Happy New Year to all!
Life has flown by this past week. I can't believe we're 8 days into 2013 already. Just so you know I haven't neglected this corner of the interwebs on purpose, I wanted to fill you in on some of the crazy.
First, some current events info on Zambia. The government here decided in January of 2012 that they were going to rebase the currency here. Things were costing thousands and millions of Kwacha so to make it easier for international transactions, Zambia decided to drop the last three zeroes. Where we would in 2012 receive @5000 Kwacha for each dollar, starting on January 1st we would receive 5. All prices are to be adjusted accordingly as well.
The crazy comes in when you realize that the majority of Zambians have never dealt with decimal numbers before. If I asked them how much 5000 would be in the new currency, they would easily answer with 5. However, if I asked them what 500 would be, they got a blank look. They had no idea how many Ngwee (coins) it took to make one kwacha.
It was troubling for us as we drew closer to the start of the new year and the change it would bring.
So far things have gone smoothly for the most part. I've been given the correct change at shops, and no one has stumbled over prices.
The only problem we've faced is a biggie!
ATMs don't work!
Hundreds of Americans and Europeans with Visa credit or debit cards are unable to access money from their home banks because the ATM computers or the Visa computers or the bank computers or some computer has not received the currency changeover information.
So, if I try to withdraw $400 from the ATM it apparently registers as me trying to take out 40 cents and I'm told that's an illegal transaction.
We heard that ATMs worked in Lusaka so I hurried down to the capital, but no dice. Since I was supposed to get money, I traveled with very little.
The really weird thing is that the problems are kinda random. Some Visa credit cards work, others insist that Visa debits do, or that one bank will work but not another, but some can't get anything to work.
Please pray that this banking situation is resolved quickly. Thanks to a dear friend we were able to get some money to tide us over, but other missionaries are getting quite desperate.
There is another reason I'm here in Lusaka:
A few days before the new year, while Tom was traveling home on the bus, we were hit by lightning again!
The air was weird that night and Jasmine and I were both awake late. It was just past midnight and we were still awake. I couldn't sleep at all. Hearing some rumbling of thunder in the distance, I unplugged the water pump and the internet. Still unable to sleep, I was writing in my journal when a horrific red blast burst out of my wall where the breakers are.
My heart was pounding as I thanked God that everything was unplugged. Then I got out of bed on shaky legs and rounded the corner into the office to see red lights flashing on Tom's desk. Horror of horror! His whole computer system had been left plugged in after Troy and I printed a document earlier that afternoon. I wanted to die!
As I write this Tom's computer is in the shop. We are hoping that only the power supply was affected and that it will be a quick fix. It won't be extremely quick because it's a special power supply that has to be ordered from the U.S.
Please pray this is the only thing wrong with the computer and that the hard drives were not affected. Thankfully Tom had backed everything up before leaving. The only thing not backed up was his Skyrim progress. (and there was a collective groan from all the gamers out there).
Yet another reason I'm in Lusaka right now is that Jasmine has been invited to do a bakery internship here. She'll be working at a commercial bakery to learn the fine art of bread baking, and then spending time at a mill to learn about flours and their composition, and then working at a coffee shop. It's going to be so good for her.
Our boys are nearly moved into their new house. I'll fill you in on those details soon and post pictures when I get back to Kazembe.
Lastly, I has a somewhat unique experience a few days ago. It left a mark on me. I'll have to tell you about that soon.
Tell me how your year is shaping up so far.