Zambia Trip - Part III

The new Samfya Bible School Master Plan

Part III
Thursday 9/9
This morning during our devotional time we had asked Donald (the pastor from New Zealand who has been our main point of contact) to give his testimony. One of my favorite parts of eMi trips is hearing the team member’s stories. When it’s someone from another country it’s especially interesting to hear how God has impacted a life in a distant land. After his testimony, he also shared a verse with us from Colossians 3:2-4: “Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.”
It was a good reminder for me to not focus so much on the world around me, but focus on the things God would want me to focus on. I was thinking how much time I waste thinking and talking about things that really aren’t important, and how I could do a much better job of thinking about ‘the things of heaven’. I’m not even sure I know how to do that or what exactly that means, but somehow I feel like I need to spend some time figuring that out. I think this verse will become my ‘theme’ for this trip and when I get back home I need to unpack it all.
Anyway, work-wise we had another meeting this morning with the ministry and had some more fine tuning to do. On one hand, we’re making changes pretty late in the week, but on the other hand the changes we’re making will ultimately simplify the project completion process. The only drawback will be that we didn’t get as far through the design as I would have liked, so we’ll just have a little more to do once we get back home. But ultimately, the bottom line is the changes we’re making will make it much more likely that the work we do is helpful to the ministry. This is one project where we don’t have to worry about them building it – they plan to start on the first building not long after we leave and have funding for the first 3 to 5 buildings. A big pile of bricks is already on site for the first building, so that is exciting.
Problem-solving on site

Working late to finish for the presentation

Reviewing architect Gene's work while finishing up one of my favorite meals - white rice with sauce.

The couple hundred trees on the site made the survey much more difficult than it otherwise would have been. We located each and every tree so the architects could place the new buildings in such a way so as to minimize cutting down the beautiful trees.

Pounding in a control point during the survey
One other note – yesterday volunteer Gene saw a 12 foot long, green snake hanging from a tree. We aren’t sure what kind it was, but we were all about to make him sleep with the dogs because he didn’t tell any of us about it (we were all outside in a meeting with the ministry at the time, so he said he didn’t want to interrupt!). Making matters worse, he didn’t snap a picture of it! It’s Ok, we forgive you Gene. Apparently Gene sees snakes all the time back home in Florida so he didn’t think anyone would be that interested in seeing it. Also, earlier in the day, Donald had found a skin (about 5 feet long) that had been shed from a spitting cobra. He found it about 20 meters from the front entry to the guesthouse we’re staying at, right next to where we had set up the survey instrument just 2 days earlier!
Friday 9/10
Presentation day! Finally all of our work culminates into a presentation to the ministry. We finished the final touches (volunteer Robert stayed up most of the night finishing the master plan) and presented at 3pm. Overall, it went very smoothly with only a few questions and ideas from the local board. That’s good as it means we can just go to work once we’re home and don’t have to worry too much about making changes. The master plan looks really good and the ministry was very thankful for our work. It gives them both excitement and a physical way to begin fundraising – Donald is leaving the same day we are to begin a fundraising trip to South Africa, the UK and the US. And even more exciting, the first buildings will begin construction in the next few weeks!

Presenting our preliminary designs to the minstry for one last chance for input before we return home and finalize the report.

Civil Engineers Jason P. (L) and Jason C. (R) present the water and wasterwater findings.

Interns Melissa (L) and Rachel (R) explain the site survey

Volunteer Roger presents the preliminay Agricultural design, while I play Vanna White with the computer since the power went out briefly.

Architects Gene (L) and Robert review their design
That evening, we went out to dinner to celebrate and I had a very interesting conversation with Wathabu, the chairman of the board. We were talking about the difficulties of westerners coming to Africa and understanding and being accepted by the local culture. It was fascinating to hear him speak so candidly about something few Africans I’ve known have been willing to open up about. What’s interesting about Wathabu is that he gets to experience both sides of the dilemma, as his main ministry currently is to travel deep into the bush to disciple the local people in the remote villages. He said when he goes into these places, he is very much an outsider just as if he were a westerner. He said that getting to the point of the village accepting him is ry, very difficult and takes many years. Just as it is for westerners coming to Africa, it’s such a hard circle to cross into that it’s likely not the initial missionary’s generation that will be accepted, but rather his children! He spoke of how many westerners come and think they are figuring out the culture, but really it is almost impossible for them to do so even after many years of living there. He said that the differences in the two cultures run so deeply that he couldn’t even explain to me how or why things work the way they do in his culture.
The example he gave was about relationship, which is very important in the African culture. In fact, it’s everything. So much so that oftentimes minor little conflicts can shape the relationship between two families for years. He said if he were to have a small disagreement about something, even as small as mistaking a cup of water as his when the other person thought it was his. If they have a brief disagreement about it and then move on without resolving it, all relations between those two families would cease – they wouldn’t work together, spend time together, or associate in any way with them. To our culture, that seems petty and silly, but to them, it’s very important.
The conversation with Wathabu only lasted about 30 minutes, but it was a lifetime’s worth of golden nuggets, and ones that I’ll surely use when I teach the cultural training aspects at the eMi orientation for new interns and staff beginning this January.

Some of the drawings the architects produced during the week
Saturday 9/11
I was mindful today of the anniversary of 9/11, and all the lives lost in New York and Washington DC. It’s hard to imagine that was 9 years ago. So much has changed since then – particularly in air travel. I don’t think 9/11 would be possible anymore as no one in their right mind would sit passively by as terrorists flew their plane. It seems like the days of hijacking planes and holding passengers for days at a time like used to happen back in the 80’s are over. I suppose it could still happen, but I think a passenger revolt would keep it from lasting more than a few minutes. Anyway, I digress!
Today was a travel day - we got an early start at 6am. It was a very long drive (9 1/2 hours with stops) and I was really battling sleepiness the whole way. Fortunately, God watched over me and kept me awake, but I was really fighting it. It was like a form of torture really – I was so tired but was trying to will myself to be awake. But there was nothing I could do to get rid of the sleepiness – very frustrating to be so tired when you don’t want to be.

This was our view for over 9 hours today - not much change in terrain so this is pretty much what we saw the whole time.

This was one area that was different, right before we crossed the sprawling but shallow Luapula River an hour and a half out of Samfya. Those sharp, needled mounds are actually termite mounds. Much different from the mounds in other parts of Africa that I've seen. The sandy soil presumably is the reason.

The dry landscape along the road - much different from the countries that lie a bit further to the North along the equator.

Everywhere, people were burning the dry brush. We learned later that this is primarily to prevent overgrowth that would bring snakes when the rainy season comes.
We arrived at the guest house in Lusaka and for the first time in 11 days, I shaved! I have never grown my beard as long as that, so I was very happy to shave it off. I was going to try to make it the whole trip but I couldn’t stand it any longer. I snapped a few pictures – it looked terrible!

Judge for yourself...

You will probably never again see a picture of me with a mustache - this one only lasted about 3 minutes, just long enough to snap a photo. I think I look like a crooked used-car salesman! Terrible!

We had dinner in town tonight, and much to my surprise there was a Subway here! We didn’t eat there, but it was amazing to see it here since Uganda had no American chain stores whatsoever.
Volunteer Jason C. in front of the Subway in downtown Lusaka. The fact that Zambia is so close to South Africa means they have easier access to Western products. The prices at this Subway were surprisingly cheap too - about $2 for a sub.

The food we ate was really good, and then afterwards we stopped in at a grocery store to buy snacks for the bus ride tomorrow. Much to my surprise, there were a lot more American items for sale than there were in Uganda, and they weren’t exorbitantly priced as they were in Uganda. Overall, it does seem a little more developed here in Lusaka compared with Uganda, though Uganda has many more people in a much smaller area. It’s pretty clean here and the roads are very orderly. It’s weird to see the differences, even though many things are obviously the same (friendly people, the way certain things work, electricity outages and poor water quality to name a few).


Ryan Williams said…
Oh my God!!! I nearly fell over laughing when I saw your moustache! You look hilarious! Cheers.

-Ryan W.

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