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.