Wednesday, September 24, 2008

zam time

i thought i would dedicate this post to the wonderful people of zambia and their way of keeping time.

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.

ahhh zam-time.

Monday, September 22, 2008

update on life and such

I’m going to be honest. This week was very hard.

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.

I couldn’t help but laugh reflecting on my time in the business world. What I was dealing with here was no different than the issues I faced with employees there. I did my best to use the wisdom of the past in my advice to the staff. I hope they were able to fully hear my heart and understand what I had to say to them. Ultimately the problems boil down to miscommunication and perceptions of situations. People are reacting out of hurt they feel, instead of taking time to wait and respond. (Thank you Karen for those words of wisdom so many years ago. I’m putting them to good use!)

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!

In other news, Starr and I are doing great relationally. We enjoy our time together but we also each thrive off of personal time so it works out well. We’ve been trying to be creative with our meals as eating the same thing can get very boring. Starr went to the butcher shop the other day and bought some sausage for us. (Meat is a rare treat around here). It tastes more like Spam than sausage, according to Starr. I wouldn’t know. I’ve never eaten Spam, only carved it in a silly youth group game over 12 years ago… haha. Anyways, I had this genius idea of making a sausage, egg and cheese sandwich on a bun and it turned out phenomenal. We found this place in town that sells cheese individually wrapped (like Kraft at home). I fried me up an egg, melted some cheese, added the sausage and put it on a freshly baked bun I bought from the market. Are you drooling yet? It was divine! I even took a picture of it because it was so fantastic. Needless to say, I won’t be divulging in those too often as I’m hoping to shed a few pounds while I’m here, but it was a special treat.

This week will be one month that I’ve been in this country already. We have to go see immigration this week to get our visa extended for another 30 days. Then we’ll do it once more for another 30 days to give us our 90. Please pray that we don’t encounter any issues with the officials and that our visa is granted. There shouldn’t be any problems, but prayer is always a good thing! It also looks like we’re going to have to change our plane tickets for the way home. We’ll probably be needing to come home sooner. I didn’t realize it when we booked our flights but the time had us in the country for 89 days… not much leeway when dealing with the government here. Our visa for next month will expire right around Zambia’s Independence Day and all government offices will be closed so it throws us off a couple days. Please pray that I get it all sorted out and that there are no problems changing our flight.

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!
This is me smiling at you and thanking you for loving me. Yeah, sorry I am absolutely makeup-less as I've been the past month save a day or 2. I actually enjoy it though and dread having to go back to the makeup world... haha.
Love you!

reflections of a traveler

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been in this country almost a month. Some days it feels like I’ve been here forever and that home is just a dream somewhere in my distant memory. I truly feel like I’m in another place and time here. It’s crazy when you think about the fact that we’re all on this same planet yet we can be in such vastly different places. As I continue to travel this beautiful world the differences in the places I go never cease to amaze 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!

All that to say, this strange, intimidating, fascinating, intriguing world that we live in allows us to experience different sights, sounds and feelings all which reflect the beauty of its Creator. As I look at the bush around me I can’t help but be reminded of the wilderness that the Israelite’s journeyed through for hundreds of years, water and natural resources scarce. The lush green of the Costa Rican rainforest makes me think of the Garden of Eden and how much more beautiful that sight must have been to its original inhabitants. Reflecting on the sunsets in Chile I can’t help but think of the majesty it displays and it makes me long for the day when this earth is fully reconciled to its Creator and we all get to experience true beauty each and every day without the sorrows this present world brings.

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

finally online

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!