This is a quote from "Hillel the Elder" from the first century. (I thought I was so original!)

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Should I Be Worried?

We stopped by the store for a few things on Saturday night on the way home.
I do my best to act interested in this "team" shopping that we are now experiencing.
I can find chocolate and ice cream but I don't get too excited if the price of bread goes up or down.

The store we go to is one of the biggest in town 
but it is the size of a small ten alley bowling establishment.  
(I just realized there are no bowling alleys here, another way to make a million $).

Back to the photo below.  
In this small establishment all of this shelf space was dedicated to bug sprays.
You have three options, Doom, Raid, and the Spar store generic brand.

Are they trying to tell me something?

I have had a couple of bites in the seven weeks we've been here but haven't seen anything like I had anticipated.  Perhaps it is coming as the weather warms up.  This is still considered "winter."

You can see this aisle was not too popular, but I must warn you Saturday night is NOT the time to shop in Lusaka.

The check out lines were very long.
Having become separated from my companion 
I wondered how I would find her in such a big crowd.
Then I turned the corner and wham! 
there was this little grey haired "muzungu" who was hard to miss.

I keep forgetting we look so different from everyone else.

Just ask anyone where the other white person with a missionary badge is and they can tell you.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Zambia Immigration: The Bane Of Missionaries

Getting into Zambia is not a problem.  Have fifty dollars U.S. cash and check the correct boxes and you're in.  Staying for missionaries or foreign workers is a little more hassle.
This is one of Kristi's major responsibilities, keeping everyone legal.  This is important and there are police blocks very often and the correct paperwork for cars and people will be scrutinized.

This is Kristi at her desk and behind her on the whiteboard are the names of missionaries whose visas will expire in the near future.  There are two categories for temporary visas, red on the board for under twenty-one and green for over twenty-one.

She also works with some of the missionaries serving FROM Zambia in getting visas for the countries they are headed to.  This is really an exception as their parents and District leaders help them apply for passports and visas.

Here is Elder Stewart trying to get the guards attention at the Ghana Consulate when we were helping a Zambian missionary go to the MTC in Ghana.

In the past the mission used an immigrant "consultancy" to walk the paperwork through.  It cost a $100 US to do that and we still had to go with them.  All the consultancies were banned for three months so the elders learned to do it on their own and now Kristi is the expert but it hasn't been easy.
Pricilla the secretary at the consultancy was smiling but this was probably our last time there.

The nightmare of trying to remain in Zambia starts here.  That white gate on the right is the entrance.  You don't see a sign?  That is correct, you must ask, and ask.  Remember, not all immigrants speak English like we do.

Once inside the gate and up about a hundred feet is the Customer Service Entrance.  This is where all immigration papers are processed.  It does have handicap access.

Be certain you bypass the first door and building on the way there -  it is the "Police Public Complaint Authority" which is also very inviting.

Next is the photo  I got for the first five or six times I went to immigration.  I thought Elder Stewart would have a heart attack when I started to take photos, as photos of government buildings could be considered illegal.
Elder Shurtz and many others had lost their cool in this place and he had been threatened with arrest so they were a little on guard.

This is Elder Stewart not believing I had my camera out and back in my pocket in an instant.
The photo on the wall is of President Sata, the president of Zambia.  He hasn't been seen in public in a couple of months and there is speculation about his health.

The book or register the man is looking through is unbelievable.  I really wanted a closeup but even I am not that stupid.  The register was in tatters.  A book that had just worn out from people flipping pages and hand oils disintegrating the outside corners.  Finding your name, if you could read it, is like winning the lottery as it means you now can pick up a permanent visa and won't have to return here ever again.

In order to win that lottery you must fill out more forms and personally appear thirty days (exactly) after you enter the country.  This is a slight problem for folks working in the far corners of Zambia.
On that day I get involved as you must bring in a cashiers check for $185 US (1000 K) made out to Immigration.  For under twenty-one it is 2000 K.

Here I took a photo that didn't do the office justice or the piles of files on their desks.  There about 21 desks with numbers on them.  Each desk does different tasks, some deal with letters "jkf" and another perhaps "s".  The mindblower is they are not in any particular order and they seem to change places at random.  Every time you go you must ask, "which desk handles "g" and then you go there.  "G" might be ten desks away next time.

This is the prize after your first thirty days and official appearance.  If everything is in order then you pay the cashier (another long line) and go to another desk and after they look you up and down and "feel" you will not be a drain on the economy you receive your "white paper".  This paper will be stamped with a return date of 30 or 60 days.  Today was a miracle as one was stamped 90 days.  That was a first for the mission.  When those days are up then the paper and passport (but not the person) must appear again and be reviewed and enter the stamp "lottery" again.

This is our paperwork when we went in for ourselves.  The receipts for the money are nicer than the white paper that you must keep until you get a permanent visa.  Many missionaries leave after two years without  ever getting one.

This white paper must be kept with you at all times.

You can imagine the added headache for a mission president as he considers transfers etc.  Zambia is really three missions as the Copperbelt area is five hours away and Malawi is a totally separate country.

Some of the regulations and guidelines.

This photo was taken from the Immigration website.  That lady is smiling more than anyone I have ever seen smiling in there.  The looks I have seen on other visa appliers are sad.  It is a cross between laughter and fear as you do not believe that people could hate their jobs that much.  But the rooms are silent as folks do not want to irritate anyone and have to go to the back of the line. It really seems out of a strange movie where you think the next scene will show everyone cracking up and telling you that you were punked.  It never happens.

This is the object of all of the trips to Immigration.  It is a temporary permit or what we call a permanent visa, as we never have to go back for that person again.

By the way, don't forget their office doesn't open until 1400 on Tuesdays and Thursdays!

Thursday, July 25, 2013


Desperation and Saturday night arrived and I knew I needed to get my hair cut.  I have always said, if I had my way,  I wouldn't shave or cut my hair.  Life is full of compromises.  Although not my first choice it does keep my daughters-in-law from being embarrassed by a old tie-dyed, ponytailed father-in-law in sandals.  At times they have thought I was headed there.

I opted for a barbershop that Elders Stewart and Shurtz told me about not far from where we live.  The photos make it look much bigger than it is.  It was about 7 PM on a Saturday night.  The shop is for both men and women but it was mostly men at this time.  There was only one woman barber.  Most of the men were being shaved, hair and beard with the same electric razor.  I had the cashier take my photo as it was my first haircut in Zambia.

My barber had been cutting hair for ten years but only three years in that barbershop.

I told them I wanted to only pay half since I only had half my hair, but that didn't fly.
I was charged 50 K or about $9.25


He used a number 7 and then a number 3 and then sort of a freestyle.  The real disadvantage was he failed to comb it out to trim off evenly.  He just whacked away, like you would with a bush that you cannot comb out.  Well, everything is fine until you start checking and my fringe was clearly an inch longer on one side.  Worst haircut I ever had.  But guess what, no one really knows me and I now know why most "muzungus" have funny looking haircut.

They kept asking if I didn't want to have my hair washed and a massage.  I declined since I figured I was paying enough for the pampering of my precious few hairs.

When I told the Elders of my experience they laughed as the high price included the massage and wash plus nine more haircuts and I get a free one.  Do you think they'll remember me?

It really doesn't matter anymore so I might try a village barber.  I believe the price is 7 K or about $1.25.

Trees - Everywhere and Nowhere. (pt. 2)

The day we arrived at the mission home we were shown around and it was pointed out the trees in back had just been trimmed to keep them from rubbing on the roof.  This is the view from my window and it is very painful to look at.  I thought, "What the HECK?"

Well, almost six weeks later, I have yet to hear a chain saw or leaf blower or gas powered lawn mower.
The machete is king and to trim a tree it is hack, hack, hack.There is a huge tree laying on the grounds of the chapel.  The trunk is now incorporated into the landscaping.  The trunk is still in the ground near where the sidewalk leaves the parking lot.  It is obvious it was felled with many, many chops.  It looks like machetes and not an ax to me.

Take a look at Lusaka from Google maps.  There are definite neighborhoods.
This first photo is my neighborhood.  We live in the little block with houses and pools.  Our house is in the middle of the top row (no pool).  You will notice that most lots are the size of where our eleven houses sit.  Some of these estates are very, very nice.  I'll grant you they are far short of "Big Box" Woodside, California but  still a refuge from the outside world, and plenty of old large trees.

Now as you move around Google Maps you will see white and brown areas.  The white are the tin roofs and the brown is just dirt.

Where are the trees?  

This poster in one of the native languages doesn't use many words to get the message across that trees are very beneficial for happy living.

With trees we can make houses, get fruit, make fires, make boats, make furniture, and make money.
Obviously, trees are meant to be used for a working economy.  However, folks have to be taught and reminded that there is a proper way to cut a tree so that it will renew itself or a new one should be planted.

If no thought is taken, trees can end up looking like this.

Cut and gathered everyday.

It ends up like this.  Charcoal.  Used to cook a meal and heat a home.
We have seen fellows with five or six of those bags tied to a bike and 15 or 20 km from a market heading out to get some cash to feed a family.

Cold, hungry and needing cash, I think I would probably whack any limb I could reach.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Trees - Everywhere and Nowhere. (pt. 1)

Some of our friends wonder if there are many trees here.
This photo is to dispel such rumors.  There are trees all over Lusaka.  The areas around the different Consulates and nicer neighborhoods are beautiful.

There are a great variety of trees.  The first ones we noticed were the "flame" trees or divi-divi trees with the red blossoms.  When the sun hits them just right the red is brilliant along the edges. 

Here is the blossom.

Some of the trees are very strange to me.  I don't know what fruit this is.

It is always nice to see a familiar avocado.

Kristi has her eye on these guavas waiting for them to ripen.

This is a poinsettia tree.  There is one on every nice street.

This was my first baobab tree so I took a photo.  It is rather young and unimpressive.  I want to see the old large ones that are so unique to Africa.

This is the bark close up.

Here is a papaya tree full of fruit.

It sort of looks like Dr. Seuss would draw it.

The birds can always find a ripe one.

This strange tree is a Masheshe tree.  I have seen them almost as big as our oaks.

The jacarandas will turn a beautiful purple, but we are not quite sure when. 

This banana tree is in the yard of the mission home.

These blossoms are at the ends of branches of large trees and we haven't gotten a name for them yet.
They are spectacular.  There is another tree just as big (some 50') that are almost bare with a red and white flower on the ends of the branches.

I have been told in many places that the name of this tree is the "Fiber" tree.  I am sure there is another name but I am told that rope is or was made from this tree.  They are very nice looking trees, and very common.

I worked with bonsai for a couple of years and I can tell you that the trees of Lusaka are very, very beautiful.  I think that might be because they are left alone and grow quite naturally.  They just naturally look the way their species should look.  Some are windswept and others are a classic upright and so forth.  Because the soil is not too nutrient, the nebari or root growth between the trunk and soil is large and helps make the trees look like they belong there.

This looks like a bottle palm that is common in Argentina.

Growing in some trees are a variety of vines.
This one is called the creeping slipper.

And of course lots and lots of bougainvillea.

This leafless wonder is plumeria or frangipani.  It also has a blossom at the ends of its branches.  If you have smelled the most common lei in Hawaii then you know how good they smell.

Who has the patience to string enough for a lei?

So rest assured there are lots of trees.  The trees in town are big and beautiful.  There are lots of tree lined streets with huge old trees that touch each other in the middle of the street.

However, some do lose their dignity in day to day life.  They are used for seats and signs, and places that tend to get ignored or just tolerated.

Did you notice the shoes for sale on the street crossing sign?  Sometimes there just aren't enough trees.

And sometimes when there is a nice tree, nobody really cares.

I drive by the tree below everyday and wonder about the indignity it suffers, by having wheelbarrows and bathtubs and all manner of hardware hung on it each morning.

"I think that I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree?"