The rainy season is coming to an end here in the next couple weeks, and I have been sad knowing it is about to be over. Everything is so green, and you can see all kinds of plants and flowers. In just a few weeks it will all turn brown, and we will not see a drop of rain for 6 months. But yesterday God reminded me that every season has its own beauty—even in Zambia with only two seasons. I woke up yesterday to a very cool, crisp morning, almost feeling like fall in the states. It was beautiful weather and during the dry season that is the case every morning. Not too cold, but cool. It was nice. Then last night, my breath was taken away as Jeremy and I were walking home at night. It was about 9:30 p.m. and usually you are trying to get home before the rain hits. We were walking with our flashlights and all of a sudden we look up and there are huge, bright stars everywhere, looking like they are just barely hanging above our heads. There was not a cloud in the sky. We both stopped and just stared. The stars in Zambia (during the dry season) are just amazing, and I had forgotten how wonderful it was since being here last time. How could I have forgotten? I felt that was a patient, gentle reminder to me that God will provide, in every season.
Many church leaders from around the area will be arriving on Sunday for the Muzha wa Yesu seminar. Please keep these men in your prayers for the month of April. We are praying these leaders will go home with a greater understanding of what it means to be a servant for God and a yearning to teach in their communities.
We now share a mailbag with Brian and Sondra in Solwezi. I have been monitoring about how long it takes for mail to arrive, and it looks like it only takes about 2 weeks, sometimes less! Here is our mailing address, for those of you that have been waiting on it:
Private Bag S-42
Monday, March 21, 2011
I cannot believe that we are almost to April. It is crazy to me to think that we arrived here in January. Time is flying by, and April will pass by quickly as well. It will be a very busy month for our entire team. The whole month of April is taken up by the Muzha wa Yesu (Servant of Jesus) seminar. This is an annual seminar where leaders from each of the church plants are invited to stay in the dorms at the center and go to class each day to learn about how to teach and lead their churches. Each missionary is responsible for handing out the registration forms to the church plants they communicate with. The church then picks its own leaders to go, but we cannot take more than four per church. Sunday, April 3 we will have between 40-50 Zambian church leaders arriving. There are all kinds of tasks we will be doing in order to make this month work with all of these people here. Jeremy will be teaching a series on the Kingdom of God for two weeks of the seminar. Jeremy and I have been continuing to get to know the church plants we are working with. We are enjoying the Bible studies and the fellowship with the churches. We are also working hard at language learning. Ahhh, learning a language—sometimes it’s so rewarding, other times I want to pull my hair out! Jeremy is learning faster than me, but I am beginning to feel things connecting more and more with kikaonde. Cosmas is now coming everyday for 1 hour to help teach us. The young girls Bible study is going well. It is a highlight of my week. This week we studied on gifts and talents. I have been reading the book “When Helping Hurts” and a huge part of mental poverty is just the lack of belief in yourself and believing you are worth less than everyone else. The author encourages the reader to help those struggling with mental poverty to focus on God’s love for them and how they can be used, the gifts they have. It was so rewarding to do this lesson, because we had each of them go around the circle and say what gift their friend next to them had. It was great because they all took it very seriously. The gifts were of singing, taking care of a mother, praying with friends, etc. I was proud of them for opening up and really thinking about the question. Love these girls! Saturday was Mumena B schools “sports day.” They played net ball and soccer against a team from another area. Jeremy and I spent part of the morning out watching the kids play. It becomes quite the event out in the field. Each team has tons of their friends/classmates cheering them on. They have drums, and they do not stop singing or yelling. Jeremy chanted with them in a circle around the drums during one of the games. It was hilarious. Our school won the net ball game and as soon as the game was over, about 150 kids take off running up the termite mound and screaming “twa winnas”, we winners! Here are some pictures of sports day.
Thursday, March 10, 2011
Some of the closest relationships that Jeremy and I have formed since we first started coming to Zambia over the years have been made in Konkwa village. We are now spreading our wings and are not able to visit Konkwa as much, but every Thursday we try to make it out to visit around. Konkwa is about a 40-minute walk and a 15-minute bike ride away. Jeremy’s great friend here, Cosmas Lilamono, (who named his son Jeremy) and now my good friend, his wife, Josephine live in Konkwa. Then you have Reagan, Rescue, Jeremy, Leaonde and Neva--five boys. I absolutely love this family. I also love riding bikes with Jeremy out to this village. Even though the bike ride is not too long, it is quite the adventure as you are forced to choose which mud puddle you will ride through or which set of rocks will do the least damage to your bike. During the dry season, this will not be a problem, but the trail to Konkwa floods up during the rainy season. Today, Jeremy and I were headed out on our bikes and the young children (all under 6) who were walking home from school waited for us to zoom by and then immediately started chasing our bikes. Well, they are fast, and our bikes are slow trying to avoid mud puddles, so we usually have 10 kids each chasing our bikes. It makes me laugh the entire time we ride out to Konkwa with all of these kids right on my tail. They think it is the most amusing game.
Once Jeremy and I make it to the Lilamono hut, without running over any children, we are greeted by our friends, and all of the boys start yelling our names as we pull in. Cosmas is fluent in English and is probably the best English speaker I have met here. He is helping Jeremy and I learn kikaonde, but his wife Josephine is just starting the process of learning English. She gets a bit sad when she cannot communicate with the three of us in English, so we try to talk in Kaonde as much as possible. Today, her and I practiced language learning together. She would say the English word, and I would say the Kaonde word. I spent most of the afternoon enjoying their company while Jeremy went with one of the other villagers to gather bamboo. We went out in her cornfield to gather the corn that was ready to eat. We took them back to her fire, and she immediately put all of the cornhusks in a plastic bag and hands it to me. I was trying to avoid getting choked up, but it was almost impossible. Here is a family, who eats the same thing (nshema and relish) everyday, every meal, so corn is a treat, and she wanted to give me all of her corn. Well, I wanted to be respectful and honor our relationship, so I took four of her cornhusks but kindly told her I did not need more than that. I love this woman; she inspires me. We are all poor in different ways around the world, but this family is not poor in spirit. I could learn a few things from them! As I told her I had to leave, she stomped her foot and said “No, I want to keep play with Whitney.” Haha, she is learning English remember. I was blessed today and reminded of the scripture that commands us not to worry because surely our Lord knows what we need when we need it. Josephine and Cosmas were obviously not worried about how much food they had, but more concerned about developing relationships and giving to others.
|Here is a small glimpse that Jeremy captured of our race with the kids through Konkwa|
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
I wanted update everyone on the response of the seed-sowing! We had 30 people come to the first Bible study, which was held in the local school classroom. The next week we had 15 and it was raining hard that day so it would explain the smaller numbers. However, we are told that not everyone will accept the message. Continue to pray for these new seekers of God as we continue to teach the good news in Mitukutuku. For those of you coming for the campaign in June, we will be traveling to this village to hold a medical clinic. Usually, when a medical clinic is held in an area a church tends to form and be planted. So we are planting the seed, and you that are coming will have a chance to water, then we’ll get to see God bring the increase! I also wanted to update everyone of other things going on. We are studying hard the language and are coming along pacheeche pacheeche (bit by bit). Learning language and using it with the people really brings joy to their hearts. It tells them that they are important enough to work hard to get to know them and use their language. Now we are far from fluent, but the effort is appreciated and often builds up relationships here, which is the #1 cultural value. I have also been teaching a study of the Kingdom of God in the village of Mushingashi. This village is about an hour bike ride into the bush. I frequently return very sore and muddy as the paths during the rainy season are often saturated with mud. I pass through grass over my head and ride through a swamp to get there. But every week is worth the effort as each time I have a mud-bricked building full of interested learners. It is a blessing to be in a place where people really seek understanding of the spirit realm. Everything is spiritual to these people. Sickness, relationships, crop yield, death, birth, and pretty much everything else that has to do with everyday life have a spiritual connection. So people are intensely interested in learning more. I have also been building relationships with the male teachers (Whitney with the females) to inspire God’s high calling of teaching children. We’ve been discussing what each feels their calling is as well as helping them identify the gifts and talents God has given them to be used in this environment. As we live in a place consumed by mental poverty, helping them believe in themselves and view themselves as God views them is imperative in raising them up from the beggar position that handouts can cause to the Sonship, heir position of being a Child of God. This is our challenge above all else—trying to help them learn to help themselves and reinforcing the capabilities that they possess. On another note, we had a wonderful baseball game with our mission team. There are some pictures below of the team playing. We were split in the two teams The Fisheagles (national bird of Zambia) and the Mpongos (bush babies-google them!). We had a great afternoon of team bonding through a great American past time surrounded by an audience that had no idea what we were doing surrounded us!
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Last week, Erin and I had our first actual Bible study with six young teen girls that attend the local school. We had been planning this for a few weeks but getting anything set up at an official time each week takes time in Zambia. Erin had thought up the idea of a Bible study with this age range because one of the girl’s fathers helps Jason with ag projects. He is a church leader and had told Erin his hopes for faith in his children. The ages of these girls range from 12-16 years old. I was nervous that they would be extremely shy and would not want to talk very much, but I was pleasantly surprised. We want this Bible study to be an open time for them to share what is on their hearts in a safe community. Erin and I began with introductions. We talked about who we are, our families and why we were in Zambia. Then, was the big step to ask each of them to tell us their name, age, favorite food, favorite animal and if they were from a Christian home or if this was all new to them. Of course, their favorite foods went something like “apple, orange, lemon, cow…” I thought about how drastically different their answers to that question were from an average child in the states. They giggled their way through all of the questions we asked them, but they were surprisingly vocal. None of them have been baptized yet, but each one knows a little bit about God because of their parents or through their schooling. We sang songs in both kikaonde and English, and then Erin and I introduced what we would like our theme to be “God’s love for YOU” over the next few months. The focus will be on Jesus’ life. I could not be more excited about this sweet little group of girls that we will have the opportunity to love on. We asked for these girls to keep this group small for now so we can focus on those who really want to learn, continue getting to know their culture, and then we can build up from there. Here is the list of girls who are studying with us, if you could be in prayer for them by name: Cathreen, Joyce, Mariam, Rwidiness, Mercy and Leah. As we closed out our time together explaining what a prayer request was and how we can pray for each other each week, one of the 12 yr. olds said, “please just pray for us because we want to know more about God during this time.” It was inspiring to hear this good news. These girls know English fairly well, because they have studied it in school for years. Below is a picture of our second study together with all of girls, minus one who was out that day. Thank you for your prayers for the Kaonde people. This study was encouraging to me, and I pray it was for them as well. -Whitney