Friday, October 31, 2008


This post is just to inform you that we will be without internet access beginning tonight at 12:00 am our time.  Since we are leaving for the States in 12 days, we decided not to pay for another month's worth of coverage.  It doesn't mean that you will stop hearing from us though.  We have written a few blogs that will post periodically over the next two weeks.  We'll update you as soon as we have landed and settled back in good-ole South Carolina.  We look forward to seeing and sharing with many of you while we're back on baby furlough.  Also, keep an eye out for our latest prayer letter.  It should be coming out soon!

Brent & Kerri

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Pay Backs !!!

A while ago my dear friends, the Robert's, hijacked my blog...well Brent, next time you sign out you need to watch out for Graham and his stealth computer skills.

This is a photo of Brent being a complete chicken after falling out of a raft while white water rafting...SO CUTE!!! This photo has been put out for a caption far we have "Oh dear, I've wet my pants"..."Our Father, who art in heaven..." Please submit your "caption" in the comments below.

As you all know, the Roberts are leaving us in a few weeks...please take care of them while they are at home so they can return to us quickly! We are so blessed to have them on our AZ team...

Consider this payback for the countless number of dirty "Maddy" diapers hidden in various vehicles for weeks on end!!! We will miss you!!!

Megan & Graham for the "AZ Victims of Brent's Shenanigans"

FYI....(Updated after I found out that I had been dooped!)

This is what the boat looked like just before the above picture was taken. Just thought I would give some perspective. Thanks Megan for the post.


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Our Friends Away From Friends

One of the biggest transitions that we have had to make in coming to Zambia is making new friends.  While we have made some close Zambian friends and friends on our team, it has also been a blessing to have met some new American missionaries as well.  Once a week we meet with these few families for bible study and fellowship.  I can't express how helpful it has been to be able to process some of the stuff we've been going through in our transition with couples, about the same stage in life, who are going through the some of the same things.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


A matebeto is a ceremony that usually takes place before a Zambian couple is married. It is a ceremony where the women in the family of the bride-to-be (it is often family and friends) cook food from the culture of their tribe for the family, friends, and guests of the groom-to-be. This tradition is usually held for marriages between two different ethnic groups or tribes. It is supposed to ensure that the husband doesn't get offended or upset when his wife brings him a dish he has never seen or eaten before. So the women stay up for a long time preparing pots and pots of food for others to consume at the event. The guest are suppose to make small donations for every pot of food as it is presented.

Today I had the privilege of being invited to a matebeto.  It was SO interesting and lots of fun! A friend from church invited me to the matebeto for her niece.  I arrived at the home of the bride-to-be just as they were finishing her part of the ceremony.  The atmosphere was very light and there were 4 ladies playing drums and leading songs the whole time.  The bride-to-be and the lady they called the Matron were sitting on the floor with all the food spread around the room.  At the end of this part of the ceremony, the bride-to-be laid down on the floor and mimicked sleep.  Then the ladies began to pick up all the pots of food and carry them outside to make the trip over to the groom's home.  The bride-to-be does not go.  

After we arrived at the groom's home we all stood in the street holding our pots (they gave me one too....a very small one!).  The drum music continued and many of the ladies danced until the women of the groom's family came out to welcome us.  They did so by dancing over and throwing money down on the ground in front of the Matron.  Then we filed in the gate and to the front door where each lady, holding a pot on her head, turned around and backed in the door.  Some of the pots and bowls were so huge that I didn't see how these women were carrying them, especially walking backward!  

The groom's family began to throw money on the floor and the ladies, in turn, put their pots down on the floor.  The Matron was the last to put down her pot, which she would not do until a sufficient amount of money had been laid at her feet.  She just kept dancing and smiling as the ladies of the groom's family put down more and more money and even laid down on top of the money, in a way begging the Matron to put down her pot.  She finally did and everyone clapped and cheered.

The groom, who honestly looked like he'd rather be anywhere else, was seated on a sofa at the end of the room next to an advisor who was explaining everything to him as it happened.  The bride's family is Bemba and the groom's family is Kaonde.  I was told that these Bemba traditions were all new to the groom.  As the ceremony began, the Matron and another lady began to open the huge bowls and pots of food - with their teeth - to show each dish to the groom.  At any point the Matron would stop, begin dancing again and wait for more money to be placed on the floor in front of her.  When she felt it was sufficient, she would continue.

After each dish had been displayed, the Matron was handed a bowl of water, a bar of soap and a towel with which she washed the groom's hands and face.  I was told they would wash his feet, but they didn't.  Then, the Matron laid down on the floor, was covered by a chitenge and pretended to be asleep.  She wouldn't "wake up" until, you guessed it, enough money had been placed around her.  Ultimately the family got the groom himself to put some money down and to "wake" the Matron.  To finish the ceremony off, the ladies of the groom's family did a traditional Kaonde dance for all of us and brought out gifts for the bride's family - two cases of soft drinks, a bag of mealie meal and a live chicken!

We left the house and went back to the bride's family's house where another feast was waiting for us.  It was quite the event!  I was so grateful to have been invited to the matebeto and to have been so graciously accepted.  I will never forget it!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Saying Short Goodbyes

With just about 3 weeks until we head back to the States for a few months, Kerri and I wanted to do something with Charles and Dailes and their families to just tell them that we appreciate them and that we'll miss them while we're away for the next three months.

So, we decided to take them out for a bar-b-que and swimming. For Charles and his family, it was the first time that they had ever been swimming. Dailes' children had been before. So they were a little bit more accustomed to the water.

Dailes and Charles, both, have really made the transition to life here in Zambia much easier for us and have become a big part of our family. It was really fun just getting to spend time with their two families.

After the eating, playing in the pool and playing a little American football, we packed up and headed home for the day. We sure will miss these guys while we're in the States for the next few months.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Pray for Peace

10 Days from now, Zambia will hold their presidential elections.  The main two candidates are current president Rupiah Banda (Top) and Michael Sata (Bottom).  

Political violence has already started.  This past Saturday, a rather large group of Zambians were marching down Independence Ave. in support of Rupiah Banda.  As they were passing by the national monument, an onlooker shouted out in support of Michael Sata.  That is when the march turned into a physical altercation.  The man who shouted out in support of Sata was severely beaten along with some journalist who were covering the event (including a young pregnant woman).

Politics in Africa are a lot different than politics in the U.S..  There is always the possibility that elections can cause political violence and possibly destabilization.  Please pray for this country as they transition in leadership.  
  • Pray for the new leadership, that they would work for the people and not their own ends.
  • Pray for a peaceful transition in leadership.
  • Pray for a corruption free election.  
  • Pray that whoever loses would bow out gracefully instead of trying to cause upheaval.  
  • Pray for continued freedom in the spreading of the Gospel.
  • Pray for the people of Zambia.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Preaching in Chongwe

On Sunday, I went to Chongwe (a town 45km east of Lusaka) to preach at a small village church.  Before arriving, Alex, Everesto & I picked the pastor and his family up from their home.  The pastor and his wife walk about 24 km (about 14 miles) to and from this small church every Sunday.  It was very humbling to see the commitment this man has to doing God's work here in Zambia.

I have to admit, I wasn't prepared for the type of building the church was held in.  As you can see from the pictures, it was a thatched roof insaka with several rows of stacked bricks, which were being used for the pews.  Not having walls, actually helped with the heat, as it allowed for a constant air flow.  Not like the typical church you would see in the States huh?

We arrived at around 9:30 am and waited about 30 minutes for other members of the church to arrive.  The pastor and Alex held a short meeting to discuss the flow of the service and then we started.  They decided that there would be a time of singing hymns and then Everesto would address the youth with a message, after that, another time of worship and then Alex would give the congregation a message of encouragement, after that, another time of worship, and then, finally, I would be called upon to preach.

The service went really well, but a little long. So long, that I didn't start preaching until 1:15 p.m. I spoke on Grace. Grace is something with which the Zambian church really struggles. I've seen it time and time again. Whether it be through the conversations I've had at church, or in cell group ministries or during pastoral and leadership training, Zambians just struggle to understand that God doesn't require us to do good deeds in order to earn salvation. They struggle to understand that knowing Him it is an unmerited gift. That is why I felt it was important to preach this specific message to this small congregation.

I think the sermon went pretty well, based on feedback from before and after the sermon, I could see that some of the congregation were beginning to understand the concept of grace.  So, I pray that God would grow the seeds that He allowed me to plant that day.

After the service, we were asked to stay for lunch.  Several ladies of the church had prepared a meal (Nshima, Rice, & Chicken).  They also served a local drink called, Mkoyo.  It is made by mixing ground maize in water and letting it sit until just before fermenting.  I tried it, but, sadly to say, I couldn't finish it.  Alex was gracious enough to pour the rest of mine into his cup and finish it for me.  

It was a blessing to fellowship with this group of believers and have them go out of their way to make me feel welcome in their community.  The more and more I do ministry here, the more and more that I feel like I'm the one being ministered to.  I can't begin to relay just how much I was humbled and blessed by this small village church in Chongwe.

Monday, October 13, 2008

My Baby!

This term, we enrolled Caleb and Gracyn in some extracurricular activities at an International School (LICS), which is about 2 miles from our house.  On Mondays Caleb goes for a group tennis lesson.  Well, with our car in the shop and all of our nearby teammates busy with other obligations today, I was struggling to figure out how to get him there.  I thought of just walking him, but in this heat and with my "bigness"  that just didn't seem appealing.  So, I called Brent at the office for suggestions.  He said, "why not ask Charles to ride him over on his bike?"  Sure, why not?  I think all fathers out there will probably see the logic in Brent's idea, and all the mothers out there will understand why this idea freaked me out just a little bit!  But in the end, Caleb really wanted to go and this was the only viable option for getting him there.  So Charles, assuring me that it would be just fine, loaded Caleb onto the little rack on the back of his bike and off they went.  Caleb, of course, thought it was fantastic!   

When Charles went to pick Caleb up I sat on the couch waiting by the window, trying not to appear nervous.  The two of them came in the gate laughing and sweating from their ride in the summer sun.  Caleb came in and told me how fun that was and ran off to play.  Dailes looked at me, smiled and said, "I think now you'll be OK."

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Car Troubles

I don't think we were prepared for just how bad the roads are here in Zambia.  Even the roads in our neighborhood are without pavement and there are a plethora of potholes.  If there is anything that is costly for all of us missionaries here on the field it is vehicle maintenance.  Case in point...

This past week, two of the brackets that hold part of our suspension together broke free from the bottom of our car.  The metal just snapped.  Temporarily, Charles and I have tied the suspension up underneath the car.   But on Monday, I'll take the car to the mechanic so he can re-weld the brackets and do some other things.  Needless to say, the roads here are not friendly.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Singing in the Rain

When was the last time you saw rain?  Was it today, yesterday, a few days ago???  Well, for us, it was last February.  About two weeks after we arrived in Zambia, the final rain storm of last year's rainy came through Lusaka.  Well, today at about 3:00 pm, the heavens opened up once again. Coming from the States, I have never experienced such a long period of time without rain. Think about it, 8 months without a drop.  Needless to say, Kerri and the kids were so excited that they ran into the front yard to celebrate with a little dancing.

And today was no ordinary rain either.  In the middle of sub-Saharan Africa, on a day where temperatures were near 100 degrees, we not only got rain, but hail!  At first, it was few and far between, but after a while, it got bad enough that I had to pull the car under the carport.  In fact, it looked like it was snowing.

Maddie enjoyed the rain to.  At 18 months, she probably doesn't remember ever having seen rain before.  After we came back in, she sat by the back door and just watched it rain for a while.  Speaking of not seeing rain before... It was our dog Chiku's first rain storm as well.  He mostly huddled by the front door and shivered from being wet and cold.

All that to say, we're thankful to finally see some rain.  I'm sure in a few weeks, we'll be wishing it would go away.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

A Good Weekend

Thank you so much for your prayers concerning our planning session this past weekend.  We went to Ciyanjano (our ministry center) for a weekend of fun and planning.  I can honestly say that it went better than expected.  God seemed to answer a lot of prayers and we all walked away from the weekend encouraged by what the future holds.  

One interesting thing happened during our time as well.  Nearing the end of the weekend, a man who lived up the road from the Ciyanjano stopped by to visit.  He had a burlap bag with something inside that he wanted to show us.  It was a 4 foot puff adder!  Don't worry Mom, this little critter was not out wandering around the property.  And this is at least a 45 minute drive into the country away from our house.  He was brought to the gate by a man who catches and sells snakes and other creatures for a living.

This particular breed of snake is considered the deadliest snake in all of Africa and can have fangs as long as 1 & 1/2 inches.  Here I am holding its tail.  Just call me the Croc Hunter?  Kerri wasn't around when I took this picture.  So, when she saw it she about killed me.  But when do you ever get the chance to say that you held the deadliest snake in all of Africa and lived to tell about it?  Not a good argument huh?  She didn't think so either.

Anyways, it was a good end to a good weekend.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Not Triple A, Septuple A

This past Friday, Caleb and Gracyn hopped into the car and rode with me and Alex to Chongwe, a village about 40 km east of Lusaka.  We were going to see the completed piggery that I had been helping Alex get setup.  I'll write about his piggery later, but for now, I wanted to share one of my firsts in Zambia with you, a flat tire.  

After leaving Alex's farm, we headed back out through this maze of trails that were just wide enough for the car to fit through.  We were nearly halfway out when suddenly we heard a very bad sound.  Air was not just leaking out from the rear left tire, it was gushing out.  Apparently, a rather large stick had found a way to puncture the side wall of the tire.  Before I could turn the vehicle off and get out, the tire was almost completely flat.

Now, in America, whenever I had car trouble, I had this nice little card in my wallet.  Can you say Triple A?  But here in Africa, it's a whole different story.  There is no such thing as Triple A.  So, you better be prepared before you travel.  Unfortunately, I wasn't prepared.  After getting out of the car and seeing what had happened to the tire, I looked in the back for the jack.  Much to my surprise, there was no jack.  So, we came up with a plan.

Now, remember, there were only three of us at this point.  Our plan was to get a big rock and slide it under the axle, loosen the lug nuts on the flat tire and loosen the lug nuts and remove the spare tire from the back of the car, dig out from underneath the flat tire and replace it with the spare.  Sounds doable doesn't it?

Well, as we started, we quickly learned that there was another problem.  The tire iron that we were using to remove the lug nuts was cheaply made and as soon as we tried to loosen the first nut on the flat tire, it bent.  But we continued to work with it and two hours later were able to loosen the last nut.  And by then, it was no longer me, the kids and Alex, but a team of about 7 Zambians who had wondered our way from their homes in the village.

Then we shifted our attention to removing the spare tire.  Now, the spare had it's own issues.  It apparently hadn't been removed since it was put on the car and the bolts holding the tire onto the car were rusted.  This made it very difficult to remove the bolts without further bending the tire iron.  After getting two of the nuts off, the third and final one broke.  The bolt somehow found a way to break free from the welding on the car.  Because of this, when we tried to turn the nut to remove it, the whole bolt turned with it making it impossible to remove the bolt.  

This meant one thing and one thing only.  If I was going to get the car and the kids out of the middle of the bush in Chongwe and back to Lusaka, we were going to have to find a way to break the last bolt that was holding the spare tire onto the vehicle.  So, as you can see in the picture above, using tools provided by one of the village men, we used a two pound hammer and an axe head and busted the last bolt off the car and thus removed the spare tire.

Now, since we had more man power (7 Africans and me) we changed our plans for removing the existing tire.  We did use a rock under the axle, but instead of digging the tire out, we all crowded around the back end of the car and picked the car up onto the rock.  Who needs a jack?  We quickly changed the tire, picked the car up one more time to remove the rock from underneath the axle and away we went, a mere 4 hours after popping the tire.

I know I don't have triple A, but I don't know what I would have done without the help of my 7 African friends that Friday in Chongwe.

Please pray for these guys.  It is customary in Zambia to give money to guys that help you in times like these.  Because I didn't have money at the time, I invited them to come to a church I will be preaching at in Chongwe next Sunday and I would help them out then.  I figured that it would be a good opportunity for some of these men to hear the gospel for the first time.  The message will be centered around Grace.  Pray that their eyes and hears would be open to the Word of God.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Planning Weekend

This weekend, we're having an offsite meeting to discuss the ministry here in Zambia.  With the founders of Action Zambia, the Ripleys, leaving the field, we have a lot to discuss as to how to continue in ministry here in Zambia.  
  • Please pray for wisdom, clarity of vision and team unity.  
  • Pray for Steve Allen.  He is flying in for one week and will probably be getting over jet lag in the beginning stages of the weekend.  
  • Pray also for the logistics.  We will be having meetings during the day Saturday and Sunday and we all have lots of kids.  Pray that we would find ways of keeping them adequately entertained so that what needs to be accomplished will be accomplished with little interruption.
  • Pray for the Ripleys as they travel back to the States.  Pray for safety in travel.  Pray that over the next few months, God would give them wisdom.  Pray that He would show them exactly the next place/ministry/job He is calling them too.