Friday, November 30, 2007

Orientation in Zambia

We have now completed our time of orientation to life in Africa, and we're alive to tell about it!!

To learn about Africa and what rings true in the hearts of Africans, we spent one month in Zambia as a part of an orientation program. For 2 weeks we lived at a seminary in Lusaka (capital city) taking day trips into various parts of the city to talk with local people. We learned about everything from clinics to traditional healers, funerals to naming ceremonies. One highlight of our Lusaka time was Michael scoring a goal while playing soccer with the boys in the neighborhood.... USA USA... complete fluke.

We then traveled out into the bush and lived for 10 days in tents, where we slept to the [less than] gentle sounds of screaming bush babies, howling wild dogs, and more insects than you can find in your local zoo. We only directly encountered one snake, a few rats, numerous scorpions, three dogs, a puppy (which made our tent door his bed), goats, cattle, and many wild pigs (one of which now resides in our stomachs).

After the tent time came the highlight of our stay in Zambia: 3 days/nights living in a grass-roof hut with a family in a village. These 3 days were truly a blessing as we lived as the Africans live and learned so much to respect and empathize with. While Joe Joe cooked okra, stirred nshima, and drew water from the well, Michael chopped down trees, hoisted water for the garden, and wrestled crocodiles (would you believe 2 out of 3?). Each of the 3 days we went to see and show respect to the headwoman of the village. A lesson in leadership: the first time we met the headwoman she was sitting on the ground cracking peanuts (known as groundnuts here, one of the main crops in this area) by hand. There's not a more menial task in the whole village, and here was the most important and powerful person in the village de-shelling peanuts. If only every leader had an attitude like that.

Nyanja word for the day (1 of 72 languages in Zambia): Zikomo means 'thank you'.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Vic Falls

We had the absolute pleasure of visiting Livingstone, Zambia this weekend: the home of the magnificent Victoria Falls. God did quite well on this particular natural wonder of the world. We were there in the lowest water levels, which meant less water on the falls but drier conditions for pictures and perfect white water rafting below the falls!

Some highlights of our trip included watching monkey swat teams swoop in to the open air breakfast buffet at our hotel and steal everything from muffins to orange juice to sugar packets, going to sleep watching giraffes outside our window and waking up to zebras, yawning with the hippos at dusk, and conquering the mighty Zambezi, "the wildest raft ride in the world" (which was nothing compared to our bus ride back on a bus with the suspension tied on by a leftover 12-year old bungy chord from the vic falls bridge... basically it was a 7-hour version of the Racer roller coaster at Kings Island).

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Last year's shoebox

We're in Zambia finishing up our orientation, here's a fun story until we get back to TZ and can properly update with what's going on...

OK, so we spent 3 days living in a village in a mud hut with a grass roof, had a wonderful stay with a beautiful family. You know the Samaritan's Purse Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes that you all are packing now to send overseas? Well it's a great program, and we noticed in the house of the family we stayed with a couple opened boxes that are at least 11 months old. I then noticed an assortment of cheap American toys in the house, proudly displayed like prized artifacts. Specifically I saw some yo-yos and nonchalantly picked one up. "You know what those are?!?" was the exclamation from our host family. When I wrapped the string around my finger, dropped the spinning object and pulled it back up, you'd have thought they were seeing their pet goat dance the electric slide. Sooooo.... this year as you pack those boxes, keep in mind that not everyone knows the common games we all played as children!