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

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Who Are These People?

Who are these people that just read a blog from around the world and then collect goggles and send them to Zambia?

They look sort of normal, maybe even "all American", but really haven't they got enough to do?
(This photo was taken several years ago). 
 I got it off Facebook after this lady asked me to be her friend.  

  Her name is Aimee Patton and she is the mother of a missionary serving on the other side of the world and not even in Zambia any more.   I thought she just wanted to be involved with him as much as possible - she must be lonely or sort of bored at home. (?)

I could not have been more wrong.
Every day I am again reminded that there are truly GOOD people in the world.

Aimee Patton has a few other things on her mind.

It seems Elder Patton has a younger sister named McKindree.  (He has never mentioned her.)

McKindree and Elder Patton's mom, while gathering and sending goggles, has been taking care of her husband Jye and the other two children while helping McKindree deal with a bone marrow transplant.

It appears there has been lots of support.
The theme they have used just drips PINK.

Can you wonder why?

This has not been a short diversion for the Patton family.  It started in 2010 when McKindree just kept getting ill more often and her immune system wasn't keeping up.  Their life was being turned upside down with tests and procedures until this past summer when McKindree spent 14 weeks in a hospital enduring a bone marrow transplant.

I am afraid I didn't even know what a bone marrow transplant involved and thought it was a simple procedure and not too invasive.  I was wrong and my thinking has changed.

So, what is the big deal?  The big deal is if you check out a couple of web sites you will get a glimpse of what a SUPER MOM does when she loves everyone. 

But mostly what a mom does when she can't step in and take the pain for her daughter. 

This mom has organized...

She has gone beyond herself to bless her daughter's life.

But she has even gone beyond that and has tried to bless the lives of everyone around her.

If you don't believe me you can check out several web sites and become a "Kinny" stalker like I did.

There is McKindree's blog where she tells her own story 
but you will find some gaps when she is very ill:

There is a site where donations can be made to help the family with some of their expenses:

There is a blog kept by Aimee Patton on the children's hospital website:

I must admit I am a bit of a skeptic and wonder if some people can deal with so much and still be on the lookout to bring love and joy into other peoples' lives.  If you look closely at these sites, you will notice that the Pattons have enlarged their family to include so many of the people who have touched their lives while McKindree is fighting to regain her health.

Most significant for me is that I do not get off the couch much, and when a missionary who returned home challenged me this summer to do the "ice bucket challenge" or donate - I chose to donate to "Kinny's Kause".

I checked with that missionary and he said it was OK and I didn't need to post a video.

So - Who are these people I have never met?  
They seem genuine, sincere, loving, motivated and are a text book case study on how one family chose to live their lives and support their daughter.  They have asked nothing of me except to pass out a few goggles to help men on the other side of the world.  They have never mentioned McKindree or just how proud they are of their oldest missionary son.  I am the one who peeked and discovered,
 and have been inspired to do more with my life.  (even passing our goggles).

I thank you Patton Family for moving one old guy one notch closer to thinking beyond myself.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Thick Goggles Help Me See A Smaller World

These are welder's goggles that help protect your vision while welding.

We pick up packages at the downtown post office and to my surprise one came for me that was really large.  It was unusual because to send such a large parcel cost quite a bit of money.

What was even more unusual is that it was sent from someone I had never met and they included a card that said THANKS!  I hadn't done anything for anyone to thank me, for so I was very curious.

Well, it was a North American missionary's parents.  They thanked Sister Skidmore and I for looking after their son.  To be honest we treated him like we treat all the missionaries here, nothing special.  However, at the end of their note it was clear they had read my blog.

On 28 January 2014 I wrote about a street we drive down twice a day getting to the office and home again.  On this street, Alick Nkhata, there are at least fifteen or twenty welding businesses.  None of the welders wore welding goggles but only sunglasses.  I made a plea, just off hand, that if anyone had any goggles - send a box over.

I was embarrassed that this box showed up.  It turns out not only did they gather goggles and mailed this box, but they enlisted the help of their friends to help fill the box with new goggles.  
I counted more than forty.

I felt, and was also advised, to not just open the box and have them gone all at once.  
I took a pair or two and approached each welding shop.

I found the men who were actually welders and made sure they each had a pair.
I explained that they came from Arizona, America, and that people there had seen photos I had taken and wanted them to protect their eyesight.  

I also gave them a pamphlet that talked about Joseph Smith's experiences.  I asked them to read in there about bright light and how it acted differently than we were used to.  The light was described as descending slowly.  How can that happen?  It was brighter than the noon day sun.  How can that be possible?  Then it recounts why that event was so significant to all of us.  I think it peaked their interest.

They were very grateful for the thoughtfulness of people so far away.

It took me a lot longer than I thought it would to get them passed out.

It turns out Bro. Nguni of the Chainama Branch is also a welder and is teaching his son to weld.

When I traveled to Shiwa Ngandu, Charlie had several welders on the estate and he was happy to have goggles for them.

It was a good experience for me to get out and meet so many hardworking men.

They were all very grateful and happy.

So these thick goggles have moved me, and a few others, closer together and the world seems a little smaller.
Now, who are these people that just jump in and DO things rather than just read about them?

Elder Patton, their son, moved on from here.  He was a "visa waiter" in Zambia, waiting for a visa to get into Zimbabwe.  He wasn't even permanently assigned to Zambia and left some time ago for Zimbabwe.  
Yet he and his parents acted like this was his mission and he would be here forever. 
Some people are easier to like than others.  Elder Patton was one of them and now I know why. 

I hope it is OK to tell what I know about them, because in my next blog I will tell you just a little bit more about Elder Patton's family.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Missionaries - Just Everyday Life

My friends at home think I just goof off and chase wild African animals.
I do tend to post a lot more photos of animals than missionaries, so I will throw in some of my everyday encounters that really make this experience rich.

These are the leaders of the mission that had a two day conference here a couple of weeks ago.

This was Sister Fuamato and Sister Natsala's last Sunday in Lusaka before heading to the Copperbelt.

Here I helped take missionaries to the airport who were heading to Malawi.

I talked about the dry season and what do you know, we had our first big rain shower this week!

Here is a familiar scene, the Assistants to the Mission President are trying to balance their working fund on my desk rather than having it ready when they come to see me.  Elder Allred was short 200 kwacha and it took Elder Jorgensen, his companion, to go through the whole week before they figured out where it went.

We had a good time meeting the new Member Leadership Support couple as they passed through Lusaka.  George and Carole Beal will be serving the next eighteen months in Blantyre, Malawi which is part of our mission.  We hope to see them again in February at a couples' conference.

This was when I was at the bus station putting two Elders on the bus to the Copperbelt.

This is Beauty Shamanga with her young niece, Emily.

Zambian bumble bee.

Here are the young men I meet with on a Sunday.  Shuko is the President in the blue tie.

Sister Vea headed home to Hawaii after eighteen months.  
She is a powerful missionary and fun to be around.

Here is Sister George and Sister Rakotonindriana.  They are both Sister Training Leaders.

This is Elder Hawkins from Reading, England.  In this photo he has just awarded me a lapel pin with a Zambian flag and the British Union Jack.  His mother sent them to him and he has given them out rather sparingly to those who "inspired" him.  I felt rather privileged to get one.  It was especially nice for me as those two flags represent the two countries where I have served a mission.

I think Elder Hawkins liked the sayings I have on the wall in my office.  I will have to take a photo of them as they have helped me, and helped streamline the work I do in that office.

So you see Zambia is not just photos of animals, but most of my time is spent with young 19 to 23 year olds who try to keep me young.  Everyone of them is fun, motivated and focused on the work.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Zambian Playtime

This is the most common toy I see being played with in Zambia.

I have spied a few others but most of the children are embarrassed to show me their simple toys.
This young man had a toy bow and arrows.

Of course, just to play in dirt is great fun.  Sometimes they fashion items out of mud and let it dry.

I can remember doing exactly the same thing as a child.

These friends were out exploring when I encountered them while their parents broke up rocks.

We gave them some suckers which probably isn't the best practice, but it is very enjoyable to see them so happy.

Football is the most popular sport but balls are difficult to keep inflated.
Here, this lad has a good form kicking the empty beer carton.

When I see a young man just trolling along with his homemade vehicle, I am amazed how self-absorbed they are.  They concentrate on getting all the wheels turning and then steering it along.

Sometimes just checking out the white muzungu is pretty fun.

There are still plenty of places in Zambia where muzungus are rare and this young man got really nervous when I asked if I could photograph him and his toy.  It was made really well with a wooden axle and wooden wheels.  I am pretty certain it was a toy with some small plastic containers strapped on to give it some weight.

Wheels are usually made out of two ends of soda bottles pushed together.

Hauling rocks gives the vehicle some weight.

These two were just motoring along with each other.

This one is a little larger and more elaborate.

The steering wheels really work on some models.

Jump rope is a favorite and also jumping in and out of these rubber bands like cats cradle.

Of course there is always the basic card board box that can be pulled along.

If you can find enough juice cartons the possibilities are endless.

This train was fun to watch go over obstacles in sequence.

Did you notice that it was mostly boys playing with cars and trains and things with wheels?
Who do you think this young girl is trying to be like?  All grown up?

You can always find someone playing with old tires.  Bicycle or car.

This young man has his homemade football or soccer ball as we would call it.  His ball is a little small still but most of them are not much bigger.  They are made of wrapped plastic bags and seem to work pretty well especially since they do not pop and and are easily repaired at night.  Sometimes I see these attached to a string to hang on to while kicking, much like a paddle board and rubber ball.

Our neighbor girls were happy to help their sister show off the "baby" she had strapped on her back.
Sometimes I see girls playing jacks with rocks thrown up in the air and other rocks gathered up.

Often play is a pretty rare event.  There are plenty of chores that need to be helped with around the house.  Here dinner is being cooked and wash is being done.  These are not unusual activities for children before they have "free" time.

This young man is doing the wash.

If you live in a really progressive town you might have a community pool set up for a holiday.

All in all, play in Zambia seems a lot like play around the world.