Category Archives: Charlie

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!”



Mountains. Oceans. Seafood. Oh my!


Ahhhhhhh (long, dreamy sigh). Cape Town.



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…

Sam Turns 1 Year Old

Well, our blogging skills lately have been as good as our Nunchaku skills, which we get an F- at! We haven’t posted anything for a while about our kids (or anything else for that matter – sorry about that), so we thought we would share this fresh video of what both of them are up to these days. This is pretty much how most days look and sound… 🙂

We’re thankful for these two little guys and especially, lately, for Sam, who just turned 1 year old on October 30! This year has been filled with traveling, adjustment, and craziness, and we are thankful for this little guy, who generally has a smile on his face, except in the video above. God has really blessed us with two precious little boys. We would continue to covet your prayers for them. It seems like every two weeks one of them is picking up a little bug of some kind or another.

We’ll send out some more information soon – there’s actually a lot going on! Thanks so much for your prayers and support!

Thank You! (And Some Praises and Prayer Requests)

Hi, everyone! Well, June is almost over, and this is our first blog of the month! June has really gotten away from us as we get ready to head back to the USA and Canada for the month of July.

We both, and especially Kristin, have been busy chasing a three year old around and an almost eight month old, teething baby around. I (Derek) have been busy with normal ministry things related to the CROSS Project HIV/AIDS Ministry and ACTION Zambia Administration and also getting ready for the ACTION International Council meetings (July 6-9) near Calgary, Canada with reading and writing things.

Along those lines, we want to thank everyone who gave and prayed for the $5,000 we needed to cover our time at the ACTION International Council Meetings and the 40th Jubilee Celebrations for ACTION! God has been so gracious to us, and all of the money has come in!

Thank you so much for your gifts and prayers, and we praise God for all of you!!

Here are a few more praises and prayers: 

-We praise God for Charlie, who turned three years old on June 15th! He is such a happy, funny, very thoughtful, questioning, and inquisitive three year old. We love him so much and are so thankful for him.


-We praise God for Jason and Grace Van Ankum, who will be joining AZ this July. They are originally from Canada and have been living in Zambia for almost a year working with another Christian organization up in Ndola. But now their transfer is complete, and they will be helping out in our Pastoral Leadership Development department with ACTION Pastor’s College. They also will be staying in our house while we are gone in North America, which is a huge help to us!

-Please pray for us as we travel this Monday (40 hours total on June 29 and June 30!!) to Minneapolis via Johannesburg, London, and Chicago. Pray for Charlie and Sam that they will both do really, really well with all the waiting, sitting, and long plane rides. Please also pray for safety and that we make all of our connections.

-Please pray for our time up in Canada. The International Council Meetings will be taking place July 6-9, and the Jubilee Celebrations will be taking place July 9-15, both at the same location – Prairie Bible College. We are very thankful for ACTION and the work that God has done through ACTION for His glory for these past 40 years!

-Please pray for the electricity situation going on in Zambia right now. Because of the low rainfall this past year and because 93% of Zambia’s electricity comes from hydroelectric power, Zambia’s power company can’t generate enough power for the country. So, we are now experiencing at least 5-6 hours a day of load-shedding, which is another way of saying that the power company turns the power off for 5-6 hours a day. We’ll be gone the month of July and get a reprieve from the frustration, but please pray for the rest of our team here on the ground as they deal with this problem that won’t get sorted out till after the rains start again in November or beyond, unless electricity starts getting imported.

Charlie and Sam, Friends at Last (Video)

Well, in May, we ended up posting quite a bit about our kids. So, I guess to cap off the last day of May, we’ll post a little video of Charlie and Sam together. Charlie wasn’t so sure of Sam for the first few months of his little life, but they are becoming pretty good friends as of late. 🙂

In June, we’ll make sure we post more about how ministry is going and our upcoming trip back to the USA and Canada for the month of July.

A Toddler’s Perspective on Playing Catch [Video]

In case you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to be inside a toddler’s body, here ya go. We put a camera on Charlie’s head and played catch.


We learned that a simple game of ball-throwing involves a lot of falling down with both catching and throwing. And don’t worry, Charlie did not get hurt in the making of this video. Enjoy!

Papa’s House = America

IMG_3189Ever since we have been back in Zambia and increasingly in the past month or so, Charlie has been talking a lot about Papa (his Carlson grandpa) or Papa’s house. We hear such things as…

When struggling to put shoes on his big feet, he says, “Need Papa’s horn” – as in shoe horn.

Or we are building a train track and run out of pieces, and his American, not-used-to-any-lack self says, “Go grocery store Papa’s house buy choo choo track.”

Or if he doesn’t like what Derek or I have told him, he says, “Go Papa’s house,” as if Papa will take his side.

Out of the blue the other day, he said, “Decorations be broken Papa’s house…next week.”

We have told him that we will be going to Papa’s house, but not for a while. So, almost every night before bed, he says, “Go on airplane Papa’s house wake up.”

(As you can see, we’re still learning about prepositions and the many tenses of “be…” verbs). 🙂

This week, some teammates and friends of ours (Andy and Beth Rice) finished their time in Zambia and returned to the States. Most children here refer to older non-related adults as either auntie or uncle. But Charlie, on his own accord, decided that Uncle Andy was more of a “G-pa.”

G-pa and Auntie Beth stayed at our house for their last couple days, and then Derek took them to the airport. Charlie has been very curious since yesterday about where they are at each moment. He knows that they left in an airplane to go to America, so he tells us that “G-pa Auntie Beff go bye-bye in airplane Papa’s house.” Or when he heard a small propellor plane fly over our house yesterday and again today, he says, “Oh! There he is! There’s G-pa!”

But it occurred to me that, in Charlie’s mind and for all he is concerned, Papa’s house is America. And when people get on airplanes, they are going to Papa’s house.

Of course, all this coming and going of other people and us brings up TCK (Third Culture Kid) issues that we are learning to deal with. If you are ever interested in reading more, there was a fabulous 3-part blog that has been so helpful as we help Charlie work through the hello’s and goodbye’s and transition of life as we currently know it.

It is hard for an almost-3-year-old to understand these big concepts. But one thing is for sure. When we get on that airplane in a couple months, he will know that we are going to Papa’s house.