Monday, December 15, 2008
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Friday, November 28, 2008
Friday, November 21, 2008
this week unfortunately has been very stressful. we arrived back in lusaka after a 9 hour ride from the village. thankfully the ride was nice and we weren't crammed for space. i took the opportunity to gaze out the window at all the little villages we passed and the curious children who were watching the cars that pass by. i got a little sunburned though cause the sun was on my side of the car most of the way- oops! you forget how hot the african sun is!
we've spent the last few days working out the final details of the mini-bus that was purchased for the mango tree. we have to complete the change of ownership and i really want it done before i leave. it's been very frustrating learning the system here and being with zambians who don't know it either. we're all learning and my patience has definitely been tested. sadly, i've failed several times but they all still love me (i think). :)
today we were able to make some progress thanks to starr and i being american's and of course- God's favor! all our paperwork is in with the proper people and we find out monday morning if everything went through. unfortunately that means my weekend won't be as relaxing as i'd hoped because i'm a little worried about monday morning. did i mention we board a plane at 2pm on monday? yeah, how's that for a little stress! haha!
no matter what happens i know that God is still good. He knows what we need and He'll provide it. it's just a matter of trusting Him with the details. boy am i learning that lesson!
please pray for us as it's not over. pray that all the paperwork goes through and that we are able to get everything finished before we board that plane. pray for favor to get with the right people and for peace to be amongst all of us.
i love you all so much and i can't believe i'll be home in a few days!
i can't wait to sleep in my own bed again...
grace and peace to you.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
On Friday afternoon we had a farewell party at the Mango Tree. Starr really wanted to throw the party so she invited about 50 guests and had her friends cook enough food to feed everyone. We ran around all day getting everything together. When the time came for the dinner only about 20 guests showed up. After we ate we realized that there was still an abundance of food left because we prepared enough for 50 people. I suggested that we go find some hungry kids, so we left the Mango Tree and headed amongst the huts in search of hungry children. When we’d spot kids we’d ask them, “Are you hungry” to which every single one replied, “Yes!” Then we told them to go to the Mango Tree and we would feed them. Most of them waited for us to finish gathering more kids before going to the Mango Tree. They were probably a little unsure of what was going on. Finally we headed towards the Mango Tree with a group of smiling kids circled around us, some holding our hands.
We entered the Mango Tree and I began to wash their hands, as is custom here in Zambia before you eat. We set out big bowls of the food so they could share it amongst themselves. As the kids stared at the food with their big eyes an older kid reminded them that they needed to pray so all the kids bowed their heads and thanked the Lord for the food. Once amen was spoken they dove in like birds in search of food after the rain. As I watched those kids eat my heart was overwhelmed. I allowed myself to think about what was taking place and remembered what the Lord spoke to me as we were running through the village searching for kids. I remembered a scripture in the bible where Jesus is eating dinner with some Pharisees and he shares with them some principles of the kingdom of God. It’s found in Luke 14. In verses 15-24 Jesus shares a parable with them about a man who was preparing a feast and he invited many guests. When the banquet was ready the invited guests didn’t show up. They each had their own excuse and the man who threw the banquet sent his servants out into the streets and told them to gather up the poor and bring them in.
Once I allowed this all to sink in all I could do was cry. I literally felt like I was living out a story that Jesus had shared so many years ago. Since I’ve been in Zambia I’ve been reading through the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke & John) and I’ve been asking the Lord to give me moments like the ones in some of the stories Jesus told. God answered my prayer 2 days before I left. I’m still overwhelmed by the whole situation and what God has spoken to me through it. I really understand what Jesus was trying to say. I received so much joy in seeing those children fed and I got a glimpse of the kingdom of God. God’s kingdom doesn’t shut out the poor, but invites them in as guests without expecting to receive anything in return. We have so much to learn!
In that moment I saw heaven colliding with earth and it was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen in my life. How the Father must be longing for His children to experience more of those moments; moments where heaven and earth come together in such a way to provide life and love and hope to those who need it most. I pray that God would give you opportunities to create those “collision” moments in your life to impact those around you!
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
starr and i leave the village on monday to return to lusaka. we have a week in lusaka where we have some business to take care of with the van. we're also going to purchase some school books for the library so students can check them out instead of having to purchase them. it will be very helpful as well for the community.
things are going really well.... we're just trying to wrap things up before we leave. i don't know if i'll get to write again before i leave the village. my next update might be from lusaka some time next week.
thanks again for all the love and prayers. keep 'em coming!
love you all so much!
Friday, November 7, 2008
My friend Agness brought a bag of caterpillars to the Mango Tree today, which had been “fried” and cooked in salt. Just looking at those ugly creatures had me regretting the decision to eat it. It took me about 5 minutes to work up the nerve to finally put that thing in my mouth. There really are no words to describe the taste and texture of a caterpillar. All I can say is that it was not pleasant and took a long time to go down. I gave my friends a good laugh as they watched my crazy facial expressions during the whole thing. And yes, I captured it on video. The quality is not good as a friend of mine, who had no idea what she was doing, filmed it but it captured the moment and that’s all that matters. I’ll see if I can upload it here, but if not I’ll definitely do it once I’m home in a couple weeks.
Yikes! A couple weeks! I can’t believe how quickly my time is going by here. I’m excited to get home to my friends and family and my comfortable bed but I am so sad to leave. I remember hearing someone talk once about the stages of culture shock and I think I’ve gone through them all. The last one I recall is where you realize how much you love where you are and you don’t want to leave. Not everyone reaches this stage, obviously, but I definitely have. The last week or so I just find myself looking around and taking everything in and realizing how much I do love it here. Sure, I have my moments when the people drive me nuts but something about this place gives me a feeling of belonging… a feeling of peace… a feeling of being home.
I’m so excited about the future possibilities here and the things we can help the people with. This week at the Mango Tree we started making some of our own crafts to sell. One of the things Katie, the founder, wanted to see at the Mango Tree was a place to sell crafts made by the local people. Unfortunately there hasn’t been much of that going on and lately we’ve had people stopping to buy them only to find nothing there. Finally I told them, “That’s it! We’re going to figure out a way to make our own crafts!” I’d seen an organization in Lusaka make picture frames out of banana tree bark and figured we could try. Try we did and they turned out awesome! We soak the bark and cut it into strips, which we twist or braid. After letting them dry in the sun we glue them to cardboard picture frames we make. It’s been so much fun being crafty and working with the ladies at the Mango Tree on it. I meant to take a picture and totally forgot so I’ll have to include it in my next update.
The other thing I want to do is teach them how to make beads out of clay. About 5k away from the village you can find clay soil. So I’m thinking if we get some of that soil I can show them how to make beads with the clay and then we can bake them. Next time I come I can bring supplies and tools to make earrings and necklaces. It could be really good! So that’s what we’re going to try to work on next week. I’m excited!
In my last update I mentioned that we haven’t gotten much rain and that night we got a torrential downpour that lasted for hours. I guess I spoke too soon! Since then it’s rained each night. It’s nice because the rain brings a cool breeze with it that is so refreshing after a hot day in the sun. One of my favorite things about being here is that you get to spend so much time outside. At home there are so many things to distract you and keep you indoors, but not here! It’s so fun to sit outside and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation.
This is getting long so I should let you all go. Thanks again for reading! I hope you’ve been enjoying my updates. I enjoy writing them and giving you a glimpse into “Zam-life.”
I pray that God would continue to shower you with His love and goodness this week. You are precious to the Father and to me.
Lots of love from Zambia…
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Caterpillar season is upon us. Caterpillar’s you ask? Yes, caterpillars. You see this time every year here in Northern Zambia people stop what they’re doing and head for the hills to catch caterpillars. I’m sure many of you are shaking your heads saying, “Oh no.” To that I reply, “Oh yes.” Caterpillar’s are quite the delicacy around here and they catch a good price, too. People boil them, fry them, dry them… but most of all eat them. It’s one of those things I’m not sure I’ll ever understand. No, I haven’t tried one yet and I told Starr the only way I would is if there was a video camera to record it so I could prove it to all of you. Maybe this week will be the week!
Thanks for reading my updates and for remembering us in your prayers.
Have a blessed day and try not to worry too much about the election results. Remember, our hope is in the Lord and only one man: Jesus. What a glorious day it will be when we won’t have to worry about elections and God’s kingdom becomes established forever in our midst.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
last friday we held our indpendence day festival at the mango tree. we had well over 300 people attend (mostly kids and teenagers). it was a beautiful day, but very windy so our balloons and streamers didn't last very long. a few popped balloons can't dampen a zambian's mood on independence day so it didn't bother anyone.
the festival started 2 hours late, which isn't too bad for zam-time. again, no one seemed bothered by this. we had the local theater group perform some drumming and dancing routines which starr is now a member of. she was dressed in full costume dancing and singing with the rest of them. it was fun to watch!
we had all kinds of games and competitions and that was the main highlight. we watched kids try to eat fritters (it's like a donut) that were dangling from a string. it proved to be very tricky! we also watched kids bob for apples, eat bananas with no hands and more! my favorite was watching the older boys chug a coke and eat a bowl of rice as fast as they could. it was very messy and kind of gross, but extremely entertaining. my good friend eustace won that competition and we were all very proud of his eating skills. haha!
the other main event was the miss mango tree pageant. we had 7 contestants in their mid-teens who proudly strutted their stuff and gave speeches about how they would help the mango tree. a winner was chosen by a group of judges (including myself) and now part of her duty is to start a club for orphans at the mango tree. we even made a sash that says "miss mango tree 2008." the winner, a girl named moriah, was extremely happy to have won. you could tell it was a very special moment for her!
all in all, the day was a success! we were all very tired by the end of the day! it was great to see so many people at the mango tree again, especially children!
tomorrow is the big day here in zambia. it's the presidential election here. it's kind of funny that zambia and the u.s. are both dealing with this election within a few days of each other. helps me relate to the zambians here, actually. please pray for peace for this country! i've heard a few people talking about some concern over the elections and the possible results. in 2006 there was apparently some corruption with the ballots and some fighting broke out in lusaka. hopefully things will go smoothly this year and we won't have any problems. again, please be praying for this country for the next few days! pray against corruption and for honesty and truth to be present through this election.
i love you all so much! thank you for your prayers and support. God is doing good things here, in His timing.
grace and peace to all of you!
*i tried to upload some pictures here but it wasn't working. sorry!*
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
yesterday i spent the afternoon in the village making decorations for the independence day festival on friday. friday marks 44 years since zambia's independence from britain! we made paper chain streamers out of construction paper and i figured out how to make these swirly-twirly streamers by cutting the paper a certain way. all of this though didn't have me as excited as knowing who was helping me. you see there's this young girl (roughly 13) who comes around the mango tree sometimes. she is very dirty and is always begging in the village. she has epilepsy and the school won't let her come. her mom deserted her and her father neglects her. have i written about her before? i can't remember!
as for my sickness i can't say that it's over. my doctor called me yesterday and thinks maybe i have some sort of worm which is really creepy and gross but i guess it happens. i was able to walk into a pharmacy and get some medicine he recommended so hopefully that kills whatever it is that's ailing me! thanks for your prayers!
Monday, October 20, 2008
on saturday morning i was woken out of a dead sleep at 7am to my ringing cell phone. because of my stomach pains i slept pretty miserably and finally in the wee hours of the morning drifted off into dreamland. the phone call was from my friend peter who told me that i had to get down to the mango tree right away because they had a criminal case. he didn't want to tell me any more but i pressed him for the information because if i was getting out of bed on the one day i get to sleep in, while being sick, i wanted to know it was for a good reason.
it was a good reason. he went on to tell me that a guy in the village broke into the mango tree and stole some food and drinks from the restaurant. he broke a window and managed to squeeze through the bars to get in. they figured out who it was, went to his house, and discovered some of the missing items. he was nowhere to be found. so then i was told that we had to go into town to pick up the police officer and bring him back to the village. yeah that is so africa. haha. on our way out of the village i started feeling really really bad and i ask them to take me back to my house where i got really sick. i told them to go without me so starr went with them.
it turns out they found the guy. his name is clement and he's in his early twenties. he's been hanging around the mango tree more since starr and i have been here. he's a nice guy but he's got major issues. the night he broke in he was drunk and high off marijuana. they all say he's a little crazy in the head, but i don't know. all he talks about is america and how much he wants to go. now i'm told he'll probably spend the next 5 years in prison.
i came to town today with a couple of the mango tree employees because they had to make statements to the police. i asked the officer how long he will probably have to serve in prison and when he told me 5 years i almost had a heart attack. "5 years?!!?" i yelled. "are you serious?" he told me that they take theft very serious around here. i asked if there was any way we could get his sentenced reduced and the officer said probably not but i could try appearing before the judge during his sentencing. it just breaks my heart that he could spend 5 years in prison. i've seen the prison here and it's awful. i wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy.
not to mention clement has a baby and his girlfriend has another one on the way. i want to be able to show him some kind of mercy and extend some kind of grace. it's really hard to know when to step in and when to just let the chips fall where they may. since i've been here i've been reading through the gospels again and all i can hear are the words of jesus regarding forgiveness and pardons.
please pray for us as we deal with this situation. pray for wisdom for us and for the judge. pray for clement that God would minister to His heart and use this situation to draw Him closer to the Lord. pray for his mother as well. we saw her at the police station today and i know this is really hard on her as well. we're going to try to visit him today before we leave town.
as for my health i am still not fully recovered. the past several days have been really hard. i've hardly eaten anything and the stomach pain is intense at times. today is much better than the last though so hopefully this thing is working its way out of my system.
i love you all so much. thanks for your prayers and all your love.
Friday, October 17, 2008
i'm glad it's friday which means i have the weekend to rest and hopefully rid myself of whatever is ailing me. i woke up last night just totally sweating which is kind of unusual. i took a sleeping pill last night to help me fall asleep so when i woke in the middle of the night it was all i could do to roll over and reposition myself. those sleeping pills knock me out hard!
in other news things have been going really well with starr. she met the headmaster of the local high school here and he invited her to come train their guidance counselors in drug and alcohol recovery programs. she was then asked to speak to all the students regarding overcoming addictions. she's been doing that for the past several days and will continue to do so next week. tomorrow she is meeting with some of the girls one-on-one to discuss some of their problems. the students really have taken to her and it's been so encouraging for starr. God is truly stretching and teaching her new things and it's fun to watch. continue to pray that God would speak through her to the students!
we only have 5 weeks left in country and about 4 left here in the village. it's crazy how fast time has gone by. part of me doesn't want to leave. every day i feel more comfortable and at home here. it takes so long to get things done here so just when we're about to go we start to make more progress. it makes it hard. on the other hand i desperately miss my community back home and can't wait to see everyone again. i can't wait to eat thanksgiving food... mmm... makes my mouth water just thinking about it.
there are a lot of you that i haven't heard from much since i've been here and i just want you to know that i miss you. i'd love to hear about your lives and how things are going with you. it can be kind of depressing to check your email and find 1 or 2 personal emails amidst all the spam. i know you haven't forgotten about me and you are all very busy, but i need you! you are the ones who shape the story of susan and without you my journey wouldn't be the same.
i love you all so much.
until next time...
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
so here it is:
you know you're in zambia when...
- You’re bike riding to the village and all you hear are little kids yelling “HOW ARE YOU?” because it’s the only thing they know how to say in English.
- Everyone laughs when you speak Bemba correctly. (I’m told they’re laughing because they’re happy I’m speaking their language).
- You’re bike riding and have to move off the road to let a semi pass you. (It’s totally safe, mom, don’t worry!)
- Just when you’re about to use electricity, the power goes off for 2 hours. (Yes, this happens every day but you never know when).
- You find Pringles in a store in town and it makes your week.
- You wake up tangled up in your mosquito net… again.
- You patch holes in your room with duct tape to keep out any unwanted creatures.
- You find a hole in the patch of duct tape, which was probably eaten through by some unwanted creature.
- Doom is your greatest weapon against bugs of which you’ve never seen the likes before.
- You’re dreaming about the next bottle of cold Coca-Cola you can get.
- Meat becomes a delicacy only to be eaten once a week when you get to town.
- The only way to get money is to beg your relatives to send some via Western Union.
- You see the arm of a porcupine sticking out of a cooking pot and learn it’s dinner. (No, I did not eat it!)
- You discover Solitaire on your iPod and play it for hours over the weekend out of sheer boredom.
- Washing your clothes by hand actually becomes fun.
- You discover a lemon tree at your friend’s house, take a bagful home and make lemonade. (This was actually quite delicious!)
- You walk around barefoot outside for 2 minutes and get bubblegum stuck to the bottom of your foot.
- You make babies cry because they’ve never seen a white person before.
- You are bored enough on a Saturday night to make this list.
this does not encompass everything, but it's a start. i wanted to give you a glimpse into my life here.
I also spent a considerable amount of time this week working on helping a family back in the States adopt a little boy from the village. Things obviously don’t happen easily around here so it’s been a big of a struggle but I’m praying we make some headway this week!
When Starr and I went into town last week we met up with 3 girls who are in the Peace Corps. They invited us to lunch and we had a good time sharing stories of frustration and laughing over silly Zambian things. One of the girls was telling us how her daily routine involves biking about 30km. Starr looked at me and said, “I’ll never complain about our bike ride again!” We certainly appreciated our circumstances after hearing that.
Things are going well with the Mango Mobile Taxi Van. They’re making profit, which is good, and things seem to be picking up. They’ve had several churches and clubs renting the van for day trips and such which helps as well. I’m proud of the way they’ve been handling things so far. Hopefully things only improve from here on out.
Thank you all for your prayers and encouragement over the past 7 weeks. It’s been hard at times and even very lonely but God is with me. I’m learning to depend on Him more and more. He is my ultimate source of comfort and joy and each day I try to rest on that. I pray God would continue to bless and watch over each of you during these crazy times we are living in. Remember to press into our heavenly Father when you need strength, wisdom and encouragement. He’s standing there just waiting for you to call out to Him.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
On Friday around noon Starr and I were all packed and ready for our trip to Nbwalya. Our ride arrived several hours late (obviously) so we were more than anxious to hit the road. Our transportation was a Toyota Land Cruiser, very similar to ones you see in movies crossing the African bush. When I looked at the vehicle I said to Joyce, our host, “It’s full. Where are we supposed to sit?” She just smiled and said, “They’ll make room.” Before we knew it we were heading down the road, all 12 of us piled into this vehicle that I’m sure was not intended for that many people. Starr and I were crammed in the very back with 4 guys. We were only on the Great North Road for about 10 minutes before we turned off onto this dirt road. Little did I know that I wouldn’t see pavement again until our return on Sunday.
Before I agreed to this trip Joyce told me that it would be about a 2-3 hour ride and somehow I forgot to convert to Zam-time because it actually took us almost 5 hours. The entire ride was on dirt roads, which were more like a glorified path than a road. We climbed several mountains and passed through what in the rainy season will be creeks and rivers but now are just deep gulleys that miraculously we were able to cross. It was a 4-wheeling experience for the record books. There were moments where all I could do was laugh. It was that or cry so I went for what seemed to be the better option at the time.
Once we got closer to our destination everyone in the vehicle kept telling us, “This is the real Africa.” I soon learned what they meant by that. The closest town to this village is the same one that I go to weekly to access internet. For me it’s only a 30-minute drive. For them it’s 5 hours. Sadly enough few vehicles travel that road and in the rainy season they can’t because of the gulley’s turned creeks and rivers. That means these people walk 4 days through the bush to get to town, the hospital, or basically any civilization all the while having to avoid lions and elephants and every other creature you can imagine. Real Africa, indeed!
We didn’t see any lions or elephants on our journey into the village of Nbwalya. We saw a lot of impala, but they’re basically a small deer so it’s not that exciting. We finally arrived at our destination where we first stopped to greet the chief of the village. After that Starr and I pitched our tent and ate some much needed food, nshima of course! Nshima is the staple food of Zambia. It’s like a cornmeal-based food that they mix with water and cook until it gets really thick. You eat it with your hands and roll it up into a ball, then use it to scoop up other food on your plate. It’s actually pretty good and it definitely fills you up!
We attempted to get some sleep that night only to fail miserably due to the celebration in the village. There were drums playing all night and drunk people wandering around making lots of noise so it was a little bit frustrating. I think I might have gotten 3-4 hours of sleep. Anyways, the next morning Starr and I went out with some people on the back of their truck to go see some animals. After a bumpy 2-hour ride we only saw a couple zebra and a ton of baboons. It was a little bit disappointing but we made the best of it.
Once we got back we attended the Malaila Ceremony which was why we came. It’s a yearly celebration honoring the chief. There was dancing and singing and speeches… everything you would expect at something like that. It was very very hot and very very windy so dust was flying everywhere. Surprisingly, the ceremony wasn’t too long and afterwards we headed back to pack up our things to leave. The original plan was to leave right after the ceremony and get home early Saturday night. After packing up our belongings and our tent we were told that we couldn’t leave today because our driver was sick and needed to rest. Normally this wouldn’t have been a big deal except Starr and I only brought enough water to last until Saturday. Remember, we are 5 hours from civilization in a village that has no shops, no market, no nothing! I got very very worried. We were already so tired and so thirsty and were trying to conserve our water as it is. I have never felt so thirsty in my whole life. Our water of course was warm from the heat so it didn’t quench our thirst. I couldn’t hold it in any longer. I just broke down and cried. I felt so stranded and the situation seemed so hopeless. They tried to find us a ride in other vehicles going back to town but no one could take us. We would have to stay another night.
Thanks be to God though for His faithful provision. There is a young German missionary couple that lives in this village and they use filters for their water. They were able to fill up some of our empty bottles with their filtered water. So we made the best of it, setup our tent again and prepared for another night. Around 9:30 the next morning we headed out in our Land Cruiser again for the journey back. We finally arrived back at our house sometime mid-afternoon on Sunday. We were able to take nice long showers and clean ourselves from all the dust and dirt that had made it’s way into every crevice of our bodies. What a relief!
I wish I could go into more detail about the village of Nbwalya and the needs of the people there. Maybe I’ll write more later about that. I thought where I was that people were suffering, and they are, but it’s much different. The conditions they face there create a lot of problems and it is so heartbreaking to see. Despite their circumstance, the people were beautiful. The children really touched my heart. I had fun filming them and seeing their reactions when I played it back to them. I was able to share some food with a few of them and see their faces light up at the sight of my crackers. The Lord showed me a lot through that and He’s really been speaking to me about “the least of these.” I know that when I give them food or water or love that I’m giving it to Jesus, too. Ironically enough in my quiet time with the Lord this morning that was the next chapter for me to read in my journey through Matthew. Go check it out: Matthew 25:31-46.
Remember to love those around you today, because in doing so, you love Jesus.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
but alas it's not all in vain! while i was in town i stopped to visit a friend of mine named joyce who runs an ngo called PVCW (program for vulnerable children & women). she tells me that she was just trying to think of a way to get in touch with me because she wants to invite me to attend this special tribal ceremony in nabwaloya which is a valley over the mountains. the ceremony is very traditional with dancing and speeches and i get to meet another chief which is a big deal around here! we leave tomorrow morning and return saturday night. the coolest thing about this is that in the valley there are all kinds of animals... lions... hippos... elephants! every animal you would want to see in africa i'm told. how sweet is that!?!
so in the middle of all this stress that i'm in God says, "take a break... relax... enjoy my creation for a couple days." it couldn't have come at a better time. i called starr and at the mention of lions she said she was in. haha. so now we have to pack and figure out what we're going to bring. they said it's really really hot in the valley. i'm not sure about sleeping arrangements either. she said we should bring a tent which we can cause a friend of mine in the village has one. we don't have any sleeping bags or mats though cause we sent them home with the rest of the team. so i need to figure out what we're going to sleep on. then she tells me that there are all kinds of lodges (like a hotel but in the bush) that we could stay at but it will cost more money. so i'm not sure yet what we're going to do. sure i'd rather stay in a nice comfortable lodge with a bed but i need to figure it out.
either way i'm going on a trip and i get to see amazing animals and experience some traditional zambian culture. i promise i will take lots of pictures and video so i can show you all when i get home. i'm so excited!
i'll update you all next week after i get back!
i feel like i should probably update you all on the situations going on at the mango tree. after a lengthy staff meeting a week and a half ago where we had to discuss all the backbiting going on i was exhausted. sitting on an extremely hard wooden seat for 3 hours is hard enough, let alone having to hear in detail account after account of alleged rumors. i feel like we made some headway although it was clear not all the issues were dealt with. last wednesday francis told me that after thinking about my advice he decided that he should stay at the mango tree. he realized that no matter where he works there will be people who will gossip about you. you can never escape that unfortunately. i was glad that he decided to stay but i know that's not the end of it.
we had a meeting on monday with the executive committee where we discussed all kinds of business related things. being that i was in the business world for 6 years you'd think i'd be used to this sort of thing. well i've never had a group of 12 grown men turn to me and say "so what should we do susan?" ... *sound of crickets* ...
oh my. you wanna talk about pressure? the problem is we have this van now generating income but there's so many places the money needs to go... salaries... loan re-payment... painting of the van... change of ownership... taxi registration... the list goes on. it's the end of the month and people want their salaries but the van's only been operating for 2 weeks so we have less than half of what we need to pay for everything. thankfully once we got to this point in the meeting the sun was beginning to set and i still had a 2 mile walk back to where i'm staying, so i graciously said, "can we reconvene next week and discuss all of this. i don't want to walk 2 miles in the dark." thankfully they all agreed. now you see why i keep praying for wisdom! lord have mercy...
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
it's no surprise that when you travel outside of the U.S. you are often confronted with much more laid back people who value relationships more than deadlines. the kind of people who will stop and chat with you for hours even if it means delaying something that might seem more important.
thus the concept of zam-time.
i'm learning that when they say 15 minutes it really means more like an hour. a dear friend of mine here in zambia told me and i quote, "zambians are not good at predictions." meaning if you are travelling somewhere and you ask how much farther to our destination they might say, "we'll be there in an hour" and somehow that hour stretches into 3 before you finally arrive. it can be frustrating at first, but once you get used to it you learn to accomodate yourself. for instance last night we were waiting for some friends to get back from town. they called me and said "we are close." i almost jumped up to go to the door to wait for them and i then i realized i'm on zam-time. so i stayed where i was and read a book. an hour and a half later they finally arrived. see what i mean?
today starr and i made the trekk into town to get our visa's extended. we got to the immigration office and found it empty. there was a little piece of paper taped to the door with a phone number written on it. i called the number and the gentlemen on the other end of the line told me that the immigration officer was out of the office (obviously) and that he would make sure he comes in tomorrow. so here we are now stuck in town until this afternoon when we can catch the van back to home.
and we get to do it all again tomorow.
Monday, September 22, 2008
I know, what a way to start writing. Like I said, I’m going to be honest. This week The Mango Tree was faced with some difficult circumstances when the present manager attempted to resign. I said attempted because as far as I was concerned he wasn’t getting off that easy. I came to discover that there have been some inter-personal conflicts with members of the staff. Granted, there is only 4 staff but we all know that even if there were 2 there could be problems. That’s the beauty of our human-ness! Needless to say there has been gossip and rumors of gossip floating around for some time now. If I looked at this situation with my “earth eyes” as I began to this week it could be very discouraging. The more I sought God in prayer the more I recognized this as an attack from the enemy in the attempts to divide and destroy the work God has been accomplishing through The Mango Tree.
I felt like Solomon this week calling out to the Lord for wisdom. One morning I sat on my bed just crying before the Lord pleading with Him to give me wisdom to mediate this situation and to help me see it for what it is: a spiritual attack. We were able to hold a staff meeting on Friday with a couple members of the executive committee present as well. It was exhausting to hear long drawn out stories of the lies going around, but it had to be presented. The tension in that little room was so thick you could, as the saying goes, cut it with a knife. After several hours of working through these issues and the lies it felt like we were making some headway.
All that to say, the battle is not over. The manager has asked for a few more days to think things over and decide if he wants to continue. I pray he does, because I feel like he really has a heart for this project. If he doesn’t though, I know that God will send someone else who is fully competent. Please pray for the members of The Mango Tree staff that they will learn to work together as a team and in a spirit of unity. Pray against the attacks of the enemy to cause division and strife. There is so much hope that God wants to bring this community through this project and it’s a threat to the enemy’s camp. Thanks be to God that greater is He that is in us, than he that is in the world!
Ok, this is getting pretty long so I’ll end it here. I miss and love you all very much. Thanks for all the prayers and support. You are all such a blessing to me!
Here in northern Zambia I look around and see lots of brown. It’s very dry this time of year so unfortunately there isn’t much vegetation to give you many glimpses of green. Then I think back to my time in Costa Rica last year when I saw it during the rainy season. I’d never seen such rich luscious plant life before. Everywhere you looked were shades of green so rich you felt like you were seeing new depths to its color. While I was in Chile last year I got to watch a few sunsets from the beautiful Pacific coast town of Pichilemu. I’ve never seen a more glorious sunset in all my life. Rich purples and pinks and oranges blended together to form a spectacular sight that I shall never forget thanks to the many pictures I was able to take of it!
There’s a verse in the bible that says: “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20) So basically the writer of this passage, Paul, is saying that God has been showing himself through everything He made since the foundation of the world. I believe God does that out of a love for people. God does not desire to remain hidden from us, but instead puts Himself in plain view in the form of a wilderness, a rainforest and a sunset. God actively reveals Himself to us each and every day so that we might know Him more and pursue a deeper relationship and intimacy with Him. What an incredible picture of grace and love from our Heavenly Father! Even in our filth and sin, God through the work of His Son Jesus on the cross, is able to look at us, not in our present state, but through the eyes of redemption and still call out to us.
God, forgive me for not always seeing you where you have me today. I desire greater intimacy with you. Thank you for calling out to me and for revealing yourself to me through the beauty of all that you created.
Monday, September 15, 2008
wow i am finally online after a week... i know that doesn't seem like a long time but when you don't have any other way of communicating with friends and family back home (other than an unreliable cell phone) you find yourself missing the internet A LOT.
this picture kind of describes my time here in zambia so far. on my birthday last week i got up at 6 in the morning and climbed 2 mountains. it was very hard and very tiring but i made it to the top. the view was well worth the pain. not many people can say they climbed an african mountain on their 26th birthday. i hope this feeling of victory and ability to overcome remains with me throughout the rest of this trip.
wow these past few weeks have been crazy. it's hard to believe i've been here in africa almost 3 weeks and the last week without my team. i miss them so much but i'm glad they got back safely. this past week my teammate Starr and i have just been trying to settle in and get used to the pace of life here in zambia. things run much slower here as you can imagine. we won't even talk about the internet... haha... insane! i will never take high speed internet for granted again.
this picture to the left is of jenn, moses and i. we were at church for sunday service. i just love it! probably because i really love the people in it with me. :)
starr and i have been making the journey to the mango tree every day. it's roughly 2 miles each way i would say. i'm glad i have a bike! the ride isn't that hard. coming home the first part is slightly inclined but i see it as a good workout. starr isn't too keen on riding the whole way so i have to really encourage her to push through. i feel like a personal trainer with all my "you can do it" and "feel the burn"... it's quite amusing. sometimes she gets mad at me but she knows i love her. now what i usually do is ride on ahead about 100 yards and then stop to let her catch up. it'll get easier for her. i can already feel the difference in my legs. watch out! haha!
the mango mobile came back into town yesterday along with the mango tree manager and members of the executive committee. they came to our home today and brought us into town (praise jesus!) now the real work begins for me as i start to dive in to help with logistics of the van and the money coming in from it. i have some ideas already to help them stay organized and i'm hoping they'll all work. God is faithful. i've seen that thus far. he'll carry us through the
rest of the way.
this last picture is the 4 employees of the mango tree: noreen, annie, agness and francis. they are proudly wearing the new shirts we embroidered for them. they now look extremely professional!
alright i should end this now. thank you all for your emails of encouragement. i wish i could respond to each one but with internet this slow it's much too hard. please know that i love you and cherish you in my heart. keep praying for us. the battle is not over, but it is the Lord's and we know we will come out victorious!
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Saturday, August 23, 2008
Friday, August 22, 2008
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Monday, August 18, 2008
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Friday, August 15, 2008
Friday, August 8, 2008
Friday, July 18, 2008
so... big news... i'm an aunt again! yippeeeee!
Friday, July 11, 2008
Monday, June 30, 2008
it was great to get away, though. the house we stayed in was absolutely beautiful. it was the perfect size for our family. we had our own pool which was so fantastic. i love the beach, but i hate the sand so being at the beach in a pool is my perfect match. we laid around lazily... read books... played games... oohed and ahhed over my niece kyra... and ate chocolate. seriously i think i consumed my year's alottment of chocolate in one week. i don't know what it was, but i was drawn to it. needless to say i'm on a break from it right now. well, at least for today. ;)
last night i was sitting in my room watching Lost (yes i finally gave in and started watching it online... i'm halfway through season 2). i was debating whether or not i wanted to go to providence church that night and i felt prompted to go. i literally jumped out and ran out of the house so i wouldn't be late. about 5 minutes later i get a call from a good friend of mine named sam who lives in denver. she was home visiting her mom and said she was on her way to providence as well. needless to say we spent a couple hours after church catching up and it was awesome. she was so encouraging and just really listened as i shared my heart with her. it was exactly what i needed at that moment and God knew that.
so this morning i'm back to work and i'm alone in the office cause steve is on vacation this week. the last time he was gone for a week i hated it because it's so hard to work in this huge office all by yourself. so i walk in and flip my little day calendar to today and this is what it says:
"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me- watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace." Matthew 11:28-29 MSG
For some reason that verse just inspired me this morning. I don't have to do this out of my energy. I have a Savior that I can lean towards for strength and inspiration.
I guess I'm not alone in this office afterall. :)
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
- mi familia- i love spending time with my family and even though we can drive each other crazy at times, i'd still rather be with them than anyone else.
- my niece- ok so she's part of my family, but a total entity of her own. kyra is amazing and funny and cute and always brings a smile to my face. getting to spend a whole week with her 24/7 will be awesome!
- the beach- there's something about the ocean... oh yeah. i feel so close to the lord when i'm there. the beauty of it still awes me today.
- no schedule- vacations without schedule are so great. you can just fly by the seat of your pants and do whatever you feel like at that moment. it's a beautiful thing to be spontaneous.
- reading- i have an excuse to sit down on my lazy butt and read as long as i want. i'm so excited to bring some books with me and get lost in them for hours at a time. who could ask for more?
Friday, June 13, 2008
i remember the feeling of graduating high school... the excitement filled with the fear of the unknown. the nagging thought that you'll never be a kid again and maybe i should of made more of my experience rather than being so anxious to leave. i caught a case of senioritis by the end of my junior year so senior year is kind of a blur. i didn't put much effort into that last year and would have rather been working than stuck in that 7-3 prison... which is probably why i spent so much time in the nurses office trying to get sent home (aka work- where i would go after my mom spoke to the nurse and told her of my horrible cramps). it makes me laugh a little bit now looking back.
and here i am, 8 years later at my brother's graduation with my high school memories fading dimmer and dimmer with each passing year.
i'm grateful that i didn't have a horrible high school experience but i still wouldn't go back. it's a part of my past and i'm happy to keep it that way.
Thursday, June 5, 2008
sometimes the needs before me are so great, but that's what makes it even more amazing. i think God loves when situations get put before us that seem impossible, because that's when God gets the most glory. what we think could never happen, God already has plans to make happen.
i'm trusting that God is going to provide the finances for my africa trip as well as the rest of the team. i'm trusting the he's going to provide the right resources for the community center in zambia to be successful and far-reaching. i know God can do these things. i just need to keep reminding myself.
that's why i wrote this. as a reminder to myself and the rest of you so when i freak out you can remind me. :)
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
each morning on my drive into the city as i'm coming down blackhorse hill road the view opens up and there the city lies, seemingly peaceful and quiet. a few blocks further and you understand it's anything but as it's abuzz with people moving around and chatting with one another. i think i figured out one of the things i love about life here. it reminds me of being in another country. by that i mean that everything is so community-driven. relationships with one another are #1 and you don't have to leave the confines of your car to see that.
after being cooped up in suburbia for so long i realize now that it's not all it's cracked up to be. i don't know my neighbors needs or even their names for that matter. a desire for more space has created just that: space between our neighbor, both physically and relationally. it's sad that it has come to that, but in most rural neighborhoods it's true.
sure, coatesville has it's problems like any other city in america, but they have one thing right. they know what it means to take time to stop and chat with you neighbor, even if it makes you late for your next appointment. as a task-oriented person this is new territory for me, but i'm learning to adjust and it's fun.
i believe in the people of this city. i believe that there is undiscovered talent and potential and if i can help even just one person discover that, then it's all worth it.