Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she smiles at the future

Wow... turns out I haven't updated since November. So much has happened I don't even know where to begin. We traveled to Ndola and had our Christmas party there, as well as some necessary meetings. There were a few irritations along the way, mainly due to our skin colour... but for the most part we accomplished what we set out to do and were kept safe and healthy and so we thank God for that.

By way of example: When we visited the first house of some of the kids we sponsor, we found out two of the girls had not had chest Xrays done in a while. They are HIV+ and one has had TB in the past, so it was very important. We got to the first clinic and it was military owned, so they wouldn't let Megan and I in. They pointed at everyone else and said they could go but not us because we were white/foreign (without asking for any papers to see if we had Zambian citizenship or if Maureen and Lister might have been black Americans). They directed us to park in the visitor parking space and within 5 minutes another officer came to the car and told us we couldn't even park and wait there, but we had to leave and come back when they were done.

Later we went to the other clinic and the doctor refused to do an Xray. Megan finally convinced him to write a script for one, but he said he refused to read the Xray when we were done. So we finally got it done and then had to go around looking for someone to read it. In one hallway there were people waiting in line to see the doctor. I sat down in the middle of everyone with one of the orphans and Megan and Lister poked into the room to see if the doctor was willing to read the Xray (in which case we would have waited in line). He ended up just  basically saying "sure, give it to me now" so I had to sit out in line with everyone audibly talking about how they can't stand how whites always jump in line and get special treatment and Americans think just because we have money we can do whatever we want at the expense of the Zambians... I wanted to crawl in a hole and never come out.

Another time we stopped for lunch and the call boys (who are basically hustlers) came up and told Megan they would watch the car while we got lunch. It was a fast food place and we could see the car so Megan said No thanks. The guy got a little upset but didn't say much. When we came out he said he'd watched the car and told her to pay him. She quickly shut and locked the doors and we pulled away. The man was yelling to the car in Bemba and Maureen said he was saying if he ever saw our car again he'd slash the tires because we didn't pay him what we owed him, when we so obviously had money. Because we're white... we "owed" him money for no reason.

On the way home, we brought a friend and her mother so they wouldn't have to ride the bus. The mother was looking for mushrooms that they sell along side the road so we stopped to buy some. The people SERIOUSLY overpriced them and would not come down. They litterally told her "If you are in the car with white people, you can afford to pay more". Sometimes our friends even get negative effects of being close to us- and I hate that.

So we had some issues along those lines, but the party with the kids and seeing them recieve (most of them) their first Christmas gifts was pretty great!

The weeks after we got home we had our party in Kabanana. It was equally wonderful and we had a great time. Megan explained snow and then read frosty the snowman and we all sang and opened presents  it was very nice.

About two and a half weeks ago I was at Young People's group and everyone decided they wanted to have an overnight braai and we needed to raise money for it. I suggested we offer to people in the church that whoever needs house/yard work done, we'll come do it for donations. First, we painted a room here in my house (the one Maureen had been living in). We had a blast, and the next day we finished and then went to the next venue. A family in the church is having a new house built and septic tanks need to be put in so two holes neeed to be dug... 4 meters by 4 meters. In total, it took 6 days to do both and it was back breaking work. Most of us (especially those present for every single day) are bruised, blistered and completely worn out to the bone. I have some bad slices on my feet, horrible bruises ( that i had to explain to my freinds because they were completely horrified at my skin changing colours) and I am BEAT. I have been feeling sick the past few days so the 6th day of work I slept in the shade under a tree most of the day. (please note the progression of work)

It was a lot of fun and we have a lot of great memories but we are all WORN out completely. The braai is tomorrow and it should be a great time, we are taking today off so everyone can sleep and get ready for the braai.

In other major news of the month- I FINALLY got my car! There were about three weeks of delays and I had to practice extreme patience but it's here and it drives and it's mine and I am finally free to become more involved in the work in Ndola and Kabanana as well as church activities here, and becoming more part of the culture in general. It feels like a huge weight has been lifted off.

I am really looking forward to the coming year. There is a lot of work to be done and a lot of expansion opportunity with the work so I am ready to get into it full swing. It will be nice to have some fun times this week in preparation for the upcoming work starting in January. I have been missing my family, and I am very thankful for the Williamsons who are always taking care of me and making sure I am ok, and also for my family in the church here. This week is "family week" at church so they cancel the regular weekly meetings (bible studys and ministry meetings- everything except church) and you are supposed to spend the week visiting and ministering to family. When they announced it on Sunday I felt a pang of sadness and thought in my head... ugh those meetings are what keeps my mind OFF missing family and now I'll have it thrown in my face all week that I am without family.... quite the contrary.

I have been spending time at the homes of my brothers and sisters here and some very special people have planned it so that I am not alone on Christmas Eve or Christmas day. I am and I will be very well taken care of and I am feeling very loved and close to my new brothers and sisters here.

I do miss my family- and it's hard having this be my first time away from home. I pray that God will continue to bless me the way he has been and will watch over my family at home- many of them are having similar feelings and hardships this year and I know we are all sympathizing with one another from different distances. I love you all and I hope that everyone reading has a wonderful and blessed Christmas.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Me, of little faith.

One of my most prominant sins has always been worry and anxiety. I never categorized it as a sin until I heard Pr. Jim preach about it when doing messages on the book "Respectable Sins". I have always worried about the future and what was going to happen. I was always a "grass is greener on the other side" type- I jumped from one situation to the next seeking that comforting feeling of security and peace, but no matter what situation I found myself in I was always worrying. I find it so funny now, looking back, because in my American life of weath and ease and comfort- with my house and my car and whatever I wanted RIGHT at my fingertips, I never had anything TO worry about.

I have felt, in the past few days to a week, that sin of anxiety and worry creeping back in. I have wanted so many things in my life and have had so many goals and aspirations. Coming to Zambia and beginning the work here has fulfilled so much of that and I HAVE felt more at peace here- knowing that I am for once in the right place at the right time than ever before. I finally reached that goal of contentment and yet somhow I've let myself start worrying again about the future. How many orphans will we take on? Will we make the right choices about the house? Are we making the right choices in who we are sponsoring? Are we doing enough? Should I be doing more... giving more? Am I saying the right things to them? Am I making the right relationship choices? How long will I be single? Should I marry a Zambian with all the work and cultural differences that will bring or is that to much to ask of the man? Should I be thinking about marraige at all- or should I be focused on the mission here... can you do both? If I DID get married here, how would the wedding work- how would we raise the kids, where would we live... it's exausting. Mainly, my worries of the past week have been that age old issue: MONEY.

I have never been poor. I have never felt that want or need. I have never gone without. I have been so lucky to have been raised by the combination of a man who taught me the value and payoffs of being a hard worker and making the most money you can, and a woman who taught me how to save and the meaning of "waste not, want not". It was an interesting mix, as far as parents go, and I am lucky to have gotten my father's work ethic... almost to a fault, and my mothers budgeting skills. Unfortunately, I did NOT get my dad's laid back attitude, but rather my mom's constant worry about the future (but I did get her good looks so that makes up for it :) ). I have never looked in my bank account and been scared or shocked (except maybe once or twice in college, and that was because of my own frivolous spending and I knew there was always someone there to back me up.)

This morning I looked at my bank account statement and just stared at it for a while. It's scary- for the first time. I look around and I am so thankful for the things that I have. I have a house to live in and a bed to sleep in and a dresser for my clothes and a fridge and a stove... more than many of the people I deal with on a day to day basis could ask for. I also have a car on the way, which is what most of this money worry comes from. I can not think about the car without tearing up. It is such a necessity for my life and work here, and I think about how much I took having a car or access to a car for granted before. The original price was quoted at 8,000 USD, and so I was given 5,000 and I decided to go ahead with the purchase knowing that God would provide. He had provided more than half, and this car will be used primarily for my work for Him here and I have full confidence that He was blessing my decision to get the car. That price soon shot up to 10,000, with all the registration and everything included, and so I was nervous but decided that even still, I would go ahead with the purchase knowing that half of that was given to me out of generosity and love. I had the money transfered (which cost another 45$). On Thanksgiving day, I found out that it would be another 300$ because of exchange rate issues. At this point I just wanted to cry. My bank account was dwindling, then with the holiday expenses it was even more scary.

I got sick Monday and have been feeling quite under the weather since. I started to get really down knowing that I will be pinching pennies and not buying any gifts for the people I want to buy gifts for, and not doing some of the things I had planned for freinds here. That's just the thing though, they were MY plans and MY ideas. This work is everything for me. My focus got off track with missing home at the holidays and feeling sick and then feeling sorry for myself because I'm broke. I stopped realizing that God has given me EVERY thing I need for the work I need to do here. I realized I was worried about money and things, when all I need is my Bible and prayer. As I laid there all I could think was "do not worry about tomorrow..." I got my Bible and looked up the passage:

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn't life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
  “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?  So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will take care of itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

In that same chapter was this: "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." I have let my heart get distracted and worry. I have had so many conversations this week that centered around my future and money and relationships and where I'd be a year from now... all I can say is that I hope in a year my heart has done nothing but grow. If my bank account does not grow, so be it. If my pantry or stomach are not full that's fine. But if my HEART has not grown... I will be in trouble- for out of the heart comes our treasure, our words, our actions... my work here is worthless if I am not focused properly.

I hope that God does not let me forget this. I hope that whatever state of riches or poverty the future brings my way I will remember to live each day with joy in my heart and feed on God's word and rest my cares upon Him.

In addition to all of this worry about money, I haven't got my visa yet. I sent my fingerprints to the states for a background check almost two months ago and have heard nothing. I am at a loss for what to do... and nervous about the reprecussions of it taking so long... or what will happen if they don't come.

Even writing this, I got a note that my mom's package came (a huge pick me up from  the "down" week), and a call that my car is on it's way from South Africa and that tomorrow I am going to go get the package and (finally) my water filter (yes, I am worried about money, but my sister and brother in law sent the money for a filter. I had thought yesterday about waiting until after the holidays to get it when my money built back up but then after reading those verses I realized No, the money was sent for a filter, and so a filter I will get. I will not worry about money anymore- Tomorrow will take care of itself.) I will spend the time I normally spend worrying and planning and fretting and anxious instead praying that my needs will be met, knowing that He has promised to meet them. I am His daughter, and I am doing what He called me to do. He's not going to let me perish and if He did it would be because He had a greater plan and purpose than anything I could think up.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Full house, full stomachs and full hearts.

Today was simply wonderful. I got up early and it was nice and cool out, so I set to work in the kitchen. I have never made even a little bit of a Thanksgiving meal before.... let alone a turkey... or two. I made the stuffing and then set out to make the turkeys. As I kept cooking I was "collecting" soux chefs seemingly from nowhere... It was very crowded but honestly nice to have the company all morning. (Notice I called it company and not help... :) ) Well as nervwracking as it was... I made two turkeys and they turned out fine! What a stressful morning though- I will never understand how my mom did it without absolutely having a heart attack. It all came together, though and was delicious.

We had over Maureen and her four kids: James, Richard, Mwansa and Jack, as well as Perjuite and Enock with his wife, son and two of his neices. It was a full house, but a very happy house. We all ate and toward the end Encok said "I think from now on I will be dreaming only of this meal." Mission accomplished.

After we ate, the kids all put on a play for us that told the story of the Native Americans and Pilgrims. Then my class did their memory verses and read their lists of what they are Thankful for- and following all that we all said what we were thankful for. I could feel the lump in my through rising as I heard each person speaking, but I lost it completely with Maureen. She said some really wonderul things about me and my work with the kids and also to the Williamsons, and you could just hear her honesty and genuine thankfulness. Even Enock gave me a "shout out" in his saying he also was thankful for "Madame Katreen".The underlying theme was that we all live and work together... every single day... as family. We all come from different backgrounds and different places but these people are my family. My brothers and sisters. Maureen and Megan said they were thankful for me, but I am equally, if not 10x more thankful for wise and caring sisters here who I can go to and tell them what's going on in my life and they give counsel or even just listen. I am thankful for James and Enock and Perjuite who have taken on the roles of father/brothers and make sure I am taken care of and doing the right thing. I am thankful for all the kids who bring me laughter and teach me lessons and care about me and want to include me in things and the example of the WIlliamsons especially. As I was sitting there I just had milions of things running through my mind. Exactly why I am thankful for Ian and Sarah and Caleb and everyone. Every person in that room has shown me or taught me something in the past two months and I am greatly indebted to them. Of course it was my turn and I was crying and could barely get out one sentance... but God sees my heart.

I thought it was interesting that James (Mulenga) wanted to speak up. He got here two days ago. Maureen had fallen on hard times and had to send her kids all over to be taken care of. Slowly she has been able to get them back, and James was the last peice. He was sent money on saturday and was supposed to leave Sunday, and get here monday. All day Monday we heard nothing. The night passed and all day Tuesday we heard nothing. Maureen didn't know if he was alive or dead at that point, a young boy traveling alone a great distance- it is very dangerous. He finally got here Tuesday night and there was so much joy and rejoicing I almost felt like I would explode. Just to hear them through the wall- their happiness and thankfulness. It was wonderful. He has jumped right in to life here and is so obviously thankful to be with his family, regardless of what cement floor he sleeps on. Today when he spoke to us he said "I am so thankful for my family and for being here and for God's protection. I could have died on the way but He took care of me and I am thankful for what He is. I am so thankful to be here with you all" Powerful- from a 15 year old.

Enock even talked about the Williamsons kids and how he was thankful that they treated him with respect because alot of white people's kids talk to the workers like dogs and the kids call him Uncle Enock and treat him with respect. It's so sad to me that that goes on here.

Tonight I got to skype with my parents and two of my sisters and my brother, half brother (my brothers roomate), and brother-in law and neice and nephew. Regardless of the delay and fuzzy picture, it was so great to talk to them. They met James and Richard and Mwansa and talked with them too. My sister Gret said "Wow  it really sounds like you and my sister laugh a whole lot together" and James said "Yes why not! We are happy. We are one very happy family".

I got some hard news that I will have to pay another 400 dollars for the car because of exchange rates etc. I was already worried about finances especially with the holidays coming up etc... and my medivac insurance runs out in December so I'll have to renew that. James simply reminded me that the Lord will provide. Look at what he's done for me so far. I am thankful that today is the day he went to get the car, so I will have it soon! I haven't been feeling well all week, and I am supposed to be in the concert at church on Saturday. Of all times to get a sore throat, this is not the time. I am hoping it will clear quickly.

I have been so blessed in this life. I do not deserve anything I have been given. I hope I always remember that.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

It doesn't matter if I go with a left hook or an uppercut. I can't lose this fight.

My week has been... interesting. It has just felt "off". With relationships with friends, school... there have just been a lot of issues and it's easy to get 'down'. I have felt Satan's strong attack on me trying to get me off focus and it's been a tough fight. I wasn't prepared when he came swinging and it took me a few days to lace up my gloves and really start throwing punches back.

One positive thing is that the car process has been started! With the donation from Riverside I felt comfortable covering the rest myself and just starting the process, trusting in God to provide the rest soon. (Pray!) The money has been wired and God willing, the man getting it for me will be leaving Wednesday for South Africa to pick it up and drive it back. There's light at the end of the tunnel! Even traveling to a barbeque on saturday, a friend, Isaac, was with me and just said, "Man, it's embarrassing the way they act! I just want to look at them and say "Ufuna chani?!?!" ("What do you want!?") I think it's hard for even Zambian's to understand until they ride the bus with me and see- and when I have a male with me they are much more tame, so you can imagine.

I mentioned my difficulties in school in an earlier post. I had a talk with the WIlliamsons and it was extremeley helpful and encouraging. They reminded me that as much as I am soft and nonconfrontational, there are times when your yes has to be yes and your no be no... or else noone will take my word seriosuly. So no matter how much Richard pouts and I feel awful inside I have to stick to my guns. Sigh... being a mother must be so heartwrenching. I'll need a very strong and stern husband to even it out, because Lord knows I hate the word "no" and use it as little as possible. I was remembering how in my old job I used to be called "Milkn' Cookies" It was my nickname, and they called me that because when the kids needed discipline, I was always giving them treats and love. It's like instead of a time out I gave them milk and cookies hoping that showing love would convince them to change. I am slowly learning that "spare the rod, spoil the child" concept... but I have a feeling deep down I'll at least be a cupcake, if not milk and cookies :) (on a side note, the next morning Richard came up to me and gave me a hug and asked for forgiveness... thanks for your prayers for him. God has big plans for that boy.)

On Saturday I went to a Braii, which is a barbeque, and it was great. It was put on by the Mount Mukulu men's ministry for the youth. There was a seminar, and the speaker discussed sexual purity in an open forum. Very interesting to hear the cultural differences and see all that unfold yet the gospel truths hold fast. It was a good time to hang out and get to know some people better and I look forward to more Saturdays like that.

On Thursday, my trip to Kabanana was quite discouraging and we need a lot of prayer for wisdom in our actions from here on out.

We first went to the Dakas home. It was very frustrating and discouraging. Nelia is still refusing to go to Sunday School and is a part of the Catholic church. She and Joseph both refused to speak to us when we were there. They did not shake our hands or greet us- and neither of them said a word. This is week after week of this behaviour and we have been discussing, especially with Nelia, some consequenses. When we began this work we made it very clear that we would be visiting and checking on them and we wanted to get to know them and be able to talk and minister to them. We also stressed that the requirements of this support would be attendance at school and sunday school. Felix was not there, but his mother informed us that he is very ill and may need surgery. Fanny said that the place he's going is very untrustworthy and has a high fatality rate even for minor surgery. Megan and I will be taking him to get a second opinion and more acceptable care hopefully this week. We sense that there are unhealthy things going on behind the scenes in their home, and they need a lot of prayer.

From there we went to the Tembos. Mrs Tembo was outside with Memory's baby, and did not get up or greet us (that is VERY unusual for her, and rude in Zambian culture as a whole). When we went inside, Memory, Nathan and Morgan were there but none of them got up or shook our hands and greeted us. We felt as if we were imposing and forcing them to be hospitible when they didn't want to be. I asked Memory if she was excited to be out of school and how she was spending her time and she said "I haven't been good- I have a cough" That was it. It seemed as if it was negativity and complaints wherever we turned. Morgan then began asking questions, through Fanny and Maureen, to me. This was also rude, to me, because he knows English well enough and could easily have spoken to me, I was sitting next to him. He was asking about why Americans do this or that when the Bible talkes against it- as if to put me on the spot. Finally the conversation fizzled and we just left. On an encouraging note, Nathan was off getting paperwork done so that he could get a job and start bringing in income for the family.

On the way past, we saw Memory Z. She talked to us for a minute then started to walk away. We asked where Francis was and she said he was in the church building. She went in to go get him  and then came out and told us that he said he was busy and didn't want to see us. We were shocked. That is VERY unlike Francis and we were wondering what on earth was going on. Finally he came out but was speaking very softly. I asked him how he had been and what he was doing and he mumbled something inaudible. I just looked at him and he said "Maybe you didn't hear me, I said nothing." That was it. This was someone who normally chats my ear off until I am driving away and here he only had one sentance to say to me. Barbara was off on an errand so we didn't see her or Christian.

We set off for home quite confused and irritated. In Town, between bus stops, Fanny, Maureen and I just stopped to discuss how the day went. We feel as though because now all of them are out of school and are not being financially supprted at the moment - they don't NEED us. They don't feel the need to be polite and hospitible because they aren't getting anything physical for the next few weeks. Also, we feel as though the mothers might be fed up with having us come each week and being forced to stop their work and show us hospitality. We are really looking forward to getting a house so that the kids can come to us, as opposed to us invading their homes each week. Please pray for their attitudes and apathy towards us, that they would learn to be thankful and show this through kindness towards us. Because of all this, we have decided during the holiday season while they are out of school to go every other week, until we get the house up and running. We also have decided that we may have to start showing consequenses for their actions. Unfortunately this will most likely begin with Nelia. She is the only one who will not go to Sunday School and on top of that she does not speak or interact with us. We hope that if we do stop supporting her it will be an example to the others that our "yes is yes and our no is no". If she came back and was willing to try again we would give her that chance, but we think they need to be shown that this is a privelege and not a right. As it is, Memory and Nathan have now graduated and are out from under the wing of our support. We know of countless numbers of children who need and want to be in school and learn more about Christ- and we want to give these opportunities to those who are willing to put in the effort. An hour of Sunday School once a week is not a lot to ask for school fees, uniforms, shoes, medical care and food.

We went to Kabanana today for church, and all of the kids were there except for Memory T. and Francis. We were told that Francis was sent on an errand by his brother in law and so he couldn't come. We got a chance to talk to the kids and especially Felix to find out how they were doing. Our reception was a little better today but most of them did leave quite quickly. Barbara hung around to the end and seemed eager to talk and told me she missed me on Thursday. It was interesting to see them in Sunday School. Christian was very engaged, listening and singing and clapping to the songs with vigor. Wisdom was a bit more apathetic, but I know he's had a cough and isn't feeling as well. Memory Z. seems to be very influenced by freinds and those around her who are doing bad or talking. We got a chance to meet a lot of potenial kids to "fill slots" of those who have graduated etc. One especially caught our attention. He is 15 and in 3rd grade. He works odd jobs to raise 5,000 kwacha (about a dollar) and is sending himself to school. He is someone who has shown is willing to do what he can to get an education, and we feel as though he deserves this opportunity.

Pray for us. We have a lot on our shoulders right now, between a trip to Ndola and a Christmas celebration there as well as a Christmas celebration here. We also need to figure out their school situation for the upcoming year and decide if and who we will be taking on in addition to the kids we sponsor now. Next week Megan and I will be doing Thanksgiving dinner for Maureen and her four kids, Enock and his wife and child and Perjuite and his wife and child. On Saturday I have a concert at Kabwata with the YP from Mount Mukulu. Today I was asked by Curtis, Fanny's husband, to head up the YP at Faith Baptist in Kabanana. We have had people in an out doing odd jobs and spraying for bugs, painting.... there just seem to be people everywhere, and James (Maureens oldest son) is moving into our house tomorrow... Its easy to fall prey to discouragement and anxiety and worry.... we have a lot to do and time passes so quickly. I also have been starting to worry financially again after haivng made such a big purchase but it's so rediculous even writing this now- knowing what he has done for me since coming here and what I am confident he will continue to do. We will continue to "not grow weary in well doing" and not worry because "tomorrow will take care of itself", but we will need your prayers to help us do that.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Katryn "Chili" Belke.

This has been a very challenging past few days for me. I have had the girls living with me, and I haven't been sleeping. Along with that, it's just very challenging to have this many people in this house. Everywhere I turn there is garbage and other people's belongings thrown everywhere- it's hard to have your space being used, your things being used... right down to your soap and towel. It makes you want to grab stuff and put it in a pile and guard it... this is MY stuff. In addition to that, there is more garbage piling up (people often don't use garbage cans here, they seem to feel that the ground is sufficient) and dirty clothes are hung and strewn everwhere so now we are infested with hundreds of flies. I am trying to remember that everything I have is not my own, and be as giving as possible. The lack of sleep has made me irritable.

Yestarday I told Emma, Richard and Mwansa I'd take them swimming. Just us, since everyone else has been able to go when we are in school. We got out there and got in, and Mwapalo and Nikolas showed up. They cannot swim and I already told them that this was a special time for the four of us, and it was our turn. They refused to leave and said they'd just "watch". Soon their feet were in, then legs and they were standing in the water. I told them to hop out and please obey, and Nikolas decided to just jump in, fully clothed. I told him to get out, and that was very disrespectful and blatant disobediance. Just then their mother came and said "Who told them they could get in!?" Just as I was trying to explain that I told them NOT to get in.... she was saying "Well if you're going to swim then go get your suits on..." then told me that they couldn't swim and I'd have to watch them. I There went my swim, I was then stuck in the baby pool holding and watching the kids the rest of the time, when I had planned to be swimming with E, R, and M. I checked myself and realized this was selfish, and that I should let them swim with us if they wanted to. I regretted that. The more I said "do not" about anything, the more they did. I told them 6 times not to touch the hose, and they were spraying eachotehr and putting it in their mouth. I told them not to roughhouse and splash and it started a splashing war. I told them not to fight over the goggles and heard nothing but fights for the next 20 minutes.  I told Nikolas not to jump in, because he was hurting himself and everyone else, and he just got out and jumped in again- looking right at my face and laughing. I tried to be patient, knowing that they are all going through a rough time, but finally I was done with it all. I told them all to get out and three of them looked at me and said "No." .... I wanted to just get out and go home and leave them. It was the most fed up I'd been all week... and I've been pretty frustrated this week. I finally got them all out and asked them to all look at me. I asked them how many times did I tell you not to touch the hose? Now raise your hand if you touched it. How many times did I ask you not to fight over goggles or roughhouse? Raise your hand if you did. I continued with about 5 more questions then told them. For these reasons, we will not be swimming again this week. Most of them did not talk to me for the rest of the day and told me I was "mean" and made them "sad" (If they only knew how "mean" they were being to me....)

School has been rough. It has been slowly getting more and more out of hand. I have had talk after talk about obedience and respect. I've read bible verses, I've prayed with them... I've given examples and we've talked about it.... and day after day they've (richard especially) been giggling, talking when I'm talking, fighting, arguing, yelling.... just plain being rude. We can't get anything done when it's like that. Yesterday I had a big talk with them and told them exacly how i felt and how they were behaving. I told them they were gonna be sent home each time they acted up until they got it under control. I spent the last 15 minutes of class talking about respect, and how to treat others and especially your teacher... It was a long time coming and I was pointed and stern. Richard said "Miss Kat, you are chili... chili burns your mouth... the things you are saying are burning me on the inside." The truth hurts so that we do something about it. If it felt good to our conscience, we wouldn't have any reason to change.

Today was not any better. I was talking to Megan and James during break and both of them have told me- Kat, it's time. You're gonna have to send someone home so they know you are serious. It's easy to make the threats but I hate confrontation and don't want to have arguments among us.... As soon as we got back from break, Richard was back at it again, so I told him to leave for the day. He got angry and started telling me No, and that he'd be good. I told him I gave him too many chances and it was too late- he could try again tomorrow. He refused to leave. I had to go get Maureen and drag her into it and she got him to go home, crying and fuming angry. Mwansa then got angry at me for sending him home, and was frowning and barely talking. She continued to do her work, but with a nasty attitude. I told her because she wasn't being disruptive she could stay, but that she needed her attitude turned around before she came back to class this afternoon.

I am very encouraged at the work they are accomplishing, but their behavior is going downhill- part of it is because of our living arrangements, and the addition of Nikolas and Mwapalo (who are EXTREMELY misbehaved) and part of it is my own fault in letting it get this bad.

I have also been thinking about my time here, and the time I've been given on earth to do God's work. It's easy to be fed up with these sorts of things and want to just be cranky and depressed about it. We are told to not grow weary in well doing. This was my devotional this morning. I've been reading a book my Aunt Ruth sent me that has some great little quotes, stories and encouragements in it. I've been thinking a lot about Time. How I've spent my time in the past, and how I am spending it now.... Time is a gift. He did not need to give us any, and yet for many of us we get year upon year upon year of food, clothes, gifts, family- and most importantly, time. How we spend our time is how we give our thanks to God for his gift to us. Do we spend it on ourselves? Do we waste it making excuses? Do we let time pass us by and not do what is right before God?

Each night, before I go to sleep I think about the day. Did I spend my time laughing or crying? Yelling or smiling? Helping others or living for myself? God is paying attention to each decision we make and how we spend every second. He knows our thoughts, and no matter how much we convince ourslelves that what we are doing is a good use of time... will He agree?

Are you spending time reading the word and praying? Are you spending time cultivating Godly friendships and relationships? Are you spending your time teaching your children and raising them up in God's love? Are you ministering to others, giving to others, spending time with others or are YOU living for YOU. What a short amount of time we have to do the right thing, to see the places we want to see  and to love the person we want to love. There are so many songs about time, Bible verses about time, quotes about time.... "The past has come and gone, the future's far away and right now lasts for one second. One second..."

Here is one quote from the book: " Do you love the gift of life that was given to you? Then do not squander your time... for that is all that life is made up of." Time is what we have. Breath in our lungs and blood pumping through our bodies gives us time. Time. What do you do with yours? Here is the short story.

A woman once had a dream that an angel was giving her a message. He told her that each day, 1,440 dollars would be deposited into her bank account and she could use it ANY way she wanted to, but at the end of the day, any balance left over would be cancelled. There would be no carry over and no intrest.... but each morning, a new 1,440 dollars would be deposited.

She woke up to realize that there are 1,440 minutes each day. What you do with that 1,440 minutes is important because at the end of the day, it's over. At the end of each day, we should be looking at our "ledger" to see if we spent these minutes wisely. When you use your time unwisely, great opportunities and lessons pass you by.

Time is God's gift to you, and what you do with your time is your gift to God.

Hopefully I can learn this myself, and then pass that knowlege on to the kids.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

If you're white and you know it clap your hands.

Well it looks like I should be getting my car soon! We met with the guy who is going to South Africa to get it for me this morning, and he is saying it will be between 8 and 10 thousand. I should have it (if the money from various checks clear  in the next week) within two weeks. It was funny, before he left he told me to be thinking about what colour I wanted etc. I had not even thought about it! Honestly it could be pea green with pink stripes and I'd be happy, I just want it to have locks on the door and be able to drive. 

This week,  Maureens neice fell on some difficult times. They (her, and her two children) came to live here with Maureen until she can find a place to stay. Maureen's space is very small, and she already has a family of four living in one room with one bed. With this addition, a room big enough for 1-2 people would now be  holding 7. I went over today and told her to send Mwansa and Blessings (her neice's daughter) over to sleep in my bed with me from now on until they have somwhere to go. Pray that the sister gets her own place soon because this guest house is small and very hot with the metal roofs and we just keep adding and adding. I do not mind sharing, not one bit but it will change the dynamics of heat, space, privacy etc for a while.

On top of that, I haven't been feeling 100% the past day or two. Today was the day we visit Kabanana so I we went to the house of 4 of the kids and the mom had prepared us a meal.  It was pumpkin leaves (chibwabwa) with tomatoes, nshima, another relish and fish. Like a fish with eyeballs and scales and bones and a face and fins... lookin' at me. Megan and I took the tails so as to avoid faces and eyeballs and teeth.... she only had two real plates so Megan and I got those and the rest were eating off of broken plates/bowl things. Maureen asked her to lead a Bible study for us since she fed us physically she should feed us spiritually (thought this was a good concept to hold on to, for hospitality refrence). I had been thinking how different it was. We were two white faces in a room full of brown. We ate unfamiliar foods and heard unfamiliar languages and jokes. We had unfamiliar traditions and different lives all sitting together in that room. As soon as the Bibles opened I could not think of any differences between us. I couldn't put my finger on anything that separated us all that much. We're not Zambian people or American people or rich people or poor people... We are His people.
After that, we went to see the Tembo's breifly and I am happy to say they all looked much healthier, filled in and happy. The boys were even outside with freinds! As we left their mother said "God bless you... we love you." Megan said "We love you, too." And that was all I needed to hear. It can be discouraging to give to people and instead of saying thank you they ask for more. This seems to happen more often than not, but at the same time- we aren't in it for the thank you's and it's a good thing because if we were we'd all have packed up and shipped out by now. We don't need to give eachother much more than love, because that's the greatest gift that was given to us.
Despite my stomach issues, I ate almost all of the lunch prepared for us. I am still feeling ok I just am praying that I stay ok especially with 8 people living in this house now, and 3 in my bed. (watch for our pics on facebook... we are having fun girl time :) )

School is going really well and the kids are doing WORLDS better than they were when we started. It honestly shocks me when I think about it... They have now learned cursive (they could barely write print when we began), they can spell, read and write English, we've done a ton of science learning the bones and muscles and digestion etc, and mastered long division and multiplication with triple digits (they could only add when we started.) It's encouraging, and tiring, and trying and i learn a lot about patience every day.
We looked at another house in Kabanana that we might get so that would be great if we did. It's in terrible condition, but the man basically said if we wanted to fix it up we could just fix it and that would be "rent". I really want to be more into that work and as soon as we have the house and my car I can go into that 100%.

On another level, it's been difficult here making friends. The men often have the wrong motives, and the girls see those motives and then don't really like my company for that reason. In the church it's better but it's way more effort than in the states. My money, my skin, my hair, my clothes, my shoes... everything all works against me. I've never had to go to great effort to tell people I am just like them, same issues same fears same wants and hopes.... I just want them to talk to me freely but there's this invisible barrier.  

It just gets tiring being stared at and looked at and noticed all the time, and it's embarrassing for my freinds and even Maureen and Fanny to have people looking and watching all the time. It doesn't matter who I am with, male, female- but especially towards the compounds and even sometimes just walking down the street here I just want to scream STOP! STOP STARING AT MEEEEEE. You don't realize how nice it is to blend in with your surroundings until you are like a snowman on a california beach in the middle of august. No one knows what to make of you- why you're there... you don't fit.

This seems like a lot of complaining, reading back on it, but I am very happy. I have had more great news this week concerning getting the car etc. and I am very grateful for what I have, and the opportunities I have here. Today as we were leaving Kabanana one of the girls, Barbara, who I haven't seen foor a week took my hand and whispered... " i missed you..". I wanted to just stay and hang out with her. I wanted to tell her that he loving me and wanting me around meant the world to me.
Later when i walked back to the back of the house Richard came bounding up and jumped into my arms and Enock, Perjuite and Maureen were there, and all the kids. As I turned the corner holding Richard they said "there's our missing peice!" to think that I was the one that was "missing" when they were all visiting made me feel really good. They were talking about how I was becoming "Zambian" and soon I'd be cooking fish and nshima for myself every night (I wouldn't bet the farm....) They have really made me feel like I am not different from them, and its refreshing and means more to me than they'll ever know.
His mercies are new every morning, I am going to snuggle up next to Blessings and Mwansa (I love that I can say I am sleeping next to blessings tonight.) and wake up tomorrow excited and determined and full of joy. I am ready to do. Whatever it is, I am ready to do.

Friday, November 5, 2010

"Do you still love me?"

I wish words could express feelings. I have had so many strong and amazing revelations since I have been here but each time I sit to write about them my mind is lost for the words to describe them. My mind is reeling, my heart is full, my body is tired and simultaniously stregnthened...

I have been thinking a lot about Thanksgiving with the holiday coming up, and I have always considered it the day to give thanks... Recently I have had so much to be thankful for (I always have had, but have been blind to it). For the past few weeks I feel as though people have just been pouring mercies and kindness on me. I was thinking about the name of the holiday and feel it is more Thanks and Giving than giving thanks. We are given so much, and everything we are given is a gift and so we should be giving just as much back. I am gave up my freedom and car and apartment and job to be here, and people have been giving money and provisions by the boatload. I wanted to have opportunity to give back to some people who give to me even thought they have nothing.

Specifically, Maureen, Enock and Perjuite. They work for James and Megan and as such I am kind of out of their "juristiction". Enock has spent full days putting together my furniture or rewiring my electric so I can have a stove. He gives me advice on how to get away from the callboys and bad men in town, and I know he truly cares for me. Perjuite makes a point every single day to ask me how my day was and he watches over me and keeps me safe at night. Maureen has been a freind to me- she gives me advice, teaches me, helps me, protects me, and watches out for me. I opened my door yesterday morning to see her sweeping my doorstep.... She has been an example of giving,strength and hard work.

Although Thanksgiving is an American holiday, I've asked them to join me on that day for a meal and fellowship. I have never made a Thanksgiving meal before, but I will be away from my family and they have accepted me into their respective families and so I wanted to spend the day with them. I want them to relax and eat what I made for them as a token of my appreciation. A while ago I heard through the grapevine that Maureen had run out of Mealie and they were eating only bread. I took Richard and Mwansa to lunch and on the way home bought a bag of mealie. Maureen told me I shouldn't have done that and when I asked why she said "because I don't want you to run out of money buying things for us and then you'd have to go home." I explained to her that God gives to us and calls us to give to eachother, so while I am technically not "paid" while I'm here, I have been blessed and I fully intend to pass those blessings on to everyone else. We are provided for, especially when we are doing God's work. Today her hotplate stopped working so I gave her mine. God provided me with an oven last week, just in time for me to pass on my blessing to her. She has been such an example to me and I want to show her the same graces she has shown me.

At the begining of this week, I was babysitting the Williamsons and sort of set "in charge". We had a good time and I was so glad to see Megan and James get a break to recoup and rejuvinate. It was odd to have Enock, a grown man, come ask me for permission to do things. It is strange to be so close to the class separation in this culture. In the states, I'd respect and answer to him because he is a man and older than me. Here, he "answered" to me because I am white and have more money than him. We had a good time nonetheless and the rains began Monday night. We had a crazy thunderstorm Monday and Tuesday night which brought these big bugs (which I learned are flying termites). In the morning Richard and Mwansa were running around collecting them by the hundreds. They laid them out to dry all day and that night they cooked them and ate them- litterally manna had fallen from the sky. They offered them to me but I politely declined (no need to be THAT giving... ;) ) They showed me how the inside was white like a cockroach and the outside was "nice and crunchy"... no, but thank you SO much.... :)

On thursday we went to Kabanana and found that the Dakas and the Mbare/Mwamba/Zimba family were not home. It is a holiday for most kids and all the children were out with freinds and playing.

As for the Dakas, they are preparing for a memorial service for a teenage son and father died within a month of eachother last year. In the compounds where they live it is customary to have a huge feast and singing/prayer all through the night the day of the death. Being steeped in a Catholic background, they will be having the Catholic choir come sing and pray the men "into Heaven". I pray for the children, and their mother that they would see the error of this practice and learn what true salvation isa nd also it is a difficult time and they are grieving.

We found the Mbare/Mwamba/Zimba house closed and locked. The children were out playing with freinds. Thier mother left at the beginning of last week to go to another town and they have not seen her since. She could be gone for some time- leaving these small children to fend for themselves. Megan and I went to Kabanana again this morning, for reasons explained in the next paragraph, and we found Christian there home alone cooking his breakfast on a hot plate. He was supposed to be at the school building but told us he wasn't there because his trousers were dirty... Megan mentioned later "Of course- because little boys are not made to remember to wash their trousers and be ready for school or cook their own breakfast... that is what mothers are for..." Please pray that their mother will come home and will take care of her children. They are left alone for weeks at a time and Memory is very sick- it just isn't right. In terms of Christian himself though- he was VERY happy and talkative. We have had trouble getting him to speak and he had seemed so depressed and down for months- but we learned today that he knows more english than we thought and was very polite and happy spirited. It may have been the fact that noone else was around and he was happy to have this special visit all to himself. I said to Megan "I honestly didn't know if he had teeth or not!" I can't say I've ever seen him smile before today. That was very heartwarming and encouraging.

Lastly we went to the Tembo home. I wish I could describe it in any way that could bring you the feeling I got. There was such an air of depression and sadness clouded over the house and in the room. Wisdom could barely lift his eyes to look at us and as they spoke, smiling looked painful. The entire family was home. I asked everyone why there weren't out playing and no one answered. Their bodies looked frail and weak and they just.... they were so sad. Their mother has been very ill and is knocking on deaths door. She refuses to take medication and will soon leave this world and her four children with nothing. After we left it finally came out that they have not eaten for around two weeks. Fanny said she has brought them what she can- but it was small and mainly for the sick ones. Their family was starving and I asked why we hadn't been informed of this and they said that the family was embarrassed and they thought the giving was for school only. If I had a car I would have gone right then and got them food- but using the public transportation with the sun setting it was unreasonable. I came home and told Megan and we immediately made a plan to get food this morning and bring it to them. Maureen made a list of what they would need, and Megan and I went today to buy the items and bring them food. I am happy to say they now have plenty to last them quite some time. Megan and I tried to explain that while we are primarily giving for school- we need them to be healthy and fed as well. My heart broke knowing that Memory and Nathan had their hardest week of testing this week and no food. When we dropped it off we stayed only for a short time (they were hungry, and Zambians don't just sit around and eat in front of other people, so we made it quick) and their mother thanked us many times and simply said "This is truly the work of God". How true that is. Pray for the mother (Alice), that she will relent and take medication and perhaps prolong her life to take care of her children. Pray for Memory and Nathan as they have one more week of exams (Memory ends the 11th and Nathan the 10th). Pray for the whole family to gain physical stregnth and health and as they do that their spiritual heath will multiply.

We are still looking for a house to rent to use for food, education and ministry to the children. We want to be able to connect with them, minister to them and feed them physically but most importantly spiritually. We need these kids to be taken care of and off the streets. Pray that we will find a house and soon (Rainy season has begun and it is difficult to find anything decent this time of year) and that we will have wisdom concerning the best place and items to buy.

Also, pray for Maureen and Fanny These women assist us in the ministry every week. I walk arm in arm with them each Thursday and hear their concerns and troubles in the walks from one house to the other. On more than one occasion they have defended me from innapropriate men and treat me as a sister. They are giving their time and money to children who have little more than their children have. Fanny told me this week that her husband was away and she was home with her two children when theives tried to break in. They couldnt get in and so they stole whatever they could reach- her curtains. She said at one point she was looking the man in the face and he was looking in hers as they litterally played tug of war with her curtain. What a strong woman. One of the concerns for them is that in being seen walking with me each week, and when seeing the white people come in and out when Megan comes monthly they become a target for theives, robbers, and ridicule and persecution. Maureen has been called a satanist and Fanny even worse, because of their faithfulness and assistance to us in this ministry. It is a very different thing to have the colour of your skin bring pain or suffering to your friend. I feel helpless.

Right now what is on my heart is getting a car. When I see a situation like the one on Thursday... how much easier it could have been to hop in the car, buy food and bring it back, but instead I was helpless again and at the mercies of public transportaition and the setting sun. Also, I am begining to get concerned about my ability to reach them during the rainy season. During very hard rains and storms we wont be able to walk around Kabanana (another reason both the house and car are necessities). I also would like to be able to get to more youth meeting, Bible studies, and church but I am at the mercy of the Williamson's availability (which I am very thankful for- they've made it a point to be available to me whenever possible and often I'm sure it is quite inconvenient but they've have been extremely generous), I'm also at the mercy of the availability of freinds to pick me up or ride the bus with me. It is a strain and extra expense for these freinds and for the Williamsons to be "responsible" for me. Not to mention how much more often I could go to Ndola if I had transportation.

Today  Richard was very disruptive and rude in class. It was hot, and nothing was getting done and I went home afterwards very frustrated. A knock came on the door and it was Richard. Without saying anything else, he asked me simply if I would forgive him. I said of course I would and gave him a wink ( we have a special wink... :) ). Before he walked away he mumbled something under his breath. I asked him what he said and he mumbled again. Finally I said "Oh for crying out loud, Richard, what is it?" He looked at me and asked "Do you still love me?"

I was dumbfounded. How often do we sin and fall short of the glory of God and yet we ask for forgiveness and it is given without hesitation, and we ask Him, "Do you still love me" and the answer is an immovable and unchanging "YES!".

Sunday, October 31, 2010

My heart will burst if it fills anymore

This week has been just a series of wonderful things. I was sick Thursday and had to cut school off early and cancel my plans to go see the kids in Kabanana. I ended up laying in bed and doing some work on the finances/spreadsheets and emails instead and got a lot accomplished that I couldn't have done other wise so that was good. I got a forwarded email from my dad from a church in Albany that wants to send some money monthly to assist in my expenses here and I was so excited! I have been blessed by the people who have commited to supporting me thus far and I cannot express how much of a relief and a help it is.

The next day we did school then prepared to visit Kabanana again. I went into the house to tell Megan that Maureen and I were leaving (I like to let her know when I'm getting on the bus and when I'm on the way back) and James told me he had some news for me. The church in Riverside has sent money toward me getting a car. I was floored, and I just had to cry and thank God. Needing a means of transportation is my biggest hinderance on my work here and ability to do more- so this is beyond being a blessing.

I have so many reasons to be thankful. So many people are making sure I am taken care of and helping me through prayers and also financially and I could not ask for more (nor do I deserve it). It is easy to feel very alone here. I have the Williamsons here but they also have eachother and it's easy to miss family and friends back home. Without a car I find it also easy to feel a little "trapped" in terms of being able to go where I want to/ need to. Especially with the holidays coming up, I was having some feelings of sadness realizing this will be the first year I will be away from my family for the holidays.... and not just away but AWAY.

Through people's giving and the emails and news I recieved this week I realized that I have family all over the world and people who don't even know me who are willing to love me and care for me and provide for me. GOD is our father, and thus we are all family. I have been humbled by this week, and am beyond overjoyed and thankful.

Our power went out yesterday and has been out all day today also and I will soon lose battery on the computer- but Saturday I went to a market that was wonderful then had a freind, Isaac, pick me up and we rode the bus to Mount Mukulu's young poeples group. It was good, and I got to know people better, and then we spent the day at that church as well today so I was able to stregnthen freindships and make new ones. I am going to try to continue going there- I enjoy the fellowship I have with the young people and I'd like to have a church to go to regularly and serve there in whatever way I can.

There goes my battery... more to come...

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Til He returns or calls me home...

We haven't had internet for a while, so I'll start from last week at this time.

Thursday, was wonderful. We start each day with a Bible study and we have been reading through Matthew. We just finished chapter 6 that morning and something sparked questions from the kids. I had no idea, but almost an hour passed by and we had just been talking and reveling in the verses and Gospel for the whole time. All the kids, Mwansa especially, seemed to have hoarded up questions their whole lives until that very moment and they all came pouring out. Things like “How do you become a Christian?”, “What does being a Christian mean?”, “If you die before you repent of the last sin you committed will you go to Heaven or Hell?”, “In the second coming, will it be God or Jesus who comes back?”, “Can you explain the 3 in 1?”, “Will we be separated in lines of boys on one side and girls on the other on judgment day?”, “Will the trees be judged if they had bad fruit?”, “Will we be able to see the people in Hell when we're in Heaven?”, “Will there be cockroaches and mosquitoes in Heaven?” … I mean... they really stored them up. I answered the questions to the best of my ability and encouraged them to always be looking to the Bible for their answers and if the answer was not really in there (i.e. “Will I have to wear white or will we be in regular clothes... and where will we sit?”) then you might as well just wait and see.

I used an analogy James had used in his sermon on Sunday. I asked them- if you are a Christian and profess Christ as your savior and then you don't pay your bus fee and before you have a chance to repent you die- will you go to Heaven or Hell? They both said Hell- and I went into a discussion of works vs faith/true salvation. I also talked about the opposite, and how some people live to the very last minute as a wicked person and right before they die God saves them and they go to Heaven (i.e. the theif on the cross)- but you can't wait because of that because if Jesus comes tomorrow it would be too late. At this Richard got very wide eyed and confessed that he had not payed his bus fare before. I asked him what he thought he should do about it and he said “Repent! EEEEmediately!!”

I prayed for them today after class that they would take to heart what we talked about and not be confused by various “prophets” and “witches” and TV ministers- there's so much to lead you astray and confuse you. I encouraged them to make their Bible their best friend and really look to it for answers. Mwansa asked if it would be OK if we had Saturday Bible class, so I'll be doing that with the Williamson kid's and Maureen's kids starting this Saturday. Pray I have the wisdom to answer the questions appropriately and that they can grow and learn to appreciate and love God's word.

On Thursday afternoon we went to Kabanana to visit a house we might rent to use as a meeting place for the kids we're supporting there. We got a chance to see the house and we really liked it so we will see how we can do for pricing/negotiations. There will be work that needs to be done (painting, plumbing work, fixing some outlets as well as getting furniture etc.) but hopefully this will be the place. After seeing the house we visited Memory and Barbara's school to work out some of the payment. The place is just awful- I've never been there when kids were actually learning, it's tiny and the teachers seemed to be making a lot of excuses- in short we found out that Barbara's attendance is spotty and she can't read or write so she is expected to fail her grade 7 exams. We called for her and she came and we had a chance to talk to her about all this and kind of lay it out for her.

I really hate that part. Everyone was telling her, what are you going to do? You're going to fail- why don't you come.... a lot of hard stuff and I could see she felt on the spot and while I know it's necessary... I am the kind of person that gets to those points in a round about way and cushions it so I just wanted to hug her and tell her she could pass and everything was OK. Sigh. I'm definitely a different breed when it comes to that kind of confrontation.

We then walked to visit a school we may be transferring the kids to (it's much nicer- and will give the kids a much better education). As we walked I stayed back with Barbara and talked to her about singing and her passions and interests... I let her know that if she didn't pass then next year I'll tutor her and we'll get her where she needs to be as long as she's willing to do the work. We quickly saw the Tembo's (the mother is not doing well) and then had to head back.

Friday was good, as Friday's tend to be. We swam in the afternoon then Maureen was watching the kid's and I went over and we all played together. Saturday I had a thorough cleaning morning and got a lot accomplished then we had our Bible Study. It went very well, I thought. A lot of questions were answered and after an hour and a half I had to cut it off and have them save them up for next week. (Please pray for these studies- Ian, Sarah, Emma and Mwansa especially are really interested and engaged- and I see the wheels turning....We are studying James. )

Saturday afternoon I went to the Young People's group and they were having an evangelistic sports day in the park with the neighborhood kids. It was well over 100 degrees and I was not really about to go play football so I sat and talked with some of the kids and got to know a lot of the young people my age and older that were there so that was good.

Sunday I went to Kabwata Baptist for Sunday School and Morning Service then we went back to Mount Mukulu for evening service. In the morning service, one of the girls I met the day before (Chanda, she actually was the girl who's wedding I went to the day I got here) asked me to sit with her. Her husband is an aspiring pastor and is running the youth camp coming up in December. She asked if I'd like to help (they need counselors and people to help out with the ministry) so I will hopefully be doing that.

I really really like Mount Mukulu. For some reason, maybe because it's smaller, I've found it much easier to get to know the younger people there and talk to the people from the church. There are specifically a few people I've met there (Mirriam, Tickey, Brian, Chisenga, Chanda and Isaac, that have asked for me to keep coming back and join the choir/join the YP...) I'd like to be a part of it because the first Sunday I was there I was in the prayer meeting and one of the women was talking about how the YP group is suffering and needs to get back on track. I was invited to their Young People's group this Saturday and they will be beginning their concert practice for the Christmas concert. I'll have to make a choice between KBC's YP group and MMB's YP group for this Saturday- but it's nice to have things to do!

The week this week went well. Monday was a holiday (Zambian Independance Day)- so we had a “fun day” of school, went swimming and then I went with the Williamson's to go see some entertainment. There was dancing and karaoke- and a clown/juggler all the way to a “Michael Jackson” performance (they really love him here). It was fun and I got a chance to buy a dress there, which is nice because I don't have any here and I haven't finished the one I've been making. This one older kid had asked me for my number as we were walking and I was ignoring him but he and his friend kept following us and saying please, what's your name- please, your number and once he tried to touch my arm. A woman came up to us and asked if they were with us. Megan told her no, and actually they were bothering us. She told us to be careful because she was watching and they'd been following us and they'd steal from us. “That's what they do” she said. We quickly got to the car and as we were pulling away I saw the boys go start yelling at her. It was nice to see someone concerned for a stranger and have her be willing to put up with that just to warn us. Other than that small part- it was a great day and a lot of fun to get out and do something.

Tuesday we went out in the afternoon to get my packages and check the store for a few things I needed. God has really blessed me and I was able to get the pantry and stove I've had on my wish list! It was a big purchase, but a necessary one. Enock came with us to help carry things and watch us/the car downtown. We got out the very first place downtown and two men immediately started calling to Megan and I-- “Ladies, Momma” so she quickly grabbed my arm and we walked arm in arm down the street. We both kind of laughed, feeling like little kids linking arms and walking together and Enock said “It would really be best if you keep your most serious face on in these situations” we had to explain we weren't laughing at or to the men, but rather at the fact that we were basically holding eachother and walking this way. He didn't really understand why it was funny because people here hold hands out of respect to show the other person you're listening- especially when walking. Not two minutes later we got to the post office and turned to see him holding hands with a man and walking down the street with him- no wonder he thought we were weird.

So I got my packages (two from my Mom and one from my Aunt Ruth) and then made a few other stops and finally made it to the appliance store. I picked out the things I wanted and of course didn't have enough money (its almost all cash here) so we had to go to the bank then come back and as the store owner's son told the worker what to go get what I needed, we heard the worker say- we are all out of that one. The store owner's son said, “Ok get (whatever the code was) instead.” Megan said... “uh... is that the one she ordered? The same thing?” and he assured us it was. Needless to say- of course it wasn't but it's not worth the trip downtown and the complaint about it. What's important is I got the things I needed and so much more!!

That evening I gave putting the pantry together my best shot (read: took everything out and stared at it for an hour) and then James came to the rescue. He put the basic frame together and the next day Enock finished it. I had gone inside to peak at it and told Enock, “It's looking good!” He laughed and said “I wish you hadn't seen it- I was going to trick you and tell you I failed to put anything together and we'd have to hire someone else!” Yea... it was that obnoxious. Enock spent most of the day putting it together so I paid him for his labor and when I was at the store I got him a carton of milk. Megan has told me how much he loves milk but I really didn't realize. I called him into the kitchen and got it out of the fridge and I've never seen a bigger smile. He said “Oh Madame, that is Very good... VERY good” and started laughing. I asked him if he wanted a cup and he said, if I didn't mind, he'd like to take it home and share it with his wife. He said “It will be a banquet- she doesn't even know I am bringing it, she will be surprised!” A carton of milk referred to as a banquet. It puts things in perspective doesn't it.

So today he went to town, got the parts for the stove and set that up for me. He really did a great job and went above and beyond so that I wouldn't have to move the kitchen around. When he finished he said “Now- where am I going to sit for my meals?” (it's pretty tight in there now) I promised him something baked in the stove since he went to all the effort to put it together. I am very thankful for his willingness to help and do a good job and especially to Megan and James for basically letting him work on my stuff instead of what he usually does for them. It was a huge help.

I was supposed to go to Kabanana today, since it's Thursday, but mid morning I started getting sick about every 15-20 minutes and had to end school early and cancel my trip. I felt pretty rotten until about 3 and then I ate a cracker and had some water. I kept that down so at 4 I had some rice. So far, so good. Still rumbling and gurgling but things are staying where they should.

That was a lot to write and I'm very tired so my writing has progressively gotten worse, but I hope at least somebody will read it. :)

It has been an interesting week in terms of lessons for me. I have been shown so much grace and given so many blessings that I really don't deserve. There's no other way to describe it but chalk it up to God's goodness to the most undeserving creatures. I am learning lessons in disappointment (like when you get the wrong pantry or get sick an hour before you're supposed to go to Kabanana) but God has reasons for all of this and I am learning to “not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will take care of itself.” So far it has, and in ways I couldn't have imagined and most definitely don't deserve. I was given so much this week. So much. Thank you, each of you- you know who you are. Everyone who's prayed for me or given financially or sent a package or given their time or labors here or gas and time to take me downtown or stay up building a pantry... People show love through giving, and I am feeling very loved. I hope those who have given never for a second think it is unappreciated or unacknowledged. I am humbled, and I have a very happy and full heart. (There's a song we've been singing in school thats a kid's song but completely appropriate... "Running over, running over- my cup is full and running over. It's the Lord's happy day, I am happy! Happy! Happy! My cup is full and running over!!)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Adverb? Noun. Adjective...? VERB!!! Verb. I knew it was a verb...-Mwansa

Yesterday we went to Mount Mukulu Baptist Church and I loved it. The singing was great and I enjoyed the people there- they were particularly welcoming. James preached and both sermons were great. Being a visitor, I had to stand so everyone could see me and was asked to go to the back after service to be shown hospitality. I didn't go to the back, since the only other visitor escaped and I didn't want to go alone but SILLY ME I'm white. It's apparently not hard to spot the white visitor, so I was ushered to the back anyways. I was glad though, because I met a woman named Mirriam who I liked very much, and I found it easier to talk to her than most people I've met. She peppered me with questions about my life and Christianity and then said if I didn't join at Kabwata I should join there because she wanted me to be in the music ministry with her. She asked if I was married and I said no, so she asked if I was engaged... No. Boyfriend? No. SINGLE!?! She seemed appalled and as I was leaving she whispered that this week she would pray for God to find me a husband. People around here really don't want me to be alone....

Today has been somewhat trying, but in other ways very encouraging. This morning we had only a half day because I went this afternoon to get my fingerprints taken. All morning Richard was being more loud and disruptive than usual. Twice I almost sent him home because he was being so bad. I was really struggling to have patience and understanding, and had to pray under my breath more than once. I tried everything. He was falling out of his chair to make everyone laugh (I have told him not to do this approximately 1,000,000 times because he's going to break the chair and they are the Williamson's- not to mention I have to stop class every time to calm everyone down from laughing). I finally took away the chair, and said “Since you cannot sit in the chair without leaning and falling, you can stand for 15 minutes.” So he went and got a bucket to sit on. I said “Richard, I asked you to stand.”... so then he put the bucket on his head. I prayed to not lose it- and “calmly” said, “Richard- if you do not want to participate in school today, you can go home and rejoin class tomorrow.”

So he said “OH NO! I want to stay Miss Kat!” (which he and Mwansa pronounce (Mrz Khatee) So I said, “Ok, stand there, finish your division problem and lets move on. It was then that I noticed the lead between his teeth- he had eaten half his pencil. So I took away the pencil and said- Now you can just tell me the answers and not write them because Lord knows I can't trust you with a crayon. So on and on all of this went and in the meantime I was scolding Emma and Mwansa for laughing and then I felt like we were getting nowhere and I could feel my tone getting coarser- so I stopped and decided we'd pray right then. I asked for prayer requests. Mwansa asked for “understanding long division”. Emma asked for world peace- and Richard asked for prayer that he'd stop laughing so much at school. (Don't worry, Richard, it's already on the docket for prayer...) So I prayed for all of this and not ten minutes later I noticed that they were barking at each other for things.

We have limited resources and share pencils, crayons, paper and especially the one pencil sharpener and one eraser we have. So I had heard about enough “gimmies” and “I need the's” for one day and so I said- “Ok... put aside the adverbs. We are having a lesson in two very important words in English. PLEASE and THANK YOU. When you need the rubber [which is what they call an eraser here] you say, 'May I have the rubber please.' When someone gives it to you- you should respond with a 'Thank you'.” Well Richard had not been paying attention- was still writing his adverbs- had made a mistake and AS I was saying this said “Who's got the rubber... I need it.” and then reached across the table. So I snatched it up before he got it and said “Honestly Richard, you didn't hear a word of this did you.... say 'please' if you need the rubber.” He just stared blank faced. Finally he got really serious and said “I do not need it” and started just crossing mistakes out- JUST so he wouldn't have to say please. He was so mad at me for calling him out that he stopped talking and for the final two hours of class we had not a peep out of Richard. So while it was for the wrong reasons and he was being disobedient and rude... at least my prayer that he wouldn't disrupt the class was answered- in a mysterious way... :) The whole rest of the day he wouldn't look me in the eye and refused to speak to me.

This afternoon James took me to get my fingerprints so I can get police clearance and get a work permit. We got there at 14 and the woman said it was lunch, and they didn't open until 14:30. We said, well the paper says 14, but apparently things like that are just suggestions rather than rules... So we went on another errand where we waited there too. It was a good chance for us to talk though, and figure out a few things concerning my budget and needs here- more to come on that later. We got back to the Police Headquarters and James saw a man he knew. That guy took us in, showed us where to go and told me it would be 150 pin (30 bucks) On my paper it said it would be 50 pin which is only 10 bucks. We get in there and the guy at the counter says, oh no... it's 400 pin. (80 bucks) So now I'm like... ughhH! BUT the man at the counter said... “wait- are we processing anything?” And I said, “no- really I just am using your ink- this gets mailed to the FBI in the US.” So then he said... “oh, in that case, it's free.” THAT no one can argue with ;) So I had them done, and they were sloppy and awful but there was nothing I could do about it.... We took them to the post office and the woman gave me postage and handed it back to me and I said... well- can't I leave this here... to be mailed...? She looked at me for a second and said “Sure..... yea... yea you can.” She seemed... unsure to say the least. All there is to do now is pray. Pray that they get there, pray that the paperwork is filled out correctly. Pray that the fingerprints are readable and that I get the results soon cause as soon as that comes.... I start over at the immigration office.

So I got home and Richard was in the shower. My kitchen is right next door and you can hear everything through the walls here. He usually bathes when I am preparing supper- so we often have some chats (odd, I know- but he always hears me go in and starts asking questions about the galaxies or bugs or math or any random thing.) Well today I went in and all was quiet. I figured he was still holding a grudge when all of a sudden.
“…. Miss Kat?”
“Yes, Richard...”
“Well...? Did they say yes?”

It took a minute for me to understand what he meant, when all of a sudden it came to me. A while ago he asked me what a visa was and why I would need it, and I told him it was the country telling you whether you could stay or not. Every once in a while when I go on an errand and come back if he thinks I've gone to immigration he'll ask... “Well, what'd they say?” I had told him I was canceling school this afternoon because I was going to work on the visa, and he had been worried that they'd say “no” and I'd never come back again.

I said “Well, they have to check my fingerprints and make sure I have no history of punishing my students too harshly, you know like- making them stand for 15 minutes... then they'll decide...” I decidedly heard a little giggle from the other room. We're friends again.

All's well in my little world.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Little Banana

This week has been good. Sunday we went to a place called the SOS Village, which reminded me so much of Brooklawn. The kids were so out of control- and there were simply not enough staff to manage the situation. Megan and I did our best (Megan had the pleasure of being next to the worst boy, James, most of the morning). It was so painful to see the Sunday School teachers struggling to even get the kids to sing a line of a song without punching, kicking, biting.... It was flooding back old work memories. I couldn’t help but understand the way the kids were acting... being orphaned for numerous reasons and then being sent to a place where there is not enough supervision or discipline. I always find myself drawn to the absolute worst one. There is always a reason behind that kind of negative behavior. There's always pain. I need to pray for James more.

That evening we went to Kabwata for evening service. It was unbearably hot- and since Conrad was away there was a guest speaker... he went much longer than I am accustomed to and with the heat and the wooden pews I started to feel sick about halfway through. I came home and laid down... I have been spared from sickness thus far and I was just praying tonight wouldn't be the night. Thankfully when I woke up I was much better.

On Tuesday we got a chance to go to lunch with Fanny to talk about our plans for the orphans and get her input. We were all on the same page, and I am more than excited for the future prospects for the work. We are looking to get a house that we can make as our “go to” place for all the kids. Maureen would stay there and we would hold meetings there, provide food and it would give me a chance to offer classes and tutoring for the kids who are behind or struggling. We could also have Bible studies, parties and games and things- keeping the kid's focus on school and God and keeping them off the street and out of the hands of ill-meaning peers. I am very excited for this... pray that it happens soon! After lunch we got to go to Game (which is like Target) and Shop Rite (which is like a Super Wal-Mart) which I have been looking forward to for two weeks. I was able to get a fan (!!!) and some other things you can't get anywhere near the house.

Wednesday after school I was able to get some good cleaning done- it is impossible to get anything clean here. I swept and scrubbed the floor with bleach and within 15 minutes when I ran my finger across it my finger was black. (another reason to get my food off the floor, aside from the cockroaches...)

Today I had school in the morning and at 12 Maureen and I left for the bus ride to Kabanana. I have been debating whether to write this next part- but I see no reason in hiding what I go through here. As I've mentioned before, the busing system is less than desirable- but it's necessary. I pray each time we go, and thank God each time we get home without any issues. Today we seemed destined for issues (but here I am safe at home so this is not a complaint- but rather information for others to pray more fully). It was VERY hot today. The “buses” are 15 passenger vans painted white and blue. They can get an astonishing number of people and children and parcels (and in two of my bus trips today, live chickens) packed onto them. So Maureen and I got in the first one, which was to take us to town. About halfway there, in the 110 degree heat, packed in this bus that was holding 22 or so people, we got pulled over. The police officer informed the bus driver that his license didn't permit him to drive a bus. So we sat in the heat- sweaty arm against sweaty arm- as they argued. The bus driver told him we'd already paid and so the police man said “Ok, I'll ride with you til they all get off.” So now we are 23. So we ride downtown and are let off at the bus station and board the next bus, which is to take us to to the next town. We get there all in one piece and get off and board a third bus which will take us into Kabanana. This is where the trouble started. A few men had seen me switch buses and started swarming the bus screaming “Muzungu! White woman!! Marry me! Kiss Me!!” so Maureen was by the window (God's providence) and I was next to her. Well all of a sudden all these arms started coming in the windows and grabbing at me. Maureen started hitting them and trying to shut the window but they blocked it so she couldn't. This man next to me started yelling to them in Nyanja. Later Maureen told me he was telling them to stop acting this way, because I was going to go tell all the whites that Zambians are savage fools. Well they didn't seem to care and started smacking all the windows and rocking the bus a little. Thankfully the bus driver just drove. He had been telling them to back up or they'd get run over but once his bus got involved he didn't care. As soon as we pulled away I breathed a loud sigh of relief and everyone bust out laughing. One woman said “It's not easy being white here” (which reminded me of Kermit...) The one man next to me said- “hey wait- I don't have to pay my fare now, because I've saved the Muzungu from an attack!” I laughed and thanked him, but really it was Maureen who bore the brunt of it. I leaned to her and whispered “I'm sorry” and she said “No! No, Miss Kat. Mrs Williamson told me before we left that I was to take care of you, and that's what I intend do. God put me by the window to protect you. I will be taking care of you all the time- no problem.”

Well we got dropped off and walked the rest of the way to Fanny's and then went to visit the Daka's. Unfortunately, most of the kids are in school in the afternoon so we missed many of them (Kabanana is a 20 or so minute drive by car, maybe give or take a little for bad roads and traffic- on the bus it took us well over an hour). We got to talk to the mother and Joseph, and then proceeded to the Tembo's. Mrs. Daka's oldest son was with friends at a river and all of his friends peer pressured him to jump in. He did not know how to swim. He followed their lead, hit a rock and was killed. A month later, her husband had a stroke and died. Her family beilieves there is witchcraft behind this and is playing tricks on her, fooling with the graves and claiming to see the ghosts of her family. You can imagine what this does to a woman still grieving and very confused. I understand more fully why the children are so sad looking and quiet.

At the Tembo's, Wisdom and his mother were the only ones home, but Wisdom was working outside so Maureen read scripture and encouraged the mother and then I prayed for her and the kids as their exams start tomorrow. Maureen has sensed that their family is looking to The Williamsons, as the whites, as idols. Calling on us for food and help in need. She reminded them to be calling on God and putting their trust in him, not us.

We went to see Francis' family- but he was the only one home. We got to continue our conversation with him and let him know we'd been praying for him. Maureen had prepared some scripture for him to study this week and we encouraged him some more. Memory came home just as we were leaving and told us there was an issue with her school fees, so we then walked a while to get to her school.

When we got all the way there, it was empty, so we had to walk to find a bus. I was feeling very dehydrated and faint and Maureen was also. Fanny and Maureen will drink water at each of the houses, as we have to walk in the sun from house to house. Unfortunately- I don't have that option. We decided to sit for a minute out of the sun. I was praying for God to keep me from passing out or something and just give me strength, as I had no idea how they'd get help to there. Suddenly I realized Francis was gone. I asked Fanny where he went and she said, didn't you just hear me tell him to go get water? I had been so busy praying that I didn't hear her give him money and send him for water. Soon I saw him walking back with three frosty bottled waters from a shop down the street. Sometimes all you have to do is close your eyes and pray and when you open them there's a bottle of water within reach :) So we drank our water, refueled and got on the bus.

We got almost downtown when we stopped at a gas station. There was some argument between the bus driver and gas attendant and we drove away without getting any. Just as I suspected- we got a little farther and the “conductor” told us we didn't have enough gas and he'd give us 1 pin (1,000 kwachas) back and we'd have to walk to the big bus station. So we walked to a small bus station and got on a bus to take us to the big one. It cost 1 pin for Maureen and I. The Lord gives even when he makes things difficult. So we pulled into the big bus station. It was here that I was grabbed at last week by a man who would not leave me alone and I was not looking forward to this part. There are mobs of people and buses who don't care if they hit you and it's just chaos. So we found the bus going to woodlands and it already had about 20 people on it. Maureen suggested we catch the next one and they got very angry and yelled at us so we hurried away. We finally found one that was empty and going to Woodlands. It wasn't empty for long. It filled up in about 3 minutes and then away we went. At this point I was just very tired and thirsty and hungry and then... we got pulled over again. This time they paid the cop off and he let us go. We were finally dropped in Woodlands and walked the rest of the way home.

I love going to Kabanana but when I get home I am so grateful for my water and my bed. I have so much joy doing God's work with the kids. It's funny- even as I write this now, it doesn't seem nearly as bad and I'm ready to go do it again tomorrow if I had to.

Maureen, Francis, Fanny and I were talking when we walked to the school and at one point Maureen said “I am very sorry. I am afraid that as long as you are white- you will have trouble here.” I said, well, I'm working on it. Look how many freckles I got just this afternoon. Fanny got a kick out of that, and mentioned that I had quite a red nose too. :) Fanny asked if she came to America would men do the same thing to her, and I said. “No offense, but no. We have every color and shape and size in America. Seeing brown skin is nothing out of the ordinary.” It's a very odd thing to have ALL eyes on you all the time. Fanny asked me last time what is it like to be the center of attention all day long? I said well it's very difficult to scratch your nose when you need to... ;)

Today has just been wonderful. I gave the kids a test, and I was a little discouraged because Richard seemed so confused and acted like he didn't know any of it. On the last big test I gave them, Richard got a 51 and Mwansa got a 54. Not good in the least. I have been praying and praying that they are learning and retaining what I've been teaching them. I've moved from grade 3 to grade 4 with them- so I was concerned that I'm moving to quickly. Well they handed them in, I sent them for recess and I graded them. I almost cried- and I had to run inside and show Megan. Richard got an 80 and Mwansa got an 84. That is LEAPS and bounds from where they were three weeks ago, and we have covered almost all of 3rd and 4th grade. I haven't shown Maureen yet, but I'm sure she'll be thrilled. I told them next time, since I KNOW they can do it... I expect to see them in the 90's. We have been having a celebratory day, (seeing as how the test took 2 hours) and so we read Sleeping Beauty, did some creative writing then all walked to the market together. We are going to make Apple Crisp and talk about seasons and what Autumn is like in the US.

So we bought our apples and butter and sugar, and out of the corner of my eye I saw a VERY familiar package. OREOS!!!! I almost cried again! Richard and Mwansa had never seen them before and Emma(standing between them) said “It's like us... brown, white, brown!” So I got the oreos and plan on teaching them proper dunking and twisting techniques... :) On the way out I got everyone a juice or soda and back we walked. It was nice to see Richard so happy- he's been getting himself in trouble a lot lately and he had THOUGHT he did awful on his test so the past few days and all morning he was discouraged and sad. Not anymore... the whole way home he skipped and sang songs and... gasp... held my hand for part of it. :)
We made our apple crisp, played football while it cooked and then I took them swimming. It's a good day.