Friday, June 26, 2009

Seeing and Experiencing all of Zambia

Hello, hello from Zambia...in fact, we have now flown back to Lusaka from Livingstone and are spending out last of 11 full days in country here before starting the journey home tomorrow...well, even in 2009 we sometimes struggle with technology and I wasn't able to jump online to blog for the last few days in Africa...let's see, where do I start with trying to update you on some moving and some very interesting experiences we've had over the last 4 days...I'll try to give you a summary of each day so you can know what we've been up to in our second week here...

Tuesday--this was a day spent driving all the way from the Copper Belt in the northern part of Zambia down to the southern part of Zambia...at our lunch stop in Lusaka we got a personal thank you from the founder of World Bicycle Relief, FK Day, who had recently flown in from Chicago...the trip featured lots of sleeping, lots of conversations, lots of journal writing, and seeing much of the geography of this land...we arrived at Choma and had a late dinner with a great friend of ours named Fordson Kafukwe who is the Southern Region Director for WV Zambia and came to WA and spoke in chapel back in 2003! He is a visionary and deeply personal friend to all and was a major help in our visit to this area of Zambia...we have never spent any real time in this region and were anxious to hear about and see the new work WV Zambia is starting in the Moyo community here...

Wednesday--we started off this day getting a presentation about the desperate needs of community in Moyo and the vision for areas of opportunity for response in the days an years ahead...major needs include a high school, clean water, health facilities, and help with food security...it is a group of communities where over half of the households are taking care of an orphan, the malaria rate is close to 70%, and 20% of the children under 5 are severely malnutritioned, and only 25% of households have adequate food throughout the year...it is clearly one of the poorest regions in a country classified in the bottom 10% in the Health and Development Index ratings...we made a journey in Land Cruisers back into this rural area often affected by drought and were deeply privileged to be part of an all community meeting head under the biggest tree in the village (sounds like Africa, doesn't it?) where World Vision announced to the people and leadership for the first time that they would begin a program of community development and child sponsorship beginning in October...they were claps and cheers from everyone who attended...in this area, the Chief (called His Highness) who is the regional leader for many of the different tribes present gave his presence and support to this step which is very important for its long term success...

We went up to a high plateau where the new high school is to be built and were shown the work that the people of the community regularly do getting the land and foundation and bricks set by hand from 4-9 am before getting back to their normal farming and community and home duties...this lack of a secondary school has been identified as the greatest need in the community by its own residents...it is fascinating in this region as many of the schools that function were built by missionaries in the 30's-50's but have been turned over to the government as Zambia has become independent...they are often dilapidated and do not serve to create a good learning environment...

To be honest, the educational needs as one single issue we have seen overwhelmed us...students sitting on stones outside to learn, 20 desks for 600 students, and a dropout rate of 95% when students finish basic school in the ninth grade (and most of them have to get married to survive at that point)...one of the more powerful experiences for us was visiting the "Dorms" where students who travel even to the basic school where we were at spend the week because it is too far to go home...they travel alone and must bring all the food they will eat or cook over an open fire for the next five days...and then they will walk home often several miles for the weekends...the dorms are an open area with blankets on a cement floor stacked closely next to each other and a bag and some clothes for each student is hung on a nail above them...there were about 50-60 boys and girls in separate dorms in an area the size of one of our bigger lodge rooms in Zambia...some of the boys were reading their Bibles and waved as we walked thru and the girls were soon singing and dancing with the girls in the female dorm...the contrast to our own educational experiences as students in America is just about too great to even make a comparison...you walk away feeling and thinking it can't continue to be this way...

The chief said some interesting things while speaking to us on this day...he talked about being a community that has been forgotten, and yet still mentioned that he believed they could make the journey from Egypt to Canaan in the future as He saw God's people offering help and hope in practical ways...it was a visit finished with of course a short soccer game with the whole community watching...Christy was the star of the show as the Africans continue to wonder at the play of our girls! And I got my WV friend Tony Frank to make his African debut on the pitch as well!

As we drove away, many of the conversations focused on what our response should be...and my prayer is that WA, Leyden, Cornerstone, and many, many others will be part of God's Kingdom activity in this part of the world in the days ahead...it is a powerful thing to see the need with your own eyes and hear the invitation to respond with your own ears...

After a late lunch where Caleb and Annalee has great visits with their sponsored children, we turned our bus toward Livingstone, our next stop on the journey...unfortunately, the bus didn't seem to want to go all that way and broke down about an hour into our journey...it turned into another Zambian experience featuring collecting wood to build a fire, starting it in non traditional ways, and sitting around a campfire after pushing the bus off the road while we waited for a replacement to come pick us up...our friend Fordson drove down and hung out with us till we were picked up and all in all, most of us would say it added a pretty wild and fun dimension to our trip...the stars in Zambia are beyond measure in the African wilderness and we were thankful for God's provision and protection as we rolled into our lodge in Livingstone later than expected on Wednesday night!

Thursday--after a few hours of sleep we headed out in chilly Livingstone to our Safari day! We crossed via boat to Botswana and headed to the Chobe Game Park, one of the best in the world...we took a cruise on the Chobe river to see crocidiles, hippos, and all kinds of birds and reptiles in their natural habitat, and after a great lunch at the safari lodge, we set out in vehicles on land to see many, many elephants, giraffes, warthogs, kudu, impala, and other animals...it was a beautiful day and the pictures should be spectacular...we had dinner Thursday night at our favorite pub in Livingstone and got a great night of sleep after a long and busy 36 hour stretch...

There is a great deal of tension when you move from a poverty-stricken village one day to a beautiful tourist area the next one...and yet that tension is what we as Americans have to struggle with and battle as we consider what it means to live in our world with the other world still in the front of our minds...

Friday--another early morning for us as we headed to one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, Victoria Falls, which runs between Zambia and Zimbabwe...it was gorgeous, featured rainbows as the sun came up, and soaked us as we walked thru the massive amounts of spray that rise up from the bottom of the 400 foot drop...you are absolutely overwhelmed with the grandness of what our God has created, and the Zambians are so very proud of this piece of creation in their land! We also had a chance to shop in a real African market and are coming home with all sorts of fun things and African artifacts for you all (at least I hope you get something!)

In just an hour or so, we will head out for a final dinner here in Zambia and have a final extended team conversation about the moments that have touched us most deeply and the ideas and questions we are coming home with as to how this trip calls us to respond to what we have seen and experienced, and how are lives must be different as a result...your prayers are deeply appreciated for this final crucial dimension of the trip and for safety as we head to London tomorrow morning and to Chicago on Sunday...we are so very anxious to see you all and tell stories in the tradition of our Zambian friends...

We hear it is hot in Chicago...we are used to 75 and 50 with no clouds here!! I will try to send a few final reflective thoughts from London as a last blog...your comments and prayers have encouraged and blessed us more than you know!

With Love on the last Day in Zambia, CHIP

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you! Our family has been wondering how things are going with you all and of course, Caleb. I am so thrilled Caleb was able to meet Miyanda! We prayed this would be able to happen. We are happy to know you are all safe and have enjoyed some of the sites Africa takes such pride in. We look forward to lots of pictures, both real and spoken. We will pray for safety in travel and also good health. Please give Caleb a hug and have him give Margaret a hug from his mother...I am thankful for her being on this trip.
Love to all,
Jana Polivka

Anonymous said...

Oh my! The tears were flowing as I read your description of your Zambia experiences! Thank you for creating such a great picture for us. Our God is AWESome! and I am so grateful for the work he's doing in and through all of you. We'll be praying for safe travels. Michael and Thomas: I LOVE YOU!
Karen

Anonymous said...

Chip,
Thank you again for sharing your beautiful words and creating a picture for us back home of your experiences in Africa. We are most grateful for you and for this opportunity for the whole team. We look forward to the many ways God will be using this experience in each of your lives for His honor and glory. Huge hugs are awaiting you all at home...peace to your heart and the prayers are still flowing!
The Curatos

Anonymous said...

Chip: Mom and I feel so blessed over the past few years to be able to develop a " kinship" with your students and the folks in Zambia. Thanks so much for taking the time to share your experiences in " real time" --technology is so amazing Enjoy the fellowship with your team -- tavel safe and God Bless! Dad

Natalie said...

chip, i miss it.
-graf