Sunday, October 18, 2009

Mosquitoes, stars and fireworks

Where do I begin to tell you about our first day in Lusaka? Do I tell you about how tired we were when we clamored off BA flight 255 at 6:00 am local time (9 pm PDT) after a 10 ½ hour flight from London? Or should I tell you about the beautiful purple flowering trees surrounding the airport terminal as we walked fro m the plane across the tarmac to the customs and immigration desk? I thought about spending some time writing about the group of Anglican women, their crisply starched and pressed habits providing incredible and sharp contrast to their beautiful, glistening black skin. As we left the terminal with our bags (By the way, every single bag made it here this year. Yeah) they were in two columns on either side of the promenade singing and dancing a welcome song. Did it matter that they weren’t there to greet us but another group of Brits who had come to Lusaka for much the same reasons as us. We took it as a welcome to us.

Then there was the helpless sense of being in a strange country, knowing few people at all and wondering when Chimwemwe, our host and friend from last year, would be there with our van to take us to our lodge for some needed rest and washing. She arrived and for those of us who were here last year, it was awesome to see her striding across the street to greet us. What a beautiful sight and what a relief it was to reunite with her. She is everything her name implies – she radiates joy and beauty inside and out.

I could have written about our lodging accommodations at the Vineyard Guest House. They are homey and comfortable and the garden area is filled with Palm Trees, Jacaerinas, Bird of Paradise plants and other numerous, indescribable plants. There is a thatched roof lanai as well as a slate tiled patio that is sheltered from the sun and is a very pleasant place to let the African breeze sweep across your face (and blow the mosquitoes away. We sat outside last night before dinner, later into the evening (at least Myung and I did – the rest were already in bed) and this morning. Last night, we had the added treat of watching colorful aerial fireworks exploding across the night sky as Zambians prepare to celebrate their Independence Day on October 24th. When the mortars weren’t showering the night sky with their variegated display , God had put on an even better show with the stars of the southern hemisphere glistening with God-given radiance.

If one thing stood out about the day, it was our trip to Kabanana. As we passed The Balm of Gilead’s Green water tower standing sentinel over the school and the beautiful children we met and worked with last year, a wave of profound emotion swept over me as I remembered so fondly all that we did and all whom we met last year.Our first stop Monday morning will be there as we deliver school supplies, clothes and soccer balls to Rachel Kasanya, her staff and the students at Balm of Gilead. Just a few more miles down a winding, dusty road however, we came to a roadside stop near a government school. Madame Winnie Takema was there to greet us and show us the way to “The Healing Place School.”

We pulled up to the familiar chants of “Ey Yah, Ey yah.” About 40 – 50 of the students from the school had come out on a Saturday to welcome us with song and dance. They were wearing the bright orange and green shirts that had been purchased with money from Calvary’s 2009 Vacation Bible School. To say they were standing at attention would not be accurate as they were moving and dancing in ways that I, in my 59 year old Caucasian body couldn’t begin to emulate. It was a thrill. It reminded us of last year’s greeting but even more, it represented a new chapter in our partnership with the people of Kabanana District. If I may use Charles Wesley’s phrase in a different context, “my heart was strangely warmed.”

Inside Pastor Jesse Mbanga’s one room church building were another 70 or more precious children sitting quietly, waiting to greet us. Also in the building were there parents, who after a few words of greeting began singing and dancing as well. Since it was recorded on tape, I can’t deny that even I was compelled to dance alongside some of the parents who came out into the aisles to dance. It’s not something I intend to post on You Tube, but I am afraid some of my team mates may decide it should be.

It was difficult if not impossible to pull ourselves away from those beautiful children who, with beaming faces, expectant eyes, were reaching out for our touch. We will never forget those faces. But pull ourselves away we did because Headmistress Winnie and Pastor Mbanga wanted to show us the parcel of land that Village Steps had helped them purchase to build the school. Disappointingly, they showed us the three test bore holes that had been drilled. Because of the elevation of the sight, the depth to which they had bored (50 metres) was still dry so worokers will be out again early this week to drill to a depth of 70 metres (250 feet). They say they are confident water will be found – we’ll wait and pray.

Now, it is Sunday morning. We are preparing to be picked up to go to church with Joy. After church we will go to the Arcades Mall for lunch and for the open air market where one can find amazing, hand crafted jewelry, baskets, hand-carved teak and soapstone figures, animals, and walking sticks. Another great adventure to add to the list. At some point, I will stop at an Internet Café to post these blogs.
Right now it is breakfast time – scrambled eggs, corn flakes and toast. MMMM- good. More later. I could have written about any or all those things but you know what, there's too much to tell. So I think that for today, it is enough to tell you that I am glad to be here, that the Lord is good and that this week holds adventures and blessings that will amaze us all. For today, it is enough to say
“This is the day, the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

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