Friday, August 28, 2009

Veterinarian Skills Put to Use

Last Saturday morning Steve put to use his 8 or 9 years of skills learned working as a veterinarian assistant. Lynn Shaffer wanted us to come over so the kids could play. We were leaving town for a week, so they need play time. I called to see about coming over this afternoon and could we please pick up more cow manure for the garden. We made plans and she informed us of their one cow was in labor and seemed to be having a hard time of it. I told Steve. I called her back to tell her Steve offered to come over and look at her. Then her husband Grant soon called back asking him to come over and have a look.

Steve on the way over is thinking it has been a long time since I have done any of this. If this is the problem – it will not be good. If that is the problem - it will not be good. Hopefully, the calf’s head will just be turned – that would be easy. When he got there, the calf’s front legs were in the canal and sure enough its head was turned.

Lynn called tell me they have a beautiful girl calf and that Steve saved the calf and cow!!! One never knows when some skill you haven’t used in years (15 years to be exact) might become useful. Are any of our life’s experiences ever a waste of time? Not from the Lord’s perspective. Everything that we experience, good or bad, prepares us for a work that God has foreknown since before we were born. Is there a God with an eternal purpose to save the souls of men through His Son Jesus Christ? You better believe it! What a privilege to be just a small part of that purpose. To God be the glory!

God bless from Zambia,
Rita (the beginning) and
Steve (for the ending)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Church in the Bush!!

Do any of you in the States remember church camp? I think that is what it was called. Where I grew up the area Mennonite (since I was Mennonite) churches gathered at Penn York Camp for Camp Meeting. We spent Friday night and stayed until after Sunday lunch. I remember loving it. I couldn’t wait to go. I even had fun the year my parents did the cooking.

Well, that is what we went to on Sunday. The others came on Wednesday night or Thursday. This was a Baptist Convention meeting. The people look forward to and start planning and saving for this a year ahead of time.

We left Mbala about 9:15 AM Sunday morning. We followed another family up. We only had the six of us in our vehicle. They have lived in Zambia a lot longer, years longer than we have. They had 11 people in their vehicle, plus three dressed chickens and two live ones. The chickens were for help in feeding us. We drove about 45 minutes toward lake Tanganyika and then up into the mountains.

It was a wonderful experience. The kids loved the fact that we drove through a creek to get there – no bridge. They also loved going over bumps and seeing who came close to hitting the roof with their heads. That is until Mommy discovered they didn’t have their seatbelts on.

The people built the church walls, little sleeping houses, and the outhouse all for the meetings. We got there a little too early, especially for the children. When we got there everyone was facing the pulpit area. There was a corning on the back wall were we sat down on two benches that were quickly brought over. Immediately, we the white people were the center of attention. Most of the children watched us the whole time. We got there in time for Sunday School which is in Bemba, so we stayed in the church area. Then there was the preaching – it was in English and translated into Bemba. Then we walked down to a creek to baptize over 30 people, I think. They baptized four at a time. There were 4 pastors down in the water. Then it was back up to the church for the Lord’s Supper. By this time it was 2 PM. We hadn’t had lunch yet and the children had had quite enough of it. By 2:30 a lady from our church here in Mbala had lunch ready for us. We ate the traditional nshima with the rape dip and a tomato and onion dip.

For the trip home we traded Heather for Joel. Then Friday and Charlie (a girl) joined us to. So because we were carrying Schaffer children home, we ended up at their house for a few hours. A wonderful ending (coffee, tea, lemonade (fresh squeezed) and good conversation) to a wonderful day worshipping God in the great outdoors.

Water Lost :(

Sunday morning around 9:30 I discovered the outside faucet was turned on. It had been turned on since before 6 AM. When someone turns a faucet on, if water doesn’t come out, the faucet is most often left on. I have started trying to make it a habit that when I turn the pump on I look to see if any faucets are also turned on.

We have home from church, ate lunch, and started doing dishes when the pump wouldn’t work anymore. Steve went down the checklist of why your pump might not work. Last thing on the list, water too low in reservoir. Sure enough, three hours of water running out onto the ground had drained our reservoir.

We spent all week being very stingy with our water. By Friday it was almost to the top again. On Sunday I finally took a normal shower. I had all week been using a dish pan to conserve water of course.

Water Leaks are an Endless Job

On Saturday, August 8th, Steve decided to work on some leaks. The valve he had been opening and shutting all week to get water when the electric goes off has a leak around it. He shut off the water and went to work. He then drew a diagram, did some measuring and went off to town to visit the hardware store or maybe I should say stores. Since it is a week after the fact I will make it short.

The pipes are very old, let me say, they are VERY OLD. He got the one pipe he wanted off. It was leaking and had six different places that had been fixed. He is going to put a new pipe there in the future. Taking that pipe off made the pipe leading up to the tank leak. I climbed up onto the pump house shed roof and held the pipe steady. But no matter what he tried he couldn’t tighten the pipe where it had come loose nor could he get it to come apart at other joints. So he started turning the other way and the leak became bigger. So then it was how do we save the 250 – 300 gallons of water that is in the tank, before the pipe falls off and the yard gets watered.

We hooked an old hose with many holes that was lying around and started filling the 3 buckets that we have and I started watering the garden. Steve started dumping the water back into the reservoir. Then he got an idea. He unhooked the pipe that put water into the tank from the reservoir and siphoned the tank back into the reservoir.

Water Saved

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

One Water Leak Fixed

One Water Leak Fixed

The pipe in the picture sprung a leak on Sat. Aug. 1st. This pipe gives up water from the tank on the pump house when the electric goes off. Steve to the rescue! He balled up some plumbers tape and stuck it in the hole. Then he wrapped the pipe with plumbers tape. Then he took electrical tape and wrapped it again pulling it tight. Then for good measure he topped it off with duck tape. Hey, whatever works! It doesn’t leak!!!

The Subject is Water Again

This past week the power went off several times. We have had supper ready, but the dishes need to be washed and the kids too!! Our kids have never been this dirty. They get very filthy everyday and I promise you they are not rolling in it, but they sure do look like it. I was talking about water though. So Steve goes out and turns some knobs and we have gravity flowing water from the tank on top of the pump house. The only problem is the water is rusty, as you can see in the above picture. But it is water and we saved the sheets from needing to be washed in the morning.

We Need Water!!!

On around July 29th or 30th we all of a sudden were not getting any water. So we were being very careful. Our water reservoir was getting low. The water reservoir is a round cement looking tank that is in the ground. We still hadn’t filled up the tank that sits on top of the pump house. It holds about 250 – 300 gallons. Saturday morning Steve decided to follow the line where the water comes in and found a valve had been turned off. It is in the front side flower bed out at the road. Some child (could have been one of 14) who has been playing in our yard must have turned it off. Water problem solved.

Sunday, August 9, 2009


Picture: Our Water Reservoir looking a little on the low side.

In the previous blog I talked about our electric. For two nights in a row now it has gone off at around 6PM for an hour or two. Today it is suppose to go off for twelve hours. When the electric goes off, it affects our water. We need electric to run the pump to get water into the house.

Before I go on, I want to say we have it pretty nice here. Fellow missionaries that were in FPO (Field Personnel Orientation) with us and flew over with us do not have it as nice. Their electric has been nonexistent or very low, that the pump cannot pump water. So they have to drive to a source of water and fill cans and haul it to their house. So we have it pretty good.

Our water supply is council water (town water). It comes out of a small lake that is just maybe a mile down the road. So if we half to haul water we wouldn’t have far to go. The water is pumped out of the lake in to water towers just up the hill from us. Water doesn’t run like it does in the States. The water only comes three times aday.

The first few days we were here in Mbala, the water leaks and an extra holding tank were worked on. Henry, our house helper, spent a good part of two days cleaning the tank with a wire brush. Josh and Steve worked on pipes and installed a float in the tank so that it would fill up automatically. Steve likes to do things right – when pipes are installed they shouldn’t leak!!!
He had to settle for small leaks. In a few days though those pipes were not leaking, but many still are.

Both toilets leak water. Steve put this lovely black silicone around the pipe and then tried to tie ligging (looks like intertubes rubber cut in long strips). That is how you fix leaks here. The toilet still leaks and so we found a plastic container to put under the leak so that the floor isn’t wet. The other toilet also has a plastic container to catch the leak. The kitchen sink cold water we just turned off altogether. We get the cold water we need from the bathroom sink. It is how I am getting my exercise at the moment. Must be working I have lost 12 pounds since setting foot in Mbala.

Sunday, August 2, 2009


I thought I would take time to tell you about our electricity. I want to do a post on our water, but I think I need to explain the electricity first. I wasn’t sure if we would have electricity all of the time. I was going off of the Adair’s blog. The Adairs are team members of ours who are on the border of Sudan. Their town only has a generator, which is too small for the town. So the generator gets hot and eventually turned off. We are on the main line. We have electric 24 hours a day, so far. It did go off twice already. The first time was for only maybe an hour. The second time it was off for maybe three hours. No hardships there.

Our electric isn’t stable though. It gets very low. When it is low the lights are more like candles and the fan goes around very slowly. Then all of a sudden it goes high. The lights get bright and the fan starts turning much faster. The refrigerator and the deep freeze are on voltage protectors. They have red, yellow, and a green light on them. If the light is red you know the electric is low. The electric is low a lot. When we first moved in this affected the water pump. We would turn on the faucet and no water would come. So we looked at the voltage protector on the fridge, sure enough the light was red. This was frustrating when you are trying to clean and wash things and move into a house.

Now, we also have voltage stabilizers on the fridge and deep freeze. This helps regulate the electric and they are able to run more often, keeping them colder. When our appliances arrive from the states they will be plugged into three things before they are plugged into the wall. The washing machine will be plugged into a voltage protector which will be plugged into a voltage stabilizer which will be plugged into a step down transformer which will be plugged into the wall. At least that is what we think the order will be.

So, that is our electric.

God bless,