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

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


We often hear about how having balance in your life is a good thing.
There should be some learning, physical, social, and spiritual aspects balanced in each of our lives to feel fulfilled and satisfied with how we spend our limited years here on earth.

In Zambia balance is demonstrated literally every day by women.
From the first day we arrived I could not help but notice women carrying many things on their heads.
Just try and put five or six big bunches of bananas on your head and walk a couple of miles.

It is a lifetime of practicing balance.

Women know that children are part of the balance in their lives.

Sometimes courtship must include balance.

Get the job done and move on.

Try moving lunch from the car to the table this way next time you go on a picnic, but be certain of your balance since both hands are occupied.

Mom keeps the family in balance as they move along.

I've seen everything but a child balanced on a head.

Little girls copy their mothers as they learn the art.

One of the big benefits of carrying things on your head is a beautiful posture.

Graceful and erect, those who carry things on their heads do not have slumped shoulders.

Grandma has hands free for safety.

Grain or maize for nshima is one of the most commonly carried items.

Who looks the most comfortable below?  Pure balance or hip slung out to one side and all the weight on one arm?

Sometimes, it is just easier to have one person balance something rather than struggle with two people walking sideways or one backward.

I didn't know if this child was worried about Mom's balance or was just fast asleep.

Sometime I think they are cheating if a hand goes up, but it still looks graceful.

This woman in the bush gave us directions and never blinked that a heavy bag of maize was on her head.

Speed can be accomplished, even in a balanced state.

These women had been at a funeral and needed to get the drums home.

Resting has nothing to do with what is on your head.  Pure balance lets you concentrate on other things.

Every day and everywhere this is the norm.

There isn't a dramatic struggle with each load, lugging items out of balance.  Quiet dignity prevails.

I am continually fascinated with this practice.

I would love to weigh some of their loads.

A month ago we finally bought a rug for our bedroom, probably 8' by 10' so my feet wouldn't get so cold on the tile.  We found one in the big marketplace downtown.  After all the negotiations were over they offered to carry it to the car but I told them I could manage.  I just put it on my head and headed out down the street.  Not many paid any attention but as I walked past some women sitting on a sidewalk selling items I caught them looking so I stopped and asked, "How am I doing?"  They finally laughed and I said I would get the hang of it in a week or two.  I did notice my shoulders were further back.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Fifty Years - Some Things Have Changed

Fifty years ago I was about the same age as George Mwenga pictured below with his arm around me.

Fifty years ago I lived thirty miles east of San Francisco in a town of 40,000 that had only one black family.  They had a swimming pool and went to school in Oakland.  That is all I knew about them.  We did not have a swimming pool.

I became aware of this family because the newspapers talked about "civil rights", and then a minister called Dr. King led a march on Washington D.C. in 1963 and all the parents and teachers started tallking about the "issues."

My Dad was the friendliest, kindest person imaginable.  He liked everyone and never spoke unkindly about any particular person, white or black.  Yet, for a group of African Americans he used the "N" word.  When I told him that word was not nice he looked at me and said but they are "N".  It took five or six years but eventually that word was completely dropped from his vocabulary. 

We were just ignorant of black people and wondered about their skin and features and what the differences could possibly be.  We didn't know any black people.  However, I loved baseball and had read every biography about my heroes.  I of course read about Jackie Robinson and Willie Mays.  I think it was then that I first realized that skin color did not make a difference about anything.  Jackie and Willie deserve a lot of credit for helping a new generation begin to change their thinking.

In 1963 tensions arose in our little white high school and it eventually came to the point of teachers arguing one side against the other and it coming to blows in the teachers' lounge.  Still, no black people were around, but thinking was being questioned and thinking was starting to change.

I got summer jobs working at Shell Oil Company, Del Monte Cannery, and Santa Fe railroad in Richmond, California and worked only with blacks.  I found they were only different from me economically and that was it.  One graveyard shift my friend wanted to know if I wanted to go with him to cash his check.  I said "sure".  This was Black Panther time in Oakland.  I walked into a liquor/grocery store with my friend.  It was a weekend and the place was full of fifty to sixty guys who had just cashed their checks, or their buddy had a check to cash, and I eventually figured out that I was the object of a lot of stares and tension.  My friend realized that he had made a mistake by taking me there and we hurriedly left.  I knew prejudice could work both ways and wasn't right in any situation.

In 1978 I was driving home from Luke Air Force Base, Arizona when I heard on the radio that the church had received revelation that worthy black men could receive the priesthood.  When I walked in, Kristi had also heard the unexpected news and was so very happy.  The tradition that had evolved to "doctrine" just did not seem right and we were pleased that a prophet led the church.

So here I am in the heart of Africa.  I am surrounded everyday with black Africans and I honestly can say I forget that I am white.  However, occasionally I think there is a little prejudice against whites.  We are sometimes given deferential treatment, and charged higher prices and stared at, and called "muzungu".  But I don't think it is at all comparable to the American black experience.

So, what would my Dad say if he saw that photo of George and I?  He'd first want to know what we were laughing about and want to join in.  He'd want to get to know George and ask about his family and his dreams for the future.  Then later he would ask me if I had any black rub off on my hand.  It has taken a new generation to finally not ask that question.  How many generations will it take for me not to be charged a little higher price?  Thank you Dr. Martin Luther King for bringing injustice into the "light of day" fifty years ago.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Mormon Helping Hands

The church has been painfully aware of its negative publicity, especially in the 1800's.  That has resulted in trying to put the church in a positive light publicly whenever possible.

Here is our new mission president, President Erickson meeting with the mayor of Lusaka after a joint public service event.

Below is the the logo that the church has now adopted world wide when its volunteers are out helping. If you had looked closely, they have always been present and often first with relief for disasters around the world.  Now we are just a bit more visible than before.

Often the service projects are with disasters on a major scale with major funding,  but locally each Ward or unit is encouraged to help where needed in their local community.

These are some of the Lusaka Branch members who were helping to renovate the Manda Hill Police station.  I took this photo before they started working and were still very clean.

I hate to sound too negative but there is very little money directed at the police and they are lacking in equipment and money for upkeep.  This Police Post is next to one of the nicest shopping complexes in town.  It was pointed out how poorly it was equipped when an inmate broke through the ceiling and escaped.

Do you think the paint donor got his money's worth?

Here are the branch members when I yelled through the window, "Hey, they finally got all the Mormons in jail".  They had shocked looks on their faces at first then really cracked up.

This is Elder Bruce Louthan, a senior missionary who is serving here with his wife and concentrating on finding these kind of projects.

Here are some church members working on the surrounding grounds to spruce that up a bit too.

Zambia is a large country in square miles but relatively small in population so every thing on the news is national news.  That is Pres. Lumbama, the District President, on the left side of the Lusaka police chief.  He was very surprised at the number of people who told him they had seen him on television.

As a newspaper guy, I can tell you that page three is not a bad place to be.

There is something about giving service to others that brings the biggest benefits to the giver.
I suppose it is all about forgetting your own troubles and realizing that there are others who have tougher issues to deal with than you do.  Jesus Christ is the perfect example.

Thursday, August 22, 2013


Children are fun as subjects because they seem so honest and curious.
Here are three in front of their house selling Mom's pastries of some sort.
The stool is covered with a rag rug.

Often they will stop and stare or wave.

Many times you are certain that you are the first white person they have ever seen.

Soccer or "football" takes place everywhere and often two or three games when on a full sized field.

Little girls play the same everywhere.  Her plastic purse is made from a plastic bag.

Little brothers just tag along until old enough to go with the boys.

Sometimes little brother responsibility can be a burden.  Ask my sisters.

I had to wait at a house for over an hour so I watched these boys roll tires down the hill over and over.

Speed and control brought pure joy.

They were happy to have their photo taken and have a look at the results.

Then they all wanted to pose.  It wasn't until later that I realized they had all taken the now classic soccer pose with the front of the shirt up over their heads.

Some kids are entrepreneurs at young ages.  I don't know if it is out of necessity or not.

This day I saw two different boys in different villages playing with some sort of homemade wire toy with wheels that was just pushed along and guided.

These girls made my day by being so happy and carefree.  They all waved and yelled "Halloo, Halloo". 
I can still hear their cheery "Halloos" ringing in my ears.

This brother and sister were alone along the busiest highway in Zambia selling baked goods.

These teenagers were figuring out how to get the new roofing materials delivered.

Often you would catch the older ones just chatting or resting along the way.

And sometimes you see them doing grownup work and I wonder if they will be able to break the mold or example of those closest to them.