Driving in the “Bush” (Video)

Below is a video of John Chitambo (CROSS Project national worker) and I driving out to Pastor Mwale’s house. He lives about a 30 minute drive outside of Lusaka. But with Lusaka traffic, and depending on how his road is, that can easily go up to an hour and a half to a two hour drive! Last year,  from August till early December, we (the CROSS Project team) drove this road once a week to teach out at his church.

As the video shows, once you get outside of Lusaka and off the main paved artery roads in Zambia, the roads quickly turn to dirt and are pretty rough.

Remember the Rwandan Genocide – 20 Years Later

Photographs_of_Genocide_Victims_-_Genocide_Memorial_Center_-_Kigali_-_Rwanda

The 20th anniversary of the horrific Rwandan Genocide that killed close to a million men, women, and children, which started on April 7th, 1994 and lasted till July 15th, 1994 is being remembered in Rwanda and around the world this month and in the upcoming months.

If you don’t know much about the Rwandan Genocide, it’s more than worth taking some time and searching the scores of news articles (the New York Times article is below) that commemorate this horrific world event that took place so recently. 

There are also a lot of good books and films out there that talk about this terrible event. Even just reading through the Wikipedia article (found here) gives a good snapshot of what happened. I’ve also read Left To Tell and As We Forgive, two really good books on the genocide and what happened after it was over. The movie Hotel Rwanda is also a good movie to watch, as well as others, that help show what happened. 

But most importantly, take time to remember and pray for Rwanda and it’s people that still bear so many scars – physically, emotionally, and spiritually from these unbelievably dark and gruesome days in 1994. 

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/08/world/africa/genocide-commemorations-begin-in-rwanda-with-curtailed-french-role.html?_r=0

20 Years After, Rwanda Pauses to Recall Carnage

“LONDON — Rwanda on Monday commemorated the 20th anniversary of the genocide there with a fusion of tears, recrimination and regret at the killing of more than 800,000 people in 100 days that shocked the world, redrew regional battle lines and continues to shape the debate over how nations should respond to mass atrocities.

With sectarian bloodshed staining conflicts from Syria to the Central African Republic, the ceremonies offered a reminder of the volatile torrents that have coursed through modern times, propelled by differences of faith, clan or ethnicity, often leaving the outside world on the sidelines.

“We must not be left to utter the words ‘never again,’ again and again,” the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, told a crowd packing a soccer stadium in Kigali, the Rwandan capital, acknowledging oft-voiced criticism of the world body for its delays and failings during the 1994 slaughter.

“Many United Nations personnel and others showed remarkable bravery,” Mr. Ban said. “But we could have done much more. We should have done much more.”

He added, “The world has yet to fully overcome its divisions, its indifference, its moral blind spots.”

The genocide began after an airplane carrying President Juvenal Habyarimana of the majority Hutus was shot down on April 6, 1994. Almost immediately, roadblocks sprang up. The killing of minority Tutsis and moderate Hutus by soldiers and Hutu extremists began.

Churches were burned to the ground with congregants inside. Homes were attacked. The slaughter with guns, grenades and machetes offered mercy to no generation, from infants to grandparents.

Since the bloodletting, President Paul Kagame, the onetime leader of rebel Tutsis who marched in to quell the killing, has sought to project his land as a haven of stability and a magnet for investment in a turbulent region. He has taken credit for creating a functioning health care system, raising living standards and improving women’s rights.

“Today we have a reason to celebrate the normal moments of life, that are easy for others to take for granted,” Mr. Kagame was quoted in news reports as saying. “If the genocide reveals humanity’s shocking capacity for human cruelty, Rwanda’s choices show its capacity for renewal.”

As some in the crowd recalled the days of horror, many wailed and screamed, witnesses said. But the grief of the survivors was soured by diplomatic tensions between France and Mr. Kagame.

Before the commemorations, Mr. Kagame rekindled an old dispute with France — an influential player in francophone Africa, though Rwanda had once been a Belgian colony — accusing France of helping the killers escape and of playing a “direct role.” He seemed to allude to those allegations, frequently denied by France, as he spoke to the gathering on Monday.

“Behind the words ‘never again’ there is a story whose truth must be told in full,” he said.

“No country is powerful enough, even when they think they are, to change the facts,” Mr. Kagame said in a seeming reference to France, Reuters reported. “Facts are stubborn.”

In response, France, which aided the Hutu-dominated military under President Habyarimana, canceled plans for its justice minister, Christiane Taubira, to attend Monday’s ceremony. Overnight, the French ambassador in Kigali, Michel Flesch, said he was told by an official that he was no longer accredited to attend the memorial, news reports said.

The theme of Rwanda’s renewal was echoed by other leaders.

“Twenty years ago today our country fell into deep ditches of darkness,” said Rwanda’s minister of foreign affairs, Louise Mushikiwabo, according to The Associated Press. “Twenty years later, today, we are a country united and a nation elevated.”

Critics have accused Mr. Kagame of running a regime that tolerates no dissent, and of sponsoring rebels in the chaos of the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda’s neighbor — allegations that he has strenuously rejected.

At the ceremony, attended by several African leaders and senior officials from Europe and the United States, Mr. Kagame and Mr. Ban lit a flame that is set to burn for 100 days — the same length of time it took for the slaughter to unfold.”

Practical Tidbits Among the Chaos (AKA: Bible-Reading with a Toddler Around)

I just finished reading my Bible out of the front porch. It seemed like such a good idea at first, so that Charlie could play with the dog and run around, and I could actually read my Bible without the little munchkin jumping on me.

I opened up to Psalm 70.

vs 1a: “Make haste, O God, to deliver me!”

Me: Charlie! Don’t sweep the plants! Just sweep the ground.

vs 1b: “O Lord, make haste to help me!”

Me: Charlie, you need to listen to me. I said NOT to sweep the plants. And don’t sweep the dog either. JUST sweep the ground.

…vs 4a: “May all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you!”

Charlie grabs my coffee cup and drops it, shattering into a gazillion little shards. [Bible-reading break to clean up the mess]

vs 4a (again): “May all who seek you rejoice and be glad IN YOU!” (i.e. not in coffee cups or children or things going well in life)

Me: No, Charlie. You may not sweep the dog…And I don’t want to be swept either. Please – don’t put the broom on me.

vs 4b-5: “May those who love your salvation say evermore, ‘God is great!’ But I am poor and needy; hasten to me, O God! You are my help and my deliverer; O Lord, do not delay!”

Me: Oh, Charlie – we already fed the dog. Stay out of the dog food, okay? Thank you, Jesus, for such practical help for every moment!

If somehow this sort of scenario feels chaotic and disjointed, then you’re probably interpreting everything correctly! But I do think God gives special grace to mommies and helps them glean tidbits among the chaos for means of survival.

[But I better go, because I just peeked in the kitchen and found Charlie, with his chair pulled up to the counter and chocolate all over his face. I said, "Charlie…are you eating treats? Did you ask Mommy?" He promptly said "please" in sign language, smiled, and said, "Mmmmmm."]

charlie and broom

Derek and Kristin Dearth in Zambia – Jan-Mar 2014 Newsletter

DSC_3252Happy Spring Everyone!

Here is our Jan-Mar 2014 Newsletter (click here to view in your web browser – 4.7MB). In this newsletter, we cover some encouraging and difficult things that we encountered these last three months in Zambia, such as:

  • The CROSS Project is now helping at a feeding program for HIV positive kids
  • Miscarriage
  • Car Accident
  • Culture Fatigue
  • An encouraging time with Kristin’s parents during their visit in March
  • Home Assignment 2014 – Sep. 3- Jan. 15!

Thank you so much for your prayers and support! We are so thankful to the Lord for all of you and how you encourage and strengthen us in so many ways. As always, feel free to email or even give us a call on our Skype number – 612-284-5554. We would love to hear from you!

In Christ,

Derek, Kristin, and Charlie

The Carlsons Come Back to Zambia

Hi, everyone! Sorry for our lack of blogging this past month. We’ve been offline these past few weeks hosting Kristin’s parents here in Lusaka – Terry and Connie Carlson!

We, especially  Charlie, had such an encouraging time with them. Charlie completely fell in love with both of them, especially Kristin’s mom. His little self-esteem is just bursting at the seems with all of the praise he got from his two grandparents, and he now feels he deserves a treat after every meal and between everyone meal, too.

With going back on Home Assignment this Fall (more on this in a later blog), we were really praying that Charlie would bond well with Kristin’s parents, since we will most likely be staying with them in the States for most of the time, and we hope to leave this wild little boy with them so we can get away a bit! God really answered our prayers, and we are so thankful that Charlie was able to have some fun and quality time with some of his grandparents!!

Besides watching and playing with Charlie, Kristin’s parents spent quite a bit of time just coming along with us as we taught at local churches with the CROSS Project HIV/AIDS ministry, that Derek coordinates, and Kristin’s Mom also helped out at a new Feeding Program for HIV positives kids that CROSS is now helping out at, which was a big help! So many of these kids are very malnourished,  and the clinic that the families have access to is always jammed with people. So, it very difficult for the families and children to get clear information and have time with the doctor to really understand their health issues and concerns.

We felt really encouraged, blessed, and loved to have Kristin’s parents come and visit us. These past few months in Zambia for us have been some of the hardest we had so far (also more on that in a later blog post), so it was a huge blessing to have Nana and Papa come and visit us!! Thank you so much for coming! We love you!!!

Below are some pictures from their time here.

Be Thankful. And Sing!

Psalm 108:3 “I will give thanks to you, O LORD, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations.”

Without going into detail right now, let it suffice to say that the past several months have been a sort of “dark valley” for us. A series of difficult things has made us feel, at times, a sense of despair. But God has been so near to us and has provided sure footing, even if we couldn’t entirely see where our foot would land. We have much to be thankful for.

The Holy Spirit has admonished us through His Word and through some friends that we need to never stop praising God, even if times are dark and grim. Always find something to be thankful for. Never stop thanking God…for anything and everything, good and bad, obvious and hidden. He does always have our best interest in His heart and mind.

I am taking a class toward my Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing that has nothing to do with nursing but has everything to do with fulfilling my still-needed prerequisites. (Yay!!!) It is a Jazz History and Appreciation class, and there was a great word on the subject of thankfulness that caught my attention in today’s material.

From an article in Dwight’s Journal of Music, published in 1856:

“But Americans, though surrounded with everything to make a people happy, do not show outward signs of uncommon cheerfulness and content. We are an anxious, careworn race. Our brows are sad and gloomy. Songless and joyless, the laborer goes to his task. This dumb silence is ungrateful in those who have such cause for thankfulness. Americans are the most favored people on one earth, and yet they are the least expressive of their joy. So that we almost deserve the severe comment of a foreigner, who on seeing the great outward prosperity, and yet the anxious look of the people, said that ‘in American there was less misery, and less happiness, than in any other country on earth.’”

Yikes! What a terrible testimony of us Americans!

So, today is Monday. Instead of letting the Monday blues get you down, try with me to set a new tune for this week, beginning today. Be thankful. And sing!

Pastors Charge in Exchange for Prayers

Below is an article from the Times of Zambia from about a month ago. Articles like this always make me really frustrated. But they also spur me on to do the kind of ministry that ACTION Zambia feels called by God to do. That is, strengthen the local church here in Zambia through – Pastoral Leadership Development/ACTION Pastor’s College; The CROSS Project – Churches, Ready to Overcome, Silence and Stigma in HIV/AIDS (which we coordinate); and Ciyanjano Christian Campgrounds, which ACTION Zambia owns and operates that caters as a facility to be used by and minister to the urban poor and their churches.

By JOSEPH BANDA  - Times of Zambia

“EVANGELICAL Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ) has condemned the culture of monetary charges by some pastors in exchange for prayers. EFZ executive director Pukuta Mwanza said it was sad that the trend by some clergymen to charge people for prayers had been growing and should be denounced. He was responding to reports that as 2013 came to an end four weeks ago, some clergymen went on rampage swindling people who attended their services in the hope of receiving blessings for 2014. Some churches had called for overnight prayers were they charged unsuspecting worshippers, sending away those who could not pay K30 and K50 for children and adults, respectively.
Reveverend Mwanza said there was no credible man of God who could charge people for prayers, miracles or blessings. “The Bible tells us that those who have freely received should freely give,” he said. He said that God’s work was not for sale and that there should be no form of payment wherever God’s Word was shared. Rev Mwanza said that since the trend had been growing, members of the public should report such pastors to EFZ who would in turn discipline its affiliates.

He said EFZ had a code of conduct by which all pastors registered with the institution were bound and anyone or the Church found wanting would be dealt with through an internal mechanism.”