We are the Davis'

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas or “Kimishish” in KiKaonde

 We are two weeks shy of having lived in Zambia for one year. That is so hard to believe. Part of me feels like we just got here and another part of me feels like I can’t even remember what carpet looks like or what Diet Coke tastes like. Anyways, this post is not about our one year mark, that will come later.

Jeremy and I have been married for three years now, and we have only been home for one Christmas so far in our marriage. Our Jamaican honeymoon fell on Christmas and now our third Christmas together has been spent in Africa. It’s hard to get into the Christmas spirit when you are constantly sweating from the heat and you are outside planting flowers. It did not feel real to me until Christmas Eve, when our team shared in a Christmas dinner and a game of charades together. Every year the Davis family plays a game of charades in Ooltewah, TN, so, since three out of the five families on our team here are Davis’s we decided to carry on the tradition. It was a fun night, and Erin’s parents were our special guests as they are here visiting.

Christmas day was bittersweet. It finally hit me that Christmas was here, and we weren’t home for it. However, I am SO thankful for technology. We were able to talk to our parents and did some skyping. I was able to chat with my sweet grandmother, who sang me Christmas carols over the phone for about 15 minutes. Jeremy and I had presents to open (we received amazing care packages from our parents). We went to Konkwa church that morning which is about a 30 minute walk from here. We walked to church, and Jeremy preached on the meaning of Christmas. Which looks a lot different in Zambia, than it probably did at our churches back home. In Zambia, New Years is the big holiday and the churches will come together to celebrate and cook a big meal. Christmas is not celebrated as much in the villages.  

Jeremy and I then came home and rested before we started cooking for our meal we were having that night with Jason, Erin and her parents. We concluded the night with some fireworks with the kids on our team.

We missed home very much. But, we definitely appreciate all that we have so much more being here. I hope everyone back home had a Merry Christmas! Thank you for keeping us in your prayers.
Here are a couple of pictures from Erin's camera, I forgot to use mine over the holidays.
Having a Christmas ladies tea, hosted by Mrs. Ellie.

Christmas Eve with the whole team

Monday, December 19, 2011

Three Years

Three years ago today, I became Mrs. Jeremy Davis! It has been an incredible three years. I am blessed and so thankful. How do you put in to words what your marriage means to you? I don't know, but these three years have been the years I've loved the most and grown the most. We are blessed.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Fields and Christmas

After the day I had yesterday I am so grateful for a God that is so much bigger than me. I am thankful for his hand which is stretched out over those I cannot reach and over things I simply do not and will not understand. I am thankful that he is with my 91 year old grandmother as she fights back pains in Rome, GA and is having to take an unexpected 30 day stint in a live-in rehab to heal. I miss her and wish I could sit with and listen to her stories to pass the time, but God is there. On the opposite end of the world, I am thankful for how God is working in Mumena. He has been here, and he always will be.

Yesterday after a few morning chores, I went to visit a family in their village. One quick, 15 minute bike ride away. When I arrived, only the grandmother was still sitting under the kensanza, and I figured the parents and kids were in their field. The grandmother sent me out with her niece to get to my friend's field. After a long, sketchy walk through the bush, we arrived in an open field where I saw the family all out working. I was happy to be alive at that point, because we walked through grass that was as high as my waist. As I began walking through the field to meet up with the parents, all the little boys starting yelling "WHIT-I-NEY, WHIT-I-NEY!!" We turn my name into 3 syllables here because it is a lot easier to say for everyone. I LOVE hearing those boys call my name so loudly, nothing can make your heart melt more. My friends, Cosmas and Josephine handed me a hoe, and I joined them in their planting. They had arrived at the field that morning at 7 am. When I had found them it was 2 pm, and they had no plans to leave anytime soon. They had not eaten and just planned to make a meal once they finished for the day. About two hours later, it began to rain pretty hard, and I knew it would be getting dark in a couple of hours, and I should begin the path back to find my bike and then ride on home before it flooded. The kids were tired and ready to head home too, so they escorted me back to their house where my bike was. We then began the "high grass"walk back to the village. It started raining even harder, and the boys couldn't stop laughing because we were all soaked. I was laughing but also a bit terrified that between the 2, 5 and 6 year olds traveling with me--one of them was going to get bit by a snake, I was just sure of it. Of course, they make these journeys every single day. We all made it back to the village safe and wet.

Once I finally made it home and got in bed I couldn't help thinking about all of the decisions I get to make in life and the choices I have. My sweet friends would be up at 6 am the next morning to spend the day in the field all over again. There is so much to be thankful for. Although this is the way I perceive my life and theirs, God is right there in the middle of their lives as well making things happen. We are blessed.

In other news...just in case, you were curious what our house looks like at Christmas time, here are the pictures to document Jeremy and I's Christmas in Zambia.

There's our Christmas open house. Quite cozy :)

Monday, December 5, 2011

Sunday Blessings

Yesterday we had a full and rewarding day. Jason, Erin, Jeremy and I all set off for the refugee camp for church. We were going to worship at Rd. 68 church because one of Jeremy and Jason’s close friends had just lost his baby. Very tragic situation, but all too common in Zambia.

The service was great as usual. Rd. 68 church of Christ is one of the oldest churches we have worked with, and they are all Congolese. They get VERY involved in worship: loud clapping like you’ve never heard before and singing until they sweat. After church, two of the young men who had come for the Congolese seminar last month asked to be baptized by their mentor John, who is also Congolese. We were excited to tag along.

After worship, Jeremy and I were dropped off at Kayonge church to help them complete their building. They had been saving money and resources for almost a year now and the day had finally come. The men spent the afternoon putting on the roof, and I was able to spend some down time with the women that attend Kayonge. It was an important step in our ongoing relationship with the church, and I was humbled to see the time and effort they put in to their meeting place. The ladies had even planted flowers on either sides of the front door.

It was a full day out. In Zambian time that may only be 10 hours, but for a non-Zambian who is immersed in a different culture, it feels as if you’ve been without sleep for two days straight. We came home very fulfilled but very tired and went straight to bed. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

We had a great Thanksgiving in Mumena with our team and our special guest, Chief Mumena! All of the ladies had previously met to divide up who cooks what, and we ended up with a very, VERY good meal. I was feeling especially thankful that day for our Chief who is so supportive of our team. I was so glad he came to share in our tradition. I was also so thankful for our families many, many miles away and our amazing supporters back home. We are so blessed!
We had the honor of being responsible for cooking one of the three turkeys. You can see who that responsibility fell to.
No football or TV is available here-so we settled for cards.
Lydia Love, seriously too cute.
Hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Rainy Season Adventures

Last week, we had a seminar for 6 young Congolese men training them how to be preachers.  I won’t write much about that experience, but you can see Jason and Erin’s blog as they tell more.  However, one thing that happened proved to be very memorable.  The last day they were here, we took them out to a Bible study in Mushingashi that go to every week.  They were going to get a chance to practice preaching for this small congregation.  So we all loaded up in the truck and headed off for the 40 minute journey.  As we turned off the tarmac onto the dirt road, winds started picking up and lightning was streaking across the sky.  Our destination was 8 km away through the forest.  As the storm got bigger, the rain became heavy, the trees were swaying back and forth, and limbs were flying everywhere as I was driving on this now very slick mud road.  We finally made it to the church and the storm had passed.  We had a great Bible study and the young men did well. 

However, it was the return trip that proved memorable.  We made our way back down the muddy road with debris on either side of us.  Half way out of the woods, we came upon a tree fallen across the road.  So me and the six guys jumped out of the truck and were able to move this tree to the side for us to pass.  About a minute later, we came upon another tree blocking our path that was a bit larger.  However, with some effort we were able to relocate the obstacle.  With only about a quart of kilometer left to the exit, we were stopped yet again by another tree.  This time there was a truck loaded with people coming the other direction that had begun to chop away at the tree as it was quite large, about three feet in diameter.  So after about 30 minutes the tree was finally chopped in half and it took 15 of us to push the huge trunk to the side giving just enough room for our truck to pass.  We decided to let the other truck go first.  As the truck maneuvered its way towards the opening it veered to the side of the road just a bit and both tires on the left side of the truck just sunk straight down in the mud. 

So the next 30 minutes we spent putting tree bark under the tires and all 20 of us pushing on the left side of the truck as it slung mud all over us to get unstuck.  After several attempts it finally made its way out, and then I received one of the biggest compliments I’ve ever had here.  They called me a “muntu”, which when translated means “man”.  This is a compliment because usually I get called “mzungu” meaning “rich white man”.  However, all the Kaonde people call themselves “muntu” and make a clear distinction between the whites and the blacks.  I guess since I was in there getting just as muddy as the rest of them, they for just a moment viewed me as one of them.  Truly a memorable moment.  Thankful though for four-wheel drive as I did not get stuck when passing!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Quick Update

Just wanted to show a few pictures today. I am so proud of my husband and how he handles his work and passion in Zambia. I am a blessed woman.
Here he is teaching some Congolese "youth" about serving and teaching the church. There are seven men who came early this week from the Maheba Refugee Camp, just 45 minutes away from us. They have been working with Brian, Jason and Jeremy (the 3 Davis men) on preparing lessons and learning how to use their Bibles to teach. These men are still considered "youth". You can have five children and a wife, but if you are 40 years or younger, then you are still youth. These young men will soon be filling the shoes of their elders as they get older, so our team is trying to help prepare them for the transition into church leadership.

On another note, it is still very hot in Zambia. Everyday, people anxiously await a rainfall so we can get some fresh, cool air. As I was passing the school building, I noticed they were having class outside, under the kensanza to try and get a break from the heat. You can see a storm rolling in behind them. How exciting!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

New Season

The rains are definitely here. The past few days it has rained constantly, especially at night, which I love. It always makes me think of my momma and grandmother, hearing the rain hit so hard on our roof—they always enjoyed listening to rainstorms under a tin sheet porch. Who knew that one day that would be what my roof is made of.

Here are some pictures showing some of the perks of the rainy season. Since the ground is still really tough, we will wait until the end of the month to plant and garden, so I don’t have pictures of flowers just yet. These will have to do.

Growing mangos in our yard

Language learning has been a constant struggle for me. I love and hate it all at the same time. Regardless of how I feel, the key to the heart is language. The people out here light up when they hear you speak their language. It is also much easier to understand their culture and ideas when you are hearing it straight from their mouth without interpretation. Much gets lost in translation. I can understand a lot more than I can say at this point, but it is so exciting when you can understand the main idea of a conversation in kikaonde. I have approached numerous methods to learning the Kaonde language out here, but by far my favorite is learning from my friend out in her village, at her home. She is in the process of learning English. This makes it much more fun to learn from her because she is experiencing the same frustrations and joys that I am at the same time. We are learning from each other, sentence by sentence. Today, I sat out in her village for about two hours. She would write down a sentence in kikaonde, and I would write it in English. We both know enough of each other’s language to get by working together and helping each other. Her English is really progressing so she is able to put together simple sentences and verbs for me to practice. We laugh at each other a lot and continue to repeat the word “shupa” every couple of minutes. “Shupa” is a funny Kaonde word meaning stubborn or really difficult.

I was able to start back with Erin doing our usual Tuesday afternoon girls Bible study, after being gone for two weeks. In the beginning we had six girls, ages 12-16, coming, and occasionally we will have a week where all of them show up, but more than half of the time there are only two girls-but every week it is the same two. They never miss a Bible study, and we are seeing them grow and develop into beautiful young women. I pray that their faith continues to grow, and I hope they don’t give up the fire they have to learn. I love these sweet girls- Katherine and Rwidness. Even though our study is small right now, one of the other village girls who is about 17, really wants to be a part of it, but she has a baby and chores to do everyday so she can’t manage to meet in the middle of the day. She always has to decline the invitation to come, and I thought she just wasn’t interested. However, she showed up at my house a couple of days ago explaining why she can never come and asking for a different time to meet. We will start meeting with her once a week around 4 pm after she is done with her chores. Since a baby came in to her life, she can no longer attend school. I am excited about this new opportunity!


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Mumena in November

I am happy to inform you that we are back in Kaondeland, Mumena. We had a huge thunderstorm to welcome us back as we were going to sleep Wednesday night. Jeremy and I have a tin roof, so when the rain gets hard enough we literally have to yell at each other to communicate. It is pretty funny.

I loved getting back and seeing the sweet faces that we have been working with. I have a friend, Mesa, who is 17 or 18 years old and has an 18 month old baby. She spends each day hauling water for her family since she can no longer attend school, being a single mother. If she is not hauling water, she is cleaning or doing laundry by hand. Yesterday, she had two huge buckets of water she was carrying and dropped them when she saw me and came running to welcome me back. Her face was lit up, and she was excited to see "Mrs. Jeremy" again. I was humbled as I compared the past two weeks in Cape Town I had to what hers must have been like. Today, I will go to visit her as she sits and washes clothes- she is one determined teenager.

This month the Kaonde tribe of Mumena will begin working in their fields again to prepare for the rainy season. This is a busy month for them. The holiday season, I have heard, gets a bit slow due to people working and staying out in their fields.

Last night, Jason, Erin and I had a surprise birthday dinner and cake for Jeremy. His birthday was the 1st of November, but since we were traveling, I felt like we still lacked a celebration. It was a good night for the four of us to catch up and eat a cake mix and icing kit that came from South Africa!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Home Sweet Home

Well, I write "Home Sweet Home", but we aren't quite there yet. We chose the cheapest and possibly worst airline ever for our trip to and from Cape Town, and we are paying for it now. We arrived this morning at the airport at 5 am to hop on our 7 am flight, only to find out our airline had been grounded due to not paying their taxes. It is kind of funny because on the way to Cape Town, they were grounded because they couldn't find anyone to pay for the fuel on the plane. So we are now spending the day at the airport waiting on a new flight with a new airline scheduled for the evening. Hopefully, we will be home tomorrow night after the drive back from Lusaka.

Cape Town was perfect! We had an amazing trip, ate some amazing food, saw some great movies and met some great people. We did a lot of fun touristy things, but our trip was also long enough for me to meet some of the people Jeremy has worked with in the past during his summers in Cape Town. We stayed with a wonderful couple that Jeremy met last time he was in Cape Town. They were so hospitable and sweet; we felt like we were staying with our grandparents. Cape Town is a beautiful city that is surrounded by mountains and beaches-the best of both worlds. We ate A LOT. We hiked and rode bikes through the mountains, took walks on the beach (the water is freezing), saw lots of whales, toured the wine lands and much more.  It was such a wonderful break and vacation for us.

We are ready to get back home to Zambia now. It is an exciting time as the rains are beginning in Zambia. It is time to plant some flowers and get our garden ready! Jeremy and I are anxious to get back in to our routine of living in the bush and working with the people there. It is hard to believe that we are approaching the one year mark of living in Africa. We are blessed to be where we are and to be learning so much.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Cape Town, here we come!

Jeremy and I are headed for Lusaka, Zambia's capital tomorrow, and then we fly out for Cape Town, South Africa on Tuesday. We will be in this lovely city for two weeks for a vacation! So if you need us, here is where we will be :)

 So excited!!! We'll be back in Mumena on November 1, my husband's 26th birthday! See you then.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Not your normal weekend in Mumena...

This past weekend we had a group of about 25 students from Harding University come up to Mumena. They are studying abroad this semester and staying at Namwianga Mission in southern Zambia. The group came up on a Thursday and left on Monday. It was a short but sweet visit—very busy!

The group came to learn more about rural missions, and so we were able to provide a few classes dealing with our team’s strategy and goals. We dug in to the culture and all that comes with it. It was a sharp group of students, and they asked some great questions.

I, personally, loved the singing that came with the group. Every Wednesday night our team gets together for a small devotional, but there are only 10 of us that are adults. I loved sitting around the campfire with this huge group singing English songs that I grew up singing at church.

Erin and I both got to take groups of girls out to surrounding villages and let them see what a typical village looks like. It was fun to watch their reactions to things and remember what I felt like when I first got here. We spent Saturday out at the Rd. 68 church in the refugee camp. The youth at the church put on a great program for all of us. The Congolese refugees LOVE to sing and clap, so we did A LOT of that. 

Now, something I have been hearing about from the kids on our mission team ever since I got here, is the annual trick or treat night. Every October, the team takes advantage of so many Americans being here, and they take that opportunity to let their kids go around and trick or treat. All of the Harding students stay at the dorms, which are just right outside our doors past the school. The missionary children go around to each of the student’s dorm rooms to collect their Halloween candy. The students all dress up in costumes. Then the missionary kids come around to each of our team member’s houses to trick or treat. Jeremy and I participated in this grand event. Jeremy, being the good cousin that he is, dressed up as the Wolverine from XMen for his cousins Bryson and Noah—they loved it. And I was asked by Noah to be his slave…his costume was some kind of scientific character from some show like Star Trek that I really don’t know anything about. However, these important characters all have slaves, so Noah asked if I would be his. It was a very interesting Halloween we had on Sunday, October 8. The kids really loved it, and I see now why their parents make sure to keep up this American tradition for them.
Disclaimer: we don't have much entertainment here, do NOT judge (please)!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Great weekend with the women!

This past weekend we had our first womens seminar. This was a special weekend for the 45 women that came, because this was for most, their first break from normal life in a very long time. The Zambian women are always busy. They are responsible for all of their children, the cooking, the cleaning, the clothes washing, and on top of all of that they are usually working out in their field.

It was a great weekend of fellowship, singing, language learning (for me), and teaching techniques for how to teach children at home and at church. We taught on a very SIMPLE, basic level. Ellie taught the group how to draw stick figures and how to come up with pictures on your own. Sondra and Erin taught how to use shapes and objects to get childrens attention (sticks, trees, cut outs). I taught how to teach stories by creating motions and sounds to go with the story that the children can mimic. We had a lot of fun working with the ladies on how this can all be done in their culture.

The last day the ladies were split in to four groups all working to produce a Bible story lesson using one of the techniques that were taught. They worked so hard and their presentations were great! 
This momma above, was left by her husband right before this baby boy was born, she now raises six kids alone, but is so faithful to her church. I was so happy she got to take a break and come to the seminar.

My group of women practicing their presentation--creating motions for your story

Their presentation of Jesus' baptism

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

New President, Yellow Fever Shots, Women's Seminar

We have a new president here in Zambia. You may have seen it on the news. His name is Michael Sata, also known as the “King Cobra”. Zambia has handled the transition in government relatively peacefully. This transition was even recognized by President Obama and applauded for the peace Zambia is promoting through the change. Please keep President Sata in your prayers as he leads Zambia.

Jeremy and I along with Brian, Sondra and their boys are all going to Cape Town, South Africa next month. We will be staying in separate places, about an hour away from each other, but we are quite excited! I am sure I will have tons of pictures from our trip, but that will be next month. Brian and Sondra previously worked in Cape Town for years doing missions before they came to Zambia. Since they are retiring from the field next year, this will be their last trip to Cape Town. Jeremy and I are going more for a good get away and vacation in a first world country, but I will get to meet some of the people I have been hearing about for years. Jeremy spent his first African internship in Cape Town years ago. I say all of this to explain why we were at an urban health clinic in Solwezi getting yellow fever shots…yikes!

Before Jeremy and I came to Zambia, we received all of the shots necessary to live here. However, yellow fever was no longer required for Zambia. Well, the law has changed in Zambia and now it IS required in order to leave the country and go to South Africa. Panic set in for me as I realized our time crunch AND realized that this would mean getting my shot here…in Solwezi. It made me feel a lot better that Brian and Sondra also had to get them with us. We all headed out to town, which is about 45 minutes away. We picked up our viles, needles and such (all neatly packaged and unused) and headed to the urban clinic to get our business taken care of. I was nervous. Well, all things went well and the shot was actually really easy and harmless.  All well and safe. The doctor was kind to us. We are now officially set to go to Cape Town. And let me tell you, if I can get a shot in Solwezi, I can get a shot anywhere.

The women’s seminar is this weekend, and I am anxious for it to begin. This is our first time to spend this much time with the women alone. It will be great for language learning since most women do not speak any English. All of our women on the missionary team will be teaching a different, simple technique to help these church women learn how to teach children’s bible classes. Pray for the 30 or so women this weekend that come for fellowship and training to be women of the Lord. There are lots and lots of children running around the churches every Sunday, and of course, these women all have many children of their own. However, I think they are nervous and may feel a bit inadequate to teach. Pray for understanding, excitement and a sense of responsibility to set in with these very qualified women. They are a wonderful group of ladies!

Monday, September 19, 2011

An Anniversary Party!

Last week, I was sitting in our living room when Cosmas Lilamono came to our door to greet Jeremy. Cosmas and Jeremy have been friends for six years. As they were talking on the front porch I heard the words “party” and “19 years”. I immediately ran out to ask why in the world I heard the word party? I have lived in Zambia for over eight months now, and there has never been talk about parties in the Kaonde culture. Of course, I am sure they have them, but usually it involves large amounts of alcohol and witchcraft. But, Cosmas began to explain to me that he and his wife, Josephine, would like to celebrate their upcoming 19 years of marriage! I was blown away by this. I cannot tell you enough how uncommon it is here to do anything with your wife. Most couples do not even eat together. They do not share money, they do not think of each other’s needs. For Cosmas and Josephine (our dear friends and some of the first Christians in Mumena) to want to honor each other with a celebration was just amazing to me. Jeremy and I were pumped! 

Well, yesterday was the day. Cosmas was very excited, and he had been updating us on things he was preparing. He was making a peanut cake. It calls for affordable ingredients he can manage, plus he can make it in a pot over the fire. We arrived and Josephine was wearing a new bright shatangi (material used as a skirt) and her best wig! I personally think she looks more beautiful without the wig, but a wig signifies a big deal here. All of their boys were jumping around with excitement. We sat with them at a small table they had borrowed from their church and ate chicken and nshema. Eating meat is a big deal and only happens on special occasions. When the cake was brought out after the meal, Josephine and Cosmas cut it together with one knife and then fed the first bite to each other. Again, I was shocked and so happy. It was funny because after they did it, they wanted Jeremy and I to do it as well. I explained to them that it wasn’t our anniversary, but we did it anyways for them.After a wonderful meal and good fellowship, the big boom box came out and all the boys started dancing. 

It was a great celebration and all I could keep thinking without tears pouring down my face, was how these sweet boys would be impacted by their parents marriage. Would these five boys lead the next generation in a completely new idea of what a good marriage looks like? What it means to really become one and love each other unconditionally under God’s headship? For people living in a constant state of mental poverty, what happened yesterday would have never suggested these people thought they were poor. I am thankful for a God that gives you new insight and a new worldview once you decide to let him. I pray that church leaders like Cosmas and wives like Josephine will continue to impact and change their villages by their example. 

Cutting the cake, with all their kids watching

Jeremy and his namesake (this one is for you, Meemaw)

Jeremy dancing with a Lilamono cousin

The whole family

Learning some moves from Josephine