It’s Wed but I keep thinking it is Thursday because this breaks the pattern (the last 2 weeks, I’ve arrived from somewhere on a Wed - this week it was Tues).
I had an okay sleep which resulted in today NOT being quietly miserable as yesterday was. Got up, had breakfast, and off we went. We visited SIX different churches/projects today, which was nutty, and tomorrow we’re doing it all over again. Whoa. The last 2 churches we saw today are sort of sister churches - the pastor started at the old church, helped with orphan care and such, then moved to the new church (which they are still working on), and (I believe) helped set up the school they have in the church and is also working on orphan care there now as well as the things he did at the old church - and we also stopped for a few minutes at this pastor’s house (he’s got 12 kids! we only met a few :>). The last 2 stops (the old church and the house) were unexpected additions to the day.
Fibion and Becky got in around 10am from Zim after nearly 24 hours on the bus. They came back to the house and rested/washed up while we hit a few more projects (3!!!) before going out to lunch. I had a burger, forgetting that I find African burgers really weird and not particularly enjoyable, but the chips (fries!) were good and so was the mango-chocolate milkshake I had with it :>) Super healthy, I know.
Life here is strange sometimes. And by sometimes, I mean all the time. The juxtaposition of old world and new is often shocking, laughable, gut-wrenching, bizarre.
Last Thursday, we spent time with the Perrys, a family of 5 who are living on a pension of $20 a month. (Let THAT sink in for a minute.) Then we went back to the Kings, where the Tv was on (and much flipping thru the cable channels occurs among the kids) and had a big dinner and slept comfortably in their cottage. Saturday I went to the dam with the Kings and watched them waterski and tube, went on a few boat rides, hung out and drank Coke and Fanta out of glass bottles on a dock. Today I taught head-shoulders-knees-and-toes to a group of kids who think that seeing their own picture on a digital camera is the FUNNIEST THING EVER. It’s pretty mind-boggling, how all these things happen side-by-side-by-side, all the time.
It is an honor to meet the heads of the projects here - income generation projects that help the church AND the local community (hammer-mills to grind maize, raising chickens, brick-making), primary schools in churches that don’t charge the kids fees and feed them some lunch when they can, too. It is absolutely thrilling to see that things are happening, that the local church is taking the initiative and working hard and making things happen. I know there are challenges and that nothing is perfect, but it is just so. good. to see that some things are working, that progress is being made! I can’t even tell you.
**What I would give to see the church in America as a whole take this kind of care and time and dedication to fix some of our problems. But that’s another story.**
It’s hard to describe the whole day - we just went so many places and even with pictures, certain things are already blurred together in my mind. So much, so fast!
At Hope Chapel, the husband is a pastor and the wife is a teacher and they run this school for 1st-5th graders. We got to visit the classes and each time, the kids would stand up. The first time it happened, Remmy said, “You have to greet them”. We’d said hello but then Ryan said, “Good morning!” and they said, “Good morning!” “How are you doing?” “We are doing well, sir, how are you?” “We’re fine, we’re well. Thank you.” then... “You can sit down.” Each class varied a teeny bit in how they said it but overall it was a very impressive display. The 1st graders were my favorites just because they were so excited about things, totally ready to go, ya know? Cracked me up.
The couple that runs the place has a daughter named Abigail and the wife said to me as we were leaving (she and I were the last ones out and had talked a little - she’s a very nice lady),
“You should meet your namesake.”
“Yeah, that would great. How old is she?”
“14. And very fat. Like you.”
“... well, I guess I better meet her!”
I told Ryan in the car and he said that’s a huge compliment here (?!). I still honestly don’t know how I feel about it, because I have no idea what it actually meant, ya know? And this woman who said it was shorter than I am and quite well-rounded, if you get my drift. And you know - no mom would EVER say that someone in the States. At least not anyone I know.
After visiting another project, we went back to Hope Chapel so we could be around for lunch. Ellen and I took turns trying to stir the sudza (a grits-like substance that is the main subsistence dish around this part of the world) they were serving for lunch. It was in a big black cauldron and you use big wooden paddles to stir it up. It takes two people, and a third to hold the pot if possible. There will be pics up on fb later, but for now, I’ll just say, it was flippin’ HARD. These 2 women who were working on it must have the strongest arms and backs in town. I literally could not flip the stuff around/over and stir it the way that this African woman was doing it, and I am not a weak person. Crazy.
The kids sang to us while they waited for lunch and then Ellen helped serve up a few big bowls of sudza (it’s called something else here in Zam) while we got a few pictures. This particular photo-op was at the request of the people-in-charge, which I thought was nice of them (if a bit odd), to include us in one of their acts of service, and the kids ran inside with their lunch (they share from a few main bowls that the older kids carry inside, little ones running behind). It was a cool experience overall. I liked the building itself and the people who run it seem great. There was a Samaritan’s Purse box in the office and I asked if SP had been there; they have, at some point, but that was all the information I got.
Overall, a good, slightly crazy day. When we got home tonight, the water at the house wasn’t working and still isn’t now (2315 - they run on 24 hr time here ;>). So even tho all I wanted when we got home at 7 (“19” to be Zambian about it) was a shower and sleeps, I instead took a kind of weird sponge-bath with various kinds of wet wipes. Lol. Biore for the face, antibacterial wet wipes for feet and hands, baby wipes for the rest of my dusty, dirty self. I never thought I’d be so grateful for all of Ellen’s wipes but am I ever!
Hoping the water will be back in the morning and I can get a proper shower. I maintain, now and forever, that I would SO much rather have running water than electricity. Ah well.
Another 5 or 6 projects tomorrow and then on to Bonnie’s on Friday, fly to S. Africa Mon, Zim on Tuesday. Fast Times at Ridgemont High, folks.
Thanks for prayers and keeping up on this - spread the word about Forgotten Voices and also about Green Island Arts! And comment if you like a post or have questions - I love hearing from home and knowing people are reading. You don’t even know how great it is to hear from friends at home these days.
Only 3.5 weeks til the Ems come - hurray!!! (Wow, I’ve gotta lotta work to do between now and then - better get rested ;>)