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.


  1. Sue and Danny O'MullanOctober 16, 2010 at 8:38 PM

    Would it be possible for you to use some screening material if it were sent in the mail? Is there mail? Perhaps a staple gun as well or duct tape - you could put some over your windows so the bugs wouldn't get in... and perhaps some breeze.... or - tell me more about the roofs - what are they made of?

  2. I could get screening- they sell it here but I haven't priced it yet. that would be nice, because last night was nice and cool but I have to keep the windows and doors shut because of mosquitos and things. The roofs are just metal.

  3. Any natural that could be used for roofs other than the metal? I know that dirt is made into bricks (adobe) for housing (not sure but perhaps cooler?) I'm just thinking out loud b/c that might help others that are baking and / or eaten alive by those creatues that you took a picture of in the sink (that is not a bug! too gigantic).... also, my hubby is a contractor (roofing is his specialty)... Although given a choice, I would rather bake to death than be eaten by a creature the size of a small planet!