Thursday, January 31, 2013

Wildlife Adventures

You'll be happy to know that we found the remaining python that was lost in the house. Thankfully Troy found it before I did. It was curled up behind our DVR and DVD players and all tangled up in the wires. He (or she) had gone up there to be warm and cozy while shedding his skin. So gross!

After Tom untangled the snake from the wires it was understandably quite annoyed. It kept striking at Troy's Bible which led me to quip, "Snakes are Satan--it's been proved!"

Tom has some great photos of the baby pythons.  You can see them here: Pythons Galore!

Another day Tom took the snakes out to force feed them tiny bits of goat liver. A few of the boys gathered around to watch. Tom tried to put them (the snakes--not the boys) in a box, but they kept escaping. I overheard Johnny saying, "Hello mister, you're coming out of your cage because you're angry." I'm glad the kids get a chance to interact with all types of animals so they don't grow up with fear.

Speaking of fear.....I was reassuring Brent and Sarah that there aren't too many snakes around our house and that in the six years we've been living here I had never come upon a snake. Immediately after saying that I told them that now I would, of course.

Sure enough two nights ago as I was leaving the dining room, there curled up on the doorway was a baby snake--not a python, but a black, dangerous looking snake. I called Tom and Troy on their cell phones and begged them to come running. I didn't want to take my eyes off the snake, but I didn't want to be there anymore. 

Tom caught the snake and later determined it wasn't a dangerous one, but it looked similar to the stiletto, which you can see by the sidebar has bitten him already so better safe than sorry.

 I just hope that is it for the jinxing I gave myself.

Last weekend Tom was asked by the Wildlife Association to assist them in a hippo hunt. You can read all about his adventure here: The Great Hippo Hunt

As part of the fun he tested his new gun. See the interesting results on YouTube here.

Adventures Galore!

Exactly One Year Ago: Pests and Pestilences  --one of my weirdest adventures
Exactly Three Years Ago: All the Children of the World

Monday, January 28, 2013


Our latest volunteers finally arrived. I have been keeping everyone updated on their travel progress, either here or on our Facebook page, but hadn't wanted to use their full names until I had their permission. 

They joked that perhaps I wanted them to earn their names.

So, without further ado,

here are our latest volunteers who will be teaching all our kids for the next few (several? many?) months:

Brent and Sarah!

I joked on Facebook that they have set a record for the longest journey to Kazembe (at least for those who set out to come directly here). It took them nearly 6 days. They were fairly well exhausted, but at least the long trip helped them get over jet lag.

Brent has been a special needs teacher for grades 1-6, and Sarah has worked in daycare centers and used Montessori-style methods. 

Can you see why I'm so happy to have them here??

This morning I was hard at work on my computer as the sounds of teaching and learning drifted in through my window. It made me so happy!

I love teaching, but I also have a talent for admin work--which mainly means that typing infinite numbers into computer spread sheets and filling out the seemingly endless procession of government forms for our charities on both sides of 'the pond' doesn't make me want to gouge my eyes out--.

Now I can do what I need to do and not feel guilty about all that still needs to be done--because someone is helping to do it!

 I'm grateful for those that come to stand with us in the care of the children.

Exactly Two Years Ago: London Fun
Exactly Three Years Ago: Be Prepared

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Goings-on

Or is it Going-Ons? 

1. Our wonderful volunteer couple who is traveling here now, got stuck in London when snow shut down all flights out. They finally made it to Zambia, but their luggage did not. They are waiting in Lusaka until it arrives. Tom and Troy came back up to Kazembe, and B&S are being well cared for by some Peace Corps volunteers and a missionary. We look forward to them finally making it up here.

2. Tom's computer is completely repaired. Thankfully only the power supply had to be replaced and all his hard drives are fine. This is excellent news for his Skyrim game scores.

3. Maggie took her first steps on Saturday!! I had just walked up to the playground when she pushed herself to her feet and took her first solo steps. It was Family Day and there were a bunch of relatives watching. They all broke into applause.  I'll try to get a picture of her walking up soon.

4. I almost didn't come home ten days ago. In fact, I told Tom I wouldn't. What had driven me to such a desperate statement?
Snakes. Plain and simple.

Tom was given a nest full of baby pythons after villagers ate the mother snake. He was so excited since he has always wanted one. He came close to owning one a couple years ago, but it didn't work out.
Now he had 10 baby pythons. He was happy!
However, the day before I came home he called to tell me that the snakes had all escaped. 
In. Our. House!!!

He said he had found nearly all of them (one after it crawled up inside his shirt while he sat on the couch) but one was still missing. 

I love my family, so I came home. The day after, another snake went missing. We've since found one of the snakes in our vegetable bed, but another is still at large. Say a little prayer for me.

When I get up to go to the bathroom at night (pythons are nocturnal), I stomp my feet to scare off any snakes around.

5. Jasmine is loving her time in Lusaka. She's learned bread making techniques, how to price a dish, and is now working in a restaurant part of the time. She enjoys the work and can definitely see herself making a career out of this. She'll probably be in Lusaka for another 4 weeks.

Working the dough

Working the counter

There is so much going on these days, I hardly find the time to sit.

I'll share the adventures as they come.

P.S. Please pray for B&S to get up here safely soon. Thanks.

Exactly One Year Ago: Checking In
Exactly Two Years Ago: Say What?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A Few More Reasons Why I Love My Kids

Tom and Troy just left for Lusaka. Originally only Tom was going to go down to collect our visitors from the airport, but after watching Life of Pi, I felt it would be a treat for Troy to watch it. Since he'd love to have a future in movies and/or graphic design, I felt he could benefit from the amazing artistry of the movie.

This does mean that I am once again alone in the bush. Since I'm missing my kids a little, I'll share some stories with you:

One evening a couple weeks ago, Jasmine and I were discussing the disappearance of my favorite tweezers. 

We’re fairly certain she was the last one with them, but I didn’t want her to feel too badly, so I told her that perhaps I had lost them. 

She looked pointedly at my eyebrows and said, “Mom, you don’t use them much”. 

“Sure I do,” I replied. “You see, I get these hairs on my chin….”

“Oh, Mom! You’re so gross!”

I firmly believe if you’re not thoroughly disgusting your teenager daughter from time to time, you’re not doing the parenting thing right.


Another night I was just drifting off to sleep, when I heard a rustling, crunching, crinkling, creeping sound. I was instantly awake, and just as instantly terrified. Tom was still in Lusaka, so I was alone in my bedroom. 

Flipping on my bedside lamp, I picked up my cell phone and dialed for Troy. “Quick, come to my room”.

(Please tell me you also use your cell phone as an intercom system.....)

He came right away and looked around the place where I heard the noise. He moved my trash can, my shoes, looked under the little bookshelf. “There’s nothing there, Mom”.

He left, and I tried to get back to sleep. It wasn’t but a few moments before I heard it again. It sounded like it was crawling through plastic bags or papers. Perhaps it was a mouse making use of the winter wonderland that was stashed at the end of my bedroom. All the gifts for the little kids, all the wrapping paper and stockings were in boxes and heaps just 3 feet from my bed. I shuddered to think what could have made its home in there.

Troy came back quickly when I called him again on the phone. 

As soon as he came in he spied a frog on the floor near the foot of my bed. 

“It’s just a frog, Mom. A really weird, ugly one”.

I told him he’d have to get rid of it. It might be ‘just a frog’, but with my luck, it would be directly under my foot when I got up in the middle of the night (during a power cut, of course) for a bathroom break.

However I still wasn’t sure that that frog—no matter how ugly-- could have been responsible for all the noise.  I asked Troy to look harder, so he sat at the end of my bed watching and listening.  We sat quietly in the semi-darkness waiting. 

Suddenly….the crackling, creeping, scratching sound was back!

“There! Did you hear it??”

“Mom, that was the frog. I was watching it. It hopped just then”.

Who knew that frogs were so noisy?

It took Troy several minutes of chasing the frog around the room—it was surprisingly quick—before he managed to finally trap it inside an old, empty jar.

As Troy began to leave my room, I told him how thankful I was that he was so brave, and that he was my hero.
He turned slowly in the doorway, still holding the sticky peanut butter jar with the captured amphibian in it.
“It was just a toad, Mom. A toad.”

I still say he’s a hero…..

P.S. Almost immediately after Troy left my room, I was attacked by mosquitoes. Perhaps that frog was one of the good guys.

(Almost) Exactly Three Years Ago: Invited to a Ball
(Almost) Exactly One Year Ago: Honey, Honey

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Some Mother's Child

Years and years ago I met a missionary. He was a very talented musician and I enjoyed his songs.

Recently I bumped into him on Facebook and we struck up a conversation.

When he found out I run an orphanage now in Africa, he sent me the link to this video he made a few years ago after visiting Romania and seeing the plight of the street children there.

It is very touching and so good to keep in our minds. Every child that we come across is some Mother's child.

Keep tissues close.....

Have a wonderful Sunday, everyone!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Schedules and Ships

Next weekend something very exciting is happening!

A few weeks ago we were  contacted by a couple in the U.S (B&S) who are looking for an orphanage where they can work. As in work—not just do a short term volunteer stint! Tom and I are understandably very excited. We have been praying for team members to join us.

Now, I’m trying desperately not to pin all my hopes on this possibility, while holding out Hope. Does that make sense?

Anyway, B&S are flying in next weekend for a 3-month scouting trip. 

This put a bit of a wrinkle in our scheduling (not that we’re complaining), but it was something we needed to tackle. The day before B&S are due to fly in is when we would normally be in Mansa doing our shopping.  Trying to figure out when we could do the shopping, with the added challenge of the ATMs not working, plus some business Tom would need to take care of in Lusaka if he were going to be there anyway, made a bit of a scheduling complication.

I was heading home on the bus on Thursday, and told Tom we could figure it all out when I got home.

Then, Tom was called unexpectedly to Mansa this Thursday for a meeting of the Police Reserves. When the meeting turned into an all-day affair I suggested that Tom just spend the night. I would get off the bus in Mansa, meet up with him and we could shop in the morning  before heading back to Kazembe.

Tom was quick to agree to this plan because he had not been able to sleep on Wednesday night and then Thursday was spent driving 3 hours and then sitting through eight hours of meetings which were only mildly productive. 

My bus pulled into a rainy and cold Mansa at 2AM. Once I located a taxi driver that wasn’t noticeably drunk,  I loaded my bags and boxes and headed to the little ‘hotel’ where Tom had booked a room. Arriving there, I schlepped my luggage (which included 36 tins of formula, and a box with 300 eggs) through the lobby, down some stairs and to the door of the room. The walls were so thin I could hear Tom inhale with surprise at the sound of my knock. He let me in and stumbled back to the bed.

After hauling in the luggage I collapsed on the thin mattress for a few hours of sleep.

The next morning we did the shopping, completed some business with the police and then eventually got on the road. We still had to make another stop on the way home to discuss our (possibly) future land, and then we finally reached home at 4:30 PM. 

Since I had gotten on the bus at 2 PM the day before, you can imagine I was fairly well exhausted.

Poor Tom too had not slept well for a few nights and had done all that driving. 

We were both so glad to be in our bed last night.

This is only temporary though because by Tuesday or Wednesday Tom will be on the road again to Lusaka to take care of some business and also collect our new friends. 

We're like ships in the night these days.

Update: The ATMs started working suddenly on Wednesday to my surprise and joy! Thank you for praying!

Update 2: Jasmine is still in Lusaka doing her bakery internship. She is staying with a nice missionary family. Since their two daughters are in college and boarding school, they are happy for a proxy daughter for a month. I’m so grateful for them! I’ll write more about Jasmine’s work and how she gets to and from work later. 

Update 3: My eye is still purple. That is all.

Exactly Three Years Ago: I Used To Be Cool
Exactly Two Years Ago: Neither Here Nor There
(Almost) Exactly One Year Ago: A Look Back at 2011

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A New Experience

So, lightning isn't the only enemy of our computers. Our frequent power cuts also wreak havoc. Laptops don't suffer much because of their built-in batteries, but desk tops are constantly shutting down improperly when the electricity goes off unexpectedly.

Troy's computer was in the middle of shutting down a couple weeks ago when the power went off. This meant that the programs got stuck on some setting that meant it couldn't turn on anymore.

When our regular computer guy came out to replace the internet router (again!) he took Troy's computer in for repairs. We were able to collect it a few days later when we went to Mansa to do our shopping. 

We had loaded all our groceries in, and the car was filled to the roof with supplies. Tom handed me the computer and asked me to load it into the small space behind his seat. As I lifted it up & over, the top half tipped over and whacked me in the eye. The pain took my breath away and I practiced my childbirth breathing for several seconds before I could trust myself not to shout. Then,  I pulled out my mirror to see if I was  bleeding. 

I wasn't. But, I had a huge welt right next to my eye.  It looked like I'd just been punched in the face. By a computer!

"I'm gonna have a black eye", I wailed to Tom. He was very helpful--in between laughing at me for getting into yet another predicament--and got a few chunks of ice from the gas station's water cooler that I could put into a plastic bag wrapped in a bandanna. Between that and some aspirin the swelling wasn't too bad. 

The bruising however..... well, just see for yourself.....

I feel badly for Tom. I tell people that I'm here in Lusaka to fix his computer which I left plugged in and that then got struck by lightning and consequently Tom may lose all his gaming progress, and there I am sporting a black eye. It just doesn't look good for the poor guy--and he has been so understanding.

But, I tell you the truth.....computers are dangerous things! 

(Almost) Exactly One Year Ago: Garden Glories
Exactly Two Years Ago: The Three Stooges

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Tidbits and Updates

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.

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