Category Archives: Africa

One Day Without Shoes

April 5, 2011 was “One Day Without Shoes” day.

The basic premise is to go without shoes for a day so that you can have a sense of what it’s like for so many millions who go without shoes everyday.  Many of those people live in Africa.

I was in West Africa on April 5th.  It turned out to be a travel day when we would be leaving Burkina Faso and heading to Ghana.

The sad irony of that is that it was literally wayyyyyyyyy too dangerous for me to even attempt to go without shoes on that day…

What WOULD I have done that day had I no shoes??


Ruination

Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.

Isaiah 6:5

One of my prayers for my team in the months prior to our going to South Africa and Swaziland, was that they would meet God in a way that they never had before and that they would be “undone” by their experience.  That *I* would be undone by mine.  I prayed that we all would be “ruined” forever for the Lord.  That we would never again be able to look at our own lives and at the world in the way that we had before.

My prayers were more than answered.

How can you look into the face of a woman who has lost most of her family members to AIDS and yet beams with the joy of the Lord and not be ruined?  How can you hold a child whose face shines like a new penny who, despite, at only four years of age, is the head of his household and is the primary caregiver for a 2 year old sister, and not be ruined?  How can you walk amongst hundreds of people, many who walked miles and miles and may have quietly waited all day to see the doctor at  a mobile medical clinic at a school to get “tablets” for various maladies that we can’t even imagine suffering from in the west, and not be ruined?

How can *I* hear “my kids” talk of the things they are saw, and smelled, and were immersed in,  and then listening to them talk about how they see God in all of it, and not be ruined?

As we drove away for the last time from all the kids we spent our time with, I listened to the quiet sobs of my American children who have been gloriously ruined, and I was undone, for I saw the King, the Lord my God, in that moment, too.

Woe are we.

Woe is me.

For we have been undone.


South Africa, Swaziland

Well folks, not that many of you are regular readers anymore since I don’t post much anymore, BUT if any of you are interested in following the work that “my” team is doing over in Africa (July 20th-August 4th), here’s a link to our blog:

http://wvcthirdproject.blogspot.com/ 

Since electricity and internet are unreliable, and time is out of hands, one will never know if posts will happen…or not!

If you’re a praying kind of person…please…do your thing!

“Truly I say to you, Because you did it to the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”

Matthew 25:40


No Quality OR Quantity

“The moral progress of a nation and its greatness should be judged by the way it treats its animals.”
- Mahatma Gandhi

While I think that perhaps Gandhi had a point, I wonder if he ever imagined that we in the United States (and other western nations) would squander the amount of resources that we do on our pets.  I am sure he was including food animals in his statement as well, maybe even wild animals, and so I believe that if the United State’s greatness was judged by the way we treat our animals we’d probably not be considered so great.

But I don’t agree so much with Gandhi.  I think a country’s greatness should be measured by the quality and the quantity of its toilet paper.  America is truly the land of toilet paper milk and honey. 

Have you ever traveled internationally?  If you have, depending on where you went, you will probably be nodding your head in agreement with me when I say that the U.S. has the awesomest and most available toilet paper that the world has to offer.  How often in a foreign country is there no T.P. (let ALONE seat covers) in the airport?  Is there EVER T.P. in the bathroom at the gas station (if there IS a bathroom available for public use at the gas station)?  At restaurants where there often IS T.P., isn’t it often rough and oddly colored?  You know what I’m talkin’ about!  Do any of you, like *I* do, always have a roll of T.P. in a ziplock tucked in your backpack when traveling out of the country??  (And wet wipes, too).  The worst toilet paper I ever used was in St. Petersburg, Russia, about 10 years ago.  It was milky grayish purple, unevenly cut, and about a #180 grit.  More like crepe paper.  Pretty much like this, only change the color:

I had to look through most of the stalls to find even that.  And this was at a cultural and performing arts center!  The best non-American T.P. I have ever used was in Malawi, Africa.  Malawi aspires for greatness and realizes that without great T.P., this is a pipe dream.

I recently watched “Sicko” for the first time.  I do not plan on dissecting all of the issues and problems in and about that movie.  Save one smallish little thing.  Michael Moore holds Cuba up as a bastion of excellence in socialized health care.  But what I want to know is, how can a country that runs out of toilet paper even begin to reeeeealllly be considered great in the health care arena???   The Cuban government slashed the amount of imports it’s allowing and has fallen short of the raw materials needed to keep its citizens in T.P.  These beleaguered Cuban citizens may not see it on the shelves of the local CommuMart again until NOVEMBER!!!  The government is encouraging people to use cigar wrappers as an alternative.  How hygienic can that possible be?  Oh, and in case you missed it, that also means they are encouraging smoking.  Just how many cigars do the parents of a family of four need to smoke in order to keep up with the toilet paper needs?  It’s too bad that Michael Moore wasn’t making his film during a T.P. shortage…perhaps his take on things might have been a little bit different.

Can a country who rations and runs out of T.P. really enjoy unlimited access to top-notch health care?  I somehow doubt it.  So let’s just stop comparing our health care to theirs.  And BTW (by the way), most of westernized and socialized europe doesn’t have such great T.P. either.

I’m just saying…


Karma, What Goes Around Comes Around, Kismet, Do Unto Others, Etc.

Whatever you call it, I think this news story underscores the principle:

Somali Pirates Drown With Ransom After Freeing Saudi Supertanker


Tent Sweet Tent

I’d like to welcome you to my home!  This was it this past summer in Malawi.  Some nights I almost couldn’t wait to crawl inside it and curl up on my air mattress and soak in the night sounds.  In Zambia two years it ago, it was soooo cold at night that I dreaded “lights out”.  This year, despite being the neighbor to the east of Zambia, the Malawi nights were relatively warm.  Perhaps this was due to the proximity to Lake Malawi?

Home Sweet Malawi Home by you.

Despite its relatively small size, I was still able to often lose fairly important articles inside of it.  I lost my toothbrush once for almost a week.  You can’t just run down to the store to buy a new one, ya know?  I finally had the time to tear everything apart and find it, but by then the brush and interior of the case had mildewed.  Pretty gross.  So, what do you do?  You pop it into a pot of boiling hot water!  Good as new…almost.  (ew)

Even though I was very comfortable at night I often did not sleep much.  If I got five hours of sleep I felt pretty lucky (this from a 9 or 10 hour a night sleeper).  Since I didn’t have much time to myself during the days, I decided to embrace my sleeplessness and enjoy the nighttime “solitude” in my little home.  I would spend the hours thinking, remembering, planning, and praying.  It’s funny where one’s brain goes when one is lying awake on top of an air mattress and sleeping bag listening to the distant waves of a lake on the shore with the bright African moon illumunating brightly when one is in the uttermost part of the earth…I’d get flight of ideas and wonder…

…how well would I be sleeping if my cat was here with me…(and then I’d miss her)…

…will anyone puke tonight?…(and I’d pray not)…

…are the dogs in my “kitchen” again?…(and if they are, did I prepare well enough so they couldn’t rob me?)…

…are those REALLY waves I’m hearing?…

…if he has Aspberger’s…(or what?)…

…when the propane tank is going to run out, again…

…why the dusk malaria mosquitos are so small and the dawn dengue mosquitos SO HUGE…

…how much more food can I buy with the money I have left “in the food account”… and will there be anything more than sugar, tomatos, yams, oil, and eggs to be bought next time?…

…how it is possible that it’s going to be three years already since Connie died…(and then I’d miss her, too)

I would pray for whatever and whoever showed up in my mind and eventually I would drift off to sleep.  Occasionally I would dream.  But every morning, when I unzipped my tent and crawled out, I was met with the most brilliant skies reflecting off the lake and I’d forget how tired I was and I’d wrap myself in the beauty and wildness of it all.  And I’d wonder what I ever did to deserve this amazing life God had given to me…


Photo Friday – “Wildlife”

I really DO love Photo Friday.  It’s the only thing I seem to be able to post on these days.  I’ve got dozens of drafts started about my summer experiences, but still am unable to get them the way I want them.  Some of them are simply Titles at this point. 

So, having just recently returned from Africa, I thought it fitting to share pics of some wildlife I saw while I was there.  These were taken “on safari” in the Liwonde National Park in Malawi.  Oddly, I don’t love very many pictures that I took this summer.  I do, however, love this one.  Not because it’s a great picture or anything – far from it.  No, I love it because there are four species captured in the one frame.  The hippo, heron, and impala are easily visible, but do you see the warthogs as well?

Four Species by you.

Did you know that members of different hippo pods have different “highways” that they each use?  I didn’t.  And hippos of one pod do not use the highways of hippos of different pods!  The things you learn when you are on safari! 

And here’s one of a warthog upclose.  Seems there was a warthog “highway” right in front of our chalet at the safari camp! 

The Warthog Trail by you.

The yellow at the bottom of the photo?  Normally I would have cropped that out.  It was my front porch.  I left in in as a reference to the proximity of the trail to our accommodations.  This highway was actually a hippo highway as well.  This was one reason we were all strongly warned to never leave our chalets alone, and to stay on the people pathways.  Those hippos were loud at night, too!  You couldn’t have PAID me to leave my chalet after dark, even if I wasn’t alone!  Even if I had one of the armed guard with me.  Hippos are some scary creatures!

More on our safari weekend in a later post…IF I can ever get the post to feel right!  :-)

Click on the links to visit the entries of the other participants!  Drop them a comment and let them know what you think.  There are new participants since I left for Africa.  A big hearty and belated welcome to them! 

Tall Chick’s

Iveystory’s

Melanie’s

CuriousC’s

Author’s

Here’s what’s coming up on Photo Friday in the weeks ahead…

Photo Friday Advance Diary:

22nd August: Julie’s choice “Hat Day” (a picture of someone’s hat, that’s funny, pretty, or a self-portrait of us wearing our favorite or funny hat)

29th August: Mrs Nascar’s choice – Old cars (any interesting old cars from rusty scrapheap cars with a bird’s nest under the bonnet, to fabulous vintage or racing cars)

 …


Why Not Start With a Famous Foot Picture?

I have drafts on about a dozen posts about my summer.  I’m still trying to figure out how to get back to blogging.  I thought maybe I could kick start my creativity by posting one of my “famous” foot pictures!

We were wrapping up our summer with a “debrief” in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  While out souvenir shopping with my group, I came across this manhole cover (most of the sewer accesses we saw did not have covers and did not have any sort of warning that there was no cover- an American lawyer’s DREAM!) and dragged my group over and forced them to take part in my picture!  They think I’m weird…what else is new? 

:-) 

Wait until I start showing you some of the souvenirs I brought home!

Addis Foot Picture by you.

The cover says “MUNICIPALITE ADDIS ABEBA”.  I like this one.

The goat wandering by on the street also thought I was weird…


Am I Back?

If all has gone according to the original plan, I’m supposed to have arrived back in the states earlier today.  I’ll have flown in to Washington, DC on Ethiopian Airlines.  Once I get to say my good-byes and get all my kids off on their various planes home I’ll be able to take a deep breath and relax.  I’ll start making phone calls, if I can find a pay phone and if I still have minutes on my calling card, that is.

I guess I’ll need to get a flight home.

Soon, maybe even by now, I’ll be feeling that weird emptiness that happens when one goes from being constantly busy and constantly needed and never alone, to being in the place where the silence is uncomfortably deafening.  It’s like empty nest syndrome, only on steroids…

I’m probably starting to feel lonely.  I’ll shove my hands in my pockets and feel dirt in the seams – African dirt.  Even though I just got home, I think I’m probably longing to return already.

I might be home by tomorrow.  Unless Phil and his kids have met me here and then I’ll be hanging out with them for a few days.  I guess whenever I can get to a computer, I’ll let you know which scenario came to fruition.

(Posted in absentia, for the last time, at least for the last time this summer)


Wagons Ho!!

Today (or maybe tomorrow, I’m not exactly sure!) my sister Whitney and her son Mitchell have packed up her truck and a U-Haul and will be heading out for Colorado to start their new life.

And my brother Phil has packed up his Suburban with his four kids and my sister Liz’ two kids and has hitched that U-Haul up and is heading out to take Whitney and Mitchell to Colorado. 

There’s a little part of me that feels bad that I miss so much of my family’s “happenings” because of my involvement with Teen Missions over the years.  Like I have missed nine of my mother’s birthdays, for example.  And I’ll miss having nearly all my family together in Colorado this summer while I’m gone.  BUT, sometime very late this evening my team will be leaving Boot Camp for Malawi, and what a blessing God has given me to be able to spend the summer with a group of teenagers who have given their summers up in order to minister to African children.  I’m glad that my family understands that I miss things not because I want to, but because the Lord has called me to do something else.

Whitney and her son are going to take over taking care of Mew Ling from my Dad when they get to Colorado.  I’m sure my Dad will be glad about that!  :-) 

Please pray for my team as we “pack-out”, and embark on our 8,200 mile journey from Orlando to Lilongwe (Malawi), and beyond.  Please pray that all of us, and all of our luggage, arrive safely.

You can’t even imagine how excited we all are to get to Malawi and get to work…

(Posted in absentia) 


My Boots

More gettin’ ready for the summer…

Because I dread the thought of the blisters that new work boots would cause me, I have decided to eke one more year out of my old ones.  They’ve served me well the past two years and I think they’ll last through this summer as well, and even though they’re showing their age, they’re soft like “buttah” and fit my feet like a glove.  Besides, a good pair of work boots can cost beaucoup bucks, and frankly, I just don’t want to spend the money.  Trying to save it where I can!

Last night coaxed as much “Leather CPR” into them as I could get them to absorb.  I’ll do the same with them tonight.  I will need to get some new shoelaces though, as the old ones are fit only for the rubbish pile. 


Immun-aiyaiyai-zations

This year I needed to update my immunizations for my trip to Malawi and Ethiopia.  My Polio, Typhoid, and Yellow Fever are outdated and I’ve never had Hepatitis A.

Today I met with Becky at Passport Health to discuss just what my travel needs were going to be.

The final list?  Here you go!

  1. Hepatitis A injection
  2. Polio injection
  3. Yellow Fever injection
  4. Oral Typhoid series

Still need to get:

  1. Tetanus booster
  2. TB skin test (last one was over a year ago, will be able to procur this at work)

Declined:

  1. Influenza vaccine (I never get this)
  2. Meningococcal meningitis vaccine (I’ve been exposed so many times to this I must have some sort of immunity)
  3. MMR (measles, mumps, rubella).  I have now had this vaccine three times and while I have converted on my mumps and rubella, my titers continually come back negligible for measles, so I’m figuring no additional attempts will work either.

Definitely don’t need for this trip:

  1. Japanese Encephalitis vaccine  :-)  TRUE! 

We also discussed malaria and dengue fever.  Since it is winter, the chances of getting these diseases are lower as the mosquitos are fewer and farther between, but, as history has proven to me, I can get malaria from that one mosquito.  The malaria carrying mosquito gets you at night, the dengue carrying mosquito gets you during the day.  When in Zambia I didn’t take malaria meds nor did I use insect repellent.  I will use repellent this year.  I’m still thinking about my options for meds.  The cheap option is doxycycline, but that often leads to an unpleasant other kind of infection.  The other “cheaper” options have given me night terrors and generally creepy feelings which make them very undesireable to take again.  The best option is MUY expensive.  Almost $9.00 a pill!  AND I’d need 60 pills.  I don’t even want to do the math on that.  We’ll just have to see!  For sure I buy some Arinate when I get to Africa.  I want that on hand whether or not I’m pre-treating.  That’s a miracle drug for malaria and I don’t want to be without it.

Then there’s avian (bird) flu and cholera.  Since I’m in control of food preparation and water sanitization, I’m pretty sure we’ll be able to avoid getting either of these.  Just gotta remember to keep “my kids” away from any chickens and not serve any eggs that aren’t fully cooked!

Lastly, I picked up a prescription for Cipro.  I can take that for traveler’s diarrhea or an upper respiratory infection.

I got the three injections today.  Praying they don’t make me sick.  The last time I got the Yellow Fever one I was sick (gastro stuff and fever) for days and my arm was useless and excrutiatingly painful to the touch for over a week.  That was years ago.  Maybe this time it won’t be so bad.  I’ll wait to see if these round of shots makes me sick before I tackle the week-long regimen of oral Typhoid vaccination.  That one can cause pretty good gastro side effects and I don’t want to pile that on anything else I might be feeling!

AND we (Becky-also a nurse-and I) talked about my working there in the future!  Just to fill-in for her, nothing major.  She took my info and seemed very delighted at the possibility of having someone who could help out there in a pinch, or for vacations, etc.!

This is the first time I have used a traveler’s health clinic.  Very convenient, very easy.  Always before I have had to call around and find this place or that place who could accommodate my needs.  When I showed up at Passport Health, Becky had already prepared a full packet of very useful information and recommendations.  Live in Colorado?  Ever need to discuss travel needs and get shots and scripts?  Consider Passport Health.  I guess it’s another Unpaid Service Endorsement from me!  :-)  It’s a pay up front business, so I need to look into filing a claim with my insurance to see what they might pick up.  Never done that before.  New skill to learn!  :-)

I haven’t been really great at posting lately, but if you don’t hear from me for awhile, you’ll know why!  (Because I’m curled up sick in my bed not far from a bathroom!)

Now, as I am expecting company in a few days, I’m off to clean my house, just in case I’m not feeling up to it later!

02/18/09, an update:

I should have updated this post long ago!  I had absolutely no side effects from any of my shots, not even any arm soreness.  I ended up choosing doxycycline for my malaria prophylaxis and was diligent about taking it as directed and diligent with my bug repellent.  Despite being chewed alive at dusk, I did not contract malaria (which was a great relief, having had it twice before).  I had only some minor gastro-intestinal side effects from the oral typhoid, but nothing hardly even to mention.  It could have even been coincidental.  The next time I travel to a place where meningitis is recommended, I will probably get that vaccine.  And, if it is available, I am considering getting the rabies series as well.  But as of this update, rabies is only available post-exposure as there is a shortage of it.

Bye for now!  And remember, traveling smart includes getting your vaccines!


“Photographic Art” – Photo Friday

PHOTO FRIDAY

(click above for more information)

Photo Friday

Today’s Photo Friday entry is entitled: Photographic Art © Jan Marshall 

Photographic Art.  Photos as art?  Photos OF art?  Photos enhanced to be more “artsy”??  I can’t wait to see how everyone will interpret this assignment!  I’d been thinking about how *I* was going to interpret this assignment since Jan (of the blog “A Curious State of Affairs) came up with the idea two weeks ago. 

It’s been a long and tiring and emotional week for me.  An excellent friend of mine passed away on Monday morning.  My mind has been a bit occupied with things other than doing something fresh and exciting for Photo Friday.  Despite not getting much in the way of inspiration, I still very much wanted to participate.  Hoping my entry isn’t a complete cop-out.  I messed around with a number of photographs doing different affects and enhancements, but didn’t end up with anything that I really liked.  So I ended up deciding on a photo OF art.

In one of my curio/collection cabinets I have a small oil painting on canvas done by an artist in Zambia.  I’m pretty sure it’s a painting that the artist recreated often to sell to foreign tourists, but I bought it anyway because I loved the bright colors, the long lines, and the general grubbiness of it.  I look at it and I can hear the excited chatter.  I wonder “What is it that has captured the attention of these ladies?”.  It’s only about 4″ X 8″.  I’ve not yet framed it.  But I thought that this would be a good place and time to share it.  I don’t know the name of the artist, but his cell phone number is on the back!  Perhaps I should call and ask his name!

In Zambia, as in many African nations, it is unrealistic to string phone lines, but very reasonable to set up cell towers.  People who can afford phones don’t have land lines, they carry cells.

Here is my unnamed, unsigned, Zambian work of art…

Don’t forget to check out the other participant’s work!  I’ll be posting links as they become available.

“A Curious State of Affairs”

“Idea Jump”

Next week’s assignment?  “The View Through My Window”…


A Different Kind of “Big Give”

And he looked up, and saw the rich men that were casting their gifts into the treasury.

 And he saw a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites.

 And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, This poor widow cast in more than they all:

 for all these did of their superfluity cast in unto the gifts; but she of her want did cast in all the living that she had.

Luke 21:1-4 

One of the blogs I read regularly shares intimately of what life is like living in Zambia as a full time missionary with a young family.  I often can’t bear to hear of the physical suffering that exist there, but it inspires me to read about people who have given up the life that they know so that others can know life.  We have poverty in America, but nothing like the grand scale poverty that exists in so much of the rest of the world.  It seems like an overwhelming amount of work that needs to be done.  How can one person even make a difference?  I know that there are many people who don’t even know where to start when it comes to “helping”. 

Wanna hear about two little kids who aren’t overwhelmed?  Wanna read about two little American kids who made a difference?

Here’s a different kind of “Big Give” I’d like to share with you from the blog “Alive in Africa”.     

Click to read “The Tooth Fairy Would Be Proud“.

…and a little child shall lead them (Isaiah 11:6)


Barak Obama Wears a Kilt*

What’s the big fuss about the picture currently making big news of Obama wearing a traditional tribal outfit when he visited his father’s homeland of Kenya back in 2006?  It just happens to be a wrap around skirtlike garment and a turban.  So what?

If his white mother was from Scotland, and Barak had gone there for a visit and donned the family tartan, would we even be having this conversation?

Is the Clinton campagin behind the recent circulation of this picture?  If so, does she really think America is dumb enough to fall for her fear tactics?  Gee, there are pictures of me wearing a Mao hat I got in China.  I own a watch with a hammer and sickle on it that I bought in Russia.  I have a Che Guevara T-shirt I picked up in Cuba.  None of these things make me a communist any more than wearing a turban makes Obama a muslim extremist terrorist.

What do YOU think of his wearing this outfit and the current brouhaha?

(*Okay, he didn’t wear a kilt.)


Do I Feel Lucky Today??

You are a South African bush pilot working for Blue Sky Aviation.
You fly in some critical medical supplies, enjoy a quick lunch at the hospital
.

It’s a stifling 100 degrees in the shade and you’re eager to get back up to the cool, high blue yonder.On the way back to your plane, you discover that the only bit of shade within 1 mile has become very popular. You start calculating the distance to the plane door and wonder…
Do I feel lucky today?

(I ran this through Snopes.com, just to make sure it wasn’t faked.  It wasn’t.  I don’t know about YOU, but I’ve never felt that lucky in my whole entire life!  I also tried to figure out to whom I could give credit for this picture, but was unable to determine its origin.)


“Pathos” – Photo Friday

 pa·thos  (pā’thŏs’, -thôs’) n.  

  1. A quality, as of an experience or a work of art, that arouses feelings of pity, sympathy, tenderness, or sorrow.
  2. The feeling, as of sympathy or pity, so aroused.

There’s is nothing quite like the visual art of photography to evoke our emotions.  I love that it’s an art form that is available to everyone.  Most cannot paint, most cannot sculpt, most cannot draw, but everyone can point and shoot.  With the advent of the nearly idiot-proof digital camera, even the most unskilled eye and wavering finger can inexpensively capture wonderful images.

I love taking pictures.  My primary camera is a Nikon Coolpix S4.  The lens swivels 170 degrees allowing me to easily get shots from all kinds of angles.  Often my best pictures are ones that I did nothing to set up.   

I took this picture during the summer of 2006.  It was taken in Kansoka, Zambia.  This was “foot washing day”.  We had hundreds of orphans come to get loved on/hugged on/held/played with, as well as to get, in most cases, their very first pair of shoes and socks.  This particular little girl had captured my attention throughout the day.  I don’t know her story.  I don’t even know her name.  I never learned the stories of most of the thousand or so orphans we met that summer.  But most of them shared at least part of the same story.  In Zambia alone, more than three quarters of a million of them have been left alone in the world having lost one or both of their parents to malaria or AIDS.  The “lucky” ones had older siblings to care for them.  One 10-year-old we met was the oldest left in his household.  He had become the man of his family and was now responsible for the care of his four little brothers and sisters.

Life has dealt this little princess a very hard blow.  Life in sub-saharan Africa is difficult for most in the best of circumstances.  To be a child, perhaps even a baby, and to be left parentless, makes an already difficult circumstance a precarious one.  And yet many of their young faces still shine.  They laugh and play just like children do.  They are full of hope.

I look at her face and my heart is both completely broken, and yet paradoxically full. 

Pathos.  

(Click HERE for links to more Photo Friday submissions.  And please consider playing along with us!  We’re only three, we’d like to be more!)

Next week’s Photo Friday topic is “Joy!”.

… 


Chitenges?

While in Zambia in the summer of 2006, we (the girls), in order to be socially appropriate and inoffensive in our manner of dress, wore “chitenges” (pronounced chi’-tengies) over our pants whenever we were not in our tents.

Chitenges are a large pieces of material that are used as skirts, dresses, blankets, baby carriers, and probably a myriad other things.  The patterns on these chitenges are regional and many of the prints are quite lovely…fabric art, really.  The pictures in this post are a few of the prints on the chitenges I purchased (about 3 USD each) while in Zambia.  These are not the chitenges I wore every day while I was there.  I had three of those, and they are sort of beat up, have burn holes from when I got too close to the cooking braziers, and aren’t quite as pretty as these!

They are sort of difficult to walk in though, and we often found the edges of the garment getting caught between, or tangled around, our legs.  I decided a good term for this phenomenon was to be “chitengled”.  This is a similar phenomenon to being “pajangled”, which is what I have learned it’s called when your pajamas get all twisted up around you while you are sleeping.  :-)

The women of many African nations utilize similar pieces of material in the same way.  They call them by different names.

I am anxious to find out what they are called in Malawi, for that is where I will be going next summer when I lead a team there with Teen Missions!

Yep!  I got my letter of invitation from TMI to lead the “Malawi Matron Unit” team!  I’m mailing back my letter of acceptance today.  What a privilege to be able to serve again next summer.  To be able to return to Africa to do so is beyond exciting. 

Malawi shares a border with Zamiba.  I wonder if it will feel like I’m going “home” again.


I can’t WAIT until November 13th!

THAT is when the new Teen Missions teams for 2008 are revealed. 

There is a “sneak peak” link on the Teen Missions web page though!  So far only names, no team descriptions.

Early Boot Camp:

  • Malawi
  • Orphan Angels
  • Kilimanjaro Backpack
  • Sweden
  • Belize
  • Ireland
  • Samoa
  • Belgium

Super Boot Camp:

  • Madagascar
  • Greece
  • Uganda
  • South Africa Foot Washing
  • France
  • Mongolia
  • Cambodia
  • India
  • China
  • Australia Skateboard
  • Australia Work
  • Fiji
  • Egypt
  • Around the World
  • Cameroon Backpack
  • Siberia
  • Guyana Riverboat
  • Malawi Orphan Choir
  • Amazon River
  • Zambia Foot Washing
  • Wales/Iceland
  • Orphan Angels

I don’t know what the specific project is for most of these teams.  Is there a team that jumps out at me?  Sure there is.  There are a few, in fact.  I e-mailed leadership placement at Teen Missions to let them know that, unless God leads in another direction, that I would love to lead another team next summer.  Where?  Dunno.  Not sure yet what God has in mind for me.

That Amazon River team gets my attention.  Africa.  Lots of Africa teams there.  Perhaps you KNOW how much I want to return to Africa.  I wonder what the Malawi team will be doing.  Cambodia?  India? 

I’ll find out in a month.  Perhaps I’ll see the team description and just KNOW…

You can bet I’ll be checking www.teenmissions.org all day long on the November 13th until the teams are posted!

It’s funny I think.  Two years ago I was petrified of leading a team.  This past summer I was ambivalent.  This year I am praying that I get to lead another one.  Two years ago I would have never imagined that this is where my heart would be today.


One Year Ago Today…Two Years Ago Today

This is a big thank you to all my ZFWers who, last year at this time, were so kind and understanding to me as I faced the one-year anniversary of Connie’s death.  I had no idea what to expect from myself emotionally, and neither did they.  But they were all so supportive of me.  And it wasn’t bad and it wasn’t scary.  I didn’t have any sort of emotional breakdown, or anything like that.  It was another day in my life.  Just a little bit sadder than most.  And I was in Lufwanyama, Zambia.  Away from my family.  I worried about them, but what could I do?  I was a million miles away.

Some weeks later I received a notification from the post office in Ndola that there was a package for me.  The package was from Phil and it instructed me to open it only on July 29th.  However, July 29th had long ago come and gone.  So I opened it anyway.  I found a nice quiet place and began to look through all the wonderful pictures that Phil had sent me.  He had also sent me a small tape player with headphones and a tape.  (These types of things are against TMIs rules.  But I popped the tape in and listened anyway.)  The tape was of him talking.  And of music.  I smiled as I wept.  I never thought I’d make it through a year.  But I had.  And so had Phil.  And so had his kids.  And so had we all.  And what a wonderful thing for Phil to do for me…to have planned that far ahead to do something in memorial for my best friend and his wife.  I think he’s the only person who really understands how much that girl meant to me.

And, unbelievably, now it has been two years.

Soooooo, in memory of Connie, here’s an e-mail of hers that she might have turned into a blog posting had she ever become a blogger!  (I am posting it exactly as written and without any editing…)

Sent:            Monday, September 13, 1999  11:47 PM

Subject:      The Store

I should know better than to go grocery shoppping with four children under the age of eight but after we had consumed everything edible in the house except for a jar of sweet pickles and a frozen tamale it is something that just had to be done.  Before we even got into the parking lot Richard and Alaska have all but gouged one another’s eyes out over the radio.  Richard jumped at the chance to stay in the car so he could listen without any disruptions while I braved the store.  As I was extricating Avalon from the car Mr. three year old I-CAN-DO-IT-MYSELF decided he would get a cart.   Not just any cart will do.  We have to use the limo cart that has additional seating added on the back to make it extra specially hard to start, stop and maneuver corners.  As Alaska was busy getting in her parting punches at Richard I see Jon way over by the cart rack tugging with all his might on the line of carts.  Now I must digress here for a moment and ask why do they design the fronts of grocery stores with a sloping entrance?  Of course the incline is heading down away from the store and towards the parking lot.  I guess this is for the people who have $500 to spend on groceries and only shop once a month so they are able to push their grossly overladen cart out to their car.  However if you are like me, $100 worth of groceries barely covers the bottom of the cart and sometimes I can even get them all in the house in one trip.  So here I am past the point of no return in having Avalon out of the car when Jon manages with a  fnal mighty heave to get the cart out of line.  Of course all that momentum carries the cart into the gravity zone.  The next thing I know he is being dragged by the cart out into the lot and headed straight for the nearest parked cars.  By this time the cart has developed a mind of its own and even if I was Carl Lewis and unencumbered of the 30 pound babyseat I would not be able to stop this lumbering metal behemoth.  Now this cart had a choice between a banged up old 70′s sedan and a brand new foreign luxury car.  It makes straight for the alarm infested auto.  My life at this point goes into slow motion.  As Jon is struggling valiantly to hang on and his little feet dragging and twisting all around he managed to impede the determined dent inflicter long enough for me to intercede in the nick of time.  I took a deep breath, loaded up the cart with my children, and pushed my way uphill toward the door.  All of the sudden the cart is no longer an ordinary means of conveyance but an airplane with my children’s arms serving as wings.  Actually I believe it turned into a hummingbird–at least airplain wings remain fixed.  At the end of the first aisle as I am attempting my first big turn Jon makes a full body lunge for the promotional 5′ high cardboard display of crackers.  The display goes over in it’s entirety carrying with it dozens of boxes of Waverly’s and Cheese Nips.  It must have been some big sale because there were at least four of those stupid plastic price signs that they use product to hold to the shelf and if you happen to grab the wrong box go clattering noisily to the floor.  At this exact moment in time I think every customer in the store must have converged at this strategic corner because all of the sudden it was like being on the 405 freeway at 5PM.  The butcher came over and assisted the reconstruction of the cracker tower.  I continued onward taking care to remain in the exact center of each aisle.  We actually managed to finish the shopping without further incident and headed for the checkout.  Alaska started to unload the basket while I checked one aisle over to grab a pack of batteries.  I am finally starting to relax and the basket is beginning to get to the point where Alaska can no longer reach over and get things when the checker asks the lady in front of us if the baby food was hers.  Neither the lady ahead nor us had been paying much attention and we had neglected to put one of those little divider thingies down between our myriad’s of stuff.  Half of our groceries were being loaded up by the bagger into her cart.  After the checker voided at least a dozen items and everything was backed up on the couunter about 2 feet high she decided it would be best to void the whole order and have someone take her over to another register.  The only good thing about all this was that the lady in front of us was not the least big upset by the whole thing and checker calmed down after she realized that no one was going to explode.  I figured the lady must have kids of her own because a lot of the items she bought were similar to ours — right down to the Wonder Bread.  I’m sure this must account for her not realizing sooner the mix up and also for her understanding.  Maybe it had happened to her before and it is also the reason she was grocery shopping by herself.  Connie

(posted in absentia) 


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