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Sunday, January 31, 2010

All the Children of the World

Jesus loves the little children,  
all the children of the world,  
red, brown, yellow, black and white,
they are precious in His sight.
Jesus Loves the little children of the world.

Normally, on Sundays,  I post about one of our children that we’ve taken in. I love sharing their stories with you and remembering the times they came to be with us and then how far they’ve come.


We are not set up as an adoption home and even when the laws in Zambia become more adoption friendly (they’re a bit confusing at the moment), we are still focusing more on raising children that will be Godly men and women who can help to lead their own nation.

Having said that we are not closing the door to any possibilities the Lord may have to place children with a specific family should that be the way He moves. As always we try to stay open to what God might have in store for our (& our little ones’) futures.


I feel sad when I read or hear about governments and organizations putting pride and politics before children’s welfare.

I’ve been following the blog of the Livesay family in Haiti and their undying devotion to the rescue efforts in the land they love and call home. She wrote a post about this very thing. I am copying it below and have included the link so you can see more of their wonderful work.


Something very odd went down with unicef yesterday. We were instructed in writing to pick up patients from the Comfort ship. When our driver got there to get the people there were unicef vehicles taking them to some camp. The unicef folks were not talking, they were just large and in charge. I'd love to believe somebody just got their wires crossed, but I'm not so sure. Something smelled wrong about it. The Comfort ship went to the work of getting us patient names, details, lists and a time to come get them. Clearly they were unaware of what was about to happen.

The problem is, giant worldwide organizations have power, and they have policies. Giant organizations are so giant that they cannot see the forest for the trees and they cannot see the individual person with the individual situation. We all know power corrupts. The unicef we're seeing is not as interested in putting people/children first as it is in setting policy, precedent, and moving forward its own political agenda. I've watched people get up in arms and say that it is wrong to not support this long-standing and "worthy" organization. I recognize that will likely happen again here. We can easily agree to disagree if need be.

We're simply stating that the policies and procedures are a long way off from meeting real people where they are. (And things are not what they appear to be. Not at all.) The anti-adoption rhetoric is maddening. Kids abandoned to an orphanage by their birth parent PRE earthquake are now being held in Haiti thanks to pressure placed on the Haitian government by the giant and powerful unicef. It is asinine and lacks all logic.

We are all for legal, careful, smart adoption. None of us want to see children taken from a birthparent that wants to raise them. That would be a terrible thing. The fact is, unicef is openly anti-international-adoption and what is happening now is nothing more than political grand-staning and a massive power trip. And all at the expense of children with waiting and approved families abroad.

For more thoughts and a specific story, read this.

Large powerful organizations with money can "encourage" and "convince" and put the pressure on ... and a government in crisis will bend to the will of a single powerful organization.

Meanwhile, children and people in crisis are not being served, cared for, or respected.



Haiti is in the news right now and so we are hearing more about their plight but this kind of thing goes on all over the world.

We have friends who were missionaries to Russia and they saw the same thing years ago where because of national pride or rather the fear of losing it, the officials chose to leave children in institutions which were not caring for them properly rather than allow them to go to good homes which happened to be in another country.

If you feel it's the right thing to do, please read more about this by following the link in the story above and write to those in power (addresses and names are included) and help to change to world for those children.


At the very least, please pray for all the children in the world who are lonely and suffering. Pray that their needs are met and that God works in the lives of those around them.

                                 Thank you!







Saturday, January 30, 2010

Life or Something Like It

We interrupt our regular programming to bring you a peek into an ‘average’ day in
 Amy’s Adventurous Life.


Woke up late this morning because I’m fighting off the cold that is circulating through our house. I just might beat this!

Realized upon waking that we were supposed to be at the Chief’s palace at that very moment. Woke Tom up and we rushed into the vehicle without eating breakfast. We are trying to renew our work permit and need a letter from the Chief confirming that he still wants to ‘employ’ us. We were at the palace twice yesterday but didn’t get a chance to see him despite having an appointment of sorts.

Arrived at the palace 30 minutes past when we said we would be there and were told that the Chief had “waited for us for 10 minutes and then left”. This didn’t have the ring of truth to it because this is Africa where the name of the game is waiting. Anyway, the end result was the same: We 'bounced' as they say here.

Good thing too since we were expecting an important visitor some time that morning and needed to be at home. As soon as we got home I rushed into the kitchen to prepare our breakfast. I scrambled some eggs and heated water for tea and coffee. No sooner had our eggs finished cooking and exactly as I was pouring water into our mugs than we heard cars entering our driveway. Our visitors had arrived—exactly on time! Drat! What was with this day and the odd punctuality?

We had been told that the Commanding Officer for the Police in this province wanted to stop by and see us. Who actually came were the heads of a bunch of government departments: the Army, Immigrations, National Service, Police and a few other people. It was around 12-15 people. We took them on a tour and showed them the progress we’ve made in building and shared the story of Peter with them. It was fun to tell them about Peter and then take them into the nursery and show them his rolly polly body.

After the tour which included the farm, animals and snake pen, we sat down for cold drinks and a quick chat. They asked for our story of how we came to be here and also what challenges we face. We tactfully shared some of the things we are up against.



As soon as they left we jumped back in the car and drove back to the palace. Nope, still no Chief. I was a bit thankful because by now I was starving. When we got home I heated up our long neglected hot drinks by adding hot milk and heated our eggs and made them ‘new’ by adding some cheese on top. We can’t use our microwave because our power is almost never strong enough.

After brunch I got online and read a few blogs. Reading one, I found a solution for my bookmarks. I’m really excited. I’ll share more about this at another time. This kept me busy for a while.

Tom rested for a bit and then taught the Bible Course that we hold in our dining room twice a week. After he’d been teaching for awhile I went in to remind him that we still needed to meet with the chief and he asked me to weigh in on a hot topic the class was debating. It was about forgiveness. This is a big subject for discussion here--how forgiveness and justice go together. I will write more about this soon because I’d love for you to offer your opinions.

When class was over a couple students stayed behind. One of them missed 33% of the first semester and now seven classes into the second semester he had only attended the last two. We had to break the news to him that he was being expelled from the course. We have a policy that students have to attend 75% of classes. There is a problem with lack of commitment here with other activities coming up and distracting students. We have to be hard sometimes in order to find the real students as opposed to those who attend only for bragging rights.

The other student that remained was asking for a loan for his carpentry course and business. He had asked on Monday already but we explained then that we had already used our discretionary fund for other needy causes and didn’t have anything to help him with. When I turned him down a few days ago he had a really hard time understanding this. His English isn’t very good but it was more than that. In his mind he had already used the money and was hard at work so when I turned him down he just couldn’t get his mind around it. I felt really sorry for him but we can only do so much.

  Today he was trying again. Again we told him that we are not made of money nor do we have a Kwacha tree in the backyard (oh how I wish we did!). This gentleman is one of our best students, has a really sweet spirit, and is a talented carpenter. When we do have funds available he is at the top of our list.



With this work done I grabbed a half can of tuna and an avocado—called it lunch—and jumped back in the car to head to the palace. This time I was told to enter. I’ll have to tell you later about what it’s like to meet with a chief. For now let me just say that I did the regular protocols and was nicely asked to come back in the morning. Oh well!



Back at home I took Peter from the nannies for some play time and started writing this. We also had dinner (T.J cooked) and watched America’s Got Talent (season three—don’t tell me who won). We are not a passive viewing family but get really involved with keeping score (on paper no less) and loud cheering for our favorites. At one point our cheering startled baby Peter and his little lips quivered as he began to cry. It was adorable! So, of course, we did it again. We’re terrible!

Right now as I wrap this up the power has been on all day and since our batteries are fully charged I’m taking the risk of typing that. Good night and may all your adventures be good ones.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Fab Friday Foto--Volume XII


photo by Tom

Saturday morning Tom played with our monkey.
Kanono was just hangin' out.
Doesn't he look relaxed?

I had already scheduled this for publication when I read this post from Katie in Uganda. I've posted an article by her before. I love that her life is so much like ours.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Be Prepared...

....It's not just for Boy Scouts. Missionaries need this motto as much if not more.

We never know when a routine shopping trip is going to turn into an adventure or when a bus trip already full of adventure will become even more exciting. For this reason I carry with me at all times my not so little bag of tricks.



Tom's mother gave him this backpack for his birthday shortly after we moved to Africa but since he prefers a fishing or police vest to carrying a bag I became the proud owner of this nice courier bag. I love the little pocket that holds me cell phone so when I'm walking down the road the phone is nestled in the strap across my chest in easy access.



Here is a peek inside the bag--My 'necessities' for a day in Africa.



I never go anywhere without a book. Tom mocks me but it saves me from losing my mind when we are delayed over and over again here. We have to wait in an office for someone--no problem, pull out the book. A bus ride takes 19 hours instead of 12--extra reading time!
I read at least two books a week and so usually have two books in my bag when I go to town and if I'm traveling it's not uncommon for me to take 5 books! A Kindle would be wonderful for this reason.
Carrie at Reading to Know is holding a challenge for the month of January where she is encouraging people to get to know L.M Montgomery's work or to revisit some of her books. I love the Anne of Green Gables books and decided to read this one above, Emily of New Moon. I'm enjoying it so far.



Another huge form of entertainment is listening to music. I'm so thankful for my little Nano.
The black sphere thing is a speaker. It produces amazing sound and allows us to listen to music in the car.
We also take it into the kitchen or use it for dinner music. It's wonderful!


Very important! My wallet. (See the photo of my precious in the corner?)
Our money here is quite pretty. That large wad of cash is not actually worth very much. The largest bill here is only worth between $10-12. I routinely carry 2 million kwacha with me but that is only just over $200.



Some of my favorite things:
  • My pink snakeskin planner. I've had it for years and use it all the time.
  • My head lamp. This I lose or break frequently so this is a recent model. It really comes in handy.
  • My gold business card holder. This makes me feel like a professional (missionary!).
  • The red notebook takes down my thoughts from day to day. If you could see inside you would see my notes taken during the Policeman's Ball.
  • That blue, stripey thing is the case for my oversized sunglasses. So important!


My little trusty cell phone.
See that green thing at the back? Those are little cards containing credits for our cell phone.
Nearly all cell phones are pay as you go so we have to buy little scratch cards and type a pin code into our phone in order to add time. Sometimes we can get the big ones--$10-20 worth but these little ones are just over $2 each. We go through about $10 a week each so that is a lot of scratching and entering.


Big time essentials:
  • Eye drops--things are so dusty.
  • Allergy pills (see above)--risky though because they're kinda illegal here.
  • Mints (front right)
  • Pain pills
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Lotion
  • Sunscreen (the sun is really intense here)


Other essentials:

And lastly: hair scrunchie and bandana. With no airconditioning our windows are always open and a hair drifting across your face over and over again for hours can make you slowly lose your mind.


So, there you have it! My daily pack. What is in your purse?

Can you tell me what is missing from mine?

Electricity Woes

We were without power for much of the day on Monday and then Tuesday it went off around 4 PM and came back on at 5 PM on Wednesday!

When we lose power for that long it is hard to get anything done. The kids can't work on their school.--It's computerized. I did have them play a math board game so that was good. They also read a lot on their own anyway so I don't worry about their brain cells melting.

I couldn't get any work done on my computer but I did clear off a desk. Yay me! When there is no power it feels like we all move into slow motion. We end up napping a lot and turn into sloths. It's a combination of the heat, the silence (no technology even making white noise), and the loss of momentum.

The reason for the long outage this time was a cut transformer somewhere in our province. When we called our contact in the electric company he said that they knew there was a problem but had to go look for the location but their only vehicle was 'not operating properly'. This meant a delay while they 'looked for transport'. Hearing this we were completely ready for the power to be out for 2-3 days. Ok, not ready like all prepared but mentally we were wrapping our brain around it.

 It was wonderful when the electricity came on when it did. We held our breath for the rest of the evening because usually we lose power every evening from 6-8 PM for load shedding. What this means is that other cities need the electricity more than we in the sticks do so they turn us off to save power. Thankfully, they had pity on us last night and we had electricity all night--it was low voltage until 9 PM (we should get 220V but often only have 90-150V) so we couldn't do much but at least the lights were on.

Added to this, I couldn't get Blogger to open at all on Firefox on Tuesday or then last night. Even this morning it's not working but I thought about using IE and voila! Anyway, this is just a quick note to explain my absence and I will have a real post up later today. This is all God willing and barring power failures, internet failures, storms, floods, famines (not really the last one although this diet is messing with my head).

If anyone has an idea why Blogger won't work on Firefox please send me an email. Thanks!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Henry


 Our Kids--Volume VI





Two months after we'd opened our orphanage we still only had two children living with us and we wondered if we'd goofed somewhere. Then Christmas Eve, little Janet came to be with us and the day after Christmas (also known as Boxing Day) we received two more children. Theresa and Henry. Actually Henry's name was Hope Songolo but when we saw him we felt he deserved a more masculine name. 


We tossed names around and then ended up settling on Henry, which was my first choice. I didn't realize until later that I had been subconsciously affected by reading The Time Traveler's Wife just before this. Have you read this book? Amaaazing!





Anyway, there was a strong contingent that wanted to name Henry Elmo. Can you see why by the picture above? He was pretty funny looking at first.





He had been nursed by his aunt (whose youngest child was seven years old) and so was not exactly malnourished but wasn't chubby and well fed. Because he had been carried around for most of his life in the African style sling he had not had a chance to develop his muscles. At 5 months old he could still not hold his head up well.

  We have banned the use of these slings here at the orphanage unless a child is new and needs it sometimes for comfort or when we walk down to the clinic we will carry a child this way because it's easier. But for our local staff we found that if a child was fussy they would automatically just toss the child onto their back without really finding out what the child truly needed. And of course the children would quiet down because they were used to being comforted that way but they wouldn't be learning or growing properly.





He fattened up quite nicely and became a very handsome little guy. He developed stronger muscles and was soon able to sit up.







His favorite activity of all was to jump in the Johnny Jump-Up. Because our ceilings are really high and we don't have the right type of door frames we suspended the JJU from a rope tied to the rafters and then because the rope wasn't quite long enough we put a table under the JJU and that's what Henry and Janet would jump on. We were always there to watch over them and would giggle as they jumped up and down. Henry especially was really active as he jumped.





The funny thing is that Henry and Janet came to stay with us 2 days apart and we found out that they were born one day apart. They were just like little twins. 





Every day Henry got stronger and stronger. He caught up developmentally quickly and learned to run and jump quite early.






We love it when Henry bursts through the door of our private living room and dances to music we have on. I wish I knew how to upload videos to this thing because watching Henry shake his booty is one of the best things out there.





Henry is very inquisitive and though his language skills are a bit delayed he knows how to communicate with actions and facial expressions. He gets bunches of information across with the use of Da Da by choosing different inflections and tones.





We look forward to seeing what this young man will grow up to be. He has the drive, curiosity and energy to some day make a great leader. Stay tuned!


Other related posts: 
Chola
Queenie
Jennifer


Saturday, January 23, 2010

Super Story--Part Three


 A few people have wondered if I found it difficult to move so much as a child; if it made me insecure. I began moving from the moment I was born. My parents were missionaries in Mexico before I was born and they returned there right away after my birth. We moved a lot within Mexico and my sister was born in Puebla. Then we traveled up to Washington State where my two brothers were born. I think we moved a few times in the two years we lived in that state  and then we moved to Oregon near my maternal grandparents. We changed houses at least twice over the next couple years while living in that one town.


My grandparents' sunflower garden. Circa 1978?


  I don't remember any of those moves aside from the last one and then of course living in Mexico where we were in a campground for 6 months, we didn't move during that time but our neighbors did. 


With a little friend in Mexico. Circa 1976?


  All that to say moving was my normal. I didn't think much of it.  I didn't feel insecure at all but saw each move as an adventure. My parents were always positive and made our travels fun and educational. It's fairly common too for people like me (Third-Culture-Kids) to learn early how to make friends quickly. The only problem is that we don't know well how to hang on to friends and we don't necessarily invest much of ourselves into friendships right away because we don't know how long they'll last. 



 With a friend at Halloween in Oregon. Circa 1980




I have to share a quick story before  going on:
  When I was about eleven years old my parents were part of a missionary fellowship and we got to meet missionary families around the country we lived in at the time. I formed friendships with many of the other children my age. One day my dad explained that we were going to move to a new city. A family with a boy my age had just moved to the city we lived in at the time. My dad told me he was sorry that I was going to have to leave this boy who I had developed a friendship with. “That’s ok, Dad,” I said cheerfully, “there’s a boy I like in the new city too.” Oh, dear! What a player!

Ok, so, back to the Super Story: In the last episode we were staying with friends and my parents were contemplating our next move. A new adventure was just around the corner.


My parents were trying to decide where to go next. They had 6 children (including a seriously handicapped child), had been serving the Lord fulltime (minus a break for a couple years when my dad went to school) for over 10 years, and having spent 4 years in Mexico at different times thought perhaps the Lord could be leading them further south to the continent of South America. This made a lot of sense because they both spoke Spanish fluently and loved the Latin people.

Around this time two people teamed up with my parents: One was a young man who my parents had mentored when he first became a Christian. He had served as a missionary in Colombia and was married there but after a heartbreaking divorce found himself alone and looking for a new start. He came to stay with us and my parents were glad for the extra help. The second person was a single mother who had a little girl. She played the flute and joined our little family singing troupe. I'll be telling you more about this next week.

So with four adults working together, three of which spoke Spanish fluently, moving on to a new work in South America seemed even more certain. Knowing the importance of taking everything before the Lord and not "leaning to their own understanding" my parents and their friends got together to pray and received the biggest surprise. 

They all felt that God wanted them not to move south but east! To India! Say what? My parents hardly knew anything about India and it would be a completely different way to work. There would be a new culture to learn about, new language to learn, new ministries to work in.


  I have to say that I am really proud of my parents for being willing to follow God to the ends of the earth even when it didn't make a whole lot of sense by human standards. I remember my dad even sharing the story of how when he was on the plane heading to India he was feeling sad that he was going to miss his spicy Mexican food. We laugh now because Indian food is some of the spiciest there is. As I write this my mouth is burning from the egg curry I just ate for lunch. 


  Once the decision was made we began the process of finding the support we would need to work as missionaries in India!


  Next week: Our family singing troupe and a really special dignitary.

Further reading: 
 



Friday, January 22, 2010

Fab Friday Foto--Volume XI


Sharing with you today an oldie but a goodie.
This photo was taken by my son a couple years ago
and remains one of my favorites!

In the picture are Theresa (left) and Queenie (right) 

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Say What??

My husband Tom has the type of personality that really inspires people and, in the case of our staff, they often try to emulate him. 

Our head gardener, Peter, who also serves as a type of right hand man for Tom , is very typical of this. He tries to copy Tom's movements and words, feeling that if it works for Tom it will surely work for him. 


One example of this was when Tom would complain that those who work for us part-time would often try to drag a job out hoping to get more money since we pay by the day Tom would say that they were 'milking the job'. Peter didn't really know what this meant but now if he feels someone is trying to take advantage of us he will tell Tom, "That person is just 'milking us'!"


Another of Tom's sayings is when having to negotiate for a job done for us--negotiation being a daily part of our life here whether it is buying a tomato from the market or trying to get a brick wall built--he will ask "What's the damage?" Tom could hardly control his mirth the other day when Peter approached one of the many contractors and asked, "What's the broken?"


These are some of the things keep us smiling when times get rough.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Adventure Journey to the Waterfalls

Today we have a guest poster. My 12 year old son, Troy, asked me to blog about his recent outing with his dad to the waterfalls. I told him that even my stellar (ha ha) writing skills weren't up to the task since I wasn't there. Actually I really just wanted him to write this for his school work. Pretty sneaky, right?


So, here in Troy's own words--his adventure with his dad.


Me and dad were driving to the bush. So, we were getting closer to the waterfalls, bu then we passed a man. We thought he was a hitchhiker. We stopped for him and he said he wanted to go to the falls but we all were really close to the falls so we went on.

  We parked the car and got out. Then walked to the bridge and saw that the river under the bridge was bigger and faster than before. We took a few pictures and walked on.




  I had the G.P.S and I was leading so then we were walking through this really tall grass! I put my right hand on the hilt of my knife because there might have been lions there. then we finally got past that tall grass and into the jungle. 




While we were walking we saw these really strange mushrooms . There were red ones, green ones, and white ones. Then we were walking through the jungle and there were so many reeds and vines. I took out my buck knife and while I did I sliced my finger! But it was only a small cut.

  Then we found a cave that had some rocks in front of it. Dad pulled the rocks away. Then we stuck the camera in the cave and saw these two round glowing eyeballs but we think they were mushrooms.


  We were walking then we started getting caught by vines and reeds. Dad got out and I took out my knife and cut the vines. We finally made it to the Morrow cave. We rested there. Then we saw the highest rock of the whole jungle.





  We saw a 4 foot wide flower and it was pretty big and red. Right next to that flower was a caveman's trap. It was a log and had a few sticks on both sides. We took a picture of it.






  We finally made it to the highest rock of the jungle. Then our adventures were done. 




On our way back we saw a small waterfall and pool. It was really hot so I stuck my head in it. It was nice, then we went on and came safely home.



Monday, January 18, 2010

You Just Never Know....

....How a Day Will Turn Out.

We never know what a day in Africa will hold for us.

Friday was our normal shopping day where we travel to Mansa to the only grocery store. Tom and I got up early and had a bit of breakfast and loaded up the car with the usual: reusable shopping bags, ice cooler, and crates with empty soda bottles for exchanging.

We had the normal exchange as we pulled out: Do we have everything? Do we have our wallets, our bank cards, our 'to-do' lists, our cell phones. Check, check and check.


The drive takes 2 hours and is a nice time for Tom and I to have business meetings. We spent this particular day talking about what projects need to be completed in the next couple months as we prepare for my trip to the U.S. 
We also talked about the bills that were due and what we needed take care of on this trip.  We have to pay for everything in cash and Mansa is the only place up here where we can access funds so we have to be careful and think everything through.  

We pulled into Mansa a bit later than usual and proceeded directly to the bank for our first stop. We use ATM machines to withdraw money, using our Visa cards, from our U.S bank. We took out our 3 cards and watched as one by one they were all rejected. This happens to us on a regular basis when our bank forgets we operate over in Africa and due to 'irregular' activity (using the card in a foreign country) they  block/place a hold on our cards until we can call them and confirm that we do indeed have possession of our cards.

This would be fine if we were able to just pick up a phone and call but it's not that easy. We have to find an internet cafe and hope they have Skype on a computer so we can use that to call. As we deliberated what to do we realised that neither one of us had brought any money with us--I had just emptied my wallet to take care of payroll and hadn't put any bills back--so we really had to find a solution or we wouldn't even be able to get home.

  We found an internet cafe and hooray, they had Skype! Not so good...it was still the middle of the night for the U.S and we had to wait until 3 PM when the offices would open. It was only 10 AM so we had a wait ahead of us. 
  Not knowing if we'd be able to get through to the bank later and needed to do grocery shopping and put gas in the car no matter what, I went ahead and transferred money over to our personal accounts (making a mental note to write a memo explaining this action) and we headed back to the bank. Tom used my ATM card first and got $400 out and then put his card in and it was sucked into the machine. A little note popped out saying 'your card has been confiscated--contact your branch for details'. Now what?!? Tom went inside the bank and found out that the person who was authorized to deal with confiscated cards was out and would be back around noon.

  We piddled around taking care of a few errands as we killed time waiting out the bank drama. Finally it was noon and finally at 12:30 the correct person arrived at work and we found out that Tom's card had expired! We had overlooked the date. This is a pickle for us because we can only wait until we visit the U.S to pick up a new card or pay $30 for it to be shipped DHL.  Oh well, that was a decision for another day.

  Wondering what more would happen this day we took a break to have lunch at our favorite restaurant. At this point we had two options--if we could get through to the bank and fix the problem we could head home in the afternoon. If not, we'd have to wait until the next day  (spending the night at a hotel) to be able to use my ATM card again--we have a daily limit--which meant we wouldn't be able to shop for any perishables.

Finally we decided to do the majority of our shopping and hope for the best when we called our bank later in the day. We shopped quickly and then headed back to the internet cafe. We dialed the bank and....nothing happened because a storm had moved in and blocked the satellite signal. We impatiently waited until the rain passed and then tried again. After carefully entering all my relevant information into the automated system and waiting and waiting I finally got through to a person! He was very kind and proceeded to inform me that he had to transfer me to a different department. And that was when the storm passed over again and we got cut off. Sheesh!
  I dialed again, entered my information, waited to talk to a real person and quickly asked to be transferred to the right person. Finally!  The correct person came on the line and that experience could be a separate post entirely. Suffice it to say that he fixed our cards so we could use them and we were done!

Quickly we dashed back to the grocery store and picked up the cold items, loaded them into the cooler, filled our vehicle with diesel (noted that it went up by $1.00/gallon) and got on the road. It was nearly 5 P.M by now and we were a little worried about having to drive in the dark. Part of our concern came from the fact that Tom had not prepared for night driving and was wearing his prescription sunglasses.



  I spent the second half of our drive home white knuckling it and holding onto the convenient handle on the passenger side of the dash board. Our regular driving hazards --potholes, animals, pedestrians and rain--were multiplied by the darkness and it didn't help that Tom's vision was hindered. I leaned forward and peered intently through the windshield trying to lend my eyes to Tom. I'm not sure if my regular shrieks "Careful, Honey!" and "Oh, Shoot!" were at all helpful but they made me feel better.


  We were never so glad as when our little village came into view and we could climb the hill and  see our happy home. Especially since this little guy greeted us when we got home.



The truth is that none of us know what a day will hold. Please continue to pray for missionaries in Haiti. These blogs here and here have really touched me over the last few days.

 

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Excuse me, Ma'am. Your Hyperbole is Showing

I'll be restarting up my Saturday Super Story series next week. Can I hear a Hey Yo! 

Writing this series has caused me to think seriously about my memories and more specifically my memory. One problem that missionary kids run into is that we have moved around so much and seen so many unusual things that we don't always remember perfectly the experiences we've had. Pair this with being missionary kids that grow up and move far away from family members we don't have the benefit of holidays and reunions to go over favorite family stories where you will say: "Remember the time we went to Disney World and we lived there a week?" And your parents can say, "Actually, it was only a day...it just seemed like a week because you were so little."
 So, in writing my stories, I am documenting what is true according to my memory. The facts are there but some of the details may have slipped my mind or I may not have known the back story as my dad pointed out recently:

The story you wrote about Mexico reminds me of the reporter in McAllen that did an article just before we went to sing at the Casa de los Pinos in Mexico City. He said we'd traveled for several years in our van in Mexico-- instead of living for six months in a luxury campground with two tents, electricity, bathrooms, hot showers, and swimming pool. The background is that we left Oregon with the promise of a good teaching job with housing in Toluca, and didn't find out until we arrived that it fell though.

That was a toughie. However, we decided to stay-- that was the faith part. Really difficult would have been when Mom and I spent nine months 'on the road' inside Mexico City with you and Eric. You were a tiny baby when we arrived, so you don't remember, but THAT was tough.
 
I'm really glad that my dad is reading my blog so he can clarify different events that happened and perhaps fill in some of the details. My mom reads too but so far hasn't commented on things I've gotten right or wrong. I'm hoping even my siblings will chime in and add their two-cents about their take on the stories and experiences that shaped our lives.
 
I did err a bit when writing about my dad for his birthday. I mistakenly stated that he had become a missionary over  30 years ago when it has actually been just about 40 years. Either I can't do math properly or I was subconsciously trying to erase nearly a decade off my life since I know he was already a missionary when I was born. I'm gonna go with the latter. 


If I ever get something completely wrong I promise to come back and fix it for you. I value truth and honesty above all else.
 
Having said that I can't promise not to ever use a bit of hyperbole in making a point.  It's just too much fun.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Invited to a Ball




   Last year Tom applied to become a part of the Zambian Police Reserves. The plan was that he would be available in case of riots or general disorder. When his application was finally approved he was called in to start training in October he found that he had been given a higher rank than other new reservists because of his security and firearms experience.
  When he started his training and the police saw how seriously he took it all they began offering him more responsibility. They may place him in charge of all the reservists in this province to handle training and some administration work.
  What this has done is given Tom a much better idea about the laws of the country and how the people interact with each other and the police. We feel that we can be more help to the community now because of we're more 'plugged in'.

Last weekend we were invited to attend the annual Policeman's Ball. It was only for officers and was going to be held in the city where we do our grocery shopping. We decided to head down Friday and take care of errands, attend the ball in the afternoon and the after spending a night in a hotel do our shopping Saturday morning and head home. A night away from work! Hooray!



The event was due to start at 6 PM but we were warned that like most things here it would start a bit late. We arrived at the hotel at 6:40 and could see it was still going to be awhile. We wandered around the hotel while the staff organized the room and then at 7:15 those of us who were there (only about a quarter of the invited guests) filed in and found our name cards and seats.




Then we sat and sat. People slowly filtered in and sat quietly in their seats. At about 7:45 we all stood up as those sitting at the high table paraded in and we listened to the national anthem. It was only the music and no one sang along as I've seen them do on other occasions. I don't know if this is normal for formal events.

Then we all sat quietly again. After a bit they began making announcements that the MC was actually late which was the main hold up. This is when the 'drama' began. Not having much vested in the evening and just glad for an evening out I was happy to sit back and watch it all unfold. (of course I was planning to blog it which made it twice as fun.)



Since the MC was not yet there another gentleman got up and offered to get the program started by introducing the commanding officer and asking him to open with a speech. The commandant refused shaking his head fiercely. The people seated near us thought that he was waiving his speech so we could get the program back on track. But no. He just wanted water served to the high table first. So slowly a waitress (the only waitress in a room with 200 people) slowly made her way to the back of the room, arranged 8 bottles of water on a tray and slowly walked up to the high table and carefully placed water in front of each person.

As she did this the MC arrived. Finally! The program was ready to start. He was completely flustered and had no idea what to do. He decided to just jump in and introduced the commanding officer (again!) and opened the floor to him. Again the commandant shook his head and refused to speak. This time it seemed that he wanted drinks served to the high table.

By this time a couple more waiters had come in and they worked feverishly to arrange 8 bottles of liquor on a tray. On the tray went the bottles, off the tray came the bottles and then back on again.Over and over again until it was somehow up to snuff and carefully carried up to the high table where a different bottle was placed in front of each honored guest.
  As the waitress served the commandant I could see him gesturing and was able to read his body language easily:

  C: What about everyone else in the room? Will they get drinks now?

  W: No, we're going to serve them at dinner.

  C: Well that is unacceptable!

  At this point he stormed away from the high table and I told Tom to listen for the guillotine. Immediately after he left the room waiters, managers and the hotel owner poured into the room and began serving soft drinks and beer to all the guests. They were really funny--they would give you the drink you wanted, pop it open and then pop 1-3 more drinks open and line them up in front of you.


  Now it was a party! Immediately the crowd came to life. Up till now they had been sitting very still and quiet. Now they were chattering up a storm. And of course this is when the speeches started.
  The speeches were pretty good. Standard fare but not overly long. And boy, was that a relief. As soon as the speeches ended they announced that the food was served and after the high table had served themselves from the buffet then everyone could line up starting at the front of the room. Guess where we were? Right at the back!
 
  The MC kept announcing that there was plenty of food. Not to worry. No need to panic and push and shove in line. There was plenty for all! Tom stepped out to use the toilet and passed the trays laden with food. He told me there was sliced sausage fried with peppers and onions. Oh joy! My favorite. People passed us with plates heaped with meat, pasta, potatoes and on each plate a boiled egg(!).

  Soon it was our turn to get in line. We joined the throng moving closer and closer to the food. I was starving by this point. It was 9 PM and lunch was a very distant memory. We began to think there might be trouble in paradise when there were no plates or forks left. Finally some were rustled up and we moved on to the salad. Oh, the salad bowl which was empty save for a couple tablespoons of coleslaw. We accepted it gratefully and moved on to the meat line....that delicious sausage was history. Tom and I each got one slice of sausage, a couple bites of pasta and potatoes. Those eggs we were mocking--no more!

  Thankfully Tom had seen them grilling meat outside and quickly we made our way to the BBQ pits and scooped up some sausages and steaks. Score!



  After dinner came the dancing. Every social event here is incomplete without dancing. The MC called different groups up to the dance floor: the high table, the commanding officers, the retirees, etc. When the retirees were dancing the commanding officer came and dragged Tom and I up to the dance floor where we joined the African-style conga line. Everyone cheered when we shook our behinds to the rhythm of the music.


 
This gentleman was really feeling the music.
No matter which group was called he would jump up.
Just getting up the aisle was a production as he danced and shimmied.

  Later on in the evening the D.J played 'muzungu' music for us and singled us out to come and dance. Tom and I got to dance a solo jive to music not well suited for dancing. Tom broke out some John Travolta and Michael Jackson moves to the delight of the crowd. When the song was over and we made our way back to our table several people came up to thank us for dancing. They seemed sincere.


When we called it quits around midnight the party was still going strong. In fact they were serving out a second dinner of grilled meat. We really did have a good time. It was a treat to get out of the house and relax.

An 'n' saved this from being an uptight ball.

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