Back in the UK

We arrived back safe and sound yesterday morning.  It’s great to be back but we’re definitely missing the sun and the heat! It’s stereo-typically grey, rainy and cold here at the moment. It’s a bit sad saying goodbye to the light of day at 4:30 in the afternoon and then not seeing it again until nearly 7:30 in the morning.

We’ve forgotten how delicious all the food is here.  Don’t get me wrong, we’ve eaten very well in Zambia but most things have a bit of a different taste to them.  We’ve been basking in the deliciousness of cereal that doesn’t taste like cardboard, milk that is fresh and not long life, real butter (!), Kettle crisps, and have even had scones, clotted cream and jam.  Heavenly.

Our little man is eight months today.  He’s such a great little guy.  He’s really started laughing lately which is very cute.  He’s giggled before and has laughed from time to time but now, nearly every day, he finds different things funny and will just laugh.  Love it.  During our layover in Nairobi we were in a children’s room and there were two children that were going down a little slide they had there.  He was watching them intently and then just started laughing and laughing each time they went down.  It was adorable…  He is adorable.

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Food parcels

Last month my sister raised some money for food parcels through her Shine Design business.  Over $450 was raised (amazing!), so this past weekend we went on a massive shopping trip and filled up three trolleys full of groceries for ten food parcels.

While we were interviewing the families a few weeks back we identified several families that are in particular need at the moment.  This week we’ve distributing these gifts. Despite having very little, we were welcomed into every home to chat and pray together.

Our hearts both break and are filled with joy when we are in these communities.  There is so much need and yet smiles are flashed everywhere.  

If you are one to pray, there are a few particular situation that we would love for you to be praying for.  Please pray for Aven, Anita, and Matthews who are all HIV positive.  They are doing well but need our prayers.  Please also pray for Ruth, she had a stroke as a young child leaving her with physical and learning disabilities.   Please also pray for the Mwansa family – their mother is unable to take care of them due to mental illness, their step mother recently passed away, their father has left and now their step father is also talking of leaving them.  They are in a very difficult situation at the moment and the school is looking for a relative who could take in these five children.  The oldest daughter, Norah, is really feeling the weight of this situation.

Wrapping up

Since the last team left about 10 days ago, our days have mostly been filled with following up those children who didn’t attend the interviews, those who had missing information, etc.  We have nearly completed these which is great news.  Our goal was to get these as completed as much as possible before leaving. 

One of the things Dan has done while being here is start a ‘Link Club’ at Janna School, to help facilitate relationships between schools here and in the UK.  One project they’ve been working on is making two videos which explain how to play a couple of the games they enjoy playing together.  We’ll upload these videos when we have better internet connection.  But this week we went to Janna School to meet with this group one last time and show them the completed videos.  Their reactions were fantastic and they were so excited about what they had created together. 

We’ve been busy sorting and packing as well.  We’re planning on leaving a fair amount of stuff here for when we return next year.  We’ll now have a portion of our worldly goods in Zambia, the UK and Canada.  We’re trying to be organised and have lists of what is where, but it’s quite tricky being spread between three continents.

Thoughts of food

We only have about 10 days left in Zambia – crazy!  Our time here has gone by so fast.  We’ve had such a great time and in many ways we’d love to stay.  But we’ll be back here before we know it, back to make this home.

As always happens when it is nearly time to go back home, we start to talk about all things we’ll do when we get back and the people we’ll get to catch up with.  Somehow these conversations always end up focusing on food.  Here’s the list of things we’re looking forward to eating when we get back to the UK… some of which are unashamed hints 🙂

  • Chicken and stuffing sandwiches – M&S, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, they are all good.  Don’t knock them until you’ve tried them J
  • Roast dinners (Yorkshire puddings especially)
  • Café Spice/Ace of Spice curries
  • Any of Dawn Breeze’s baking
  • Papa John’s pizza
  • Real Cadbury’s chocolate without the anti-melting agent
  • A Blackledge lasagne
  • Non long-life milk
  • Catherine Wait’s muesli
  • Malcolm’s corn beef hotpot… or maybe not 🙂
  • Onken raspberry yogurt

Closer to nature

One of the many differences that life in Zambia brings is the variety of creatures we encounter on a daily basis; some more welcomed than others

Let’s skip past the mosquitoes and flies – pausing only briefly to mention that an electric-tazer fly swat has made it to the top of my Christmas list – and talk of the spiders who take up residence on our walls (Melissa holds firm to the belief that they never venture from the walls, I think mainly so she doesn’t have to consider ever finding one in our bed!). These spiders are great. Apart from helping out with tackling the aforementioned mozies, they never cease to amaze me with how flat they lie against the walls until disturbed and then they suddenly snap up and scuttle at terrifying speeds to the safety of the nearest shadow. We also live with lizards, geckos, a range of beetles, the occasional cockroach and a praying mantis.

However the other day we were privileged to have a visit from a little white frog. Jacob and I decided to take a closer look. We kept a safe distance (mainly because Jacob’s investigative skills focus solely on sticking things in his mouth) and decided to poke it with the nearest thing to hand. Boy did it jump! Understandably this fascinated and amused all present and so we decided to continue our course of action, to encourage movement in our guest, until he’d had enough and hopped for cover.

Below are the events as they unfolded.

D.

Interviews

Approximately two weeks ago we had a couple of teams visit.  One was a group of 6th Formers from a school in the UK, and the other from our church.  We only spent a bit of time with the school group as they were based in Kitwe and worked solely with one school there.  They were working together with the Zambian teachers in the classrooms, helping with the feeding programme (including doing the shopping each morning), did home visits and some practical work at the school as well.

The team from our church was based here in Ndola so we got to see lots of them; which was brilliant.  They also brought us treats of chocolate and some extra things that didn’t quite fit into our luggage.  It was so great to have them here.  We miss our fantastic church in the UK, so it was great to have them here and feel that bit closer to everyone there.

Yesterday another team arrived from the UK.  They are here to interview the children at Janna, Greater Joy and Beautiful Gate schools for the child sponsorship programme.  Each year we get up to date information about all the children at the school.  We sit down with each child and their carer and find out how home life is going, how the health of the child is, what they are enjoying about school, we measure and weigh them and take an up to date photo.  It’s quite an operation doing this for over 900 children.  Thankfully one school is done so we only have to do three schools next week.

We try to not be overwhelmed at the task and therefore rush the kids through.  We endeavour to treat each child and family with honour by giving them time to share about how things have been in the last year.  Admittedly some of the stories are really hard to hear/see… children who are HIV positive, countless children who’s parents who have died or up and left their children, carers who can’t even spell their own names….  Our hearts break for these children and families.

We pray and work towards restoration for the lives of children and families here, but sometimes it feels like we don’t see many advances… It’s easy to only see the needs and the work that is still to be done.  The first morning the team from our church was here, we sat down and just chatted about how Beyond Ourselves started and how each of us, who are part of the team here, got here.  A couple of people on the team are new to our church so hadn’t much about Beyond Ourselves in the past.  Even though we know the stories, it was such a good reminder to hear about how far we’ve come, to see the advances, and the victories…

Every school day over 900 children wake up, put on their school uniform and go to school.  Every school day over 40 people get up and go to work as teachers, cooks and security guards and earn a wage.  Every school day each one of these children gets a free school meal and all have access to medical care.

Tomorrow we will interview approximately 350 children at Janna School.  We will encounter 350 families’ stories, many of which will break our hearts, but overall there is a story of hope in these communities.  Despite so much adversity we are working and praying towards a brighter future.