Newsletter (July 3, 2008)

Continuing from our previous news, we quite enjoy the traditional Zambian meals.  The main staple of Zambia is maize and from that they have millie meal.  From millie meal they make nshima and they have it every day, equivalent to us taking rice.  Zambians love nshima and without it a meal is just not complete.  Nshima is very plain so it has to be taken with other food or gravy.  It is also much more filling than rice.  The meals that we were invited to attend were banquet type for many people and they include nshima, of course, and rice.  They will come with one or two dishes of meat (chicken, beef or fish) and some vegetables.  They have a special way of cooking vegetables which is very delicious to us and Zara is keen to learn the secret of it.  Perhaps you can try it when we come back after two years!  Normally they will eat with their right hands and that’s what we have done as well!  This must be the first time that we eat with our hands and we need to practise more so that it won’t look that messy!  We have to emphasise that ordinary Zambian folks don’t have the luxury to eat meat most of the time, many of them (even middle-class employees) can’t even afford three meals a day.  Now that we have been here nearly two months we are starting to realise how poor people here are, and that even some TCCA staff are struggling to survive.

One night during the Graduation Enrichment Seminar we were queuing for food.  Timothy started talking to the person in front and found out that he just arrived and did not have a place to stay yet.  So we invited him to stay with us.  He turned out to be the principal of a Bible college in the North Western Province.  He stayed with us for two nights and we had very good fellowship with him.  He shared with us his ministry and he gave us much good and wise advice about Zambian culture and living in Zambia.  We enjoyed very much having him with us.

We have to thank God for letting us come across and know some very fine Christians.  Another person a great help to us is a handyman who has done so much work for us.  John Kaniki is a very resourceful and intelligent person who can do all sorts of work, from woodwork to electrical things, big or small.  His workmanship is very good.  The best thing is that he is a very devoted Christian and is very honest and trustworthy.  He is also very good in explaining things to us, whether it be language or culture.  Before we arrived we prayed that the worker who worked for the Evanses (the family who used to live in our place) could work for us again, as he was highly recommended to be a person one could rely on.  Well we did not manage to get him back (not even able to meet him at all) but God has provided an even better friend to us.  (Your prayer together with ours has been answered in a special way.  “He is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us.”)  John treats us as his good friends and he will just go all out to help us.

We have to go to Lusaka on Tuesday to collect our employment permits which are finally ready.  We were told the cheapest and most reliable way is to take the post bus down to Lusaka.  The bus is supposed to leave at 6 hour but we were told we should be at the bus station at around 5 hour, in order to queue for the tickets which can not be obtained in advance.  The bus will leave any time when the bus is full (and in our case it left at 5:45 hour).  Well John not only arranged for a taxi to take us, he also came with the taxi!  He just wanted to make sure we could get on the bus and that everything was ok.  We were so grateful for him to be around as we were not too alert at that hour.

These are just two examples of how God has let us meet good believers at this point in our lives.  There are many more people that we are so glad to have met in these eight weeks that we have been here, as one way or another we have been helped and encouraged by them.

We mentioned above that our employment permits are finally ready for collection and we would like to thank you for your prayers.  They came just in time as our extended visas expire at the end of this week and we do not need to extend them again.  People warned us that things may not be smooth when we go to collect them at the immigration headquarters.  We even brought some extra clothing with us in case we had to stay overnight in Lusaka.  However, the process was extremely smooth and we finished all the procedures and got our employment permits within an hour of our arrival in immigration.  It seems that things have improved a lot recently.  Because of this we even had time to do some shopping in Lusaka before taking the post bus back at 13:00 hour.  Praise the Lord for being so good to us!

We would also like to give thanks to God that No. 2 and No. 6 of our parcels from New Zealand arrived this week.  They took nearly three months to come.  We are very hopeful that the other five will all turn up soon.  Some of the things in these two parcels are items that we really need.  So it is good to get them.  Again thanks so much for praying for their safe arrival.

Nearly everyone here has cell phone.  We guess it is cheaper than having a landline.  For a landline you need to pay a monthly rental for the line, and all calls are charged, local or not, so most families don’t have a landline.  The phone book of the whole of Zambia is thinner than the Otago phone book!

There is something strange happening recently at our place.  Every now and then one or two sacks of dried leaves are dumped into our front yard.  At first we thought they were put there by someone we knew and thinking that we would check with them first so we did not touch them.  Several days later they were gone.  So someone must have got into our property despite the fact that the gates are locked.  No one we knew had anything to do with them.  Then another sack was seen in the front yard a few days ago.  This time we took it away.  The day when we came back from Lusaka, another two sacks were dumped in the front yard!  We threw them out again.  The same happened yesterday.  One of our Zambian friends felt that it might be a way for people to test whether the house is deserted.  Hopefully this is the case and those who were doing it realised it is not a target for some evil motives.  Actually quite a number of other field workers did comment that we were not security conscious enough.  We do not have fierce barking dogs nor have we hired any guards at all (most missionaries that we know have both).  We only rely on praying (and your prayers) and trusting that the Lord will send angels to protect us.

That’s all for now. Perhaps next time we will tell you more about the church that we attend, as well as a vernacular service (held in the Bemba language mostly) that we went to recently.  Thanks for all your prayers and thanks also for the messages that some of you have sent us.  We greatly appreciate that and many thanks.  In Christ.

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