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

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Goats for Malawi

Meet "Billy" the goat.  In this photo I have just purchased him and he is on his way to meet his harem.

The two fellows below are the reason I needed to buy a goat.  On the left is Bro. Besa, a local farmer who is interested in starting a milk goat herd.  The fellow on the right is Elder Stan Bingham and is the missionary in our mission responsible for self-reliance.  Elder Bingham loves goats and has raised plenty of them in Idaho but mostly for meat.

Elder Bingham has been talking with an NGO in Malawi that is sponsored by Nu-Skin called School of Agriculture for Family Independence (SAFI).  It has been in operation for about nine years and has been very successful.  They would now like to start having milking goats as part of their program.

Unfortunately, Sister Sharon Bingham became ill and needed to return immediately to the USA.  Billy was the last of 19 goats gathered to be taken to Malawi and it looks like I will be taking them along with Bro. Besa.

To find Billy, Bro. Besa and I drove east of Lusaka for about an hour until we found the compound where Mary lives.  Below are the women who were sorting leaves at Mary's house.

These folks were also waiting for us.

We picked up Mary and drove for another half hour to the compound Billy's owner.
This little fellow was curious about the mzungu walking by.

Here is Mary and several ladies who identified Billy the buck as he came out of the "goat corral".

I paid 700 kwacha for Billy and the seller is counting the money.  Mary is on the right.  Mary is the president of a cooperative of ladies who have milking goats.  They have about 225 members and about 150 come to a weekly Tuesday meeting.  The meeting is at least five km from this lady's home and I asked how she got there as she also takes her milk to turn in to be picked up by a truck.  She walks and said it isn't too far.  She just starts early.

I needed a receipt that Billy was purchased and then will have to go to the police to get a certificate that Billy and the other goats were not stolen.  Her friend immediately offered to be the "table".

We wound our way back to Mary's place and dropped her off and paid her 10 kwacha for her time and as a finder fee.

We stopped by the mission home and the office Elders wanted to see Billy.  We also picked up three old tires for Bro. Besa.  He will burn them to get the wires from them to use on his farm.

Below is the corral that Bro. Besa built for his goats.  They are up off the ground at night for safety and health reasons.  The manure is used on his crops.  There are now 19 goats ready to be inspected by the Vet and certified ready to transport to Malawi.  We are waiting for the rest of the paperwork and final clearance.  Bro. Besa will go by bus with his wife and stay at the school and teach them about caring for the goats and learn about some of the things that are taught at the SAFI school.

These are some of the chickens Bro. Besa raises until they are old enough to be sold as fryers.

Bro. Besa is remarkable.  He runs a ten hectare farm and doesn't drive or have a vehicle, so it takes a lot of extra work and ingenuity to keep things moving.

Once Billy and his harem is in Malawi we will be buying fifteen more goats.  Four will be for Bro. Besa and then two each for five other families and then they will share the buck.  This should be the start of milking herds for all of them.  The future looks bright for everyone, especially Billy.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Update - Changes

Changes are never too easy, but we have less than a month to go in Zambia, so change is necessary as well as inevitable.  Below is Elder Venter from South Africa.  He is my replacement as financial secretary.  I am not too worried, as he is very bright, but what does worry me is that he goes home in June so the next training period will be pretty short for the next Elder.  You will notice that the office is moved around as it was time to "let go".

Below Kristi and I are with the Elders that we trained, Elder Cahill and Elder Venter.
They will be split up and each will get a new companion to subsequently train.
The reality of leaving Zambia is slowly sinking in.

Another big change was the creation of the Zambia, Lusaka Stake.  The first stake in Zambia.

This is our new Stake Presidency.  That is President Harrison Lumbama in the centre and on his right, first counselor Blessings Mushala and second counselor Chris Chansa on his left.  In the next few months the reality of the big task ahead of them will sink in.  They are all great men so I have full confidence in the future of the church in Zambia. 

This was our branch presidency of the Woodlands Branch for the past year.  Anthony Mulenga in the centre as president and Chikumbe Banda on his right and Elastus Chishala on his left.

Woodlands is now a Ward with Bishop Banda, Elastis Chisala as 1st C. and Sianga Chizoka as 2nd C.

Here are some of the missionaries on Stake creation day.

We were invited to watch a Polo X match as the season was starting.
Below you can see the umpire throwing in the ball to start the chukka.

It was fun to watch the action and see all the beautiful horses.

Here are Sisters Frimpong, Rakotonindriana, and Elders Nakale, Mojaje, Cahill and Venter.
Elder Mojaje was on his way home.

I love trying to sneak out of town a ways to find a little nature to relax in.

The weaver birds are back at building fresh nests.

I was happy to finally see a Malachite Kingfisher.  They are so colourful.

We eat out occasionally.  Since it was our granddaughter's birthday, we took a photo to show her how we celebrated without her.

When anyone comes to the mission home the guard calls me and and I greet them.  This day we had a young lady selling fresh fish.  I didn't buy but she was gracious to let me take a photo.

We were happy to be invited for dinner at the Van Heerden's home.  Bro. Van Heerden manages a very large portion of a huge conglomerate corporate farm.  They have two sons living in the USA and a son on a mission in South Africa.  Their daughter, Anna, is a physical therapist in Lusaka.

We had a broken stove that had been repaired a couple of times and I thought it was time to replace it.
The stove found a new home at Robby's house.  He assured me he could get it fixed easily.

Robby cleans at the mission home and has been working on his new home for two years.  
This past week he finally got electricity hooked up.

You can see his wife is thrilled with their new appliance.
Notice in the corner is the little charcoal stove on the floor that most families use.

Robby had this ceiling fan installed two years ago.  
Today the electricity was hooked up and he turned it on for the first time.  It worked great!

Some things don't change as I still want to see as many animals as possible.

 ... and I haven't changed my hairstyle in two years.  
This is Loveness, she has cut my hair every month.
That is one more thing I don't want to change, but change is the only constant.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Deadly Zambian Encounter

Encounters with lions, elephants, hippos and crocodiles can be fatal.  So after moving to Africa I needed to not be stupid and tempt fate when I was in their vicinity.  It turns out there is another critter that is far more deadly, cunning and harder to avoid.  Take a look at Bill Gates chart below of critters and how many people they kill each year.

It turns out I was looking in the wrong direction for danger.  Hippos and people are very dangerous but worldwide the mosquito out-kills everything.

I live in Africa.  All the windows in the house are screened. I was casually told about malaria upon departure from the USA but when I asked specific questions I wasn’t too impressed with the doctor’s knowledge or experience.  I decided I had committed to be obedient so I started taking an anti-malarial pills. 

It was a regime that would last for the next two years.  After a week I wasn’t happy with the effects I was feeling.  The main one was that the second the sun hit my skin it seemed to burn rather than tan.  How was that going to work in hot Africa for two years?  I reconsidered, I spoke with other couples and many missionaries and the past mission president and then the current one.  My survey looked like half the people took it and half didn’t.  Besides, I kept waiting for the swarms of mosquitos and none ever appeared.  The one or two mosquitos I heard at night were just little things, nothing like a proper high sierra pond swarm I had expected.  Our net over our bed was inspected regularly.  It is treated with Permethrin, I have never found a dead mosquito in a seam. 

The risk must be low.  Of course there are funerals almost everyday but this is a big city to consider.  When questioned how a person met his fate the usual answer is malaria.  The diagnosis is applied to young and old and everyone in-between.  The term “malaria” is applied to almost every death because of poor or no diagnosis and no post mortem performed.  It is often applied to a death by HIV since it is much more socially acceptable to say “malaria”.

I am now twenty-two months into my mission.  I live in the big city of Lusaka and I work in an air-conditioned office.  I drive an air-conditioned truck.  The incidence of malaria among the young missionaries has decreased mostly due to better obedience and I felt pretty secure.  I don’t go into the outlying villages as often as the young missionaries do.

There was just one last Couples’ Conference and some District Training to attend in Malawi and then we would pack for home.  Kristi and I stretched those meeting days on both ends checking out beautiful Malawi and then we came home to Zambia.  I was feeling great and looking forward to a smooth transition of my office to two young missionaries.   Malaria takes ten to fifteen days after being infected to show symptoms.

We helped move a couple in our Ward to a new rental flat.   I had been feeling a little puny and not eating much after returning from Malawi five nights before.  That night I didn’t sleep very well.  At work the next day I was feeling lousy and for the first time in almost two years went in another room at the office and laid down.  I thought I would be fine but that night I was all chills, then fever and headache.  I would get so cold I would shake and then perspire, then chills again with uncontrollable shaking.

We headed for the doctor.  A finger jab and two different malaria tests and it was confirmed I had joined the ranks of Zambians who had experienced malaria.  The Zambians who survive build a type of immunity that doesn’t last.  If they are infected again and again the low grade malaria will not be a bother as long as they are otherwise healthy.  I was given some dextrose, a shot and a packet of three pills.  Their name was Asu-Denk.  The doctor said they should kill all the little protozoa multiplying in my red blood cells.  I also got pills for aches and pains and headache.  I was told I would be fine in about three days or so.   It was the “or so” that worried me.

So how did malaria affect me?  It was all the usual flu symptoms along with throwing up, a very rare event for me.  I had told the doctor I hadn’t thrown up at that time so that is why I got pills.  Otherwise he said he would put me in the hospital with a drip.  That night I had the same fever/cold chills and showered to combat them a couple of times.  I dreamed and woke Kristi with wailing/yelling etc. that I had never done before in my life.  The next day a couple stopped by to check on me and I was aware of not being able to concentrate very well and certainly didn’t contribute to any conversation.

The next night the symptoms were lessoned but still only short periods of sleep and I dreamed of a lion coming into a house and although I wasn’t afraid I was very concerned for our grandchildren.  Upon awakening I was pretty distressed and it was very unusual for me to be so disturbed.  I became aware that my hearing was keener at night.  I could hear party drums from a long distance.  I could smell that I didn't smell good.  I could smell the difference in blankets, sheets, bedspread and household items.  I walked down the stairs and the smell of toast was so strong to me I just about threw up.  This was a real change for me.

So finally, the three pills are gone and I am slowly trying to get my brain straight and strength back.  We moved some living room furniture today.  Kristi did most of the work but I came home exhausted.  I worry about how long the effects will last or are some of those protozoa going to hide in my liver for a later party months or years from now?

What is the point of sharing all this about my very common malaria experience I am now having? 

That is just the point I want to get across to my family.  Malaria IS common but not fun and should be avoided because even with access to modern medicine it can kill.  Certainly we have great medications to combat it, but wouldn’t it be easier to be obedient to prevention in the first place?  

Take the preventive medication.  It might make you look or feel a little different.  There are different brands, some side effects are different.  Find the one that works for you.  

Here is my advice to my family.  Listen to those who have gone ahead.   Listen to wisdom and experience of the many who have gone before you and follow their counsel.  I have survived this far by paying attention well, but believe me, at any age you can slip, strike out on your own, think you are a little smarter, wiser, and know a shortcut when all of the previous history points in another direction.  The dangers are out there, some deadly in their own unique way.  So when you think you are above the laws that govern them – that is when you become at great risk.  

For folks from outside Africa - take malaria pills.  Obedience is the first lesson of survival we learn in families and it applies everywhere.  Those mosquitos are everywhere!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Zambia Cave Day

We finally had a Saturday without anything scheduled.  The sign for Leopards Hill Cave is not far from our house but we couldn't find anyone who had visited there.  We have searched for "heritage sites" before and never found them.  I was so excited to just be driving away from the city that I asked Kristi if she wanted to drive and with a little pressure I was now able to take photos - rather than one-handed on the fly.

That was the last sign for the Leopards Hill Cave.  However, I was happy to gather memories.

This was a Mom and two girls taking maize for processing.

On Leopards Hill Road is one of the large cemeteries around Lusaka.  After a day or two of mourning at the mourning house the group takes "transport" to the cemetery.

Every day you can see big or small groups finding a spot  for their loved ones.

Occasionally the nicer ones get special attention.  Most often there is no vault and sometimes a very thin coffin.  Big rocks are the first to go on top to discourage hyenas then it is filled with dirt.

Usually the deceased is transported by the family.

Further down the road it was evident that many maize fields were being harvested.

It was Saturday so many were headed to a village to socialise.

I often wonder what will the lives be like for the people I meet in 20 or 40 years.

Many seem to live in a world that is totally different from the "city" Zambians.

This young man was collecting a grain for a meal.  It wasn't rice.

A butterfly that camouflages as a leaf when its wings are closed.

We were headed south and there are villages or family complexes all along the way.

One cash crop is sunflower seeds.

Nothing can make you happy like looking at a sunflower, for some reason.

Here is my driver for the day.

When we stop for photos we always greet those who are near and try to satisfy their curiosity.

This lady seemed especially photogenic.

That maroon dress seemed especially appropriate.

Despite the look on their faces the gal below was not as suspicious as the one above and equally beautiful.

I was allowed to have my photo taken.

Then the ice melted and she was eager for more photos.

It was a very warm day and this lady was transporting a fleece blanket on her head, had a bundle of items, a broom, and of course an infant.  The umbrella always helps keep things cooler.

This woman was putting out items from her shop for display.

We came across another monitor lizard in the road.  This one was about 3 feet long.

The road will eventually take you after about 5 or 6 hours to the Zambezi River that runs across the southern border of Zambia. 

Just like everywhere some houses get more care than others.

This little girl was on her way for water.  She will return with it balanced on her head.

I am not sure this young man knew what his shirt said, but I suspect his mother might enjoy the sentiment.

Big sister was dragging her little sister away from the "azungus" but she was still plenty curious.

Holding hands in Zambia is a pretty benign activity.  Children, women and men all hold hands with the same sex.  This was unusual to see the opposite sex holding hands, but I suspect he was an older brother.

Small herds of cattle are common.  They represent the wealth of the owner in a very real sense.

Here is the young cowherder.  It is sad to see them just watching the cattle while their contemporaries that can afford school fees trot off to class.

These young girls are prepared for the rain should it come hard and fast.

I am not sure what these local greens are but it was a tough hill to pump up on the way to market.

Nshima or mealie-meal being taken home.

Life becomes so much easier if you can upgrade to an ox cart.

These ladies were enjoying not having to walk and carry a heavy load.

Part of the road is quite nice and new heading south but this is what most Zambian roads look like.

From the internet I had a faint idea where this cave was, but when we got close I started showing the photo of the sign and asking where it was.  This was the first of three hills and the cave was at the base of the third hill.  I decided to drive around.

This little Eden also provides protein by offering fish to catch.

They aren't big but it will make a relish for a family meal.

Once getting close again we asked about the cave and two young men led the way.
It was probably two or three kilometres and they ran like rabbits as I tried to keep up.

Finally - a world heritage site, Leopards Hill Cave.

Now we had quite a crowd and all hopeful of a little cash as a reward.

This is a stone-age site that has been documented in some University.  It is now full of bats.

We ventured in until it was absolutely black.  The bat sounds and drippings were a little unsettling.
I flashed a few "blind" photos and used my cell phone to check our footing as we had descended quite  a ways.

The local headman caught up with us and was anxious to get his share of any tribute.

It is getting towards the end of the rainy season and Zambia looks green and fertile.

This mound of dirt is "cooking" a pile of hardwood to create charcoal for sale.
The sad result is that many of the large beautiful hardwood trees are disappearing.

On our way back we found another goat on his way to market.
This one was more comfortable than most.

All in all a real pleasant day for me as we took the long way home and Kristi did most of the driving.
After almost two years I am still unsure of the best way to help the locals economically.  There are literally thousands of NGO's (non-government organisations) that try everyday.  We have been here trying to install HOPE and teach about the atonement of Jesus Christ.  I believe more good can happen if we catch the vision for the future and move toward that end. By living the best type of life we know how to, and becoming motivated to create the family life we can envision, individuals will make Zambia free economically and free to take advantage of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and all that it entails.