Category Archives: Africa

I Spy

Well, although we have been quiet, we have not been bored. We did, indeed, make it back to Zambia on May 13th. All of our luggage stayed in Dubai for another scorching 24 hours, but we were glad to be reunited with all of our stuff just the day after we arrived. Thank you for your prayers for safe travel! The boys did exceptionally well, and God really did a great work through children’s melatonin. Hallelujah!

It has been fun to be back and see life through Charlie’s eyes. His awareness and ability to communicate has helped us see everything with fresh perspective. Why are we in Zambia? How come we have to go on 3 airplanes to get to Zambia? Why are the children of my aunties and uncles in America called “cousins,” but in Zambia they are just my friends? Etc…

Yesterday, Charlie and I (Kristin) went to the grocery store, and we played a favorite car game – I Spy. But this time, I added a new twist – we could only spy things that are special about Zambia, not things that we would see in Minnesota or Wisconsin. Here were a few fun things that made it in the game yesterday:

  • Dirt…everywhere
  • Garbage
  • Piles of sand, gravel, and dirt to make cement
  • Pyramids of watermelons waiting to be sold
  • Wall fences lining the roads and surrounding houses
  • Red flowers on top of huge, tall trees
  • Palm trees
  • Big checkered speed “humps”
  • A huge dump truck carrying gravel
  • A man standing in the street at the traffic light selling talk time (minutes for cell phones)
  • Chickens in the back of a pickup truck waiting to be sold (and eaten!)
  • Big bags of Zambian charcoal on the side of the road
  • Ladies carrying buckets of water on their heads
  • A tall crane

Everyday life in Zambia looks very different from what we know in America. But driving anywhere here is an exciting experience, and, as Charlie likes to say when we drive, “Just sit back and enjoy the show!”

 

Encouraged by Our Visitors

In Romans 1:11-12, Paul, says to the church in Rome that, “…I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you – that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.”

When people come and visit us, they usually remark on what a challenge it must be to host people for a couple of weeks at a time and they appreciate that we are willing to host them. Yes, hosting has become more challenging with two little kids, but just as Paul talks about in Romans 1:11-12, we are so encouraged by our time with people that come to visit us and stay with us!

Over the last three months, we have had the joy of hosting Wade and Annette Hetrick, from my home church in Appleton, WI (Wade is the pastor there), for a week in Zambia and then a week in Cape Town, South Africa; Kristin’s parents, Terry and Connie Carlson from Burnsville, MN, for a few weeks; and then last week, Nelson and Linda Reed from the Seattle, WA area. Nelson was ACTION’s International Director for nine years up until this last March and is still our Africa Regional Coordinator for ACTION. All of these three couples have encouraged us so much and have been a huge help with the boys! Charlie and Sam have loved every minute of play time with their Meme and Gpa, Nana and Papa, and “Grandma-Auntie” and “Grandpa-Uncle” (those were the names that Charlie came up with for them).

All three of these couples were also a help and encouragement to ACTION Zambia (AZ) as well and those we minister to here. Wade and Annette did a one-day marriage seminar for AZ’s Pastoral Leadership Development department. Terry and Connie gave the graduation address to two of the graduating CROSS classes and also did some medical home visits through Faith Tabernacle Church in George compound. Nelson and Linda greatly encouraged us all here on the field and gave us all some soul care!

We are thankful for our recent visitors and for making the trek all the way here to encourage us and minister to us, as well as others! We hope that we were an encouragement to all of them as well.

Mountains. Oceans. Seafood. Oh my!

IMG_1703

Ahhhhhhh (long, dreamy sigh). Cape Town.

Oceans.

Mountains.

White sand.

Spectacular beaches.

Seals playing in the waves as we enjoyed our morning coffee from our balcony.

Endless, amazing, cheap seafood.

Penguins hanging out on the beach.

What is there not to love?!

Thanks to a gift from a friend, along with the [strong] encouragement to go on a vacation outside of Zambia (aww, shucks!), we got to experience the incredible Jewel of Africa. It is truly a world class city. And we were continually blown away  by the incredible beauty e.very.where.

In all the activities we did, we never felt too far from home. Whether we were at the Cape of Good Hope (the Southwestern-most tip of Africa, near where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet) or on top of Table Mountain or visiting the penguins or going for a boat ride to see 70,000 seals (and the occasional whale!), we ran into Midwesterners. Some came for safari, others had family that lived there, and others were, like us, taking a vacation from ministry to see sights and get refreshed.

The only negative about this trip was that it has ruined us for any future vacation in Zambia! If direct flights from Lusaka to Cape Town become more reliable and inexpensive, you can guess what we might be saving our money for!

In the words of some Lusaka friends that we ran into in Cape Town, “We are back in Lusaka. No beach, no mountains, no electricity.” Haha! Yep. But somehow, coming back to our little corner of Lusaka felt more like home than it ever has. God has called us here, and this is home…For His Name.

Enjoy some of our pics! And if you ever get the chance…

PFR (Pray For Rain!)

zambiarainThe Reuters article below pretty much sums up the situation here in Zambia. The article is dated October 15th, and, in that time (at least, in our part of Zambia), it’s only rained briefly a couple of times. The article also doesn’t mention the social consequences of low rainfall. With so many people losing jobs, things like domestic violence, prostitution, crime, drunkenness, etc. all increase. The situation is quite dire for many Zambians, and the consequences to their families are extremely hard. So please PFR with us! PRAY FOR RAIN to come and in an abundance to Zambia and Southern Africa.

Low rainfall and crippling power shortages hit Zambia’s economy

“LUSAKA, Zambia Oct 15 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Brenda Nglazi Zulu has tried to adapt to the power cuts that sometimes leave her home in the capital Lusaka without electricity for half the day. She bought a gas stove and installed solar panels to help keep her lights on.

But the cost to her career as a freelance journalist and researcher is becoming intolerable. Her monthly income has dropped by more than half, because most of the day she can’t work at all.

“I now only work when electricity is available to power my mobile phone and my laptop,” said Zulu, 45. “Initially it used to be two to four hours of no electricity, but now we go eight hours to 12 hours a day without power.”

With increasingly erratic seasonal rainfall causing severe water shortages at Zambia’s hydropower plants, Zesco, the country’s sole power utility, says it has been forced to cut back on electricity supply to households and industries.

The lack of reliable power is hitting Zambia’s economy, as people struggle to make a living without electricity half the day, experts say. Unless heavy rains come to Zambia soon, they add, the country will face a heavy economic bill from climate change.

CRIPPLED COPPER MINES

In June, Zesco released a statement saying that erratic rainfall over the last two years has resulted in low water supplies at both its Kariba North Power Station in the southern part of the country and nearby Kafue Gorge Station.

Kariba is running at only 40 percent capacity, the company said, while Kafue Gorge is running at one-third of its 1,500 megawatt (MW) generation capacity.

According to the Zambia Meteorological Development agency, annual rainfall has dropped from an average 1,200 mm to below 600 mm in most areas over the last two years.

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) predicts that the current El Nino weather event will only make things worse: “With El Nino forecast to continue into the first quarter of 2016, suppressed rainfall is likely over many regions during the coming rainy season, including in southern Africa, America, and the Caribbean.”

Continued low rainfall could have a huge impact on the country’s economy, experts warn.

The country’s copper mining industry, which accounts for 70 percent of Zambia’s foreign exchange earnings, has already been hobbled by the country’s power problem.

In September, Anglo-Swiss mining and commodity trading giant Glencore, which owns a large share of Zambia’s Mopani Copper Mines, told the Zambian government it plans to lay off workers and cited power supply shortages as one of the factors behind the decision to downsize, alongside dropping copper prices.

“They intend to lay off close to 38,000 workers,” Zambia labour minister Fackson Shamenda told local media.

Also in September, copper mining firm Luanshya Copper Mines said in a statement it had cut production and sent some 1,200 workers on forced leave after reducing the mine’s operational hours to compensate for the electricity shortage.

The National Union of Miners Workers has since requested an emergency dialogue with the parties involved to try to save the mining jobs.

MORE DAMAGE TO FORESTS

Climate experts say that the damage low rainfall does to the country’s economy could also have a destructive impact on its environment.

“(The power shortage) may lead to soaring deforestation and further compounding on global warming as more households resort to wood and charcoal for cooking and heating,” said Chileshe Musonda, coordinator at the Zambia Climate Change Network in Lusaka.

According to figures from the Zambia Forestry Department, the country already loses between 250,000 and 300,000 hectares of forest every year, mainly due to the production of charcoal.

Recently, the government announced plans to build a 750 MW hydropower plant to ease the pressure on existing power stations. But that may take up to 10 to 15 years to be fully operational, the ministry of energy said, and changing rainfall patterns could also affects its operations.

In the meantime, power company Zesco says all that Zambians can do is hope for rain – lots of it.

In a statement released in July, senior manager Readley Makaliki said the company needs two or three normal to above-normal rainfall seasons to get back to its usual energy production patterns.

“The key thing to note is that even when the rains come either in November or December, (the power supply) won’t normalise,” he said.

(Reporting by Danstan Kaunda; editing by Jumana Farouky and Laurie Goering :; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, climate change, women’s rights, trafficking and corruption. Visit http://www.trust.org/climate)”

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.”

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.

Please Pray for Zambia – “Zambia president Michael Sata dies in London”

 

Michael-Sata_2117184bArticle from The Telegraph – found here.

“Michael Sata, the 77-year-old Zambian president nicknamed King Cobra for his tough-talking, has died in a London clinic after a long spell of ill health that has caused uncertainty in the copper-rich southern African country.

Under the constitution, Mr Sata’s white Vice President Guy Scott should now take over until elections in 90 days, but he is barred from taking office because his parents were not born in Zambia.

Diplomatic sources said the president’s death in office, and jostling for power within his Patriotic Front party as well as among those in opposition, could spell a period of instability in the former British protectorate and possible outbreaks of violence.

Mr Sata, a staunch Catholic and father-of-eight, passed away at 9pm on Tuesday night after being admitted to King Edward VII Hospital near Regent’s Park in London., the Zambian government said.

Dr Roland Msiska, Secretary to the Zambian Cabinet, said Mr Sata’s wife Christine Kaseba, a doctor, and his son Mulenga, the mayor of Lusaka, were at his side.

“It is with a very heavy heart that I address you today, to inform the nation that our beloved President and Leader, His Excellency, Mr. Michael Chilufya Sata has passed on,” he said in a statement issued at 8am this morning, around three hours after reports began to circulate.

“President Sata’s demise is deeply regretted. During this difficult period, I urge all of you to remain calm, united and peaceful during this very difficult period.”

At present, the acting president is the defence minister Edga Lungu but several ministers including the former Justice and current finance ministers have been tipped to take over.

Mr Sata was a chain-smoking former Victoria Station railway porter and trade unionist who famously challenged growing Chinese dominance in his country before ousting incumbent Rupiah Banda from power in elections in September 2011.

His victory saw the former British protectorate take its place among a select few in Africa who changed their ruling parties change twice, democratically and peacefully, since independence 50 years ago.

Diplomatic sources said his death, after two unsuccessful attempts at the presidency and just two and a half years at the helm, was a “Shakespearean tragedy” which could prompt some instability.

Under Zambia’s constitution, the Vice President should step in as Acting President until an election for a new leader within 90 days of the death of the president.

Mr Sata had been largely absent from the public eye for two months and had stopped chairing cabinet meetings or seeing journalists outside of the state media.

In June, there were reports he had died after he disappeared without explanation, and then was reported to be receiving medical treatment in Israel. Mr Sata missed a scheduled UN General Assembly speech because he had fallen ill in his New York hotel.

At the state opening of parliament in September, he joked about the false reports of his demise, but journalists were prevented from going too close to him or speaking to him.

One minister was overheard complaining that the country’s leader was an “absentee landlord”, while opposition parties sought court orders to try to force the government to explain his state of health.

Among those who paid tribute to Mr Sata yesterday was South Africa’s African National Congress, which described him as “popular for his modesty and focus on the poor and disadvantaged”.

James Thornton, the British High Commissioner to Zambia, said Mr Sata had “cared deeply” about his countrymen and his country’s development. “During his Presidency Zambia continued its rapid economic growth,” he was quoted as saying in the local media. “His government invested heavily in developing Zambia’s infrastructure, and has made some good recent progress in areas such as civil service reform. His Government was particularly active in promoting the rights of women and girls.”

Mr Sata moved to Britain in the early 1960s and worked first in a laundry in Bromley, then at the Vauxhall car plant in Luton, then at Victoria Station and London Bridge first as a porter, then a shunter, then conductor and eventually British Rail driver.

“I swept London Bridge, I swept Victoria and I enjoyed it. If I went to England and I was treated like a gentleman, I would not have had any resolution to look after this country,” he told The Telegraph in an interview shortly after coming to power.

A dominant force in Zambian politics for more than 20 years, the former trade unionist defected from Kenneth Kaunda, the independence leader’s party, to join the opposition then served as Minister for Local Government, Minister of Labour and Minister of Health under President Frederick Chiluba.

A diplomatic source said Mr Sata’s death in office was “tragic”. “It’s a real Shakespearean tragedy because this is someone who spent his whole life looking to be president and he finally got the reins of power then was too sick to govern and died in office,” he said.

The source said it remained “unclear” what will happen next. “The cabinet will need to vote on who will be acting president,” he said. “There’s no doubt there will be some infighting and there is also a tribal element but it’s never come to the fore before.

“The Patriotic Front winning the next election is not a certainty although opposition groups are also divided.

“So far it’s business as usual but it will be a few tense days as we watch for the smoke from the chimney to announce an interim leader. I would expect some isolated cases of violence but they will most likely peter out. Zambians have a peaceful history, have already lost one president in office and the country’s police and security forces have always behaved professionally.”