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

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A Saturday Drive In Zambia

We have designated Saturdays as a day to stay home and take care of shopping, chores, house maintenance and Sunday lesson preparation.  It is very nice to not put on a tie.  The first thing I saw last  Saturday looking out the bedroom window was our neighbor taking care of a plump chicken.

By noon I was ready to get out of town and see the Zambian landscape.  There is nothing like a drive in the country to help take the stress out of life.  One of my favorite things things is to find a road I have not been down before.  They just seem to hold a possibility of discovery.

It wasn't long before I found a freshly painted sign in the middle of nowhere, inviting us to see an "amazing ant hill cave".  I asked two men that were walking along the road if they had seen the cave.  They said they were curious too, so they got in the back seat and I drove down the lane as far as the truck could go.

We were met by these three sisters who seemed to be the only ones around.  The two men asked in Nyanja if we could see the ant hill cave.

Then up ahead,  another one hundred yards, just like the sketch on the sign, was an old termite mound that had been the source of many bricks in the past.

Inside was a very large room with a central pillar formed into a woman carrying a bundle on her head.

Wherever the parents were, I was starting to like them, and their philosophy of "Enjoy work and get fun out of life."  We signed the guest book and donated five kwacha for the privilege of sharing their "work" and "fun".

The oldest girl almost looked like a cabbage patch doll when she posed behind the pumpkin leaves.

Looking back the other way, you can see they had a great garden and the makings of a new home.

This is where they are currently living.

After photos and passing out tootsie pops we drove the two men that had been to their Seventh Day Adventist service, home.  I asked what the biggest challenge was for people living in the area.  The oldest said that the farmers needed to learn to farm better so that they had higher yielding crops.  I had thought that maybe water would be mentioned first.  No one is shy about asking for monetary help to better their daily lives.

Where many people pass we found there are great vegetable markets.

They are so fun to just look at.  
The colors and abundance from their gardens reassures us that no one is going hungry.

Men tend to livestock, play draughts and talk.  The women sell at the stands, talk on cell phones and work on each other's hair.

Something is always in bloom.

One village was holding foot races.  The lanes were separated by permanent grooves between the lanes which were filled with black pebbles to make them more visible.

Maybe the black was charcoal.  There is always someone struggling to get their load to market.

One of my destinations was to see the Chongwe River.  Just a little bit of paradise.

People walking, and walking.  I always wonder where they are from and where are they going.  I cannot see buildings anywhere.

Everyone has a story.

This sign was next to a path that led to an "African Doctor" or what was once called a "witch doctor".

Everything is used in the local medicine.

These women were extremely happy with an abundance of "ground nuts" or peanuts for sale.

This little boy was helping his mother get the load home, or maybe to market.

Car wash or haircut or music, whatever you want as long as you can pay.

Water is always a priority.

This tire looked too good to be just a toy.

Here is a young man with the responsibility of keeping the family cows fed and together.

On her way for water.

This happy woman was washing clothes at a little dammed stream with her boys and mother and other women.

Her mother was happy to ask us for money but didn't want her photo taken.

There are often people holding there arms out, palms down, parallel to the ground and waving the hand up and down as a signal to stop for a ride.  We can't accommodate everyone but one young man caught my eye because of the large cloth bundle at his feet.  I stopped when I realized the bundle was a woman curled up in a fetal position.  He asked if we could take his wife to the clinic.  I said yes and before we could open a door or help her in, he helped her get in the back of the pickup.  She just laid down and I tried to drive a little slower and smoother but it was not easy on these dirt roads.

Once we found the clinic twenty to thirty minutes down the road, Kristi hopped out and help them go to the door.

It was locked this Saturday but after going around and inside, Kristi was greeted by a woman who was in the process of helping delivering a baby.  She got our passenger settled and then returned with her bloody hands to the task at hand.

The husband hurried out to thank me for stopping and giving them a ride.  I asked if I could take his photo with their child.

Leaving the village, I was impressed with the size of the school that seemed to be in the middle of nowhere.  It was Saturday and wash day.  This photo does not do justice to the amount of clothes out on the bushes to dry after washing them.  It appeared to be a boarding school as there could not be so many children that are orphans.  It is a place I would like to go back to and see if there is any type of service we could help with there.

We traveled on for another hour or so and suddenly we were on a new paved road.  It was beautiful!  Not a flaw in it.  It was engineered with guard rails and drainage culverts.  We drove on it for over an hour at a good rate of speed.  It didn't pass through another village but it did run north right into Leopard Hill Road not far from our home on the south side of Lusaka.

I am not sure which type of road above would be the best to relieve stress on a Saturday drive.
Some might choose the smooth, quiet blur of landscape with the CD playing.
I think I am drawn to the bumpy stop and start one that brings surprises and opportunities.

Next Saturday fill the tank and get inspired as you discover life and see where the road takes you.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

City Council/Landlords/Flats/Mail

There is always something different to deal with every single day.
I got a call from a flat of Elders that someone had entered into their flat and said they had a court order to remove their personal items.  One of the Elders wasn't feeling too charitable and it almost came to blows.  I got on the phone with them and learned it was the result of the Landlady not paying the City taxes.  The collector was used to sad stories and with his paper in hand and truck and crew they were ready to empty the flat and the neighbors' flat.  He had no explanation why he would terrorize renters and not the owner.

I finally got hold of the landlady's daughter and told her the problem and then headed to the flat to pay the deficiency until it was sorted out.  As you can see, their street is a little muddy this time of year.

Everything was back in the two flats by the time I got there waiting for the cash. The landlady showed up shortly after me with cash in hand and much apology.

The repro man can be seen with a very different disposition holding the neighbors' baby as I was leaving.  The crew was all smiles too as I doubt they really enjoy having to evict their neighbors and local citizens.

These four Elders, Daniels, Lemperle, Mwambu, and Massey were all smiles now that the furniture and fans were back in place.

The landlady was now a little lighter in the pocketbook.  So much time and effort could be saved with a good infrastructure including a postal service with reliable delivery.

Below is the postman that comes to the mission home.  He is the only one I have ever seen.  His motorcycle cannot carry too much.  On this day in March the load was especially heavy as many Christmas cards mailed the first week of December in the States finally arrived.

There are no mailboxes in town.  There are no mailboxes at residences.  We also have a Post Office Box that is a joke.  You still have to ask if you have mail and have to wait while it is checked after waiting your turn in line after fighting for a parking spot.  Many notices and water bills are given to the guards or just left on the gate.  I have never paid a bill by mail.  Rents are paid by delivering a check to the landlord or the landlord coming by to pick up a check or in some cases I take the check to each individual bank and deposit it.  To pay phone or internet or water or electric you go to that business and get a receipt.  Even in writing checks a receipt is an important part of the transaction.  
It is the simple things I am beginning to appreciate more.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Petrol and Fruit

Petrol is readily available in Zambia.
The stations are not located between towns but it hasn't been a problem except when exploring the bush.  It is a good idea if you are off the paved roads for a few hours to have a very full tank or an extra jerry can to get you home.

All the stations are full service but checking under the hood seems a little out of the ordinary and a small tip is appreciated but not expected.

One of my additional duties is to keep the generator at the Mission Home working.  Actually, the electricity seems to be a bit more reliable this last month or so.  At least it seemed like a while since I had filled up the jerry cans for the generator.  Here are the three cans being topped off.

Petrol in Zambia is controlled by the government.  The price of 9.2 kwacha per liter has been the price at every gas station in every town all over Zambia since we arrived last June.  That is $1.65 per liter or $ 6.24 a gallon for diesel.  ($6.74 for regular petrol).

This is the Mission Home generator.  We are fortunate to have it.  When the power drops it automatically comes on line until power is restored.  It is usually for just an hour or two but sometimes it has run for twelve or more hours.  That is Jackson the day guard who helps me pour the diesel in.

As we were pouring the diesel into the generator, something didn't look quite right to me and we stopped pouring.  I was a bit suspicious so we poured the diesel into some empty clear jugs.  This is what it looked like.

We have had a change of night guards lately.  It seems that some of these milk jugs have gone home with diesel in them and the hose was used to top off the metal cans.  Clearly, gas and water don't mix and it doesn't burn very well in an expensive generator.  Fortunately we caught it early and the filters are designed to take care of a little moisture.  The security company is supposed to be dealing with the guard and replacing the diesel.  Two liters is just short of four days pay of twelve hour shifts.  That is four days pay to fill up your milk jug at home with gasoline.  Something just isn't right and it is at times like this that I am reminded that I am living in a totally different world than the people I whiz by in my truck.  It is easy to forget - they rarely ask for very little.

Kristi keeps this bowl of fruit full all the time.  I eat it without a thought.  Just that bowl has a half day wages in it.

A new senior missionary couple arrived in Lusaka this past week.  They are the Binghams from Oakley, Idaho and also lately from North Dakota.  Their calling is "Self Reliance".  Elder Bingham's mind is already churning about ways to help our members improve their lives.  It takes a vision of the possibilities, an idea that can start small, and encouragement to see it through.  Zambia is truly a land of opportunity for those who are willing to break out of their traditions.

The fruits are everywhere and everyone should have a full bowl everyday.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

A New Flat for Elders

It was time to move the Elders in an area out of an expensive furnished flat and into a flat for half the rent and unfurnished.  Below is what we would call a duplex with two gates.  We rented the one on the right.  The standard lease here is three months with three months notice to move.  That amount of lead time makes moving decisions a rather paced event.

The road is paved and inside the gate it is paved which really helps keep the mud out of the house.

Standard skeleton key type door and a grill with two padlocks.

We headed first to Kamwala market to get beds and mattresses.

Besides mattresses and beds they needed EVERYTHING.  Pots and pans, dishes, clothes racks and tubs to wash clothes in.  Table to eat at and study tables for each companionship.  Bookshelf, fans, a rug and chairs came first.  Next was some overstuffed chairs to just relax in.  Of course they also needed a fridge and stove.  Cleaning equipment and supplies.  Missionaries supply their own sheets.

Next was the curtain shop.  It was easiest to buy ready made off the display walls.  It is also the cheapest.  They will make anything you want out of any material and it will be ready the next day.

This was one of several men fulfilling orders.

This pair was coming down to end up in a companionship's bedroom.

Checking out was downstairs.  All the men on the left worked at the fabric shop.  The customers are on the right.

The little guy that is a little higher and in the corner takes the money and oversees the operation that is a real beehive of activity.

Just a sign on the wall as we headed back with another load of items for the flat.

We now know the prices and what is fair.

I passed three sister missionaries as I was headed through town.  They are always a delight to run into as they are always happy and up.  These are Sisters Gehring, Hirwa, and Vea.

The Elders are patient as we get them situated so they can sleep, and then over a week's time the flat is outfitted and ready to go.  There just isn't enough time in the day to get everything done at once.