Tuesday, December 29, 2009

In Stores Now...

Ok, not quite yet…but let’s think positively here. Children of Zion Village has just released its very first full-length worship CD! One of the members of Mt. Zion church brought with him the equipment for a small recording studio this past October just for the makings of this CD and has done a spectacular job. It is complete with 12 songs and includes songs sung in 3 different Caprivian languages (Silozi, Khwedam, & Mbukushu). The title of the album is fittingly “Milumo Yaku Lumbeka,” meaning ‘Sounds of Worship’ in the local language of Silozi. The artwork featured on the covers is also all done by the kids here.

The album is currently only available from the Children of Zion, Inc office in Bel Air, Maryland, but hopes to soon also be available through their church’s website (http://www.mzprays.org/). To order your copy(s), please contact Lisa McLaughlin by phone (410-836-2121), email (lisa@childrenofzionvillage.org), or even a personal office visit (Mt. Zion Methodist Church in Bel Air, MD). The asking donation price is $10/CD plus a small donation for shipping if you are not able to pick them up. All proceeds will go towards Children of Zion Village. If you have any money left over from Christmas I hope you will consider this investment. They make great gifts ;-)

Also hot off the press is the 2010 Children of Zion Calendar full of new pictures of the kids. Use the same contact info above if you are interested in this as well.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas in July-Like Weather

Never had I imagined I would be spending Christmas in Africa, but these kids are now like my extended family and I loved every minute of the slightly organized chaos. It was hard to imagine that all the normal Christmas traditions I’m used to were going on at the same time at home. Everything was hot, bright, and green outside instead of dull, white, and cold so it made for a rather surreal Christmastime atmosphere, but a very unique and blessed one nonetheless.

Christmas Eve I showed them “Fred Clause” (really cute if you’ve never seen it) and then shipped the younger kids off to bed. Around 9:30 we took all the older kids out by the river to have their first Christmas Eve candlelight service. And well, it went as well as can be expected with 40 giggly teenagers with fire, haha. It was just a short little service filled with Christmas songs, a reviewing of Christ’s birth leading to a reminder of why He came. We ended with a time of personal reflection and communion before some final songs and the colossal job of getting all the candles back so we’d still have a children’s home in the morning. Afterwards I was walking down the girls hallway and heard the little girls singing in their beds, “He knows when you are sleeping, he knows when you’re awake…” I paused and countered with, “exactly, he knows that you’re awake, so go to bed!” then went in and kissed them all goodnight telling them it couldn’t be Christmas till they went to sleep. But like any anxious child on Christmas Eve, sleep was still a long ways off…

Christmas morning, Nancy (my housemate) and I were shocked we didn’t have 57 kids pounding at our door at 6 in the morning, but rather they waited patiently till it was “time.” And finally the “time’ came. Once we had the van loaded, we scurried the kids off to their rooms while their gifts were personally driven and delivered to the Christmas tree by Mr. & Mrs. Clause themselves. Then we called them out and they sat in a large circle as each person’s name was called out, hugged, and given their stocking. Each stocking had 2 new shirts, a journal, candy, coloring books/crayons for the little ones, jewelry for the older girls, etc, (all lovingly donated by sponsoring churches) and all had cards and pictures from sponsors. The little ones made a good attempt, but just couldn’t wait until everyone had gotten theirs to open them.

Then they got their other gifts. The little boys got little backpacks with stickers, a little water bottle, a big plastic car, and candy in it. The little girls all got pink handbags with matching angel/fairy dresses and all the needed little girl dress-up accessories (they had quite the little fairy pow-wow out on the basketball court that night). We decided to give the teenagers the typical easy teenage Christmas gift and they all got differing amounts of money based on their age. I think I saw every kid in about 15 different outfits throughout the day as they all tried out their new clothes, and then everyone else’s new clothes, looking for their new favorite style. That afternoon, I spent about 4 hours playing Connect 4 with about 40 different people…a game they had all gotten that morning and thus the only game with all the pieces.

Then today we had our Mafuta Christmas. Mafuta is a nearby village where we have a feeding center and preschool. For Christmas we have all the staff and a good number of the kids come over to play with our kids, have a big Christmas meal, and get some small gifts. 1 overfilled pickup truck, 1 stuffed van, and 2 crammed mini-bus loads of people later they were finally all here…and they sang the whole way! As soon as they arrived they all went sprinting in different directions—some to the playground, some to the basketball court, some to the netball court, some to the volleyball court, some to the soccer field, and still others just to random corners to play in the sand. But they were all having fun and that was the important part. Meanwhile, I went back to helping prepare a meal for 153 people. We had macaroni, potato/egg salad, mixed veggies, sausage, and meat bones. Then after lunch we handed out little gift bags of puppets, a beanie baby, and candy for each kid and larger gift bags of food for the staff. Then everyone crammed back in the vehicles--just a tad more overstuffed this time as all now had Christmas gifts and very full tummies.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Five Hundred Ninety-Eight

It takes 598 construction paper links to make a chain all the way around the main hall in the children’s home, in case you were wondering, haha. In light of looking for fun Christmas decorating ideas for the kids, I came across this “good deed chain” idea. Basically you have to do a good deed before each link can go up in the chain. I found out later from my mom why I subconsciously thought it was a good idea; I had done one when I was little and loved it, only completely forgotten about it. Anyway, I came up with 56 different things for them to do including memorizing Christmas story verses, singing Christmas songs, doing something nice for someone older/younger than you, making someone’s bed, making an ornament for the tree, and drawing a picture of what Christmas means to you. Then I made it a competition between the boys and the girls to see who could get from the one side to the other going in opposite directions. I questioned if it would take off or if one side would quickly give up, but it took off like wildfire. The girls took a very strong lead in the beginning, but that only further motivated the boys to get their butts in gear. Sadly (for the boys), it was a little too much of a beginning lead and girls won it, but the boys definitely fought hard till the end and made up a lot of difference. The girls ended up with 300 exactly and the boys 220. Even after winning, many of them are saying they want to keep going because its fun and helping them to memorize scripture!
Pictured here are Muny, Milinga, and Likuwa with the chain for our Christmas tree…decorating themselves for a little while before finally handing it over to the tree.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Let it Snow, Let it Snow...

Its Christmas time in Zion village…aka, winter coats, knit hats, scarves, sleigh rides, snow everywhere…well, not so much. But there is a lot of Christmas cheer as everything is now fully decorated and Christmas parties have commenced despite the ever-threatening sun and never-ending sweating in this 95 degree heat.
Earlier this week the kids spent an afternoon decorating the home. They decked out the tree with lights, christmas balls, home-made ornaments, paper chains, and mardi gras beads. After decorating the tree they spent the rest of the afternoon making more ornaments and decorating the walls with Christmas pictures. Towards the evening some of the girls and I squeezed out the last of our energy making Christmas cookies while the boys made their own Christmas tree…of the human sort.

Then today we had our staff Christmas party. Us girls spent the whole morning cooking and preparing different salads and desserts while the guys manned the braai outside steaming up tons of chicken and sausages. Once lunchtime came around we fed the kids then locked them in their rooms for a couple of minutes to ourselves for a grand feast of a party and the distributing of the staffs’ gifts. With traditional music in the background, one of the oldest staff women, Monica, danced her way to the table in excitement. Once everyone had finished eating, she got up and finished her dancing on top of the table!

A Fly On The Kuta Wall

On Wednesday I was asked to drive the local indunas (village chiefs) to the regional chief’s royal establishment for a meeting (the place where ‘Movin’ Muchembelles’ was held). I thought it was just a meeting to discuss chiefly things, but I arrived to find they were being called to tribal court (kuta). Before I’d left that morning they had told me to bring a tshirt and shetenge (traditional cloth wrapped as a skirt), but they had forgotten the part about the head covering until we’d arrived. To avoid being fined by the regional chief, some quick thinking led to wrapping my tank top around my head. We waited and waited outside the court building until finally one of the chief’s summoners came out and “clapped” to signify that the court was ready to be in session.

Now this is not really clapping as you or I would normally think of it, but rather, in this culture, its where both hands are cupped and put together softly to make a light clapping sound as a sign of respect, greeting, and/or thanks. The more respect being given, the louder it is (lightly audible instead of silent) and the farther you kneel down to the ground while doing it. According to the tradition of the tribal court, all must kneel at the door and ‘clap’ 5-6 times before entering and then get down and do it again after being seated. This particular day it was the 2nd in command to the regional chief that led the court and the clapping and kneeling occurred again when he entered.

In the front of the court sat 4 officials with the 2nd in command sitting on a wooden throne ornately carved with a hippo just above his head. The rest of us, about 20 indunas and other respected elders of the region, sat on benches. It was a rather short court session (only 2.5 hours) because those that summoned the court did not even show up. But the session still continued, just in the favor of those present. Part of it actually concerned the land where our children’s home is and the surrounding riverbanks, which are locale to several tourist lodges. Whenever someone either wanted to speak or was summoned to speak, he had to go up to the front, kneel/clap, and then sit on a reed mat with his legs straight out, just like a child would sit playing in the sand.

The allowance for cell phone usage within the court was something unexpected. Whenever someone’s phone would ring, the person would get up, kneel/clap, go to the door, kneel/clap again, then carry on with the phone call outside. They did the same kneeling/clapping ritual upon returning to the courtroom once finished. But it didn’t matter who it was…those leading the court or those in the court, I lost track of the number of times they went in and out after having their cell phone ring in the middle, but they left and entered respectfully at least.

After the court was over I was called over and asked if I would bring them back again the following day for an address by the chief himself. I wasn’t really left much choice to say no to such an official, so off we went again the following day. This time, I brought all the proper garb, especially since I would be in the presence of the regional chief himself. The 8 o’clock meeting began promptly…at 11. As always, it was hurry up and wait.

Everything was the same when entering the courtroom, but this time there was also respect given when the chief’s throne was carried in and again when the chief actually entered; each instance was kneeling with now 2 rounds of 10-12 ‘claps.’ This meeting was an official Chief Address. He had just been in Windhoek (the capital) with his 47 other colleagues, all the Ministries of Namibia, and the newly re-elected President of Namibia for a week-long, year-end meeting. Now he was to share with all his local indunas what was discussed. For both times I had the great privilege of a personal translator so I could know what was going on, but to sum up a 5 ½ hour meeting will be tough.

They started by giving a synopsis from what was said from each Ministry. The biggest of which being that there must be a stop to electing chiefs with no ancestral heritage and no chief must rule in another chief’s territory. This was emphasized many times. Additionally, each chief is only permitted to give 20 hectares of land to each person and that they must each now have a certificate of ownership. Then if they wanted more they had to apply for it. The chief did a new thing of opening up the floor forum style and things got a little crazy for a couple of hours, with there having to be order brought several times. Another tense discussion topic was about compensation from wild animal damage. All the prices were reported depending on what animal it was and what the damage was. For example, if an elephant crushed this much of your corn, you would get this amount.

Lastly there was a discussion on the weight of the tribal courts. Namibia, recently (1990) established as a democracy, has a co-existence in its justice system between civil and tribal courts. Though there are elected officials in civil positions, there is power still remaining in both the tribal leaders and their court systems. The chief spent some time reassuring them of that and motivating them of their responsibilities within their people and to bring appropriate things before the tribal court. I really knew I was amongst tribal Africa when they read off all the tribal court punishments and fines in terms of number of cattle and whippings. In a rather conservative fashion, everything from insulting your parents to theft to adultery to rape each had a cow amount to it. He emphasized this by pointing to the jail cell out back where the offender will stay until the full number of cattle was paid off. The biggest thing I didn’t expect in a tribal chief address was a beginning and ending prayer and even a Bible reference in one of his explanations!!

Though a very long 2 days, what a more unique privilege and way to learn to local culture than to get to sit in on the dealings of the tribal court system with all the local indunas and the head regional chief!

Sunday, December 13, 2009


Many of our kids, though they don’t still have parents living, do still have grandparents, aunts, uncles, and siblings remaining in the villages where they came from. Since most of their family members barely had the means to provide for themselves, they weren’t able to then provide for additional children the way they wanted to and thus how the COZ family has come about. These kids come from all over the Caprivi Region, the 3-hour stretch of Namibia’s northeastern panhandle (see Caprivi Tiddlybits). We try to take them for visiting as often as possible but are not able to often enough. And since they have little way of contacting their families ahead of time, it’s always hit or miss who will actually be around for them to see when they arrive.

On the most recent trip, we took 10 of the kids to the farthest part of the Caprivi. It was overall a very successful trip. They didn’t all find everyone they had anticipated, but also found some people they hadn’t expected and hadn’t seen in years. The most touching to me personally is when they get to reconnect with siblings. Some of them have siblings who were not placed in COZ care with them for various reasons. Some because they were the youngest, some because they were separated at the time, and still others because their extended family could take care of some of them while not others.

My favorite story of this last trip was with one of our older boys, Nico, who had been disconnected with his younger brother until just last year. His brother was now staying with his grandmother along the way to where we were going and he wanted to pick him up for the day and take him to visit the rest of his family farther out. When we got to the his grandmothers village he went in and asked, but, since he didn’t know that language very well, the grandmother thought he wanted to take him for good and of course said no. He sullenly walked back to the van reporting the sad news when one of our staff members realized the grandmother had probably misunderstood and went to go talk to her. He quickly got things cleared up and got permission. So we went back to wait while the 2 of them got ready to go. He had brought a bag of some of his old clothes he wanted to give his brother…but we didn’t realize that the make-over was why we were suddenly waiting so long. But finally they came out and the cuteness of it was worth it. Nico had replaced his brother’s dirty and torn school uniform with a baggy tshirt and shorts down to the knees, just the way he would wear them. They came out looking like twins and he walked around the rest of the day with his arm around his new-found little brother.

Friday, November 27, 2009

All Six

Thanksgiving has been the first major holiday I’ve spent African style…but what exactly is African style? Well, to start, we had to special order the turkeys a couple of months ago from the capital. I really wanted to deep fry one, but I could not find a cooking thermometer in all of Katima…nor did anyone even know what one was. We had cranberry sauce only because Jessica also bought it in the capital months ago. Seasonings were touch’n’go’n’guess…but luckily all the guesses turned out delicious.

The tablecloth consisted of 2 matching traditional cloths (shetenge) sewn together on top of a bed sheet that happened to match. The finest of all matching dinner glasses in the land were blue and plastic, but at least matched the tablecloth! The centerpiece was the best though…African pumpkin stuffed with African flowers.

I mistakenly decided to see how hot it really was outside, so I stuck a little alarm clock/thermometer gizmo outside for a little while. After only half an hour, it had completely wigged out and probably would have burnt up had I not rescued the little guy when I did. But anyway, after it finally calmed down, it read 102 degrees!!!! By far the hottest thanksgiving I’ve ever had. Once everything was finally ready, all the Americans in all of Katima sat down to enjoy a wonderfully scrumptious thanksgiving dinner—African style—all six of us.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Makua with a Camera

This past Saturday afternoon was the baptism I had referred to in my post about the church crusade (Lightbulb). As usual, the church was full and the whites were limited…to me ( I love Africa) They carried out the majority of the service in Lozi, the local language, but I soon became an expert when all of the sudden the word “camera” came out in plain English. I quickly perked up as I glanced at the camera sitting in my lap, and I figured they were looking for someone to take pictures of the people getting baptized, but I wasn’t about to raise my hand in the middle and saying, “Ooo, ooo, I do!” Soon enough, someone came from behind and tapped me on the shoulder and called me outside and asked me to do just that. I was very happy to do it, and even happier that I didn’t have to go “Ooo, ooo, I do!” to be given the opportunity. Then came the dilemma of where would be an appropriate place do it culturally, but found that out soon enough too. They called me right up to the front once it was time to begin the actual baptisms…I don’t know why I ever ask questions.
But anyway, leave it to the makua (white person) with a camera to get called to the front of the church to take impromptu photos of 90 baptisms!! It was a wonderful service full of singing and, naturally, lots of dunking…all in the wonderful name of Jesus of course!! Almost the whole time the congregation was singing different hymns in Lozi that would become very soft every time the pastor raised his hand for the next baptism. I was grateful when he got to Beerina because I got to hear what he was saying in English. He did it in English for her because her native tongue, like many of our kids at COZ, is Kwedam, one of the hardest languages in the world to learn…I don’t blame him for doing it in English :-)
Everything went very smoothly…and rather quickly for the number of people…except for one thing. Near the end there was a large (and very loud) political parade that made its path right by the church. The national elections are coming up this weekend and everyone has been doing some last minute rallying and campaigning. It was kind of similar to the time I was in a church in Mexico and a catholic festival parade went by shooting off canons right outside the church doors. That time the canons just so to happened to fit in with the message…but the political parade…not so much. Please be praying for the elections this weekend. So far this young country has been rather peaceful, but pray it stays that way!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Decked Out

Shoprite, the most recent grocer addition to the up-and-coming Katima area, is now in full swing for the Christmas season. Every aisle and checkout station is fully decked out, the overhead signs are decorated, all Christmas items are fully stocked and on the shelves, a Christmas tree with toys under it is displayed prominently in the front of the store, the staff has all donned their Santa hats, and there is even Christmas music playing!! I had to pinch myself to make sure I was still in Africa! Some things are the same no matter where you are…

Monday, November 9, 2009

When I Grow Up...

A couple of weeks ago I had the privilege of updating the prayer cards for our child sponsorship program. This not only included getting updated pictures of all the kids, but also conducting mini-interviews. The questions included things like what they enjoyed doing, what they wanted to be when they grew up, their favorite verse or Bible story, and how they wanted their sponsors to pray for them. I say privilege because to really had a blast doing it. Below I have included 2 little top ten lists that highlight my experience. The first shows the extent of spiritual maturity in what God has been teaching them lately and the second shows the true uniqueness and hilarity of some of our kids, especially the younger ones.

“God has taught me…”

10. To take time to listen (Nawa, 13)
9. To be happy no matter what (Efa, 12)
8. To trust Him in all circumstances (Kado, 16)
7. To love people who hate me (Della, 15)
6. To accept things just as they come (Annia, 18)
5. To finish up my work, to listen, to be good, and to be kind to people (Joshua, 7)
4. To be kind to others no matter what the circumstances and to be available to Him and others. (Dorothy, 16)
3. That whatever the situation, God is always there for me (Nicky, 16)
2. To be strong in what I believe and work hard towards it (Nico, 16)
1. He died for me, He cares for me, & He’s always there for me (Albert, 15)

“When I Grow Up, I Want to Be…”

10. A store keeper (Marsela, 7)
9. A truck driver (Isaac, 4)
8. A cooker (Esther, 6)
7. A cowboy (Micah, 7)
6. A model (Elisa, 8)
5. A karate man (Joshua, 7)
4. An FBI agent (Matthias, 13)
3. Touch the ceiling (Jonathan, 4)
2. A man (Gideon, 6)
1. Old enough (Luka, 7)

If you are interested in sponsoring one of the children here, check out http://www.childrenofzionvillage.org/sponsorship.php!!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A Lightbulb

So lately I’ve been goin to this local crusade at night with Jessica, Elton, and some of the kids. Jessica’s grandfather (by marriage) was the leader of this huge 3-week “Bringing Hope to Katima” crusade that ended this past weekend. It always started out with 1 or 2 local choirs singing a couple songs as the sun finally crept behind the lowest trees, but then, for about an hour and a half, her grandfather would preach into the night. In this lovely BYOC (bring your own chair) event, the topics ranged from Daniel, to the second coming of Christ, to Baptism, and all were solid, well-researched sermons. It was really neat to go to a huge open-air church meeting in another country, being 1 of 2 white people among hundreds (maybe even a thousand...it was dark), in the sand and the coolness of the African night air with the beautiful stars above you while learning about God’s word. Basically, I really loved it.

The most exciting part however was that on the night about Baptism, 2 of our older kids went forward wanting to publicly profess desire for Baptism. The funny part comes where the one girl wanted me to go up with her…of course I did, but somehow they placed me in the very front of a good-sized African crowd facing an even larger one…like a bright white lightbulb amidst the darkness…o the things I do for these kids, but well worth it for sure!! :-P

Friday, October 30, 2009

And So The Wind Blows

Today was the first time I’d ever been to an African or a child’s funeral and I’d prefer if it would also be the last. There seems to be something rather disconcerting about over half of a funeral’s attendance being fellow children, but such was the case as many of her school mates, church companions, and village friends were there to pay their last respects as well as to sing many numbers throughout the funeral program. We footed (myself more literally than most) about half an hour out into the bush to the graveyard, our way being marked by the sounds of the youth choirs singing in the distance. With everyone gathered around the gravesite, messages of condolence, sympathy, and encouragement were read to the family followed by a small gospel sermon. Then the hardest part began as everyone formed a line to view the body one last time. All the while there was singing from the school choirs going on in the background so as to put as much of a damper on the sadness as possible. The choirs continued singing hymn after hymn for the majority of the 2 ½ hour program while the casket was then placed and buried and flowers were placed on the grave. As they placed flowers on the grave they started with the family, then moved to the various groups represented such as ourselves (COZV), followed by each grade level of her schoolmates and finally her teachers. As each group went forward, a flower was handed to each person, then they surrounded the gravesite and all-together knelt down and placed them on top. After concluding prayers, everyone met briefly at her village before solemnly dispersing in their separate ways

Sadly, sin, evil, and hardship will be ever-present in this life until the coming of our Savior. We will never understand the full depths of each one, like why He calls some of His children home so young, but luckily there is One who knows all and promises to “work together good for those who trust in Him and are called according to His purpose.”(Romans 8:28) His un-ending promises are what we are forced to rely on during such times and I ask you to continue to be praying for her family and friends to feel His surpassing peace and rest during this time.

“Human life is like the grass; we grow like a flower in the field. After the wind blows, the flower is gone…But the Lord’s love for those who respect him continues forever and ever.” -Psalm 103:15-17

Saturday, October 24, 2009

In Need Indeed

I have a bit of sad news/a prayer request to share. On Thursday night we got a call from one of our staff members asking for transport to the hospital; 2 girls had been in an accident and one of them was his daughter. They had been at an evening church crusade and then gone to get water when a pick-up truck (bakkie) hit them and then ran. When we got to the hospital his daughter, 14, was unconscious and not stable. The father, also the head elder of our village here and a respected elder in the community, did not stay with her for very long as he had to return to caring for his other 10 children he had left at home (some of them adopted from other family members). It wasn’t very long after we had returned him home that we got the call she had passed away. Although death around here is not all that uncommon, sadly, it is certainly struck even harder when it is a child and happens so suddenly and traumatically. I ask that you would please pray for him and his family and his other children. They are of very strong faith, but still need God’s mighty hand to uphold them during this time.

The other girl that was hit was coincidentally the stepdaughter of another one of our staff here, but sustained milder injuries and is thankfully doing much better.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


After having gone most of the summer with a constant influx and outflux of many short term volunteers, the past couple of months have seemed rather shorthanded. But these past 2 weeks was a nice refresher as we had a team of 10 from Mt. Zion, COZ’s home church, come to bless us with their time, love for the kids, and many talents. In addition to the sanity they brought of not being so shorthanded, they were able to build a floating platform for our water pump (so no one has to climb into croc-infested water every time the water pump has a malfunction) and professionally record many of our kids singing to make a CD for fundraising. (If you are interested in one, the link should be up on their church’s website, http://www.mzprays.org/, sometime in the next couple of months once it is professionally produced.)
Now that this team has sadly returned home, we return to being very shorthanded. Would you pray about whether God is calling you to serve here either short-term or long-term? If you are interested, check out my COZ website link or contact them directly at info@childrenofzionvillage.org for an application.

I post the above picture because as we were creating the cover for this CD, I was personally touched at the simplicity yet spiritual maturity and brutal truth that Dorothy’s quote brings. Living with these kids day in and day out as they now are receiving all their physical needs, I sometimes forget that the most important ministry of this home is found in the spiritual provision to these kids’ lives. These kids have the chance to know the gospel here and go out to become the future Christian leaders of Namibia!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Movin' Muchembelles

For so many parts of my life over here I sometimes question, “Am I really in Africa?”…then there’s others where its just clearly unquestionable and almost surreal. Last weekend was one of those times. Sunday was the Lusata Cultural Festival where I joined Jessica, Elton, some of their family, and 13 of our kids to the Mafwe Royal Establishment in Chinchimani, along with hundreds of other Lozi people, to honor Chief George Simasiku Mamili VII and celebrate their traditional history, culture, and heritage. Throughout the day there was a continuous lineup of traditional singing and dancing as well as a briefing of their history. Hands down my favorite dancers were the old women (Muchembelles), haha. About midway through the morning performance stopped as all eyes turned toward the arrival of the chief. As mats paved the way to his throne, he was preceded by many women in traditional skins, accompanied by his nephews as bodyguards, and followed by a traditional female singing and dancing group. One guy told me that if anyone would remove the fly switch from his hand then he would no longer be chief…no wonder he needed the body guards. In the middle of the procession, they stopped for the raising of the traditional flag. Then once he reached his throne those before and after him, as well as everyone in the crowd, got down on their knees out of respect. The dancers behind him then continued their dance toward him while on their knees, a sign of respect. Those who were either senior indunas (lower chiefs) or part of his royal party also wore skirts. To me they looked like Lozi Scottish, but apparently that is traditional dress for men of high respect. The traditional entertainment continued for a while before the mats were again laid out and the same processional group lined up to do a lap around the crowd. This time it would be with the chief proudly holding and displaying this ivory scepter given to the Mafwe people by the Germans in 1909. In doing so with 2 hands signified he was not yet ready to give up his throne. When not being used for this occasion, it is kept in a box covered in a cheetah skin, which came before him in the initial procession.

I feel very blessed to have had this opportunity to experience the traditional culture here and watch things in person that I once thought I’d only ever see on postcards or National Geographic.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Scientific Discovery

I have recently come to discover that when Namibia becomes overcrowded with Makua (white folk) it equals sudden freak thunderstorms in the middle of dry seasons. Now I also know that twice doesn’t equal any sort of scientific proof, but then consider it my hypothesis, as it were. This is now the second time that a team has arrived from America and as soon as they got here we’ve had a freak thunderstorm. So there…that is what I’ve learned today…in addition to the fact that a bottle of water costs about $3,000 in Zambia. Luckily there’s a 4000:1 exchange rate.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Adventures Thru Time

Adventure and lack of time is basically the way of life over here. If its not one thing its always another…to varying extremes. And this past weekend was the kind of the epitomy of what African time is really like. On Sunday evening I left on a bus with Jessica and one of our small girls, Elisa, to go to Windhoek, the capital. Our two biggest goals were to go to the eye doctor to get new glasses for Elisa, but also to pick up Jessica’s truck…which is where the time issue really begins. Her bakkie (pickup truck) had some water damage during the flood that caused some electrical problems and she has now been 6 months without it! So now that it was finally fixed we hopped on one of the most reliable bus services in Namibia to take a lil road trip with my faithful travel buddy. Well the lil part soon became a very large understatement as what was supposed to be a 14-hour bus ride slowly turned into 23! After stopping and going multiple times through the night to try and fix whatever was wrong, the stops quickly became longer than the goes to the point where we would hardly go half a kilometer before pulling over again. Finally, when we were supposed to have arrived already, they announced that a rescue bus was on its way and we began the next stage of this lovely little waiting game. The next bus finally arrived…a bit of a tighter squeeze than the last, but at least it ran…for a while. The bus riders started getting more chatty as we began discussing everything from Starbucks to McDonalds (or lack there of) to toilet paper uses in Namibia (don’t ask) to how ridiculous our American Afrikaans accents were (basically like Americans making fun of British accents). Then as soon as we thought we might actually make it, we stood very corrected. We crawled to each robot (stoplight) hoping it would be green b/c everytime we had to stop, the whole bus would also. Fourteen stall-outs later, this now over-heated bus was also a complete goner. So 23 hours later and 2 blocks from our final destination enough protest finally arose that they let everyone offload in the middle of the street…trailer and all.
So then we were left with 5 minutes to both pick up Jessica’s truck and get Elisa to the eye doctor appointment in a taxi where the driver said he knew the road, but, after dropping Jessica, we drove all over the city only to find out it no longer exists!
In the end it was a successful trip and a good adventure…for me at least…but then again Jessica’s still convinced I also enjoy rain when camping, ha! We came home with a fixed truck, new glasses for Elisa, and none other than my first ever speeding ticket…and in Africa nonetheless! In my defense it’s a very silly idea to expect people to be able to slow down from 120 to 60 in what might as well be 10 feet…but there was my new friend standing next to the 60 km/h sign with the lovely ticket pictured above. I felt better knowing I was only clocked at 84 while the guy behind me was doing 116. And at least its a lot cheaper than it would be at home. N$150 is only about US$20…not bad for going almost 25 over.
Then, while off on my own adventures, I apparently missed some good opportunistic ones back at cozv. Since we have vehicles here, we are occasionally called upon to be the local ambulance. In this particular case, I missed getting to take in a guy that had been attacked by 2 hippos in the river while fishing and had had his whole hip basically crushed in the mouth of one of them. When they took him in they had him so wrapped up in a tarp and who knows what else that when the medics went to go and find him in the tarp the poor guy had fallen out onto the floor before they found him! O the things that happen here…

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


So I’m not sure who to thank, but somebody has been prayin :-P Just 2 days after my last posting, the results for the first 30 kids have now come back (all negative), the lovely little green sputum collection cups are back in stock in Katima…for now…because we have another 20 lined up to be tested tomorrow, and we will hopefully have more put on the prophylactic treatment! And so far no one seems to even be symptomatic!!! All that is clearly answered prayer so thanks to whoever was prayin!! :-) God is clearly giving this situation a good kickin!! Please pray the good news keeps coming!!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

To Be or Not To Be

We have a bit of a situation on our hands that could use a bit of Godly intervention if you could spare a few prayers. Nearly a month ago, one of our girls was diagnosed with TB after having been sick for quite some time. Although glad to finally find out how to treat her, we then also had a huge situation on our hands…where did she get it from and how do we keep everyone else from getting it, especially those who are HIV positive and therefore much more susceptible. So then began the saga of testing all 57 kids, 26 staff, and the volunteers. Since we apparently didn’t have enough adventure in our lives, we began taking them in groups to the hospital and one of the nearby clinics and waiting for hours on end to be called to hack up loogies in little green cups. However, we very quickly ran every clinic in Katima out of sputum testing cups and, on top of that, the lab technician got called to Windhoek before the first group of 20 kids could even get their test results. They unfortunately don’t have that convenient under-the-skin, get-the-results-the-next-day test…instead its just a series of 3 spits and, three weeks later, we still have no results and there are still no cups. Meanwhile, we are only praying that it won’t spread while we sit here with our hands a bit tied. And on the prayerful note, latent TB can remain in the body for years before becoming active…and won’t test positive unless it’s active. If we don’t get this situation under control, we could have a bit of an ongoing epidemic on our hands. Please pray for Godly intervention for the health of these kids as well as some increased cooperation from the doctors…they don’t seem to realize the magnitude of our situation here. On a more positive note, we were able to finally get the 12 youngest kids on a prophylactic drug since they can’t cough up the sputum. But that also means an extra 10 kids getting meds for the next 4 months, in addition to the twenty some that get meds daily already. The biggest joy will be Josiah, the 1-year-old, ha!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Mr. Bones

I was reading in the great OT book of Ezekiel this morning and found myself very encouraged by what would seemingly be a very simple concept. Although, with God, even the most simple concepts can be eternally complex to mere human understanding. In Ezekiel 37, God is giving Ezekiel yet another vision; this one being about dried out human bones. Starting in verse 4, the Lord asks him, “Can these bones live?” [He] answered, “Lord God, only you know.” [Then God] said to [him], “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. This is what the Lord God says to the bones: I will cause breath to enter you so you will come to life. I will put muscles on you and flesh on you and cover you with skin. Then I will breath in you so you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’” And don’t you know…it actually happened (vs. 7 & 8). Verse 13 continues with God saying, “My people, you will know that I am the Lord when I open your graves and cause you to come up from them. And I will put my Spirit inside you, and you will come to life.” To be honest, I pictured all this taking place in the elephant graveyard from Lion King. Ezekiel was kind of like Zazu going along with Simba and Nala and then all of the sudden everything got dark and things started eerily moving around and morphing together. Simba and Nala, scared to death and not listening to a word of comfort coming from Zazu, would keep trying to hide behind the bones only to have them suddenly move out from in front of them. Finally all the elephants were in full form again and began chasing off all the hyenas, haha….but maybe that’s just me.
Anyway, back to the Bible… though God was superficially referring to the people of Israel here, I think He is also painting a beautiful picture of the salvation we find in Christ. The process of going from spiritual death to spiritual life is a miraculous one, much like imagining completely dry bones becoming a living, breathing, fighting army, and only God himself can make such a thing happen. He alone is the one who has chosen His people to come up out of the grave of spiritual darkness to become truly alive and filled with His Holy Spirit and to begin living the life He intended. The reference to calling His people up out of the grave reminds us that we are never even truly alive until we are alive in Christ, and the very breath of which comes solely from the Holy Spirit. No matter how alive we may think we are with living flesh on our bones and rushing blood through our bodies…it is all a mere deception to the true “aliveness” found only in Christ.
I was then reminded that once we are alive…truly alive, we are not done. It’s not a set out perfect road for the rest of life. I was reminded of something a lovely Beaver once told me about the concept of spiritual breathing ;-) In this concept of now being truly alive comes with it a different air and a new way of breathing. Just as often as I would breathe physically, I should breathe spiritually…inhaling the pure and exhaling the impure. When you inhale the pureness of Christ, you are surrendering control of your life to the Spirit’s power, according to the command found in Ephesians 5:18 and supported by the promise found in I John 5:14-15. Then when you exhale you are getting rid of the sin that is in disagreement with the Spirit you just inhaled, and with confidence knowing that it’s fully forgiven (I John 1:9).
Anyway, I just found that picture of dry bones becoming living flesh very encouraging personally. It is a beautiful thing that Christ did, but I am humbly reminded I must also do my part and breathe spiritually.

And speaking of encouraging things…yesterday we had an 8 year old deliver our church message. When Jessica jokingly asked the younger kids who was going to preach the next day, Elisa eagerly said she would…and she did! She picked out a Bible story about Abraham and courageously read it in front of all her brothers and sisters and then corralled some of her comrades together to sing “Father Abraham” as special music. That whole “Do not let anyone look down on you because you are young” verse…its true. As for next week…Luka…he’s 6! :-) What a nice little trend one brave little girl has started!!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Makua Invasion

This summer we have been very blessed by several teams that have come for 2 weeks at a time to help out. One team in particular, from Calvary United Methodist in Mt. Airy, MD, held a sort of blanket drive before coming over. Many women from within the church and surrounding community pitched in to hand-make at least 40 blankets for orphans here in the Caprivi. When they were seeking out how to distribute them, Rebecca mentioned Chetto, a village community about 2 hours from here in the center of the Caprivi. There are several reasons this particular village came to mind. For one, the need is very great as several of our kids are from that area. This is actually where Rebecca hopes to facilitate the beginning of a small children’s home in the near future when she returns to the Caprivi part-time. In addition, Disco, the oldest boy here, has become a strong man of God over his time here at COZV and has many deep convictions. This past summer he felt called by God to build a church there among his people to seat 200. Upon a visit just a couple months ago to gather more information about beginning this smaller home, God used Disco to lead his cousin, Steven, and his wife, to Christ and another man rededicated his life to Christ. Then upon being there again just this past weekend I found out that this same cousin is now in the rotation of teachers that are leading the services of this future church that Disco plans to build. Praise God!!! They are currently meeting under a tree, but Disco has full confidence that with this new building more and more will come.

So anyway, back to the blankets. With the whole team (8), plus my mom and sister, plus Disco, Annia, and Kado as translators, we all piled into the Quantum and went for a long Sunday afternoon drive. When we arrived we met with the Induna (chief), who conveniently happens to be Annia’s uncle, and he was thrilled with the presented gifts. He agreed that the orphans should be the ones to get the blankets first. Although everyone had already gathered at the visiting mob of Makuas (white people) with gifts, he quickly brought peace and order and called each of the orphans up one by one to choose one. Then the remaining blankets were handed out to each family and himself also of course. Pictured above is Disco (with the hat) standing between his cousin Steven and his wife as they gathered some basic information for prayer cards.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Too Many

Yesterday was a day for too many goodbyes for sure…9 to be exact. The most deeply felt personally was my family. Though I greatly enjoyed the extended time we got to spend together here, it could never be too long. I think my mom and Joanna spent 90 percent of their time in their newly-created sewing room. Not only did they expertly tackle an unending mountain of mending, but also found time to teach at least 20 of the kids a combination of how to make clothes, knit, and crochet (I now know the difference is the number of needles used, but now forget which is which, ha). Although mostly girls, more than a few boys took great interest in learning and are becoming quite good at it. Pictured above is the compilation of garments made by the kids here in the last month. Overall there were 10 dresses, 5 skirts, 5 girls’ tops, 2 boys’ top/pant set, 1 dress suit, 5 hoodies, and many hats (to the best of my calculations). I knew my mom was tired one day when she referred to me as “mom,” but she kept at it until the job was done, enjoying every minute of it. With all the patterns remaining behind and the sewing room now in functional order, they hope that some will be able to continue sewing on their own.
Wherever Sam was these past 2 months, there was also always laughter and fun being had. One of the older girls told me several times that if she had a brother like Sam, she “could just never be bored.” During the school day Sam mixed his time between keeping the little ones occupied and doing odd jobs around the compound. These odd jobs included everything from folding closets full of clothes, organizing crafts, and sorting shoes, to changing light bulbs, holding ladders, digging a fish pond, and grading tests to even chopping firewood deep in the bush. But most importantly, he loved these kids with his whole heart and spent quality time with every one of them, just being their friend, which is exactly what they need.
Jamie was a returning volunteer who stayed for the summer. There are several girls who have become expert singers thanks to her many voice lessons and all the oldest kids now have a beginning education in music theory. Jamie was always willing to help wherever it was needed and did so with a smile on her face.
A mixture of sad-goodbye and hello-to-new-beginnings is that one of our young girls was finally reunited with her mother and left yesterday to go and live with her permanently. As I helped her prepare her things to leave, I was nearly in tears as I listened to the other girls sharing in her excitement to be reunited with her mother even though they themselves were very sad to see their sister leave. One in particular was telling her how she hoped she would get to go to church and a Christian school and that she would grow up to be a missionary.
Although it was hard for all the kids to say goodbye to their sister, it was even harder for them to say goodbye to their Mama Rebecca and Papa Gary; for some the only “parents” they’ve ever known. Earlier this year the Mink family felt God’s calling to move on from full-time mission work to now do part-time mission work from the states. Rebecca still plans to raise support and return a few times a year to help facilitate the starting of several new, smaller children’s homes throughout the Caprivi (one of which I will be blogging about soon), but must do so only part time so as to receive more proper care for her physical health. They have been serving the Lord on the mission field for 17 -years now, 7 of which here in Namibia establishing and running COZV, and I pray they will be richly blessed for it.
So overall 9 people left yesterday, which leads me to a huge prayer request. This is and will continue to be a huge transition both for the kids and those working here. Please be praying for the kids as they are missing their surrogate parents very much. We currently have Dave, a short-term guy who also came to help out during the flood, here taking care of finances and overall management until another couple can arrive in September for the next 6 months. We know that God has a couple (or 2) in mind to continue with the ministry here, so please be praying that God will be laying it on their hearts quickly to be able to serve here full-time in the Minks’ stead. Please also be praying for Dave, Jessica, myself, and the rest of the staff that God would guide us in how to make this transition as smooth as possible for the kids as well as some extra energy to do so :-)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Caprivi Tiddlybits

So I thought I’d let you know a little bit about the physical aspect of my new world over here. Namibia is one of the most scarcely populated countries in Africa with a population of only 2 million. The Caprivi Region is the small northeastern “panhandle” and, depending on the map you use, it is often even left off :-( It is a rather diverse little panhandle though as it borders Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Botswana. The population of the Caprivi is about 80,000 and most live in traditional villages. Agriculture is the main livelihood in these parts and the main crops include Mahangu (millet), sorghum, and maize. The literacy rate is 78% (for those over 15). Life expectancy is 41 and 43 for males and females respectively. Though small, the AIDS/HIV pandemic runs very rampid and, as a result, the Caprivi is one of the most densely populated areas of orphans in the world. The Caprivi is the second highest HIV-stricken region in the world next to Botswana and there are roughly 12,000 orphans here in the Caprivi alone.
Katima, formerly (thank goodness) known as Schukmannsburg, is the main town in the Caprivi and is located on the eastern edge bordering Zambia. The mighty Zambezi, the forth longest river in Africa, runs 2700 km from northwest Zambia, along the border between Namibia and Zambia, right along the gates of our compound here at COZV, and then on to the vast Indian Ocean. COZV is located about 10 kilometres outside of Katima, 4 km being a dirt road back towards the riverside. Katima is a “fully functional” town that includes banks, countless china shops, a hospital, a post office, a few restaurants, 2 (going on 3) gas stations, 2 main grocery stores, a “Sam’s Club” warehouse (probably kept in business by the grocery shopping needed for 60 kids here), a craft market, many little convenient stores, and even a little airport. However, it is 1250 km from Windhoek, the capital of Namibia.
The climate here of rainy and dry seasons results in the river rising half the year and then receding the rest. It will rain about 21- 27 inches per year in this semi-arid tropical savannah with its peak wet months being January and February. During the winter (June-Sept) it will get rather cold at night, around 35-40 degrees Fahrenheit, but will become very nice through the day peaking at around 70 degrees and always (knock on wood) sunny and dry. Fall (Sept-Nov) has the hottest months and temperatures will reach the upper 90's or above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, though not as humid as back home. The summer (Dec-March) is the rainy season peaking, as I said before, in January and February.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


I’ve been told there are rumors back home and, yes, it’s true…Sam chopped off all his hair…well almost. And here is the proof to anyone who may not believe it. Much to the kids dismay, he did not get the potato head do, but it is much shorter than it has been in more than 3 years. We were originally going to get cornrows together and then he was going to shave it, but apparently that first step was skipped…and the shave part was modified to slightly longer than bald. Elton, Jessica’s husband, did the honors as the resident hair dresser here and did a fine job. He usually only does “black” hair, but is skilled enough to do mukua (white) hair as well :-)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Bulls & Boys at 4am

Traditionally Friday night is pizza night in the Mink household. But lately we have been having a couple of staff over as well for this all-American meal. Jenny and Simushi, a married couple that both work here, were our honored guests for the evening. Around the dinner table, we shared our “most exciting moment,” the table topic for the evening. Jenny, originally from Umtata village in South Africa, shared about the night before her wedding. In that area it is customary for the future groom to undergo a customary obstacle course at 4 am the night before they are scheduled to be wed. In this custom, the woman is to be in her house waiting patiently while many of her male relatives gather together outside the house with a bull and a spear. When the man arrives, he is given the spear and must spear the bull. When he is finished, the male relatives line up and form a barricade into the house that the man must break through to get to his wife. If he succeeds, the wedding occurs later that day, but if not, the wedding must be moved until he does succeed.

Before this occurred, Simushi told us about how he was so worried he wouldn’t get through, so Jenny came up with a bright idea. She jokingly told him to put on a dress so that her male relatives will just think it is a girl and he will get right through easily. Well, later, while she was anxiously waiting for him to arrive, one of her girlfriends informed her he had finally arrived…only that he was seen off in the distance putting on a skirt! So whether it was the skirt or some fancy moves that got him past that night, who knows, but they have been happily married for 7 years now.

So the picture above is of course not Jenny and Simushi, but rather just a fitting picture to the topic of weddings. While my brother and I were handing out clothes, one of the boys stumbled upon a dress and tried it on…yadda yadda…eventually one of the girls put on the dress and he came up with a “tux” and they had a mock 2 minute wedding outside with my brother as the officiator.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Keep the Kin Comin'

My mom and sister are on their way! They should arrive today to be welcomed by mounds and mounds of sewing…after some huge hugs and welcomes of course!! My mom plans to spend much of her time here teaching some of the older girls and boys how to sew clothes. They are all very excited and have already picked out their patterns and fabric designs. They have been asking constantly when they will arrive. She will also work with a couple on crocheting and knitting (or maybe just one or the other…I don’t really know the difference, haha). She may also help to teach some supplementary nutrition lessons in the school.

In addition to helping my mom, my sister will be expertly tackling the loads of mending…pretty much a whole year’s worth of 60 kids’ torn clothes. Tough job if you ask me, but if anyone can do it, she can.
Meanwhile, Sam has been here for nearly a month now and I have greatly enjoyed serving next to him, hanging out with the kids together, having a few slumber parties, more than a few good laughs, and having some good quality time together. I feel very blessed that God as called so many of my family to serve Him in one place halfway across the world!!


Literally. The kids have been poppin’ out lately. Two of the three female goats that we got in South Africa gave birth this past weekend. Curly had one and Solo had two. Half-pint is still expecting any day now.

Pictured to the left is Curly and baby angel.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

South of the Border

Which border? Well, all the way through the flat lands of Namibia, past the Tropic of Capricorn, across the Namibian border and on into the twisty switchbacks and vineyards of the mountains of South Africa, then over a few rivers and through a few woods…we finally made it to the southern end of my African world as I know it. In short I haven’t blogged in a while because Rebecca, Jessica, and I have been in Cape Town for the past two weeks. The two main purposes were for Rebecca to have surgery and to get goats for our herd since so many of them died during the flood. There are plenty of goats here in the local area, but we use our goats mainly to produce milk for the kids and there are not very good milking goats in these parts. We were also picking up some extra goats for friends who run the Cheetah Foundation of Namibia (http://www.cheetah.org/). They have a goat farm to help train herders how goat herds and wild animals can safely interact. Jessica and I thought long and hard about the names for the four we brought all the way back to COZV. The Billy goat was the stinkiest and hairiest thing we’d ever seen so he became Stinky Pete. The 3 females were then named Curly, Solo, and Half-pint respectively for their curly horns, extremely low udder, and abnormally disproportioned udder. Because these goats were from South Africa, they looked very different from goats Namibians were used to seeing and so we got surrounded with ooo’s, ahh’s, and questions at every gas station along the way.
It was a long 6,000 km round trip journey, all with a trailor and goats. It was 3 days down and 3 days back but of course not without some perpetual car trouble, rolling into one gas station on only a liter of gas (although we shouldn’t have even made it there), and some “minor” delays in driving in which we didn’t get to our one destination until 4:30 in the morning.
Normally Cape Town is a lovely place for tourists like ourselves, but as our luck would have it, it rained most of the week, had storms with gale force winds, and even had threats of snow. I am quite disappointed that I did not actually see any snow in Africa, but could have sworn I did see some flurries one afternoon. But the weather did finally clear up for the last 2 days we were there. One day we drove down to Cape Point and stopped in Boulder along the way to see all the Penguins and the other day we went up Table Mountain.

Some things I learned on our adventures?
-African Penguins are very tiny and when they want to lay down they just kind of fall forward face first. You must also be sure to check under your car for penguins before you leave.
-New York is exactly 12, 541 km from the lighthouse at Cape Point.
-When you have a new leg and are walking long distances fast (to try and race friends on the tram car up the mountain), it has the tendency to blow up like a balloon and you are forced to take unfair stops to deflate along the way.
-When you set off hiking on the top of Table Mountain you should probably plan out which trails you are going to take. Otherwise you may end up on a 3-hour hike forging a couple new trails where the rains have flooded the old ones out.
-The statue marking Maclear’s Point, the highest point of Table Mountain, looks very much like a humongous Hershey kiss.

P.S.-Happy 4th of July! :-)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

She Made It

Beerina made it through the day without a broken ankle for the first time in 3 years. As many of you may know, Beerina, the oldest girl here, fell off a horse and severely hurt her ankle just a couple days before I arrived 2 summers ago. The local x-rays were basically worthless, so several days after I arrived we were headed to Windhoek, the capital (13 hours away), to get proper ones and to have it casted. But the pain and swelling only worsened over the next month and we were forced to cut the cast off with pruners (you make do with what you have when the only doctor on call is off fishing, haha). We then took her back to Windhoek for another opinion, which led to determining that she had a parasympathetic nerve problem in addition to the hurt ankle. This is very similar to phantom pain, where her brain was perceiving severe pain even though there wasn’t a physical ailment to necessarily warrant it. Once on proper meds for that, things were much better and she was soon back to walking. BUT last summer, on the same day, she fell off a horse again and hurt her ankle again pretty badly. But at least this time the healing process was not as long. Gary, the father here, jokingly told her she was not allowed out of her room this year on June 17th. Well, today has come and gone and though she was allowed out of her room she did not ride a horse and both her ankles are intact, haha.

Pictured above is Beerina and I having a crutch race 2 years ago on some baby crutches I found.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Most High

A pile of magazines ended up in my classroom this week and among them was a South African Christian magazine with an article that caught my eye. The article was entitled “There Is No High Like the Most High” and began with, “When people in the world indulge in drugs and alcohol to get high, they don’t know it, but they are searching for something God has made available to His people. Why do you think He is called the Most High?” It made me laugh out loud as I had never thought of it quite that way before. But then I began actually thinking seriously about it and was reminded of all the answered prayers I’d been seeing lately…with the kids, with various problems that arise, and personal prayers as well, no matter how large or small. God is truly here in this place and it is absolutely amazing how intricately He is involved in even the smallest parts of His people’s lives. All this to say, I am feeling very “high” here thanks to my Most High and I love it! ;-)

Friday, June 12, 2009

Baby's Day Out

Josiah is the youngest child here at just over a year old and has gotten sooo big since we first got him here at a mere one week old and only 5 pounds. He receives tons of love and attention from his 59 older brothers and sisters and started walking just before I arrived in May. He doesn’t talk a whole lot other than a few sounds for things (such as a ‘Ba’ sound when they tried to teach him to say Becca, haha). He is very enticed by food…last weekend I watched one of the boys get him across the room to one of the girls that wanted to hold him by hanging a chip in front of him like a carrot to Bugs Bunny, haha. And if asked what time it is, he will promptly direct you to figure it out yourself by turning around and pointing to the clock.
But anyway, I took him down to the barn for the first time today for chores to see the animals and such. He seemed to like the kittens…he let them know by trying to squeeze its whole head into his tiny little hand. Luckily the kittens are used to lots of little kids handling them so they were very patient. He also attempted to chase the small goats, but he needs to work on his speed a little.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Blue Moon

Only once every blue moon does it rain in June. It will officially be winter here in just a week and a half. But not only are the seasons flopped from back home, there are also rainy and dry seasons. The rainy season goes from about December to March and the rest is dry. This year it was a little longer with the floods, but it has been over a month since it rained until now. The teachers I work with said there may occasionally be a couple of showers in June, but very rarely will it thunderstorm and carry on like it did the past 2 days. I hear it has been nearly 20 years since the last time it happened. But needless to say, it’s apparently a blue moon, because it has just rained in June :-)