I have sat down so many times to write about my parents’ time here, only to get interrupted by one unnamed, but VERY cute, little person (pictured below), who might be hungry, lonely, overstimulated by his “Purple Friend”, too hot, needing a diaper change, or spitting up all over himself (like he just did right now).
And, of course, there are the basic activities of daily life, like cleaning, cooking, grocery shopping, ministry, etc…All of these are things that Derek, Charlie, and I have had to learn to do on our own in the last 4 weeks, since my parents left.
It’s hard to believe that my mom and dad were in Zambia with us for over 6 weeks and have now been gone for over half that time. And it’s hard to believe that Charlie has now lived ⅔ of his life in Zambia. He doesn’t seem too worse for the wear and, actually, is quite happy most of the time.
As I reflect back on the time that my parents were here, there are several events and emotions that stand out.
-Joy and amazement: It was really fun to share our lives here with them, and many times it was hard to believe that they were actually with us…in ZAMBIA! Also, my brother (Bjorn), his wife (Kendall), and a friend of theirs (Hoy), came for 10 days during this time. What a surreal time for us!
-Business seminar: That was one of the main reasons for Bjorn, Kendall, and Hoy’s trip. With lots of various business education and experience between the three of them, they partnered with John Chitambo (our ministry teammate) and his friend, Vincent, to put on an all-day seminar teaching pastors, pastors’ wives, and others some good, basic biblical business principles. Some of the attendees confirmed our own [biased!] assessment of the seminar – that it was very good! For Bjorn and Hoy not having a lot of cross-cultural experience, they did a fantastic job of teaching through an interpreter and making the information practical and relevant.
-“Wound care” clinic: Some ministry partners of ACTION Zambia run a Wound Care Clinic and a Baby Milk and Nutrition Program about 5 hours southwest of Lusaka in the bush. My parents and we were able to visit for a few days, and my mom had the opportunity of helping Pastor Fanwell for a morning in the clinic.
Pastor Fanwell is just that – a pastor. But God has given him a burden for the physical needs of people in the community. So, over the course of 10+ years, he has read books and learned from visiting health professionals, and now he runs a clinic that started out as a wound care clinic. Wounds are Fanwell’s passion. And he’s very good at it. But he also has learned to diagnose and treat other issues, like ringworm, intestinal worms, malaria, sprains, STDs, burns, and the list goes on. As a pastor, he loves to incorporate prayer and the power of God into patient care, and many have said, “At the government clinic, I get medicine. But with Pastor Fanwell, I get medicine and prayer.” The clinic is a faith-run operation, so any supplies or medicines they have are donated. Through donations from people in Minnesota and Indiana, we were able to stock some of the dwindling supplies of wound care products, hygiene supplies, and over-the-counter pain relievers.-Cleaning, organizing, building, and more cleaning!: My parents came to serve. And they definitely did that! My mom took over cleaning and organizing, while my dad got a lesson in patience as he built (Zambian style) a table and spice rack for me. Thanks, you guys!!!
-C.R.O.S.S. graduations: My dad was the “guest speaker” at the 2 C.R.O.S.S. graduations from the churches that completed the curriculum while we were back in the States. His challenge from Deuteronomy 32:45-47 to take to heart and apply what the graduates had learned really packed a punch and clearly summarized our own desires as well.
-Victoria Falls, Chobe National Park, and the David Livingstone Museum: All I can say about this is that you can hardly come to Zambia and not see one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World or go on a safari.
-Chilenje Transit Home: We have visited this temporary (think foster) home for orphans, lost, or abused children before, and it was great to go again. This time, we brought little hygiene packs for each child that contained a toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, lotion, hand sanitizer, and other things. We also gave a gift to each of the house mothers, who so tirelessly care for these children on top of caring for their own children and families. My parents noticed the flat soccer ball the kids were kicking around, so they got a new one that we will be delivering soon.
-Miscellanea: Derek and I have quite a bit of history here in Zambia. This is where we met, fell in love, went on our first date, lived and ministered as singles and now as married, and more. It was fun to show my parents the table that we sat at on our first date and where we used to live and the drop-in centers for street kids that we used to work at.
There were other things that happened throughout my parents’ time here – little things that gave extra meaning to each day. Like, my mom giving medical advice to our gardener who had a thermal eye injury or making tea and coffee cake for our team staff meeting. Or my dad digging out his wallet at intersections to give to the blind and disabled or making friends with the security guards at our housing development. Or both of them taking Charlie for walks in the stroller, giving him baths, or sharing snuggles with him.
-Sadness: The day they left was a sad day around our house. Their time had been so full and rich, and we were the biggest beneficiaries! I often wondered those first couple days if we would really make it – just the 3 of us. But God has been gracious to us, and my parents have already been busy back in the States doing what they do best – serving!
We can hardly express how wonderful it was to have them here and how thankful we are for all that they did to help us settle back in with Charlie. It was a precious time, and we will never forget the many wonderful moments that we shared.