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Lusaka Training - Chilenje

Chilenje Tutor Training Group

Last week we remained in Lusaka to conduct another TEEZ tutor training. This time we were at the Chilenje congregation of the Reformed Church in Zambia (RCZ). This was a special week for Rev. Banda because this was the church where he was the pastor for nine years before beginning his work with TEEZ two years ago. It was a kind of homecoming week for him and even I felt at home among the people there. We ended up having 28 participants in the course with really great interaction both during the lessons and in our free time.

With some of the women - the one in the hat gave me the nickname Mutinta

I got to know some of the women and they even gave me a nickname over the course of the week. They called me Mutinta, which means something like “one of a kind” or “the only one” in the Tonga language.  It is the same name one of the women calls her daughter who was born the same year as me and is the only girl among many brothers, just like me (except her daughter has 7 brothers and I only have 3). I enjoyed sharing many conversations and laughs with these ladies. The women who cooked for us during the week even gave me a lesson on making nshima, the thick corn porridge-like staple here.

Helping with the nshima

At the end of the course the students gave us a thank-you to remember! Several of the women processed in singing, dancing, and carrying gifts for Rev. Banda and I. We were presented with cakes, fruit, and chitenge material. It was a beautiful celebration of our time together and I felt truly honored. A special moment for me was when the women wrapped me in the chitenge material. At my ordination the same thing had happened, I was wrapped in a chitenge by women in Austin, Texas in preparation for my call in Zambia. Halfway around the world as it happened again last week I felt the most at home and accepted by the Zambian people I have since I have been here. I returned to Kitwe exhausted after three weeks of training in a row, but thankful for this experience to share in so many people’s lives here. 

Being wrapped in chitenge and gratitude

Posted March 26, 2012
Lusaka Training - Matero

Teaching in Matero

This past week we had a tutor training in a neighborhood of Lusaka called Matero. The most adventurous part of the week was getting organized to get to Lusaka. Our vehicle has been in Lusaka for maintenance for almost a month and was still with the mechanic there, so we did not have a vehicle. Also, we are running on a very tight budget and did not have enough money for the two weeks we were supposed to be away. This made my highly organized self, with a knack for planning, very anxious. The training was scheduled to start on Tuesday, but we finally headed to Lusaka by bus on Wednesday so we ran the training from Thursday through Saturday. 

Student leading morning devotion

The bus ride was very cramped and I rode most of the way with one shoulder and arm out the window. I got a nice tan from sitting on the sunny side of the bus - fortunately I remembered my sunscreen! The pastor and a few lay leaders from the church came to pick us up from the bus station and right away we felt so welcome. We ended up having a great training with nine participants from three different congregations. The church even provided for our accommodation and all our meals, which was quite a relief as we did not have much money. By the end of the week everyone involved was very thankful, the participants for the training and Rev. Banda and I for the way the host church provided for us. Please pray that God would continue to provide for our needs as TEEZ so we can continue our trainings this year.

Matero Tutor Training Group

Posted March 20, 2012
Kitwe Tutor Training

Rev. Banda teaching

This past week we had our first TEEZ training of 2012. We started off close to home here in Kitwe. When we arrived on Tuesday morning to begin the training we found that the church was all locked up and there were no students in sight. We spent most of the morning hanging out in the pastor’s home and office, waiting to see what would happen. Eventually a couple students, including the organizer, showed up and we had to discuss what would happen with the training. Rev. Banda and I ended up leaving our supplies and a challenge to come up with a class by the next morning.

Students in a practice study group

As we headed to the church the next morning, we were hoping that we would have some students. When we arrived at the church the doors were open and people were gathering, such a welcome sight compared to the day before. We ended up having eight students from three different churches in the neighborhood. It was one of our smaller trainings but one of the best once we got started. All the students were engaged in the training and will hopefully go on the use what they have learned to start TEEZ classes in their congregations. We would rather train a few tutors who go on to teach than have a whole church full who never end up holding a class.

Kitwe tutor training group

This was another good learning experience for me. Rev. Banda did a great job handling the situation with patience, honesty, and grace. He was able to hold the pastor and organizer accountable for not being prepared, but also gave them another chance to start the training the next day. At one point it seemed they were just going to cancel the training, but he encouraged them to give it another try and we ended up having a wonderful group. It would have been discouraging for both the church and TEEZ if this first training had fallen through. By the end of the week we were all glad to have held the training. We were even presented with chickens at the end as a gift of thanksgiving. Please pray for TEEZ as we continue our 2012 trainings. 

Me with my thank-you chicken

Posted March 12, 2012
Work permit

I finally got my work permit! This is a big deal because I have been waiting for it since I arrived here in Zambia. The permit was actually approved in August last year, before I even arrived here in Zambia, but they had run out of the books on which the permits are printed. So at the beginning of each month I have been reporting to the immigration office to get another stamp in my passport allowing me to stay for one more month in Zambia. Sometimes these visits were quick and sometimes they would ask for more paperwork or I would have to explain again and again, I would never know what the situation would be that month.

Then in January the TEEZ director and I made a special trip to Lusaka to try to get the permit (which is a five to six hour drive one way). We had been informed that the price of the permits had doubled in 2012, so we went to pay and pick up the permit. We were able to make the payment, but they told us we would have to wait three more weeks for the permit to be ready. I was so frustrated! Not having the permit has kept me from being involved in the prison ministry that other TEEZ fellows have participated in as well as limited my travel plans. Also, having to report to the immigration office each month, sometimes being hassled a bit, made me feel uneasy, insecure, and so temporary. I would always be a bit nervous and in the back of my mind I would wonder what would happen if they didn’t allow me another month.

I found out the permit was ready a few days before I was setting off for South Luangwa, so I stopped on the way to pick it up. I was so happy to finally be holding the permit that I kissed it as I left the immigration office! I am thankful to have it before we start traveling to do our trainings this year. Also, I was so glad to have the help of Rev. Banda and the TEEZ director throughout the process. I have seen that MAPC has a ministry assisting immigrants and I encourage you to come alongside those who need help if you are familiar with the system in the States. Having an advocate within the country definitely made a difference for me, both in understanding the system and in making sure things were moving in the right direction.

My work permit

Posted March 5, 2012
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