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

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Christmas Pageant

This photo is not the Christmas pageant, but it was a farewell dinner for the Louthans (standing).  They will be enjoying Christmas this year in their home, in Moab, Utah.  The other two couples, Skidmores, Humpherys were invited by the Lyles on the right to the "City of Hope" school for a Christmas Pageant.

The school is about 10 km south of Lusaka.  It now has an enrollment of close to 900 students.  I believe these round buildings are used for dorms for the students that live on campus (most do not).  Some were also used as classrooms.

Elder and Sister Lyle are working with the school to improve their water supply.  Since they started and gave them more vision for growing their own food, a larger portion of their 35 acres is now under cultivation.  They feed the children one meal a day.  Their goal is to be able to serve two meals a day.

This are the new classrooms that have just been completed.

The school is Catholic and is mostly supported by citizens of Czech Republic. 
Elder Lyle was given a warm welcome, as we all were.

The program was full and I thought, oh, this chair is going to get mighty hard.
I couldn't have been more wrong.  The program was utterly delightful and moved along quickly without a hitch.

The hall was very festive with balloons that said "happy 80th and 90th birthday" on them.
(Probably not a big seller).
The two choral groups did a great job and you could see the words of each song had great meaning to them.  The red shirts all said, "Hope for hearts, spaghetti dinner."

The Christmas story was beautifully told from the arrival of Gabriel, the innkeeper, and arrival of heavenly angels ...

The shepards couldn't find their sheep so each brought in a bleating goat on his shoulders.

The star arrived and was placed in the heavens ...

Three very wise men followed it, bearing gifts.

Mary took a turn and showed off baby Jesus.  Apparently, this baby Jesus is a girl and had the same role this year.  She looked like she had already been to Egypt and back.

The "drummer boy" was a real hit as he never missed a beat walking in banging on his plastic milk carton.  Here he is on his way out.

Afterwards, everyone posed for photos.

The all of a sudden a sort of strange, white, Santa appeared.
Everybody loved him.

These shepherds had lost their goats but were happy to pose for me.

I was finally in the Christmas spirit.  The best thing was that I was invited to attend next year.  
I will be there and I will find a seat where I can watch the goats a little closer.
Merry Christmas to all!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Lilayi Elephant Orphanage

On Saturday we headed south of town about 15 kilometers to the Lilayi Elephant Orphanage.
The resident baby elephants (under 10 years old) are taken care of, their wounds mended and fed every four hours when they are younger.  These go out walking with their handlers for most of the day.

At 11:30 there is a viewing stand that is open to the public for free everyday.  Of course donations are gladly accepted.  The docent chatted for thirty minutes and then right on schedule in walked the baby elephants.

They knew exactly what they were there for.

Most just took the bottles and fed themselves.  It took about 15 seconds to empty their bottle.

In thirty seconds it was all over, but you could almost see the little guys smiling.

Then is was obviously play time.

This was a Saturday so there were quite a few folks there.

The elephants just ran around and played in the mud and water.
This one kept swinging its trunk from side to side and slapping the water.
The docent said it takes several years for them to learn all the things their trunk can do and to develop all the muscles for them to accomplish all adult trunk functions.

If you need a break from the routine in Lusaka, this is a great way to relax for an hour.
It can only put a smile on your face and any donation is greatly appreciated although there isn't any pressure to donate.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Staying Dry

 Once a week we pass by this thatched roof.  I was surprised to see it stripped of all its thatching and preparations being made for a whole new thatch job.  There are quite a few older homes in Lusaka that have roofs of thatch.  Of course all the traditional round hut roofing is thatch.  Now-a-days it is either the cheapest means to keep the roof's integrity, when you do it yourself on a smaller roof, or it can be quite labor intensive and costly to do it correctly on a larger home.  Corrugated iron is the most common roof here.  If you have a little money then corrugated "tiles" are baked with a nice color.  Most are plain, noisy, hot galvanized iron, starting out metallic bright and slowly rusting in color.

These roofs last longer if they are steep.  The rain water just sheets off and there is little time for soaking in or a chance for the wind to drive the water up and under.

The material used is very important.  Cheap long straw can last up to 20 years,  good uniform wheat straw up to 40 years and the thick reed about as round as a pencil can last from 55 to 65 years.
Of course the technique for installation is very important.

Most thatched roofs get two layers.  A brow layer and a weathering layer.

Once it is all installed, and raked straight, then the art of trimming and shaping will take place.

I think I would want a safety harness on that steep roof.

Inside is neat and dry.

At the apex a cap is installed.  It used to be the signature of the thatcher by how it was all secured and stitched down, usually with a netting to keep the birds from disturbing it.

The cap is the key and this one is made of mortar.  Although the roof can last 50 plus years the cap and minor repairs will have to be looked into every ten years.

When I was in England for two years I loved the thatched roofed houses.  I was really fascinated with the old skills that are passed on.  I am certain that was what really attracted me to Kristi, when I found out that she was actually born in a home with a thatched roof.

In 2006 we took our kids over to have a look at their heritage and finding the house with a few new additions made to it was a real treat.  It is possible that some of that thatch was there in 1947 with one of the twin girls peacefully dreaming about her future husband. 

(Remember, it's MY blog.)   :^)

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Kristi - 48 roses / 48 years

Kristi's birthday gift isn't much of a surprise for her.
I started to date her as just a friend because I didn't want to get involved with anyone before I left on a mission as a nineteen year old.  We were just friends that could talk.  I finally took her out a month before I left.  I knew I loved her but two years was a long time and there were no commitments.  For two years we wrote weekly and continued to chat about what was going on in our lives.

For her birthday that first year,  I had arranged to have delivered to her one red rose.  Well, I have kept it up for 48 years, adding a rose for each year that I have loved her.  Some years it was sort of tough.  Not much extra money for roses, so really some years there were other flowers, many years tulips.  Sometimes I had to just sneak in to a garden and get the right number in the dark.  Lately, it has been a problem finding a big enough vase to get forty plus flower in.  Fortunately, here in Zambia these roses are relatively inexpensive and very small, so they fit in a water pitcher quite nicely.

The problem I see now is that I can only fail.  When alzheimer's sets in or I turn the calendar and all the florists are closed, I will be in big trouble.  I have told my boys, don't start this.  It will only set you up to be in trouble some day.

In the mean time, Kristi is very patient, wondering when the flowers will show up.  I am just happy I don't have to include a card anymore.  She knows who sent them.

100 posts and the Real Reason I Am In Zambia

This is the 100th blog post that I have submitted.  I doubted that I could find enough to say - but apparently I am wordier than I thought.

Today I have reflected on what I am really here for and what we spent 90% of our time working on.
Working in a Mission Home office as the only couple and no office missionaries, lets us do whatever we can or are asked to do to make this mission run as smoothly as possible.  I could do more to make things prettier or nicer but most things are up to date and fairly efficient.  

The very best thing about this calling is the interaction with the young missionaries.  They make me laugh, every day, and sometimes they will wait patiently while I tell them about the "good ol' days".

These young folks are truly a marvel.  They are just like any other 20 year olds around the world, yet they have chosen to be of service to everyone they meet, and to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ in the world.  The diligence and commitment they show and the continual reassessing of their motives and effectiveness are inspirational.

I thought I would show you a few of the photos I have taken of them in the last few months.  I tend not to take photos when they are around as it seems sort of touristy and they definitely are not tourists.

This was a farewell dinner for a large group going home after two years in Zambia/Malawi.

I was sort of appalled by their living conditions when I first saw their flats.  Then I remembered my mission's conditions and the rooms of my children at 20 years old and thought about the long hours they put in, along with their domestic duties of washing everything by hand and trying to get it dry.

And whenever you see them, they are smiling and happy.

The new ones are smiling, but they don't know what changes are ahead of them.  Below is President Chansa welcoming four new ones, straight from the MTC.

Here I dropped Elder Daniels off for his first night in Zambia.  We had put an additional bed in the flat and he was the "fifth wheel" for a while.  Of course he ended up with the worst bed, blanket, no mosquito net and bucket showers like the rest of the flat's occupants.  I felt bad as I drove away, but knew he would be a better person because of the experience.

The other four in the flat were truly great missionaries.  Two years from now he'll look back on this as the "good ol' days".  I was a little appalled at all the bike parts.  We cleaned them out and auctioned them off at the Lusaka chapel to members.

I took this photo of what the Zone Leader's van should NOT look like.  Now I have been here longer and have experienced all the tasks they are responsible for and how limited their time is, I have more sympathy for them.  This week this van was parked until it can be sold, and now they are driving a truck.  I had the sliding door repaired once.  (a member held on to it while I drove it to the body shop).  It is ready to fail again so hopefully it will be sold soon.

At the five year point vehicles need a safety inspection.  It is an all day event about 15 kilometers south of town.  I could write about that experience for an hour.  The missionaries will miss this van.

I took this photo right after they obeyed a security guard at the Toyota dealership and backed over a water pipe.  Water was squirting everywhere, but I failed to get it in the photo after they moved.

Here is a sad but common sight of saying goodbye to missionaries after their long two years.  Little did they realize how different they were compared to their friends they left behind at home.  There language, their values, their goals for the future have all been affected.

This is Sister Louthan below,  in the middle of her piano students.  She was assigned here with her husband to work in the Public Affairs aspect of missionary work.  She took the time to teach many how to play the basic piano.  This photo was taken after the last group's graduation recital.  When they completed the whole basic hymnal they were awarded their own keyboard.

New Flats for Missionaries

Since we have been here (six months), we have closed one flat and opened three new flats for elders, and one for a senior couple.  This involves moving all the furniture and buying stove and fridge, fans, dishes, rugs, tables, etc.  Here we are picking up some bed frames from the bed makers.  (Dropped my camera here and that is another story of trying to get it fixed).

Here is Kristi trying out a new chair.

I wanted to go to this large furniture place on the Great North Road since I thought they would have some furniture that hadn't been out in the rain.

It turned out is was a huge cooperative furniture business.
I don't know how they kept track of everything or how the money was divided for the piece work.

There were salesmen, frame makers …….

Fabric cutters, sewing machine experts, and upholsterers.

The products were displayed along the road and the old market behind was a beehive of furniture making.

I am just guessing this fellow's shift was over.
Couch, chair or loveseat, the price seemed to average a little less than 100 USD each.

A couch, two chairs and a love-seat all loaded up.  Enough for two flats.

Thanksgiving Dinner

Zambia doesn't have a Thanksgiving like the United States.  The Mission President and his wife had all the sister missionaries over to their house and we helped the Lyles serve all the Elders at their house.  

It was fun to see them relax a little.

I took a minute and shared with the African Elders, and the guards that joined us, about how Thanksgiving started in America and what the traditions were.

Here are shots from each end of the table.

One of the turkeys was placed on the table so they could see it before it was carved up.

Here are Elders Lemperle, Daniels and Patton.  Elder Lemperle threw up during the meal, (away from the table).  I call him the "seagull" as he came back to finish his meal and another piece of pie.  Isn't that what the seagulls did so they could eat so many crickets?

So after 100 blog posts and six months in Zambia this is the real reason I am in Zambia.
Vehicles, immigration, housing, finance,  flat rentals, insurance, registration, accidents, hauling boxes of pamphlets and books, car repairs, reports, standing in line, standing in line and standing in line.  It all adds up to freeing up the time of the missionaries so they can go "two by two" to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ.

It is a privilege to be here with them.