Newsletter (May 22, 2008)

Hi.  Just want to carry on from where we stopped last time.  We are now living in the house right next to TCCA (pronounced as Teaka by everyone here).  It is a big house(!) with three bedrooms, big lounge, dining and an even bigger kitchen.  It has quite a big yard and at the moment it looks rather messy.  It has several big trees, one is avocado and the avocados here are big, double the size of those in New Zealand (though the ones on our tree are tiny!).  There is also a guava tree and a pawpaw tree.

The house belongs to the Evangelical Church of Zambia and the church does not have money to maintain its properties throughout Zambia, so our house is quite run down.  There are quite a number of things that need to be fixed, some are more urgent than others.  As mentioned last time, the property is quite open, so security is a concern.  Most houses (not ours) here have high fence with barbed wire or broken glass on top.  All windows have iron grills inside and out, and doors have another iron gates inside with at least two padlocks (mostly circular ones which are harder to open).  We can’t do much but pray to God that he will protect us from all dangers.

There are a number of shops as well as a market not far away from the house and we can buy many daily needs, fruits and vegetables quite easily.  There is also a post office and a bank with ATM facility, so it is really convenient and we need not go to the city centre very often.  In the city centre there is a very big supermarket and people have taken us there two or three times already.  Last Saturday we went to town in the morning with Phyllis (Timothy’s colleague in the library) and we just walked along the main streets and explored the shops.  Shopping and buying things here are very different from what we have experienced so far.  Many shops are owned by Indians who have been here for generations.  We had quite a leisure stroll and ended up in another supermarket which was not very crowded and surprisingly, it has a very nice café.  Food prices here are similar to New Zealand, so in a way it is very expensive for most Zambians.

People in Ndola are very friendly.  Whenever people see us (especially in church or in TCCA) people will greet us and shake hands with us, or clap their hands, or put their hands on their breasts to show respect.  We just find it difficult to memorise their names or surnames as we don’t know how to pronounce them.  TCCA people are extremely good to us and try their best to make us feel welcome.  This year we have about 38 students and all married students are required to bring the whole family here (which makes it easier to see the personality of a student as he interacts with the family and the College community), so we have quite a big community in campus.

The library has quite a good collection of books but technically it is quite backward.  Luckily the librarian belongs to the now near-extinct breed that grew up in a manual system environment, so to him it is quite fun as life goes through a big circle and back to the time when he first qualified as a librarian.

Internet connection is a problem.  TCCA has dial-up connection and it is slow and expensive, so I wouldn’t use it because of its cost to the College, but we can’t quite function nowadays without internet connection, so many things that should have been done can not be done.  Broadband is slow and expensive to install.  Some people have wireless but again it is very slow.  We need to figure out what will be best for us so we won’t have internet access at home for the time being.  There are talks of very fast wireless coming up soon, so the College is looking into it and perhaps at the end of the year this whole internet connection problem will be solved.  In the meantime we will have to go to internet cafes to check our e-mail.  Last Saturday we went into one and, for the first time since we are in Zambia, managed to read most of the ninety odd messages that we have in our mailbox, but don’t have time to reply to any of them, or send new ones to people.

We attended a church nearby for the past two weeks.  Worship services in Africa are very different from other parts of the world.  It is certainly very lively, but not the kind one normally encounters in the more charismatic churches.  Most churches can not afford to have pastors, and many pastors are found mostly in a few urban churches or they work for NGOs which pay a much better salary.  Not many people can afford to go to a theological college either, unless they get sponsorship from somewhere.  So one of the great needs in the church here is committed leaders/pastors who are well trained.  Another great need would be discipleship training for believers.  Lots of emphasis is placed on evangelism but there is no or very little follow-up once someone becomes a Christian.  So many Christians have very superficial faith and they still have a great fear about witchcraft.  One of the aims of SIM Zambia is discipleship training and it is a very worthwhile and much-needed effort.  Whether we could contribute in this is not clear.  It is still very early days for us and we are not sure about many things yet.

Another interesting thing that we heard of is that there are many Chinese workers in the Copperbelt (but not in Ndola).  The big city 45 minutes’ drive from us is Kitwe, and a Korean missionary there told us that thousands of Chinese are living there.  They do not mix with the Zambians as they only speak Chinese and are living within one or two big compounds all on their own.  We don’t know if we will have the chance of getting to know this community as we are not based in Kitwe, though in our hearts we know that this is a very good outreach opportunity.

Please continue to pray for our safety, our health and the parcels (none have turned up so far).  Please also pray that:

  • Zara’s employment permit will be issued soon (Timothy’s one has been issued).
  • We will be able to find a good church in Ndola which we could relate with.
  • God will lead us into some opportunities to serve him in Zambia.
  • We will be able to adjust to life in Africa soon.  It is very different to that of New Zealand and Hong Kong.

Thank you for supporting us in your prayers.  In Christ.

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