Saturday, April 28, 2012

Finishing the Firsts

I didn’t finish the firsts, so here they are:  First time driving by myself for a long trip in Zambia.  Steve usually does all the driving.

First time getting money out of a ATM in Zambia.  I have done it in Jo’burg, South Africa.  Steve left what he thought was enough money.  We didn’t realize some accounts were not set up yet.  So I had to get money to pay for the guest house stay.  There are sooo many people all over the place, it makes me nervous when Steve is getting money out of an ATM.  All bank ATM’s do have guards there 24 hours a day. 

First time putting fuel into our vehicle.  Now I do have to say this is no big deal as all gas stations are full service.  You just pull up and tell them to fill it up.  But I do have to count out all that money to pay for it.  I can’t just swipe my debit card and it be paid for.  I have to count out the bills.  Then I had to remember to fill the book out with mileage, liters put in, amount paid.  I almost forgot the first time.  Then, Tobias took that over as he was riding shotgun.

Now this next one is not a first, but I hardly ever do it.  This is where I’m going to tell you that my husband spoils me and I live him for it.  Putting talk time on my phone.  Here we buy scratch cards and then enter the codes into our phones to get more talk time. 

Now this is a first, sending talk time from my phone to my husbands phone in Cape Town.  It actually is quite easy once you know what you are doing.

Many firsts for Rita in Zambia

Well, in the last post you see that Steve drove or I should say rode to Cape Town, South Africa.  I think Grant did all the driving.  What happened to me.  I got to experience a few firsts.  I have done these things in the states, but not in Zambia.

Sunday and Monday we just hung out around the guest house relaxing.  I did still have a few errands to run.  After a week of meetings and all that traveling, I just needed some down time to relax.  I spent a lot of time lying in bed or the chair reading a book and getting lots of sleep.

On Monday night, our team leader, Blake Kimbrough hitched up our trailer to our vehicle for me.  Then, He and my kids with Joel Scheafer’s help loaded up the trailer.  He then got it all lined up so that I could just pull out of the parking lot.  I don’t claim to have any knowledge on how to back up a vehicle with a trailer attached. 

Side note:  Joel Scheafer came down to Lusaka with his dad to see a dentist and he rode back to Mbala with us.  We were glad to have him along.  It turned out to be quite handy to have two teenage boys with us when the trailer came unhitched in Kasama.  They had to do quite a bit of cranking the wheel down to get the hitch up and hooked up again.  The trailer, I think was the heaviest it has ever been.

So, to the firsts:  I do drive, but Steve does all the driving on our long trips.  I drove from Lusaka to Mbala for the first time all by myself!  We did do it in two days.

When we first pulled into Lusaka at the beginning of this trip we met the Sprayberries.  They are missionaries who use to work with our mission and started the 40/40 orientation training we have here in Zambia.  They live along our route to Mbala and invited us to stop over some time.  I jumped right in an asked if it would suit for us to stop in on our way back.  I did ask them if I would have to back up that trailer.  Luckly, they had a circle drive.

So our first day we only drove about 5 hours.  I was all prepared.  While doing long drives to my parents house in the states when we lived in South Carolina, I learned that audiobooks keep me awake.  I can stay awake the whole trip with Steve driving, but put me in the drivers seat and I want to go right to sleep.  So I had two books lined up and that is what we listened to.

Wednesday, we left around 8AM to drive the rest of the way home.  I think we pulled into the Schaefer’s place at 5PM.  Lynne had supper waiting for us.  Tobias and Joel unloaded all of their things.  Then we went home.  It was so nice to sleep in our own beds after being gone 2 weeks and 1 day.

Steve goes to Cape Town, South Africa Again!

Sunday morning, after our drive back from Malawi, Steve and Grant Schaeffer left Lusaka at 4AM to drive to Cape Town, South Africa to run in the Two Oceans Marathon.  It took them 4 long days of driving.  They arrived Wednesday evening.

The goal this year was to run it in under 6 hours.  It is a 56K marathon.  They ran it in 6 hours 8 minutes last year.  This year  was cold and raining.  The finish line is on a nice grassy green field.  By the time they crossed it, it was just sloppy, mucky, yucky mud!  They did cross the line in 5 hours and 59 minutes. 

Steve felt much better prepared this year.  The hill training paid off.  Grant kept telling him to go on, but Steve was determined not to leave him.  Last year was Grant’s year and he wouldn’t leave Steve. 

On Monday morning Steve got on a plane and flew back to Lusaka.  He took a taxi to the bus station and got on a bus for Mbala.  He arrived back in Mbala Tuesday morning.  He had been gone for three weeks.  He is a homebody and was so glad to be back home.  But I don’t think he will be stepping back on a bus anytime soon.  We see lots of bus accidents here and after riding on one, we now know why they wreck a lot.

Steve kept texting me all night long telling me were he was.  He thought I might have to drive out to the junction and pick him up at 4 in the morning.  I would get a text that just said: Mpeka.  Then: Kasama.  These are towns on the way.  The last text said: backdoor.  It was 4 AM I was so glad I didn’t have to get up and drive some where that early in the morning to pick him up.

Back to Zambia!

Saturday morning we left Sun n Sand.  It took us 13 hour to arrive back in Lusaka.  We saw a very bad accident on the way home.  It makes you appreciate what the US has.  You also wonder how do they deal with this stuff.  The accident must have just happened.  People were walking down the road to it but haven’t arrived yet.  I wanted to stop, but then what can I do.  I have no medical training.  I don’t speak the language.  I can’t even call 911.  I can pray and so did.

We thank God for our safety in all our traveling.  In the last town before Lusaka we forgot about a big speed bump and the paint has worn off of it.  Steve slammed the brakes, but we still hit it a little to hard.  I think the trailer had lift off for a second or two.  When this has happened before, we stop and check things out.  Everything is usually alright and so this time Steve didn’t stop.  We got into Lusaka and wondered why when we are going slow the trailer is jerking us so much.  The trailer had come unhitched!  The chain was the only thing holding it to our vehicle!  We thank God for protecting us and those around us.  A loose trailer could be very dangerous.


I forgot to tell you that a church from the states comes to help us with these meetings.  The pastor came and preached two sermons for us a day.  The music pastor came and led the singing.  The youth pastor and his wife came and did what ever youth pastors and youth do!!  Several more come and took care of the children: nursery workers and VBS teachers.

We couldn’t do these meetings without their help.  So, Thank you very much Judson Baptist from Tennessee for helping us out this year.  We appreciated it very much.

Thank you to the church members back home for letting us have them for a whole week.  They gave them up for two Sundays.  Thank you for the sacrifice.


On Sunday morning we left very early for Lilongwe, Malawi, where we stayed in the Baptist Mission Guest house over night.  On Monday we drove the remaining 4 hours to Sun n Sand.  We arrived in time for lunch.

The first year here on the mission field we didn’t have this meeting – budget cuts.  As new missionaries we didn’t know what we were missing.  Now we do.  We have now been to two of these meetings.

It is a wonderful time of seeing other missionary friends that we only get to see once a year.  We get to have a blessed time singing and worshiping in English.  Until you have been overseas for a few years can you understand that.  It is just a blessing to sing and worship on your mother tongue.  That is the reason we need to learn ciBemba, so that the people we are witnessing to can hear the gospel message in their own mother tongue. 

The kids get to do VBS.  They loved it this year.  They changed rooms for everything.  Last year you stayed in the same room all morning.  This year music was in one room, story in another, craft in another.  I think this just broke up the morning better for them.  Heather got to be with the youth this year.  Oh my!  My children are growing up faster than I want them to!!

The biggest hit is the swimming pool!  Tobias and Heather can swim a little.  Tobias will go in the deep end, Heather stays away from it.  Lane and Seth actually are showing signs of learning to swim.  They are getting so close.  I’m hoping what while we are home this summer they will get some time to improve these skills.  It is a little sad for me to see other missionary kids diving off the diving board and they are only in 1st grade.  But they live in the city with access to a swimming pool.  Plus it is much hotter where they live.

Another high light for our two youngest is the swings.  They still love to swing.  We are seeing the need to have a swing here in our yard.  Still trying to figure out how to do that.

Swings comp

Seen in Lusaka

We go grocery shopping at Shoprite for most everything on our list.  Then we go to Spar to find things Shoprite didn’t have.  While in Spar on the dog food isle we saw Purina Puppy Chow for $90 US dollars a bag.  I couldn’t believe the price.  I quoted the Zambian Qwatcha price to Steve for him to calculate.  We then were wondering who had that kind of money and were there enough of those people in Lusaka for the store to actually stock this on their shelves?!?!?


You maybe wondering why we go to Lusaka so early for a meeting that doesn’t start until Monday.  So I’ll tell you.

We are driving a vehicle that we don’t own, our mission owns it.  So we have to get “Interpol” on it.  This is a paper giving proof that we have permission to drive the vehicle and to drive it into other countries.  Proof that we haven’t stolen it.  We also needed to get insurance to drive it in Malawi.

So on Thursday morning we left the quest house early to go to a lab and get blood work done.  This is in getting ready to come stateside.  We need to know what our cholesterol levels are.  Steve and I both are eating and will be eating a lot more oatmeal in the next three months.

Steve then dropped us back at the quest house and he went to get Interpol.  He spent the rest of the morning sitting in a queue (line).  At the Interpol office you do all the paperwork in the mornings and then the next day in the afternoon you pick it up.  Steve was getting worried.  He needed to do the paperwork on Thursday morning and pick it up on Friday afternoon.  We were leaving Sunday morning for Malawi. 

His number was never called.  But God took care of us.  Steve was wearing a shirt that had the words “Baptist Mission” on it.  A guy came out of the office, saw his shirt and started up a conversation.  I won’t give the rest of the details, but we got our Interpol.  Next time we will be coming a day earlier.  That was just too close.

The rest of Thursday, Friday, and Saturday were spent running here and there shopping.  Pharmacy, grocery stores, and Live Stock Services where we loaded up on dog food.  This is our last trip to Lusaka before we leave to go on Stateside.  Se we needed to get enough dog food for Vern to last him the six months we are gone.

One of the highlights of coming to Lusaka is seeing other missionaries and their kids.  The kids in our mission call the adults Aunt and Uncle.  All the kids consider each other cousins.

Over a year ago in January, our team members the Adairs came to visit us.  We otherwise only see them in Lusaka and at meetings.  There oldest, Hutch, really likes Tobias.  Last April when we arrived in Lusaka to prepare for this yearly meeting he came out of his room at the guest house asking me, “Where are my kids?”  He wanted to know where my children were, he wanted to play with them. 

This year was no different.  We have stayed in the same room at the guest house every time we have come in for the last year.  Hutch saw that we were there and came right up to see us.  He loves teasing Tobias and playing with him.  They spent a good 15 minutes tickling each other and Hutch telling Tobias, “You stink!” He would then pinch his nose shut.  Next time I looked this is what I saw.  I guess Tobias didn’t stink too bad!

T and H comp

Traveling to our Annual Cluster Meeting

Once a year our cluster gets together for a meeting.  For us we actually start preparing for this meeting a week before it starts.  Actually, three weeks before, I started putting some baked goods in the freezer.  The Monday before the meeting we got the vehicle cleaned, all our laundry done, and packed up. 

On Tuesday March 20th, we left Mbala around 10 AM.  We only traveled 1 1/2  hours to Kasama.   Steve was not going to be back from this trip in time for certain deadlines.  So we needed to stop here and take care of things early.  First stop: DMV.  That is what it is called in America anyways.  This would be the 3rd time Steve has stopped here to get the trailer inspected/papers for the next year.  The first time it was too early: meaning the old papers are still good for some time yet and they wouldn’t do it.  I think the second time, Steve stood in line for forever and got tired of it.  He decided, we don’t need it until this trip, so left.  This time the line was moving and he got it all done.  This time also the guy actually came out and looked at the trailer and we had to turn on all the lights!!!!  They never come out and look at things.  We have gotten the trailer inspection before and didn’t even have the trailer with us. 

We stayed in the mission’s house over night.  We come to realize that where we live in Mbala is a quiet part of town.  We  were just falling to sleep when a fight broke out next door.  I was wishing for our dog Vern, I was wishing for imbedded broken glass on the wall and barbed wire, and I was wishing for a higher wall.  The guard was great and knew what was going on.  It became a chance to pray for the widow lady next door, for her safety, her salvation, and for her family.  Alcohol was the problem.  Alcohol is a big problem here in this country.

Wednesday we drove to Lusaka.