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About a month ago I wrote about the situation in Zambia with Barotseland declaring its independence. The situation continues to be tense, but peaceful so far. The leaders of Barotseland are pressuring President Sata to do something but he is not saying much if anything on the subject. Last week there was an article in the paper in which the Vice President said the issue would have to be dealt with through the Zambian constitution. I am not sure what that means, but the constitution is currently under review. Please continue to pray for peace in Zambia and for a resolution which has the best interest of both parties in mind.

Also, I wanted to give you an update on my puppy, Colby. He is growing like a weed and we are having a lot of fun together. When I am away on trainings he stays with the Lunds where he gets to hang out with his mom and sister. The photos below will give you a good sense of his character – and he has a lot of it!

Colby at two months

With his bear-bear

Three months old

Colby is now four months old and growing up fast

What a handsome pup!


Posted April 30, 2012
Lundazi

Starting the morning in song

This past week we were in Lundazi, which is 176 kilometers north of Chipata. It should only take an hour and a half to get there by car, but the road is only good for half of the way so it took us about three hours. However, this is an improvement over the last time TEEZ visited Lundazi. When Brent and Erin traveled there two years ago it took them almost five hours! The training was held at a congregation of the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian. They have a small compound which included the church, some offices, houses, and a guesthouse where we stayed. Some of the training participants were also staying in the guesthouse, so we got to get to know them a bit which was fun.

Teaching

The week went by quickly and we had a good time together. We had 34 students who were very involved in the training. They even got together in the evenings to have review sessions on what they had learned that day. I really got the sense that they valued the training and I am hopeful that they will go on to lead TEEZ classes in their congregations.

Lundazi Tutor Group

We held the training in the church building and there was a beautiful big tree behind the church where we would take our tea and meal breaks. We had wonderful food over the week - sweet potatoes, cassava, nshima, beans, village chicken. I even ate my first Zambian caterpillars. Yes, caterpillars. They were fried and did not have very much taste, but they were a bit gritty. I managed to eat three, then passed the rest on to Rev. Banda.

Tea break

I bumped into my friend Nancy Collins out in Lundazi which was great fun. Nancy lives in Lusaka and is the PC(USA) Regional Liaison for East Africa, which includes the countries of Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, and Zambia. She had been in Malawi, then was having some meetings in Lundazi on her way back toward Lusaka. We only had a chance to say hello but it was wonderful to see her. The training finished on Friday and we traveled back to Kitwe over the weekend, staying a night in Lusaka on the way. I enjoyed the trip, but it is good to be home and have some time to relax after the long journey. 

Enjoying a moment in the shade


Posted April 23, 2012
Chipata

View from my guesthouse window

I love Chipata! This is my favorite place we have visited in Zambia so far. I’m not sure if it is the landscape that reminds me of the Texas hill country, the cool breeze, or the tall palm trees but I am enjoying being in this place! It took us two days to get here from Kitwe via Lusaka as Chipata is in the Eastern Province of Zambia, almost on the border with Malawi. Not only is the place wonderful, but this week I also realized how much I have adjusted to life here. This week wasn’t without its challenges: a vehicle that has to be push started (resulting in a few flesh wounds and a good skinned knee after I fell on the morning we were leaving Lusaka), being without electricity for three days (which is normal in Chipata), and being out sick for a day (most likely food related). A few months ago even one of these events would have thrown me for a loop, but this week I took it in stride and I was able to enjoy the training and this beautiful part of Zambia.

Chipata training group

We were conducting a joint Tutors training and African Indigenous Christian Counselling (AICC) training. Since there are just two of us facilitating the trainings it was a busy week. Plus we had to work around the power situation as the AICC training is based on a DVD program. Fortunately the church was able to locate a generator so we were able to carry on the course. We had just under 30 students, most of whom were doing the AICC course. There were only three participants doing the Tutor training, which I really enjoyed. I worked mostly with this group and I was able to sit down with them as we went through the lessons together. It was nice to get to know them and be able to talk more deeply about the joys and challenges their churches face here.

Tutor group - Jabes, Nellie, me, & Josphat

One of the Tutor students, Nellie, is also Presbyterian and was very excited to meet a Presbyterian pastor from the US. She invited me to a lunch meeting she was having with her pastor one day during the training, which was a great outing for me. Not only was it good to meet the Zambian minister and a few other folks from Nellie’s church, but it was also fun to sit in on their meeting. They are planning to have a lunch for pastors in the Chipata area next month, a time for them to get together, socialize, and encourage one another in the ministry. Nothing like this has been done before here and I think it is a great idea. Please pray that their gathering would be blessed and a source of strength for the ministers. 

Beautiful Zambian sunset!

Posted April 16, 2012
Happy Easter!

Fun decorating Easter eggs

I hope you have all had a joyous Easter celebration. I have had a week of both solemn contemplation and Easter fun. My mom sent a box with lots of Easter goodies including stickers, egg dyes, and cupcake fixings. I shared these gifts with several kids in the neighborhood and we had a wonderful time preparing for Easter by making cards, dying eggs, and decorating the cupcakes. On Sunday I attended the Anglican church in town with the Lunds as well as putting on an Easter egg hunt for their kids and having a wonderful roast for Easter dinner, which is a real treat here. Then Rev. Banda and I hit the road in the afternoon as we have a TEEZ training in Chipata this week.

Making Easter cards


In the midst of this Holy Week a dear friend asked me to reflect on my call to this Fellowship and ministry in Zambia to share with a Bible study she leads. I would like to share with you what I wrote to her. In terms of how I was called to this ministry, the opportunity presented itself and I accepted it - just like Belgium, where I was a missionary for two and a half years before seminary. I knew it would be really hard but I also knew it was what God was calling me to do for this season. To be honest there was a part of me that wanted to run away even up to the day I got on the plane to come here (and some days since). I remember sitting at one of the presbytery meetings to approve my ordination and thinking, "Maybe they will say no and I won't have to go." I wish I could say that I was filled with joy and excitement to move to Zambia, but the truth is that I knew there would be lots of challenges. There is a quote from Amy Carmichael who sums it up well when she says, "Missionary life is simply a chance to die." Your normal daily life dies, the way you usually communicate with people dies, even the way the world looks around you dies, and eventually the way you think and see the world dies too. But thankfully our God is a God of resurrection. The old life does indeed die, and that can be a very painful process, but then God provides new life. Sometimes we catch just enough of a glimpse of new life to get through the day and sometimes we are so filled with hope and joy it seems like we might burst. As we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ this week, we also celebrate our own death and resurrection. Missionary life can just make this dying and being given new life more obvious as it happens in many areas of your life all at once.

I have had resurrection moments here, moments of new life and joy appearing out of seemingly nowhere. Some of these have been quiet moments while driving across the country or taking a walk around the compound where I live when I have felt peace and hope in the midst of such an unfamiliar place. Other times have been during loud, out of tune, but joyous singing and dancing during a church service. One of my favorite examples of this was a boy's brigade band (similar to a marching band) enthusiastically playing "Silent Night" on Christmas eve, accompanied by loud ululations from the congregation. There have also been times during our trainings when conversations with students become holy ground.

The thing is that in this life the dying and receiving new life are all mixed up. We will continue to struggle and experience pain but also receive hope and joy in the midst of it all. Jesus Christ lived among us, walked among us, struggled along side us, died as we all will, and was raised to new life by our Father. Jesus' precious promise to us is that he has gone to prepare a place for us and has invited us to share in his new life. One day we will all be living fully resurrected lives in the presence of our God. Until then we will continue to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit and offer thanks for the new life and resurrection moments.


Posted April 9, 2012
Barotseland

This past week Bartoseland, which is basically the Western part of Zambia, announced its secession from Zambia and declared itself a sovereign nation. Zambia does not recognize this action and we are waiting to see what will happen. Barotseland is the kingdom of the Lozi people, which came under the colonial rule of the British until 1964. In 1964 Zambia emerged as an independent nation, combining Northern Rhodesia (which had also been under British rule) and Bartoseland together under the motto “One Zambia, One Nation.” One of the conditions to this union was the Barotseland Agreement which allowed the Lozi chiefs and leaders some degree of self-governance in Barotseland while also being part of Zambia. Now the Lozi leaders are saying that the Agreement has not been upheld by the Zambian government and therefore they have the right to become independent.

Zambia has deployed many police and military troops to the Barotseland area to be on hand. There have also been reports that drums have been set up, which could be used to call the people of Barotseland to battle. If the situation were to become violent it could affect the whole country, as there are Lozi people all over Zambia. One of the women I work with has expressed the concern that the situation could become something like the Tutsi and Hutu conflicts in neighboring countries. Lozi people in other areas of Zambia could be harassed or even killed. People who have intermarried among the tribes may have to make a hard decision about whether to stay together and what to do about children. Over past two years there have been riots in which people have been killed due to this issue. Please pray for wisdom and patience on both sides and that this situation would be resolved peacefully.

Map of Barotseland (from Wikipedia, the area indicated
is the proposed reach of the Lozi kingdom at its height)

Posted April 2, 2012
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