Tuesday, January 31, 2012

It's On The Way!!!

The day has finally arrived. Thanks to a whole crew of people (Margie Simmons - Christian Ministries International, Marvin Bozard, Chapin Baptist Church Combined Sunday Schools, Family and Friends) our container has finally been packed and left Columbia yesterday afternoon. It is now on it's 8,000+ mile journey to Zambia, Africa. Hopefully within a few days, it will be loaded onto a boat in the Charleston Port and be at sea for the month long voyage shortly after that.

Thank you so much to everyone who has been praying for this effort. Thank you for the many who sacrificed time and man power in packing, inventorying, and coordinating logistics of its shipping. Thank you to those of you who made financial contributions towards this effort as well. You have all blessed our ministry in ways that you might not every fully know.

We'll send pictures once it arrives and we figure out how to unload this 40ft beast. Much love and appreciation from the Roberts and the Whitfields.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Our First Lot

Today we got our first lot of baby chickens. Hopefully, 8 weeks from now, some of these little guys will be on our dinner table. Farm life, you gotta love it!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Putsie Flies

Things you don't encounter in the States. Our new family dog "Georgia" has been attacked by putsie flies. These flies lay their eggs on the skin of animals and sometimes people. When the eggs hatch, the larva burrow into the skin and stay there for several weeks until matured. They basically feed off of the tissues in the skin.

Once matured, they form an abscessed kind of like a zit. Except they don't pop when you squeeze. Instead, when you squeeze, a little worm pops out!!! So, tonight we squeezed out 4 larva. We're just hoping one of the kids or one of us gets any.

Monday, January 23, 2012

One Last Time

This past week I picked our car up from the mechanic hoping that it had been fixed enough to give us a few more months of driving before we had to find a replacement. As I drove it from the shop, it seemed a lot better. The shaking was gone, the exhaust was no longer black and cloudy and the brakes were no longer grinding.

Because it felt so good, I decided to press my luck and drive back to our home. The trip was rather uneventful until I passed Kafue and got out of cell phone coverage. It was then that the engine suddenly lost all its power and the car started sputtering. Now, being in the middle of nowhere without communication ain't fun, but doing it in the middle of the night is a little bit worse (I didn't get out of Lusaka until evening. So, it was really dark by the time I broke down).

Luckily, or should I say providentially, I was close to some local street vendors when I broke down So, I was able to use one of their phones to call Kerri and get help. But lesson learned.

It's kind of ironic. I was praying for wisdom on what to do with our car situation and God gave me His answer. When I looked under the hood, there was oil all over the engine and under the car. That coupled with the fact that the engine wasn't able to generate any power means that there is something really wrong. Translation - our car will most likely need a new engine if it is ever going to see the road again - something it's not going to get.

So, the Roberts are officially without a car. Please pray for us. Pray that God would give us wisdom in finding a new car for our family. Pray that he will provide all of the necessary funding for such a purchase. And pray for us as we continue to settle in here and start this new ministry.

Thank you

A Successful Hunt!

One advantage to living here is that sometimes the boys get to go hunting for our dinner. The Reeve’s, our landlords, have a son who is Caleb’s age. So, a few times over the past couple of weeks he has invited Thomas and Caleb. This last time, Caleb had a successful few shots. Now we just need to learn how to cook them.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Discipling Young Women

Living where we live, we have opportunities for ministry right in our back yard. For the past two weeks, Kerri has been meeting with a group of girls from the farm. Some of them are our workers’ children and some of them are from families from around the farm. They range in age from 13 to 17 years old. So far, they have met just to talk about their life dreams, some of the daily struggles that they face and some of the fears that they have. This last time, Kerri asked them how a person is able to spend eternity with God in heaven.

These ladies are at a delicate age in their development as young women. In Zambia, there just is not a lot of investment in youth and a lot of times girls like these have no one to talk to and be transparent with who can speak truth into their lives.

As I looked out the window at the group, I couldn’t help but be so thankful for this new life that He has called us to. Kerri has a passion for young women’s ministry, but this type of ministry just wasn’t an option for her in the city. Because of the logistics of travel and her schedule with schooling, she just had no bandwidth. But here, she has the bandwidth and travel isn’t a problem.

Please pray for her and these ladies as they learn and grow in their faith together.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Fixin up the Place

Well, we’re slowly but surely getting settled and our lifestyle is definitely different here than what it was in the city. In the city, we bought all of our groceries straight from the supermarket. Here, we’ve begun growing a lot of our own vegetables. We’ve planted some fruit trees (orange, lemon, guava). We even had a church group come and do some weeding to earn money for a church trip to Mazabuka.

Next week we’ll purchase our first lot of 50 chickens for raising and slaughtering, and hopefully sometime soon, we’ll get some additional chickens for eggs. I guess you can say we’re country!

Anyways, here are just a few pictures of us doing some things around the house. Enjoy!

If you are receiving this post via email, go to the following link to view the slideshow: https://picasaweb.google.com/mzungubwr/FixingUpTheHome?authuser=0&feat=directlink

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

It's Official

Well, it's official. We have a crappy car. Yesterday, I left Kerri and the kids in the bush in Chikankata and headed to the city to see if I could get the car fixed again. It's becoming a regular routine. This time, the whole front-end of the car shakes when accelerating, it billows black smoke while driving and there is something causing the back end to sound like it's grinding metal. I had to leave it in Lusaka with a friend last week, because I just didn't think it could make the 2 hour trip. Thankfully, we have been able to borrow a vehicle, but that's about to come to an end.

Anyways, we continue to pray that the mechanic can work his magic and make it drivable. I'll be going to spend the morning at the shop with one of his guys to see if we can get it sorted out at least so that it is drivable in the short-term. But in the long-term, we have to make a change.

I know we just finished asking for funds for the ministry in December, and I hate to do it again, but I feel it is necessary. So, with that being said, we are now trying to raise funds to purchase another used vehicle for our family to drive. If you would like to help us by being an advocate for this in the States, please let us know. We estimate that we will need approximately $22,000 - $25,000 to make it happen.

If you look at that figure and think it is high, please know the situation here in Zambia is much different than in the States. All vehicles here are imported. The Zambian government uses this to their advantage and taxes all imports rather extensively (at 96% of their value). So, a car that would normally cost us around $12 or $13,000 ends up costing a whole lot more! They used to let organizations like ours import duty-free, but about a year ago, they stopped that. So, we have no way around it.

Would you please consider helping us? Maybe you can't afford to make a donation, but know some people who might. Please feel free to tell them about us. Or if you would like to make a donation, please do so at the following link: www.CTEN.org/BrentRoberts. All donations are 100% tax-deductible.

Would you consider helping our family find reliable transportation?

Thank you

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Caught In Traffic

An eventful morning for the Roberts. On the way home we were passed by the vice president's motorcade. The only problem was that Kerri didn't see them coming. So, when she turned into the grocery store parking lot to pick up a few last minute items, she cut one of the motorcycle cops off. Luckily he saw her turning or it could have been a really bad morning.

He ended up taking her license and requiring her to go to the police station, which is where we sit now. The fine? $60 for reckless driving. It's been paid and now we're waiting on the officer to return and give her her license. The Things we do for fun in Zambia!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Car Troubles

Well, it's happened again, another breakdown. After a long weekend in the city doing some much needed grocery shopping and loading our car to the max we headed out for the two hour journey back to Chikankata. Just as we reached the outskirts of the city I smelled something funny. Now, with five children, I'm pretty used to smelling something funny in the car, but this was a different smell. As soon as I looked at the gauge, I saw the problem. The car was running hot.

Because I'm typing this post on my phone, I'll spare you and my fingers all of the details for now, but it was quite an ordeal. It involved coming to a stop in front of a bar full of drunk men, having them then askme if I knew that my car was smoking, them climbing up under the hood trying to "identify" the cause, and then not leaving until I gave them some small bills for their assistance.

All was not too bad though. A friend and his buddy did come to the rescue, with tow rope in hand, brought us the Whitfield's vehicle, helped us switch all of our groceries, luggage and children to that car and that towed our car to the shop.

Please be in prayer for us as we head back to the city today to get the car. Our car is the most important thing we own in Zambia and it has become quite unreliable. Before we came back to the States a year ago, we had to replace the head gasket, before that it had overheated several times and now this. It's all we got. So pray that it will last for some time longer.

Anyways, here's to another African adventure!


Tuesday, January 03, 2012

White Men Don't Do This

Another fishing story, but this one has to do more with culture than language. The same day last week that I was fishing another interesting thing happened. I was on one side of the pond fishing beside 2 or 3 other Zambian families and Dailes and her son Milton were fishing on the other side.

As they sat there, some of the Zambians around them began to ask "Why is the bwana (boss) fishing with us wakuda (blacks)? This is not normal, that he would come and be with us."

Even today, after 40+ years of independence from British colonialism, there is still a divide that exists between black Zambians and whites. It is not common for us to actually come into their community and show them that we are interested in being around them, in building relationships with them, in investing in their lives and learning from them, in understanding their culture and knowing their language and in serving them instead of being served.

Had Dailes not been there on the other side of the pond, I probably wouldn't have had any idea how my presence at the pond was perceived, but I'm glad she was. Not only did she have an opportunity to talk about Kerri and me and tell them why we had come to Chikankata, she was also able to give us a little insight into the culture and people we are trying to minister to.

As I have continued to reflect on their statements about me that day at the pond, I have been reminded of a verse from the book of Philippians and how Christ invaded our world. How God took on flesh so that we ultimately could be reconciled back to Him. Listen to the verse: "He did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness and being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross." May we all look for ways to do things that are not normal for the glory of our beautiful Savior!

Monday, January 02, 2012

A Lesson in Language

On Monday, I begin the process of trying to learn a new language, Tonga. But I think I had my first unofficial lesson this past Wednesday.

As a way to mingle with the community of farm workers and their families who surround our home, I try to go fishing every once in a while. These Zambians with their fishing equipment (bamboo poles and fishing line), are limited with what they can catch usually fish smaller than the size of my hand. So, this past week, when I caught a little bit bigger fish (about 1 & 1/2 lbs) I decided to give it to the family that I was fishing beside.

The woman who I tried to give the fish to, spoke no, none, zero, zilch, nata English! So, I decided to try and tell her in Nyanja (the language we learned in the capital, but a language not always spoken in Chikankata) that I was giving her the fish. I said "Ndi patsa nsomba kwa inu. Mu patsa babanja." Meaning "I give you this fish, you give to your family." She replied rather kindly, took the fish and then left with her family. I thought, even though I don't speak Tonga yet, maybe, just maybe I can use my Nyanja to get by until I do.

Well, the next morning, I found out just how successful I was in my communication. I was telling Moverty how I caught a fish the previous day and gave it to a family. He asked me for a description of the lady I gave it too and then proceeded to tell me that the lady came by and gave the fish to him. Apparently, she thought I caught the fish and gave it to her to bring to my home. I guess I wasn't strong enough to carry it the 400 yards to my house.

I told Moverty that if he saw her again to tell her that the fish was for her. But a good lesson was learned. When people don't get the intended message in their heart language, there can often be times when miscommunication occurs and the message is not understood. Being that we have a message that brings life, reconciliation and relationship with God the Creator through Christ, it gives me all the more motivation to learn this language called Tonga!