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.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Francis and things...

Well as expected, I didn't get the work permit Friday either. We went to the bank with James' signature on the paperwork to try to get the certified check and the woman said "This signature looks forged, we won't accept it" I was about ready to get up and go and she said "Since I know this is your money, I will make an exception." So she also said she'd rush it for us and we had 15 minutes, so we went outside to a man on the side of the road who was taking passport photos and I had them done also. So far, so good. We got to immigration with everything we were told to have and they said I also needed proof of education, my resume and a police clearance. (SIGH)

So we left there and went to the US Embassy. I walked up outside (you can't drive in) and there's like a drive in window- but no french fries inside. Outside is a bench of people who want something but can't get in...none of themwhite. I tell the man behind the counter that I'm American and he asks for proof and asked what do I want. I was super nervous (there's guards with guns watching you reach in your bag for your passport) and I said "Uh... er... well I need police clearance and I need the paperwork...." He asked me do I intend to live here, and I said, "Yes". He then looked at me and said (all of this without a smile or acknowlegement that I was more than some creep on the street) "Well what language do you intend to learn? I said, "Well... ummm... probably Bemba, but maybe a little Nyanja- I know some Tonga from visiting in Choma before..." And he started laughing and laughing. He said "Goodness, why are you scared? I am just joking around with you! I could see you were nervous so I am playing a joke- you're American- you can come inside."

Yea... So a guard opens the door for me and I had to give him my phone, then another guard looked through my purse and took my chapstick, visene and tootsie roll. In case I planned to chapstick someone to death I suppose. So then I went through a metal detector, was given a visitors badge and told to walk out the back door and to the building next door BUT I must only walk on the sidewalk, no stepping on the grass or road, no shortcuts, and stay in the view of the guards at all times. So I get to the next building and theres a waiting room of 15-16 people just sitting there. I wasn't sure if I should sit or just go to the window so I just walked up and said "Hello, I need..." The woman said, "Police clearance. Here's all your paperwork, this is how you fill it out, this is where you go and here's where to bring it when you're done." So she had it all organized and ready for me and put in a manila folder.... Organization- how I've missed you.

So next week I have to go get fingerprints taken and fill out paperwork and get ANOTHER certified check (for an amount less than I'll have to actually pay for the check) and then that process will be about a month.... THEN I'll have to go back to immigration and start over.

So after all that Maureen and I went to Kabanana. Most of the kids were in school (we got a late start because of the busy morning and Maureen was out all morning) so we got to see mostly the mothers, which was nice to get their side of things how the kids were doing. Francis happened to be home from school and we were there for about an hour talking with him and his mother. He was telling us about how he believed kid's didnt want to go to youth group because they werent baptised, and you have to be baptised to be saved. Well he then had a firing squad of Fanny, Maureen, me and his mother quoting scripture and explaining Gospel truths to him for a long time. It was good-- he was asking questions and we used scripture to back up what we were saying... Maureen prayed heartily for him (in Bemba, but I somehow understood it all) and then we decided to get home before it got dark (we had a 1 and a 1/2 hour bus ride ahead of us). Francis asked us if he could walk us to the bus, and I walked with him while Maureen and Fanny stayed behind. I got a great chance to talk to him about his faith, school, his plans and everything. It was a great talk on our 20 minute walk and he said "Thank you so much, Katryn, thank you for visiting today." (He's the only person here who calls me Katryn.)

He is a great kid. Pray for him as he deals with plans to be a pastor and peer pressure from kids at school. He has a HUGE heart- a very kind and sensitive soul. He could be such a great man, and I sense God has a hand of protection over him. I was sorry to not see most of the other kids, but glad we had this chance to have 1-1 time with Francis.

Needless to say that was an exhausting day. I came home and Megan invited me to dinner which was wonderful because I was STARVED (all that bussing... which I disslike greatly... and walking made me so hungry and thirsty) but really too tired to cook.

Friday was fun, we had a full day of school and in the afternoon for "home ec"/math we made chocolate chip cookies. We counted chocolate chips (they dont actually sell those here, so i had to buy a candy bar which was expensive and then cut it up into small chunks to spread the chocolate love) and separated them into groups and did multiplication and division and then studied measurements for the flour and sugar... and then ate :) . I was very much beat after yesterday and Friday and decided to just watch a movie and go to sleep. I borrowed Hotel Rwanda from the Williamsons and watched that... wrong choice. Watching that movie when you are IN Africa... it's just a heartbreaking film all around.

A girl from the church, Janet, stopped by and we chatted for a while. She invited me to sleep over next week some time and then I'll go with her to YP group at church on Saturday nights (Young People's... which is the newly marrieds, singles and college age). They are having rehearsals for the Christmas concert after YP and she asked if I'd like to join and I said of course! It will be good to be singing again. It was nice to have someone come visit for a while- and will be good to have people my age to befriend.

Today I spent most of the day with a woman my age from church named Patience. She's great, and we had a good time... we talked and watched movies... it was nice to just have a lazy Saturday but outside the house with a friend. It was very different culturally than spending time with a freind from home- but I am learning to adjust and not worry so much about it.

When I got home I walked to the market and got a few groceries (things go bad quickly here so you have to shop for less stuff but more frequently). It is HOT these days... today seemed especially hot- Patience said it had a lot to do with the kind of metal roofing she has on her house- which is the same as on mine. You just feel like your baking in an oven. I try to open the windows and pray for a breeze, but you are also inviting in all sorts of critters and bugs so you have to chose your battles. I think this week I'll get a fan- it has stopped being a wish list item and become a necessity of late.

I am looking forward to church tomorrow, and a day of rest and relaxation before the busy week ahead.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Love is patient...

If there is anything Zambia can teach you, it's patience. There are always lines at the market ( and I don't mean lines like "oh, that lady has 100 cans of dog food, I think I'll go to aisle 6 instead", I mean lines like you can't get to the bread aisle because there's so many people), transportation takes twice as long as you'd expect... you have to be patient with yourself and others as you try to understand one another through language and cultural differences.

Nothing ever just happens here. Everything's a process. You do not simply wake up and think, hmmm I need a toaster, and then go to the store and buy a toaster. You plan the day before: Ok, I need a toaster. Where can I find one. I am sure maybe this store or that store will have one. Any store withing walking distance? No. Ok so... I will need transportation. Who has the car? Should I take a cab... is it worth arguing with the cab driver who is trying to swindle you out of 20 bucks because you're white and he assumes you're made of money. No. Should I take the bus and use my ENTIRE day to get this toaster, or risk having it broken or stolen... no, no. I'll just wait and go to the store on Thursday. Thursday is when I will have a car available. Ok so Thursday rolls around (and most likely someone gets sick and the car is used to get them to the clinic and your shopping trip is ruined) but lets say that didnt happen. Lets say Thursday rolls around and the clouds part and you get in the car and drive to the store. Now you have to decide. Do I buy this toaster? The box is crumpled and its 4x more expensive than a toaster in the states... also it's a brand I don't recognize... will it work? Should I shop around..... Well you have to take these risks. So now you go home and you have a toaster and you are feeling MIGHTY proud of yourself until you get home and realize it's a toaster from South Africa with a different plug. You need an adapter. By now for sure someone else is using the car for something so you make a new plan.... tomorrow. Tomorrow I will get an adapter....

And on and on the story goes as you finally find a store after searching all over town that carries that adapter and then the plug doesnt reach and so you have to rearange the kitchen and put the table where you didn't want it and then when it's all said and done and you plug it in and the little light comes on and put your hands on your hips and smuggly think... I have a toaster. This toaster is mine. I worked for it... it's proof of my perserverence, and on and on you smile and laugh until you stop and realize... I don't even have any bread.

So you put on your shoes and in the 90 degree heat you walk and walk....

Like I said, everything's a process. And its not just toasters or bread. I, for one, don't even have a toaster, I've mastered using the one skillet that I own to make pizza and toast and eggs and chicken and spagetti and anything your little heart could desire. Ahh the milage I will put on that skillet...

Today we set off to get my workers permit. My visa runs out in 5 days and in all the hectic running around since I've come there's been no time to do it. So (After James got a call that he'd unexpectedly have to run out to Kabanana this morning, then get home in time to take Rick and GraceAnn to the airport then take the bus BACK to Kabanana so we could use the car....) Megan and I set out at around 12:15 to the Immigration Offices. We walked in the open door and everyone ignored us. Finally Megan got the attention of a man who told us I can't get a volunteer visa, and I need to get a work visa and blah blah blahhhh but we're closed. I looked at the open door, then back at him- then around the office full of workers, and we left. The man was less than kind- and clearly irritated at our very exsistance.

We were told to come back at 2:30. So we drove home, and I prayed. Please let the person we talk to be kind. Please let me be able to just get in and get out.... Please let it not be $400 dollars, because that's what was posted as the price on the wall) and then at 2:30 drove back.... to a line.

The place was packed and everyone's just milling about signing books and stepping on one another to get to the next person (imagine the DMV only with way more people who don't speak English and no signs, lines, or order. A litteral free- for- all) Luckily Megan was there... I was kindof just standing slackjawed.... she asked around to enough people that we finally got the proper form to fill out. I started to fill it out at the ONLY square inch of usable table space and I was told, "No, no, you have to fill that out at the reception desk (which was swarmed by 5 Asians, 3 Zambians and a handful of Indians. How, exactly, I was supposed to do that I have no idea.) SO I used the wall. Finally Megan got us a desk with a person ready to help. And ya know what- she was NICE. She explained exactly what I needed to do. I needed a certified check for 500,000 kwacha ( $108... not $400 thank you, God.) and two passport photos. I also am supposed to have a police clearance but she said she was sure they'd wave that since I'm not being payed (PRAY) With all that I could file my application, they give me a temporary visa until I get my work permit in 2-3 weeks. Great right?

Don't be silly- the story's not over. So we stopped at the bank. I need a certified check. I had the cash in hand and I was ready to just sign my name and get a check (funny, right?). Well they said since I don't have an account I could deposit the money in Megan's account and then apply for the check (yes, apply) and then tomorrow come pick it up. Well. Megan didn't have her card so the man found her numbers... ah but I had $100 cash... dollars. They wanted kwacha, so we went to another counter and waited. With the exchange rate 500,000 is about 108 dollars so I went in my purse and got my 100 dollar bill and low and behold- eight singles exactly. (God's way of saying "I may be making you work for this, but I'm taking care of you nonetheless"). So we exchanged the money and deposited it into Megan's account. Then we find out that to even get a check is 80,000 kwacha, which is about 16 dollars- so we deposit that too. So now we are ushered to a third desk where we fill out the paperwork and everythings almost done and THEN she asks... why does this say James Williamson? Megan explained it's her husband and the woman says. OH! Well then we can't do this. He has to be here to sign it. (woomp woommmp)

So we left there... and essentially have nothing to show for our time out EXCEPT... we have a plan for tomorrow... and where there's a will- there's a way.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Ups and Downs

The past few days have been an emotional roller coaster. I had a hard time with teaching this week. I'm not sure why but its been really hard to get Richard especially focused and get them both back on track. It's so discouraging when you teach them over and over the same thing and at the end of the day they act like they've never heard that before in their life. They both speak English great, and are both smart kids but they cannot read or write English at all, and because they are smart and advanced they get bored of learning letter sounds and writing and then just check out... it makes for long days.

On Thursday after school Rick, Megan and I drove out to Kabanana (interesting fact: “Ka” means “little” so Kabanana means “little banana”) to visit the orphans. We first picked up Fanny and then went to her neighbor's house. Three of the children we support live there. We got a chance to talk to two of the children, Nelia and Joseph, and their mother but Felix was still at school. We then went over to see the Tembos. They are a fun family. I really enjoy talking to them and am looking forward to forming friendships with the kids. We found Wisdom in great health and acting goofy and laughing... what you want to see when you visit a child. Thank you all for your prayers for him. Rick's son Gabe has been writing Nathan so it was neat to get to see him meet and talk to the father of this pen pal he has- makes it all a little more real. We then went to visit the last family. Memory and Barbara were at school but we got to visit Christian and Francis. I really, really like Francis. He's 16 and wants to be a pastor. He is just one of those people who naturally seems to have a big heart. He's very caring and kind, and very personable, he'd chat for hours if you let him.

I am really looking forward to getting elbow deep in this work. I want to get to know them as kids, and have more chances to really talk to them and know them as people. Paying school fees is one thing but having someone counsel you and give advice and truly care about you as a person takes it to another level. It will help so much to keep them in contact with their sponsors so they can get to know them as well, and better know how to pray for them. All of them have major exams starting in two weeks. It's kind of the “do you move on or drop out” exams for a lot of these kids... keep them in your prayers.

I got home and checked my email expecting to write an email or blog explaining the new heart I have for this ministry and instead I got some very sobering news from home. A very wonderful woman from the church in New Jersey passed away. She was someone who assured me every single time she spoke to me (I say that without exaggeration) that she was praying for me. She told me before I left that she'd pray for me as I traveled and that I'd get here safely and everything would go smoothly. I have no doubt that these things happened because of prayers like this from her and others. She asked me to email her and let her know how things were going. I regret to say I hadn't emailed her once since I've been here.... puts things in perspective. She was a friend of my mothers, the wife of my dad's friend & fellow deacon and the mother of my friend. I feel for the church in New Jersey as they lost someone who's prayers and service brought so much to that church. She will be missed, but Heaven is a home I'm sure she would never complain about entering free of health issues she had battled for years.

As I thought of my mother and the women in my church losing a friend and role model, I just began to sob. It is such a different feeling to hear news like this over an email- you feel so isolated and so alone. I can't call and say anything to my mom, or hug my sister who I know was a good friend of hers... I don't know what to say to her only son who lost a mother and a friend- what can you say from so many miles away? I thank God that I had Megan here to give me hugs and let me just cry at the feelings of guilt and sadness and sorrow for friends and family. The kids seemed concerned at seeing me cry...Emma and Caleb and Megan prayed for the Dugle family that night and the kids and Pr. James have been praying in devotions for them.

Yesterday the kids knocked on my door. Each of them had made a card, each one with something inside it. Caleb's had a tissue, “in case I cried again” he said, and a packet of kool-aid from their America stash. Emma had picked me flowers and gave me one of her necklaces, and a tissue. Sarah's had a tissue and a reeces (more from the America stash). GraceAnn's had a tissue and a twizzler. Ians had nothing inside but words of scripture- verses to encourage you in times of grief. Richard saw them giving me the cards and got very upset. “You didn't tell me it was your birthday!!” I told him it wasn't and that these were sympathy gifts because I heard some bad news from the US. He looked at me for a minute then ran off. A half hour later he showed up at my door with a necklace. He had made it out of a vine and a matchbox car. This morning I woke up and he had made me another one- he cut up a straw into tiny sections and coloured some red (he used berries to colour them) and some white and then strung them onto a vine with a picture down at the bottom. I asked Richard all day, where is Mwansa I haven't seen her and he kept saying “she is just inside”. Mwansa had spent all day sewing me a tiny pillow out of her chitenge, with a heart on the front that said “For you, Miss Kat”. Tonight she came to me again with a purse she had made for me out of the leftover cloth from the pillow. She even made a pocket on the inside “for my cellphone”. It's those kinds of things that remind you that you have family and people who love you everywhere you go. I asked her where she learned to sew and she said “I just taught myself!” Later Maureen told me she has never sewed (or made) anything ever. She said she was so encouraged to see her daughter DOING something and making things (a valuable trade in Zambia). When she said I just taught myself- she meant I JUST taught myself!

This afternoon I took the kids swimming and swam with little Grace. That girl's smile is just amazing. After that I made myself dinner- my first time REALLY cooking a meal. I started to realize all the things I had taken for granted in the states... a stove, a microwave, pantry with spices and sauces in it...shelves, cabinets, drawers... I don't even have a kitchen chair. I sit on the floor with my back against the wall or go walk around the house to my room and sit on my bed. While these are all things I have on a wish list and I want to get eventually, it's a reminder of how much you really don't NEED.

Tonight Megan and I went through the Christmas bag's for the orphans. I can not WAIT to see the kids opening their bags. It's so fun to know the kid now and think, oh she'll be so cute in that shirt or oh he'll love that book. That is most definitely something to look forward to. This will be a hard Christmas for me. My first ever away from home... a zillion miles from any family member. It will be particularly special for me to be with those kids and see them open their presents and feel like I am with my family. I hope there's chaos and singing and trading and laughing and eating and WAY too much candy all around... just like home. I was happy to see bags there for Richard and Mwansa. I want to do something nice for them and Maureen and Enock and Perjuite... Not sure what yet.

It has almost been a month since I got here. Crazy.