Newsletter (November 20, 2008)

Dear all, Rain has finally come and we have thunderstorms virtually every day.  Normally the weather is fine in the morning and then gets quite hot around midday.  After that rain would come with thunderclaps and lightning.  The lightning and thunder are spectacular (and sometimes quite scary), and they can do a lot of damage if one is not careful.  Every year there are people killed by them.  They can also damage a lot of electrical and electronic equipment.  We are advised to unplug fridges and computers from the power outlets during  thunderstorms as a precaution.  We have installed a lightning arrester in our house and hopefully it will provide some protection to our fridge and computers.  However in TCCA we don’t have any such device and everyone stops work and switches off the computers, pulls the plug out and sits still (or walks about) until the rain stops.

African nights during summer are very noisy.  There are all sorts of noises and we don’t know what they are.  Some are very loud and if you wake up in the middle of the night, sometimes you can hardly get back to sleep.  Some we thought were cell phone rings but later on found out they were something else.  We thought they were from birds as one kind of noise comes and goes quite quickly.  One evening we asked our good friend Ba John what the loud noise was.  (Ba [name] is a polite and respectable way to address people, so people call us Ba Woo or Ba Timothy/Zara.)  He stopped and listened and then looked up and asked, “Which ones are you talking about?  I could hear several noises.”  In the end we know that the loud noise is actually from an insect, the noise coming from the vibration of its body as it moves and flies.  Then there are noises from crickets, toads or frogs, birds, and other creatures.  Perhaps there are owls and bats as well.

Talking about bats, a huge population of fruit bats migrates south to Zambia from Congo every year around this time.  Fortunately there are not a lot of them around TCCA but we drove past a street not far from our house and saw thousands of them flying around some trees during broad daylight.  They are a nuisance, in addition to a very eerie sight as you can see many of them hanging on tree branches.

We finally bought a vehicle as it is much more convenient to visit people and do shopping, especially during the hot and rainy season.  Cars here are not cheap but the one we got is reasonable, a 1996 Toyota Corolla.  So we really need a Zambian driver’s licence now.  We can still use our international licence which is valid for one year.  Previously people could just convert their New Zealand licences but now we have to take an oral test.  There are many obstacles to getting a Zambian driver’s licence and it can be very time-consuming, so please pray that the process will be smooth for us, and we will not encounter any corrupt practice along the way.

Computer viruses are a problem here.  People do not understand the seriousness of this problem, and even if they understand, they don’t have money to buy antivirus software.  What they have in their computers may not be up to date or effective.  So it is not surprising to learn that some computers in the library were affected last week.  When I tried to clean the computers, I then realised that it is a very difficult task.  The computers that we have are running on some outdated Windows XP.  The antivirus software that I have is too advanced for that, so I have to use another one.  When I tried to update the Windows copies, I discovered most of the computers have no modems.  Then my colleague found an old modem which she kept for many years and I managed to install it.  Then I found out the Windows that we have are not “genuine”.  I am sure TCCA does not use pirated copies, but somehow the computers that they were supplied with have faked copies of Windows installed.  In the end I managed to clean the computers but I am not sure if everything was cleaned.  Obviously we need to replace our computers but TCCA just doesn’t have money to do it.  There are also many faked computer products in Zambia.  We once bought some HP printer cartridges and later on found out that they were not genuine and could not be used.

The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) publishes an annual Global Hunger Index and it ranks 88 developing countries according to three indicators: the proportion of people who are calorie deficient, or undernourished; the prevalence of underweight in children under the age of five; and, the under five mortality rate.  In 2008, 33 countries around the world have alarming or extremely alarming levels of hunger.  The Democratic Republic of Congo scored the worst on the Index, followed by Eritrea, Burundi, Niger, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Ethiopia—all African countries.  Zambia is ranked 78 and has an “alarming” level of hunger.  Just last week we read in the newspaper that a school in a rural region in Zambia had to close because the pupils have to help the parents to search for food.  Many people have stopped at our gate and asked for food, money, jobs or piecework.  People in urban areas like Ndola are actually better than those in the rural areas, but we do know many people in Ndola do not have enough to eat, and some families in the TCCA community are struggling as well.

It is not as hot now, so our energy levels have improved.  Zara was very busy last week as two pastors were staying with us attending the Copperbelt Ministerial College held at the Grace Reformed Baptist Church.  They were the same two who came in July.  Thanks very much for your prayers and we are feeling much better, although Timothy’s knee is still feeling painful.  In Christ.

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