Saturday, May 29, 2010

Home stay – Day 3, May 16

I really need to wash clothes again today (Sunday), but I get a feeling they won't do a lot of extra work on Sunday (and I don't blame them). Esther says we are going to visit her friends in the village, but Caleb had a 2-accident night last night, so I'll check into washing possibilities.

I got up at 5:45 and met Esther outside at 6. She said before I washed dishes, I needed to sweep. Sophia gave me her broom, and I swept the courtyard all the way back to the pigs.

This is not me, but this is the same place, and it shows you another reason why I shouldn't have bothered bathing.

After I finished washing dishes, Sophia took me to where Esther had gone. There was a celebration in the village for a new couple. This couple met while the boy was working in the capital, Lusaka. And tradition for this tribe is for the girl to move to the boy's home and live by his parents. This takes place after a trial period of at least one year lived at her parents' house. Anyway, people brought money to put in a basket set before them as they sat under a large
piece of material. There was dancing and whooping, and everyone looked joyous…except the couple. Go figure.

After breakfast, the members of my family rushed to put on our Sunday clothes. We finished in record time, looked out the door, and their family was just starting baths.

We left for church around 9:40 and got there about 10:15. It was a good 35-minute walk. The church Richard is the pastor of is an HOUR and a HALF bicycle ride away, so he had someone filling in for him, and we walked to a closer one.

Felicia had Miriam tied to her back, and they let Caleb and Elias ride the bike while Richard, Jr, pushed. Ezekiel stayed home with the grand mother to make sure our stuff didn't get stolen.

I just thought this was so precious.

Here's everybody making the trek to church.

The service had beautiful music and one of our 40/40 participants that was staying with another family in that village, delivered the message. The women and children sat on the left and the men sat on the right. Thankfully, my kids managed those hard wooden benches really well for about two hours. It was nothing compared to the benches at the Church of Christ the weekend before. That bench had consisted of two 2x4's that were 3 inches apart. There is NO way to get comfortable on a seat like that, no matter how much padding you've got! Just remember to thank Jesus for your padded pews next time you go to church.

We walked back, and I wish I had a picture for you, but Karis was exhausted, so the ladies helped tie her on my back the way the African women carry their babies. Too funny.

I'll skip lots of stuff (some of it bathroom stories, again), to tell you that the next thing I know, it is 4:00, and Esther is telling me it's bath time again. (Insert another bathroom story here). It was a crazy day, let me tell you.

After bathing, Esther called me into the smoke house and showed me that she wanted me to stack all the dishes in the basket so she would be ready for dinner. What that means is I go outside and get all the clean dishes off the stand and put them in a 2 1/2 foot high wicker basket. THAT is her cupboard for all her dishes. Another thing to be thankful for…shelves!

Another sweet lady from the village came and wanted to meet me. She wanted me to dance with her while Kylie took our picture. She was so much fun!

I shelled corn with Esther, and she started popping it to make a goody bag for us on the bus tomorrow. And her son Ezekiel roasted ground nuts to add to it.

After dinner, we had tea and coffee, and then we started focusing on our goodbyes, which are a big deal (like greetings) in Africa. Doug and I each made speeches, and then they each made speeches back to us, Esther through interpretation.

This is the room we ate on the floor in for every meal, and where we said our goodbyes.

Doug spent a lot of time with Pastor Mwenda visiting people in lots of villages. They ministered to people, prayed with the sick, and in general, just encouraged people. I think Pastor Mwenda is a very caring man, who loves the people he serves. And he does it ALL without pay. The money they earn from Esther's tomato business is all the income they have.

The bus leaves at 8am in the morning, so I am getting up at 5am so I can fold linens and blankets, pack-up, help with breakfast, and Doug can roll mattresses and take down mosquito nets. We will have a longer walk back because we are a little more tired and carrying a little more stuff. It will take us about 30 minutes to get back to bush camp and the bus.

I was exhausted and fell asleep at 9 (When the sun goes down, and there is no electricity, life pretty much comes to a halt). I thought this was going to be the new permanent me, but right now in Kampala, Uganda it is 1:15am, so I'm guessing I grew out of that quickly…sadly.

Homestay - Day 2, May 15

The Mwenda family consists of:

back row: Ezekiel 13, Richard and Esther Mwenda, holding Miriam 18 mos.

Middle row: Sophia 9, Job 10, Felicia (the orphan niece they took in who is about 9)

Front row: Elias 3, Richard Jr 5,

Esther's mother is not in the picture. The Mwenda's lost their two oldest children, who died when they were young. One from malaria and one from dehydration caused from having diarreah.

We are standing in front of the hut we stayed in.

So with our family of 5, it meant they had 15 mouths to feed. I know we put a financial strain on them, but they were so gracious and went out of their way for us in all things.

An oxcart pulled up at 6am and Doug was asked to drive

Ezekiel did take over once they reached the road.

They went to the groundnut (peanut) field to bring back some of the harvested branches of groundnuts, so we could get them off the stems. They all usually go to the field and work there, but they brought them back to the shade for us today.

I washed last night's dishes, and everyone else started on groundnuts.

That job lasted until lunch, and so I did get a chance to help out later. I had to wash clothes first because of accidents, and I also helped Esther shell some nuts. She showed me how to toss them so the chaff would blow, but it is much harder than it looks. She was really good at it.

Next, I pounded the groundnuts into a fine flour. She was adding the mixture to the cooked pumpkin leaves we were having for lunch. Then, after that, I got to help with the groundnuts.

Lunch was great, but Caleb ate nothing! The Mwenda's were so worried about Caleb not eating, that after lunch, Esther and I shelled some corn from the storage bin, and she made popcorn for him. Everyone shared it, but when it got to the bottom of the bow, Esther stopped everyone from eating and gave it all to Caleb. Sweet lady!

While she popped the second of three pots of popcorn, I hauled water outside to soak the lunch dishes. The water is stored in a big trashcan in the smoke house. The children bring it from the well each morning to store it for the days use.

It took me NINE trips to get all the water out there that I needed. What a way to have to wash dished 3 times a day. At least I have running water at my house in Arua!

While all this work was going on, Caleb was entertainment for most of the kids in the village. Here he is "playing drums" on the bottom of a bucket while the other kids danced.

This one speaks for itself. Such a clown.

And then he finally joined in the dancing, too. His feet aren't even touching the ground in this picture!

Then he decided to take care of Miriam.

And love on her. Sweet boy.

After dishes, an older lady came by that wanted to "visit" with me.

She couldn't speak English, so we sat and smiled at each other. Esther, in the meantime, killed, plucked and gutted a rooster that her husband had gotten from a neighbor that morning. She kept every part of the chicken except the feet, head, and testicles, and I'm surprised she threw the feet and head out, but I was grateful. She even scraped the sand out of the gizzard so she could cook that.

At 3 o'clock again, I was given hot water for the kids' bath, then more for Doug and me. Then I went back in the smoke house to hold the flashlight for Esther. I really should scratch taking a bath because I smell like a smoked ham every night before I go to bed, but that water
is irresistible!

It is so cool in the evenings, I put on long-sleeves, and if you notice, I am wearing the same pink shirt every day and the same long-sleeve shirt every day. No sense in dirtying up a lot of clothes,

Dinner was wonderful and then Pastor Mwenda asked his children to come in the house (Only the two younger ones ate inside with us. The other children ate with the grandmother outside) and asked Doug to share a Bible story with his children.

Another good day and asleep at 8:30pm! AND I am sparing you from another bathroom story. There is only so much bathroom humor people can take (so says my mom).

Home Stay – Here we Come – Day 1

Warning: Some of my home stay writings will be a little longer, but don't feel like you have to read them all. It's mainly for my parents and in-laws, because they are more than naturally curious about what their grandchildren are doing☺

Start of the day:

Before we left for Pastor Mwenda's home, I decided to let Renee look at my toe that had been hurting for three days. She called over another lady who confirmed "jiggers." This lady's husband calls her the "jigger digger," (sounds nice, huh?) so she got hired for the job.

She soaked my foot and then dug around with a straight pin. To the best of my knowledge, jiggers are a type of flea that gets under the nail, digs deep sometimes, and lays eggs. Sounds awesome, right?

She found two black things, which could have been fleas, but she couldn't locate the egg sac. Thankfully, we think, one didn't get laid, so after much prodding, they bandaged me up and we finally headed out for our home stay.

Pastor Richard Mwenda

met us and we carried nearly everything on our backs or on his bike. Kevin (our director) did have to bring a couple of things later in the truck. It was only about a 20 minute walk to his house.

Soon after meeting his wife, Esther, we both realized I had met her earlier in the week when she washed my clothes! She wanted me to rest first of all, but when I saw her go to wash dishes, I walked over, and she handed the job to me. I was thrilled she would let me.

You can see the dish washing station behind the guys.

Every time I started a new job, Esther wanted Kylie to take a picture.

After that, I helped Doug, Kylie and Karis shell corn for an hour or more. In the middle, we stopped for a snack of sweet potatoes.

We finished shelling the corn, and then I went to help Esther wash her clothes. She showed me a really dirty shirt and told me it's what she was wearing when she cleaned our hut. She doesn't speak much English, but I finally understood because the shirt had an orange powder mix all over it, and I realized she had re-painted the inside of the hut for us. It was very nice and clean. We fit three twin mattresses in there, pushed together, with a little walking room around two edges.

This picture was taken our last morning when I had already started stripping sheets from under my sleeping children. I'm such a nice mom, huh?

Next was lunch. We sat down, and Caleb's first words were, "Where are the spoons?" and I wanted to say, "Where is your cultural training?" We ate with our right hands for three days, and by the end, Caleb wasn't quite so covered in his food.

The staple food in Zambia is nshima. It's like a really thick grits

that sticks together like not-so-creamy mashed potatoes. You pick up some nshima, make a small pocket with it in your one hand and then reach down to pick something else in it. In this case, it was beans. And since, Caleb didn't try nshima, he was trying to eat handfuls of beans, and it wasn't pretty.

The kids played so well today with all the Zambian children, and you would not have been able to tell that they couldn't speak each others' language.

After lunch, I set up house in the hut. After giving the lunch dishes a chance to soak (over an hour), I washed the dishes, and then she told me it was time for my kids to bathe.

It was 3pm.

She just doesn't know how much dirt can find Caleb's body from 3pm until bedtime.

It was a WONDERFULLY hot bath. She took boiling water and put it in a basin, and then added cold water until it was…still boiling hot.

After this night, I did the kids' bath water. The four of us had to stand in the shower house this first night for over 20 minutes just waiting for the water to get cool enough to put on their bodies.

These Zambians really have tough, calloused skin. All of the participants of home stays say they witnessed the Zambian women picking up hot coals that had fallen out of the fire, and replacing
them with their hands. Nshima is also served at well over 100 degrees, and it doesn't even phase them to pick it up.

Anyway, back to showering. I had already decided that Caleb was the only one getting his hair washed during our whole home stay (that's one of the reasons why I look so lovely in the pictures). I got one basin for three kids, and I wasn't sure we would have enough water to wash shampoo out of the girls' hair. I would scoop out water with a cup, wet each child, they would soap up, and then I would cup the water over them repeatedly until they washed all the soap off.

Doug and I shared a basin as well. No hair washing for me. Doug went next, and while he was holding on to the inner wall, washing his feet, it collapsed. All of us outside, just heard the bricks falling to the ground. He still doesn't know his own strength ☺ It would have made a great story if it had been an outer wall, and he had come tumbling out in his birthday suit. I think I'll tell it that way, anyway!

Good thing I didn't wash my hair. It was time to cook nshima. The coals weren't getting hot enough outside,

so she moved the cooking to the cooking hut.

When she wanted me to follow her, she said, "I hope you have no weak eyes."

Well, apparently, I do. The smoke in the hut was crazy! And on top of that, I'm not NEAR strong enough to stir nshima. Wow! That stuff is crazy-hard to stir!

I moved to the back of the hut, where the chickens were nestled down and where the smoke was less, and since I was too weak to stir, I held the flashlight for her.

Friends came and went all day long and either Esther or Felicia (the niece she adopted when her sister died) went all day long, back and forth to the road. Esther sells tomatoes and only goes up there if someone is waiting.

Many kids were around all day. 10-15 at any given moment, and they all played with my kids. And when we shelled corn, so did many other kids that didn't even live at this house.

Karis fell asleep while we were cooking nshima, so we put her down before dinner. Everything was great, and dinner was very quiet. We prayed together and found out that Doug needs to be ready to leave for the fields at 6am.

It is 8pm as I write this journal in my hut, and I would think it was 1am if I didn't have a watch.


But a good tired.

“We were created to poop in a hole”

Before leaving for home stay, Renee, our nurse, was going over our medical packet and answering questions, along with our director, Kevin.

One mom said, "What if your kids can't poop in the hole?"

Kevin said, "Your kids will do fine. Most of the world poops in a hole. Renee, do you have the statistics for how many people in the world poop in a hole?"

Renee said, "Actually, we were created to poop in a hole." She then proceeded to speak about body position and how pooping in a hole is a great way to empty out the colon completely.

Doug, I, and everyone else were rolling at this point, and Kevin said, "Renee, you just guaranteed yourself another invitation to 40/40."


Prep for Home Stay, May 13

Before I tell you about our prep for home stay, I realized I forgot to tell you about the caterpillars. Yes, these two baskets are filled with different kinds of caterpillars, a treat in Zambia. I had them on two different occasions, but they were not my favorite. They are dried and then re-hydrated and cooked again. They didn't have much flavor to me, and I had to seriously wash them down.

We returned from town late. We had to get our visas extended to go to Victoria Falls, and it took quite some time for the paper work to be completed.

Back at camp, we started our "home stay prep" talk. It was close to 5 or after when we finished, and we only finished then because of my Lusaka partner, Barb.

We were talking about fears, and Barb said, "I have a fear I won't get a shower tonight if you keep talking." It was all over after that. Everyone was laughing so hard, we were dismissed.

I ran to do some packing in the daylight since I knew the showers would be packed out. Finally, Kylie and I went to the showers around 5:40. We leave our two buckets of water in the sun all day, covered with a plastic sack, so that the sun can heat up the water enough to make it bearable to shower.

Some people were smart (and less lazy) and heated their water over a fire, but I didn't have the energy to do that for all the people I was assisting in the shower. Karis and Caleb went "without" tonight.

Kylie and I were late back to dinner, which was fine except Karis ran to me saying she needed to go to the bathroom. I didn't have toilet paper (I should always have toilet paper on me, but I didn't), so I had to go to my tent and get some, and THEN I remembered I had left my dirty shirt in the shower.

I was so tired that I found myself crying as I walked back to the shower, AND I realized how selfish I am. I just want it to be "me" all the time. How can I serve others for Jesus if I can't even serve my family? How can God use me if I only think about myself? I can't and He can't.

African women do it ALL, and they don't sit around and cry.

Many women before me have done 40/40 with smaller kids and they survived.

Then, in my selfish mode, I started thinking, "Where am I going to 'get away' during the next three days at home stay? Where does an African introvert re-charge? Are there such things as African introverts? Or does their sense of community cause them all to grow up needing each other and never wanting to be alone?"

So basically, I said I would reach the end of myself at bush camp, and I did. Not because bush camp was awful, but it took everything I had and there was nothing left to rely on except for God.

Village Life, May 12

Solomon, our helper, took us to a village FAR out to interview people about their community life. First we passed this school,
and the teachers' quarters.

Here are the younger students "sweeping" the school yard.
We had visited the school the day before and had good conversations (and I taught a little to one Algebra class).

There were only 4 adults on the campus with 916 students because paychecks for the teachers had finally arrived, so the teachers all just left to go to town to get them...and the kids were just sitting there.

On to the village...
The first gentleman we met was so kind. He answered all of our questions and took us on a 9 minute walk to the village's water source.
Coming up to the boar hole
This village's drinking source
The children were dismissed early from school. Something about the teachers they sat by the path and watched us.
The man showed us another well that had been dug (that contained better water), but ever since the rope (one the villagers made themselves) that hauled the bucket up broke 5 years ago, it hasn't been used. I asked why they don't make another rope, and his response was, "That is
an issue for the head man."

All decisions made for the village have to pass through the head man, or in this case, be brought up by him.
Since the older gentleman had answered all our assigned questions about village life, when he took us to another man's house, we talked about different things. We were in the village 2 ½ hours at these two houses.
We gave both men chances to ask us questions, as well. When the second gentleman found out that people in America don't call their neighbors for a building project, that some people don't even know their neighbor's names, and that not all Americans are Christians, he was shocked, surprised, and gave a nervous laugh.

The young man was so friendly and animated, he reminded me of the small man on "The God's Must be Crazy." I loved watching him.
On the walk back to the meeting place, Solomon was surprised to learn about poverty in America. He couldn't believe there were people living under bridges or in cardboard boxes. Something he asked about (which my helper in Lusaka did, too) was the welfare system. They
have heard the government pays people if they don't have a job. It does sound (and is) pretty amazing.
These people in the village grow crops to feed their families and go to the boar hole for water. Some people may go their whole life without money passing through their hands, yet they are content and accept life just how it is.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

DFAs in Petauke and other villages

We spent 10 nights in our tents at Petauke and 3 nights with a Zambian family. I probably learned the most from people during our DFAs here. In the village, the people had a lot of work to do to bring in their crops, but they are also a lot less rushed than they are in the city, so conversations could linger more.
We were put in new ministry teams for the rural setting. Husbands and wives went together, single girls went together, and single guys went together. Doug and I had a helper named Solomon.

May 6 – We split up and met different gov't officials. Doug and I and another couple met the District Commissioner (Kids went to the market to look around)

May 7 – The ladies put on a tea for the Dist. Comm's wife and the wife of the chief. The men went to the chief's "palace," and interviewed him for quite some time. (Kylie and Karis, with two other girls sang "Put on the Full Armor of God" for the ladies.
May 8 – Interviewed people about traditional healers and witch doctors, then went to visit one.
May 9 – Each team went to a different place of worship today. Doug and I went to Church of Christ.
May 10 – Interviewed villagers about life cycle, rituals, age mates, etc.
May 11 – We shared our life stories today in a way that would speak to an African
May 12 – Interviewed villagers about life in a village (intriguing!)
May 13 – Free day in town and to get packed and ready for homestay
Again, I could elaborate for a blog-a-piece on each DFA. They were truly fascinating, and we learned SO much. Some people have said that 40/40 gives you a 5-year jump start. It keeps you from making so many mistakes, and you discover so much about a culture that you only "thought" you knew.

The Stars at Night, May 5

Stars! Wow! I think on Yoakum's best night, it's not as good as an average night in Zambia. I don't know if it's because we're in the Southern Hemisphere, or more likely, that on a whole, Africa has very little electricity and lights being used after sundown. It's a dark continent physically and spiritually, but boy does God's glory shine in the sky.

Again, I'm reminded, like I was in Israel, why God was a pillar of cloud and fire for the Israelites in northern Africa. Hot days demand shade and Cold nights long for fire.

Bats in the Latrine, May 5

Last night when I went to the choo, I made a big mistake wearing a head lamp.

I was about to squat, when a BAT flew up and out and back down the hole.

Needless to say, I was a little scared.

I know we are supposed to use the squatty side for #1, but I couldn't get my head around
getting down low to the hole and being in the middle of my business and having a bat come up and flap its wings against me.

So…I used the "seat side." It's intended to help people when they go #2, but we know that when we do the homestay with a Zambian family, we won't have the luxury of a seat.

Here's a sneak peak at the latrine of the family we stayed with.

See? No seat.

The story continued the next day.

I went to the choo, intending to use the seat for #2, but when I opened the lid…BAT! Seeing the light, it fled south, but again…crisis of faith.

I'm pretty sure today was the first day I've ever sat on a toilet seat and prayed to the good Lord to not let anything fly out of it.

I could only imagine that by my sitting on it, the darkness would returnand the bat would feel comfortable returning.

Alas, my prayers were answered.

I'm sorry if this is too much information for you, but I wanted to make sure you got my FULL 40/40 experience.

I really am sorry I didn't get the picture of the bat either. There was one that held onto the wall all day long, every day, and "enjoyed" a spray of coolness, but never moved. Karis thought that was so cool.

I go to the choo A LOT (kids, remember?)!

For example, one evening I was going to get coffee, but Kylie needed to go for a long call. Ten minutes later, she finishes, we wash hands, she falls. On my way to help her get a band-aid, Doug calls across the field and said that Karis was coming to "go.".

I took Karis, and also made sure Caleb "went" by a tree. I finally made it back to the cooking tent, and the coffee was gone. Tea time was over.

So I decide to sit and visit with Doug and some other adults when Karis comes AGAIN to say she needs to go AGAIN. Afterwards, I return to our sleeping tent, deciding just to journal and be alone. I wrote one sentence and heard, "Mom, I need to go." It was Kylie. I knew I'd better check with Caleb again, too.

Caleb's way of dealing with culture shock, apparently, is to have bathroom accidents. I don't know if it's because the choos are so far away from things or if he just doesn't think about it in time, but I paid someone to wash clothes twice while we were at bush camp, and twice I went to the well to do the wash. I couldn't keep up because I had only brought 5 outfits for him, and he was having up to three accidents a day.

Compared to all that washing by hand, bats in the latrine aren't so bad.

Bush Camp: Set Up & Another Injury

We got to bush camp around 2:30pm and had until 4 to set up camp. We had sheets, blankets, towels, and washcloths on our beds. Our tent was swept clean and everything was so well put together. We get two tents for our family, two lanterns, and two basins. We were set!

A view inside the kids' side.

Way, way back there in the middle of the picture is where we walk to take showers.

Here's a close-up of the female showers.

This is the choo (pronounced "cho")/latrine/squatty potty that was closest to our tent. I'm kicking myself for not getting a picture of the inside.

The constant use of the choo is really the only thing to get used to, and I will probably reach my breaking point before it's all over. It's because I not only go every time for me, but since there is a fine art to it, I have to take all three when they need to go, too.

Our amazing kitchen staff made some wonderful meals in this tent.

After dinner our first night, I was washing dishes in the kitchen tent when I heard Karis start crying. Then I heard Shannon (Olivia and Logan's mom) say, "We need a nurse."

When I finally got to her, they were trying to wash the dirt out of her mouth. All I could see was ripped skin on the top lip. I took her back to the tent to wait for an antibiotic that Renee was looking for and Shannon said she wanted to look one more time and see if her mouth was okay. She is a dentist. When she pulled down the bottom lip, I saw the hole.

It was still an hour later after kids were asleep, and we were out with some adults when I heard Doug describe what had happened. She had tripped on a root and landed face first, but the real hurt came when he had to pull her lip up and off her bottom right incisor.

He said in all his days of playing basketball, and even seeing guys with braces get hit, he had never seen anything like that. Poor girl pretty quickly passed out and thankfully, the other two weren't far behind.

Zambia is definitely leaving its mark on us.

As you can imagine, she didn't want to smile for a day or two.

But soon, God healed her right up!