Our January – March 2015 Newsletter

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Happy Spring from Zambia!

Here is our First Quarter 2015 newsletter (click here – 1.4MB).

Some of the highlights from this newsletter include:

  •  A summary of how our first three months back in Zambia have been going
  • Our quick trip back to the States and Canada this summer
  • Derek’s changing role from CROSS Project Coordinator to ACTION Zambia Country Director
  • Prayer request for a one-time $5,000 need

Thank you so much for all of your prayers and support!

5 Problems of a First-World Person in a Second-World Country

There are a couple realities about our lives: 1) We are from America and are used to all the amenities of living in a first-world country. 2) We currently live in Zambia, and this ain’t Kansas anymore, Toto. So, here is a glimpse into five ways we have had to adjust our thinking and living because of that. 

1. Garbage Pick-Up

Our garbage is “supposed” to be picked up on Saturday around noon. But in reality, it is anytime between Friday morning and Monday afternoon. There have been several times where we have missed getting our garbage collected, because we have been at church or hanging out with friends or something. People ask us why we can’t just set our bags of garbage outside out gate, in case the truck comes while we’re gone. Well, the couple times we have tried doing that, we come home to our garbage bags open and having been rummaged through (or in the process of being rummaged through) for any valuables (glass bottles, plastic containers, food, paper to help start fires, etc). Not only is that dangerous and bio-hazardous, it ends up being so messy, because the things people don’t want, like dirty diapers, get picked up by the dogs and strewn all over the street, which we then have to pick up.

So, consequently, we have gone up to 5 weeks without getting our garbage collected at times! As each weekend approaches, we wait with baited breath to see when, and if, our garbage will get picked up. 

2. Grocery Shopping

Going to the grocery store is “like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” I was just lamenting yesterday to Derek that one of our favorite cereals has been nowhere to be found for over a year. Same with Doritos and Fritos. Sometimes there’s canned tuna or popcorn or all-purpose flour or frozen corn or peanuts or limes or butter…and sometimes there’s not. It’s as simple as that. 

Mexican might have been what’s for dinner, but can I really settle for burritos without cilantro, which is out of season? And what about the chipatis (the terrible, oily cousin to flour tortillas), which are already molding on the grocery shelf? Once, we bought a bag of charcoal to grill kabobs. After the meat had marinated and the kabobs were ready, Derek opened the bag and found that all the charcoal was completely full of mold. One sign of having learned tricks of living here is to check all expiration dates, especially of dairy products, on the grocery store shelf. We have wasted so much money buying milk, yogurt, and cheese, only to get them home and find out that they’re all spoiled, even if they haven’t officially “expired.” Charlie was learning his food adjectives, like salty, sweet, sour, spicy, etc. Once, I gave him a glass of milk, and he said, “Sour.” I said, “No, milk isn’t sour,” thinking that he had mixed his adjectives up. Nope, it was definitely sour. Poor kid.

3. Getting Fuel for Car or Air for Tires

We have to buy a certain kind of fuel for our diesel Land Cruiser Prado, but not every gas station has this kind of fuel. And even the places that do have it sometimes don’t have it. Or if we need “pressure” in a leaky tire, many of the air pumps are either out of air (how does THAT happen?!) or are broken. You can see that a simple chore of getting fuel becomes…precarious and absolute drudgery at times. Will they have fuel today? Or do I have to travel around town to see who has fuel? And will any of those places have it?

4. Water

Our house has two hot water tanks – one on either end of the house. Of course, the one that supplies hot water to the bathroom side of the house has problems. Every couple weeks, we get something that we lovingly refer to as an “air lock.” We open the hot water tap, and we get air. So, we leave it running for hours on end – usually, an average of four hours – to push all the air through and get a steady stream of hot water running again. But when this happens at evening bath time for Charlie and Sam, Derek and I run back and forth from the kitchen sink to the bathroom bringing stock pots full of hot water to let the boys have a warm bath. For showers in the morning, some of the wimpier of us skip our shower, and some of the stronger of us just take a cold shower. Okay, okay, I will admit that I have been known on occasion to rather smell of yesterday than take a cold shower.

5. Power

Our power is not always stable. Since living in this house for 1 1/2 years, we have had 3 30-hour power outages, 15+ 8-hour outages, and plenty of 30-minute or an hour outages. Whenever the power goes out, we call the power company to see if they have anything helpful to tell us. We’ve learned that the words “load shedding” or “routine maintenance” bring hope, and words like “fault on the line” or “digging” or “transformer” are very, very bad. The latter words mean, “Find someone whose power is on and take all your perishables toothier fridge or freezer and make sure your phones are charged.”

Helping Charlie Understand Jesus’ Death and Resurrection

Holy Week is my favorite time of the year. On Palm Sunday in Zambia, the streets are flooded with groups of people from churches waving palm branches in the air as they make their way to church. Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis taught me what Maundy Thursday services were, which have become an incredibly meaningful occasion. And Easter Sunday has always been such an exciting, joyful day, filled with sunrise breakfasts, joyful singing, choirs, lilies, and (if I’m going to be honest) even colorful eggs and treat-filled-basket hunts.

Having very young kids means that we are at the special place of being able to create traditions that will shape how our kids remember Easter. With Charlie being almost 3, it seemed appropriate to begin tangibly showing him what “Easter” is all about. Thanks to Noël Piper’s idea in her book Treasuring God in Our Traditions, Charlie and I made a play dough mountain and tomb. I couldn’t find pipe cleaners to make the people, so we used Duplo Lego people to recreate the crucifixion, burial, and resurrection.

Charlie is a typical toddler, so he liked the hands-on-ness of this project. He also got bored with it pretty quickly during the story times, but he always came back to it later. And after the resurrection, he really thought that someone or something ought to be in the tomb/cave with the stone over it. So, I kept finding different Lego people in there or a donkey or other animal in there. It provided a great opportunity to remind him that the cave is empty, because Jesus came out of it!

I think that, for the first year doing this, he really liked the activity and will look forward to doing this again in years to come.

April Prayer Requests

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Thank you so much for praying for us as a family, especially over these last couple of months, as Derek adjusts to his new role as ACTION Zambia Country Director. 

-We PRAISE God for His grace and strength these last couple of months as we have all adjusted to this new role, being back in Zambia after Home Assignment, and to life in Zambia as a family of four! 

-We PRAISE God for two happy and healthy little boys, who keep us on our toes. Please PRAY for them and for us as we seek to parent them in a way that is honoring and glorifying to God. We, as parents, need a lot of wisdom and guidance, and please PRAY that God would give these two boys soft hearts. 

-Please PRAY that God would give Derek wisdom and supernatural guidance as he settles into this new role as Country Director and seeks to lead this field.

-We possibly have a new family that will be joining ACTION Zambia this summer from Canada. They are currently with another organization here in Zambia but are looking to to transfer to AZ. Please PRAY that God would make His will and calling so clear for them. 

-Please PRAY for John and Eta (our two national workers in the CROSS Project), as they teach our new 5-week Domestic Abuse Lessons to the Ciyanjano Christian Campgrounds staff. So far, things are going very well with lots of good discussion about how Christians should look at domestic abuse. 

IMG_0684John teaching Lesson 3 of the CROSS Project – March 2015

-The CROSS Project is currently teaching the normal 16-week Biblical Worldview of HIV/AIDS Curriculum to two churches this term. One church is located in John Laing Compound on the South/West side of Lusaka, and the other is in Chilenje, mainly to a group of youths, near our house. Please PRAY for open hearts and minds as we go through the material with them. 

-PRAY that God would work mightily in hearts, minds, and actions as people think and pray about how should they respond as a Christian and glorify God in HIV/AIDS and domestic abuse in their lives, their families’ lives, churches, and communities.  

-Pray for unity, endurance, hope, and joy in Jesus for the ACTION Zambia team and sweet times in the Word each day. 

-We would really appreciate broad, general prayers for our entire ACTION Zambia Team as well as their ministries.

-Please continue to pray for more funds for CROSS and CROSS Graduation Bibles.

We are praying for additional monthly prayer and financial partners for us personally. Please click here for giving options, if you feel so led to donate to the Dearths. 

Click here if you would like to donate to help get Bibles future CROSS Project graduations. In the Comment box at the bottom of the page, type “Bibles.”

Click here if you would like to donate monthly  or one-time to the CROSS Project.

What Do Zambians Talk to Me the Most About?

IMG_1758What do Zambians talk to me the most about? That’s a good question, and the answer will probably surprise you.

You might think it’s the gospel or HIV/AIDS or why I live in Zambia or where I come from or that I’m mzungu (white person) or what I believe about such and such or how do I like being the new AZ Country Director. Well, I do talk to Zambians a lot about those things, but that’s not what they broach with me the most.

Apparently, I’ve found out, I must be one of the very few people in this country that uses the air conditioning in my car. Wait, you say, what does that have to do with talking. Well, when you use your air conditioner in a hot climate, condensation builds up on the a/c unit and drips down onto the ground.

This has been extremely perplexing and worrying to so many people. Whenever I’m waiting in my car to pick up John Chitambo for the CROSS Project HIV/AIDS ministry, at least once a week, if not more, someone knocks on my window to let me know that, “Sir (panic in their voice), there is some kind of water leaking from your vehicle!” Even the other day at a stop light, the guy behind me, who was in a suit, ran up, knocked on my window to inform me that water was leaking from my vehicle and that I should pull over as soon as possible. I tried to explain that it was ok, but I don’t think he believed me.

So, as much as I give a defense for the gospel in Zambia, especially in the issues surrounding HIV/AIDS, I also, at least weekly, give a defense about my air conditioning to someone who is very worried about why my vehicle is leaking water.

10 Facts About Hunger in Zambia

IMG_1952Here are ten facts that shed light on the hunger situation in Zambia. Taken from allAfrica – click here.

1. 60 percent of people in Zambia live below the poverty line and 42 percent are considered to be extremely poor.

2. The prevalence of HIV among adults is 14.3 percent.

3. The number of HIV/AIDS orphans is estimated at 1.5 million which means that 1 in 5 children in the country is an orphan.

4. The prevalence of stunting in children – low growth for age – is 40 percent.

5. The prevalence of anemia is 53 percent among children under five years of age and 30 percent among women of child-bearing age.

6. 15 percent of children in Zambia are underweight.

7. More than 350,000 people in the country are food insecure, i.e. they do not have access to a regular supply of healthy food.

8. The mortality rate among under-fives is 75/1000 live births (a decline in recent years but still high in rural areas).

9. The infant mortality rate is 45/1000 live births (a decline in recent years but still high in rural areas).

10. In both rural and urban households, poverty levels are highest amongst female-headed households with extreme poverty levels of more than 60 percent in rural areas and 15 percent in urban areas.

I Need Thee…Right Now!

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Life in Zambia. There are many adjectives that describe our life here. Adventurous. Crazy. Exhausting. Unique. Fulfilling. Amazing. Frustrating. But the one that describes us the most is needy.

During our first week back, Derek and I were reminded that we found ourselves praying so much more than we did during our time in the States. There is a lot about life here that feels precarious. We feel our helplessness and weakness so much, even in simple things.

I remember sitting in the kitchen, which is on one end of our house, and hearing Sam cry in his bed, which is on the opposite end of the house. My feet were throbbing, as I was still adjusting to walking on our tile floors. The rest of my body was exhausted from the heat, humidity, and jet lag. But whether my feet hurt or my body felt hot and tired, Sam was still hungry. And I found myself instinctively crying out to God for strength to walk across the house and care for Sam.

Derek said that he continually finds himself praying for help to drive and navigate the roads, which are dotted with potholes and pedestrians and all sorts of vehicle situations (slow-moving cars, having to slam on the brakes for cars pulling out onto the road too late, vehicles broken down in the middle of the road, cars with no brake lights, the occasional dangerously fast and reckless vehicles, etc – if you are sensing that driving here feels like being in a video game, you’re absolutely “spot on!”). Driving is a life-endangering experience here, and “praying without ceasing” is an appropriate and instinctive response.

I think God likes it more when we are in Zambia than in the States, because we feel our neediness for Him more here. We call out to God more for help here. We feel desperate and unable to bring about the kind of change we desire. Our joy, our souls, our children’s souls, the eternal happiness of Zambians, our team, and so many more things hang in the balance. So, we pray. And we are so incredibly thankful for your prayers as well, which sustain us to continue on here.