Category Archives: Zambia/ZFW

Why I Do Not Make a Good African Woman – Reason #2


The actual bird is not problematic.  Chickens are actually kinda cute, some are downright beautiful.  I’m not afraid of chickens or anything.  I’m okay with them being alive.  I’m okay with them dead all ready to be cooked.  And I’m especially okay with eating them.




Bake it, fry it, roast it, whatever.  Yum yum yum.

Where I fail as an African woman is getting said chicken from that live state into that ready to be cooked state.

Throughout Africa, it is not unusual to see a woman on the bus or minibus carrying a live chicken (the eating kind, not the laying kind) tied into a plastic bag with only its head out, or in a basket, or the like.  This chicken is for dinner.  The African woman will kill it, pluck it, and break it down in order to cook it for her family.  (And it will be amazing because African chicken is soooo much better than any chicken I’ve ever eaten in America).

The only time I’ve been faced with any part of that process was in Zambia back in 2006.  In case you’re new to my story, prior to my summer in Zambia, I had done very (VERY) little actual cooking.  Didn’t really know how.  I had never even made fried chicken.  However, being very brave, I had purchased a number of chickens in order to make fried chicken for my team of TWENTY SEVEN people.  Knowing it was likely that I wasn’t accustomed to slaughtering chickens, the woman from whom I purchased them quietly did that business out of my eye- and ear-shot and brought the now-dead chickens to me.  She must have seen the rather horrified look on my face when I saw the pile of white feathered headless bodies as she immediately smiled and asked if I knew how to clean them.  Which of course I didn’t.  I also didn’t have a knife that would cut through bones even if I wanted to tackle the butchering part.  So I paid her a little bit extra to do the job for me (and told her she could have all the “insides”).  Less than an hour later, she returned with a big bowl of chicken pieces that looked a whole lot more like what I was used to seeing at home.

How I was used to seeing chicken for sale...

How I was used to seeing chicken for sale…

...what the chickens I bought in Zambia looked like...

…what the chickens I bought in Zambia looked like…

I would have tackled the plucking part, but it would have taken me about a day or two to do the job.

I’m not sure I would ever be able to do the killing part.

And for that, I would not make a good African woman.


First World Problem

For anyone who has traveled and spent any amount of time in underdeveloped (third world) countries, the concept of “first world problem” is not an unfamiliar one.  First world problems are ones that either simply don’t occur in the third world, or aren’t something you would put in the “problem” category due to the rather unimportant nature of them in the big picture.

Yesterday my friend Krista posted this status update on facebook:

”  first world problem: I have cookie crumbs in my papercut. 😦  “

I laughed.

I spent the summer a number of years ago with Krista in the bush in Zambia on a mission trip.  Her duffel bag with everything she would need for the summer didn’t get to Zambia with her.  She spent the entire summer using other people’s stuff and wearing their clothes.  And she never complained, not once.   She was a trooper.  Having nothing?  A third world problem.  But hey, in the first world, a paper cut can sting when it gets cookie crumbs in it!

This morning in my inbox there was an e-mail from a company called “Fab”.  They sell all kinds of really cool and mostly totally unnecessary stuff.  Today a link to some very fun looking brightly colored small kitchen appliances caught my eye.  I would love to own a number of them if only I had room for them in my kitchen (first world problem).  And then I saw it.  A mini s’mores maker.

Really???  Is that a solution to a first world problem or what??

Or does it just take all the fun out of s’mores?

“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. 


(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!”.


Fuzzy, Opaque, Floating Globes

I’m stumped by what they are.  They have showed up in quite a number of my digital pictures.  I’ve asked around to see if anyone knows what causes them.  And I’ve started to look for them in the photos that others have taken and often find them floating about virtually unnoticeable, only now I notice them, cuz I’m looking for them!

These blobs are in pictures taken indoors and outdoors.  They are in pictures taken throughout the day (though the worst seem to be at dawn, at dusk, or in suboptimal light).  They show up whether a flash is used or not, though more so with the flash.  They are different in every picture.  They might show up in one picture and then in the very next picture when the conditions SEEM to be the same, they won’t be there.  It’s a mystery.

The worst theory I’ve heard is that they are spirits which have taken on the appearance of “orbs“. 

The best theory I’ve heard is that they are dust (or other) particles in the air reflecting light back to the camera.  BUT I get them when I don’t use a flash, and in postively non-dusty places, soooooo….  what ARE they??

Some pictures have literally hundreds of them, some only one, or two.

Do YOU get these??  Do you know what they are and how I can avoid them?

This is the worst picture I’ve taken when it comes to blobulosity:

So many blobs here that the picture looks washed out!

What do you think? 

(FYI, this picture was taken in Kansoka, Zambia, during our team banquet – summer of ’06)

A Note From Barb

While I was in Sicily this summer, I was sent an e-mail from Barb Peterson.  Barb and her husband Doug run Teen Missions, Zambia.  I worked with them last summer when I was on the Zambia Foot Washing team.  [The e-mail ultimately arrived in Sicily by way of snail mail when my sister printed it up and mailed it to me after it was sent to HER by a coworker of the Petersons who weren’t sure what my e-mail address was while in Sicily (I didn’t have one) so she sent it to my sister!]  Some of the content I have shared here already.  Much of it is new.  I thought it appropriate to share it with you. 

Dear Linda,

We miss you here in Zambia this year!  The FW team is out there.   
They have a shorter time this year than last.  They will be at  
three spots.  Of course, one of them is Connie’s Heart.  I think  
it is their last stop.
I just sat and talked to Simon (He was the facilitator at Chiwala  
last year and you met him there.)  He is at Funda (Connies Heart)  
with Richard Chileshe, a newer intern.

Here is a small report of the things he has shared with me this  
morning.  I trust that it will bless you because something very  
good is going on there.

1)  Twins:  Matilda and Sandra live near the unit.  They are 6  
years old.  For the last two years Matilda was not thriving.  She  
had lost all of her hair.  She was very thin and the  mom (her dad  
is dead) thought it was witchcraft.  Simon said, no it is  
malnutrition.  He put her into the mothers seminar even though she  
is not a baby.  Her hair has grown back and she is now thriving.   
She is coming by the unit and telling all the little kids to pick  
up things and keep the place clean. Simon says she is a real  
little organizer.  In just three months time there was this  
change.  It probably saved her life   He said the Nutrition  
Seminar food is now finished, but the moms have learned a great  
deal and are so thankful for the help.

2)  There is a girl named Esther Sandasanda.  She is in Grade 9 at  
the Catholic school called St Mary’s.  She is 14 and stays with a  
lady she calls grandma.  The lady has 4 orphans of her own and  
took in Esther out of pity.  But she is not preferred, as the real  
family’s orphans are.  She is sent to the field alone or to  
collect wood alone and the villagers have always taken advantage  
of her.  She walks 38 k’s to school and then boards there for the  
week.  She is to bring a small bag of mealie meal each week.  One  
week she failed to bring it and so was taken advantage of for not  
being able to do so.  She was raped by 5 guys.  She told Simon and  
he called in the police and 4 of them were arrested.  He now  
supplies her mealie meal for school out of his own money.  She had  
no shoes for school so he gave her his own tennis shoes.  Now all  
Simon has is “tropicals”.  (thongs).  When the school asked  
recently who takes care of her, she said Simon.  He is the only  
advocate she has ever had.  He said she still needs a lot of inner  

3)  There is an area a ways away from the unit where the chief  
didn’t want TMI in their area because we were “satanists”.   We  
found out  that the chief was JW and also into witchcraft.  But he  
was coming to a JW conference and had an accident on the road.   I  
think he was on a bike.  He was seriously injured and so was the  
girl that was with him.  People told him, “The only help is at  
Teen Missions.”  So he was taken there and Simon dressed his  
wounds and the passenger’s wounds, too.  He healed up.  He came  
back and said, “Who are you people?  You are good people.  We want  
you, too.  We heard the wrong thing about you.  Will you come?”

4)  The government health people came by and gave out 100 free  
treated mosquito nets around the Funda area.  They didn’t have  
enough.  So they came back to the Unit later and said to Simon,  
“Are you able to give out the rest of the 200 to those who need  
it?”   So he became the distribution point for those nets.  They  
probably came from USAID.   I heard on the news that Bill Gates  
Foundation was distributing them through USAID in Zambia.

Praise the Lord , as maybe the health dept will use more and more  
of our units….we should talk to them (if we ever have time!)   
They are getting to know us as they came here to the base last  
year.  They were “selling” us the nets that time….we said, hey,  
you get these free because we also hear the news!  The next ones  
they brought us were free or at least a reduced price, I can’t  
remember.  We are seeing a real big decrease in malaria this  
year.   I feel like writing the Gates Foundation but know they  
don’t have time to read letters, even of thanks, probably.

5) The Foot Washing team will be at Connie’s Heart on the last  
stop.  Just want you to know that that this is  really point of  
Light for Jesus!  Simon can’t wait to get back.  He is injured  
because of twisting his knee in soccer.  He is using Soccer as an  
EV tool.  He says over 70 have been saved out there through  
this….he didn’t have the count right now.  He is holding Bible  
studies and the number has grown from 70 to 140 already.  He is  
also ministering to a Baptist pastor who has had no training.

6)  People are very cold.  Some of the kids sleep only with a  
chitange around them and then get down into feed sacks or mealie  
sacks for warmth….One boy only had shorts and Richard Chileshe  
the other facilitator gave him his own  T shirt.  Theses are the  
only clothes that that boy has.  Many of the villages that Simon  
and Richard tare visiting when they ask where are your clothes  
kept, they say, what we are wearing are our only clothes.

I gave Simon some personal money and said go buy some things.   
Whatever you want to take back that you need most. Blankets,  
sweaters, sweatshirts, or whatever. I didn’t want him to go back  
empty handed.  Then  I said you can also get some shoes for  
yourself.  He said, “No, I want to spent it on the kids.   I can  
use my tropicals.”  I want to get word to the FW team to give  
Simon some shoes when they get there!!!  Doug wears 13’s so that  
was not an option.   He has to go about 20 k’s to his place from  
the road where he has hitched a ride with whatever vehicle he can  
find going there.   And he is walking around on this sprained knee.

Linda, what blessed me most of all, is that he looked at me and  
said,” I have to get back there. “(not stay and nurse his knee— 
the xray showed it not broken)   Then he said,” Barb, I love my job!”

Simon is an orphan who took care of about 18 other orphan kids as  
he grew up.   He lived with his grandma and an invalid  
grandfather.  He has this call and compassion for the people out  
there who are hurting.   The intern gal at Muchinchi came in last  
Spring after her first stint in the bush….and with a smile on  
her face, said, “You don’t even have to pay me”….   She was  
saying that the joy she was getting was reward enough.. What a  
privilege to be where God wants you to be and do what God wants  
you to do.  These young people are tasting that joy.

Just hoping you will be encouraged by what is happening at  
Connie’s Heart.  It is making a difference.

 Love you and have a great summer.

I am encouraged. 

I heard many stories about what is happening in Funda (at Connie’s Heart) while I was at Boot Camp in June.  When Teen Missions first went into the Funda area to survey the needs and find out what the situation was there in regards to numbers of orphans, etc., the local people did not believe that they would be coming back.  But they did go back, and built the unit and started to minister there.  When Teen Missions did come back, one of the chiefs said, “God MUST have sent you, because nobody else knows we’re here.”  Wow.  I later learned that even school teachers won’t go that deep into the bush, so there are no schools there for the children to attend.  They have begged Simon to teach them, and so, in addition to all his other work there, he has started a little school. 

Back in Florida at debrief I was able to see pictures and hear stories from the team members that went to Connie’s Heart this summer.  As deep as my loss was, the joy that I have from what has been born of that loss is incomprehensible. 

I am feeling the pull to return to Zambia to work very strong on my heart and in my soul.   


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) 


Sounds kind of American, doesn’t it?  Shoprite is a grocery store chain in Africa.  It’s the only grocery store chain, as far as I know, in Zambia.

I went shopping there with Abner for the first time when we first arrived in Zambia.  Subsequent shopping needs were met primarily by Robert from the Teen Missions base in Ndola  (occasionally by Abner if he had to go to town, or we’d buy some things locally from nearby farmers or from roadside stands).  We’d get word to Robert via text message using Abner’s phone (though Zambia doesn’t have many phone lines in the bush, they are working hard at covering the country with cellular service and Abner could usually find a pocket of coverage where his phone would work) and he’d do our shopping and bring us our supplies when he’d come to drive us to our next rescue unit.  Hearing the truck approach was like hearing the jingle of the bells on Santa’s sleigh.  For the coming of Robert meant bananas, oranges, tomatoes, potoatoes, sugar, flour, margarine, oats, pasta, soda (for the “store”), green beans, onions, eggs, and MAIL!

(This is NOT a picture I took, nor is it of any of the Shoprites I shopped at.  This picture is from the Shoprite website.)

I’m sure Abner and I looked like quite the curiosity when we shopped at Shoprite.  Abner, a young and handsome Filipino man, and me, a middle aged white woman dressed in a chitenge over pajama pants with a slightly stained shirt to go with it.  And both of us wearing big ole’ work boots.  An odd and odd-looking couple, especially in the sea of brown faces.  There we were, each pushing a cart down the aisles laughing hysterically (but trying to stifle it so as not to bring too much attention to ourselves!) attempting to figure out how much to buy of this or that.  My first trip there was an absolute stress riot!  I’d heard that the food there was expensive, but nothing really prepared me for the actual cost.  How do people who make so little money afford to buy this food???  We were on a pretty strict budget by American standards.  A small bag of elbow macaroni cost over two dollars.  After much debate, Abner and I decided that it would take four packages of the pasta to make a main dish.  We had this same discussion over and over when it came to other purchases.  How many bottles of juice concentrate for a meal?  How many meals would 10 kilos of rice make?  How far would a can of jam go?  Okay, so then, how many cans of jam should we get?  Mealie meal is sort of inexpensive.  How many different ways can we prepare it without having a revolt on our hands?  (Turns out you can make a pretty good corn bread out of mealie meal despite its anemic appearance).  Anyhow, buying food supplies that first time out was further complicated by not having any idea how much the 27 of us would be eating!  We made our best guess, and laughed our way through that store and walked out with all kinds of things that I couldn’t believe were going to become meals in the coming week.   I had pretty much no idea what I was doing.  It was all an adventure!

The stores were very large, but there was little choice (most items only came in a single brand) and not very much consistency in availability.  You may be able to get an item one week, but the following week it would not be available.  Quite a challenge!  Something would make it onto the grocery list and I might or might not get it.  Or, I’d get whatever Robert thought was closest to what was on the list.  It sure made menu planning a bit of a roulette game!   

Turns out it DID take four packages of pasta to make a main dish for 27 people. 

(This entry is posted for Stephanie, the lady leader leading one of the TWO Zambia Foot Washing teams this summer!  Stephanie, you’re going to do GREAT!  No, you can’t bring your cell phone.  Abner had his as he was going straight on to Mozambique after our debrief.  You’ll need to come up with a different plan for getting your order in!)

How to Make Oatmeal in Zambia

Sorry “my kids” if you are reading this and get grossed out, but it’s a great story and must be told!  🙂

I learned something of vital importance in the “kitchen” in Zambia.  If I learned nothing else, this was key.  It’s one part oats or rice to two parts water!  Didn’t know that before I went!  Anyhow, this story is about Oatmeal!

I love oatmeal.  You’ve already been given the TMI recipe for “baked oatmeal” in a previous posting.  Love that stuff.  But I like regular old boiled oatmeal, too.  I like the gooey brownish gray stuff that you should never let dry on anything because it’s stronger than superglue.  Oatmeal was easy to make, very filling, relatively inexpensive, felt good to eat steaming hot on a freezing morning, and, I hoped, would be a favorite of “my kids”.  It was. 

Abner had brought a number of boxes of his favorite oatmeal with him in his duffel bag.  Some of the boxes broke on the way over, so he donated the loose oats to the food cause.  We just dumped them out of the bottom of his bag into ziplocks.  We had to pick out some lint and such, but it cooked up great.  We bought more oats at the Shoprite.  Every time we bought oats it would be a different brand.  Whatever they had.  My favorites were the Tiger Brand Jungle Oats.  (Wow, the stuff you find online is amazing!  I thought I might never see this familiar box ever again!) 


The first time we bought oats we had to buy the Shoprite brand.  I boiled up a big pot of water and poured the oats in.  A few minutes later Abner approached me trying hard to keep from busting a gut with laughter.  “We need to hurry and you need to help me!”  He dragged me over to the oats that he had gone to stir for me and showed me all these weevilly things floating to the surface!  GUH-ROSS!  It had been so dark when I measured the oats I didn’t see any critters in them!  We frantically scooped and scooped.  We had to get them all out before the mass thickened so much that the bugs would get trapped in it instead of floating to the top of it.  AND we had to try to do it without the kids catching wind of it!  Ultimately, we were VERY successful in both getting all the weevils out AND in keeping it from the kids (until now, that is!).  We were smug. 

But we leaders all LOST it when one of our girls, Allie, let out a stifled scream.  We thought we were in trouble.  We thought we’d failed in our deweevilling attempts.  But no.  It seems some other sort of bug found its way into Allie’s tea and startled her.  We’d only been in Zambia for a short time (we were at our first Rescue Unit in Chiwala) and hadn’t become completely desensitized yet.  She came over and begged for permission to be able to throw that tea away as she just couldn’t drink something that had had bugs in it.  I practically gagged on my laughter, and gave her permission to do so.  She returned to her seat and ate the rest of her breakfast oatmeal (seconds, too!) without incident!

You do what you gotta do!  I ate it, too, and I KNEW what had been in it!  🙂

(Second vital lesson learned – – be careful when preparing food in the dark in Africa!)

Abner and I laughed so much this past summer.  I miss laughing with him.  And I am SO excited because I get to see him next week!  The last time I saw him was at the Lusaka International Airport back in August.  We’ll be getting together somewhere between San Diego and Los Angeles, but wherever it is, I’m sure we’ll be cracking up!

Update:  12/19/2007

I get a fair amount of traffic to this post through various search engines.  People are looking for how to make oatmeal.  I guess this post doesn’t really go into that, does it??  So, oatmeal is wicked easy to make.  The recipe is one part oatmeal to two parts water!  (So, that would be like one cup of oatmeal to two cups of water).  You boil the water.  I add a little bit of salt to the water.  Then you add the oatmeal, stir it frequently until it’s done!  You can add less oatmeal for a looser end product.  See!  EASY!  🙂  The recipe is the same for quick cook oats, or traditional oats.  You just cook traditional oats longer.

Rachel Stephens

Rachel Stephens, or Rache, as most of us call her, just left me a message on my MySpace asking me to mention her in my blog so that when she googled herself she could find herself, and not just the photographer, Rachel Stephens.  Rachel is one of “my kids”.  She was on my team this past summer to Zambia.  Rachel’s mom, Wendy, came down to visit her while we were in Boot Camp.  Wendy and I got to talking.   We found out that we’d both gone on Haiti teams back in the “day”.  She’d gone in 1980 and I in 1981!  Or was that I’d gone in 1981 and she’d gone in 1982?  Oh, well, forgot!  Anyhow, it seemed crazy to me that I’d been a kid doing TMI with one of my kids’ moms.  Anyhow….here’s Rachel on the screened in front porch of my tent at Boot Camp in the swamps of Florida.  I think this is the first picture I took that summer!  Thanks, Rachel!

We had a bunch of birthdays while together last summer.  What was it, seven all together?  And Rachel had the dubious honor of turning 16 while in Zambia.  Worse, she turned 16 while we were still at the base and hadn’t even set up our own camp yet.  We were rather disorganized, and yet we had a big birthday to celebrate.  Two of the assistant leaders (Emily from Zambia Orphan Angels and Krista from our team) managed to scrounge up the makings for a cake, but since we had no oven, nor even an oven box, they cooked the cake over a brazier in a baking pan covered by a cookie sheet!  The cake was not level nor was it evenly cooked, but it looked and smelled heavenly.  It was kept a surprise from Rachel.  And we found some cardboard and used some markers I’d brought from home to make a card.  The card was passed around all day so that everyone could write a birthday message.  The cake, which had been so carefully made and kept secret, was carried out while we all sang happy birthday.  Just before the cake got to Rachel, Emily (gosh, WAS it Emily?) tripped and took a headlong dive into the dusty ground.  But she kept that cake level and didn’t lose a crumb of it!  I think Rachel will always remember her sixteenth.   Even though there wasn’t a big huge celebration, and no dancing, and no presents, and none of the stuff a sixteen year old these days expects at their sweet sixteen, I think this was about as sweet as a sweet sixteen gets.  And if I’m not mistaken, Rachel took that card from village to village and to London and to Florida, and home to Minnesota.

Rachel Stephens thinks she’s my favorite.  But that’s only because I made her eat the butts of bread and because I put pictures like this of her in my blog!  (And because she was countoff number 22 and 22 IS my favorite number.)  This was taken on Girls’ Night in Lufwanyama.  We took some time out to give ourselves facials, and manicures and pedicures by flash light and candle light.  And we at brownies, and just had a blast.  What a fun night.  I think Rachel looked the best in her mask…

And here are Hannawa, Bethany, Shang, Kellie Rock, Becca, Rachel Stephens and Sarah on the night of our team banquet in Kansoka.  They are all dressed up and showing off their Leprechuans…don’t ask….it’d just be awkward….

There you go Rachel Stephens.  I hope that very soon you can google yourself and find yourself and not that other Rachel Stephens who is a photographer.

If you’re interested, John Torres (the reporter that journeyed to Zambia with the three Zambian Teen Missions teams this summer) has started his on-line series about his experience.  I am interested in seeing how a secular news organization deals with a very evangeical christian approach to meeting the needs of orphans in Africa!  I do know that John was touched by the time he spent in Zambia and that he has been changed forever by it.  Part One was well done and worth the read and the watch (it’s a multi-media sort of report) and I am looking forward to seeing what he has to say and show us over the next three days.

Orphans & Angels

Click the link, check it out.

Here Kitty Kitty

She was a beauty!  And I’m pretty sure that  she licked her lips just to make us think she was seeing us as some big ole juicy steaks! 

(Here Kitty Kitty (One), originally uploaded by Blah Blah Blog)

This picture was taken on our “Sort of Safari” in Zambia this past summer.  We saw only two lions…this lioness and a big male, but they were fenced in.  Thus reinforcing the “Sort of” in “Sort of Safari”.  But it was pretty amazing to be able to get this close to big cats.  There was only a rickety chain link fence between us.  At one point this little lady tired of us and charged the fence.  I was filming at the time,  and she spooked me and the footage is terrible.  But here it is anyway.  Willie (on Orphan Angels – not my team -from Malibu) kept trying to get her riled up by making Wookie noises.  Not sure what that was about!!

Ah, The Singing!

More from church in Africa!  This was a different church than Millan’s.  Here are three little videos taken at the Kapala Baptist Church in Lupya, Zambia.  The children’s choir sat on the ground near the front of the church.  In the churches we attended in Zambia, there was no children’s church, or nursery.  All the children, even the newest babies, attended church.  I sure liked it that way.  In this church the woman in front of me had a small infant secured in a chitenge on her back.  He slept almost the entire time waking only once to make a tiny fuss and reposition his head.  One of my favorite things about church anywhere is the music.  I don’t care if it’s hymns or “worship music” or contemporary music, or what.  I just like it.  I LOVED the singing in church in Zambia.  You couldn’t help yourself but to clap and move!  You’ll see why when you listen and watch!  🙂 

I have more “music videos” that are coming!  Hope you enjoy these (and those!)….

“God Cannot Lie”

Pastor Millan (sorry, I never heard his last name!) speaks to us at church on our Sunday in Kansoka.  I only had a small amount of time left on the SD card that was in my camera, so this is truly just a snippet of his teaching.  But trust me, we all knew we’d been churched at the end of this service!  We (Christians) are taught that God is the same before, now, and forever.  It becomes very obvious that Christians all serve the same God when you go to church in other countries; when you go to church in countries that are completely unlike your own.  His Word, whether spoken by Rick Warren or Millan (I don’t even know his last name) is the same Word.  Christians here and Christians “there” (where ever “there” might be) share the same Christian experience.  It’s a wonderful thing to see and hear.  We speak the same language “so to speak”, and we speak it in English, and in this case, in Bembe.  Millan does his own translating.  He is a charming, well dressed, and well spoken young man who seems like he should have congregation in a nice little suburb of Minneapolis or Seattle, not in the dark and witchcraft infused area of Kansoka. 

Enjoy your brief time in church, on a rough log bench, surrounded by elephant grass walls in the middle of Zambia! 

Malaria – Plasmodium Vivax

Three weeks ago I drafted, but didn’t finish or post, this: 

I first contracted malaria back in 1986 when I spent the summer (with Teen Missions) in the Arkosame area of Papua New Guinea (PNG).  I had to take high doses of chlorquine for days before I started to feel significantly better.

I got malaria again this summer in Zambia.  The incubation period for p. vivax is about 10 days.  I came down with the symptoms on day 12.  (I don’t know for sure I had p. vivax, there ARE other strains).  Mosquitos love me.  Even though there were very few mosquitos out as it was winter, I guess the right one found me shortly after my arrival.  I’m told that once you’ve had malaria, you get it easier than someone who has not had it.  I was the only person on my team (on any of the three Zambia teams actually) that got it.  However, many of the rescue unit facilitators showed up at the base in Ndola over the next few weeks also sick with malaria.

I hadn’t been feeling myself all day, but didn’t think much of it.  I was really tired, but why shouldn’t I have been?  It only made sense given my schedule and my general lack of sleep.  But as I collapsed onto my air mattress in my tent before the sun was down and laid there with my feet hanging out of my tent, boots still on, feeling like I was paralyzed I was so weak, I knew something was truly amiss.  I fell asleep there, feet hanging out and all, and woke up about an hour later shivering uncontrollably.  I crawled the rest of the way into the tent and slid into my sleeping bag, boots still on.  I curled up in a ball, and fell asleep again.  The shivering woke me again shortly thereafter.  Malaria.  I just knew it.  But I didn’t want to say it out loud.  I didn’t have time to have malaria.  I had Christina take my temperature, and it was just over 96, but my pulse was in the hundreds, so I knew I was cooking up a big fever.  She got Abner, and he took one look at me and said he thought I had malaria.  That was a consensus of two, both of us having had malaria before, and having seen the face of malaria before.  

Read About Malaria 

I cried.  I didn’t want to have malaria.  I didn’t even have any malaria meds with me.  I didn’t want to take those meds for a week before I felt better.  I had heard of a medication before I left that worked really quickly, but it was like 200 bucks, so I didn’t even consider buying any. 

The medication is call Arinate.  And Abner had some.  He started me on my loading dose.  I would only have to take it once a day for the next four days, a total of six pills.  And it was going to cost me less than ten bucks. 

Wait a minute.  Ten bucks?  Are you kidding me?

After sleeping for two days, I felt pretty well, except I was really tired and had very little energy.  That ten dollar medicine was like a miracle.  And I’m thinking…..people die here (in Africa) from malaria.  By the tens and hundreds of thousands.  How can that be?  A person dies because they can’t afford a ten dollar course of medicine???  (And it’s even cheaper in other areas in Africa and the world!) 

That’s so not right.

How many more people die from malaria each year than die from AIDS?  Malaria is completely treatable with a ten dollar dose of medication.  You don’t have to take expensive drugs every day for the rest of your life to stay alive if you get malaria.  What is the excuse for people dying from malaria???  If everyone in America donated ten dollars a year for this drug that would be 300,000,000 cases of malaria that could be treated and cured.  Did you catch that???  THREE HUNDRED MILLION CASES.  Why aren’t we doing something to stop people from dying from malaria?  People dying from malaria is just plain stupid and a waste.  And there’s no behavioral component to getting malaria.  You can’t avoid all the mosquitos that are out to get you.  There’s no good explanation for this and shame on us for letting it go on as it does, day after day, week after week, and month after month.

I used to be irked because we (the west) didn’t spray for mosquitos with cheap and effective DDT because it gave environmentalists a rash, and it’s better to let Africans die from a completely treatable disease than it is to put evil DDT into the air and soil (uh, yeah, that was sarcasm).  Be that as it may, though it still bothers me, I am now calling for the west to stop letting people die for lack of ten dollars.  I will be working on a solution to the problem that is cheap to institute and effiecient to put into action.  I have absolutely no idea how this is going to work or how it will look, but how can I just do nothing?  I still believe that we need to haul DDT out of mothballs and start the widespread use of it again.  The widespread use of DDT in the past resulted in the widespread eradication of malaria!  Stand up to environmentalists who think that people aren’t worth saving and let’s get to spraying.  And until we can get mosquitos under control, let’s cough up ten bucks and save someone who already has malaria. 

Fast forward to today:

Today I found a blog called “Sociolingo“.  Though I have not yet had the opportunity to read in depth what sociolingo has to say on topics in genenral, this site deals with issues in Africa from the perspective of one who lives there.  I don’t know if sociolingo is male or female, I don’t even know if sociolingo is white or black or brown.  But I look forward to reading more.  I have added sociolingo to my blogroll as a site that perhaps can help us all expand our world view and perhaps encourage us to start to adjust our thinking about what we should place on the top of our issues of importance list.  When you read about what the average African deals with daily, perhaps the cost of gasoline here in the states will become a little bit less of a hot issue with us.  Perhaps.  In today’s posting by sociolingo I learned that the WHO (World Health Organization) has FINALLY lifted the ban on the use of DDT.  Finally.  And thank God.  I am in the process of investigating just what the plan is for instituting the spraying, but just the lifting of the ban is great news.  I know that “eco-activists” aren’t through with their fight, so it is with deep concern that I anticipate their next moves.  Here are a couple of links for you to peruse:

Read About DDT

Fox News Story on Lifting of Ban

Sociolingo’s Malaria Post

I still don’t know how to solve the malaria problem.  I think that the problem of malaria is symptomatic of a greater problem.  The problem of indifference to the plight of others.  As a human being I am appalled by our apparent lack of interest in people who are suffering.  As a Christian I am ashamed that I don’t do more.  I look at the depth, and height, and breadth of the physical and the spiritual suffering of so many people in the world, and I am nearly paralyzed.  It’s bad enough that people needlessly die from preventable and treatable diseases.  How much more tragic is it that they do so without the knowledge of a loving savior?  And, while I sort of stand on my internet soapbox here, I am sitting on my comfy couch in the middle of my cushy life in America. 

How do we affect any real change in this world, in the suffering of millions?  The problem is so complex.  It’s geographical, it’s political, it’s spiritual, it’s sociological.  How do we effectively cross all these barriers to meet the immediate needs of a hurting world? 

Any ideas??

Moon Over Kansoka

(Moon Over Kansoka, originally uploaded by Blah Blah Blog)

I have been trying to sort out all my pictures from my summer. Some of my “kids” are asking me to send them cds of my pictures, and I don’t want to send them all the junky ones, just the good ones.  I came across this one and thought there was something fantastical about it.  And I thought I’d share it!  It was taken at our last rescue unit location, in Kansoka, Zambia.  And in case you were wondering, it was taken with a little digital camera on no special setting and without a tripod.  I just held the camera, pointed, and shot.


If I thought it was a challenge to earn the respect of 23 kids, how much more so was it a challenge for Krista to do it?  But she did.  Krista was one of my assistant leaders this summer in Zambia.  She was, well IS, only 18 years old!  She wasn’t even older than all the team members, and yet she was placed in a position of authority over them.  I have decided to write about her because of Teresa, her mom.  Teresa found and reads my blog.  She recently left a comment asking for more Africa stories.  I have dozens of them started, but it’s difficult to get a complicated life story posting just right!  However, Krista stayed in Africa (she went on to Mozambique) instead of coming home and Teresa is missing her and I think she needs to hear stories about her!  So, here you go, Teresa.  I hope you enjoy this a tenth as much as I enjoyed Krista!

Krista is as sweet as she is lovely.  She has a heart of service.  She loves the Lord (Jesus).  She is laughter and energy and light (welllll, most of the time!). 

(Trying to be glamorous, originally uploaded by Blah Blah Blog)

“For Lunch Today, We’re Having……!”

Before each meal was served, Krista would go out to where the kids were all lined up and announce the menu.  And the kids would cheer after each dish was announced.  Didn’t matter what it was, she belted it out like it was gonna be the best meal that we’d eat in our life, and the kids would cheer.  Let me tell you what that did for the morale of the woman behind the spoon.  I felt good about what I was doing every single meal of each day.

“The Lion Pig”

One morning, as I exited my tent at 5:30ish, I was startled to see Krista standing nearby waiting for me.  “Mama Lou, I need you to check the kitchen for lions before we go in there.” she said quietly and somewhat nervously.  She’d heard animals outside her tent that night and dreamed that those animals were lions.  I had made cinnamon rolls the previous evening that we’d have for breakfast that morning before church.  Making cinnamon rolls anywhere is a labor intensive process.  Making them in the bush in Africa?  Forget about it!  Hard work!  🙂  Well!  When we moved the door (it wasn’t attached or on hinges or anything) from the doorway to our kitchen, there, on the floor, were two of the four big pans of cinnamon rolls…one of them upside down, the other obviously had been eaten away at by something.  As the windows in the kitchen had no glass, we only speculated at what sort of animal the perp had been.  We knew it wasn’t lions, but off in the bushes we did spy a couple big black pigs.  That  was probably what we’d heard snufflin’ around outside the tents, but no way could pigs get into the kitchen.  I prefered not to think about what actually got at the rolls.  But that was the beginning of the legend of the Lion Pig.  Sometimes, at night, when I am missing Africa, I can almost hear it eating cinnamon rolls in the kitchen. 


Krista learned how to cook sheema to perfection.  (An expanded posting on sheema is in the works).  I remember my own mom’s skill at making cream of wheat without any lumps.  Something about adding the powder at the right speed and keeping it stirred.  Sheema’s no different.  You have to add the mealie meal (finely ground corn) to boiling water very slowly and stir, stir, stir.  We cooked it in five gallon pots.  And used big HUGE carved wooden spoon paddles to do the stirring.  That’s a lot of HARD work.  Krista’s Sheema never had any lumps.  Even more impressive was that her porridge (also made of mealie meal and a more runny version of sheema) didn’t have lumps either.  We had sheema and porridge often.  It was cheap and filling, and because Krista made it so well, the kids all loved it.

“More Lemon Pepper!”  

Krista sought to do as much as she could to help me in my endeavors to “feed the multitudes”.  She had a knack for seasoning.  Watching her shake this and that into whatever pot was steaming on the brazier was like watching a conductor at the symphony!  One of our favorite seasonsings was lemon pepper.  Everything always needed more lemon pepper.

“The Best Pancakes Ever, TWICE!!!

We had moved to Lupya the day before.  Moving always made the next day in the kitchen somewhat chaotic.  We never had quite enough time to completely organize before it was time to get up and make breakfast.  The plan was for baked oatmeal. We had all the ingredients together and ready to go but couldn’t find the oatmeal.  It was somewhere, to be certain, but we couldn’t find it and time was getting short.  So, after a quick discussion on what we could turn the very sweet and very eggy mixture we now had on hand into, it was decided we’d do a quick turn and make pancakes.  Krista dumped this and that into the bowl and we started to fry up the cakes.  And they were AWESOME!  And from that we learned that pancakes are really good with more sugar and more eggs.  Soooooo, the next time we made them, we altered the recipe again, and Krista, unbeknownst to me added her new favorite seasoning, pumpkin spice (!) to the mix.  WOW.  I haven’t had the opportunity to try to recreate those amazing cakes here in the states, but they were just about the yummiest thing I’d ever eaten.  We had lots of them leftover and we served them later cold (with peanut butter if you wanted) and they were just as good like that as they were steaming hot with margarine and syrup!  Perhaps I’ll try dinking with the recipe and if the results are nearly as good as they were in Lupya and in Lufwanyama, I’ll pass it along to you.  Kudos Krista for the the best pancakes I’ve ever eaten, twice!

“A Hot Bath For Mama Lou”

In Lufwanyama there was actually a small room off the squatty potties where you could bathe.  We only bathed once a week and I was looking forward to using that room.  But I was recovering from malaria and didn’t have much energy.  Lifting a bucket of water was hard work as I was left pretty weakened.  So I had pretty much decided the bath wasn’t worth the effort of getting water.  It was sheema day in the kitchen and since the work load was less, Krista sent me off to take a nap.  I slept for an hour or so, and when I woke up, I found that Krista had set up the bathing room for me, complete with water she had warmed up for me on the brazier.  It was the best bath I had all summer. 

“Where In The World Is Krista’s Luggage?”

All of the people on our team had to really pare down what we brought.  It had to fit in a carry-on.  As Krista was to stay on in Africa for some time after our summer, she was allowed to pack a duffel bag.  She had joined our team just days before training in boot camp, and so her plane ticket had her traveling at a different time with different team.  We caught up with her at the airport in Lusaka, but her duffel bag was no where to be found.  Krista pretty much had just the clothes on her back.  She never complained.  Eventually her bag was found.  It had been sent on to Mozambique where it would be waiting for her arrival in five weeks.  She had packed wet and dirty clothes in it, expecting that she’d do the laundry when she got to Zambia.  (Note to self:  Ask Krista what the bag looked and smelled like by the time she got there!)

More later.  Must post now!

Thanks, Krista, for all the dimensions you added to Zambia Foot Washing, 2006.  And thanks to God for giving her to us instead of sending her to Mozambique right away!


New Look…(Same Great Blog???)

I figured it was time again to change the look of my blog.  I shopped through the available options that WordPress has and found a new format that allows for a customized header.

So, what’s up with “ubiquitous mouse”?

Well, while at the Paddington station when I was lately in London, I came across a big ole statue of some artist I’d never heard of.  It had a quote at the bottom.  These two words in conjunction with each other caught my eye.  So I took a picture.  I probably should have written down the whole quote, or at least who said it, or AT LEAST whose statue it was under, but alas, I did not.

Ubiquitous is one of my all time favorite words.  And I had just returned from Zambia where, though the mice were relatively fewer in number than I was expecting, they were always there.  (Oddly, we’d find crushed mice under at least a couple of the tents each time we’d move.  You’d think ubiquitous mice would be able to avoid a fate such as that.)

It wasn’t until I put the picture in my header that it dawned on me that there was a computer application for it that plays nicely with the whole this being a blog and all thing.

So, I get a little double entendre chuckle out of it as well.  Double entendres are another favorite of mine.

I’ve been working and busy since I got back from LA.

Perhaps tomorrow I’ll write something that’s actually worthy of the time you take to read it.

PS…because of my schedule I was not able to participate in today’s Round Robin Challenge “Dream Homes”.  But feel free to check out the entries of the other Round Robiners!!!

Linking List:

Outpost Mâvarin – Posted!

Ellipsis…Suddenly Carly – Posted!


Suzanne R – Posted!
New Suzanne R’s Life

Nancy Luvs Pix

Inside The Gilded Cage – Posted!

(sometimes) photoblog

Patrick’s Portfolio – Posted!

Gina’s Space –

Update:  6/2/2010

This post no longer makes sense as the header which feature the words “ubiquitous mouse” has been changed!  Sorry!  🙂


I was lamenting to a friend earlier today about having nothing specific I was really wanting to blog about today.  I have lots of posts started (seventy plus, actually), but none of them are calling to me to finish them.  So, almost without hesitation, he suggested that I write about bacon.  Bacon?  Why Bacon?  Because that’s what came to his mind.  So, I accepted the challenge, and will write about…bacon.

In a future post or two I plan on sharing my “loaves and fishes” experiences from this summer.  There are so many times that God provided in the arena of food for my team that it’s been a daunting prospect to get it all down into one cohesive story.  There are the “miracle barrels”.  There’s the money that never ran out even though it probably should have.  There’s the bread that never went bad.  The bananas that only went bad when there were just enough left to make banana bread.  So many truly miraculous things.  And then…there was the bacon!  No, really!  I am going to be able to share a moving tale about bacon even though this was a topic challenge off the top of my friend’s head!

Bacon.  Most TMI teams take the majority of the food they’ll need for the summer from Florida.  And they haul it all the way to wherever the team will spend the summer…the Ukraine, Wales, Brazil, Camaroon, etc.  And they do that because it’s cheaper and you’re guaranteed the food to feed your team.  My team would be taking lots of supplies (shoes and other items) which are not readily available in Zambia.  So, in order to make room for these supplies, it was determined that my team would purchase its food when we got to Zambia.  Having never been to Zambia, I didn’t have any idea what it would mean to “shop for food” there.  I had learned that food was extremely expensive, especially meats.  So, I talked with the woman in charge of the food warehouse at “boot camp” in Florida.  We decided that I’d take 70 pounds (one large duffel bag) of meats and other things that would be nice to have in case staples were hard to come by (like some cookie and cake mixes – I had SEVEN birthday girls that were going to need something special on their special days!).  So we set about deciding what to bring.  I loaded up cans of chicken, and beef.  Some vacuum packed bags of tuna.  Some pepperoni and salami.  Some (gag!) SPAM.  A few freeze dried chili mixes and some freeze dried cheese sauces since they were lightweight).  AND I threw in three boxes of pre cooked bacon.  They, too, were fairly lightweight.  I’d never really seen pre-cooked bacon, but I’d heard it was good.  So I figured it might come into good use.  The boxes measured about 16″ X 10″ X 3″.  I figured there was probably enough bacon in a box for 30 people to have 2 or 3 pieces each for a good two meals!  I WAS WRONG!


(Not a picture of bacon I cooked.  A picture I borrowed from a guy by the name of Lenn Thompson which I found searching by Google for “bacon”.  Thanks Mr. Thompson for the photo.  And the recipes and cooking tips at are certainly worth checking out in the future!)

As I was saying before I digressed onto Lenn Thompson… I was WRONG!  Those boxes didn’t just hold a few servings of bacon!  Those boxes held seemingly endless amounts of bacon!  And it was AWESOME good bacon, too, mind you.  You just quickly fry it up over a brazier, or put it in a big baking pan and bake it until crispy in the oven!  Tastes as good as the stuff you cook “from scratch”!  We had bacon for breakfast at least three times a week (3, 4, or more pieces!).  We had bacon, tomato, and cheese melts.  Bacon found its way onto pizza, into sandwiches, and into sauteed green beans.  Sometimes I thought my kids would get sick of bacon.  But they didn’t.  And those three boxes of bacon lasted us FIVE WEEKS.  It was crazy!  I never counted up just how much those boxes held, but I’ll bet if I did it wouldn’t equal the amount of bacon we actually ended up eating.  I’ll bet that we ate enough bacon to have filled six of those boxes. 

He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to the sky, he blessed them, and broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the multitude.
They ate, and were all filled. They gathered up twelve baskets of broken pieces that were left over.  Luke 9:16 and 17

Addendum 10/26/07:  Not that I needed the confirmation, but I got confirmation that the bacon boxes were a miracle.  This past summer in Sicily, I took more of the same bacon.  We stayed right down the road from a grocery store and I had access to a vehicle, so the getting of food wasn’t such an issue as it was in the Zambian bush.  There were 27 of us on my Zambia team and three boxes of bacon were way more than enough.  In Sicily there were only 15 of us.  And I had to feed them for a week less than the Zambia team.  I took two of the boxes of bacon.  And I had to ration it.  We ate it only occasionally.  And we ran out at the end!  So there!  🙂  My Zambia bacon miracle was truly a God given miracle…

“What Did You DO in Africa?”

Okay, based on some conversations I have had and e-mails I have received, I can see that I need to provide you all with some very basic information on how I spent my summer.  Many of you I now I realize have absolutely no idea.  So, in order for you to better understand future postings, I will give a very basic “picture” of what my summer entailed. 

First stop was Boot Camp in Merritt Island, Florida.  Boot Camp is the U.S. headquarters for Teen Missions, Int’l (TMI).  You spend two weeks getting to know your “team”, taking all kinds of classes (concrete, evangelism, steel tying, puppets, singing, drama, truss building, block laying, etc.) in order to equip you for your “project” (whatever it is you will be doing on the field), you start your verse memorization, run an obstacle course every day, learn how to do laundry and bathe out of a bucket, get accustomed to living in tent, etc.  I was the head female leader.  Besides me, there were three other leaders.  And 23 kids.

After Boot Camp it is off to the field where you begin your project.  Over the years teams I have been on have:  built apartments, built a church, put in clean water systems, dug latrines, made furniture, painted, poured concrete floors, poured concrete ceilings/roofs, built a barn, repaired fences, built schools, built water cisterns and rain collection systems, staffed telephone crisis lines, taught Daily Vacation Bible Schools, built a septic tank, to name a few.  Other Teen Missions teams have carved out airstrips on the tops of mountains, built orphanges, dug wells, biked around various countries sharing the gospel, you name it.  Teen Missions teams have done just about everything.

My team this summer was called Zambia Foot Washing.  In an act of service and humility, Jesus washed his disciples’ feet.  My team spent time at four different rescue units.  At each one, the orphans registered there were all invited to come and receive new shoes.  Their feet were washed, and then a new pair of socks and a new pair of shoes were put on each of them.  For many, this was their very first pair of shoes.  Imagine the faces!  As part of foot washing days (generally two at each unit), there was a day long program of singing, puppets, sharing the gospel, playing games (Red Rover and a local variation of Duck Duck Goose were the favorites of the kids), coloring, making balloon animals, and the like.  The orphans got lots of time to sit on laps, be held, and be played with.  Though the walk to the Rescue Unit was far for some, many of the kids came back day after day, even after the official program for them had ended.  These children just soaked up the attention that was given to them by the team.  On the days when there wasn’t a “program”, my team would do construction/maintenance work.  They were do whatever jobs were needed at each unit.  That meant they dug very deep holes for squatty potties, shallower holes for garbage pits, they cleared brush back from the compounds to discourage snakes from coming in too close, they poured concrete floors for a new granary and for a new chicken coop, they cleared ground for a volleyball court, they demolished no longer used foundations, and they watered banana groves.  And, as you’ll read about in a future posting, at one location they put out a raging fire!

So, what did I do in Africa?  My primary responsibility was to keep my team of 27 “fed and watered“.  My secondary jobs included being their nurse, and their teacher, and their friend.  My tertiary job was to provide whatever medical aid I could to those who came seeking care and to those who were identified as needing my care.  My day was spent cooking and baking and boiling water.  And I evaluated complaints of sickness and gave meds for those complaints, and I made sure everyone who had malaria meds were taking their malaria meds as ordered.  And I taught classes and listened to the recitation of memory verses, and I was the mail lady and I was the bank.  For those Zambians who came seeking medical help I did what I could.  I often spent time each day cleaning, debriding and dressing various non-healing wounds (I will be expounding on this also in a future posting).  My days were crammed full and I loved (nearly!) every minute of it. 

In the future I will be sharing more on my experiences in the kitchen,which is where I spent most of my time and where God worked miracles just about evey day!  In fact, I will be sharing many stories.  Stories of how God worked, things I learned, things I saw my kids learn, some sad things, some joyful things.  It was a very full and beautiful summer.  I have only begun to process it, so stayed tuned!

My friend, John, has a blog of letters I wrote over the summer.  You can learn much about the minutae of my day by going there and reading!  Click here to go there!

And, please, if you have questions, ask!  I’d love to answer them!!

Update:  The letters blog has been removed.  Too bad.  Lots of great stories in there.  Sure wish I had a copy of all those letters I wrote!  I used John as a journal and never got copies of the letters as I had planned.  John “cut his losses” with me before I had the chance to get my hands on them.  Sigh.

The Face of an Orphan, 4

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