Newsletter (December 18, 2008)

Dear all, Saturday 6 December, was TCCA’s big day—Graduation Day, and the ceremony was held at the Anglican Cathedral.  This was the first time that we attended an African graduation ceremony and it was quite different from those in Hong Kong or New Zealand.  Compared with the universities the number of graduates are very small, but the ceremony took a full two hours (which was counted as short according to some people).  When the graduates marched into the cathedral, they danced in.  That’s why the faculty came in before them, as we couldn’t possibly do it.  Of course the faculty had to wear their gowns and hoods.  This is more or less the first time in his life that Timothy wears such things, and obviously he has none of those.  TCCA did have a gown and cap, but no hood, so his attire looked very odd compared with the rest of the people on stage.

We took the opportunity to take a short break last week and spent three days in South Luangwa National Park, which is in the eastern part of Zambia.  This is the best known national park in Zambia and some tourist guidebooks even say it is one of the best game parks in Africa.  It has very high game densities but relatively few visitors.  It also has many high quality guides and they will bring visitors to experience the park’s remarkable wildlife spectacles, day and night.  However, it is normally very expensive to visit and stay in one of the lodges.  During the rainy season not many tourists go there and most lodges are closed.  So the lodges which remain open together with one of the smaller airlines in Zambia are offering a more affordable two night package to the National Park which covers air fare to and from Lusaka, accommodation, all meals, and all game drives.  We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Luangwa and we saw lots of animals—lions, elephants, giraffes, hippos, buffaloes, warthogs, impalas, baboons, leopards, hyenas, wild dogs, crocodiles and many colourful birds and butterflies.  The lions were very close by, just next to our vehicle.  Leopards are more difficult to spot as they are shy, although in terms of numbers Luangwa has more leopards than lions.  We finally managed to see one at night at a distance.  Our chalet was not too close to the dining and reception area and, after dark, staff had to escort us back to the chalet as lions, elephants and crocodiles could be found within the lodge area.  The chalet itself was very good, facing a lagoon with many hippos resting in the water.

This will be our last newsletter for 2008.  When we look back, a theme that has been mentioned several times by our principal encouraged us greatly and we would like to share it with all of you.  The theme is “I’ll be with you.”  This is what God told Moses.  Moses of course had so many excuses and we probably feel the same—unworthy, incapable, why me, etc., but God says, “I’ll be with you.”  God spoke the same to Joshua.  Joshua was intimated by the task facing him and he felt weak and discouraged, but God says, “Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”  That is also what God speaks through Isaiah, “I will be with you when you pass through the waters, and when you pass through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you.  You will not be scorched when you walk through the fire, and the flame will not burn you.”

After seven months here, we can truly say that God is with us and He is faithful and He looks after us, and we are comforted and encouraged by His words.  We could see His guiding hand in many instances and see that He listens to our and your prayers.  Thanks again for praying for us faithfully.  Thank God that we are able to adjust to life in Zambia, although sometimes, even now, we could feel frustrated and discouraged.  We are continuing to be encouraged to know that we have so many supporters back home.  Thank you.  Do write to us if you have time.  We would love to hear from you.

Wish all of you a very joyful Christmas and a blessed New Year.  In Christ.

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