Sunday, November 8, 2009

Life in Zambia

I’ve now been in Zambia for a month and it’s high time I post some highlights.  It’s been full of ups and downs.  I’ve postponed blogging because I want pictures but keep forgetting to take pictures.  I’m hoping to have a weekly update but we’ll see.

So I have a double life here…one with an angel and one with the devil (sometimes I think I’m funny and really that’s all that matters).  Actually both my lives are pretty angelic like but quite different.  I have a Monday to Friday life and then a Friday to Monday life.  Every once in a while I take a day or two from one life and give to another but in general this is my world.

Monday to Friday – The Farm, The Bush, The CRC, The Orphanage

These titles all represent the same place.  This is where I stay during the week.  It’s beautiful in the Bush.  We live about 8 km away from where the pavement ends and from the nearest bus stop.  I stay with 25 adorable children, 5 incredible women who cook, clean, and care for the children, 3 men who maintain the land, and a few other workers who spend their days with us in the bush.

My roommate and dear friend Jackie and her sweet little two month old baby Liseli.


The other day my sweet sister Mable came walking out wearing a T-shirt from MY University.  It made me so happy I had to take a picture.


I got to visit my other sister Miriam and meet her adorable baby Elizabeth.  Her husband, Martin, is one of the workers on the land.


Life on the farm is simple but never dull.  I spend my mornings in my “office” trying to figure out how to start a school in January for all these kids.  The afternoons are spent working and tutoring the kids.  Early evenings are reserved for my runs and the late evening for singing and praying with the kids.  The night is a whole different story out at the farm.  The kids are in bed by 8 PM and I’m right there with them.  The night is filled with mysterious creatures that crawl all over everything and anything.  I’ve been introduced to the joy and wonder of cockroaches and their incredible ability to reproduce.  I have also never seen so many different kinds of insects that fly and crawl and make me want to hurl.  I try to take care of all bathroom needs before the lights go out because when they do it is no longer the world of humans but a world where tiny creatures reign.

It’s not the best picture but if you look closely you can see all sorts of bugs many different shapes and sizes crawling around.


This is how I try to protect myself from the bugs at night.  My bed is the one in the middle.  There are three of us and sweet little Liseli that share a room.


Here’s a picture of the younger kids in the “attention position”.  You always have to take two pictures of everyone in Africa, the second comes only after you’ve realized that no one ever smiles the first time and they have to be reminded to smile.


The mornings come early because the kids have to leave by 5:30 so they can walk the 8 km to school for one measly little math class and turn back around to walk another 8 km.  OK sometimes they get more than one class but I sure will be grateful when we start our school and these kids are in school for 6+ hrs instead of 1 or 2 and only have to walk 20 ft instead of 16 km.

On Wednesday mornings I do my wash.  I HATE doing my wash.  It takes me HOURS.  Oh the joys of time saving devices.  NEVER complain about doing laundry if you have a washing machine.  Everyone keeps saying, “you’ll get used” but instead of getting “used” I’ve just decided to start wearing everything for 3 or 4 days before I decide it’s dirty.  Who needs hygiene???


Since I’ve already complained about the bugs and the wash I’ll save the food for another post.

The children are my greatest joy.  They come from many different backgrounds and that presents many challenges and blessings.  We have more boys than girls and many of them have come to us from the streets.  They are wonderful children who’ve had hard hard lives.  Every once in a while I catch a glimpse into the lives they’ve lived and it brings tears to my eyes.  I have learned so much from their broken but strong spirits.  I feel so grateful for the opportunity to love and be loved by them.


Here the kids are watching a movie on my laptop.  Unfortunately, that’s about the only movie they could watch because I’m unable to charge my laptop when I’m at the farm.  We’ve got solar power but it’s not enough to recharge the laptop.  I’ve been told that we’ll have electricity by December.  Crossing my fingers on that one.


One little girl, Alice, is such a delight.  She has AIDS and came to us as sort of a favor for an AIDS organization we work with.  Alice is a doll and the only English she can speak is “I Love You”.  She’s five yrs old and smaller than my two yr old niece.  She’s the best cuddler and speaks non-stop Nyanja to me.  I think she’s finally clued in to the fact that I don’t speak Nyanja but I think she’s determined to teach me because her jaws never stop jabbering.  She’s been so sick ever since I got here with a bad cough.  This past week she’s had a high fever.  Hopefully she’ll get to feeling better soon.


This is how Alice sleeps in her bed.  Who needs all that space anyway?


(This post is turning out to be much longer than I had planned…it’s all about enduring to the end my friends…just keep going…the end is near.)

On Fridays I hop on my little Zambike (riding a bike in Zambia deserves an entire post all to itself) and ride the 33 km into town where I spend the next few days in my other life.

Friday to Monday -

I love my weekends.  They are a much needed break from the kids and a chance to recharge for the following Monday.  I stay with the sister missionaries in a nice clean bug free home.

Here’s a pic of my weekend home.


My favorite part of this second life is the chance to connect to America and more importantly my family and friends.  I get to see and talk to my sisters and Dad every week.  Still trying to get those brothers of mine to remember that I need a little attention from them as well, but alas, what can you do?  I LOVE talking to my family.  I’m the only American amongst all these wonderful Zambians and every once in a while I just need the opportunity to talk to someone who knows my background.  I cherish my time at the Kilimanjaro Cafe where I spend more time than I should on Skype.

Here’s a pic of the Cafe from the outside looking in.


I get up early Saturday morning and head to the Cafe so I can talk to the fam before they head to bed.  Then at 10 AM I attend institute at the church and spend the next many hours using the free wireless internet.  Did you hear that??? Free Internet…the church really is true  (now if I could just get them to give me the keys so I can use it when my family is awake).

After I get kicked out of the church I go to Shoprite to buy food that’s not Nschima.


Then I return home, make dinner, do some wash, prepare my RS lesson and head to bed.

Some Saturdays I’ve also had the opportunity to visit old friends and meet new friends.  Here’s some pics of my friend Eric, his wife, and their little baby Joseph.

DSCN0772 DSCN0774

On Sunday’s I head to church on my bike with the laptop.  Spend a few hours after church on the Internet, sometimes I visit teach with Mavis on Sunday afternoons, and take advantage of my final hours of peace and quiet.

On Monday mornings I hop on my bike to ride the 33 km back to the CRC and do it all over again.

As I said earlier, I feel so blessed to be here.  Life here is full of challenges and blessings.  I’m learning to adapt and love whatever comes my way.


Heidi said...

Love seeing pictures!!! Such beautfiul people. Especially fun seeing old friends. Keep the pictures coming.

Christy Wheeler said...

Nice! I love hearing about your days. You are doing so awesome! Love those kids for us! We miss you.

haylie said...

Heather, you are my favorite. I love reading about your life. Your post about the bugs made me smile; there are places in the zoo that absolutely COME ALIVE with cockroaches when the lights go out. But that's not the same as sleeping with them :o( I'm so proud of you. Have fun! Be fun! We love you.

Lady Fox said...

Wow. I'm speechless. What a life you are living. Sometimes I get a bit overwhelmed with the fact that you are clear across the world and still (through your blog) it seems as though you are right next door. We live in an incredible time!

Mirm said...

Hey- John LOVED Skyping with you.... He is fortunate to work graves and have the same hours as you... 3am doesn't appeal to me that much. We sure love you tons and tons. Let us know something that you crave???? Probably everything. Love ya and hang in there.