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

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Home Teaching (or trying to share some light)

In the church, the men are assigned with a partner to visit and look out for four or five families.  You should check in on them at least once a month.  This is the same for the women also but their responsibility is to the women only, as they often can relate better and need more one on one time.

In our little branch here in Zambia, I was assigned to go home teaching with Ben and Jacob.  We went one evening and it was an interesting experience since it was my first real taste of being in local homes.

The home below was the first one we visited while it was getting dark.
There are three rooms and no chairs.  Inside the door on the right is a regular size double bed.  Straight ahead is the kitchen door.  There is enough room at the foot of the bed for a walkway to the second door that mirrors the kitchen door.
The bed is raised to the window height and I suspect most of the five children sleep under it or on the bed with their mother.

The kitchen was six feet by six feet with a two burner stove and tiny refrigerator and small sink.  The bathroom was the door to the right of the kitchen and it housed a toilet in about four feet by four feet. 

 As you can see from the yard it is neat but minimal.  Rocks have been purchased to cover perhaps ten feet.  The rest is dirt and swept clean like most yards.  It is in the streets and in between yards that is unbelievable with refuse.  Ben, Jacob and I stood inside with the mother, older daughter and four smaller children for about 45 min chatting.  The kids played like any kids, but were a little in awe of the old white guy.  The husband is not around all the time and was not expected that day.  I was a little unclear on why I was invited to come since there were already two home teachers.  Perhaps it was just the ride which saved them at least an hour and half walking.

Appointments were made to return in a week and Ben asked if Kristi would come the next time.  We didn't get any clear answers from Ben but suspected we would be visiting this family on our own in the future.  The next week we repeated the process but stood outside for probably and hour and I played a little soccer in the yard with the youngest boy.  These two photos were from that trip with Kristi.

We visited the next two families as it got dark and it soon became pitch black out.
The first was a house in a larger yard.  Hard dirt, swept clean, a large garden about twenty by twenty feet and very healthy looking.  The yard was not walled but there was wire fencing, perhaps five feet high, with weeds around the perimeter helping to keep the yard more private.  In the back of the yard were three women cooking on charcoal stoves (cans).  They had made what looked like donuts about the size of a popcorn ball.  There were two baskets of them for selling the next day.  They honestly looked delicious.  I really don't know what they were.  They could have been filled or whatever but they really looked like big round scones.

One of the women was the sister of the lady of the house who lived there with her children.  The husband wasn't home and was expected quite a bit later.  We met in her living room, big enough for a couch and two chairs.  There was a coffee table and room for a bookshelf.  All the furniture almost touched.  The lumps in the couch were Everest quality.  There were two other rooms.  Bedrooms, I suspect.  

Once inside there was a yellow 40 watt bulb turned on,  high on the wall.  It gave out light to barely see in the room but that was all.  Imagine "garden hose green" walls painted 2/3 of the way up then white or yellow above.  Everything is worn, worn, worn, but scrubbed and swept clean.  Reading in that light was almost impossible with my old eyes.  Sister Zemba was a sweet lady.  The problem I have is EVERYONE talks so softly, and often using native words that it takes me a minute to catch on to the conversation unless I am the one talking and asking questions.

One area of discussion lapsed into the five totally different languages Sister Zemba spoke, (not unusual in these parts).  She and Ben compared tribes and I really got the impression that their tribes were much more important to them than the Zambian Government which came in second.  Ben is a returned missionary from serving in Uganda for two years.

After leaving her home, I couldn't believe the stars that were out.
In the villages it is PITCH BLACK when the sun goes down.  There just aren't any lights visible in a sea of humanity.  It makes it very dangerous as people can do bad things and get away with it in the dark.  I never felt afraid but you hear so many stories that it is best to be cautious and aware always.

We next drove to Jacob's house.  Jacob is fifteen years old, still going to school and fun, but also very, very, quiet.  I am pretty good with directions and not getting lost but I could no more find my way in or out of these streets than if I had been blindfolded when we first got to the houses.  The roads are one car wide and just wind between houses.  You never know what is around the corner and the road/trail feels like you are on a buckboard with the huge potholes and garbage to maneuver around.

Jacob lives with his mother and older brother.  Their house consists of two rooms at the back of a larger building or home that has been converted to three homes.  She had a nice garden in pots by her door.  The biggest problem I saw was the music from a bar about fifty feet away was so loud it was hard to talk.  I asked Jacob what time the music stops and he said during the week about 20:00 hours and on Friday and Saturday about 1:00 hour.

I cannot describe the darkness.  You literally do not know someone is there unless they blink widely or smile (it is not a cliche', it is the truth).  Zambians all wear dark clothing on the street so it is very very difficult to see someone, even on a busy street.  I asked one African Elder why they didn't wear lighter colored clothes at night and he said it is because they cannot keep them clean or bright.

After visiting our third family Jacob stayed there at his house and I took Ben to his house following his directions.  I was totally lost and in a neighborhood I hadn't been close to before.  He pointed the way out and told me where to go until I found something familiar to guide me home.  When Ben got out of the car and we spoke through the window I could not see him.  He was just a voice in the night.
I turned the car around as directed and saw Ben running down the lane to his house in the high beams.
No one should be out in the dark.