently with respect to our settlement; Kat and I are daring to build relational bridges with the church membership and ease in in stabilizing the Church.
We are also thankful to God, that the first Sunday thru to last week, we recorded a larger attendance of about 50 people in our morning service. The other Sunday and the Sunday that followed, we were about 35-46 in attendance. And what that means is that; the chairs were just about enough for the attendees, the Hymnals were a challenge also because they are not enough.
The immediate need we are currently facing is the completion of the sanctuary. As a Church, beginning last year, we have raised half the money for the roofing. And the rains are commencing by next month. And considering the measure/size of the old sanctuary is growing smaller and smaller each day that passes. And the fact that the HFGs are starting next week, that will certainly encourage neighborhood evangelism, which will in turn bring about many people into the Church. Please would you pray with us in this vein.
We are thankful to the Lord for the financial support we received from one our sister Churches from Lusaka, given toward the building. You can rejoice with us.
We also want to thank God for the attempts we made last Sunday to preach in English/Bemba. Though it was hard the dare, yet it was worth it. Continue praying that the Lord may grant His servant who preaches to be simple and clear in speech, that the gospel will continue being delivered concisely thru the demonstration of the Spirit’s power to bring about salvation.
But overall, we are so grateful to God for entrusting us with this work of ministry. And in all these things we have nothing to say but only to ascribe glory to Him, and Him alone?
Lastly join in with us, as Katryn and I stand indebted to Lusaka Baptist Church brethren and the eldership for this rare opportunity they have granted to us to serve the Lord here in Mpika, for the sanctification of the saints and salvation of the sinners, all to His glory.

May He alone reward all of you graciously – LBC; GCBC & GBC – abundantly as it seems befitting to Him.

Prayer items:
  • The Lord to calm our hearts (Kat and I) as we labor among these dear ones
  • Pray for me, that I may be faithful in leading God’s flock
  • Pray that the Lord would knit our hearts as a Church
  • Remembers us as EBC with the meetings scheduled in this month as we strive to build a health and functional Christian community:
      • Staff meeting
      • Katryn’s meeting with the Ladies that God would be gracious to them even as they focus on the future-state of ladies fellowship
      • My meetings with: HFG leaders for mentorship; each month with the deacons as we do book review that God would be honored in using our feeble efforts to build his Church; Church member needing husbandry counseling. In, thru all these strivings, the Lord God would give us wisdom even as we will be seeking to establish all the Church ministries.
  • Pulpit ministry, that the preaching would be clear and convicting, leading to repentance those that sit under the charge of the gospel
  • Pray for stability of the church
  • For God’s wisdom on how to go about the Vernacular service as we have already attempted
  • Pray for our accommodation that it would be ready by the proposed time (1st Dec. 2013)
  • Pray for the Church building requiring financial support. We’ve raised half the money for the roof. But we desire to furnish the entire building soon if the Lord wills.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

How I survived our move to Mpika....

Life has been nothing if not hectic these past few weeks. We spent about 3 months in the flat in Kabulonga (in Lusaka) while Sydney finished up some work/engagements there at Lusaka Baptist Church and we awaited his ordination service. We finally had moved everything, including pets, into that flat- although it remained in boxes waiting for our move to Mpika. We had to reschedule the ordination service due to scheduling conflicts with the Reformed Family Conference, which is hosted by Lusaka Baptist Church, and therefore had to move out of the flat since it was overdue going back to it's owners.

This posed quite a dilemma in terms of our belongings and our pets. The church put us up at Dream Valley Lodge- which was just a hotel room, so naturally none of our stuff could come with us, but they graciously cleared one of the rooms at the church for us to store our stuff. The door to that room had no lock so Sydney and the guys had to remove the handles from one door upstairs and replace the other handles so our things would be secure. IT all just fit with inches to spare! The dogs were brought back to Kabanana to be “babysat” by Faith Baptist Church (Curtis & Fanny's church) and we snuck the cat into the room at the lodge with us (shhh!). Since we were told at pretty short notice- we had food in the fridge and freezer but we were able to “donate” it to the kitchen at the lodge, much of which was then served back to us. It was quite an interesting time having absolutely no idea when we were moving and having to be ready to leave at either a moments notice, or a week or two! Thinking we'd only be in the lodge one night- maybe two- I under packed considerably and so I ended up hand washing clothes in the bathroom sink and hanging them for us to re-wear for about 4 days. We were there from a Thursday, and on Saturday we were told we should have been in Mpika on Friday but there was a mix up in communication. By then it was too late to leave so we decided to go on Monday morning.

We started off early Monday, but then ended up delaying for a while at the church doing last minute arrangements for our accommodation and arrangements for our belongings to follow on a truck behind us later in the day. From there we left for Kabanana to pick up the dogs, and of course spent time saying our goodbyes which delayed us even more- and THEN as soon as we exited Kabanana on to the main road, we got a flat tire. Not just flat but flat flat. By God's grace we were RIGHT next to a fuel station- with a sign that said “tire repair”- but as these things go, there was no one to fix it. Sydney started off down the road in search of a repair man and I gave water to the dogs and tried to calm the panicking cat. Finally it was fixed, not without the price tripling from what he had told Sydney when he saw him WITHOUT his white wife-- and him claiming he needed a new shirt cause his got dirty while he was working- but in the end it was fixed. The ride itself was relatively un-eventful except needing multiple stops for the dogs to do the necessary. At one of the fuel stations a man seeing us with the dogs (completely ignoring Sydney) started telling me that he trains dog's and will work for me and train them and went ON and ON... finally we ignored him long enough for him to go away and the gas attendants called Sydney over. Apparently they were “placing bets” if we worked together or I was their “sister in law” (a polite way of asking if I'm his wife) They were shocked and interested to hear that I was his wife.

Toward the end of the drive we had a “near miss”. The drives on these roads are notoriously dangerous due to trucks carrying goods from Tanzania etc., which drive recklessly. We were behind a line of about 4 of them and suddenly we saw a giant rock right in the middle of the road. There was nothing we could do but hit it dead on- to swerve either way would've meant an accident. The car started put-ting and we pulled over to find the tire had a huge sort of... lump. We were literally in the middle of bushland and there was nothing we could do but pray and keep driving. We made it safely by about 9:30... which I wasn't to happy about cause the last few hours were in the dark and driving in the dark is even MORE dangerous for numerous reasons. When it got dark we actually stopped to find a hotel in Serenje, but it wasn't worth the money and with the animals in the car we had to just pull through.

We were met in Mpika by a member of the church who brought us to our accommodation that was supposed to be for 3 months. We panicked because it was another hotel room. Just one room, with two beds and a questionable toilet. We knew right away we couldn't stay there for 3 months (first of all, there was no where for two dogs and a cat to stay, second of all when we brought in the backpack and laptop bag, there was no room for anything else- barely even for us to walk ergo no room for our belongings which were (we thought) en route, also there was no kitchen which meant buying out food 3 meals a day for 90 days which we definitely couldn’t afford, and the room itself, which just had a thatched straw roof was sort of falling down on us.) We couldn't deal with it then because we were WAY too tired, and in God's providence our belongings were delayed due to problems with the truck and were due the next day- so we slept.

The next morning we met with someone for the church and arranged to just move into the house we stayed in the last time we visited. It was the same one I had adamantly put my foot down against on the last trip ( I think I wrote about it in a previous post) because it has power issues, NO running water whatsoever, it's right in the middle of the compound/town and there are people walking through the yard all day going to and from town, the front door had no handle, there were cockroaches etc..., but comparatively it was looking like a penthouse. It was a bit nerve wracking because a contract had already been drawn up and a check written so they had to handle the matter delicately. They were gracious, however, and only made us pay for the two nights we stayed there. I was humbled, to say the least, and learned never to complain because it doesn't always get you a step up, sometimes you go a few steps down!

We got there but the previous pastor's belongings were all still there, as he hadn't moved out his things yet. Our truck was on it's way, so a woman who works for him and another member of the church who lived with him came and started packing and cleaning. The truck arrived two days later than expected but everything was in tact. Unfortunately, a few things were left behind because there was no room on the truck for them but we were told they'd be sent later. We emptied the house of some of the pastor's things and then filled the lounge with all of our stuff. The boy who lived here with the former pastor had one room full of his stuff, and the stuff the pastor wasn't taking was moved to the other room which left us with a bedroom and lounge. We couldn't live 3 months with boxes filling the lounge so we went to the room with the pastor's belongings, sorted and re-arranged them to make space, then moved the boys stuff to the other side of the same room, (and some into the kitchen) so we could move our stuff out of the lounge and into the now empty room. Needless to say we were cramped- and still wearing the same clothes over and over- now on day 7 or 8! Our first order of business was to get some furniture because all we had was a bed. The next day- we went into town and got a kitchen table and chairs and some sofas, as well as groceries.

The boy came and got all but one of his boxes which he needs us to keep til December, and the Pastor came last week and got the rest of his stuff except a broken motorcycle and a bike and a few boxes that belong to the church, but there's no room at the church for them. That freed up some space in that room so we pushed the motorcycle and bike in the corner and went about moving the boxes, AGAIN, from the middle room to that room so that Sydney could have an “office”. Unfortunately, the desk and chair and bookshelf are some of the things that didn’t fit on the truck from Lusaka, so he used some of our boxes full of stuff and improvised a desk and chair. I think he was tired of me sweeping under his feet and moving 27 books for their “spots” while he tried to work in the lounge!

I would be lying if I said I am finding life easy at the moment. There is no running water, so twice a week a lady from the church comes and draws buckets of water for us. Which means washing dishes with a pitcher, doing laundry in a small bucket, every time you use the toilet you have to move water from a giant bucket with a smaller bucket into the cistern to flush. This house is extremely old and there are cracks and the floors are very uneven which makes the furniture and chairs and stove and fridge all sit at an awkward angle. We have to heat up buckets of water on the stove or with an electric heater and then use a bucket and cup to bathe- so a simple bath takes 4x as long. The roofing sheets are quite insecure so when the wind blows ( and it BLOWS gail force daily here because we're in a valley)- it sounds and looks like they will blow off any second. So far, so good. The cockroaches are a major problem- we can not get rid of them but they literally are on EVERYTHING- you have to wipe them off the toilet seat before you sit and rinse everything before you eat off of it ( which is a problem with no water!! ) When you turn on the stove about 7,000 of them come from nowhere to escape the heat. I have been fortunate to not have many cockroach problems in all my former homes in Lusaka (not to say I didn’t have them, but they were manageable with spray), so this has been a challenge. A few days ago the ants came- in thousands- and since there are no cupboards or counters in the kitchen and everything has to just be... out... they have penetrated into every box and bag and I am at a LOSS for how to keep our food safe. The cat is doing a little damage control, eating lizards and the giant cockroaches but she is scared of ants (go figure), and I can only imagine the reason we have no rats is because of her presence. We also just discovered that the sink hole for the sewage seems to be right at capacity, and getting fuller every day which is emanating an interesting smell.

The house that the previous pastor is building is where we will be shifting to, and it isn't near done yet. We had been told that by August it would be habitable, but that changed to November which is now December. It won't be done when we move in- no ceilings or finished floors- but he's promised us running water (for two hours a day- which is all you get here in Mpika, no matter where you live!) and power- and security bars on the windows and doors. Because of that move, and because of the fact there is nowhere to actually unpack our boxes, we are still dressing out of suitcases and eating/living out of boxes for the next few months. When we move- I am praying there will be counters and cabinets in the kitchen to unpack into- but I am sure it will be a challenge as builders will continue working as we live there- which means we will continue to move things from room to room.

It's a challenging time of life for us but thankfully we are still in the “honeymoon phase” which means we are looking at this more as an adventure than a challenge. Some days are better than others- some days I feel like if I see one more giant Madagascar hissing cockroach on my curtain or if I open a another bag of sugar crawling with ants I may scream.

Certain things in the neighborhood are a challenge. Like I said, we are right in the middle of where everyone walks directly through the yard to go here and there so it's like we are on public display- which has it's downsides and upsides. Two days ago I was lying on the couch with my legs hanging over the side checking emails and behind me I heard someone sit on the other sofa. Assuming it was Sydney, I glanced over and saw.... some strange guy. I BOLTED upright and was like... um hi? He simply asked if the pastor was around. He needed $2 to go and pick up his cellphone from the repair shop and figured we were the best people to help him out. He just strolled into the house, walked through the kitchen and hallway into the room where I was laying and plopped down on the couch. WHAT!? There were about 500 other knocks on the door that day. I was warned about this- but it's always different to hear about what happens in the village at the pastors house, and a whole different story to experience it.

The next door neighbor, (who can speak fluent English but speaks to me only in Bemba, and every time I tell her I can't understand her she laughs and says, “you have to learn”, then speaks in Bemba, and I tell her I haven't learned in the past two minutes and STILL don't understand her so she laughs again (It get's old. Fast), brought over some spinach cooked with peanuts, a traditional dish here I have eaten numerous times having lived here over 3 years and traveled here twice before that- but when she gave it to me she said “since you don't know how to cook any traditional food I made this for you to taste”. Another woman was with her and looked at the clothes on the clothesline and said “you are washing? You know how to wash?” When I said yes they both giggled. Now, on another day this might have just blown over but it came on a day where one thing was piling on top of another and I was at a breaking point! I wanted to cry- I felt like saying... “for crying out loud I cook Zambian food all the time for my husband- if fact we eat Zambian MUCH more than American... and laundry? I have two hands and a brain of course I can do laundry. I am not an alien stepping foot on earth for the first time! am I ever going to be accepted here or will I always just be “the white lady”!?!?! After that rant in my head and a good cry to a slightly baffled Sydney, I realized they DON'T know how long I've lived here. They've never had a white neighbor before. I am sure she was trying to be nice and welcome me into the neighbor hood and I was strangling her in my head!

I am learning a lot about my own attitude here. Lusaka was very different than the states, yes. We had power and water “glitches”. But we also had shopping malls, supermarkets, walmart (which is Game here) movie theaters, concerts, sports games at the stadium, restaurants (including KFC and Subway), spas, massage parlors, Mexican food, Indian food, Chinese food- really ANYTHING I could need. Maybe not the same brand (although every week there seemed to be something new in the store from the US or UK). I kept thinking it was gonna be so fun to live like the 1920's using water in buckets and burning candles. It's fun for maybe a week. Maybe.

But then I see the church, and I am getting to know and love the people, and there are visitors who have come to our doorstep ready to ride to church two weeks in a row. Last week we drove 2 hours to Kasama to shop at a real grocery store, because the shops are small and sparse in Mpika- and I was delighted! We hit them when they just got a shipment from Lusaka so the store was fully stocked! We filled two carts full- and got food and supplies to last through October (we don't want to have to spend the fuel to drive out there more than once a month). It's a very different life here.

Saturday- we missed prayer meeting because the woman who gets us water took long and we couldn't leave the doors unlocked. We got there after it ended but literacy class was just starting. I decided to stay and observe how it runs, and Sydney went out with the tracts we folded that morning and invitation cards. I started to get excited seeing how much potential and need there was in the literacy class. I am told it used to be booming but there are now only 10 kids. The teacher had no materials, the kids used backward chairs as desks and had only notebooks. I saw the need and potential and started to get so excited. Just then I glanced out the window and watched Sydney. He was walking up and down the street near the church all by himself talking to people and handing out tracts, explaining what the church is about, laughing, learning their names and where they live. I realized THAT is why we are here. Yea, our water is in a bucket- but we have water. Yea, our power shuts off without warning- but we have power. Yea, the house is perpetually dirty and dusty and there are bugs- but we have a house. What we came he for wasn't water or electricity. It was for the people he was shaking hands with as they walked by. It was for the kids who came to learn English so they can provide for their families when they grow up.

It's not easy to get the “American”... or even “Lusakan” out of me- who wants her pots on a shelf, her clothes in a drawer, tiles on her floor, paint on her walls and her kitchen tap to do something when she turns it. Sometimes I am caught in an attitude of feeling I deserve that which I don't. I have learned a lot about humility. I am perfecting the art of repentance. I am STILL struggling with patience. BUT I have a man beside me who is making life easier. Who is constantly making sure I get rest and who gently redirects me when I lose my cool, but still tries to fix the problem. He makes sure the buckets are full, he replaced the handle on the door, he sprays the bugs diligently, he moves boxes in a way that kitchen supplies are accessible, he bought me 4 bars of chocolate when we were in Kasama.... He quietly goes behind my bad attitude and sweeps up the messes I complain about.

I can see Gods plan and purpose in the steps I have taken. From America to Lusaka- then Lusaka to here. Easing me into it instead of throwing me in head first. If I had moved here straight from the US I may have drowned but he kept my “floaties” on for a while til I truly learned to swim. Sometimes I get a little water up my nose, but I never sink.

Sydney is full swing into the work here- nose in books one day- grazing the town for new friends and people to invite the next. He had one deacons meeting to discuss the future of the church- but they only got through about ¼ of what they needed to so they're meeting again today. On Saturday, he's holding a meeting and re-instating all the ministries- (ladies, men, youth, home fellowship mtgs etc) which have not been functioning for quite some time. We've been visiting the visitors (or attempting) and the sick in the church. We also in the coming weeks will start sourcing for funds to finish the church building- we have the money for roofing sheets, some of which which was generously donated by a church in Lusaka but we need the timber to make the base. Rainy season will be here in a matter of weeks and we need a roof!

On Friday, I've asked all the ladies to come meet with me. There hasn’t been a functioning ladies ministry in what looks to be over a year, but there are two chairwomen who are meant to be talked to on Saturday to restart it. I just want to get to know the women on a personal level- one of the benefits of being a small church at the moment- and start a book study. I have about 4 ladies devotional books for now- and I want us to start pushing through them so as we get to know each other we also encourage and help each other grow. This will be my first time leading something like this- and ironically I am the youngest “lady” and the only one without children so there are some challenges. I am thinking back to Pr. Kalifungwa's sermon to Sydney at his ordination. “Let no one despise you because of your youth”. I know that wasn't directed at me but I think the principle applies. God made me Sydney's wife, and he sent us to Mpika. I feel quite inadequate but His grace is sufficient.

I hope this isn't read as complaining. As I always have done on my previous blog- I will write things bluntly. I think it helps people know how to pray and what we are doing here. It's not easy sometimes. Sometimes its encouraging. I guess that's the same as anyone's life- this is just our particular story.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Trip to Mpika

This weekend Sydney and I traveled to Mpika. He spent a month there before the wedding, but I had never been so LBC sent us there to have a time for Sydney to minister on Sunday and also for me to get to know the place and the people a bit.

Driving there was something of a nightmare. We passed through NINE police “checkpoints”. We had to argue at a few, but two of them stopped us and actually charged us with (my favorite phrase) unpardonable offenses. The first place asked us if we had triangles and a fire extinguisher. (For my American readers, they are small triangle shaped reflectors you have in your car so if you have a problem on the road people can see from far off.) I told him I had triangles but he said by law I was required to have a fire extinguisher- which I have never heard of before. I argued and he said it was a 'new law' which I didn’t know. I started to get upset because they were very obviously being corrupt and making up charges (he spent 5 minutes going around the car first looking for anything wrong and was upset when there was nothing- that's when he now went to the fire extinguisher). I asked for a ticket that we could contest at the station or court and they said “we don't give tickets anymore cause no one pays them” I was at the point of almost getting into a serious fight because that was just ludicrous, so I asked Sydney to deal with them and I went and sat in the car.

While in there, Sydney tried to reason with them and mentioned the fact that I was his wife, and the female officer said “Hmm, you have moneeyyyyyy”. From that point, we were told we were being impounded (car and license taken away) if we didn't pay a fee. Sydney realized you can't argue with a fool so we paid the $36 fee.

We continued on, showing the triangles at the next stop etc.... no one else ever mentioned a fire extinguisher being necessary. When we got to another road block, they again asked for the triangles and then said ours were plastic and we needed metal ones- another $36 dollar fee. We argued for quite some time but to no avail. They didn't even take my license or anything and let me sit with the car running so I was ready to just drive away, but Sydney had 20 dollars in his pocket and told them that’s all we had to give them so the officer told him to go and look for the rest from others who were pulled over (we were in the middle of nowhere). He told him to give us a ticket and we got the same story. So he finally accepted the 100 kwacha (20 bucks) and then wrote a receipt that said we didn’t pay, but had been warned to buy triangles because ours were “insufficient”. So he enjoyed a night our with our 20 dollars obviously it went in his pocket.

We finally arrived in Mpika and were so nicely informed that actually the law just says triangles and doesn’t specify whether metal or plastic, and fire extinguishers are required for public transportation not passenger vehicles. It's so encouraging to know that some of the biggest criminals in Zambia are the police. They are most dangerous because of the “power” they have. They steal in broad daylight.

When we got there, I was beyond exhausted. We had a tough night of sleep the night before and got up at 4am to travel and since Sydney is not driving right now, I did all the driving. I was mentally FINISHED! We chatted for a while with one of the church members who is taking care of the pastors home while he is away, and then I had to lay down. We slept about 2 hours when a knock came at the door and the deacons from the church came and paid us a visit. I wasn’t much company because I developed a very intense migraine headache that was making me feel sick, but we did visit with them for a while and it was nice for me to get to know them.

Because of the headache I was experiencing, I had to sleep early, around 8 or so. I woke up in the morning feeling much more refreshed and ready for the day, although the house also took some getting used to. (this part if for my American readers and family, who are more interested in hearing about this stuff and may have never seen/experienced it before if they haven't traveled here.) There was no running water, but the same church member who was at the house when we got there collected water in buckets- and it was MORE than enough to see us through the weekend, which I was very grateful for. It was just a learning experience to deal with how to bath, use the toilet, wash the dishes etc. It's always awkward when you are in a new home but I can assure you- running water makes all the difference. The stove also wasn't working when we got there, but an electrician came and fixed two of the burners. They were either on full blast, or off- so that was also a trial by error (much error) and Sydney ate a few burnt things with a happy heart- even telling me he likes cabbage better when it's a bit dark. Bless his heart. I had to warm up water for bathing, but like I said there were only two working burners on the stove and in the mornings, the power is dim so it took about 30 minutes to heat one small pot of water for a bath.

The house is quite old and a few things are on their last legs, and of course in the first hour I somehow locked myself in the toilet room and Sydney had to rescue me....

The security also was something for me personally to get used to. There was no light bulbs in the security light outside or in the kitchen, so we had to move some around from other rooms we weren’t using and buy one for the kitchen, although the socket for the one in the main part of the room was broken so the light was over in the corner and it wasn’t easy cooking in the night, because the light just barely reached the stove area. Also, the front door had no security bars, and was broken on the bottom and a broken handle (there is actually no handle on the inside of the door) so the only thing keeping it shut was a small metal rod on the inside. Otherwise, there was a piece of wood and a sheet blocking the hole in the bottom. There is no outer wall fence and the house is quite central with people walking by right through the yard. Coming from Lusaka, where you have a cement fence with an electric fence on top, metal bars on the windows and doors and dogs..... needless to say I was out of my comfort zone.

It was interesting that when the deacons came they assured us there is no crime in Mpika, and then went on to tell us one of the deacons homes was broken into TWICE in two weeks and another church member also had thieves.... but I later heard the whole story (after losing sleep over every bump in the night) that it was some neighbor kids who broke in and charged their cellphones with the wall chargers and stole cartoon dvd's!

I also had to get used to the wind in mpika, it literally felt like the house would lift off the ground and fly away and I worried for the roofing sheets!

All in all though, we were perfectly fine and well taken care of especially in terms of water from the church there. This house was meant to be our temporal home for some months while we wait for something more permanent- but it looks like we will be looking for an alternative home. I can deal with a lot of things- and I have lived quite contented with water and power issues, but for some reason, I think with the exhaustion on top of all of it- I struggled and panicked a bit in that house. Pray that I will learn to be contented anywhere God places me. I have made it very clear that I will follow Sydney wherever he goes, but he is also very sensitive to my feelings and needs and I don't want to negatively affect his ministry by my negative attitude.

Mpika, the town itself, we explored on Saturday. It is by no means Lusaka- there are shops, not stores. It is small and the town is not big enough for street signs or traffic lights or anything, but it is developing. That being said, I love the place! It is clean and uncongested, it's quiet and people were so friendly even in the market place- where in Lusaka I am called names and yelled at or even grabbed in the inner markets, here I was obviously something “new” but it was a friendly curiosity. We did not see a single other white person there. I really enjoyed the town itself. Buying things will be very different, we'll go to the butcher for meat, and the baker for bread, and the market for vegetables- not Shop rite for everything like I do here, but I have no problem with that. We saw the plot for the church parsonage, which has yet to be built, obviously, and it's quite beautiful. We also drove to see the house the pastor is building which will also be beautiful when it is finished. We will potentially live there when it's done since the parsonage is on the back burner to the church being built.

The church building is in progress, the outer walls are there but no floors or roof. We hope to put the roof on first thing so that we can move to the main sanctuary and start a vernacular service in the old sanctuary so that we facilitate more of the peoples needs there, and more from the community will feel welcome.

The church plot itself is spacious and we have future plans for a school/orphan work there as well as a pastoral training school, since the northern part of Zambia is lacking in Reformed Baptist Churches (ours is the only one).

On Sunday Sydney preached twice and we attended the adult Bible class where they are studying systematic theology. There were about 13 including us in attendance there, mostly young men, which was quite encouraging. I had a chance to get to know the ladies in between services a bit, and after church Sydney and I drove one of the young boys home so we could visit his mom, who is one of the members of the church and has been quite ill. She was very encouraging to me somehow. She and her home reminded me of one of the families I’ve worked with in kabanana, in fact I felt like we were transported back there. She is very frail and told us she has trouble eating anything but porridge, which showed. However, she spends her time working for an organization to aid those suffering from HIV and AIDS, and underprivileged women and children. She asked me if I'd like to come with her when we get back and I am really looking forward to that. She was a blessing to me. Sydney gave her the outlines of the sermon since she couldn't attend, and we prayed with her.

Sunday night the power went out and it was pitch dark in the neighborhood so we locked up and watched a movie on the laptop while we waited for it to return. We slept early, knowing we were driving again Monday morning. In the morning we packed up and went to visit the home of a church member and his family who weren't at church the day before. Sydney gave them the message, in short form, and an assignment to do some reading/studying. We then went to the deacon's home to pick up his nephew, who needed a ride back to Lusaka to see his parents and family who he hasn't seen in two years. We spent a while with them but then hit the road.

While in Mpika, we purchased metal triangles and a fire extinguisher so that we wouldn't be harassed again, but of course not a SINGLE roadblock officer hassled us, they all waved us through. Sydney was actually irritated but I told him that’s how it goes! Now that we have them, they'll never ask for them again!

We were almost in an accident on the way back. Just after a roadblock, where they are supposed to check the fitness of these trucks and their cargo, we were following a very huge truck over packed with bags of mealie (cornmeal) and Sydney pointed at the tires and said, “have you seen the tires, they are not moving right” I also noted they looked like they were being pushed down by the weight of the mealie. No sooner had we said that when THREE tires blew, one right after the other. I had to slam on the brakes because dust and shredded rubber was flying all over the place, and the tires were blowing off FAST. He actually KEPT driving for another kilometer with all that stuff flying on us and in oncoming traffic before pulling over. It was incredible and improbable that every piece of rubber shrapnel missed us- we were quite close behind him.

Otherwise we had no incidents and were able to drop the boy off with his family and got home safe and sound. However, I was feeling extremely exhausted and achy, I thought from driving, but woke up numerous times with a bad stomach ache and I’ve been suffering from a stomach bug even into this morning, thus me lying in bed with time to write this! I am hoping it was just the travel and it will pass soon. We were both chewed up petty bad the first night by mosquitoes before we were able to purchase any spray- so pray we aren’t struck with malaria in the coming week also!

On Thursday, Sydney will give a report on Mpika and what we plan, by God's grace, to implement there. Sunday he is preaching again at Emmanuel Baptist church in Chelston. Next week we hope to go and visit his family on the copperbelt for a day or two, his mother hasn't been well. After that, there will be a setting aside service to set us apart for the work in mpika on September 1 and then the family conference. Sydney's brother, Bright, will be coming to stay with us here for the week so that he can also attend the conference.

Please also pray for fanny, she is having complications with her pregnancy. She is due in two weeks but the baby is breech. She has been told to have a c-section but the facility where she will have to do it is not ideal in any way- and care there can be questionable at best. She also just received word that her mother is not well, and that stress can't be helping at all. Please keep her family in your prayers.

Thank you for your prayers for travel mercies and for us as we visited mpika. We are looking forward to ministry there, and ideas for ministry and opportunities are flowing even as I type!

Monday, 5 August 2013

Dancing and Sailing....

We have decided to start a new blog for both me and Sydney since my adventures in Zambia as a single woman are now over. This blog will now chronicle our new life as a family as it grows and most especially our new life together and ministry here.

If you want to go back and read about my work here before with the orphan work under LION of Zambia, or read how we met and many of my personal adventures in Zambia since 2010, please check out the previous blog: kat-ndazyoka.blogspot.com .

People always ask about blog names- why did you chose them and where did it come from? We chose “Sailing in the storm” because it is a line from the song we danced to at our wedding “Dancing in the Minefields” by Andrew Peterson. We feel it accurately describes us, and what we will face in our life and ministry together. It is not always easy here. Life in missions is often full of 'minefields' and 'storms'- but together and with the grace of God ever guiding us... we can dance and sail with joy that surpasses human understanding.

When I left off on the other blog I was explaining how we are in Lusaka temporarily and what our future plans hold. I can now be a little more specific since we have our set schedule and our feet on the ground a little more.

We will be staying in Lusaka doing something of an abbreviated internship here at Lusaka Baptist Church for the rest of this month, August. There are two main reasons for this time in Lusaka. One- that we get settled in our marriage and have time as a newly wed couple to get our bearings in Zambia before diving headfirst into the work. The second purpose is for us to get to know the church in Lusaka better, to interact with the church family here before we are sent out by them and for Sydney (and me, at a much more minor extent) to have opportunity to serve and minister while we are here.

Thus far, Sydney has taken up responsibilities preaching twice at Lusaka Baptist Church as well as Emmanuel Baptist Church (a church plant from LBC in Chelston, Lusaka). He has also ministered at two youth group meetings and (so far) preached at one Bible study meeting. Over the next few weeks we have quite a bit planned. Sydney will preach this Thursday at Bible study. On Friday, we will leave for Mpika (an 8-10 hour drive) so that I can see the place (I've never been there!!), we can interact with the people, potentially look for temporal housing and Sydney will preach both services on Sunday. Sydney will give a report at Lusaka Baptist toward the end of the month on our projected plans for the work in Mpika. We are also being interviewed on Tuesdays at the various cell/home fellowship meetings of LBC. We also may have opportunity to serve at the upcoming youth conference at the end of the month. There will be a “setting aside” service to set us apart for the work in Mpika on the 25th of this month. The last week of the month is the Reformed Baptist Family Conference and following that we will head north!!

It has been challenging feeling “here” but not settled, living from boxes and suitcases- but we know that the time is quickly coming when we will be able to settle more fully and establish ourselves fully there in Mpika. I am REALLY looking forward to that!

In other news, I wanted to give a quick update about Sydney's health. I have been rejoicing over my results from my biopsies- my body seems to be ridding itself of the precancerous cells found last year. Now the tables have turned and the focus is on Sydney.

While in the US, Sydney had a routine physical exam with a full blood workup. The results were a bit unfavorable, most especially to do with his liver readings/function and with the advise and help of Pr. Dunn's wife- we were able to see a gastrointestinal specialist the very day we were flying out. This was the second time Sydney's blood tests showed abnormalities in liver function (last time was in 2008) so we took it seriously. The specialist also felt that they were not looking good as well and gave us a LONG list of suggested tests and follow up exams. He kindly informed us also that it was going to cost us a small fortune.... being that we were leaving that afternoon we couldn't do any of it anyway.

We brought the recommendations and results to a doctor here from Kabwata Baptist Church who works at the University Teaching Hospital. ( If you followed my other blog- you will know that I have a special loathing for that place for multiple reasons. God, however, through MUCH prayer- gave us (read: me) grace and we spent about 3 days back and forth getting things done.) Many American readers will find it interesting considering what we pay in the US (and that small fortune the previous doctor spoke about) that it cost $2 for each lab work done, and $2 for a liver ultrasound. Our total hospital bill was $4.

Sydney had another blood test for hepatitis, a complete urinalysis and an abdominal ultrasound to look for liver/kidney damage.

The GOOD news is, the urinalysis results were fine and normal and he does not have hepatitis or any visible liver damage. The bad news is that while during the ultrasound, the technician found free floating fluid in Sydney's abdomen. We took the results back and the doctor said all things are great except the fluid- which is almost always a sign of liver damage. So we are essentially back to square one. He has given us orders for two more thorough and specific blood tests (the names of which I couldn't begin to pronounce) which can only be done at another lab somewhere else in Lusaka. We have yet to make that appointment but will do it before we leave for the Muchinga Province, where Mpika is found.

Please keep us in prayer as we seek God's wisdom and guidance especially concerning our health. It can be one of the easiest things for Satan to attack but we know that God is powerful and counts the hairs on our head. Nothing will happen to either of us that God did not call for so we have peace in that knowledge.

We had one minor issue here that was quite frustrating and irritating for me. As most people know, we sold almost everything when we moved so we are now starting the process of building back up again. The church family here has kindly furnished this temporal home for us but we will be moving to our own place soon and had to start getting a few things from here before we move. There was a stove provided for the time being here as well as a freezer, but no fridge and on the stove only two burners worked and the oven was not functioning- so since we needed these anyway we decided to purchase them now so they can be used during our stay here.

The fridge is fine, but the stove was/still is something of a nightmare. We chose what we wanted, paid and then I drove home and left Sydney to ride with the delivery truck. They brought the items from the warehouse and Sydney asked them to open the boxes- which they weren’t happy about. The first fridge had some damage so he sent it back and they brought a new one. The stove was scratched and damaged but he said it was the only black one left. Sydney called and we decided to just go for white. The white one was also a mess (missing a knob and a broken pin). So he settled for the one on display which just had a small scratch on the side (we thought).

They delivered them and when we hooked up the stove we noticed the whole thing was leaning to the side. On further investigation, we saw that a bolt was missing. We got a one year warranty so we drove back into town (and I HATE town) and the guy sent his technicians to the house.

He came and didn’t have the right part so the NEXT day, he came and fixed the screw. When we checked it again it was still crooked so Sydney unscrewed them both and lifted the hob to find the entire left side- the metal is completely bent down a good two inches. We have been calling back since Saturday and *surprise!* none of the phone numbers work.

We've realized we've been “had” and rather than wasting fuel, time and energy trying to chase these people down... we've decided to try and take it into our own hands and fix it. Which- praise God, SYDNEY DID! I held the hob up and he managed to use pliers, a screwdriver and a washcloth in a way only a man can- and the thing is now level and looking like new. Some paint is scratched off because of the way the metals were rubbing but it's a small price to have a working stove that we worked together to fix and set up- it was a labor of love. :) It can be really frustrating to know we paid full price for something and something less than top quality... and I know some people are thinking “you have a warranty, why not just go get a new one”. I can assure you there are 1,000 reasons why it is so much easier not to. Some of these things are unexplainable unless you come and live the experience with us!!

A side note- I had to laugh at a recent youth meeting we went to, a younger girl asked me if I was still working with the orphans. When I told her no, she said “Oh- then what do you DO during the day?” I gave a simple answer- “I am a pastors wife, so during the day- I take care of him!” But my oh my the things going through my mind! Laundry- by hand, takes hours. Cleaning the dust that's flying around (and even sweeping outside because it's concrete, not grass), Shopping, in Lusaka traffic (my nightmare) and long cues at the stores (AND when you have to hop from one store to another because the meat at one store is bad but they have the cheaper canned goods, and the bread at the other store is fresher but they have no vegetables.... etc), budgeting and recording our spending, pressing Sydney's clothes, Cooking three meals a day, washing dishes from those 3 meals cooked a day, visiting families or hosting visitors, cell group meeting on Tuesday, Bible study on Thursdays, youth group on Saturdays, church on Sundays, Family devotions followed by marriage devotions/book study with Sydney and somewhere in there I do devotionals and personal Bible/book studies in preparation for hosting ladies group meetings in Mpika and on top of all that we are having the car serviced, fixing stoves, chasing stove salesman, visiting the Chirwa's in Kabanana (only twice so far unfortunately), visiting Sydney's brother and keeping up with family issues here, trying to keep up with emails and messages from the US and organizing/ repacking/unpacking/sorting boxes and belongings. So yea, I just take care of Sydney :)

Either way, that's our relatively “scattered” and simple update for now. I hope to be more regular on this blog now that we are a BIT more settled! Above all else I can say this, we have felt so much love and support from God shown especially through LBC but many others this past month. We feel incredibly blessed and we have been talking and amazed by how God just keeps providing and providing whenever needs arise. We feel secure that we are walking in the right direction, and we can feel HIS hand guiding us along the way. We are very, very happy. 

"'Cause the only way to find your life
Is to lay your own life down
And I believe it's an easy price
For the life that we have found."  -'Dancing in the Minefields' -Andrew Peterson