Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Bedtime Nettings

Our bedtime routine is probably very similar to a lot of people back in the States.  Starting just after dinner, we bathe the kids, put on their jammies, tuck in the little ones (Maddie & Ellie), have the older two brush their teeth and finally climb into bed for a story and prayers.  The difference, though, is that every night as the kids climb into bed, we have one more routine - pulling down the mosquito nets.

I knew that malaria was one of the major diseases affecting Africa, but as I watched Kerri read to the children, this evening, I decided to go and find out more about the disease and just how helpful these nets were at preventing it.  Here's what I found out...

In 2006 the World Health Organization estimated that there were over 200 million malaria cases and nearly 1 million deaths related to those cases.  What's more astonishing is that 90% of all malaria deaths occur in Sub-Saharan Africa.  That means that one person in Sub-Saharan Africa dies from Malaria every 35 seconds and most of the victims are 5 years of age and younger.

But mosquito nets can and do help.  There have been studies that have shown that treated mosquito nets can reduce the chance of malaria transmission in high-risk areas by nearly 50%.  These same nets, which cost roughly 10 U.S. dollars, can protect an entire family for up to 4 years without being retreated.  

As I researched, I was blown away by the numbers.  I didn't realize the widespread effects of this particular disease.  I didn't realize how many people, mostly children, died each year.  I also didn't realize how something as simple as a net could have saved many of these lives.  I was in the dark.

But our God is a God who likes to bring things into the light and He as certainly done this for us.  One of the things that God has been teaching both Kerri and me during our time here in Zambia is that we have been blessed to be a blessing.  We should be thankful for every blessing, both spiritual and physical, that the Lord provides, but we should also go a step further and look for ways to bless those around us with the same blessings He has given us.  

I think that, on this evening, He was showing me a blessing that I hadn't really considered a blessing before.  He was showing me the blessing of mosquito nets.  I know this may sound stupid, but He was!  So, now, I'm eagerly waiting.  I know he has shown me this blessing so that I can bless someone else in a similar way.  I'm just wonder who it will be.

May the lesson He is teaching me encourage you to look for the different ways that God is blessing you and then find ways to use that blessing to bless others for the glory of Christ!

1 John 3:17

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Smelly Post

Here is a post you truly cannot appreciate because we have no way for you to smell the odors originating from underneath our bathroom floor and also from the ceiling in Caleb's closet.  Shortly after we returned from the States, we realized that we had a problem with rats.  So, we did the normal thing and put out some poison.  

Well, the poison worked, but the little boogers didn't figure a way out of the house before kicking the bucket.  And they died in two different places that we do not have access to: underneath the house and in the ceilings.  So, the only solution is to wait for Mother Nature to take her course and for the smells to dissipate.  So, until then, we're left with a stinky situation!

No, complaints.  It is something we've grown accustomed to living in Zambia, but just thought you would like to share in our experiences... and be thankful for Terminex : )

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Saturday Morning Time of Sharing

This morning I had the opportunity to attend an annual AWANA day camp for some of the local churches.  Alex, from Great Commission, invited me to come and share the gospel with the children.  This was my first exposure to AWANA, both here in Zambia and in the U.S..  It's encouraging to see their vision for evangelizing & discipling young children.  Above is a video clip with sights and sounds from this morning's meeting.

If you are receiving this post via e-mail, you can click on the following link and view the video on Youtube (Click Here).  Or you can visit our site and watch it from there (

Hope you enjoy!

Friday, May 22, 2009

A 1st for Her 21st

This past Monday, Kerri and I went over to the Allens to celebrate a 1st for someone's 21st.  Our friend Elizabeth was the guest of honor along with her family and some friends.  We met Elizabeth when we first came to Zambia after she was recommended to do some babysitting for our team.  Since then she has become a very familiar face around our house.  Monday was Elizabeth's 21st birthday.  What was special about this celebration was that it was the first birthday party she had ever had!  Can you take a moment and try to imagine that?  Each year, another birthday, and each year, instead of deciding where you want to go to celebrate, having to worry about whether or not your family will even be able to eat.  

Elizabeth is the oldest of the surviving children in her family.  Her father and several siblings have passed away leaving her widowed mother to make ends meet.  Elizabeth has taken on the responsibility of helping provide for the family and put her younger siblings through school.  The great thing about Elizabeth is that you would never know she carries that kind of burden.  Regardless of the pressures of life, she always seems to have a smile and is truly one of the happiest people we've ever met.  On this evening, her smile was a little bigger.

It started off with dinner (complements of Stephanie Allen) - rice with gravy, broccoli, scalloped potatoes and meatballs.  Elizabeth loves the opportunity to eat meat.  So, she was particularly appreciative of the meatballs!  After dinner we all took the time to tell Elizabeth one thing that we enjoyed about her.  As we went around the table, there was one common theme - her joyful spirit.  Finally came the cake & presents!  I wish you could have seen the excitement on her face as she blew out the candles on her cake and opened her presents.  Before blowing out the candles, she must have taken 5 minutes deciding what to wish for.  All she got for presents was a small curling iron and a devotional book, but you would have thought she'd won the lottery.  She and her sister literally screamed for joy as she opened each present.

The evening was overwhelming and maybe more for me than it was for her.  As I sat there watching the excitement in her face, the smiles around the table from her family, and the deep appreciation for the evening, I was blown away.  I  came over just to celebrate another birthday, something I've done a thousand times, but I left feeling like I had just celebrated one again for the very first time.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

I Am Just Like the Israelites

As I have read the Old Testament over the years, I have always been amazed at the forgetfulness of the Israelites.  Especially during the Exodus when God did all these miraculous things right before their eyes and five minutes later they were making idols to worship.  I've never understood how they could forget that God parted the Red Sea, for crying out loud!  He was there with them in a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.  How could they doubt He was able to feed them or give them water to drink?  Well, as it turns out, I'm not so different from them and God has brought that reality to my attention over the last few weeks.  

The Sunday before we left, I had the opportunity to share with our home church about the miraculous way God had healed my brain.  I also shared how Satan had still been attacking me with anxiety because I still suffer from headaches and some weak sensations in my left side.  Then we had a time of prayer and someone in one of the services prayed, "God, let us not forget this miracle that You have done in Kerri's life."  That one little prayer stuck with me.  That day I realized that by being anxious, I was being just like the Israelites.  God has done exceedingly, abundantly more than we could have expected and we have an MRI to prove it.  How can I now be worried that He is not able to protect and preserve me, that something could still be wrong, that He is not able to take away my headaches?  It's that sneaky sin nature!  That tendency toward unbelief and self-reliance.  

So, I was sharing about my headaches with my best friend, just yesterday.  This is part of the email she sent back to me.  See if you notice a theme!  I think that God is definitely teaching me, yet again.  I hope that you will be encouraged to search your hearts along with me. 

I prayed for you this morning and specifically addressed the issue of your fear.  In praying, I was reminded of a Scripture that someone just pointed out to me a few days ago.  From Exodus 14:13.  It's when the Israelites are standing in front of the red sea wondering how they will get over it and the Egyptians and their chariots are behind them.  Even after all God had done to free them, they still doubted His care and provision for their lives.  So they are scared to death complaining to Moses saying, "Why did you bring us here to die?"  So Moses says to them, 

"Do not fear!  Stand by and see the salvation of the LORD which He will accomplish for you today; ...The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent (also translated "while you are still.")." 

Remember that God has done a mighty work in you ... he has healed you and done exceedingly more than you could hope or think.  Through your physical issues, Satan is desperately trying to make you fear and doubt what God has done in and through you over the past few months.  But, God will fight for you while you are still before Him ... therefore, there is no need for you to fear.  He has gone before you and is upholding you.  He has ordained this time in your life and will protect and keep you.  I will be fervant in praying for you about all of this!  I'm specifically going to pray that God will just take the headaches away!!!  

So, I will choose to be still before the Lord and thank Him for all that He has already accomplished on my behalf.  I will thank Him also for using others to speak Truth into my life!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

15 Years of Fruit

Our director, Tim Hilty and his family, are in the states for a well-deserved furlough. But, he has been watching and praying and leading us from afar. He just sent the team a note the other day that captures some of the things we are doing here in Zambia and how the irony of our philosophy of long term training is actually producing some short term gain. I hope you are encouraged.   Thanks for your partnership with us!

Action Zambia,

I just wanted to respond to the encouraging reports that I've been getting from those of you on the field. Testimonies about the type of fruit we are beginning to see in our ministries are very good and it's important that we celebrate it when we see it. I'll mention but a few things. It was very heartening for me to hear the report from Brent about GCB and their decision to start another cell group within their ministry area. In this, we can praise the Lord how we see the church latching on to the importance of discipleship as well as multiplying (through the training they received). And in an email I received from Tracy recently - he shared how he was able to officiate at the graduation of ten pastors at Anderson Jere's church. The Veritas curriculm that ABI is using to teach pastors biblical exegesis requires that pastors also teach to others the same material that they have received. So when Anderson Jere takes what he has learned in ABI and in turn teaches it within his church we praise God for multiplying our labors and efforts. Please pray that God would bless the men and women we invest in - that they might apply the Word to their lives and be stewards of the training they are receiving. Of course there are many other examples we can point to as well.

I think it's appropriate to point out is that these things are coming about in part due to our long term focus in ministry. Multiplication, equipping, discipleship, relationship all have one thing in common - they take time and they require a "15 year focus" rather than an "15 month focus". Never give up in the work that you are doing and never abandon some of these principles because the great irony is that when we operate with the long-term in mind we will actually begin to see some dividends that last rather shortly...quicker than we would see if we operated with the short-term in mind. In other words, when we build for the long haul, we should also expect to see fruit from that - and some of that fruit will be evidenced quite early. We do not have to wait 15 years for fruit. The temptation is out there to make short-investments but what we need is long term investments. May we pray diligently that God would help us persevere and stay the course. Be encouraged, we are involved in a good work. May the glory of God be displayed in each of our lives.

In Christ,

Monday, May 18, 2009

You've Gained

There are many interesting and sometimes funny things that happen when you enter a culture that is different from your own.  In the USA, if someone you know has put on some weight, you wouldn't dare say anything about it to them.  You might comment to your spouse or another friend (and if you're from the South, you'll say she's looking a little "fuller than usual" and follow it with a "bless her heart"), but you would never want to embarrass the person by mentioning his or her weight.  

Well, this is most definitely not the case here in Zambia.  Most Zambians consider it a good thing to be gaining weight - it's a sign that you are healthy and happy.  So, if you've put on a few pounds (or kg's here), people are quick to point it out.  Having been in the States, being spoiled by living with Brent's parents, and, let's face it, indulging in everything we love to eat for 6 months, Brent and I have both put on extra weight.  So now that we're back in Zambia, the first thing people say to us when they see us is, "Oh, you've gained!"   I told Brent after church yesterday that it really cracks me up that I'm constantly being told how chubby I am.  I'm not exaggerating either.  EVERY Zambian friend I have seen has commented that I've gained weight.  The funny part is that they in no way see it as an insult.  They are just stating the obvious and letting you know that you look healthy and happy!  I guess it's a good incentive to get back to working out and eating healthily!  Hopefully soon they'll be asking me if my husband is treating me well because I'm looking too skinny!  :-)  

Saturday, May 16, 2009

A Furniture Puzzle

Shopping for furniture in Zambia is a lot different than shopping for furniture in the States.  First of all, we buy our furniture off the side of the street in a carpentry district known as Kalingalinga.  There are several small shops that specialize in furniture.  Today, Kerri went to pick up our new bunk bed.  She had a few of the guys at the shop load the bed on top and inside of the car.  Yet another difference.  No delivery service here.

Now, in the States, the furniture stores usually sell stuff that fits in your home, or can at least be assembled once you get it in the house.  And most homes have more than one way of getting furniture into a specific room in the house.  Well, we were out of luck on both fronts.  The bed (which was very well made, by the way) was a quarter of an inch too long.  You might not think that is a big deal, but it is.  You see our house has one hallway that leads to all of the bedrooms.  All of the bed rooms have bars on the windows.  So, there is one way in and one way out.  We had planned on putting the bed in Maddie's room and moving Gracyn in there with her.  But, because of that quarter of an inch, there was no way we could get the bed in the room.  We spent over 2 hours flipping it over, turning it this way and that, and trying to determine if there was any way to take the bed apart, until we finally gave up.

So, the new bed that was going to go in Maddie's room, got put in Caleb's room.  We then decided to take his bed, which was small enough to fit through the hallway, into Maddie's room. We'll just paint it white and make it into a girly bed!   The kids didn't mind too much, but after all was said and done, the adults were worn out!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

2:7 Reunion

This afternoon, was the first time since leaving Zambia that I was able to meet with the pastors & church leaders we have been working with on discipleship training.  Two days a week, we meet and run Navigators 2:7 discipleship with these pastors.  The series features three books all geared towards deepening one's relationship with God.  As part of signing up for this training, each pastor / church leader agreed that they would, after learning from the group, go and train other leaders in their churches on discipleship.

It was fun catching up with these men.  All of them have, in fact, started their own groups within their churches.  While some of the groups have struggled with regular attendance, many were thriving.  As they went around and shared how their groups were going, it was encouraging to see that the training we have offered to these 12 men is now being extended to over 60 men and women within their respective churches.  Praise God for the work He is doing in His church here in Zambia!

Oh, sorry for the fuzzy pic.  I forgot my camera and snapped a quick picture with my phone.  The lighting wasn't good, hence the fuzziness.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Do you remember that old Atari game "Frogger?"  Where you try to navigate a frog across busy streets & croc infested rivers to get to the other side of the screen.  Well, this guy apparently didn't make it.

This picture was taken at our office.  I don't know how, but this rather large frog found his way into the men's toilet.  Rule 1 in Zambia:  Always look before you squat!

Monday, May 11, 2009

What are your neighbors doing

Kerri, the kids and I were having dinner the other night and heard something that you just don't get to hear in America.  A family cookout next door.  The difference is that in Zambia, you don't have a gathering without singing.  This culture is so based in music that everyone sings and it is so beautiful.  As we heard the singing, I snuck out the front door of our house and headed over to the fence that separates our yards.  I just sat there secretly enjoying as this group of family and friends sang.  The audio on the camera I was using is not that great, but I just wanted to give you an idea of what we heard as we sat down for dinner.  You might want to turn the volume up on your computer before listening.

Reminder:  If you are receiving this via email, you will need to go to our website to view this video: www.RobertsInZambia.Blogspot.Com.

Reunion Sunday

Yesterday, we visited Great Commission Baptist church to see our Zambian friends and worship together.  We didn't tell anyone we were coming and just showed up that morning.  We arrived just after opening prayer (late as usual).  As soon as we entered and sat down, Pastor Kandella had us stand back up and then the congregation sang a song as they came by one-by-one and greeted us.  They called it a Zambian welcome, which we enjoyed very much.

As the service progressed, one of my best Zambian Friends Alex, a deacon at this church, stood up to preach.  He taught on tithing.  He used the verse from Mark 12 about the poor widow who gave what she had as an offering.  Where in the States, a few might identify with this verse, I'm willing to bet most, if not all, of the congregation could identify.

After the service, I had a few minutes to catch up with some of the guys.  When we left in November, Luke and I had started a small discipleship group that met on Tuesday nights.  When we left, we didn't know whether it would continue or not.  Well, it didn't.  Instead, they have two discipleship groups that meet weekly, one on Monday and one on Thursday.  That's right, they multiplied!!  Isn't God good!  I'm going on Thursday night to attend their weekly meeting and am looking forward to it with great anticipation.

They have also started to reach out to the youth in their community on Saturday mornings through AWANA.  Right now, about 30 kids attend on a regular basis.  Alex, who also heads up this ministry, has just been appointed district coordinator for about 50 churches.  It's a pretty special thing that a deacon from a small church of 30 people is overseeing such a large ministry.

Anyways, it was great catching up with our Zambian friends.  Please continue to pray for this young church as they seek to reach out to their community with the Gospel of Christ.

I also recorded a song from their service.  It's in CiNyanja, but it's a classic hymn.   See if you can guess what it is...

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

Ever since Kerri and I had decided to go back to the States to have Ellison, we wondered why God brought us back there for that time.  When we first found out about the pregnancy, we were planning on staying in Zambia.  But as time passed, God began to change our hearts and convince us that it was His will for us to return for that time.  So, as we packed up here and headed for home, we were on the lookout.  We thought that there must be some reason why we were headed back, other than to have a baby, but we just didn't know why.  

Before the birth, there was a time we thought Ellie might be breach.  As we sat in the doctor's office getting an ultrasound, we both questioned each other that this might be the reason.  But it wasn't.  Ellie was facing the right way.  As we headed to the hospital for the delivery, we wondered if there would be any surprises (other than the obvious), but there weren't.  The delivery went better than expected.  Then two weeks after the delivery, Kerri had a stroke.  As we sat in the hospital and talked, it was very clear that this was the reason why God had called us home.

But I'm not writing about why God called us back to the States for that short time.  As we have moved back to Zambia, it has become clear that there was another reason/blessing that God had called us back home.  Mainly the blessing of time with family and the time we got to spend getting to know my mom all over again.  So, I figured that today, being mother's day, was as good a time as any to dote on my mom.

If there's one word to describe mom, it would be committed, and, no, I don't mean that in an institutional sense.  She's a woman of commitment.

She's committed to her husband:
In an age where divorce is rampant, even amongst the church, she has been lovingly committed to my dad for more than 35 years.  And they genuinely love each other.  They still enjoy spending time together and and laughing together.  They have their own interests, but they love being around each other.  It's not that I didn't know this already, but it was reassuring living with them and seeing it firsthand.

She's committed to her children:
Even though as her child, I made many mistakes growing up (and continue to do so), my mom has always stood behind me.  She has always been there to give loving advice and has only ever wanted what was best for my sisters and me.  There are many children who grow up in families where this is just not the case.  So, I consider myself very blessed.

She's committed to her Family & Friends:
My mom has always been someone who would bend over backwards to help someone out when they are in need or just when they need someone to talk to.  In just the past 6 months, she has managed to watch my sister's youngest daughter during the day, went out of the way to make sure that our kids were taken care of when Kerri was in the hospital, taken our kids to places, called her youngest (Jessie) just to see how she's doing, helped Kerri with home schooling, chatted with her sister and close friends regularly just to talk about life, etc...  In everything she does, it is evident that she genuinely cares for her family and friends and most often puts our needs ahead of her own.

She was committed to her profession:
My mom is retired from being a teacher and principal for the mentally impaired.  She worked for a long time and was very good at what she did.  She loved the children and the people she worked with and to this day has contact with some of her former students.

She is committed to her grand babies:
Yep, all 7 of them.  While she probably wouldn't want to have them over at the house full time, she takes every opportunity to love on her grandchildren.  The first morning after we arrived back in Zambia, Maddie asked "Where's Grammy?"  Our children miss their Grammy and my sister's children are lucky for the time that they have with her!

I could go on and expand this list even further, but for time sake and for your reading eyes, I'll stop here.  I just thought it was important to take some time out of the normal blogging routine and share with you a piece of the blessing that my mom has been and continues to be for me and my family.  

Happy Mothers Day Mom!  We love you!

Friday, May 08, 2009

May Showers in Zambia

There's not much to talk about in these first few days.  We've just been busy unpacking and reuniting with old friends.  So, I figured I would begin our Zambian posts with what everyone talks about on a daily basis just about anywhere in the world -- The Weather!

I don't know if you remember or not, but when we came in February 2008, we experienced one or two showers that month and then no more rain for 6 months.  Usually, the rainy season is tapering off around March and April, but this year seems a bit different.  This afternoon, we experienced a torrential downpour when heading over to the Allens for dinner.

Normally, rain wouldn't be an exciting topic of conversation, but when it happens in May in Zambia, it is rather unusual.  The kids loved it.  Afterwards, they went outside and got all muddy.  Anyways, it was just an interesting part of our Friday here in Zambia.

I shot a quick video of the rains if you want to see.  Just CLICK HERE.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

We've Arrived Again!

We're still trying to recover from jet lag, but I wanted to put up a quick post to let everyone know that we have made it back to Zambia.  After boarding a plane at 2:30 pm on Monday, we traveled to Atlanta where we were to connect with our flight to South Africa.  What was supposed to be a 35 minute flight, turned into an hour flight and we arrived in Atlanta with 15 minutes to make it to our gate.  

Long story short, I sent Kerri with the baby and the big kids to try to hustle to the gate hoping that if she made it they would wait for me.  I grabbed Maddie, threw her and 6 carry-ons into and onto the stroller and then was off to the races.  As I arrived at the gate, Kerri and the kids were waiting on me and the plane was still there, but they had closed the gate and wouldn't reopen it.  Needless to say, we were stuck in Atlanta for the evening.

The next day, things went rather uneventful.  We arrived at the airport on time, boarded the plane and headed for South Africa.  We made the connector flight to Lusaka with no problems and arrived in Zambia at 9:00 pm.  I'm including this small video to show how lack of sleep can affect little children.  Maddie was about to bust when this video was taken (48 hours into our trip).  

What was supposed to be 26 hours of travel turned into 51, but no complaints, we arrived safely and were reunited with our wonderful team.

**Reminder, if you are receiving this post via email, you will need to go to to view the video as it will not come through on the email.

Monday, May 04, 2009


Delta's flight out of Columbia was delayed and we missed the flight to South Africa.  Delta was kind enough to put us up in a hotel.  So, we're in Atlanta on hold until tomorrow.  Please keep praying for us as we depart from Atlanta at 3:50 pm tomorrow.


Heading Back!

Kerri and I will be returning to Zambia today at 12:50 pm. We just wanted to send a quick note out to ask you to pray for us as we travel and begin to settle back into our lives there.

Just a reminder, our web site is the best way to keep up with us while we are in Zambia. We try to post something about our lives and ministry at least 3 – 4 times a week in an attempt to bring as much about Zambia and what God is doing there back to you. We’ll try to post something on our web site once we’ve arrived as well.

Thank you so much for your prayers over the past few months. You have been a tremendous encouragement to our family.

Brent & Kerri Roberts