I finally have the time to sit and write a blog....well, I will use that phrase lightly, since the bathtub is full of clothes to be washed, I am headed out to the post office as soon as it opens to pick up the last of the Christmas gifts for the kids, the dogs are begging for food, the dishes need to be done... etc. But I knew if I didn't wirte this now, next thing you know it's Christmas and thats a whole other blog entry!
Kasama was beautiful! Sydney and I left at the beginning of the month and drove 12 HOURS on some good roads, and some very bumpy roads to get out deep into the Northern Province of Zambia. Luckily, in the nick of time he got his driving papers so we shared the driving responsibilities. The road was long, but the scenery was beautiful.
Kasama itself is a FRACTION of the size of Lusaka. There is one traffic light in the entire Northern Province, and it is there in Kasama. There is a shoprite, but it's the only recognisable grocery/food store other than roadside markets or people vending on the streets. Here in Lusaka there is pick and pay, spar, melissa, shoprite- and not only that but MULTIPLE of those, so I have been spoiled and there is a LOT of variety and choice. I am told the shoprite there is the ONLY shop in all of Northern province so again, at the end of the month when everyone gets their paychecks, there are long cues of people who traveled and are emptying out whatever was on the shelves (the selection was.... scarce) before the next shipment comes in from Lusaka.
Also, there are no restaurants (whereas in Lusaka you have a choice of about 50 within short driving distance, including Subway and KFC etc...) Kasama has a lodge that will cook food if you call ahead by a few hours to give them time to prpare but your choice is chicken, fish, or beef- with nshima or chips.) There is also a shawarma place at the fuel station, and one or two take out nshima places, but nothing like fast food or sit down restaurants.
Even beign the capital city of Northern province, it is much more a village whereas Lusaka is a bustling and developed city. Luskaka has 3 or 4 beautiful new malls and movie theatres and restaurants, staduims, and places of entertainment etc. There is none of that there. Kasama's more needy people live in thatched grass and clay houses as opposed to living in an actual home structure here that might have power and water hookup. It's amazing to see- no matter how needy someone might be, there is always someone who needs more. But it also puts in perspective all the whining and crying we do on a daily basis- when you see what a person actually can survive on.
Kasama is BEAUTIFUL. There are beautiful trees, flowers, streams, lakes and waterfalls in the area. People are much more conscious of that and there is not litter and garbage thrown all over the ground. It cuts down on diseases we have seen here because of pollution and contaminated water, like cholera and dyssentary. They don't suffer from that in that area which is a blessing.
Also, I love that there are not very many wall fences, and no electric fences there that I saw. Since it's a small place, people know eachother and crime is at an extreme minimum. You can leave things outside without them being stolen and people are not surrounded by fences and gates and electrified fences- which makes it much more beautiful, comfortable and friendly.
The best thing about Kasama is the cost of living. First of all. food, clothing and amenities are a fraction of the price. The same package of chicken that is $8 in Lusaka's shoprite is $3-4 in Kasama's shoprite. Dogfood in the big bag that is $21 in Lusaka, is $10 in Kasama. Dresses in Lusaka (from the thrift shops) run anywhere from $10-$20. In Kasama, I didn't see anything over $7-10.
Also, housing is much less, is is much cheaper to build and MUCH cheaper to rent. A 4 or so bedroom house in Lusaka with a yard, depending on the area, ca be 1,000 to 2,000 dollars a month, depending on the area (some areas might be about 800$ or so). Many flats and apartments with no land at all and terrible power and water hookups here can be $8-900 a month because they are close to town. In Kasama, we were told there is nothing on rent over $300. We ate meals in some HUGE and gorgeous homes with 3-4 bedrooms, and no one was paying over $220 dollars. My home here in Lusaka, which was the cheapest I could find for its size and I have terrible power and water (it's only on sporadically) is $520 a month. One the EXACT same size without the power and water issues there and a bigger yard is about $170-200 dollars. Some people who had only one or two bedrooms, or a flat, were saying their rent is about $50 bucks a month.
So, since there are no malls, shopping centers, theatres, stadiums, and the cost of living is so low, it is a place where you don't have to stress so much financially, and can have a nice comfortable home.
We absolutely loved the place. it was so friendly and warm there and just a beautiful place to be. You forgot about the lack of malls and entertainment because there are people to visit and waterfalls and lakes to see.
Most importantly though, we LOVED the church. Ther people welcomed us with OPEN arms and it was such a blessing to be there. We were hosted for breakfast lunch and dinner in different congregation member's homes, so over the two weeks we got to know the people personally and spend time with them. Everyone was so gracious and amazing and loving twoard us. The church structure itself was gorgeous but the people were just so wonderful and instantly became family. At one point Sydney and I said to eachother "We've only been here two weeks but this place just feels like home." We felt like we knew the people for years!
There are not as many whites that come through Kasama, and I was told one of their major concerns prior to us coming was having a white pastor's wife- would I be accesible, understanding, know their particular problems/issues etc. By the time we left I was told that I squashed all those fears and the ladies especially no longer had ANY of those concerns, which was such a relief and a blessing to hear!
So that's Kasama in a nutshell. Sydney had a meeting with the elders and deacons and Lord willing we will return there in the near future. Please pray with us in that regard, we would LOVE to be there as we start off our marriaige and ministry.
As far as the kids here go, they are on break from school so they are enjoying and we are doing a more minimal amount of tutoring since it's the end of the year and they (and we) all need a break! We are also working on preparations for the end of the year party, and they plans for next year. They had a swimming party scheduled while I was away so I know they enjoyed that, and here in about 2 weeks we will have our Christmas party. I am looking forward to it but also a bit heartbroken, it will be my last Christmas with them! Maybe next year I will travel to celebrate with them! :)
They older ones will be going to a youth camp at Kabwata soon, so pray for those who are unsaved to come to Christ- many youths are touched in those same youth confrences and it is our greatest concern that we have more baptisms. Last year we had 5 and this year we haven't had any so please pray with us in that regard!
Next week, I will be traveling again just for a few days to the Copperbelt Province, to Ndola, Kitwe and Chingola to see where Sydney grew up, meet his mother and siblings and also get some counsel from Lazerus Phiri and his wife, who are a mixed couple of a Zambian man and American white lady so we are hoping they can offer us some practical counseling, since they have been married and living here for many years.
After that will be the Chritmas preparations and party and then comes the dreaded paying of the school fees for next year!! January will be a busy month.
Sydney has his visa interview soon, and I have to go to immigration and find out about what to do with my visa here.... so please keep all that in prayer as well.
I think that's all and my to do list grows by the minute!