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.
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.