pink toilet paper

We have yet to have a day where we get to “sleep in.” On Saturday we had a guest lecturer from the University of Zambia, located in Lusaka, come and speak to us about Community Development. The rest of the day was quite relaxing. I parked it on the front porch with a blanket, some music and Les Miserables and read all day. (Mom, I am now on page 173 and the students all think I’m crazy but they all think I can finish it before the trip is over!)

On Sunday we split into our church groups and went to church. I am attending Mochipapa church for the entire time we are here and so my team and I went and worshipped with the congregation. Sunday school starts around 9 and the service normally goes from 10-12 or 12:30. Some of my favorite things about church are the choir (they all wore red shirts this Sunday), how we all get to dance, and how they pray. During worship and pray time, everyone prays out loud at the same time. And they pray with such sincerity. Most times I just stand and listen while everyone pours their hearts out to God. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever heard.

We were all invited to Bible Study at one of the church member’s home Sunday afternoon. Most of the kids had schoolwork to do, but Michael and I went with the vice pastor of the church. It was basically an extension of the sermon, a chance for people to sit around and discuss and talk about what the sermon was about. It reminded me a little of Exit 59 and the Sunday school like group that met after church to talk about the sermon. It was nice. One thing though that is very different is that in the Zambian culture, everyone is very soft spoken, and silence within groups is extremely common. So there were points during the Bible study when it felt a little awkward to an American, but in reality, it was a perfect picture of their culture.

We had to make our first trip to the doctor that is down the street from us. Elijah (I knew he’d be the first one to have to go) has had different red marks all over and we’re pretty sure now he’s allergic to mangoes and our mango tree that we have. (Yes, we have a mango tree, and they are amazing! We eat them all the time.)

Monday morning we did some home visits with the Home Based Care branch of World Hope. We had been briefed about these, but I know no one was fully prepared for what we really saw. We drove out into the villages, where people live in little compounds in huts and there are kids running all over the place. They chased after our car yelling, muguwa! Muguwa! (white person) We are used to it by now, everywhere we go, people, especially kids, are yelling muguwa.

We visited two homes. At the first, we met a young mother who found out she was HIV+ in 2000. Since then, she has had two children. But her husband and children don’t live with her and her mother is her caretaker. She barely looked at us and wouldn’t really answer any of our questions. We talked with her mother a little bit and then sang a song and read some Scripture to her. Leaving was hard because we really had no guarantee that visiting was worthwhile. I know it was in my mind, but that doesn’t take away the things you feel. From the moment I walked in, all I wanted to do was give her a hug. But they don’t hug in Zambia, and I knew it wasn’t appropriate. It was just hard to see, as are so many things here.

The second person we visited was an older guy who was so welcoming and couldn’t wait to share his story with us. He knew English and so he told us everything and even showed us his medicine and log book of when he takes everything. He is currently living alone, but has a sister that checks in one him a few times a week. After he got sick, his wife left him, which is unfortunately an extremely common occurrence regarding HIV and AIDS. It breaks your heart to watch people go through so many trials and not even have a support system. That is why this Home Based Care system is so important. They try to visit the clients at least once a week and provide them with comfort and hope.

It’s hard to look some of this stuff straight in the face and wonder how people survive. I guess I’m not as strong as I thought I was. I don’t think I could handle going through the many things that these people go through. And yet they trust God and have hope in him. It’s amazing. These people amaze me and put me to shame all at the same time. I have so much to learn.

Mrs. Bota is the most amazing housekeeper and cook ever. She has done a wonderful job at taking care of us day in and day out. Monday was her birthday and so we bought her some cooking pots and a gift certificate so that she could buy something for herself. The look on her face was priceless and she hugged us all afterwards. It was such a fun moment and blessing to be able to give her a gift for all the hard work she’s done for us.

It rained all night Monday night and we were supposed to travel out to the trusts on Tuesday to do a few more assessments for World Hope. We all piled in the bus but soon got a report that the roads were going to be too bad to take the bus. So we all quickly piled into two land cruisers and headed out. After riding in the back of a truck all summer long, I was looking forward to a little adventure. And that is exactly what I got. I sat with several of the guys in the trunk of the land cruiser and had so much fun. We plowed through huge puddles and put on the four wheel drive in order to drive through a river. Not kidding, it was one of the coolest things I have ever done. I’ll put up some pictures as soon as I can for all of you.

The trusts were good for us to experience and we also got a chance to stop by Pemba Pilgrim Wesleyan Bible College and view the campus. I think they have 26 students right now, most of which are married and their families also live with them on campus. It is a three year program and missionary couples often teach the students which come from all over Africa.

More later. I promise.

We use pink toilet paper here.

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