Wednesday, August 7, 2013


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Wednesday, July 17, 2013


I'm a married woman. It's been long since I've updated but it was unavoidable with the slurry of things I have had to get done over the past few months. Last time I wrote Hannah and her father were just arriving in Zambia. Their trip was quite fruitful and we had a great time with Hannah. The kids loved having her around and especially loved her sports and crafts! The HOPE staff also had a goodbye party for me, which was humbling and touching. I will miss them! Pictures from her stay with us and the party are on facebook.   (hannah's visit)   (goodbye party)

It was quite a hectic time because while she was with me, my lease on the house was up. We were in the process of packing and moving out- to nowhere basically- while she was living there. Finding storage space for my things as well as a place for the dog and cat to be kept was hectic- especially since we were also selling most of the furniture and applying for membership at LBC- quite a few things going on at once.

However, the Lord gave us strength, the furniture and appliances sold, the house was returned and belongings and pets were given homes while we were gone.

When I got to the states, I had my surgery almost immediately. I wanted to get it over with and get the results before the wedding! The results, praise God were quite favorable. They took 3 biopsies and it seems my body is repairing the abnormal precancerous cells itself! A year ago, there were 4 precancerous areas. 12 months later, there is only one spot of concern. The doctor said it could be treated, and all of this could be over and done with but the recovery time was quite long and with the wedding and travel coming up, I opted out of treatment. She told me at my age and health I should be able to rid myself of all the cells over time, most especially if I have children right away.

So, that was great news! We busied ourselves with wedding preparations stateside, including a beautiful wedding shower thrown for me by the ladies at the church in Flemington, NJ, while Sydney spent 3 weeks in Mpika, getting to know the people there. Lord willing, we will be going there at the end of August/ beginning of September. We are now members of Lusaka Baptist Church and they have interest in sending him to Emmanuel Baptist Church in Mpika. So Sydney was able to acclimate himself to that area and the people there, and lay a foundation for our return after the wedding.

Sydney joined us in the US in June, and it was a whirlwind of appointments, preparations and finalizing details up until the wedding. The wedding, on the 22nd, was absolutely beautiful and we had a blast. We hope everyone who was able to attend did as well- pictures of that are also on facebook. So, I am now a married woman- we were able to get a marriage licence in the US, as well as the one we have from here, which will greatly ease our travel back and forth- and visa situations. I got a spouse visa in addition to my residency here. Mrs. Sydney Bwalya Kombe :) It is taking some “getting used to”, but it was a long time coming and I prayed for this man for years. He is far more than I asked for and deserve- thank God.    (wedding photos)

We had our honeymoon in Ocean City- Sydney's first trip to the beach/ocean. It was so relaxing after such a hurried time of preparations, but still much to short! After that, we were able to go to the Reformed Baptist Family Conference in Louisville. That was great to see and meet so many people who we pray for, who pray for us, who read my blog and also to catch up with friends and family.

Over the course of the month, Sydney gave 3 reports on the work in Mpika and Zambia (once in New Jersey, once in Indiana, and a mini report at the missions prayer meeting at the family conference), and preached also at Pr. Alan Dunn's church in Flemington. It was such a fruitful time of refreshment and we were humbled and overwhelmed by the support and love rendered to us while we traveled and visited. We were simply blown away. Words cannot express our thankfulness for people's generosity and loving hearts toward us. There were many friendships sparked and kindled and we are eternally grateful for the love and prayers of our family in the U.S.

We returned to Lusaka on Thursday, the 11th. We were put up in a lodge for two days while accommodations were finalized for us here in Lusaka. We are again greatly humbled and thankful for the love of our mother church here in Lusaka who has not ceased to be sure we are cared for and looked after. We have such a powerful example to live up to here from LBC- and we hope to emulate it at Emmanuel Baptist once we begin full time. We are now in a home in Kabulonga, just about 5 minutes drive from where I used to live in Chalala. We will be here getting to spend time with our family here at LBC, as well as traveling to Mpika and planting our roots deeper there over the next few weeks. The plan is, Lord willing, to relocate to Mpika after the LBC Family Conference at the end of August.

I was able to visit Kabanana twice last week, seeing the kids and Maureen on Thursday and visiting Pr. Chirwa and Fanny on Saturday. It was so amazing to get out of the car and be met with running/leaping hugs from the kids and “MISS KATTY ABWELA!!!!” (Miss Kat has come!) So good to see them and give them hugs. Alex's first concern was to tell me he tore his backpack and needed a new one! He didn't miss a beat. Morgan asked to see my ring and said “So, it's really done then, and you've left surely?” I won't be driving to the market for backpacks or doing any of those things again but I am thankful for the time I spent with them and could serve them, and I look forward to opportunities ahead of me.

The car was in a complete state of disarray when we got back- many things which needed to be attended to before I left and some new just from sitting for 3 months, but either way it was barely functioning (when we could get it started at all.) There is a mechanic at LBC who spent the entire day Monday, and even another hour today working on it, and now nearly everything has been replaced! (New battery, spark plugs, ball joints, brakes front and rear, all fluids replaced and many other things I didn't understand.) Sydney spent the whole day there with them making sure things were done faithfully and thoroughly. One of those moments I was so happy to have a husband! Last time I needed work done I dropped the car at the mechanic (a different one), picked it up 2 hours later and paid the bill--- and left with the exact same car, exact same parts. Sometimes honestly can be hard to come by, but we are thankful for a faithful church member who came to our rescue!

Anyway, we are settling in here in Kabulonga for the next 7 weeks or so. Sydney will be taking up some preaching/teaching at Lusaka Baptist during this time... as I type he is at the desk with about 4 books open furiously reading and typing away preparing for prayer meeting/Bible study which he will lead tomorrow night.

I'll update more on the church and work in Mpika when the time comes, and when I don't have laundry to be folded... :)

God has been gracious to us. We are both waiting to wake up from this dream- but until then we will continue on without looking back, trusting Him who's hand we are holding as we run....

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Like the tide...

Well it has been a while again since I've written, but it has been a hectic month! I have almost finished packing up the smaller stuff in my house, and everything else will be sold. We will start our new home, wherever it may be, from scratch when we get back from the U.S.

Sydney has a prospect at a church in Northern Province on the horizon which we are praying over and hoping for- it's one we would love. Please pray with us as he goes there next month and gets to know the place and the people. We pray this will be where God brings us- and it would mean actually having somewhere to go when we get back from the US. It's quite nervewracking to think about the fact that we are “homeless” as of the 18 of April- but God always has undertaken for us and we know he will in this area as well.

Things have been moving smoothly- I have a Zambian residency card and am now on a spouse permit (the government is discussing making dual citizenship available in Zambia- and I am waiting to hear their decision on that. I'd rather be “Zamerican” than choose one over the other!) Sydney has gotten his immunizations and is ready to go- we are now just... waiting!!

Tonight, Hannah Merck and her father arrive here for about 2 ½ weeks to work with the orphan ministry and LMC. We have a boys and girls day, group devotional and a lot of other activities and tutoring scheduled so we will keep Hannah busy! Hannah will be staying with here (unfortunately in a house that is now quite bare bones- but there's a bed for her!!)

Things are going well with the kids. Alex is stabalizing on his medication and is gaining weight and rarely ill anymore. He leaves his special ed class at around 11 when it closes, and instead of going home he goes to join the 5th grade class at Beulah Land school (at the church/ministry building, where the other kids go) for the rest of the day- he loves the socialization and is thriving.

We have has a few behavioral issues with the 5-7th grade boys (mainly Amos, who keeps skipping school and has a problem with lying, and Thomas who has been behaving badly and brought innapropriate material to school and had to be on punishment for that.) Please pray for these kids- they need Jesus badly.

Some of the older boys, like Lloyd, Luckson and Christian, have been meeting with Pastor Chirwa on Saturdays to have devotionals and consider what salvation is and means. One of the most encouraging reports from Pr. Chirwa was that one day Protasho came to him and wanted just to talk “man to man” they chatted for a while about school and other things and then Pr. Chirwa asked him if he was a Christian. He said he was, but the following explination of what he believed salvation was was rocky at best. Curtis then invited him to come to those meetings with the other boys and even baptismal clases to understand more fully what true salvation is. Curtis seemed encouraged by his response- please keep him in prayer. Patrick has been keeping away from church and ministry activity lately- and apparently has fallen behind in school as well. We aren't sure what the problem is but please pray for him as well.

We still don't have many girls professing Christ or even showing intrest. Many of them are making the change from childhood for teen-hood and it's a critical time in their lives for us to assist them in taking the right path and not following the other girls who often fall into the trap of teen pregnancy and dropping out of school to marry young.

Otherwise, everyone seems to have settled into school- and they actually have a break off of school this month- which is why Hannah will have more time with them. It is amazing to think these are my last 2 ½ weeks with them as well. I am hoping on the last saturday before I leave to have a “farewell” get together with them just to spend time as a group one last time. I am sure over the next years I will remain involved and be able to come help out for camps and stuff- but this will be my last official meeting with them! Time has really flown.

I will be moving out of this house and flying out in the same day- April 18. I have surgery scheduled for April 22- JUST after I arrive back to the states. I want to get it over with so if there is any cancer or precancer found it can be dealt with and decisions can be made before the wedding- but of course we pray and trust I will have a clean bill of health! I have applied for assistance in paying for the surgery since I have no insurance so please pray that that application is successful. Sydney will follow to the US in June, and we will be there til 9 July.

I am so excited to get home, so sad to leave the ministry I've very litterally put my entire life into for over 2 years, so overwhelmed and excited at the idea of starting life with Sydney, but anxious at the uncertainty of our future at the moment, so tired of packing up boxes that I unpacked less than a year ago in this house.... but feeling so BLESSED. God has done amazing things in my life in the past few months and I am just so thankful.

I am sure I won't get to blogging again til I arrive home but please keep myself and Sydney in prayer as we transition from life last year to life this year (and there is a huge difference between the two years!) and as we start our life together- putting the past behind us and following what we belive is God's plan for our future ministry here in Zambia.

Happy Easter!!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

What a day can bring.

Well, Sydney and I have experienced quite a blow.

On Friday, Sydney and I went into Kabanana to tie up some ends and finish a few things in the morning before heading to the Copperbelt so that over the weekend I could visit his family and meet my mother in law etc. On the way while driving we got some unanticipated news. Due to unforseen circumstances, we will not be moving to Kasama and Sydney will not be taking up Pastorate in that church at this time.

He was meant to leave for Kasama and begin work yesterday, so obviously this was also quite short notice.

This was a huge blow and leaves us now in a *humanly* uncomfortable position, as I had decided to leave the orphan ministry to follow him, and at the very least we had been banking on two incomes for the next few months and then settling in Kasama together after June. Because of this, I had also given away my home's lease to a friend from my church. This now leaves us both in a sticky situation with plane tickets, surgery and wedding expenses and plans looming on the horizon.

Please continue to keep us in prayer as we discuss the way forward. For the time being, however, we will be remaining in Lusaka until Sydney finds work- wherever God wills for it to be. This now means a quick search for a home and a significant downsizing until we are sure what this will mean in terms of employment for both or either of us.

We know that this is God's will and he has his plans and purposes for this seemingly major setback. We also know that by whatever means He WILL take care of us. As I back look over the past two years, I see very vividly how God has sustained me and in fact given me more than I asked or imagined and I am confident He will continue to give me what I need.

This has caused significant stress and strain on both myself and Sydney and we have both been physically unhealthy for about a week as well- but by God's grace our relationship has grown increasingly stronger and we are closer now than we were a month ago. We know this is just ONE of the many hurdles we will face in the next 50 years of marraige should God sustain us.


We stangely feel quite contented and peaceful and have prayed unceasingly- We thank God for this opportunity to grow in endurance as we run this race. Please do continue to keep us in prayer at this time as Satan has opportunity to attack and cause weariness at all angles.

Now, also as a ministry we also got some sad news. on Thursday, I took Alex for a check up at the hospital. They did lab work and we got some bad news. The last time we went- in December, his white blood cell counts to do with his HIV were high, meaning he was ok. They did not put him on any HIV medication at the time because his health was fine. We brought him back because his weight has dropped and found that his Cd4 (white blood cell) count dropped drastically from 421 to 233. They also did liver and kidney function tests and found that his kidneys are borderline, but his liver is below proper functional levels.
The course of action is to start him effective immediately on ARV's- the treatment for HIV and AIDS. Once he starts, he has to be on them for the rest of his life or it will effect his organs even more. They did warn me that if the numbers drop below 200 which he is close to, the chances of him being able to fight any infection- even as small as the common cold- are less than desireable.
Alex is special to me individually, and is very special to Fanny and Maureen as well. We spend a lot of time with him and he has been a source of both joy and heartache as we ride a rollercoaster of caring for him- please specifically keep him in prayer.
Also, we are awaiting the results of the grade 9's. We are sure most of kids did not pass. We have to walk a delicate balance with them because some of them put in more effort than others, and in meeting with their teachers at the end of the year we have recieved some new information that may change our course of action with them as well for this year. We will be meeting as a ministy after the results come and putting our heads together on individual basis for each child as we make decisions on the way forward with them. We want to offer them every opportunity to succeed but we also have to be prudent. Pray for our wisdom and their commitment.
Philip was quite ill this week and it was determined that he has malaria. He is on treatment and is improving but it is clear that he is also quite undernourished at home so we have supplimented a few meals to be sure he is eating as he continues to mend in health.
I was called in by and met with Felix and Patrick's teacher yesterday and learned that they are not attending school regularly and face disciplinary action for absences.
Otherwise- the new school run by Curtis and Fanny is up and running and thriving! 21 of our kids are there and already in only 3 weeks, English is improving. (We have a "no english on school grounds" rule). They even bicker during play times in english- quite humerous!
In the past two weeks, Fanny, Andrew and I have paid all school fees and exam fees as well as purchasing all the backpacks, notebooks, socks, shoes, sweaters and uniforms for the kids as well as food for the month. It was a major feat but we are glad they are all set!
I think that is everything for now. Please just pray for myself and Sydney- we really, really need it right now.