Newsletter (August 14, 2008)

Dear all, We have had visitors staying with us in the past two weeks.  The Reformed Baptist church here has established a ministerial college which runs weeklong courses for pastors and church leaders every three months.  Two pastors from outside Ndola were assigned to stay with us in the first week.  We know Zambians must have nshima during meal time, but we don’t know how to prepare it.  So when we offered to host two participants we requested that they would not mind having rice instead of nshima.  The two pastors were gracious enough to accept whatever we cooked for them.

After three months, here are some of our observations about the food and diet of Zambians.  For a proper meal given to visitors, the most important dish is chicken; Zambians take lots of salt—especially in plain rice, with hard boiled eggs … they also take very sweet things, two to three, some even four(!), teaspoons of sugar in a cup of coffee or tea, and they love icecreams.

We managed to talk to the pastors quite a lot in the evening and learnt more about Zambia and Zambian culture and they would also ask us things about New Zealand and Hong Kong.  Sometimes they would share with us their ministries and what life is like as a pastor in a small town.  In a nutshell, it is usually hard and difficult.  Most of them struggle financially, so the wives normally have to work to support the family.  They need resources for pastoral work but they are unlikely to have money to buy them, nor the technology to access them.  They just plod on faithfully, shepherding the people of God.  That is one of the reasons why fewer graduates from theological colleges are getting into pastoral ministry.

In the second week, a visiting lecturer of TCCA from America stayed with us.  He has lived in Thailand for a while, and then as a youth pastor in Hong Kong for two years.  He is a gifted linguist and can pick up a language very quickly.  He is one of the few people that we know that can speak and pronounce Cantonese words correctly.  (Cantonese is tonal and has nine tones and it is very difficult to pronounce the tones right, even for Cantonese themselves.)  He was so excited to be able to eat some of the food he missed, even though it is very difficult to cook authentic Chinese meals here because of the lack of Chinese ingredients.  He used chopsticks and bowls very skilfully too.  He and his wife and four kids are now back in the States and they are keen to go back to Hong Kong or come here to teach in TCCA.  He is also an arborist, photographer and artist, a very talented man indeed.

When the deputy director of SIM Zambia visited us last month, he mentioned something about inverters (a device for converting direct current into alternating current).  We had never heard of such a thing before as we would have no use of it in Hong Kong or New Zealand.  He explained what it is and it seems that it will be a good thing to have in Zambia.  What we need then is the inverter, a battery and a battery charger.  When there is no power, we can turn on the inverter and it will convert DC from a battery into AC which we can use it to run lowwattage appliances.  He knew a group of Koreans would be coming to Zambia in the last week of July and he said he would see if they could bring several inverters and chargers here.  It turned out that the Koreans did bring some to Zambia and we got one about two weeks ago.  We thank the Lord for the provision and the timing is just right.  Recently the power supply has been quite erratic and we had several nights when power was lost and the inverter came just in time to help us through the night.  It is not powerful enough to boil water or to cook, but it can run our computers and a table lamp which is a big help to us.

Our water pipes link to a borehole in TCCA.  Water in the borehole is pumped to the water tank and when the power is out, the pump automatically stops as well.  We will have no water if the water from the tank has run out.  When power comes back again, people need to turn the pump on, water will be pumped up to the tank and then we will have water again, but then we need to “bleed” the water to get rid of the air bubbles.  After a while this becomes a pattern which we are quite used to now.  As the house is getting water from TCCA, we are not supposed to pay water charges to the local water company.  However, they keep on sending bills to the property and the Evanses had written to them many times over the years but it seems that the message is not getting through. Recently some fierce looking men came to the gate and told Zara that they were coming to disconnect the water.  They left after Zara told them to contact the landlord first.  Last week we received a bill of more than 7 million Kwachas!  We don’ t think we will do anything and will send the bill to the church and they surely know what is going on.

Our last parcel from New Zealand finally arrived and we praise and thank God that He looked after and took care of them, even though they are very minor matter.  Our gracious Lord has answered your prayers for their safe arrival.  Thanks so much.

Labour here is very cheap.  The city council was trimming the trees along the road outside our house.  They had no chainsaw and the workers used axes or saws to cut the branches off.  After the branches came down they used the same tools to chop them up.  So every day they could only do a small number of trees.  We had the need to strengthen the two corners of our front fence and workers spent a whole day trying to get a metal bar up from the yard in order to reuse it.  The other day we saw on the roadside of an area in the outskirts, several heaps of rocks and pebbles of various sizes.  They were for sale and looking closely, we discovered they were crushed by hand; the work done by women!

We came across another two Chinese workers in the supermarket.  They work with a construction company based in Lusaka.  We hope to contact them later on.  We will be visiting the Chinese doctor again this Saturday.  Please pray that the visit will be fruitful.

Timothy saw some patches in his left eye and so we went to see the eye specialist two weeks ago.  We are very thankful that there is a specialist in this area in Ndola.  There are only a few in the whole country and very often the specialist is out of town.  It seems that he has some floaters, otherwise things are fine.  He was given some tablets and some eyedrops and told to go for a followup session.  Please pray that his eyes are ok.  Working in a dim environment and using a computer a lot can strain the eyes easily.

Thanks again for praying for us faithfully.  We are experiencing the grace and blessings of God here and we know God listens to your prayers.  We are much encouraged to know that we have so many supporters back home.  Thank you.  Hope you won’t find these letters too long or boring.  The church’s photocopying cost must have gone up quite a lot in the past few months!

We read that there were a number of storms hitting the North Island and the resulting rains caused some flooding, and then there were snows.  Hope you all are coping well with the cold and wet weather.  Two weeks ago, it rained a little bit in the morning and this is extremely rare.  Our longest serving missionary said this was only the second time in his 30+ years in Zambia that he has seen rain in August.  In Christ.

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