Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Zambian Politics Update

After returning home, we have had several people ask us what ever happened with the political situation in Zambia. I'm sorry that I didn't give a follow-up post on this, as a lot of you had been praying for us during this time.

In 2006, there was widespread rioting. The challenger, Michael Sata, was ahead by a wide margin, but when the final results were announced, the ruling party and their candidate won. There were allegations of vote tampering and a lot of unrest. Pretty much the same scenario unfolded this year. The challenger, the same Michael Sata, was leading by over 100,000 votes (a wide margin considering only 1.5 million people voted) but ended up losing by over 30,000 votes. Where most provinces had a 45% voter turnout, the last ones to come in had nearly double the turnout 75%.

As we waited for the final announcement, we learned that all of the machetes in Lusaka were nowhere to be found. What we didn't know was if it was the police who had rounded them up or the people who had bought them. We also heard rumors of political coups which if came true could split a young democracy. So, there was a lot to be concerned about. So, as the weekend progressed, we just hunkered down in our house behind a locked gate and awaited the results.

When they finally announced the winner, what we were expecting (widespread rioting and potential violence), never came to fruition. There were a couple of small riots in two of Lusaka's compounds, but really nothing more than that. Since returning home, we have had so many of you ask us about what happened and told us that you had been praying for us. You were also united in prayer with our brothers and sisters in Christ here in Zambia. Many churches were holding week long fasting for these elections. So, thank you for lifting us and the people of Zambia up in prayer. The Lord surely answered the petitions of His saints!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


(Ultrasound Pictures)
If receiving this via e-mail, you might need to visit the website to view the pictures

In Zambia, Kerri had several ultrasounds as she progressed through this pregnancy. But the common theme throughout all of them was that the doctor would not tell us the gender of the baby. Because of tribal traditions many Zambians, including our ultrasound tech, will not venture to find out the gender of babies while they are still in the womb. So, for the past 35 weeks, we have remained in the dark.

Yesterday, we went for our first stateside doctors appointment and got to see another ultrasound of the baby, but this time, we had the option to find out baby #4's gender. Since we have already waited for most of the pregnancy, we figured that a few more weeks wouldn't hurt. As we sat there in the office, though, I think we both were still tempted. But we were strong and will just have to wait to find out.

Other than not learning the sex of the baby, the doctor said that he/she looks healthy. Kerri is measuring a little ahead of schedule, but the due date is still December 27th. Hope it's not a Christmas baby! Please continue to pray for a safe and healthy delivery.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Home Improvement 101

In trying to get prepared to return to the States, we had some stuff that had to get done. One of those was to replace the kitchen faucet. I thought this post would serve to assist you if you ever wanted to change a kitchen faucet in Africa and didn't know just how to do it. Enjoy...

Step 1 - Stopping the water flow
In Zambia, we're not allowed to turn off the water to our house without having someone from the water company come out and turn it off for us. If we have a shut-off valve somewhere after the meter, we can turn it off there, but unfortunately for us, the shut-off valve for our cold water is stripped and therefore, we were unable to shut it off.  So, how did I get around this first challenge?  Easy, I went into the bathroom and turned on the cold water full blast.  This took the water pressure from the kitchen sink and allowed me to remove the old faucet.

Step 2 - Plugging up the cold water outlet
When I got the new faucet ready to install and began to screw it on, the bolt for the connection on the new faucet cracked - meaning that I needed to get another one.  I couldn't leave the cold water running in the bathroom while I went to the store.  So, I had to seal the pipe and turn off the water in the bathroom.  How did I do this?  Even easier, a potato!  It works rather nice, don't you think?

Step 3 - Drilling a hole
The reason the new faucet cracked was because the hot water pipe (on the left) was coming through the wall at an angle.  The angle was too great to get the new faucet back on.  So, I grabbed a screwdriver and a hammer and began chipping away.  After getting help from our guard Charles, we finally were able to get through the entire wall and loosen the pipe.

Step 4 - Seal the Joint
After unsuccessfully trying to seal the joint using pipe tape (several different times) I had to resort to desperate measures.  I bought some PVC sealant from a local hardware store (there was nothing else in the stores here to use).  After coating the joint several times, I proved what I expected, PVC sealant doesn't work on metal pipes.

Step 5 - Ask for help
After trying several different things over the period of a few days, I finally gave up and enlisted the help of my teammate Graham Melville.  He quickly diagnosed that the joint was too loose and that the answer was to use pipe tape, which I had tried to use, but to use a lot more of it.  After spending 2 days trying to fix the leak, Graham fixed it in 15 minutes.

Step 6 - Cover the hole with cement and live with a leaning faucet
Because the pipes are so old, I didn't want to risk breaking them by putting undue pressure on them.  So, instead of trying to bend the pipe upward to give a level faucet, we just covered the hole with cement and left the sink leaning a little to the left.  It may not look all that great, but it isn't leaking!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

We've Arrived!

Just wanted to say thank you to everyone who prayed for our trip back to the States.  We left Lusaka on Wed at 9:00 am Zambia time and arrived this afternoon in Columbia at 12:00 pm (about 34 hours of travel and lay-overs).

Anyways, the trip went wonderful.  Maddie, who we were worried about being difficult to handle, was perfect.  She slept when she was supposed to sleep and didn't fuss too much.  Thank you for your prayers.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Leaving on a Jet Plane

We fly out this morning at 9:00 am our time.  Please pray for safety during the flights and pray also for Maddie.  Pray that she will do okay in transit.  She is a very busy 19 month old and we have an 18 hour flight across the ocean.  We look forward to seeing many of you very soon.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Preaching and Singing at Great Commission

Today, Kerri and I will be worshipping at Great Commission Baptist Church for the last time before we head home.  Kerri and a few of the members of the church will be singing during the worship time and Pastor Kandela has asked me to preach.  I'm writing this post a week in advance.  So, sorry we won't have any pictures.  I'll try to write a post about the service once we return to the States.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Busy, Busy, Busy

Thank you so much for all of you who contacted us about sharing what God is doing here in Zambia. It's beginning to look like our time in the States will be sort of a whirlwind trip. After arriving on the 13th, we have several speaking engagements. Our last available Sunday morning is November 23rd, but we do have some openings to share at bible studies and other mid-week gatherings. If you would like for us to come and share about what God is doing in Zambia, please contact us.

Schedule of Events for Home Visit

  • Thurs 13 Arrive in Columbia
  • Sat 15 Dinner at the Birds
  • Mon 17 Lutheran Men’s Group, Living Springs 7:00 pm
  • Wed 19 Kerri to share at Ladies Bible Study
  • Thurs 20 Dept of Juvenile Justice 10:00-11:15
  • Fri 21  Cason Group Bible Study
  • Thurs 27 Thanksgiving
  • Sun 30 Virginia Wingard UMC, both services
  • Thurs 4 FBC Special Ed. Dinner 7:00 pm, singing only
  • Sat 6 Kiawah Marathon
  • Sat 27 Baby Roberts # 4 is Due
  • Sun 4 NE Presbyterian, sing and share/interview
  • Fri 9 Brent & Kerri's 10th Wedding Anniversary
  • Sun 11 Columbia Crossroads (Home Church), share
  • Wed 14 - 19 Out of Town
  • Sun 25 FBC Sunday School Classes, 9:00 am, share
  • Sun 25 Rehoboth UMC, 11:00 am, sing and share
  • Thurs 29 Kerri - UMC Womens Group @ Virginia Wingard, 7:00
  • Sun 1 Lee and Shannon Winters' Church in Whitmire
  • Sun 1 Charleston Baptist, 6:00 pm
  • Thurs 5 - 8 Out of Town
  • Sun 15 Lake Oconee Presbyterian Church, Sunday School & morning service
  • Thurs 19 Leave for Zambia

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Meet the Discipleship for Leaders Class

For the past 10 weeks, we have been meeting with 12 pastors and church leaders and teaching them how to disciple members of their own congregations.  Graham Melville recently brought in a video camera and interviewed the participants to see how the class has affected them personally.  Below is a link to those interviews.  Please take the time to learn more about the men we are working with on a weekly basis.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

The Calm Before the Storm

It is 10:00 pm on Friday October 31st and the Zambian election results are about to be announced at midnight.  I wish we had internet access tomorrow so I could share with you who won and how it has affected Lusaka and the surrounding areas, but unfortunately, this will have posted before all of that stuff happens.  Since Zambians are so into politics (they follow their politics as well as U.S. politics very closely), we thought we would give you an update and peek into their presidential elections happening right now as I type.

In the last election (2006), there was widespread speculation of vote tampering by the MMD (the current ruling party).  I'm not saying that was the case, but it was the sentiments of many Zambians we have spoken with.  On the eve of the announcement, Michael Sata of the PF party was winning.  Then suddenly, the last count was announced and MMD representative Levy Mwanawasa was declared the winner.  Shortly after the announcement, riots broke out in many of the shanty compounds in Lusaka, including Garden which is less than a half a mile from our home.  The riot police were called in and Sata went on public radio and requested his supporters to stand down.  Eventually, everything settled down, but there are many many Zambians that believe that the true winner wasn't declared the President of Zambia.

In this year's election, Zambians are telling us that things are beginning to look very similar to the 2006 elections.  There is suspected vote tampering (i.e. Earlier this week, MMD staff were caught driving a truck carrying over 600,000 additional ballots.  Also, early today, an MMD representative was caught and is being investigated for putting pre-filled ballots into an already secure ballot box).  And Michael Sata, just like in 2006, is leading by a substantial margin (As of tonight at 8:30 pm, Michael Sata was leading by nearly 50,000 votes.  In fact, he has had a substantial lead all day).  But unlike in 2006 when Sata requested his supporters to stop the rioting and violence, rumor has it, he will not do the same this time.

This is what is beginning to concern us.  We're outsiders.  We don't know which political leader would best meet the needs of this country.  It could be Banda or it could be Sata.  But we are aware that if the 2008 elections end the same way as the 2006 elections, this presents the biggest opportunity for widespread rioting, violence and political unrest.  

We are well aware that it is the Lord who establishes rulers and authorities, and our prayer is that this appointment will come in peace, whoever it is.  And our prayer is, also, that whoever is appointed leader will fear God and govern the people by His wisdom.  Would you join us in this prayer?  Would you pray for our safety and the safety of our team?  We are less than a mile from where the votes are being counted and the announcement will be made.  And we are also less than 1/2 a mile from one of the largest compounds in Lusaka and one that is primarily a Sata supporter.  Pray that if violence breaks out that it will be contained as much as possible and that we will be safe in our homes.

One advantage of being in Zambia as opposed to some other countries in the world is that Zambians are usually a peace loving and tranquil people.  As one Zambian put it "We might get upset, but hey, we're Zambians.  We won't stay mad for too long."