Tracking our Zambia trip. Best read from the bottom.

Kabwe & the trip to Mufilira

Ok boys and girls, in yesterday's installment we were in Kabwe, Zambia. Today we will move on to Mufilira. But first I need to tell you that in Kabwe we did some work on the Grace Ministries building. We did painting and stenciling and some of the men worked on computers for the missionaries. This building in Kabwe is going to be a book store, classroom, computer center. Really great plans for the place and close to being done. Also, should tell you about our hotel. We stayed in a hotel while we were in Kabwe. The hotel has no a/c and no elevators, but it does have a pool. (The kids swam even though the water was about 60 degrees...this is every pool in Africa apparently). So, our second floor rooms were up 4 flights of stairs! Each family got 2 rooms. Each room had 2 twin beds. The boys slept together and the girls slept together. The "shower" was a bath tub with a shower attachment. No shower curtain or doors. It made for interesting bathing and remember you can NOT drink the water even accidentally.

On Tuesday, Aug. 3 (I think), we got up early, ate breakfast at our hotel and loaded up the bus to go to Mufilira. Mufilira is 4-5 hrs by bus north from Kabwe. We drove for an hour or so and stopped in a town called Kapiri Mopshi where some of the men helped put a roof on a new home and the rest of us got to go out street evangelizing. Talk about scary and doing something that is TOTALLY NOT my thing. We got split up in groups and my group actually got to go out into the bush. That was cool!!! We walked into several villages. Each village is 3 or 4 homes and a work kind of building. We got to see the train (one of the villages was the train station--if no one told you you'd never know). The train looked like something from 1890, had humans and animals on it and smelled! If the train tracks weren't scary enough, the train was. Anyway, the evangelizing went well. I ended up doing a lot of the talking. The Lord is funny that way. What are you most scared of? OK, that's what I am going to have you do. I ended up kind of enjoying it 'cause I realized that Africans love stories, so I just told the story of Jesus. One of the most interesting people I talked to was an old man who was wearing a sling shot on his head. The handle hung down the side of his neck. Greg, Kyle and Caolinn were all with different groups of people. Kyle's group got to go into a 3rd world market area. (We all went into one the day before and I'll tell that story later).

After we finished that we had lunch where the house was that some of the men were working on. Then we had a short church service in their unfinished church. After that we were back on the road again. We stopped a few hours later to dedicate a piece of ground our church had helped to buy. This ground belongs to the ALARM organization and they will be building a Bible institute there. That was in Ndola. Then finally we reached Mufilira. We were staying in the Grace Ministries Guest houses there. At that particular place they have a church, orphan care center and guest houses. The guest houses are small rooms. Each room had a set of bunk beds and one single twin bed in it. Two rooms had their own baths and the rest shared baths (so two rooms would share a bathroom). They were small, but clean and felt safe. The rooms all face out to a little courtyard and there was a deck behind the rooms that just overlooks some of Mufilira. We ate all our meals out on the deck. The guest house thing is quite popular in Africa. Many of the bigger city homes actually have guest houses on their property. Our showers worked there and we were happy for that even if occasionally some of us got shocked. And sometimes the water was a trickle or cold, but mostly warm or hot and they were showers. There were no mirrors in the bathroom (I thought that was kind of nice...I never knew how bad I looked). However, one day we went into town to the Shop Rite to get water and the kids were hysterical. They found all the junk food and the mirrors that were for sale. You would have thought they'd never seen a mirror before. They lined up and took a look at themselves! Very funny.

Now, back tracking a little... After we had visited the orphan care center in Kabwe, Dan asked the females if they wanted to buy chitenges. These are the wrap around pieces of cloth that the Zambian women wear. We all said yes. So, he said we should go to a real market. He stopped the bus and we got out and walked down this alley type path that opened up into a market place. It is every 3rd world picture you have ever seen. Running sewage (?), SMELL, meat for sale (leg of antelope (?) with hair and blood intact, fish, clothes, etc. Flies and people everywhere. Very upsetting to some stomachs and totally fascinating to some others of us. I felt like that something every American should experience. That was real and those people live it every day. They don't go back to a sort of safe and ok hotel or finally get on a flight to a nice home. They stay and live in poverty and squalor day in and day out. Despite that they were pretty friendly.

I also have to tell you that everywhere you go in Zambia you shake hands. We shook more hands in a day there than we have in a lifetime here. It's polite, but it's part of their culture and their connectedness with each other. Also, for some of the orphans they just wanted to touch our skin and see if it was real. When we drove to the orphan care center, the kids saw us and ran to keep up with the bus. When we got off the bus, they surrounded us and each person that came off the bus had to shake the hand of each person waiting. And we are not talking about 2 or 3 people, we are talking a hundred or more.

The Zambian people are beautiful; we'd been there a few days when Greg said to me, "I just saw my first ugly Zambian". It's true, they are really nice looking and with these big, gorgeous, white toothed smiles. Many of the people we met are as beautiful inside as out. And so accepting and soooo grateful for the little we did for them.

Ok, well that's today's installment. Tomorrow I will tell you all about the day camp and conference. Greg is trying to put some pics on a website and so when that is done we will give you the address.

by the way, those of you who prayed for us, those prayers were definitely at work. Caolinn had no fear while we were flying. She was awesome with it!!! Kyle may have been hard to get up some mornings, but he was never a grump and he was always a pleasant participant in all that was going on. No one got any intestinal stuff. The team, including the kids, got along unbelievably well. We spent all but about 8 hrs with each other every day for 18 days and even on the bus ride home from JFK the adults were STILL chatting up a storm with each other. There were very few moments of tension and those were handled fine. I think that was a beautiful testimony to God's work in our lives and also your prayers.

Really, I'm done now.


Travel to Africa & first couple days

Hi all!

Sorry we have taken so long to respond to your requests for info. Our hard drive decided to die, so we've been without email capabilities for a few days. Plus I was buried under a mountain of laundry! (Even though we gave a bunch of clothes away).

I don't even know where to begin...it's hours of stories. Maybe I should do this in daily installments for you all. Overall though you should know it was an amazing trip! I'm still sorting through emotions and memories of all we did.

We landed at 6:30 a.m on July 31 2004 in Lusaka, Zambia. We could see the sun rising as we were coming in and it was beautiful! The land there is very flat and as it is winter it was also mostly brown. The first thing your nose notices is the smell of smoke. We will never smell even a campfire again without thinking of Africa. We smelled smoke almost the whole time we were there. Really not until we were at Victoria Falls (10 hrs south) did we stop smelling it. There are two reasons for the smoke. The Zambians make alot of charcoal and they burn off the brush instead of using mowers, etc (which I am pretty sure they don't have). So, everywhere we went were signs of the brush having been burned and sometimes we saw it still burning.

Anyway, I was nervous about customs and, as it turned out, with good reason. We managed to get in the "declare" line. The customs guy (I think) had his eye on us 'cause we had some odd looking luggage. Namely, the sound system and its stand. The stand was in a long narrow box and I think he found that quite interesting. We made a mistake in not saying that it was donated to us and so he wanted to charge duty on it. All the families went through customs separately because we didn't want them really assessing everything. So, we managed to let the team leader know that we were stuck and so began to get some people involved. Finally, our missionary friend, Dan, showed up and took over. Dan is one amazing man! He got the customs guy down from $1500 to $85 in about 15 mins. Phew! I think we will do better going through customs like that again. Now we know what to expect a little better and we will just act more confidently and boldly.

We left the airport and drove through Lusaka to Kabwe (where Dan, his wife,kids and parents all live). That is about a 2 hr drive, I think. That's a little of a blur as I dozed off and on. We did stop at a strip mall in Lusaka and had coffee at an outdoor coffee bar. That was a very interesting experience. The coffees came out 1 or 2 at a time (for 21 people). Dan and his father (Karl) said that that is typical Africa. They just don't have the training/know how to do it more efficiently.

Along the way to Kabwe, there were some huge farms that were very green. Those farms are owned by South Africans who have the money and know how to irrigate. Everywhere else it was brown. I wish I could adequately describe houses,etc to you. In the city part every house is surrounded by a wall and every wall has either broken glass or barbed wire on top of it. Inside every wall are at least two dogs. I was told that this is like us having locks on our doors and that it's not necessarily dangerous. The houses are one story and generally whitewashed concreted block.

Out of the city, most of the houses are mud walls and thatched roof. Or very small run down concrete buildings. Stores in the city look similar to our stores. In the "neighborhoods" the corner store is usually a small shack with a front window in which hang the stuff that is for sale. They also have small booths that say "Phone for hire". Stores out of the city are usually the small concrete buildings with the name painted on the building such as "Joe's tyres" or "Jack's BarBar shop". Lots of little taverns in the same kinds of buildings.

We stayed in Kabwe for 3 days. We did some painting, stenciling, computer work for Grace Ministries there. We also visited one of the orphan care centers they run. The kids did a little program for us and we sang a few songs and then gave them a lot stuff like toothbrushes, toothpaste, toys, etc. We took lots of pictures...called snaps there. They love to have their pics taken and they love to shake hands. Everyone shakes hands wherever they go. The orphans were great. We didn't get to stay long, but they were so sweet. Several just wanted to touch our skin to make sure it's real. We went to church there as well. It was a 4 hour church service. They aren't typically that long, but Dan had invited several congregations so every praise team got a chance to sing, all the visitors had to be introduced, we got up and sang, we also had 3 of our group get up and give their testimonies and then Matt Reed (our team leader and pastor at our church) preached. During the singing, if the women like the words or the music they trill. One of the praise teams was so good that the women ran up and put money in the praise team leaders shirt or on the floor in front of him. These are not quiet, boring services. The singing voices were GORGEOUS! Ten people could sound like 200 well practiced musicians. It was beautiful. On top of everything, we were treated like visiting royalty wherever we went. That was quite humbling.

Ok, there's your first installment. Tomorrow...Mufilira

bye for now,

Greetings from AFRICA!!!!

7/31/04 - Saturday

Greetings from AFRICA!!!!

We're here; all 19 of us!!!!!!!!!! We arrived safe and as sound as we're going to get! and it only took us about 48 hours.
Some of us feel like we've finally arrived home. We all really need showers but, other than that we're ALL FINE! Cathy
and Katy really need a shower since Katy threw up on her Mom sometime in the middle of the night at around 35,000 feet.

We almost lost the Martins in Customs due to the fact that Greg was trying to smuggle contraband into Zambia! Just kidding about the contraband ~ I'm really referring to the wonderful sound system that we're leaving to Grace Ministries
-- thanks to our own VBC children who raised the money to pay for it.

As I type this, we are all up to our elbows sorting out the 19 ministry bags that we brought to both ALARM and Grace Ministries thanks to all of YOU!

A barbecue has been planned for tonight and then tomorrow we will head off to a 4 hour church service where some of us will preach, share testimonies and provide music.

That's it for now; we will try to write again as the time and opportunity permit.

For His glory,
Donna for the Zambia Africa Team

home sweet home

Our day in Jo-burg began with a decent breakfast buffet in the hotel. Still not the same as breakfast out at home, but it was ok. Then back to the room and showers, etc. We, of course, had no change of clothes so we were wearing the clothes we had left Zimbabwe in and slept in. How nice! We didn't even have toothbrushes, etc, so had to get them from the front desk. Thank goodness we could do that. As a group we had decided not to go anywhere because we needed to be at the airport by 2 to get checked in and go claim our luggage and get it tagged for the flight home.

After showers, etc, Greg and Kyle turned on the tv. We all ended up watching a South African physics professor answer call in physics questions. At first I thought that we couldn't have found a more boring subject for tv, but it really ended up to be interesting and entertaining in its own way. We watched that until one of the Reeds knocked on our door and told us everyone was going to the pool to hang out. We went down there and just sat in the sun and talked or read. It was very relaxing. The kids played toss the toy across the pool and extreme cold. Extreme cold goes like this: put your foot in the 50 degree water and see who else can stand it. If everyone can stand it, then everyone has to go in a little deeper and eventually it was who could stay in the longest. Our kids ended up being the entertainment for all the guests who were out by the pool. They weren't loud or obnoxious, just having a good time and entertaining to the other people who were around. Greg, Kyle and John went to the internet "cafe" room and tried to get online. Sketchy at best. Finally, it was close enough to the time to leave that we all ordered lunch and ate out by the pool. Then back to the rooms, check out and over to airport. Check in went smoothly, although I wasn't even feeling real confident that we'd actually get on the plane. We were told we had to go get our luggage and come back to the counter to check it in. Our wonderful SAA rep from the night before had told us not to argue or discuss luggage at the counter and we'd just deal with things as they came. Next we all went to find her. When we did, she had already re-tagged all our luggage and sent them on to the luggage area to be loaded!!! I think we all felt like kissing her. What a huge help that was. We then spent the next 4 hours in the Jo-burg airport. Fortuanately, it is huge so there were lots of stores to keep us amused for quite awhile. Everything was totally expensive. The rand is strong and the dollar weak. Greg and I bought 4 paperback books and it cost us $53!!!! Outrageous, but we had an 18 hr flight coming up and wanted to make sure everybody had reading material.

I would have to say again that it amazed me how well everyone got along. We spent huge amounts of time together overall, but particularly that day in Jo-burg and everyone was talking, joking, etc by the time we boarded our flight. To me that is just a testimony to God's presence in everyone's life. We went through fairly strict security getting on our flight. They patted us down, checked our shoes and went through our bags--all after we had gone through the usual metal detector stuff. Poor Kyle had the projector we had taken with us and he had to explain what it was to the security person. She didn't really seem to understand, but finally told him ok. At this point I was finally beginning to believe that we might actually leave that night. But I wasn't going to totally believe it until we were in the air. We boarded without any problems and the kids were beside themselves with the "accomodations". Everyone had their own movie screen with on-demand movies, video games, tv shows and music. The plane was brand new and we all got to sit with our families. As we began taxiing I finally believed we were going home. Then we stopped and the captain came on. There was a malfunction with one of the bathrooms. They were hoping it was just a circuit breaker thing, but if not we'd have to go back and it'd have to be fixed before we could leave. WELL, if prayer can melt metal, it would have been melted. There were 13 people on that flight who JUST WANTED TO GO HOME and they were all doing some serious praying. A few minutes later the captain said that the problem was fixed - it had been a circuit breaker. Oh, thank You, Lord! And we were on our way.

The flight was uneventful. We were served a meal which we picked at. The kids watched movies and played video games. I think Caolinn and Kyle were trying to go for a world record on how many movies a person can watch in one sitting. Sleeping was hard, but Greg took his Ambien after leaving Senegal and he slept like a rock until we landed at JFK. The rest of us didn't sleep so well. We landed in Senegal at something like 2 A.M. People left our flight and once they did, we all had to gather our belongings from the overhead bins while the security people checked the empty seats and all the bins. This of course woke everyone who was even close to sleeping. Then once the passengers in Senegal had boarded and we were back in the air, the stewardesses proceeded to give cabin service. Snacks and drinks! At TWO a.m!! Oh well, it did finally quiet back down and finally, finally we landed at JFK.

Oh did that ever feel good! We were home. I was pretty giddy-lack of sleep and happiness at being back. We collected our luggage...all 25 pieces of it (we had to get the Fords and the Jacobinis 'cause they left without their luggage in Jo-burg). In the end, 2 pieces were missing, but we didn't think that was too bad for all we'd been through (those pieces made it back about a week later). We weren't really sure how to approach customs since we had other people's luggage, so we decided to pile it all on a couple carts and go through customs. We thought if it looked too overwhelming maybe the inspectors wouldn't want to deal with it (it was 7 a.m afterall). And essentially that is what happened. We had a bus ride back to church. The kids slept and the adults gabbed. You would think we'd have nothing to talk about by then, but that just never happened. We got back to church about 11 and so got to see some of our friends when we arrived. That was pretty neat.

So, that is the story of our trip. There is so much I left out, but I hit the highlights. Looking back over the past few weeks, I am amazed at all we got to experience and do. I think about all the emotions that we experienced while we were there. I know the first day we were there and I was alone in the hotel room for a short while I felt like I just wanted to go home. I felt like it was a big mistake to have come and I felt very out of place. Within a few days, I felt like I belonged there and was mostly comfortable. In fact, I felt like I'd been there forever. That was a pretty weird feeling in itself. Greg and I decided that we had to think through everything we did so much that life didn't just flow. We gave it alot more thought than we are generally used to so it seemed like forever. (We had to think about what we drank, what we ate, how we brushed our teeth, washing our hands, keeping our hands away from our faces, where our valuables would be safe, etiquette, even crossing the street since they drive on the left). I loved the Zambians I'd met and I liked doing the work we were doing. Toward the end we were all eager on some level to come home, but once home we all had varying degrees of missing Zambia. Just today I was saying to Caolinn that I am amazed that we have been home for more than a month now and Zambia still fills so many of my thoughts. The first few weeks we were home I dreamed about Zambia every night (or my dreams at least took place there). Now that is not so frequent. I don't know yet what all the lessons are that I've learned, but I know that I am much more aware of there being a whole different world out there than this nice safe one I am used to. I have had my belief that God's family is worldwide affirmed and rejoice to know that someday I will be with all races, nationalities worshipping God in His presence. I think that my ongoing struggle with how should we as Americans (with such vast resources, money, etc) wisely spend and live knowing that the vast majority of this world lives in poverty is probably stronger now. I think I am more content with the house I have and have felt less "I wish we had..." And I am more committed to helping others.

No title specified

Hi Everybody,

I realize that I never wrote about our trip home from Africa and so I am going to do that now. On our last day in Africa we had the option of doing some more shopping or hanging out by the pool. Dan and Tina volunteered to take the kids to a crocodile farm as well. Most of us spent the morning hustling through "the market" and getting good deals. Some members of our group made the vendors quite happy, I think, judging from the number of packages in their arms. Matt met Mr Discount. When Matt met him, Matt told him, "Mr Discount, meet Mr Cheap". Some of us, including Sharon, his wife, were in the "real" stores nearby when Matt found us and quite excitedly told us all about his adventures with Mr Discount. He showed us all the stuff he got and we agreed that he not only did well, he did great!!! Greg, Kyle and I went over with Matt to Mr Discount and were able to get all that we wanted for just about what I wanted to spend. We spent "American" and traded Kyle's old Nike tennis shoes. Mr.Discount didn't want to come to my price, but he sure wanted the shoes. I finally asked for the shoes back and started to leave 'cause he wouldn't come down to my price in dollars. He very quickly came after me and I think everyone was happy with the deal. So, I have a lot more confidence in my bargaining now should we ever go back. Maybe it will help at yard sales :-).

After we left the market place, we went back out to the main street and checked out some of the stores there. The main street through Vic Falls has several nice stores. Some of them will bargain, but most will not. We (Jean had found it on Wed) even found a Christian gift shop. Greg and I ended up joining upwith Tina and followed her as she power shopped. That was an amazingexperience. I don't think I've ever moved through a group of stores so fast!Being in town was also an interesting experience. You just kind of have to be aware all the time. There are people who will try to exchange money with you on the street. They promise a good rate, but they generally end up stealing/cheating you. There are also people who will try to sell drugs to you. Kyle had the experience of a man telling him "good stuff" as he made the motions of smoking pot. Tina called Dan at one point and switched from English to Swaheli (not generally spoken in Zimbabwe) to discuss money. A person NEVER makes their intention to exchange money known if at all possible.

Tina and Dan took most of the kids to the crocodile farm shortly after that. Those of us who didn't go ate lunch and did final packing. At about one we all packed up the bus and headed for the airport. The Victoria Falls airport is like any small airport...SMALL. We checked in with no problem, got the kids something to eat and then went to sit at gate. As we were sitting and waiting we could see the luggage being piled up outside near the runway. When we finally boarded (late) each person had to identify their luggage and then the luggage was loaded on the plane. Some of the observant members of our party noticed that there were some large trunks with "The Billionaire" written on the sides. Our friends from the falls, we are fairly certain. So, we are on board our plane, we have boarded late and now we have to wait for our luggage to be loaded. While that was going on the stewardesses passed out kid activity packs in large red vinyl packages to all the kids and then the young at heart. We thought that was a good start to the flight. Ha! That was the most positive part of the flight. When that was done, the captain came on and told us that there are 3 things they strive for: to be on time, to be safe and (I think) to have a pleasant trip. So, he says that we are already late, but should be able to make up time; the flight from Johannesburg to Vic Falls was quite bumpy and would be that way to Jo-burg (so much for pleasant) and in order to be safe we were going to have to sit on the runway for 15 mins to burn 2,000kg of fuel. Every passenger showed up for the flight and the luggage was heavy (no duh with the huge Billionaire trunks loaded) so in order to fly safely we needed to lighten the load by burning fuel. Of course, that gave many of us visions of not having enough to land in Jo-burg.

We burned the fuel and took off. Shortly after take off we hear a commotion behind us. As Caolinn and I are looking around to see what is going on, I feel a drop of water on my hand. The people making the noise were making it because they were getting wet. Then so were Caolinn and I. Water was dripping on us from the overhead compartments. We ALL tried to get the stewardess's attention. She really didn't do anything, so an international group of people solved the problem with pillows and blankets and by emptying the overhead compartments. We never really did figure out what the water was, but it did stop dripping on us and the other people. After the cabin service, we called one of the stewardesses over to ask her to notify the airport at Jo-burg that there were 19 people on this flight that needed to make a connecting Lufthansa flight and we were not going to make it unless they gave us some help. Our flight was for 7:15 and we weren't going to land until 6 or later. The stewardess told the pilot, the pilot notified the ground crew and they said someone from South African Airlines would meet us at the gate and get us onto our next flight. Sigh of relief.

Yes, our flight was quite turbulent. At one point I just closed my eyes and prayed for the best. Very interesting thing, though, Caolinn who when we very first talked about this trip had said NO WAY! I am not flying, was sitting next to me patting my arm telling me that it wasn't too bad and we would be fine! Very cool the way God works! And I have to tell you all that in my mind I figured we had done the mission trip, we had seen most of our family (including extended family and some people we hadn't seen in awhile) prior to going and so there wasn't any reason why we wouldn't die on that flight. (Sometimes I am so silly). As you all know we did live. So, when we landed in Jo-burg, we were quite late. No way did we make up the time we'd lost. We got off the plane and looked around for our SAA representative and there wasn't one! We ran to the Lufthansa counter...there was no one there. We got some other airline representative's attention and the checked for us. The Lufthansa gate was closed and they weren't letting anyone else on. They had never been notified about us and they had filled our seats with passengers who were waiting due to earlier flight problems. Needless to say we were all a bit on edge about this development. Matt and John ended up at the SAA counter trying to get help and to get us out that night. In the end six of our group got out that night on British Airways, but the rest of us got to spend the night in Jo-burg. Matt and John were at the SAA counter for 2 hours working on finding flights for us and getting our need for food and shelter taken care of. The woman who helped them found us all a flight out the next night on an almost direct flight- one stop in Senegal to let people off and take more on. We were then given passes for rooms at the nearby Holiday Inn and meal tickets for dinner, breakfast and lunch. The SAA representative asked if we wanted suites. We said "YES!" When we got to the hotel, they almost laughed at us. They don't have suites. We all got rooms with 2 double beds. We did get an extra room for the Kanas family since they have 5 members and really needed one more bed. We ate dinner there at The Spur restaurant! The Spur was one of the restaurants at The Kingdom and Mike had had a pretty bad experience there. When we had pulled up at the hotel and I saw the sign for the restaurant, I couldn't believe it. We all had a good laugh over that. Anyway, dinner was good (we all ordered WHATEVER we wanted since it was on SAA) and the service was quite good. Then it was off to bed for us.

Just as a short note here: I was proud of Kyle. He really wanted to make that Lufthansa flight 'cause we were going to have a 3 hr lay over in Germany. He was looking forward to that and then had it abruptly taken away. He was angry at first, but managed to get calmed down and was even joking by the time we left the airport that night.

OK, only one more installment after this...I promise. Tomorrow I will write about our day in Jo-burg, but enough for now.


Hi again to everyone,

Today I am going to tell you about our safari trip in Botswana. On Thursday of our last week in Africa, we went to Chobe National Park in Botswana. Botswana is about an hour from Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. We had to do the same things to get out of Zimbabwe and into Botswana as we did when we left Zambia. Only in Botswana we had to get out of our vehicles and walk through the disinfectant for "hoof and mouth" disease. Our vehicles met us at the other side.

It was almost immediately obvious that Botswana is doing better than Zimbabwe. There were electric poles along the road, public works buildings, just things that belong to a country with a healthier economy. One of the reasons for this is that there are diamonds in Botswana.

I think I saw my favorite billboard there. In all three of the African countries we had been in, there were signs about HIV/AIDS, being safe, etc. The billboard that greeted us in Botswana was a drawing of a gigantic (and I do mean gigantic) wrinkled condom. The words said "To be safe use one every time". It was so in your face. We all kind of did double takes and then first one person grinned and then someone choked down a chuckle and pretty soon everyone was laughing. Especially the teens! But that did lead to a short discussion about why we were seeing such signs and how HIV/AIDS is such a problem that they need agressive campaigning against it. The HIV/AIDs infectrion rate is 38% in Botswana and 20% in Zambia. This accounts for the high number of orphans in these countries.

Anyway, we got to the place from where we would be departing for the river cruise part of our safari. I have to say that I was feeling a little leery about the quality of things as we drove down this dirt track that had garbage strewn all over on one side. The dock was narrow and rickety and the small wooded area at the beginning of the dock reeked. The double decker boat that we were supposed to go on was only a single deck boat. The boat was a flat deck with 2 canoe looking things under it for bouyancy. It had an outboard motor, canopy top and rope for walls. We had deck chairs to sit in and were told to be careful to keep the boat balanced weight wise. Kyle was not happy about this! AT ALL. I forget how he does not like boats or being out on the water too much. And this boat offered so little protection that he was really hating it. So, they loaded us onto two of these boats and off we went. We were on the Chobe River which becomes the Zambezie in Zimbabwe (which then flows into Victoria Falls). It really was beautiful. The river wasn't at all low or seeming to be dried up and it was full of wildlife. Our guide pointed out many, many different kinds of birds. Kyle's favorite (and mine too) was the Kingfisher. The Kingfisher looks like a big hummingbird when it is hovering in the air and then when it seems something in the water that it wants it goes into a nose dive--straight down. It was awesome to watch.

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The boat rampThe Pontoon boatThe Kingfisher

We saw some little deer looking animals (on shore) called lewche. Then we got to the hippos. They are magnificent. Huge! We pulled up to this island of grass and sat and watched them for a long time. This is where Kyle almost lost it. "We need to go now! We are 20 ft from this animal that can kill us. How many pictures do we need of them?" And various other unhappy statements. It really didn't help that our guide was calmly telling us that a hippo could kill us and how and why. And he seemed to think it was comforting to know that they aren't carnivores so they don't view us as prey. And if they did kill us they wouldn't eat us. I did have to tell Kyle to settle down, one of the other adults tried to tell him it would be ok, but he was having none of it. He did finally sit and glower at us. And we did finally leave and move on to other sights. But just before we left we got a picture of one of the hippos yawning with her mouth wide open! That was a cool sight!!!

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Hippos swimming REAL close!Hippos walkingCape Buffalo

There was a huge grassy island in the river and we saw Cape Buffalo, lewche, crocodiles, birds and hippos (out of the water) on it. While we were cruising the river we noticed way off in the distance and up a hill a large dark shape. This was an elephant. A little later we noticed another large dark shape...another elephant. So, we kind of kept our eyes on them and we could see that they were moving toward the water. But almost always we would miss it when they moved. Almost like they would freeze when the humans looked. We made our way around to the shoreline at one point and sat and watched a colony of baboons play. It was very comical. This is where Kyle began to lighten up and enjoy himself a little. We all made up conversation for the baboons especially the ones chasing the one who had a piece of burlap bag. Shortly after we left there we were treated to the delightful show of watching one of the elephants we had seen cross the river. That was such an awesome thing to watch. I really can't do it justice. The elephant drank (they can drink 9L in one "gulp") and looked around and then got into the water and slowly went across. All the time we sat in the boat not far from him and watched! It was beautiful! Kyle loved it. In fact the elephants were definitely his favorite by the end of the day.

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Elephant Crossing the Chobe

We headed back to the dock after that. Once we were back in our vehicles our guides took us to the hotel where we were having lunch. Lunch was ok--we had a nice view of the river. From lunch we headed to the park. Our vehicles were essentially big open jeeps. No real walls, just side rails and a canopy. We toured the park for a few hours. We started off with seeing several birds and some more lewche. Then one of the kids spotted a giraffe. That was sooo neat. They are beautiful animals! We saw sable antelope, kudu, lewche, many kinds of birds (I wrote as many names down as I could in the front cover of my book), warthogs, elephants, hippos, crocodiles and cape buffalo. We got to watch a baby elephant nurse. The girls got to giggle over the massive amounts of urine that an elephant puts out. The warthogs (although I know they are mean) were so cute to me. They can't reach the ground with their mouths unless they kneel. Our guide told us that they are born with calluses so they can do that. Sometimes they wouldn't even straighten up before they moved to a new spot they would just walk on their elbows essentially. We frustrated a young male elephant at one point and he let out a "holler" which startled us a first, but it was so cool when we realized what was going on. We watched another elephant dump mud on himself and another one scratch himself on a fallen tree he was stepping over. We startled a group of giraffes and had the pleasure of watching them run. They are so graceful! That was beautiful to watch too.

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Warthog - Kyle says "Good Eating" Time for a good scratchGiraffe on the run

And on top of everything, Greg and I were the only adults with most of the kids. That made it kind of neat. I enjoyed hearing their comments and listening to their silliness. Kelsy (13) loves giraffes and was "calling" to them. She told us they could feel her love for them and that's why they would come. She also talked about how beautiful her hair looked at the end of the day and told us that we could all have hair like hers if we would just wash it in the Chobe River. "You're hair could look like this if you wash it in the Chobe River". Very silly, but we joked about it for a couple days. Acting all elegant and fluffing our hair.

We were back to our hotel by 6 and all the kids then took a dip in the pool. We all convinced Kyle to go in and that the water wasn't as cold as he thought. He finally got in and I was reminded of the Bill Cosby where the guy skates on his fingers across the water 'cause it's so cold. Anyway, the tough kids stayed in and swam, but finally had to get out so we could all meet for dinner. Most of us ate dinner together that night 'cause it was our last night there. Friday we were heading home.

I will save the story of the journey home for my next installment, but Greg reminded me of a story (one of many I'm sure) that I forgot to tell. Way back when we were in Kabwe and visited the first orphanage we got to see the well they were building. The well was about 15-20 feet deep at that point and they were going to go another 10 feet or so. The amazing thing about this well is that it is being HAND dug. They needed about $100 to finish and line the well and didn't have it at that point. Our team took care of that before we left. We couldn't get over the hand digging, though!

The well we helped to fund

That's it for tonight. Talk to you all later,

Zimababwe or 'I like your shoes'

On Wed morning I got up and sat outside while the rest of the family slept. As I was sitting there reading and journaling, I realized that the "roar of traffic" I was hearing was really not traffic. There are not enough cars/buses in most places in Africa to make that noise. It dawned on me that what I was hearing was Victoria Falls! I think we were a mile or so away, maybe a little more. I thought that was so cool!!!

So, at 10 am we all met at the bus, loaded up, checked out and left for The Kingdom! When we got to our room all I could say was, "Thank You, Lord". For me it was a nice way to end our trip and it was clean, pretty and safe feeling. Best of all, Greg and I were going to be able to sleep in the same bed together again!! I think that that is the longest we have ever slept apart since we've been married. The Kingdom is beautiful and quite a nice resort hotel. We were on the first floor and had a balcony that overlooked the pond/waterway that winds through the complex. In the middle of the complex are three pools that feed into each other, lounge chairs and a bar. The restaurant (open for breakfast and dinner) sits back a little way from the pool area. It is kind of neat because if you walk from the hotel lobby down the stairs to the restaurant, you start out inside, but end up outside without opening any doors to get outside. The restaurant is covered, but what could be the whole front wall is open to the outside.

The plans for that day included going into town and shopping and going to the Zimbabwe side of the falls. We could walk to the park entrance from the back of our hotel property. Greg, Kyle and I went into town to shop. Caolinn stayed with one of the other families and swam. That was her biggest excitement about being at The Kingdom. Shopping at the vendors in Vic Falls is an EXPERIENCE! Some of the people on our team are very good at it. Some of us had a definite learning curve. (We got better). When you leave your hotel property you are fair game for anyone who wants to sell you something. The three of us were escorted by two young men down to one set of vendor stalls. We told them we didn't need their help, but apparently they thought we did and would NOT leave us until we reached "the market". These stalls are all side by side and each person sells essentially the same things. The variations are in color, quantity and type of wood. Each vendor tells you they will give you the best price. It's hard just to browse. We just wanted to get a sense of what they were selling and think about what we might want to buy, so we got good at "No, we are just looking".

We did buy a few things there and then found our way to the other (and bigger) market. We bought a chess board for Kyle there- he had seen several he liked and they were all fairly expensive, so Greg found one Kyle was ok with and began negotiating. How you do this is offer half of whatever the vendor says the price is and then you go from there. It is really kind of difficult because first of all we really have no idea what the item is worth and secondly we have to convert every price to US so we have an idea of what the asking price is. I think we did ok with some stuff and not so great with other stuff. Kyle was frustrated with us at times 'cause we weren't as aggressive as he thought we should be, but he also wasn't doing the bartering. (Later he said he would have bargained for his chess set and I wish we'd known that 'cause I think that would have been interesting). In the market you can negotiate in Zim dollars (their currency), US dollars (their favorite) and stuff...like your name brand tennis shoes, t-shirt, hat or socks. And they will take just about any combination. The most commonly heard line in the market is "I like your shoes". If only we had several pairs of shoes! I think we could have gotten anything we wanted. (I did drive a hard bargain on Fri with a pair of kyle's old Nike's).

After we left the market, we went back to our rooms and then met our group to go tour the Zimbabwe side of Vic Falls. So, here's the interesting thing about the entrance fee - it is based on your nationality. If we were Zimbabweans or Zambians the fee would have been $3, but since we are Americans we got to pay the highest fee of $20/person. Quite interesting. And of course on the way to the entrance we got to fend off the vendors who wanted to sell us their elephant, salad forks, cane, etc at the very best price...or for our shoes. The falls were awesome. There is more to see from the Zimbabwe side. It just seems to go forever and ever. I kept thinking, "What was it like when David Livingstone discovered it?" For him...we sort of knew what to expect and we've seen pictures, but he hadn't seen pictures, he just knew that there was a water fall that made alot of noise. It must have been the most fantastic experience!

Well, on the Zimbabwe side the safety features were much less safe than on the Zambia side. In Zambia there were railings to keep a person from going over the edge, but in Zim. there were woven thorns at the edge. So, we figured it's like the introductory pain before the real pain if you end up going over. Then at the very end of the path is danger point. Danger Point is an outcropping of rocks and there is NO protective barriers there just one little sign that says not to go beyond that point (ha,ha). All our pictures from there are from
beyond that point. Standing there you can see across to Zambia and down to rafters who are rafting in the water that comes off the falls. Beautiful, awesome, fascinating!!

We walked back toward the entrance and past it from there. Further up from the entrance is a monument to David Livingstone and the head waters of the falls. As Greg and I were walking up to look at the headwaters a guy came running up to us and told us that the park was closed past there. That he was part of a movie team and they were working on a documentary and could we stay out of the way while they filmed. I wasn't completely comfortable with him and the fact that he said he is from Atlanta and had NO southern accent not even a trace. Anyway, we all milled around for a little bit, but got a little frustrated 'cause the movie people were telling us that our movement was going to depend on their movement. Well, Sharon pulled the guy aside, told him she didn't like how we'd been treated, that the park was open to everyone, we'd paid our money,etc and she wanted to see what she came to see. He personally escorted her to see the part she wanted to see and we were all able to walk back without worrying about the filming. Greg said that this was no documentary because there were too many people involved including a helicopter. He decided that it was a reality show filming.

That night for dinner we went to a place called Boma. It is a restaurant at another resort type hotel. The restaurant was really neat. It had the thatched roof and feeling of being outdoors even though we were in. The meal is served buffet style with several courses available. We had an excellent cream of vegetable soup. There were breads, salads, veggies, meats and desserts. At the meat area we could choose from impala, chicken, warthog, kudu, ostrich, steak and ribs. Oh yeah and you could get a certificate if you ate the fried Mopane worm (a type of grub). I tried the warthog and it was ok. Kyle tried the warthog and kudu. Meanwhile, there was also entertainment. A group of tribal dancers came out at intervals and danced. All in all it was pretty interesting and I really loved the ambience.

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Warthog & Kudu - aka 'Dinner on the hoof"

After dinner it was back to The Kingdom and to bed shortly afterwards. On the way home on the bus, I stared out the window at the sky as long as I could. The sky was gorgeous with stars. (Remember there are no street lights - it is really dark as we are driving along). So, the sky looks like it's exploding with stars; there are so many and they are so bright. It's absolutely gorgeous! Kyle really liked the night sky there and tried to take a picture of the stars, but it just doesn't work too well. Anyway, that is the one thing I wish I had done more of while we were there. Almost every night the sky was like that, but when there was time to just gaze at the stars I would for a few minutes and then tiredness drove me indoors.

And now tiredness is driving me off the computer. I've got to go say good night to Caolinn and pray with her. She starts school in school for the first time tomorrow.

love to all,

Livingstone and beyond

I'm back...I had to take a few days off due to pain from laughing with Stacie about knife girl! (cache)

Anyway, on Monday we left for Livingstone. From Kabwe it is about a 10 hr drive by bus. Now it probably doesn't take that long by car, but we had luggage on top of the bus and lugagge in a trailer, so we could only go so fast. Dan, Tina (cache) and their 3 kids went with us to Livingstone. It's actually their bus (cache) we were traveling on. We loaded up the bus and were on the road by 8:15 after a yummy pancake breakfast cooked for us by Carl and Joanne.

Along the way we stopped at 2 roadside stands to buy gift items. The first place we stopped was selling drums. We were actually able to see one man working on a drum while the rest of the people with him were helping us spend our money. The next place we stopped was selling wood giraffes, hippos, etc. Dan said they make some of the best giraffes that he has seen. Caolinn and I each bought one there. One thing we didn't realize until later is that they paint on the giraffe's spots at that place, so you have to be really careful when you touch them. (We have managed to make some of the spots on Caolinn's giraffe run since we've been home. Both giraffes are now polyurethaned). The people at that stand really did have some beautiful carvings and used a variety of wood.

The drum maker

We continued on our way a while longer and then stopped to shop for our lunch makings. (And also had a potty break). Bathrooms are kind of iffy when traveling in Africa, so we took advantage of what we had there. Back on the bus we decided to make lunch as we were traveling and not stop on the side of the road somewhere to eat. So, that was an interesting affair and once more was a great show of the team work we had developed by then. Lunch was pretty yummy all things considered. Later we had one more potty stop...for those who are male it was no problem, for the females you either really had to go or just be daring. We peed in the bush.

Mike & Kathy making lunch

We finally got into Livingstone around 6 pm and checked into our accomodations and then headed off to dinner. Our accomodations were chalets in a campground. The chalets were really nice. Two walls were screened in windows with curtains, the roofs were thatch, each room had a set of bunk beds and 2 twin beds (Greg and I felt like we were in some 50s show the whole time we were in Africa) and the bathroom was quite nice. There were signs that said "Beware of the hippos" and down by the water "Beware of the crocodiles". We thought the hippo signs were a joke until we were told about the elephant that had come through the campground the day before. We had a yummy dinner out and just pleasant time relaxing and then we went back to our chalets and to bed.

The next morning I got to have my second cold shower in a row. Sad to say this was due to operator error and is a little embarassing to admit. Hey, when you are the designated first one up each day you are allowed to make a mistake here and there. And let me tell you it was a cold shower, the windows in the bathroom are just screens, so at 60 or so it's a little cool even with warm water.

We all headed off to breakfast and then on to a day of extreme sports. We went to this place that is part of the Vic Falls Gorge (cache). It's pretty much at the end of Vic Falls, so there is not any water where we were - just gorge. The two things our group did that day were the zip line and the gorge swing. The gorge is essentially 270 ft down and about 200 feet across. Let me tell you 270 ft is a LONG way down. Donna Jacobini and I took one look and said there is no way, not a chance, nuh uh! Caolinn shared those sentiments. Greg (cache) and Kyle (cache) did the zip line and neither one of them liked it, but I have to say at least they had the guts to try. Most everyone in our group did the zip line. The gorge swing was another story. The people who went from our group went in pairs. They had to stand with their backs to the gorge and pretty much just fall over the side. They are on a rope that lets them fall 50 meters (150 ft) at which point they stop falling and then start swinging. Once they stop swinging they

Once we were done there, we had lunch and then headed over to the falls. We had a couple hours to tour the falls and do some bartering with the vendors outside the falls and then on into Zimbabwe.

The falls are beautiful!!! There is no picture we can take that would them justice. They just go and go and go. There is so much water going over the falls that there is a steady roar. The water also causes a mist and so at various places people can get really wet. At one point there is a bridge to cross. The bridge is fairly mossy due to the amount of water that lands on it from the falls. As we were starting across the bridge we saw a rainbow. Really big and clear. We realized there was a faint double rainbow and that the really clear one was complete. About halfway across the bridge, as we were looking down into the gorge and at the falls, we realized that the rainbow was a complete circle around the bridge! It was cool! So, we enjoyed looking at the falls. They are gorgeous. Dan told us that he had been there about a month ago and that there was much more water then. We could see lots of rocks where the water was going over the edge and he said that a month ago you couldn't see any of the

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Victoria Falls - a small piece

After we left the park, we went out to the vendors and did a little browsing. Some of the people in our group bought things. I really wanted a Zambia t-shirt so we went into the little gift shop and looked around. I found a shirt I really liked, but of course no smalls or even mediums. I finally found one I could live with although I have my doubts as to how long it will survive. Then we went back outside and browsed the vendors some more. Greg and Kyle tried to buy a mankala game made out of soapstone, but the guy really wouldn't come down too much on his price. So no mankala board.

At 4:45 we all boarded the bus, went through Zambia customs to exit and we headed over the gorge into no man's land. At the end of the bridge is the Zimbabwe customs. The building looks like 1950's and not well maintained. The men went into the building with all our passports, filled out the paperwork, paid the $30 per adult to get into Zimbabwe and loaded back into the bus. The paperwork took forever because there are no computers. You fill out forms in triplicate and it's a slow process. Once we were all back on the bus we had to show our pass to the customs/policeman guy before we could officially enter Zimbabwe. He wanted three US dollars before he would let us pass. We gladly gave it and got out of there. The whole passport, customs, police thing is so different than here. If we weren't states then we'd be doing the same thing here, but let me tell you it makes you glad for the way things are here!

Shortly after that we arrived at our new "homes"and unloaded our luggage for what seemed like the millionth time since we'd been in Africa. Talk about 1950s CCC seeming - this place definitely had that feeling. My favorite part was the sign that said in essence "Due to circumstances beyond our control you may or may not have water". Later Greg really loved the bugs he found in the refrigerator. The places were concrete block with concrete floors. We had chairs that were from the '60s and done in a nice floral pattern. The plus side was that there were 2 bedrooms, so although we had twin beds again, Greg and I could sleep alone in our room. No one was in love with the place, but it'd be ok.

THEN we went to dinner at the resort hotel just down the street. Boy did we think it'd be nice to stay there. We ate dinner and chatted with the Fords. The Fords had asked about room rates 2 years ago when they were there and had been told $200 and up per night. AND even with only 25% occupancy they weren't willing to play let's make a deal. We decided to go over and talk to the reservation people anyway. When we got there Dan, the great, was already at the desk talking. He came to us and said he could get us the rooms for $100 per night for the whole family and that would include 2 breakfasts and for $120/night everyone could eat breakfast. (Usually it is $200/night for 2 and then more money for more people). We had a group discussion and decided to make the move in the morning. It was $70-80 per night at the other place anyway and this was MUCH, MUCH nicer. You could hear the collective sigh of relief.

Tomorrow, I will write about "The Kingdom" (that's where we stayed) and the Zimbabwe side of the falls. But this is it for now.

goodnight all,

More Africa

Yesterday I took a break from writing (translated: I forgot to write an installment, sorry), but I am back now. In the mish mash installment I forgot to tell you about the toilet paper in Africa. Toilet paper there comes in many colors! We had pink, blue, tan and off white. Very interesting.

I also forgot to tell you about one of the really neat guys who we met there. His name is George and he served our meals to us every day. He was so sweet and really friendly. He was great with our kids. One day he knew Caolinn wasn't feeling too well and he came over and asked her if she was ok. He told her he'd pray for her and the next day made a point of asking her how she was feeling. He also taught our kids a couple songs in Bemba. We knew one, but needed to learn a new one, so he obliged.

George has several children. One of his children has something going on in his brain. "They" think possibly a tumor, but don't know and there is no money for an MRI. George also is an elder in the church there in Mufilira, he leads a bible study group and mentors some of the younger men. George was a hero to us 'cause he has such a servant's heart.

Saturday (after the conference was over) there was a wedding of a couple from the church. Now, here's an example of what we call "Africa time". We were told by the pastor marrying the couple that the service would start at 9:30. Well, Carl took a group of us into town at 9 am and when they saw Pastor Skye at 9:10 in town they knew that there would be no wedding at 9:30. (Carl knew that long before we did since he's been in Africa 50 yrs). The wedding finally did start at 11:30. We also say "TIA" this is Africa. And truly that is the way things go there.

So, the wedding was not a whole lot different than one of ours except that the bridesmaids, flower girls and groomsmen dance (swaying kind of dance) up the aisle. Someone timed it and I can't remember how long they said it took, but it was longer than 30 minutes. The other difference was that it is culturally unacceptable for the bride to smile or make direct eye contact. She looked like she was being led to her torture. The groom was very somber as well. But if the bride were to smile or look up it would be considered prideful and that would be a bad start for the marriage. We, of course, were given the seats of honor. We sat up front on one side of the church while the families of the bride and groom sat up front on the other side. (We did not pick to sit up front, but were ushered there). Matt preached the wedding sermon and Matt, Greg and Mike (Ford) as pastor and elders from our church joined with the pastor and elders from their church in praying for the couple after the ceremony was performed. The other thing they have to do is sign all their documents after the ceremony - something to do with the Zambian laws.

Ok, so after the wedding ceremony is the reception. We were invited to go to that (and had to as it was considered an honor that we would go). The reception was a short distance away at the Hindu Hall. This is an old huge theater that was owned by the Hindus in the area at one time. Now there is only one family left and the hall is up for sale and in a shabby sort of state. The bridal party was at a table on the stage. The cake was on a table just in front of the stage and the rest of us were in seats in the theater. Yes, we were in the front rows again. The reception wasn't a whole different from what you might experience here EXCEPT for the knife girl! Really, this you had to see to believe. When it was time to cut the cake this little girl danced down the aisle waving and swooping a LARGE and sharp knife. And do you remember what Africans do when they like something? Yes, they trill if they are female and then some of them put money on the body of the person who is doing whatever it is they like. So, please picture this...little knife girl is swaying down the aisle with her sharp and large knife. She is moving it around and people and people are running up to her and putting money in the neckline of her dress. The dumb Americans are trying to keep their mouths from hitting the floor! We are totally amazed and thankful that no one got the business end of that knife.

That was worth every moment of the wedding. So, after the cake is cut and the appropriate honor is paid to the parents of the couple, the Americans are once again honored. They call us up to the table where the cake is. Now we had noticed that there were a bunch of little cakes (fill the palm of your hand) decorating the table the cake was on. Guess what? Each one of us got one of those little cakes. They had been made to honor us with. The honor and respect that Zambians show their guests is TOTALLY humbling. So, after that then, we were served soda and the rest of the guests were getting a meal. (We had eaten after the ceremony and before the reception). Some of our group tried to help serve the guests for awhile. After that there was some dancing and that was fun. I danced with my sister Regina. Then we left and they all stayed for awhile longer. We could hear the party breaking up while we were eating dinner.

Sunday was church again. Before church we dedicated the orphan care center and the women dressed us in traditional dresses while the men gave our men traditional shirts. Greg preached and did a fine job. We sang "He Reigns" again. (Just a little glimpse of heaven). Church was only about 2 hours long this Sunday and at the end the Zambians presented us with more gifts and then we stood outside in a receiving line and shook hands. Then we had lunch, packed our stuff on the bus and said our goodbyes. This was hard. There were so many people we had built relationships with by this time that saying goodbye was sad. Kyle's friend, Henry, had tears in his eyes. Hassan was wailing. And we were all getting in one last hug and picture. From Mufilira we went back to Kabwe. We spent the night there spread out between the 3 missionary families. We got to stay with Jeff and Sally Roth. They are a neat couple and we thoroughly enjoyed their company. Plus they fed us wonderful, homemade pizza! Boy were my kids happy with that.

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Kyle & Henry Priscilla, Hassan and his mom

One of the things I have learned on this trip is that missionaries are real people. I have always known that, but to really get to know them and see that they are just normal (only they are really amazing) people like you and me is pretty cool. Please keep Jeff and Sally and their girls in your prayers. They were victims of an armed robbery this year and they are still dealing with some of the fear that is left over from that; especially their daughter, Rachel, who was separated from everyone during the whole thing.

On Monday we made the 10 hour drive to Livingstone, Zambia. Victoria Falls. And this is where I am going to stop.

talk to you all later (by the way, I was really "home"sick for Zambia today), Priscilla

Africa mish mash

Hi again everyone,

Today's Africa story will really just be a jumble of stuff I haven't told you about. Things I forgot but have now remembered, people who meant alot to us, interesting moments, etc.

First of all, I don't know if we told you, but it is winter in Africa. So, in Zambia the temps were in the 80's most of the time. The air is VERY dry. Nights were cool and most mornings we wore long sleeves. The Zambians believe that the weather is cold (he,he) so they wore winter jackets most mornings! Seriously! Also, it is VERY dusty there. The dust is fine and it gets everywhere.

One of the things I forgot about was the presence of armed guards/police in many public places. At the shopping "mall" we went to in Lusaka the first morning, the guards had guns similar to AK-47's. Just a little creepy. The other thing that is very different is that there are police stops along the roads. Just the main roads, not the neighborhood roads. So, you drive for awhile and then there is a small stop sign in between the 2 directions of traffic. You stop and talk to the police people. Dan always offered them new testaments and most of the time they took them. Once at one of the stops the police man wanted to see all our passports. Dan offered him a bible instead. He took it and let us pass. Most of the time he gabbed with the police people and they were friendly stops. Dan speaks their native language which is Bemba. (He also speaks Swahili and about 5 other languages). Oh and sometimes there would just be speed bumps on the road. We're talking speed bumps across 309 where the speed limit is 50! That was totally amazing! I think that alot of the speed bumps were to slow people down as they were coming to a town.

One night while we were still in Kabwe each of our families got to eat dinner with a Zambian family. Dan drove us out to the bible institute and dropped us off one by one at our respective families houses. None of the houses have electricity, so we ate by kerosene lamp (others ate by candle). The homes are small. The main room where we ate is about as big as our room where our piano is. They had 2 other rooms and that was the house. A traditional Zambian meal starts with hand washing. The wife or the kids come around to each guest with a pitcher of hot water and a basin. They pour the water over your hands, if they have soap you wash, if not you rub your hands, then they rinse your hands and then you dry them. A traditional food is nshima (n-sheema). It is cooked ground maize and a staple of their diet. It looks like congealed cream of wheat. And often a gravy is served with it. It's not exciting tasting, but it's not bad. So, it was an interesting evening.

We ate with a very quiet couple, but we all managed to keep conversation going. Each of the kids spoke once or twice. Their kids were totally quiet. A really neat thing happened with all that. We had met several of the bible institute students on Sun and then again on Mon. The women had helped us buy our material in the market. I had hoped/prayed we'd go to this one woman's house 'cause I'd talked to her some and she is so sweet. She helped me pick out one of my chitenges. I wore that chitenge that night and we ended up at her house. Everyone from the team had a gift pack to give to their host and hostess. We had bought chitenges in the market to go in the gift packs. The chitenge I had picked out ended up in our gift pack! I thought that was so awesome! To me that was one of those small God sightings. Another Zambian tradition is to pray a blessing on your host's house before you leave. I really like that tradition and the Zambians were so
grateful that we knew to do that.

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In Mufilira we got to know so many people and they were all awesome in their own ways. Kyle became friends with a boy about his age who sings on one of the praise teams. They have exchanged addresses and hope to stay in touch. We all fell in love with a little boy who was in the day camp. Initially we thought he was an orphan, but his mom was in the conference. He has something wrong with his legs and can't walk. Over here it would have been corrected or he'd have leg braces, but over there you just live with it. When we realized he couldn't get from station to station, one of the men from our group carried him to each place. We also made sure he got to do some of the activities as much as possible. So, we all kind of spoiled him and he broke the hearts of some of our kids. The day we left he asked to come home with me. When we all actually got on the bus to go he wailed heart wrenching sobs! It was awful saying good bye to him. His name is Hassan and you all could keep him in your prayers. Joann (Dan's mom) said she is going to work on getting leg braces for him. That'd be great!

Then the women I fell in love with were the women who work at the orphan care center. These are strong, caring women who have gone through rough times of their own. The 3 I got close to were Helen (runs the center), Rose (a midwife who helps at the center) and Regina. Regina adopted me when I told her that I have a sister in law named Regina and that she is special to me. Regina said "well then I am your African sister" and I said ok. When I very first met her the first thing she asked me was "how old are you?" I dont know why, but I heard her ask other people that too. Anyway, she was great. Rose called me her daughter because she has a daughter in law named Priscilla. Zambians love connection. So, I was always, "Priscilla, my daughter" whenever Rose talked to me. These women love Lord with a passion and they love the orphans. Beautiful women!

Ok, well that's about it for tonight. I can barely keep my eyes open at this moment, so I think I will go.


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