Friday, July 2, 2010

Epidemic AIDS

Some facts and depictions of the AIDS epidemic in Africa narrowing down to the Caprivi Region of Namibia, where Children of Zion Village (COZV) was started. COZV now cares for 58 children physically, emotionally, medically, nutritionally, and most importantly, spiritually. All pictures were taken in the villages where the the COZV kids came from.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Planet Earth

Soooo I was playing with google earth a little too much recently and discovered you could make videos...and then I discovered I could upload a link to it and share it with the world! So anyway, if you are interested in seeing a lil satellite fly-in view of Children of Zion Village, Merry Christmas! :-) You can get to it by either clicking on the following link or pasting the url at the bottom of this post. Once you get to the page, simply find the black "Attachments" title (near the center) and click the first link below it (it will just be a bunch of numbers.kmz). That is the google earth video file.

The main building in the middle is the actual children's home with the middle part being the large central area and the 2 wings off the side being separate living areas for the boys and girls. The rest of the little pins around it are just a couple of key spots around the compound.

Please Note: You must have google earth in order to view this...sorry :-/

And Random Sidenote: I will be speaking at my church (First Baptist Church of Perryville, MD) about my trip this coming Sunday, June 27th, at 6:30 PM if anyone is interested. Directions can be mapquested at 4800 Pulaski Highway, Perryville, MD

Video Url:

Friday, June 18, 2010


New videos from this past year have finally been posted. Videos include a wide range of things; everything from what hippos and elephants sound like, to traditional and Kwaito dancing, to acapelo African youth choirs, to what bushman "clicks" sound like (Khwedam), to just kids being kids. You can view them by clicking here or on the link to the right. Click on the titles on the right to see more in those categories.

If the link doesn't work, copy and paste the following

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Mufasa Picasa

I have finally posted pictures for anyone interested. Sorry it has taken so long, but in my own defense I had to sort through a whole year's worth--for me meaning 10,000 of them. Things such as Christmas, sports, traditional festivals, an African wedding, animals, girls nights, village visits, the Mafuta feeding center, the flood, travels, and, of course, the kids! All this and more can be found at my Picasa site. Enjoy :-)

If the above link doesn't work, copy and paste the following:

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

O Yea, That...

I made it home safe'n'sound bright'n'early Sunday morning and am now working on adjusting back to life on the other side of the Atlantic. Strangely enough it kinda feels like I never left...but there are those few exceptions where I am strongly reminded, "O yea, that..."

-Coffee shops. Surprise, surprise...Starbucks was the first thing I saw upon landing.
-Bagels. Yum.
-Pre-sliced Bread. Well, you can get it sliced, but you have to ask them to open it and do it for you once you buy it.
-Stoplights. What does red mean again?
-No sand in my shoes!
-Drinking water straight from a spicket.
-Flipping the light switch up to go on, not down. Why is it suddenly darker in here?
-Dishwashers. The plug in, electric type.
-Driving on the right hand side of the road...this is really going to get me in trouble. Aaaaand i keep turning on the windshield wipers when i want to turn...
-Not having to count the seconds I'm online. I love unlimited FAST access.
-Having to write today's date as 5/25/10 instead of 25/5/10. That will be a perpetual state on confusion for quite a while.
-The roads are huge. And they curve.
-Dryers. I prefer a string and some great African sunshine on this one.
-The washing machine doesn't give you a nice little medley to start off the washing.
-The microwave isn't narcoleptic...
-There isn't 'fresh' meat being sold along the side of the road.
-TV shows in their original language, not crudely translated from Spanish by the same 4 people.
-There is no bleach water to dip my dishes in when I'm done washing matter how much I keep trying...
-Driving to town in a car. Sure beats a boat.
-Church only lasts for an hour...not hourS.
-Amish Buggies...something that really should be in Africa. But I guess donkeys are close enough.
-Street Names. There is more than one in each town aaaand its not Hage Geingob St.
-Waking up to the sound of silence. Deafening actually...I'm a little too used to Petro? :-P

But on a more serious note, I don't even know where to begin in expressing my gratitude and thanks toward those who made this last year of my life possible; and I know there are alot of you. Whether it was the daily prayers, the notes of encouragement, keeping in touch, or supporting me financially (or d. all of the above); all played a cumulative role in making the last year of my life my biggest adventure yet. I miss the kids, the staff, and life there like craaazy! They were all my extended family and home away from home. But anything good that came of my time there was a team effort led by God, not anything I could have ever done on my own. So for that, thank you all for letting me be a part of what God is doing around the world!

Friday, May 21, 2010


The constant decibel level in the children's home has quintupled overnight as the first lot of kids were brought back yesterday from their villages. With every one that Jenny and I picked up yesterday, the van got louder and louder with more and more stories and more and more laughter as they quickly picked out who had gotten chicken pox and who hadn't...yet. So with 14 more kids in the home, all with 14,000 stories to tell, its no wonder. They all had a very nice holiday and can't wait to go back in December for the next one. "Wonderful, excellent, & too amazing to describe" were responses I heard alot of. Since it was harvest time during the holiday, they brought home and learned to cook many different traditional vegetables, milks, and nuts, all of which I can't prounce (me and bushman !clicks are not friends...). Many got to see friends and family they had not seen in a long time and some even meeting parents and siblings for the first time. Overall a very memorable and valuable experience for them all.

Pictured here is Beerina & Djolo (in greens) with their siblings & cousins.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Mafuta is a nearby village in which there is a feeding center that we provide food for. There are local volunteers who do the preparing of food, serving, and teach the preschool. Since Jessica has been gone on furlough, I've been the delivery/firewood girl and yesterday was my last day there. Shortly after they had made me do the final stirrings of pap (corn meal) for the kids (exhausting...seriously), a guy rode by on a bike selling tiny little fish. The largest was maybe 1 inch long and were N$1/cup. So the makuwas threw in N$5 for the experience on how they are prepared and, of course, a taste test :-)

First you separate out all the large (1 inch) ones from the small ones then put them in water a bit at a time and start squeezing handfuls to remove their innards. Then you sort through them and pull out any grass or large pieces of dirt. To cook them, they are all put into a pot together over an open fire and fried with oil. They are stirred for a while before finally getting mashed up and adding salt to taste.
The final outcome included everything from bones to eyeballs, but all eaten mashed onto a handful of pap. I have to say, I had my doubts, but it was extremely delicious and definitely worth the experience. Pictured above is me with the Mafuta volunteers enjoying our meal of pap and (tiny) fish.


The boat has finally reached its long-overdue retirement...until next year anyway; Gilligan has escaped Zion Island via road!!! For the first time in more than 9 weeks, we have reached the tar road by something other than a boat!! The road is still not completely dry, or fixed, but is at least now passable by 4 wheel drive vehicles.

The 2.5 mile road is now visible, not knee deep at the shallowest part, the ponds have been reduced to large puddles, the largest holes have been filed with sand, and the large gullies have been filled in with bricks (only wide enough to pass one car of course, as you can see by the photo). And last but not least, the bridge was fixed yesterday making the road now fully "passable" for us at Zion, the end of the road. We had kept our truck on the inside during the flood and it can now get in and out, but I was also able to get one of our other vehicles back here with very little problem. Now getting our low-riding 14-seatbelt (but up to 30-some passenger) van back in may be another story, but all-in-all an excellent start towards normal travel once again.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Fish Are Food, Not Friends...

Over the past several months Dave has been teaching the kids how to fish, especially the boys. There are many that are now excellent fishermen thanks to Daves work and many have enjoyed private tigerfish dinners thanks to Margaret's cooking as they celebrate their catch. But perhaps the best fisherman of them all (or the most lucky), is Muny. He has been away at his school for the deaf in Windhoek until recently, but save the last learner to be the best learner.

He has trumped them all in the biggest tigerfish caught (pictured right) and the first and only to nab a bubble fish (pictured above & helped by Albert just this morning). Yesterday alone he caught 3 large tigerfish, also a record for the number caught in one day by one person. Since so few are left in the children's home these days, he has reeled in a scrumptious dinner for everyone on several occassions. This bubblefish might even be enough for a couple of nights.

Friday, May 14, 2010


Earlier this week, the local news showed a small clip about a newborn baby, only 1 day old, that had been found abandoned in the bush here in Katima. And of course, not but a couple days later, we got the call about our newest addition!! So off Jenny and I went this morning to meet the social worker, the magistrate, and to collect her from the hospital. Since she had been living there since discovered by the police, the nurses were very sad to see her go. But she is now the youngest of Zion's very large family, one week old today, and weighing in at 6.8 lb and adorable. When we told Josiah (no longer the 'baby') that she was coming to stay in this crib, he looked at me and yelled "Liar!" before screaming his head off for the next half hour. Though the extremity of his antics funny, they are also due to the fact that, though the smallest, he has the chicken pox the worst of all and is an overall very unhappy boy these days.

Since such a public story was made about her case, we were asked several times if she was the one from the news when we seen with her in town. In addition, the Minister himself granted a nice donation towards clothes/supplies for her at the hospital and was given the honor of naming her. He did so after his own mother, Nsala.

Pox De La Chicken

That's right, chicken pox. Did you really think things could get quiet, calm, and normal around here with only a few kids left?? Ha! :-) Now there are only a few who don't have the chicken pox. Starting with 2 of the young boys at the beginning of the month that are now gone, only 2 kids are left here who don't have it (yet...) and a few staff members. And all who do have it are large lovers of Calamine much so that they look like makuwas (white folk) before they are done applying it. Moses (pictured left), one of our most energetic staff members, is also the most proud wearer if his Makuwa face and daily welcomes each new person to the chicken pox club with open arms. We have heard of at least a few of the kids not here that now have it and we're sure there are/will be many more. It may be easier to count the ones that don't have it by the time they reach back to Zion.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

O Yea...The Flood Thing

O yea, the water started going down this weekend!! It's not going down so very quickly this time, but has at least started. Please pray it goes down quickly!


This ridiculous dog has become a very good guardian, friend, and source of entertainment for me over the past year. Though it is really Jessica's dog, she has been on loan to me as protection since I've been living alone most of my time here.

In short, this dog is quirky with a loyal superiority complex. She follows me everywhere, except she "follows" from about 20 feet in front of me. She is always looking back to make sure she's predicting correctly where I'll go next and, if I'm sitting in a room, she will jump up and race to the door at the first remote sign that I'm even considering getting up. If she needs to stop and scratch or pee along the way, she will do so, but will immediately stop as soon as I catch up to her and race ahead before continuing her business, just so long as I am never in front of her.

Kleptomaniac--an all too fitting name. I was with Jessica when she got this nice little border collie mix from Windhoek in the summer of 2008. She had several nice names picked out to try, but upon getting to know her better, Klepto soon replaced them all. There were 3 of us living in the house at the time and suddenly our things kept disappearing only reappear where they didn't belong. It only took a few times of Jessica asking me why in the world my socks were in her bedroom before the new name was final.

Now I say she "follows" me everywhere, but there are a few exceptions. Namely Cleo, Ginger, and the chickens. (Cleo & Ginger are cats...) Now, she is the fastest dog I've ever seen (she can run from the children's home to my front door in 11 seconds, if you are familiar with the compound), but she has only ever managed to catch a cat once...and she came out of the fight limping and bleeding. But nevertheless she continues to try. She has become quite the avid tree climber, but so good that her newest trick is to climb up onto the children's home roof. She then proceeds to chase the cat all over the roof, but still to no avail. From the inside, it just sound like Santa's reindeer are practicing their crash landing...

She also loves to chase other things, especially small children. Now this may sound horrible, but hear me out (don't worry, noone gets hurt). Out of all of them there is only 1 that hasn't quickly figured out that if they just stop running and stand still, she will bring her full-out running charge to a screeching halt right at their feet, then both parties just walk off. But this sheep-herding quirk of hers has more practical uses indoors. If I am in any room of the children's home, she will lunge at anyone who comes running down the hallway so as to stop them dead in their tracks...its actually been a quite effective policing tactic; they come to a screeching halt and she comes back into the room to wait for the next one.

I will really miss the protection and daily entertainment I get from this quirky dog, but maybe she will finally have time to master catching a cat? I'd hate to know what tops learning to run around on a roof...

And Then There Was One...

Okay, really 14. The children's home is almost completely empty now as, for the first time, arrangements have been made for many of the children to be on an extended home visitation. It is currently a one-month school holiday and 43 of them are busy visiting with family and friends in their home villages. Even though these kids live here in the children's home, most still have aunts, uncles, grandparents, and some even a parent, that they can go to to visit, but that can't financially support them full time. The kids were very much excited for this opportunity to be reunited with friends and family that many haven't seen in years and certainly not for this length of time. There are even some that are getting to meet family they have either never met before or never knew they had.

There are several that are welcoming this opportunity to take their relationship with Christ back to their villages. Most of these kids had never heard of Christ upon first coming here to Zion, but now many are on fire for Him. There is one young teenager who has had a particular heart for her two older sisters that remained in the village when she was brought here. In one of her past shorter visitations, she was able to lead one of her sisters to share her faith in Christ. It was only a while later that this sister then passed away, but now both find comfort knowing they will meet again someday. She expressed to me that she wants very much to lead her other sister to faith in Christ during this visitation. Please pray that this young girl finds both the courage and opportunity to do so and that the sister has an open heart to receive her words. Pray also for the others that wish to take this opportunity to share about their heavenly relationship with their friends and family.

Meanwhile, back on the Zambezi, things have never been so quiet--or empty. Several of the kids have their whole bedroom to themselves and there is a whole lot less fighting over who gets the leftovers :-) It will be hard to keep them 'un-bored' during the coming weeks, but Dave has been teaching the boys how to fix the boat and they are all now all the way up to season 3 (in only a week) of their newest television addiction--LOST. Today we had a modified church service surrounding a fellowship lunch with all the volunteers and staff that were working today. The staff cooked a chicken, pumpkin, and potato salad meal while Margaret & I made some desserts and we all fit around one large table setting for a nice Sunday meal. I spoke this morning about one-on-one fellowship with God. Pray that those left might be able to use this rare opportunity of a few quiet weeks to deepen their relationship with Him.

Monday, April 19, 2010


Just when Gilligan had sighted hopes of escaping Zion Island via road, more flooding hit the headlines; there is a second wave well on its way. Despite the water already flooding our walkways again, there are at least rumors that it won't hit the eastern Caprivi (our region) as bad as before or as bad as the western Caprivi. We barely got by with the height of the last flood in respects to not having to evacuate, but we have yet to see how high this new one will come. Please be praying that it doesn't rise so much and starts going back down quickly. Also continue praying that the boat remains in top functioning order since its much-needed vacation is not even in sight yet.

Please be in prayer for the entire Caprivi Region, particularly the western portion. We have actually been quite fortunate right where we are despite being an island. There have been at least 10,500 people relocated due to this last wave of flooding, but with the predictions of this next wave being record breaking for the western Caprivi, that number will soon spike. Pray for provision physically, emotionally, financially, and spiritually during this very wet time.

Pictured above is a relocated village living out of tents and tarps just outside Katima.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Last Holiday

I was watching this movie the other night; it left me with a sharp conviction and I felt led to share it...

I believe there comes a time in everyone's life when they realize that it's length is dream; they are suddenly snapped into its brutal reality called 'short.' Everyone has varying thresholds to the onset of this stark reality. It could be the death of a family member--sibling, parent, grandparent--a close friend, a classmate. Or maybe a personal tradgedy, to either yourself or someone you love, a natural disaster, watching your kids grow up before your very eyes or so many others. It only really happens once before you are reminded an infinite number of times. But all leave you with the same question--what am I really living for??

In a twisted way I feel incredibly blessed to have stumbled upon this question at such a young age. For me it came with the personal tragedy of losing my leg, but not just that, the overwhelming report that I should not have lived. I was supposed to have bled to death except for an artery in that leg that I never knew I was born without. God had it all in his perfect plan, for many reasons of course, but the most important personally was to force me to come to peace with the fact that I could have died, right then and there, at age 16--no drivers license, no big senior year of high school, no college life with all of its own experiences. Nothing.

But there is something perplexing and magical about not dying when you are "supposed to" that is permanently engrained in your mind and screams "Live! Really Live!!" For me this is where God really took ahold of the steering wheel in my life. There was one night in the hospital I was feeling particularly discouraged and one of my doctors ended up sitting beside me on my hospital bed with two very clear messages. The first was this, "Blossom where you are planted." And she stressed that it started right there in that hospital room despite the fact I couldn't even get out of bed. God had planted me there as well as divinely planted every doctor and nurse that walked through that door, and I was to get going on blossoming for Him. But the second thing was that all pain that we as humans experience can be used to bless someone else, if we choose. Pain is something one only understands by experience, obviously, but it is also a specific tool that can be used by God to fuel compassion and understanding of others in similar pain.

Now its one thing to realize that the length of life is a dream, but it's another in what is done with it. I promised God that day that I would never take advantage of another step or breath or opportunity to share His name, but guess what? I have. I'm one of those crazy sinners He created, BUT, lucky for me, He is also a crazy awesome forgiver.

In the end, it doesn't matter what "livng everyday to it's fullest" means to you--that's up to God. But it is our responsibility to do it, whether its in a hospital bed, an office chair, on the moon, in a classroom, at the grocery store, etc. None is greater than another in God's eyes as long as it is to the fullest.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Baby's 1st Boat Ride

Ok, and mine too...solo driving anyway. With the multitudinous trips that Dave has to take in the boat (seeing as it's the only means of transport for 80-some people) he decided it was time to gve himself a break and teach me to drive to town when I needed to...starting today. Well, what he failed to mention was that on my first solo boat run I'd be bringing back a 26 HOUR old infant! But don't worry, we made it back safe and sound. Fortune, the principal of our mission school, just had a new baby girl added to his family yesterday morning. Dave had to rush the wife into town yesterday at 6:30am, just a few hours before she gave birth (maybe that's what did him in :-P). Margaret and I have been fearfully reading up on how to deliver babies incase the wee one had bad timing (its danergous to take the boat out at night). Needless to say we're more than relieved we didn't have to! But all's well that ends well. Mother, baby, and family are all back home safe and sound.
And as for our other "baby's" first boat experience? Well...he's now almost 2, but Little Mr. Adventure loved it. He wasn't in the boat hardly minute before the exact words out of his mouth were, "Uncle David, I Want to Drive the Boat..."

Sunday, April 4, 2010


I have been extremely blessed thus far in my African adventures. It has been clear to me many times that people are continuing to pray for me day in and day out even after I've been gone for so long. It is often at the most random times, especially when I'm not asking for it, that I feel God's presence with me and I know it is because someone is praying. This reminds me that I can't be over here on my own--I need that prayer support. Anything good that comes of me being here is thus a team effort led by God, not anything I could ever do on my own.
What I've also greatly appreciated is all the financial support that has been so generously given. Since I first raised support before I arrived, it has graciously carried me all the way up until now. But I am now lacking some to get me through these last 2 months. I would humbly ask you to pray if God is leading you to donate any additional financial support. I still feel very confident that He has led me here and aim to continue through my final weeks, but I can't do so alone.
If you feel God calling you to do so, you may send it to the following address with my name in the memo:
Children of Zion, Inc.
P.O. Box 413
Churchville, MD 21028
Thanks again for both your prayer and financial support. Even if you are not called to support further financially, I ask that you continue your prayer support as that is by far my most vital need. Although I could never repay all I've been given, be encouraged by God's short and simple promise--"I (God) will bless those who bless you," Genesis 12:3. Thank you for being both a blessing and a part of my ministry here in Namibia!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Just Like That

I really should post more prayer requests on this blog because thus far almost every single one of them has been answered within a day or two of me finally posting them. God's just cool like that...just like this rainbow that just popped up over the river on our way home tonight...but much more so ;-) But anyway, I'll start this one with a couple of praises before I get to the irony and thus another prayer post. Sarah and I got out safely this morning (#1), and even in our own boat (#1.5) since it had to be taken to town to get fixed...and it did! The boat was fixed today (#2)! BUT the vehicle I didn't take (#3.7) to Zambia today broke (next prayer up to bat); right after the boat got fixed, of course. So that's next up on the list of prayers for whoever is the prayer warrior responsible for all these next-day air to Africa prayer answers ;-)

ok so I just spent a halfhour trying to upload this crazy (but beautiful) picture of the rainbow over the river that appeared today, but African internet has decided to take a vacation to Cuba...sorry.
this just in...the internet has returned from Cuba...

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Party Animals

Katima continued to celebrate its national birthday even this weekend. Yesterday there was a large festival in town commemorating their 20th birthday with traditional dances and such in the morning (so i hear, and so i saw being cleaned up) and then in the afternoon there was a soccer game by some of our boys. Sarah and I took Mona in for her own birthday festivities and we were even able to convince/conn an official to give the 2 white representatives free tshirts and super cool visors that were meant only for performers. Two of our boys, Goty and Petro, have been selected from among the regional club teams to represent the Caprivi region in the Coca-Cola Cup coming up next weekend in Windhoek and they played a pre-game against Zambia at the festival yesterday and won. This will be a nationally televised event and a great honor for our boys to be a part of--and of course they are both only a little more than stoked.

Speaking of competing, the Namibian national track and field event was held this weekend also. Unfortunately Goty found out at the last minute that he didn't actually qualify to compete and only by seconds, but at least this way he was around to qualify for the Coca-Cola Cup. But also at the last minute, literally 15 minutes before closing time the night before she was to leave, Lisedi got all the paperwork she needed and was able to go! But the biggest news lies with Djolo. He received the bronze medal in his national competition. He is officially the 3rd fastest runner of the 200 m race in all of Namibia (for the Under 15 age category)!! We are still waiting to hear if his time will qualify him to go any further, but this excitment is enough for now.

In other news, there is a big prayer need from Gilligan's Island. The boat broke this morning. It is running only on 1 cylinder and stalls whenever you go to put it in gear and thus is 92 % nonfunctional. Dave has spent all day trying to fix it, but to no avail thus far. He was able to arrange for some boat fixers to come tomorrow, but please pray that it can be fixed quickly. He was also able to arrange a ride to town in a neighbor's boat for Sarah and I since I have to take her to the airport early tomorrow, but we have had to cancel school since we can't get the teachers here. Even things like food can only get picked up by boat.
Pictured here is Margaret (Dave's wife), Lorna (newcoming director), and myself bailing out the boat after too much rain a few weeks ago. Dogbowls have many uses here along the Zambezi ;-)

Friday, March 26, 2010

Phone Outage

This announcement is only a few days late, but better late than never. As of now, we will NOT be evacuating this year!!!! (knock on wood). And its all due to a phone outage...and answered prayers of course. Last Friday we were mandated by the regional counciler to evacuate, but Friday night the phones went out and were out until Saturday night. We thus didn't have a way to finalize our evacuation location. But also starting Friday night, the rising water levels slowed drastically to the point that by the end of the weekend it had even stopped rising! At this point we decided to use the phone outage as a nice excuse to delay the orders to evacuate. When he was talked to again on Tuesday, he agreed that we did not have to evacuate immediately. And since the waters have continued to not rise--and even went down just a little--I dont think we will be evacuating. We are of course still having to function as an island and go everywhere by boat, but at least we are still here...all thanks to a phone outage (and answered prayers!) :-)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Fish are Friends, Not Food...

The waters have slowed (answered prayers!!), but have not yet stopped. Now it is rising maybe only an inch or 2 per day at most and the majority of the effects now are seen as the water is filling in the little valleys throughout the compound. There is not yet water in any of the buildings (except for the one staff house just outside the compound, pictured below), but it is less than 20 feet from my front door. The river/puddles/ponds/water (whichever you prefer) is currently knee-deep and full of fish in some of the common walking paths are there is no way around it. The garden is now full of water and creeping up from the back, non-river, side of the children's home, which is flooding our septic systems (another prayer request).

We have officially been mandated by the regional counciler to evacuate the property and weer going to do so today, but, due to an opportune phone outage from Friday night till Saturday night, we were unable to finalize an evacuation point and thus have not yet evacuated. We weren't mandated to leave beacuse of immediate danger, but rather so we don't get caught at that point. But now with the waters slowing, we are hoping to maybe reconvince him otherwise. Please keep praying for this. There are alot of logistics and extra expenses involved in evacuation and, as excited as the kids are and as much adventure as we dont already have, it wouldn't be ideal.

Until then, this compound continues to operate as an island. The only way to get anywhere is by boat. Even our neighboring villages are completely blocked by water.

Happy Birthday Namibia!

Namibia is offically no longer a teenager; she turns 20 today! Long dwelled by its nautural inhabitants, it became a German colony in the late 1880's and then later came under South African rule during WWI and became known as South West Africa. After much German genocide and apartheid, SWAPO (South West Africa People's Organization) was formed in the 1960's and decided to organize independance. 22 years of war later, it sucessfully became an independant republic and is now a free, developing, sucessful nation.

The kids commemorated their independence day this past Friday with a big celebration in school. The older ones all took turns giving presentations on Namibia's history. Furthermore, there was lots of hip action as everyone from the young to the old performed several traditional dances. And, of course, no celebration is complete with out snacks :-)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Swallow First

For the past 6 months, 2 of our kids have been on full TB treatment while another 20 have been on prophylactic TB meds for contact and high risk. That boosted the number of kids getting daily meds up drastically as for the last 6 months over 30 of our kids have been getting meds daily for everything from HIV to epilepsy to anemia to of course, TB. It got a little chaotic at times…especially when I forgot to tell the 4 year olds to swallow before telling them to open their mouths to show me they’d finished. But now all of our kids are officially TB free and no longer being treated. Giving meds has just gotten a whole lot easier (only twenty-some now) just in time for a possible evacuation sometime soon. We even had a little celebration with my new friends at the TB clinic today. The nurses will no longer cringe when I show up with huge stacks of medical books to collect medication!!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Runnin' Wild

After many weeks of training and competing, 3 of our kids have done it…they have qualified for the Namibian national running competition in Swakopmund, Namibia. If they win there, they will move on to an internationally hosted competition!

About a month ago, many of our kids competed in a large junior and secondary school track and field competition for all of the Katima area. Being one of the smallest schools in the area, we did exceptionally well. We came home with seven 1st places, eight 3rd places, and four 3rd places. Goty (top photo) got first place in the 1500 m and the 100 m, Lisedi (middle photo, maroon jersey) got first place in the 400 m, the 200 m, and the 100 m, and Djolo (bottom photo, green jersey) got first in the 200 m. These were the 3 that qualified to move onto the regional competition, held yesterday.

At the regional competition both Goty and Djolo won 1st place again in their respective races. Lisedi competed only in the 200m and 400m, but also still won 1st place. They are all 3 very excited to be able to continue on to the national level in Swakopmund, but please pray for some lost paperwork issues with Lisedi. If they are not able to be obtained soon, it may keep her from competing. It has already kept her from competing at the national level in soccer this past June.

Speaking of which, I never got around to blogging about it, but there were similar regional to national level competitions held for both basketball and soccer this past June and July. Ten of our kids qualified for each at the national level and traveled to Windhoek to compete. There were a couple that even came very close to qualifying for the international level in soccer. Since it was only their first time in this type of competition, many have high hopes of doing much better this year since they know more of what to expect.


So, what good is a blog about a flood with no pictures of water?? Sorry bout that. The first two pics were taken right outside my house. The top one was taken this afternoon while the second shows what the same place looked like just a month and a half ago.

This last picture is of the trees, or what’s left of them, on Hippo Island located just across from the children’s home.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Just Keep Swimming, Just Keep Swimming...

I apologize for no real update on the flood yet, but it is most certainly upon us. You may remember me posting a few blogs this time last year about the flood. That was the first time the flooding was bad enough for evacuation of COZV. Well, this past year’s hot season needed to be very hot to get the water tables even close to where they needed to be and that didn’t happen. We also didn’t get anywhere near the rain we should have in the so called “rainy season,” but with the water tables not going down combined with continuous rain in Angola equals flood time yet again.

Last Saturday we began stage one of evacuation…all vehicles that couldn’t drive through wheel-deep water exited stage left. There is a 4 km dirt road back to the children’s home in which the puddles have now become ponds and the small rickety bridge is now under water. When I left to take Ray and the Curry’s to the airport on Thursday morning we had to take the pickup truck out to the other vehicles and got out just shortly before the bridge covered over. By the time I returned on Friday, I had to be brought back by boat.

Today has started stage 2.37…the packing and laying of sandbags. We went in this morning and bought 500 bags (we hope to not use them all) from the mill and everyone has been packing and laying all day. The water is quite close to my house now. There used to be a very large dry area between my house and the river, but the river is now just a few meters from my front door. The water has already crossed the fence in one spot and in another is rushing towards the staff housing just outside the compound.
The mighty Zambezi has been rising at a rate of at least 3 inches per day and sometimes up to 8 for a total of more than 8.5 feet in just 3 and a half weeks. (If) and when evacuation time comes, we will be camping in a plot of 6 ft high grass graciously lent to us by the Catholic priest unless we can find a better accommodations last minute. We will have to supply our own food, water, housing, septic, etc. Talk about a chaotic camping trip…never fear, adventure is near.

Please pray for wisdom in the evacuation timing (never would be fantastic) and procedures as well as safety for everyone in the area. It is of course not just us being flooded out, but many, many villages as well. Some in the western Caprivi have already been evacuated. Please pray for their health, safety, and for God’s provisions of the relief needs all along the Zambezi this year.

Changing of the Guard

Ever since the Minks retired from COZV this past August, the stateside board of directors has been fervishly praying and seeking out new full-time directors. And as God’s perfect will and timing would have it, Travis and Lorna Curry magically crossed their radar screen. They had just recently finished their missionary training and were seeking out God’s placement for them when the two paths crossed. And now there are only a few minor steps (ok, really major—like quitting their jobs, selling everything they own, and raising support) to go before they will be here full-time in September.

But these past 2 weeks were extra special as they were both able to get time off work for a honeymoon preview of their new lives to come. It was really a privilege and honor to be able to meet them in person and see first hand the love and heart they already have for these kids, the staff, and the surrounding community here. They both have a great job ahead of them (who doesn’t raising 57 kids) but I can’t think of 2 more spiritually prepared and equipped people to tackle it. Plus they both have a great sense of humor…that, God, and patience are the magic keys to survival here. You can check out their blog at to follow their own dialogue.

So that’s the long-term change of the guard, but there has been a short-term exchange as well. Ray Mastnjak, a member of the COZ Board, has been the interim director here for the last 6 months and has done a wonderful job at stabilizing a frenzied world, implementing a new management system, and building productive relationships with the community. Dave Walker is next in line to return to director duty, but until then Jenny and I are up to bat. For the next 6 weeks Jenny will be the director here and I will be the business manager. I’m already walking crooked by the weight of the extra keys on my belt and we are less of a few cows after my first ever payroll last month. Its fun learning to do new things, but please also pray we survive ; ) Things are already a little more than insane with the imminent flood.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Fly Away Home

Ninety-one days till I'm home. Now that my return tickets have been set in stone, it has become very real that I will soon be leaving my home away from home. Living someplace for a length of time forces you to settle in and get comfortable. Never had I dreamed I would wake up every morning in Africa and consider it normal. Yet spending day in and day out with these kids and staff and this lovely African life here has become very much of a norm that I love. God has placed in me a love for these kids that can only come from Him; for their lives, their health, their well-being, their spirituality. I can’t love like Him on my own. In some respects I guess that’s what it will be like when I have my own kids someday (only more so of course), but for now I’m content with just the preview.

Don’t get me wrong, I miss my family and friends very much and can’t wait to spend a whole summer at home (for the first time since the 7th grade), but I could also never replace the experiences I have had while God has placed me here to live, learn, and grow in Namibia. Realistically I have no idea if God has plans for me to ever see these kids again. While praying about all these thoughts this morning, God’s ever-timeliness led me to John 13. Verse 1 reads, “Jesus knew it was time for him to leave this world and go back to the Father. He had always loved those who were his own in the world, and he loved them all the way to the end.” Though clearly I’m not Jesus in this verse, He always promises to understand us and from this I found great peace confirming He does. Whether these kids are in my life just for this time, or if we will meet again someday this side of heaven, I will always love them.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


Ques = Really Silly Things. Africa really should be spelled with a Q somehow because everywhere you go, there is one, and 95% percent of the time, it’s a long one. Fortunately many places are kind enough to have benches, buuut you are still left waiting at…doctor’s offices, the pharmacy, the hospital, clinics, or any other government related place. There is no such thing as appointments here, its first come, first serve, and the rest wait.

For example, if you want to take a child to the doctor, you go to the hospital. First off, you show up at least an hour before opening time. Then you sit in a que to get their health card stamped and numbered, then you sit in a que to wait for the doors to open, then stand in a que to get weighed, then sit in que to get temperature and blood pressure taken, then sit in a que to see a general doctor who will then prescribe you to sit in yet another que of the appropriate “specialist” for whatever the problem might be, then last but not least you sit in que at either the bandage/injection room or the pharmacy, or both.

Today in particular was the worst ques I’ve ever been in. Jenny (the primary guardian) and I went to the Home Affairs office to try and iron out some birth certificate issues. It didn’t open till 8am, but we didn’t want to be sitting in the que all day (ha!), so we left at 6. We arrived to find at least a dozen people already waiting. And, as our luck would continue to have it, they called about 30 people with special cards to come first…the leftovers from the day before they never got to! Encouraging beginning, but at least a little entertainment was to come. With so many people waiting so long on sardinely-packed benches in the middle of the summer, things are bound to get ugly. When the workers announced going on a tea break at 10, it was just fortunate punches weren’t thrown. Before we knew it the police and NBC (Namibian Broadcasting Company) were brought in and interviews taken of the ever-maddening que issue. Well, needless to say we didn’t leave until 3:30, 9 hours later, and forget the fact that our mission is thus far unsuccessful. Next time we will attempt leaving at 5am?

Pictured here is NBC interviewing yet another disgruntled que-sitter at the Home Affairs office today.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Results of Bequeathment

It has been 3 years ago today that my dad passed away. In more ways than one, he is the reason that I’m in Namibia, but I often wonder if he even knows I’m here. Either way, I can’t wait to tell him ALL about it when I get to heaven too ;-)

Growing up, I remember him spending a great deal of time leading the missions committee at our church. And with that came the lovely task he bequeathed to me of distributing missionary prayer letters to Sunday School classes. I really enjoyed reading about what God was doing in other countries, so I didn’t mind other than being shy about having to go into all the “adult” classes. But I especially enjoyed reading about the Minks (the previous directors of COZV), since they were old family friends--it gave a personal connection to these outside worlds I kept reading about. But at the time there was nothing more than the cool factor of actually knowing them in “real life” and the occasional fleeting thought of maybe I’d go to Africa someday…waaay in the future, when I was old. Well, I guess old is now…because here I am. My Dad spent a lot of time challenging me in a heart towards missions--missions at its heart—that all Christians are missionaries, no matter how near or far God takes them.

The fast track of my journey here though began just a few weeks after his death. Some people had raised money specifically for 10 of the oldest girls at COZV to come to America and sing and share their testimonies in different churches, and mine happened to be one of them. I hadn’t even given Africa a second thought from my prayer letter days until this night. Being still in the shock of what the past 6 months had been in my own life, hearing their stories of how much more they had been through, some even before the age of 5, snapped me quickly back into reality. I know I can never fully understand all they’ve been through (knock on wood), but I was now one small step closer as I dauntingly realized that night that I was now half an orphan. As the night went on, my heart for them grew deeper and deeper. I had a long, snowy, 5 ½ hour drive back to school that night and all these thoughts never stopped spinning in my head. I just remember God saying something like…’Your summer just became wide open, you know they always write in their prayer letters about needing volunteers, and this passion that you suddenly have for these kids is from Me…now GO!’ And, well, the rest is history. I have now spent just over a year with these wonderful kids.

I have no idea where the rest of my life will lead me…whether it will be back home, back here, or even farther around the world. But in the words of my father in a letter he wrote to me just a few months before his death, “I want to see Christ working in me, just an ordinary [girl] with an extraordinary God running [her] life and me genuinely praising Him for it.”

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Thousand Mile Ride-Along

Well, more like 1,600 miles and it was all driving and no riding (which led to a serious case of a truck driver’s tan…), but it was a very enjoyable road trip nonetheless. This past Monday Jenny (the primary guardian), 5 of the kids, and I left for the capital on a medical trip. We took our 2 kids with epilepsy to a neurologist for long overdue checkups/EEG and 3 others to a dermatologist. The medical portion was very successful as well as conclusive as we now have new directions to head in for the treatment of all 5. Although our main purpose of course was medical, we also got to have a lot of fun as we toured the street shops, strolled around the mall, took a dip in the pool, and ate enough meals at KFC to be on a first name basis.

The driving portion was also very successful. In addition to the normal cows, goats, chickens, and dogs in the road, we also saw many wild game along the way. Included was a cape buffalo, baboons, elephants, guinea fowl, wart hogs, a giraffe, springbok, meer cats, a chameleon, a turtle, peacocks, kudu, a wildebeest, hartebeests, and one antelope we have still yet to figure out. Our African road trip turned out to be more like a free safari ride although sadly there are a few birds and a few thousand bugs now less of a life because of it. With the biggest problem only being a waitress confusing margarita pizzas for Mexicana and nearly killing us all, I’d say it was all-in-all a very successful trip.

Friday, January 15, 2010

When It's Over...

That’s exactly when you sleep at a sleepover…when it’s over. For winning the good deed chain competition, I promised all the girls a special night. Last Friday night I had a sleepover with all the oldest girls (12 and up), all 20 of them, and it was a BLAST. We cleaned out the bungalow and filled both levels with mattresses, sheets, pillows, and blankets and brought the TV over from the children’s home. They painted their nails, did makeup, played cards, ate ice cream sundaes, danced their butts off to High School Musical, made pizza from scratch, and then watched movies until lunch time the next day. They told me later that this was their first sleepover, which explains why they were shocked when I told them they could stay up and watch movies all night—and that’s exactly what most of them did, that and giggle of course.

Since it was all the girls that won the competition, I didn’t leave out the youngest 6 girls, but rather just had a separate non-sleepover night for them. In fact, it was even conveniently over by their 8 o’clock bedtime! But they partied hard up until then all donned up in their matching fairy dresses they’d gotten for Christmas. Nancy and I had them over to our house for their own movie night where they had ice cream sundaes, bananas (they weren’t too keen on the idea of healthy food in their ice cream for banana splits, so preferred them separately), jumped on the beds, then took their dresses off and snuggled up in blankets to watch Madagascar 2. Though I say ‘snuggled,’ it was a more of a mixture of snuggling, squirming, and squiggling; not a one of them sat still for more than 5 minutes of course. But all in all a wonderful night for both groups and well deserved.