Merry Christmas!

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Photo taken by the wonderful Ruth Marshall (Peekaboo Photos).


Canada, eh?

We’ve arrived safe and sound in a snow covered Winkler.  Our journey to Canada went really smoothly – once again, Jacob proving himself to be a seasoned traveller. 

We had a really brilliant few weeks in the UK.  It was so great to catch up with family and friends and to be back at our church.  Thank you to Jean, Phil & Gill and Miv for allowing us to rest our heads in your homes and invade your lives during this visit. A huge thanks also goes to Andrew & Helen for ferrying us to and from the airport and to Sarah for the loan of your car, Billy… he’s a star! The 3 weeks flew by and, although we got to see many of the people we wanted to catch up with, it seemed way too short a visit.

That said, it’s great to be here in Canada too. This afternoon, after a month of living out of suitcases, we actually got to unpack, completely! We are so blessed to have a lot of space here at my parents for the duration of our time in Canada. After 35 years of them living in one place they decided to upgrade and buy a new house this past summer. We’ve been able to take over the whole of the basement as our own space, which is significantly bigger than any of our previous homes.

It’s been lightly snowing since we arrived.  The snow is fresh and so beautiful.  Yesterday we had some family photos taken by a friend of ours, Lisa Vanden Berg.  Here’s us in the snow.



There have been some changes afoot.

I suppose our main aim of this time in Zambia was to get a clearer picture of what our life would look like when we move there next year. We spent significantly more time together as a family, visiting schools and the community, I’d spend a couple of mornings a week looking after Jacob whilst Melissa did admin work for Beyond Ourselves and I spent some time volunteering in an international school. The initial plan for long-term life in Zambia being that Melissa would continue to work part-time for Beyond Ourselves and I’d work at an international school whilst volunteering with the community schools in my free time, to improve standards.

Well, in short, that might have been a little ambitious. Many of the teachers that work at the community schools aren’t particularly qualified and the literacy levels in the schools have significant room for improvement. And so a new plan was birthed.

When we return to Zambia in the summer of 2013, I will be volunteering with Beyond Ourselves full-time with the role of teacher training and improving standards in the community schools. This means that our return will be slightly more ‘adventurous’ as it’s not currently a salaried position. Nevertheless, we feel that it is the right decision.

One bonus of this decision is that it gives my time in Canada (where, for visa reasons, I’m not legally allowed to earn a salary) a lot more purpose. I’ll be looking at resources available, adapting things for the Zambian culture and for remedial readers, as well as trying to make the Zambian Curriculum more accessible for our teachers. I’m really excited about getting stuck into this and, in many ways, can’t wait to get back to Zambia and get on with the job.


‘It’s the most wonderful time of the year!’

I love Christmas.  Growing up in Canada and having wonderful white Christmases has left me with a deep sense of excitement and love for Christmas.  I am so excited to hopefully have a white Christmas this year – there is nothing like a cold snowy Christmas.

And Christmas isn’t Christmas without turkey and the trimmings and all the deliciousness of mulled wine, yummy desserts, and chocolate.

That said, this Christmas we wanted to challenge ourselves and you to leave some of the chocolates at the store, to do with one less bottle of mulled wine, and perhaps to skip out one of the many desserts you are thinking of eating.

With the money we save, we are going to be giving towards two things this Christmas.  Perhaps you’d like to join us?

Each school day over 900 children receive nutritious lunches through our feeding programme.  For some children, this is the only meal they receive in a day.  We’re seeing that the children who have been at the schools we work with for the last few years are visibly looking more healthy.  It’s so exciting to see.  81p or $1.30 feeds one child, school meals for a week.  £3.50 or $5.60 feeds a child for a month.

The other thing we are excited about is that next year we are going to start to provide maize seeds and fertilizer for a family to grow all their own maize.  Maize is the staple food in Zambia so it would be a massive help to any family to not have to purchase this.  We are working together with friends of ours who will be providing training for the families who receive this gift to enable them to produce as much maize as possible.  We have been giving out food parcels for the last few years, and will continue to do so, but we want to give gifts that are more sustainable.

These gifts can be purchased through the Beyond Ourselves store or you can email me at  Most of us don’t need all the food we eat at Christmas so perhaps we can save our waistlines and help someone else receive the nutrition they need.