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 :) )

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Imagination vs. Reality... and some bitter realization thrown in!

I missed a month in blogging, but December was VERY busy for us, with Christmas programs at church and many other things. Things are going very well with the church. We have been so encouraged and blessed to see growth both in numbers but also, and most importantly, in vitality and fruit in the members. We feel like we have been here for years- people have really accepted us into the fold and we feel a sense of family.

Sunday school kids doing a Christmas Pageant

We have added a “Sunday snack” program at church- whereby in between the morning and afternoon services there is a time of refreshment (juice and bread) and fellowship. The women all come together and put the butter on the buns, pour the juice and serve the children, then the men- and finally ourselves! We have seen that this has REALLY improved our fellowship- ladies and men are both growing closer and benefiting from this “mealtime” fellowship every week.

Ladies cleaning in the kitchen- no sinks, no counters, no stoves, no running water, nothing but grace and selflessness! 
Christmas meal !
The midweek meetings are back in full swing and running well- and the prayer meeting is VERY well attended- almost all of the men now attend, and a few women (especially those without small children). The deacons meet regularly, and the men also meet for “leadership training” once a month.We also have one of our youth who has expressed interest in being baptized this year! The same boy has banded together with some friends and they have come up with a plan to build a park in Mpika, one that will be Christian based and be an area for entertainment and witness- but also keep many kids off the streets. He has asked Sydney to be a leader/mentor in the project and they come meet with him once a week about it- they have already received approval from the town council to proceed! Pray for that endeavor!

The ladies have been meeting bi-weekly. It has been so great. I come each week feeling weary and REALLY unsuited to be the one leading. (Although Sydney tells me the less qualified I feel and more humbled I am by the topic the better.) We are going through the book “Respectable Sins” and as we go through each chapter on irritability, impatience, anger, ungratefulness.... it seems like every week I have to confess my sins to the ladies and pour out my heart before them. Surprisingly, this has led to them in turn pouring out their hearts and confessing their shortcomings and in turn- we are all growing closer and more tightly knit with one another! We started out with a few ladies, but now all of the ladies attend (with absences here and there due to sick children, needing to work in the field etc). That also is very encouraging!!

This past week, during the meeting one of the ladies began to bring forward an issue she was struggling with in her home and I was so blessed to see all the older (and younger) women chipping in and giving advice- explaining how she wasn't alone and giving examples from their own pasts. I just felt so blessed to be a part of that. Many of the women have expressed that they are benefiting tremendously from having an active ladies ministry again- and especially one where people are letting their guards down and being frank with each other. (This is a culture of always saying everything is fine when the house is burning down behind you- people (even Christians) will frankly lie just to not offend or disappoint you). 

After the meeting, another of the ladies asked me if I would walk her home. She is someone who speaks very broken English but somehow she is one of the women I feel closest to. On the way, as we walked holding hands, she expressed how much she has been learning from these ladies meetings. She started telling me practical ways in which what she is learning is changing her Christian walk and her home- even telling me about how she responded in an “out of (old)character” way to a stressful situation and her shocked husband exclaimed “Is this what you are learning in ladies meeting?? You guys are really learning a lot!!” I was so happy to hear that and it just showed me how much God is working through our feeble efforts.

When we got back to her house, she finally told me the real reason she asked me to walk her home- she asked me if I would help her learn English. She even said that in return, she will make sure I know Bemba by the end of the year!! It was a strange providence because I have been wondering how, in a (mostly) English household, I would ever learn! God works in very mysterious ways!!

On Friday, I had a meeting with the leader for the church's literacy class. We have received about 10-12 boxes of books and supplies from dear saints at GCBC, and mostly the efforts of our dear sister Holly. We will begin meeting with the kids the last Saturday of this month. There will be 3 teachers, Jane Sichone, Konyi Masanzi, and me. (Please keep us in prayer!) Mrs. Masanzi was a member at Fanny and Curtis' church in Kabanana (what are the odds!), but has been transferred here for work so she is ready to jump on board and help- and since she is primary school teacher she will be very valuable! We also discussed plans for the school. Sydney and I had discussed opening a Christian school here in Mpika on the extra land the church has- but it was more of a LONG term plan when we raised funds. Mrs. Sichone has apparently had the same desire and a better idea- why not start now! Now that we are building the main sanctuary- the hall where we were meeting could be used as a classroom during the week, and we could use the school fees we received to build a school building brick by brick. We will be discussing it further and coming up with plans soon- stay tuned! VERY exciting!!

As far as the church building goes- things are going extremely well. The structural boards have all been put on the building and we are now waiting on the builder to come from Tanzania and as soon as he gets back the roofing sheets will be purchased from Lusaka and they will be done in a week! The builder is the only one delaying us- we are suspecting he is doing another job somewhere at the same time as doing ours because he is not answering calls and disappears for days. It is VERY hard to find faithful and honest laborers, so we are just praying and trying to be patient with him. We had a few unexpected costs- as things tend to go here- so we actually won't be able to get the walls and floors done like we thought- but we will do as much as we can!

                                                                    Front of the church


We have a well at church that got destroyed by the neighborhood so we paid to have it re-dug, cleaned and covered. Because we covered it- they broke the pipe so that they could draw water. Because of that we have filthy water each week- there’s even trash and mud in it. We have to handle it- possibly with the police. It's not easy because we aren’t there all the time so when they are coming to steal our water we aren't there to know who is damaging our property. But they don't pay water bills and just steal from us for free. Pray for us!

As far as our house goes- it's still not done. It has been very discouraging because literally every month since August we have been told “next month it will be done”. Again last week we were told by February we will be moving in. I am no longer holding my breath since we were supposed to only be in this current house for 3 months and we have now doubled that- but I am trying to just be patient and see that God has a plan. To be honest, it looks like a lot more will be done when we move in than we thought. We are given different reports so we will just wait and see. We have said once water and power is there we will move in and they can work around us after that. It remains to be seen. Keep praying!! 

The car has been in issue, from the time in November the neighbor came and smashed the mirror, we have been unable to find a replacement part. We need to have the car checked for road fitness this week and with no side mirror that WOULD pose a huge problem but (again) providentially, the only traffic officer in Mpika trained to check the cars for fitness is a faithful attendee of our church!!! He knows the struggle we've had to fix the car- and he even took one of our tires once and fixed it for us. He is a very faithful brother and helped us get a police report etc. for the broken mirror and gave us advice on how to get a temporary mirror, which we've done. (Hand held mirror taped on the car. Redneck fabulous!) There is a man from LBC who used to maintenance my car when I lived in Lusaka, so he knows it well. He is traveling to Tanzania this week and is going to try to find the mirror from there for us.

The car has given us numerous problems, there was a span of about 2 weeks when almost daily we were getting flat tires- basically the tires are shot but they are about 120 bucks a piece used, so we can't just buy them- not to mention they are hard to find here! We may take a trip to Tanzania (about 2 hours away) and get maybe one a month or so. Worse off, on Sunday one of our shock absorber springs snapped (the thick metal just snapped like a pencil), so now that needs to be replaced as well. The brother who is traveling to Tanzania for the mirror will look for one for us. All these unexpected expenses piling up- in the same week our car insurance ran out, road tax was due and road fitness needed to be performed and payed for!!

We are due to travel to Lusaka at the end of February. Sydney will be attending the annual General Meeting at out mother church, Lusaka Baptist, and I am hitching a ride to see friends and STOCK UP! It's so funny- I used to complain and talk about how we couldn’t get this or that in Lusaka- now I look to Lusaka as the mecca of groceries and supplies. Before I was complaining about not finding the particular brand I liked... but now I am tasting real limitation- even the shop rite we go to two hours away has a very limited selection. I can not believe I ever complained about Lusaka... I am now having trouble finding differences between shopping there and in the US!

We got a new puppy, Phoebe, who died two days after we got her. We believe she was poisoned by our ever-lovely neighbors. About a week ago, we got a little chihuahua-ish puppy named Axle. A church member breeds small fluffy dogs and saved one for us. He is an inside dog since he's so tiny and susceptible to being stolen. We've given away two of the kittens to church members, so we remain with the two males. I feel so bad for the two dogs outside- we have to keep them chained because of the neighbor threatening (and attempting) to kill them- so literally for two solid months they have been chained on the front porch. We tried to bring them inside a few times but they are way to big and the house is way too small. I hate seeing them like that. Just praying for the new house and freedom- for ALL of us!

Last week Sydney was outside slashing (cutting the grass with a sling blade-ish thing) 

                                              (this is a slasher/slashing- how we cut our grass)

and a man came by and asked for work- saying he would even work for food not money. Sydney was almost done, so he told him next time. I felt bad  for him- so I told Sydney to let him finish and we would give him some mealie (cornmeal) and vegetables to take home. As soon as we agreed to let him work- he changed his story saying he would only take money and wanted 100 kwacha (20 dollars- when he should have worked for about 2 dollars according to the rates here and how much needed to be done). Sydney reminded him that he was already working- and almost done- when they guy came asking for work. It wasn’t us looking for a worker. He finally came down to a slightly more reasonable price. (Still too much for my liking). Sydney came inside and we watched him for 3 hours out the window be the most lazy man we'd ever seen. He's slash one foot and then stop. Slash another foot, then come ask for water. After the three hours he came and said he was tired so he was leaving and would finish tomorrow (it was only 11 AM!!) My patience was shot- and I told Sydney to give him a few kwacha and send him away. That’s where my compassion ended and Sydney’s surpassed mine! Instead of sending him away in his laziness, Sydney went outside and talked to him, rebuking him gently and then told him to come back tomorrow and finish the job. I didn't trust him in the least and finally just let myself get irritated. The next day the guy came and with wrong motives, I gave him breakfast. It wasn’t the love and compassion in my heart to give this man food- it was so that he wouldn't have an excuse of being hungry or tired. He finished and Sydney spoke with him again but also kindly let him know that we would not be able to hire him again because of his laziness and unfaithfulness. If it was me- I would have said much worse and paid much less.

At the ladies meeting one of the ladies began talking about her workers and how she was irritated by the way they work and she was rebuked by the book we are reading. God used that to show me how nasty my heart had been and right there and then I had to tell the story and confess how nasty I had been.

The next day after my big revelation and commitment to change and be more loving and compassionate, Sydney and I took the car to have air put in the tires (a weekly necessity). Every time we go, the guys are stinking of beer and act “shady”. It was a new guy who hadn't seen us there before- and after filling the tires, which is free at the gas station, he told us it was 10 kwacha to fill tires. If there is one thing I HATE about Zambia, it's how people can lie in your face- like you are an idiot. Sydney told him we know that it's free and I told him, in a very ungracious and unchristian way, that we weren't paying him and that he was a liar.

On the way home I was furious- at first with him, then with Sydney for giving the guy two kwacha, then I realized I was actually mad at myself. Yet again, I was completely hard hearted and nasty to someone after being rebuked just the day before. 

I find myself  becoming more and more jaded the longer I love here. When I came those first few years I would've given the shirt off my back to anyone and never worried about how it was used. As years roll by and I am lied to more, and more and I see people I try to help misuse money or be incredibly selfish and ungrateful... I am so un-trusting now and so tight with my wallet and so unsure of everyone's motives all the time. I want the "fresh" faced mission worker me back!

I know that this side of Heaven, I will never be perfect- but it's so sad to know who you want to be and how you want to act and fail over and over. I lay in bed at night imagining myself being this kind loving Mary Poppins/Mother Theresa who shines the light of Christ all over Mpika and instead I feel like I am dumping black tar all over.

I know my family and friends have images of me hugging little orphans and passing out Bibles but in reality- sometimes a kid in tatters walks toward the car and I roll up the window because I simply can't be sure if he's really hungry or it's a ploy to steal from the car. When a homeless person is walking past I don't offer him a sweater or an apple from my bag from the market- I imagine him grabbing my purse or hitting me (Sydney was punched by a homeless man in the market last month- not a far fetched imagining!) and so I cross the road to get away. As soon as I smell the stench of beer on a woman in the market my immediate response is usually to make a mental note not to buy her vegetables because she's a useless drunk- instead of inviting her to church. When someone laughs at me for shopping in the market or shouts “muzungu” to me just to get a reaction, I don't see that as an open door to witness, I see it as an insult to my pride and roll my eyes.

It's discouraging, but I am working. I am reading some great books and getting help from my husband. It's easy to think because someone is a missionary they are a saint. We aren't- we need prayer. Our sin remains in our aging bodies and if anything, we are reminded all the more of who we are supposed to be and how we are failing. I am thankful for the relationships I am making with the women here, I am learning from them even though most of them have no idea that I am watching. I went to visit a church member and saw her give a begging man some vegetables and fish. He wouldn't leave because he wanted cooking oil too. My reaction would have been to be furious at his ungratefulness and refuse to ever give him anything again. She quietly went inside and got him oil. I saw Christ in her. I thought of how I have this roof over my head and someone to draw water for us and food on the table and such great support from LBC, and instead of being thankful all I can do is shake my fist because I want to be living in a different house.... It's amazing how much God puts up with from me, and how little I am willing to put up with from others. 

Most of all I am thankful to God for giving me the most gracious, patient, kind and loving husband I could ever have imagined and MOST definitely don't deserve.

Being aware of these things is helping. I want to be the missionary woman/pastors wife I always imagined... but I have a sneaking suspicion we all fall short... 

"This world is not my home, I'm just passing through...."