Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from the Schwarzs here in Zambia!  The teenagers slept in and so we had a late start to our morning.  Steve and Seth don’t sleep in very well.  I forgot to shut the curtain and so the sun was shining in my face at 6 AM.

We did our devotions and then worked together to make breakfast.  It consisted of fresh squeezed OJ, oatmeal bread toast, eggs, and fried potatoes (those are Steve’s specialty).  We also had Krispie Kreme donuts that we had pulled out of the freezer.  I made the dough a few weeks ago and Steve fried them up.  Thanks to Mary Margaret for telling us how good they are out of the freezer.


Steve making donuts!


Lane let these girls in the house the other day.  They love attention from their humans!  Sara and Kenzie, six months old and weighing 50 pounds already.

Merry Christmas to all our family and friends!

Sunday, November 16, 2014


If you were going to drive to our house and we gave you directions, we would tell you about the tall cactus just outside of our gate.  It is the only cactus like it on our road.  Actually, I haven’t seen any thing like it here in Mbala.  When you have arrived at our gate, you will know you are at the right place because of this tall cactus.

Mbala-July 2012 (21)

One Sunday, last spring (that is spring in the northern hemisphere) after church we pulled up to our gate.  While waiting for Tobias and Lane to unlock the gate we notice that several of the tall limbs of the cactus had been cut.  Steve thought maybe the wind blew them down.  I’m thinking no way.  It isn’t even the windy season and it has never happened before.  Clement finally remembered that Zesco (electric company) had come by and told him they needed to be trimmed.  They were getting to close the electric wires.  He informed the guy that is was Zesco’s job to trim stuff away from their electric wires.

So we go in and have lunch.  In the middle of lunch, Steve gets up, gets gloves, and goes outside.  He wants to see how heavy they are.  He proceeds to hauling them all into the yard.  We even had to get the ladder out as some were still stuck up in the cactus.

I didn’t think they should go to waste and so asked Clement to plant some along another wall in our yard.  I like the color green in God’s world and this one I wouldn’t have to water!  Best kind of plant to have when you get 6 to 7 months of NO rain.


My long line of cactus soldiers!


These two pictures were taken soon after they were planted.  I was thinking that here at least we would never have to trim them because of electric wires.  But look closely in the picture.  There are electric wires running right down the outside of our wall.  Next hope – maybe they will not grow too fast.


This picture was taken today!  All but three of them have new growth on them.  It starts out as little as the tip of your pinky finger.  The first picture shows the cactus with no new growth and then this is the same cactus.  It grew this much with no rain and we didn’t water them!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

July Newsletter

First Baptist Bible School in Mbala

Our first Bible School was a success! As Steve was praying and planning the start of Bible School in Mbala, he felt that a different format may help the students better remember what they learn. Bible School is normally held for six days with four courses being taught. It was decided that a two and a half day format with only one or two courses would be more productive. Instead of having three sessions per year, our format will have a session every two months that rotate between the villages we work in. This is a work in progress that will certainly adapt over time to best meet the discipleship needs.

The first Bible School was held at the Kaseshya Church. They had been meeting in the local school up until one week before the Bible school was held. The school started charging rent, so the people began looking for and praying about a piece of land that they could buy.


Just a few months ago, they bought a piece of property and have been hard at work making bricks. All this has been happening during the harvest season! I’m am surprised at this, but it goes to show how serious they are at getting their own place to worship. In order to meet the needs of Bible School, the Kaseshya people constructed a temporary grass building and built a toilet facility. Construction was finished a week before Bible School started.


Leading up to Bible School, Steve was surprised as the applications kept coming in. His expectation was a class of ten people or less. When class began we had eighteen students in attendance! God is good! The students came from five different villages. Two students even came across the border from Tanzania.

For this first session they studied Old Testament Survey I and New Testament Survey I. They had class on Tuesday and Wednesday from 8AM until 6PM followed by examinations on Thursday morning.


Right across the road from the church lives a man who comes to our Bible study during the week. He is a member of another church but he graciously let us do all of our meal preparation at his home. Three women who were not taking the classes did a wonderful job of cooking and serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Other church members opened up their homes for the traveling students to sleep each night. Things went so well that if we didn’t know better, we would think that Bible school in Mbala had been going on for years. The Lord exceedingly and abundantly provided beyond our expectations!


Monday, July 14, 2014

A New Experience for Me - Rita

This past Sunday I took my camera to church for two reasons.  The first one was that I wanted a family picture of us in our Sunday clothes before Tobias leaves us.

The second reason was we were having baptism.


We always stop at this one couple’s house and pick them up and take them to church with us since they are on the way.  Steve said I should take a picture of a Zambian corn crib for my Dad who is a farmer.  So at this couples house I jumped out to take a picture of their corn crib.


When we got to church and had our picture taken, I then took pictures of the two couples already there.  I went in to put my stuff on the school desk and saw the cattle corral out the window.  I decided I would take a picture of that too for my dad.


When I got back outside the lady whose corn crib I took a picture of grabbed my hand and started leading me up the hill.  This was a first for me.  I was being taken somewhere and at first didn’t understand.  She doesn’t speak English and I don’t speak ci-Mambwe. 

But I soon figured it out.  She was taking me to get a picture of a larger corn crib with corn in it.



The pole has notches in it to climb into the crib.



I also got pictures of the corn being shelled and the cattle!  After each picture I had to show everybody the picture on the little screen.  So much laughing was going on!!  They loved to see themselves on my little screen.  Much fun was had all around even though we didn’t understand each others words!  And all this before church.

After church we walked down to the stream and three new believers were baptized.  As we finished up a small herd of cows came to get a drink.  Actually, the boys informed me they were all bulls. 


As we were walking back up the road, I heard a small rumble.  I looked back and another herd of cows were running down the road to the water.  We baptized just in time.  Those cows were thirsty.   They ran into the water right where we were.

It was a wonderful day worshipping our Lord and Savior.  Also, a good day to baptize – much warmer than Saturday was.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Mbala Sunset


From the house roof – not good, too many trees


From up in our tree house.  Much better view! 


Going down.


Zoomed in on the going down!


This one is cool, you can see house roofs of our town.


All gone.


I finally got pictures of the sunset here in Mbala, thanks to Tobias.  So many times it is so beautiful but it doesn’t last long.

Birthday, Graduation, Leaving Africa Party

On May 8th Tobias turned 18! My brain doesn’t think I’m old enough to have a child that old.

We had a party for him the weekend before his birthday. Matthew, one of his friends is in boarding school and this is when it suited them to come too. This was the last time he would get to see Matthew.

Tobias 18th Birthday (11)

Joel, Tobias, and Matthew

As the title says it was his 18th Birthday Party, Graduation from High School Party, and (sad) I’m leaving Africa for college Party.

Tobias 18th Birthday (14)

Eighteen candles make a lot of light!

Tobias 18th Birthday (1)

Trick candles!!! Never had this kind before. He blew and blew and the flames just kept coming back! :)

Tobias 18th Birthday (8)

Often when our three families get together the kids have to line up shortest to tallest for the food line. I have never gotten a picture and so wanted one while all four kids are still here in Africa. As you can see, Tobias is the tallest, but he has two years on Joel and Matthew. They have time to catch up.

Tobias 18th Birthday (3)

Opening presents

Tobias 18th Birthday (7)

Fun times visiting with friends


One week after his birthday Steve and Tobias did a Father / son hike with two nights camping.

Tobias did all the planning. Steve didn’t just want to walk on the road from Mbala all the way to the falls. So Tobias got on Google Earth trying to see if he could find trails. He did and they didn’t get lost!! There are no signs to guide you through the bush.

Improvements have been made to the falls area. There now are guard rails! They have places to camp. They also have showers and flush toilets!!

It took them longer to hike it than they expected, so when they got into cell coverage they called for me to come pick them up.


Thursday, June 5, 2014

Christmas and Easter Celebrations

We had two wonderful celebrations and I have yet to write about them.  So I am going to combine them here for you.  Better late than never telling you.

Our two churches in Kaseshya and Chupa got together and planned the Christmas Celebration.  Here in Zambia Christmas is celebrated at church.  The celebration was in a village between the two places in the school there.

The service started at 8AM.  We sang songs, some of them were Christmas carols.  Then Steve preached on Christ’s birth.

We then walked to a stream where six were baptized.



Lane timed the walk on the way back, 45 minutes.  We got sunburned!!

When we got back to the school we celebrated the Lord’s Supper together.  This was the first time for those that were just baptized and for the church in Chupa.

While all this was happening, men and women were slipping out to go help cook our noon meal.  The chickens had to be killed, plucked, and cooked.  Fresh Chicken.


That is one big pot of inshima!!  The fire is right beside the pot next to the wall.


Serving up the food.


Women visiting while cooking!


Waiting on the food.


It started pouring while we were eating. So we hung around a while waiting for it to stop.  It didn’t!

The Easter Celebration was held in Zombe village. This village is an in between point for Kaseshya and Chupa.  For a few months now, this has been a preaching point for Steve on Tuesdays.

This was a weekend long effort.  On Friday night half of the Jesus Film was shown, followed by preaching.

On Saturday they did evangelism in two different villages.  Then finished the Film in the evening with a sermon again.

On Sunday we had a wonderful Easter Service with the two churches and the preaching point.

The women cooked up a delicious Zambian meal of chicken, nshima, and a veggie.


Before the service.  It ended up being too windy and so we took the tarp down.


Double Rainbow on Easter morning!!




We got a few rain drops on us, but mostly just had passing clouds.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Mud and Ministry

Our last post was about water.  Well, all that rain is making a lot of mud for us to play in.   It also makes it harder for Steve to do ministry.

On Sunday morning we set out for Chupa village.  We haven’t taken the new road since the middle of January.  It is only made by men with hoes and shovels.  No rock or dirt was hauled in.  So the road going across the dumbo (swamp) is just swamp mud piled up to make a road.  It is very slick stuff.

The way we go now is a more direct route, but it is through the bush and less traveled.  This means it is very slow going.  At one point in this little two wheel track a spring runs out onto the road. On Saturday we had some heavy down pours.  This little spring was a rushing creek.  It washed away sections of the road going down the hill.

Steve just went kind of fast, afraid he might get stuck.  If I was driving I would have stopped at each section trying to figure out the best way to go.  I just watched the side of the road and noticed that water was coming out every-where the whole way down the road!  The land is too saturated and the water is just running off.

We came to a corner in the road that is usually dry and got stuck. I could not open my door as it was in the mud!


The guys climbed out and Steve got the high-lift jack down off the roof.  Jimmy went down the road to the farm and came back with a hoe.  Three men were on the corner talking when we got stuck right in front of them.  Three more rode up on bicycles. So we had help.


They jacked up the back corner and got some cut pieces of timber to put under the tire. Then because of all the water and mud the jack didn’t want to go down. Steve got it part way down, but it was also going side-ways. So they had to move the boards and then they rocked the car, which still didn’t work.

Clement and Jimmy (who took off their shoes to save them) went running sock footed down the road and came back with some long pole like tree branches.  They positioned this behind the back tire and four men used the pole like a jack to lift the vehicle.  Thus  “African Jack.”  It worked!!!  We got our jack out. 

We jacked up the front and went through the whole same process again.  Jack went up but not down.

We finally had boards under two tires, and lots of sticks laying sideways for Steve to drive over.  He backed it right out of the mud hole.  Thanks to a logging truck that got stuck earlier in the week on the other side of the road we had lots of wood to use and didn’t need to cut any.  But we do carry an axe in the car.


At this point, one and a half hours has passed. Steve had been laying in the mud.  I figured we would turn around and go home.  Nope, Steve was determined we were going to church.  Steve also didn’t think we could make it back up the hill.  I’m thinking we can’t get through this mud hole!

Steve drove on the other side of the road where all the sticks were from someone else getting stuck.  The back tire did get stuck again, but it was easily fixed.  Sticks were placed around it and out he drove.

A little side note.  Every time we are out in the village, when we get back in the car we all use germ-x.  This has rubbed off onto Clement our Zambian ministry partner.

We thanked they guys and they road off.  Steve, Clement, and Jimmy tried to wash off their hands and arms in the mud puddles.  Clement smiles and asks, “Can you please pass the germ-x?”  We all had a good laugh.

Just down the road is Stanzia Farms.  They are harvesting their Eucalyptus trees.  They lay them down right across the road and we have to drive through the field. Steve and Clement decided to walk that before we tried to drive through it.  It ended up being solid, so we drove through it and on to church.

At church we asked about the rain and which way we could possibly go to get back home.  They all tell us a lot of rain has fallen that side (pointing).  What about crossing the swamp to Mulunda?  They all shake their heads NO.  What about going to and crossing the end of the swamp which is up near Kaseshya and then we could take that main road back.  Again heads shake NO.

The only other way out is to continue down the walk path to Landula village which is 7 kilometers away. After that it was another 5 km out to a main road. They said the buses are still running on that side, so we should make it out.

I, Rita, have been on that road once maybe two or three years ago.  It crosses another part of the swamp and was bad.  Steve was on this road just a year ago and it was very bad then.  The Zambians described our vehicle as dancing as it went down this road!

We were in for a nice surprise. The road has been fixed properly.  No mud, rounded up ditches away from the road, and rock hauled in. The swamp was full of water, but the road was dry.

Once we got to that road it was a pleasant trip back. The way we have been going to Chupa is the most direct route.  It is about 22 km to get there from our house but takes about 45 minutes. The fastest way takes about 35 minutes but is 28 km.  The way we came home after church ended up being a 38 km drive.

It was a nice drive though.  I, got to see the village Steve and Clement want to start working in this April. Steve also got to experience the newly graded road. This will be the best way to get to that village.

On Wednesday, Steve and Clement went to Chupa for Bible Study. They drove the fastest way and parked the car at the headman’s house near the swamp.  Then they got their bikes down off the roof and walked /biked the rest of the way in.  When they got home there were more muddy clothes that needed to be washed.

Steve was in Kasama that Thursday and Friday.  It was a supply trip and our vehicle needed its 100,000 km check-up. Steve found rain suits (jacket and pants) for him and Clement.

So that Sunday they again parked the car and biked the rest of the way in.  This time wearing gum boots, rain pants, and jackets.   All of this may seem extreme, but it is a small price to pay for the Word of God to go forth in life changing power!

Saturday, March 22, 2014


Water - we need it in so many ways. We drink it. We use it to wash our clothes. We use it to wash the dishes. We use it to clean our house and vehicle. We use it to water our garden.

Right now we are in the rainy season. The rainy season officially starts at the end of October, but it doesn’t rain a lot then. By December it is raining on a regular basis, as in everyday! Sometime in the middle of January the rain steps up its pace. I call them gully washers. A lot of rain is falling most everyday. In February there is usually about a 1 week break from this rain. This February that didn’t happen. Although, the first week of March we had a whole week where it only rained once.  We had sunshine and blue skies.   We are loved it. This must be our late Feb. break. We are also loving the green grass that all this rain is giving us.

Like some of you in the States, we are on town water. But unlike you we cannot just open the facet and get water anytime we want. The water is sent most of the time twice a day, around 6 AM and again at 6PM. So you have to store your water so that when you open the facet you will have some.

We have a dry erase marker board on the kitchen wall where I try to keep track of the water on a four week cycle. Did it come or not? When the water comes for two weeks straight, you start to forget to go look. Also, Steve looks when he comes back from morning exercise. If he doesn’t exercise one day, then I need to remember to go look. Keeping track of the water coming helps us on our usage. If it didn’t come, maybe I will not do the wash that day. Also, we limit the amount of water on baths.

In the middle of January the water didn’t come for 5 days. We also spent the week leading up to this dry time forgetting to check up on the water. So we were not as prepared as we could have been.

The Thursday of that dry spell was a nice sunny day. So Steve and our worker, Clement, built a rain gutter to catch the rain at the shed next to our water storage well. It drains right into the well. Thursday night we had one of our gully washer rains and it almost filled the empty well. When this nice rain came, we were at the point of going the next day to our friends outside of town to fill up 55 gallon water drums.

Once the water company got the part to fix their pump we had great water for two weeks. Then something happened and no water for 5 days again. Five days seems to be a magic number for water not to come.

This time we were better prepared. We have four barrels with water stored in them. By limiting our water and with the help of the rain we didn’t need to load up the barrels to get more.

Whatever the problem, it was fixed and water came. One day later Steve had all the barrels full again for the next time. We now have 6 barrels. So if we manage to keep track of the water coming, we will be prepared for the next water outage.


The blue pipe / rain gutter on the shed.  In the foreground is our mud brick, cement plastered water storage well.  A piece of plywood and a truck bed cover keep the leaves and dirt out.