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,