Saturday, October 31, 2009

Family Pics from October

Just some random family pics from this month. Kerri put these together for her facebook page.  So, I thought I would post them here as well.  If you are receiving this post via email, you will need to go to our website to view:

Funny story about a couple of the pictures... (the pictures of Maddie and Ellie in Ellie's bed).  One morning, Kerri put Ellie in the bed while she went to the bathroom.  When she came out, she found Maddie in bed with Ellie.  Maddie had gone into the pantry, gotten a box of Rice Krispies, climbed into the bed with Ellie and then proceeded to dump the box of cereal out into the bed.  Kerri found the two with fist-fulls of cereal once she got out.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Lost in Translation (Hint: Funny, Hint: Must Read)

As many of you know, I spent this past Saturday night in a local clinic battling a fever, cough and stomach problems.  And because of this, I had to cancel a preaching engagement with Great Commission.  As part of keeping their leadership in the loop with what was happening with me, Kerri sent a text message to the Pastor.  It read: "Please pray for Brent, he's been admitted to Mina Clinic for IV Fluids and antibiotics.  He has a bad case of pharyngitis and possible food poisoning."

When she sent the text, she didn't think anything about it.  She was just giving a quick update so they would know how to pray.  Well, there were two words in that message that contain a significantly different meaning in Zambia then they do in the States - Food Poisoning.  The pastor stopped by Monday afternoon, because the church was greatly concerned for me.  He told me that when they made the announcement, that many people were shocked.  A few asked, "Who would do such a thing?"  They even speculated as to which Action Zambia workers might be involved in poisoning the boss.  It wasn't until this Monday afternoon appointment that I was able to clear things up.  I had to explain to Pastor Kandela that food poisoning, in our context, meant that we ate some food that had spoiled or wasn't properly cooked.  We both got a good laugh!  Sometimes, even though you think you are communicating one thing, your actually communicating something completely different.

Just thought you would enjoy that story.  Please continue to pray for my health.  I have been sick off and on over the past three weeks.  The most recent bout came just after I got over what Kerri and I though might be the swine flu.  My body is still tired and I have a cough that doesn't seem to want to go away.  Pray for recovery.  

Thank you for the love and encouragement from those of you who have sent notes and emails recently and for the many of you who have been praying on our behalf.  We appreciate you so much!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Some Video for You

My friend Steve Allen shot some video of the wedding reception we went to a couple of weeks ago. Below are two videos of the groomsmen and bridesmaids dancing to open up the reception.  Just thought you might want to see the video in addition to the pictures I posted:

If you are receiving this post via email, you can go to our website to view the videos:

Monday, October 26, 2009

Parenting 101

So, last weekend, Kerri and the women of Action Zambia went on a retreat about 2 hours South of town.  That meant that all of the Action dads were on daddy duty.  Well, Caleb, Gracyn & I were busy cleaning the house for Mommy's return.  I put Ellie in the bouncy seat for a few minutes.  After several minutes of cleaning, I realized that Ellie was no longer making any noise.   I poked my head around the corner and this is what I found.  I think she was tired.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A First for Charles

Yesterday, I took Charles to the dentist.  He had a tooth ache that had been bothering him for several days so we went to see if we could figure out what was causing the pain.  As we drove to the office, I was struck by just how much I take for granted.  This was the first time Charles had ever been to the dentist.  He had a tooth pulled back in 2004 by a visiting short term dental mission team, but he had never stepped foot in a dentist office.

As we walked in, I figured that I should orient him to the process.  So, I shared with him how they would probably look at his teeth and take a few X-Rays (another first).  Charles did great, but the tooth didn't cooperate.  In the end, he had to have it pulled.  But I'm still taken aback at the fact that this was the first time in his 31 years of life that he ever had the opportunity to visit a dentist!

Brent the patient

Well, it finally happened...Brent is sick!  I've always been amazed at how healthy he is.  He rarely gets sick.  But he started getting sick yesterday and it was downhill all night.  When I woke up this morning he told me he was running fever and had been up and down with stomach issues (though I never heard him).  He has also had a lingering cough since having the flu 2 weeks ago, so I insisted he go to the clinic and get checked out.  

I dragged him to a small clinic that's near our house.  It's run by Egyptian doctors and they seem to do a good job.  It's the place we have always gone for basic check-ups, earaches, fevers, etc.  As you can see just from the picture, it's MUCH different from what we are used to in the States, but we're thankful to have it!  Anyway the doctor looked him over and said he definitely has an infection in his throat and gastroenteritis (possibly food poisoning).  Thankfully his lungs sounded fine and he tested negative for malaria.  He recommended that Brent be admitted for IV antibiotics and fluids as oral medicines may not be absorbed well because of his diarrhea.  Reluctantly, Brent agreed to be admitted.  I left him to go and get him some food and drinks and some more money (since clinics and hospitals don't provide food for their patients and you have to pay upfront for treatment), and when I came back he was feeling a bit better already.  The doctor said that if there's no more fever and diarrhea by tomorrow he can go home.  

Of course Brent insisted that I bring the camera, take his picture and post a blog about this experience, so here it is!  But in all seriousness, please do lift him up in prayer as you think about it.  We have plenty of "family" here offering to help in whatever ways we need it, but it's hard to be without our real family at times like this.  Brent is also not used to being down with illness so pray that as his body recovers, his spirit will also be refreshed in the Lord.  We appreciate your prayers and support more than you can imagine!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Fuel Shortage

There has been a fuel shortage here in Zambia.  It started about a week ago and currently there is no end in sight.  The in-country producer of petrol has shut down operations to do maintenance on its facilities.  So, companies like BP and Total are having to import more of their product.  The problem is that they are not getting the expected breaks from the Zambian government on import duties.  All of this means that there is not enough product to meet demand.

Above is a picture I took the other day at the gas station near our office.  What you cannot see from this picture is how far the line of cars is coming into the gas station.  It goes almost all the way into downtown Lusaka.  During this shortage, many people have been lining up at gas stations as early as 6:30 am and staying until mid-afternoon to receive gas.

Please pray for this situation as it is affecting many people here in Zambia.  The only good news for us is that we drive a car that runs on diesel and therefore are not having to wait in these same lines.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

What's This?

There have been many times that I have passed a truck filled with passengers here in Zambia.  I thought that trucks would pass by and just pick up passengers.  This does happen sometimes, but the overloaded truck in the picture above is not a truck filled with random passengers.  It happens to be a funeral procession.  Megan and I were on the way back from Streams of Living Waters Community school a few weeks ago and got behind this truck.  I have passed several of these during our time in Lusaka, but never had a camera available to take a picture and share it with you.

Just thought it was an interesting view of a part of Zambian life that you might not otherwise get to experience.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A Zambian Wedding

A little over a week ago, Kerri and I got to go to our very first Zambian wedding.  One of the men (Cassius) in the weekly discipleship program that I was leading was getting married.

There were a lot of similarities between this Zambian wedding and a typical western wedding, but there were also some differences.  To start the service, the bride and groom were brought chairs to sit in while the pastor preached a sermon.  I wish we would have employed this method, because I remember standing for what seemed like an eternity during my own wedding (please don't take offense at that Brad).

Most of the rest of the service, including the presentation of bride and groom to those in attendance and the first kiss, were all present in the ceremony.  But the photography was a little over the top.  Basically, anyone (including myself) who had a camera was more than welcome to take pictures from anywhere in the church.  It had to be one of the most documented weddings in Zambian history.

After the ceremony there was to be a reception across town.  But instead of going straight there, the wedding party went to the home of the pastor to eat a late lunch.  We didn't get to attend this part of the event.  So, we went for our own late lunch at a nearby restaurant instead.  After about 2 hours, we headed over to the reception.  The bride and groom still had not arrived.

By far the coolest part of the evening was the entrance of the wedding party at the reception.  Before the bride and groom entered, the bridesmaids and groomsmen came in and danced for those in attendance.  I reeeaaallllyyy wish we would have included this as part of our wedding 10 years ago.  To see some of my best friends, who have no "Skills" trying to dance in front of everyone would have been hilarious.  The difference though, is that this wedding party could dance.

After the dancing, the bride and groom entered with their flower girl and ring bearer leading the way.  They all went to the front and took their seats.  It was at this point that the toasting and stories began.  Due to having limited baby sitting for the evening, these Mzungus had to leave, but what we got to experience was truly a treat!

If you are receiving this post via email and would like to look at the pictures you can view them by clicking here.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Request for More Prayer

One of our friends and teammates sent this email out this afternoon.  Please be in prayer for her and those involved in this accident.


Hello friends,

Since coming to Zambia, I've gotten fairly adapt at using the public transportation. They're called mini buses and have a reputation for being a little crazy in their driving. Traffic in Lusaka is quite bad, particularly at rush hour, and the mini bus drivers will do anything to get even one car ahead.

This morning as I headed out the door, I prepared to take yet another adventure on one of the blue mini buses. Little did I know what lay ahead. There is a compound close to my house called Garden. It has a busy town center and is about 2-3 blocks long. The bus I take to get into downtown Lusaka goes right through the center of Garden. The traffic was terrible this morning and so the bus driver of my bus decided to take a shortcut. He did this by pulling out into the oncoming traffic's lane. There was a big truck about 3 blocks in front of us, so the driver thought that he could at least get a bit ahead. So he gunned it. Just as we reached a good speed, out of nowhere a young boy about the age of 13 ran across the street. He hadn't looked in our direction (why would he since cars don't normally come barrelling down the wrong side of the street) and thought he had enough time to cross before the big truck (which was still coming at my bus) got to him. Suffice to say that my bus driver didn't have enough time to barely break before he hit the young boy.

The boy flew in the air about 10 feet and landed on the ground only to continue rolling until he fell into the ditch on the side of the road. I was in shock as I watched these precedings. A crowd quickly gathered with Zambian men yelling at my bus driver. I saw someone go over to the limp boy's body and pick him up out of the ditch. I winced, knowing that moving him would further any damage already done, or aid the death that, in my opinion, probably had already happened. My fellow passengers started to exit the bus as more and more people gathered, all yelling at the bus driver. I followed and as I got out, the man who had picked up the boy came around the corner of the bus. I moved by quickly and lowered my eyes. I won't describe what the boy looked like, but I don't think he survived. 

Crossing the street I got into another mini bus and just sat in absolute shock. My fellow passengers were all talking in Nyanje (the local language). Some gave me disheartened smiles and we all just shook our heads in disbelief. Soon traffic pulled forward and my new bus passed the one I had just been on. They were putting the boy into the bus to be taken to the hospital. A young woman named Deborah who had been on my original bus sat down next to me. I glanced over at her and saw tears. I touched her shoulder and we stared at each other, weeping. What can one say after an experience like that?

Now that I was on a new bus, I had to pay the bus driver again. I reached into my bag and got my wallet, only to find that I had absolutely no money. Not good - at all. I wasn't in the best of areas and there was no where nearby to get money. I turned to Deborah and asked her if she wouldn't mind paying my fare. While this seems trite, Zambians don't have a lot of money, so to pay even 50 cents for a fare is asking a lot. She graciously said yes. I was quite relieved. 

Tears have come on and off throughout the day as I think about what happened this morning. I try not to play through the scene in my mind, but it keeps coming back. How do you process something like that? I've wrestled with God, asking Him why He would allow something like that to happen. I don't know. 

Is it fair? No. Is it right? No. Can I change it? No. But what I can do is pray for the family of the boy. I pray that they will be comforted as they grieve and mourn.I can only imagine what they are going through right now. I can also pray for the mini bus driver as he will be spending some time in prison (not a pretty place here in Zambia - or anywhere in the world for that matter) for his deed. What he did in trying to get ahead of traffic is actually quite common - he just happened to choose the wrong time to do it and will be one of the ones forced to pay for it. 

I personally am doing ok, although I am a bit shook up. Thankfully there are people here on my team who I can process and cry with. I'd appreciate your prayers, both for me and the boy's family (and for the boy, as I'm not 100% sure that he is indeed dead). 

Thank you for your friendship and partnership as I carry on here in Lusaka, Zambia. It means a lot!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Prayer Request

I just wanted to quickly request your prayers.  Kerri and I have both come down with some kind of virus and are running fevers.  The kids are kind of taking care of themselves this morning (all except Ellie).  Pray that we would recover quickly.

Thank you

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Leadership Training Graduation

We recently finished the last book of our discipleship training program for pastors and church leaders.  So, Luke and I decided to have a cookout and graduation ceremony to celebrate the accomplishments of the men who were a part of this program.

It has been such a blessing to get to know these guys.  Over the past few months, I think we have learned a lot more from them than what we taught during our time together.  Here's a video of our celebration.  It includes testimonials, handing out of certificates and a reciting of a letter the pastors wrote to Action Zambia in appreciation for this program.

Please continue to pray for us, as we have just started the second group of pastors and church leaders in this program.  I hope to have an update soon introducing the new students.  Also, please pray for these pastors who just finished this 1-year program.  Pray that they would be able to implement many of the things we learned together in their churches.