Category Archives: Life in Zambia

Change (and a huge thanks!…and photos)

We have now been back in the States for just over 3 months and have had time to process some of our big transition. 6 1/2 years in Zambia – that’s enough time to be changed…not to mention that our family doubled in size during that time, which brings its own kind of trauma change.

While we obviously pray that God used us to shape Zambia, we know that Zambia has shaped us. We are more understanding of and compassionate toward situations the poor are in. We are less fearful. We know a little of what being a minority means. We have been made stronger through the endurance it takes to live with 12-hour daily power outages, horrendous traffic situations, the inconsistency of food and fuel availability, and so much more. We are more wise about missions and the struggles missionaries face. We know the joy of seeing God bear fruit. We are more understanding of people’s struggles. You get the picture.

Leaving Zambia was not easy. In fact, it was the hardest decision we have made in our marriage. But being back in the States has shown us 2 important things: 1) we still love missions and feel called to strengthening, discipling, and reaching the global Church; and 2) it was the right decision to be based in the States at this time. Some of the situations that had happened in Zambia over the last few years took a greater toll on us than we realized, and we are beginning to feel more refreshed and energized for what God has in store for us.

It really is a major perk that, in leaving Zambia, we get to still be involved in missions with ACTION! Derek will be traveling quite a bit next year to various fields for strengthening, encouraging, teaching, and scouting. We are already praying that God will use our experiences in Zambia to benefit many more around the world. Feel free to pray with us for that!

There is more information about our family and this big change in our recent newsletter, which we would love for you to check out, if you haven’t already. And to add on to the abbreviated “thank you” in our latest newsletter, we really don’t know how to express how full our hearts are with thankfulness. Through the care, prayers, and generosity of so many, we were sent out to Zambia and sustained in ministry there. Unless you have experienced it, it is almost impossible to describe how much missions is a group effort. Although we were the hands that gave comfort to the suffering or the feet that walked with Zambians or the mouths that taught the hope of the gospel, we could not have done it without you!

And even though we are based in the States now, we are in the same situation. Without so many of you continuing to care, pray, and give, we could not continue to serve the nations. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! This has been and continues to be such a humbling partnership, and we pray that God returns the blessing many times over. It is a joy to serve the nations with you.

Enjoy some pictures that we couldn’t fit in our newsletter!

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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!”

 

Triggers

This is Kristin. We will give more of an update soon on what we’re up to these days, including when we head back to Zambia (it’s getting close!). But for now, I want to share about a couple of triggers.

I have been reading in the Psalms lately, and there are two verses in particular that are always triggers of memories for me. In fact, I can’t read them without my heart beating faster, my fingers beginning to tremble, and vivid pictures from my past flashing through my mind. I don’t want to be overdramatic. I do, however, hope that this testimony of the power of God’s Word in real life situations will help you trust in Him more and find His Word to be living and active in your own life as well.

I lay down and slept;

I woke again, for the Lord sustained me. Psalm 3:5, ESV

In peace I will both lie down and sleep;

for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. Psalm 4:8, ESV

In 2005, I was back in Zambia for a few months. I had been reading the Psalms at that time as well, and I had just read through Psalms 3 and 4.

One night, I was awakened by the guard dogs barking outside my small cottage. (There was another big house on the property where a missionary family lived, and the property was surrounded by an 8-foot tall cinderblock wall with 3 feet of electric fence on top of that – surely, I was safe). As the dogs kept barking, my senses were on high alert. And then I thought I heard the front door handle squeak. My bedroom door, just off the small living room, was shut, but I definitely heard muffled noises out there. I barely breathed as I lied stiff as a board in my bed, praying that no one would come in my room. I knew things could likely get much worse if I tried to engage.

After what seemed like a long time, but was probably only 5 minutes, I was pretty sure the person/people left, but I did not want to take any chances. I was scared. Then God brought them to mind: “I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me.” “In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” And then it happened. I went back to sleep. The dogs stopped barking. And I slept peacefully until my alarm went off, and I crept out into the living room to find my laptop gone, along with my running shoes, suitcase, the DVD player, and other odds and ends.

God sustained me that night. He gave me tangible peace in the midst of my circumstances.

Fast forward to 2016. I was home in Zambia with Charlie and Sam, and Derek was in the UK for meetings. My parents had arrived earlier that day to be with me while Derek was gone.

Derek and I often are awakened at night by our dog barking or our electric fence alarm going off (maybe from someone touching it, but maybe from a tree branch blowing in the wind). But this night, I was awakened by my phone ringing. 1am. Pre-Secure. Pre-Secure is our guard response service. They told me that someone notified them of an unknown car parked outside our gate. Did I know who it was? No. They informed me that they would take care of the problem. I heard what sounded like a couple gunshots. And my phone rang again. Pre-Secure wanted to tell me that the problem had been taken care of and that they would park outside our gate until morning.

I don’t know what happened outside my gate that night, but I do know what happened in my heart. God sustained me. He gave me the same peace I had felt in 2005. He helped me “both lie down and sleep” the rest of the night.

For as long as I live, I don’t know if I will ever read those verses without reliving those nights and remembering how God chased fear, anxiety, and sleeplessness away through His Word.

Some people have heard these stories and asked, “What keeps you doing missions?!” Well, the short answer is that God sustains us and continues to give us a passion to see the nations know the true gospel. And that makes it all worth it.

Piling It On

There have been moments in the last 6-12 months where I have wondered, “Really, God? Was that petty annoyance really necessary? Because it feels like insignificant frustrations are getting piled on.” And, of course, the answer is that God is sovereignly, lovingly working Christlikeness and worship in my broken heart…though it hurts and burns.

But, as I have thought quite a bit about the phrase “piling it on” – because the power still goes off at unscheduled times and just when I am ready to put the bread in the oven or wash a load of muddy boy clothes, or the hot water doesn’t work…again, or the water tank starts leaking out of the blue, or the boys are exceptionally needy and naughty when we’re about to host 13 people for dinner, or… – I was reminded of a different kind of piling it on this morning from Romans 5.

5:1 – we have justification through faith

5:1 – we have PEACE with God through Jesus

5:2 – we also have obtained access by faith into grace

5:2 – and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God

5:3-4 – not only that (!), but we rejoice in our sufferings…because we know that God is working good things (endurance, character, hope) through the suffering

5:5 – God’s love has been poured into our hearts

5:5 – we have the Holy Spirit

I hope and pray that, in all the “piling on” of God’s carefully designed “petty annoyances,” I will remember the much greater piling on of the incredible and totally undeserving riches of God’s glory.

Driving through Kanyama

IMG_2595Yesterday, Pastor John and Jacob (two of our AZ National Workers) and I drove to a church in Kanyama Compound. Kanyama is one of the biggest compounds in Lusaka, with some people estimating that almost one million people live there. Much of Kanyama is very under developed with high rates of poverty and extreme poverty. We went to go visit the pastor of a church, where we taught the CROSS Project a few years ago, about some future ministry possibilities with their community school that has over 1,500 students.

I haven’t done a driving video for a while. So, below is some of our drive into Kanyama yesterday –

A New Year – What Will It Bring?

Now that the Christmas and holiday rush is over, you probably have time to sit down and read all of those Christmas letters that people sent. Unless you are us, as we have not received any mail whatsoever in about 4 weeks. The post office went on strike for the month of December. I wonder if they regretted that decision when they came back to work and stood before Mt. Holiday Mail?! But, I digress.

As we begin a new year, there are millions of situations and decisions we will face. Many we anticipate, and many more we do not. This got me thinking about some of the decisions I have had to make over the last year that I did not anticipate. Here are a few:

  1. As I mentioned already, our mail has not been delivered for over a month. (Thank you to those of you who sent Christmas cards to Zambia! We look forward to reading those, hopefully, in a couple weeks when they are delivered). Since I have the email addresses of some key people in the postal system, I have wondered how often I should continue to email them to ask about the whereabouts of several packages, which people sent in November, especially since they don’t respond to my emails. 🙂
  2. What should we do with our dog between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day? Zambians LOVE fireworks. Our dog does NOT. From 8pm until 2:30am for 7-10 days, there are fireworks, a poor dog going out of his mind, and poor us trying to maintain stability and sanity.
  3. Sam has been growing some pretty cute curls at the nape of his neck along with some crazy flyaways behind his ears. When should I cut his hair for the first time in his life?
  4. Does freshly-picked-from-our-backyard mango salsa pair well with spicy shredded chicken on freshly homemade tortillas? (Yes. the answer is a resounding YES!)
  5. Does my househelper/maid do a good enough job that makes it worth it for me to pay her child’s school fees/day care costs? She is only able to work if she has someone to take care of her daughter, but she cannot afford day care costs.
  6. Should I continue on with my undergraduate studies for my Bachelor of Science?
  7. When am I supposed to start officially home schooling? What curriculum will I use? Am I up for the task?
  8. What will I cook for dinner when our power is off for 8 hours every day? Will I actually turn the oven on when it’s 100 degrees outside and 94 degrees inside?
  9. How hard do we push potty training, when someone has told us in no uncertain terms, “I do not want to. I just want to wear diapers.”
  10. At ACTION’s 40th Anniversary Jubilee in Canada, I asked Wheaton College professor and author, Scott Moreau, a question that I found rolling through my mind several times in 2015 – How do I know what the purpose is of each trial? Is it simply spiritual warfare trying to distract us from the work we are doing? Is it the consequence of sinful actions or attitudes? Is it general sanctification – purging sin and learning to rely on God? Dr. Moreau’s response was profound – pray. Ask God. Press in to him. Get counsel from godly men and women. He lamented that he couldn’t be more helpful. But I do hope and pray that I will press in to God this 2016. There will always be trials. So, may God grant faith to trust him and rely on him more, especially for all the decisions and questions that will arise. And may he do the same for you.

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)”